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


Healing

November 1, 2011

Tier 13 and Resto Shaman: Our Final Chance at Parity (Part I)

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If anyone had any doubt in their mind about Blizzard’s commitment to speeding up patch releases, I think it has been firmly extinguished with the flood of PTR data hitting WoW websites in the last month. In conjunction with the much-debated nerf to Firelands content and recent PTR testing, it seems like it won’t be long until we find ourselves facing the adversary that taunted us since last December. (Yes, it’s only been a year!) For Resto Shaman, and actually shaman in general, patch 4.3 is looking to herald some major changes to the class, some of which have me scratching my head and others that have me screaming “hallelujah!”

(This is actually going to be a two-part post, with the below discussion about the proposed Resto Shaman adjustments in 4.3, and part II, a discussion about healer parity. As is common, verbosity got the better of me, and what was intended to be a mere conclusion paragraph for this post morphed into something worthy of its own page. So stay tuned!)

 

Tier 13 Resto Bonuses

Restoration, 2P — After using Mana Tide Totem, the cost of your healing spells are reduced by 25% for 15 sec.

Restoration, 4P — Increases the duration of Spiritwalker’s Grace by 5 sec, and you gain 30% haste while Spiritwalker’s grace is active.

My sentiment on both the 2pc and the 4pc is divided at present, and let me tell you why. First off, I think the way the bonuses are designed constitutes acknowledgement of two of Resto Shamans biggest shortcomings in this expansion—lack of adequate regen and lack of burst capacity. The fact that our T13 bonuses are designed to address those two issues is amazing. However, what has me confused and ultimately worried is that both of the T13 bonuses seem misaligned to the element that they’re tied to.

When looking at 2pc T13, (and I do hate to say this), I don’t think that there was sufficient consideration given to how Resto Shaman use Mana Tide, only that the developers needed to tie a mana savings to a regular CD. So, while on paper, a reduction of healing spells’ costs after you drop Mana Tide might seem like a good thing, there are a couple factors which make the idea less than ideal. Firstly, MT is something you need to optimize, so most shaman looking to get the greatest mana return for themselves and their team will drop MT as early as possible during an encounter, and then on CD after that point. Generally, I try to make sure I time it for when healers are clumped up, so no one misses out, which means I tend to drop MT when things aren’t as intense, and when I see that my healing teammates can benefit from the mana. (Remember, they have their own independent regen sources to utilize, so Resto Shaman should always be mindful of overlap with a Priest’s Fiend, Druid’s Innervate, or Paladin’s Plea, lest some of that mana restore goes to waste).

This ties into the second issue with the 2pc–MT is not something you drop when you’re about to dump mana because you’re typically too busy setting up your heals, moving into position, etc. Moreso, the times at which I want to save mana, are not necessarily aligned with those times where I think it’s ideal to restore mana. I want to save mana when I’m cycling through my most expensive heals (HR+CH spam), but who’s to say that those periods align with the CD of MT? To me, it would make more sense if T13’s 2pc simply buffed the shaman’s own regen for a period after dropping Tide, so that we’d see a constant benefit and would be afforded the opportunity to choose appropriate timing for us and our teammates.

Now when it comes to Resto Shamans’ 4pc, the only thing that I can say is … about time. Given that Spiritwalker’s Grace has a short 2min CD with a 15sec duration, this amounts to a personal BL every time it’s cast. And more haste, as all resto shaman will admit, is a tasty thing indeed. This 4pc will constitute a substantial boost to throughput, when used appropriately AND provided that the fights are designed to allow us to optimize high-throughput combinations, like HR+CH. However, the one objection I have is that, again, the 30% haste buff is tied to a spell we use to address our lowest throughput moments. So Restos will need to be very careful to plan out fights so that they aren’t caught with SWG on CD when there’s a ton of movement to be done. From the PTR testing I’ve done thus far, on both normals and hard modes, it seems that we’ll have ample opportunity to capitalize on this bonus.

Lastly, I feel inclined to point out … as we work our way towards the T13 bonuses, Resto Shaman need to bear in mind that we’ll be losing out on the T12 4pc bonus in the process, which not only constituted a change in playstyle for resto shaman using the 4pc (which is now a playstyle that we will have to unlearn … *sigh* … thanks for that), but also netted those of us a significant boost in HPS, which we’ll be losing when we upgrade. 10-man Resto Shaman will have to forgive me on this point, since you’ve been suffering under an ill-designed 4pc all tier long, and thus have been seeing a lot less HPS boost than those of us in 25s. You will be happy to know though, that even on 10s, there are a handful of T13 fights that favor heavy CH+HR usage.

Beyond the points above, the only other objection that I can possibly muster on these T13 bonuses is that I intensely dislike perks that require contortions or optimization to take advantage of. Where every other healing class is assured a passive gain (source) –druids have a proc chance, paladins a flat healing increase, and priests a gain to shields/mana/spells—we’re forced to make a weighted decision once again. In Tier 12, we had to change our healing style to optimize our 4pc. In Tier 13, we’ll be asked to choose between being able to cast and move or maximizing throughput. And while these decisions might seem like “fun” or “valuable” choices, in reality, I’m starting to become ever more aware of just how much Resto Shamans are being asked to manage and adapt in order to stay competitive.

 

Wind Shear CD Increased

Although I was tempted, upon first reading about the WS nerf, to be critical about the change’s impact to PVE content, I really don’t think that critics have much to cry about on this one. Yes, the increase of WS’s CD will impact Resto Shamans’ ability to be reliable interrupters in raid groups, but I feel obliged to ask “were many of us dedicated interrupters in the first place?” Likely not. (Yes, some of you will argue that you were and that you did it well, in which case someone else will need to step up to the task). So although I can understand that this change will impact those few of us who played critical roles on select encounters in T11 and T12, the greatest impact will be on Resto Shamans’ dominance in PVP. And if I understand the sentiment on Arena Junkies, this nerf has been a long time coming.

 

Riptide HoT increased

Even after the acknowledgment that Resto Shamans are, once again, falling behind other healers in terms of HPS and performance, the sole healing buff in store for us come 4.3 is an increase to the healing done with Riptide’s periodic healing:

Riptide’s periodic healing coefficient has been increased by 50%. The initial direct heal is unchanged.

As always, I’m skeptical that this change is going to be the one that brings us in line with other healers, because a harder-hitting hot on a 6-second CD is still a spell on a 6-second CD. In general, RT can be rolling on 3 players at any given time (technically, depending on your haste, you’ll have overlap on a 4th target for a couple seconds), so its benefit is limited by its CD. For me personally, RT’s hot is ticking for 2k base and 5k critical, and even on our first HM Rag kill, was clocking 40% overhealing. (To put that in perspective, our druid’s Rejuv overhealing on the kill was about the same). So, I’m a slight bit confused as to why developers believe that a buff to a spell with almost 50% overhealing is a normalizing change.

My skepticism is further increased when we consider that we’re moving towards a healing environment where healers are flush on mana, and thus can turn to less efficient spells to handle incoming damage. In this type of environment, hots become less powerful unless they’re applied in a blanket approach—druids can attest that this is why Rejuv spam became the go-to healing method late in Wrath. And unless damage is such that hots can be allowed to tick freely, the healing boost will have little effect on total throughput, insteading contributing a portion of its increase into overhealing done.

In the handful of PTR raids that I’ve done thus far (on 10s and 25s), I have seen a slight increase in RT’s percent healing done—it’s averaging 15-20% healing done per encounter, with 30-40% overhealing (sample parse). But to be quite honest, the throughput contribution simply isn’t substantial enough to close the gap created by Paladin’s Holy Radiance spam, Priests’ super-charged Divine Hymn, and Druid’s onslaught of hots.

 

Ancestral Healing

Try as I might, I fear I simply couldn’t muster the excitement that some of my Resto Shaman peers are sharing when it comes to our newly-revamped Ancestral Healing talent:

Your critical heals reduce physical damage taken by 10% for 15 sec, and heals you cast increase allies’ maximum health by 10% of the amount healed, up to a maximum of 10% of their health.

Remember that the spell, as it currently stands on live, simply reduces damage taken by a certain %, so long as Ancestral Fortitude is on the target. In its new incarnation, a target affected by Ancestral Fortitude (the damage reduction buff) will now also gain Ancestral Vigor, which will be applied at the moment of the critical heal and can be refreshed by subsequent critical heals on a target.

Unfortunately, I’m less than impressed with this new “buff” to Resto Shaman after having seen it in action during PTR testing. This is firstly because the talent results in absolutely no net healing increase, and artificially inflates healing numbers to reflect “effective” healing that will be lost when the Ancestral Vigor buff expires. Further, WoW’s combat log even fails to track the temporary HP increase granted by Ancestral Vigor, meaning the most that it can show me is that a player gained X number of stacks over the course of an encounter. Do I know if that helped him survive something? No. Do I know how much HP the target gained? No again. Do I know if I provided any value at all? Nope.

The second bone I have to pick with Ancestral Vigor is what happens when the buff falls off—both your actual HP and your Max HP are adjusted by the amount of “extra” HP granted by AV. If your target is at max HP when AV falls off, then he remains at max HP (albeit at his now lower Max HP value). However, if your target is less than full HP, say at 130k / 135k, and AV is granting him 10k max HP, then after AV falls off the target will drop to 120k / 125k. So whatever healing he gained during the period when AV was active, is lost. Aside from being a mind-boggling design decision—because it truly makes any healing done between the actual max HP and buffed max HP value PURE meter padding—it also means that you could potentially run into an issue if the target takes a fairly big hit right before AV falls off. (Like say, a tank on Baleroc).

And the last issue that I have with AV … there’s no benefit if you bring multiple shamans. Presumably, while each shaman could refresh the application of AV, the benefit of this buff is reduced for every shaman you bring to raid. So if you bring 3 shaman, the gain is the same as if you only brought one (again, with maybe slightly more uptime on the buff). To me, and to my resto shaman brethren still struggling to put on a good show, this harkens back to the days of Vanilla WoW, when hots were exclusive to the target, not the healer. (For those who didn’t play in Vanilla, in those days, no matter the number of priests or druids you had in raid, a target could only have 1 version of each hot on them. So if druid #2 or priest #3 threw up a Renew or Lifebloom when another was already present on the target, it would simply overwrite the existing hot). At this point, given the negative public perception of Restos, it’s simply mind-boggling that Blizzard’s developers would make a decision to further discourage multiple Restos being brought to raid.

So in the end, AV is a buff that I can’t track in a combat log, will reduce the target’s HP once it falls off, and provides the same benefit to a raid with three resto shaman as it does to a raid with one resto shaman. I’m sure it doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that it’s not something I’ll even been looking forward to. Quite frankly, I’m absolutely baffled as to why this idea even saw the light of day, nonetheless remained unchanged through multiple PTR patches.

 

Conclusion

It wasn’t all that long ago that GC released his own take on the state of Resto Shaman, in his Explanation of Balance Changes, Part I:

After checking in on thousands of raid attempts, we were concerned that Resto shaman were not competitive with the other healers, especially on 10 player-content and on fights where the raid needs to stay spread out. It’s okay for healers to have niches where they really shine, but we felt like Resto wasn’t experiencing enough of these. We buffed Riptide outright and gave Ancestral Healing a new mechanic of boosting the target’s max health. These buffs are also intended to help offset some of the loss of Wind Shear for PvP.

If the above comments sound familiar to you, let me refresh your memory with the Blues’ comments on 4.0.6 healing balance, released mid-February 2011:

We think that shaman healing per second is not as competitive with other healers and while we hoped to bring down Holy priest and Holy paladins (in particular) in 4.0.6, which we did, shaman still appear to be behind. In this case, it is simply easier to buff Restoration shaman rather than nerf everyone else or rebalance the encounters.

So as much as I want to look to 4.3 on the horizon and see a patch that will finally alleviate some of the low PVE performance issues that resto shaman have been battling against FOR AN ENTIRE EXPANSION THANK YOU VERY MUCH, I just don’t see the answer that I’d hoped for. Believe you me, I would love to be able to point to 4.3 and say that Resto Shaman will finally have a tier where we don’t have to read these same comments again. But, the reality is that after almost a year of feeling like I’m working my ass off to just keep up with my healing teammates, my outlook isn’t all that sunny. Blizzcon was a wonderful reassurance that there is hope to be had, but with every PTR test and every revision to the 4.3 patch notes, I grow increasingly more concerned about what 4.3 holds in terms of healer parity.

But that, my friends, is a topic for another day. Stay tuned for part 2 of this post: Tier 13 and Resto Shaman: Thoughts on our Final Chance at Parity (Part II), soon™!






37 Comments


  1. Kayara

    Vixsin,

    I love reading your posts and thanks again for bringing to light the current (and future) issues with resto shaman. After 2 years of being in love with my shaman, I quit raiding on her after my guild reached heroic Rag and simply didn’t need a resto shaman to progress and kill him. Since then I’ve switched to raiding on my resto druid, and I feel completely cheated being table to hot spam and hit the ToL + Tranq ‘I-Win’ buttons when shit hits the fan. I really hope that some day I can go back to playing her, but to be honest it’s not looking good any time soon. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed and continue to check back as the PTR patches progress. Thanks again for all of your hard work and great perspective!


    • There’s a reason my primary alt is a druid. ^_^ It’s a wonderful change of pace.


      • Destius

        These changes really struck me as the wrong way to buff resto shaman, What we need is better raid healing throughput when the raid is spread out. Funny enough these changes make us better at tank healing rather than raid healing, AV is refreshed by RT’s hot so it will have 100% up-time on the tanks and we usually keep on RT rolling on the tanks before raid because they take consistent damage and take better advantage of the HoT.

        I had suggested these on the WoW forums and I still believe these to be better changes:

        -Increase the jump range for chain Heal.

        An Easy fix that does the job when people are more spread out, I like this idea the least however because it makes mindless chain heal spam more viable.

        -Reduce the CD on Riptide

        Another easy fix that changes 2 things: we’re able to use RT more often and have it heal/roll on more people at a time AND we’re no longer throttled by the Tidal waves mechanic

        -Tidal Waves no longer increases Critical Chance of Healing Surge, instead causes Healing Surge to heal an additional target for 100% of the amount healed.

        My favorite idea; eliminates the direct competition between GHW vs HS under Tidal Waves and gives Healing Surge a powerful role in healing multiple targets when the raid is spread out. I don’t think of it as that OP either considering HS barely heals for much unless it crits and even then it’s still less than GHW

        I would like your thoughts for these changes :)


        • GC has said hes ok with healers having a niche, and grouped up raid healing is clearly the shamans. In the same post he said they felt like we were not seeing a use for the niche enough, and buffed us in other ways so we could keep up on the rest of the fights. Because of this im not holding my breath for changes to how we raid heal, perhaps a raid wide HR would be nice, but they would have to nerf its throughput, would we want that? A cleaner solution at this point would be to design the fights so we get to use this niche and are not forced too far from it with any new mechanics. By the sounds of some PTR testing this seems to be the case.

          On chain heal range, it has come a long way and had several jump range buffs already. I would be interested to see how many shaman use a plug in for grid or the cluster mechanic in Vhudo to get a good feel for how often CH is able to hit people. I was also disheartened by the sight of how often I was shooting off zero bounce CH’s when I felt it should be the spell for the job at the time, but after making the change to a UI with a chain heal bounce indicator I have been able to get solid bouncing CH’s off on every fight. (The indicators are not enough in themselves as people often move before the CH goes off, but after getting used to reading them and knowing the general movements in a fight CH becomes a very strong spell again.) I guess what im trying to say is anymore buffs to CH jump range would very easily lead to CH spam and atm I think it has more usability than people give it credit, if anything a better way to help the shaman pick who the heal is best to cast on is what it needs.

          Reducing the CD on riptide would change our whole healing style, and while it would be nice to always be under tidal waves, it’s clearly not what was intended for us. Reading through the shaman feedback threads a common theme I saw was that resto shaman really liked their “rotation”. It lets us set up good burst periods by something like CH/GHW/GHW/RT/GHW/GHW, or RT/GHW/GHW/NS GHW/RT/GHW… etc but ensures we cannot keep this up long term, if they always wanted us to have that haste they would just bake it in. The idea of spreading the RT or ELW hots are awesome ideas though.. Instead of RT buffing a CH then being removed, if it was removed on the initial target but then spread to all additional bounce targets or something.

          The idea of bringing HS back by giving it a beacon like effect under tidal waves is an awesome one imo, and that is exactly the type of mechanic we need to deal with that blind spot we have in our arsenal.


  2. Raaaaaah

    While I can say that Resto Shamans have come a long way, I’m still not totally sure they’re even close to what potential they could have. As you’ve listed and thoroughly explained, some of the changes fix issues while some seem to create more.

    The T13 Rest Bonuses are a bit.. well.. I think the only way to describe it is “umwat”. While you’ve mentioned the issues with the 2PC, it seems like Blizzard has made the usage of MT to be a lot more situation based than previously before. When you’d like to use the added effect after MT has been lifted, the 25% spell reduction, it still doesn’t seem to fix a core issue as you’ve mentioned. While I do like your idea for giving a buff to the Shaman’s regen after dropping tide, I can’t help but wonder if there is a better fix to the 2PC or a better bonus they can muster that would bring shamans a bit up to par. While the 4PC bonus seems like a long time coming, it feels like the potential there is amazing. Before it felt like SWG was almost a burden or too heavily relied situation relied on CD, but giving it a mini BL incorporated with it is great. With the 4PC would it even be viable to use SWG even if you aren’t on the run? Just give to give yourself that extra added haste benefit? And more so, given what the set bonuses are now, would they work well together? Dropping MT, popping SWG, would that change your perspective on them or do you feel that the 2PC is still under powered and needs a fix or to be completely changed.

    Could there have been a better fix for RT? Possible letting it bounce to another target via CH or increase the direct heal portion of it and leaving the HoT the same? As you’ve said, it only feels like it has increased the over healing done rather than actually fix buff the spell itself. Is the buff to RT more detrimental than beneficial?

    As to Ancestral Healing; I’m still amazingly confused as to why they’ve done this. I know we’ve talked before about the lack of things that WoL is able to track, making Shamans more of a target to be sat out as their healing on logs will not be as impressive because of said buff and as to the prior state of AH. Is there any true way to actually make AH better than the current state? Given that the state as you’ve mentioned is a shield based off on the Crit of your healing spell, having it add a HP buff on top of that, another stat you won’t be able to track, and having the buff vanish seems amazingly detrimental in the long run. Though, would the mastery affect the new AH buff? Is there even a fix they could do to this, maybe have it a stacking HP buff that does gain some benefits from healing produced by it? So that when the HP buff does vanish they’re not stuck in the “oh crap I’m gonna die” HP range. Again, it’s probably something else you can’t track.

    As where Shaman are now, where they’ll be in 4.3 and the outlook for 5.0, do you feel that the dev’s are getting a better idea of where they see Resto Shamans as a healing role within a raid or do they still seem lost. The potential for 5.0 talent trees for Resto seem great, but does it really fix any of the issues coming up, any future issues that may arise and are there any changes they can do now to better place Resto Shamans for 5.0 so that they won’t seem to fall behind as a viable healing class?


    • Re: the RT buff … it’s not that it isn’t beneficial–it most certainly is. More healing done is always more healing done, and for a class falling behind on meters, that’s a good thing.

      But I think the problem with RT is twofold: a) when glyphed, the duration on the hot is incredibly long, so it will have an inherent amount of overhealing, because no one stays sub-100% for 20+ seconds; and b) restos’ use of RT is limited by the CD. So as much as I’d like to be a little proactive and spread RT across the raid, I can’t, because I have to wait 6sec in between casts. And with the typical practice of rolling RT’s on the tanks, this leaves me with one or two RT casts to cover those “spread out” players. That’s not a very good solution to our problem of healing players who aren’t stacked.

      Re: AH, I would love to see this made into a temporary shield on the target (similar to Glyphed Stoneclaw totem, but with an actual combat log event, PLEASE!) That way, I could actually see if the spell was helping survivability or simply falling off unused. It would also eliminate the HP spikiness that the current design of AV creates AND help shamans look a little better on meters.


  3. At this point I think whoever is in charge of resto shaman mechanics needs to either wake up or be fired. They’re clearly out of touch with… everything. What expansion we’re in (the AH change would have been great for Wrath); where we’re having problems (both mechanics changes are small buffs to tank healing and pretty much worthless for raid healing, but tank healing is something we’re doing fine at); how healers time their regen cooldowns (what healer in their right mind would waste a GCD during a high throughput phase for a mana cooldown!); how totem mechanics are changing for Mists (I don’t know if you’ve looked at this, but many of the totem-related talents are things we’d kill for right now; but with the removal of passive buff totems, and the reduction of pretty much all totem durations to 20 s or less, most of the Mists talents as they stand right now are fairly useless. Oh joy, after I spend a GCD putting down a totem with a 6 second duration, I can spend another to move it, giving it maybe 2 seconds of active time in its new location!); etc.

    They’ve had all expansion and longer to work out the problems with resto shaman, and I thought with the tier 10 set bonuses that they had a decent understanding of what was going on with them and why, but yet despite being the healing class that has changed least since Wrath, it’s like the understanding of the spec that they used to have has been lost completely…

    There are easy changes they could make to help with what we actually have trouble with. Expand HST to raidwide (no effect on arena). Any number of things to do with the Earthliving HoT… make it tick for more on a player with Ancestral Healing, make it automatically triggered on crit, change Blessing of the Eternals so that the health threshhold for a guaranteed trigger is different based on what spell is doing the triggering (e.g. 100% proc chance on anyone under 80% health if the triggering heal is Chain Heal, but on anyone under 35% if the triggering heal is anyting else). For the 2-piece bonus, if they really want to give us some cheap throughput, give Mana Tide Totem a mini-Tranquility effect, which would at least compensate us for the loss of HST… and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head!

    I’m sorry for the rant; I’m just annoyed. The resto shaman has become a shell of a healer, and it looks like it’ only going downhill from here.
    Button´s last post ..A Change in Focus


    • I think those are some great ideas, any one of which I’d happily take. And I definitely share your frustrations with the design path that shaman have had this expansion.

      Part II of this post is going to go into it a little bit more, but I can’t help but feel that there is a serious disconnect between what the community values about shaman and what the developers value about shaman. You even look at the set bonuses for t12 and t13, and you see a distinct difference between other healing classes’ passive effects and those “decision/management” bonuses given to shaman. And the fact that our t12 bonus doesn’t even come into play in some fights, and is even less valuable in 10s … I just feel like there’s something I’m not getting.


  4. My raid group has always relied heavily on Shaman of any type, and definitely the Restos as well for interrupts. Mostly because we were the players that could reliably get it done. Maybe I’m awash with homeclass pride, but our Shaman players have almost always been some of our best performers and reliable folks, and so we’ve carried interrupts this tier.

    I won’t be sad to see the WS CD get increased as it means that I will no longer be tasked to manage interrupts with everything else I’m doing, but it’s grudging because now we’ll go back to it just not happening properly.

    I totally agree on the Ancestral Healing change as well. Even if it were actually theoretically or effectively beneficial to the raid, a benefit that cannot be measured in any way is not going to help the state of the class. It reminds me of the math battle we’ve fought with our Mastery the whole expansion where we lack information needed to determine its value, which means people tend to think that it has no value.

    Even beyond being inscrutable, it really does not bring any real benefit to the table. On the other hand, if it DID, then we’d be beholden to maintaining the buff over other duties, which reminds me of being a resto druid in BC where you just rolled 4 stacks of lifebloom infinitely, and it was a terrible playstyle that was mercifully killed.
    Jadiera´s last post ..Hey, So What About Those New Talents?


    • Funny you should mention about Resto Shaman being such good PVE interrupters … it was something that used to make my eye twitch in T11, with its massive amount of “who’s on interrupt duty?” fights. Ultimately, I’m in a raid to heal; being told “oh but you’re a great interrupter” always felt like a consolation prize.


  5. Excellent post. I sure hope Blizz is listening. I’m trying desperately to hold faith that we’ll be brought into parity with the others but your points on Riptide and Ancestral Vigor cut to the core of the matter. I think that, at least for 10s, a buff to the single target heals we have to use too much is what is needed. Unless or until CH’s reliance on density is addressed, 10 man healers will have to rely on RT, GHW, HW, etc. As a high mastery, medium haste, low crit shaman, I don’t think the Riptide buff will help. Its usually on the 2 tanks + 1 other, and usually overhealing on the tanks.

    You know one Tier Bonus that would have been nice? An extra charge of tidal waves.

    Regarding the new tier, it will be very hard to give up the 2pc T12 mana bonus to riptide. I still don’t even have 4pc after probably 6 rag kills, and 10-12 domo kills. So far not a single shaman token. No crown from Rag. I’ve still got the 353 helm. FML, the wow gods hate me. ;-) /rant Yeah, not too fond of the tie to MT for the 2pc T13. I would have rathered they tie it to SWG since they’re tieing the boost to throughput there. Even that is a little odd.

    I feel like this whole expansion’s tier bonuses have been an exercise in bandages for the Resto Shaman. The bandaids themselves cover the real issue which is never healed. They just rip off one bandage and apply a new one. We might have reached parity if some of the tier bonuses had been baseline.

    The CH wiping RT shouldn’t have just been eliminated with 4pc, it should have been baseline. MT giving us more mana than everyone else (which is what the T13 SHOULD be) should be baseline and should have been instituted when they hammered our personal regen to get at everyone elses regen. Encouraging us to keep RT up at all times for mana regen would have been a good long term boost to our regen.

    FL has seemed pretty brutal to me as a shaman. I feel worse off now than I did in T11, and the patch notes thus far are not shining any ray of hope thats for certain.

    Healing Monk, here I come?


    • Pomma

      Great post Vix!

      @Rekthar I agree with everything you said. After playing with the 4pc bonus for several weeks I find myself feeling like I will have to ‘unlearn’ 25m raid healing as soon as I break my set. RT comsumption on CH should absolutely be baseline. Losing this will be a significant HPS loss for encounters/mechanics (domo, etc.) that shaman would ordinarily ecxel at.


    • I absolutely agree with your point about MT; I don’t think the changes to Resurgence really helped us in the way that they should.

      With specific regard to regen, I think what my concern is at this point, especially after getting in PTR time over the past several weeks, is that we’re looking at fights where we’re going to be power-healing for looooooooong periods of time. On Ultraxion, it was almost 6mins of non-stop HR+CH spam–it is an insane amount of mana consumption. And quite frankly, I was really struggling to keep up, even with the massive number of WS procs that I was getting.


  6. The AV mechanic reminds me of Disc priests before all the attempts by meters to include them, then Blizz to include that info in the logs. Just like Disc priests of old that doesn’t make it any less useful just because you cant see it on the meters. (also isnt it the buff applied by heals, not just crit heals?) I accept no true healing is being done unlike a priests shield when consumed, but the effect of increasing a players health effective or not is the same, and letting it fall off while they are in no real danger (or you would have had reason to re-heal them keeping the stack up) wont hurt them.

    Riptide/CH/HR keep it up, but EL does not, so I would bet it will be falling off between group healing phases. Also getting the stack maxed out (10% of their hp with 10% of your heals = a full health bar of heals per target to max the stack) is quite a feat for a solo shaman in a single raid healing phase, so don’t despair multiple shaman will be unusable. This is something clever, intentional or not, to allow higher numbers of resto shaman in a 25man. With no EL applications, HRs AoE cap ensures a single shaman wont be hitting anywhere near the AV cap in a single AoE healing phase in a 25man, wheres a single shaman in a 10man will get closer. I guess its bad for double shaman healing 10mans then.. But that’s a truly mad idea anyway :P

    Perhaps its different at the very top, but other than Heroic Conclave frost ultimate I have not felt unable to perform any task this expansion, and I don’t think that’s something the other healing classes get to say by being continued to be pigeonholed. Granted I cant keep up with a good druid in terms of HPS, but they don’t bring everything a healing group needs.

    On the set bonuses, I agree coupling their effects to other CDs is a terrible idea and wish they would reconsider, especially the MTT one.

    Riptide buff has me excited, but that might be a 10man thing, and also not healing alongside a druid.

    You mention a scenario where healers are flush with mana, which makes the healing environment change, but aren’t Shaman one of the best classes with end game gear? Once we have the mana to support it, historically high levels of haste let us really push the other healers. None of our mechanics around that have changed, and if anything with TC a geared Shaman can be so aggressively set up they have an advantage of throughput stats on their gear.

    Im hopeful the combination of even higher levels of gear, the ability to move away from spirit through TC, and the riptide buff will move shamans into a good position in 4.3 for 10mans at least. Plus if it doesn’t, we can play the AV card and know we are helping more than on the meters.


  7. Eva

    Thanks Vixsin for another insightfull post
    I have to say I agree with everything you have said here and I wish that I had the ablity to put it as well as you.
    My guildies have been over the moon about these buffs, and now I have the perfect way to explain to them why I’ve been so iffy about them


  8. As a 10man resto I really feel the pain here. It looks like I’m about to become the third of our two healers as we work on Rag – it’s a good thing I can reuse most of my resto gear in elemental spec…

    I think the T12 2pc bonus – regen from riptide – has been the only decent 2pc bonus for a while – T11 and T13 2pc are both pretty meh. T13 4pc looks good, but without it I’m unlikely to get a raid spot to get the drops.

    I might swap from a mastery build to a haste build to see if that makes the meters look better by sniping heals from the bloody resto druid i run with…

    Thanks for another great post – even though it depresses the hell out of me.

    Fingers crossed for 5.0


  9. Cera

    I think this is why I’m beginning to lose my love for the game.


    • I can absolutely empathize. I don’t talk about it much, but I do find it a struggle to stay in love with a class that even Blizzard admits, has not been competitive for an entire expansion. But thank goodness I am one obstinate SoB. :-P


  10. Vixsin,

    I think you and I are both dubious of the changes. In fact I made 2 separate posts last week (one about the talent changes, and 1 strictly for the set bonuses).

    You hit it right on the money with your observations on Riptide; a point I touched on at length. The hots just seem to roll on a topped off target. No benefit at all to the raiding Shaman.

    However, I am looking at a potential new haste build to complement our T13 4 set. I’ve been too lazy to log into the PTR so I have no idea how feasible this is.
    Nastiest´s last post ..T13 Set Bonuses and a New 1543 Haste Build


  11. Akool

    To your point on the 2 piece bonus, Im a Resto Shaman in a 10 man raid right now and I am the Sole person that can buff Resistances through the glyph of healing stream totem. Next patch, when I try to use the 2 piece bonus my raid will lose magic resistance. So unless the time where I need to pump out heals doesn’t include magic damage I will be staying away from the 2 piece bonus which is very disappointing


    • Admittedly, I had to create a Power Aura expressly to remind me to redrop HST after MT wears off. If ever I decide to get off my lazy butt and stream PC’s raids, viewers will be delighted to see a gigantic message in the middle of the screen

      “DROP THE F*CKING TOTEM”

      And even then, it oftentimes takes me a couple GCDs before I remember, “oh yes, I do need to make sure we have that resistance aura!”


      • Akool

        We are also losing throughput from the totem when we want to save mana. It just seems counterproductive.

        I top the charts in my raid but im beginning to feel like I should be switching classes… Ive been hoping patch to patch for a fix and yet it hasnt happened yet. This blog is the only thing keeping me on my resto shaman.

        Looking fwd to the second part!


  12. I agree with you on some of it and I was initially a little disapointed in regards to the usages of Anvestral Vigor, however, it does have some nifty usages. You can stack it before the beginning of the encounter and keep it up throughout the encounter by just keeping a Riptide running on your tank(s). Yes, one shaman can do that easily. Nonetheless, with fights as Ultrahexion where people can stand in your HR almost constantly and thereby keep a close to 100% uptime on the buff it will become very, very usuable when you are going to play with HMs. That goes for DW – Madness where (unless a lot of things is changed) a) 2 shamans can keep the entire raid running with Ancestral Vigor more or less the majority of the fight (From last night I saw an uptime of 95%+ on most people and that was with myself running at 1-5 fps.).

    The Riptide buff is decent, but I suspect that it is mostly to bring us in line @10man raiding, and it is from my POV good enough to go for the 2005 (1858) haste breakpoint, atleast while we run with 2-setbonus.

    Personally I think that the most of these bosses are if-not-favoring then atleast not penalizing your guild if they bring a shaman (And with Ancestral Vigor you want atleast 1 to keep it running on the tanks).

    The biggest issue that I got so far is our regn. model with Water Shield and the lack of scaleing (Yay, Resurgence?) and the fact that we (Or atleast I) will rely much more on Telluric Currents, however, fights like Hagara and Madness of DW.


    • I agree that we are seeing a number of fights in 4.3 that do favor shaman healing. Even in the 10s testing, I found that I was using CH/HR significantly more than I ever have in 10s, which is definitely a step towards keeping us competitive.

      But with regards to AV, I admit that I’m completely turned off by the feel of being handed a gimmick. Yes, it does have its benefits, and it may let you take one additional tick on Ultraxion HM, but as far as buffs go–is it something that you’re going to work to maintain? Will you pump heals into a tank just to keep it rolling, even when other people need the healing more? If you’re not answering “yes” to these questions, then my contention is that it’s not the valuable buff the class needs. It’s a shiny, a new gimmick, and an attempt to loop guilds into thinking we’re somehow necessary. And personally, I don’t want that. I don’t want to be taken for my MT, or AV, or any other damn thing I offer as a Resto Shaman. I want to be taken to a raid because I’m a damn good healer, and that’s a decision that guild’s won’t make if I don’t have the numbers to back it up.

      Interesting you mention Haggra … I was just thinking: would it be beneficial to run with Glyph of Unleashed Lighting for the frost phases to capitalize on the continuous movement and turn it into a pure regen phase? O.o If there’s another round of testing on her, I just might try that out!


      • Ive been giving a lot of thought over how to handle AV, and alongside the EJ discussion came to the following conclusion:

        It will last on your tanks unless you make a point of leaving their healing to others. You don’t have to crit them, anything non-passive every 15 seconds is enough to keep it up, rolling RT on 4 people, getting the MT and OT with alternating hots will easily keep it up, you could even give them 1 of every 3 you cast. And that’s if you don’t heal them with anything else.

        The EJ discussion talks about how this buff devalues mastery, which it does. The point is also made that until you hit the cap, this is a 10% healing buff. You don’t really do this healing, but the max hp you are adding are not empty, you are raising your targets current hp by an additional 10% of the heal until you have not healed them for 15seconds and the “healing” is lost, as any absorption effect is when not consumed. Granted you would be even better off to have it always stacked, but doing so would make you very ineffective as a healer playing wack a mole as the debuff is about to fall off while not grouped up, and ensuring you mastery was always devalued at its maximum.

        The way I will be dealing with this is just to ignore it. Unless a fight calls for a soaker or similar, my current style and I would bet all other resto shamans style will keep AV up on its tanks, give us this imaginary 10% healing buff when its most useful, but also allow our mastery to work at or close to its full potential for the majority of the time.

        I have to agree it’s not the change we were all hoping for, but at least it’s something and we should try to get the most out of it. (For those on the PTR, how does it interact with ability’s like last stand? does its value also increase? or does the ceiling for the buff go up? and if so do we lose those additional HP once their max goes back down? Think rolling AV on the MT after a fight like Bael if it hangs around!!)

        On the unleashed lightening glyph Vixsin, this is something I have taken to for my full time setup! Being able to TC during movement is awesome on a lot of fights. Thanks to having something more to do while moving altered my spec form the usual also as you are either not required to heal and can TC for free mana, or are and will be spirit walkers healing, either way you no longer have a consistent use for ghost wolf. Since the change to ES to make the heal lower but the effect on other heals higher, and also resurgence to not take any effect from water shield, the improved shield talents and ES glyph were reduced in effectiveness anyway. If you do try an unleashed lightening build have a try without insta ghost wolf and see if you miss it, and while you’re at it since you’re a glyph down anyway thanks to unleashed lightening, try missing both ES glyph and talents. Both being percentage based makes them strong together, but less so alone. There are plenty of other good talents to take if you can part with those 5 in the enhance tree.

        Also sorry for coming to your site and having a bit of a different view. I was very meh about shaman healing early in this expansion and have a mostly levelled paladin because of it, despite being low on overall HPS for rankings and such, I do not feel our group was hampered by having a resto shaman thru firelands, on early kills I often out healed my priest and pally co-healers, even on our H-rag kills despite shooting LBs for the entire P3 while out of range of the tanks and punting meteors when on my side, I kept up with our pally while filling a role that allowed our DPS to push much more consistent P3 dps. Early kills is where we shine, once the fight is on farm the other classes have far better mechanics and crush us with blanket/sniping heals, it is far harder to do the same on a shaman, and out utility is worth less once DPS can fill the gaps as the DPS check is no longer so strict.

        Love the blog!


        • I disagree that this is a 10% healing buff–just because the target’s HP is increased by that amount does not necessarily equate to +10% HPS. In reality, the impact will be far less, both because our Mastery contribution will be less and because the healing gain will be spread across the raids’ healers.

          But I do agree with your statement about how you’ll be handling uptime–while I may be somewhat concerned about maintaining the buff on tanks, I’m not going to be going out of my way to make sure it has uptime on everyone else.

          In regards to your question about the performance of AV on the PTR–the value of HP it grants is lost when the buff wears off. IIRC, the value is affected by Last Stand and is lost when Last Stand expires.

          And no worries about the differing viewpoint! I’m always happy to have some provide counterpoint to my opinions. Because ultimately, I think the debate benefits everyone, either by further clarifying the important points of discussion or by disproving something that might have been incorrectly assumed to be true. So please, disagree away! ^_^


        • “I disagree that this is a 10% healing buff–just because the target’s HP is increased by that amount does not necessarily equate to +10% HPS. In reality, the impact will be far less, both because our Mastery contribution will be less and because the healing gain will be spread across the raids’ healers.”

          I can accept in reality the impact will be less, but am struggling with “the healing gain will be spread across the raids’ healers.” Does it not add the additional 10% of the HP to current while it buffs the max just like similar (last stand) effects? I cant see how this changes anything for the other healers.


      • For Ultrahexion HM Vigor will shine if you get either red or blue crystal, and in regards to it being a gimick, sure – but so is PI, GS. There is no need to pump heals into a tank since the hot from Riptide will keep the buff refreshing (and it will get refreshed by another shaman as well) and since you most likely will keep a Riptide running on a tank for a) Healing, b) Flametide (for now), c) Ancestral Fortitude (Since from what I have seen so far disc will only be used for Barrier) and you can now add a d) Ancestral Vigor (Which is 20-25k extra HP on the tank depending on class / gear). The biggest issue with Vigor is that it lowers the benefit we get from mastery a tiny bit (In the sense than people will be 5-10% higher HP when they take “the big shit”)

        You could glyph it, I was myself considering but it is quite limited how many LBs you will be able to throw in that phase due to dispelling anyway so I do not see it as a “better” glyph. However, TC is golden on that fight because of the 100% extra damage taken in (I cannot recall if it is 10 or 15 seconds), but I gained +150k mana from TC during the fight and the majority from that “phase”. Furthermore, I suspect that you will be able to sneak in a few more LBs on 25man. Nonetheless, I guess a lot of people will argue that Ghost Wolf is mandatory for that fight, but with druid roar, Freedom I really don’t see it as better than TC when you can gain that much mana.
        Zherman´s last post ..Telluric Currents part 3 – Ragnaros Heroic.


        • A couple of points here:

          First, I’ve done HM Ultraxion on the PTR–I disagree with the statement that AV shines. It may extend the fight by an extra several seconds, but the hits that players are taking are more than 10% of their HP. Thus, if we were to look at an instance where players were taking a standard hit with AV and without AV, the end result would be the same. This is what the discussion on EJ missed–if the hit is larger than your current HP – AV’s benefits, then you die regardless. (And what healer buff you get has no impact on the overall impact of AV, because it is still limited to 10% of the player’s health. The buff only allows you to stack it up more quickly and maintain it.)

          Second, maybe I need to clarify what I mean about a “gimmick”. Technically, every spell and CD in WoW is a gimmick. But what I was referring to was the idea that Resto Shaman are being given a buff to maintain that really does not to address the overall problems we’re having when healing. Moreso, because the buff is “unique”, its implementation seems to be geared at giving guilds a reason to bring at least one Resto Shaman. IMO, any spell or buff implemented for that express purpose isn’t something that’s beneficial to the class, because at best, we’ve simply turned the tables on another healer, and at worst, the buff isn’t seen as essential and we’re in the same place we are now.


  13. Linda

    Thank you for another great article. Just because there are forum emo on “Blizzard hates my class” does not mean that all classes are in great shape.

    My only rationalization is that 2T13 is so underwhelming I will not regret as much that it will take me quite a while to get it with my guild.

    @Zuzum: “I guess its bad for double shaman healing 10mans then. But that’s a truly mad idea anyway” you may not be able fathom just how dark the Stygian depths of Cata Casual are. The only two reliable healers in my guild are stubborn officers who played resto shamans since antiquity. And once the raid leader pugged a third resto shaman. :-) / :-(

    I am looking forward to the part II: state of 4.3 healing. In particular, I hope you will touch on not only the strengths of the various healers but also the synergies. E.g., who best complements a shaman healer.


  14. Q-Bert

    Vixsin

    I think one point a lot have people seem to have overlooked is that the 2 set bonus (which is essentially the same for all healers) favours classes with instant or fast casting heals. As such we will feel the benefit far less than other healers. Of course there is the potential to sync our MT with the SWG bonus from the 4 set but this causes issues relating to the variable cooldowns of both MT and SWG, not to mention trying to work this around the specific mechanics of any given fight.

    With regard to Ancestral Vigor I’m less concerned about keeping it up on an individual tank as it can be maintained by rolling RT’s. It becomes more problematic when tank switching is required as I’m informed it takes between 35 – 45 secs to fully stack the buff. Of greatest concern to me though is the buff stacking on non-tanks where control of its effect is much less predictable. Incoming damage is generally divided into consistent damage across the entire raid (and for which we are generally allowed to stack and offers the potential to buff multiple players), and spike damage to individual raiders occurring when the raid is spread out. It is at precisely this point that the buff is likely to drop off, as we will for the most part be single target healing. How I keep track of the buff and its duration on my raid frames is one thing; how I deal with this issue in a proactive manner is entirely another, and quite frankly has my head spinning.

    It may be that I am over estimating the problems here and with any luck you can give us some positive feedback from the PTR. Here’s hoping anyway.


  15. Harm

    Do the devs in charge of shaman even play resto shaman?

    It just seems like they don’t understand what’s wrong.

    I work so hard to stay competitive on my shaman and there are verry few encounters where my numbers reflect that hard work. I feel like the other healing classes don’t have to work nearly as hard (I’m talking in between pulls here people pouring over parses and swapping out gear pieces to maximise stats for spacific encounters etc). My biggest fear is that even with all that hard work I won’t be able to stay competitive and will be sat out in the content to come.

    I wasn’t supper thrilled about our set bonuses when I saw them but after reading your blog I am even more worried. Hopefully the world will end in 2012 and we won’t have to worry about it!


  16. Zandilar

    Thank you for your insight Vixsin. You have expressed some of the concerns I have had on the PTR with these new “perks” they have given us.
    Firelands has been a huge frustration for me. To the point I wonder if my other healing mates are probably sick of hearing me bitch about it. This whole expansion, which I thought was going to be shamancentric (its a word, i swear!), feeling frustrated and burnt out. My guild has in the mindset that they need a resto shaman, so I am thankful for that.. though I feel sometimes if another resto druid would help more.
    I am not so excited about 4.3 as I thought I would be. Patch notes after patch notes I cross my fingers to see something. Is the Water Shield glyph coming out? Are they going to take Riptide off cd? Change unleash elements for Earthliving to something akin to our old Tidal Force. I see nothing.. and get sad.
    I think that the new AV ability, in all honesty is just putting lipstick on a pig. It may look all glossy.. but really doesn’t change much.
    I am grateful that they are giving us some fights where we shine… but I am still leery. Especially the buffs they are giving holy paladin. Maybe I am being paranoid.. but of the healers it has seemed that Holy Paladin and Resto Druid are the golden children.
    I love my shaman. She was my first toon I ever created. I have strayed here and there, as needed by my guild.. but I have always come back to her.. and always kept her current no matter what. Lately though I wonder if I made the wrong choice in which toon is my main, something my guild is very strict about.


  17. [...] those interested in Shaman changes in the more near term future, Life in Group 5 wrote about the Shaman Tier 13 bonuses and the changes to our healing spells. I agree that changing Ancestral Healing to add health to your target isn’t the best idea [...]


  18. Xèphýr

    This expansion has been a struggle for the Resto Shaman community, and the upcoming tier does not look to fare any differently, in my opinion. I was skeptical about our buffs helping us keep pace with other healers and now that I have done a bit of PTR raiding I see that I was grasping at something just out of reach…..again….for the third patch in a row.

    A more simplistic approach to balancing resto shamans without completely scrapping the new AV mechanic would be, as mentioned above, turn it into a damage mitigation tool rather than an increase in max health. And if that’s asking too much then at least make the health drop when AV falls off percentage based rather than a straight number of missing hp (i.e. A tank has 180k/200k when AV drops and he returns to his base 180k hp. Rather than him having a remaining 160k/180k, have the tank retain 162k hp.)

    I completely dislike the playstyle depending on set bonus precedent that Blizzard has recently implemented. I agree that certain gear can influence playstyle, say favoring mastery over haste, but one should not have to alter their rotation based on a tier bonus. Just my thoughts. Unlearning the RT + CH spam will be simple enough, but my issue is why introduce the mechanic just to throw it out one tier later?

    As for the MT buff…..I’m completely clueless as to how it can be better “streamlined” to get the full effect. At the moment it would seem as though you are going to sacrifice something and in return gain something else. Seems simple right? I disagree. It’s going to take much log searching to ascertain which was more important….my GCD used directly prior to or during an “OH S**T” moment to get MT down or the mana conserved after its effect wore off. Plus there is the issue of balancing whether one optimized the increased mana regen for oneself as well as other raid members. That seems a bit tricky to decide a “best time” to drop MT along with our other duties.

    I’m so incredibly glad that this site exists and the community it has attracted. I’m not alone in the frustration that is Resto Shaman! Thanks again for the insight you’ve offered over the years Vixsin and keep up the great posts!


  19. Hey Vixsin, I love your posts!
    I was wondering, as you are in a world Top 50 guild, if there is any way you could get contact to Blizz devs and talk to them about resto shaman concerns?
    Sometimes I’m afraid the resto shaman community gets overlooked by Blizzard. Have you ever tried starting a thread on the US Healing forums that is linking to your blog? I’m sure it would have many supporters among the shaman community and maybe it would grab Blizz’ attention. Sadly I can’t post on there myself, because I’m from EU, but I think it would be worth a try.
    I just feel there should be much more uproar coming from the shaman players. Blizzard should know that we are not happy with the state the resto spec is in and that we deserve more changes than just a quick bandage fix, that is coming with 4.3.
    We’ve been the worst healing class for a whole goddamn addon now, why isn’t there a revolt of angry shamans already? We can’t just quietly wait and hope for Blizz’ mercy to fix us someday.

    Anyway, keep up the good work and I’m really looking forward to your 2nd part of this post!


  20. [...] Shaman should try to keep up the Ancestral Vigor buff (the 10% HP buff this creates) on tanks. On the PTR, when it fell off it dropped the player’s maximum HP back down again, but also reduced their [...]



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