Restoration shaman PvP
Restoration gets Earth Shield
as a basic specialization, one of the best defensive PvP spells in the game. Essentially, it's a scaling reactive heal that opponents need to match in DPS simply in order to get something through. Restoration shaman excel in the battlegrounds because of access to AoE heals and a lot of utility. As with all healers in today's world, offensive spellcasting has been thrown into the mix, and the best battleground healers will take turns casting heals interspersed with offensive spells. There aren't a lot of PvP-centric talents in the tree, but let's take a look at some that should help you out on the field.
- Ancestral Resolve It's a flat 10 percent damage reduction, which is great. The catch is that it only kicks in when you're casting something. This basically means you should always be casting something. That's not a problem, considering shaman have a lot of spells with cast times. In Cataclysm, you'll also learn Spiritwalker's Grace, which actually lets you cast things while moving. Delicious.
- Focused Insight I'm skipping most of the obvious heal bonuses in the tree for this discussion and focus on other things, such as Focused Insight, which encourages the use of shock spells. Think of it as a heavily discounted shock spell that boosts healing. In the battlegrounds, there's just no reason not to use it, and it allows you to hold up on your own offensively.
- Nature's Guardian Granted, going below 30 percent health is very dangerous in PvP, but if there's anyone who can get out of that hole, it's a restoration shaman. Nature's Guardian is a hefty three-point investment that will kick in a lot of times in PvP.
- Ancestral Healing and Ancestral Awakening Though neither talent is particularly intended for PvP, it's notable that crit has a higher value in the new environment. You'll want to stack crit, and it actually will be helpful in PvP as well as PvE. Ancestral Awakening is also an important component for keeping you or your allies alive because it's a passive bonus heal on top of what you're putting out.
- Nature's Swiftness This is still one of the best activated abilities to have, now safely (and for some, tragically) out of the hands of elemental shaman. Remember what I said about getting out of that below-30-percent hole? This spell plays an important part of it.
- Improved Cleanse Spirit and Cleansing Waters Improved Cleanse Spirit is important because it establishes restoration shaman as one of the specs that can remove magical debuffs, formerly one of shaman's weaknesses. Add to that the bonus granted by Cleansing Waters and it becomes almost counterproductive to apply debuffs when a restoration shaman is around. Note that Cleanse Spirit will still go off even without a target nowadays (and not proc Cleansing Waters), which means you should use it prudently; otherwise, you'll drain your mana unnecessarily.
- Telluric Currents This is another one of those talents that encourage mixing things up. The developers encourage healers to cast offensive spells during downtimes, and this talent makes sure that it won't waste your mana and leave you gasping for heals when you actually need it.
- Tidal Waves This is a practical no-brainer in that you'll actually be casting the spells required to reduce the cast time of spells with cast times that you'll want reduced, anyway. This means you'll be able to throw out faster Healing Waves and Greater Healing Waves when you need them. You can also glyph with Glyph of Healing Wave (major) to make sure you keep yourself topped up right along with your targets.
Healing is going to be great in an environment in which targets actually stay alive a lot longer. This also means that healers will be prime targets for focus fire as never before. Restoration shaman have a lot of tools at their disposal in such cases, anyway, and you also get a lot of flexibility when it comes to your PvP glyphs. I'd recommend Glyph of Grounding Totem
(major) and Glyph of Hex
(major) to round out your major glyphs for a more control-oriented style of play. The Glyph of Grounding Totem, with proper timing, can be used to rebound crowd control spells, which should make the extended cooldown well worth it. The ability to Hex
every 30 seconds is going to be powerful in long combat engagements, as well.
Personally, I'm pretty excited to get hopping as enhancement in the battlegrounds, somewhat-gimped DPS notwithstanding. Among the three specs, it currently offers the most exciting playstyle, and the best enhancement shaman can frustrate opponents by controlling the tempo of a fight. My only question is whether I'll be rolling a goblin from scratch or ponying up for a race change for one of my oldest characters ... decisions, decisions.
Zach delivers your weekly dose of battlegrounds and world PvP in one crazy column. Find out how the Cataclysm talent tree redesign affects PvP, how sub-speccing will work at higher levels in the expansion, and how the new Azeroth will affect world PvP. Visit Blood Sport for the inside line on arena PvP.