Restoration Druid Guide Part 1: Talents (8.1 Compliant)
We are updating the Restoration Druid Guide for 8.1! Yay! Many talents are situational and will depend on the fight at hand. They are also based on my personal preferences and playstyle, so what is best for me may not be best for you.
Level 15. Abundance / Prosperity / Cenarion Ward
Abundance: Abundance is a talent better suited for dungeons. In a raid, it would be very mana-intensive to maintain enough Rejuvenations to make the talent worthwhile, and Cenarion Ward is just better for healing output in most situations anyway. I think this talent tier depends more on your individual playstyle and the mechanics of the fight at hand. You should play around to see what suits you and your raid composition best. Abundance is much better in Mythic+ when you have fewer targets to heal and you don’t need to worry as much about mana. It may also be a good idea when your raid doesn’t have a lot of strong single-target healers.
Prosperity: Prosperity is a good talent when paired with Soul of the Forest (though I don’t recommend that talent either) because it puts Swiftmend on a 27-second recharge time with two charges, so when paired with Wild Growth it will boost your healing. Unfortunately, this combination is still not as strong as just picking Cenarion Ward in the first place. Essentially, because after the first 2 charges you are once again casting Swiftmend on a 27-second recharge time, you essentially only get just over one extra Swiftmend per fight.
Cenarion Ward: Most people consider Cenarion Ward the default choice, and it is a strong talent, but I really hate having an extra button to push. To remember to use it, I have a WeakAura that stays up and has a cooldown timer on it so when the spell is up, I will remember to press it. I have it bound to a mouse button to make it even easier. The nice things about Cenarion Ward are: it can be pre-cast to mitigate initial damage, it counts toward your mastery and it can be extended with Flourish. It is my default choice.
Level 30. Tiger Dash / Renewal / Wild Charge
Tiger Dash: This is my personal choice. I like having a tool to quickly run away from an enemy, giving me a second to pop Travel Form and run away without getting dazed. It can also be useful for certain raid mechanics.
Renewal: Renewal could be useful if you’re soloing, but why would you solo as resto anyway? We already have Barkskin, Ironbark, and Bear Form to mitigate incoming damage, plus we have much more healing in our toolkit.
Wild Charge: Wild Charge lets you swim faster but that’s really… it. I can’t see it being very useful in any situation because you will generally want to stay AWAY from where people are taking damage, and if you need to go somewhere fast you can just pop Tiger Dash. The only way I see this being useful is if you need to cross some sort of gap or “fly” to an ally higher up than you.
Balance Affinity: Give you a passive 5 yard range increase and access to some moonkin abilities. I like to choose the Balance Affinity because my raid group has… stacking problems. If it’s a small fight area, Guardian Affinity is always a better option. You may wish to pick this affinity to do DPS, since it has the highest DPS output of any affinity.
Feral Affinity: Give you a passive 15% movement speed increase increase and access to some Cat-form abilities. This might be good for the speed increase, but it doesn’t offer any benefit for a raid fight that an ability like Tiger Dash doesn’t already give you. If you have an interest in Catweaving, you should pick this one (I’m not a Catweaver, since I prefer to stay a good ways away from the combat). Contributing cat form DPS can help beat enrage timers and since the spells cost no mana, it will be better for your mana than DPSing using Balance Affinity (when has more damage output but uses mana).
Guardian Affinity: MOST people recommend this one. It gives you a flat passive 6% damage reduction, which can be invaluable during progression. On a fight where you will have no range issues, this is definitely the choice. It gives you access to Bear abilities like Frenzied Regeneration, which can be super useful for soaking. The heal over time effect from Frenzied Regeneration also contributes to your mastery, and you can slap a Rejuvenation on yourself before you go into Bear form to make the combo even stronger.
Mighty Bash: You won’t generally be called upon to stun any enemies since you will always be at range and melee should be able to perform that job.
Mass Entanglement: I really can’t think of a current fight where Mass Entanglement would be useful. It would be useful for slowing the droplets if you were going for the achievement on Immerseus, but that’s about all I can think of. Any damage taken will cancel the effect, so most of the time it will be immediately broken anyways.
Typhoon: I tend to choose Typhoon because sometimes things will get healing aggro and I can knock them back in time for the tank to get aggro on them, like the scorpion adds on Skorpyron or the adds on Tichondrius. A special protip is that you can Ursol’s Vortex a mob and then Typhoon them so they’re all nice and grouped up for awesome AoE shenanigans, which is great for Mythic+!
Level 75. Soul of the Forest / Cultivation / Incarnation: Tree of Life
Soul of the Forest: Soul of the Forest provides a solid buff to your Wild Growths. It will only be good for your every second or third Wild Growth, though, and it also adds another step in there forcing you to waste one your only non-cast time emergency heal just to buff an already powerful spell. If you choose to use it, I have a WeakAura available here to remind you to use your Soul of the Forest buff! Be sure you are always using this to buff you Wild Growths. You can then extend them with Flourish. Keep in mind that this is the most mana-intensive combination, so keep a close eye on your mana. Numerically, it is behind the other two options, so I do not recommend it currently.
Cultivation: Cultivation adds a second HoT on the target if they dip below 60% health. It can be useful ASSUMING your group is going sub 60% health often enough for it to be useful. A nice thing is that Cultivation is always active and I don’t have to worry about actively using it or timing my other spells. It also adds to your Mastery. It’s the talent for lazy people like me, or if you have no issues on an encounter. Cultivation would likely be a talents choice if you were doing Mythic dungeons, or if your raid group is going below 60% health enough for this talent to be effective.
Incarnation: Tree of Life: Incarnation seems to be the reigning champion in 8.1. Cultivation goes down in effectiveness as your mastery level drops, and thus Incarnation edges it out in effectiveness. The only reason I don’t like it is because it just gives me another button to worry about pressing and timing well, but it is a very good talent. It’s a useful OH CRAP button. Numerically, it pulls ahead of the pack in raids. You can cast around three Wild Growths while this is active, and slap as many Rejuvenations on people as you can between Wild Growth casts. Try not to use Regrowth unless you really need to, because that’s a serious mana burner.
This tier choice will depend on your progression, gear, and raid composition, so you may want to experiment a little to determine which talent gives you the most throughput.
Level 90. Inner Peace / Stonebark / Spring Blossoms
Inner Peace: Inner Peace tends to rely heavily on damage patterns that will line up with the talented 2 minute cooldown of Tranquility, not to mention a decent fight length, otherwise it is a wasted talent. You have to actually have the opportunity to use Tranquility enough times for it to be beneficial. This talent would be wasted in a normal dungeon. It can be useful on a Mythic+ with the Bursting affix, as you can use Tranquility to heal up after mobs and pull more groups quicker, shortening the clear time. I usually choose this trait.
Stonebark: Stonebark really shines in dungeons. It can be useful in a dungeon where you’re mostly worrying about healing a single target (the tank). In raids, however, the other options pull miles ahead of it.
Spring Blossoms: Spring Blossoms will be good on fights where 6-9+ people are stacked and you can see the benefit. It’s also useful because it will interact with your mastery and is affected by Flourish. Keep in mind that in a fight where you move a lot, this talent won’t be as good because of the mana cost of constantly having to move your mushroom. It is also of little use on fight where the group is spread out. Do not take this talent if you are stacking Autumn Leaves Azerite traits! And for the love of Sylvanas, remember to actually put your mushroom down! Consider downloading my Efflorescence WeakAuras.
Level 100. Photosynthesis / Germination / Flourish
Photosynthesis: Photosynthesis recently got a buff, making it more competitive in raids. However, it is still more of a dungeon talent and better when you have fewer targets to heal. The downside is that you are losing a good portion of your tank healing if you choose to keep it on yourself, which is likely to cause overhealing. Still wouldn’t be my top choice.
Germination: Germination can be useful in smaller groups like dungeons where you have the time and mana to apply extra Rejuvenations to people. On a fight like Tichondrius where you do not have to worry about mana and people are taking constant ticking damage, this can be a great talent. It also adds another heal over time effect for your Mastery, and pairs well with Abundance. It is a good talent if your raid leader has assigned you to heal a smaller group of people in the raid that you can concentrate on.
Flourish: What is nice about Flourish is that you are able to control it. My reason for not liking Flourish is that it adds an extra button that I have to push. What makes it easier is binding the spell to a key and making a WeakAura to alert me when it’s up so I remember to press the key again. I have all my aura strings available on this page. In a raid environment where other healers have tank cooldowns available, Flourish is just better. Additionally, if you pick Spring Blossoms, Cultivation, and Cenarion Ward, they will also be affected by Flourish. Try to remember to cast Cenarion Ward before Flourish so you can almost double its duration.