Friday, June 12, 2009

Twig Heals: 101 - Out of the forest and into the talent trees

Twig Heals: Talent breakdown

This talent guide is by no means a resto build. I'll try to explain what each talent does and how it can be useful to raid healing. I'll even go so far as to tell you which talents I believe are a must have. But, where you spend your points is ultimately up to you.

If you want to compare your build with my own, you can look me up here:


First Branch--
Furor: This talent helps generate rage in bear form, energy in cat form, and total intellect in moonkin form, but it does absolutely nothing for Tree of Life form. No resto druid should have points in this talent... ever. SKIP IT.

Improved Mark of the Wild: Increases the effects of MotW by 40% and your total attributes by 2%. This is a nice little buff for you and your friends, and while it doesn't do much to help your healing, you have no choice but to spend points here if you plan on moving up to the next branch in the talent tree.

Nature's Focus: Reduces push back suffered from dmg while casting Healing Touch, Wrath, Roots, Cyclone, Nourish, Regrowth, and Tranquility by 70%. For raid healers, this shouldn't come into play much, but again, the only way to get the required 5 points to advance in the resto tree is by spending points here.

Second Branch--
Natural Shapeshifter: Reduces the mana cost of all shapeshifting by 30%. I'm sure you're asking yourself at this point, when do these talents start helping my heals? The answer is "Soon". This talent is a pre-req for a very helpful talent that's coming up in the next branch. Spend your 3 points here and be patient.

Subtlety: Reduces threat by 10%, 20%, or 30% (depending on how many points you spend) and also reduces the chance your helpful spells will be dispelled. Threat is usually not a problem, but there are occasions when a raid starts to go bad and OTs are scrambling to regain aggro... on those occasions you'll be glad you have this. (If it were anywhere else in the tree, I'd say skip it. But you need to spend 2 points somewhere to move up in the talent tree... and its either this or Naturalist).

Naturalist: Reduces the cast time of your Healing Touch spell by 0.1 to 0.5 seconds (depending on how many points you spend). At a glance it would seem like this is the best talent so far in the tree, and you'll probably be tempted to put 5 points here. Don't. There's a talent coming up that will make your Healing Touch an instant cast, and it will only cost you 1 point instead of 5 to do it. Spend 2 points here if you absolutely do not think Subtlety is beneficial, but trust me when I tell you any points you put in Naturalist beyond what you need to advance in the tree are points you'll wish you had back later on.
Note on Naturalist: There is a very specific resto build out there that basically turns Healing Touch into a Flash of Light for druids (using talents and glyphs). If you choose to take that approach, then you will be spending 5 points here.

Third Branch--
Master Shapeshifter: Increases healing by 4% in Tree of Life form (requires 3 points in Natural Shapeshifter). This is your first true healing buff and the reason you spent 3 points in Natural Shapeshifter. Essentially you're spending 5 points for a 4% increase, but in my opinion its the best way to progress through this tree.

Intensity: Allows 50% of your mana regeneration to continue while casting. This is one of many talents that make druids so mana efficient. Spend your three points here and start counting the thank yous you receive from priests and shammys when you save your innervate for THEM.

Omen of Clarity: Any cast or attack has a chance of causing you to enter a clearcasting state, which reduces the mana cost of your next spell by 100%. One point here grants you a free cast every time it procs... and trust me when I tell you it procs all the time. You already have 5 points spent in this branch of the tree, but spend 1 point here. You'll be glad that you did.

Fourth Branch--
Improved Rejuvenation: Increases the effect of your Rejuvenation spell by 15%. This is your second true healing buff, and while it only effects one of your spells, its probably the spell you'll be casting most often. Three points here are well worth it.

Tranquil Spirit: Reduces the mana cost of your Healing Touch, Nourish, and Tranquility spells by 2% to 10% depending on how many points you spend. At this point you only need one point to progress to the next branch in the tree, but take a minute here and think about how often you cast these three spells. If you're still unsure if the 10% mana reduction is worth 5 points here, just spend the one and consider coming back to this at the end of your build.

Fifth Branch--
Nature's Swiftness: When activated, your next Nature spell becomes an instant cast (Requires 3 points in Intensity. 3 minute cooldown). This talent is the reason I skipped the 5 points in Naturalist. One point here makes your biggest heal (Healing Touch) an instant cast. This is a raid saver and makes me wish I could donate more talent points to it just because it is that awesome.
Note on Nature's swiftness: Your instant casts do NOT consume nature's swiftness. You can activate this and it will wait indefinitely for you to cast Healing Touch, Nourish, or other nature spell that isn't an instant cast.

Gift of Nature: Increases the effect of all healing spells by 10%. Pure, unadulterated healing buff at your disposal here. You only need 4 more points to proceed to the next branch in the tree, but you're daft if you don't spend 5 points here.

Improved Tranquility: Reduces threat caused by tranquility by 50% or 100% and reduces the cooldown by 30% or 60%. Druids who are new to healing seem to love the idea of tranquility. And if this spell effected the entire raid instead of only your group, then by all means I'd be telling you to give this talent some thought. But, alas, this spell only effects 4 targets (besides yourself), costs 78% of your base mana to cast, and won't be available to use more than once a fight even with the 60% reduced cooldown (4 minutes). Don't spend any points here. I guarantee you'll be wishing for those points back if you do.

Sixth Branch--
Nature's Bounty: Increases the critical effect chance of your Regrowth and Nourish spells by 5% to 25% depending on how many points you spend here (requires 3 points in Improved Rejuvenation). There's a talent coming up that will proc every time one of these heals crit... which makes this talent very useful. The question here isn't whether you should spend points on this talent, the question is how many points should you spend. Two points will be enough to get you to the next branch (assuming you take Empowered Touch), but an extra 15% in crit chance for these two mainstay spells might certainly be worth the extra 3 points. Spend two here for now, and come back to this later to see if you have the points to spend.

Empowered Touch: Your Healing Touch spell gains an additional 40% of your bonus healing effects. Getting this talent is like having a trinket without wearing a trinket. Whether you're raid healing or single target healing, you want your biggest spell to heal as big as possible. We're going to spend a few points later on to buff up the crit rate of Healing Touch, so why not let this monster cast meet its full potential. Two points here are well worth it.

Seventh Branch--
Swiftmend: Consumes a Rejuvenation or Regrowth effect on a friendly target to instantly heal them an amount equal to 12 sec. of Rejuvenation or 18 sec. of Regrowth (15 sec. cooldown). This is a must have, along with the Swiftmend Glyph. Most people wrongly assume that druids are not great single target healers. Everyone looks at us and sees HoTs and party heals. This is one talent that proves them all wrong. Nature's swiftness + Healing Touch + Regrowth + Swiftmend + Nourish + HoTs = out healing any whirlwind, hateful strike, slag pot, what have you... without breaking a sweat. This might be the best point you've ever spent.

Living Spirit: Increases your total spirit by 5% to 15%. Some druids don't like this talent even though spirit will effect healing spell power in tree of life form as well as mana regeneration while casting. The choice here is yours. You certainly have some options to go back to that will allow you to progress to the next branch in this tree without this talent. If your mana pool is a problem, consider this a little crutch. But, if you'd rather have crit or haste and want to fore go the extra healing power in ToL, then by all means skip it.

Natural Perfection: Your critical strike chance with all spells is increased by 1% to 3% and critical strikes against you gives you the Natural Perfection effect reducing all damage taken by 2% to 4% (stacks up to 3 times and lasts 8 seconds). Make no mistake, this is a PVP talent. Raid druids who are haste capped and looking for a little boost to crit can spend points here, but don't expect the damage mitigation to help you while raiding. If you're getting crit enough for this to stack, you won't be living long enough to enjoy its effects. This talent is 100% optional..

Eight Branch--
Empowered Rejuvenation: The bonus healing effects of your healing over time spells is increased by 20%. Yeah baby. Another pure healing buff that you're crazy to pass up. Spend five points here without blinking.

Living Seed: When you critically heal your target with Swiftmend, Regrowth, Nourish or Healing Touch, you have a 33% to 100% chance to plant a living seed on the target for 30% of the amount healed. The living seed will bloom when the target is next attacked (lasts 15 sec.). Here's another nice little single target heal that makes raid druids so versatile. If you pick up all of the crit talents in this tree (which I think you will) and you spend 3 points here, you'll basically be buffing these 4 spells by 30%. You won't need this talent to progress through the tree, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better place to spend these 3 points if you ask me.

Ninth Branch--
Tree of Life: Reduces the mana cost of your HoTs by 20% and grants the ability to shapeshift into the Tree of Life form. While in ToL form you increase healing received by 6% for all party and raid members within 45 yards and can only cast resto spells, in addition to Innervate, Barkskin, Nature's Grasp, MotW, and Thorns. You're finally here... woot! Trees are for hugging, and this talent will bring you plenty of them. One point here to join the ranks of tree for lifers worldwide.

Improved Tree of Life: Increases the armor contribution from items in ToL form by 67% to 200% and increases your healing spell power by 5% to 15% of your spirit while in ToL form. In my opinion, this talent makes you the best tree you can be. You need this boost to healing spell power to justify raiding in this form and limiting yourself solely to restoration spells, in my opinion. If you're curious how much the spirit boost helps your toon, just look at your attributes and calculate the difference between your spell power and your healing bonus while in tree form. That's how much SP you gain from these 3 little points.

Revitalize: Your Rejuvenation and Wild Growth spells have a 5% to 15% chance to restore 8 energy, 4 rage, 1% mana or 16 Runic Power per tick. Often lost among the excitement of reaching Tree of Life form, is this excellent raiding talent. Wild Growth ticks 7 times on up to 5 targets (without the glyph) and Rejuvenation ticks 12 times (also without the glyph). That equals 42 chances for this talent to proc, which it will an average of 6 times. And that's just from two little casts. Can you imagine how much it will proc. in the course of a boss fight? This is by no means an necessity, but this is the type of talent that makes trees so well loved in raiding guilds.

Tenth Branch--
Gift of the Earthmother: (Patch 3.3) This talent now increases your spell haste by 2% to 10% as well as reduces the base global cooldown on Lifebloom by the same amount. This is now a must have, imo, for all raiding druids. A straight haste buff here is more worthy of your five talent points than any other talent available at this point in your build.

Improved Barkskin: Increases the damage reduction granted by your barkskin spell by 5% or 10% and increases resistance to dispel mechanics by 30% to 60% while under the effects of barkskin. Also grants 80% additional armor while in travel form or not shape shifted. That's a very long spell description for a very short synopsis. SKIP THIS TALENT. (This is purely for PVP).

Eleventh Branch--
Wild Growth: Heals up to 5 friendly party or raid members within 15 yards of the target every second for 7 seconds with diminishing returns on each tick. This talent can be frustrating at times because you have no control over what five targets get the heal. You'll see this applied to pets, you'll see it applied to targets at full hp, you'll even see it applied only to 1 target instead of 5. But, as kooky as it is, it is most definitely worth the one point to add to your arsenal. Don't leave for a raid without it.

At this point you should have 20 points or so left to spend. I know there are several tempting options you can't wait to get back to in the resto tree, but lets take a look at the balance tree for a moment, as there are some very useful talents to be had.


First Branch--
Genesis: Increases all damage and healing done by your peroidic damage and healing effects by 5%. Wow, a pure healing buff right off the bat. The resto tree could learn a thing or two from this tree. Spend 5 points here... it gets better.

Starlight Wrath: Not for us. SKIP IT.

Second Branch--
Moonglow: Reduces the mana cost of your Moonfire, Starfire, Starfall, Wrath, Healing Touch, Nourish, Regrowth and Rejuvenation spells by 9%. Are you kidding me? How mana efficient do you want us to get? Answer: You can never be too mana efficient. Spend three points here right now!

Nature's Majesty: Increases the critical strike chance of your Wrath, Starfire, Starfall, Nourish, and Healing Touch spells by 4%. Yet another crit bonus to Nourish and Healing Touch. You've got two points to spend, and I know you can't wait to see what's waiting for you in the next branch.

Improved Moonfire: Increases the damage and critcal strike chance of your moonfire spell by 5% or 10%. I know you secretly want to dps, but you're a tree now and you don't need (and shouldn't want) this. SKIP IT.

Third Branch--
Nature's Splendor: Increases the duration of your moonfire and Rejuvenation spell by 3 seconds, your Regrowth spell by 6 seconds, and your insect swarm and lifebloom spells by 2 seconds. This talent used to be a no brainer. After all, a longer HoT is a better HoT! But with the increased mana cost of lifebloom, some druids want to get to the "bloom" sooner rather than later (seeing as they won't be stacking 3 of them any more). I personally still think the talent is well worth 1 point, but the choice ultimately is up to you.

Nature's Grace: All spell criticals have a 33% to 100% chance to grace you with a blessing of nature, increasing your spell casting speed by 20% for 3 seconds. Interesting proposition here. You can buff your spell casting speed everytime you crit with a heal... and given all the talents you have already, you will be critical healing constantly. Is it worth 3 points to you? Personally I think there are better places to spend these points back in the resto tree, but there are countless 14/0/57 druids who would argue otherwise.

Brambles: Increases the damage done by your Thorns and Entangling Roots spells by 25% to 75%. This is another interesting proposition for raiding druids. Over the course of a boss fight, 75% more damage from thorns can account for a good amount of damage as well as improved threat when given to a tank. The question here is, will it be useful/noticable in your raids and is it worth the talent points? The decision, as always, is yours.

There's no need to look further in the Balance tree for Resto talents. Whether you've spent 11 or 14 points here depends on your preference. You should still have 6 to 9 points left to spend and a few useful talents to be revisited in the resto tree. Use them wisely, and try to tailor them to your style of play and to your gear. Remember when you're considering buffing your spell haste, a 1 sec. global cooldown is the lowest you can go, and if you spend on Gift of the Earthmother, a 505 haste raiting is your cap (unbuffed).

I hope this helps!


  1. You didn't explain Brambles.
    P.S. Why gem for haste? Isn't Int better? Isn't 21 int+chance to restore mana better meta for you?

  2. You right, I certainly should have included Brambles as an option for raiding druids. That's a big oversight on my part.

    As for +int gems, I don't wear any because my mana pool and mp5 are rarely, if ever, a problem. And with changes to innervate coming up in the patch, I may be able to actually use innervate on myself while raiding (instead of saving it for a priest) which will make mana even less of an issue.

    It boils down to Haste vs. Crit for me, and with my build, haste was the stat most needing gems.

  3. Note: I've been playing around with Nature's Grace, Revitalize, Brambles, and GotE in my build to see if the added buffs to raid is more notable than the haste buffs to my toon. To date, improved haste on my toon seems to be more beneficial to everyone.