We have discussed the talent tree changes a little bit already, back when they were leaked from the alpha client and again with the official preview. At both of those times, however, we saw only a fleeting mention of the new shaman spells and abilities to coincide with these talents. Much of what we saw was left to mere speculation as we had yet to see it first hand through a beta.
Among all of the information filtering in from the beta, there has been information about the new restoration shaman talents and spells, as well as updates to some old favorites of ours. Some of these changes are undeniably good, others are interesting and some downright confusing.
Check after the break for more information.
We heard about the new spells that Blizzard had planned for us at the official class preview, but there was not much more information available after that. Now that Cataclysm has hit its first beta phase, we are finally starting to see these new spells.
Spiritwalker's Grace Shaman have long been though of as turret healers, stationary chain-healing artillery. Our tool set has only recently become movement-friendly with additions like Riptide. Level 85 is when it appears we will get this wonderful spell. After using it, for 10 seconds you can move and cast any non-instant shaman spell. It rests on a two-minute cooldown so it will likely see a lot of use. This spell gives us the ability to keep up with other classes on the mobile healing front.
Healing Rain When this spell was first announced, there were a few people that scoffed at it. This spell, however, offers some very interesting ideas. First of all, it is an area of effect heal over time. That right there is pretty awesome. Second, it doesn't have to be targeted on a player. We pick this spell up at level 83. You can target any location to place the AoE HoT, and it will persist for 10 seconds. Every two seconds, anyone in the affected area will receive healing. This is similar to our Healing Stream Totem in how it pulses heals. The spell has two-second cast a 10-second cooldown, so after the effect is done, you can place another. This gives us more tools to aid in filling the healing gap between classes on the HoT front. Interestingly note, it was mentioned to me in passing that this was the original plan for priest's Circle of Healing before it was altered to its current state.
Unleashed Elements Affectionately being referred to as the "shaman's judgment," this ability uses whatever weapon imbue you have active as its base component. This becomes available to us at level 81. At this time, Earthliving Weapon is said to heal a target slightly and buff the shaman's next healing spell by 20%.This can come in handy for super-charging heals; just think of using this ability to boost healing on a Chain Heal and then using it on someone with Riptide. Can potentially lead to some huge heals.
Bind Elemental Starting at level 68, you can crowd control elementals. This is similar to Hex for us, and honestly it is something I've been wondering why shaman haven't had for a while now. I mean, we are supposed to be at one with the elemental spirits, right? We can bind one elemental for up to 50 seconds, taking it completely out of the game. This is similar to Banish, except that any damage done to the target will break the hold. This further adds to our utility, and with the upcoming instances we've heard about, it is very likely we will see at least a few elementals.
Greater Healing Wave Our brand new nuke heal. This will be our situational bomb heal. To put this in perspective, the new Healing Wave costs 6% of our base mana and caps out at 4,268 healing (before spellpower, etc.). GHW costs 30% of our base mana and caps out at 8,537. This will most certainly be a situational heal, if nothing else, just based on the mana cost alone: five times the cost for twice the healing. I'm going to keep my eye on this heal because I think that it will be one of the ones that changes frequently before retail release.
Old spells updated
Not much in this category yet, but I suspect that will change. As it stands right now, there are two major changes to look at.
Earth Shield The cost of earth shield is being drastically increased. In the current live version of the game, rank 5 earth shield costs 15% of our base mana. In the beta at max level, this has been increased to 38%. The cost has increased 2.5 times, but the effect remains largely the same. As it stands right now, common practice is to refresh Earth Shield whenever it gets low on charges, not even waiting for it to be fully used. In Cataclysm, however, if this cost remains that high, we are going to have to shift gears and wait until every last charge has been consumed and possibly not even put it back up right away. This falls in line with Blizzard's saying they wanted to make healers more mana-conscious based on spell choices, and here is proof of that.
Chain Heal I found the changes here to be very interesting. First, the mana cost has been reduced at maximum level in Cataclysm. In the live version right now, Chain Heal costs 19% of your base mana; in the beta at the highest level, it costs 17%. A 2% difference may not seem like much, but keep that in mind while we talk about the second change. On the live server now, the maximum level of chain heal caps out at 1,205 healing before spellpower and bonuses. In the beta, this has increased to 3,389 cap. That is a huge leap for only a five-level difference. The healing cap combined with a reduced cost continues to make this our most efficient heal. This will likely change, but as it stands, it looks like chain heal is back to being the shaman heal of choice.
We have already heard about Ancestral Resolve and Focused Insight, and it would appear that they are here to stay for the time being. With the announcement of the beta however, two new talents have joined the party.
Empowered Healing 3 ranks
Requires 3 Points in Nature's Blessing
Requires 40 Points in Restoration talents
Your Greater Healing Wave spell gains an additional [7%/14%/20%] of your bonus healing effects, and your Healing Wave and Lesser Healing Wave spells an additional [3%/7%/10%]
This is similar to the Empowered Healing found among holy priests. It grants a nice bonus to our HW and LHW, but grants an even bigger bonus to our nuke heal. While GHW may be expensive, this talent makes it that much more worth it when we have to use it. It is not a terribly exciting talent, though, and seems almost like a must-have talent.
Telluric Currents 3 ranks
Requires 45 Points in Restoration Talents
Your attunement to natural energies causes your Lightning Bolt spell to restore mana equal to [15%/30%/45%] of damage dealt.
I'm not sure how I feel about this one yet. It is a tier 10 talent deep into the talent tree that encourages healers to DPS by allowing them some of the mana back. Throwing lightning is very different than throwing an odd shock out in combat. Even though Focused Insight gives you a bonus to your healing while returning some mana for using your shocks, Flame Shock for example still costs 16% of your base mana. Lightning Bolt only costs 6% of your base mana. Restoration shaman should have a decent crit rating and our spellpower can sometimes be enough to produce interesting LB crits, so one has to wonder exactly how much mana can be gained from this. I think this talent will be something to watch, if nothing else just to see what Blizzard has in mind for it. It is possible this is an attempt at the "fun but not necessary" talents they have been talking about since BlizzCon '09.
Overall, the talent tree still seems pretty bloated. There are still a large amount of "must-have" talents, which is the opposite of what Blizzard has stated they wanted to see with the talent trees. We will have to see how the tree develops over the course of the beta. Keep in mind this information is current as of build 12319 of the Cataclysm beta. This is subject to change as the game is altered by developers during the beta testing process. But be sure to check back often, as we here at WoW.com will keep you up to date with the latest information!
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From goblins and worgens to mastery and guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.