Out of the loop
Before we dive into potions and elixirs, I'd like to talk about a change in the latest Cataclysm beta. Build 13277 brings with it a fairly important change for us, as well as all other healers. Our area effect healing is being altered slightly. For restoration shaman, this means our Healing Rain is getting a little bit of a nerf. The healing effectiveness of our spells now diminishes for each player beyond six within the area. This is a fairly significant change as far as raiding is concerned, and to be perfectly honest, it's something I've been expecting for a bit. In a recent 10-man Blackwing Descent, we had three shaman: one restoration, one enhancement, and one elemental. At one point during the Onyxia portion of the Nefarian encounter, we counted out 2 seconds from the first Healing Rain cast and layered them on top of each other. The area that was affected by the spell healed for a ton and it reduced the amount of healing strain the other healers and myself were under.
Reducing the effectiveness of the number of targets beyond six makes sense, really. It means that it won't have to be taken away from other non-resto specializations, and it keeps us from abusing the spell in a raiding environment. Now, don't be discouraged here; other healers are getting the same treatment. Holy Radiance, Efflorescence, and Holy Word: Sanctuary all now have the same "player cap." Healing in a 25-man raid still feels the same; the only real big difference is that you will have to pay more attention to where you place Healing Rain in order to make sure you get maximum effect. In a 5-man dungeon or heroic, you will see no change; the same holds true for 10-man raiding, since you'll be hard pressed to get more than six people on the spot unless the fight specifically calls for grouping up. So while it is a large change, it's not much to worry about.
Alchemists have been supplying consumables for our various tasks for quite some time now. You are probably used to carrying a stack of Potions of Speed or keeping that Runic Mana Potion ready just in case it's needed. In Cataclysm, we get a lot of choices. Some of them are good, others are better and some are situational.
Ghost Elixir is one of the first new elixirs that you will begin to see. This elixir boosts your spirit by 225 for an hour. While you are leveling and early into level 85 healing, this can be quite handy to help boost your mana regeneration. Since it is made in the fairly early levels of the Cataclysm alchemy, it should remain fairly cheap
Elixir of the Cobra is also extremely useful for us. With our crit ratings getting hit pretty hard at level 85, every little bit helps. This elixir boosts our crit rating by 255 for an hour. While it might not seem like much, it can often be handy to give yourself that little extra. The potion itself gives you a little bit over a percent of crit, but 1 percent is still 1 percent more than you had before you downed the elixir.
Potion of Concentration is very similar to the Major Dreamless Sleep Potion. This potion restores a large chunk of mana at the expense of taking you out of the fight for 10 seconds. 22,000 mana is nothing to scoff at, and your normal mana regeneration continues while you are asleep. It can be quite scary to think about not being able to move or heal for 10 seconds, and in a 5-man or heroic dungeon, I wouldn't suggest it. But in a raid environment, there are quite a number of spots this can be useful. I'll use the Nefarian fight as an example here. There is a phase change where the room fills with molten magma and you are forced to hop up on platforms about the room. During the transition you actually get a lot of time where you aren't moving. At moments like this, it is safe to use the Potion of Concentration, and I've been employing it quite effectively in a raiding environment.
Elixir of Mighty Speed gives us an additional 255 haste rating, and Elixir of Mastery increases our mastery rating by the same. First instinct for a lot of shaman coming out of Wrath of the Lich King is to immediately stack haste. The problem is, at least at first in Cataclysm, it isn't the best option. The second instinct I'm seeing displayed is to stack mastery above all else. While mastery is a good thing and can be useful, again, it may not be the best choice. I would choose Ghost Elixir or Elixir of the Cobra over these options.
Mythical Mana Potion is our upgraded Runic Mana Potion and restores between 9,000 and 10,000 mana. Mythical Healing Potion replaces the Runic Healing Potion, and restores between 7,500 and 12,500 health. Players may consider carrying Mighty Rejuvenation Potion instead. In most fights, you will be taking damage as well. Being able to restore mana is good, but being able to restore mana and health is better. It restores between 7,200 and 8,800 health and mana, and while it is slightly less than the other two stand alone potions, for us healers, being able to replenish our health and mana even by a little bit can be quite handy.
Similar to Wrath, there are two flask choices for healers. Flask of Flowing Water and Flask of the Draconic Mind. Like Ghost Elixir, the Flask of Flowing Water increases your spirit. This flask gives you a 300-point boost and will persist through death. For early healing in Cataclysm, I found it very useful until I could get a full set of level 85 dungeon gear. Flask of the Draconic Mind increases your intellect by 300 for an hour and persists through death. Once I obtained a full set of dungeon gear, I found switching to this flask was preferable. Int gives us our mana pool totals and is the stat from which our spellpower is derived. So unless you find yourself needing that little extra mana regeneration, this gets my suggestion as the way to go.
So those are the healer-friendly alchemical concoctions that we have to look forward to when alchemists start upgrading their profession. And while the actual alchemists get some nifty things, like being able to turn into a dragon, there are still plenty of options and goodies for us. So keep your eyes open, and you may find yourself some special treasures.
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether it's Sarah Nichol's elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Rich Maloy's enhancement edition, WoW Insider's shaman experts have you covered.