Last time we met, I had quite a bit to say about tier 3 shaman talents in regards to restoration shaman, and I promise that today I won't spend too much time harping on it, since I've already committed a couple of thousand words to the topic. Since that time, there have been quite a number of changes. There's been a new beta build release with all manner of updates, which is probably the most important one.
There's also been a ton of information flowing from the official forums, especially when it comes to terms of such things as class balance, healer throughput and talents. Also during this time, there has been a massive amount of raid testing for both normal and heroic modes. Truth be told, there's a ton of information to absorb this week -- not least of all that fezzes are in fact cool.
Tier 3 talents fixed, at least somewhat
So last time, I spent most of the article talking about design philosophy, the nerf to Call of the Elements, and the then-broken Totemic Restoration. Well, I'm sorry to report that Call of the Elements is still, in fact, nerfed to the ground like the warriors of yesteryear in classic WoW. No further word on any changes to it has really come up, but I will hold out hope that we'll hear something on that front soon.
Totemic Restoration, however, has fared a little bit better this past two week's time. When I last played around with it, the talent was broken and not awarding the proper percentages as the confusing wording of the talent stated. For clarification's sake, here's the wording on the talent:
So what does it mean? Whelp, if one of your totems is killed, replaced or picked back up before it has run the normal duration, the percentage of time lost will be rewarded as a cooldown reduction on that totem, up to 50% of the total cooldown. So if you drop a Mana Tide Totem and it gets picked up or smashed, let's say, 6 seconds after it goes down, the cooldown will be reduced by 50%, or 1 minute 30 seconds.
When a totem is replaced or destroyed before its duration expires naturally, its cooldown is reduced in proportion to the lost duration, up to a maximum of 50% of the full cooldown.
The fact that the talent is working as intended again is great, and I'm going to increase my asessment of it from useless to medium usefulness. It's great for PvP, but I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around the usefulness of this in PvE. (Unless bosses start using Totem Stomp macros, that is. If we get to that point, I fear for our lives.) Overall, though, not bad -- just not great.
Beta class balance
This is really the big stuff for today, and it comes from the official forums in which Ghostcrawler, otherwise known as Greg Street, lead systems designer, chimed in on quite a few things that are of interest to shaman healers.
An innocuous statement, but something I know for a fact a lot of shaman healers have been discussing since we first got our hands on Earth Shield. Since we've been able to cast it, we've wanted it to do more -- to be able to put it on multiple targets or have more options than what we have with it.
I get that, and it's an admirable goal, but personally I would never want to see it become like Sacred Shield. It's a fine talent and I'm sure paladins like it, but for Earth Shield to adopt a similar style -- well, it would basically become the bastard child of a HoT and a shield.
Right now, it is more powerful than I think we give it credit. It has a decent spell power coefficient and is a reactive heal that triggers as soon as the bearer takes damage. If you monitor your charges and place it wisely, it really is a wonderful tool. If anything, I'd maybe like to see a talent that lets us press a button to burn all the charges for a quick, single-target tank cooldown like a Pain Suppression, but at the cost of the spell getting put on a 3-minute cooldown. Now that, I think, would be cool and useful. It would add some versatility and at the same time add an element of decision making, since you'd have to determine if using the cooldown was worth losing all that healing done.
This is fantastic news, since we're going to be using both of those spells frequently. It's a step in the right direction in terms of fixing throughput, but we still have a ways to go.
Right now, the biggest news I've been getting has been about shaman healing in the raid tests. Our numbers are still coming in a bit lower than I would like to see, especially when compared to other healers. But what got me today was a report that others are seeing that after this fix, Healing Tide Totem is coming in as the top heal for shaman in a few of the fights. This could be the result of all the healers' learning the new balance, overpowered healing crushing a lot of our passive and AoE healing (looking at you, Spinning Crane Kick). Honestly, there are a lot of potential factors that could be causing it, but at the very least it's a recognizable issue.
Hopefully we can get some response from the boys in blue about this, with all the logs that are getting posted on the official forums. Again, I'm holding out hope here on this one, because I really do not want to be going into an instance where my 3-minute cooldown is my top heal every time.
Along those same lines, we also got this little tidbit.
Healing Rain getting the Unleashed Elements buff to healing is nice and will really come in handy on those group-up moments in boss fights, and an extra 500 haste/master or crit from Elemental Blast would also come in quite handy. I've been arguing the case that Elemental Blast has the potential to be very useful for shaman healers. The ability to give ourselves 3,500 of any of those three stats is good, especially since all three stats are useful to restoration shaman. I don't know if it will beat out what we can do with say, Unleashed Fury and HR, but it's worth keeping an eye on any changes being made to this talent.
Even with the release rapidly approaching and with the horror stories of healing filtering in right now, don't panic yet. Things are still being tweaked. Some other classes seem to have some overtuning on some abilities, but we're getting there -- that, and I will certainly make sure that GC gets a bow tie and a fez as a bribe to make sure things get fixed.
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!