It's the day of the great patchification! I have no clue if that's actually a word, but we're going to pretend it is. Patch 5.0.4 is the pre-Mists patch containing all of the major system changes well in advance of the expansion pack's release. It is both scary and exciting with the number of changes that are coming, and you can take some time today to prepare yourself for what is about to come.
Today, we're going to recap the upcoming changes for restoration shaman and make sure you have the tools to handle this massive upheaval. So grab your towel, don't panic, and let's make sure you aren't a sad panda when you log into game today!
I'd also like to take a brief moment and thank all the theorycrafters for all the hard work they've been doing finalizing, verifying and extracting all the numbers. Special thanks to Binkensein, Keldion, Hamlet, Derevka and Therya.
Dust off those spirit fingers!
One thing that is going to happen and needs to be noted right off the bat is that your stat priority is going to change ever so slightly after the patch is live. Previously, we were able to devalue spirit in favor of haste for throughput, but now there is going to be a renewed importance on spirit.
The reason for this is that with the new patch comes our fixed mana pool. At level 85, this is going to be 100k mana flat. If you plan on healing in any dungeon or raid up to Mists, spirit is going to become much more important to help regen and make up for that mana you're losing. So I propose your new stat priority should look something like this for patch 5.0.4:
Int > Spirit > Haste to 1,194 (782 for goblin)> Mastery > Crit > More haste
Intellect will still fuel your spell power even though it no longer gives you any mana, so it still is your primary stat. Spirit will take on a more important role than the other stats bases solely on the need for better regen.
Feel out how your mana is doing and go from there; personally I was sitting around 2,800 unbuffed before it felt decent. Your mileage may vary. After that, it's haste to 1,194, and I'm sure you're wondering why this oddly specific number. This is the amount of haste it will take for your Healing Stream Totem to pick up its bonus ticks, bringing the total to nine ticks per use. After that, I feel mastery is still very strong for us, specifically because it will help you with triage healing and getting a little more bang for your buck on lower-health targets. After that, it's crit followed by more haste if you have anything left over to spend. This is what I feel will help you out the most for your healing needs until Mists is released.
New glyphs are always an exciting proposition. Whether they are glyphs that have never been seen before or updates to our old favorites, there are usually some gems to take note of. This time around is no exception. There are a ton of glyphs that are new or have been modified. There are some very good glyphs, some mediocre ones, and some that are just loads of fun. The pre-Mists patch is a great time to try to get your hands on them or to play around with them if you can.
There are a number of glyphs being changed, and now is as good a time as any to make note of some of what I would consider to be the more important ones. Glyph of Chaining increases the jump distance of your Chain Heal by 100% at the cost of a 4-second cooldown. This is actually fairly handy on fights where you have to spread out, worth keeping an eye on.
Glyph of Riptide is probably my favorite new glyph; it removes the cooldown of Riptide but at the cost of 90% of your direct heal going away. It's honestly one of the best things we could hope to happen, giving us a rolling HoT and new functionality to one of our favorite spells. Add to that the fact that CH no longer consumes Riptide, and you have a recipe for success.
Glyph of Totemic Recall lets you recover 100% of the mana spent on your totems if you pick them up before they expire with Totemic Recall. This is a deceptively powerful glyph, especially if you are at your haste break point. Consider that you can use this just before HST expires; you can recover all the mana spent on the heal, making it effectively mana-neutral. It takes some practice, but if you get the timing down it really is quite awesome. Give it a test run and try it out.
The big news of the entire patch is going to be the new talent system, which is supposed to represent the culmination of the design philosophy of fun talents that aren't game-breaking. This takes the form of six talent tiers given out every 15 levels. What I'm going to present to you are just my choices, what I've found the most useful personally. I encourage you to try them out yourself and find what works best for your playstyle. Keep in mind that some talents may wind up working better than others on certain encounters.
Tier 1 is the survivability tier, and it is exactly what it sounds like. It's devoted entirely to keeping you alive. My personal favorite from this tier is Stone Bulwark Totem. Part of it stems from my forever love of totems. The other part is that I've found it incredibly useful on most fights. It's basically like having a personal Power Word: Shield for yourself. On top of being an awesome totem, it also has a really cool green spell-effect bubble. Having the absorb though is pretty handy, especially on fights like say Spine of Deathwing.
Tier 2 is all about mobility, either snaring your opponent or breaking slows used against you. They're honestly all quite useful, and for solo play Earthgrab Totem is really handy, but I've really liked Windwalk Totem so far. Again, just preference, really.
Tier 3 is the totem utility tier, in which all of your choices have an effect on your totems. Call of the Elements was recently nerfed, which we've talked about before, and Totemic Projection isn't quite as useful as I thought it would be. Now that Totemic Restoration is working normally, I think it is the most useful of the tier. Combine it with glyph of Totemic Recall, and you can make some pretty impressive things happen.
Tier 4 is the output tier, and though they're all really useful, I firmly believe that Ancestral Swiftness is still the best choice for us. It only has a 1-minute cooldown and lets any of our spells become instant-cast just like now. In addition, it gives you an additional 5% haste. Very useful when trying to reach that 1,194 break point.
Tier 5 is called the healing tier, and this is where we get Healing Tide Totem. Just like Mana Tide Totem, it has a 3-minute cooldown, but instead of giving mana, it gives back massive amounts of health to everyone within 40 yards of the totem. It is one of our strongest talent choices any way you slice it, and I highly recommend picking it up. It's just way too useful on every boss fight to pass up.
We won't talk about tier 6 yet, because you can't get it in game until after Mists is released and you level up to 90. We're not in a bad place come this patch day -- just some minor adjustments needed to rock out like only restoration shaman can. A little extra spirit here, a new glyph or two there, and you'll be healing your way right up to the doorsteps of Mists in style.
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!