Granor of Turalyon (EU) writes in with this question:
I made my way to 70 as a Feral Druid but a (hopefully short-term) healer shortage in the guild has been persuasion enough for me to respec to Resto, and I love it.
The problem I have is that I now find it very difficult to kill mobs outside of raids and groups. I would like to stay Resto when the expansion arrives, but I’m worried that I will be left behind as my friends speed ahead to 80.
Since the changes in Patch 2.3 where Blizzard gave healers free spell damage, I no longer have trouble completing Dailies and killing things that try to eat me while I’m fishing. My favorite technique when soloing involves Thorns, Insect Swarm, Moonfire, the occasional Wrath and a bunch of HoTs while they impale themselves on my thorny exterior (posterior?). Obviously, a certain level of gear is necessary to accomplish this, but it’s a lot of fun. For reference, I have around 650 spell damage in my healing gear which, while nothing compared to an equivalently-geared damage caster, is more than sufficient for the mobs you encounter outside of instances.
With the recent announcement regarding universal spell power in Wrath of the Lich King, leveling as a healer will be a lot more plausible than it was in TBC since you’ll have the same spell damage as damage casters (you’ll probably forego pieces with spell crit, though). Of course, you might also consider a hybrid build that includes talents from Balance and Restoration. These types of builds were very popular at the start of TBC, partially because of the synergy a healing Druid gets from Moonglow, Lunar Guidance, and sometimes Dreamstate and partially because it took a considerable amount of +Healing to make Druid HoTs viable enough to justify delving very deep into the Restoration Tree.
One option Mr. Phae and I are theorycrafting over is to have his Mage spec Frost for the 85% slow effect on Blizzard and for me to spec Restoration to pick up 3/3 Improved Tree of Life for the 360% armor bonus. I’d then ride around on my Frostsaber, rounding up however many non-spellcaster mobs I could, then shift into Tree of Life to let them beat on me while I cast HoTs on myself. Once they were all gathered, he’d start with a Blizzard to slow them down and AOE them until they die, giving us their loot. The things that could make this strategy viable are:
- Improved Tree of Life
This talent is rumored to grant 360% armor contribution from all items and enchants.
With this improvement, each hit from Thorns will deal 245 damage so that I’m contributing to the damage output. This is in addition to the Daze effect which will help keep them away from Mr. Phae.
If I get into trouble, I can use Barkskin and spam Regrowth.
Once they turn away from me in disinterest, I can drop out of Tree of Life and use Hurricane (which will no longer have a cooldown).
For the Frost Mage this time. Mr. Phae is considering continuing to gem for Spirit if we try this.
- Leather armor
I may end up having to pick up the Badges leather chest piece if my guild can’t kill the third boss in Mount Hyjal for [Don Rodrigo's Poncho]. I’ll also probably have to replace my cloth [Slippers of Dutiful Mending] and equip my [Wildfury Greatstaff] for an additional 1800 Armor.
- Omen of Clarity
Because it’s fun, and I’m always looking for a reasonable justification to talent for it. I’ll be standing in melee range of mobs for at least a little while and can beat on them with my leafy branches in between refreshing my Lifebloom stack.
- Revive and Wisp Form
Revive because I’m sure I’ll have to rez Mr. Phae a time or two while we get the hang of it. Wisp Form for the same reason (but for myself).
- Free water and biscuits
Also, ports to easily sell our copious loot or repair our badly damaged gear.
We might also try with Mr. Phae specced for Arcane. This would be most viable if it turns out that I could hold aggro through HoTs since Arcane has an inherent 40% threat reduction (in which case, I’d drop Subtlety for sure). The build I am considering for this experiment looks like this. I haven’t decided whether I’ll steer clear of Subtlety for the additional threat from HoTs. Mr. Phae thinks there’s no way I’m going to hold their attention for very long (or even if I will want to). Obviously, it’s sort of incumbent upon you to find a Frost Mage partner to try this, but I’ll be sure to share news of either our legendary success or epic failure.
Do you have any special plans (or outlandish schemes) for how you’ll level when Wrath of the Lich King is released?