The question that sparked this post was specifically about stacking crit and whether or not it is as viable as haste or mastery for restoration shaman.
Just how critical is crit?
When patch 4.2 became active on live servers, not only did it bring the Firelands raid, it also brought a change to how crit affects healing. Before the patch, a critical heal had an effect of 150% healing done on that heal. After the patch, that got bumped up to 200% on a critical heal. It's actually a pretty significant buff for the stat in regards to healers overall, but is it worth it in terms of replacing the importance of any of our other secondary stats?
The first argument for it is that it is a solid mana regeneration stat. As a mana regen stat, though, crit still falls behind our normal means of regeneration through spirit. It is true that the critical heals trigger the talent Resurgence, but the gains are actually less than if you were to put those points just into spirit. Overall, you just get more mileage out of pure spirit as far as mana regen is concerned than crit. Consider that Mana Tide Totem, which was nerfed to only give a boost of 200% to spirit, will require higher spirit totals to maximize returns to you and your raid. Also, spirit doesn't require random number generation (RNG) to give you mana back. Crit (and Resurgence) is meant to be a complimentary regeneration stat rather than one meant to take over. So we can rule this out as a factor in crit replacing haste or mastery as a primary secondary stat.
The second argument is that it gives you a solid boost to your healing throughput on par with haste and mastery. With the recent change to a 200% in the healing effect of your spells when they crit, this definitely holds some weight. There are a few principles that support that. First is the idea that if you heal for more with every heal cast, overall you have to cast less heals to make up health deficits. Basically, bigger boom, more mana saved, longer active healing time. Second, stacking more crit, you can lower the RNG curve and get more consistent healing numbers to work with. You'll still have an RNG factor, but you can sort of pad the curve a little and make it slightly more predictable.
I've seen crit build restoration shaman perform incredibly well in 10-man raids and even on some 25-man normal encounters. I've also seen it become a bit more frequent lately, as more players are starting to pick it up and play around with crit stacking. I've also seen some impressive numbers on this. We'll come back to this a little bit later, though, so just keep this in mind for a bit.
Fast as fast can be, you'll never catch me!
Haste has been a fan favorite of restoration shaman for a while now, lowering casting times, lowering your GCD and overall just being a workhorse of a stat. Our first haste plateau is reached when we hit 916 rating. This gives Healing Rain, Earthliving, and Riptide all an extra tick.
The second haste plateau is when we reach 2,005 haste rating, and to be honest, it's a bit of a struggle to push to that plateau right now. You can do it, but you're likely sacrificing something else that's also important to do it. At 2,005 rating, your Riptide will gain an extra tick, which will help with triggering the two-piece tier 12 set bonus. Honestly, though, the extra mana gained from the extra tick of Riptide equates to roughly 50 MP5 if you never miss a cast in a 6-minute fight. That's not that much, all things considered, and the amount of stats you'd have to move around to get to the second plateau right now could be better spent on more spirit or another secondary stat.
I honestly don't think stacking haste right now has the same kick that it quite did in the last expansion. Don't get me wrong -- I still enjoy haste like any good shaman. But after reaching 916 haste, you really don't have to focus on it too hard, at least for now. This may change in the next tier of content, but only time will tell.
Alright, Leroy, who is the one and only master?
Mastery for restoration shaman really shines in this tier, and that is thanks in no small part to the massive amounts of raid damage and the tweak to allow our mastery to boost every single one of our healing spells. The new kid on the block maxes out its bonus when targets are around 40% of their health totals, and with many of the fights, this is a pretty common occurrence.
The basic rule of thumb is that that on any progression fight, mastery is your strongest secondary. So any time you find yourself in a situation where you'll have a raid full of people at low health frequently, mastery is your new best friend. Now, dumping everything for mastery is something I would not advise, no matter how strong a stat it can be. If you take too much and dump it into mastery, just like haste, you'll be doing yourself a disservice.
At this stage of the game, your secondary stat choices are going to be dictated by a few things: your healing team, the raid size and the raid content. If you're on normal mode or farm fights in a raid, crit is a strong contender. If you're pushing through heroic mode content or a progression fight, mastery will be something for you to look at having on hand. Intellect will always be your most important stat, followed by spirit. After that, get your haste to 916, just like in tier 11, and then you can play with crit and mastery as you see fit. At the end of the day, crit is just as viable as haste or mastery; it just depends on your raid team, healing style and the type of content your doing.
Totem Talk: Restoration lets you Ask a Shaman about the tricks of the trade. We'll introduce you to the very latest pre-raid gear and show you how to manage your cooldowns. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!