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Making the World of Warcraft more trivial, one post at a time…

Last night in the Slave Pens was a complete Grindhouse. I was below
20% durability before we reached the second boss, over two hours into
the run. Now, two of those deaths were my own fault, through not
knowing the instance and the pull pattern (I haven’t run it since I
last did it on non-Heroic mode). But most of them were to do with loose
mobs, Hunters feigning and a lack of any form of realistic aggro dump.
Eventually we had to call it just prior to the last boss when one of
the hunters just had enough.

And I came away seriously worried about my own ability to heal
heroics. I just die too easily, and keep everyone waiting while I run
back. The lack of an out of combat res wasn’t actually the issue –
there was only one situation where a party member died and I didn’t.
And there were times when I just couldn’t keep up with the damage to
the tank.

So here’s the thing – in your experience, can deep resto druids
really cut it as heroic healers, or do they need an off-healer to make
it work?

  • http://www.toomanyannas.com Anna

    Leafy –

    I’m not sure if this is a resto druid problem or just a heroics problem. As both a resto shaman and a holy priest your experience pretty well matched my experiences healing heroics before Annorah was sitting in tier5 gear and running with groups that overgeared the heroic instances considerably.

    My first slave pens run that I tried to heal was as a holy priest in crafted/Karazhan gear, and it lasted until 4am, involved two complete repairs at less than 10% durability, and was honestly so bad that I didn’t enter another heroic instance for months. And it wasn’t because my group was bad/stupid.

    The nature of heroics is to be INCREDIBLY healing intensive, and because of that, unless you’ve got an overgeared tank, healer aggro is a real problem in some circumstances – and without an aggro dump (Annorah doesn’t have one either) it can be painful. Particularly the heroics that rely on heavy crowd control like Slave Pens. I can’t say whether your issues are resto-druid related really, but know that you’re not alone as a healer having trouble with heroics. Personally, the part that I hated most about heroics was that if I wasn’t dying every pull, someone else probably was – since every ounce of concentration was focused on keeping the tank alive.

    -Anna, who still won’t heal heroics unless she knows the tank (at least) is overgeared for it.

  • http://www.allthingsazeroth.com/bitterroots Alyviel

    The only heroic I’ve had real trouble healing so far has been Shattered Halls, and that’s because I tend to pre-HoT pretty early and it was pulling too many things on me during group pulls.

    Other than that, I still cling firmly to the belief that resto druids are as well (if not better) suited to healing anything that anyone else is. Especially if we have an off-rezzer (not healer, just somebody else who can rez) to speed it up a little if somebody does snuff it.

    I think heroics are just rough on any group that’s not especially well-geared or doesn’t know it inside-out. Particuarly if they’re not used to running together. Your experience was likely the result of that rather than being a resto druid.

  • http://yashima-plays.blogspot.com Yashima

    I think Heroics are a true group effort. I have healed in them even in not-so-great equipment.

    I am doing fine healing them if the rest of the group does too. I have only healed Heroic Arkatraz, Sethek, Underbog, Mechanar … I don’t do a lot of Heroics or Instances. When I do, I usually have great tanks so there’s little to worry.

    Interesting to hear that it is mostly you who dies. If I mess up it is usually a wipe :(

    Depending on the fight I use my HoTs as a Tree or in some rare cases I switch to spamming HT. Of course as a healer I depend on not getting aggro from my healing which means I need either a tank with lots of aggro or some CC in the group. If you die a lot I don’t think that’s your fault. Only if the tank dies a lot, that might be yours but it doesn’t have to be. If the DPS dies a lot I think that’s their fault for pulling aggro – unless there’s a lot of AoE damage ;)

  • Bruce Baugh

    My impression from taking part in heroics both as healer and as non-healer is that everybody benefits from having an off-healer as backup.

  • Kaething

    If your group is being retarded, any heroic is going to be hell, regardless of who is healing it. And it sounds like there was some serious retarded if people not-the-tank are getting hit in a heroic.

    That being said, I have a T6 Resto tree, and a Karazhan-esque Holy Priest. It’s like pulling teeth to get me to heal a heroic on my druid, and I have no issues on my priest. A friend of mine has a holy pally with about ~1300 healing and heals us through heroics just fine.

    I’ve found that I am just really poorly equipped to deal with the damage on the tank if it’s more than my HoTs can cover, and I have an extraordinarily hard time if any dps or non-tanks get hit.

    My guild alliance generally considers me to be a good healer, and I’ve healed to varying levels on all 4 classes, but they’re all floored to find out that I struggle in heroics on my tree.

    It really is to the point where I would rather respec my shaman resto and give it a go with her half-assed gear than jump in with my tree. And I really feel it’s a mechanics of how we heal issue.

  • Autumnsong

    I believe that your healing is fine- what a heroic does is point out that unbalanced groups are going to be REALLY hard to go into one with and succeed.

    By unbalanced, I mean that having at least one person who has reliable cc, someone who can cover as an OT, and someone who can OOC res. Depending on the instance, sometimes a warlock, sometimes a hunter, sometimes a mage is the best fit. Slave pens is one of the hardest heroics to run. (Don’t even think about heroic OHB).

    Take heart- its not easy to heal in a heroic ever, but it does teach you how to get the most out of your gear and spec.

  • Barona

    I am going to go with the “Trees can do a good job” group. Like people say, it depends on the group, and I flatly refuse to PUG a Heroic. So all my heroic experience is with guildies.

    Most of my tanks are Kara+ geared, so not that difficult to keep up. I Dreamstate healed (an experiment, forgive me!) Shattered Halls while in mostly Blues and it was a challenge – but do-able. Once I went tree, heroics became cake. Rolling Lifebloom and Rejuv on Uncrittable tanks usually is plenty, and the dps I run with are good enough to generally not need excessive healing.

    Additionally… we have started doing Stealth SP Heroic runs with druids and rogues. 20 minutes… 3 badges. And now that we worked the kinks out, generally no deaths.

    So put me down in the “Trees can heal heroics” camp. But I *do* think we benefit more from having better geared tanks than non-HoT healers do.

  • http://pookiesisnotabear.wordpress.com Pookies

    Lemme just start by reitereating that I highly doubt this is a problem with your healing. It has been shown, time and again, that druids can heal heroics, ToL or Dreamstate or 8/11/42.

    Just remember that if the healer dies, it’s usually the tank’s fault. A LOT of tanks don’t itemize properly and we have to overcompensate, resulting in a lot of healing aggro. Some tanks have tunnel vision and don’t build aggro well on multiple mobs. Some tanks have poor awareness and don’t react well under conditions of “OH SH*T” when CC breaks early or adds get aggroed.

    I have both tanked and healed heroics, and the tank-healer relationship is really a two-way street. You both have to watch out for each other. I feel inclined to say that your tank clearly wasn’t watching out for you if you were dying that much … so I wouldn’t be so quick to put the blame on yourself.

  • http://lonetree.wordpress.com/ Lonetree

    In My experience Heroics were only ever a problem early on. Gear helps enormously to alleviate the stress of a particularly difficult Heroic for a Tree, like Shattered Halls.

    Get yourself a Jewel of Charismatic Mystique, a Shadow Priest, and a great tank, and any Tree should have no trouble healing a Heroic even very early in raid progression.

    Oh and stay out of Tree form if you can handle the extra mana costs.

  • Wellington

    There is a simple rule of thumb:

    If the tank dies, it’s the healer’s fault.
    If the Healer dies, it’s the tank’s fault.
    If DPS dies, it’s their own damn fault.

  • http://treebound.wordpress.com maerdred

    Trees are very viable heroic healers. It all depends on overall group composition. Good CC and DPS mean the world. If the tank’s a pally, I’m pretty comfortable in many instances. If it’s a bear, I want a good balance of CC and DPS, and if it’s a warrior, I’d say the more CC the better.

    But those are just generalizations which mean very little in actual practice. I could find a horrible pally and need more CC than with a great warrior… It all depends on the group.

  • http://www.unbearably.net Runycat

    To be perfectly honest, I find that the strengths of tree form lie within being able to anticipate damage and throwing up HoTs to cover that anticipated damage. Even in BT and Hyjal, I could keep up two groups taking moderate amounts of AOE damage just by tossing a few Lifeblooms around; however, whenever the damage taken gets periodically spiky or progressively heavier on a group of people, you’re better off covering someone’s ass with CoH or the ever-so-over powered chain heal. It’s just how trees are built.

    Although I haven’t been on the PTR in awhile, I have a feeling that, with the new Regrowth idol and reduced mana costs, Regrowth might end up being a spell that’s a little less costly to spam a few times when you’re under duress. Additionally, a Dreamstate build with the proper gear (I’ve still been trying to work out how you’d have to balance spell haste, +HEAL and mp5) might make Rank 8 HT spams…viable. FUN M I RITE? This all, of course, depends on how much plus heal you can effectively stack, but it’s interesting to entertain.

    But barring all strengths and weaknesses of trees, it is, as many folks have already mentioned, your group as well. How is aggro being managed? What sort of gear is your tank wearing? Is it JUST your tank taking damage, or the entire group (and is that how the fight is supposed to be)? A lot of warriors, especially, have a difficult time with the threat generated by druid healing. If you don’t have points in Subtlety and/or have that chant to your cloak, I highly recommend it. If aggro is a problem, look at your tank, first and foremost. If it’s a paladin and they’re losing aggro, they probably blow. If it’s a druid or a warrior, it might be a little more complex. Make sure you’re giving out thorns, clearly, and if you toss a HoT before the pull is established, the tick actually counts as threat generated by your target. Or, if you’re running with some sort of shaman, you may be able to strategically place a tranquil air totem. Even better, the shammy can give the tank Windfury, which is amazing. On average, it’s almost every five seconds or so that the tank will get an extra swing, which, in turn, generates a ton more TPS. Also, if you can work it into your rotation and have the time to do so, adding Insect Swarm to your target mobs may alleviate a little more damage.

    How close are you standing to A) the mobs and B) your tank? Your threat generation increases by appx. 110% if you’re in melee range rather at max range. Something to consider.

    I realize I’m extolling the virtues of sailing through heroics as a tree, but I’m also wearing T6 equivalents and running with a T6 tank. Obviously the more gear you have, the better off you’ll be and the easier it’ll be to stay in tree form. Not everyone can play a paladin who can heal ridiculously in blues just by pressing a single button over and over and over.

  • Erie

    My favorite healer is a tree. I’m a shadowpriest, and we do everything together. He’s sitting at a little under +2000 healing. With a good tank we can do it no wipes – with a bad tank, we can still do it no problem but with a couple of wipes. If i’m drunk – we can’t do it…lol. Slave Pens is the one im most often drunk on cause i HATE that one. Dont worry about tree healing though cause it’s most likely your tank who needs the gear. Get him in Kara gear – let him Main Tank Prince then he’ll be able to do it no problem.

  • iz

    Hi Leafy! Very poignant and significant post, very glad you brought it up. Same debate with my friend, but this time it was regarding the ability of the healer to make up for spike damage.

    My solution to that would be to put all the points into resto and fill up the HT talents to make spike healing that much more viable. When i spec into resto, i plan to do that as i enter my very first heroic as a healer :D just adding to the very engaging discussion here..

  • http://profile.typekey.com/sgt101/ simon thompson

    As I said when I joined briefly at the end of the run “it happens”.

    I wouldn’t sweat about it.

    I think a key problem is the group composition, an offtank is useful for dealing with situations where you drop the ball and the tank dies, a off healer helps with the healing agro and to cover the 10 seconds when there are three mobs slamming the tank. 3 dps can make things really hard.

    As a guild we lack DPS warriors, shadow priests and druids of all stripes. We have many holy priests, warlocks, rogues, tankadins and hunters… and mages… but the hybrid specs add flexibility to a group, so sometimes we have mares as a result.

  • http://www.toomanywowcharacters.com Altmeister

    I don’t think it had anything to do with your healing, or any other individual in the group we had really.

    IMO, Our problem was having too many of the same class.

    Three hunters meant that spacing for trappage was at a premium on every fight and a fair few times the wrong mob went in the wrong trap.

    This lead to quite a bit of CC going awry meaning that you often got killed as I was running back from the pull spot.

    Confused CC in a heroic more often than not leads to horrible things happening.

  • Ayashi

    I haven’t had trouble healing heroics thus far – but I find it easier to do in caster form – healing touch supplemented with hots. Early on in fights I also typically don’t lay on all my hots unless it’s a boss… I’ll toss on a lifebloom and let it bloom to give the tank a little bit more of an aggro boost. That helps me stay alive a little better without something like Fade, at least – and playing with good DPS can really help. Not in that enemies die faster but that they can learn to protect you.

    My very first heroic was Underbog and the only CC we had was a warlock. Our tank was fantastic, which helped, but the other thing that helped is that our DPS was *smart*. We ran with a tanking warrior, dps warrior, shadow priest, and warlock – and both the shadow priest and the warlock were liberal with fears / death coil when they needed to save my sorry butt. Well-timed seduces also helped (when he was using it – he only used succubus for the middle part where the naga are).

    The tank makes a huge difference though. My guess is your tank probably needed some practice holding multiple mobs. My twin sister is usually my tank; she plays a warrior and she is a tanking BEAST. :)

  • http://zedwards.livejournal.com zedwards

    I am really glad you brought this up as I have been having the same question. I am in the upper 1700’s in healing with T4/Kara gear and still have a huge difficulty getting groups through heroics. But now that I see what people have written makes it seem like it is not completely me. Funny thing is I got to level 70 with out ever casting swiftmend or NT. Those days are now over and I regularly use them in my rotation to deal with spike damage which helps a lot. But it doesn’t do much to rescue an overzealous dpser.

  • Bala

    ‘Particularly the heroics that rely on heavy crowd control like Slave Pens’

    Hahahahahahah l2getatanknotinPvPgear

    As a squishy palli tant myself with just 14K health 17K armor 20% dodge and 19% parry combined with 670 block can only laugh at slave pens. Last time a healer with 912 healing did the job without any cc. Go get skilzz plz

    Got a resto Drood myself too, healing is insanely easy on quagmirran. With just 1800+heal I get 1800 HPS when then group consists of complete morons not avoiding dmg taken.

    Don’t worry about your ability, if a healer gets hit the tank is at fault. L2tank 2 freaking mobs omg!

  • http://wowjones.blogspot.com Messyah

    I knew one Resto Druid who was a fantastic MT healer and he was a rockstar in 5-man Heroics, Kara, Gruul’s, Mag’s Lair and even Zul’Aman. With that being said, his bonus to healing was top-notch and he sported a huge amount of spirit and intell. I used to always insist that HE was my MT healer. How’s that for confidence in a Resto? ;-)

    Since running with him (he moved to a different server), I have yet to find another Resto Druid capable of what he was always able to do, and the ones I run with now are all T4, T5 and Badge gear. I don’t know what he did, or what they don’t do, but they can’t hold a candle to the healer role he played.

    I wish he would come back home. LOL

  • Tony

    I am a Feral Druid tank and I have had Resto Druids healing me in both heroics and non-heroics and have had no problems with them keeping me up. I like it when I can tank and not have to watch my health bar. I would try to heal a few more heroics with a group of people you know and see how things go. Get a well rounded group. Hang in there it could have been a off day for everyone. :)

  • Csilla

    As a healing priest I rarely have problems in heroics. I’ve been running them with former guildies, friends, and pick ups since well before I should have even considered stepping foot into a heroic. I’ve yet to experience a problem where I could definitively said, yup, that’s probably my fault there other than random oh-noes-I-had-a-lag-spike-when-I-really-should-have-healed problems that crop up every once in a while.

    Sadly, since I am a healing priest mostly these days I very rarely have the opportunity to group up with a Restoration druid. And while I’ve raided as a Restoration shaman, a Holy paladin, and a number of healing priests, I haven’t done so as a Restoration druid; I just couldn’t find it enjoyable to heal as a druid. That said, my gut feeling is that it is more than feasible healing heroics as a Restoration druid, though they probably have their own share of unique difficulties.

    To be honest, I’m one of those masochists that will PUG heroics on a regular basis. I’ve been doing this since day one of my heroic experience on my healer, mostly due to the fact that so few of my former guild were capable or interested in doing heroics at the time. Wearing T5 and T6-equivalent gear, I still PUG heroics and probably prefer them to a group of friends depending on what mood I’m in. I love it. It’s the only way I really get a challenge in five-man groups any more; there’s something exciting and thrilling and fun in knowing that your tank is undergeared, your DPS may not be experienced in crowd control, and you might take a couple of hits to the face. It requires me to be on my toes, to pay attention, and keep up communication with my group.

    I’ve also met some of the greatest people on my server doing PUGs. It snagged me a raid with my hunter (and it’s horrible trying to get a hunter – even a relatively decent one – into a raid without connections). I’ve got a list of competent players that I can turn to when I need someone to step in and help in a raid or group. And, to be honest, I love the feeling that I get when the group examines my gear and someone says, “Well, guess we don’t have to worry too much about this any more!” I also feel good when I can make helpful suggestions that result in epiphanies in other lesser experienced players who then go on to be even better players.

  • http://armory.worldofwarcraft.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Norgannon&n=Floray Mark

    The other comments are pretty much right on. If you had a bad heroic SP run with your current gear, chances are it’s NOT your fault.

    My first heroic SP main-healed on my resto druid was just after I hit about 750 +healing, which was pretty low for it, and we completed the instance, with some difficulty. To succeed at that gear level, I had to spam Healing Touch pretty much nonstop and chain-chug pots. My hots just weren’t enough raw healing output.

    These days, at 1800 +healing (not that far beyond you) I can heal heroic SP in my sleep and pretty much keep a full mana bar, but only if the CC and tanks are 100% attentive. The way to tell if that’s the case is: are you dying after the other party members, or before? If before, they’re not controlling the mobs.

    It gets tricky on the couple of pulls where I have to CC myself, but macros can help with that. (Hibernate, I think, does work on the rays near the end.)

    Just a few thoughts!

    — Mark

  • Mark Wilkins

    My first time healing heroic Slave Pens as a resto druid, I had about 750 +healing. We did wipe a couple of times, but at that level I discovered that bucking the trend and spamming Healing Touch actually worked pretty well.

    Once I got up to about 1300 +healing, I found that most heroics are pretty doable with HOTs and swiftmend. You’ll still need a Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch macro though for bad situations.

  • Mark Wilkins

    damn i’m an idiot, I totally missed having commented on the same thread three months apart. ;)