It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than a year since we first set foot in Pandaria. But here we are at Patch 5.4, the last raid content of the expansion, finally ready to face down a Horde leader run amok. Not only is this patch introducing a massive raid instance (seriously, it’s BIG) and an entirely new zone, it also brings with it some of the most significant changes that Resto Shaman have seen in Mists. So, to get you prepped for the content to come and get you a little more familiar with the changes to your toolkit, this post will run through Spell, Glyph and Talent changes, talk a little bit (just a little!) about the Legendary cloak, and give you some solid facts about what you can expect from our super Tier 16 bonuses.
The full patch notes can be found here.
Getting the small stuff out of the way first:
- Chain Heal’s jump reduction has been removed. It will now heal 4 targets for the same base amount. This equates to a ~58% increase in base throughput (1 + 0.7 + 0.49 + 0.343 = 2.53 versus 1 x 4 = 4), before the application of Mastery.
- Riptide’s mana cost was reduced by 25%. Although not a game changer, this is a much appreciated change because it makes it less burdensome to use Glyph of Riptide to toss out hots (which will have more of an impact in Siege’s high damage and/or high movement encounters).
But the biggest changes that Resto Shaman will see are associated with Healing Rain. As of the patch, HR will function as a 6-target smart heal. So, whereas HR previously would heal all targets within its area of effect (including players, minions, and pets), HR will now smartly select and heal only 6 targets with each tick. In terms of base throughput for HR, this change is effectively a net zero adjustment, since the diminishing returns cap (set at 6 players) ensured that your total base healing from HR remained the same at any density between 6 and 25. Now, instead of suffering DR on the ticks, your HR will be limited to healing just six targets at any given time. Which means that those ticks are going to be much higher values than you might have been used to. Tack onto this a 100% bonus to HR healing, via Purification, and you can expect to see your HR hitting fairly hard.
Now, there are two additional reasons why Resto Shaman should care about this change. Firstly, HR will no longer heal pets exclusive of the target limit. In other words, pets can still be healed by HR, but they will count towards the 6-target cap. (Pre-5.4, pets in HR did not count towards the DR limit, so as not to punish the shaman for the presence of pets in raid). Unfortunately, the 6-target constraint that is being introduced as a solution to encounter lag has the unfortunate effect of eliminating the massive amount of overhealing which HR was doing on pets and minions. “Pffffft, so what?” you might say. But this is critical because … without all those pets and minions bolstering your total throughput on the raid, your Ascendance healing is going to suffer, because you have much less total healing from HR than pre-5.4. So, in Siege, expect to see your Ascendance throughput drop substantially. (My raid testing had it at 1-2M healing per use, on a stacked raid. YMMV).
The second thing that you should expect to see as a result of the change to HR is a reduction in the throughput of Earthliving and a lower uptime on Ancestral Vigor on the raid. Both of these effects are a result of the fact that HR will no longer be recording ticks on every player within the area of effect, which lowers the total number of potential occurrences. For Ancestral Vigor, while the uptime on the raid will be lower, the ultimate effect is that you’ll have that bonus HP on targets that really need it (because remember: the smart heal of HR will choose the targets with the lowest HP values, also resulting in it optimizing your Mastery a bit more! Yay Mastery!) For Earthliving, the 6-target cap will significantly reduce the overall throughput of the spell in stacked situations:
- Pre-5.4: 25 players x 7 ticks = 175 occurrences x 0.20 = 35 average procs per HR
- Post-5.4: 6 players x 7 ticks = 42 occurrences x 0.20 = 8.4 average procs per HR
So, expect to see Earthliving recording lower healing overall as a result.
** Note: Lore has confirmed via tweet that Ancestral Vigor’s duration has been increased to 30 seconds to compensate for the lower proc chance. At present, he stated that there are no plans to change Earthliving.
Shamans will receive a whole host of Glyph choices in 5.4, but buried among the frogs, spirit raptors, and compys are some Major Glyph changes that are worth noticing:
- Glyph of Riptide’s reduction on the initial heal is now only 75% (was 90%). As I mentioned above, in combination with the mana cost reduction for Riptide, this makes RT hotting a little more viable for those without the legendary meta, and it increases the already substantial throughput of this instant cast heal.
- Glyph of Chain Heal now only introduces a 2-second cooldown on CH, in exchange for 100% increased jump distance. Although this change is a 50% reduction in the cooldown, this still remains a glyph that you’re going to use only when players will never be clumped. For 25s, this will likely still be a glyph that we eschew, but in 10s I can see it being useful in fights like Paragons and Iron Juggernaut.
- Glyph of Healing Storm no longer increases the healing done by Healing Rain. Although this is a glyph that affects Enhance only, I mention it here because it means that your Enhancement Shaman in raid are not going to be able to contribute the powerful healing that they had been able to dish out in T15.
Also, I feel inclined to mention here that Glyph of Rain of Frogs does not turn your Healing Rain into a shower of Amphibians, much to my (and I’m sure, your) disappointment. Frog showers had such promise!
Talents are another area where Resto Shaman can expect some shakeup, with the big one change being:
- Healing Tide Totem is now a baseline spell for all shaman. Furthermore, for shaman in 25-man content, HTT will target 12 players (versus 5, previously), making it an incredibly potent healing cooldown. (If you do decide to align HTT with Elemental Mastery or profession/race CD’s, expect to see some pretty sizable healing from this totem).
- Rushing Streams is the new Tier 75 replacement for the spot previously occupied by HTT. Offering 115% healing on two targets, this new talent excels in situations where Resto Shaman are typically weak, namely encounters with spread players and with heavy movement. For most encounters, I would say this makes Rushing Streams the default choice. The only exception being in fights with a stacked raid, where you can make the most of Ancestral Guidance.
- Totemic Restoration has been removed and replaced with Totemic Persistence. This talent will allow you to overlap totems of the same class without destroying the existing totem. For example: if you have Mana Tide down and then your Healing Stream comes off CD, you can drop it as well without it destroying MT. While a nice convenience, Call of the Elements remains a much stronger tool in this tier, especially if you elect to run with Rushing Streams.
- Astral Shift’s CD has been reduced to 90 seconds. While this won’t put the CD on par with the likes of other major damage CDs out there (eg: Deterrence, Dispersion), more damage reduction is never a bad thing.
- Stone Bulwark totem’s initial absorb amount was increased by ~33%. Again, while it’s not a major buff, the increased initial absorb will make it more powerful to use when you know that big damage is incoming.
- Conductivity now extends the duration of your Healing Rain (instead of serving as a redistribution area of effect). With this revamped Conductivity, every HW, GHW, HS, or CH will extend the duration of your existing HR by 4 seconds. Unfortunately, Blizzard was pretty smart in recognizing that Resto Shaman would immediately set about planning for and super-charging an HR for the duration of an encounter, so you’ll be forced to re-drop HR every 40 seconds. Because of the strength of Rushing Streams and Ancestral Guidance, it’s unlikely that Conductivity will see much usage by Restos.
- Unleashed Fury will finally be a buff on the shaman and not the recipient of the Unleash Life heal. The only effect this change should have is that you’ll actually be able to use the +50% heal on the target that needs it.
Since the legendary cloak has been absolutely talked to death by just about everyone in the community, and, quite frankly, there isn’t that much to talk about in the first place, I’ll keep my comments to saying this … While you can set out to try and optimize the procs as much as possible, you’ll likely be best served just following the regular rules of healing for Resto Shaman—keeping HR down as much as possible and filling with the appropriate heals for the damage going out. Also, bear in mind that not all cloak procs are created equal (meaning: you’re likely not going to catch the EHPS of the legendary cloak on a Rejuv-the-World druid), so don’t worry about it. Remember: free healing is free healing, and it all adds up.
Fun Facts about Tier 16
Lastly, because the final tier of the expansion is almost always accompanied by some fun and powerful set bonuses (usually), I wanted to offer up some fun info about what you can expect when trading in your Tier 15 for your Titan-themed Tier 16:
2-piece (When Earth Shield heals a target, the target will gain 300% of the amount healed as an absorb):
- Your 2pc will appear on your ES target’s healing breakdown as “Nature’s Barrier” (unless Skada/Recount/WoL start recognizing this appropriately in the near future)
- Nature’s Barrier is calculated as 3x the value of the ES heal (including crits and mastery bonuses)
- Nature’s Barrier functions like an absorb (total absorb remaining will be included in the combat log), and I couldn’t find a single occurrence in any of my PTR logs where the effect fell off before being fully consumed.
- Yes, you could complain about 2pc T15’s healing contribution being variable, and you’d be right. Mileage may vary and will depend on your type of tank (high avoidance = less procs), whether you’re ESing the main tank or off tank, and how many Resto Shaman you have in raid. However, on the list of “Fights Worth Fighting about Resto Shaman Mechanics”, this one is pretty far down the list.
4-piece (Spiritwalker’s Grace will also summon a spiritual version of yourself that will mimic all cast time targeted spells for 15 sec):
- T15 4pc will summon a pet called a Spirit Champion (or a “Spirit Bro”), who will duplicate your heals during the duration of Spiritwalker’s Grace.
- Glyph of Spiritwalker’s Grace will extend your Spirit Champion’s presence by 5 seconds, which, if you’re going for maximum throughput, is going to be a good Major Glyph contender for this tier.
- Eligible Spirit Champion heals include: Chain Heal, Healing Surge, Greater Healing Wave, and Healing Wave.
- NO DUPLICATES FOR YOU: Healing Rain, Riptide (application and hot), Unleash Life, Earth Shield, Ancestral Awakening, Earthliving, Spirit of Chi Ji, Healing Stream Totem, Healing Tide Totem, and trinket procs will not be duplicated.
- Ascendance does not duplicate the healing from Spirit Champions (and visa versa). Likewise, summoning a Spirit Bro while in Ascendance will not empower your Bro with Ascendance as well. (Wouldn’t that have been OP?!)
- Ancestral Guidance does not duplicate the healing from Spirit Champions (and visa versa)
And with that, I wish you and your raid team the best of luck in Siege!