The much talked about pre-Cataclysm patch will soon be upon us, and although Resto Shaman remain one of the least altered classes, there are still a host of changes in store for us come 4.0.1. Although we have some new tools (Spiritwalker’s Grace, Healing Rain … and uh … well, that’s kinda it) awaiting us after the December 7th release of Cataclysm, this coming patch is a good time to get acclimated to some of the fundamental healing changes and brush up on your Resto “rotations”. (Because it’s all well and good to talk about weaving in shocks, but actually doing it is something else entirely). So, to give you a helping hand in this calm before the storm, I put together a (hopefully) pretty comprehensive guide with what should be everything you need to know about Cataclysm’s precursor patch.
As always, do feel free to throw a comment out (or email me directly) if there’s something I’ve overlooked or mis-stated.
So first things first—patch 4.0.1 will be ushering in with it new stats and conversions which will have a definite impact on your character pane. While none of the stat transitions should have an incredibly adverse affect on your character’s performance, it likely will take some getting used to.
Mp5 to Spirit
While the concept of mp5 will remain in effect long into the xpac, no longer will healers be split between the mp5 fans and the spirit fans. Come 4.0.1, all of the mp5 that you have on your gear will be converted to its equivalent value in spirit. For Vixsyn, this means that the 298 she currently has in mp5, will equate to 578 in Spirit. With Watershield active (but unglyphed), this affords me 540 mp5 while in combat.
Like many other healers, to encourage Resto Shaman to take more Spirit on gear, Blizzard incorporated Meditation as a part of Resto’s base talent tree. With Meditation, Restos will gain precisely half of their out of combat regen while in combat. In the new character window, this number is thankfully calculated for you and displayed as “In Combat Regen”. (It’s important to remember, however, that this number will not be precisely half your Out-of-Combat Regen, as the benefit from WS is added in after Meditation’s effects are calculated.)
Spellpower to Int
The last big stat transition before Cataclysm will be the removal of spellpower from everything except caster weapons. When 4.0.1 goes live, all spellpower will be converted to its corresponding value in intellect. Since intellect still is tied to your mana pool (at a value of 1 Int = 18 mana) this means you can expect to see your total mana swell a good amount once the patch is implemented.
Haste = haste
It almost goes without saying, but when the patch hits, Resto’s stat of choice will endure. Despite the fact that Int’s stat value will be increasing (because 1 Int = 1 SP come 4.0.1, instead of the previous 1 Int = 0.18 sp in Wrath), haste will remain our most valuable stat until the end of the expansion due to the high overhealing values on most of our spells. (It’s worth noting here that haste will also now affect hots like ELW, Riptide, and Chained Heal, increasing the number of ticks per application period.)
Unfortunately, in the pruning of some of the talents in the Shaman trees, Restos will be losing out on about 14% static crit rating from talents (farewell Thundering Strikes, Tidal Mastery, and the crit portion of Blessing of the Eternals) and gaining only 3% through the new elemental talent, Acuity. While this may seem like a large number in theory, on the PTR, it resulted in about a 5% crit drop for me.
While some classes will be dealing with the elimination of one of their treasured stats (/farewell armor pen), Restos’ favorite stats will remain in effect. However, the patch’s impact on gemming and gearing is still worth noting, as shaman will be adjusting to life where the mp5 we used to eschew on gear has finally left us for good and where we’ll be incurring a heavy penalty for taking pieces of the clothies’ wardrobe.
Starting in 4.0.1, shaman will receive a 5% bonus for wearing all mail pieces (except for the obvious slots which are type-neutral, like rings, cloak, trinkets, neck, offhand, and relics). For most shaman, except maybe those leveling, this 5% bonus to intellect is enough to outweigh the benefits from any leather/cloth upgrade that you currently are wearing, because as stated above, 5% Intellect not only increases your mana pool (which accordingly increases the amount of replenishment you gain), but it also increases your spellpower, your crit, and scales with gear, making it that much more powerful the more equipped you are. Just a note: on patch day, you will need to visit your trainer to learn mail specialization; you will not pick it up automatically.
Ditch the Cloth/Leather Pieces , really?
I’m sorry to say, but the Plague Scientist’s Boots, Phaseshifter’s Bracers, Leggings of Woven Death, and any other cloth/leather items which might now be supplementing your gearset will need to be swapped out with the mail equivalent for you to benefit from the Mail Specialization passive talent. So, the 16 Int, 0.5% crit, 7 haste, and 26 spellpower that I’ll be losing swapping back into Earthsoul Boots and Bloodsunder’s Bracers will be mitigated by the 91 Int (plus 98 sp, 1365 mana, 0.05% crit) I’ll be gaining through Mail Specialization.
While your haste gems will remain unchanged, you can expect Resto’s supplemental gems to undergo a slight facelift (old stat = new stat, and do note that Int will be changing to a red gem stat). An immensely more informative and comprehensive list of the old versus new gems can be found at Revive and Rejuvinate, but here’s just a taste of what some of our major conversions will be:
- Runed Dragon’s Eye: 34 spellpower = 34 Int (Brilliant Dragon’s Eye)
- Runed Cardinal Ruby: 23 spellpower = 20 Int (Brilliant Cardinal Ruby)
- Reckless Ametrine: 12 sp, 10 haste = 10 Int, 10 Haste (same name)
- Quick King’s Amber: (will be staying the same)
- Brilliant King’s Amber: 20 Int = 20 Int (Brilliant Cardinal Ruby)
- Brilliant Dragon’s Eye 34 Int = 34 Int (Brilliant Dagon’s Eye)
Along with changes to your gear, relics are being diverted away from the proc-based model and made more similar to wands in that they will be a source of stats. So, for Restos, this means that our favorite Relics will be changing. For me personally, this means that I’ll be swapping my tried-and-true Totem of Calming Tides for Bizuri’s (the former Frost-badge Elemental totem):
With the conversion of mp5 to spirit, Resto Shaman not only will need to look at spirit on gear as being beneficial but also remember that there are a couple enchants out there to help them along should they run into regen issues. For most shaman keeping the same enchants shouldn’t have an adverse impact on their performance in the post-4.0.1 world, but for shaman who find themselves having regen issues because they picked up too much haste/crit gear before 4.0.1 or for shaman who recently hit 80, there are some alternatives. The below list shows the favored pre-4.0.1 enchants and current alternate:
Other BiS enchants will pretty much stay the same—Stats to Chest, Spellpower to Bracers, Haste to Cloak, Spellpower to Weapon, Int to Shield, Spellpower to Gloves and Tuskarr’s Vitality to boots. (Engineers will obviously forgo those last two in favor of profession enchants).
I previously talked at length about the qualities of Resto Shamans’ mastery, so I won’t get too deeply into them at present, but suffice to say that some new stat balancing will be in order when you reach max level in Cataclysm. With reforging, we gain the option to convert the various secondary stats on gear to a more appealing option. This means that on any piece of gear you can reforge the following stats:
- Expertise Rating
- Haste Rating
- Hit Rating
- Mastery Rating
- Parry Rating
- Spirit (heck knows why this made the “secondary” list, but it did)
You cannot reforge any primary stats on gear (eg: agility, stamina, strength, and intellect), so for all those out there hoping to take an Enhance item and reforge it into the Resto Shamans’ haste-packed wet dream, you’re out of luck. Also worth noting is that you can only reforge 40% of one stat into another secondary stat, so while this allows for minor “tweaking of gear”, it will not make up for the RNG that plagues raiders.
So, unless one stat becomes incredibly useless to Restos, reforging will be limited to, for example, times where meeting a certain haste threshold will enable you to gain an additional hot tick or when you find yourself with excess mana or spellpower. (Both of these latter cases, I think, will be a long ways off in Cata). With no hard caps to hit in terms of healing (other than the aforementioned haste “thresholds”), and supplemental stats like haste and crit being reduced across the board in Cata, I would venture that most healers will have a very different approach to reforging than their sim-crafted dps teammates.
At present, there is only one stat that Resto shaman should consider reforging, and that’s crit. While a good balance of crit and haste is necessary to ensure throughput and mana return, reforging is a potential way to turn several crit/spirit pieces into a bit more throughput. However, before plunking down the gold to alter your items (a reforge is equal to the vendor price of an item), ask yourself:
- Are you in ICC gear (264,277)? Don’t reforge, the benefit will likely be minimal
- Are you just getting into ICC and/or have less than 900 haste? Consider reforging some crit into haste to get closer to 1000 haste.
- Did you pick up some PVP gear to supplement your PVE set? Consider reforging the crit on the mail bracers, belt and boots into haste.
- Would reforging crit rating drop you below 25% crit? Don’t reforge; that crit is important to maintaining WS procs on your CH casts.
- Did you just hit 80? Don’t reforge, you need all the stats you can get.
Also, while other classes rush to reforge stats into Mastery, at this point I would discourage Restos from doing the same. Because Resto Shamans’ mastery is intrinsically tied to player health (which is not currently operating under the triage conditions of Cata and thus you will very rarely encounter players who are sitting at anything less than 90% for very long), the gain from any Mastery would be nominal at best. This perspective will change drastically once you make your way into Cataclysm, but for now, avoid the Mastery trap.
With 4.0.1, we’ll be seeing some changes to the Glyph system as well, not only to the glyphs themselves but also to the number of glyphs we have active at any given time. With the introduction of Prime Glyphs, we’ll now have 9 total glyph slots open to us at level 80. (For those interested, you unlock 1 of each type of glyph—prime, major, and minor—at level 25, level 50, and level 70.)
Unfortunately, the current glyph selection is limited at best, and really doesn’t allow for much variation in the 3 glyph categories. One of Resto’s staple glyphs for tank healing—Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave—has been removed in favor of the talent Nature’s Blessing (which not only increases effectiveness of LHW heals on an ES’d target, but also any direct heal, including CH, HW, and RT).
- Glyph of Earth Shield – unchanged (Recommended)
- Glyph of Earthliving Weapon – Increases the effectiveness of your ELW’s periodic healing by 20%. (Not Recommended in WotLK, Recommended in Cata)
- Glyph of Riptide – unchanged (Optional in WotLK, Recommended in Cata)
- Glyph of Water Shield – increases passive regen by 50% (Recommended, because there’s not much else to choose!)
- Glyph of Chain Heal – increases the healing done to targets beyond the first by 15% but decreases the amount received by the first target by 10% (Recommended)
- Glyph of Ghost Wolf – your GW gains 5% additional movement speed (Optional, not really beneficial until we can pick up Ancestral Swiftness)
- Glyph of Healing Stream – Increases resistances by 195 (Optional,
unknown if this stacks with Kings/Marks resistancesConfirmed that this effect will not stack with Kings/Mark.)
- Glyph of Healing Wave – unchanged (Recommended)
- Glyph of Arctic Wolf – changes your appearance to that of an arctic wolf (*yawn*)
- Glyph of Renewed Life – unchanged (Recommended)
- Glyph of Water Walking – unchanged
- Glyph of Astral Recall – unchanged
After almost 9 months of discussion and debate, the launch of 4.0.1 will unleash the revamped 31-point talent trees on the WoW population. However, because we’ll only have 36 talent points at our disposal at level 80, and you will be required to spend at least 31 of those points in the Resto tree, we still won’t have access to deeper tiers of the Elemental and Enhancement (including Ancestral Swiftness) just yet. So, there are a couple options out there for Restos, all of which revolve around which “flavor” talents you might find applicable to your current situation.
When setting up your initial spec, there are a couple talents that I’d recommend skipping: Elemental Weapons (which at this point will only provide a passive increase to Earthliving Weapon’s imbue), Soothing Rains (which will only prove beneficial in the increase to Healing Stream), and Blessing of the Eternals (which has had its crit bonus pruned and thus only applies to ELW on sub-35% targets, which are highly unlikely in the current raid environment but will be more prevalent in Cata). Conversely, there are several talents which have established themselves as optional: Focused Insight, Cleansing Waters, Telluric Currents, and Totemic Focus.
With specific regard to Totemic Focus … with mana being a very big concern in starting Cata dungeons and (speculatively) in raids, I would venture to say that this talent will shortly be considered mandatory for any raiding shamans out there. The 40% gain in duration means that Mana Tide will last for an additional 5sec window (4.8 sec rounded up, technically), giving your party an additional ~4-6% mana during the duration. When combined with the shorter 3min CD, this means that MT will likely be dropped 2 or more times in every fight, thus making the talent much more valuable the longer the fight goes on.
So, as I mentioned previously, given that we’ll need to invest a solid 31-points of our 36 allotted into the Resto tree, you’ll have some additional points to play around with. Ultimately, there’s one basic build I’d recommend for most shaman out there: 2/3/31. Some things to note:
- As I said above, points in Focused Insight, Cleansing Waters, Telluric Currents, and Totemic Focus are purely optional. You can put these points wherever you’d like in the tree and likely not see that much of a change. (The theorycraft to support their definition as “optional” or “mandatory” come Cataclysm likely won’t be finalized until raid testing).
- We are very constrained by having to put 31 points in the Resto tree, so there are some “filler” Resto talents that I’m taking just to get to others that actually are beneficial. So, while I cringe at picking up Cleansing Waters when I’d much rather have those points to spend in Enhance, it just isn’t possible given the talent tree constraints.
Imp Shields v. Elemental Weapons
While the points in Elemental Weapons would be beneficial, given that Unleash Elements kicks in at 81 and that the spellpower gain at level 80 is nominal when overhealing is so prevalent, in my opinion, it isn’t worth dumping your few remaining non-resto points into. Picking up some additional crit through Acuity and additional healing on ES (regularly our lowest overhealing spell), should be more of a priority.
2/3 v. 3/3 Acuity
Because of the loss of crit Restos will experience when 4.0.1 hits, I can see the argument for taking 3/3 Acuity and 2/3 shields over the opposite point distribution. However, despite crit being tied to more WS regen and more procs of Chained Heal, the return of WS and ES is sufficient to outweigh the crit gain provided you remain above an approximate 30% crit threshold. When you start approaching 25% crit, your WS regen drops off significantly due to the fact that you’re no longer guaranteed a WS orb proc on every CH 4-target cast. So, for most Restos, I’d think that 2/3 Acuity is an appropriate investment, but for those who have just hit 80 or are lacking in the crit department, it might be worth taking 3/3.
Focused Insight & Telluric Currents
Yes, and only because throwing out the occasional shock or lighting bolt is something I do when I run Heroics. Although I still staunchly refuse to dps in Heroic ICC (while also crusading to bring less healers—oh, the hypocrisy), if you’re the type who likes to dps while healing, in dungeons or raids, then having both of these talents filled out will help you deliver the heals you need to, and keep your mana bar more filled that it would otherwise be.
Frankly speaking, there simply aren’t that many revisions for you and your Resto Shaman spellbook come the Cata pre-patch, aside of course, from icon changes. (It wouldn’t be an expansion unless we got some icon changes!) As a matter of practice, and falling in line with Blizzard’s skill over class philosophy, all healers will now be equipped with of 3 basic heals addressing the trinity of healing spell qualities—Healing per second (HPS), power (max heal value), and Healing per mana (HPM). For resto shaman, our 3 base spells will be:
- Lesser Healing Wave (now: Healing Surge) – High HPS, High Power, Low HPM
- Healing Wave – Medium HPS, Medium Power, Low HPM
- Greater Healing Wave (NEW!) – Low HPS, High Power, High HPM
The thing to keep in mind here is that with this change, the spammable quick-and-powerful LHW/HS that we used for tank-healing will now be a pretty big mana sink. Although this might not be such a large issue for Resto Shaman at the end of Wrath, it will mean that come Cata, Healing Surge should be used only when a fast heal is absolutely necessary. Instead, Healing Wave becomes the moderate (and as GC put it) “healing white attack”, the frugal healers’ way to keep the group alive. And rounding out the group, Greater Healing Wave becomes our long-bomb powerhouse.
Other spell changes/revisions (or lack thereof) to be aware of:
- Riptide – remains the same (the hot, however, now scales with haste and crit)
- Earth Shield – remains the same (and doesn’t have a fancy new icon)
- Cleanse – changed to remove curses and magic
- Tidal Force – removed; get used to life with only one real CD (NS)
- Chain Heal – changed to 4 targets baseline (rejoice, then worry about the quandary presented by Glyph of Chain Heal)
Totems will be getting a slight facelist as well; notably for Resto:
- Mana Tide – will now increase Spirit by 300% for 12 seconds (17 if talented through Totemic Focus)
- Cleansing Totem – removed (hold a silent vigil)
- Mana Spring – mp5 return changed to be baseline for all shaman specs (no more uppity “Imp” Mana Spring restos)
- Totem of the Tranquil Mind (NEW!) – 30% less casting or channeling time for all party or raid members (useful if there is no pally in raid and you’re in an encounter with significant pushback)
And lastly, although particularly tasty, you’ll need to wait until Cataclysm to get your hands on these spells:
- Unleash Elements (Earthliving Weapon) – trainable at 81
- Healing Rain – trainable at 83
- Spiritwalker’s Grace – trainable at 85
I won’t go too deep into the litany of changes that will be going into place with 4.0.1 for other classes and raid roles, but there are some general changes that raiding Restos should bear in mind:
- Replenishment will now be 1% mana per 10 seconds (instead of 1% mana every 5 seconds). So expect that your mana bar will feel a little bit lighter than usual.
- Innervate was seriously hit with the nerf bat, granting mana equal to 20% of the casting Druid’s maximum mana pool over 10 sec. (This means that feral druid Innervates are going to be nigh-worthless. Our feral tank, who’s innervates are the most precious of the precious, will now only be giving his healer du jour a whopping 1800 mana every 3 minutes.)
- Blessing of Wisdom has been rolled into Blessing of Might (so don’t be the new huntard and start proclaiming in raid chat “SHAMANS NEED WISDOM!”)
- Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild are now synonymous (5% stats, exclusive of spirit, plus magical resistance)
With raid testing being conducted on the Beta in the near future, it’s likely that we’ll be seeing some changes in stat preferences, builds, etc. as healing teams adjust to their new tools and determine the (potentially) redefined niche for each of the classes. But all that good stuff will be rolled into the forthcoming monster Cataclysm Guide (because I needed something to do instead of wasting time sleeping … heh).
(1) Confirmed HST’s resistance effects do not stack with Kings/Mark – Thanks Nellisea
(2) Added Enchants section (under Gemming and Gearing)