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Shifting Perspectives: Gearing a new restoration druid at 80

Allison Robert

Every week, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, we are proud to welcome a new generation of trees whatever we're going to be in Cataclysm.

Before I do anything else, I want to draw some attention to a guide on restoration healing recently published by Tree Bark Jacket that is an incredibly impressive work. It's comprehensive and fun to read, and for anyone who's getting started with the spec, I highly recommend heading both there and to Lissanna's guide to restoration healing in patch 3.3.

We're continuing our updated and expanded series on how to gear a new druid at 80, and this week we're going to tackle restoration druids. Frankly, a lot of the desirability for the listed pieces depends on your spec and current level of +haste (if you're wondering why that is, you'll find an explanation in our Restoration 101 post). If you are planning to raid on your resto druid, this is a bare-bones guide to what you need to look for:
  • If you have 3/3 Celestial Focus and are below 735 haste, prioritize haste. Look for +haste pieces and gem Reckless Ametrines.
  • If you have 3/3 Celestial Focus and are at or above 735 haste, you can either prioritize/gem spellpower or (much better) move points into more throughput talents in the restoration tree.
  • If you don't have 3/3 Celestial Focus and are below 856 haste, prioritize haste.
  • If you don't have 3/3 Celestial Focus and are at or above 856 haste, prioritize/gem spellpower. As you get new pieces, it may be necessary to gem or regem to stay around the haste cap.

Why do you need to worry about this? Long story short, haste reduces your global cooldown, allowing you to apply more HoTs to more players more quickly -- and that's something you need to keep in mind if you're planning on raiding (particularly 25-man content). If you're not planning on raiding at all, don't drive yourself crazy trying to reach a cap that can be difficult even for raiding druids to reach, and just use your best judgment. If you need more mana regeneration, prioritize spirit over crit and haste. If you have four-piece tier 9, crit is really nice for you. And if you want to make things really simple for yourself -- look for any piece with spellpower, haste and spirit. You can't go wrong with these three stats.

As with our post on how to gear a new bear at 80, a few notes before we start:
  • I'm assuming you don't have access to ICC-10 or -25, at least not on a regular basis. If you're playing on a realm where bored players are pugging heroic Icecrown content, feel free to disregard all of the following list. Otherwise, my assumption is that you're gearing a new restoration druid in order to raid (or at least make the content you're doing easier). In many places, I have listed gear you can get from the first four bosses in Icecrown Citadel, because I got some feedback after the bear post from people saying that this content is frequently pugged as well. If you're going further than that, Restokin had some excellent posts on balance and restoration gear available from the Crimson Halls and the Plagueworks.
  • I'm assuming you probably have access to Onyxia, Vault of Archavon and (maybe) some ToC. Most servers have PUGs running this content fairly regularly (if not, feel free to start one). I've listed the ilevel 245, tier 9 pieces available if you get your hands on a Trophy of the Crusade. With many players upgrading to tier 10 right now, there aren't as many players rolling on these.
  • I'm not assuming you're an arena star. PvP gear tends to be much less useful for trees than ferals, but you'll find a few pieces here that you don't need an arena rating to get. I've also listed a few Wrathful pieces that you might get off Toravon.
  • You will find some caster DPS pieces here. I went back and forth for a long time over including more DPS-oriented pieces (namely, cloth and leather with hit) and finally decided to include a few of the better ones, mostly because a lot of them have gobs of haste. If there's a piece without hit more easily available elsewhere, I generally left it off. DPS pieces also tend to lack spirit or MP5, and you need to be careful with this. If you pack your resto set full of pieces without these stats, your regen will suffer badly, so be careful.
  • This is not a comprehensive list. I've eliminated most of the pieces we've previously covered in our January 2009 guide to starting restoration gear. If you're still leveling your druid, or you're hitting 80 completely destitute, I would recommend reading that first.
  • I am a huge cheapskate. It's a little easier and cheaper to gear a resto druid than a feral (there's much less gear competition if you stick to leather), but you can still go hog-wild on BoE and Frost gear if you've a mind to do so. I've tried to point out when an expensive piece might be worth it, and when it might not be.
  • For anyone without a very good Emblem of Frost income who wants to prioritize the order in which they get their pieces, I would spend badges first on the Vestments of Spruce and Fir (close to best in slot even for people raiding heroic ICC), and then -- if you're purchasing Primordial Saronite with Frost emblems -- get the Blessed Cenarion Boots made. After that, it's really up to you. Neither the tier 10 helm or shoulders is particularly compelling as a stand-alone piece, but I'm reluctant to advise people to run out and buy the legs and gloves, which have a chance to drop off Toravon.
Concerning tier bonuses

If you have four-piece tier 9, then crit is a pretty good stat for you. You will still need to worry about haste, but the abundance of crit on everything will do a lot more for you than it will do for druids in other gear.

Both the two-piece and four-piece tier 10 bonuses are extremely good for restoration, although they are more oriented toward a raid healer than a tank healer. If you're going to go for the tier bonuses, buy the helm, shoulders, gloves and legs. The chest piece should be the Vestments of Spruce and Fir.

As with our bear post, if you have any combination of the following pieces, you should consider yourself well-geared.


Since the change to Gift of the Earthmother in patch 3.3, a number of helms have become less attractive, and this is a weird slot as a result. If you're not at the soft haste cap, then the tier 8 helm is actually better than the ilevel 232, tier 9 helm.

Enchant Arcanum of Blissful Mending from Wyrmrest Accord revered is the classic choice, but if you have four-piece tier 9 or do a lot of tank healing, go with Arcanum of Burning Mysteries from Kirin Tor revered.

Meta Gem If you're having mana issues, use the Insightful Earthsiege Diamond. If you're not having mana issues, Ember Skyflare Diamond. You will probably want to read Tree Bark Jacket's blog post on how this works vis-a-vis what your trinkets are.

I'm really trying my best to stay away from PvP pieces where I can, but there's no way around it; unless you get lucky with a Marrowgar-25 drop, the top three slots outside of raiding are all Wrathful or Titan-Forged pieces.

As with the helm, this is a really weird slot; the balance tier 10 shoulders are actually better than their restoration counterparts. If you'd like to stick to a restoration-oriented piece, my advice would be to pick up tier 9.

Enchant Greater Inscription of the Crag from Sons of Hodir exalted. If you have four-piece tier 9, you'll want to use Greater Inscription of the Storm. Scribes will be using Master's Inscription of the Crag or Master's Inscription of the Storm.

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