Tree Hugger: Pike's Basic Primer for Resto Druids

Let me begin by saying that this is a post that’s been rolling around in my head for some time now, but I am just now summoning up the courage to actually write it up. There were two reasons why this was. The first was that, as I’ve mentioned before, I try not to post too much non-hunter stuff on this blog, just out of the name of organization. Then it occurred to me that even though I personally care about that sort of thing, most of you probably don’t, so I stopped trying to let it bother me.

The second and larger reason was that I felt terribly unqualified to write about resto druids. When you grow up in a blogosphere that includes Phaelia, Bell, Leafshine, Sylly, and dozens of other druids who have been doing the Tree thing FOREVER, you sort of feel like you could never do a resto druid post justice since they’ve already covered everything and they probably know more than you do– not to mention you worry you’d be impinging on their territory.

But then as I was contemplating all of this on Twitter the other day, I made an offhanded comment about how I’d just finished two-healing ToC10 and found the last fight pretty intense, at which point someone replied with a comment like “Wait, you’re healing ToC10 but you don’t feel qualified to make a post on resto druid basics?”

At which point I realized he’s probably right, and I am just being overly humble as I am prone to do x_x

So here ya go, Pike Talks Trees:



What is tree healing? Probably the best I can do to describe it is to say that it’s an extremely versatile healing style that focuses largely on HoTs, or Heal-over-Time spells. Note the “extremely versatile” bit though: there are many different personal takes and styles regarding Tree Healing, and it’s one of the more interesting things about it I think that differentiates it from hunters or probably most DPS classes in general, which is much more “Here’s your spec, here’s your glyphs, here’s your rotation”-based.

Tree Healing is very mobile: a good percentage of the spells you will be using are instant cast so you can use them while jumping up and down or running around. No excuses here for standing in the fire!

Tree Healing is– with my personal style anyway– focused on damage prevention and “pre-healing”. When raid healing, you’ll work nicely with a healer who compliments that by filling in the gaps, so to speak. One of the more neat healing experiences I’ve had was healing Patchwerk; it was just me and a holy paladin and I was keeping the tanks stuffed up with HoTs while the paladin filled in the gaps. It worked quite awesomely.


Sort of like the vast number of healing styles available to you, there is definitely room for flexibility in your basic healing druid spec. A very rough framework would probably look something like this. You’ll also notice you have nine points leftover to play with, which you can use to tailor your spec to your own healing style. For example, if you find yourself using Nourish a lot, Empowered Touch and Nature’s Grace might be to your liking. If in addition to using Nourish a lot, you find yourself having mana issues, you’ll probably want to fill out Tranquil Spirit as well. Living Seed has its fans and detractors, personally I’m a fan myself, probably because I lean toward being a Regrowth fiend at times.

But yeah, the point is: you’ve got options!

Going along with the trend, we’ve got options as well when it comes to glyphs. Rejuvenation and Healing Touch (if you find yourself wanting a pre-Nourish flash heal) are great options for leveling, I’ve found. Once you hit 80, the Nourish glyph is extremely powerful, and the Swiftmend one is pretty nice as well. If you find yourself doing a lot of raid healing, Wild Growth is a great glyph. Innervate has its uses and fans, and if you use Regrowth a lot, the Regrowth glyph is delicious. Again, this all comes down to your personal style!

I wanna be like you when I grow up!
I wanna be like you when I grow up!

Ah yes, the meat (or bark?) of being a restoration druid. Let’s take a look at the spells you’ll have, and when to use them:

Healing Touch: This is the first healing spell you’ll learn and it’s… hmm. Let’s just say you’re probably never going to use it again except in conjunction with Nature’s Swiftness as an emergency heal, or more accurately, one of your “OH CRAP” buttons. I have Nature’s Swiftness + Healing Touch tied to a macro, and it’s basically an instant cast flash heal on 3 minute cooldown. I use it when someone’s health is dropping surprisingly quickly and I need to give them a buffer before I can start stuffing them full of proper HoTs.

Rejuvenation: This is a spell that most resto druids hold near and dear to their leafy heart, and rightly so. It’s very powerful and versatile. A DPS took some damage? Rejuv. You took some damage? Rejuv. Tank needs more HoTs? Rejuv.

You will probably notice yourself using this spell the most when you’re raid healing. Fights like Razorscale or Twin Valks are essentially just using Rejuvenation at every. Global. Cooldown. and Wild Growth every six seconds.

No, seriously.

Learn to love it.

Regrowth: Assuming you’re crazy like me and leveling resto, once you’ve got your holy duo of Rejuvenation and Regrowth, that will become your healing style up until you hit the Outlands levels. Stick a Rejuvenation on the tank and use Regrowth to fill in the gaps. It’s very whack-a-mole-ish, but there ya go.

Your use of this spell at higher levels is going to be situational and depend largely on your own personal taste. I tend to use it as a flash heal more often than I use Nourish, simply because it also tacks on a HoT at the end that lasts for a whopping 27 seconds if talented correctly. So if you’re in a fight where there’s lots of AoE damage going around, you may as well use it and give yourself that extra HoT buffer, ya know?

A typical strategy that I would do for someone that needs a lot of flash healing, though, would be An “OHCRAP button” if needed, then Regrowth once, followed by as many Nourishes as you need to prop that person back up to near full.

That’s just me, though– as I said, Regrowth is kind of one of those “You’ve gotta come up with your own style for it” spells.

Nature’s Swiftness: Useful in conjunction with Regrowth at lower levels; once you hit the higher ones it exists primarily to be used in a macro with Healing Touch as an OHCRAP Button (see Healing Touch above).

Tranquility: A Massive AoE heal that is helpful for when AoE damage somehow goes haywire and gets out of your control, or useful as a one final attempt to salvage a potential wipe. I don’t use it very often though it can be handy on stuff like Gluth’s decimate. Also drives your opponents insane when you do it in the middle of a bridge turtle in Alterac Valley. >_>

Swiftmend: One of your OHCRAP Buttons, Swiftmend is essentially a flash heal on a reasonable cooldown. It’s unusual in that it heals for the amount that your HoT would heal for, but all at one time. Last I checked it picks Rejuvenation first if you have multiple HoTs on your target. Do remember that it won’t work unless you do have a HoT on your target first!

Wild Growth: Awesome AoE heal that you will quickly become addicted to. Very useful to use on the melee DPS/tank area since they tend to soak up the most damage; also handy for when a poison cloud or ring of fire pops up underneath an unsuspecting group of ranged.

I like to use it on pets if they need it, because I’m nice and because it gives a boost to the melee anyway.

I also like to jump into the middle of the action while using it on myself, because it makes me feel heroic. But then, I’m odd.

Lifebloom: Oh gosh. If I had to pick one resto druid ability with a long and windy history, I’d pick Lifebloom. Anyways, this sort of falls into the Regrowth category of “You’ve got to play around with it and find your own style” at this point.

It’s an unusual heal in that it stacks up to three times on a single target, and you can either “refresh” your stack by using another Lifebloom before it “falls off”, OR you can let it “bloom” for a decent little flash heal and get some of your mana back. Way back in the day all druids ever did was refresh Lifebloom, but these days that’s rather mana inefficient so you see more people letting it bloom.

I tend to use Lifebloom for the following situations: Heavy tank damage where an extra HoT is needed (Patchwerk, various enrages, etc.), an extra AoE heal if needed (in conjunction with Rejuvenation and Wild Growth), and situations where you can time when someone will need a heal (Loken in Halls of Lightning, Loatheb, etc.) I.E., if you time it just right, you can get the bloom to bloom right when someone will need it.

Once you get a decent set of gear it’s also pretty much the only spell you’ll ever need to use in heroics. Stick three on your tank, let ‘er bloom, rinse, repeat. Wild Growth and Rejuv for your occasional AoE damage and you’re good to go.

Some very good druids I’ve talked to never use this spell, others use it quite frequently. Experiment and figure out what’s best for you!

Nourish: Your token flash heal and the subject of Nourish vs. Regrowth debates everywhere! This is another one of those spells where some druids use it a lot, others not so much.

As for me, I tend to treat it sort of like a minor OHCRAP Button. That is to say, once my Nature’s Swiftness + Healing Touch macro and Swiftmend are gone, and I know HoTs aren’t gonna cut it, it often turns into a Nourish spam race. This works very nicely in conjunction with Nature’s Grace, which is the specific reason why I roll with that talent.

Druids who use this spell a lot tend to use it to “fill in” their HoTs, similar to what you’d do with Regrowth while leveling. Me, I often find this to be too whack-a-moley, so I tend to stick with HoTs. Your HoTs will do just fine in most heroics or five-mans and in raids you’ve probably got another healer (or two, or three, or…) taking the “place” of your Nourish for you.

Again though, mess around and see what you like!


Now if you are newer to Tree’ing, you might be feeling like your head is reeling a bit at this point. All these heals? All these “situational uses”? But what about in practice?

Take a look at my tree’s healing output for a recent fight; in this case, Anub’arak at the end of ToC10:


You will notice that Rejuvenation was a good bulk of my heals, followed by Lifebloom. I’m assuming this is because what with the little bugs running around and that sort of thing, this was a fight where a lot of people were taking random bits of damage, so it was turning into a “Let’s toss a HoT on everyone” fest– which, you will discover, is prone to happen in raids a lot.

Here’s my overall data, for that entire ToC10 run:


Remember earlier when I said that I tend towards using Regrowth more than Nourish? Yeah. That thing heals like a truck. …erm. Maybe not the best analogy. But you know. (“heals like an emergency room”… “heals like Dr. House”…?)

Anyways, though, you’ll notice in this example that most of what you see here falls in line with what I was saying in my post. The addictive nature of Wild Growth (I used it 1319 times, apparently), the frequent use of Rejuvenation, with Regrowth and Lifebloom to back them up, and then Swiftmend, Healing Touch, and (to an extent) Nourish as the “OHCRAPS”.

Now, is this necessarily what your healing output would look like? Maybe, maybe not. The main thing about resto druids is that there are so many ways to heal and the best advice I can give to you is to practice. Healing is all about instinct and gut feelings and having to react and make decisions on the fly. There is no “rotation” because you don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s very, very different from DPSing, and if you haven’t tried it, I’d suggest doing so! It’s like a whole different game.

Well, there you have it. How I do it when Pike iz 4 healz. I hope that this perhaps answered any questions or gave basic advice to any newer or up’n’coming trees, and hey, if this goes over well there might be more tree stuff in the future– at this point my druid has seen almost as much content as my hunter has, and you know what, I like it that way. Variety is awesome.


27 thoughts on “Tree Hugger: Pike's Basic Primer for Resto Druids”

  1. Good to read more stuff on Trees… I’m leveling one Resto/Boom dual spec through northrend right now, which has been a blast. One note though, you have Swiftmend’s C/D as 1 minute — it’s 15 seconds, I thought? I know I press it an awful lot more than as an OHCRAP move, more of a “oh dear, tank is a bit low and my hots aren’t punching hard enough, boom swiftmend problem solved” kinda thing.

  2. So, as someone who just rolled a baby tauren drood with the plans of growing her into a tree someday, how would you suggest I spec for leveling? I want to heal instances as I level, but I fear running into trouble questing as a result. Also, I’m impatient and practically OCD when it comes to alts. >.>

  3. Awesome post! I love that you are also using regrowth more than nourish. I did a post commenting on that just the other day. And yes, I am a tree who still uses lifebloom as well (I think my second top heal).

  4. Just something else some people might not know (I didn’t until I had been playing a long time) is that wild growth can be cast on enemies. Doesn’t heal them, still heals people around the boss.

  5. Love the pictures! Especially the first one. It might be just me, but the tree in the first pic looks BA 😀

  6. The screenshots betray your true identity as a hunter. Gotta have the pet in the shot! Excellent choices, by the way. I made a macro for when my druid is resto to summon a random bird, Sproutling, wood/tree frog, or Mechanical Squirrel.

  7. Welcome to the forest!

    Very good summary and FINALLY someone mention my little favorite, Tranquility. Just be sure that you are in the same group as the tank.

    One note though: your WG is very low. In both ToC25 normal and Ulduar hard (those were the days) it was my #1-#2 spell.

    I checked the armory and you have 93 LW. Bad, bad Pike! 🙂

  8. @ Minos – Haha, you’re quite right. I have special favorite pets for my tree as well, that do include the Tree Frog and a few others!

    @ Gevlon – You will be happy to know that I just started up my LW about two days ago and am making an effort to seriously level it! Just haven’t had much of a chance yet =P

  9. i like how you mention there are many ways to tree healing, your advice on practicing, and especially “Healing is all about instinct and gut feelings and having to react and make decisions on the fly.”

    one thing you might want to mention is how tranquility only heals your group. other than that, excellent post! /tree cheer

  10. Cool, this is good to see. My Druid just hit 50. I was leveling feral for awhile, then switched to balance. And now my buddy’s pally and I are going to try to duo.

    I’ll probably stick to a primarily-balance build for that, but with my friend, especially to the extent we try to duo instances near our level, healing is gonna come in for a much larger part of my activities. So I’m happy to see this discussion of Druid heals. And if I ever get him leveled up, he’ll probably focus on resto in the endgame, so this is all helping my “future” career 🙂

    Any particular thoughts on a type of hybrid build for this? I def. wanna keep Moonkin form, so ATM I only have 10 points to play around with. I was thinking of trying to get into Subtlety on the Resto tree, as I’ll pretty much be a threat machine with my dps AND heals. But if anyone else has done anything like this i’d love to hear what you’ve experienced.

  11. I too wish to eventually, one of these days, oh-who-am-i-kidding-i-won’t-have-the-time, level a druid and heal with it for a bit. Going to wait until Cataclysm though. I don’t like night elves and I like trolls more than I do Tauren.

  12. Thank you so much for this!

    I read Pike cos I likes the Pike, not because I play a hunter… so a tree druid post is a HUGE bonus to find here. Just last week I respecced resto for the first time since level 50, due to the perennial pug healer shortage, and I am finding the whole healing thing to be a very foreign concept.

    Very helpful to be reassured that I am, in fact, mostly on the right track. Cheers!

    Oh, for other new trees, once you have your mana regen methods under control, which should be easy, spell power is by far your favourite gem and enchant. I started out by gemming for spirit, because I thought my mana pool was too small for beginner’s heroics (around 17k) and I would need the extra regen. It was a waste of a lot of gold. The only time I get down to less than half mana is when the tank picks up three packs of trash at the same time as the mage backs into a patrol.

  13. Dammit, now I feel like levelling my 47 druid instead of my new lvl 6 Lock na dI already have an 80 Priest…. why do I like healing in this game so much?

  14. Great post – healed my first group yesterday (Ring of Blood, Nagrand) at level 67, so is great to get more insight into the different spells and techniques available to a tree.

  15. Pike, I am another hunter/druid palyer that enjoy reading your posts about both. Looking at the comments there seem to be a number of Balance/Resto druids amoung us. Ranged DPS and healing…..

    Thanks for sharing.

  16. @ Pike
    I like it 🙂
    I think your first foray into Resto Druidism was a smashing success.
    I have been Feral for longer than I remember, but with dual specs, I picked up Resto as an off spec. Mostly because its soo easy to pick up a healy set while tanking.
    I think my style of healing is similar to yours, I don’t particularly like playing Whack-a mole, Save that for the Pallys.
    When it comes to heroics, I usually cast a rejuv on everyone. I spam wild growth, and if the tank is taking srs beats, I’ll give him a regrowth, and a Nourish if its needed.
    I actually use Lifebloom to top up my mana, because the bloom gives you back half the mana you spend. I find that the regen from all the spirit on tree leather is great, and by the time I’m done casting my lifeblooms, I’ve regained most of the mana I’ve spent. The return from the bloom actually nets me positive mana. This doesn’t work when I’m spaming lifebloom of course, but its great for when the tank is taking light damage.
    I find that rejuv is much better for soaking up AoE damage than lifebloom just because its so much more mana efficient. Like you said, wild growth and rejuv is pretty great. A single stack lifebloom doesn’t soak up much, and the bloom isn’t all that powerful, the GCDs are much better spent on rejuvs imho.
    Swiftmend + rejuv is a Godsend, I can’t count how many times its saved my party members from dying when they are targeted or catch aggro. I find its just as powerful as the nature’s swiftness + healing touch and the cd is fantastic.
    For newby trees, I can’t overstate how powerful the rejuv + swiftmend combo is. I’ve seen it crit for 12 k in my iLevel 200 gear, it definitely can save wipes if you happen to catch aggro or take heavy damage yourself, or will save lives when party members find themselves on the brink. The fact that swiftmend is on a 30 second cooldown makes it such a powerful flash heal for when you haven’t got time to cast a nourish.
    I think the BC babies got spoiled by lifebloom. We are getting spoiled by wildgrowth. I wonder what it will be for cataclysm?
    I’d recommend you level balance.
    You will get all the spell power gear that you can also use as a resto set, so it will save bag space, unlike the feral/resto combo. Balance has come a long way, and I find that innervate in its short cooldown is great for speeding up the leveling process. Also, you get a wicked dance with Boomkin 🙂

  17. OMG Keep Wild Growth on CD if you’re raid healing :-p

    My breakdown for raid healing is usually
    60% Rejuv
    30% WG
    10% Nourish/Swiftmend/Living Seed

  18. woot! Pike’s a TREE! nice post, Pike! I tend to use Swiftmend more often than you do, but I have that sucker glyphed. Instant little flash heal? I’m all over that =). the only thing I would add in terms of basics that definitely play a role in TOC (especially faction champs!) are decursing and cure poison. Egads, I do a ton of that in there!

  19. p.s. I have a hunter alt. hahaha! mebbe I’ll start throwing around some hunter posts and just confuzzle everyone…
    naaah. lol. I am a noobish mcnoob on her. She’s strictly for soloing. =)

  20. Don’t be shy bud!…was just pursing thru hunter forums n found this gem, just getting a resto thru the 70’s….nice lil nugget to trip over ( and read thru)…healing’s been kinda frustrating getting into WotLK…every little bit helps

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