The role of the restoration Druid has changed over time. From vanilla to Wrath, we’ve gone from full-time tank healers, to hybrid tank healers/raid spot healers, and then to fully fledged raid healers (while still being able to tank heal if required).
World of Warcraft
In “vanilla” or classic WoW, restoration was seen as “the” druid spec for raiding; balance and feral specs were not often used in raids. Innervate was a talent deep in the restoration tree, and druids were mostly brought to raids for two things – the ability to resurrect fallen allies in combat, and to innervate the priests. When Innervate was made into a trained ability in Patch 1.11 (July 2006), it paved the way for other druids to be brought along to raids, because they could also provide an Innervate.
Our main role in vanilla WoW was to tank heal, but the task was quite monotonous and dull, particularly if you had more than one druid in the raid (which was highly likely, as combat rez/Innervates were valuable). Back then, HoTs didn’t stack – only one of each HoT could be present at each time, and it would always be the strongest in the raid. If someone had more healing spellpower than you, their HoTs would overwrite yours – so only the strongest druid could apply them. Everyone else basically spammed downranked Healing Touch over and over.
The Burning Crusade
In the Burning Crusade, our role was generally to keep HoTs on the tank, and in particular to “roll” Lifebloom on the tank and/or anyone else taking sustained damage. Fast-ticking, potent and efficient Lifebloom was our mainstay, and in
raids such as Mount Hyjal, it was not uncommon to need multiple tanks and therefore also to have Druids rolling Lifebloom on multiple targets.
Healing Touch took a back seat in most of TBC – mostly because we were unable to cast it in Tree of Life form.
Trees were usually placed in the tank group to provide additional healing from their ToL aura.
Wrath of the Lich King
In Wrath of the Lich King, Lifebloom was nerfed to be weaker and more expensive. It was no longer viable (or particularly necessary) to roll Lifebloom on multiple targets.
In early Wrath, Nourish was introduced to fill a perceived need for more direct healing options, but its original incarnation was weak. Regrowth had better talent synergy and a strong glyph, and this created a period where chain-Regrowth healing was the best way to play. Nourish was later improved, a glyph created, and our talents juggled and buffed to make Nourish more attractive (and Regrowth less attractive).
However, many of the encounters in Ulduar encouraged “blanketing” the raid with HoTs; Rejuvenation and Wild Growth became our most-used spells, and Druids became the dominant force in raid healing (although still maintaining their role as tank HoT buffers).
While strong raid healers in most situations, Druids excelled in fights with “aura” damage, or any kind of predictable, widespread raid damage.
In Cataclysm, the developers aimed for healers to use all of their healing spells, rather than relying on one or two "go-to" spells. All healers had roughly the same types of healing tools.
Healing Touch made a comeback as a big (but expensive) heal, and druids started the expansion using Nourish as filler heals and Regrowth as a "Flash Heal". By the end of the expansion though, we still tended to lean towards our staples – Rejuvenation and Wild Growth, plus Swiftmend with Efflorescence, which was made into a smart heal (rather than giving a dilute heal to everyone standing within it).
Our Mastery was originally made to boost direct heals when a target had a HoT up (Symbiosis); it was later changed to boost all healing as long as we cast a direct heal every 10 seconds (Harmony).
Lifebloom was usually still put on a tank, but the lack of a way to switch targets quickly and effectively was a problem. Tranquility became a raid-wide smart heal on a 3 minute cooldown (talented).
Here are some interesting points in our healing history.
In May 2005, we were granted the ability to remove Polymorph by shifting into our animal forms. In August, shapeshifting was changed to counter-act slowing effects of frost-based spells.
In March 2006, relics were introduced into the game. Nature’s Swiftness now makes Rebirth instant cast.
In July 2006, Innervate becomes trained and Swiftmend takes its place at the 31pt mark in the restoration tree.
In December 2006, HoTs were changed so that they could stack from multiple druids! Swiftmend now benefits from talents such as Improved Rejuvenation and Empowered Rejuvenation. Lifebloom and Tree of Life are here!
In January 2007, ToL’s aura is changed from healing dealt by your party to healing received by your party. This means instead of stacking your healers with your tree so they do more healing, the tree is generally placed in the tank’s group, so that he receives more healing. In this month, Tranquility’s healing is boosted, radius increased, but cooldown and mana increased, and duration decreased. Oh, and we now have a swimming animation for ToL.
May 2007: we can fly! Barkskin is changed to a much more awesome damage-reduction ability (and finally gets put on my bars) rather than an ability that stops casting interruptions. ToL is no longer able to use Teleport: Moonglade (what the?).
November 2007: we can now remove poisons from people while in ToL. Rebirth’s cooldown down to 20min, from 30 min.
January 2008: Lifebloom is fixed so that when refreshed, it takes on the strength of the incoming Lifebloom, rather than maintain existing strength (so that you could no longer roll Lifeblooms with a permanent +spellpower trinket effect).
March 2008: Hi2u, Wild Growth! Lifebloom now weaker.
October 2008: We finally have an out of combat rez spell. Omen of Clarity is now passive (no more new druids complaining that the spell doesn’t work – when they didn’t realise they had to cast it on themselves..) and can proc from spells. Remove Curse can now be used in ToL form. ToL 30% snare penalty removed. All healing spells can be cast in ToL.
January 2009: Wild Growth is now on a 6 second cooldown.
April 2009: The Great Lifebloom Change of 09. Mana cost doubled, but now refunds half the base mana cost. “Rolling” lifeblooms on multiple targets is no longer viable.
May 2009: Innervate changed to grant a set amount of mana, rather than relying on spirit.
August 2009: Pretty new cat and bear forms. Innervate duration reduced to 10 seconds, cooldown reduced to 3 minutes. Basically – Innervate is now half as strong, but the cooldown is up in half the time, making it available more often. Lifebloom bloom nerfed by 20%.
September 2009: Tier 8 4pc bonus nerfed by 50%.
December 2009: Cooldown on Rebirth down to 10 minutes from 20 minutes. Cooldown on Tranquility down to 8 minutes, down from 10 minutes. Gift of the Earthmother redesigned to grant spell haste to all spells (rather than to particular spells). Haste soft cap in this patch roughly doubled (and some).
June 2010: Nature’s Grasp changed to have 3 charges.
October 2010: Patch 4.0.1 – talent trees overhauled and reduced to 31pts. Mastery introduced. Leather Specialization introduced. Reforging introduced. Extensive changes, including (but not limited to):
- Tree of Life now a cooldown ability.
- Cyclone is now a 2 sec cast, up from 1.5 sec.
- Innervate now regenerates mana equal to 20% of the caster’s maximum mana pool (Old – Regenerates 225% of the caster’s base mana pool)
- Soothe no longer reduces the range at which beasts attack, now dispels all enrage effects (like Tranquilizing Shot).
- Faerie Fire no longer decreases the armor of the target by 5%, now decreases by 4% and stacks up to 3 times; range increased to 35 yd from 30 yd.
- Hibernate now causes the target to sleep for up to 40 sec, up from 20 sec.
- Entangling Roots now lasts 30 sec, up from 12 sec; range increased to 35 yards, up from 30 yards; 2 sec cast, up from 1.5 sec. (Tree of Life: becomes instant cast, damage increased by 200%.)
- Thorns now lasts 20 sec, down from 10 minutes; costs 36% of base mana, up from 17%; has a 45 second cooldown, up from 0; and deals [ 42.1% of Spell Power + 446.94 ] or [ 42.1% of AP + 446.94 ] damage depending on the highest.
- Insect Swarm is no longer a talent and is now a skill trained at level 20.
- Nature’s Grace no longer increases spell casting speed after spell criticals, now gives 5/10/15% spell haste for 15 sec. after casting Moonfire or Insect Swarm. 1 minute cooldown, resets on Lunar or Solar Eclipse.
- Nature’s Majesty is now a Tier 1 talent, down from Tier 2. Now increases critical strike chance with all spells by 2/4%.
- Genesis is now a Tier 2 talent with 3 ranks, up from a Tier 1 talent with 5 ranks. No longer increases damage done by periodic spells, now increases the duration of Moonfire and Insect Swarm by 2/4/6 sec. Now increases healing done by periodic spells by 2/4/6%, up from 1/2/3/4/5%. Now also increases healing done by Swiftmend.
- Idols are now flat stat items, rather than affecting particular abilities.
- Celestial Focus – removed.
- Swiftmend now heals for a set amount regardless of whether you Swiftmend a Rejuvenation or Regrowth.
- Omen of Clarity – now trained.
- Nourish – 3sec cast (up from 1.5) – this is now our “middle” heal.
- Lifebloom – reduced cost, no longer returns mana on bloom, can only be active on one target at a time (except while in Tree of Life).
- Tranquility now heals 5 lowest party or raid targets (no longer restricted by party), plus adds a small HoT and can stack.
- Remove Curse and Cure Poison consolidated into Remove Corruption. Can also remove magic debuffs if talented into Nature’s Cure.
- Rebirth no longer costs mana; range increased to 40 yards.
- Regrowth HoT reduced to 6 seconds; cast time reduced to 1.5sec (this is now our “flash heal”).
- Rejuvenation reduced to 12 seconds.
- Healing Touch healing increased.
- Gift of the Wild – removed. Mark of the Wild – now raid-wide, no reagent required. Is overwritten by Blessing of Kings.
- Wild Growth now on a 10 second cooldown.
- Revitalize revamped; along with mana return to the druid, also grants Replenishment to the raid.
- Empowered Touch reworked, now also allows your Nourish to refresh your Lifebloom.
- Swift Rejuvenation – new talent – reduces the global cooldown of Rejuvenation.
- Efflorescence – new talent – when you heal with Swiftmend, you also sprout a bed of healing flora under your target (a static AOE HoT on the ground).
- Malfurion’s Gift – new talent – whenever you heal with Lifebloom, you have an increased chance to proc Omen of Clarity.
- Fury of Stormrage – new talent – reduces the cost of Wrath, and when you deal damage with Wrath you have a chance to cause your next Starfire to be instant.
- Furor finally moved to the feral tree.
November 2010: Patch 4.0.3 – The Shattering
- Troll druids introduced (along with other race/class combos)
- Efflorescence nerfed when healing more than 6 players at once.
- Entangling Roots now breaks from about half as much damage as before.
- Nourish no longer consumes Omen of Clarity.
- Rejuvation’s mana cost increased by 30%.
- Empowered Touch now procs from Healing Touch as well as Nourish
- Malfurion’s Gift unlinked from Fury of Stormrage
- Natural Shapeshifter now also increases Tree of Life duration by 5/10 seconds.
- Revitalize is now a 2-point talent, down from 3. It provides a 20% chance to return 1/2% of the druid’s total mana on periodic heals from Lifebloom or Rejuvenation. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
- Swift Rejuvenation is now a 1-point talent, down from 2. The global cooldown reduction this talent provides to Rejuvenation remains 0.5 seconds.
- Symbiosis: heal-over-time spells (Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom) can no longer benefit from this Mastery merely by refreshing themselves. A different heal-over-time spell must be present.
- Glyph of Healing Touch now reduces the cooldown on Nature’s Swiftness by 10 seconds after using Healing Touch, up from 5 seconds.
- Glyph of the Treant (new) allows druids to keep the original treant Tree of Life look… if they must. Must they?
December 2010: Cataclysm
- Worgen released as a playable race; Worgen druids available to play.
February 2011: Patch 4.06
- Barkskin is no longer dispellable.
- Healing Touch is now trained at level 78, up from level 3.
- Mount Up: This guild perk now applies to Flight Form and Swift Flight Form as well.
- Nourish is now trained at level 8, down from level 78.
- Omen of Clarity can no longer trigger from helpful spells (aka heals), unless the Restoration talent Malfurion’s Gift is chosen.
- Rejuvenation is now trained at level 3, down from level 8. In addition, its mana cost is now 20% of base mana.
- Shapeshifts: Entering or leaving a shapeshift no longer cancels root effects. It continues to cancel movement slowing effects.
- Disentanglement (new specialization): Causes shapeshifting to remove roots in addition to snares.
- Soothe is now instant cast, down from 1.5 seconds.
- Worgen and troll druids now have new art for Swift Flight Form.
- Empowered Touch now also affects Regrowth. In addition, after Tree of Life is no longer active, this talent will only refresh the most recently cast or refreshed Lifebloom, and will not refresh other copies of Lifebloom.
- Natural Shapeshifter has been reduced to a 3/6-second increase to Tree of Life’s duration, down from 5/10.
- Nature’s Bounty no longer affects Swiftmend, but now has a new effect. When the druid has Rejuvenation on 3 or more targets, the cast time of Nourish is reduced by 10/20/30%.
- Symbiosis (Mastery) benefit from mastery increased by approximately 16%.
- Tree of Life duration has been reduced to 25 seconds, down from 30.
- Wild Growth healing has been increased by 30%, and the cooldown has been reduced to 8 seconds, down from 10.
- Glyph of Regrowth now causes the heal-over-time effect to refresh itself on targets at or below 50% health, up from 25%.
- Druids should now make the correct laugh and cry emote sounds while in Tree of Life Form.
April 2011: Patch 4.1 Rise of the Zandalari
- Efflorescence has a new graphic – it looks a lot less like dangerous goo.
- Lifebloom’s bloom effect has been reduced by 20%.
- Druids now innately have 100% pushback protection from damage while channeling Tranquility.
- Efflorescence has been redesigned. It creates a healing zone at the feet of a Swiftmend target, but this healing zone now restores health equal to 4/8/12% of the amount healed by Swiftmend to the three most injured targets within 8 yards, every 1 second for 7 seconds. This periodic effect now also benefits from spell haste, but the individual ticks cannot be critical effects. In addition, Living Seed is no longer a prerequisite talent for Efflorescence. (Old: was limited to 6 targets, and if you had more than 6 in the circle, Efflorescence became very weak. If 25 were in the circle, it was ticking for under 200hp on each target)
- Malfurion’s Gift now reduces the cooldown of Tranquility by 2.5/5 minutes.
- Nature’s Swiftness now also increases the healing done by the affected nature spell by 50%.
June 2011: Patch 4.2 Rage of the Firelands
- All healing critical strikes now heal for 2 times a normal heal (+100%), up from 1.5 times a normal heal (+50%).
- All class abilities which place a buff on friendly targets no longer generate any threat. This goes for raid-wide buffs like Mark of the Wild and Power Word: Fortitude, as well as triggered effects such as Blessed Resilience or Fingers of Frost, and single-target buffs like Dark Intent and Hysteria. The exception is buffs which directly cause healing or damage, such as Thorns or Renew. Abilities such as these still generate normal threat.
- Many crowd control abilities no longer cause creatures to attack players when they are cast. The creature will not attack the player when the crowd control wears off, and nearby creatures will not become hostile to the player either. However, if a visible player gets too close to the target creature, the creature will remember and attack the player when the crowd control effect wears off. The intent is to make it easier for dungeon groups to manage crowd control assignments and pulling packs of hostile NPCs. The abilities affected by this change are: Hibernate, Entangling Roots, Wyvern Sting (will still cause hostility when it begins to deal damage), Freezing Trap, Polymorph, Repentance, Shackle Undead, Blind, Hex, Bind Elemental, Banish, Seduction.
- Entangling Roots and the equivalent spell triggered by Nature’s Grasp no longer deal damage.
- Innervate now grants an ally target 5% of his or her maximum mana over 10 seconds, but still grants 20% of the druid’s maximum mana over 10 seconds when self-cast. Glyph of Innervate now causes the druid to gain 10% of his or her maximum mana over 10 seconds when Innervate is used on a friendly target, in addition to Innervate’s base effect.
- Omen of Clarity clearcasting buff from now lasts 15 seconds, up from 8 seconds.
- Symbiosis (Mastery) has been removed and replaced with Harmony. Harmony increases direct healing by an additional 10%, and casting direct healing spells grants an additional 10% bonus to periodic healing for 10 seconds. Each point of mastery increases each bonus by an additional 1.25%. Healing Touch, Nourish, Swiftmend, and the initial heal from Regrowth are considered direct healing spells for the purposes of this Mastery. All other healing from druid spells is considered periodic.
- The 2-piece Restoration druid tier 11 PvE set bonus has been redesigned to work with the new Restoration druid mastery. Druids with this bonus now receive the bonus to Spirit while the Harmony mastery bonus to periodic healing is active.
November 2011: Patch 4.3 – Hour of Twilight
- Vengeance for Protection warriors, Protection paladins, Blood death knights, and Feral druids has been redesigned slightly. It no longer ramps up slowly at the beginning of a fight. Instead, the first melee attack taken by the tank generates Vengeance equal to 33% of the damage taken by that attack. In addition, as it updates periodically during the fight, it’s always set to at least 33% of the damage taken by the tank in the last 2 seconds. It still climbs from that point at the rate it did previously, still decays when damage is not taken, and still cannot exceed a maximum based on the health and Stamina of the tank.
- Threat generated by classes in active tanking modes has been increased to 500% damage done, up from 300%. This applies to druids in Bear Form, death knights in Blood Presence, warriors in Defensive Stance, and paladins with Righteous Fury active.
- Spells which have an effect broken by taking damage past a threshold (Entangling Roots, Fear, Frost Nova, etc.) now count damage that was prevented by damage absorbs or other damage reducing effects.
- Wrath has a new spell effect.
- Hurricane has a new updated visual effect.
- Swipe (Cat) has been reduced to 340% weapon damage, down from 415%.
- Bear Form now provides an armor bonus of 120% at all levels, up from 65% for characters below level 40, making it easier for lower level druids to tank dungeons.
- Bear Form now provides a Stamina bonus of 20%, up from 10%.
- Talent Specializations
- Celestial Focus now also reduces Cyclone spell pushback.
- Wild Growth healing has been reduced by 20%.
- Nature’s Focus now also reduces Cyclone and Entangling Roots spell pushback.
- Glyph of Shred has been renamed Glyph of Bloodletting, and now also causes Mangle (Cat) to extend the duration of Rip, in addition to its existing Shred functionality.
- Glyph of Wild Growth now also increases the cooldown on Wild Growth by 2 seconds.