Well, I finally got my hands on some beta access for Mists of Pandaria, and the first thing I did was make sure good old Lodur got copied over for some healing experimentation. I mean, after all, that's what I live for. Before doing any healing, though, it was time to poke around and see how things have changed.
And boy, have they! Even though I expected it, it was quite jarring to log in to Mists and see that Lodur had a measly 100,000 mana to work with. Any of you out there would probably notice that this is almost half of what we're sporting on our final run-through of Dragon Soul. While it is daunting, it's something that we have to keep in mind will be compensated with mana regen and increasing the mana pool as we level up to 90.
First impressions of healing
Keep in mind this is the beta, and very early at that, so this will likely change, and what I'm about to tell you is just my impression on how things stand right now. Things are rough; I'm not going to sugar-coat this one for you. If you get in the beta and start to heal, expect bottom-of-the-barrel mana scraping and relying heavily on your group to be smart and execute encounters properly.
I felt many times like I was barely healing, only to be completely out of mana after doing almost nothing. It hurt. It was a shock, and it really made me frustrated at first. The damage is nothing too unmanageable, and with careful orchestration of cooldowns and abilities, we were able to progress through the first dungeon relatively easily. It just required my sitting down and drinking after almost every pull.
When I went into the dungeon the Temple of the Jade Serpent, I was sporting the almost full mastery reforge setup I currently use for many of our heroic boss fights. Noticing how rough things were, I decided to give the temple another go but instead swapped everything around to pure haste and spirit in an attempt to maximize my mana regen and work with some faster heals. The end result was sadly the same. Even with these adjustments, I had to drink after every pull, and boss fights took that same careful coordination. This isn't a bad thing, mind you, and I support groups' having to work through boss fights together just like at the beginning of Cataclysm. But it was still rougher than I would have liked on healing.
I've come to the conclusion that this is the result of a few things. First off, while the mana pools' being normalized is itself fine, I think mana regen hasn't really been balanced or weighted properly quite yet. I've heard stories of other healing classes having similar experiences, so I think we'll likely see some changes in that department.
Second, I think that spell costs as well have yet to be given the looking over I think they need. Healing Wave even felt mana-intense at some points, and that just seemed foreign and weird to me. I suspect we'll see further adjustment in both aspects before we really can judge how healing is going to look for restoration shaman in an output versus cost.
Last, a lot of our toolkit is being adjusted a little, whether it is from the base spell itself or the glyph we load out for that spell. Case in point, take our dear friend Healing Stream Totem. Compare what it is on the live realms now to what it looks like in Mists. It's no longer a source of constant passive healing. You can no longer treat it like the Ronco Rotisserie & BBQ Oven and just set it and forget it. Instead, it's been turned into a mini-cooldown that has a 30-second cooldown but only lasts for 15 seconds, with ticks of healing every 2 seconds. It's also had its base mana cost raised from 3% on live to 23.5% on the beta. It has also had its spellpower coefficient increased so that it heals more, but the tradeoff here is that it will also only target a single person at a time. It feels clunky and honestly doesn't feel like it heals for quite enough right now.
I'll admit it gets better if you glyph it, but it still feels awkward, at least to me. I think more of our healing tools will get adjusted as time goes on in the beta and feedback is given, so further tweaks may be in the future.
Glyphs, glyphs, everywhere glyphs
Probably something you've taken note of is the ever-changing list of glyphs we have available to us. To be honest, it's one of the things I'm most excited about, because it seems almost like this is where we'll get the most chance to customize our healing to fit the needs of the content. I've already pointed out the glyph for HST, but there are quite a few amazing glyphs that can alter how we perform.
First I'm going to gush about the new Glyph of Riptide. I'm absolutely in love with this glyph, and it was certainly love at first Riptide. While it's true the spell has certainly had its cost increased by a few percentage points, the glyph removes the cooldown of the spell at the expense of the instant heal. Still, no cooldown on the ability means that you can just roll it all day long to your heart's content. Combine this with the fact that Chain Heal no longer consumes Riptide, and you have an amazing combination. Honestly, even with the increased mana cost, it's still a damn fine HoT. It won't turn you into a druid, but it's still a lot of fun.
Glyph of Chaining is another very interesting glyph that lets you double the distance that your chain heal can jump to, with the penalty of having do 15% less healing. The Glyph of Chain Heal is still around and combining the two can be a great one-two punch. There are some fights where people will have to be running around or just simply won't be inside of jump range, and I can see this being pretty handy.
Even our frenemy Telluric Currents is back, this time as a handy-dandy glyph. This time, however, it reduces the damage done by our Lightning Bolts by 30% but increases the mana return to 50% of the damage dealt. Overall, with first testing it looks like a slightly lower return on mana at level 85 than currently, but it has the potential to explode later on. It's a great way to keep it around for players who want to use it, without making it feel like it's mandatory.
Overall, the glyphs feel like ways to customize our healing further for the various fights we'll be facing. I'm confident we'll see more of them or further tweaks to come, but it's a neat idea, as far as I'm concerned. What better way to diversify your healing toolkit than to make it something the player themselves can customize as needed? The best part is that none of them feel necessary so much as that they will each have a place and use without completely overshadowing all the other.
Well, that's my first impression of the beta, at least so far. Keep an eye out for my YouTube videos for Panda Watch for updates between articles. Next time, we'll be chatting about the new talent system and how that's working out.
Totem Talk: Restoration lends you advice on healing groups, DK tanks and heroics and mana concerns in today's endgame -- or take a break and look back at the rise of the resto shaman. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!