Last week, we talked about healing my favorite 5-man instance, The Vortex Pinnacle. Before continuing on with our series on healing Cataclysm dungeons and heroics, I thought we would take this week to talk about the incoming set of changes heading our way when patch 4.0.6 goes live, since it has grown and changed quite a bit since it was first announced.
The patch has been highly anticipated since it was first mentioned. These changes will have an impact on our spell choices, our ability to keep up with other healers in raids, and in truth should help begin balancing everything out. It will have an impact on our healing spell choices in many fights, our healing styles, and to a lesser degree, our trinkets and enchants. Let's take a look, shall we?
Patch notes and changes and healing, oh my!
So I think we should start by consolidating all of the changes that are coming in a nice, tidy box.
That's the complete list of all changes we can look forward to in the upcoming patch. Quite a bit to digest there, so let's break it down into some nice, easy-to-digest tidbits.
Dust off Chain Heal and Greater Healing Wave
Two of our spells are getting a little bit of tweak, and it is a tweak that we needed. I talked a little bit about this last week on World of Matticus, but we've had a little bit of a problem in the department of our spells. Chain Heal was getting pushed aside for other heals like Healing Surge. It was sadly falling slightly short when compared to other AoE healing as compared to other heals like Prayer of Healing. The 10% increase should help make positive steps towards re-establishing Chain Heal's place in our healing toolkit. On the PTR, the spell is really started to fill in as a niche tool -- no longer the spammable spell of the Burning Crusade days, but far from useless. Comparing the healing throughput to the other healers, it really seems to have found its place. Get ready to make use of it once again, as there are many places in 5-mans and raids where it really comes in handy.
Just like Chain Heal, Greater Healing Wave has been pretty much unused. The reason for this is that Healing Surge was healing for pretty close to the same amount as GHW, while costing almost the same mana. With the tweak, though, GHW is really becoming that dig-deep heal it was originally intended to be. The increased cost of the spell is negligible compared to what it heals now, and it really is a specialized tool like it should be.
Mastery, Healing Rain and Spiritwalker's Grace
Our mastery has been pretty lackluster, all things considered. The big problem with this is that Deep Healing only kicks in when a target is at low health totals. So, the lower the health totals, the more our direct healing healed for. This means it doesn't do a whole lot for us most of the time, because as healers, our job is to keep people from riding that dangerous line of death. The change from mastery's granting 3% per point instead of 2.5% sounds minuscule, but really counts in those situations where we have a lot of people at low health totals and every single heal counts. This works really well now with those emergency GHWes and will go that much further in progression raid healing, where health totals are naturally going to be lower.
Healing Rain is also getting a minor tweak, but one that will help out a little bit. Right now, all of our healing spells come with a 40-yard range. Problem is that pre-patch 4.0.6, it only has a range of 30 yards, meaning that in many cases you have to move to set the spell optimally. This extra 10-yard range helps keep you stationary a few more precious seconds and helps make your healing throughput a little better.
On the topic of movement, Spiritwalker's Grace is getting a few more seconds to let you move and heal. While 5 seconds may not seem like much, it helps in those situations where you have to use it. Also, since any spell you're casting gets cut off if you're moving when SwG ends, it gives you a few extra moments to plant yourself before losing the cast.
Mana Tide Totem and trinkets
This has been one of the biggest concerns about the patch so far. Mana Tide Totem will now grant us a 400% spirit boost, up from 350% while active, and will now affect the entire raid group. While this seems like quite a boost, the downside is that procs from trinkets or abilities no longer count towards the spirit total increased. This means that Heartsong Enchant, the tier 11 four-piece bonus and trinkets like the Core of Ripeness no longer count. It also only grants 400% of the casting shaman's spirit total to the raid group, not the individuals healers. The change means that you will want to use MTT early and often. If you can use it early enough in a boss fight to top off your mana totals that you can use it again 3 minutes later, it will go a long way toward helping keep your mana totals high.
Don't abandon those spirit trinkets, either. Keep in mind that those trinkets still increase our overall spirit, which when combined with Meditation, keeps our mana regen going strong. Darkmoon Card: Tsunami, Tear of Blood and Core of Ripeness are still very effective pieces to have on you. Just make sure that you are using any on-use trinkets whenever they are up.
Compared to other healers, our changes are pretty good. After extensive testing on the PTR, our healing numbers are not very far below that of paladins and priests. This has been a great concern for a while now, and it seems that things are starting to normalize. While there are still some things that could potentially use a little bit of a tweak, we're not in a bad spot. Our throughput has gone up, and our tools are starting to fill their roles as they are supposed to. There are distinct choices between spells in boss fights now, and mastery isn't quite the write-off it was before -- at least, not for heroic mode and progression fights.
Totem Talk: Restoration will show you the basics of endgame resto shaman play as well as how to find the expansion's best reputation gear for resto shaman and tips for easier leveling. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!