Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to Resto, Post - Patch 4.1

Wait! Where's mah mace?
It's been several months now since I really evaluated what I wanted to do with my specc for Cataclysm, and the fact is that so much has changed in these months. Co-efficients have been rejiggered, new abilities designed, other abilities redesigned. So, it's time to take another look at stuff.

A few quick points that will have more detail below:
  • Deep Healing mastery was pretty lackluster for resto in its initial design but the numbers for Deep Healing have been significantly increased and now also include indirect healing effects.  This makes it worth another look.
  • Focused Insight has fallen out of favor for PvE.
  • Telluric Currents remains contentiously debated. 
  • Wind Shear no longer misses, making us lean, mean, interrupting machines. Make no mistakes about this: wind shear is the best interrupt in the game. Best. In. Game. Suck on that, rogues.
  • Spirit Link Totem would be great if other players would stop running away from it.

Deep Healing
Patch 4.06 saw some nice gains in in our mastery numbers, but I don't think it really switched out of the "bad" column until this last week when 4.1 enabled indirect heals (like Chain Heal jumps or Ancestral Awakening) to also be affected by Deep Healing.  That said, I don't see consensus at places like Elitist Jerks suggesting that we should replace our current stats with more mastery. Shamans procc many beautiful things when we crit. Haste is the main stat to increase our throughput, so if you are not sucking wind on mana regen, I think reforging that stuff into mastery might be a worthwhile experiment. Though, you should immediately undo this if you get OOM problems.

One other key features of Deep Healing though is that you really don't get as much out of it unless your party is close to death. If you can mostly keep your party's health over the 50% mark, mastery is really not going to do much for you, and I think current content fits this model. When the Firelands raids get here, however, things may change and DH may be worth piling on.

So, for now, Deep Healing may not fit your play style, but if it does, replace spirit carefully to see if it piles on some more resto goodness.

Focused Insight
The math for Focused Insight just flat out shows a loss in healing per second (HPS) and healing per mana (HPM). The ability to charge a heal can be pretty handy and has particularly interesting results when used to charge Healing Rains or Chain Heal, to a lesser extent.

The thing is... Unleashed Elements does all of this too, and you don't have to blow three talent points use that spell.  UE reportedly also has the ability to be double dipped if you shoot an instant-cast heal before you cast the non-instant heal that really gets the bulk of the UE effect.

I'm too lazy to go back into my archives here to last summer when I expressed my disinterest in having two mechanics that basically did the same thing. It's a shame that it all played out this way still.

Telluric Currents
Wow, if you wanna see a debate that really has no end, go read some forums about Telluric Currents.

On one hand, you have shamans who say you must be a lazy bastard if you can't find the chance to toss some lightning in a number of raid fights in current content.

On the other hand, you have shamans who refer to the alleged mana-neutrality of the ability and state that any raid that's really counting on the 0.2% damage that a healer could contribute with TC probably deserves to wipe.

Both sides argue repeatedly about the mana returns they can get out of TC but none of it is very scientific, so I just go with developers' statement of purpose for the ability: that it was not meant to be a mana-recharge ability, it was just supposed to help you feel less guilty if you really want to throw some lightning in your down time.

None of this is really new. I just think it's funny that this debate STILL rages on as hard as it does.

Spirit Link Totem
Our new major CD ability in 4.1 has so much potential for fun and goodness... and yet so much frustration with it as well.  It's just tragic when you drop your totem, the mage blinks away, the DK runs around to the far side of the boss and outside of the 10 yard range, and the hunter won't come stack with the group no matter how hard you beg. ("Need moar dps!")

This is going to take player education, and realistically, it's going to be hard to implement anywhere except in raid groups where people are conscientiously paying attention to their movements. It's just beyond the average PuG to be expected to be able to stack anywhere on anything. Like I said, tragic.

I think I may need to sort of change my perspective on this ability: rather than use it as an ability to defray massive AoE, it may be better to use it to save the tank's butt when he's getting beaten for big damage. In that regard it's more like Guardian Spirit than say, Power Word: Barrier.

Wind Shear
Like every other  interrupt in the game, Wind Shear is no longer dependent on hit rating. It just always lands, as of Patch 4.1.  Unlike every other interrupt in the game, Windshear has the fastest CD, and can be done at range (not great range, like, at the max range or our healing abilities. But still, we don't have to be standing next to a boss either.) Thus, resto shaman can now bring the best interrupt around to bear on stuff that needs to be stopped.

That said, it's a pain in the butt to retarget a boss or a mob when you are busy healing the people in your party. DPS still have an advantage over healers this way, in that they are almost always targeting the bad guys while we are targetting them. As a result, we don't see the bad guy cast bars usually.

But there are some ways around this: It won't help for trash mobs in general, but Deadly Boss Mods will usually call out warnings for boss abilities that can/should be interrupted.

So try this macro:
#showtooltip Wind Shear
/cast [@focus,harm,nodead][@target,harm,nodead][@focustarget,harm,nodead][@targettarget,harm,nodead] Wind Shear
It will target your target's target in most cases, or it will target your focus if your focus is hostile. Or if you do actually take your eyes of the cast bar and put them on a bad guy, it will target them.

As a result, whenever you get that (dis)chord of alarm from DBM, just punch this macro. It will stop whatever else you were casting and direct that wind shear onto ... something. Personally, I always have a tank set as a focus target, and the tank should just about always be looking at the most dangerous mob out there, so my wind shears hit what I want them to hit about 99% of the time.

But this doesn't work for trash mobs, like temple adepts in the Vortex Pinnacle who do mega heals every few seconds. If you are not targeting and observing their cast bars, then you can't really know when to throw the wind shear. Some DPS players say I should focus on the mob, but they don't appreciate how my focus is already occupied so I tend to say to them that those kinds of mobs are still their problem.

All this Wind Shear analysis aside, when was the last time a shaman, any shaman, was assigned interrupt duties?  Not to sound pissy, but it's like this is the secret ability no other class knows about. I can't count the time I've been in a serious fight and the tank, rogue and DK are dividing up interrupts. "I'll take the first interrupt, then rogue go second and then DK." I just want to clear my throat and say, "Or, I could just take all of them?" but usually I don't because I don't want the melee to feel bad about themselves.

But that said too, interrupting a major boss ability is a low mana solution to something that can make big big trouble for a healer if allowed to go off. Think of it as "The best way to heal the damage is to not let it happen in the first place."


  1. Sigh. I write everything here and then see new patch notes for the PTR where they are fiddling around with our mana regen via water shield and decreasing the power of mana tide. I'm getting so sick of class changes I could spit.