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Totem Talk: Restoration shaman healing post-patch 4.0.6

Joe Perez

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.

Last week, we talked about preparing for patch 4.0.6 and all the changes that were going live. People didn't quite know what to make of the patch; they were either terrified about it or eagerly awaiting it. Since then, I've been looking at the various opinions on the changes in regards to our healing. Some people have been loving the changes, while others still aren't quite sure what to make of it.

It has officially been seven days since the patch has come and gone, and I thought today we would talk about how things look a week later. While today celebrates the one-week anniversary of the patch, today is also probably one of the greatest days of the year for me. I put another notch on the totems today, and that means I'm going to get to collect some epic swag!

Has our healing really improved at all?

This really is the big question burning in everyone's minds right now. Has shaman healing really changed all that much? If you read the official forums, you're going to get a lot of mixed views on the topic.

The patch buffed our mastery, our Greater Healing Wave, and our Chain Heal. I think those buffs honestly helped out quite a bit. Before the patch, my own 25-man healing was hovering around 8k HPS, topping out at 10k HPS. After the patch, I hit a new all-time high on the Valiona and Theralion encounter in The Bastion of Twilight. The healing team consisted of myself, a restoration druid, a discipline priest, a holy priest and two holy paladins.
I'll be honest -- when I saw that, I had to pick my jaw up. Pretty significant boost compared to the week before. While not every single fight was like this in numbers, it shows what a few minor tweaks can do.

If you'd like to see the spell breakdown, here are the top three healing spells on that fight:
Healing Rain, Chain Heal, and Earthliving came in the top three. They were followed up by Healing Wave, Earth Shield, and Greater Healing Wave. Admittedly, on that fight I pushed Chain Heal pretty hard, but I had many opportunities to use it in a 25-man environment. Now, this is no different from how I healed the fight the week prior, but it's a pretty good proof that the buff to Chain Heal was just that -- a buff.

Greater Healing Wave has come into its own as a Hail Mary heal. Before the patch, Healing Surge was healing for just a hair below GHW. This, combined with HS's shorter cast time, meant the big brother wasn't seeing much action. After the patch, though, it has really differentiated itself from its quicker companion. I've logged heals in excess of 87,000 with GHW on lower-health targets. Part of this is due to the buff that GHW received; the other part is the tweak that mastery received. While only a slight tweak, it has helped keeping those lower-health targets alive. While I don't have an exact number to quantify the change with quite yet, just through normal healing, I've noticed those lifesaving heals have gotten bigger.

As other healers gain more gear and learn encounters, the HoT from Earthliving will decrease as more people are being healed or more damage mitigated. It's hard to tell exactly how we're going to scale in the upcoming content and level of gear, but for right this moment, we're in a good spot. Other shaman healers have reported that Earthliving seems to either be proccing more or healing for a little bit more than before the patch. It seems as though we may have possibly gotten a little ninja buff, but there's been no confirmation.

How is that new Mana Tide?

This is probably the biggest change we received in the patch. The developers made a few tweaks to Mana Tide Totem that caused a pretty big scare among the members of the healing community. Here's how the changes wound up in the end.
Summons a Mana Tide Totem with 10% of the caster's health at the feet of the caster for 12 sec. Party and raid members within 40 yards of the totem gain 400% of the caster's Spirit (excluding short – duration Spirit bonuses).
Looking at that, you can see some things that look good right from the start and other things that don't. First of all is that the ability has been opened up to the entire raid standing within 40 yards of the totem. Removing the group-only restriction is a big boon and allows us to be moved anywhere within the raid without having to worry about what group we are stacked in.

The second thing is a boost from 350% spirit to 400% spirit. That additional 50% is fairly substantial when you consider that it will scale as our spirit stat rises.

On the flip side, it now only gives back mana to the raid based on our spirit totals. No longer will it check each individual and adjust its total. While that isn't bad by itself, now you have to look at the part that says it excludes short-duration spirit bonuses. The wording here seems a little bit open-ended and has left people very confused as to what exactly this means.

The shaman community has been hard at work trying to find out what exactly will give our MTT a boost. So far, here's what is being found to affect it.

Things that will not affect it:

Basically, any trinket that has a random spirit proc or onuse effect will not boost MTT.

As it stands right now, if this remains unchanged, this isn't at all bad. Looking at it now, it really only goes to show that Blizzard was trying to make sure we couldn't really break the mana regen model with a spell and some trinkets. We made a call out to punish the trinkets, not the shaman, and it looks like Blizzard did just that. The spirit trinkets are still pretty useful, and if you use them every cooldown, they will still give you healthy boost to your regeneration.

A little more spring in our step

So far, the patch has been treating me very well. I've gotten a little more spring in my step while healing, but it really is just a little bit more. Druids and paladins are still pretty high on the pecking order, and they are recently joined by discipline priests who are now showing some pretty astounding results. There's still a gap between us, and while that isn't so bad in and of itself, many are still quite concerned.

I think the majority of the community concern comes from the silence from the developers on the topic of healer discrepancy. While the changes contained in the patch have definitely moved us in a positive direction, I don't think we're close to being done quite yet. I expect over the course of the expansion that not only will our healing will be tweaked a bit more, but the other classes will get some adjustments.

How has your post-patch 4.0.6 healing experiences been so far? Any new concerns? Anything that was a concern that isn't now?

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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