It seems like old news now, but it was just a couple weeks ago we saw the floodgates open on MoP data as Mists beta launched. For avid WoW news followers there has been a torrent of articles, posts, videos and screenshots to sort through in the search for changes to the classes we love. For Resto Shaman in particular, the Beta launch brought along with it new Tier 90 talents, new glyphs, and a variety of changes to our arsenal. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to talk about how any of these things play out, because Blizzard seems to unconcerned with my very little corner of the internet, but I wanted to keep everyone up to date in light of the information that’s been inundating fan-sites as of late.
Cost of Healing
Possibly the biggest change ahead of us in MoP isn’t related to class specifics, but rather healers in general. (Yes, hooray, more “fun” changes to the healing game. *sigh*). Come MoP, all healers’ maximum mana pools will be normalized. Intellect will no longer increase the size of your mana pool, although it will still contribute to critical chance and, presumably, increased regen (I haven’t been able to confirm the latter). So, that feeling that you have every expansion of going from mana-starved to mana-rich, is going to be gone, and every healer—priest, paladin, druid, shaman, and monk—is going to have the same max mana to work with.
So what does that mean to Resto Shaman? For starters, our base mana pool is going to be set at 25,000 at level 85. The cost of our spells are going to all be a function of this base mana, which will then be increased by 400% to generate our 100,000 mana pool (again, at level 85). This is compared to the present, where we have 23,430 base mana and, in my full heroic DS gear, a 145,000 mana pool (unbuffed).
This means that we’re going to be seeing some slight changes in our spell cost:
|Greater Healing Wave||7268||7260|
Bear in mind that in Cataclysm, we’re benefiting from Spark of Life, which reduced our spell cost by 6%, and as far as I can tell, this talent is no longer present in MoP. As a result, there are two spells that I think will likely have fairly heavy usage in the starting tiers—HW and CH. HW, because of its insanely low cost (it’s mana-neutral and recently received an approximately 200% buff) and CH because, judging by the current cost, it will be by far and away the best choice for healing multiple people taking damage (even RT seems a little expensive in comparison).
But, by and large, what I think this change is going to emphasize is the importance of regen to each and every healer out there. To Resto Shaman, it means that our Water Shield, which provides a fixed return for each proc, won’t pale in comparison to other healers’ regen sources based on max mana.
As part of the initial OMG-BETA-WHEEE! wave of information, we got a preview of Blizzard’s new glyph philosophy in action, with new class glyphs being released to fill up what will now be two types of glyphs—major and minor. (Prime glyphs were removed as being redundant in application now that talent trees have pushed spell bonuses to the actual skills). As evidenced below, and in the preview for all classes’ glyphs, one of the core themes looks to be “tradeoffs”, where the benefits of a glyph come at a price. As would be expected, those glyphs applicable to Resto Shaman have a healthy dose of this trade-off:
Although there’s some speculation floating around that this glyph would only be applicable in 10s, and certainly it would, there are a number of 25-man encounters that I can point to as a reason it would be useful for both raid types (HM Rag, HM Hagara, HM Zon’ozz, to name a few). So, I think it’s reasonable to say that this glyph isn’t looking to target on size versus another, but rather address a pervasive problem with Resto Shaman healing. And in providing that solution, it asks shaman to make an active decision before the start of every fight as to whether the glyph will or will not be useful. Is this a fight where I can simply chain into the melee or is it an encounter that needs everyone to spread out? Personally, I like the fact that this glyph underscores the proactive decision-making that is an integral part of resto shaman healing.
But, what I don’t like about this glyph is … the same thing. It strikes me as indicative of a design direction for shaman which takes proactive decision-making to new heights. Because the cost of this glyph is 15% healing reduction, you better not use it on fights where you might get good CH bounces (which is not always predictable). And it will necessitate that when you do make the decision to use this glyph, that you use pre-RT’ed players as primary bounce targets to benefit from the 25% increased healing, thereby offsetting the cost of the glyph. I intensely disliked that playstyle in T12, when it amounted to playing a Shaman-only version of whack-a-mole with Riptided targets. Not only did it require me to focus more intently on tracking who did or did not have a rolling RT, but it meant that I actually made the decision to prioritize some targets over others simply because I knew that player A would be standing with a group of people while player B would be off in BFE (I’m looking at you, Mages).
It’s important to note that Glyph of Chain Heal is not on the chopping block as of yet, so it would be possible to pair up the two glyphs in order to make CH into a weaker, unrestricted, pseudo-PoH.
A simple change from 2 point talent to glyph, I’m glad to see this ability return to the Resto toolbox. But, what is notably lost in the transition is the mana cost reduction which made Cleansing Waters such a valuable talent to take. With one of the Monk’s
My reaction to this glyph can be summed up in one word: meh. Although it does make it possible to maintain 100% uptime on ES with ease, I don’t see this glyph maintaining much benefit beyond that.
I’m a little torn about the current design of HST, which has transitioned from being group-based 5-target healing to a raid-based single-target heal. On one hand I’m grateful to see the necessity of HST lessened (because if you ever had to drop anything else, your performance would feel the pain), but on the other hand, I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around the value of a single-target passive heal on a 1-minute CD. On paper, it seems like it would barely be worth the cost of the drop. I could be missing something, but with all the auxiliary healing that is included in healers’ talents these days, it seems a bit odd to scale back on something that rarely amounted to more than 5% of my healing done. So, I’m equally baffled as to why, given Blizzard’s removal of resistances, a resistance buff on a single target would be considered a valuable addition.
There’s not much that could keep me from being excited about seeing this glyph in action (except perhaps seeing its removal). For the whole of the expansion I have been one of the many who has talked about the difficulty of maintaining Tidal Waves uptime in the face of a 6sec RT CD. (Fie on that awkward 1second between your second GHW cast and RT coming off CD!) So, I’m excited that one of the major benefits of Glyph of RT will be the additional ease it introduces into a single-target healing rotation. But, the additional consideration is that it will give you reason to always benefit from the 25% increased healing on RT’ed targets. When all we keep hearing about MoP is that our mana will be on the line for efficiency’s sake, I don’t think there’s going to be much reason to not cast an RT before you toss out a CH.
All this being said, let’s not forget that this glyph has a definite downside—a decrease in the healing done by one of our signature spells. And it serves as a replacement to a glyph which extended RT’s duration for 21 seconds, which was 6 seconds and several ticks past its baseline performance. To give you some numbers, on this past Tuesday’s HM Zon’ozz kill (which is an excellent fight for RT when you underheal), RT contributed 20.2% of my total healing done. My time in between casts was ~9seconds, which is okay, but not great. Here’s the breakdown:
The average periodic heal was ~6200
The average initial heal was ~16,000 (including crits).
Average total healing done per RT = 65,600
Now, this is assuming that I didn’t overwrite any RT’s and didn’t consume any with CH; in actually it was around 55k, because I consumed a couple for super-CH healing. Now, were we in MoP and I had RT glyphed, the situation would be much different—I’d have 5 ticks instead of 8, and no initial heal, meaning my healing would be:
Periodic heal (6200) x 5 ticks = 31,000
Difference in healing done = ~47% of current
That is a pretty substantial difference in contribution. So, without that additional duration, the additional healing that came from it, and the instant heal, RT runs the risk of being significantly undervalued in MoP. Like I said, I’m excited to see this one in action, but I’m wary of the high cost it comes with.
Another glyph that makes me go “meh”—5 seconds on a 2 minute CD is hardly something that will make or break your performance in any encounter. I don’t see this glyph being an amazing choice in PVE, but that will really depend on the design of the fights.
I am both delighted and disappointed to see Telluric Currents back in the rotation in MoP. Although I’ve been an ardent defender of its use and potential in hard mode raid content, I also find it incredibly frustrating to know that Resto Shamans’ mana will need to be balanced around the usage of this glyph (much as I find it frustrating in current content that the only reason I was able to trump our star holy pally on HM Madness is because I gained over 400k mana from TC on the kill).
But, the big question is—how will this glyph fare in MoP? At present, an average LB for me hits for around 12.5k (including misses), meaning that with the current version of TC, I get approximately 5024 mana back per cast. Subtract the cost of LB (1406 mana), and TC is a gain of 3618 per cast. Now, when we move into MoP, that picture will change slightly:
Assuming 12,374 spellpower
Cost at 85 = 1420 mana
Average hit = 12,500
Gain = 4375 mana
Net Gain of mana = 2955 per cast (~1k less than current)
With the removal of Elemental Precision, Restos will have some constraint on their TC ability in the form of misses (which are factored into my average of 12,500 per cast). But the additional constraint, as always, will be the cast time it will takes to cast, which will be entirely dependent on encounter design. I think the fair assumption to make is that in a mana-starved environment, TC time is going to be even more important to maximize, since every last bit will count to your total available mana pool over the course of an encounter, so I’d anticipate that this glyph will see heavy usage from Restos looking for an edge.
The final cost-benefit Glyph released, Glyph of WS took a big hit in the Beta. Whereas the current Live glyph increases your WS regen by 50% (177mp5), the beta version will only be granting you an additional 10% increase.
Water Shield – The caster is surrounded by 3 globes of water, granting 1368 mana (was 407) per 5 sec. When a spell, melee or ranged attack hits the caster, 2928 mana (was 871) is restored to the caster. This expends one water globe. Only one globe will activate every few seconds. Lasts 60 min. Only one Elemental Shield can be active on the Shaman at any one time.
So, the net gain from this glyph will be a whopping 137mp5. However, you’ll be sacrificing 2928 mana per proc in exchange. Which means that you would have to remain unattacked for 1.75 minutes for this glyph to be valuable. Since raid instances aren’t on the PTR yet, we will have to wait and see if this glyph really is worth using or not.
Although this isn’t a new glyph, I did want to remind Restos that, at this point, this hold-over from Cataclysm remains unchanged. With Healing Wave actually hitting on Beta at ~40k (critical), this glyph could be something that Shaman will need to reconsider in starting dungeons and raids. Unfortunately, the 20% remains fairly small in comparison to the health pools of MoP, so I do hope that the contribution of this gylph is updated in the coming months.
Tier 90 Talents
From a resto standpoint, there really isn’t much to talk about when it comes to this proposed Tier 90 talent. Because the baseline buff provided by Unleash Life is +30% to your next heal (excluding Healing Rain), this talent provides an additional 50% bonus to that effect, making the total bonus healing 70% on one spell. The increase will be limited to the same CD that Unleash Elements currently has (16 seconds). It is, all and all, a fairly bland talent, if you look at it from strictly a healing perspective. While a +70% heal (especially if it’s a critical) will definitely pack a punch, I just don’t see the throughput being as effective in comparison to the second talent in the tree, because its value is so dependent on a restricted set of circumstances (low HP value player, no other incoming heals, 2-3 seconds set-up time, etc.) being present.
But, what this talent lacks in zest, it makes up for in utility potential (which I would imagine would excite our PVP brethren). By swapping and “judging” Restos can gain a variety of situational uses—from increased TC regen, a temporary sprint, to a 40% damage reduction (provided that the Rockbiter benefit works against raid bosses). That’s not a bad boost to our toolkit. Unfortunately, as excited as I am for the imbue-swapping macros this talent would necessitate, it pales in comparison to the other two talents in the tree, and would take a good amount of effort to optimize, much more than I think a majority of Restos would be interested in investing.
*Note: Unleashed Fury was increased to a +50% from Earthliving in a recent Beta Patch. The original incarnation of the talent only had a +20% bonus from Unleash Life.
Probably the talent that I’m looking forward to the most, Primal Elementalist finally gives shaman control over our idiotic Elementals, which at the best of times bear a striking resemblance to a haughty housecat (which is to say that they ignore you, are prone to wandering off, and prefer playing with a piece of twine in the corner over being where the action is). And although I’m still a little miffed that Frost Mages are holding our Water Elementals hostage for use in PVP, I’m excited to see that this seemingly dps talent contains a benefit for Restos:
With Fire and Earth elementals both being 5-minute CDs, this means that Resto Shaman will gain at least two additional healing CDs per encounter (and the opportunity to add more, shorter duration CDs if we elect to use Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem). Of the 3 new Tier 90 talents, I think this by far and away the strongest of the bunch, because if aligned with our Ascendance CD, it has the potential to really provide the “self-tuning” that I’ve been bitching about lacking for an entire expansion.
Nice idea, horrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrible implementation. Currently a 2 sec cast, with an 8 sec duration and a 12 sec CD, I can’t help but shake my head at this talent and wonder who in Thrall’s name keeps perpetuating the idea that Resto Shaman enjoy playing a class where we spend 20-30% of an encounter on “management” activities that buff our output. (Didn’t we just remove pally’s need to judge every 8 seconds? And now we’re giving that tedious mechanic to shaman?!) Elemental Blast adds one more ability to our growing list of “things to do other than heal”, which as of this point in MoP includes dropping specialty totems (Bulwark, HST, Stormlash, MT, SLT, HT, Elementals, etc.), refreshing WS and ES, casting LB’s, keeping Tidal Waves up, using UE on CD, and placing strategic RT’s.
To put it in perspective, let’s assume that you’re shooting for maximum use of Elemental Blast in a 6-minute encounter. With its 12-sec CD, this would mean that you could potentially cast 25 EB’s in that fight (360 ÷ (12+2)), which would mean that you would spend 50 seconds, ~14% of your time, just on buffing yourself with EB. Using UE on CD would eat up another 22 seconds, refreshing WS and ES once every 45 seconds would eat up another 16 seconds, using your Healing and Mana Tides would take away another 6 seconds, and then your specialty totems would maybe account for another 10. In total this makes 104 seconds,~ 29%!, of the fight about doing things to buff your own output. So yeah, color me unexcited about this last option for Tier 90.
Subject to Change
All this being said, I think it’s important to remember that in beta, no matter how open or tested, nothing is set in stone. Numbers will change and balance will shift; what’s OP one patch (*cough Revivial cough*) will be nerfed into the ground in the next. It’s also important to remember that the Resto Shaman playstyle that we know today will not be the same one that awaits us on the shores of Pandaria. What we’re seeing here are the signs of a class in transition, and the only certainty is that in a couple months we’ll all have some learning to do!