So, the forums are full of healer tears over having to re-learn how to heal in Cataclysm. To make things worse, we went from being superheroes (in our high-end raid gear from WotLK) to being total scrubs in blues & greens. So, lets take a look at what is going wrong for many of my resto druid friends:
The biggest problems fail-tree is having are: Not enough Gear, inappropriate spell selection, and the rest of your group not doing the right things.
It takes time to fix gearing issues:
Not Enough Gear for Heroics! While the normal-mode dungeons can be done in greens and low-end blues, Heroic mode dungeons basically require you to be wearing high-end level 85 (ilevel 333) blues (from dungeons & quest rewards). Even then, some heroic-mode bosses will be VERY HARD. If you are wearing any ICC epics and complaining about being OOM, then your problem is gear. If you are wearing greens, your problem is not enough gear. Get gear, get powerful. I didn’t believe this when Ghostcrawler posted this when we were complaining about mana in Beta, but then they released ilevel 333 premades in Beta, and the whole world shone down upon me and told me that Heroics were now possible to do (but still hard for unorganized groups!). So, run normal modes until you are comfortable with the new healing style and have enough gear to tackle heroics. Right now, I’m running OOM at the end of a normal-mode dungeon because my gear is still bad. Usually, when you have some mana reserves left over at the end of a normal-mode boss is when you are ready for heroics (ie. don’t just think that because your ilevel average of the agility leather in your bags is high enough to run heroics that your actually equipped items make the cut). Your tanks & DPS need gearing up, too – as it’s hard to heal under-geared people.
Needs gems & enchants & reforging: Now, the second problem people are having (according to their armory data) is that they aren’t putting gems in their blues, and aren’t taking the time between dungeon runs to get things enchanted (and then whine on the forums about how bad life is). Now, you don’t need the best enchants in the world. I personally picked up the cheapest things I could get from the AH to slap on them, but every enchant helps. I put lower-end gems in my gear, but I at least put something in my gem slots. I also reforged as much crit & mastery into spirit as I possibly could to boost my regen. This is one of the reasons why I included enchants in my healing guide that weren’t “Best in slot” enchants, because I expected the lower-tiered enchants to be more available. You can also go with old WotLK enchants for your easily replaced gear. I will call you out on the Druid forums if you post about running OOM and you have no enchants or gems on your gear. You have to at least show that you are trying to take things seriously.
STOP wearing cloth!!! I covered that in another post here. You lose a 5% int buff if you wear cloth. Just ignore that cloth pieces exist. Don’t be like fail tree wearing a cloth blanket and losing his leather specialization.
Use the right Healing Spell Selection:
Stop relying on Regrowth: The 4.0.1 patch taught us a bad habit of using Regrowth too much as our direct heal. In addition, I heard someone complain on the forums about how fast the HOT falls off, and that he spends most of his time trying to keep the Regrowth HOT on the tank. Let me say this: Regrowth is not a HOT the way that it used to be. It’s impossible/impractical to keep up the Regrowth HOT on a tank because the regrowth HOT now sucks a lot and doesn’t heal for much. Regrowth is a direct heal that happens to add an additional HOT when you use it as a direct heal. The only reason you care about the HOT is to prime your mastery and swiftmend.
Start relying on Nourish & Healing Touch: People want to avoid these because they are slow. However, did you see how big everyone’s health pools got? The increasing of Health Pool size means that these two spells are how you will keep your tank alive in 5-mans (and raids!).
You can still use HOTs some: I think that Wild Growth & Rejuv still made up a decent amount of my healing in the HoO runs yesterday, and I spend a lot of time trying to keep up lifebloom on my tank. Efflorescence’s proc is also a HOT. However, my direct heals (Nourish & HT) are my most important anti-death tools. My advice in my healing guide applies to 5-mans almost as much as it applies to actual raids (since I healed more 5-mans than raids in Beta).
Use tranquility strategically: As you learn fights, you will see that some have periodic huge burst AOE damage. Tranquility trivializes those AOE damage phases (such as when Rajh comes to the middle of the room and does his huge AOE fire damage). I won’t do Rajh at all when tranquility is on cooldown (especially on the heroic-mode).
Anticipate your Group Interactions:
Hard modes are hard: I actually find it amazing that people are complaining about HARD modes being HARD. I think Blizzard messed up with WotLK by equating Hard modes & Heroic Dungeons with EZ-mode-cake-walk. They are now undoing all their past mistakes by making Heroic dungeons actually challenge people in the gear level they are designed to be run (and still challenging for people wearing epics from the first tier of Cataclysm raiding). You have to actually use the right strategy in hard-modes (and even normal-modes). Failure to understand the strategies will result in death.
Sometimes people will die: In the HoO run I healed, we had a few deaths – mostly because I went OOM or I had to choose between the tank and the DPS (and chose to let the DPS die). Success is killing the boss – it doesn’t matter if everyone was alive or not. So, just accept that deaths will happen, and they will happen frequently. You will sometimes even wipe a few times learning a new boss (especially on Heroic-modes). They are not meant for you to 1-shot everything in God-mode on your first day as an 85. The heroics are supposed to still be challenging even when you are decked out in the gear that drops from the heroic bosses (ie. heroics still weren’t trivial in the raid geared out premades on beta). This shift to increased difficulty (forcing people to move out of fires or die) is to make up for WotLK being too easy.
Crowd Control isn’t Optional: I ran two HoO runs yesterday. In the first, we didn’t have very good Crowd Control, and our healer really struggled on trash pulls. In the second, we improved our Crowd Control, and it went amazingly smoother. We went back to Burning Crusade where not using CC meant failure, and your mana constraints are part of what enforces the need for CC.
You will run OOM: Accept that mana is a limited resource. Bring many stacks of water (there is “new” level 85 water twice as potent as level 80 water). However, this down-time can be useful, to explain to your tanks & DPS what their jobs are (ie. set up crowd control for the next pack). Explain boss strategies in the down-time that you are drinking, etc. If people run ahead and pull when you have no mana, let them die and have to run back and teach them that not listening has consequences. It might suck for a while in random dungeons, but someone has to teach the tanks & DPS about the new dungeon design (where they have to wait for healer mana).
Adapt or die! Every expansion, people have been wrought with panic over having to re-learn how to heal again. The druid class isn’t broken. By the end of Beta, we were one of the strongest healers in Beta raids. However, life is hard for everyone right now, because we’re all so undergeared and inexperienced. Six months from now, you won’t even remember how it felt right now. So, just run instances that you can handle. Then, practice and gear up to get ready for heroic-mode dungeons & raids!
And a comic from Ctrl-Alt_Delete’s Fail Druid sillies:
Good luck with your Cataclysm dungeon running! Give it time and it all gets better, I promise! Just hang in there and take the time to really gear up and just know that things get better once you are geared, the rest of your group knows what they are doing, and you get used to healing in a mana-constrained environment.
UPDATE: Various people have posted really great advice in their comments on this post, so I would make sure to read the comments section if you are struggling with healing at level 85! Also, thanks for all the helpful advice guys!