Monday, August 23, 2010

Gimme some Mana Back!

I shall make no doubt about this: Merinna is a restoration shaman. I levelled this char from the very beginning as resto (long before I realized how difficult that could be). Whenever new patch notes come out, or the big changes are announced, I always skip past everything else to read the shaman-- the resto shaman-- section first.

Once it became an option, I dual-specced elemental, which has been fun too. But at the bottom of it all, Merinna's mission in life is to spread life, to a tank or whoever else may need it inside a raid group.

So, bearing in mind that I barely know what I'm talking about outside of healing and chucking lightning at things from time to time, when it comes time to really examining class dynamics, I probably will not stray too far from where I feel at home :D

I think it is a little hard to talk about this stuff without it sounding a lot like QQ. I think most players want everything about their class to stay exactly the same as it was, with a few buffs of course to make what they are already doing more mighty. Especially this time around as the Cataclysm is coming, the developers have definitely come up with new ideas about all this. So it's up to us to adapt as best we can.

So let's talk about ways to get mana return!

Focused Insight and Telluric Currents -  Developers said they were going to give all healing classes some sort of mana back talents. They evidently think healers should do some pewpew as well, so for Shamans they came up with these two talents.

Telluric Currents is going to be the easier of these two to deal with, I think. Mostly, you should be able to ignore the problem of trying to hurt a boss unless you are close to OOM, and then fire a few lightning bolts and this ought to reflect some pretty good mana return. Lightning bolts are cheap and the damage they do is several thousand hp at the least, so you can count on a couple of thousand mana return. And this is based on Level 80 stats. It should get even better as you level and get better gear. The only limitation will be hit rating (or the lack thereof on your healing gear) that could result in some misses. Nothing like firing off a bolt hoping for some mana from the damage back that only results in a miss, and less mana than you had before

Focused Insight is bugging me however. The mana savings is pretty negligible, 75% of a shock's mana cost is like 30% of a chain heal. With the CD on a shock spell (generally about 6 seconds) I don't think you'll be able to use this fast enough to really make any serious dent on mana consumption.  But I think to maximize your healing throughput, with that 30% buff to next heal, you'll want to use this as often as possible.

Targeting a boss, shocking him and then targeting somebody to heal is out of the question however.  That is two global cooldowns plus time to mouse around targeting stuff. And I don't think that 30% buff to your next heal is going to really compensate giving up a GCD to do so.

What's more, I think it's very unlikely that the bosses are going to be tuned to the point that healer dps will be the deciding factor in raid victory or not.  There are times when it pays to shock things, but that's going to be a limited circumstance mechanic and it doesn't justify the allocation of three crappy talent points, if you ask me.

But I am a fan of macro-ing stuff together and have been thinking that attaching a Wind Shear to the target of my target with a commonly used heal spell may be the way to go.  I think it'll be pretty unlikely that you would interrupt much of anything with your wind shear (timing your heal to interrupt a bad guy's spell seems like a bad idea), but since Wind Shear is off the GCD, you can do all this with one button, and um... reduce your aggro as well. Whoopee.

I think the macro will look something like this:
#showtooltip Chain Heal
/script UIErrorsFrame:RegisterEvent("UI_ERROR_MESSAGE")
/cast [@targettarget,harm,nodead] Wind Shear
/cast Chain Heal

(this macro will target your target's target and cast Wind Shear and then Chain Heal on your target. If your target's target is friendly or dead, it will skip the Wind Shear. The /script line is to prevent the "THAT SPELL IS NOT READY!" or "INVALID TARGET" blahblah that comes out, so you can just keep pressing this button and casting chain heal without worrying if the CD is up and not get irritated because most of the time it isn't.)

There's a funny thing about "class balance."  Ghostcrawler says that there are a lot of things going on to affect class balance but one of them is the need to make the best use of all your class mechanics. For example, the Shaman Water Shield is not "a bonus" to mana regeneration... it's part of what every healing shaman needs to keep up with the other healing classes.  If you don't use your mana shield as intended, you'll OOM and be a sucky healer.  Bad Shaman! Bad! No biscuit!

We have to assume that the developers intend the same with Focused Insight here: Shamans will need to get that 30% healing buff as much as possible in order to keep up with the other classes. A healer who doesn't make use of it is going to start falling behind the other healers.

So finally, if we're just throwing away a wind shear to get a heal buff, all we have here is what I would consider an unwanted complication to my healing rotation, and another CD to keep track of. I'd rather they just gave us a buff to heal and forget about all this shocking stuff crap.  I'd hate it if this was Ghostcrawler's idea of a "fun" talent.

The other possibility that I'm not really breaching here is that they have changed the paradigm of healing significantly, that healers really will have time (and the need) to dps in the midst of challenging content.  That would be kinda cool. I don't particularly enjoy having to spam heals repeatedly. But I think the developers would say pretty clearly if that was the plan. And they haven't.

Needless to say, we have to wait and see what these really look like in the end. But for now... Bleah! I say, Bleah!

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