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Gearing Decisions: Tank Healing vs. Raid Healing

April 20, 2011

As I mentioned in my last post, Druids are now capable of both tank healing and raid healing.  Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a gearing conflict between our two possible roles, and the conflict is mostly regarding Haste and Mastery.  Now, there isn’t a huge difference in stat weight, but the amount of benefit for each stat is different depending on our role and Haste break points.

Please remember that I am not a master theorycrafter.  However, I have spent a lot of time reading about this subject and trying to make sense of it.  It seems to me that there’s conflicting advice out there for Resto Druids at the moment, and I think that may be because different people are making different assumptions about what role and raid size we are gearing for.  I’m going to present my best understanding of the topic, but it’s possible that I could be wrong about something.  Feel free to correct me if necessary!

Mastery is Slightly Better for Tank Healing.

This is our Mastery, Symbiosis:

Increases the potency of your healing spells by 11.6% on targets already affected by one of your heal over time spells. Each point of Mastery increases heal potency by an additional 1.45%.

Our Mastery is great for tank healing.  We will constantly have HoTs on the tank, so most of our tank healing is going to benefit from Mastery.  We can even get our Mastery to affect our Lifebloom stacks by making sure to refresh Lifebloom while another HoT is on the tank!

Mastery is slightly less effective for raid healing, since the first HoT we apply to someone won’t have any benefit from Mastery.  In order for Mastery to boost our raid healing we have to apply a HoT and then use another heal on the same person.  This means that a far smaller percentage of raid heals are going to be affected by Mastery compared to the percentage of tank heals affected by Mastery.  (I wonder how many times I can use the word “Mastery” in one paragraph…)

Therefore, if you are doing a lot of tank healing, Mastery is an important stat.  But what if you’re primarily raid healing?  Well, you’ll still want Mastery, but reaching the next Haste break point might become more desirable, since Haste will be affecting all your heals.

How Haste Works.

What do I mean by a Haste breakpoint?  Well, basically, our HoTs have a duration, (obviously… the T stands for Time…), and over that duration our heals will “tick” a certain number of times.  Haste affects the time between the ticks.  This means that as you increase Haste the time between ticks will decrease, but the total HoT duration will remain the same.  Eventually, if you have enough Haste, you will be able to squeeze an extra tick of healing into that duration.

Let’s take Wild Growth, for example.  Wild Growth lasts for 7 seconds, and if you have no Haste at all, it will tick once every 7 seconds.  The interval between ticks is 1 second, and the duration of the spell is 7 seconds, so you get 7 ticks.  Adding Haste decreases the interval between ticks:

  • If you have 913 Haste (unbuffed), Wild Growth will tick 8 times over 7 seconds.
  • If you have 2745 Haste (unbuffed), Wild Growth will tick 9 times over 7 seconds.

Therefore, 913 Haste is a Haste break point for Wild Growth.  If you have less than 913 Haste, Wild Growth will tick 7 times.  If you have more than 913 Haste, (but less than 2745 Haste), Wild Growth will tick 8 times.

Now, Wild Growth is a strange beast, because the initial ticks heal for more than the later ticks.  But we can still know what the average amount of healing per tick is.  For the sake of argument, let’s say that on average each tick heals for 1500 health.  Let’s see how much total healing we would get at each haste break point:

  • 7 ticks: 10,500 per person.  63,000 total healing if it hits 6 people.
  • 8 ticks: 12,000 per person.  72,000 total healing if it hits 6 people.
  • 9 ticks: 13,500 per person.  81,000 total healing if it hits 6 people.

Over the course of a 5 minute fight, if you use Wild Growth on every 10-second cooldown, you could use it up to 30 times.  Assuming it hit 6 people every time:

  • 7 ticks: 1,890,000 healing done over 5 minutes.
  • 8 ticks: 2,160,000 healing done over 5 minutes.
  • 9 ticks: 2,430,000 healing done over 5 minutes.  (Over half a million more total healing than with 7 ticks!)

Unfortunately, every single one of our HoTs has a different duration and interval.  This means we have a lot of Haste break points.  Reesi over at the Inconspicuous Bear has a great chart of all the Resto Druid Haste break points, so you can check them out there.

To make things even more complicated, your Haste is affected by the raid buffs you have available.  If you have the 5% Haste raid buff from a Boomkin, Shadow Priest or Shaman, you don’t need as much Haste on your gear to reach the next break point.  Likewise, if you can convince a Warlock to give you Dark Intent consistently, you don’t need as much Haste on your gear.  (And Dark Intent stacks with the Boomkin/Spriest/Shaman haste buff!)

Honestly, this can turn Haste into Reforging hell.  You want to have enough Haste to reach a reasonable break point, but then you don’t want any Haste beyond that point – at least until you have a chance of reaching the next break point.  Any extra Haste above a break point should probably be reforged to Mastery (or Spirit).

Why I Still Like Haste, Despite its Horrible Complexity.

By this point you might be inclined to just give up on Haste and reforge everything to Mastery.  Mastery is so much easier to deal with!  However, there are some good reasons for having Haste:

  • Haste still reduces the GCD and your spell cast times.  Since Druids are using heals like Nourish and Healing Touch more often, this is still beneficial.
  • Haste affects all our spells, and thus provides a benefit in all situations, including those where Mastery is useless.
  • Haste is the best secondary stat for Boomkin, (after being hit capped).  If you play a Boomkin off-spec, and use some of your healing gear in your Boomkin spec like I do, Haste will benefit your off-spec more than Mastery does.
  • Reaching Haste break points allows your spells to tick more, increasing total healing done.

The Size of Your Raid Can Also Impact Your Stat Priorities.

I’ve seen many people recommend Mastery for 10-man content.  10-man teams are (obviously) smaller than 25-man teams, so you may spend more time casting direct heals, even if assigned to raid healing, than you would in 25-man.  This is because 10-man teams generally have fewer healing classes to choose from, so you may have to cover for a dead/incapacitated tank healer, and you may also have more time available to cast non-instant spells.  Conversely, in 25-man you are more likely to have a few Priests and Pallies shouldering tank healing duty, in which case you will be primarily raid healing and preferring Haste.

How I am Personally Gearing at the Moment.

I switch from tank healing to raid healing quite often – sometimes from fight to fight – but I also happen to be right on a Haste breakpoint.  Currently, I have exactly 1573 Haste.  This means that I have reached the second break point for Wild Growth/Efflorescence, as long as our Shaman drops his Wrath of Air Totem and our Warlock gives me Dark Intent.  (I have an arrangement with our Warlock so that she always gives me my sweet, sweet DI!)  This is a little risky, I admit, as I am relying on having those buffs.  If I’m missing a buff for some reason then some of my Haste is being wasted and would be better off as Mastery.  I’m not currently trying to reach the next Haste breakpoint, because I’d have to go to extreme lengths to get there.  So now I will be favoring Mastery.

I am also playing a bit recklessly with my spirit.  I currently have around 2000 spirit, which is arguably a bit low.  I have traded off some of my Spirit in favor of Intellect and Haste, which gives me faster, more powerful spells at the expense of some mana regen.  However, I do have several trinkets I can switch in and out to adjust my Intellect, Spirit and Haste to fit the demands of the encounter.  If I find I’m having mana issues I can increase my Spirit dramatically.  Chimaeron is one fight where the extra Spirit is more valuable than Haste, but otherwise I don’t usually need the extra regen.

My Recommendations:

Because of the complexity of our Haste break points, as well as the differences between our tank healing and raid healing roles I’m a bit skeptical of best-in-slot lists and optimization sites like Mr. Robot.  Those resources may work perfectly well for other classes/specs.  However, they may not be using assumptions that suit the specific role and raid size you are playing, (to say nothing of your personal healing style).  The information such resources provide is not necessarily wrong, but it may not be perfectly optimized for you.  I say to take everything with a grain of salt, try things out, and see what works best in your situation.

If you are primarily a tank healer, I would prioritize Mastery over Haste, but still watch to make sure your Haste is at a break point.  If you are primarily a raid healer, I would prioritize Haste – up to the most reasonable break point – and then prioritize Mastery.  But, as always, make sure you don’t stack so much Haste that you start running OOM all the time.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2011 11:59 am

    Nice summary.

    I would point out that optimization sites still work great if they have stat weighting available (Mr. Robot does) and you bother to make sure that the caps YOU want to reach are properly represented.

    • April 20, 2011 12:33 pm

      What’s weird about Mr. Robot is that even with Haste weighted higher than Mastery it’s telling me to reforge/re-enchant to more Mastery. When I look at the stats it wants me to end up with, I’m nowhere near any viable Haste break point. When I tried to set minimum amounts of Haste and Spirit it kept giving me errors, saying it wasn’t possible. I also don’t see anywhere to tell it what buffs to assume I have. I had a couple of friends who use Mr. Robot regularly look me up there to see if they could figure it out, and the conclusion was, “Yeah… I don’t know what it’s doing to you, but I don’t think it’s working…”

      I miss RAWR. 😦

      • April 21, 2011 3:16 am

        Well, bear in mind that Mr. Robot also counts things like trinket procs when determining where you should be with respect to things like haste. Mr. Robot has forums where you can ask “What’s up with this advice?” and you can get some useful answers.

        I don’t think anything should be blindly followed, but Mr. Robot is probably the best resource, because it is essentially a personalized spreadsheet with a great UI. Unlike a resource like Elitist Jerks, it’s looking at your specific gear to make recommendations. Spreadsheeting has always been viewed as the best way to figure out how complicated dynamics to math out interplay for an individual. Mr. Robot basically makes doing that painless.

      • April 21, 2011 12:41 pm

        I know you’re a Mr. Robot devotee, so feel free to look me up there and see if you can figure out what it’s doing. I had Justin look into it, and he’s one of the biggest fans of Mr. Robot there is, and he agreed with me that Mr. Robot isn’t working for me.

        The only haste proc I have is from herbalism, and I’d rather it didn’t take that into account when determining whether or not I’m at a Haste break point, since I won’t be under that effect constantly.

        Incidentally, I checked to see if RAWR is working for Resto Druid again, and it sort of is – my spec is listed as “partially functional”. I tried it out anyway, and RAWR is saying the opposite of Mr. Robot and telling me to reforge/re-enchant everything to Haste. But, once again, it would leave me at a weird amount of Haste between break points. The Haste above the break point would probably be better as Mastery or Spirit, so I don’t trust either tool. (But at least RAWR has a note when mousing over the Haste listing how much Haste I’d need to reach other break points, and that seems to be accurate.)

      • April 21, 2011 12:59 pm

        It won’t let me reply to your comment, as deep as it is, so I’ll just reply to the comment I originally replied to.

        Looking at both your original stats and where your stats would be after Mr. Robot optimized and checking it against the table of druid haste breakpoints you linked, it appears that (raid buffed) you weren’t at a haste breakpoint. Mr. Robot has you at 17.9% haste (raid buffed) and the next Wild Growth/Efflorescence tick is at 21.43%. The previous breakpoint was Regrowth at 16.65%.

        So after Mr. Robot’s optimizations, you still aren’t precisely at a breakpoint. It’s suggesting that instead of getting the haste for an extra Lifebloom/Regrowth tick, you get more mastery (and a little more spirit, though mostly where you can’t reforge to mastery).

        Without doing reams of math (math that Mr. Robot–being a spreadsheet–does), it’s impossible to say whether this will lead to more or less throughput for you, but nothing seems obviously wrong. Especially since you say you don’t even use Regrowth that much (I know you do use Lifebloom continuously, so obviously that is a cost).

      • April 21, 2011 2:16 pm

        You need to look at the column that is “DI+Raid” to see what value I need to be at a Haste break point, not just “raid buffed”. I have 1573 Haste. I need exactly 1573 Haste to be at a Haste break point, when I am raid buffed and have Dark Intent. So yes, I AM at a Haste break point, in my current gear. This is confirmed when I look myself up in RAWR, and is says that I am getting 9 ticks of Wild Growth.

        So, I’m sorry, but Mr. Robot is wrong.

    • April 21, 2011 2:28 pm

      When I said “raid buffed” I was referring to the Mr. Robot listings. On that chart, I was looking at total haste percentage needed, not the ratings, which are each based on different assumptions.

      Whether Mr. Robot is wrong is certainly your opinion. Mr. Robot wasn’t saying you were or weren’t getting an extra tick, that was just my quick check, so I could have been wrong. Whether Mr. Robot is “wrong” about those reforges and gems being better for your throughput would take a ton of math to determine, not just a glance over. If you prefer RAWR, that’s fine. It’s also a spreadsheet. I kind of doubt you’ve carefully analyzed each of their algorithms to determine which is “best.” I think serious raiders should be using some good spreadsheet. It doesn’t have to be Mr. Robot. 🙂

      • April 21, 2011 2:56 pm

        The trouble is that I’ve used three different spreadsheet programs – Mr. Robot, RAWR and TreeCalcs – and they all make different recommendations. So what is going on? Is it just too complex to model for some reason? Is each resource using different assumptions? Are two of them wrong (and how would I know which one is right)? Do I need to go get a degree in mathematics to figure out how to play my spec? (If so, my husband has a math degree, so can I just get him to figure it out? Oh wait, he doesn’t play WoW…) Without being able to see all the assumptions and formulas (and understand them…) it’s really hard to know which advice to follow.

        That’s why I’m saying to just hit a Haste break point, get enough Spirit so you aren’t going oom, then stack Mastery.

        Also, I seem to have logged out with a different trinket combo than what I normally use. I was testing it out but I don’t think I like it as much. I should probably go compare logs or something…

      • April 21, 2011 3:19 pm

        I wasn’t arguing with your post. I just wanted to note, originally, that Mr. Robot considers a lot of things (including trinket procs…which I mentioned because that’s what caused me, originally, not to understand Mr. Robot’s recommendations for me).

        I think looking at spreadsheets is a good idea, but no spreadsheet can be perfect for everyone in every situation. It provides some guidance, but there’s definitely something to be said for understanding some concepts and then setting simpler guidelines (like your “get enough spirit to last, hit a haste breakpoint, get mastery”).

        I pay more attention to Mr. Robot because I really don’t have any haste breakpoints to speak of (no disc priest is going to gear based on Renew) and so the assumptions simplify (though the math is still hard, considering trinkets and the Borrowed Time talent…so I let Mr. Robot crunch the numbers!). I can see how it might be more complicated for a druid, with the way Blizzard has designed haste. Similarly, hunters used to be quite complicated in Wrath with the way ArPen worked.

        Of course, some people make their own spreadsheets, just for them. That’s pretty hardcore. I like Mr. Robot mostly because it’s a spreadsheet with good UI that builds in the latest theorycrafting, but you can set caps to imitate making your own spreadsheet. Allows you to do things that used to be the province only of people that used to be far more hardcore than I was.

      • April 21, 2011 3:53 pm

        I agree with what you just said, and Mr. Robot is generally a good resource. I only mistrust it for Resto Druid specifically, because that’s the only spec I disagree with it about (so far).

  2. April 20, 2011 6:11 pm


    • April 22, 2011 11:00 am


      Nice summary though, gives some very nice information on Durids and haste, I feel enlightened!

      • April 22, 2011 3:05 pm

        I kid, I kid. I’m sure if I played WoW anymore I’d find this helpful, lol.

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