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Totem Talk: Restoration healing blues

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.

While the last few articles have been focused on the upcoming patch 4.3, lately there's been a new set of concerns that's popped up regarding healers, mana and restoration shaman abilities.

The official forums are a place that is both infinitely scary and amazingly wonderful all at the same time. You're as likely to find the next greatest bit of news as you are the next and most terrible meme. That said, I find myself on them more often than not, digging around for the latest news and concerns from other players or just for a laugh. This past week, though, a thread sprung up about healers going into the future, and our own Matt Low has covered it in his post from an all-healer perspective.

The thread has a number of blue responses and many of the answers directly relate to restoration shaman. Over this last week, I've received a number of emails about this thread and thought now would be a good time to go over it and address some concerns.


I might have read this wrong, but I thought they meant that int would no longer increase your mana pool as it does now, but having more spirit would mean more regen, and unless I'm very wrong I don't think it would change anything apart from making spirit more meaningful and making our mana increase come from regen instead of a more static mana pool. For now I'll content myself with believing that this could actually lead to more mana over a fight, and hope I'm not living in a fantasy dreamworld when the reality is that no matter how you gear your performance will never, ever change

Hey all, here's some more information from Ghostcrawler about this topic- This is our intent. We aren't trying to nerf healers across the board, and if we were, there are cleaner ways to do that. What we want to do is make the role of the stats less ambiguous. Currently, when Intellect drives mana pool and Spirit drives mana regen, then they are both longevity stats and interact in complex ways. With the change we are proposing, Intellect provides bigger heals and Spirit improves longevity. For healers, there should not always be a clear cut answer. Intellect may still be the superior stat, but not by as much as it is today. (Again, for healers -- DPS specs aren't designed to run out of mana if they use their regen mechanics every now and then.) Mana pools can still be large (we are thinking 100,000 mana at level 85) so that it doesn't feel too bizarre to existing casters and doesn't feel too much like rage or energy.

In addition, we think fixed mana pools will help healers scale better with content. Some players seem to be interpreting the 5.0 design as healing 5-player dungeons should be easy but healing raids should be very hard. That is certainly a better situation than dungeons being very hard and raids being easy, but neither is really the goal. We want the increase in difficulty to be linear. If you can handle dungeons, you should be able to graduate to raids with the normal incremental gear improvements that most players get. This is particularly true of normal and Raid Finder difficulty settings. Heroic raiding will remain more challenging, but even in that case, keep in mind that the challenge of a raid encounter is often its complexity, which requires the group to learn and execute a lot of mechanics.

Gearing up will still be rewarding and meaningful. You'll still feel as powerful as you do today. Intellect and Sprit will just do different things. If you find yourself routinely running out of mana on raid fights, you are probably either overhealing a lot or the group is taking a lot of damage that is intended to be avoidable. A fight like Phase 2 Beth'tilac on heroic is about as mana-intensive as things get, and that phase doesn't last very long, so your mana-regen mechanics and cooldowns should be sufficient to keep you going. That won't change in 5.0.

The concept of fixed mana pools is scary to healers. Right now, we stack intellect and we stack to a certain point of spirit. Intellect currently gives us our mana pools and is the determining factor in how our spellpower is determined. That said, having your mana pool capped by your level would, at first glance, seem incredibly limiting -- especially when Blizzard says that it is looking at somewhere around 100,000 mana at level 85 as the current benchmark.

Some folks have even said that this is a way to make encounters harder, by not allowing healers to brute force heal through encounters. I'm sure that is some small part of it, but the idea is to force healers to actually balance stats like spirit and intellect more than they do now. I mean, let's face it: We currently get to somewhere about 2,000 to 2,600 spirit and then just stop stacking it in lieu of more intellect.

Truth is, as shaman, we shouldn't really fear this. We're triage healers as it is, right? We're used to saving up mana and casting heals when necessary, filling in our other GCDs with things like Lightning Bolts. Gearing will still give us an increase to our healing effectiveness going forward, it just means we'll be putting a little more emphasis on spirit. If you healed through The Burning Crusade, this really won't be too terribly different than when we stacked MP5 like champs. If anything, this brings us closer to our healing roots. We'll still have our mana cooldowns like Mana Tide Totem and Telluric Currents to help us out, so don't panic just yet.

That brings us to the second point of today's article.


I would point out the shaman's talent Telluric Currents. This talent scales mana regen with damage done. Since Int increases damage done, this talent allows more regen for better stats. With low end gear the mana regen can be negative since the cost of the spell outweighs the mana regenerated. With high end gear the opp set can be true.

Yes, good catch. That is an example of an Intellect-scaling regen mechanic. It would be easy to convert it to something like the paladin mechanic of Judgement granting X% of your total mana.

This is something I'm actually surprised hasn't been brought up sooner or implemented in game. The original concept for TC was to give you something to do to regain some mana and to fill the gaps when you weren't healing. What it wound up being was a necessary talent that wasn't the small mana gain it was originally intended to be but instead a massive mana gain for restoration shaman to keep filling the tanks. Especially when you consider that fights like Magmaw and Alysrazor actively reward you for dealing damage to the boss in certain phases. There are many fights where my raid healing team is low on mana and calling out for Innervates and other mana cooldowns, while myself and the other restoration shaman on the roster are sitting pretty on our mana totals.

Even if TC gets changed to only grant us a percentage of our total mana, unless that percentage is super-low to the point that we get less mana back than casting the bolt, we should be just fine. Seal of Insight returns 15% of base mana to paladins when they use it, so I would expect us to be somewhere in the same neighborhood if Blizzard were to make such a change. That's not terrible, and it would let us know exactly how much we're getting back per level. I've been informed that this is supposed to change in patch 4.3 for paladins -- but even still, the point stands.

Overall, any changes to healing that will come with any 5.0 updates are something you shouldn't fear. First of all, it's going to be quite a ways off. We still have Deathwing to deal with and then any pre-expansion events that pop up before Mists of Pandaria comes out, not to mention the months of beta testing for the next expansion that will test any and all of these changes before they ever reach live servers.

Second of all, we've weathered far worse. If nothing else, restoration shaman are by our very nature resilient and persistent. Changes happen, and we keep throwing heals. You just can't keep a good shaman down. Lastly, any changes to healing will have an effect on every single healing class. No one will escape from them -- and I don't know about you, but I choose to look at it as a glass half full situation.

We've seen other healers explode on the scene in Firelands, in some cases ridiculously so, this is a perfect opportunity to level the playing field some. Especially considering that there is going to be a fifth healing class added to the mix that operates in what is potentially a completely different manner than the other classes do, there will certainly be a ton of rebalancing before the next expansion comes out.

For now, just ride the wave and wait for the dust to settle, because I have a feeling that we'll be just fine at the end of it all. So for those of you who have been sending me fretful emails about this, don't worry quite yet. What do you think of the potential changes to healing and mana in patch 5.0?
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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