Not-a-meme: Druid Edition

You may have already seen the paladin and priest editions of this not-a-meme. After playing around with my 80 druid for awhile, I got bitten by the healing bug again and decided to try out resto. As with the previous editions, I’ve kept some snippets in which my opnion hasn’t changed, but you’d be surprised how much I’ve learned about healing and how it’s changed my views.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?

Artemeus, Restoration Druid

What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

Mostly Random Heroics, at this point, although I have brought him to a couple weekly raids and did rather well. Since I’m still gearing him up, this will be the healer I focus on the most for the immediate future.

What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?

I really like Regrowth. The combination of a direct heal and an extra-long HoT in one spell makes this a really good workhorse in the resto druid stable.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

Healing Touch. I don’t think I’ve ever used it. I’ve been considering macroing it in with Nature’s swiftness to create an extra emergency/panic heal, just because I don’t use either of those spells often. Despite this, I don’t dislike this spell. Its cast time and mana efficiency is comparable to any other class’ big heal. It gets a rather nice spellpower coefficient making for some pretty big numbers when it is needed. There’s just one problem with this spell: usually there’s no call for it. Between all of the Tree Druid’s HoTs and the occasional Nourish, the tank almost never gets low enough to justify a big heal. And of course when he does, instant-cast options like Swiftmend and Lifebloom start to look a little more appetizing than a long-cast heal.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Health Pool Softening. Nobody blankets a party/raid with little heals like a druid can. If you need something to counteract the effects of a constant-damage aura, a druid has what you need. The great thing is, HoTs are equally adept at filling up bars between longer-interval spikes. Druids are actually surprisingly versatile. Many people claim druids are poor tank healers, but having experienced a Holy priest I find this absolutely laughable. Druids are perfectly capable tank healers by simply changing your healing style. Changing your spec to beef up your tank healing allows druids’ single-target healing to go toe-to-toe with any spec in the game and perform far superior to some, all while being able to provide assistance to the raid healer.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

Druids are a little limited on burst healing. Between Swiftmend and Nature’s Swiftness, druids are not completely without options, but they may run into trouble with constant spike damage. On the other hand, druids’ many HoTs give them arguably the best chance of any healer to make sure the target survives long enough for a big heal to land. This is what “health pool softening” is all about: even if your tank suddenly takes a big 25k hit, he’ll gain back 5k+ of that the next time your HoTs tick. And that’s without requiring a global cooldown or any action on the healer’s part, freeing him up to cast a direct heal if needed. In other words, HoTs allow the healer to prolong the critical moment long enough for a slower heal to be used.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

Raid Healing. It’s no lie that druids have all the tools needed to be excellent raid healers. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to agree with all those who claim that they are the *best* raid healers in the game (holy priests are excellent, too, and shamans appear to be, though I haven’t played one myself). What I can say for certain is that they vie for the title.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

A Holy Paladin makes the best tank healer if we’re two-healing it, IMO, but any player that can keep the tank up with minimal help is aces in my book. I think a Disc priest would be a very nice combo with all those beefy shields to protect the target while my HoTs do their work, but again, it’s the player, not the class when it comes to healing teamwork.

What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

I’m not sure there really is one to this. I’ve only done the weekly a couple times but I have gotten to run with a healer of every class and druids play nice with everyone. Druids really are the “all-rounder” class that has a bit of everything. Even with two druids, the extra battle rez pretty much compensates for not having an extra set of class buffs.

What is your worst habit as a healer?

Having more-or-less corrected my tunnel-vision problem, my current biggest problem is taking on too much of the blame or trying too hard to do too much. Thankfully, now that my gear has caught up with the content I’m running, deaths are few and far between, but when they do happen I’m usually the first in line to apologize for the death. Even if the death was caused by the ignorance or laziness of the newly-dead (like eating a whirlwind or poison nova or something big, slow, and obvious that you’re supposed to get the heck out of) I end up feeling bad and apologizing.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

The same as it is on any toon in any role: rude people. An unfortunate side effect of being the healer is that quite often people look at you to cover other people’s mistakes, which tends to lead to the idea that everything is the healer’s fault. If the rogue dies, it was the healer’s fault (never mind that he ate the heavily-telegraphed whirlwind move that he was supposed to back out of). If the warlock dies, it’s the healer’s fault (nevermind the fact that he just lifetapped six times in a row while throwing off every spell in his arsenal at a mob with spell-reflect up). If the healer has to drink after the pull, he sucks. Nevermind that the reason he’s so low on mana is that everyone is taking tons of avoidable damage by standing in puddles of acid or that the tank has stacked stamina and only stamina to the point that he has half the avoidance expected for his class. I mean, it’s one thing to expect the healer to cover for your shortcomings, but it’s quite another to expect him to take abuse while doing it.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?

Absolutely. Tree druids feel really balanced both within themselves and with how they interact with others. Druids aren’t quite as versatile as priests in the sense of having different tools for different jobs, but they do have some simple tools that can do any job. What I’m trying to say is that Tree healing is a little more of an art form than your average healer in that you don’t have specific spells for specific situations. Tree healing is more about who you HoT, when, and with which HoTs.Once you master the art of juggling, you can do amazing things with a druid.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

Well, obviously, and as with any other healer, I prefer that nobody dies during the battle. If somebody does die, I check to see whether it was something I could have reasonably prevented. I’ve found that I monitor recount far less often than as I used to do. I still peek at it from time to time just to make sure that there’s not some big and obvious flaw with how my numbers look, but the more experienced I’ve become with healing, the less I need any sort of outside validation. At the risk of sounding a tad big-headed, I know I’m a good healer so I don’t need an add-on to tell me about it.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

That druids are poor tank healers. Druids can be better tank healers by changing their spec and glyphs, but they are perfectly capable tank healers even in a raid-healing setup. Many people will misunderstand when they hear someone say that it’s a waste to have a tree on a tank unless there’s no other option. This is true, but it’s referring to the tree’s exceptional raid healing abilities, and not to any perceived lack of tank healing capabilities. In fact, focusing on a single target can help a druid save mana (whereas a Holy priest, for example, burns through it more quickly) because he’s using the same spells he would be using to raid heal, he’s just using them on a single target instead of 10. Even throwing in a few extra HoTs (like Lifebloom) doesn’t take up as much mana as blanketing a raid.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

I’d say that it’s probably learning to be patient enough to let your HoTs do their thing. It’s tempting to lose your cool and panic when a healthbar starts getting low. However, if you can learn to keep your head and not blow your panic buttons early, then you’ll always have them when a real emergency arises. Wild Growth is actually an amazing tool for dealing with spike damage, even on a single target. While Wild Growth is doing its thing you can throw on a rejuvenation and one or more stacks of lifebloom. The advantage to doing this flurry of HoTs instead of a couple quick direct heals (like Nourish spam or Nourish then Healing Touch) is that it stabilizes the target both immediately and for the duration remaining on the HoTs (typically 10-ish seconds).

If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?

Oh, you know, the usual: some crazy overhealing and a mana roller-coaster. Probably a fair amount of cleansing, since druids get both an Abolish-style cleanse and tend to have a fair number of GCDs available while their HoTs tick away. At least for now. Not sure how druids scale since I haven’t seen the latest content in the latest gear, but I think druids would do themselves justice.

Haste or Crit and why?

Haste. Getting our global cooldown down to 1 second is very important for a druid because so many of the spells we cast – including our staple HoT, Rejuvenation – are instant-cast or can be lowered to a ~1 second cast time.

What healing class do you feel you understand least?

I’ve never played a shaman (or, well, my shaman is now level 25), so probably Resto Shaman. For the time being, the shaman is looking very similar to the paladin with a bit more of a traditional AoE capability. I’ve got an 80 healer of the other 3 classes, so my understanding of the helaing classes is coming along quite nicely.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?

I use Healbot for healing and decursive for cleanses. Yes, I know that Healbot can handle cleansing, but I found it easier to just use decursive than to try and sneak in a key-modified click into an already pretty full set-up. I haven’t yet set up any healing macros for the druid, but I’m considering slapping Nature’s Swiftness onto a heal or two and throwing the macro into Healbot as a shift or alt click option.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

I try to find a balance of stats on the druid. There are stats that I like – spellpower, haste, spirit – but none of them that I try to stack at the cost of everything else. I’ve always favored a more well-rounded toon for all of my characters. I don’t concern myself overly much about min/maxing every aspect of the toon. I try to pick up socket bonuses where I can, for example, rather than just throwing a gem with my “best” stat into every socket.

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