I reached the level cap on beta over the weekend. For an idea of stats, I have approximately 80,000 HP and 60,000 mana (after a Power Word: Fortitude buff). My gear is a complete mishmash of quest greens, instance blues and Icecrown epics. As I'm gradually closing the gear gap, I can say that its one thing to see what the developers were thinking about when they overhauled healing. It is something else entirely to experience it.
From what I've been hearing, it appears that priests and shaman classes have adapted fairly well to this new environment. Druids and paladins still need a bit of tuning. Anyone out there on the beta want to corroborate (or offer their experience?)
The final push
As I was grinding my way through Twilight Highlands, I made a rather grueling discovery. It was getting to the point where my discipline and holy specs were failing me. These hunter NPC mobs had this ability called Rapid Fire. I was getting shredded with 1.2k-1.4k hits every half a second. It was as if though Twilight Cultists dropped their rifles and started using machine guns instead. My shields and my spells could not cope. I just could not heal damage of that magnitude. That is largely due to the gear (or rather, lack thereof). After another hour of fruitlessly trying to kill stuff, I gave up.
And I did something I thought I would never do in a million years.
Yup, I bit the bullet and went into shadow. I was still getting shredded, but at least now it was a coin toss on who would kill the other first, between the mob and I. After a while, I noticed that I was beginning to enjoy the damage I was doing. I could feel the pleasure coursing through my veins as I vaporized every last cultist I ran into.
But no. I will not succumb to the dark side. I switched back to discipline soon after hitting 85.
Mana, mana and mana
Don't get me started on mana right now. I believe the biggest issue is the lack of gear as I quested throughout Uldum and Twilight Highlands. Nothing can be done about that. I'm not quite sure what I could have done to grab more items. There are a few quests that I can still do. I left them alone in the hopes that a future patch will have some item rewards in there. Maybe in the next patch, I can backtrack and get some quest rewards.
According to the dungeon finder, I need a 305 average item level to enter any 84-85 instances. Right now, I'm sitting at 285. I'm sporting stuff like the Cataclysm Baradin's Wardens Revered Caster DPS Staff and the Cataclysm Baradin's Wardens Exalted Healer Trinket. These are combined with greens like Drag-Resistant Robes and Icecrown epics like Incarnadine Band of Mending.
Actually, I just bought the Cataclysm Baradin's Wardens Exalted Caster Trinket, which increased my average item level to 290. I'm still about 15 short. Not every instance has been itemized yet. Last I checked, Stonecore had zero drops. Check out some of the stuff I picked up from the Tol Barad vendor.
In case you were wondering, the double stats on the staff was due to an enchant and the reforging ability.
I want to talk about mana for a bit. Cooldowns across the board have been nerfed (with the exception of our shaman friends). Here's a quick recap:
I can feel the pinch for sure. Remember when stop casting spells (or the act of casting a spell and then cancelling midway through it) used to be a skill in previous expansions? I'm not doing that as much. I find that Heal can cover just about anything. There is damage being handed out, yes. But players aren't dropping from full to almost dead. Damage does occur, but you feel as if though you have a chance in keeping everyone alive. I'm not standing there mindlessly casting and cancelling waiting for damage to come in because damage is coming in, and I've got an appropriate spell to answer with it.Druid
- Innervate now regenerates mana equal to 20% of the casting druid's maximum mana pool, down from 33%.Paladin
- Divine Plea now lets you gain 10% (instead of 25%) of your total mana over 15 seconds. Cooldown increased to 2 minutes (from 1 minute).
- Illumination has been removed.
- Hymn of Hope now restores 2% mana, down from 3% mana. Increases maximum mana by 15%, down from 25%.
- Holy Concentration now increases the amount of mana regeneration from Spirit.
- Shadowfiend now gives 3% mana when the Shadowfiend attacks, down from 5%.
- Veiled Shadows now reduces the cooldown of Shadowfiend by 30 sec/60 sec.
One thing I noticed when I'm healing inside instances is that I can notice right away when I use the wrong heal. In Stonecore, a mage was on the verge of death. He had something like less than 10% health. Stupidly, I casted a Heal instead of a Flash Heal. The poor mage didn't make it.
Healers are notorious for having a number of spells at their disposal. That number is only going to go up. I think each class is getting at least three or more spells that are potentially viable in a PvE environment. As a priest, I had to find room for Power Word: Barrier, Life Grip (Leap of Faith) and Heal.
Start thinking ahead to how you want your keys to be bound. I've had to add additional shift modifiers. My DPS spells are mapped to key combinations that involve the Ctrl key, and I had to find room for Mind Spike in there somewhere. I'm not exactly running out of room yet, but it's getting there.
I know when the expansion goes live, I'll probably end up reforging a bit more spirit than the rest, in case my gear is still out of whack.
I hope to finally have my healing video finished for next week so I can demonstrate the healing side of things. Video editing is serious business.
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to firstname.lastname@example.org. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check, and don't miss our strategy guides to Icecrown Citadel and Halion/the Ruby Sanctum.