Although a hot topic of debate around the release of Patch 4.0 and again upon the release of Cataclysm, the fuss regarding Telluric Currents has settled down over the past months as Restos shifted their focus onto new content and onto more pressing issues. But, the still waters of discussion belie the harsh undercurrent of sentiment; players still seem to be rigidly divided on the talent, with some declaring it “mediocre at best” while others (like myself) consider it “essential for the raiding shaman”. The questions that divide the two camps: “Is it really a mana positive spell?” and, more importantly, “Should it be something that raiding restos actually use?”
The recent hotfix applied to Resto Shaman went a long way to normalizing output between healers and addressing some of the concerns that have been raised about shaman healing. But in addition to throughput issues, shaman have also been struggling to keep up in the mana regen department as well. Patch 4.0.6’s nerf to Mana Tide has put some shaman in an even tighter place, mana-wise, with little wiggle room between full mana and OOM. Thankfully, the Purification buff will go some of the ways towards saving shamans’ mana pools by increasing our Healing-per-Mana across the board. But my friends, let’s not forget that there’s another way to ease the mana pinch, and it lies in Tier 4 of your Resto talent tree.
Introduced with the talent tree overhauls prior to 4.0, Telluric Currents is one of those talents that actually is as simple as it sounds:
Your attunement to natural energies causes your Lightning Bolt spell to restore mana equal to 40% of damage dealt.
When it was first released on Restos the world over, it was met with some very harsh criticism, with players declaring that LB regen was not a model that complimented Shamans’ style of play, which centers on long cast times and set-up sequences (like RT + [x] or RT + UE + [x]). More so, the fact that it was an active regen talent (as opposed to a passive one, like Divine Plea or Shadowfiend) led players to worry that shaman would become an even greater hybrid, walking a line between pure dps and pure healing. In response to the fuss, Ghostcrawler stuck his neck out to establish Blizzard’s position on the talent:
We want Telluric Currents to be optional. It won’t be an effective way to restore your mana, but it might make you feel less guilty about throwing out a Lightning Bolt in a world where mana is more precious. (Source)
But, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished, and as much as the community was ready to accept GC at his word, as WotLK came to a close and Cataclysm opened its doors, raiding shaman started to discover that Telluric Currents was far from the “mana-neutral” way of contributing to the DPS of the group or raid team. It actually constituted a viable form of regen, separate and distinct from the gains through Water Shield and Mana Tide, and it was a darn good amount of regen at that.
You Want Numbers? I Got Your Numbers Right Here!
Now I can imagine what you’re thinking after reading that last statement; I can imagine the objections and questions bubbling forth in your mind, because when I first started exploring how best to use TC, those thoughts were in my mind too.
- How much regen does it give?
- Does the return justify the 2 seconds you spend casting that LB?
- How does Resto Shamans’ lack of hit impact that return over the course of a fight?
- Can I really spare the time to regen like that?
The answers to these questions: 1) 1500-1600 mana on average in 365 ilvl gear on fights without damage modifiers; 2) yes; 3) it has a minor impact; and 4) yes (again). Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on …
Okay, I jest, I jest. No LiG5 post would be complete if I didn’t throw in some evidence to back up my outrageous and crazy claims, and today is no exception. Now, when looking at these numbers, you will need to bear in mind that I’m sitting at an average equipped ilvl of 367, with 7729 spellpower under my t11 belt. (When I was doing this testing on the beta, prior to release of Cataclysm the results were actually right in line with current performance). The following table details a sampling of parses over the past several weeks of performance and shows the amount of regen gained through TC on each encounter:
Now, it’s important to note that these gains are not attributable to a special “TC-focused spec” like 7/2/32; they’re all done using my standard 2/7/32 spec with 2/2 TC. In addition, I’m not using blocks of time to regen; most times, my LB casts will be woven in with my other healing duties on the fight. When there are low-damage times on an encounter (like during Maloriak’s blue vial phase), I’ll make sure to let my teammates know that I’m taking a moment to throw out a couple LB’s.
Hopefully, what this demonstrates is that even on fights that *do not* include constant or significant damage modifiers (fights other than Halfus and Magmaw), Resto Shaman still stand to gain a solid amount of mp5 provided that they find the time to work TC into their rotation. And this gain will only improve as gear levels increase and the differential between the cost of LB and its total damage increases.
Making the Most of Who and When
Now that we’ve covered the “why” behind TC application, it’s time to discuss the “who” and “when”, because in any encounter, there are opportune and inopportune times to toss out a couple LB’s. When the tank is about to take massive spike damage = BAD. When there’s a transition and the boss isn’’t hitting anyone = GOOD! The following list details those times that I’ve identified, through the past months of raiding, where an LB cast will likely have the biggest payoff or the least impact.
Bastion of Twilight
- Halfus – When any of the drake adds dies, they place a damage modifier debuff on Haflus. For this reason, I’ll drop my tide very early and use TC later in the fight so that I have enough mana to keep HR down during roar.
- Valiona – Transitions are a great time to work in a couple LBs. In addition, because of the damage bonus from Engulfing Magic, it can be beneficial to throw out a couple LB’s while affected (and obviously, standing away from your teammates).
- Ascendant Council – You’ll have to be careful when to throw out dps, but should you ever get “Burning Blood” in Phase 1, then a couple LBs on Feludius will give you mana bar a nice boost.
- Cho’gall – I’d highly recommend working in your LB’s when Cho’gall is over 30%, because once he drops into Phase 2 and starts spawning tentacles, you’ll need to devote your full attention to healing.
- Omnotron Council – In addition to providing an extra boost of regen, Power Generator pools also increase the damage you do, so tossing out a couple LB’s while in one can boost your regen significantly. Otherwise, just have care to dps the correct target, lest you trigger a one of the golems’ shields.
- Magmaw – Since Magmaw takes more damage when impaled, save your LB casts for that time to maximize your return.
- Maloriak – Timing your LB on this fight can be tricky, so I stick predominantly to phase transitions. Also, do note that when Maloriak spews Debilitating Slime during green phase, he’s also be affected with the debuff as well, so your LB will do 100% more damage to him (and you’ll reap the TC rewards).
- Chimaeron – Timing on this encounter is really based on your healing assignment; if you’re assigned to the Double-Attack tank, you can weave in LBs right before the next double-attack, whereas if you’re assigned to a group, you’ll likely want to save your LBs for the times in between slime spits (after everyone is above 10k, of course).
- Atramedes – Spiritwalker’s Grace can be an amazing tool to use to toss out a few LB’s during Atramedes’ air phase; the ability to cast while moving allows you to dodge Sonar Pulses while getting in some good regen.
- Nefarian – Because I often drop tide near the end of phase 1, I typically utilize TC regen on the platforms (either to push Nef or the adds, after dropping a Healing Rain and some RTs to keep my group topped) or in between Lighting Machine casts Phase 3.
Conclave of Wind
- Conclave – Since the Nature platform is where I spend most of my time, I get in my LB regen during Anshal’s ultimate.
- Al’Akir – Using your LB’s in Phase 2, when Al’Akir is affected by Feedback, to see a boost in your LB’s damage and thus, your return from TC as well.
In the end, the timing of your own TC regen becomes a matter of personal judgment. But it also becomes a function of practice as well; the more you work at finding those 2 sec intervals where you can throw out an LB, the more likely you are to notice them in the future.
But, but … I’m a Healer
Yes, we’re all healers, and so it’s natural (and pretty much expected) that we get huffy at the thought of doing something other than healing. Most of us don’t like doing interrupts, we hate doing the crappy kite job (or being the healer who gets to run after the other guy doing the crappy kite job), and our fingers literally twitch in response to seeing someone’s health decrease by even the slightest of amount. So, how is it that using a talent like Telluric Currents can be viewed as a necessary raiding practice? How is it that I can sit here and ask a healer to cast an LB instead of a heal?
Because the choice isn’t between (a) casting a heal or (b) casting a Lightning Bolt. The choice is between (a) NOT casting a heal or (b) casting a Lightning Bolt. (Oh yes, I have some Blue backup on this one)
Honestly, this is where I think that most Resto Shaman go awry with their understanding and application of Telluric Currents. (And maybe it’s in part due to the fact that we’re all still struggling to reconcile ourselves to the Cataclysm healing environment, after operating in the Wrath world where Always Be Casting was the golden rule). I will go so far as to suggest here that if you are a healer who, during an 8-minute fight, never makes a decision to NOT cast, then you’re doing something wrong. If you’re going into encounters with the recommended number of healers, spamming your heart out, and then claiming “oh there was no downtime, ever”, then something is amiss.
Every fight has downtime, either because your healing team creates it, or because it’s incorporated into the encounter. As shown in the preceding section, there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate an LB cast into your rotation, but only if you look for them. If you’ve ever cast a HW in a raid because “there’s not much damage going out” or because “I have nothing better to do”—NEWS FLASH—that’s your downtime! But you need to think of it in those terms. You need to first realize that there’s always a choice in front of you as a healer, and one of the options is to not heal. This is what triage is all about.
Once you recognize this, once you accept that letting a hot top someone off is a good practice, once you can grasp the idea that a 10k heal does not constitute vital healing, then you open the door to Telluric Currents and to the additional healing it offers. And believe you me, your mana bar will thank you.
Slider Image Credit: SupremeDarkling @ DeviantArt.