It's been a very exciting few weeks for restoration shaman as a group. First, we got to see the new look of the tier 13 shaman gear. It's a good-looking set, that's for sure. We then got a chance to see our tier 13 set bonuses. Both the two- and four-piece set bonuses are actually quite nice, and I'm looking forward to getting to check them out in a live environment soon.
Last week, though, we got news of the PTR going live, and with it came a number of restoration shaman changes. To be honest, there were just a lot of general shaman changes in the works on that patch right from the get-go. For the past week, I've been playing around with the PTR and the changes, through both new dungeon content and current raids. Today, I'd like to share my experiences of the last week with you.
Oh Wind Shear, my Wind Shear
The change in the general cool-down for Wind Shear is something I originally didn't think would be such a big deal. I mean, we're healing, so it shouldn't make that much of an impact, right? Well, I'll admit it, I felt the sting of the cooldown change quite a bit. It was particularly noticeable when running the 5-man dungeons. There are several mobs that have cast times that can be interrupted in the new dungeons, enough that having access to multiple interrupts is quite beneficial to the group.
Being one of two in our group with a ranged interrupt it wasn't so bad, but it was noticeable. I would hit one caster and then I would reach for the spell again to interrupt the next cast, only to get that spell is not ready yet message. It was quite jarring to not be able to do it, especially when I was so used to being able to. Now, it's not so bad considering that a lot of classes have interrupts that they can use; I think it's mostly going to be training yourself not to reach for that button if it isn't an emergency.
This was a bit of a change that was unexpected, to say the very least. Ancestral Healing now increases the maximum health of targets affected by it by 5/10% of the amount healed. This caps out at 10% of the target's maximum health and lasts for 15 seconds. It doesn't stack with other restoration shaman with the talent, and doesn't trigger from heals from procs. Seems like an odd change at first glance, and one that wouldn't have much of an impact on your healing, but I was shocked at how much it really did come in handy.
In 5-man dungeons, it really helped with adding a little extra cushion on tanks who might have needed a little more gearing or health to make it through an encounter. Hitting the queue for a random heroic of the new 5-mans, I got a few tanks who had average health totals. Some of the bosses have the potential to hit pretty hard, and that extra 10% health really gave me enough of a cushion to save the tank and spike heal them up.
There were also a few fights where the tank has to move out of your range, like the Echo of Jaina, who has a tendency to Blink around and make you move with her. That little extra health can let the tank take that extra hit and survive while you move to catch up to him. Even the old dungeons and heroics like Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub were a little easier with that extra cushion. It helped give that edge to healing tanks that might have had a little bit of a low health pool for the content.
Now, I didn't just do heroics or regular dungeons to test this out; I also hit up some of the current raids, as well. It was almost universally helpful for every boss attempted, with the exception of Baleroc. It seemed to cause issues with Decimation Blade if it happens to fall off right as a strike is being calculated. Now, this may still get fixed, especially considering that this is a PTR and things are subject to change and be fixed or updated at any given point of time. But for right now, it was something I either had to drop for that one encounter or have someone else jump on the tank during the decimation phase. It wasn't horrible, though, and the RNG could have been much worse, so I won't complain too much. It's just something that I think will bear watching. I will keep an eye on it in the next few weeks and will report back any changes that I spot.
Ride the Riptide
Riptide also got a bit of a boost in patch 4.3, namely that the periodic heal over time got a 50% increase to its healing coefficient. Might not seem like a lot, but it really is a nice buff. Consider our four-piece set bonus for a moment. It allows Riptide to stay up even when the target is the first person targeted by Chain Heal. It has become quite easy to keep multiple instances of the spell active on multiple targets without fear of cutting our HOT short.
So the real question is how much of a buff is it?
In 5-man dungeons, you'll notice the difference right away. The extra healing is incredibly useful and helps level out your healing a little bit. Giving the spell a little extra oomph means that you'll get quite a bit of extra healing every 6 seconds and can help alleviate some of the healing pressure in the dungeon content. On fights where I had to move around quite a bit, placing Riptide on the tank like a good healing shaman, I was able to breathe a little easier while making my run to position.
In raids, it's very handy but nothing game-breaking. At the current gear level of tier 12, you can expect to get around an extra 1,500-2,000 out of the HOT. While it will certainly help, it won't sure up all the shaman healing numbers by itself. Personally, I'm waiting to see the impact the change will have when you're in tier 13 content and our mastery is in full effect. Once I get the chance to test it out in tier 13 raids, I'll be sure to report back.
The changes are quite nice in the next patch and I think will serve to help us well in the long run. To be honest, buffs are buffs, and I'm happy with any that we get. I can really see the potential, especially with Ancestral Healing giving that extra maximum health. Overall I think we're in a good spot moving into the next tier of content, though I expect we might see a few more tweaks before patch 4.3 goes live. So what do you think? Have you been on the PTR and tested out our changes?
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!