In preparation for the updates to our guides for Mists of Pandaria Patch 5.0.4, we are releasing articles such as this one, explaining what has changed for a particular class and spec, and what the new rotation is likely to be.
Keep in mind that this is still a work in progress (both from Blizzard's side and from our own) and that this article assumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the Cataclysm version of the Restoration Druid rotation and playstyle (such as from reading our guide).
We will first list the most important changes to the Restoration Druid Cataclysm abilities, and then we will proceed to explaining the (likely to be) optimal rotation. Keep in mind that we do not document every single change or new ability, only those that impact the rotation.
Finally, we will give you some information about the most useful talents and glyphs you should choose.
- Ironbark is a damage reduction cooldown that can be cast on other players. It is Restoration Druids' only external cooldown, a long-awaited addition. It reduces all damage taken by the target by 20% for 12 seconds.
- Wild Mushroom: Bloom is an AoE healing spell, based on the Wild Mushroom mechanics that used to be available only to Balance Druids in Cataclysm. It allows you to place up to 5 mushrooms on the floor, at locations of your choice. Afterwards, you can choose when to detonate them, causing them to heal all allies within 8 yards.
- Might of Ursoc is a cooldown that increases your current and maximum health by 30% for 20 seconds. Using it activates Bear Form (and cancelling Bear Form also cancels the effect). It can prove to be a useful cooldown if your own survival is of utmost importance.
- Tier 2 talents offer a choice between Nature's Swiftness, Renewal, and Cenarion Ward. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 4 talents offer a choice between Soul of the Forest, Incarnation: Tree of Life, and Force of Nature. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Tier 6 talents offer a choice between Heart of the Wild, Dream of Cenarius, and Nature's Vigil. We discuss these talents in greater depth in the Talents section.
- Symbiosis is a buff that you can place on one party or raid member. The buff lasts for 1 hour, and grants you an ability belonging to the target's class, depending on what your specialisation is. At the same time, the target receives one of your spells. A full list of all the buffs granted by Symbiosis can be found here. Note that these spells are still likely to change.
Changes to Existing Mechanics
- The duration of the Mastery: Harmony buff has been increased to 20 seconds (up from 10), making it much easier to keep up this buff.
- Swiftmend now automatically applies the Efflorescence effect (previously, a talent was required for this to happen).
Removed AbilitiesNone of the abilities that Restoration Druids made frequent use of during Cataclysm have been removed.
Rotation and Spell UsageSince healers do not have a rotation per se, it is hard to briefly list the rotation of Restoration Druids. The detailed explanations that we provide in our Cataclysm guide are beyond the scope of this article. Instead, we will just mention a few things that are interesting or relevant.
- The playstyle has remained virtually unchanged. Unless specified otherwise above, all spell mechanics and interactions function exactly as they did during Cataclysm. Many of these mechanics were granted by talents, but they are now provided automatically as passive abilities.
- The only novelty comes from incorporating some of the new abilities into your gameplay. Most of these are high-cooldown abilities (described in the section below), and their usage is either intuitive or heavily reliant on encounter mechanics.
TalentsTier 1 talents offer a choice between 3 means of increasing your movement abilities:
- Feline Swiftness is a passive ability that increases your movement speed by 15% at all times.
- Displacer Beast is an active ability that teleports you 20 yards forward and activates Cat Form and Prowl.
- Wild Charge is an active ability that differs based on the shapeshift form you are in, as follows:
- No shapeshift form: you fly to an ally's location.
- Bear Form: you charge an enemy, immobilizing them for 4 seconds.
- Cat Form: you leap behind an enemy, dazing them for 3 seconds.
- Travel Form: you leap forwards 20 yards.
- Aquatic Form: your swim speed is increased by 150% for 5 seconds.
Tier 2 talents offer a choice between 3 healing spells:
- Nature's Swiftness is an active healing cooldown that makes your next Healing Touch, Nourish, or Regrowth instant cast and free of mana cost. Moreover, it increases both the potency of the spell and the spell's duration (in the case of HoTs) by 50%. Nature's Swiftness also affects some utility spells, but this is less important.
- Renewal is a powerful self-heal with a 2 minute cooldown.
- Cenarion Ward is a buff that you can place on a friendly player, lasting up to 30 seconds. When the player takes damage, Cenarion Ward activates a powerful 6 second HoT on them, consuming the buff in the process (meaning that it will only trigger one HoT per Cenarion Ward).
Which of the other two talents you choose depends on your healing role. Tank healers will probably prefer Cenarion Ward, since the tank is guaranteed to take damage, thus triggering the HoT, while players who have more general healing assignments (such as being a healer in a 10-man raid) will probably prefer Nature's Swiftness.
The choice will also depend on the mechanics of the encounter.
Tier 3 talents offer a choice between 3 crowd control spells:
- Faerie Swarm is a spell that replaces Faerie Fire, upgrading the latter spell, causing it to also slow the target's movement speed by 50% for 15 seconds.
- Mass Entanglement is an AoE root, that roots up to 5 targets in place.
- Typhoon is a spell that affects targets in a cone in front of you, knocking them back and dazing them for 6 seconds.
Tier 4 talents offer a choice between 3 talents that each significantly improve your healing performance:
- Soul of the Forest is a passive ability that grants you 50% increased haste for the first spell you cast after casting Swiftmend.
- Incarnation: Tree of Life grants you the Tree of Life healing cooldown. It increases all healing you do by 15% and enhances your Lifebloom (allows it to be up on multiple targets simultaneously), Wild Growth (causes it to affect 2 additional targets), and Regrowth (makes it instant cast) for 30 seconds.
- Force of Nature is an active ability that summons 3 treants for 15 seconds. The treants heal nearby allies.
Tier 5 talents offer a choice between 3 utility spells:
- Disorienting Roar is an AoE disorient that lasts for 3 seconds and affects all enemies in a 10 yard radius.
- Ursol's Vortex is a targeted AoE slow. When enemies first try to leave the slowing area, they are pulled back in.
- Mighty Bash is a single target 5 second stun.
Tier 6 talents offer a choice between 3 talents that can affect your gameplay:
- Heart of the Wild increases your Stamina, Agility, and Intellect by 6% at all times. Additionally, with a 6 minute cooldown, it allows you to viably perform roles outside of your Restoration specialisation, for 45 seconds:
- allows you to tank in Bear Form, by ensuring that you are not susceptible to critical hits, that you gain Vengeance from damage taken, and that your melee stats and your armor are increased.
- allows you to DPS in Cat Form, by increasing your Agility, Expertise, and Hit Chance.
- allows you to DPS as a caster, by increasing your Spell Damage and Hit Chance, and reducing the mana cost of all your damaging spells by 100%
- Dream of Cenarius is a passive ability that grants you a healing bonus each time you deal damage, and a damaging bonus each time you heal.
- Casting Wrath, Starfire, and Starsurge, or performing a melee attack increases the healing of your next healing spell (except Tranquility) by 30%.
- Casting Nourish, Healing Touch, and Regrowth increases the damage of your next 2 Moonfire or Sunfire by 100%, or the damage done by your next 2 melee abilities by 30%.
- Nature's Vigil is a 3 minute cooldown that increases all healing and damage done by 20% for 30 seconds. While Nature's Vigil is active, all single target healing spells also damage a nearby enemy for 25% of the healing done, and all single target damage spells also heal a nearby ally for 25% of the damage done.
Nature's Vigil may pull ahead for most encounters, since it provides a 20% healing increase for 30 seconds, making it a very useful healing cooldown to have. More tests will have to be conducted, but the choice will probably differ on an encounter-by-encounter basis.
GlyphsNote that we only discuss Major Glyphs here, since Minor Glyphs are purely cosmetic and do not influence your gameplay at all. Unlike other specialisations, Restoration Druids have several glyphs that are clear improvements to their raid performance:
- Glyph of Healing Touch reduces the remaining cooldown of Swiftmend by 1 second each time you cast Healing Touch. This glyph seems to be beneficial in all situations.
- Glyph of Lifebloom allows you to retain all the stacks of Lifebloom when you cast it on a new target (while not in Tree of Life form). Without the glyph, casting Lifebloom on a new target will apply it with a single stack, even if the previous target had 3 stacks. This glyph seems excellently suited for fights where tank-switches occur. Again, it seems to be beneficial in all situations.
- Glyph of Rejuvenation reduces the cast time of Nourish by 30% when you have Rejuvenation active on 3 or more targets. Considering the wide usage of Rejuvenation, this glyph seems like it will be very useful.
- Glyph of Blooming causes your Lifebloom to heal for 50% more when it blooms, but it reduces its duration by 5 seconds and no longer allows it to be refreshed by other single target heals on the target. This is probably going to only be useful in PvP, where Lifebloom can often be dispelled.
- Glyph of Regrowth increases the critical strike chance of Regrowth by 40%, but removes its HoT component. This glyph will probably be useful in situations where healing targets over time (in an emergency) is not needed or useful, allowing you to increase the potency of the initial heal.
- Glyph of Wild Growth causes Wild Growth to heal an additional target, but increases its cooldown by 2 seconds. Choosing whether or not to take this glyph seems to still be determined in the same way as during Cataclysm.
- Glyph of Rebirth remains unchanged from Cataclysm. It resurrects players with full health. This is a near-mandatory glyph for raiders. However, since it now shares a category (Major Glyphs) with other important glyphs, it may be best to only use it when absolutely necessary, namely on encounters where there is a lot of AoE damage that can kill a newly-resurrected player.
- Glyph of Innervate causes your Innervate to regenerate 10% of your maximum mana when cast on other players, in addition to regenerating their mana. This glyph will be useful when you find yourself regularly casting Innervate on other healers.
- Glyph of Stampede removes any form requirement from Stampeding Roar. In the event that your assignment is to cast Stampeding Roar during a time of heavy damage, this glyph may prove slightly beneficial to you.
- Glyph of Stampeding Roar increases the radius of Stampeding Roar by 30 yards. This glyph may be useful in certain situations.