So, with the patch coming “soon”, I have been working on getting my healing guide ready for patch day. However, as I make the changes, most of them revolve around the new mastery ability and learning how to adapt our healing style to stop the “hot chasing” and start managing the buff.
Back in may, I wrote a post explaining a little bit about what Harmony is. You should read that now if you need a refresher. For people who don’t want to read the other post, here is a reminder of Harmony’s 2 effects:
- First, it buffs all of our direct heals by 10% plus mastery on your gear. Direct heals are considered to be: nourish, regrowth, healing touch, and swiftmend.
- Second, you get a buff on YOU for 10 seconds that buffs your HOTs by 10% plus mastery from gear. You get this buff every time you cast a direct heal (including swiftmend!).
The purpose of these two effects is such that: casting a direct heal always benefits from the bonus. Your HOTs only benefit while the buff is up from casting direct heals. This is the point where there are usually complaints from the resto community about having to cast direct heals at all, but I think this change very clearly shows that Blizzard’s design for resto druids involves casting a mix of both direct heals & HOTs. Furthermore, this new mastery does it in a way that is helpful and promotes a great healing style.
Out with the old.
The problem with the previous mastery (symbiosis) is that it wasn’t very raid-healing-friendly in 25-man raids. Sure, it was great for tank healing, and you could find ways to “game” it to work in your favor for AOE healing, but we were no longer making smart decisions about who to heal with every cast. Instead, we were managing our mastery to try and get the most out of it by having to follow one HOT with another HOT, and then follow more HOTs with more HOTs and chase our HOTs around. Oh, and where did our direct heals go? Well, if you weren’t tank healing, you could just HOT & swiftmend all around and ignore the 3 main direct heals that all our talents focused around. This last point, I think, is why Blizzard decided to change the mastery. So, with the change of the mastery, out goes “HOT chasing”, since the only heal that requires a HOT to be on the target is Nourish. Unlearning bad habits taught to you by Symbiosis will be the hardest part of patch day.
In with the new – Tank healing.
If you were tank healing (or healing 5-man dungeons), VERY little changes for you in terms of your healing on the tank. However, if you throw out Rejuv on other people while tank healing, then the mastery will benefit those HOTs you throw out on the raid (and thus throwing out HOTs to the raid is rewarded more by not having to worry about whether or not you get mastery bonuses for doing such). The amount of healing you get on the tank from the mastery bonus went down a little bit in the balancing of the new mastery, so it’s possible your #’s on the tank could drop a tiny bit. However, if you are throwing out rejuvs to a second tank, Wild Growth on the melee, and benefiting from the increased healing from the critical strike change, then your numbers should look fine.
In with the new – Raid/AOE healing.
This is where things get interesting. You can’t “chase HOTs” anymore (well, you can, but you don’t get anything extra from doing such). It may be more likely that you will want to put HOTs on people who don’t already have HOTs to reduce the amount of overhealing they’ll do.
You also have to worry somewhat about priming your mastery. First, remember that swiftmend primes the mastery. Thus, you need to use Swiftmend pretty much every time it comes off cooldown, because it is the best spell we have in our toolbook (it tank heals, it raid heals, it’s instant cast, it’s mana efficient, and efflorescence rocks). Swiftmend requires a rejuv or regrowth to be on the target – but remember that regrowth always benefits from the mastery because it is a direct heal. So, I would recommend using regrowth inbetween Swiftmend refreshes, since you can cast Regrowth after the Harmony buff wears off, to stretch out the amount of time you have between refreshes, and then follow that regrowth with some rejuvs that you then swiftmend when it comes off cooldown, rinse & repeat. Thus, I’m putting more weight on regrowth, which probably needs at least 2 talent points in Nature’s Bounty to be worthwhile, but the change to crit heals will make those points more valuable in your spec, anyway.
However, there is a complication with my Regrowth plan – which is that you run the risk of wasting your Nature’s Grace procs (which come from casting regrowth and will only be active for once a minute). Now, I’m actually not very good at planning my Nature’s Grace procs, so I will probably end up wasting them sometimes. However, using Regrowth more will help if you have been forgetting to use regrowth enough to get the procs when you need them, anyway. So, for more advanced players, you’ll want to manage regrowth use more carefully than beginners might. You can also use Nourish and Healing Touch as direct heals as needed to give people more burst healing (if you are helping out on a tank, etc), but these slower heals may be more annoying to cast as a raid healer. So, how you prime your mastery really relies upon how you decide to manage using direct heals.
Also keep in mind that you should be keeping up lifebloom on your tank. So, your direct healing can actually be used on the tank to refresh lifeblooms when you want to proc the mastery. In this case, you may actually want to cast a nourish or HT on the tank for helping out your tank healer if you are saving Regrowth for NG procs.
Is this starting to sound complicated?
While we really have a lot to juggle with all of our different tools, our 4.2 healing style is really much less complicated than how our old mastery used to work. As a tank healer, you’ll automatically have 100% up-time on your mastery (or you are doing it wrong). For raid healing, it comes down to using Swiftmend often to keep up the buff as much as possible, and then juggle your other direct heals into your rotation more often (either as part of your raid healing toolset, or for refreshing Lifebloom on your tank). Since our talents are already designed to encourage mixing direct heals into our HOT-focused healing strategy, the new mastery fits perfectly into Blizzard’s design for us (and I’m amazed it has taken them this long to figure out how to do our Mastery right).
I’m pretty sure people will wish that the buff was longer than 10 seconds. However, if it gave a 15 second buff, then it would be super trivial to refresh it with Swiftmend as a raid healer, and wouldn’t actually require us to do anything else. Basically, we just have to cast one cast-time direct heal in every 15 to 20 seconds to refresh the buff between Swiftmend casts. Even if you forget sometimes, we’ll still have a 2/3rds up-time on the buff from Swiftmend alone (which I’m guessing is higher than your mastery bonus as a 25-man raid healer with Symbiosis anyway).
The best part of the new mastery is that it puts the buff on YOU, and not on your target. In addition, HOT tick value is calculated when they are first cast (and don’t update dynamically each tick), so that if it falls of, the healing done by your current set of HOTs on a target won’t drop. You get the bonus for your direct heal (priming the buff) even if the mastery falls off, so you have a little bit of wiggle-room for casting direct heals after the buff falls off.
Gearing for mastery in 4.2?
In terms of gearing, the priority will still be to get enough haste to reach important breakpoints (where you get additional HOT ticks). Between breakpoints, mastery becomes a slightly better alternative stat for 25-man raid healers compared to mastery value in 4.1 (but probably doesn’t change that much in relative value for tank healing druids or people who were running 10′s, since it was already a strong stat). Crit gets a little better as a stat in 4.2, but since crit is less reliable than haste or mastery, crit will never be a very highly valued stat for healers.
The new mastery rocks. It will work really great with the healing style Blizzard wants us to have. I can’t wait until 4.2 so I can stop this “HOT chasing” that really isn’t all that fun in my 25-man raids.