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Totem Talk: Prelude to restoration's new talents

Want to be a sultan of swing healing? A champion of Chain Heal? Totem Talk: Restoration will show you how, brought to you by Joe Perez, otherwise known as Lodur from World of Matticus and the For The Lore podcast.

Back at the beginning of April, we were treated to the Cataclysm preview for all of the classes. Many people were excited, some were disappointed, but everyone had news to digest. This past week has seen the Cataclysm friends and family alpha start and since then, we have seen a plethora of leaks: everything from images of the changes to old zones and new instances up to some data-mined information about female worgen. Needless to say, it has been a pretty busy week.

This last week has also seen a lot of discussion about the leaked talent trees as they are in the alpha now. I thought now would be a good time to take a break from boss talks to talk about what we know so far about the shaman talent trees and maybe find out your opinions on them as well.

The information in the link above is leaked and is in no way official. If you are waiting for an official release or don't want to see any potential spoilers, don't click the link. Otherwise let us take a look at some of the potential changes.

When I first looked at the leaked restoration talent tree, I was a bit surprised. I had expected more restructuring and more changes than we we currently see. As with everything though, this will be subject to change. This is leaked information, it may not be 100% accurate and even if it is, we are still in an alpha phase. Things will change, and until Blizzard says that things are final and presents them to us, it is best to keep an open mind when looking at the information.

What we know so far
  • Some of the talents have been moved around.
  • Tidal Mastery has been removed.
  • Thundering Strikes has been removed.
  • Cleanse Spirit has been removed as a talent. The talent is now Improved Cleanse Spirit and allows for the removal of magic effects from friendly targets.
  • Ancestral Knowledge has been changed. Instead of increasing intellect by 10% at max rank, it now increases maximum mana by 15%.
In place of Tidal Mastery, a new talent has popped up, Focused Insight.
Focused Insight
Rank 5/5
Requires 15 points in Restoration talents
After casting any shock spell, your next heal's mana cost is reduced by 75% of the cost of the shock spell, and its healing effectiveness is increased by 25%
An interesting replacement for what used to be 5% crit rating. A few people have commented to me that they think this is purely a PvP talent. Looking at it though, I can't help but see the potential for PvE. As it stands now, Riptide increases the healing effectiveness of Chain Heal by 25% when it is cast on the a player with Riptide on them. One would assume that these could potentially stack, allowing for even larger chain heals, but also this can be used for larger Healing Waves and, in Cataclysm, larger Greater Healing Wave. I can also see this talent playing very nicely with Tidal Force, and even Shamanistic Focus could begin finding its way into talent specs. The other part of it that really interests me is the mana reduction component. While it is true that in order to activate the talent you have to cast a shock of some kind, it could still potentially be useful. Think of some of the fights now like Festergut where you can find yourself placing a Flame Shock on the boss as you run in. This can help you recover some of the mana spent placing the DoT on the target. It also was not so long ago when we had boss fights in which we had to interrupt abilities with shocks as well, and that may see a comeback. Keep in mind, Blizzard has stated they wanted to make mana more of a commodity, and something like this can go a long way to help in fights where you are forced to do something else and could potentially have an impact on 5-man content for us as well.

Another new addition to the restoration toolbox is Ancestral Resolve.
Ancestral Resolve
Rank 2/2
Requires 25 points in Restoration talents
Reduces damage taken while casting spells by 10%
People have told me that this one feels like a purely PvP talent as well, but again, I can see the potential for PvE here. There are a lot of fights where there is a ton of environmental damage going around in both raids and heroics. Reducing the damage we take can be quite helpful for a few reasons. Taking damage forces us to focus on our own health as much as the group we are healing. While it should not be the case, diverting our attention from our healing targets even momentarily can sometimes result in their deaths. A lot of healers also suffer from tunnel vision. Sometimes we become so focused on the fight or our healing targets that we do not pay enough attention to our own health. Giving us a few more seconds to keep healing our targets or to realize we are dangerously close to killing ourselves can go a long way. Think of how useful this would be in a fight like Sindragosa, where you may find yourself standing in harm's way to heal tanks. We already have Healing Focus to help reduce pushback from damage; having another ability that passively helps us heal while taking damage could be quite helpful.

So far, we have not seen any mention of talents that help augment the newly renamed Greater Healing Wave or Healing Rains. There has also been no mention of Spirit Link in the talents. Blizzard had previously mentioned a desire to bring Spirit Link back, but has not yet specified in what capacity they were going to try it.

Speculation

While it is true that this is still early information at best, I suspect we are going to see a few things happen from here. First, I think that there will be actual consolidation within the tree. Currently, many of the talents we have already come to know and love are still there. They have stated that they want to add more fun, flavorful talents to the tree and fewer must-have talents, but as it stands right now, I am still seeing a lot of must-haves. With the importance of mana conservation, I am also wondering if we will see more talents changed to include some form of mana conservation or reduction in mana cost for spells.

I find the removal of 10% crit from talents falls in line with what Blizzard has said about reducing the overall healing numbers. They want it to feel more interesting and hectic in some ways. Reducing the amount of crit available to us from talents will play into this by reducing our overall healing output. This also affects any of our talents such as Ancestral Healing and Ancestral Awakening that directly benefit from a higher crit rating. Later in the expansion we may see this loss of crit compensated for with gear, but that is yet to be addressed.

So what do you think so far? What type of talents would you like to see Blizzard add to the restoration tree? What talents would you like to see them remove or consolidate? As more information becomes available, we will keep you posted and up to date. Remember to check back often.

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether you read Mike Sacco's elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Rich Maloy's enhancement edition, we have you covered.

Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

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