Last week, we talked about the new shaman healing spell Healing Rain, a great new spell that is offering us a new option in our healing arsenal. While the visuals may be lackluster when not turned all the way up, the general response has been favorable to our new rain dance.
This week, I thought we would discuss some new information handed down by Ghostcrawler (Blizzard's lead system designer) about restoration shaman. I felt it would also be appropriate to talk about the other "new" heals we are getting in Cataclysm and how they affect our current toolbox. I am talking about Greater Healing Wave and Healing Wave. Cataclysm promises healers choice in the spells they cast, with appropriate consequences if they pick the wrong spell for the encounter. Understanding how these new spells function in relation to the other tools in our healing kit can make a big difference on the choices we make when deciding what heal to use.
Before we get into the meat of things here, I'd like to take a quick second and answer a reader question from last week's article that was then asked many times over through email and Twitter.
Bui:Well, I was able to get hold of one of my partners in crime to test this out in the beta. Currently, when two Healing Rains are cast together, any spots in which they overlap will indeed create a "sweet spot" in which the two effects also overlap. Here's a screenshot to show the proof. The 687 heal on the scrolling text is mine, where as the 555 heal is my partner's. I am in restoration spec, while he is in elemental spec. The other numbers are procs of Earthliving Weapon. You can see in the image how the two spells are overlapped, creating a brighter area where they intersect.
If two were cast over an area but you left a "sweet spot" in the middle where they overlapped, would you get heals from both of the rains, or would the most powerful one override the other?
Keep in mind that this could change at any time, as this is still a beta that is being updated constantly -- but as it stands right now, the spell is capable of stacking and you do not have to be restoration spec to use it. This means an enhancement shaman could in theory throw a Healing Rains down on top of melee in a raid, and a restoration shaman can layer it for extra healing effect. Personally, I would be surprised if this is left as is, because in a large raid group, the layering of this spell could be quite unbalancing. Don't get me wrong: I hope it stays like it is with the overlap ... I just don't find it likely.
Ghostcrawler piped up to tell us a little bit more about our talents and address some concerns.
This is something that I am both looking forward to and dreading. Right now, Restorative Totems increases the effect of Mana Spring Totem by 20 percent and Healing Stream Totem by 50 percent. That actually counts for quite a bit, when you look at it. Right now, this talent allows MST to provide a decent steady stream of mana and HST to be a halfway decent HoT. Considering the intention to remove this talent, I can only hope that the effect of this talent will be rolled into the base spell and that if it is replaced, it will be replaced with something fun and exciting -- maybe even something that links spirits...
This will likely come as a bit of relief to most people. The idea of having to DPS to heal was one that was not very well received. This tells us, though, that the developers look at it as an optional talent, not one that will be required for a healing shaman. That makes it a little less confusing, for sure. It will still be great for leveling as restoration in Cataclysm, and again, when you start to find yourself in situations where heals are covered and you want to help topple that last 1 percent on the boss without feeling too guilty about burning mana on DPS. After reading this, I feel a lot better about this talent.
Waves of a healing variety
With Cataclysm also comes a new healing spell and a rename of an old classic. One of the questions I've been asked quite a bit is how the various healing waves are changing in the expansion and how using each one feels when healing. Keep in mind this information is based on the beta, so it may change at any time. Also note that the totals given here are for the current level cap of 83 and are before any bonuses from talents or spellpower totals.
Lesser Healing Wave has long since been our quick heal. When Ulduar was released -- specifically, when players got to Razorscale -- it wasn't uncommon to see shaman stacking haste and ripping up the healing charts with Riptide and Lesser Healing Wave. In Wrath, it costs 15 percent of our base mana to cast, but in Cataclysm it jumps to 27 percent. That 12 percent increase is quite a bit of a jump, especially when mana consumption matters. At level 83, it heals for between 5,369 and 6,113, with a base cast time of 1.5 seconds. Spamming this spell will result in chewing through your mana very quickly; I have confirmed this many times over on the beta. So it is best used primarily when fast heals are absolutely necessary. It has become a situational heal.
Healing Wave is technically a new spell. While we have a spell of the current name, this one acts for us very much like a priest's Heal spell. It offers a similar but slightly lower-sized heal compared to LHW for a reduced mana cost and increased cast time. It clocks in at 6 percent of our base mana with a 3-second cast time before Healing Focus. At level 83, it heals for between 3,580 and 4,088. With the reduced cost and similar heal amounts, this has become a more of a utility, everyday style of healing spell. With haste levels being what they are in the endgame of Wrath, this becomes a much more efficient heal. I find myself using this quite a bit in the 5-man dungeons over LHW and even Chain Heal, and I find that, except for a few odd circumstances, I don't run out of mana and no one hovers dangerously close to death. This will be your bread and butter in smaller content until you find yourself in an environment where CH claims the spot as most efficient heal once again.
Greater Healing Wave is really Healing Wave from Wrath renamed for Cataclysm. It clocks in at a whopping 30 percent of your base mana and holds a 3-second cast time before talents. At level 83, it heals for between 7,159 and 8,177. This is one heck of a mana sink, and by that virtue alone it should be left until you really need a big heal to bring a player back up from the danger zone. I've found it best to use in combination with Nature's Swiftness for a fast top-off on the tank after I've either had to take my attention off of them to heal the rest of the group or to get a big fast heal on the tank after they've started a big pull and I've had to catch up to them. I can already see how that will also be useful when combined with Spiritwalker's Grace at level 85 in movement-heavy fights that require a big heal. You do not want to be spamming this heal, as you will run out of mana faster than if you were spamming LHW. In the upcoming beta client (build 12857), this spell will also have a chance to trigger Improved Water Shield to help recoup some of the mana spent on this big, expensive heal.
Chain Heal is also getting a bit of a boost in build 12857. The numeric range of the heal is being altered at maximum level. In the current build, it heals for a range of 2,967 to 3,389. In 12857, that range will be altered to a range of 3,111 to 3,245. The top end is lowered just a little bit, but the bottom end is brought up a little as well. This makes the healing totals a little more predictable and helps narrow down the average healing total. By shortening the range and increasing the minimum heal, this increases the average healing done by Chain Heal. This is potentially a very nice buff to an already amazing healing spell. Since it hasn't been implemented yet, though, I haven't had a chance to play around with this change.
All the waves have a distinct feel to the way they heal, and each combines well with Unleash Elements. They all have very distinct roles to play now, and depending on the encounter, you may need to ignore one in favor of another. Remember, picking the right tool for the right job counts for quite a bit now. As more dungeons are released and as we move closer to the level cap of 85 in later beta releases, we will see if these spells evolve further. Also keep in mind that this information is based off of that found in the beta, and is subject to change at any time.
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether it's Matt Sampson's elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Rich Maloy's enhancement edition, WoW.com's shaman experts have you covered.