Mists of Pandaria is proving to be fairly cool so far for many reasons. I've been absolutely enamored with the visuals of the new expansion. The lush zones even at this stage of the beta are absolutely wonderful, and for some reason, I just really feel at home in the setting. The new talents are interesting and involve some strategy when picking depending on what you're doing, and the new spell effects are pretty neat as well.
For all of the good that's coming, though, there are still some things that I am going to miss about being a restoration shaman when moving from Cataclysm into the brave new world. It's the classic inevitability -- in order to gain something new and move into the direction of progress, something must be sacrificed in exchange.
I miss my damn totem forest!
I've said this before, and I'll probably say it again at least a dozen more times: I really miss my totems. Over the course of now four expansions, it seems as though we've just been steadily losing totems. I've never really cared for losing totems, but in Mists, things have changed to the point where the entire mechanics of totems change, and by that very nature, a lot of our totems are gone.
The first on the chopping block were the passive totems, ones that you just set and forget. They've been pruned from the list, so to speak. The idea is that the totems will become much more interactive and instead of being things that you set down at the beginning of a fight and refresh periodically or when you move, you'll use them just like you would any other spell or cooldown in your arsenal.
It's a cool concept, but it something that I just can't get used to visually. I'm used to having all of these totems surrounding me and my group and, in some cases, acting as additional markers. I can't tell you how often I've used my four totems on heroic Zon'ozz to light the way for my group to stack up in the second phase and how often that's saved their lives.
I know that there's a glyph to try to remedy this, the Glyph of Totem Encirclement, but it's not quite the same. Most of our new totems have durations of merely a few seconds, with a few exceptions like Searing Totem, which boasts a full minute duration. There's just not nearly enough uptime in the current totem model to really have that same visual effect that has become synonymous with shaman over the years.
It seems like a nitpicky thing, but it is something that I'll miss a great deal. I tend to be a very visually oriented person when it comes to games. Yes, I like my lore and story, but I personally take a lot in visually, and my reactions tend to be tailored to that.
Healing Stream Totem: Just not the same
The change to Healing Stream totem is something else I've mentioned before, but after many weeks now of dealing with the change, it still is something I find myself struggling with. Healing Stream Totem was formerly just a passive heal, but it was a reliable passive heal. It didn't do quite so much that it tipped the scales, but it didn't do so little that you could just write it off. The new transformation sees the totem with a total duration of 15 seconds, and instead of healing everyone in your group, it now only heals the single most injured party or raid member within 40 yards of it.
Being turned into what is essentially a mini cooldown totem seems like a decent idea, but it's a short duration, a massive increase in mana cost and not a whole lot of healing done right now. It still feels incredibly clunky, and I think it needs to be tweaked further before it even remotely comes close to feeling truly useful. The mana increase from 3% base mana to 23% base mana hurts, especially when you consider how often you'd have to drop it with its new duration to get the same amount of healing out of it.
I'll be honest, every time I've tried to use it, I've found myself just giving up on it and just going with another heal instead. Cheaper mana, I can control where it goes, and it does more healing. I will miss the days where HST was a constant companion, and felt like a decent tool rather than a clunky mechanic. I may be in the minority on that one, but I stand by it all the same. It needs a better duration, a better effect or something to help it out. Either a longer duration or a lower base mana cost would definitely help.
Yes, I know that in Cataclysm, a lot of our talents were weird or either didn't have much in the way of usefulness or game breaking mechanics, but there were some fun little oddballs in there. Mainly I'm talking about Focused Insight, which you could do some interesting things with -- but to be fair, the quirky talents was something I was already missing with the Cataclysm revamp.
Now, though, all of the talents in our new talent trees all have a purpose, a clear utility. Don't get me wrong -- I like that. In fact, I like that quite a bit. Each tier, you get a useful tool to add to your arsenal that gives you a little utility, which you can swap around as you need to between fights. It's a cool idea and a cool concept, but I will always pine for those quirky talents that let you do some odd things or let you do something in a different way. Perhaps part of me will always pine for the days of The Burning Crusade and the resto shaman tank spec -- and no, I don't expect that particular gem to ever return.
What will you miss?
So with the Mists beta chugging along and things set to change sooner rather than later, is there anything you'll be saying goodbye to that you'll be sad to go? Any changes that you're not looking forward to in the upcoming expansion?
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!