Restoration Druid 101 (Updated for Patch 5.4!)

Welcome to Healcraft.net’s Restoration Druid 101 Guide!  Our 101 guides attempt to give you everything you need to know in order to excel, in a brief format.  As always, if you ever find out of date information (or just wrong information) please leave a comment below and we will amend it as soon as we see it!  In addition, we cannot cover every aspect of the class in this guide, so be sure to click on the Raiding Guides and Theorycraft links above to read all of our information on healing classes!

Introduction

Hello everyone and thanks for checking out my Restoration Druid guide on Healcraft.net!  My name is Lavathing and I am this guide’s author.  As with all of our class guides, we like to provide a link to the armory of the author (click my name).  This allows our readers to check out our individual reforging, gemming, talents, etc.  Also, feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below, I will respond back to all comments as soon as I see them!

Talents

5.4 druid talentsOur talent choices in 5.4 are generally the same for most encounters, except for the fourth tier.  Let’s cover each tier individually and rationalize our choices shown in the image:

  • Tier 15:  Far too often restoration druid guides give a blanket “take Feline Swiftness” statement.  This is incorrect, Displacer Beast is incredibly powerful.  Many times a blink on a short CD will be more useful than a passive movement speed increase.  Personally, I use Displacer Beast on almost every encounter.  For more information, check out our theorycraft post on Feline Swiftness vs. Displacer Beast!
  • Tier 30:  This is a pretty big no-brainer.  Ysera’s Gift is incredibly good.  It is passive smart healing that does a lot of throughput over the course of a fight.  Take it every time.
  • Tier 45:  Entirely fight dependent, and has no effect on our healing.  Consult your raid leader on a fight by fight basis.
  • Tier 60:  This is one of our tiers where there is some room to move out of the cookie cutter.  Soul of the Forest is the general “one-size-fits-all” option for nearly every encounter.  SotF will provide the most consistent, sustained increase to throughput out of all the talents in this tier.  Force of Nature received some solid buffs in 5.3 and 5.4.  Due to this, it is now viable at lower item levels and the 3,043 haste breakpoint.  Finally, Incarnation is ok at very low item levels when used as a mana regeneration CD.
  • Tier 75:  As with Tier 45, totally fight dependent, and has no effect on our healing.  Consult your raid leader on a fight by fight basis.
  • Tier 90:  This tier has received some significant reworks in 5.4.  Nature’s Vigil has received a huge buff, increasing the healing/damage active buff it gives.  Additionally, and most importantly, NV will take 25% of all single target healing you to and convert that into a smart heal on the raid.  This is extremely powerful.  Heart of the Wild is still strong on some encounters where there is just one big burst of damage where the 6 minute CD may be useful.  Also, the DPS that Heart of the Wild can put out shouldn’t be ignored on encounters where your raid is hitting the enrage.

Glyphs

5.4 druid glyphsIn 5.4 our glyphs changed slightly from last tier.  We got the new Efflorescence glyph which is HUGE.  This is a must take.  We also want to take Regrowth in almost all situations.  Wild Growth depends on your raid size.  Always take this on 25m, and sometimes take it on 10m.  The Sprouting Mushroom minor glyph is also extremely helpful, considering our new mushroom’s poor functionality with mouse-over macros.  Additionally, being able to place your efflorescence wherever you want, rather than requiring a raid member to be in that location, is very nice.

Gems/Enchants/Stats

Not much has changed for our gems this tier.  Generally, you want to aim for as much mastery as possible.  However, you may put in some haste gems if it means that you will hit a breakpoint.  For gems we recommend the following:

  • Red:  Artful Vermilion Onyx – +80 Intellect / +160 Mastery
  • Yellow:  Fractured Sun’s Radiance – +320 Mastery
  • Blue:  Zen Wild Jade – +160 Spirit / +160 Mastery

Obviously these can be slightly changed based on your gear and item level.  If you have a very low item level, you may want to consider gemming more spirit where you can.  Meaning, you can put 80int/160 spirit in reds, 160spirit/160mastery in yellows, and 320spirit in blues.  However, this is not recommended once your item level is at least 530 with decent trinkets.  Finally, if you can reach the 13,163 haste breakpoint without giving up socket bonuses or too much mastery and intellect, you may want to consider gemming haste.  For more information regarding haste breakpoints, refer to our section below.

Enchant List:

  • Shoulders – Greater Crane Wing Inscription
  • Back – Enchant Cloak – Superior Intellect
  • Chest – Enchant Chest – Glorious Stats
  • Wrists – Enchant Bracer – Super Intellect
  • Gloves – Enchant Gloves – Greater Haste or Enchant Gloves – Superior Mastery  (Depending on if you need the haste to reach a break point)
  • Waist – Living Steel Belt Buckle
  • Legs – Greater Pearlescent Spellthread
  • Boots – Pandaren’s Step
  • Weapon – Jade Spirit
  • Offhand – Major Intellect

Our stat priorities have not changed this expansion.  You should still roughly follow this sequence:

Intellect -> Haste to 3,043 (or 13,163 if possible) -> Mastery -> Critical Strike -> Haste

Haste is almost useless for restoration druids when in between a breakpoint.  Due to this, you want to be as close to your haste breakpoint as possible, to minimize wasting secondary stats.  Based on your gear you will either want to be at the 3043 or 13163 breakpoint.  Refer to the haste section below for more information.

Additionally, you should remember that mastery is vastly superior to intellect in gems where the stats between secondaries and primaries are 2:1.  This is why we favored gemming pure mastery above, sacrificing some intellect.  However, intellect is still extremely strong and you should not pass up on any intellect socket bonuses.

Other

Race

  • Alliance:  Worgen is the best race for Alliance due to 1% Critical Strike and a movement speed CD.  Night Elf provides no healing benefit.
  • Horde:  Troll is the best race for Horde due to the Berserking CD.  Tauren provides a small healing buff to Wild Mushroom:  Bloom as your maximum HP is higher.

Profession

All of the crafting professions yield similar throughput results.  However, we recommend taking engineering.  Engineering provides a lot of utility with it’s tinkers and is easily the best raiding profession in the game.  Between rocket boots, glider, synapse springs, EMP belt, etc. engineers will always be useful in PvE.  Additionally, some fights like Heroic Siegecrafter Blackfuse are made significantly easier with more engineers in the raid.  Below we listed the PvE gains from each profession:

  • Alchemy:  +320 to primary stat when you have a flask equipped.  Additionally, flask duration is doubled.
  • Leatherworking:  A +320 primary stats gain to wrist enchants.
  • Blacksmithing:  Gives you +2 gem sockets which provides flexibility on what stats you gain from this profession.
  • Enchanting:  Gives you +320 primary stats via two ring enchants.
  • Inscription:  Gives you +320 primary stats via new shoulder enchant.
  • Jewelcrafting:  Gives you +320 primary or secondary stats via two special gems.
  • Engineering:  Gives you a 1 minute CD for 1920 primary stats, averaging to about +320 primary stats over the course of the fight.  Additionally, you have access to all of the utility tinkers.
  • Tailoring:  Gives you two unique cloak enchants, one for intellect and one for spirit.  The intellect enchant provides a 20% proc chance, 1 minute ICD, 2000 intellect for 15 seconds proc.  The spirit enchant provides a 20% proc chance, 1 minute ICD, 3000 spirit for 15 seconds proc.

Symbiosis

We get the following abilities from symbiosis:

  • Death Knight:  Icebound Fortitude – Situational, however it is outclassed by Fortifying Brew given by monks, unless a stun immunity is required.
  • Hunter:  Deterrence – Situational, very good for encounters where you need to immune an ability.  Many times favorable over Ice Block due to Deterrence’s mobility.
  • Mage:  Ice Block – Situational, very good for encounters where you need to immune an ability.  May be favorable over Deterrence to remove certain debuffs.
  • Monk:  Fortifying Brew – Recommended, good choice for many encounters; if you do not need Ice Block or Spiritwalker’s Grace for particular mechanics, take this.
  • Paladin:  Cleanse – Situational, useful on fights like Horridon where dispels are very important.
  • Priest:  Leap of Faith – Situational, many times not useful.  However, this spell can be used on healing adds on the Immerseus encounter.
  • Rogue:  Evasion – Situational, however rarely ever useful.
  • Shaman:  Spiritwalker’s Grace – Recommended, good choice for many encounters; this is very good for any encounter that you may want to channel Tranquility while moving.
  • Warlock:  Demonic Circle:  Teleport – Situational, however usually not very useful.
  • Warrior:  Intimidating Roar – Situational, gives you another instant CC, was useful on Heroic Lei Shi.

Haste Breakpoints

The 3043 haste breakpoint is the starting point for restoration druid haste in 5.4.  At the very least you want to be at this breakpoint, and it should come almost naturally from your gear (without any major reforging/gemming required).  You should remain at the 3043 breakpoint until your gear has enough natural haste on it that you can reach the 13163 breakpoint without sacrificing socket bonuses or too much mastery/intellect.  Additionally, once you cannot keep your haste below 3300 (meaning roughly >250 above the breakpoint), you will want to try to get to 13163, as you are starting to waste second stats at the 3043 BP.

In short, stay at 3043 until you can no longer reforge out of haste enough to stay close to it.  Once you are >250 haste above 3043, even when reforging away from it, move to the 13163 breakpoint.  Many other guides/players recommend going to 13163 no matter the cost, even suggesting putting +320 haste in every socket (disregarding bonuses).  According to our math and reasoning, this does not make much sense.  Do not forgo socket bonuses to reach a new breakpoint.

Healing

Now that we have all the standard information out of the way, lets talk about actually healing as a restoration druid.  Let’s go over our main spells first, so it is easier to understand our analysis below.

  • Rejuvenation – The bread and butter of Resto Druid healing.  Learn it, use it, love it.  This should be your top heal on almost all encounters.
  • Regrowth – Our fast and inefficient heal.  Depending on your glyphs it can also provide a small HoT or detonated heal.  Costs zero mana when used with Omen of Clarity.  Should be used often with OoC to keep your Mastery and Lifebloom up.
  • Nourish – Our efficient heal, rarely useful.
  • Healing Touch – Our slow, big, inefficient heal.  Especially useful when paired with Nature’s Swiftness.  Costs zero mana when used with Omen of Clarity.
  • Lifebloom – Our long term tank healing HoT.  You should try to maintain this as close to 100% as possible.  Proc’s Omen of Clarity.
  • Wild Growth – Our AoE HoT spell.  Useful for when multiple raid members take moderate damage at the same time.  Very strong when paired with Swiftmend when you have the Soul of the Forest talent.
  • Swiftmend – A strong single target heal that can be used on any target with the Rejuv or Regrowth HoT on them.
  • Efflorescence – Our main ground AoE heal.  With the new Glyph of Efflorescence (which you should always take) you can maintain 90%+ uptime on this spell.  You should keep this up as much as possible.
  • Wild Mushroom:  Bloom – A large burst group heal that needs to be grown over time.  Since we can maintain our “grown” buff when moving the mushroom now, this has become even more powerful.  Use this often – whenever there is any group damage.
  • Genesis – Extremely situational.  Can be useful for a predicable burst of damage to players with rejuvenations already present.  It is important to remember that Genesis does not increase the amount rejuv heals for, just how quickly it does it.  The mana cost of this spell, combined with the cost of having all your rejuvs taken off the raid at once (meaning you will need to reapply them), makes it inefficient to use frequently.
  • Tranquility – Our major raid throughput heal.  Use at your Raid Leader’s, or Healing Officer’s, discretion during high damage phases.
  • Innervate – Our primary mana regeneration spell.  Use at <80% mana, then off cooldown.

General Advice

The first key to success as a Resto Druid is to use and abuse rejuvenation as much as possible.  This is our go to spell for almost everything.  When your other spells are on cooldown, and you have “nothing to do”, start blanketing the raid with rejuvenations.  I cannot stress how powerful rejuvenation is in almost all situations.  Do not be afraid to constantly cast this throughout an encounter.

However, this does not mean you should completely ignore the other spells in your toolkit.  You should be using swiftmend and wild growth almost off CD.  If you are taking SotF as a talent, you should hold off using your wild growth until swiftmend is off CD.  Otherwise, feel free to use both these spells off CD.  Swiftmend is a large single target spell that is very useful in keeping our Harmony (mastery) activated.  Generally, you can use swiftmend on your tanks; however, do not be afraid to use it on a player who is is not topped off.  Finally, sometimes it is wise to hold off on using your WG/SM if you know that the raid will be taking damage in the next ~5 seconds.  However, since both the spells are on such a short CD, you should never save them for more than about 5 seconds.

Wild mushrooms and efflorescence are also incredibly important parts of our toolkit.  You should have your mushroom planted below the raid (if stacked) or under the largest group of players taking damage.  For fights where the entire raid is stacked, mushroom positioning is pretty easy.  However, what about in other situations?  Well, if they ranged are melee are stacked in difference places, place the mushroom under the group which will be taking more damage.  If they are both taking equal amounts of damage, put it under the group with more players.  Finally, if all ranged are spread, you should probably keep the mushroom under the melee (as they are almost always stacked).  Next, do not be afraid to use the bloom function of your mushrooms frequently.  You only lose 3 seconds of efflorescence uptime for a massive, instant, group heal.  Not using bloom often and effectively is a major mistake I see in  many less experienced resto druids.  As mentioned above, have your mushroom placed under a group, and if that group takes any damage, just hit bloom.  It is not on the GCD and costs almost no mana.  Then remember to replace the mushroom when it is off CD three seconds later.  This is especially powerful if your legendary cloak proc is up, as the mushroom bloom splashes out to the entire raid.  Abuse this.

Finally, one of the most important parts of playing restoration druid is being able to anticipate damage patterns.  As a primarily healing-over-time healer, we need to have our HoTs already in place for when big damage is coming.  If you play restoration druid entirely reactivity, you will not perform optimally.  Before starting progression on a new fight, research it extensively, figure out where the big damages comes from, when, and to who.  Be ready with your mushroom bloom, rejuvenations already on targets, and a SM/WG combo for these moments.  Knowing damage patterns is easily one of the largest areas where you can find improvements in your throughput.

Resto Druid 101 Overview

Here is the 101 section, where I briefly go over everything you should be doing on an encounter.  First, you need to keep three stacks of lifebloom on one of the active tanks at all times (for Omen of Clarity proc’s and tank healing) and maintain your harmony (mastery) buff 100%.  Remember, you get the harmony buff for 20 seconds after casting regrowth, nourish, healing touch, or swiftmend.  This should happen naturally from using swiftmend often and consuming Omen of Clarity proc’s with Regrowth; however, you should make a weak aura (or similar addon) to track harmony.  I cannot stress harmony enough, it is essentially a flat healing buff, keep it up 100%!  If you do not pay attention to harmony, all those stats you put into mastery are essentially wasted.

Now that we have Lifebloom and Harmony up 100%, what spells are we going to use to heal during the raid?  First, get used to casting rejuvenation a lot.  Whenever someone is not topped off or about to take damage, just throw a rejuvenation on them.  Obviously, you can get a lot more sophisticated with rejuvenation use, but that is a good baseline to follow.  For example, paying attention to debuffs/DoTs on players is very important.  If someone has a debuff that increases damage taken, does damage to them, fixates an add on them, or otherwise makes them susceptible to more damage than others, rejuv them.  If a particular group is taking, or is going to take, any damage, rejuv them all.  If the entire raid is taking damage, start blanketing the raid in rejuvs.  Rejuv, rejuv, rejuv is the motto.

Next, wild growth and swiftmend.  I already covered these a bit above, so I will not spend too much time here on them.  Just remember you want to be using wild growth and swiftmend off cooldown on most fights, unless you are holding onto your wild growth to get “soul of the forest’ed” by swiftmend or raid damage in incoming in <5 seconds.

Finally, cool down usage.  In most raid groups Tranquility usage is not left up to you.  You will save your tranq for when the Healing Officer or Raid Leader calls for it.  However, all of our other cool downs are typically left to our own discretion.  Depending on your talent choices this will vary.  If you have Incarnation (which we do not recommend), use it as another 3 minute cooldown for major raid damage phases.  Additionally, Incarnation can be used as a mana cooldown.  You can start spamming lifeblooms on the entire raid for almost no mana cost.  If you have Nature’s Vigil, you should be using it almost off cool down.  Nature’s Vigil only has a 1.5 minute cooldown and lasts for 30 seconds.  This means you can have it up for 33.3% of the encounter.  Save the cooldown if there is a high damage phase incoming 30-60 seconds, otherwise just use Nature’s Vigil off cool down.  Finally, if you have Heart of the Wild you should be using it during the highest damage phase in the encounter.  You cannot use HotW often, due to its six minute cool down.  So, you need to save it for the best moment in the fight.  Additionally, you can use HotW as a DPS buff rather than a healing buff if your raid is having enrage issues.  The last cool down at your disposal is innervate.  Just use it at <80% mana, then off cooldown.  Try to use innervate early to maximize the number of times you can innervate in a fight.

Conclusion

Thank you for taking the time to read my restoration druid guide!  I sincerely hope that it was helpful and insightful for you.  If you have any questions at all please feel free to put a comment below and I will attempt to answer them as soon as possible.  As always, if you find anything to be out of date, inaccurate, questionable, etc. please leave a comment or tweet us as soon as possible.  Finally, there is only so much you can put into a guide, so please read our other Raiding Guides and Theorycraft Essays regularly, as many of them will be about resto druids.  Happy Healing!

6 comments

  1. Great guide, just what I was looking for. :D
    But wait – I would like you to do some clarification on the haste caps, as I keep reading differentiating points on this. You say either 3,043 (or 13,163 if possible). Icy Veins say there are five haste breakpoints; with 5% haste buff these are 3.043, 6.652, 8.033, 10.970, and 13.163. Further, this guide mentions a bunch of breakpoints as well: http://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/1323918-Resto-Druid-Guide-5-4

    What do you think of the caps in between 3.043 and 13.163?

    Are there different haste cap priorities for whether you’re healing 25m or 10m?

    Looking forward to hearing what you think. :D

    1. Hey, thanks for replying to the guide and I’m glad you enjoyed it! Now, about the haste breakpoints. Generally for this tier resto druids either sit at the 3,043 BP and go full mastery (if their gear does not have enough haste) or at the 13,163 BP and get whatever mastery after that they can. The 6,652 BP was “sort of” popular during ToT, but I never bought the hype. The main reason you primarily pay attention to 3,043 and 13,163 is because those are the two breakpoints that REJUVENATION gets an extra tick (without needing SotF on it). Most of the in between breakpoints give extra ticks to either Wild Growth of Rejuvenation while they are hasted by Soul of the Forest. The only exception being that the 6,652 gives extra ticks to un-SotF’d WG.

      So, this means that the only breakpoints that don’t require SotF to haste a spell for the extra ticks are 3043, 6652, and 13163. Furthermore, the 6652 only gives 2 extra ticks to WG. Giving up potentially 3609 mastery to get 2 extra ticks on WG is hardly worth it in 99% of situations. Any of the non-6652 breakpoints between 3043-13163 that other guides mention are even less worth it. They only give you extra ticks on SotF-hasted Rejuvs and WGs. This means if you aren’t running SotF, those breakpoints are literally useless. But then if you ARE running SotF, then only once every 15 seconds are those breakpoints doing anything. Overall, the price of mastery for haste is ONLY worth it when getting more ticks of Rejuv (that doesn’t require SotF hasting), as it is our most powerful and used heal.

      So, the general rule would be: If you CANNOT get to 13,163 without giving up socket bonuses and/or reforging out of too much spirit, stay as close to 3,043 as possible. If you CAN get 13,163 and keep socket bonuses and a good level of spirit, then go for it. Also, remember that a “good level” of spirit might be a bit higher than you are used to at the 3,043 breakpoint since you are casting spells faster and with a shorter GCD, so you are spending mana faster.

      I hope that helped! If you have any more questions feel free to respond again or shoot me a tweet. Happy healing! :)

      Haste Breakpoint Source: http://www.totemspot.com/vb/entry.php?b=41

  2. force of nature was buffed in 5.3 so it now has 3 charges and casts a swiftmend on a target without the need of a hot. each charge takes 20 secs to recharge. What’s you thoughts on the strength of this?

    1. Yes, I’ve done some testing with the new force of nature. It is actually quite good now, and I take it regularly. Many guides out there still list it as the least impressive talent of that tier, but they are just plain wrong.

      UPDATE: This comment was made a long time ago. With the accessibility of the 13,163 haste breakpoint, Soul of the Forest is the “go to” talent for the level 60 tier. Force of Nature is still good at lower item levels and the 3,043 breakpoint.

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