Updated Wed, Nov 19, 2008 by Messiah
The Wrath of the Lich King Talent trees have stirred up a lot of discussion. Many trees have been greatly changed and / or improved from their current incarnation in the Burning Crusade. In this article we look at the Druids Restoration talent tree. This is the tree that Druids look at if they want to spend their time healing. It has been defined by the 41 point talent called Tree of Life up until now, and in WotLK that only looks to continue as Tree form improves and gains new abilities.
This is based off of the talents as of Beta 3.0.1 and are in no way finalized. Keep this in mind as many things will change before Blizzard releases the game.
The restoration tree has always been fairly strong, being the tree of choice for raid healers and arena PvP players. While the current BC version works well, the new WotLK changes several things and adds several more talents.
Tier one changes quite a bit in WotLK. The first change is Improved Mark of the Wild drops to a 2 point talent, but still provides the same 40% boost to the ability. Secondly, Nature's Focus moves up to the first tier, but drops to a 3 point talent, yet still provides the same 70% resistance to interruption when casting heals.
Subtly moves up to the second tier, and is buffed to 30% less threat for three points instead of the old 20% for 5 points. This is a great move for most druids as you now generate even less healing threat, for fewer points. Anyone raid healing is likely to grab this now for 2 points instead of many players attempting to save the old 5 points before by being careful.
With the Paladin Salvation ability changed so drastically, this will be even more important.
Tier three gains a new ability to replace Subtlety called Master Shapeshifter. It seems like a great talent at only 2 points and boosts abilities in form as follows: 4% more damage in bear form, 4% additional crit chance in cat form, 4% additional spell damage in moonkin form, and 4% additional healing in tree form.
For a scant 2 talent points it offers additional damage or healing to all of your forms. Its placement in the talent tree at only tier three also ensures that it is easy to access. I can see many different talent builds coming into restoration for this ability.
Tier eight adds the Living Seed talent. This talent plants a living seed in your target when you cast a critical swiftmend, regrowth, nourish or healing touch at it. The seed places a buff on the target that will heal them for 30% of the amount they were healed, the next time they are damaged.
This ability provides yet another healing ability for you to use, that triggers off of the abilities you are already using. The only issue that I see with it is that in some cases it could be a huge heal (triggered off of a healing touch) and other cases it could be fairly insignificant (triggered off of a regrowth). No matter where it comes from though, it is based off of crit so its effectiveness will be based of of your crit ability. If you only crit 10% of the time, you only boost your healing ability by 3%, if you have a 30% crit rate your healing goes up by 9%.
I think that this talent will really shine when used late game once you have end game gear and can allocate some gear to getting additional crit.
Probably the most important change here is the changes to Tree of Life form. It now allows you to cast all restoration spells and barkskin spells. This is a change from the old HoTs only version and allows you to remove poison in tree form instead of switching back and forth. It also allows you to cast your big heal if required. The reduced mana cost remains for just HoTs though. Also removed from the Tree form is the movement penalty.
These two changes will make Tree of Life even more useful than it is previously. There is now almost no reason to not have Tree form as a healer, especially since the 51 point talent, Flourish, requires it.
Added to the tree is the Improved Tree of Life talent. This talent increases your armor while in tree form by up to 100% and your aura by up to 15% more. This brings the aura effect of Tree of Life up to 40% or your spirit. This is quite significant as Druids tent to stack spirit already, and it is quite easy for an early raid healer to have 500+ spirit at 70, this would equate to +200 additional healing to all players in the auras area.
The other talent added in tier 9 is Replenish. This talent adds a very interesting effect to your Rejuvenate spell. Up to 15% of the time when your rejuvenate ticks on a player they will gain 10 energy, 5 rage, 2% mana or 10 runic power. Because this is triggered off of a common healing spell that you will be using anyway, and gives everyone effected a boost, it is going to be a highly sought after ability for raid healers.
Tier 10 gets the new Gift of the Earthmother talent that reduces your global cooldown by up to .5 seconds from your Lifebloom and Rejuvenation spells. It also causes your Nourish and Healing Touch spells to refund up to 5% of their base mana cost per HoT on the target.
Both effects are nice, and probably worth talent points each earlier in the tree. This deep in the tree, combined, they form a very nice talent. The reduced global cooldown will greatly benefit any healer that is assigned raid spot healing or a group healer, as they will be switching around through players a lot and the reduced GCD will greatly increase their healing ability.
The mana refund will help main tank healers as they will generally have 3 HoTs up on the tank anyway. This means a 15% reduction in cost when they do need to case Healing Touch to catch up. 15% is not a whole lot though, and this deep in the tree I would prefer to see a bit more of a reduction. We will have to see how much of an effect it has.
The new final tier talent for Restoration Druids is Flourish. This new ability is yet another healing spell, however it is the one that druids have been calling for, an AOE heal. This spell heals a target and up to 5 party or raid members within 15 yards of them for roughly 1600 health (base) over 7 seconds. The heal starts of quickly, applying most of its healing up front, and then fades at the end.
This is a very good healing ability as it allows you to heal any cluster of players all at once rather that moving through placing a HoT on each one. The only issue may be aggro generated from it, so it may have to be used sparingly. As a raid healer though, this spell will be required to assist groups recover from AoE and side effect damage. A Druid healer can now handle healing a tank and keeping everyone around them topped off very easily.
The changes to the Restoration tree are very good, improving on what was already a very solid tree. The change to Tree of Life is especially good, as you may see more people healing in it that before, maybe even in PvP due to no movement penalty.
The placement of talents at tier 9 seems a little odd in that it almost forces deep resto druids to spend a few extra points in the tree. If you are going to spend 51 points to get to Flourish, you are almost always going to spend 7 points in tier nine, meaning that you spend 53 points in the tree. Many classes talent trees are like this though, so you are not alone. Choosing to only spend 51 points, means you will be missing something in the tree.
Overall the changes are solid. They improve your healing, reduce threat, offer additional side benefits and really ensure that Druid healers will be in demand in the expansion.