Last week, we talked a little bit about our incoming cooldown, Spirit Link Totem. The spell has been something we have been looking for since the days of early Wrath of the Lich King. The new cooldown offers us some very nice flexibility and a new ability to deal with certain mechanics we either couldn't deal with or had a rather difficult time dealing with before.
In the last couple of weeks, I've received quite a few questions regarding shaman healing in heroics, PvP, and even overall class design. I thought today I would take a few moments and answer some reader email before the big patch, 4.1, is released and reaches live servers.
A professional opinion
Wanna pop a question for ya. It's been a lot of talk about builds but my question is more about perks. With the new 85 cap how will professions balance out for all the trees? What new perks will be the strongest, f.ex. restoration from engineering etc? And how does archaeology benefit us in pvp and raiding? As far as i have read not much on that topic. Have a good one m8y!
Hulk, professions are something that gets looked at not only every expansion, but also every major content patch. There is a lot of theorycrafting done to determine which profession gives us the edge in various circumstances, be it PvP or PvE. Here are my thoughts on the topic. Overall, I think that the following professions offer us the best PvE boost: alchemy, jewelcrafting and blacksmithing.
Alchemy allows access to Mixology, which grants you a larger duration on elixirs and flasks. This gives you a better bang for your buck every single time you step into a raid and pop a flask. It doubles the time on flasks like Flask of the Draconic Mind and Flask of Flowing Water, and it will even affect the duration of flasks gained from the Cauldron of Battle and the Big Cauldron of Battle. That bonus alone is quite useful, especially when the average raiding night for most people is around 3 hours. With this perk, you will only have to pop one flask to see you through your raiding night.
Jewelcrafting allows you access to some very useful gems. If you choose jewelcrafting, you get the chance to transform Chimera's Eyes into some very useful cuts. Brilliant Chimera's Eye, Quick Chimera's Eye and Sparkling Chimera's Eye are a few examples of what you will gain access to with this profession. Jewelcrafting allows you the ability to fill the gaps in stats that you may be missing on gear as you gather it. If you find yourself short on spirit, intellect or any other number of stats, you can easily cover the spread.
Along those same lines, blacksmithing allows you to add two additional sockets to your bracers and your gloves. The ability to add sockets to gear that may not normally have sockets is pretty nice and, when combined with jewelcrafting, can give you quite a boost.
Leatherworking and enchanting are also very useful, with things like Draconic Embossment and Ring Enchants. Honestly, all of the professions have at least something to offer a healing shaman.
Archaeology does more than just give us some flavor pieces and has a few things to offer us as far as raiding and PvP goes -- namely, Ring of the Boy Emperor and Tyrande's Favorite Doll. If you're lucky enough to get either of these in your travels through Azeroth, you will be in a good spot. Both of these items compare well with our trinkets and rings obtained through valor points, raiding or heroics. With news that the developers at Blizzard are looking to add new items to archaeology over time, the number of useful items for restoration shaman may increase over time. Hope that answers your question!
On class design and healing
In your opinion, does something fell off about restoration shaman class design? Do you think when the shaman class was redesigned for Cataclysm that the developers may have missed some things along the way? I don't know about you, but healing just feels off when compared to other healers. Do you think that's why the class has received so many changes lately, and more in the incoming patch?
Honestly, D, I think that when Cataclysm was first released, restoration shaman wound up in a much different place than the developers at Blizzard originally intended. While our healing style was what they were really going for as the model for Cataclysm healing, it was more our numbers that they weren't happy with. This led to various changes such as Purification getting boosted and Chain Heal getting buffed. Restoration shaman numbers have steadily improved and are starting to come into line with the other healers, but that is much different than having missed anything in the actual class design; rather, it's more about fine tuning balancing than anything else.
Our new Spirit Link Totem is something that has been talked about for several years now. The idea that shaman needed a defensive cooldown is nothing recent and is something that the developers at Blizzard have been trying to work in since Wrath of the Lich King was in its beta phases. The problem was that until recently, there was really no good way to work it in amongst our tools. I don't think any of it boils down to that they missed things in the class design; it's more of a growing pains thing. Over the years, shaman healing has gone through these cycles. As content changed and evolved, our roles within the raid or group as healers was affected. Right now, I think we're just seeing more rebalancing rather than flat-out character redesign -- after all, we aren't in Sunwell anymore.
How good is 4.1, really?
Will patch 4.1 really make a big difference as far as shaman healing is concerned? Will the changes actually benefit us or will they be made moot by the time the Firelands raids are released? Are all these changes really going to matter as more content is released? Will Spirit Link Totem actually make a difference in our usefulness in raids and heroics?
Tom, patch 4.1 is going to be quite good for restoration shaman as a whole. I've recently been able to get into a few raid groups with some very geared healers, and our numbers (at least right now) are very competitive. We're in an okay place when the patch hits, and I don't think that it's something that will be made moot or lessen as new content is released. We're growing as healers overall, and any buffs we get along the way are more than just temporary fixes; they are attempts to balance us against other healers with future content in mind.
Will we not see any further tweaks to our healing throughout the expansion? That I don't know, but I do know that the developers at Blizzard have been doing a fantastic job hotfixing spells and abilities very quickly. Things that we used to have to wait for major content patches for are fixed with an overnight fix and a server restart. If anything does need to change in future content, I'm confident it will be delivered quickly.
As far as Spirit Link Totem is concerned, I'm in love with the spell. Knowing when to use it and how to use it has made a big difference in the PTR groups I've run with. It's an incredibly useful tool and one that I think most shaman are pretty happy with receiving. The mechanics of the spell are different enough when compared to the other healers' defensive cooldowns, and it honestly does nothing but improve our usefulness to the raid and group. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised when you get your hands on it in a live environment.
I hope that has answered some of your questions, but if you still have questions you need answered, feel free to email me. Until next time, happy healing!
Totem Talk: Restoration will show you the basics of endgame resto shaman play as well as how to find the expansion's best reputation gear for resto shaman and tips for easier leveling. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!