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Totem Talk: Echoes of Doom Restoration review

Matthew Rossi

Last week we talked Enhancement. This week, it's Restoration's turn as we move through patch 3.0.2, ward off angry zombies and get ready for Wrath of the Lich King. Last week I was hesitant to talk about glyphs, but it's clear that you guys want to talk about them, so we'll do that too. First off, behold in all his cobbled together glory my orc shaman, wearing a miz of Karazhan, PvP, badge and heroic gear (with the exception of a blue mail chestplate from a quest) - wearing this gear I have successfully healed heroics, Headless Horseman attempts (but let us be honest, the new DPS and tanking abilities make that fight a complete joke at 70), and a variety of PuG raids including a relatively successful Black Temple PuG.

Right now, I'd say Restoration is a powerful healing spec, but the problem is, it's hard to tell how powerful when all the content has been reduced to the point where fights that used to be hard can now just be muscled through. Prince Malchezzar, already a pushover once you're in Tier 5 or better gear, died so fast on my most recent Kara run that I barely had time to cast a few Riptides. Phase 2? Oh, yeah, that already happened? This makes the effects of the downranking and potion changes on mana efficiency rather difficult to determine as we progress forward. For now, I have no mana issues whatsoever, because everything dies before I can even look crosseyed at my mana bar.

Okay, first off, let's talk about spec. I am running with this build, which I am not entirely happy with. I'm considering going with this spec instead, as I'm not seeing a lot of mana issues at present and the benefit of Healing Way after Tidal Waves procs seems like it would make Healing Wave worth casting a lot more. I find my current healing style is to use Earth Shield almost constantly on the tank (no more mana cost) and throw Riptide around as my 'everyone else' heal, then use Chain Heal as my primary healing spell, only casting a Healing Wave if Tidal Waves procs.

I'd really like to go up the enhancement tree to get Improved Shields, an extra 15% on my ES would be lovely, but for right now I simply can't forgo the deep restoration talents for 8 points in enhance when I don't even have all I want for 61 points. I might dump Cleanse Spirit, which makes me sad, but as you guys have often pointed out a talent point in a bloated tree is worth more than an extra decurse in a raid setting that has it covered already. I'm also debating Imp Water Shield. I may take it out and see how my mana holds up, and if it turns out I'm undervaluing it I'll pick it back up. But I really want Imp Shields, so we'll see if I can make the room.

So far, I'm really liking how the tree shakes out in actual healing. Riptide is a spell I didn't even know I wanted, an instant cast heal with a heal over time component that I can just dump on a rogue or ret pally who's taking damage for whatever reason and then forget all about them. The Chain Heals I'm using on the tank will take care of any additional healing that they require. I also really enjoy Earthliving, as it seems to proc faily reliably. Last night I ran ZA as DPS (for my upcoming Elemental post) and saw several procs of the healing shaman's Earthliving on me, enough that I actually started to find it a little annoying (change that sound please, Blizz). In general, having an instant cast heal outside of the "Oh crap oh crap oh crap" combination of Nature's Swiftness and Healing Wave appeals greatly to me, so much so that I almost lost sight of the Heal over Time aspect of the new spell.

What's interesting and lovely (and which was pointed out to me by another healer on a 18 person Tempest Keep PuG that we did to get someone his VR shoulders, which of course he did not drop) is to see the synergy between Earthliving, Riptide and Chain Heal. Throwing Riptide around when it's up means that lots of people can get the benefit of the bonus to CH if they happen to need it, and on each CH I throw I see at least one Earthliving proc per cast. Shamans have an unusual but potent HoT capacity now, which still seems in the spirit of the RNG that abilities like Windfury have cemented as a shaman 'thing'. Meanwhile, Tidal Waves is pushing me to cast Healing Wave more, so I'm having to adjust and learn when it's best to use a cast time for a big HW over an instant cast like Riptide, changing my dynamic to some small degree while still feeling like a shaman.

I still never cast Lesser Healing Wave. Sorry. I probably should, but I can never come up with a time when I need a fast clutch heal that I wouldn't use Riptide or NS/HW for it. or even NS/CH.

Since I was a huge proponent of downranked healing to conserve mana, I never really chugged a lot of potions. But whether you were a potion addict or a downrank monkey like myself, the game has changed and you're learning to adapt. I have to say, while I'm not having a lot of trouble keeping up right now (there's been one fight, Halazzi in ZA, where I had to use a potion) I do wonder if this trend is going to continue as we start leveling.

As for glyphs, the major glyphs I want right now are Glyph of Earthliving Weapon and the Glyph of Chain Heal. I say want because I can't find either of them. But once I have them, we're talking a total 25% for Earthliving to proc on every jump of Chain Heal, and four jumps total. That fourth jump isn't going to do a lot of healing by itself, no, but as a means to get the Earthliving HoT effect spread out I find it beautiful and a nice combination of glyphs. For resto, I can't really see a reason to take other major glyphs like Glyph of Healing Stream Totem. Minor glyphs I'm looking at for restoration are the Glyph of Water Shield (extra charges are always good) - I haven't seen Glyph of Mana Tide on live so I have no idea if it's a major or minor glyph. If it's minor, I would definitely use it, as I use mana tide almost reflexively unless I need to remove poison or disease a lot.

I really hate the Glyph of Renewed Life. If you use Reincarnate as a pop up to keep healing on a boss fight, it's an excellent glyph, I admit it, but I often find myself using it as a wipe recovery tool, so I find it annoying. Still, I'd probably use it, I have had horrible luck getting this dude any glyphs and it's somewhat vexing at present. Where are the shaman glyphs, AH? I know three people leveling this profession and none have any glyphs for me! My warrior's drowning in glyphs, show a shaman some love!

Sorry, needed to rant.

In general, the tree feels solid, maybe even bloated, and it's working for the content I'm seeing, which is way above my previous gear level. Ghostcrawler's promised us some changes to how healing works similar to what they've done for tanking (and if it's as much fun as tanking is now, bring it on) but for now Resto still feels powerful and versatile, and my fears for mana regen have been put on hold until I see more Lich King content.

Next week, Elemental. Both my orc and draenei are going elemental: does that draenei racial make up for lost hit? How are we faring on mana regen? And how's our damage? I'll let you know as soon as I know, and discuss concerns for level 80 shamans.and AoE dps.

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