The history of resto druids

So, sometimes it is helpful to take a step back and regain a sense of perspective. Someone posted up a link to very old talent trees from way back when I was a baby druid just learning how to play the game, and inspired me to post a little bit about what resto druids used to be. So, we interrupt your regularly scheduled Cataclysm posting to go back into the history of what druids used to be long before a lot of my readers even played this game (and is a nostalgia trip for those of you who are old-school druids like me).

So, lets take a look at the original release talent trees for resto druids. I’m assigning points in talents mostly so you can easily see in the pictures what the talent point costs of the spells were, along with approximate “cookie cutter” PvE healing-oriented talent builds. I can’t remember the exact talent builds, so I’m just going to mostly estimate as I go along.

An early (1.1) healing resto build may have looked something like this:

Highlights: Innervate was our 31 point talent. Omen of clarity was a balance talent, where you had to hit something with your staff to proc the free mana (it wouldn’t even proc in bear/cat form because it was a weapon proc buff, and weapon procs didn’t work in feral forms). You could also pick up a build that didn’t have OOC, but went for feral charge (11 point feral talent). Those 5-point resto talents didn’t actually do much (lowered mana cost of one spell, reduced threat, reduced spell pushback, etc). They were actually huge dumps of points for little return.

Healing Style: At the beginning of the game, you leveled up as resto and you were probably only healing 5-mans (raiding wasn’t open yet). Your main spells were regrowth (with a 50% crit rate), healing touch (super long cast time), and rejuvenation (a HOT). When you were really in need of AOE healing, you got to pop tranquility about once every 10 minutes. When you did start raiding, you mostly cast healing touch (rank 4 or 11) on tanks. Only one druid could put a HOT on the target, so the druid with the most spell power could put a HOT on their targets (otherwise, you got an error message “a more powerful spell is active” or yelled at). You mostly came along to cast innervate on priests, or because your raid really needed healers and had no other choice.

While we got some changes in 1.8, the largest healing style difference didn’t come until 1.11, with the implementation of swiftmend:

Highlights: Here, we have the biggest change: swiftmend replaces innervate, and innervate becomes baseline for all druids (patch 1.11). In patches 1.8 to 1.11, there were several other additions: Improved healing touch reduced HT’s cast time by 0.5 secs, insect swarm was added as a resto talent, some of the feral talents were removed/combined, and gift of nature was increased to 5 talent points for a 10% increase to healing.

Healing Style: A druid could have a rejuv HOT on the tank, so you would keep up rejuv to be able to swiftmend it, and then you’d otherwise mostly spam healing touch on the tank. If you had extra mana, you could put an instect swarm on the boss, too. At this point, druids healed with: rejuv, swiftmend, Healing Touch (rank 4 or rank 11), and sometimes regrowth. You still mostly got brought so you could innervate the other healers, but now feral or balance druids (who started being able to raid sometimes if they were lucky) could also bring innervate, too.

Burning Crusade – patch 2.0 (birth of lifebloom spam & tree form):

Highlights: Burning crusade added another healing spell, Lifebloom. They finally let more than 1 druid have a HOT on the same target at the same time. We also got tree form (but that tree form had a movement speed penalty, so it was more situational). We were still tank healers, but we became more HOT-focused, and people tried to convince us not to use healing touch anymore. In addition, you started to get “restokin” builds, that invested more heavily in the balance tree, splitting points between balance & resto (mostly for PvP), which was the talent build style that this blog was named after. Very little changed between 2.0 and WotLK’s release in terms of talent changes for resto druids.

Healing Style: Roll 3x lifeblooms on 2 to 3 tanks. Don’t let lifebloom fall off the tanks. You may even cast rejuv on the tanks if you have time (so that you could swiftmend in a pinch), especially if you only had 1 or 2 tanks to heal. You were unlikely to be able to heal many people besides the tank. Here’s the “how to heal” picture for Burning Crusade druid healing (make sure you zoom in to read it). Trust me, if you haven’t seen the Burning Crusade “how to LB spam” comic/picture, it really is worth your time. You got in trouble for using Healing Touch, because you couldn’t actually even cast Healing Touch in tree form (and ever since HT stopped being a spell we could use in tree form, it has never regained the status it once had in the original WoW). You probably only wanted 1 resto druid per raid group, since you only really needed 1 set of HOTs per raid, but sometimes raids brought more than one for extra HOT stacking.


I think a lot of the newer resto druids forget that we used to basically only be tank healers for most of the game’s existence. Rejuv/WG spam on the raid is a super new healing style (and wild growth was a spell we didn’t even have until the 3.0 WotLK patch). If you tried rejuv spam on the raid in Vanilla or BC as your primary healing strategy, you probably got kicked out of your raid/guild. So, there’s nothing at all saying that rejuv spam is a healing style we’d get to keep, and there’s no indication of whether or not we’ll be able to AOE/raid heal with the Cataclysm healing style changes (especially since we didn’t get an AOE spell to replace Rejuv/WG spam).

What is definitely true is that we’ve never really healed in previous expansions in a way where we used a wide spell selection (healing in raids has mostly consisted of focusing on 1 button and sometimes hitting other buttons for the whole time I’ve been healing, with very few exceptions). So, trying to get us to use more of our heals all the time is definitely a goal that will be hard for Blizzard to achieve. However, WotLK tank healing had a much wider spell selection than we’d normally heal with (rejuv, lifebloom, regrowth, swiftmend, & nourish).

When evaluating the healing changes over the next few weeks, the resto druid community is going to have a really hard time adjusting to a totally new healing paradigm. However, these growing pains are something we’ve experienced every expansion. So, keeping a sense of perspective is the only way we’re going to survive yet another huge change in healing. It’s a little bit of history repeating, but hopefully it will all work out for the best.

Posted in Druid - General, Restoration Healing Trees

22 comments on “The history of resto druids
  1. @valkyrierisen says:

    I know how I’ll survive, I will give up healing. Should be easy. The Wrath changes to tanking were minor in comparison to the Cataclysm changes to healing, and I stopped tanking when 3.0 hit and the great armor/stamina nerf was felt by bear tanks. What I’ll do, I’m not sure, as the talent point changes are basically going to make it impossible for me to play alts. Maybe I’ll finally grind stupid and useless quests and get some crazy achievements.

  2. Rezznul says:

    I forgot how much I laughed the first time I saw that BC resto guide. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I missed pre-BC, so I am spoiled with being able to HoT whomever I want.

  3. Kurn says:

    ahahaha, beautiful! I’ve never seen that before. ๐Ÿ™‚ It certainly does cover the BC healing style of druids pretty well. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Also, wow, it’s been a long, LONG time since I’ve seen the old druid trees. I should find the old pally trees…

  4. Wharep says:

    Wow, I never knew about wowprovider. That’s an awesome site. I’d totally forgotten how screwed the druid talents was in vanilla:)
    But I totally remember getting SM, my gad was that awesome. I was literally jumping up and down when I realized it would heal for the same amount, no matter what time there was left on the hot it consumed. The opportunities were endless:P
    Also, getting innervate as a baseline ability was pretty neat, as I really never got to use it on myself in raids anyways:/
    And I really don’t think they removed the hot limitation on tanks until 2.0, but I ain’t 100% sure. One thing is certain though, it really helped us a lot. Our healing style were (BC and Wrath taken into consideration) horrible in Vanilla. And so were our talents. Comparing them with todays (Cata’s that is) talent tree is like comparing black and white. So many small and big things have improved in this game over the years

    BC was pretty good, though LB ofc trumphed all. But when there was only 1 – 2 tanks, there were room for me to use both RG and RJ alot. I’ll agree that HT never really got back though. I’m looking forward to the return of it (and hopefully TranQ if they do something about it) in Cata.

  5. bluewire says:

    I love how different healers have such different mechanics. That’s why I have a priest, a druid, and a shaman as raid-ready healers. Different techniques for different moods. Priest uses lots of buttons when needed. Druid uses few buttons, but never stops clicking. If all classes had to use lots of buttons then all classes would start to feel the same.

  6. Jar says:

    Blasts from the past sure are fun that is for sure. It is true that the changes are a combination of our older style of healing and a hint of our new and improved rejuvenation with a bastardized BC lifebloom thrown in. Just mix it up, throw it in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and voila! You have Cataclysm.

    It isn’t all bad really and I don’t mind going back to using our heals with a cast time…lord knows I did plenty of it back in AQ40 and Naxx40. What I think we really need to focus on is whether or not the class feels right and has synergistic spells and abilities. You’ve been trumpeting that for some time Lissanna and I applaud you.

    I’d be fine doing tank healing primarily if it felt fluid and fun. Hopefully though we aren’t that limited otherwise it would make 10 mans a bit of a bear.

  7. Kae says:

    Mrr? We had three resto druids in a lot of our Black Temple runs. It made the council fight a “lol.” Massive amounts of lifebloom… we had fun as the tree trio!

    • Lissanna says:

      well, BC usually had at least 8 healers and tons of tank healing, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I also said that sometimes guilds brought more. I’m biased ’cause I basically got forced into rerolling a shaman in BC because I was too redundant as a druid healer.

  8. Lavarinth says:

    <3 the post and trip down memory lane.

    Loved it when Tree of Life came out and on the very first day it gave healing done to the party then they nerfed it to healing recieved. ๐Ÿ™

    Not sure if you remember, but the old 9/11/31 build was pretty popular back then. I can't remember the points but being able to feral charge was fun. ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. Awkumagosh says:

    Having just learned the joy that is druid-ing in WotLK it was nice to see the history of the class! Sounds like I got in during the best time and I really look forward to what Cata will bring. The PTR has a been a blast so far and the new mechanics feel (mostly) good.

  10. Tinรฉ says:

    Great summary of Resto druid healing styles. As a vanilla druid myself i’m very amused about the whole crying in the forums about the healing style changes. Druids always had to adapt because of new talents or patches.
    One little remark: If i remember correctly Lifebloom was in it’s first implementation a more or less useless spell in PvE, because the healing bonus from gear was only added to the first stack. Patch 2.1 fixed that.

  11. Tralia says:

    Man its been a very long time since I saw those trees. I primarily played a Paladin then ( although I did have this toon already) and let me just say, there trees weren’t any better. +strength in the Holy Tree and things like Conscecrate got bounced between all the trees at some point I think. As much as we harp on the Devs theses days they have definately gotten better at placing and building talents and classes. Still I laugh when I think about the fact I used to tank as a Holy Paladin because we had no taunt, and Holy Shock had enough agro in it that it could be used like one basically.

    While playing back then seemed like a lot of fun, I think if we all had to go back and play that version of the game again we would bum rush the Devs. Being a Hybrid then ment being subpar, I’m so glad times have changed in that regard.

    • Tralia says:

      oh man I totally forgot we even had sanctity aura ( increased the holy damage of anyone in the party by 10%) and seeing kings as the Prot 31 point talents oh man. I really like this site.

  12. csilla says:

    It will be interesting to see how many people will ‘sink’, and how many will learn to swim in the new healing style. It feels like we’ve gone from (atleast for me) 20/80 direct/HoT healing in WotLK, to now 60/40 direct/HoT healing in Cata, quite a shift.

    I didnt start healing on my Druid until TBC, before that I was a raiding Holy priest. I just had to experience flight form though hehe

    • Lissanna says:

      yeah, but we survived going from an 80/20 direct/HOT in Vanilla to a 10/90 direct/hot in BC. So, we’ve survived more dramatic shifts before. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Honestly, in healing on beta, once I accepted that I had to use nourish more, healing started to feel good again.

  13. Elemo says:

    I was a bit of a rebel after 1.8. Even though Resto still had its deathgrip on Innervate, I was rolling around in a 30/21 spec, tanking and healing in the same gear.

    At the start of BC, I remember having to repeatedly explain to my raid/guild leader (Priest) why I wasn’t casting Healing Touch when we started Karazhan. He just couldn’t grasp HoTs being used as anything other than a buffer you put up when damage was low and mana was high. I eventually got tired of explaining the concept of him invalidating my HoTs with his direct spells and switched to the Dreamstate build.

    Healing strategy has definitely shifted from one extreme to the other, the same goes for whatever defines a Druid, and I think its important to keep that in mind. I chuckle a little when I see people cry murder at the idea Druids use something other than Rejuvenation or Wild Growth. I remember being defined by how well I shared Innervate on the lead priest, and spammed Remove Curse – Nothing’s static!

  14. Treeboi says:

    Patch 1.11 produced one big change – you could now raid heal without having to use a resto build.

    Basically, you used a 0/30/21 feral build or a 37/0/14 moonkin build, threw on healing gear, and just healed the pre-1.11 way, via HT4 spam, relying on gear and skill to get you through. It was the ultimate expression of skill + gear > spec.

    I don’t know of a single druid back then who used a resto spec, because being resto outside of raids was utter hell. In fact, on my server, it seemed like all the druids colluded to spread the myth that Swiftmend was a bad talent, or at least an non-useful one, just so that they could run a spec that allowed them to actually kill things.

  15. aramis says:

    Admittedly, I didn’t start the wonderful world of Resto Druid healing until I hit level 70 and WotLK went live. I was feral for the time prior to that. Oi, there was so much I didn’t know even then.

    But I grasped healing rather quickly and knew that was my calling. And this was prior to the LK changes we continuously kept seeing (poor Lifebloom). But couple this post with the research I was doing for old gear sets and the druid was seriously hated by the devs. Like for real. Tier 1 set? Total garbage. Now looking at the talent tree history, and this assumption is correct.

    I’m actually happy with resto healing today. I know we’re in for some changes (fare thee well tree form) but as long as they don’t screw us up, I won’t go boomkin. ๐Ÿ˜€

  16. aramis says:

    Ohhh…and when I finally decided to ditch the kitty for the tree, I was healing in Merciless Gladiator FERAL gear.

    You want to talk about a healing learning curve in the WRONG direction, well…there you go. ๐Ÿ˜€

    (And no, I failed miserably at it. I think LOTs of Keristrasza wipes proved that, lol).


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