Vonya from Egotistical Priest wrote a great article on Panic Buttons for Priests which details different strategies for dealing with aggro. A lot of the information can be applied to Druids, and it’s an enjoyable read, so I highly recommend you check it out. Directly inspired by her article, I’d like to take a moment to look at the “Panic Buttons” and techniques available to Restoration Druids when the poop begins to fly. Each option will be listed in order of my preference, but you should use your own judgement and personal experience to determine what the situation calls for.
- Aggro-Reducing Trinkets
You should always have one of these items equipped during trash fights. They provide a permanent AOE aggro reduction that’s only slightly weaker than Priest Fade (which is only temporary). This is my favorite option since it causes the least amount of disruption to anyone in the group and should generally send the mob who expressed sudden interest in you to go rocketing back to your tank instead. You can even opt to use these items preemptively if you know you’ve just delivered the megaton Super Duper Healing Touch of Doom +2 for 8k.
Note: For more detailed information about these items, how they work, and how to get them, take a look at my first article, Fade! Not just for Priests anymore.
For reasons I’ve previously discussed, Barkskin is one of our best defense mechanisms. 20% less damage from Melee, Ranged, and Spells along with no spellcasting delays for 12 seconds? Yes, please. Barkskin is the way to go in most non-heroic dungeons where you can afford a couple of measly 2k hits on your way to return the offender back to your grateful tank.
Baby … Ruth??
Don’t count on Barkskin to save you from a Heroic trash mob, though. They’ll chew through your thorny coating to get to your gooey center before they can say “mmmm … gooey center.” In this case and assuming your Trinket is on cooldown from being used earlier in the fight (because you’re running Trinketmenu to make sure one’s available at least once a fight, right?), we’ll have to consider other alternatives.
- Cyclone, Entanging Roots, or Hibernate
While the situations that allow for Entangling Roots (outdoors) and Hibernate (non-immune Beasts) are few and far between, these are absolutely great options when they are available as they don’t interfere with your tank’s ability to reclaim the mob (of course, if you could Hibernate you would probably already be doing so as part of the initial crowd control for the pull).
Cyclone is a little trickier. Because it prevents the mob from being damaged, lasts only a short duration (6 seconds), and further increases your threat, make sure that your tank knows you’re in trouble after you’ve cast it. While he can’t damage the mob to build aggro, he should still be able to use Taunt so that it darts to him and not you once it’s released.
Also, keep in mind that you can pair Nature’s Swiftness with Cyclone and that three points in Control of Nature gives you 70% resistance to spellcasting delay due to damage (for obvious reasons, this is a popular PvP talent) while casting Cyclone and Entangling Roots.
- Trust your groupmates.
I considered whether to rank this option above or below using Cyclone because of the aforementioned drawbacks of Cyclone but eventually decided to rate it below because a self-powered solution is usually better than one where you need to rely on someone else. You should never trust a PUG-mate to know anything more than the basics of their role (DPS/Tanking/CC). But if you know your groupmates very well and trust that they are observant enough to have noticed your plight, you can hope for one of the following forms of assistance:
- Hunters: Frost Trap or Misdirection. If you’re not sure if your Hunter is paying attention to you specifically, stand behind him. He’ll often put down a trap or Misdirect reactively if he sees a mob break off and head his direction.
- Mages: A Frost Nova will often root the mob(s) who’ve come after you, giving the tank time to react and come to your aid. This assumes that he has one already Sheeped or that the mob chasing you isn’t humanoid or beast (if it were Beast, you would have just cast Hibernate as in option 3). Be sure to back up from the rooted mobs, or his efforts will come to naught.
- Boomkin: A Moonkin can freely Cyclone a mob without increasing your threat, buying you time for your tank to take notice and come running with a Taunt.
- Rogue: A good Rogue will use Blind to disorient the target for 10 seconds. (A good Rogue is one who considers more than the buttcrack of the mob in front of him in the hopes of winning the DPS race.)
- Paladins: A Blessing of Protection will protect you from physical damage for 10 seconds.
The list could go on. The point is, the more aware your groupmates are of their surroundings and the more comfortable they are with their own crowd control/protection abilities (however shortlived they might be), the higher chance you have of surviving when something goes wrong and your tank loses aggro. It’s not a bad idea to have a macro that announces you’re in peril, but voice chat is even better. Just make sure you are clear and concise and try not to squeak (much). Because after all, they need to know if you die, they die.
- Grin and Bear it.
I list this option as a last resort both because you’re likely to be wearing quite a bit of cloth in PvE and because it effectively crowd controls you, preventing you from healing other group members who might also be in trouble. At the very least, try to refresh your HoTs on the main tank before retreating to the relative safety of Bear Form (don’t forget that you can use Barkskin before shifting to Bear). And once you’re a Bear, don’t ignore the new tools at your disposal (at least map them to your action bars, people – gosh). You can Bash the mob if it isn’t immune to stuns, stunning it for 3 seconds. Or pop Frenzied Regeneration for some yummy, rage-fed healing over time (that is not affected by your +Healing). It’s times like these that 5 points in Furor can be a big help.
Note: I don’t recommend using Cat Form with Cower. It locks you out of your other defensive abilities (including healing) while providing no additional defenses. Cower is also only a targetted threat reduction. Let’s leave the cowering to the real kitties, shall we?
So next time things go horribly wrong, keep your head (firmly attached to your shoulders) by employing one or more of the above strategies. After all, the ability to function under pressure is what separates good healers from great healers.
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