Can you believe it's been a whole two weeks since Mists of Pandaria launched? The time just seemed to fly right by. I don't know about you, but I've been incredibly busy between leveling to 90, exploring the gorgeous new zones, pounding out my daily quests and getting ready to raid. It's been a learning experience in some regards, and I'm happy to finally be getting to test out some of the theories and ideas I've been kicking around in beta in an actual live environment.
A lot can happen in two weeks time, and I thought it would be good to give you a run down on some of the findings I've had using our toolkit in heroics and raids, and some tips and tricks that I've learned along the way.
Spirit is king!
Fixed mana pools are a thing now. We've talked a lot about it, but now that things have gone live and there is no stat normalization going on, it's time to take another look at it. At level 90 you're going to be sitting at 300,000 mana. You have no way to increase that beyond a meta gem, Ember Primal Diamond, and even then that's only a mere 6,000 mana. The only thing you can really do is rely on your Mana Tide Totem for some serious mana love, and stack some more spirit. Spirit is a good stat for us, but it has its drawbacks as well. Particularly every point of spirit you give yourself improves your longevity, but it means that you're going to be taking away a throughput stat of some kind. This includes reforging or opting for spirit gems over int, mastery or crit. The trick is going be finding a balance. Right now, I'm sitting at around 5.7k spirit. Combined with Water Shield, I'm having a very decent time with mana in most raid healing situation. I'm not quite swimming in mana, but I'm lasting long enough to see a fight through from start to finish.
The trick is to find the right amount for what you're doing, and if in a raid, what your team is doing. In heroics you can get away with quite a bit less, LFR the same. 10-man you're probably looking to have something similar, maybe a little less. Play around with it and find your sweet spot. With a raid team of one holy priest, one disc priest, one holy paladin, one mistweaver monk and one resto druid to contend with, this is where I ended up. It should be noted that I started with about 4.6k spirit and incremented myself up until I got to where I am now. I recommend trying something similar until you find that point of just enough spirit to keep yourself afloat so you can then focus on your throughput stats.
Also, something you shouldn't forget, is that you still have access to Telluric Currents. The glyph causes you to restore 2% mana when a Lightning Bolt hits your target. At level 90 this is 6,000 mana every time your LB hits the target (with ember primal diamond this is 6,120 mana).
Hasta luego haste!
Haste is a throughput stat for sure, and one we've come to rely on pretty heavily over the recent years. Right now though, just like at the beginning of Cataclysm, haste has become a little bit devalued for us. Why do I say this? Well, to be perfectly honest it contributes to our throughput, but does nothing for our longevity. In fact, the higher the haste, the more mana we burn, the quicker we run out of it. I'm not saying haste is bad, it still increases the amount of spells you can cast within the same time frame, and it decreases the intervals at which HoTs tick. Enough haste can reduce your global cooldown from the standard 1.5 seconds to as low as 1 second, and can give you additional ticks on spells like Healing Stream Totem and Riptide.
For these reasons, most shaman healers become intimately familiar with the haste break points. Binkenstein over at Totemspot has a wonderful break down of the haste break points in his Maths of Pandaria blog post. Looking at the haste break points, you're really not going to get a ton out of it until you get to 20%. Even still, to get the most out of it, you're going to be sacrificing other stats. My honest suggestion is to maybe put haste on the back burner for right now, and take a look at our other throughput stats.
Our mastery, Deep Healing, is really good in the opening stages of an expansion. People stand in fire, damage is flowing freely, and it helps you heal for more the lower they get. For early raiding in 25-man content, I've been investing in a decent chunk of it. Right now, after getting my spirit to where I felt comfortable with my mana regeneration, I popped my mastery up to about 6,800. This brings me up to 58%. There's a couple thoughts behind this. The initial encounters in Mogu'shan Vaults have periods of some heavy damage to heal through. Those large spikes can bring your group pretty low, so I figured a little extra mastery for a little extra healing at those lower levels would help stabilize the raid, and save me some much needed mana. So far it's been working out pretty well. Then again, that's to be expected this early in the expansion.
Talented Mr. shaman
The new talent system is tricky to get used to. The good thing is almost everything in the toolkit has a place where it is useful. Lately though, I've been engaged in a good conversation with other restoration shaman about what the best talent to use at our level 90 is. The conversation has mostly been happening on Twitter, but the point I've been trying to make is that each of the level 90 talents is useful at max level, just for different situations. What' I've learned is that right now, Elemental Blast is a little unwieldy in some of the fights. It's a great ability, and all three stats it can give you are really quite nice, but at least right now it can be hard to weave it in to healing until you find your rhythm with your team. Primal Elementalist I'm finding is quite a bit nicer, and easier to use. Both of your elementals get an ability that increases your healing done by 10% for the duration of their lifetime. The elementals last only about 60 seconds, but they are surprisingly very useful. Think of them as another healing cooldown that you can pop and they look pretty awesome as well. Unleashed Fury gives your next single-target heal a 50% boost, which is like the next evolution of Unleash Elements at 30%. This one is pretty self explanatory.
I'll be honest, the one I'm having the most fun with is really Primal Elementalist. I like having two additional cooldowns to call upon a minute apart from each other, especially in circumstances where there is predictable damage to handle. Really though, it boils down to personal preference and how you play with your group.
So two weeks since release, how have you been enjoying your shaman? How has healing instances, heroics and raids been treating you? What have you learned since the beginning the expansion?
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!