Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On Hybriding

So, I thought I'd talk about that thing all Balance druids should know how to do: heal. I've said it before and I'll say it again: a Balance specced druid who refuses to pop out of Moonkin and heal if it is needed is a liability, and should have just rolled a mage.

I'm going to use our guild's Karazhan experience as an example.

First off, we run with 2 healers. I know a lot of guilds do it with 3. Now, we're not the best guild in the world, but we've made very quick progress for a casual raiding guild. I think a lot of it is because we're using that slightly atypical 2-healer configuration.

A lot of people say that off-heals aren't desired in raids, but at least in a 10 man group, it means there's one more person pumping out great DPS if there's not a dedicated healer there. Do I top the damage meters? Usually not, I'm usually about midway down the DPS. If your aim as a Balance druid is to "win" the damage meter contest, again, you rolled the wrong class.

The first thing you need to do is practice situational awareness. Get your eyes unglued from the boss and start looking at stuff around you. How are your compatriots doing? Is one of the main healers getting low on mana? Did the melee DPS just get unlucky and take an AOE crit in the teeth?

To help with this, I recommend getting some sort of healing mod. I personally use CEasyHealer, mostly because I'm used to it and I like the click functionality. Basically, it's just a bunch of squares, one for each raid member. Each square displays the person's health as a percentage, and you just have to click (or ctrl- or shift- click) to cast different heals on them. This makes it a lot easier for me to toss a heal or two without wasting time switching targets. There are a ton of similar mods out there, find one you like. Communicate with your healers. Make sure they're aware that you are going to be spot healing if needed. Let them direct you if they have any specific needs.

You're probably already accustomed to using your innervate on healers, rather than yourself. You can take this one step further and make your priests/shamans/resto druids really love you (I leave out holy pallies, because innervate is nearly useless for them). As long as you're confident you can main heal for 10-15 seconds, let the healer get into the five second rule, use your innervate on them, and start healing while they take a 10 second nap. This means that rather than the 100% mana regen they'd normally get because they're casting, they'll end up with 400% mana regen. That's 4 times as much mana from the innervate. Now obviously, don't try this if the tank is holding on by a thread and will go splat when your inferior heals can't keep up.

NOTE: It's been brought to my attention that my assertions in the paragraph above may be incorrect. I'll have to test it out myself, I haven't done so since somewhere around level 50.

Your best bet for off healing is using instant-cast heal over time spells, maybe with the occasional regrowth tossed in. You're generally going to want to avoid healing touch, as it will just chew through your mana. Plus, it's a big, slow heal. You want to aim more for topping off, or for keeping someone alive until a main healer's big, slow heal can put them all the way back up.

If you're needed to help ease spike damage on one or two targets with HoTs, use and abuse lifebloom. It effectively allows you to triple your +healing. Here's a quick rundown.

In WoW 2.1, each application of Lifebloom adds the full amount per tick, essentially doubling or tripling the amount healed each second. Now this is strong, no doubt, but there are several factors associated with Lifebloom that are what really make it shine.

1.) Once there are three stacks on a target it will stay at three stacks as long as it is refreshed before the Lifebloom expires and explodes, e.g. within seven seconds. By maintaining a Lifebloom triple stack the target will receive up to six ticks of triple healing for the cost of one spell each time it is reapplied.

2.) The amount each stack heals for is set by the +Healing at the time the stack was first applied. As long as it is not allowed to explode, the Druid could even remove all their Healing gear and still keep the Lifebloom ticking for the same amount.

3.) In a stacked Lifebloom, since the amount healed for is triple the normal amount for the spell, the effect of +Healing added to the spell is in effect also tripled. Because of this the +Healing stat gains more impact than it normally does in other situations or for other healers.

The key to success with Lifebloom is that not only can it do a large amount of healing when stacked, but maintaining this only takes 1.5 seconds of cooldown out of every six to seven second casting sequence. This leaves the Druid free to use approximately five seconds of casting or cooldown time to cast other spells in-between refreshing the Lifebloom, and also allows them freedom of movement due to the nature of instant cast spells.
So, a typical spell rotation when you're dedicated to topping off the tank might be Lifebloomx3, Starfire, Starfire, Lifebloom, etc. If you're finding yourself losing the 3 stack, make it Lifebloomx3, Starfire, Wrath, Lifebloom.

So, apart from the math tips, it's all pretty much common sense. Keep your eyes open, follow the direction of your main healers, and keep people alive. Remember, if someone dies because you chose not to interrupt one of your starfire/wrath casts, you just cost the team all the future DPS of that team member for what, maybe 4k-5k of damage if you crit hugely? Balance druid doesn't mean "LoLz I nukzorz you," it means exactly what it says, Balance. You're an asset not so much because you are a weapon, but because you are a weapon AND a team player.


Brian said...

Great post. I mostly do pvp and this lesson is just as important there. You can turn many fights in your favor by spreading the healing/decurse/depoison love when you aren't being focused.

This is off-topic but I didn't see another way to ask you. I'm considering Darkmoon Card: Wrath as a way of compensating for the lack of spell crit on balance leather. The WoWWiki page suggests that it's a good buff for those of us around 10-15% crit, and the druid forums think it's great for pvp where it can overcome some of our enemy's resilience.

I saw from your Armory page that you have the Wrath card and I'm curious on your thoughts about it. Sorry for the derail and thanks again for a great blog!

Zerei said...

/second brian

If you're doing 50% as much damage as the top dpser, and 50% of the healing of the top healer, that's still 100% in my book. (Or you know, some combination of the above.)

Fiordhraoi said...

Thanks for the positive feedback, both.


I've found it invaluable, because it makes me much more willing to sacrifice spell crit on gear for spell crit. When I first entered Karazhan, I had 0 spell hit an about 21% base crit unbuffed. Well, 4% hit, but that's from a talent. I've essentially traded about 3% spell crit for just under 6% spell hit. The wrath card puts me back up to that 21% base after just 2-3 casts. The one thing to watch out for is the more you see the "Aura of Wrath" stacked on you, the less you want to use moonfire. Better to save those crits for wrath/starfire! :)


I totally agree. As a note though, be aware that a good amount of your healing will not be credited to you if you spot heal (as I do) mostly through lifeblooms - it credits the blossom at the end to the person being healed. Which is nice in a way, it means they get the aggro for it. Same way priests don't get credit for their frisbee (that's Prayer of Mending, for those not using the super-hip Aetherial Circle slang). :)

Josh said...

"As long as you're confident you can main heal for 10-15 seconds, let the healer get into the five second rule, use your innervate on them, and start healing while they take a 10 second nap. This means that rather than the 100% mana regen they'd normally get because they're casting, they'll end up with 400% mana regen."

This is incorrect. You will always get full benefits from Innervate whether you're in the 5 second rule or not. The tooltip is a little confusing because of the double use of percentage. Read "allows 100% of the target's Mana regeneration to continue while casting." as "allows ALL of the target's Mana regeneration to continue while casting." which include the bonus from innervate.

Fiordhraoi said...

@Josh -

Hrm, interesting. I know for a fact that it used to be "100% regen inside 5SR, 400% outside 5SR," because I tested it on myself way back when (pre-BC). I'll have to test it again, see if there's been a change that I didn't notice.

The Egotistical Priest said...

Awesome post, and keep me updated on the results of the innvervate testing!