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Totem Talk: Revisiting restoration's optional talents

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 For the Lore and Raid Warning podcasts), shows you how.

The ask a restoration shaman article last week is something I'd like to start doing a little more regularly. You guys provided some awesome questions and offered amazing feedback. Seeing readers answering questions as much as asking them makes me proud to be a member of the shaman community!

Today's post comes as a request through last week's call for questions. When our talent trees were revamped to the current model, one of the goals was to make some optional but fun talents. Some of the talents have proven to be insanely useful and almost mandatory, while others seem completely out of place. Today we're going to talk about some of restoration's "optional" talents. Oh, and if you have anything you want covered in a Totem Talk post, feel free to email me!

When the new talent trees were first announced, there was some fear as to how they would work and what kind of specs we would start to see. One of the things that the developers stated was they wanted to make fun talents, optional talents that could give a distinct flavor to your spec. This has been successful among the classes to varying degrees. What about restoration shaman?

Staying current

Telluric Currents is one of the new talents that when introduced seemed that it would either be more of a novelty talent or a PVP talent. The idea of interrupting your healing in order to throw a Lightning Bolt seemed so foreign to us, myself included. It came across like a way to squeeze in extra DPS without costing mana. The original assumption was that it would be mana-neutral until much later on in the expansion. Basically, it seemed like a cool idea but one that wasn't going to be that big of a deal.

The truth of the talent, though, came out shortly after its release. It wasn't just mana-neutral; it was quite a viable way to regain a lot of mana. Fights like Magmaw provided clear spots when you could quite safely cast LB continuously, making it obvious that you can easily regain a ton of mana if you know when to use it. The strategy has become pretty commonplace right now, and there are a ton of different specs that support it. I know I've relied fairly heavily on this talent throughout all of normal mode Firelands. I feel as though it has become almost a necessary talent at this point, which seems to be counter to the original concept. That said, I'm quite happy overall with this talent and how it worked out. While it may not be optional, it is pretty fun.

An accurate resolve

There are two talents that have often been classified as optional talents by the community at large but are not necessarily fun. Ancestral Resolve and Acuity often have points shuffled in and out of them. Acuity is pretty much a flat bonus with a maximum investment giving you a 3% increase in crit. It's become a somewhat more talked-about topic recently due to the change in critical healing. Crit has gotten a bit of a boost, moving from 150% to 200%. That said, at the end of the day, the talent still gives only a flat boost to crit. It's basically there if you need the extra crit, but it won't make or break your healing experience.

Ancestral Resolve at its maximum level gives you a constant 10% damage reduction as long as you are casting something. It was a talent that at first glance was almost written off as a pure PVP talent, but with all the raid damage going around in Firelands, it has seen some renewed interest. Fights like Beth'tilac, Majordomo Staghelm and Ragnaros have tons of AOE components that, well, hurt. Reducing your incoming damage means you have a little more wiggle room when it comes to healing yourself. Combine it with a Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem and you can get some serious survival potential. I think that if the trend of wide AOE damage continues, this will become more of a staple talent than an optional one. But only time will tell on that one.

Concentrated comprehension of a life unleashed

Focused Insight allows you to reduce the mana cost of your next healing spell by 75% of your various shocks' spellcasting costs while increasing the healing done by 30%. When the talent was first released, there was a ton of speculation on how it would actually work and whether it would have any impact in PVE. In patch 4.1, the talent got a few tweaks to change how it acted. The first change was that you gain the bonuses regardless of whether or not the shock hit the target. You don't have to worry about stacking hit, as long as you cast the spell the talent triggers.

The second change was that it affects each tick of Healing Rain on every target within the spell effect area. That can amount to a pretty significant amount of extra healing in a raid group. It can be a little tricky to pull off, since our shock spells have a bit of a shorter range than our heals, which require you to be positioned close to the boss. That can be tricky on some of these fights but not impossible.

Another thing to keep in the back of your mind is whether or not you can burn the GCD. Sometimes it simply is better just to cast a healing spell rather than stacking a buff. Now, the cool thing about this is that it does stack with Unleashed Life.

Unleash Life by itself is an instant-cast healing spell that is the result of Earthliving Weapon and Unleash Elements. Not only does it give you an instant heal that you can use every 15 seconds, but it boosts your next direct heal by 20%. This is a pretty nice boost when you get to use it. Combining it with FI can give you some big heals. I've been playing around with combining the tool for some nuke heals, and it's been working pretty well. On fights like Baleroc where there is heavy but predictable damage, I can line it up so that UL and FI are up and I can bomb one Greater Healing Wave on the Decimation Blade tank.

To give you an idea how it works, here are some quick numbers for comparison using Healing Wave as the base.

  • HW without any buff average 8.4k
  • HW with UL average 10.4k
  • HW with FI average 10.8k
  • HW with UL and FI average 13.5k
Just imagine those on a bigger heal on a target at lower health and triggering your full mastery. It can be quite handy.

All of the talents that were dubbed optional or fun when they were first released seem to have all fallen into a niche of one type or another. Each has its own usefulness or drawbacks. The only problem I see is that they aren't really the fun flavor talents that we thought they would be. This far into Cataclysm, what do you think of our off-beat talents?

Totem Talk: Restoration lets you Ask a Shaman about the tricks of the trade. We'll introduce you to the very latest pre-raid gear and show you how to manage your cooldowns. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!

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