4.2 – Haste, Mastery, Crit and Resto Druids
4.2 has brought many changes to Warcaft; some relatively minor and some quite major. Among the changes are two that are rather important for resto druids.
The first of these is a change that affects all healers – critical heals now heal for 200% of the base heal instead of 150%. This is just a single sentence but it has so much potential. This now means that our large heals, that maybe healed for around 20k (disclaimer: the 20k is simply a random number :P) and critted for 30k now will now crit for 40k. Bigger heals = target healed up quicker = less mana used. It also means more potential over healing but frankly as the extra healing was “free”, crit over heaing doesn’t really matter too much. It only becomes an issue if you fail to compensate for this and then massively over heal with HoTs and such that you do have control over.
The second major change is specifically a resto druid one – our mastery has been completely changed, and that change has heralded a new and brighter future for resto druids (unless you are a tank healer only, in which the change won’t make so much of an impact on your healing).
Gone is the nasty old Symbiosis mastery and in comes the shiny new Harmony mastery. Rather than just repost it from the patch notes I will just explain what it does. Harmony has two elements to it :-
- All our direct heals get a 10% bonus (+mastery). Our direct heals are nourish, regrowth, healing touch and rather nicely; swiftmend.
- When you cast a direct heal, YOU gain a buff for 10 seconds that increases your HoT healing by 10% (+mastery). This buff is refreshed on YOU every time you use a direct heal on ANYONE.
These two parts to harmony should make it obvious what we are aiming for; maintaining as much uptime of the Harmony buff on ourselves as possible. This will involve using a direct heal at least once every ten seconds to get as close to 100% up time as possible.
As I write that, I hear the cry of a thousand druids at the thought of casting so many direct heals instead of Hots. Fear not though, my fellow arboreally inclined medics – remember that swiftmend is a direct heal and due to the fact that it is more awesome than a badger wrapped in bacon you should already be using whenever it is off cooldown. There are a number of pros and cons to swiftmend. I am assuming you have it glyphed (and if you don’t you really should go and get it sorted ASAP)
Pros: It’s mana efficient, instant cast, heals for a decent amount and produces an awesome AoE smart heal (Efflorescence)
Cons: It has a 15 sec CD meaning if you use it as your sole harmony producing ability you will get at best a 66% uptime on harmony as it only lasts 10 seconds, unlike other direct heals it does not refresh Lifebloom, requires rejuv/RG already on target to use.
The other three direct heals at our disposal each have their own pros and cons
Healing Touch (our slow, big and expensive heal)
Pros: refreshes lifebloom, heals for a good amount
Cons: expensive, long cast time (2.5 seconds)
Regrowth (our fast expensive heal)
Pros: refreshes lifebloom, heals for a decent amount and pops a HoT on the target, procs nature’s grace, very good chance to crit when talented, relatively short cast time (1.5 sec)
Cons: very mana inefficient (except on OoC), having to manage/balance Nature’s Grace buff (if you are bothered about it)
Nourish (our slow, small and cheap heal)
Pros: refreshes lifebloom, very cheap, increased healing if HoTs present on target, cast time can be reduced by multiple rejuvenations
Cons: heals for less than a wet haddock, long cast time for size of heal (2.5 second)
Basically this means that I would suggest that direct healing cast priorities regarding Harmony should be decided along the lines of:
Personally, I am pretty bad at managing the use of Nature’s Grace and tend to use Regrowth whenever I get an OoC proc so that I can refresh Lifebloom. However I am going to try and retrain myself to use it better, especially given the changes to crit as well.
In order to keep a track of this new buff, I use a combo of Power Auras and Fortexorcist. Using Power Auras, I have created a new “ping” effect similar to the leafy one we get for clearcast. This one pops up a large white “HARMONY” above Kat’s head, and Fortexorcist adds a timer just above it so I can see how long is left. Anytime I see I don’t have it above me, I can just pop a quick nourish or whatever.
Now I wouldn’t say that this suddenly means that mastery is king for druids, haste is still preferable. However, I would say that inbetween the haste breakpoints you should gather some mastery. I believe this is especially the case if you run 25 mans or hard modes and is less important for 10 man raiding.
Unlike crit and mastery, 4.2 did nothing to change haste for us or alter the way it works. The differences in mastery+crit though mean that we should look at haste slightly differently (or at least some of us). A quick glance at my “Haste and Resto Druids” post earlier this year shows us that haste has a number above which it starts to lose its appeal. That number is 2440 haste rating (not counting any buffs from spriests etc). Basically if you reach 2440 haste, then when you get a 5% buff you will have gained +1 tick each to Rejuvenation and Regrowth, +2 ticks to Wild Growth and Efflorescence and +3 ticks to Lifebloom. Your next number beyond 2440 is 3659 haste, which gives you another Lifebloom tick.
As you can see, the jump to the next tick of lifebloom is over 1200 haste rating. In the previous tier of raiding, it was not particularly difficult to reach 2004 haste, and so before long we should be hitting 2440 without too much difficulty. However, unless you are a HM raider you are unlikely to amass the gear to even get near to 3659. I would suggest that once the 2440 level is reached, then the reforge prio changes and so instead of reforging for haste, you switch to reforging crit into mastery instead. I would still leave haste on gear and keep on top of spirit if you need the regen, but I believe that using the reforge to gain more mastery will be more beneficial than squeezing out a little extra haste when you are so far from a breakpoint.
Overall stat priorities
I don’t believe that 4.2 has changes our overall priorities at all. Haste is still the best (at least until 2440) and crit is still the most undesirable stat, but both crit and mastery have more going for them so it is less of a drag if you get gear with them on.