Totem Talk: It's all about the Mana Tide

Joe Perez
J. Perez|01.18.11

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Totem Talk: It's all about the Mana Tide
Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement and restoration shaman. Want to be a sultan of swing healing? A champion of Chain Heal? Totem Talk: Restoration, brought to you by Joe Perez (otherwise known as Lodur from World of Matticus and co-host of the Raid Warning podcast), shows you how.

So last week, we had ourselves a little bit of a Q&A for restoration shaman. The post went live on the same day that the patch 4.0.6 shaman changes were announced. A lot of what we talked about changed as a result of those notes, causing a lot more in the way of questions and concerns from just about everyone in the restoration shaman community. While some of the changes are being hailed as pretty bad or downright nerfs, there are quite a few tweaks and buffs. This includes the new restoration shaman casting animations that are being put into the game.

While we have done some analysis of the changes, I felt it would be good to really take a look at these changes a little more in depth. I've spent the last few days really poking around on the PTR trying to see exactly what effect these changes have on us, and I'd like to share that with you.

Before we get started, I want to apologize to anyone who has tried to email me in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, due to an email mishap, they did not make it through. Since then, I now have a new email address. So, feel free to email me at the new address, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Mana Tide or Mana Trickle?

This is probably the most talked-about change for any healing shaman. Our beloved Mana Tide Totem is getting quite an overhaul come the next patch. As it stands right now on the live server, restoration shaman can pretty much break the entire mana regeneration model for healers with use of this iconic spell and a lovely little trinket called the Core of Ripeness. Asking healers in group with the healing shaman to pop this trinket pretty much doubles any average healer's spirit and lets Mana Tide just fill his or her mana bars back up. That 350% spirit gain was just too good when combined with things like this. This was definitely a problem and goes against what the developers at Blizzard had built for mana regeneration in Cataclysm.

While a lot of people blame the trinket and are calling for the trinket to get nerfed instead of the spell, it honestly isn't the trinket's fault. Our spirit totals are going to just get bigger and bigger as time goes on, as will our gear and enchant effects. All the trinket really did was highlight the problem early on.

Let's review what the changes to Mana Tide are.

Mana Tide Totem has been redesigned. The totem no longer multiplies the Spirit of those affected by it. It instead gives a flat amount of Spirit equal to 400% of the casting shaman's Spirit, exclusive of short-term Spirit buffs affecting the shaman when the totem is dropped. In addition, its effects are now raid-wide.

At first glance, this seems pretty bad -- I'll admit that. No longer counting spirit procs like Heartsong, various trinkets, and set bonuses seems like a pretty big nerf. While that is somewhat true, those procs will still benefit our overall mana regeneration, as will Mana Tide Totem. So what do the changes mean?

Well first of all, our spirit total will be very important, as it is now the baseline for the regeneration it grants all the people affected by it. This is similar to Innervate, and it allows us to predict roughly how much mana it is going to restore to everyone. It has also increased to 400% up from 350%. This is better than it seems, honestly; it means that we get a little extra boost to make up for the lack of procs counting and that it will continue to scale as our gear and stats scale.

With 2,216 spirit on live, when you use MTT, your spirit without any procs goes to about 9,971. On the PTR, this would equal 11,080 spirit. Just keep in mind that this will continue to scale with you and your gear. In practical application, this means that you can expect to get roughly 25% of your mana bar back with use while in combat. You'll still want to use it pretty aggressively, but 25% of your mana bar is nothing to sneeze at.

The last thing to note is that the spell is now raid-wide. That's a pretty big change and means that you don't have to worry about where you put your restoration shaman in the raid. I can't help but feel the conversation that Matt Low and myself had on the topic helped to make this so.

Chain Heal gets some lovin'

Chain Heal has always been an iconic restoration shaman spell. It danced into our hearts as an all star in The Burning Crusade, as the Alliance finally got to see what the Horde has been enjoying since the days of vanilla. This smart heal has lost some steam in Wrath, though, and has transitioned from a spammable heal to a situational tool in Cataclysm. This time around, it is getting a little bit of a boost.

In the 4.0.6 PTR, it is getting an additional 10% boost to its healing. This seems like a pretty minor change right now, and it won't make CH anything more than still a situational tool, but it is still nice to see Blizzard is starting to pay attention to the spell. The 10% boost is nice, and with it, you can expect to get about 1,000 extra healing out of it at the current tier of gear. This does also help compensate for the Glyph of Chain Heal, and on the PTR, I find myself using it a little bit more than I do on live right now. The boost really does help to heal groups when forced to stand close enough to make use out of CH, especially when every point of healing counts.

Greater Healing Wave getting greater

Greater Healing Wave
is getting tweaked in patch 4.0.6 as well. Its cost is getting increased by 10%, but its effectiveness is getting a 20% boost. GHW was supposed to be our big heal for when a target was very low and was in need of some major healing all at once. This was great in theory, but in practical application, it wound up healing for about the same amount as Healing Surge. As it stands, there's no real reason to use it, as it heals for the same amount (roughly) as HS, only with a longer cast time.

With 6,500 spellpower on live, GHW will heal for about 17,000 non-crit. In the PTR, it heals for about 23,000 non-crit. That's a fairly substantial increase and certainly helps separate it from HS while making it worth the extra cast time. On the PTR, I find myself using it quite a bit to bring tanks back from the brink of death and close the gap on very large health deficits. The spell is really starting to feel like Blizzard originally intended it to be, and that is a good thing. It is really beginning to feel like this is a smart choice in certain situations instead of being completely overshadowed by its faster partner. Hopefully everyone will see the same results with this spell after it is altered.

Patch 4.0.6 is all about balancing, and for the most part, the changes that restoration shaman have to look forward to are pretty good overall. Even the change to MTT isn't as bad as everyone seems to have thought when it was first announced. Many of the changes seem to be an attempt to address recent concerns about shaman healing being behind the other healers, and I think they do a decent job of doing so without making us completely overpowered. While I would have liked to see CH get a little bit more of a boost (maybe 15% instead of 10%), our tools are starting to feel right about where they should be. It's also very nice to see that the developers are looking at how we are balanced this early into the expansion.

Totem Talk: Restoration will show you the basics of endgame resto shaman play as well as how to find the expansion's best reputation gear for resto shaman and tips for easier leveling. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!

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