We talked a lot about Patch 4.1 while it was being put through its paces on the PTR and well before it ever reached live servers. Last week on Tuesday, the patch went live, and it brought with it many changes designed to further balance healing throughput, as well as give some more options to some healing classes.
This week was going to be part 2 of our Cataclysm raiding series, which we started last week with part 1. While I'm eager to lay out the rest of the tier 11 raid content, this past week does bear some reviewing before we dive back into those boss battles. The changes have generated quite a few questions, and I thought it would be a good time to answer them.
How bad was the nerf to Earth Shield?
If you missed the news, the healing of Earth Shield was effectively reduced by 20% in patch 4.1. This was a concern to a number of players, but truth be told, ES wasn't accounting for much of our healing. Most parses I dug through showed our faithful healing shield companion only accounting for somewhere between 3% and 8% total healing. After the patch, you can see that it does in fact hit for considerably less than it did before, but this is slightly offset by the change in bonus to Nature's Blessing. The talent has been changed to add an additional 3% to its healing bonus, bringing it up to 18% additional healing for your direct heals on an Earth-Shielded target. This comes in pretty handy when tank healing. To further offset the reduction to healing done, as of patch 4.1, ES is now affected by Deep Healing. It's a small consolation -- but still, it's there.
In terms of overall effectiveness, ES is still right where it was before the patch. It's still averaging between 3% and 8% of total healing done, so all that was really done with it was a little shuffling around of abilities. It makes sense, really, giving your single-target heal on the ES target a little boost and allowing it to take advantage of our mastery is actually an overall improvement.
Did changes to mastery help?
Without any hesitation, I can honestly say yes. There's something gratifying about seeing your Healing Stream Totem numbers just shoot up, especially on fights like Chimaeron when people are consistently low on health. It is not just HST or Earth Shield that gets the benefit of it; every single one of our heals gets the benefit of it. There have been noticeable jumps in Earthliving heals on low-health targets, as well as in overall performance. This is particularly useful on hard-mode encounters when players will naturally be at lower health totals, allowing you to take full advantage of your mastery. It just helps give us that much more healing overall.
That said, the change doesn't mean you should be forsaking your other stats for mastery. While it is useful and the change benefits us, the stat weight stays the same, as well as its relation to our other stats of haste, crit and intellect. With just what you're wearing now, you'll likely notice the improvement.
Resto shaman get a major cooldown
Not going to lie, I absolutely love Spirit Link Totem. This is probably the most anticipated spell and cooldown that we've ever talked about for restoration shaman. When we first said hello to SLT on the patch 4.1 PTR, we recapped the history of the spell and talked a little bit about how it worked in the new heroic tier. We looked toward the future and raiding with it. Well, the time has come, and the spell has made it to live servers -- and it is everything that was promised to us.
The new totem has been devouring encounters left and right. It has become a cooldown I look forward to using while raiding. It has a lot of potential to shape the battle scenario and gives your groups another out. It has been recently been referred to as the shaman's raid-wall, and I can understand why.
For the last week, I've received a number of emails and Twitter messages regarding the proper use of Spirit Link Totem in heroics and raids. I can understand why. It can seem a little hard to use at first look, especially for those of us who aren't used to having a cooldown of this nature from any previous experience. I thought we could talk about using it properly a little bit.
How to use Spirit Link Totem
First, let's break down what it is. The spell has four major aspects to consider.
First is that the ability is a totem and not a cast spell that you can target an area like Healing Rain. Because of this limitation, your positioning is very important when you want to cast it, as it will be placed with you as the effective center. This means that you will have to check your positioning as you move to use it.
This ties in with the second factor: It has a fixed range and duration. Without any talents, the spell has a 6-second duration with a radius of 10 yards. While it is affected by Totemic Focus and Totemic Reach, you will need to keep this in mind whenever you go to place this totem for use.
The third aspect to note is that the spell has a damage reduction component. Everyone in the target area of swirling green goodness will have their damage taken reduced by 10%. This makes for a great emergency raid button to use when you know a lot of raid-wide damage is incoming. It works regardless of the targets' health, as long as they are standing inside the area of effect, so you can use it even when everyone is at maximum health. The last part is that it redistributes health among all players inside of the area. Basically, it makes sure that everyone is at the same health percentage when it is over.
When using it, keep a couple of simple tips in mind.
- If it's a situation you've see priests use Power Word: Barrier for, it's probably a good spot for SLT.
- If many people are dangerously close to death and need to all be brought up to safe levels super quickly, it's probably a good spot for SLT.
- If there is a ton of raid damage going out and you need to soften the blow, SLT may be a good call.
- Magmaw, Maloriak and Chimaeron all come to mind as boss fights that this is very useful for. As far as specific places in raids and heroics that you can make use of it, we'll be covering that in our upcoming raiding strats.
Now for the most important question of all: How have you been enjoying patch 4.1 so far? It has been a full week since release; have you had more fun healing or less fun? Are you enjoying our new cooldown?
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!