The Great Moonglow Experiment
I’m going to let you all in on my dirty little secret: I use a non-standard resto spec.
*Appropriate pause for /gasps and /throw rocks.*
The spec I chose for myself at the beginning of Cataclysm was designed to give me the most mana I could get from talents, and to be flexible enough to allow me to hop from healing heroics to 10-mans to 25-mans. While I have no problem with respecing according to whatever my group may need, I’ve found that this spec actually works quite well for a variety of situations.
So why is this spec non-standard? Mostly, it’s because I’ve avoided placing practically any points in the Balance tree. Over at the Elitist Jerks thread on all things Resto, Hamlet gives us a sample spec which includes 8 points into the Balance tree in order to pick up a little talent called Moonglow. WoW Popular (for what it’s worth), shows players taking a minimum of 2 points in Moonglow in several of the most common resto specs. Alone, Moonglow is most certainly full of win. At 3/3 points, Moonglow gives us a 9% reduction to the mana cost of all of our spells.
“Tzufit!” I’m sure you’re all now saying, “Why on Azeroth would any druid who knows anything NOT want a 9% reduction to the mana cost of all her spells? Have you been hitting the Morrowgrain lately?”
Well, it’s simple. Moonglow would be amazing if it were in the first tier of the Balance tree. The tricky thing is … it’s in the second tier. That means we need to spend 5 talent points to get down to our target, and we really only have one option for how to do that. The first tier of the Balance tree includes:
Nature’s Grace (Significantly redesigned from its Wrath version.)
Starlight Wrath (Obviously, this is strictly a DPS talent.)
Nature’s Majesty (A 4% buff to our weakest stat. Joy.)
So since Starlight Wrath is clearly out, that means the 5 points we would take in the first tier of the Balance tree are 3/3 in Nature’s Grace and 2/2 in Nature’s Majesty. As I’ve already said, spending points in Nature’s Majesty is a little frustrating, as Crit is certainly our weakest stat when it comes to tank-healing, and will likely be weaker than Mastery for raid-healing as well after the next patch. (Resto’s Mastery, Symbiosis, is getting a 16% across-the-board buff. With the CD on Wild Growth being reduced to 8 seconds, and the changes to the Nature’s Bounty talent encouraging us to have Rejuv on 3 or more targets, the likelihood of non-tanks having HoTs on them will be much higher.)
And that brings us to Nature’s Grace. Ah, Nature’s Grace. I didn’t take you in Wrath when you were the talk of the town, either. I am a fearless REBEL like that. Really, I could never understand the popularity of this talent among resto druids during Wrath. Haste was a good stat for us then, but only to a point. Once we reached the haste rating we needed to get down our GCD down to 1 second, it became less desirable to stack more. Prior to Cataclysm, 3 points in Nature’s Grace gave the caster a 100% chance to gain spell haste for 3 seconds when their spells critically hit. Here’s a funny thing about Resto druid healing – in Wrath, our heals were almost exclusively HoTs … and HoTs couldn’t crit. So, unless you were the kind of Resto who was spamming Nourish and Regrowth (were there trees spamming nothing but Nourish and Regrowth …?), this talent was kind of useless.
Fast forward to today, and to the new version of Nature’s Grace. Now, anytime we cast Moonfire, Insect Swarm, or Regrowth we will gain 15% spell haste for 15 seconds. That’s a nice haste buff, especially in a time when our direct tank-healing spell is the laboriously slow Healing Touch. Unlike its Wrath predecessor, however, the new version of this talent does have an internal cooldown and cannot manage 100% uptime. The new Nature’s Grace can only proc once every minute. Between that change and Regrowth being a high-cost and relatively low-healing spell, I still can’t call this talent anything but lackluster. Regrowth is enough of a pain in the mana department that we’re generally trying to use it only when we have a Clearcasting proc to spare. But if we’re also aiming for as much uptime as possible from Nature’s Grace, that means potentially wasting mana just to cast a Regrowth – or throwing a Moonfire onto the boss for … giggles?
But I digress – a lot. I (probably) didn’t mean to spend half the post bashing Nature’s Grace, but it really feels like Moonglow’s third wheel. Resto healing and Moonglow have this beautiful future together if they can just meet up and fall in love at the awesome party your raid leader is throwing in Blackwing Descent. Except Moonglow has this jack-wagon of a friend, Nature’s Grace, and Moonglow just can’t possibly be bothered to come to the party unless NG gets to tag along.
So for one week and ONE WEEK ONLY, I’m going to do a little experiment. As of this afternoon, I now have 2 resto specs on my druid. (This will inevitably be the week during which we miraculously have a surplus of healers and my RL asks me to come to the raid as Boomkin, forcing me to respec twice a day. Pfft, who needs gold?)
Must find out! For Science!
Out of the gate, I’m scared. I have roughly 15k less mana in the new Moonglow spec than I do in the other, because I’ve taken all my points out of Furor. I also removed all the points I’d taken in Nature’s Bounty – ironically enough, as the current version of the talent buffs Regrowth.
But I’ll give it a whirl for the next week or so, and I’ll attempt to heal the same fights multiple times so that I can get a feel for how the encounter goes with each of the talent specs. My research will be hugely imprecise and largely based on things like “luck” and “feeeeeeelings,” since judging by how much mana I have at the end of a boss encounter is pretty worthless. The amount of mana you need to use is dependent on how much healing your raid needs, and there’s nothing that will be able to compensate for the RNG of Clearcasting procs.
Nevertheless, I’ll see what sort of “evidence” I can come up with. Personally, I’d hypothesize that it’ll be a bit of a wash. The mana I gain from 3 points in Furor will likely equal out the mana I save from 3 points in Moonglow – and the odds of me remembering to keep Nature’s Grace up are slim to none. If that is the case, Nature’s Grace will be worse than useless, since I’ll have wasted 3 talent points on the damn thing.
I’m not potentially influencing my data by being blatantly impartial about my feelings toward both specs. Hush, you.