Time to revisit this topic again. You're probably asking yourself why we're talking about this again. Well, to be honest, it's because it's the end of an expansion cycle. While we're prepping for the next expansion that will shake up mechanics and stats, we find ourselves at a point of speculation -- and therefore, things like Telluric Currents find themselves back in the crosshairs, so to speak.
The talent itself is something you use, or you don't use. There are some hard facts about the talent. You do not need to stack hit to make it useful, only to make sure every bolt hits. It is not mana neutral, using the talent and casting Lightning Bolt will indeed fill up your mana bar. It can be used to supplement low spirit totals for beginning healers, and can be used in certain phases on raid bosses to maintain healing mana totals. Whether it is optional or mandatory depends on a lot of factors up to and including the team you're healing with and the content you're healing through.
Now while that's the who, what, and why, the talent is a curiosity and often considered a design flaw. There are things about it that are good and things about it that are bad. So let's take them in order and talk about it a bit.
The talent does have some good intentions and some decent application in the live game environment. First of all, it's a nod to active healing, something we're going to be seeing very soon from our healing-minded monk cousins, and it encourages people to do something other than stare at green bars and mash buttons and macros for several hours at a time. The same can be said about Focused Insight, as well. Make no mistake, this is a good thing. Anything that attempts to break up monotony in a game can be a good thing. While the active healing model isn't ideal for everyone (or even enjoyable by everyone), it's an attempt to evolve the class slightly from what it's been for half a decade.
The attempt at evolving the class is something we'll likely see more of, just in different ways. Since the dawn of adventuring parties in games, there's been the holy trilogy -- the tank, the DPS and the healer. Video games have been emulating that ever since the inception of the triangle. The problem is it leads to stale characters sometimes. You do the same thing day after day, month after month, year after year, and if it doesn't change, people just stop caring about it. Even if you hate the change, you still feel something about it. Seeing changes or attempts at talents like this means that the game developers still actively care about your class, your role and your participation in their game world -- and yes, that is very much a good thing.
TC accomplished quite a bit for its limited time in game this expansion. It evolved from something that was speculated to be mana-neutral into something that became a way to completely recharge your batteries. It gave you wiggle room to reforge out of spirit and pick up other throughput stats like haste and mastery, letting you push out a little more HPS than you could without it. Point is, it had some good intentions and good ideas.
The talent had its good points, but it also had some bad points as well. The first thing that happened was that people started adopting the mindset that to use TC, you had to either stack hit or neuter your other talents to pick up Elemental Precision. It also had people thinking that it had become a required talent and that any shaman who didn't have it wasn't worth taking on raids or content. This thought was similar to the one we faced in Ulduar and the whole single-target healing debates years ago.
It also highlights some potential design flaws in healers in general. The idea of tying up something that breaks the monotony of healing is a good thing, but tying it to a resource that is necessary to fulfill our primary function is a bad thing. It becomes something that potentially isn't fun to use and, as we've seen, straddles that line of necessary or optional so tightly that it can generate a great divide. In the case of flaws, it started people off in a downward spiral of analyzing restoration shaman healing in a way we haven't done since Ulduar really. Questions were asked such as what do we do to keep up with other healers? Are our heals too expensive for the healing they do? Are we as efficient as the other healers? Are we tuned correctly? There are more; I've gotten them all in email and comments on Twitter. Hell, I've gotten them in comments on the site here. The issue is when you start to see an influx of questions like that and they all have the common root, it's time to take a step back and evaluate.
The not so ugly
The good news is that's exactly what Mists offers the opportunity for the developers at Blizzard Entertainment to do. First thing is the whole normalizing healing mana. We can already see that at work with the total mana as dictated by level instead of by intellect stacking. With all the healers getting their mana nerfed, so to speak, and new options for mana regen already sort of poking up now that the Mists beta has started, we have a perfect opportunity to be balanced again.
What I'd want is to have our healing output and mana consumption just be on level with other healers. I honestly believe we can get to that point where Mana Tide Totem is used as a raid and group cooldown instead of being something you have to aggressively use for yourself to keep up with the other healers. I honestly do believe that we're not broken but just that we need to have some numbers tweaked.
I'm hopeful that we'll see this get balanced out in Mists, and with beta invites going out, I'm hoping I'll get mine soon so I can see how exactly how we compare after the expansion to where we are. I just hope we're no longer in a spot where Telluric Currents straddles that mandatory, must-have line.
There are things that indicate this may be the case, including new glyphs that we've seen and which we'll talk about more next week, that represent different ways for us to modify our toolkits and personalize our healing experience. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to get in the beta soon, test these out for myself and report back to you. For now, though, I'm just going to hope that TC can become antiquated and that mana consumption will just be put in line with healing throughput.
So, now is your chance to sound off. What do you think of Telluric Currents? How do you hope it winds up going into Mists?
Totem Talk: Restoration lends you advice on healing groups, DK tanks and heroics and mana concerns in today's endgame -- or take a break and look back at the rise of the resto shaman. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!