When I first met mastery this expansion, I wasn’t too impressed. I wasn’t utilizing HoT love around the room, and the chances that any member of my raid team would have anything on them depended entirely on the cooldown of Wild Growth.
When I compared mastery to haste, I was even more flummoxed as to why I would want to waste any of my carefully hoarded stats on mastery. I mean, haste gives me extra ticks per use, speeds up all my cast-time healing spells, and generally makes everything cooler. What’s not to like?
And then 4.0.6 came knocking on my door. My spell usage changed dramatically. And so did my views on my secondary stats.
Before we get too far in this discussion, I’m going to veer off for a moment to discuss the benefits of Haste and Mastery.
What’s not to like? Haste has been a favorite caster stat since it’s implementation in the Burning Crusade and it’s easy to see why. Every increase in haste reduces the cast time of your spells. Restoration druids reach their cap at 5488.16 haste. The problem with haste, is that many players seem to have some confusion about how it works specifically with HoTs (or DoTs, but this is a tree discussion).
You’ve probably seem something similar to this chart when researching haste breakpoints. (For an actual and correct version see The Inconspicuous Bear, the T11 Haste Chart at PlusHeal, or Hamlet’s Tree Calcs)
These charts are great for the non-math oriented *waves hand* What they do is layout the exact amount of haste (raw, not percent) needed to cause your HoT to gain another tick. Without any haste whatsoever, let’s say Lifebloom, looks like this:
Every second for 10 seconds you get a tick of healing. Easy enough. Let’s add some haste. Our 12 tick breakpoint for Lifebloom is at 1219.59. Let’s look at what happens as we gain haste until we reach our breakpoint:
When you are between breakpoints, the time in which the HoT expires from your target will actually be shorter than the overall time duration of the cast (10 seconds). However, when you reach the next breakpoint, you’ll achieve another tick at the 10 second mark.
Although it’s not greatly illustrated in my picture, each tick comes just a little bit faster than those without haste (say .8 instead of 1) so even if you happen to be refreshing Lifebloom on your tank, you’re still likely to be garnering an extra tick, especially if you refresh at a specific time mark, like 4 seconds remaining.
Increases the potency of your other healing spells by x% on your targets already affected by one of your heal over time spells. Each point in mastery increases heal potency by 1.45%.
Basically, if you’re nice enough to have a HoT rolling on a player, any direct heals or HoTs on that character will hit harder (except Lifebloom refreshes).
For the quickest and most basic way to demonstrate this, I stripped my character to her jockies and put her in balance spec. Her Nourish hit for 2500-2700. Leaving her naked, I switched back to restoration where she receives, at base, 8.00 mastery. Her Nourish still hit in the 2500 range.
For every 100 points of Mastery invested in your gear, you will gain a noticeable increase in raw healing. The catch, of course, is the application of a HoT.
Both secondary stats are desirable. Both provide measurable and easily identifiable improvements to healing per second–one through faster application of healing provided, and the other through bigger heals. The question becomes: what to take?
Haste to breakpoint>mastery>haste
First, you need to answer this short questionnaire:
- 10-man or 25-man?
- Tank or raid healer?
- Direct heals or HoTs (I highly suggest doing a World of Logs report…it may surprise you)
- Are you struggling with mana or do you have an excess?
- What is your overheal?
In nearly every situation, reaching a haste breakpoint will be a top priority. However, which breakpoint? The first breakpoint for each of our HoTs is as follows:
- Wild Growth: 2003.61 rating
- Rejuvenation: 914.69 rating
- Lifebloom: 1219.59 rating
- Regrowth: 1422.86 rating
If you have to sell your bark, you should be hitting the Rejuvenation breakpoint no questions asked. I personally would get the Lifebloom breakpoint since it’s always up. Regrowth I almost never use, so I don’t give a flying fig. Wild Growth is hard to attain in early gear sets, and is likely to unbalance your entire set if you are gearing for raids. Once it’s comfortable to get; however, you should.
So, you honestly don’t need a lot of haste rating to get your first major breakpoints out of the way. Now you’ve got to decide: do you want haste or mastery?
Haste is of primary importance to direct healers. You tend to see more direct healing in 10-man settings, and with tank healers. If you spend most of the raid casting Nourish/Healing Touch, shaving those tenths of a second off of your cast-time is well worth an additional investment in haste. However, if you find yourself short on mana, you should probably change over to mastery. Why? Because hasted casts are able to be cast more often, and healers are constantly casting, you’re actually investing more mana for those faster heals. (This is especially true if your hasted heals are causing a ton of overheal).
Mastery is a much stronger secondary stat for HoT healers. HoT healers are more prevalent in 25-man settings and are often found bandaging the raid. Between breakpoints, haste does not benefit HoTs to any appreciable degree (it just falls off a tenth of a second to half a second faster than a perfectly calibrated breakpoint HoT). However, mastery makes every heal on an already HoT’ed player hit harder, and chances are, you’ve already got a HoT on the character in need of the healing.
Despite the categorizations I made above, every healing situation is going to be a bit different. I personally raid heal in a 10-man setting. I use Rejuvenation a ton, am specced into Nature’s Bounty, and therefore, do most of my direct healing with a hasted Nourish. However, because of the raid setting, I could be asked to tank heal at any time, so I tend to strike a balance between the two. I could reach the Wild Growth breakpoint if I prioritized haste exclusively, but, I would lose what I consider a necessary balance between the haste of my direct heals, my mana regeneration, and the chance to be asked to fulfill “other” roles.
In the end, there is no easy or “right” answer for everyone, because there are multiple healing strategies and roles that can be asked of you. However, I hope this discussion allows you to evaluate your role and how haste and mastery can work to enhance it.