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Druid Guide, Part 4: Healing
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This section will cover the subject of druid healing as completely as I can: theory, practice, talents, and gear. I go over tree healing, Dreamstate healing, and low-level healing. This section is mostly my opinion. Obviously I think I’m right (otherwise it wouldn’t be my opinion) but remember that I am not the All-Knowing Tree God of Healing.
Healing Theory: Who Lives, and Who Dies?
Some healers are of the opinion that as long as the boss goes down, it’s okay that raid members died. There is some truth to this, and in any case player deaths are often not the healer’s fault. However, the
healers make it their creed that Nobody Dies. These are the healers who are the most fun to play with, who most free other players to concentrate on doing their jobs and allow other players to trust that, so long as they do their job well, their healer will keep them alive.
Of course, even the best healers recognize that sometimes you have to choose between letting one group member die. This decision might come suddenly: two players are taking damage, and about to die, and you have time only to heal one. Or it might be more subtle: your tank is really pushing your HPS, but your melee DPS is taking a slow but steady trickle of damage. You
heal the DPS with some quick heals, but that might mean you don’t have enough mana to last the whole fight for the tank. What do you do?
The real answer is that you heal whoever will contribute most to winning the fight. Most of the time that means healing the tank first, but it might also mean healing a fellow healer (
occasionally it will be better to heal a DPSer first, such as when the boss is very low on HP and can be kited, you’re down to your very last heal, and you can either heal the tank or the hunter). When it comes to choosing different DPS to heal, the rule is the same but the application can be trickier. This kind of healing requires you to know who each of your DPS is, and how each of them can contribute to this particular fight at this particular moment. For instance, your mage might have twice the DPS of your rogue, but if the mage is out of mana and you have to choose, you should probably heal the rogue first. If the mage has mana left and you don’t
a rogue’s abilities for this particular fight, you should probably heal the mage. This need to keep track of your party’s resources and abilities throughout the fight is one of the things that makes healing such a satisfying challenge.
Healing Theory: What is a Tree Good For, and How Often Should You Water It?
A healer has only one job in a group, but it’s an unusually complicated one: he must prevent everybody (yes, everybody) from dying. Before we get into
a healer does that, it’s worth asking
. There are two reasons why healers keep everybody alive: first, because most players get frustrated when they die repeatedly, and that makes the game less fun; and second, because his other group members are the ones who actually kill mobs.
Think of a healer (or more specifically, a healer’s mana bar) as a walking battery of hit points that can jack into other players and transfer some of his reserve HP to them. Once you think about your mana in this way, you can realize the two great dimensions of healing: hit points per second and hit points per mana.
Hit points per second (HPS) is how fast you can transfer your reserve HP into a player’s HP bar. Hit points per mana (HPM) describes how many reserve HP your mana bar represents. Different healing spells have different mana efficiencies, so your choice of healing spells determines just how many hit points are really crammed into that mana bar. Obviously it does you no good to have 50,000 HP in your mana bar if you can’t hand it out fast enough to make a difference. At the same time, it does nobody any good if you can transfer 5,000 hit points per second but doing so will run you out of mana midway through the fight.
The healer’s role is designed to make you trade off between HPS and HPM. For the most part, Blizzard has designed the healing spells in the game so that high HPS results in low HPM, and vice versa. So how do you know when to sacrifice one for the other?
In general, HPS is more important than HPM. If you can keep your group alive
, it might not matter that you’re out of mana
. But if your group dies now, it will do you no good to have mana when they go down. However, as a matter of
, this means you should use your most mana-efficient heals first, and then move down the list until you’ve found a heal with the maximum HPM for the necessary HPS. This is good advice for any healer, but it’s particularly literal advice for druids, since three of our five healing spells are heal-over-time (HoT) spells. We can literally start our HoT with the best HPM ticking, then move to the next-best HPM, and so on.
So how do our spells stack up in terms of HPM?
Healing Theory: Healing Spells
A druid has four main healing spells and one talented healing spell (
It's obvious that a full HoT rotation looks like this:
3x Lifebloom stack, refreshed every 7 seconds
1x Rejuvenation, refreshed every 12 seconds
1x Regrowth, refreshed every 21 seconds
Keeping that rotation up, in practice, usually leaves 1-2 GCDs free to do other things like toss out a Lifebloom or Rejuvenation for a raid heal, or decurse, or whatever. Slotting in Healing Touch to that rotation is possible but often pretty tricky.
The question for fights that don't call for all-out HoT rotation is which heals you should prioritize over which. That boils down to the question of which heals give you the best HPM.
The discussion that follows assumes a full resto build (i.e., no relevant resto talents), that your crit chance is negligible except for talents, and that all spells are cast in Tree of Life form if possible. The conclusions are the same for all druids, but the numbers will be a little different. I will ignore Swiftmend for the moment, since that’s a special case.
First a few facts:
Healing Touch receives 100% of your +heals (120% talented)
Regrowth receives 100% of your +heals (120% talented) - 79% to the HoT, 21% to the burst (94.8% to the HoT, 25.2% to the burst talented)
Rejuvenation receives 80% of your +heals (100% talented)
Lifebloom receives 94.6% of your +heals (114.6% talented) - 51.8% to the HoT, 42.8% to the bloom (62.16% to the HoT, 51.36% to the bloom talented)
at level 70
(I’ll discuss low-level druid healing under the Practice section below) your three old-fashioned heals have the following HPM, where H is your +heals (including the bonus aura from Tree of Life form):
: 3.47 + 0.0016H
: 4.72 + 0.0021H
: 3.99 + 0.0038H
Lifebloom is a little different, since it can be stacked. Here is the HPM of Lifebloom for various uses:
1x Lifebloom incl. bloom
: 5.46 + .0072H
3x Lifebloom over 21 seconds incl. bloom
: 3.73 + 0.0071H
: (1.71HT - 1.71H + 900.9T - 900.9) / (176T)
where T is the number of times you cast Lifebloom.
"Rolling" a Lifebloom means keeping 3x Lifebloom on the target at all times, ideally refreshing exactly every 7 seconds (actually doing so requires a good deal of practice and familiarity with your own latency, so in practice most druids give themselves a second or so of leeway, I think).
If you plug those formulas into an Excel spreadsheet and mess around (or plot, if you're more Excel savvy than I am) with the variables for H and T, you'll find that a rolling Lifebloom stack becomes increasingly efficient, plateauing at a level determined by H (your +heals). But what's
interesting about that exercise is that the numbers for a rolling stack always come out to better than any of the other options.
For a non-resto druid, of the three traditional healing spells, Regrowth overtakes Healing Touch in efficiency at 1300 +heals; Rejuvenation takes the lead at about 800 +heals. For resto druids Regrowth is already better than Healing Touch, and Rejuvenation becomes better than Regrowth at 430 +heals.
So this means a high-level druid's healing protocol (excepting a Dreamstate healer; see below) is basically:
Roll Lifebloom stack
DIGRESSION: How Does Threat Work for Healers?
This section assumes you already know what threat is. If you don’t, go read the discussion in part 2 of this guide and come back.
Are you back? Did you actually read part 2, or did you just keep reading? I’ll wait, really.
One of the things all healers dread is seeing all those big bad mobs the rest of the party is fighting barreling straight for them. The dread of pulling “heal aggro” is so strong that there are lots of myths running around about what heal aggro is and is not, so let me set the record straight here.
rules about healer threat that you don’t already know (assuming you actually did read part 2):
1 HP generates 0.5 points of threat
Heal threat is divided equally among all mobs that are presently able to attack a player
Okay, I lied. There’s also one rule of druid threat you don’t already know:
The end burst of Lifebloom (but not the HoT) counts as your target’s healing, not yours – and therefore your target’s threat, not yours.
That’s it. That’s the great mystery of healer threat. Let’s look at some implications:
One implication of the above is that HoTs
do not generate less threat
than direct heals. Let me give an example: your tank is taking 300 damage per second. Over 3 seconds, he will lose 900 HP. If you wait for 3 seconds and then heal that 900 HP with Healing Touch, you healed him for 900 HP, which is 450 threat. 450 threat over 3 seconds = 150 TPS. Now suppose you had a rolling Lifebloom stack on the tank instead, so every second he heals 300 HP. Over 3 seconds, he will lose 900 HP, and gain 900 HP in three chunks of 300. But you still healed him for 900 HP, which is 450 threat. 450 threat over 3 seconds = 150 TPS.
Which brings us to another implication:
critical heals are not aggro magnets.
Refer to #1 again. Let’s say your tank is missing 1000 HP. You cast Healing Touch, which crits for 5,000,000 HP. How much threat did you just generate? You
have healed 5,000,000 HP, but you
healed 1000 HP. 1000 HP actually healed = 500 threat. How much threat would you have generated if you didn’t get a crit and only healed for 1000 HP exactly? 500 threat.
What this means for healers is that you shouldn’t worry about critting, you should worry about
how much HP is missing from your target
. Since hit points actually healed translate to threat, it follows that hit points that have
been healed translate to
threat. If the tank is missing 8000 hit points, that’s 4000 threat that you don’t have but you’re
to have (unless you just don’t heal him, in which case you have other problems). You need to be aware of that 4000 threat lurking in the background; your threat meter will not (and cannot) keep track of it until it actually happens. It isn’t the crit heal that drew aggro – it was the fact that you failed to account for all that missing HP that you still had yet to heal.
Of course, you
have to heal missing HP; that’s what you’re there for. Which brings us to another implication:
healer threat is essentially fixed.
No healing class has an ability that permanently removes threat; the best we can do is take talents like
that reduce the rate at which we
threat. But beyond that, the only variable in our TPS is how many hit points per second we’re healing.
If you find yourself pulling heal aggro, it is imperative that you make your groups understand this fact. Generating less threat as a healer means healing less, period, end of story. Assuming you believe that Nobody Dies,
have no control over your threat. But there
ways in which your
can reduce your threat:
The tank can get better gear (or wear more mitigation gear at the expense of some TPS gear), meaning you have to heal him less.
DPS can watch their threat more closely so they don’t get hit as often.
#2 is the big one. To a DPSer, getting a spot heal here and there is no big deal. They might even like it – it’s proof that they’re right up at the threat cap, and hey, if they go over once in a while, that’s the cost of optimal DPS, right? But to a healer, those spot heals are extra threat that they didn’t need to generate.
Speaking of which, remember the 10% and 30% rules? Guess what – they apply to healers too. This means a smart healer will never heal in melee range of a mob unless he has some
good reason to do so. You might as well put yourself in the 30% rule if you have a choice, since it will raise your threat cap.
Finally, you don’t have to fear multi-mob pulls as if they were signed healer death warrants. Let me give an example: suppose a tank is tanking a single mob, who hits him for 8000 damage. You heal him for 8000 HP, which is 4000 threat (3200 threat if you have 5/5 Subtlety, but let’s ignore that for now). 4000 threat to whom? To the one mob in the fight.
Now suppose your tank is tanking eight mobs, each of whom hits him for 1000 damage. You heal him for 8000 HP, which is 4000 threat … divided eight ways. So each mob actually only gets
threat. Which means (because of the 30% rule) your tank only has to generate 385 threat per mob to keep them on him.
In practice of course that’s easier said than done from the tank’s perspective, unless the tank is a paladin. But the point is that it
be done, because of the way threat is divided in multi-mob situations. So you needn’t feel the need to demand that all mobs but one be CC’d every single pull. The threat mechanic works for you in multi-mob pulls.
Speaking of CC, how does that deal with threat? Crowd-controlled mobs don’t receive threat from anybody while crowd-controlled. “Crowd-controlled” here means “unable to attack.” Obviously that includes mobs that have been sheeped, shackled, etc. It
means rooted targets, as long as they can’t attack from where they’re standing. So ranged mobs can’t be CC’d by roots, but melee mobs
, so long as nobody is standing in melee range of them (if somebody
in melee range they aren't considered CC'd, and you
build aggro on them). A mob might pick up a few bits of heal aggro here and there between applications of CC, but for the most part, if a mob is consistently CC’d you don’t have to worry that it will run straight for you when the CC breaks.
Most hunters have to let their CC target run around a little bit, owing to the difference between the CD and the duration on Freezing Trap.
hunters will have a mouseover Distracting Shot macro* to make sure that the mob runs towards them when the freeze wears off. If your hunter
, be careful. You don't want to have a HoT ticking on him when the freeze wears off that will cause the mob to run to you instead of to him. Either make him get a macro, or only heal him while his CC target is actually frozen.
* Basic mouseover Distracting Shot macro:
Healing Practice: High-Level HoT-Based Tank Healing
Druid healing radically changes character at level 64, when you get Lifebloom. I’ll discuss this high-level druid healing first. By now you know what a high level druid’s healing priority is. To recap:
Roll Lifebloom stack
Notice that as you move down the priority list you’re adding more and more HoTs to your target. This isn’t because HoTs are better or worse than burst heals; it’s simply the natural result of using your spells from most HPM to least. This will maximize the size of your HP battery and let you last your longest in combat.
As I said, HoTs aren’t better or worse than burst heals, but they
different. Recall from my tank section (part 2 of this guide) that tanks are concerned about two types of damage: slow grinding damage and big spike damage. Each type of damage has a corresponding type of heal: HoTs correspond to slow grinding damage, and burst heals correspond to big spike damage. This makes a resto druid an excellent choice for a tank healer, since we have the best overall HoT capability of the healing classes, and our most efficient heal (rolling Lifeblooms) requires the target to be taking constant damage or it’s wasted.
What about spike damage? The truth is that we aren’t set up to deal well with constant spikes. The danger of spike damage is not actually the first spike – it’s the possibility of a
spike while the tank is already low on HP. This means that a healer who doesn’t react quickly to spike damage is playing a dangerous game with his tank’s life. Unfortunately, a druid’s ability to react
to spikes is limited. A non-resto druid must rely on Regrowth (which may be too small a burst heal) and Healing Touch (which is plenty big enough, but may be too slow). Fortunately, this is where the resto tree comes to our aid.
Swiftmend addresses the problem of Regrowth being too small by taking the HoT portion of the spell (or Rejuvenation) and turning it into a burst heal. Nature’s Swiftness is not a heal by itself, but it can be paired with Healing Touch, the biggest but slowest heal in the game, to produce a very powerful fast-reaction burst heal.
Both of these spells are on cooldowns, so you should avoid relying on them. Before you use either Swiftmend or NSHT, you should have a full HoT rotation going on your tank. That will maximize their HPS intake, which in turn will minimize the number of times you really need to use one of your burst heals.
When should you use Regrowth + Swiftmend vs. Rejuvenation + Swiftmend? In general, Regrowth is our least mana-efficient spell (see the mechanics section, part 1 of this guide, for some more detail). This means that in general you should prefer Rejuvenation + Swiftmend, unless you judge that a bigger health “patch” is necessary (and judging how big a patch is necessary is the skill that you are trying to develop), since Regrowth
as a bigger HoT. However, Swiftmend receives 100% of your +heals when applied to Rejuvenation and only about 70% when applied to Regrowth, so it Swiftmend + Rejuvenation scales with gear better than Swiftmend + Regrowth. At about 713 +healing, your Swiftmend + Rejuvenation becomes not only more mana efficient, but a bigger patch heal as well. Thus, as long as you have more than about 713 healing, you should never Swiftmend a Regrowth as long as you can help it.
Incidentally, the fact that HoT-based healing is well equipped to deal with grinding damage but poorly equipped to deal with spike damage is what makes us such desirable healers to pair with a priest or a paladin in a raid healing situation. A two-healer combo of a priest or paladin to provide burst heals and a druid’s fast-ticking Lifebloom stack to cover the gaps between casts can provide a tank with a powerful, constant stream of heals, which is just what raid tank healing calls for.
Healing Practice: High-Level Dreamstate Tank Healing
Many new high-level druids are excited to switch to HoT-based healing, only to jump into their first heroic and discover that their HoTs just can’t cut it and they’re constantly shifting out of tree form to cast Healing Touch. These druids sometimes feel cheated, as if the conventional wisdom about HoT-based healing is actually just an elaborately crafted lie. To these druids, I say: depending on what you’re trying to heal, you should probably have about 1000-1300 +heals before HoTs will really do what they’re supposed to. And in the meantime, there’s Dreamstate.
“Dreamstate” is the name given to a number of builds (
) based around buffing Healing Touch in every way possible. There are actually a lot of ways to build a Dreamstate build, but the key talents you need are
3/3 Lunar Guidance
. This build is pretty well suited to balance DPS, but its main point is to make Healing Touch as cheap and as powerful as possible.
In addition to those three key talents, successful Dreamstate healers must learn how to downrank. Downranking is the practice of deliberately using less than your highest rank of a spell, in order to take advantage of its lower mana cost, while making up for its lesser punch with your +heal gear.
Ever since Blizzard decided to put out truly large amounts of +heal gear into the game, downranking has penalized the percentage of your +heals your downranked spells receive (think about it, imagine if you could cast rank 1 Healing Touch for 25 mana in 1.5 seconds and get 120% of your +1600 heals. You could heal an entire raid with 1000 mana). The penalty gets even steeper if you learned the spell before level 20.
This means a Dreamstate healer has three or four ranks of Healing Touch on his bar, in addition to his usual HoTs. The “small” heal is usually Healing Touch rank 5, the first of the “full-fledged” HTs. Rank 13 probably belongs there too, for the times when a really big heal is needed. And then one or two ranks midway between the two can fill in the gaps.
Here’s a table of the HPM of the various ranks of Healing Touch at level 70, assuming 5/5 Gift of Nature and 2/2 Empowered Touch, , ignoring crits and with no mana reduction talents (which will obviously make these numbers somewhat better by an equal amount across the board):
: 671.55 + 69.77% H; 2.49 + 0.0026H HPM
: 899.8 + 81.09% H; 2.69 + .0024H HPM
: 1130.8 + 92.40% H; 2.79 + .0023H HPM
: 1444.3 + 103.7% H; 2.92 + .0021H HPM
: 1821.6 + 115.03% H; 3.04 + .0019H HPM
: 2266 + 122.6% H; 3.15 + .0017H HPM
: 2719.2 + 132.0% H; 3.40 + .0017H HPM
: 2834.7 + 132.0% H; 3.46 + .0016H HPM
: 3247.2 + 132.0% H; 3.47 + .0014H HPM (different from the number given previously because I’m ignoring crits right now)
You can plug your own +heals into the value for H and figure out how much you can expect each rank of HT to heal, and how much HPM you’ll get from it, with a four-function calculator and a piece of scratch paper. The real point of the exercise though is to figure out which rank best fits your need for a mid-size heal (or two).
Thus armed with a selection of HT ranks and the proper spec, a Dreamstate healer alternates casts of different ranks of Healing Touch to keep his tank topped off. Good use of a Dreamstate build requires being able to judge how much HP a tank is going to be missing when he finishes casting Healing Touch in 3 seconds, and being able to select the proper rank of HT accordingly.
As you can tell from the chart above, a Dreamstate build does not give you the same mana efficiency as the HoTs of a full resto-specced druid at level 70. What Dreamstate
do is give you better HPS, which is important if you find your +heal gear is insufficient to provide the needed HPS from HoTs. Once your +heal gear is powerful enough to provide adequate HPS with the occasional Swiftmend and NSHT, though, you can switch back to the more “normal” HoT rotation for better mana efficiency.
One final note about Dreamstate and mana efficiency. Other healing classes learn what is called “preemptive casting” or “preemptive healing.” To heal preemptively, a healer begins casting a long-casting heal (such as Greater Heal or Healing Touch) whether his target needs it or not. If the target has taken enough damage by the time the cast is almost finished, the healer does nothing and lets the heal go through. If the target has not taken enough damage for the heal to be worth it, the healer cancels the heal by moving slightly or with a /stopcasting macro.
The advantages of preemptive healing are twofold. First, by cancelling heals that would be largely wasted, the preemptive healer improves his mana efficiency (you aren't considered to be "casting" for mana regeneration purposes unless you actually
a cast; see the Mana Regen section below). Second, and equally importantly, by beginning a heal before the target has taken damage, the preemptive healer can react more quickly to damage spikes, even when using big, slow heals.
HoT-based healers do not really need to learn to preemptively heal. Preemptive healing isn’t really a meaningful concept when discussing druid HoT rotations, which are mostly composed of instant casts anyway. For Dreamstate healers, though, who rely on long-casting 3-second Healing Touches, it’s a critical discipline.
Healing Practice: Low-Level Burst Heal-Based Tank Healing
Tank healing as a low-level druid is very different matter from high-level healing. This often confuses non-druids, so it’s important that you know the difference to set them straight (particularly when they’re telling you to do something that would be a bad idea). The most common misconception people make about low-level druids is to think that because they have the best and most HoTs in the game, they should always use the HoT-based healing style described above.
This is not true.
healers are responsible for maximizing their HPM for a given amount of required HPS.
is the one rule that describes all healing rotations, for all healing classes of all specs. It just so happens for druids that at low levels most of the time this rule dictates using Healing Touch rather than Regrowth or Rejuvenation. This is because Healing Touch starts off as more mana-efficient than either Regrowth or Rejuvenation, but the latter two spells scale better with gear. To get a rough idea of how they scale (and thus which spell you should prefer at any given point in your low-level career) see the end of this section.
Healing Touch is excellent HPS if chain-cast, and at most low levels is our best HPM, but it also costs a very large amount of mana to cast at all. This means that in order to take advantage of its efficiency, you have to judge how much it is going to heal and time your casts so that it goes off just as the tank is missing that amount of HP. No matter how efficient the spell
be, it does you no good to be paying the mana to cast 6000-HP heals every time the tank is only missing 1000 HP. And if you judged wrong, and you’re about to overheal your tank? Cancel the cast, just as described above in the Preemptive Healing section.
Especially because Healing Touch is so slow to cast, getting the timing right for HT-based heals can be quite tricky. It is, however, a good skill for any healer to have, and one that you should practice. It will give you a good sense of what different amounts of DPS on a tank look like, which is a critical skill for Dreamstate healing and will serve you well even when you transition to HoT-based healing.
Difficult as timing Healing Touch can be, in most low-level encounters with most low-level tanks it is quite
. Occasionally, however, a low-level tank takes some spike damage that catches you by surprise, and you have to react faster than a 3-second Healing Touch. In these situations you can, in order of preference:
Use the NSHT combo
Cast Regrowth + Swiftmend or Rejuvenation + Swiftmend
Cast Regrowth + Rejuvenation
One last note about low-level healing: just because Healing Touch is your most efficient spell doesn't mean it's the
spell you should ever use. No healer gets to stick to their single most efficient spell all the time. For a low-level healer, Rejuvenation and Regrowth are inefficient uses of mana, but they do serve a very valuable purpose: they buy you time. Just like a HoT rotation acts as a buffer in multi-healer fights, your own HoTs can act as a buffer for your Healing Touches. Depending on who your tank is, you may well find as a low-level healer that you need to use all three of your healing spells to make it through the fight.
The reason I don't advocate doing that all the time is because you never know what might happen. Yes, trading HPM for a little extra HPS even when you don't need to can make your job easier. Yes, as long as you make it to the end of the fight and everyone's still alive, you've successfully healed the fight. Here's the key from my experience:
you don't know when the fight will end.
like you're fighting the last mob. But what if somebody tab-targets something they shouldn't have and pulls adds? What if somebody gets feared? What if you forgot that there are stealthed mobs patrolling this area of the instance? What if the tank disconnects and all of a sudden you're healing somebody else for all you're worth?
You never know when something's going to go wrong, but you always want to do your best to be prepared for it when it does. That means keeping your eyes and channels of communication open, and not using mana just because you can. Don't
on mana usage - don't underheal because you're paranoid that you might get ambushed. But don't waste mana just because you're lazy, either.
Healing Practice: High and Low Level Non-Tank Healing
What about non-tank healing (“off healing,” “group healing,” or “raid healing”)? Raid healing is a different ballgame from tank healing – whereas tanks are expected to take constant damage, everyone else in your raid is expected to take only occasional damage (if they
taking constant damage in a fight that doesn’t require that, and few fights do, then they’re doing something seriously wrong).
As always, your task while raid healing is to find the right balance of HPM and HPS. Remember: Nobody Dies. Sure, that rogue wasn’t supposed to get hit. And he
isn’t supposed to get hit
when he’s low on health. Even so, he
, and you need to plan accordingly. However, there’s usually a third dimension to raid healing: GCD management.
The global cooldown, or GCD, is the name given to the 1.5 second delay between casting most spells. Since druids have no spells that heal more than one person (except for Tranquility), every heal cast on one person is 1.5 seconds that you aren’t casting a heal on someone
. Raid healing as a druid requires carefully queueing your heals so that nobody is left un-healed too long. In general, a single Lifebloom or Rejuvenation makes a good “spot heal” for raid healing purposes, because usually the main requirement for raid healing is that you not be tied up with a single person for too long. However, if it takes a longer heal such as Regrowth (or a less mana-efficient heal, such as Rejuvenation) to heal a group member to full, it may be worth it so you don’t have to worry about them any more.
? This spell is usually scorned by druids, which is somewhat unfair. The way to think of Tranquility is not as a group heal but rather as a group panic button. To understand how Tranquility should be used, consider its characteristics:
Ten minute cooldown
Affects your five-man party only, and only if they are in range while you channel it
It gets you higher HPS faster than the HPS you can get in an equivalent amount of time stacking Lifeblooms, but less HPS than a full HoT rotation
In other words, Tranquility is your answer to emergencies when GCD management would make it impossible to get sufficient HPS rolling on your entire five-man party. There is really only one situation that this ever comes up: in a five-man normal or heroic instance, when the entire pull has fallen apart and everybody in the party is tangling with their own mob (hopefully because they’re doing their jobs and protecting you from all those loose mobs). In this situation, and this situation only, Tranquility is often enough to turn the tide.
As a side note, this is why the talent Improved Tranquility is what it is.
, Tranquility does not produce enough threat to pull aggro anyway, but Tranquility isn’t meant to be used in ordinary situations. If you have to use it at all, there might (and there might not) be a lot of mobs loose who have very little threat on them. A single hit from any one of those mobs will end your Tranquility channel in a hurry, which means you have to pop Barkskin before you can start channeling Tranquility – which in turn is an extra 1.5 seconds before you can hit your emergency button, and of course the whole point of an emergency button is that you can do it
. Improved Tranquility means you can hit Tranquility immediately without fear that your channel will get interrupted. Does this make it worth taking? Well, probably not. There are usually better things to spend talents on than a button you only push when the whole pull has gone to hell in a handbasket. But at least you understand the talent now.
A Word on Mana Regen
I should say a word or two here about mana regeneration: what it is and what it’s good for. First off, let’s start by observing a simple fact:
mana regeneration regenerates mana over time.
Obvious, right? The reason I mention it is that
mana is mana is mana
, and sometimes healers forget that. 1mp5 will give you 1 mana every 5 seconds. 1 intellect will give you 15 mana. Which is better?
The answer depends on how long you expect the fight to last. If the fight lasts for only 30 seconds, you will have gotten 6 mana from your 1mp5. In the case of a fight that short, you’d much rather have had the 15 mana from the 1 intellect instead. But what if the fight lasts 5 minutes? Then your 1mp5 gets you 60 mana, which is much better than 15 mana.
You see the point?
fight (unless you’re constantly getting mana burned for some reason) asks, “How much regen do you have?” The
question is, “How much mana will you have to work with over the course of the fight?” Whether you start with all your mana up front or get 40% of it over the course of the fight is irrelevant. Low-level encounters often take less than 75 seconds (even many low-level boss fights), which is the break-even point for 1mp5 vs. 1 intellect. This means that low-level druid healers are often better served by focusing on intellect than on mp5 or spirit.
High-level druid healers, who routinely face fights that are longer than 75 seconds, are another matter entirely. In long fights, the best way to maximize your total mana over the fight is mana regen rather than upfront mana from intellect. So I might as well explain how regen works:
Although it is conventional to refer to mana regen in terms of “mp5” (mana per 5 seconds), there are actually two different mana regen timers that tick independently of each other. One is the mp5 timer – mp5 regenerates mana every 5 seconds, no matter what you’re doing. The other is the spirit timer, which regenerates mana every 2 seconds, and
change based on what you’re doing.
Specifically, the question is whether you
(not started) casting a spell within the last 5 seconds. If you
finish casting a spell within the last 5 seconds, you are considered to be “casting” (also “in casting” or within the “five-second rule,” or FSR). Without talents, your spirit-based mana regen
while casting (see below). A more intuitive way to think about it is this: every time you finish casting a spell, you stop your mana-based regen for 5 seconds.
If this alarms you, it should. After all, we cast spells pretty often. There are three ways to get around the problem of casting halting our spirit-based mana regen. One is not to rely on spirit at all, and instead try to stack mp5, which regenerates mana whether you’re “casting” or not. Another is to try to cast less frequently than every 5 seconds, to give your spirit-based regen a few ticks to kick in. The third is to get
, which reduces the stop to merely a 70% stop to our spirit-based regen.
Let me put this into numbers:
1mp5 has the same item cost as 2.5 spirit
1mp5 = 1mp5 while casting
1mp5 = 1mp5 while not casting
1 spirit = 2.5/4.5mp5 = 0.56mp5 while not casting
2.5 spirit = 1.4mp5 while not casting
1 spirit = 0mp5 while casting normally
1 spirit = 0.17mp5 while casting with talents
2.5 spirit = 0.42mp5 while casting with talents
As you can see, mp5 gives a moderate regen while casting and not casting. Spirit gives a small bonus while casting, but a large bonus while not casting.
Some other healing practice tips and tricks:
Do your best not to refresh your HoTs early. It’s better to refresh a Lifebloom stack a second or two early than to let it expire, but spells only reach their maximum efficiency when allowed to tick for the longest possible amount of time between refreshes. Regrowth and Rejuvenation should be allowed to expire completely between refreshes.
It is sometimes said that Innervate is “spirit-based,” which is false. Innervate quadruples your out of casting mana regeneration and
it to your regular out of casting mana regeneration, for a total of 5x out of casting regen for the duration of the spell. Since 1mp5 increases your mana regeneration by 1mp5 both in casting and out of casting, Innervate gives you 5mp5 from 1mp5. The reason people call Innervate “spirit-based” is because mp5 gives a moderate boost to in-casting and out-of-casting mana regen, while spirit gives a small (or no) boost to in-casting regen and a large boost to out-of-casting mana regen, so Innervate benefits
from spirit than from mp5.
Who should your Innervate go to? Think of Innervate as a reserve mana bar you can hand out, just like your actual mana bar is a reserve HP bar you can hand out. You want to give that extra mana bar to whoever will benefit the raid most. This rarely means DPS casters, since the
of your Innervate mana bar depends on how much mana regen the target has, and most DPS casters have pretty poor regen compared to healers (ir also rarely means holy paladins, for the same reason). However, don’t be selfish about your Innervate even if you’re a healer yourself. It might be that another healer (such as a priest) has higher +healing than you, and would therefore make that extra mana bar go farther than you could make it go. If you can make the best of use the mana then by all means give it to yourself, but don’t use it on yourself just because it’s “yours.” Try to find out how your other healers are geared before the run starts, so you can know who your first-choice Innervate target is.
of a form does not trigger the GCD, and neither does Nature’s Swiftness. This means you can make a simple macro to drop out of tree and cast NSHT on the first press, and shift back into tree on the second press:
/cast Nature’s Swiftness
/cast Healing Touch
/cast Tree of Life Form
Speaking of NSHT, remember that it's only an instant combo
if you're standing still
. The fact that Healing Touch suddenly has an instant casting time does not mean it can be cast on the run like other, "real" instants. Is this dumb? Probably. Do you just have to deal with it? Absolutely.
If you expect to use mana potions during a fight, drink them as soon as you’ve used one pot’s worth of mana. Remember,
don’t care when you get the mana; mana is mana. But by drinking as soon as you’re sure none of the pot will be wasted, you maximize your flexibility to drink additional pots later on.
If you’re using Tree of Life in a raid, you should
be in the tank’s group. Your aura only gets
to people in your 5-man party, but it increases healing received by those affected whether they get the heal from inside the group or from without.
The five-second rule is triggered by channeled spells (such as Tranquility) but does not apply after you have just finished a channeled spell. You’ve already been penalized enough by being in casting for the duration of the channel. It also does not apply to spells that do not require mana to cast, such as spells cast with an Omen of Clarity proc.
Because healers would rather be subject to the 30% rule than the 10% rule, it’s ordinarily stupid to melee as a healer when not casting (besides, have you
what happens in melee range? People get hurt up there!). However, if for some reason you have Omen of Clarity (e.g., you’re a feral druid who is healing at the moment), you
use Omen of Clarity when you’re literally out of mana in the hopes of getting a free cast.
If you pull healer aggro, there are a number of ways you can save yourself until somebody comes to your aid:
Keep doing what you’ve been doing, and don’t waste time defending yourself. This is the best option if you
that someone is going to rescue you before the mob splatters you.
Shift into bear form and hope to live long enough for someone to rescue you. If you do this,
attack the mob while waiting for rescue unless you can literally kill it with just one or two hits (Bashing it to buy yourself some more time is okay, but remember to stop autoattacking!). Remember that in bear form your threat is multiplied. You shift into bear form to gain armor, but you
want to make it harder for people to pull aggro off you.
assume your tank has his taunt available to save you. He might have to regain aggro the hard way.
Cyclone or Hibernate the mob and get some distance so you can Cyclone again if need be. This is the best option if all your potential rescuers are busy and need a few seconds to come to your aid. But remember that if you Cyclone a target your rescuers have to wait until it's
-Cycloned before they can actually take care of it.
Pop Barkskin for the damage reduction and pushback immunity and keep doing what you’re doing. This is the best option if you know you’re going to be hit once but help is already on the way.
Pop Barkskin and heal yourself. This is the best option if you might be hit more than once but help is already on the way.
Run towards the tank. This is the best option if the mob has not reached you yet and you can lead him to the tank
without getting into melee range of the mob.
Do not run towards the tank if you will get splatted before you reach him.
Whatever you do,
do not run away
from the tank. It just makes it harder for people to catch up to you and rescue you. This is a natural urge, and one that grips people all too often (yes, we all panic playing WoW, even though it’s just a game). Resist the urge to run away at all costs.
Tips and tricks continued
Where should you stand? Unless you’re deliberately trying to outrange some enemy ability, I recommend the following:
As a general rule, about 15-20 yards away from the tank – comfortably within the maximum range of Feral Charge, Intercept, and Intervene, and comfortably outside the minimum range of those abilities. This way you are never so far away or so close that the tank actually has to
to you, but also far enough away to give an alert tank a few seconds to notice that he's lost aggro (also far enough away that he can
that a mob has detached itself from the pack). You don’t want the tank to have to run to get to you, ever. He isn’t faster than the mob, and the mob has a head start.
If your tank is a paladin whose reflexes you trust and the mobs aren't
instant death on legs, consider standing just outside the edge of Consecration. This way you’re out of melee range of the mobs being tanked, but any mobs that come for you will always be receiving threat from Consecration as well, minimizing the effort needed for the tank to regain aggro even if his taunt is on its cooldown. That way you might just save yourself even if your paladin is a little slow on the draw popping Righteous Defense.
Remember that although your tank is your
defender, all the rest of your group is responsible for keeping you alive as well. If you have somebody else who can keep you alive, use them! Stand on the mage so he can use Frost Nova to keep you alive. If the hunter isn't CCing, ask him to put down a Freezing Trap for you to hide behind. Remember: you need to know what every member of your group can do.
In all cases, obviously, the tank should be between you and the mobs, as well as any
mobs that might add. This might mean standing somewhere other than where you just came from, but it would be foolish to place yourself so that
are closest to any potential adds or patrols.
keep Faerie Fire up on targets that are being DPS’d. It’s an appreciable damage boost, but more importantly it’s a TPS boost, and thus makes you safer.
use Moonfire on targets that are being DPS’d unless you have an extremely good reason. Your DPS is much more likely to pull aggro than it is to make much of a difference in the fight.
In theory of course everybody is looking for adds, but because you aren’t actually engaged in combat you are uniquely well suited to keep a lookout (this is another one of those “great vs. good” healer skills). If you see adds, say something! You very well might have been the first one.
When do you use Rebirth? Two circumstances:
When it will
save a wipe. In a raid situation you might want to ask your raid leader to authorize use of a battle rez. Ultimately, however, it is your responsibility to keep track of the fight well enough (and know everybody’s abilities well enough) to know when Rebirth will make a difference and when it will just add more to your target's repair bill.
If there is another rezzer in the group (one with an out-of-combat rez) who is already dead, and the pull is looking like it’s going to be a wipe, you can cast Rebirth on the other rezzer and tell them not to accept until
the group has wiped. Then the other rezzer can accept the resurrection – presto, instant wipe recovery. Just like having a soulstone.
Is your group taking the minimum damage and you're
pulling heal aggro? This often happens to healers just as their
enter heroics, where mobs suddenly hit a lot harder than tanks are really prepared for. If you've done all you can to reduce your heal aggro and you're
getting pasted, consider splitting the healing load with another healer for those problem pulls. The total amount of threat produced by the fight may be fixed, but it doesn't necessarily have to all be
The actual resto tree is fairly lean, leaving room for lots of optional talents. This means there is a wide variety of possible resto builds available. For full raid healing it’s entirely permissible to spec into every single healing talent in the tree:
In fact, though, you can have all the critical healing talents by level 50:
Full Dreamstate builds require more talent points, but as discussed above they have a lot of variety in them as well. Two possibilities:
A discussion of the key healing talents follows:
5/5 Improved Mark of the Wild – This is not a great talent, but Furor is of little use to a resto druid. Improved Mark of the Wild provides only +5 to all stats at level 70 compared to the unimproved version of the spell, but your group would rather have those +5 stats than not.
3/3 Intensity – A must-have for all healing druids. Even if your mana regeneration strategy focuses on mp5, you’re going to end up with a fair amount of spirit. This talent makes that spirit work for you even while casting.
5/5 Subtlety – Another must-have for healers. Remember that you have no way to lose threat, and no personal control over how much HPS you put out during a fight. Your only way to control your threat is through this talent.
3/3 Improved Rejuvenation – This talent stacks
with Gift of Nature, but it’s still a large improvement to our secondary spell. Most non-trivial fights will require at least a Lifebloom stack and Rejuvenation, so you’ll get a lot of use out of this talent.
1/1 Nature’s Swiftness – One of our major ways to address spike damage. Necessary for serious healing builds.
5/5 Gift of Nature - +10% to all healing done is a no-brainer. Stacks additively with Improved Rejuvenation, so a fully talented Rejuvenation has a 1.25 multiplier, not 1.265.
5/5 Improved Regrowth – healing spells crit for only +50% effect, and Regrowth can only crit on its initial burst, so this might seem like a poor talent at first glance. The +50% crit chance, however, has a surprisingly large effect on the mana efficiency of Regrowth, which is especially important since Regrowth is only used on the hardest-hitting fights, where mana efficiency is most crucial. Necessary for HoT-based builds.
1/1 Swiftmend – Our other major spike damage patch. Necessary for HoT-based builds.
5/5 Empowered Rejuvenation – If you’re this far into the restoration tree, you’re building a HoT-based build. Despite its name, this talent applies to Lifebloom, Rejuvenation, and Regrowth. It would be silly not to take this if you have the option.
1/1 Tree of Life – This form can be a little confusing to new druids. Note that “healing over time spells” means
spell with a HoT component – i.e., you can cast all your heals except for Healing Touch. If you’re using Tree of Life at all, it’s because you’re confident that your gear can sustain a HoT-based healing rotation, so the loss of HT is not a big deal. Coupled with the natural mana efficiency of a HoT-based rotation, Tree of Life form can produce some incredible efficiency numbers.
And honorable mention:
3/3 Living Spirit – You might think this is a critical complement to Tree of Life, with its spirit-based +healing aura. It is a
complement to the tree aura, and if you’re taking tree form you should probably take this talent too. I don’t list it as
because the tree aura requires 4 spirit to add 1 healing to targets affected by the aura, and this only increases spirit by 15%. In other words, it adds an extra 0.0375 healing per spirit to your tree aura (and 0.025 mp5 per spirit while casting, with Intensity). So even if you had 1000 spirit (which nobody does), this talent would only add 37.5 healing to your tree aura. Now, that’s better than adding 0 healing, and you probably have nowhere better to spend your talent points at this point. But you can hardly call that
First off, let’s discuss the cloth vs. leather issue. I know what you’re thinking: “I’m a druid, I should wear leather.” The thing to remember about leather is that it’s just another stat. You’re a healer. You aren’t
to get hit. If you
getting hit then something is terribly wrong. It would be foolish to wear leather that’s inferior for your
and instead gear yourself
for things to go terribly wrong.
Now, that’s not to say that leather is bad. If two pieces of healer gear are equally good for you and one is leather, obviously you should take the leather over the cloth. But don’t make your healing capacity suffer because you refuse to wear cloth. Your job is to heal, not to get hit. True, you don’t have the same kind of control over your TPS that a DPSer does. But the truth is that there are few instances where wearing leather over cloth will save the day for you. Your first line of defense is your group. Your second line of defense is your CC. Armor is only your third line of defense. A good way to think of it is this: priests
to wear cloth. You
Now that that’s out of the way, how should a druid prioritize different stats?
The theoretical answer is to prioritize +heals until you can meet the HPS requirements of your point in the game, and then prefer mana regeneration stats. Now that’s not necessarily very helpful, since oftentimes the HPS requirements of a fight are beyond the capabilities of any one person, and you’re expected to heal as part of a team. Still, the point is worth making, because there
such a thing as as too little HPS, particularly when healing normal 5-mans and heroics. If you can’t transfer your HP fast enough to keep the tank alive, it really doesn’t matter how much mana you have. And to a certain extent +heals double as extra mana, since more powerful heals make your mana go farther than it otherwise would. So for
healing I would recommend as a general priority:
Armor (i.e., leather vs. cloth)
When it comes to raiding, where healers work as a team on a fairly regular basis, opinions differ as to whether +heals or mana regeneration is more important. Personally I am of the opinion that even raiding druids should prioritize +healing, since our best spells are so cheap to cast anyway, and when working as part of a team a raiding druid’s spell rotation tends to be restricted to Lifebloom and Rejuvenation. So my
recommendation for raid stat priorities would be the same as for solo healing:
Armor (i.e., leather vs. cloth)
* Mana Regeneration: mp5 vs. spirit
Tree druids often wonder about whether they should get their mana regeneration from mp5 or from spirit. I don’t think there’s a single mathematically correct answer to that question for all situations, but the following observations may be helpful. First, some facts about itemization costs:
+1 heal costs 0.455 itemization points
1mp5 costs 2.500 itemization points
1 spirit costs 1.000 itemization points
1 intellect (=15 mana) costs 1.000 itemization points
And now let's expand that a little bit:
2.5 spirit costs the same as 1mp5
1mp5 is worth 20 mana from Innervate
2.5 spirit is worth 27.8 mana from Innervate
1 spirit is worth 0.16mp5 for a druid with 3/3 Intensity
1 spirit is worth +0.25 heals
for a tree without 3/3 Living Spirit
1 spirit is worth +0.29 heals
for a tree with 3/3 Living Spirit
There are two ways in which spirit is better than mp5: it provides more mana from Innervate, and for tree form druids only, it provides +heals. It’s important to remember that the +heals provided by spirit are applied to
each source of healing
. In other words, the more healers you have, the better your aura.
So, is spirit a replacement for mp5 for trees? The question can be phrased a different way: given all the “extras” a tree gets from spirit, if we translate 2.5 spirit to its usable components and look at the itemization point values of those components, do we end up with more itemization points than 1mp5? Strictly in terms of itemization costs, assuming you get to use your Innervate on yourself and you actually use it during the fight, and assuming you have 3/3 Intensity, spirit is the better “buy” for a tree even without 3/3 Living Spirit. It works out like this:
0.25 heals is 0.11375 itemization points
0.16mp5 is 0.400 itemization points
7.8 mana (the extra mana spirit gets you over mp5 from Innervate) is 0.52 itemization points
(0.11375 + 0.400 + 0.52) x 2.5 = 2.584375 itemization points, compared to 2.500 itemization points from 1mp5
You should take that with a grain of salt, since there is such a thing as a minimum mp5 requirement just as there is such a thing as a minimum HPS requirement for any given fight. But so long as you don’t ignore mp5 completely,
and as long as you get to keep your Innervate
, trees can probably feel safe preferring spirit to mp5. If you
get to keep your Innervate, even with all the extras a tree gets from spirit, you should probably weight your mana regeneration in favor of mp5.
* Mana Regeneration: mp5 vs. intellect
What about Dreamstate healers? A Dreamstate healer gets + 0.25 heals per intellect, and 0.10mp5 per intellect (which is itself worth another 2 mana per Innervate). Should a Dreamstate healer prefer intellect to mp5 for mana regeneration? We can look at the question the same way we did for spirit, but comparing intellect this time. Remember that 2.5 intellect costs the same as 1mp5.
Once again, from an itemization cost standpoint only, the answer seems to be yes. The itemization point calculation works out like this:
0.25 heals is 0.11375 itemization points
0.10mp5 is 0.250 itemization points
17 mana is 1.133 itemization points
(1.133 + 0.250 + 0.11375) x 2.5 = 3.7425 itemization points, compared to 2.500 itemization points from 1mp5
Again, take this with a grain of salt. What the above calculation shows is that the “extras” a Dreamstate healer gets from intellect make 2.5 intellect worth more itemization points than 1mp5. That’s actually pretty obvious, since 2.5 intellect is worth the same itemization points as 1mp5
any extras. Most of the itemization points in the above calculation are from the raw mana provided by intellect, which as we know diminishes in value compared to mp5 in any fight over 75 seconds long. Thus, for short fights, intellect is clearly better for a Dreamstate healer than mp5. But we already knew that; intellect is better than mp5 for
healers in short fights.
A more useful comparison might be to compare the value of the extras from intellect alone. In that case the itemization point calculation works out like this:
0.25 heals is 0.11375 itemization points
0.10mp5 is 0.250 itemization points
2 mana is 0.133 itemization points
(0.11375 + 0.250 + 0.133) x 2.5 = 1.241875 itemization points, compared to 2.500 itemization points from 1mp5
What this suggests is that for
where you get to keep your Innervate
, a Dreamstate healer can treat 5 intellect as roughly the same value as 1mp5.
Whew, that was a lot of text. As with the other parts of this guide, I really value feedback from you guys to make this a better resource. I tried to leave lots of room in the various parts of the guide for expansion, so we have lots of room to incorporate the collective wisdom.
Great posts as always Nab :) One thing I'd like to add is when healing/cc'ing with hunters. While it's true that we don't gain threat on a trapped mob, if we use regrowth on the hunter that is trapping a mob, if by chance it ticks in between trappings, you may have just pulled agro. If you're with a good hunter this isn't a problem as a good hunter will periodically target the mob they are CC'ing after they've been healed to ensure they still have agro when the trap breaks.
If for some reason you do pull agro, use Bark Skin. It reduces the damage you take by 20% while active and it prevents you from being interrupted by damage while casting. Needless to say this can save your butt and your groups.
If you pull healer aggro, there are a number of ways you can save yourself until somebody comes to your aid:
Keep doing what you’ve been doing, and don’t waste time defending yourself. This is the best option if you know that someone is going to rescue you before the mob splatters you.
Shift into bear form and hope to live long enough for someone to rescue you. If you do this, don’t attack the mob while waiting for rescue unless you can literally kill it with just one or two hits (Bashing it to buy yourself some more time is okay, but remember to stop autoattacking!). Remember that in bear form your threat is multiplied. You shift into bear form to gain armor, but you don’t want to make it harder for people to pull aggro off you.
Cyclone or Hibernate the mob and get some distance so you can cyclone again if need be. This is the best option if all your potential rescuers are busy and need a few seconds to come to your aid.
for the damage reduction and pushback immunity and keep doing what you’re doing. This is the best option if you know you’re going to be hit once but help is already on the way.
and heal yourself. This is the best option if you might be hit more than once but help is already on the way.
Run towards the tank. This is the best option if the mob has not reached you yet and you can lead him to the tank without getting into melee range of the mob.
Whatever you do, do not run away from the tank. It just makes it harder for people to catch up to you and rescue you. This is a natural urge, and one that grips people all too often (yes, we all panic playing WoW, even though it’s just a game). Resist the urge to run away at all costs.
Do I need to emphasize the Barkskin part of that more?
In my opinion a CCing hunter ought to have a mouseover Distracting Shot macro to prevent the problem you describe, but you make a good point since you have no control over whether your hunter has such a macro or not.
I hope you don't mind me proofreading :).
Lifebloom receives 94.6% of your +heals (1.146% talented)
Tree of Life form can produce some incredibly efficiency numbers.
Armor (i.e., leather vs. cloth
Do you mean +healing or number of heals cast or...
For a non-resto druid, of the three traditional heals, Regrowth overtakes Healing Touch in efficiency at +1300 heals; Rejuvenation takes the lead at about +800 heals. For resto druids Regrowth is already better than Healing Touch, and Rejuvenation becomes better than Regrowth at 430 heals.
Cast Regrowth+Swiftmend or Rejuvenation+Swiftmend
Cast Regrowth + Rejuvenation
Did you want to add a reference or summary of the FSR in the section about preemptive healing? Perhaps just some mention there, as well, that unless your cast actually goes off, you're still regenerating mana outside of the FSR.
Awesome job, again. I'll stew on it and maybe I'll come up with something else you might add into here.
Good catches; thanks. I added in the preemptive healing section a reference to the FSR discussion in the mana regen section.
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