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Cataclysm Talent Preview: Restoration shaman

Joe Perez

Remember a little more than a month ago when we started seeing leaks of the talent trees from the Cataclysm alpha? They were popping up on sites all over the place, and quickly thereafter torn down at Blizzard's request. We got a sneak peak at the shaman talent changes, and I was lucky enough to get to talk about them a little bit before they got torn down. Since then, we have been wondering what of the glimpsed changes would stay and what would go, and in truth whether or not they were completely real. Now, however, Blizzard has released a talent preview for four classes: druids, rogues, priests and shaman. So we now have an official preview for all three talent trees for all four of these classes. Seeing as we have now moved past leaked information and onto official news, what do we have to look forward to as restoration shaman?

What we know

Not a lot of surprises there; we knew these changes were coming even before they were leaked. Reducing the amount of latent crit rating also reduces healing throughput, which falls right in line with everything we have been hearing about Blizzard attempting to make healing a little more difficult. Changing Ancestral Knowledge to give a bonus to maximum mana instead of an increase to int affects the amount of mana return we get from Replenishment as well as reduces the effectiveness of talents such as Nature's Blessing. Again this follows the track being laid down by the developers to add consequence to healing. Reducing mana gains is one sure way to do it, and if it becomes too much later on, it can be adjusted through various avenues such as increasing ability scores on gear to compensate.

New talents

So, out with the old and in with the new, right? There were a couple additions to the restoration talent tree.
Focused Insight
Rank 5/5
Requires 15 points in Restoration talents
After casting any shock spell, your next heal's mana cost is reduced by 75% of the cost of the shock spell, and its healing effectiveness is increased by 25%
We caught a glimpse of this with the alpha leak, but it would appear it is real and it is here to stay, at least for now. I talked about some of the merits of this talent before, and even now I can begin to see the usefulness of it. I talked about previous fights that had us using shocks in rotations with healing in the past such as Fathom-Lord Karathress, where it was not uncommon to have a restoration shaman on interrupt duty on the priest with Earth Shock, or even Karazhan, where you could find a shaman using Frost Shock on Tinhead or Flame Shock on Strawman. It would not be too surprising to see something of these former fight mechanics make their way back into use. While I know in raids today there is a ton of redundancy and in Cataclysm there will be even more so, we can't forget about smaller groups such as heroics. The LFD tool has made it very simple and easy to run heroics and there may be times where you may not have an ideal group for every fight, so you may find yourself throwing shocks around when things get hairy. This talent could come in handy in those situations when we are forced to use our mana in other ways.
Ancestral Resolve
Rank 2/2
Requires 25 points in Restoration talents
Reduces damage taken while casting spells by 10%
Again, we saw this with the initial talent leaks, and it seems it was real after all. After seeing fights like Halion and living through The Lich King encounter, I can understand how something like this would be useful. In Cataclysm, the developers have been stressing that every healing spell you cast will be a choice and will have its own consequences. Whether the consequence is wasted mana or picking the wrong heal for the job, Blizzard wants to increase the difficulty in healing. In fights with a lot of raid or group damage going out, the less you have to worry about your own health, the better. Keeping yourself alive as a healer is a priority, and in fights where you find yourself pumping out Chain Heals like a machine gun, taking 10% off the damage you are taking can really add up.

Looking ahead

Restoration shaman have always been one of the more stable classes and roles. While there have been tweaks here and there along the way, we have not seen the same level of sweeping changes others have, and these talent changes seem right in line with that. The restoration talent tree still feels very familiar and our tools are still there, even if they are modified some. While there is sufficient shuffling of the talents, I think that we really will not see much change in how we heal until we get the final word on our new spells and the new mechanics for healing and mana regen, or unless there are vast changes to these trees from what they are now. I do find it interesting we see few talents directly affecting any of the spells we were told about in our class preview. There is still nothing listed that affects Healing Rains or any mention of Spirit Link yet.

Keep in mind that this information is subject to change at any time as things are balanced and as the game enters and moves through its development and beta paces. This is not the final draft and talents may be removed, combined or completely obliterated as time moves on. But what if this was to be the final release of the talents? How do you feel about them? Be sure to check back as we will keep you up to date with any further changes on the road to Cataclysm.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From goblins and worgens to mastery and guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

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