*GIGANTIC DISCLAIMER OF DOOM* (1/17/2013) – HM Tsulong logs from this week’s reset have confirmed that the functionality I described in the below post is no longer fully applicable. Ancestral Guidance no longer procs off of Restorative Mists’ healing, though some other interplay between the two spells is still intact. So, while elements of the below post are still valid, don’t expect to see the same results as the 15-sec HM kill popularized on MMO-C.
The “healer fight” of Tier 14, the Tsulong encounter in Terrace of the Endless Spring affords your Group 5 residents the chance, once again, to see the big numbers of their dreams. The 2-phased encounter, like predecessors Valithria Dreamwalker and Ultraxion, includes in it temporary buffs (1 in normal mode, 2 in hard mode) that boost healers’ output by incredible margins. So incredible, in fact, that last week I saw something I’ve never seen before—a spike in my HPS to the tune of 3.5 million (3,525,419.80 HPS, to be exact). But this post isn’t to toot my own horn, because I’m neither unique nor skilled in achieving that level of output, but rather to call attention to the way in which I did it. Because, I think it could change your outlook on a Talent Tier that, for Resto Shaman especially, has had a clear front-runner for most of the expansion.
(Yes, I’m talking about something dethroning Healing Tide).
After I printed out last week’s WoL Healing Done table with my big numbers, (naturally, so that I could affix it to my fridge for future self-congratulatory-efforts-while-snacking), curiosity got the better of me and I started digging into the parse to figure out why exactly it was that I had managed to strike gold on that particular kill. It’s somewhat of an annoyance to me to have that sort of disparity on the kill after the first kill, so my detective hat was firmly affixed to figure out where I had gone awry.
The Conditions of Performance
For those not familiar with HM Tsulong, the higher difficulty of the encounter is offset by an added buff in the day phase—The Light of Day—which is a clickable, very temporary buff that spawns throughout the room during the day phase of the encounter. Because the number of spawns are limited, the buff is typically given to the highest throughput healers first (monks and paladins, in this case) and then each other healer is afford 1 as well. This buff is provided in addition to the buff granted by Sun Breath (Bathed in Light) which grants additional mana and healing to anyone in the frontal cone.
So, Important Fact #1—there are two multiplicative healing bonuses that occur during the fight. They can be stacked, but because of the randomness of the Light of Day spawn location, it’s rarely located in the breath’s affected area. So oftentimes, you’re left to time the buffs consecutively, so that you can first have The Light of Day and then have Bathed in Light, all while your CDs are active.
Important Fact #2 is that each of the two healing buffs has a 6-second duration. Thus, the window of time in which you need to maximize your healing is very, very limited. With both buffs you can pre-cast to ensure maximum throughput (ensuring that your heal goes off as close as possible after the buff is applied), but even then you can only manage 3-4 spells before ping and buff duration call a halt to your super-sized healing. In between these small 6-second windows is the Night Phase, so you can be assured that your CDs will be up in time for the next Day.
The next Important Fact #3 is that because Tsulong’s health pool is so large, there is zero chance for overhealing on him until the fight is complete. This is important to note because this will not be the case with player health pools which have very definite limits, making maximizing momentary HPS is less important than maximizing HPS over the duration of the encounter.
This leads to Important Fact #4—multiplicative bonuses (in an unconstrained environment) will yield more healing than additive bonuses. So if you have two 1.5 bonuses and a 2.5 bonus, where H is the healing done:
1.5H x 2.5H x 1.5H = 5.625H > 1.5H + 2.5H + 1.5H = 5.5H
Obviously, the margin of difference isn’t as significant when you’re dealing with smaller multipliers, but when you consider that Light of Day offers 1500% (15x) healing done and Bathed in Light offers 500% (5x) healing done, you can expect the effect to be much more pronounced.
Ancestral Guidance in Action
Like most encounters, I started our attempts on HM Tsulong with my buddy Healing Tide firmly in place in Tier 75. But, after doing a handful of attempts where I spread out my Ascendance and Healing Tide (because they don’t stack, so there’s no need to use them concurrently), I simply wasn’t seeing numbers that were particularly thrilling, or that were helping us down the boss in the requisite 2 day phases. Healing Tide was getting in, at most, 3 ticks on Tsulong, and at ~320k apiece (and a large portion of overhealing on the rest of the raid) it was barely contributing to my overall healing done:
[22:34:44.602] Vixsn Healing Tide Tsulong +328210 [22:34:44.602] Vixsn Healing Tide Miickeey +248467 (O: 68558) [22:34:44.602] Vixsn Healing Tide Star +*257994* (O: 399770) [22:34:44.602] Vixsn Healing Tide Evilkami +249328 (O: 63728) [22:34:44.602] Vixsn Healing Tide Vapour +*264991* (O: 402392) [22:34:46.095] Vixsn Healing Tide Vixsn +*249816* (O: 403800) [22:34:46.233] Vixsn Healing Tide Tsulong +*674186* [22:34:46.233] Vixsn Healing Tide Prock +259772 (O: 67812) [22:34:46.354] Vixsn Healing Tide Holytyg +238623 (O: 72907) [22:34:46.354] Vixsn Healing Tide Amati +249727 (O: 135133) [22:34:47.835] Vixsn Healing Tide Tsulong +324140 [22:34:47.835] Vixsn Healing Tide Star +262928 (O: 57611) [22:34:47.835] Vixsn Healing Tide Drarcane +*241675* (O: 425480) [22:34:47.912] Vixsn Healing Tide Evilkami +251778 (O: 66692) [22:34:47.913] Vixsn Healing Tide Fox +248048 (O: 74852)
Total effective healing on Tsulong: ~1.3M (under the 500% buff). Restorative Mists wasn’t faring any better, clocking in barely over 5% of my effective healing on that first night in (which was comprised of 10 fights over 3 minutes long). That’s when I started looking at other options and considered just what I could do with the talent that Binkenstein had cautioned me against underestimating at the start of the expac. So, I swapped out my beloved HTT and shortly thereafter made a discovery that made me giddy:
- Not only do Ancestral Guidance and Restorative Mists duplicate the Shaman’s active-cast heals, Ancestral Guidance will proc off of EVERY Restorative Mists heal as well.
So, when I started popping Ancestral Guidance and Restorative Mists at the same time, this started happening:
[23:31:02.859] Vixsn Restorative Mists Holytyg +129657 (O: 167860) [23:31:02.859] Vixsn Restorative Mists Evilkami +0 (O: 297517) [23:31:02.859] Vixsn Restorative Mists Beast +0 (O: 297517) [23:31:03.140] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Tsulong +119007 [23:31:03.187] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Hitpoints +52069 (O: 66938) [23:31:03.187] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Destrian +0 (O: 119007) [23:31:03.500] Vixsn Ancestral Awakening Tsulong +1775652 [23:31:03.500] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Tsulong +119006 [23:31:03.500] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Firesnake +130908 [23:31:03.500] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Nartas +95349 (O: 35559) [23:31:03.500] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Tsulong +130907
Admittedly, I got a little giddy. But what looking through the combat log for those AG attempts didn’t tell me was how the interplay of direct heals (HS, GHW, RT, HR, etc.), Restorative Mists and Ancestral Guidance was actually working. Had I stumbled upon something worth exploring or just gotten lucky? To answer the question, I needed to take a look at the entire log for the segment of time that the CDs were active, and figure out exactly what was going on … which is exactly what I did. That spreadsheet can be found here.
What you’ll see in that spreadsheet are 3 tabs, with actual combat log events, with a ton of highlighting. What the highlighting shows is, for each heal, the trigger event (for Ascendance or Ancestral Guidance) and the resultant heal. Believe you me, it was no simple task figuring out the cause and effect of every heal. But, in going through the laborious process of trying to identify the heals that trigger AG and Restorative Mists, I inadvertently discovered three other interesting facts about the Tsulong encounter. The first of which arose when I was trying to correlate Restorative Mists’ healing with its triggers:
[23:31:01.859] Vixsn Earthliving Galapanda +0 (O: 4406) [23:31:01.906] Vixsn Healing Surge Tsulong +*5918839* [23:31:02.156] Vixsn Riptide Tsulong +*27093* [23:31:02.531] Vixsn Restorative Mists Vixsn +0 (O: 297517) [23:31:02.640] Vixsn Earthliving Tsulong +5425 [23:31:02.687] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Solique +275033 (O: 2092503) [23:31:02.687] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Kynks +209139 (O: 2158397) [23:31:02.687] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Amati +169608 (O: 2671434) [… Series of Restorative Mists heals …] [23:31:03.140] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Tsulong +119007 [23:31:03.187] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Hitpoints +52069 (O: 66938) [23:31:03.187] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Destrian +0 (O: 119007)
In looking at the above excerpt, (which I edited to exclude 21 lines of Restorative Mists healing to make the review easier), you can see that my first heal to trigger Ancestral Guidance is the 5.9M Healing Surge critical strike. It occurs at 31:01 and the three resulting AG procs occur 1 second later at 31:02. But, the next heal to trigger Ancestral Guidance isn’t the Riptide tick that immediately follows the HS, but rather the Restorative Mists heal that occurs just shortly thereafter, meaning:
- Ancestral Guidance will only proc from heals that are actively cast during its duration; existing hots like Riptide and Earthliving will not be duplicated. This includes Healing Rain.
This is notably different than the functionality of Restorative Mists, which will duplicate all healing done (except totems) during the buff duration, including hots which were applied before Ascendance was activated. This is one of the main reasons that you should always Unleash Life + Healing Rain *before* you pop Ascendance, so that you don’t waste time casting it while your buff is active. But, as I so discovered, AG will not duplicate healing from a Healing Rain that is already placed (here’s a parse showing exactly that).
My second discovery about Ancestral Guidance came from my attempts to reconcile the number of AG procs with the number of Restorative Mists’ heals. It’s important to note, at this point, that when the game calculates the distribution of Ascendance’s healing, whereby it sums total healing done for a ~0.5 second window and then distributes that value evenly across all players in range, pets are not counted as targets. For example, assume that in a specific time frame you do 100,000 healing and there are 10 players in range, Restorative Mists would heal each player for 10,000. If there were also 4 pets in range, the heal on each player would still be 10,000 but each pet would receive 10,000 healing as well, making the total healing done by Restorative Mists 140,000 healing. (I’d suspect that this is to prevent healing being “wasted” on pets, were they actually included in the calc).
Now, back to attempting to reconcile Restorative Mists’ healing and AG procs. You would expect, given AG’s description and the fact that it procs from Restorative Mists, that the number of AG procs would always be [# of Restorative Mists heals on players x 3], but the problem I was coming up against during my reconciliation was that AG’s occurrences always exceeded the number of Restorative Mists heals … until I started including Restorative Mists’ pet heals in that total. Which led to my second mind-blowing discovery:
- Ancestral Guidance will proc off of Restorative Mists’ healing on pets. So free Restorative Mists healing on pets becomes even more free healing on the raid via AG.
(Again, if you’re looking for proof of this in action, check out the spreadsheet breakdown of a log from one of our kills). This is particularly noteworthy because in the Tsulong encounter, Tsulong is counted as a pet. So provided that Tsulong is in range, healing done on Tsulong by Restorative Mists will be more free AG healing on the raid.
My third discovery about Ancestral Guidance, again regarding its interaction with Restorative Mists, really served as icing on the cake during my whole log-diving experience. Per my example above in which the 100,000 healing is distributed among 10 players, making the total healing per player 10,000, a reasonable person would expect to see those exact values in the combat logs. But, if you go into your combat log, you’ll see something a little bit off–Restorative Mists’ healing done on Warlocks, Feral Druids, and Hunters is always more than the amount applied to other targets. For Warlocks and Hunters, the heal is always 10% more, while for feral druids, the heal is always 20% more. So for example:
[23:31:02.812] Vixsn Restorative Mists Tsulong +297517 [23:31:02.812] Vixsn Restorative Mists Roxy +0 (O: 327269) [23:31:02.812] Vixsn Restorative Mists Solique +0 (O: 297517) [23:31:02.843] Vixsn Restorative Mists Odas +189671 (O: 167350)
Using the heal on Tsulong as a base, you would expect all other players to have the same 297,517 heal applied. But Roxy, who is a hunter, received 327,269 (= 297,517 x 1.1), and Odas, who is a feral druid, received 357,021 (=297,517 x 1.2). Solique, a Resto Druid, has no incoming healing buff and thus receives the same amount as Tsulong. This is noteworthy because when attempting to balance Restorative Mists’ healing with the trigger heals, the “buffed” healing that these classes received is not factored in to the total, making that additional healing “free” healing done.
Which is the basis for the third discovery about AG:
- Ancestral Guidance’s healing is based on the amount that Restorative Mists actually heals for, including class-specific healing bonuses. And AG’s heal will double-dip into that bonus, increasing the heal a second time when the AG heal lands.
So for example, take the following combat log events:
[23:31:03.500] Vixsn Ancestral Awakening Tsulong +1775652 [23:31:03.875] Vixsn Earthliving Kynks +0 (O: 4614) [23:31:03.875] Vixsn Earthliving Fox +5736
This series of heals was summed by Ascendance and later resulted in a series of Restorative Mists heals over 20 targets. Since the total healing done from the above was 1,786,002 / 20 targets, you would expect that each Restorative Mists heal would be for ~89,300. But, in those Restorative Mists heals, most of which were for 89,300, was also the following heal:
[23:31:04.812] Vixsn Restorative Mists Amati +0 (O: 107161)
Demonstrating the effects of ferals’ +20% healing received. This Restorative Mists heal, later in the combat log, results in a corresponding heal from AG, which you would naturally expect to be (107,161 x 0.4 = 42,864). But here are those 3 lines:
[23:31:05.562] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Tsulong +42864 [23:31:05.562] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Palmz +0 (O: 47151) [23:31:05.562] Vixsn Ancestral Guidance Cazodor +0 (O: 47151)
So again, you can see the AG heal again benefiting from the +10% to warlocks (Palmz) and hunters (Cazodor), effectively letting AG double-dip into plus healing on those select classes. (Pretty neat, right?!)
All of these things combined means that AG + Ascendance can pump out a ton of healing in a very short window, should the right conditions (like those I mentioned in the first section) be in place.
Healing Tide, Dethroned
The ultimate effect of this perfect storm, created by the functional nuances of Ancestral Guidance, Restorative Mists, and the Tsulong encounter, was that I was able to pump out a whopping 17 million healing from Ancestral Guidance on last week’s kill, which made it my second overall contributor to healing done. This is in comparison to the maybe 4 million I could have eked out with Healing Tide, given the same conditions. And although the side-by-side comparison of the two parses only shows a 10k HPS increase between the past two weeks, when you dial down to the details of Ancestral Guidance’s performance within a ~25 sec window and then compare the two parses, you can see the potential gains much more clearly:
In the end, I think that’s what excites me the most about all of the above discoveries and log diving. It’s not that I think Resto Shaman should, en masse, ditch Healing Tide and set about figuring out how to maximize Ancestral Guidance on every encounter, because I absolutely concede that the conditions present in HM Tsulong won’t be experienced again, together, any time soon. We may see traces of them crop up in later tiers in other healer-centric fights. But the point here is that AG has potential, and a lot of it under the right conditions. And to me, that’s a wonderful thing. I’m excited to see something shake up our perspective of a tier which seemed so set in stone and remind Resto Shaman that our class still has a few tricks up its sleeve.