How to Tree
Playing a Tree can be very intimidating when getting started. The reason for this is that we have so many tools in the toolbox that it can be difficult to decide which is the right one to use at the right time. Getting a natural response for which tool should be used at which time is something that takes quite a bit of practice. Don’t get discouraged! Just keep on trying, keep your mind open, and you’ll find yourself constantly improving.
First things first however. In order to do any sort of raid healing, you’re going to need some sort of raid frames. Raid Frames give you an overview of the status of every raid member, making it quick and easy to determine who needs what healing. I personally recommend VuhDo as its out of the box setup is pretty good, and custom configuration is pretty easy as it has a good menu system. What VuhDo provides, is health bars for each of your raid members, as well as informing you if there is a poison/curse on players, and finally, providing information on what HoTs you currently have on targets.
It’s the last one that’s important. If you have a Rejuv ticking on someone, if you recast it while it’s only halfway through it’s duration, you’re probably wasting mana. And while Trees are pretty good on mana, it’s not something you want to take for granted. Also, recasting it is a lost GCD (Global Cooldown) that you could have used on someone else. Information is power.
All the tools and the toys in the box
Rejuvenation–This is your staple. Your bread and butter. You’ll have more Rejuv casts than anything else in most encounters. It’s a cheap spell but it heals for a good deal overall. It’s good to keep on tanks and other constant damage takers to provide a relatively quick supply of healing even if you’re focused someplace else.
The big decision about Rejuv is if you should use the Rapid Rejuv glyph. What this does is it makes your Rejuv ticks be affected by haste. Normally ticks come three seconds apart, however with my Druid’s 22% haste, that is reduced to about 2.25 seconds. The downside is that my Rejuv only lasts about 12.5 seconds. This means I have to apply it more often, using more GCDs and mana. As well, it makes it more difficult to maintain a blanket rejuv screen on a large group. (For example when fighting Stinky in ICC, who has a powerful damage aura). Try both and see what work for you.
Regrowth–A fairly large initial heal with a high crit rate, that then puts a long-lasting (24 seconds) HoT on the target that heals for a moderate amount. Still pretty cheap, although more expensive than Rejuv. Personally I like this spell. It’s good to clean up a moderate amount of damage on a target, especially on fights where there’s a constant influx of damage that the HoT can assist with (Like Twin Val’Kyr). It’s also a good thing to put on the tanks to create an additional buffer heal for them. It’s best to use it when they have some damage, so the initial heal effect isn’t wasted, but it’s not an emergency either, (Nourish is faster) say about 70% health or so.
Wild GrowthThis is the AoE HoT. Heals 5 players for a small amount, but it ticks fast, every second. It is a very good spell, and in situations with constant or frequently reoccurring damage, it should be used on cooldown. The splash range is fairly limited, so the key to using this is to seperate in your head between melee DPS and ranged. If you use it on a melee DPS, chances are that you’ll get only melee DPS/tanks. The problem with ranged is that in so many fights they spread out, really limiting the use of Wild Growth. One thing to keep an eye on, is if you see an announcement for an incoming AoE effect, and you see multiple ranged take damage, chances are they are close enough together for a Wild Growth. It’s a nice addition, and a lot of the time should be used when off-cooldown, but don’t rely too much on it because of these range issues.
Swiftmend–Oh Swiftmend, how much do I love you. Let’s face it. Seeing big numbers is fun. And when Swiftmend crits, we see fairly big numbers. It consumes a Rejuv or Regrowth on the target (if not glyphed. I recommend glyphing this baby) and heals the target for the total amount of healing that the HoT does during its lifetime. It’s on a 15-second cooldown, so while you want to use it, you do want to save it for emergencies. It WILL save tanks. By itself it’s a good reason to keep your tanks with HoTs on them. *hug*
Nourish–The new kid on the block, so to speak. It’s a very quick direct heal that gets a substantial boost if a HoT is on the target. Because it’s not considered a HoT spell, it’s a relatively expensive heal, but it does a lot of healing fast. Once Nature’s Grace triggers dropping the casting speed when you crit, you will find that Nourish will be GCD capped. A good way to dump mana to get through a very tank healing intensive phase (such as Festergut 3rd inhale).
Nature’s Swiftness–Not AS important as it once was IMO, but a Nature’s Swiftness/Healing Touch macro is still a decent emergency heal.
Other spells, your Remove Curse and Abolish Poison, it’s best to actually learn which curses/poisons cause significant problems and remove them, and which are just damage spells that can be healed through.
Innervate should usually be used on yourself. In a boss fight, use it when you are at about 2/3rds mana the first time (unless there’s a significant rest phase to gain back mana), then after that use it on cooldown. A macro to use it on yourself without having to target yourself will help a lot with avoiding wasting of the spell. Once your gear hits a certain point, you may find you don’t really need it, then at that point use the innervate on someone who does need it.
Oh. And there’s Lifebloom, this used to be one of the staples during BC, however it’s basically been nerfed to hell and back. It’s good as an additional HoT, but honestly I’ve taken it off my bar to simplify things a bit.
So that’s all the tools you need to understand to start healing. In a different post I’ll put up about spec and glyph choices in more detail. Good luck!