Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shaman Heals: T-minus Two Months and Counting

Well, we are getting really close now. A date has been announced and even more jarringly, Patch 4.0 is probably just around the corner ("around the corner" = "next week") How is Shaman Healing coming along?

Healing feels sluggish. Heals are smaller than on live, and they have overall longer cast times. Characters also have much larger health pools than they did before, so it's fairly common to drop around a 15k heal on someone and it barely seems to make their health bar move. The fact that most of my recent experience has been in ICC with a 30% buff probably makes all this feel worse than it really is.

Focused Insight
Sigh. There's no avoiding this talent. A 30% buff to a heal is just too large to ignore. But I don't think it is going to be featured in standard rotation. The logistics of it are just too unwieldy. Shamans also have no lack of spells we can cast that have buff effects on the next spell. Unleashed Elements buffs 20%. Tidal Waves leaves behind haste buffs. Riptide creates all sorts of bonus goodness when used next to a chain heal. So, keeping all these short-CD, augmentation effects in constant play is probably going to be an overwhelming juggling experience.

It has also been discovered that Wind Shear will not procc Focused Insight, so my previously stated plan to macro Wind Shear to a heal is not going to play. Damn. I thought I was being pretty clever there.

One good way to use this one, though, would be to stack the effects of Focused Insight and Unleashed Elements for a 69% buff on the next heal (according to Elitist Jerks). That would produce a very hefty heal if it could be coordinated to a dangerous moment for a tank on a routine timer

Telluric Currents
Blargh. Until you outgear the content and just can't stand not pressing your lightning button, there is no point in taking this talent. Mana return is totally negligible, and the stated intent of this talent is not to help us generate mana but instead to help us feel less guilty about lightning tosses. Thanks, but no thanks. We can do a lot better putting two talent points almost anywhere else. We shall revisit this talent later on in the expansion to see how much difference gear scaling has made, but in the meantime, Telluric Currents, you are dead to me.

Healing Surge
I decided that they changed the name of our old go-to heal bomb to try and help wean us off it. Healing Surge is about as fast as it ever was, and it should usually crit, especially when you have been using Riptide. So, it generally produces more healing, more efficiently than the new middle heal, Healing Wave. (in fact, I'm sort of pissed off that they would make the "fast heal" actually have more base healing than the slower heal) And then there is the exorbitant, absurdly over-the-top mana cost of ever using it.

It feels like an emergency-only heal now. Maybe not as big an emergency as a Nature Swiftness-infused emergency, but still, if I hit the Surge button more than two or threes times, then I see huge chunks of my mana falling away.

This right here is the main problem for that "sluggishness" I expressed up top. With Lesser Healing Wave/Healing Surge sort of turned into a different sort of heal than it was before, They made the new Healing Wave our "main heal" But they also made it significantly weaker than what we had before. And not by a little bit...these numbers are quite significant. Add the much larger health pools than we have had before and it's a whole new game.

This represents a big change in what Shaman healers can expect in Cataclysm and it will take some getting used to.

In Conclusion
I think us resto Shaman have our work cut out for us going ahead. And I think we may be getting back to where the weight of running 5-man dungeons falls much more heavily on the shoulders of tank and healer, like it did before Wrath of the Lich King. Healing priorities and effective triage are going to be more important than before, and I just can't stress enough that we're going to really have to watch our mana.

I'm trying not to call out "The sky is falling!" but I feel much less prepared for the challenges than before

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