This post has been updated for Tier 11.
One of the most useful non-healing spells as a druid is Barkskin.
The druid’s skin becomes as tough as bark. All damage taken is reduced by 20%. While protected, damaging attacks will not cause spellcasting delays. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep.Usable in all forms. Lasts 12 sec.
I like Barkskin so much that I have been specced into Improved Barkskin since Ulduar. No, it’s not just for PVP. Reducing your incoming damage, especially when learning a new fight or doing a fight you have trouble with is always a good thing. When I see a druid die in a fight and later see from the stats that they didn’t use Barkskin once, it upsets me. Seeing a druid get killed with an overkill of less than 1000 makes me weep, because it could have been prevented with a single button push. Barkskin is even off the global cooldown, so there’s really no reason not to use it.
Here are some of the best places to use Barkskin in ICC. This applies whether you are a tree, a kitty or a lazer chicken (I won’t presume to tell bears when to use Barkskin, as it’s one of their tanking cooldowns).
The cooldowns on Bone Storm and barkskin line up nicely, so you can pop it every time.
Barkskin cannot be used while you are Bone Spiked.
There isn’t one specific place to use Barkskin during this fight. In general, raid damage is low. I tend to save my barkskin in phase 1 and only use it if someone gets MC’d and makes a beeline for me. In phase 2 I use it as a damage buffer if a Vengeful Shade spawns next to me (or if I’m too slow at running away).
There are a number of places where Barkskin is useful in this fight. You can use it at the very beginning of the fight when raid damage is highest. It can also be used right before the Pungent Blight – if you happen to miss a stack of the Inoculated buff, you definitely want to do this. Barkskin can also be useful to prevent some damage from Vile Gas if you are ranged. Barkskin cannot be used once the disorient effect has taken hold, but if you have your camera positioned correctly, you can see Vile Gas coming at you from a mile away and can pop Barkskin before it reaches you.
The best time to use Barkskin in this encounter is when you get Mutated Infection. Because of the healing debuff this places on you, the less damage you take, the better. I think in a previous post I recommended using Barkskin if you get trapped in a Slime Spray. I take this back. A better alternative is to stand in the right place, move quickly and not take any damage from the Slime Spray.
Rotface still seems to give people a lot of trouble once he hits 35% and starts throwing out infections faster. When it gets to this point, make sure you use your Barkskin whenever it’s available. If your raid has trouble with this phase, every little bit of damage prevention helps.
This fight is full of abilities that are nicely countered by Barkskin. Use it if you get targeted withVolatile Ooze Adhesive or Gaseous Bloat. If you’re stacking up on someone else with the ooze adhesive, pop Barkskin right before the explosion. Once you get to phase 3, use Barkskin whenever you can to reduce the incoming damage.
Blood Queen Lana’thel
My favorite place to use Barkskin on this fight is right after the fear, when she starts casting Bloodbolt Whirl. Other good times to use it are when you are targeted by Swarm of Shadows or Pact of the Darkfallen. You can also use it when you know you’re about to get bit, as the Vampiric Bite does a significant amount of damage.
My experience on Valithria is limited to taking the portals and healing the dragon, so I don’t get to see much of this fight. In general, it’s a good idea to pop Barskin if a blazing skeleton is casting Lay Waste. Otherwise, just use it if you notice you’re taking more damage than you should be. If you are taking the portals in heroic mode, you can use Barkskin on cooldown to decrease damage taken from the debuff stacks.
This fight has a ton of raid damage, so Barkskin can do a lot of good. Barkskin has saved my hide a few times when I’ve lagged (or just been slow) and got caught in Blistering Cold. In the air phase, you can pop barkskin when you are targeted with Frost Beacon and prevent a significant amount of the damage from Ice Tomb. You can also use it if you fail at hiding from Frost Bombs.
Once you get to phase 3, the raid damage gets very heavy. Use Barkskin liberally, especially when your stacks of Mystic Buffet start adding up. Barkskin can be used to reduce the amount of backlash you suffer from Unchained Magic. However, remember that Barkskin is a spell, it will give you an extra stack of Instability when you use it.
The Lich King
There are a few good places to use Barkskin on the Lich King fight. It can be used at the beginning of the phase transitions to reduce damage from Remorseless Winter if you get caught too far away from the edge of the platform. If that’s not a problem for you, use Barkskin during the transition phases when the damage from Pain and Suffering and Ice Pulse starts adding up. In phase3, use it if a Vile Spirit gets too close to reduce the damage from Spirit Burst.
So, the moral of this story and my public service announcement for the day: use your barkskin. As a healer it lets you focus more heals on the raid and less on yourself. As a dps, it reduces your damage taken and makes your healers like you more (plus moonkin get the added benefit of no spell pushback). Don’t be the raider who dies due to damage that could have been prevented – it’s no better than dying in a fire or dying with your healthstone unused in your bag.
Put Barkskin in a convenient place on your action bar, or make a keybinding for it. I have added it to Power Auras so I get a visual notification when it is off cooldown. If you absolutely cannot remember to use it, then macro it to a commonly used spell as a last resort. I used to do this once upon a time, however, it is not ideal. Barkskin works best when it’s used judiciously, but using it as part of a macro is better than not using it at all.