Life in Group 5 – A Resto Shaman Blog
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Shaman - General

November 18, 2011

The 5.0 Shaman Talent Preview

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Written by: Vixsin
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Although it will be at least another six months before we find ourselves knee-deep in Pandas and cross-faction conflict, and toe-to-toe with another set of as-yet unknown antagonists, information about Mists of Pandaria is slowly making its way into the online community. And the first major chunk of information, released at Blizzcon, is something that I’ve been looking forward to weighing in on ever since I’ve gotten back from my California vacation. As I mentioned in my Blizzcon Afterthoughts post, I walked away from the intro to MoP much more reassured about the direction of the shaman class than I had expected to be. And although some of my Elemental and Enhancement friends who attended were less than enthused with the new Talent trees, I was delighted to see some much-needed additions for Resto.

So, while these Talents are definitely not set in stone and will likely go through multiple iterations before they’re released on live servers, I wanted to throw my Resto hat in the ring and go into a little more detail about what has me so excited for 5.0. (The MoP talent trees can be found here)

 

Tier 15 – Crowd Control

Summary of Options:

  • Frozen Power – Your Frost Shock now also roots the target in ice for 5 sec.
  • Earthgrab Totem – Summons an Earthgrab Totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster for 45 sec. The totem pulses every second, rooting all enemies within 8 yards for 5 sec. Recently rooted enemies will instead have their movement speed reduced by 50%.
  • Repulsion Totem – Summons an Air totem with 5 health at the feet of the cast for 15 sec that repels enemies.

Also known as the tier where we all get the cool Elemental shaman talents, Tier 15 brings with it two types of stuns and one knockback. In terms of positioning within the leveling experience, I think these crowd control talents are well timed, and their utility and usefulness will, I’m sure be much appreciated by shamans starting on their way to 90. As a resto, I’m going to be happy to bring some of the utility that was offered by Elemental Shaman, although my primary concern is how much use we’ll be getting out of these talents in a PVE environment. Knock-backs were helpful on HM Rag and Cho’gall, but are they used so frequently that we need an entire talent tier devoted to it? Secondly, and this is a minor nit-pick in comparison, I question why anyone would ever take a single-target active-cast root over a multi-target passive root.

Final verdict: Good placement in the Talent tree, but some overlap in applicability of talents. Unsure of the PVE application.

Suggestions: If we’re talking about crowd control, why is hex notably absent? What if hex turned an enemy into an ally, who fought for you (weakly) until the hex expired or was dispelled?

 

Tier 30 – Survival

Summary of Options:

  • Nature’s Guardian – Whenever a damaging attack brings you below 30% health, your maximum health is increased by 15% for 10 sec and your threat level towards the attacker is reduced. 30 second cooldown.
  • Stone Bulwark Totem – Summons an Earth totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster for 30 sec that grants the caster a shield absorbing 2649 damage, and refreshes that shield every 5 sec. 1 minute cooldown.
  • Astral Shift – Seek haven by shifting partially into the elemental planes, reducing damage taken by 50% but also all damage and healing dealt by 50% for 6 sec. 2 minute cooldown.

I actually winced when I saw Nature’s Guardian on the big screen at Blizzcon—I have avoided the it like the plague since Resto Shaman threat was fixed mid-BC. So to see this talent (with threat reduction, omfg) back on the plate for 5.0 was enough to work me into a feeding frenzy. (Yes, I realize this was a preview and they, like other professionals working against the clock, probably threw it into the presentation at 11pm the night before …) Thankfully the Vixsin-rage is quelled by the other two talents in the tree—a pulsing version of Glyph of Stoneclaw, which presumably scales in power with level and spellpower, and a slightly weaker version of Shadow Priests’ Dispersion, sans mana regen. To say that I’m excited about these survivability CDs is an understatement—I can think of a number of times in the past tiers where I would have happily killed for a personal survival CD (Nef, Throne, Al’Akir, Cho’gall, Sinestra, Beth, Domo, Rag, etc.) And even though Astral Shift comes with a healing penalty, I am cheering for heartiness it reintroduces into the shaman toolbox, because I remember the time when we were the beefy, I’m-gonna-tank-these-mobs-I-pulled-through-insane-healing-aggro healing class, and it was the clothies who everyone worried about.

Final verdict: Solid solutions to shamans’ survivability issues

Suggestions: Get rid of Nature’s Guardian once and for all, I’m begging you. Or change it to something useful like a personal passive +healing taken for sub-30%.

 

Tier 45 – Mobility/Mechanics

Summary of Options:

  • Improved Ghost Wolf – While in Ghost Wolf form, you ignore the effects of snares.
  • Windwalk Totem – Summons an Air totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster for 6 sec. granting raid members within 30 yards immunity to movement impairing effects. 1 minute cooldown.
  • Tranquil Mind Totem – Summons an Air totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster for 6 sec granting raid members within 30 yards immunity to spellcast interruption and silence effects. 1 minute cooldown.

Although this tier can be loosely summarized as the tier of mechanic-enhancing effects, I struggle to see the applicability of any of these talents to PVE. In terms of raid encounters with snares, the last that I can recall are the frost patches on Anub’Arak (ToGC) and the last raid boss with a silence was further back still … back in 10-man ZA on Nalorak (although, arguably, a number of bosses do incorporate spellcasting interrupts in melee—Al’Akir and Rag are good examples). From a larger perspective, these benefits seem too specialized to apply in a PVE environment, since the buffs would need to be brought by more than one class in order to discourage raid stacking.

Given the purported transition of GW to a baseline instant-cast (IIRC from Blizzcon panel discussions), I do find these PVP-centric options a little disappointing because they don’t do much to address the issues the mobility and mechanics issues that shaman, Restos in particular, have in PVE. The integration of Unleashed Lighting was a major boon for Elemental Shaman in 4.2, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I had hoped for something similar for Restos, either by way of talent or a glyph. And, interestingly enough, for a tier so intent on enhancing mobility and performance, Spiritwalker’s Grace is notably absent.

Final verdict: Despite the veritable laundry list of mobility problems that shaman have in PVE, this tier falls a bit flat in addressing any quality-of-life issue of note. I also fail to see the value that this affords a leveling shaman.

Suggestions: I’d love to see something with a decided PVE benefit, like a talent that gives Spiritwalker’s no CD, but reduces the healing and damage you do while its active by 50%.

 

Tier 60 – Healing

Summary of Options:

  • Healing Tide Totem – Summons a Water totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster for 10 sec. healing the 5 most injured raid members within 40 yards for 1060 healing every 2 sec. 3 minute cooldown.
  • Ancestral Guidance – When you deal direct damage or healing for next 10 seconds, 40% of that amount is copied as healing to a nearby injured ally. 3 minute cooldown.
  • Fortfying Waters – Allies standing within your healing rain receive a 10% reduction to incoming magic damage.

While druids are busy bemoaning the curse of Blizzard actually believing that they should contribute outside of their primary function (a topic for another day) I was glad to see some cross-functionality make its way into Tier 60. For as long as I can recall, the great dps shaman that I’ve encountered have always been ones that are ready with a Healing Rain or a Chain Heal to keep a group steady. I think of the Healing Rains I saw go down on HM Rag progression, the benefits of HST in Anub’Arak, or the CH’s that our Elemental tossed out during Sarth 3D, and I know that those little extra bits were a huge help each and every time. And so having a somewhat healing-focused tier makes sense to me for the class.

In regards to the talents themselves, I don’t think I need to even mention how delighted I was to see Tranquility Totem pop up (I can has for 4.3?!)  Assuming that it scales and applies in the same way as Tranq and Divine Hymn, this will be an absolute boon. The unfortunate thing is that as amazing as Tranquility Totem is, by comparison, the other talents in this tier seem like throw-aways. Ancestral Guidance becomes the choice for shaman who refuse to play the utility role, or alternately, proves a poor way for a Resto to heal a spread out raid. And Fortifying Waters, while valuable, I think runs the same risk as talents like Inspiration—arguably beneficial but not something you’d take when presented with the option of higher healing or dps.

Final verdict: Great ideas, but not much balance between the choices.

Suggestions: Restos need a reason to choose something over Tranq Totem and DPS Shaman need to be rewarded for contributing some healing, so what about a talent that makes HST raid-wide, but at a lower pulse value. Or a talent that grants an additional amount of haste after I toss out a Healing Surge?

 

Tier 75 – Output Boosts

Summary of Options:

  • Elemental Mastery – When activated, your nextLightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, your Fire, Frost, and Nature damage is increased by 15% and you gain 20% spell haste for 15 sec. 3 minute cooldown.
  • Nature’s Swiftness – Your next spell is instant cast. Passively increases spell and melee haste by 5%.
  • Echo of the Elements – When you cast a damage or healing spell, you have a chance to gain Echo of the Elements, duplicating that spell’s effect.

Of all of the tiers of the shaman talents, I think perhaps this is the most exciting to me because of the difficult choice it presents. In other words, I didn’t look at this tier and immediately have a gut feeling that one talent would be the “PVE standard”.

For starters, I appreciate the duality offered in Elementary Mastery (assuming it will be revised to boost healing spells as well) and Nature’s Swiftness (assuming that it will equate to a constant passive haste buff), because the talents ask the shaman to assess what will be more beneficial on any given fight. In encounters with consistent damage, BQL for example, the burst would likely be of lesser benefit. But on fights like Magmaw or, my favorite, HM Rag, the burst on a longer CD would be of much greater value. Making the decision even harder is the third potential talent in the tier, which based on its description, seems intended to function like Tarecgosa’s Wrath—copying any healing or damage spell with no reduction in effect. Unfortunately, I feel like this talent aligns much better with the shorter cast times and attacks of Elemental and Enhance, versus the 2+ second casts of a Resto Shaman. (Longer casts = less duplicated spells). The second problem with this talent is that while there generally is no bad time to proc additional dps, the same cannot be said for healing. The sad fact is that unless the proc chance on this talent is different for Resto, it is likely the “additional” effect will have a significant amount of overhealing and be less preferable than the other two options.

Final verdict: These are much-needed throughput boosts, but I think that Echo of the Elements is a much stronger DPS talent than it is for Resto because of its random nature.

Suggestions: I feel like this would be a good place to put a talent that benefits Resto’s main problem of healing a spread raid, but I can’t think of any solution that would also compliment Enh and Elemental. A multi-spec talent, like Paladins’ Sanctified Wrath, would be a good fill-in.

 

 

Tier 90 – Totems

Summary of Options:

  • Elemental Harmony – You may summon multiple totems of the same element simultaneously.
  • Totemic Restoration – If a totem is replaced or destroyed before its duration expires naturally, its cooldown is reduced in proportion to the lost duration.
  • Totemic Projection – Relocates your active totemsto the specified location. 10 sec cooldown.

Given my excitement about the other tiers and their additions to the shaman arsenal, Tier 90 almost feels like a letdown to me. Filling the place of the old 51-point talents, and more recently, the 31-point talents, this final tier should be something amazing, something that thanks me for grinding my arse off for 90 friggin levels to get there. And while I do think that all of these Totem-centric talents are much-needed tools, I don’t see them as class-defining abilities. Blizzard has already clarified that Multi-totem won’t allow dps to have multiple fire totems down, which heavily reduces the benefit of Elemental Harmony for Enhance and Elemental. And while it would be nice to not overwrite my Healing Stream when I drop Mana Tide (assuming I still have MT and HST come 5.0) a “nice” benefit isn’t really something I want at Tier 90. Likewise, while Totem Launcher makes me cheer, I feel like this is a first-tier talent at best because the only totem that I would ever want to launch would be Spirit Link.

Final verdict: Even with the removal of buff totems, I think it’s clear that Blizzard wants our totems to be our utility. But this lackluster final tier really doesn’t resonate with me because the benefits really aren’t game-changing.

Suggestions: I think a better solution would be to swap this tier with Tier 45’s theme, and really reward Shaman for sticking with the grind by resolving our mobility issues.

 

Overall

As a first pass at talents, I think the Blizzcon 5.0 preview was a good starting point for further discussion about those abilities that should define a class, and about the value of choice within a game where there where players place such a high value on being “optimal” or very close to it. I also think it’s important to remember that the goals with the new talent system are multi-faceted and fairly complex:

  1. Discourage cookie-cutter specs by enabling choice
  2. Align with the leveling process (ie: don’t buff something that players don’t have yet and give them occasion to “feel more awesome” every 15 levels)
  3. Provide valuable choices in each talent for each spec (ie: talents should not be clearly “Elemental only” or “Resto only”)
  4. Provide valuable choices for both PVE and PVP

Interestingly enough, the one I walked away most concerned about was #2, because with the removal of the “one point every level” and then the “one point every two levels” systems, players are no longer getting the continual reinforcement that they did when they started. And while that may not be a big deal to players going through their 5th or 12th reroll, for new players to the game, I could understand if they felt like 15 levels in between talents was too much time. This, of course, could be offset by the transition of many of the current talent-tree abilities to being class-specific spells/abilities, but even then I wonder if the leveling experience will somehow seem less rewarding to new WoW converts. Because at the end of the day, your choice of class doesn’t boil down to the logical numerical split of talent tiers into a number that’s a factor of 90—it comes down to how awesome the class makes you feel.

In regards to the other goals of the new talent system, I look forward to seeing just what Blizzard can deliver. I think shaman did a great job, in the feedback threads, of identifying some of the pervasive class issues, and like I mentioned in my Blizzcon post, I do feel like Blizzard hear those concerns and agreed with (some of) them. Now it’s up to them to do what they do best. Because after an expansion of feeling consistently undervalued and constantly aware of my shortcomings, I for one am looking forward to feeling like an awesome friggin shaman once again.

 

Credit to: 이종혁 (King) for the amazing shaman artwork for the Post Slider! (WoW Fanart link)





11 Comments


  1. Greenwillow

    I’d still honestly love something to be able to spec into for consistent or frequent patches of movement. (Domo HM for Resto et al). Something like:

    Spiritwalkers
    Doubles the effect of Unleash Elements and allows the next spell cast within 2 seconds to be cast whilst moving.

    It could also potentially remove ULs GCD but I’d susleft that’d just lead to load of Enhance macros.

    I think it could really sIt well in the mobility tier. I’ve never (shy of TC/spot healing derping on H atramedes) found a need for so long a SWG on such a cooldown so far, but then again, I don’t PvP too much.


  2. Really nice summary of the talent tree!

    I can’t help it, but these talents look kinda meh overall to me. Too much utility (imo Resto shamans already have quite good utility), too little actual, constant healing boost.
    I’d love to see Tranq Totem made baseline for Resto and another talent be added instead to Tier 60. I think a Tranq-like raid cooldown is something that Resto shamans need anyway, there shouldn’t be a choice between it or e.g -10% magical damage.
    Also, the last tier talents just don’t look like last tier talents to me, they’re missing that “wow” factor that I had when I saw some of the other classes’ final tier talents for the first time (paladin e.g). Although having HST, Manatide and Healing Tide all up at the same time actually could be really nice…

    I’m also wondering what new spells or mechanics Resto shamans will get with 5.0. To be honest, that is something I’m even more excited about than the new talent trees. They’ve already said, that they think about Healing mushrooms for Resto druids and large, spammable cast-time shields for disc. I really hope they come up with something cool and innovative for Resto shamans, too, because Cata changes really weren’t that pleasant to me.


  3. Metcalfe

    I think it would be cool to have a Fulmination talent that applies to all shields. All shields could then be adjusted to have 3 stacks, but then stack up to 9 based on either crits from the caster or heals cast on the target in the case of earth shield. The stacks could then be released (not sure exactly how best that could be handled, probably a new spell) and function as a mana/damage cd and potentially either a healing or dmg reduction cd for earth shield target. I think something like this could really make shamans more competitive with paladins for tank healing in a way that doesn’t simply duplicate the same sort of spells that other classes already have.

    I think that the spread out healing conundrum shamans currently have isn’t as big of a problem as it seems for future expansions. It’s frustrating now, but it looks like MoP will add some pretty useful cds we can use to cope in those situations (Healing Tide and Elemental Mastery). I’m satisfied so long as we have a niche. The niche I’d like to see would be stacked AoE healing (stronger, not just equal to everyone else as it is now), competitive single tank healing, and adaptability – being able to jump from one healing assignment to another without a respec or large adjustment. Provided our mana regen is addressed, I believe we’ll be able to switch to haste-heavy builds which will let us adapt a bit better to spot healing spread out raid situations.

    If Resto Shamans were to get a new AoE ability I don’t necessarily think it should be a new heal. Perhaps refreshing Riptide on a target causes a splash which spreads the ELW hot to 3 lowest targets within, say 15-20 yards. This would strengthen a resto shaman tank/melee healing niche, while providing a moderate AoE healing ability that isn’t just a clone of WG or CoH. It could also have a really cool animation. :)


  4. Nice write up.

    I agree that some of the tiers are a little meh, and they will change before we all begin downloading the patch, but overall I welcome it.

    In cataclysm I have changed my talents once, maybe twice, because the only real variation now is TC and how you allocate your non resto points. That’s pretty boring to me, so I welcome having to make some choices and not being wrong or right in them.

    Also, in reply to this nitpick:

    “Secondly, and this is a minor nit-pick in comparison, I question why anyone would ever take a single-target active-cast root over a multi-target passive root.”

    It’s the same reason Earthgrab is currently in Elemental and Frozen Power is in Enhance. Earthgrab is a defensive, reactive ability with an 8 yard range to keep people away from you. Frozen Power is used to close the gap and get your axes up in their face. Earthgrab is no good if you are stuck 9 yards away from someone.


  5. Call of the Ancestors has been removed.
    Call of the Elements has been removed.
    Call of the Spirits has been removed.
    Healing Stream Totem has been removed.
    Magma Totem has been removed.
    Purge has been removed.
    Rockbiter Weapon has been removed.
    Stoneclaw Totem has been removed.
    Water Breathing has been removed.

    Eh… I will really miss that. TBH all that stuff makes me to think about quiting WoW.


  6. Stoneclaw has been replaced. Honestly that was a batshit crazy totem anyhow. The glyph to add absorb was the only thing that made it compelling at all, and somewhat weak at that. The new version may be quite nice depending on the spellpower coefficient.

    Purge being gone….well, I never liked having to purge while healing anyhow.

    HST is also replaced, though I don’t see any of the compensationary replacement for base line, or for resistance.

    In fact, its the omissions that worry me. There is other stuff missing. Resistances. How the buffs are going to play out (since they aren’t on totems).

    I also worry that there is a lot of quaility of life (QoL) issues that still aren’t addressed. It’s early though. Just nervous because I’ve seen many things go away and nothing yet given in return except the talents. Seems like we have the longest way to go to playbalance. God I sure hope 5.0 is a huge reset for us. My optimism meter is bouncing on the bottom.


  7. I also notice Telluric Currents is gone. AMG, what?! Everyone sounds like they have better regen and some still have mutliple ways of getting mana back (judgement boosts spirit now and melee attacks still grant them 4% mana, to use pally as example).

    Focused Insight appears to be gone. Dammit. That’s two talents gone I use. UE still sucks by comparison (doesn’t boost HR)

    Wishlist:
    1) something useful for fire to drop besides fire elemental totem. No, Searing is not it.
    2) Revise CH so it doesn’t wipe riptide; BASELINE.
    3) Revise CH so it is useful in 10s. (I finally got my 4 pc…and wow. Still not so good on most FL stuff)
    4) UE to work on everything like Focused Insight did/does, and maybe make the buff last a little longer. 6s just isn’t enough sometimes. 10s maybe? Otherwise it just doesn’t seem compelling enough.
    5) Make us a little less GCD bound.
    6) Movement issues still need to be addressed (Maybe allow HW on the move, or HS on the move. The former because its weak, the latter because its expensive.)
    7) Something GOOD for the final teir.

    On that final tier….I just dont get it. They’re removing all the buff totems, right? And almost every other totem except fire elemental, searing, and maybe earthbind is short duration. Why exactly would moving my short duration totems be a good thing? The other talent that allows multi-drops is the only useful one for restos outside pvp. The one that reduces cooldown if you totem “dies” early (or is recalled) seem like it wouldn’t be very useful in PVE at all. Maybe I can drop SLT for just a quick moment as a “quick rebalance their health” thing, then put it away immediately. Seems like a bad talent.


  8. Im kind of hopeful after seeing that list that they will take away enough of the never used or used passively stuff to bring us back up to being competitive in our main healing role. If they think we are balanced at the moment because we have all these extra things that might be awesome in some situations, so our straight up healing and mana longevity suffer, removing any extra crap sounds win to me.

    HST was the only thing that annoyed me at first, but if they balance us around not having it, it would be better than having a tiny rangeable group based HoT that over-heals most of the time even with Catas healing style.

    Lack of change from wotlk led to this cata situation for Rshaman, so the more change the better for MoP imo!


  9. Wombat

    Great post and I really love the direction of your suggestions.
    Have you submitted these to Blizz on the MoP forum?


  10. Kuro

    Where did you the awesome picture of the Pandaren shaman?



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