After my previous post about druid healing, I suddenly had this strange and compelling idea....
Affinity and Jarre (and just about everyone other resto druid in various forums) mentioned how crappy the T17 resto druid 4 set was, and that when it was complained about to Blizzard, the response Celestalon gave was that it was a "different playstyle" issue and they would not look at altering it.
(For those who don't know, the 2 set bonus is 3 casts of regrowth are free and instant after activating Nature's swiftness, and the 4 set bonus is the mana cost of wild growth is reduced by 25% after casting two consecutive healing touches)
I have complained about the crappy 4-set bonus before, because it didn't suit my playstyle, but perhaps I was going about it all wrong. Perhaps what I should be looking at is how I SHOULD be playing to make the most of this bizarre bonus.
As I've mentioned before, the times that I want to use Wild Growth are during the times of group damage. At that time I don't want to be casting a 3 second Healing Touch, I would rather get out a rejuvenation on one person, swiftmend them and then do a Soul of the Forest Wild Growth on the others and then some rejuvenation top ups. So in about 7 seconds I can do that with 3-4 top up rejuvenations. Compare that to two healing touches on two targets and a 25% cheaper wild growth - doesn't seem very effective.
Some smart people have cracked down some numbers on the usage of the 4 set bonus:
a) with new 4p setbonus: 2x HT + SM + WG
Base Mana cost: 20.7% + 13% + 28.31% = 62.01%
Healing done (from my log): 94k + 46k + 506k = 646k
HPBM% = 10,417.67 (healing per 1% base mana spent)
b) without using the set bonus: SM + WG
Base Mana cost: 13% + 37.75% = 50.75%
Healing done: 46k + 506k = 552k
HPBM% = 10,876.85
So, by using the 4p bonus, we reduced the HPM by 4.22%. This means, it is less effective to use the 4p bonus than just to cast WG, even though I'm fully accounting for the HT healing. (Without SotF, HPM is reduced by 1.5% when using 2xHT+WG compared to just WG.)One thing that isn't very obvious is that the buff you get (for the cheaper Wild Growth) from casting two sequential Healing Touches lasts for 16 seconds - so you don't have to use it straight away or on the next cast (like you do with Soul of the Forest). Knowing that made the mana conservation a LITTLE bit more useful - at least incidentally. To try to make a more active use of this buff, I started doing two Healing Touches 15 seconds before I'd use Wild Growth to top up two lower health and then heal as normal. When the time came to use Wild Growth (at the time I was going to use it anyway), it was cheaper.
To get more bang for your back, using a Glyph of Healing Touch helps because each healing touch you cast reduces your cooldown on Nature's Swiftness by 2 seconds which means you can do your 3 instant regrowths more often - great for those emergency times. Just to increase my healing output I tend to use my nature's swiftness as often as possible not only to heal up people quickly but also it's free so I can
The problem with low healing time is that you don't really want to be standing around not casting so you might as well DPS instead of wasting mana casting healing touch, refreshing your lifebloom.. If you're going to cast some wraths then you might as well take Dream of Cenarius, which heals increases your damage by wrath by 20% and also heals a nearby ally for 150% of the damage done. Now assuming no haste procs from Darmac's trinket, the cast time of wrath on my toon is 1.68 seconds, and it does 16-17k damage and heals for 24-26k (with just MotW buffed, no flasks or food), and wrath costs no mana to cast. Healing Touch (without Rejuv glyph) takes 2.1 seconds to cast, costs 3312 mana and heals for 32k. So in a fight with periods of low activity Dream of Cenarius is not a bad choice and it is also not a bad choice if you want to conserve mana. Free heals at 25k or so is not bad! Of course the drawback is you can't control who that heal goes on.
If you play to maximise HPS then I think you will find that the HT/Wild Growth playstyle will not work for you. It's more of a conservative mana playstyle. However, everyone only seems to look at DPS and HPS and if you aren't doing good numbers on those, then it implies you are a shitty healer (which may not be the case) and of course with absorbs around your healing is going to look even more shitty. But back to the topic, I have come to the conclusion that the 4 set isn't TOTALLY useless - the mana savings are small but better than nothing, and if timed correctly you can get some use out of it without having to waste mana to gain mana. I had been thinking about dumping a less ideal itemised armour piece and breaking my T17 4-piece but I think that having it is probably better than nothing.