Last night I had a druid friend from my old guild approach me with a question. He had joined a new guild as well, and respecced resto (from feral) to continue raiding. His guild was asking him to use nothing but straight-up healing gems in all of his sockets, bonuses be damned. He wasn’t sold on the idea, and so he came to ask me for my opinion on the matter. I asked him a couple of basic questions about his regen and how much mana he was ending the typical boss fight with. Then I told him that if the socket bonus sucks, don’t get it. If a socket bonus is good, get it.
Thinking back on that conversation, I’m forced to ask myself what exactly constitutes a “good socket bonus” for resto druids in 2.4. I have long proclaimed that “bonus healing is the stat for resto druids in 2.4″, and I have tried to live by this through Pookies’ enchants, gear (in general), and consumables. But, taking a closer look at Pookies’ gear, I think there really is some improvement to be done in the gem area.
Why do I say that? Well, I’ll come right out and say it: there are no good socket bonuses for us resto druids in 2.4. A couple of spirit? A couple of mp5? Bitch, please. Even the bonus healing socket bonuses are pretty “take it or leave it” in most cases.
Let’s take a look at some of Pookies’ socketed gear as examples of when to completely forgo socket bonuses.
Pookies is currently wearing the SSO badge gloves, Oakleaf-Spun Handguards. I stuck a Blessed Tanzanite into the socket because 1) I had a couple sitting in the bank, and 2) it matched the socket colour. But check out the socket bonus on this baby. It’s 2 spirit. Notice that I’m also gemming for some spirit. And while the extra 1-2 mp5 and the (very small) contribution to the ToL aura is nice, neither is essential. I should have put 18/22 healing into this socket.
Another prime example of crappy socket bonus syndrome is seen clearly in Pookies’ pants, the Pants of Splendid Recovery (SSO pants are coming up, I just dropped 150 badges and I’m saving up again!). We have one socket of each colour, and a socket bonus of 2 mp5. I socketed for regen like a good boy back in the good ol’ days of 2.3, sticking two purple healing/mp5 gems and one orange healing/int gem into these pants to get the socket bonus. But the times, they have a-changed. I could say, “Screw you, socket bonus!” and socket these pants with all 18 bonus healing gems, and I’d instantly gain 27 bonus healing. Again, Pookies loses some regen and a little bit of mana … but who cares? Under normal circumstances, he just doesn’t need it.
So what about those bonus healing bonuses? These we have to be a little more careful with, because with these bonuses the gains from not taking the bonus may not outweigh the gains from taking the socket bonus. This will really only be an issue when there is a single non-red socket and the socket bonus is 7 or 9 bonus healing.
For example, check out Pookies’ shoulders and belt. Both items have one red socket, one non-red socket, and a socket bonus of 7 bonus healing. If we were to forgo the socket bonus, we should only gain 2 bonus healing (or 0 bonus healing if we’re using an epic gem with 11 bonus healing on it), while losing the gem bonus afforded by the mixed-colour gem. This is definitely a “take it or leave it” situation, as it is essentially a toss-up between 2 bonus healing and 2 mp5 or 4 int (again, this will depend on the quality of gem being considered). In these situations, I’d go with whichever gem is available or more readily accessible.
Outside of the single non-red socket scenario, bonus healing socket bonuses typically pale in comparison to straight-up healing gems. Take, for example, Helm of Natural Regeneration. Once again, we have one socket of each colour. The socket bonus is 9 bonus healing. I originally socketed to get the socket bonus, but with a little bit of figuring you will see that if I sacrificed 4 int and 2 mp5 I would gain 9 bonus healing, which is certainly nothing to laugh at.
Of course, there are other gray areas (check out Pookies’ bracers on the Armory if you have the time—should I regem for an extra 3 healing?), but, for the most part, if mana for a typical fight is OK and gem requirements for a meta have been satisfied (where applicable), then we should be pursuing healing, healing, and then more healing after that.
Looking at Pookies’ gear set as a whole, I stand to gain 56 bonus healing from regemming, while losing 12 mp5, 8 intellect, and 7 spirit. Although the stats I’m losing aren’t neglegible from a regen standpoint, losing them is not going to break any encounters for Pooks. So I’m not too worried about them. What I am worried about is all of the gold I’m going to be dropping on Teardrop Living Ruby tonight.
I’d definitely challenge all you restos out there to take a second look at your gems while keeping this in mind: seeing the little socket bonus text light up in green is nice, but moar bonus healing is probably better!