Recently we've been focusing a lot on the here and now, which is always good, but this week I thought it would be time to take a look at what's coming up. The PTR is alive with the sounds of music... or at least the thrashing and ravings of the soon to be defeated Garrosh. Patch 5.4 is starting to take shape with a the world receiving more changes for one particular area.
There are some very interesting changes right now for restoration shaman on the PTR, and they lead us to a point of speculation on what the next tier of raiding will bring for us. These are changes to glyphs and new set bonuses for tier 16 gear that may be portents for the future of shaman healing. As always this is information gained from the PTR and is subject to change prior to going live.
The Writing is on the Glyphs
This is one of those changes that I didn't expect, but I personally think speaks volumes as to what we can start to expect to see in the next tier of raiding. There are two glyphs in particular that received an update, Glyph of Chaining and Glyph of Riptide. So what are these changes exactly? Well, lets looks at glyph of chaining. It still increases your jump distance on your Chain Heal ability by 100%, but the penalty has been reduced by a considerable amount. Down from 4 seconds to 2 seconds, this is a very reasonable and manageable downside for the jump distance increase. Glyph of Riptide now sees the instant heal reduction moved down to 75% from 90%, and that is nothing to scoff at when you figure the stat jump we'll be making with the new gear available for tier 16.
These are really good changes for us, don't get me wrong, I just can't help but feel that these buffs to these glyphs are overpowered and at the same time heralding some difficult times ahead. Take a look at glyph of chaining. The reduction in the cooldown is a great incentive to take the glyph, I mean who doesn't want to have a chain heal that jumps 25 yards between targets? This is also the case with Glyph of Riptide, which while it is largely considered one of the best glyphs we have, having the instant healing penalty reduced begs the question why.
My prediction is that this is the first step in attempting to make our spread healing more viable than it currently is. Currently the hardest fights for us are the ones in which many people are spread out and can't take advantage of our group heals like Healing Rain. So changes to these two glyphs start to make me wonder about what we're going to be facing in the not so distant future. It speaks to the fact that we're going to have a lot more spread out fights, where our groups are going to have to stand far apart, or be divided into subgroups, for mechanic purposes. To me it means that we're going to be relying on these two spells more than we already do and that we're going to have our work cut out for us as healers very soon. Of course, these could change at any time, but at a first glance that is the impression that I get.
Set Bonuses on the Horizon
When looking ahead to the next tier of raiding, it's virtually impossible to do so without looking at what our set bonuses are going to be. Those set bonuses matter to any raider, no matter whether you're going through raid finder or fighting your way through heroic content. I personally like looking at them and attempting to figure out why those set bonuses in particular. What do they bring to the table for us in terms of healing? What does it mean to the type of damage we will be seeing or the encounter mechanics we will be facing?
Tier 16 2-piece bonus is actually fairly interesting as far as the choice goes. As it stands right now, the two piece set bonus makes it so that whenever Earth Shield heals a target, the target gets a shield that will absorb incoming damage equal to the amount of healing received. I say it is interesting because it winds up being sort of shieldception, basically where it is a shield inside of a shield. It's a good set bonus, and it basically lets you double dip on the shield which means it's going to be doing a lot of work, especially on tanks who tend to be our more traditional targets for ES. This leads me to believe that we're going to see some bigger tank hits in the next tier. I really like this set bonus and I'm looking forward to seeing it in action.
Tier 16 4-piece bonus, well this one I'm not sure if I like it or not quite yet. It's interesting for sure, it basically lets you summon a mirror version of yourself that will mimic all cast time targeted spells for 15 seconds whenever you cast Spiritwalker's Grace. There's still just so much about this that we don't know yet. Will spells like Ascendance interact with it? Will the heals that the duplicate casts benefit from Deep Healing? I could see it swaying us pretty heavily into the haste camp for secondary stats pretty easily. From my own limited testing so far, it seems to target your same target and cast your same spell, as long as it's something you have to target someone with like Greater Healing Wave and Healing Surge. This set bonus basically turns SWG into a tank healing cooldown if I've ever seen one, and while I've been asking for a tank healing cooldown for a very long time know I would really like it to not be tied to a set bonus or to SWG. I'm also not too thrilled with SWG continually being given things that make it a throughput cooldown. It then gets relegated to either you choose to use it to mobile heal or for big healing output, which sort of defeats the purpose of the spell in the first place. It is a set bonus that I will be watching very closely until it reaches live servers.
That's the initial reaction so far to what's coming in patch 5.4, but again things could still change. I know that I'm very intrigued to see what is in store for us, and how these changes will evolve before they reach live servers. I expect that these glyph changes will shift still, and the set bonuses as well, but only time will tell. What do you think of our patch 5.4 goodies so far?
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!