With the upcoming change to give healers FREE spell damage, I’m considering something a little wild … something a little craaaaaaazy. I’m considering respeccing Phaelia 34 Balance, 27 Restoration for Arenas (and because I’m a cheapskate, for PvE raiding, too). Here’s the spec I’m contemplating: 34/0/27
Rather than the popularly accepted tri-spec that picks up key talents from both Feral and Balance, this spec would ignore our Feral tree altogether and instead dig deep enough into Balance to pick up Moonkin and Dreamstate. The idea would be to switch into Moonkin instead of Dire Bear Form as a defensive measure, retaining my ability to crowd control the Rogues and Warriors who try to kill me in the face. I’d also have the ability to generate a respectable amount of DPS when it was called for (somewhere around 700 or so with Insect Swarm, Moonfire, and Wrath spam).
The drawbacks of using Moonkin Form instead of Dire Bear Form:
- Less Armor
Dire Bear Form gets 550% bonus armor with 3/3 Thick Hide. Moonkin Form only gets 500% bonus armor.
- No Free Hit Points
Dire Bear Form gives 25% extra Stamina. In my current PvP kit with 664 Stamina, that’s 1660 hp (664 * .25 * 10).
- No Special Feral Abilities
- No Mana Protection
Moonkins are vulnerable to Mana Drain and Viper Sting.
The benefits of using Moonkin over Dire Bear Form:
- Crowd Control
Many Druids complain that they are effectively crowd controlled when forced to switch to Bear Form as a defensive measure. While a Moonkin loses access to her healing spells, she does retain her ability to Cyclone and Entangling Roots opponents, allowing her to switch out and heal.
A Moonkin retains access to her damage spells: Moonfire, Wrath, Insect Swarm, and Starfire (useful for tricking someone into counterspelling the Arcane school).
- 5% Extra Crit
While Druids are not crit-based healers, spell criticals in this build trigger Nature’s Grace, a talent that reduces the casting time of the next non-instant spell cast by 0.5 seconds.
- Mana Regeneration
Moonkins do not suffer from the reduced mana regeneration formula of Dire Bear Form but instead regenerate mana at the same rate as caster form. They also retain the ability to cast Innervate, drink Star’s Tears, and Shadowmeld (useful when drinking). Further, a Moonkin can melee to regenerate mana, despite being a risky method of doing so. This could work out well against a pet that’s been sent to prevent me from drinking. Line of Sight his master and whack away at it with my Earthwarden for around 300 MP5. Mmmm!
- Curse Removal
My currently competitive team is comprised of an Arms Warrior, Holy Paladin, and myself. Curse of Tongues can be debilitating to my Paladin. I would be able to remove curses in Moonkin form after Patch 2.3.
- WTH?! Value
Potential misdirection of opponents into expecting the weaker heals of a Balance Druid and perceiving me as less of a threat. While they may expect me to have 700 +Healing, I’d be closer to 1400, making my more limited heals more potent than they would likely give me credit for.
- Moonkin is Cheaper than Bear Form
Which makes sense when you think of the cost of something covered in fur vs. the cost of something covered in feathers. While Dire Bear Form costs 35% of base mana (828 at 70), Moonkin only costs 22% (520). Even with 3/3 points in Natural Shapeshifter (reducing the cost of DBF to 24.5% of base mana), Moonkin is still a cheaper shapeshift.
- Moonkin Dance > Bear Form Dance
Other items of note concerning this spec:
- I’d be sacrificing a lot of healing power to get that much from Balance. Most notably, I’d have to lose Swiftmend (OUCH). I’d also lose the high crit chance for Regrowth (which would admittedly be totally overpowered if combined with Nature’s Grace) as well as Empowered Rejuvenation. And unlike some Balance/Restoration hybrid specs, I wouldn’t be ramping up the power of my Healing Touch (a spell considered mostly worthless in Arenas except used in conjunction with Nature’s Swiftness).
- I’d be picking up a lot of the excessively delicious talents from Balance including :
- Moonglow: 9% mana reduction on all healing spells except Lifebloom and Tranquility — basically a mini Tree of Life all the time and with no movement restriction.
- Lunar Guidance: 25% additional +Healing (and +Damage) from Intellect. At approximately 475 Intellect in my PvP gear, that’s 120 free +Healing. This is similar to the Tree of Life +Healing aura but based on Intellect instead of Spirit and available all the time.
- Nature’s Grace: Shaves 0.5 seconds off the cast time of my next non-instant spell, including Regrowth and Healing Touch. Spamming Rank 1 Moonfire (pimped out at an additional +10% critical chance because of Improved Moonfire) has never seemed more appealing. Die, totems, die.
- Dreamstate: 47 MP5? Yes, please.
- Nature’s Reach would increase the range of Cyclone and Entangling Roots by 6 yards, from 30 to 36. While a nice boost, I’ve never been very good at estimating my range well enough to take special advantage of this.
- Unfortunately, I’d also be losing Natural Perfection. While somewhat lackluster, the loss of this talent would require reitemization to bump up my Resilience rating. Of course, with Season 3 armor, I’ll likely be beyond the “soft cap” anyway. On the upside, I would gain a 4% reduction of my chance to be hit with spells (along with a 4% increased chance to land Cyclone and Entangling Roots via the Balance of Power talent).
My question for you, dear readers: would you still consider me to be Resto4Life when I have more points invested in Balance than in Restoration? Even if I’m taking all the Healing-synergy Balance talents and wearing “pure” +Healing gear? Oh, the agony! *places back of hand to forehead and looks away* *peers at you from between two fingers*
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