We've spent the last couple of weeks going over the history of the restoration shaman, dating back from the days of vanilla WoW all the way up through Cataclysm. I feel that no matter what your current stance is on shaman healing, we can all agree that it has been one roller coaster ride from then until now.
I'm an amateur game designer currently working on my own little indie game. Whether or not it will see the light of day is a topic for another day, but needless to say, things like class balance and character design are always of interest to me. With that in mind, I did pose a question for the last two weeks. It seemed like a simple question, but the answers I received were incredibly well thought-out. It made it hard to choose just a few for this week's article, and it may wind up making into a second part later on. Let's see what you, the readers, would propose for class changes to restoration shaman if you were head honcho for a day.
Many great ideas start with just a spark
This first batch comes from Vornado, who had so many great ideas I kept coming back to this email. It was hard to just choose a couple of ideas, but here are a couple I'd like to highlight.
1. Modify focused insight or unleash elements to supercharge chain heal into a 6 target chain heal with last 2 targets receiving healing equal to the third target. Add a 15-45s CD.
Chain heal has always been the signature spell of shammy healing. But in the current expansion I find myself rarely using it. As you explained, larger boss areas and more spread phases really diminish the use of chain heal. Also, healing rain is often a better choice when grouping is possible. The result is a signature spell falling by the wayside. This is a bad thing since so many talents and glyphs are linked to this longtime workhorse.
Obviously, the imbalance between chain heal's usefulness in 10 and 25 man makes reconfiguration difficult. But the supercharge option is one idea. Shaman already have 2 options for supercharging their next direct heal. Unleash elements and focused insight are both based on the premise of rewarding a healer who knows a big damage spike is coming and allowing him to supercharge a heal in advance. So why not allow the wise shaman to supercharge a chain heal for those known AOE healing spikes. This would also provide a sort of mini-CD ability for shammies, who are definitely lagging in this department.
2. Have telluric current talent also hit cap lightening bolt.
I am a big fan of the new direction of working in a few DPS spells into healing rotations. As a disc priest I am a HUGE fan of atonement healing. It allows a totally new style of healing. Plus a 7k DPS atonement priest provides a nice dps/healer hybrid when you are bordering between progression and farm.
The telluric current model also implements healer DPS nicely. Using lightening bolts as a mana return mechanism gives us regen flexibility and allows us to benefit from DPS boosting damage phases (Magmaw, Halfus, & Alysrazor come to mind). But atonement priests get a hit cap glyph. Shammy healers get stuck praying to the RNG gods that they haven't just wasted a cast late in a crucial fight. Giving hit cap for lightening bolt is a simple fix.
A couple of fine ideas highlighting a few of our weak points. With our recent four-piece tier 12 bonus allowing Chain Heal to bounce without worry of consuming Riptide, it seems odd that CH is considered such a situational heal. The idea of allowing us to control a boost to CH intrigues me, especially when considering that Focused Insight can be used to supercharge Healing Rain. While FI will boost Chain Heal, it still has more potential to help out and give us a little boost with competitive healing. Maybe have it reduce the amount of healing lost between jumps or having it push an extra target when active. It could even be done with a glyph. The only potential problem is how it will eventually scale. Later, as our numbers for intellect and spellpower go up, that could become quite troubling. Still, a solid idea if it could be implemented right.
I was also very intrigued by the idea of a glyph or talent adding hit to Telluric Currents. In some circumstances, it can be a must-have for mana regeneration and on fights like Magmaw and Alysrazor with the amounts of raid damage and built-in recovery phases. There are quite a few fights where you can squeeze off those Lightning Bolts for mana regeneration, and the idea of having something that gives you a little hit to help make sure those LBs land is something I'd love to see. I've personally had a few chains of misses that have just left me having wasted mana trying to gain mana. TC is deep enough in the tree that an elemental shaman can't double dip into the pool for extra hit, and it could be balanced in a way that doesn't break the game. I think this could be an idea well worth researching.
Vornado had many other awesome ideas, and seriously thank you for sharing them with me!
Redesigning Spirit Link Totem
This topic is something I actually got quite a bit of comments, DMs and emails about this one. Out of all the suggestions received though, here's the one I received the most frequently.
The idea of removing the totem requirement from Spirit Link Totem is something of a recurring theme. Some folks think that the idea of having it linked to a totem can be quite limiting for the spell and in many fights can result in its not being quite as useful as other defensive cooldowns like Hand of Sacrifice. Especially on fights where things have Cleaves, or getting grouped up or in general range of the boss is a bad idea, it can be difficult to make use of the totem, especially at this tier.
I would remove the totem requirement on spirit link and have it either emanate from the caster, or have it be cast-able on someone else and have it emanate from them.
I like the idea of having it radiate off of someone you pick while maintaining the same result, but that might wind up too close to the original concept and could be quite a bit hard to balance. Having it emanate from the caster I think could be a fantastic idea, but this would certainly cause the cooldown to be favored over other stationary cooldowns like Power Word: Barrier. Still, though, the idea of removing the totem restriction is certainly an enticing one.
Lodur's idea for change
My biggest problem is the lack of a personal cooldown or ability that allows us a pickup in throughput for a few seconds to handle some of the fights with periods of large burst. There are a ton of fights where we just have to work that much harder to keep up with burst damage, and while we have some tools, other classes seem to pull ahead on these fights. I'm thinking something like a glyph of Spirit Link Totem. The glyph would increase the healing done to everyone inside the totem's effect by 10%.
It might not sound like a lot, but that can certainly help out. The only downside is that it could potentially unbalance the spell. That said, it still has a 3-minute cooldown, so it has the potential to be balanced based around the cooldown alone. Maybe 10% is a bit much for the glyph, but something like that would be nice.
My second idea is to attach an additional boost to Spiritwalker's Grace. This could also be done through a glyph or potentially a tweak to a talent like Ancestral Swiftness. It could increase haste by an additional percentage for the 15 seconds that the spell is active. It already operates on a 2-minute cooldown, and it could add a lot of additional functionality to the spell. Right now, there are some fights where we don't have to use it at all. Alysrazor already gives us the ability to move and cast while under the effects of her feathers, so pretty much throughout the entire fight, the spell can be almost forgotten. It would give us another tool to help deal with burst damage and make sure that we aren't in a fight where an ability simply goes unused.
So what do you think? What would you present as a possible restoration shaman change if put in charge for a day?
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!
Now these aren't perfect ideas, and they are ones that could be fleshed out better or presented much better. I am far from a professional game designer, but these are the ideas I would likely present if I was in charge for a day.