On the 4.2 talent spec issue, can someone comment on our mana situation in PTR raids? Can Regrowth actually replace Healing Touch as our "go to" casted heal as was suspected by some in the old thread with the crit changes? Is that feasible in terms of our mana usage?
If it is, we could take points out of Naturalist in order to maximize Living Seed and Nature's Bounty. I don't see how it is possible otherwise. We need to free up 2-3 talent points from talents like Naturalist, Nature's Cure, Perseverance or Nature's Swiftness.
Druids with Tank healing responsibilities will not take points out of Naturalist ever I guess.
First off, 3/3 NB, 1/3 LS is quite easy to get, just look at my current spec. A tank healer could drop furor/genesis/NC to max LS.
But the thought of not making those sacrifices, and dropping Naturalist instead intrigued me, so following is some math and my thoughts on the matter.
Currently (unbuffed in org, near full BIS) I'm averaging 8379 non-crit RG's, 12568.5 crits, with 775 non-crit tics, 1162.5 crit. Keep in mind the NB crit bonus DOES apply to the hot portion.
At 81% crit(not unbuffed, I'm adding in the 5% in a raid) that's an average of 11772.5 and 4355.5 from the hot portion(4 ticks), for 16128 total. If you assume a 30% LS is always used its 14826.64 direct heal, 19182.14 total.
Raid buffed its a 1.2 cast, and costs (with 3/3 Moonglow and SoW) 5566 mana.
In contrast, HT averages 20176.8, 30265.2 crits. At 21% crit, that's an average of 22295.36, with a 2.2 cast, and 4718 mana cost. 24202.07 with 100% LS usage.
From this we clearly see that on live, RG is never worth the mana cost, however if its free, (OoC), it is higher hps. (You can cast both a RG and RJ in the same time as one HT.)
Most healers don't need to look at the LS numbers, the only way you can have anywhere near 100% usage, is if you ONLY cast it on active tanks (seems to be on next hit, not actual dmg sadly), and if you DON'T chain cast it, aka if you cast it ever 5-10 seconds and only on active tanks, then LS would get a high use. Use either RG or HT for raid spot heals, and LS won't usually proc.
Now lets see how much 4.2, changes this.
Still assuming 8379 base, the crits are now 16758, and 1550 crit ticks. So 15166 average hit, 5611 from the hot portion, for 20777 average hit. Include LS, and now its 19238.2 direct, 24849.2 average.
HT crits for 40353 now, so an average of 24413.8, 26956.04 with LS.
So RG is a full second faster cast, 848 more mana, and only a bit more then 2K less then HT assuming LS, 4kish without. A lot closer then the 5 and 6kish difference they are currently.
Now I'm thinking a Raid healing druid (most of us) can actually get high use of LS, because we are mostly using our direct heals for the dual purpose of keeping LB and Harmony up, so they are cast on the active tank, and not chain cast, aka the best case scenario for LS.
Furthermore, since us raid healers don't use very many cast heals, most of these are in fact free via OoC, so the mana difference is further trivialized.
After looking at all this, I'm going to start Firelands with no points in naturalist, and go 3/3 LS, 3/3 NB, and see how badly if at all I miss Nourish/HT. Because of course without Naturalist neither of them are worth even being on your bar. HT is still a better emergency burst heal obviously, since you don't need to rely on the LS or hot, but thoughout the tier I've found RG as a better spot heal, because by the time a HT gets off the person is already healed. This experience may vary of course, based on the strength of your healing team. For me, speed and general throughput > size & burst. Now if your team relies on you more heavily for burst Spot heals (which they shouldn't in my opinion, since Rshamans and pallys... well really all healers are better at it) then you might need HT on occasion, and therefore need to keep Naturalist.
Its a rather major decision, because you are completely losing 2 direct heals as part of your toolbox if you elect not to pick up Naturalist. So put some thought into if for your own scenario.