After covering monks, priests, paladins, and druids, there is one class left to review: shaman. How are they going to fare entering Mists of Pandaria?
Totems ... gone!
They're not really gone. They've switched to more of a utility focus now. Looking at the entire list of totems available, not a single one provides any type of stat increase. Totems that provided passive buffs like Flametongue Totem, Mana Spring Totem, and Stoneskin Totem have been removed. Healing Stream took a nerf cannon to the face, now only affecting a player now instead of whole groups.
No significant additions to the healing spells front, I'm afraid. Spells like Riptide, Chain Heal, and the various Healing Waves will continue to be your bread-and-butter healing spells.
One notable aspect I'd like to mention is the increase in spell modifications from assorted glyphs. Need extra raid healing or extra range? Glyph of Chain Heal and Glyph of Chaining to the rescue. Want additional sustainability for yourself? Try on Glyph of Healing Wave.
How about a spammable healing over time spell? Glyph of Riptide gives shaman that capability. Even though you lose out on the initial instant heal, you can now be a pretend priest and blanket the raid with one HoT spell.
And then there's Glyph of Healing Stream. Can't seem to think of a great use for it, but I'm sure it'll come in handy when you tackle bosses that scream elemental damage.
While there haven't been a whole slew of new healing spells or changes to them, you'll enjoy the variety and flexibility that the glyphs offer you. But speaking of healing spells ...
I'm still struggling to get my shaman to 87. The server crashes and lagging are really preventing me from making serious progress. The Water Ascendant form seems to be the big winner between the elemental and enhancement forms. Even though having a no cooldown Lava Burst is appealing for elemental, you just can't beat having an Ultraxion Essence of Dreams buff on demand.
The talent rows for levels 75 and 90 are exciting for restoration. We'll start with a look at the level 75 ones first.
- Healing Tide Totem This is the shaman version of a Tranquility or a Divine Hymn. Shaman now have two strong, defensive responses against potential raid wipers. Between Healing Tide Totem and Spirit Link Totem, your raid will weather even the strongest of attacks. I would go as far as saying that Healing Tide Totem amplifies shaman desirability in progression encounters (especially true for 10-man raid teams).
- Ancestral Guidance Seems to be a solid pick best used when dealing in encounters that involve your raid being far away from each other but in groups. It's an ability that makes your direct healing spells duplicate their healing down (at a lower strength, of course).
- Conductivity My other favorite talent would this one right here. If you're a chronic Healing Rain user or if you see an opportunity to use Healing Rain often in encounters (because of numerous stacks required by the raid), then this is my other selection.
What about the super-cool level 90 talents?
- Unleashed Fury (Earthliving Weapon) Not too shabby at all. When you use Unleash Elements with this talent, it amplifies the effect even further on top of the original Earthliving Weapon. Good pick if you're assigned to prioritizing tank healing. It could make your next Greater Healing Wave, well, greater!
- Primal Elementalist You thought your elementals were fun the first time you used them. Then Blizzard introduced a way to inject your elementals with steroids. With the Fire Elemental, not only does it still cast Fire Nova and other incendiary spells, but you can have it Empower yourself and increase your healing done. The Earth Elemental has a similar ability that can Reinforce you with a shield that cuts down on damage taken by 20% while increasing your healing output. Sounds like the two elementals can be stacked together with both healing abilities activated simultaneously.
- Elemental Blast This is a basic stat-boosting talent. You'd have to keep spamming it every 12 seconds or so to benefit from the increased secondary ratings. It is another spell you'll have to add to your list of uptime maintenance. Ultimately, the question is how worthwhile the extra secondary stat is. I'm going to assume that the stat boosted is determined by which stat you have the most of. My first instinct says to grab a ton of haste and rely on that. Not quite sure how much 3,500 rating is in percentage. We won't know that for sure until level 90 is available.
Where do shaman belong on the raid team?
If you were going to create a raid healing team consisting exclusively of one healing class, shaman would be my first pick. Access to Healing Tide Totem and Spirit Link Totem virtually guarantees raid uptime as long as players are all staying within range of them. You can drop both totems at the same time for crazy healing and mitigation! Shaman get an A+ for raid healing, hands down.
Unfortunately, shaman don't have much in the way of single-target tank saving cooldowns, although one could theoretically rely on Totemic Projection to launch a Spirit Link Totem at the feet of your tank. Coupled with the melee players in range, that totem should help your tank mitigate potentially lethal blows from a boss. Even then, while I know that they have ways to cope and deal with healing tanks (and their Deep Healing Mastery helps greatly with that), it feels a little weak to me.
But hey, that could be a Matt problem. At least there's the beta available for me to learn, right?
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to firstname.lastname@example.org. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.