On the PTR, the latest version of patch 4.3 has gone up, and it has an interesting tag with it. Now it has the word "release" to accompany the latest build. So this means that there is a release candidate up and running, or at least what would be proposed as one. This usually indicates that we are rapidly approaching a live release and that the patch could be on servers very soon for everyone to enjoy.
So in my ongoing effort to shift the focus back into the upcoming content and what lies ahead for restoration shaman, today we're going to be focusing on what will likely be the first new content you explore in the latest patch, the new 5-man dungeons. Action, excitement ... a restoration shaman craves these things.
Outside of the norm
As a healer, you're probably used to more or less just watching the health bars of your targets in heroics and dungeons, focusing on healing them through the encounters. Sometimes we don't get a chance to really see the encounters or participate in another capacity other than flat-out healing. Some dungeons in Cataclysm have allowed us the leeway to do other things though, such as Blackrock Caverns with fights like Corla, Herald of Twilight that allow us to step in and out of beams if necessary. It's something that is fun to do because it's outside of your normal boundaries (at least, that's what I think). The point is that there have been very little in the way of dungeons that break the traditional healing mode of Heal all the things! or that tear your eyes away from the health bars for long. It's a shame really, because some of the dungeons have been absolutely gorgeous.
In the next set of dungeons, there will be plenty of opportunity for you to participate in the zone in ways outside of just healing. You'll be able to run around and take in the splendor of the new zones and boss fights.
Let's take, for example, the fight in End Time with the Echo of Jaina. The boss fight is fairly straightforward, with only a few mechanics to really worry about. Now, she is still a very powerful mage, so you'll have to worry about the damage from Pyroblast and Frostbolt Volley. Well-placed Healing Rains and Healing Stream Totems will take some of the pressure off of you for a few seconds at a time. This is important because you will have to pay attention to the boss quite a bit. She will occasionally cast Blink and move to another section in the area. After she Blinks, you'll have to pay attention to her new position; she may cast Frost Blades. When she does this, she will throw out three giant blades of ice that if they touch you will freeze you in place for 5 seconds. It will also lock you out of any spellcasts for a bit as well. The other thing that you have to look out for is Flame Core. Jaina will hurl a ball of fire somewhere in the area. When someone touches it, it will explode, dealing fire damage to the nearest person. If you leave it alone for 10 seconds, it explodes for even more damage, hitting everyone in the group.
As a healer, you have unique control over that aspect of the damage, and as a person who will always be at range, it is very likely that you'll be able to pop the core when you feel like it and take the damage yourself. It's actually quite liberating in an encounter to be able to choose when a damage effect goes off. Honestly, though, the most refreshing part is that as a healer, you have to pay as much attention to the zone and placement of the boss not only to do your job as a healer but also to potentially take damage instead of letting another member of the group take the damage. Many of the dungeon encounters reward you as a healer for doing something other than just simply healing and for paying attention to the zone instead of just your player health bars.
Loot for everyone
Let's face it, loot is something that we all like -- shiny new toys to play with or new gear to show off. These new dungeons are no exception to that. There are quite a number of new toys to play with, and the good news for restoration shaman is that many of the pieces available through the dungeons comes with a healthy heaping of haste. We'll talk more about this later, but haste is something that I think we'll be taking a look at again in the next patch. Let's take, for example, the following pieces that you could get from the three new dungeons.
Compare those drops to some of the drops from Firelands. They have a 378 item level, so they are absolutely perfect for anyone who missed out on the tier 12 raid zone. It also presents a perfect opportunity to pick up some haste gear if you're looking to fill a few gaps.
Part of history
Another very fun thing here is that you will be healing through history, and well-altered history as well, traveling backwards and forwards in time where your group makes the difference! It's a story as old as World of Warcraft, but it's still quite fun. Not only are your actions important to the state of Azeroth and its future, but the new dungeons offer new challenges, adventure and excitement. You can heal through them and still take in all the sights they have to offer. The encounter mechanics are fun and interesting and will keep you interested and on your toes. The bosses drop decent loot for you to look forward to. The new dungeons are really well done and do a good job of balancing the fights to make them enjoyable without being punishing to the level of Jin'do the PUG breaker.
In each of the fights, we can make use of all our of healing tools and not have to worry about missing out or falling behind when it comes to being compared to other healers when running them. Honestly, I've been very impressed with them so far and can't wait for them to reach live servers for all to enjoy. What do you think of the new 5-man dungeons coming in patch 4.3?
Totem Talk: Restoration lets you Ask a Shaman about the tricks of the trade. We'll introduce you to the very latest pre-raid gear and show you how to manage your cooldowns. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!