The raid structure for the current tier has proven to be quite interesting. It is very reminiscent of tier 11 raids. I have gone on record many times saying how much I loved that setup, having multiple zones to go to which added variety and decreased my burnout by quite a bit. Tier 14 mimics that setup in, what is my opinion, the best ways. It offers not only a variety of locations but also a variety of mechanics to test any raid.
Terrace of Endless Spring, the last of this tier's set of raids, is one of my favorites in a long time. I love the look of the zone, the lore of the zone and most of all I love healing the zone. Why do I like it so much? It has, in what is my opinion, some of the most shaman healer friendly fights we've had in a while. This is not a healing guide for ToES, that will come later, but rather just my impressions on the zone as a whole through the eyes of a restoration shaman.
Busy Boss Fights
I really like encounters that shift or change while you are doing them, or that have multiple phases that cycle. It sort of keeps you on your toes, and helps keep the fights from feeling stagnant. I also enjoy it because those types of fights see you having to manage your resources differently than more traditional fight, as well as having to dig deep and make use of your complete healing toolkit. Terrace does exactly that in many of the encounters, and that is something that is a very good thing especially for resto shaman, who in my opinion tend to adapt or shift gears better than most. Each boss offers a different compliment of abilities that force you to maximize the use of your toolkit, using everything you have at your disposal.
The first boss, the Protectors of the Endless, has a number of different effects and damage types that you will have to heal through. It is comprised of three individuals that each have different abilities to contend with. You can defeat them in any order, but the other in which you beat them will see their abilities transfer between each other, and will dictate a level of difficulty beyond just normal and heroic. This is very similar to The Assembly of Iron in Ulduar in that regard.
Elder Regail will have you purging Lightning Prisons whenever it goes out, otherwise it will deal damage and stun the target for several seconds. It also spreads to to all players within 7 yards of the target. So be prepared to hit those Purges. Touch of Sha will persist until Protector Kaolan is killed. This is a raid wide DoT that cannot be dispelled and just keeps pouring on the damage, and you will have to manage AoE healing while dealing with everything else. Lightning Storms will have to be avoided, constant spikes of direct damage dealt with, and constantly escalating damage. The thing is, that while there is a lot going on in this fight, everything has an answer from our toolkit. More damage being dished out? Mastery will kick in and help make up the difference. Raid wide damage? Healing Rain, Chain Heal and Spirit Link Totem were made for the job.
Lei Shi is another multi-part fight with different phases, each with unique mechanics that you will have to contend with. Animated Protectors will spawn then Lei Shi uses Protect. They deal quite a bit of damage and you will certainly have to heal through it, but they are also susceptible to crowd-control effects. You can use Capacitor Totem to stun them and buy some time for your group to burn them down. Hide will give you time to stabilize the raid since it's not a high damage phase. Get Away! will force you to utilize anything you have to move and heal. Targets that move take less damage, and it's a perfect opportunity for you to use Spiritwalker's Grace and Healing Tide Totem. Every heal we have is great when you factor in Afraid, which makes Lei Shi cast faster the lower the boss health total goes will just mean more damage to heal, and again our mastery pulls through for us especially later into the fight.
These are just fun and busy fights for us, and shaman excel at healing them. Really it's just refreshing to have a raid zone that all of our abilities, and it's the most fun I've personally had since heroic Chimaeron.
Tsulong, the Healers Fight
Tsulong is by far my favorite fight this tier of raiding. It is honestly the most fun I've had since heroic Chimaeron. It is a fight that revolves around your healers, because if they are on their game they can end the fight quickly. For restoration shaman, this fight is simply amazing. The encounter is divided into two parts, the night phase and the day phase. During the night, this is more a traditional boss fight. Tanks grab aggro and position the boss where he needs to go, there is a stacking raid debuff that goes out dealing escalating damage that has to be cleared by running through the lone Sunbeam all while avoiding void zones. That stacking debuff can easily be handled by shaman using Stone Bulwark Totem and Call of the Elements to double dip on the bulwark and handle a lot more stacks of the debuff. That's not why this fight is amazing though.
The day cycle is the healers cycle. Tsulong no longer is evil, so to speak, and now you swap over from having to deal damage to him to having to heal him. If the healers can bring him to full health before his energy hits 100, the encounter ends in victory. Think of it like the Valithria Dreamwalker right back in Icecrown Citadel. Here's why this fight is awesome for restoration shaman. First of all, you can Earth Shield Tsulong. Since there are adds that will attempt to get to the boss to damage him, it does nothing but good to toss earth shield on him. Second, his health starts out very low in the phase, meaning you're going to be getting the full effect of your Deep Healing with every heal you cast. If that wasn't enough, if you stand in the bosses Sun Breath and gain the buff Bathed in Light, you will gain 25% of your mana and your healing done will increase by 500% for 6 seconds. Let that roll around for a little bit, 500% healing done and full compliment of your mastery? It is amazing, and I've seen shaman pull some absolute crazy healing done on that fight.
Tsulong can also be healed by your Healing Rain, so you can keep it under him for pretty much the entire day phase. Rolling Riptide, Healing Tide Totem, and Healing Stream Totem can all be used on him, and both totems will target him pretty much through the entire phase unless someone in your raid spikes super low. Even Chain Heal will find it's way to Tsulong if you happen to heal someone other than the boss. Pop Ascendance to spread some healing love around. It really is as if this boss fight, and in particular this phase, was designed for resto shaman.
Personally, I love the entire zone, I think it feels right from a healers standpoint. I like that throughout the course of the four encounters here, you get to use all of your tools and feel good about doing it. You still have to make smart choices, and manage your cooldowns like normal, but that's all part of the fun right? I'm curious if you've gotten to see these fights and this zone and if so what do you think about them?
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!