Last week, we talked about the new glyph system and restoration's choice in glyphs. There were quite a few changes, and the addition of an extra level of glyphs added some variety. Again, the state of glyphs is still in a state of change, but things like the new Glyph of Chain Heal seem to be a common trend, one that adds another layer to your healing strategy.
Later on in the week, we also got a new build of the beta with various changes to the restoration shaman spells, abilities and talents. Build 12942 didn't exactly shake things up too badly, but it did a few things of note, such as adding a talent effect to buff Healing Rain and the now confirmed removal of Improved Chain Heal. We also got a glimpse at the tier 11 set bonuses. It has been a while since restoration shaman got much of a brush over on the beta, so it was interesting to see what they changed when they did change things in the latest build of the Cataclysm beta.
This week, I thought we would talk about Spiritwalker's Grace, its uses in the current build and my impressions of it after using it.
What is Spiritwalker's Grace?
All three flavors of shaman can learn this ability at level 85. The design of the spell is to help us with one of the problems that has plagued the class since it was created: We are very much turrets. Everything about our class, whether healing or DPS, screams "stand in place." Mobility long being our Achilles heel, this spell comes at a perfect time. With healing becoming so much more difficult, giving us a little more versatility can go a long way. This spell effectively removes our restriction of being turret healers for 10 seconds at a time every 2 minutes. It may not sound like a lot, but I can tell you it does make a huge difference in our ability to react to situations.
- Cost: 12% of base mana
- Instant cast
- 2-minute cooldown
- Calls upon spiritual guidance, permitting movement while casting non-instant shaman spells. This spell may be cast while casting other spells. Lasts 10 sec.
The cost of the spell at 12 percent of your base mana sounds like the spell is going to be costly, but with a 2-minute cooldown, it isn't that bad. One of the concerns I've heard recently is that the mana spent on this could be better served casting totems or dumping two Healing Waves. Like everything else, this is a situational spell, and the design of it seems to support that as its purpose. It isn't made to be used every time the cooldown is up, just when you absolutely need to heal on the move.
Using Spiritwalker's Grace
As far as healing and Spiritwalker's Grace is concerned, there are several places where this has already been quite useful. As I said above, it is a situational spell. There are several spots where the spell is useful in the dungeons that are available at this time. Let's use The Stonecore as an example for this.
The first boss, Corborus, is a giant rock and crystal worm of doom (or as I've been referring to it, an evil slinky). The fight has two phases, one in which the worm is above ground, and another in which it burrows underground. In the first phase, the evil slinky will target a random party member and spit up chunks of crystal at them. This is similar to the rocks that Archavon the Stone Watcher throws at people in the Vault of Archavon. Standing in the effect will cause you to take a hefty chunk of damage, so moving is key. While you're moving, you will still have to make sure healing is going on on the tank, so using Spiritwalker's Grace can help ease that transition if you are the one who has to move. In the second phase when the boss takes to ground, it summons a large number of small adds that will attack everyone in the party. As the tank is moving to pick up the adds, or as you are running away from them, you can use this spell to keep healing going on the entire party, as they will continue to take damage.
The second boss, Slabhide, is a big, angry dragon that seems to really love molten hot magma and crushing things with stones from the ceiling. This is another two-phase fight and one that may see you moving around. In the first phase, the dragon will randomly summon pools of molten magma beneath a random party member. This includes the tank in the chances to be targeted. If you find yourself the target of this, or if the tank is unlucky enough to be gifted with the dragon's hot, magma loving, you will have to move out of it quickly. Using Spiritwalker's Grace to keep healing while you are running out of the magma or if you have to move to keep the tank in range. During the second phase, the dragon takes off into the air and shakes the very ceiling of the cavern, creating stalagtites. Giant black spots will form on the ground where they will fall. After they hit the ground, they do act as a line-of-sight block; they will persist after the dragon lands as well. As a result, you will be moving to keep everyone in range while running around the stones. I've personally found Spiritwalker's Grace most useful in this, to make sure I can finish that big heal on the tank while moving to heal another member of the group.
The last boss of The Stonecore is High Priest Azil, and she is what is essentially a Sith. She force chokes, throws boulders and summons massive void zones. She also summons massive numbers of cultists to attack you while you are engaged. There are several tricks to the encounter, and it is probably the most fun boss fight in the zone, but it requires you to move quite a bit. In this fight, Spiritwalker's Grace is worth its weight in gold. You'll be running from void zones and cultists, avoiding boulders and desperately trying to avoid cultists. Its one hell of a hectic fight, and there are several places that our new spell comes in quite handy. I have been using it as a way to shore up my healing on this fight. When running away from cultists, I noticed that the tank takes massive amounts of damage, so mostly I've been using it there, but depending on your tank and any deficiency you may have healing, it is viable at any of these situations.
Overall, I've found Spiritwalker's Grace very useful and honestly not terribly difficult to work into the rotation. It has been the difference between a wipe and a win quite a number of times simply because I was able to move and keep the tank up so neither of us died. It is also insanely useful if you find yourself with an overzealous tank who pulls while you're still running into position. Right now, the number of instances I can random into is limited due to the fact they all have gear level restrictions and not everything is itemized yet, so there is no opportunity to really raise the gear level numbers. I've been forced to either pre-form groups or stick with The Stonecore and Vortex Pinacle until more healing items are added into the beta client. That said, my first impressions of Spiritwalker's Grace are quite favorable. It is a solid addition to our healing arsenal and gives us a much-needed ability to shed the shackles of turret healing, even if it is only for 10 seconds at a time. I feel it will only improve as our gear increases and our numbers go up.
Here's a quick video showing Spiritwalker's Grace in action in The Stonecore, as well as showing off the updated graphic for Healing Rain. The Healing Rain portion is with the graphics turned down to a reasonable level, and as you can see, it looks pretty good for not being at the top graphics setting. Also, in the middle section of the video with the instance, you will notice that Lodur is now a dwarf shaman. Random race change button in the beta is a wonderful thing.
During the first boss, you can see me moving to keep the tank in range and using Spiritwalker's Grace to keep healing while moving. During the second boss, I used it early while running out of the magma pool that was centered on me. I didn't get to record the last boss fight, as the client crashed, but this should give you an idea of the spell's performance. I'd also like to take a second to give thanks to Akerus from Moonrunner (US-A), Nyan, Adhominem and Roasted (who didn't tell me what realms they are from on live) for a very fun and enjoyable Stonecore run. Sorry about my client crashing in the middle of the last boss, though.
So what do you think about our level 85 spell? Like it, love it, hate it? I'm also taking requests, so if there are any instances in which you'd like to see shaman healing in action, let me know!
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