Last time, we looked to the past twelve months, and the journey we took over the last year. As exciting as the past can be, and no matter what we can learn from it, the future is always so much more exciting. That's not to say that Mists of Pandaria hasn't been exciting so far, but content patch 5.2 is shaping up to be very interesting.
With the upcoming patch, one of the things that's been talked about is the new tier 15 set bonuses. Compared to the tier 14 set bonuses for most classes, what we've been seeing so far have been far and away better by leaps and bounds. Rather, that seems to be the general consensus around the internet at least. All of the information is based on what has been revealed on the latest PTR build, and is subject to potential changes before making it to live server.
Resto set bonuses
The set bonuses for tier 14 have been fairly lack luster. The two-piece set bonus can be nice, depending on how often you have cause to use Greater Healing Wave. Depending on your group comp though, or what your healing assignment is. I've seen some parses where the mana return was abysmally low to an almost ignorable level. The four-piece set bonus, while improved from it's original design, is fairly lack luster. The 5% cast time reduction to Healing Wave and Greater Healing Wave is OK, and the 5% additional critical chance on Healing Surge isn't nearly as exciting as one would think. This sort of tracks with most opening set bonuses of an expansion. That first tier isn't meant to be super powerful as far as set bonuses go. Even looking back to Cataclysm and Tier 11, the set bonuses then gave again 5% crit to HW and a moderate amount of spirit. Not bad, but not great.
Tier 15 however, is quite a bit nicer. The Tier 15 two-piece set bonus is actually pretty nifty. Healing Stream Totem was one of those things that changed in Mists that has taken some getting used to. It went from a passive constant group heal to a miniature cooldown that only heals one target. The new set bonus allows for your HST to hit a second target when used for 50% of the normal amount. That has the potential to be one mighty upgrade. I can see this being very handy, and being a decent boost in your healing done. Combine it with Call of the Elements so you can double dip on HST and and you can get that much more out of it. I'm really looking forward to trying this out and seeing what kind of mileage we can squeeze out of it.
The Tier 15 four-piece set bonus is something I am incredibly intrigued about. Ancestral Awakening is triggers off any single-target direct heal the crits. It then takes 30% of the healing done, after crit and mastery are added in and including overhealing, and distributes it to the most injured person in your party withing 40 yards. This has the potential to proc off of crits from Healing Surge, GHW, HW, Riptide and Unleash Life. This set bonus will give you a 20% chance on your non-crit heals to give you the same effect of spreading the healing around. I'm unsure of the impact that it's going to make on our overall healing. It will depend on how much we're using our single target heals in the fights we're in, and obviously if we're relying on them more frequently it will work out to more healing done for us. That is going to depend on raid size, assignment, and encounter design. One could speculate that since this is going to be the four-piece bonus that we will see a lot more circumstances that we'll be utilizing our single-target healing, but we won't know for certain until we get in there.
Will 5.2 mean a crash for shaman healing?
There's no doubt that restoration shaman have come out swinging in tier 14. Many of the top parses are actually winding up to be resto shaman, and that is a good feeling. I can't help but remember tier 11 though, where Deep Healing made fights like Chimaeron and Maloriak bow before our might as healers. The entire tier, it was a glorious time to be a shaman healer. We broke charts, pulled ranks on logs and fueled ourselves on the tears of paladins and priests. Then along came tier 12, Firelands. It took quite a bit more work to be a decent healer at this point, and it was a hard crash following the high that was healing the tier prior. I know I will never forget that drop off. One of the questions I've been getting a lot of email on recently has been asking my opinion on whether I think we will see the same sort of drop going into tier 15.
Looking at our set bonuses, you can see that there is a definite interest in keeping resto shaman throughput going. Both set bonuses are centered around giving us avenues to extra healing done. I can't help but see that and look back at tier 12 and think that the developers at Blizzard are already looking at preventing that hard crash from happening again. Developers are listening to feedback and concerns and looking for constructive criticism from players to get an idea of how things feel, and it has become a much more open process than it has been in the past. We're also going to be seeing a lot of varied encounters in the new Throne of Thunder raid, at least from what we've been heaving about the design behind it and the bosses we may be facing.
I don't think that shaman healing is going to crash like it did in tier 12. I think that the folks in charge are paying close enough attention to how all of the healing classes are doing their jobs in both dungeons and raids that things will remain relatively competetive for resto shaman. I feel like we will enter this tier in a good place, and I'm hoping I am right in that we will continue to stay strong throughout the tier. Only time and testing will tell, but I don't think we're going to be quite as bad off as we were going from tier 11 to tier 12.
So, what do you think of the potential resto shaman set bonuses for tier 15? How do you think our healing will fare going into the next tier? Did you get to participate in any of the raid testing so far on the PTR?
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!