Last night, Eternal Brigade's first kara team cleared Karazhan when we downed Netherspite in 4 attempts. This journey started out around four or five weeks ago - i could check... but... - when we first ventured into Kara with little or no clue about how geared up we were for the task. There had/s been lots of talk of kara being progressively nerfed etc etc. but the reality is that as a fairly casual guild, with few members with raiding experience, we really did not know what we were letting ourselves in for. Now, I won't go into assessing and talking about the gear development of the other raid members - save to say that those who started with one or two greens as we downed Attumen for the first time (what a great feeling that was), have now replaced those either with Kara drops or other epics/high-end blues - but, instead, I will focus on my own quest to improve my healing gear through our kara exploits.
The day that we stepped through the gates of kara was the day that I had specced resto for the first time in a long time. We were unsure of the final kara lineup until almost the last minute and I was, up until then going to be the OT to our prot warrior. However, our lack of healers (either not geared, not attuned, or just not online) meant that I flew to Thunder Bluff, stripped my tanking gear off and slapped on the healing gear that I had assembled.
I don't remember every piece of gear I had at the time, but it looked something like this.
Moonglade Shoulders / Mantle of Autumn
Cloak of Whispering Shells
Scarab of the Infinite Cycle
Ring of Spiritual Precision
Bangle of Endless Blessings
Sigil of Shaffar
Boots of the Glade Keeper
Idol of the Emerald Queen
Imbued Netherweave Robe
Staff of the Redeemer
The rest of my set was made up of quest greens and blues that I don't recall. All in all, I don't think that I had a bad set. My mana pool was in the region of 8k and my +healing just under 1000 if i recall correctly. I was certainly glad that I had done so much instancing while feral and had picked up some nice healing gear (my guild thankfully saw the bigger picture of so many drops coming my way). Our healing setup at first was me, Anisha, our undergeared holy pally - although all that grinding SL for the healing drops started to quickly change that - and Shagal, our ever-willing PvP-oriented resto shaman. We did not struggle as a healer group and did pretty well all the way up to Maiden. As a group we struggled on Moroes for a while, but this was mainly due to a periodic lack of priests and hunters, but as healers we were doing a good job- only going oom at the very end of fights. I was certainly relying on pots quite a lot and innervate was saved for myself - not that the casters minded too much - but all in all, healing was ok on the level of getting us through those first few runs.
I certainly learned a lot about healing in the beginning of our kara runs, with many a hard lesson learned. At first, I found it very odd working with other healers and tried to do way too much: Given the nature of HOT healing, I felt comfortable enough throwing lifeblooms and rejuvinations around the raid as and when they were needed, but I also noticed two distinct problems: 1) other healers not understanding hots, resulting in lots of overhealing, and 2) my own frustration at not coping with spiky damage to the raid too well. I will go into both of these issues at another time, as for now I will return to the topic of gear.
As we started working our way through kara, I carried on improving my gear at a steady rate. I picked up some valuable upgrades to my weaker items from normal and heroic instances, badge of justice rewards, and the first few kara drops. Items of note are:
Hammer of the Penitent & Lamp of Peacful Repose
Mitts of the Treemender
Necklace of Eternal Hope
Boots of the Pious
A debate that I had with myself, also seeking inconclusive advice about, was the balance/weighing of spirit and mp5 and, to a lesser extent, stamina.
Stamina first: I began kara with self-buffed hp of around 7500, which rose with buffs to a more health 8k+. However, with all my gear upgrades, this has not improved dramatically. I now have a self-buffed hp of around 8600, some 1k improvement, but I'm wondering is this still enough for a healer going into Gruul? My instinct says yes, as I very rarely get enough aggro to receive unhealable damage, but I'm not sure and this requires further investigation. Also, regarding any forays into the arena that intend to make, I have the feeling that stamina is an area to improve while I work on securing more pvp oriented gear.
Mp5/Spirit: While hotting multiple targets, I find that I very rarely get outside of the 5-second rule (5SR), and so I have been focusing on mp5, especially with gems. However, in single target healing on bosses, I felt that my increased spirit gear (i gemmed my moonglade shoulders with spirit gems and tweaked some other gear too), gave me far better mana lastability. So, I'm wondering about the benefits of gemming for swappable items with emphasis on either mp5 or spirit rather than striking a balance with both. Well, we'll see.
I have done quite well out of kara so far and I hope that key areas of my gear will continue to improve - notably my moonglade set (I have 3/5), which I intend to replace bit my bit for more pure healing. I passed on the Maidens' shard mace so that our pally healer could get rid of her crappy green mace of the something, and unless the Prince gives up Lights Justice, I think I will stick with my Gavel rather than wasting honour on a Season1 weapon even if it might mean a slight upgrade.
My big gear upgrades to date have been getting my T4 head (which, aside from being a stat improvement, is the first 'good-looking' head since my Stylin' Purple tanking hat), and my Cord of Nature's Sustenance from Terestian Ilhoof, replacing the crappy cloth belt from heroic slave pens. I also replaced my offhand with Aran's Soothing Sapphire.
At the moment, I feel like investing more time into my healing gear, and for this reason I will spend my honour points on S1 resto gear rather than putting it towards my feral set. From what I have seen of Sarmon, our feral OT, and other feral tanks in our guild, the set that I had worked on prior to kara will be more than good enough to tank kara should I get the desire/opportunity to do so in the future.