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Janvier

Off Spec Healers - 60-70

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As a resto Druid at heart I've kept my restoration spec till now (lvl 64). My restoration gear is very good consisting of mostly Naxx items. Therefore, during instances and for quest rewards I have been picking up feral pieces and balance pieces in anticpiation of a potential spec change.

During the leveling process primary healing instances as a restoration Druid has been fun and even challenging at times. However, I find that outside the instance, solo questing has been more painful than I could ever imagine. The time it takes to kill mobs is crazy.

My question is this.

Can an off-spec Druid (Balance/Resto or Feral/Resto) with the fewer points in resto still primary heal 5-mans? I need a spec change, at least till 70. But don't want to lose the ability to heal in instances.

Thoughts, comments appreciated.

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The simple answer is yes. As a feral druid I have the healing power to take care of all the 5 mans though I am more often asked to tank. My healing gear is not as good as yours either. With a good group you should have no problems. I have been in situations where I am left thinking "While if I were resto there we would not have wiped" but those we mostly because things went wrong that really should not have or people did not know a boss fight at all.

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In a word, yes. You don't even need to be particularly non-resto to quest/farm fairly successfully. You won't do so as efficientlyvas a pure dps class, but you won't be prohibitively slow either.

I was 0/20/31 at 60 headed to 0/30/31 at 70, and with my reasonably good feral gear picked up from AQ and while leveling (1200-1500ap self-buffed) I could do reasonably good dps. Once I hit 70 I switched to 27/0/34, and with the balance gear I picked up while leveling I'm sitting at ~600 +dmg, which is plenty respectable.

With the first spec I had a huge mana pool and still had all the core healing abilities like NS and swiftmend. With the second I have better efficiency, more +healing, and a few more points in Restoration so my heals are a bit larger. Honestly, I think it's a better raid spec than full resto, because I can hybrid up some dps when the situation calls for it and still farm the consumables I need while raiding. And I'm not missing anything I really need to be a solid healer (I can't find any use for ToL).

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Certainly. I main healed 5-mans on occasion with a 0/41/10 level 60 spec all the way up to level 70. I will warn that you have to be very good at anticipating damage because you're lacking any instant or even fast heals. Starting at Sethekk Halls and higher I'd recommend against main healing.

Its certainly more optimal to bring a priest of any spec and, you know, go feral with your feral spec. ;-]

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Since you have very good gear and likely run with good groups it shouldn't be a problem. People for whom either of those are not the case would have difficulty doing much more than a backup healing role. At least that's how it felt leveling mostly shadow, there were many times where mana was tight and would have been disasterous without nice gear, and there were times where being a healing spec could have saved us from silly blunders. It also was good practice that forced me to work on mana efficiency.

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I had a lot of trouble keeping up 3 melee/1 ranged in Arcatraz with a heavy feral build. I think with more ranged DPS or a Shaman/Paladin I would have been okay, but I don't think my HPS was high enough to do it.

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If you're willing to dump a few gold on pots, you can heal basically anything as a shadow priest. I'd imagine it's the same for a feral druid, especially if you put your other points in resto. (Which I guess you would, for Naturalist.)

I did have to hit pots fairly frequently, though.

Our guild was a little short on leveled healers, so I healed several of the 70 instances as a 67/68 shadow priest. Generally no problem, except for throughput difficulties once on the first Shadow Labs boss.

Two off-spec healers, one main healing and one doing his spec'd role, can work really well to make up for any deficiencies. ILotP or VE/VT can patch over whatever your primary healer might be lacking, and the secondary can always switch over in an emergency.

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I was barely able to manage main healing Sethekk Halls as a level 64 full shadow priest. It was late and I was very tired but I seem to recall drinking virtually after every pull and my healing gear is pretty good to be honest (tier2/3). We did wipe a few times however and I definitely thought, "if I wasn't specced shadow that wouldn't have been a problem," after a couple of them. I used pots during the boss fights and we managed to clear it eventually but it's not something I'd consider a lot of fun (it was really stressful!).

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I was barely able to manage main healing Sethekk Halls as a level 64 full shadow priest. It was late and I was very tired but I seem to recall drinking virtually after every pull and my healing gear is pretty good to be honest (tier2/3). We did wipe a few times however and I definitely thought, "if I wasn't specced shadow that wouldn't have been a problem," after a couple of them. I used pots during the boss fights and we managed to clear it eventually but it's not something I'd consider a lot of fun (it was really stressful!).

64 is underleveled for Sethekk, so this experience isn't all that surprising. For my own experience, I leveled as Ret, and main healed every instance (except tanking a few!) along the way. I usually had a shadowpriest companion feeding me mana, but minus him it just meant a pot here and there.

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My "perma-group" consists of a 0/41/20 feral druid and a shadow priest. As long as you have another "off-spec" healer to help out you'll be fine. Otherwise just make sure the tank knows what to expect. A warrior can easily hit a trinket/pot/last stand if burst damage becomes a problem at some point during a fight, that should give you time to catch up. The only boss I've seen where spec really matters is the final boss of botanica, a very experienced resto-spec'd druid had a hard time solo-healing the party for that encounter.

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64 is underleveled for Sethekk, so this experience isn't all that surprising. For my own experience, I leveled as Ret, and main healed every instance (except tanking a few!) along the way. I usually had a shadowpriest companion feeding me mana, but minus him it just meant a pot here and there.

Please don't read my reply as though I'm saying it would have been cake as holy/disc spec at lvl 64. I felt really out of my place with lvl 69 elites swinging at my head all the time and I aggroed through a wall once which was bad obviously.

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I've had few problems main healing as Ret/Holy, using what is mostly L60 healing gear (upgraded 4~5 healing items out of 17). Highest instance I've done as a MH is Shadow Lab/Black Morass.

As a solo healer, my group completed Shadow Lab pretty easily. (The geared tank helped) Black Morass, we barely downed 2nd boss and wiped afterwards due to some mistakes I made. (Should've been able to get to 3rd boss otherwise - not sure if I'd be able to handle healing on him though; first time in that instance)

The main penalty for healing as an "off-spec" is lower endurance. Potting and minimizing overheal/maximizing regen (Illumination is ez-mode!) can compensate for that, at least in normal mode instances.

Another problem I faced was dealing with AOE damage, but that's a weakness of the class, not the spec. Reminding people that they can and should bandage (to compensate for a paladin solo healing) solves this part half the time.

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The main penalty for healing as an "off-spec" is lower endurance. Potting and minimizing overheal/maximizing regen (Illumination is ez-mode!) can compensate for that, at least in normal mode instances.

This used to be true for paladins, but I disagree with it now. The lack of Light's Grace / Holy Shock in any non-Holy build drastically reduces your throughput (and thus ability to handle AE damage to the party, as you pointed out), so its incorrect to say that longevity is the only thing you get from a healing build.

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This used to be true for paladins, but I disagree with it now. The lack of Light's Grace / Holy Shock in any non-Holy build drastically reduces your throughput (and thus ability to handle AE damage to the party, as you pointed out), so its incorrect to say that longevity is the only thing you get from a healing build.

Main penalty.

The only boss I've felt taxed in single target healing output was the 2nd boss of Black Morass, due to the debuff. (BoP does not clear the effect. /mumble)

Even with Light's Grace, HLs on the entire party is less mana efficient than using FoL. (Unless you consider the 5~10% of the time you spend healing the non-tanks worth using BoLight over Salv/Wisdom. It is time efficient, but since I didn't state so earlier: my problem was mana, not time) Holy would have DI and generally higher mana reserves for HL spamming, but that still does not change the fact that you're healing AoE damage one target at a time. Contrast that to using Tranquility/Prayer of Healing, or tossing out HoTs. (2k~ healing for 1.5 seconds of attention)

In any case, we're not trying to discuss how much better the healing spec is. The discussion is about the healing competence of "off-specs".

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I definitely feel the pinch in some instances if I need to heal with my shadow spec. Sometimes I'll use mana oil, use food, a cheap healing elixir, and the ever-present mana potion to compensate. With a heavy holy build, I'm about 20-25% more efficient on all my heals and I get inspiration on my crits on the tank, helping mitigate a bit more physical damage.

I found this out last night in Karazhan, when we were having healing problems for some reason, so I hearthed out and respecced, since I was just feeling way too constrained actually trying to heal in there as a shadow priest. I don't necessary think it was the smartest thing to put me on healing, but I really felt strongly that I needed to be the appropriate spec for it as a result, because after a few goes as shadow I just felt really overextended. That might be a bit over the level of what the OP was talking about though. I didn't have too many troubles healing as I was leveling up at all, as long as I used some of those mana potions that I found on my journeys.

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Even with Light's Grace, HLs on the entire party is less efficient than using FoL. (Unless you consider the 5~10% of the time you spend healing the non-tanks worth using BoLight over Salv/Wisdom)

Not at all? Holy Light has a higher +healing coefficient, not to mention a higher HP/mana AND HP/sec ratio than FoL. If you have Light's Grace up, and you're not overhealing significantly, its the ideal spell to use (especially since it would likely have a significantly higher critrate than FoL).

In any case, we're not trying to discuss how much better the healing spec is. The discussion is about the healing competence of "off-specs".

Yes, and my experience has been paladin offspecs are perfectly fine for primary healing of leveling instances. I respecced Holy at cap for raiding, so I can't say I've tried endgame healing as anything but an idealized spec.

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Off-spec healers will be completely fine until Sethekk Halls. Around there you start running into incoming damage that's bordering on out of control for an off-spec healer without some rather stellar healing gear.

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I faced a similar problem as the OP. I am a resto at heart and love to heal and support groups in that method but knew that it was not a good build to level or quest with. I flip flopped back and forth through the levels with different builds from doing a full feral build, where I missed healing horribly, to a 0/33/22 build at lvl 64 to gain a lot of the Feral abilities to include HOTW, LoTP and ILoTP. This build afforded me plenty of feral abilities to quickly kill mobs solo, to heal decently with NS and to give me the ability to tank, dps or heal for groups as needed.

At 69 currently I am a 0/29/31 build and this gets me almost all the best feral abilities while also a lot of Healing abilities with a large mana pool, large rejuvs, lifeblooms and swiftmends. I have healed for lvl 70 instances with this setup with little problem. Its nice to have another off spec'd healer pop heals on some boss fights like the second boss in the Black Morass.

Try out the 0/33/22 build with concentration on Kitty DPS talents and the first 14 points in Resto tree in Feral abilities and you will probably be happy with the returns. Example:

Wowhead 0/33/22

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Can an off-spec Druid (Balance/Resto or Feral/Resto) with the fewer points in resto still primary heal 5-mans? I need a spec change, at least till 70. But don't want to lose the ability to heal in instances.

I'm an off-spec Druid too, or rather as I like to say a "resto/feral hybrid". I was pure resto (0/0/51) for raiding prior to the expansion pack, but I knew from my experience leveling 1-60 that pure resto builds are terrible to level with if you spend substantial amounts of time soloing - I'm impressed you managed to stick it out this long. However, I like to heal and I like doing instance runs when I can.

My experience is that it is possible to heal TBC off-spec given the following assumptions:

- Mixed resto/feral spec - I'm building toward 0/30/31 (not quite at 70 yet). Because druid heals are slower, I've needed Nature's Swiftness in tight situations and I'd say that it has saved wipes on several occasions. I'm not sure you could get by without at least 21 points in resto.

- Put Feral points in to HOTW and Nurturing Instinct. The greater mana pool from HOTW really helps in the shorter 5-man bosses, and the +healing from Nurturing Instinct is helpful (I get about +50 in my resto gear).

- Make sure you have decent healing gear. I started with MC/ZG/AQ20 epics, and I've been replacing them whenever I find better gear, primarily from instances or instance quests. I take resto gear over feral gear when I have a choice.

- Have a back-up healer on instances that are not on "farm" yet. The extra healing can help prevent bad pulls and other mistakes from turning in to wipes and it is nice to have either another rez (especially one that is not on a long timer) for the inevitable death or two.

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I main healed all the instances as ret leveling up and most of the 70's, Some are indeed relativily easy, ie Shadow Lab apart from first boss. My first run of Shattered halls really strained me, but a undergeared 69 druid as mt was a lot of the reason for that.

The difference between haveing a shadow priest in the group even if they never come out of form is night and day. Funnily enough it was the effort of trying to solo heal a Black Morass yesterday that in a fit of frustration I respecced back to holy. 4 Wipes to Boss 2 when I had killed him easily with a different group that included a shadow priest the previous day.

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Druids have problems main healing in many higher end TBC 5 mans regardless of spec. The lack of fast heals leads to a lot of deaths that could have been prevented by another healing class. Obviously this is something that can be mitigated by skill, but I've found paladins and priests to be considerably more effective main healers in virtually every situation.

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Thanks for all of the great replies.

My feel my spec should at least have Swiftmend, it has saved myself and my group more times than I can count. I was considering putting my other points into Balance. I have a decent amount of balance gear, some from pre TBC and some I picked up while in the TBC. Plus I think it would be fun.

Is anyone running with a Balance/Resto Build? Where the Resto tree gives you at least Swiftmend?

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Thanks for all of the great replies.

My feel my spec should at least have Swiftmend, it has saved myself and my group more times than I can count. I was considering putting my other points into Balance. I have a decent amount of balance gear, some from pre TBC and some I picked up while in the TBC. Plus I think it would be fun.

I was in exactly the same spot as you. I was 0/0/51 heading into TBC, and I thought I'd try and run with that. I found exactly the same as you, i.e. It was absolutely brain-numbing. I respecced to 0/20/31 at first, as I didn't (again like you) want to give up swiftmend. In the end another druid I know told me to bite the bullet and give it up, so I went to 0/30/21, and am now 0/33/21 at level 63. So far, and take this with a pinch of salt as I've only solo-healed Hellfire Citadel and Coilfang instances, I've been fine. Heart of the Wild made a massive difference to how long I could heal for.

Some have gone for 0/41/10 but I simply couldn't give up Nature's Swiftness - it's an absolute boon both for instancing and for solo work, and those "oh-shit" moments when you accidentally pull adds to yourself while questing.

I will head towards 70 aiming to end up 0/40/21, and then probably ultimately respec to 0/30/31 for the best of both worlds. Finally, like you, as I've got more +spell dmg gear it's been tempting to try something like 17/13/21 but what I've done instead is create a sort of hybrid +heal/+dmg gear set that allows me to chuck moonfires & starfires on early pulls, while still keeping +500 odd healing.

Hope that helps.

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Thanks for all of the great replies.

My feel my spec should at least have Swiftmend, it has saved myself and my group more times than I can count. I was considering putting my other points into Balance. I have a decent amount of balance gear, some from pre TBC and some I picked up while in the TBC. Plus I think it would be fun.

Is anyone running with a Balance/Resto Build? Where the Resto tree gives you at least Swiftmend?

I'm running with a resto/balance spec now. I was full feral for a long time before BC and kept that spec to level to 70. I was comfortable main-healing everything up to 70. I did warn my groups that I didn't have instant heals and they should watch the aggro, and I drank pots here and there, but I didn't have any major problems. The first time I really felt stretched was main healing Shattered Halls. The large pulls meant a lot of party damage, my HOT's weren't that strong and I just didn't have the regen or quick heals I needed.

I recently respecced 27/0/34. I've found this a really efficient and strong healing spec - I use lifebloom a lot for touch up party healing, and I have strong healing touches for use on tanks. Swiftmend has also come in very handy in a lot of situations.

It's taken some getting used to but it's still possible to solo with decent efficiency, I just feel a lot more fragile than I did as feral. I do like the synergy between the balance and resto trees, and that it's easy to put together a nice off-healing/caster damage set for times when I go somewhere as a secondary healer. So if you're thinking you want strong heals while still being able to solo effectively, the balance/resto hybrid could be a good compromise.

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The leveling instances really shouldn't give you much trouble if you're healing with an off-spec, assuming your team is at the suggested level. I've leveled as an enhancement shaman, and called upon to heal (solo at times) and haven't had much trouble. The level 70 instances (particularly Arcatraz, Botanica and Shattered Halls come to mind) will probably give you trouble (or at least be quite challenging) without one player with a healing spec. I'd definitely recommend putting a solid 30 points (at least) into feral or balance, and drop your remaining points into restoration; leveling is far more fun when you can grind efficiently.

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