Restoration Shaman: 3.0.2

24 10 2008

  Since the debut of 3.0.2, I’d wager that the character I’ve logged the most playtime on is Manchego, my Shaman. A lot of this is due to the newness of it all; I haven’t even had her for more than about 4 months yet, after all! Much of it is functional, too. I’ve been able to get into a lot of regular runs with her because, well – everyone is always “LF 1M Healer, pst”.

  I never had any designs on speccing her other-than-Resto once I hit 70, as my primary driver for her was to establish a full-time healer. That said, I’ll cop to my experience prior to the patch being limited to a far shorter timeframe than the average player, so I recognize that my small sample size may inordinately skew my opinion of pre vs post 3.0.2.

  Right now, she’s specced as 0/5/56. I wish I could link this from work in a neat and tidy form, but you’ll have to settle for the longhand version here: http://microarmory.com/talents.php?r=Skywall&n=Manchego if you’d like to view it. More or less, I’m test driving all of the new stuff that we’ve been given to play with. Some things, like Focused Mind and Nature’s Guardian, are items that I’ll implement by 80. There may be items currently displayed that I’ll rotate out, though I’ll have to really data mine some Raid Reports before I do so (if I remove any at all, which is the more likely scenario). Ancestral Awakening comes to mind as one, as it would appear to be somewhat underwhelming at present. This is likely due to the fact that the majority of Shaman healing relates to spamming Chain Heal, and the necessary spells to proc the talent aren’t being used frequently enough. Should the dynamic change to the point where more single-target healing is done, though – then this is definitely a talent that makes sense.

  Anyhow, my early opinion of a few things Resto:

 – The glyphs are great, and they’re going to get better. I’m using 2 major ones right now, one for Healing Stream Totem (kind of by default, really) and one for Water Shield. The Water Shield one is fantastic as it allows 30% more passive mana regeneration from Water Shield – from 50 MP5 up to 65. That’s a sizable amount by any reckoning. I still need to get the minor one for one more Water Shield orb, but I’m irrationally cheap about paying for glyphs to date. Once the Healing Wave glyph (heal caster for 20% of total) and Chain Heal (heals up to 4 targets instead of 3) Glyphs hit, that’s going to be major.

  – Riptide, the 51 point talent, is proving to be fairly useful. Along the lines of any other HoT, it’s a nice buffer to have. It’s also the only thing that you can cast on the run without popping Nature’s Swiftness. Whether it’s got enough to it for significant Arena viability, I don’t know. It has proven very useful, in conjunction with Earthshield, as a good initial buffer on fights that require time to get into position – the kind where the tank runs in, you run in after him, and before you get to your position he’s going to require some kind of a heal. Initially, the boost to it that triggers from Chain Healing is noticeable. I find myself, in the process of raid healing, frequently shifting my focus off the tank after setting Riptide, most often in situations where I need to drop a Chain Heal into a different raid group to mitigate splash damage. When my next Chain Heal comes back onto the tank and his group, the 25% bonus that Riptide triggers is noticeable, and the “catch-up” kind of proc really helps me to stay on top of the fight. I’m curious if there will be ways, be it through Glyph or talent, to reduce the 6 second cooldown someday. If it was spammable, though – it’d be Lifebloom in reverse, so I know that’s not going to happen. Also helpful when you have a bit of a run from place to place, as something to drop on the move to top off between pulls, or for Warlocks who are Life Tapping.

  – Earthliving Weapon. I’m a little bit torn here, in a way, but the decision is ultimately pretty easy given the awesome spellpower of the buff. I used to run with the 14 MP5 mana oil all of the time. Due to the fact that this overwrites it, it’s one or the other now – so I gain raw healing power for an MP5 tradeoff. The problem is, as gear gets higher, there seems to be more and more of said tradeoff occurring, be it MP5 for + Spellpower or MP5 for Haste. Ultimately, it’s just too much to pass on, especially with the chance to proc the Earthliving HoT. The amount of Spellpower granted by this is greater than having an additional Essence Focuser added to your gear somehow. Serious business.

  – Tidal Waves. Again, I don’t do much besides spam Chain Heal. Sometimes, though, you’ll pop off that heal and see a single raid target that can use a little more loving, either because they had lower initial health, or took a spike while you were casting. It doesn’t justify another Chain Heal to get the job done, just a Healing Wave of some sort to bring them up to level with the group. With the haste proc off this talent, you can deliver that heal – especially a Lesser Healing Wave – in little more than a GCD worth of time. Very, very helpful for all of those times that you find your heals spooling for too long before they deploy, as it cuts the cast time by an almost unfair amount.

  – Cleanse Spirit. Easy to overlook the small change here, but it’s a big thing for raid composition, especially in 10-mans. As you’re likely aware, curses and their removal used to be the province of Druids and Mages. There was a time when, for a Druid to do it, they’d have to come out of Tree of Life – but that has thankfully been remedied. Mages? A risky proposition at best, most of them are going to be far more focused on DPS and CC needs than decursing and as such make an unreliable source of healing assistance at best. Now, there’s a lovely little raid catch-all, much like Paladins get. No need to waste a GCD on decurse and then another affliction, this is one-stop shopping. If the only Druid in the raid happens to be your Feral Tank, or there aren’t any Mages handy – your friendly neighborhood Resto Shammy can do it instead. I don’t feel like this is particularly stealing from the niche roles of other classes to add this, as decursing has always been in short supply and – frankly – most Druids hate to waste the GCD, especially if they’re rolling several Lifebloom stacks.

  – Improved Water Shield. I have not specced this yet, but I intend to test drive it soon to see how I feel. On the plus side, this more or less functions similarly to the Fire Mage talent Master of Elements, whereby criticals will refund a portion of mana to the caster. The difference to the Water Shield being twofold – your mana return is not measured as a fractional portion of the spell (meaning that procs from a Lesser Healing Wave cast are thereby more efficient), and the source of the procs is depletable. Now, I’m still something of a Shamanoob, so I miss things that more seasoned totem-slingers think of as old hat, but I know this: if my Water Shield gets depleted in combat and I fail to notice it and immediately renew it, I’m crippling my mana return to the point that I’m going to go OOM – or dangerously close – before I can notice to recover. Additionally, a more intensive, chain-casting fight also allows less time to burn that GCD and renew the Water Shield (though I think this is a far less prominent mechanic than it is with other classes, like Druids, who may not have a GCD to give without borking their rotations). Still, there may be something to the constant infusion from the charges, more so in conjunction with the aforementioned minor glyph. I’ll likely try it out for Kara this weekend so that I have a relaxed setting and good sample size.

  So, that covers the majority of the new talents and skills. As far as totems go, the changes to Wrath of Air totem now make it a flat spell haste, but the loss of raw +healing is offset by Earthliving Weapon. Mana Spring is a requirement, and I will almost always opt to place that particular totem myself even with another Shaman in the raid. Stoneskin has a new viability to it now that it’s essentially a Devotion Aura effect. Most Paladins agree that an aura other-than-Devotion is preferred when they can; the flexibility here allows this. If the raid is Pally-heavy and Devotion is going to be up by default, the new Strength of Earth would go here instead. Finally, unless you’re going to be laying some kind of damaging totem, the new Flametongue Weapon totem isn’t half bad anymore and will help to up your raid DPS. It’s definitely the least of my concerns when placing totems, as there is no benefit to me as a healer – but it’s a helpful slot that was typically not filled by anything but empty space before.

  I do wish that Mana Tide had a little bit more kick to it than 24% over 12 seconds. When you look at how much mana return a Druid or Priest can receive via Innervate, it’s small potatoes. Given that Spirit is a wasted stat for a Shaman healer outside of the remote chance of an Innervate, and the one potion per fight mechanics now, it’s trying at times to recover mana by a method other than depleting Water Shield charges, or twiddling your thumbs without casting. Additionally, most of the time that I place a Mana Tide totem is in response to raid needs instead of my own. If they were to up it, say 25% from a base of 6% mana every 3 seconds to 8%, I think that would make a huge difference. I’m not really holding out for a hero here, though.

  One last thing, be careful about your gear. You’ll probably find yourself leaning away from raw healing and towards MP5 whenever possible in your gem and enchant choices as there are an increasing number of higher-end pieces that lack MP5, or don’t pack enough (frequently in favor of spell haste). While haste is your friend ( I’m currently at ~10.2 % without any buffs, and the difference is very noticeable in throughput), an OOM caster is worthless. Do your best to balance accordingly when you get your new shinies!

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