Life in Group 5 – A Resto Shaman Blog
A resto shaman perspective on raiding


Healing

November 19, 2010

T-Minus-3 Weeks: The State of Resto Shaman

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Written by: Vixsin
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Thrall at the Maelstrom

As the clock slowly ticks down to Cataclysm, the blue posts are becoming few and far between and class tweaks are ever-diminishing. But the calm of the forum waters, I’m sure, hides the frantic levels of work being put in by Blizzard staff, their clocks having just marked 3 weeks to go before the big launch day. So, as the Sundering approaches and the skies darken, I thought it time for another update about just where Shaman stand for raiding come 85. In the sections that follow, I’ll be touching on a number (but not all) of Resto’s healing tools and where they stand at the end of the Beta.

Note: this is not the full, overburdened, uber-guide to Cataclysm end-game, just a preview of things to come once you hit level 85!

 

Healing Rain

Arguably, resto shamans haven’t been on the receiving end of a number of buffs, or a number of nerfs, during Cataclysm testing. (Part and parcel of being at the performance level that Blizzard was looking to bring all other healers to, I would guess.) So, it came as a pretty big shock to me when I logged into the Beta on Tuesday night (before the announcement went live on MMO-Champ) and discovered the substantial boost we received to Healing Rain. Whereas previously HR ticks were coming in at just around 1.1k, they now clock in at around 2.2k per tick, with crits in the 4k range.

And while some in the healing community are seeing the buff as unnecessary or over-the-top, I (and a number of other major forum contributors) have long been arguing that a change was needed to make this spell a worthwhile addition to the shaman arsenal. Prior to this buff, at less than 5 targets, the HPM cost exceeded that of Healing Surge, our “high mana tax” heal. This high cost, combined with the spell’s situational nature and underwhelming throughput, meant that very few resto shaman in the Beta used HR in their rotations, such that it rarely accounted for more than 15% of a shaman’s total healing done. But with this change, Restos will see a noticeable reward for casting this AOE heal, and maybe not wince as much at the ~10% of total mana it takes to cast.

But, there are two more important things to note about HR’s beta state:

  1. It has an incredibly low chance to proc Earthliving. I’m definitely bummed about this one, since the EL procs that came from HR in its first beta iterations made it a boon to raid healing, and a way to quickly blanket the raid in hots. At present, the proc chance is hovering at a level where players are questioning if it is a bug, rather than working as intended. We’ll have to see about this one.
  2. Although not noted on MMO-Champion, Healing Rain is now affected by Mastery. Yes, you read that correctly. Even though the ticks are still affected by haste, they are now also affected by the shaman’s Mastery value. This is a definite step towards integrating HR into our arsenal, but it also furthers the tension that will exist between haste, crit and mastery as secondary stats.

 

Chain Heal

There hasn’t been much of a change in the functionality and performance of Chain Heal for all of the Beta testing. The healing performance remains fairly underwhelming, though through a careful combination of an RT hot, UE buff, and ES-applied target, I have been able to clock some initial hits of CH at ~18k. (But don’t expect to see those regularly.) As it stands in beta, CH will remain our bread-and-butter spell, but there will be significant encouragement through encounter mechanics and otherwise to use a large number of our other healing tools.

There is, however, one point of clarification which I’d like to make in regards to chain heal:

Chain heal DOES benefit from Mastery. Every jump. Stop saying otherwise.

Where players go awry with their understanding of the application of Mastery to Chain Heal is that they think for Chain Heal to truly benefit from Mastery, the + healing needs to be reapplied on every jump. What they are failing to remember is that the successive jumps of CH are calculated from the value of the 1st hit, which already includes the Mastery bonus. So, the calculation for CH is as follows:

  • 1st Hit = Base Value x Mastery Bonus x CH Glyph
  • 2nd Hit = 1st Hit x Modifier x CH Glyph
  • 3rd Hit = 2nd Hit x Modifier x CH Glyph
  • 4th Hit = 3rd Hit x Modifier x CH Glyph

If we were to use a simple example of a CH with an initial hit of 1000, we would see the following:

The Effects of Mastery on Chain Heal Jumps

So, as you can see, after establishing baseline values for each glyphed CH bounce (shown in Column D), and then calculating the values after applying a 20% Mastery bonus (shown in Column E), the difference (shown in Column F) demonstrates the numerical benefit of Mastery in each bounce. Column G shows the percent of effective contribution of Mastery for each jump. So, while the last bounce of a CH will only benefit from 52% of the healing bonus applied to the first hit of CH, it benefits from that Mastery nonetheless. (Bear in mind, this is a simplified example, and there will be a number of other factors which influence the value of your final heal).

So please, educate the Resto Shaman in your life and help put a stop to the posts about Mastery not affecting CH. They make me cranky.

 

Telluric Currents

Although I started out in beta thinking that Telluric Currents would be one of those optional “flavor” talents found in the new Resto tree (and indeed it is on live), after some pretty solid testing I’m changing my stance on this one. Unless it gets nerfed, Telluric Currents is well worth the investment of points for the mana return. After spending a while testing heroics and 10man raids with a mana bar that seemed to have sprung a leak, I switched my spec around to pick up TC instead of FI and haven’t looked back since.

At its present performance, the return for a Lightning Bolt cast by a semi-epic resto shaman is around 3200 mana. With Lightning Bolt costing 1405 mana at level 85, this results in a 1795 net mana gain per cast. As you get more and more epic gear, that return increases significantly (I was getting some 3600 returns in there with the fully-epic pre-made.) So, given that most fights incorporate some period of time where healing is not essential (or in the case of Chimaron in BWD, where healing is simply not allowed), restos can gain a substantial portion of regen from tossing out several LB’s.

If this cost-benefit ratio remains constant, come Cata, I will be strongly encouraging all raiding Restos to pick up TC in lieu of supplemental Elemental and Enhance talents.

 

Mastery

For most of the beta, Resto Shamans’ Mastery has been a sort of black box—its functionality has been explored in great detail, but the actual quantitative effects remain embedded in unspecific combat log lines. Unfortunately, even with beta testing coming to a close, I fear we’re still not at a point where we can determine: “What is Mastery’s true value?”

So, this leads to a sort of qualitative analysis of our newest stat. At present, we know that Mastery affects the following:

  • HS / HW / GHW
  • CH
  • RT initial hit
  • Healing Rain
  • AA (albeit at a 30% reduction)

By definition, we also know that Restos’ Mastery is not applied the following:

  • Earth Shield
  • Earthliving
  • RT hots

The crux of the problem then becomes a two-fold evaluation: 1. What average percent is Deep Healing being applied at, and 2. Is my spell distribution such that Mastery would provide a greater benefit than other supplemental stats? As anecdotal evidence, a number of raiding shaman in the beta have been successful steering away from Mastery, in favor of haste. At present, my own epic premade is reforged away from Mastery as much as possible, and gemmed entirely with Int, or Int/haste where applicable. It remains to be seen whether or not this is the “best” way to go, but at present it feels comfortable.

It is worth nothing here, however, that for 10-mans where shaman are serving as dedicated tank healers, Mastery’s value will likely be greater than it would otherwise be when a shaman is serving as a snipe and raid healer. Mastery’s effects on HS, HW, and GHW are much more concrete and direct than they are with HR, CH, and RT, because in a tank-healing environment, you are serving as a first-responder and thus (generally) not vulnerable to significant overlap with other healers.

As an aside to Shaman Mastery debate, Restos will be heartened to know there is one fight in Blackwing Descent—Chimaron—which absolutely caters to us and our Mastery (much like if Anub Phase 3 in ToGC had required that the raid be topped off after Leeching Swarm was applied). In this one encounter, Resto Shamans’ Mastery will be king, because players will need to be quickly and frequently healed from sub-10% HP levels. One fight, however, does not a viable Mastery make. But hey, at least it’s a positive argument in the discussion.

 

Riptide

With the boost to the baseline healing of this spell, and the buffs it provides to both single and multi-target healing (more to the former than the latter, arguably), RT has a pretty solid place in most Resto rotations come Cataclysm. In 5-mans, Tidal Waves is vital to keeping groups up in situations where CH isn’t an option. In 10’s, where single-target (non-tank) healing is oftentimes necessary, it provides an excellent throughput buff. (Though I will miss the haste RT afforded me in my T10). In 25’s, like I mentioned previously, you can power up some pretty hard-hitting Chain Heals based on rolling RT hots.

In all, I actually find RT easier to use in Cataclysm because of the longer cast times of most Resto spells. It makes it decidedly easier to work into a rotation, such that I’m almost using it on CD in most of my beta raids, and the very low mana cost makes it easy on your mana bar.

 

Healing Wave

There are only two things really worth noting about this spell’s applicability in Cataclysm—first, that you will use it far more in 5-mans than you will in any raid, and second, that Glyph of Healing Wave is absolutely poop. In regards to the former, Healing Wave was a staple in every run I did, keeping both tanks and raid members at reasonable levels of HP as we chugged through trash and bosses. As a default heal in an environment where damage isn’t intense, it’s sufficient. In raids, however, the disparity between incoming damage and HW’s output increases to the point where it becomes a fallback, something you use if you don’t have much else to offer. In most beta parses of 10- and 25-man encounters, HW is barely present, if at all.

And that’s why, as a Major glyph, Glyph of Healing Wave is pretty darn useless in any raid environment. Granted, it’s not being used at the expense of another super-glyph, but when you compare it to a talent like Protector of the Innocent, or hell, even the healing gained from Glyph of Riptide, there simply is no comparison. While it might have had its uses in WotLK, in a Cata world, it’s only being used because there’s nothing else to take its place.

 

Uptime Uptime Uptime

One of the consistent pieces of advice that I give to new and struggling shaman is pretty darn boring, but ever-so-important—make sure to keep Earth Shield and Water Shield up. If nothing else, playing extensively on beta underscored how vital that piece of advice is in a mana-starved environment. ES is, bar none, the best value we have in terms of HPM, and will contribute to a 15% boost in healing to all direct heals on ES’d targets (this includes CH!) And although WS values on beta right now are a bit wonky, the passive mana gain from mp5 and the active gain from WS procs will become your largest source of regen. So, get those PowerAuras ready now, because come Cata, bad shield uptime will be hitting you where it hurts.

 

Launching in 3 … 2 … 1 …

Our tweaks have been few, our omissions have been notable, but through it all resto shaman have stayed a class where synergy and anticipation are the name of the game. Our cast times remain some of the highest in the game for every type of healing spell, our mana costs remain higher still, and yet we endure as a very versatile healer. The strengths we had in WotLK will not be replaced come Cata. And while I still wholeheartedly believe that Shaman got the short end of the stick on a couple of issues, I’m not about to preach doom and gloom for those of you looking ahead to level 85.

I am, instead, going to encourage you to experience it for yourself. Even having played in Beta, I’m looking forward to going through the “real” experience on Vixsyn and working my way back up to the top once again. And, while the healing game has changed in many ways, I think you’ll find plenty of reasons to stick with your own Master of the Green Beam after December 7th. I know I will.






26 Comments


  1. […] T-Minus-3 Weeks: The State Of The Resto Shaman: Vixsin over at Life In Group 5 has a timely preview of what raiding resto shaman can expect to get out of their healing toolkit come the time to raid. She=’s looking at all of our healing spells, old new and tweaked, and how effective they’re looking after the latest beta changes. She’s also looking at how they interact with our stats and has some in-depth but digestible explanations on how much Mastery affects various spells. Very well written, and also an encouraging post for resto-shaman kind. Almost makes me wish I was staying a resto shaman for raiding! […]


  2. Charliekelly

    Vixsin,

    Another great post, I look forward to reading you throughout cata raiding. As a fellow troll shammy, i was curious if you had any plans to race change to goblin?

    – Charliekelly, Laughing Skull


    • I’ve strongly considered it, but in the end, I think I’ll likely be sticking to Troll. Time is Money is about equal to Berserking in terms of overall haste gains, but at present, the on-demand CD found in Berserking outweighs the passive haste bonus (and rocket jump). So while I may eventually end up trading up for the Horde equivalent of gnomes, it at least try to make it seem like I put up a fight. ^_^


  3. dekerf

    Nice article. Was wondering about Greater Healing Wave use in Cata. Use it quite a bit tank healing in 10’s in Wrath. Mana cost too prohibitive now?


    • Although it is expensive and pretty darn slow, GHW definitely has its uses in Cata. (To be fair, most casts feel slow coming from WotLK and my ~50% haste). In most encounters, you’ll be able to recognize the points where the tank is going to need the monster heal, so GHW fits into a rotation quite nicely. But, because the price is even higher than HS, you’ll want to use it sparingly and proactively.


  4. Hey Vixsin, great post :)

    I track all shaman changes, read posts from beta testers and watch raid videos but I hardly found any opinion about one thing – our mobility. Before 4.0.1 it was shamans and paladins that lacked instant spells (only holy shock/riptide) now when paladins gained Word of Glory, Light of Dawn, Holy Radiance and good old Holy Shock they are pretty superior when comes to run & heal. Shamans have spiritwalker grace, but such a short duration and long cooldown makes me think its only usable 3-4 times per fight and allows you to cast about 2-3 spells. In WotLK me used to throw ultra hastened “healing waves” (less/greater/normal) and chain heals so our mobility wasn’t really a problem. What do you think about?


    • I wish I could say otherwise, but Shamans’ mobility issues are pretty much a constant. While Spiritwalker’s Grace does go a ways to balancing out the HPS loss of movement, I found that the long CD led to me treating it like NS–saving it until I absolutely needed to use it (which means that I wasn’t getting even close to ideal usage out of it.) But, with the addition of Unleash Elements, we do have another filler spell to keep us going when we need to shift positions. I found myself using it quite frequently in that regard, while also using travel time to refresh WS and ES.

      So, while the mobility issues are still there (and quite frankly they should be, they’re part of the class), our newest tools do help even things out a bit.


      • When comes to Healing Rain – how many times per fight you’re using it? (if you did raid bossess)


        • That’s a tough question to give a good answer on, for a couple reasons. First, the majority of my testing on beta raids, both normal and hard modes, was in a 10-man setting. So, HR was less ideal of an AOE healing spell. Second, I did all of my testing before the latest patch, when HR was barely worth casting unless the raid was stacked. So, I used much less of it.

          Ultimately, the performance of HR that we saw throughout the beta, might not be indicative of how it will be used when Cata goes live. I would imagine that 25-man raiders will be using it a lot more frequently, although the steep mana cost will severely limit how often we do cast it.


  5. Gwardur

    Awesome post, as always.

    Meijin’s problem is relevant to a question I was already going to ask. TC now looks like a no-brainer based on the numbers you presented. My problem: from where do I pull the points. My spec plans never included FI so I have been maxing out Cleansing Waters and Blessing of the Eternals (talents some poeple seem to think of as optional, but I’m not convinced). Like you said, it also makes the most sense to me to pull from suplimental Enhancement and Elemental talents. I was thinking that Acuity would be the most likely target because I really REALLY want 2/2 in Ancestral Swiftness. I have always felt that movement speed impacts throughput and we shaman are slow-pokes. If I am crazy, please take a few moments to convince me otherwise.

    Thanks for the great blog.

    –Gwardur, Shandris


    • You nailed the problem right on the head–given our options, putting 2 points in TC means that we will have to pull the extra 1 from somewhere else. But, because mobility talents will trump stats every time, (and in the case of Ancestral Swiftness, it will free up your boot enchant for 50 haste) this only leaves Acuity on the chopping block. So, I’ve been sticking with the following: http://cata.wowhead.com/talent#hbZbhMZsGbMsdcRGo for all my beta testing, opting with incoming damage reduction over Cleansing Waters because the additional heal is pretty weak. (Blessing of the Eternals is pretty darn good in Cata, it simply wasn’t as valuable in WotLK because players rarely dipped low enough for it to activate).


  6. Sekul

    “So, I’ve been sticking with the following: http://cata.wowhead.com/talent#hbZbhMZsGbMsdcRGo for all my beta testing, opting with incoming damage reduction over Cleansing Waters because the additional heal is pretty weak. ”

    Why spend 2 points on Totemic Focus? I’ve never found that totem cost is an issue (especially now with Telluric currents) and I’ve certainly never had a complaint about their duration.

    When compared to the gain of putting those two points in Acuity and Ancestral Resolve for another 5% damage reduction and 1% crit. Reduced totem cost and increased duration seems feeble by comparison.


    • Grookshank

      Totemic Focus is useful for the longer duration on Mana Tide. I think the last points will remain debatable between Acuity, Ancestral Resolve, Totemic Focus and maybe Cleansing Waters if you are charged with dispelling. With the new dispel mechanics costing mana even if there is nothing to dispel (anymore) we might see decicated dispellers again.


      • ^ What Grook said. The points in Totemic Focus are purely for the added time on Mana Tide (the additional time in between totem drops is nice, but definitely not a motivating factor).

        The problem that you run into taking 2/2 TC is that you’re locked into 20 points in tiers 1-4, so maxxing out all talents in tiers 5-7 will tally up another 12 points, leaving only 9 to put in Enhance/Elem talents. So, the choice with becomes where you want to pull the additional point from: 1/2 TC, 1/3 BoE, 1/2 Ancestral Swiftness, or 2/3 Acuity. Depending on what raid healing looks like, I might actually elect for 1/2 BoE and keep 3/3 Acuity.


  7. Lon

    Hi Vix,

    You mentioned that you have found TC to be an incredibly useful regen tool. What’s the rate of successful LB hits compared to cast attempts? Will the distinct (usually) lack of hit allow for practical use of this talent and LB to regen mana?


    • Gwardur

      Testing on the raid boss dummy last night gave me 40% hit, 28% crit and 12% miss. I was in my stanard healer gear that has 0 + to hit on it. That was with 50+ LBs.


    • In beta, on raid bosses, my miss % ranged from 15-30%. (Checking Premo’s parses, their Shaman seemed to have similar fluctuation.)

      So, although this would drop the average mana gain per LB slightly (on one parse of mine it made my return/cast around 1k mana), it still constitutes a net gain, which in a mana-starved environment makes TC worth the investment of points and casting time. Yes, the lack of a hit talent royally stinks, but in the scheme of things, any net return > 0.


  8. I’m really looking forward to healing in cataclysm. I guess I’d even get back to blogging if my job hadn’t turned me more or less into a secretary *lesigh*. I pretty much stopped reading blogs/blueposts/EJ for the last few months and I intend to keep it that way until december.

    So while I don’t really think about healing mechanics right now the only thing that I’m really unsure about is wheter to stick to 25 or not. 25 man raiding is what I always liked best, because healing in a team of 5-6 people is just what I always liked in a game. Especially in BC, where guilds healer channels were heavily populated and healing assignements were much more important. On the other hand I like the pace and responsibilty that comes with 10 man healing. Most of my epic raid memories come from 25 man raiding though (except ZA perhaps), but right now I’m in a guild that often struggled to get 25 men ready for every raid night and often split up into two 10 man groups. Also, a lot of my friends already left 25 man raiding guilds to start up 10 man guilds. So that’s where I’m not yet sure if I like all cataclysm changes or not.

    The only thing I did while logging into WoW was tweaking my UI, so here’s my part to cataclysm preparations:
    http://www.wowinterface.com/downloads/info18740-DrugUILynUIRemake1680x1050.html

    I’d love to see some more addon related posts from time to time vixsin. If not I’m going to write guest posts.


    • The 10 versus 25 is a strong debate, for sure. I think a number of players are gravitating towards 10s based on the misconception that they’re easier. And while I think that may be true when it comes to the logistics of forming, I think those players will be a little shocked to find that the content just as difficult (if not moreso because of the limited margin for error). Of course, it all depends on the balancing, and how much they tweak things from the beta state.

      As to the threats about writing guest posts, I think you’ve just provided the encouragement I needed to never post about UIs again … heh :-P


  9. 2vok

    i played a resto shaman and a disc/holy priest (since then the priest has been buffed and shaman slightly nerfed AA) i found it easy with the holy priest (5m hc premade)…the problem i had with the shaman was that i couldnt use ch much as it hardly put a dent to the damage everyone was reciving and the gap between people made it useless. (i put HR in the same boat but worser). our mp5 is not so bad, our throughput is good also…problem is we dont have a good raid healing spell…we need a buff to ch


  10. 2vok

    Latest after beta ended:

    Priest

    * Binding Heal now provides roughly double the amount of healing.
    * Prayer of Healing has had its mana cost reduced by nearly 30% and its base points and Spell Power coefficient increased by 20%.

    ——————————————————————————————
    Druid

    * Empowered Touch now procs from Healing Touch as well as Nourish.
    Heart of the Wild: the Bear Form Stamina bonus from this talent is now 2/4/6%, down from 3/7/10%.
    * Malfurion’s Gift no longer has Fury of Stormrage as a prerequisite talent.
    * Natural Shapeshifter now also increases Tree of Life duration by 5/10 seconds.
    * Revitalize is now a 2-point talent, down from 3. It provides a 20% chance to return 1/2% of the druid’s total mana on periodic heals from Lifebloom or Rejuvenation. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
    * Swift Rejuvenation is now a 1-point talent, down from 2. The global cooldown reduction this talent provides to Rejuvenation remains 0.5 seconds.
    * Symbiosis: heal-over-time spells (Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom) can no longer benefit from this Mastery merely by refreshing themselves. A different heal-over-time spell must be present.

    Glyphs

    * Glyph of Healing Touch now reduces the cooldown on Nature’s Swiftness by 10 seconds after using Healing Touch, up from 5 seconds.
    * Glyph of the Treant (new) allows druids to keep the original treant Tree of Life look… if they must. Must they?
    ————————————————-

    Shaman

    * Chain Heal mana cost increased from 17% to 20% of base mana.
    * Earthliving Weapon now only has 25% of its full chance to proc from a single hop of Chain Heal.


  11. Alex

    Hey Vixsin ,

    an excellent post yet again . I was wondering if you have any advice as to which profs are gonna be best for resto shaman come cataclysm . Also , do you plan on releasing a pre-raid bis list ?


  12. Kris

    After i’ve read few forums posts and information about our future in cataclysm the conclusion is preety sad : 1. HR seems to be not worth to use for us :

    “Healing Rain is bad in 5-mans. On my best fight for healing rain:
    Healing Rain, 96 ticks, 65538, 11.6% of my healing (5 casts)
    CH, 14 ticks, 63905, 11.3% of healing (4 casts) ”

    This is what i found out on some forum and in addition the calculation of mana is awfull comparing this two skills.

    Also i’ve heard that chain heal is getting nerfed – raid healing situtaion in general is also nerfed at this point.

    To sum up there’s a very hard question to answer – do we have any future in cataclysm as healers supporting best raid groups especially 10man , cuz atm we probbably will be regarded as buffs for other healers and it will be quite difficult for us to beat other classes in HPS. Maybe you vixsyn is able to defend our potentail and show me some bright sides of restoration .


  13. Nayruu

    I’ve always been raiding 10man only (like the atmosphere more and my pc sucks at 25 -_-)
    and always hated the fact, that chain heal is not as usefull in 10man raids than it is in 25 ..
    and now we get another spell , that will probably be worthless in 10 man (healing rain) ..
    Besides I can’t get used to not having a very fast single target heal , which will not kill your entire mana pool after a few casts :S
    I love the changes they made for enhancement, but imho playing resto sucks atm -.-
    well we will see how everything turns out at 85 :S



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