by Allison Robert
Why haste matters
Ever since I spent a morning on the PTR playing around with the new restoration mastery, I’ve wanted to write a column on how haste interacts with our healing spec. The new mastery (Harmony) is a great stat and, for most players, should be a net healing gain over the very uninspiring Symbiosis. The recent 200% bonus to healing critical strikes is also nothing but gravy. However, our best (sort of) secondary stat remains (some of the time) haste (but often mastery) for the following reasons:
- Haste reduces the global cooldown. This is an old bonus that’s survived fromWrath of the Lich King, in which being able to slap as many spells on as many players as possible was what kept your raid alive on such enjoyable encounters as Twin Valks andBlood Queen Lana’thel. These days, that’s less important, but don’t tell that to anyone healing heroic Chimaeron.
- It speeds the cast time of direct healing spells. This is a bonus that still tends to do more for the other healers, but we rely on our direct heals a lot more these days than we did previously.
- HOTs tick faster. Just what it says: Every point of haste increases the rate at which our HOTS tick. This does come with a penalty in the form of having to reapply HOTs more frequently, assuming that’s necessary, and it’s one of the reasons why haste isn’t an unequivocally good thing. If you zone out and just methodically reapply HOTs to targets on whom they’ve fallen off, you’ll find yourself blowing through a ton of mana very quickly.
- At certain breakpoints, you gain additional ticks. This is the big one. The additional tick(s) you gain for HOTs at certain amounts of haste adds an enormous amount to our healing, but it also means you have to pay very close attention to what your haste is at any given moment.
So how does that last one work out in practice? In reforging for mastery, I fell below the breakpoint needed to add a fifth tick of Rejuvenation. What I gained in mastery wasn’t enough to offset the amount of healing done by that fifth tick, so — even though mastery is now a very good stat for restoration druids — the amount that my Rejuvenation healed actually declined by 10.6%.
What the @*$# is a breakpoint?
Haste breakpoints are the numbers at which different HOTs gain an additional tick. The problem for us is that our spells (with the exception of Wild Growth and Efflorescence) don’t share the same breakpoints, and all the numbers look different once you factor in different raid buffs anyway. It feels a touch like revisiting the nightmare that was armor penetration inWrath, but truthfully, it’s a lot easier. Throwing yourself in front of a train was arguably a more attractive option back then.
Most of the time, breakpoints are calculated with the 5% haste buff available from the shadow priest’s Shadowform, the moonkin’s Moonkin Form (what else?), or the shaman’s Wrath of Air totem. This is a very basic buff that just about every raid should be able to cover, even at the 10-man level. A further 3% haste is yours if you can convince a warlock to give you Dark Intent, which may or may not happen depending on who else is running around the group. (Tip: Don’t count on it if your raid leader’s a shadow priest.) Oh, and let’s not forget talents like Nature’s Grace and trinkets like Shard of Woe.
And then there are the poor resto druids among us who, for whatever reason, can count on getting none of these buffs. Who’s looking out for them?
Lots of people. Hamlet at Elitist Jerks has the breakpoints listed for Rejuvenation, Wild Growth, and Efflorescence at his (updated!) Cataclysm 4.2 restoration guide, and Reesi at The Inc Bear has a comprehensive list of the breakpoints needed per spell.
As a quick gloss, these are the most common ones:
- If you have no haste buffs Rejuvenation gains a fifth tick at 1,602 haste and a sixth tick at 4,805 haste. WG/Efflorescence gain an eighth tick at 913 haste and a ninth tick at 2,745 haste. Lifebloom gains an 11th tick at 649 haste, a 12th tick at 1,992 haste, and a 13th tick at 3,212 (to the extent that you need to worry about Lifebloom ticks at all).
- If you have the 5% haste buff from a shadow priest/moonkin/WoA totemRejuvenation gains a fith tick at 916 haste and a sixth tick at 3,967 haste. WG/Efflorescence gain an eighth tick at 260 haste and a ninth tick at 2,005 haste. Lifebloom gains a 12th tick at 1,221 haste and a 13th tick at 2,449 haste.
Which breakpoints are the most important?
Your first priority as a restoration druid at level 85 is to get to the point where you add a fifth tick to Rejuvenation; nothing will make as much of a difference to your healing at both the 5-man and raid level. Fortunately, you can reach 916 haste in blues with both hands tied behind your back, and that’ll take care of you if you’re constantly grouped or raiding with the 5% haste buff. If you’re not, even 1,602 is pretty doable in heroic blues as long as you’re gemming and enchanting sensibly. From what I recall, my main on the live realms hit 1,602 haste with mostly heroic blues and standard-issue resto gems and enchants, though this was also back when mastery was something you didn’t go out of your way to get.
After that, theorycrafters are generally agreed that 2,005 — the point at which you gain a ninth Wild Growth tick with the 5% haste buff — is the most important milestone to reach.
So there’s your answer. If you can count on the 5% haste buff while you’re healing, aim for 2,005 haste, which will take care of both the fifth Rejuvenation tick and the ninth Wild Growth tick. If you can’t count on the 5% haste buff and are restricted to non-raid gear, you can realistically add the fifth Rejuvenation tick at 1,602 haste, but the ninth WG tick is probably out of reach without epics.
Why didn’t you list the other HOTs?
Worrying about haste breakpoints for our other HOTs — Lifebloom, Regrowth, andTranquility – generally isn’t worth it, though I listed Lifebloom above as a convenience.
- Lifebloom is automatically refreshed by Nourish, Healing Touch, and Regrowth, assuming you have Empowered Touch (and you should), so ticks being added to it don’t usually result in a net gain for your healing.
- The use of Regrowth is realistically constrained by your Omen of Clarity procs, and the HOT portion of the spell has been pretty badly devalued in Cataclysm anyway.
- Given that Tranquility is at best a 3-minute cooldown and that its use is often dictated by encounter mechanics, it’s not worth rearranging your gear in order to take advantage of an extra tick. Tranquility breakpoints are almost the same as Rejuvenation breakpoints, however.
When is mastery better than haste?
As of patch 4.2, mastery is generally the better of the two stats. However, if you’re close to reaching a haste breakpoint for Rejuvenation or Wild Growth and can realistically make it by swapping a few gems around, haste is better. If you’ve passed a haste breakpoint and won’t fall below it by gemming back to intellect or intellect/mastery, mastery is better. If you’re raiding (and especially if you’re a dedicated raid healer), make sure you never fall below that all-important 2,005 haste for that ninth Wild Growth tick.
Basically, let gear improvements take care of the majority of your haste worries past 2,005 haste, but be vigilant if you approach another breakpoint for Rejuvenation or Wild Growth.
What about bears?
The bears in our little fable were correct. Haste is terrible for bear tanks, and Blizzard’s looking for ways to make it more attractive. For the time being, never reforge for it, and don’t look for it on your gear.
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