Chapter II – Four_dot_two

A quick word before we start. My guild chose to take a summer break of two months from raiding, for reasons I am not going to discuss here, and we only just went back to elbow dropping baddies like it’s 1988 again. That doesn’t mean we stopped raiding altogether in that time – in short, I could say that we had a bit less planning than usual, and more going with what we had. Due in part to that reason, many of the topics I am going to tackle are not exactly breaking news, like I said in my previous post. My intent is to consolidate information and offer my take on common topics, thus I hope that you will forgive me if I seem to take some things for granted. I will assume on the reader’s part knowledge of the latest EJ guide for our class and spec or similar, and a general understanding of how we have evolved through Cataclysm so far.

That wasn’t so quick, was it? Well, my guildies learned fast not to trust everything I say. I am sure you will in time, too.

Now that roughly two months have passed since Rage of the Firelands was released, we will go back to the first days of 4.2, look at how we adjusted to the changes it brought and what are the options available to us to adapt and keep trucking through Firelands. Yes, there is a chance that will take a couple of posts or three or six.

At first glance, the big news for us resto droods was the reshaping of our mastery, the innervate ‘nerf’ and the bigger impact of healing critical strikes – from 150% to 200%. Now, if you think about it,  there is another quite obvious change every raid patch infallibly brings us : higher ilvl gear, which means more intellect, the paramount stat to us resto druids, and higher secondary stats.

– – –

Let’s focus on that last concept for a moment, and look back at the final days of the previous tier. As many of you are aware, one of the goals regarding resto gear in the previous patch was to reach that magical number that is 2005 haste, which means one more tick of Wild Growth and Efflorescence. Although that might have taken a while for some of us, we could reasonably expect to have reached that by the end of the raiding season. Of course there are exceptions – not everyone raided the whole six months of patch 4.0.6/4.1, not everyone had access to the Alchemy trinket which made things considerably easier, or people were just unlucky with drops. With the coming of patch 4.2 there is really no excuse though, as you can now buy with justice points gear which previously required valor. Even though you still can’t buy the resto tier 11 headpiece (spi/haste itemized), you can easily buy gear like the boomkin tier 11 pants which are spi/haste itemized, and the spi/haste boots.

I know that many of you might be looking at the gear currently sold for valor – ilvl 378 stuff I mean, especially offset – and be worried that you will not be able to maintain 2005 haste as you slowly replace your 359 gear. However, while most of the 378 gear you can buy is indeed spirit/mastery/crit itemized, many Firelands boss drops have haste on them, meaning you shouldn’t have to worry at all. On the contrary, you will be able to juggle your gear more comfortably around the haste threshold and eventually start reforging away some of that excess haste (as you don’t need more than 2005 – any amount above that is wasted).

– – –

That takes us right to next topic: the balance of spirit, crit, and mastery. Previous to patch 4.2, most of us needed spirit on every piece of gear, mastery was a very strong choice after the haste ‘cap’ and crit was regarded as the weaker secondary stat. Nowadays crit is much more valuable, roughly on par with mastery, and spirit seems to slowly take the backseat as we get more intellect due to the increase in gear item level.

Spirit is the stat whose impact is the hardest one to gauge, as it’s the only stat we can’t really evaluate in terms of healing output (yes, I don’t like the word throughput. You can unsubscribe now if you want to, it’s ok.) Basically, what spirit does is slowly renewing your mana bar so that you don’t run out of healz. Intellect does the same thing tough – and much more. Crit and mastery make your heals more powerful, meaning that, on paper, if your guildies manage to stay out of the badstuffonfloor you will have to cast less of those as your gear improves. In the end, the value of spirit is something very personal as it depends a lot on talents choices, gear available, choice of spells and raid composition.

Now, I don’t agree 100% with the notion, as endorsed by some, that if you have mana left at the end of a fight, that’s a wasted resource – that you should have used it, or that maybe you have too much mana regen. You as a healer are not a machine, and neither are your guildies: you might have a bad night, the tank or a couple of dps might as well, and you might spend on a certain boss encounter a lot more mana than you previously did when you downed it with a smooth kill, by having to cast more heals or having to use your expensive heals more liberally. Of course, if you consistently end boss fights with a lot of mana left, that means you should look more at your other secondary stats rather than spirit – personally, I like to have some solid empirical data before doing so.

My final advice, very similar to what other healers would suggest, is to judge the subject of spirit by your personal experience. Look at your options: Malfurion’s Gift and Revitalize are mandatory talents, but what about Furor? If you dropped it for Genesis and find yourself struggling for mana, maybe you should revert back – or if you have plenty of mana left at the end of boss fights, try dropping Furor for Genesis. Remember to use Tree of Life as often as you can when boss mechanics allow you to, as it will save you a lot of mana with Clearcasting procs and the healing buff. Talk to your fellow Shaman and Priest healers and learn how their raid cooldowns work for mana regen; discuss together how to coordinate and have them available when your healing team needs them most.

– – –

Evaluating crit and mastery is a bit easier, at least from an output standpoint. As said earlier, crit has been buffed and is now roughly on par with mastery as our preferred secondary stat, assuming we have enough spirit and haste. When making a choice between the two, we have to consider two factors: how they affect our healing spells, and talents choice. Efflorescence benefits more from mastery; Rejuvenation and Swiftmend benefit more from crit; while the rest of our spells – i.e. Wild Growth, Lifebloom, Tranquillity, Healing Touch, Nourish, and Regrowth – seem to benefit equally from both. Living Seed is not accounted for and, if taken, makes crit slightly more appealing for those who like their direct heals… like someone who is often on tank healing duty and thus has probably already taken Living Seed (I love circular logic and yeah, before you start making Vizzini quotes, I know exactly what that means).

Is there more to it? Yes, if we are willing to take into account the RNG factor of crit, and accept that we are using RNG as a way to discuss gearing/talent choices. As a personal preference, I hate the idea of somehow relying on random numbers. If we look at the list in the previous paragraph, though, Rejuvenation is one of our strongest, most used heals, and druids with Living Seed will probably prefer crit to mastery. In the end, again this is something you’ll have to try out for yourself, in order to come up with a definite answer (hey, I never said this blog would actually contain useful info).

As for me, in the end I gave the nod to mastery. I also scrapped Living Seed and went with this spec. I’d love to explain my reasoning behind that speccing, but I do realize the wall of text above is thick enough with food for your thoughts; plus, I do not feel we have a lot of choices right now when it comes to talents, and I will explain those few questionable choices by looking at how they paid off in the Firelands. That is something for my next post, though! Also, expect a list of 378 gear sorted by itemization – I haven’t seen something like that around yet and I know it did a lot for me .

Until then, may Beth’tilac drop Cowl of the Clicking Menace for you – stupid bug still has to choke that up for me even after five kills.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dwarfwench on September 6, 2011 at 10:10

    I’ve always subscribed to the theory that Spirit is a stat that can really only be adjusted to personal taste too. Its a little harder to judge in a more casual capacity though, as you can often end up with different combinations of classes in your raid as well as differing levels of skill in the players accompanying you.

    One week you can end up in a group that drains your mana pool dry halfway through the fight due to a tank with less experience/gear that requires much more healing than he should, or be teamed with a healer that is still learning the fight or just doesn’t have the healing output needed to contribute equally to the fight. The next week you may find yourself ending the same fight on near full mana due to having a DPS team that are particularly focussed and raid aware, or be teamed with an over-eager tree that sniped most of the healing (no, no Rayze, I’m not looking at your branches really… :P)

    I guess what I am trying to say is that it seems a lot harder to adjust to your own taste in a casual setting rather than a more serious raid group as you have to try to find a balance point that will cover the large differences in group composition that you will meet each week.

    Reply

    • Snipe healing? I call it ‘superhero complex’. Thanks to fights like Aly and Baleroc I’m losing it though… well kind of. :-p

      Anyway, you said it better than me, and I like how you expanded on the subject. When you know exactly what you can expect from the rest of the raid in a consistent way, evaluating your stats/spec and performance is simple, or at least with each kill you have a set point from which you can work.

      Personally, I don’t mind some unpredictability, but that’s kind of a different topic we should save for another day… ;-)

      Reply

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