I debated writing this post this early in the cycle: we’ve barely touched upon the impact, and for a non-theorycrafter like myself, it can sometimes take a bit more time, a few more bosses to feel really comfortable saying “This is how I feel.”
I know as we ripped through Dragon Soul that first week I was a bit bummed. Mana seemed hard again… but it was just me. My healing team compatriots were doing just fine. I was also struggling to match my throughput. It’s been beaten into every druid’s head: who cares about cool-downs, we ARE healing machines. And I must say, it sure didn’t feel like that when the shaman pushed out a couple thousand more HPS, and had less overhealing.
But, because there’s invariably a butt, I now have a heroic mode under my belt, and I’ve had that extra week to work through some gear changes and different healing environments (I’m looking at you LFR). And while I’m not ready to stand on the mountaintops and declare that druids are the most awesome healers in the known universe (even if we are), I am prepared to say that I’ve found acceptance, and here’s why.
I know I talked rather favorably about paring Spirit down to bare bones. If you don’t absolutely need it, get rid of it! This was actually in direct opposition to our healing friends, most notably priests, who struggled to find enough spirit last tier, and tried not to drown out the healing community in QQ. Now it’s our turn. Bumping up my spirit a couple of hundred points made a huge difference in my mana regeneration and comfort levels in tackling content. Fumes are ok. I have no problems ending a fight sucked dry of every ounce of blue goodness. I have a major problem hitting fumes when the boss is at 10%, I’m out of innervates, pots, and my tree is on cool-down. So if you find yourself in a similar situation, check your spirit first!
We basically have two types of cooldowns, our handy short ones, and our three minute whoppers. I’ll be honest, I was rather lazy about utilizing my major cooldowns on normal mode. It’s not that they wouldn’t have been very good in quite a few spots, it’s just my healing team is decked out from the last tier, and we had more healing mojo than was strictly necessary. Somehow it felt superfluous on many of the encounters to bust out that kind of healing. On the other hand, that healing is cheap. Major cheap. And when you don’t use your major cooldowns and are doing quick top offs with more expensive heals the entire encounter, well, of course your mana might take a hit. In retrospect, this is a somewhat large failing on my part.
The other half of the equation is our more comfortable and frequent short cooldowns, Wild Growth and Swiftmend. I’m used to popping these whenever they become available. I wasted a lot of mana using spells that weren’t 100% necessary at the exact moment I cast them. I needed to heal smarter. While I popped out the Wild Growth glyph as soon as I logged in after 4.3, I actually think it’d probably be just fine on the longer cooldown now that I know I can’t use it right now just because it’s available. I still chose to leave it out, because I like the cushion, the option, to use it on cool-down when damage is high, but it is actually a choice you can make based on your own healing style.
Meters are the bane of the healing world. Intellectually, I know this. When disc priests were struggling for acceptance in early Wrath, I know I told plenty of folks, stop being pigheaded, disc priests are awesome–you just need to ignore the meters. When I made the switch to a druid, I was actually shocked at how my throughput was, and how much druid bloggers talked about their position on the meters. I began to keep an eye on mine, because I knew the only thing I offered was big numbers. I had let my common sense run away with me.
The simple fact is, restoration druids, at least those of us who are primarily raid healers, provide a valuable function irregardless of any number that happens to show up on the meter list. We’re the cushion. I know, because my HoTs are blossoming among the raid, that no one will die immediately when someone takes a hit. My fellow healers know that too. HoT healing allows for healing teams to prioritize more effectively for players that will take immediate damage vs. those who might take damage in future, but can be safely ignored for a few seconds.
If that’s not a valuable contribution to the raid, I don’t know what is.
I’m not advocating that you completely write off World of Logs. If nothing else, you should be tracking your up-times, cooldown usage, and incoming damage. But I am saying that you shouldn’t feel like you’ve had your wings clipped because your healing team is more competitive on the HPS page. I have a problem with it from a balance perspective, but in terms of being a viable team member, it’s rather a moot point.
In the end, I found myself much more comfortable, in my role, in my numbers, and in my contribution when we hit heroic modes. It had nothing to do with the “challenge” but everything to do with gear levels. Restoration druids really shine in those moments when no one can snipe all their heals. When massively overgeared for content, it’s almost required that healers drop down, otherwise, there’s not any target worth HoT’ting, at least not when mana is an issue. When you reach (or have reached) the perfect sweet zone of gear level for your raid team, you’ll know it, and you’ll shine.
To be honest, I can’t find that much to rail against for my own situation. The game is in constant flux, and roles, spells, and stats are always changing. With a few adjustments and an honest evaluation of my role as it is, and not as I want it to be (that’s for another discussion) I found that I feel just as capable to meeting the challenges of Dragon Soul.