Totem Talk: Responding to Resto Concerns for Patch 5.4

Totem Talk Responding to Resto Concerns for Patch 54 Tuesday

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 content creation at InternetDragons.TV), shows you how.

September 10th looms ever closer, and with the Siege of Orgrimmar coming now having a release date, it is officially crunch time for any and all hot fixes and changes. That means we're starting to see some rapid fire changes right at the end, and restoration shaman are not exempt from those last minute modifications.

Interestingly enough, some of the changes we're seeing spawn from the recently discovered lag source that is healing in 25-man raids. The changes that we're seeing are causing quite a little bit of alarm for shaman, and there was an attempt to address it on the forums, at least a little bit.

Some Blue Text about a nerf

So first off, yes, these changes are indeed being made as measures to help with the input lag problem. We obviously recognize that they're pretty big changes and we're going to have to do some additional tuning as a result (and that goes for everyone effected, not just Shaman).

Looking at some of the Shaman-specific concerns we've seen come up:

Earthliving Weapon: We recognize that the changes mean less opportunity for Earthliving to proc, but we're not sure it's overall a big deal. Given Earthliving's duration and the fact that the new, "smart" Healing Rain will still be hitting several targets (just not all at once), we still expect that a decent number of people standing in a Healing Rain will still wind up with Earthliving active. If there is a negative impact, we don't expect it to be a big one. It is something we'll keep an eye on, though.`

Ancestral Vigor: This we consider to be a good deal more important, as keeping Vigor active on as many targets as possible is one of Resto's strengths (and feels good as part of their overall kit). Due to the ramp-up time, we feel that having Vigor fall off is a much bigger setback than Earthliving. We haven't made a final call on exactly what we'll do here yet; one idea we've discussed is extending Ancestral Vigor's duration, but that could easily change as we continue tuning.

Ancestral Guidance/Ascendance: We're not sure there's actually a problem here. Currently, past 6 targets, Healing Rain's actual healing output is reduced per player it affects. The end result is that roughly the same amount of raw healing is going out if it only hits 6 players as it would if it were hitting 25. In fact, in many cases, it could actually be more. If even one of those 25 players were already at full (say they've got a bunch of absorbs on them, or used something like Divine Shield or Dark Bargain), that amount that previously would have just been overhealing will instead be allocated to someone else that actually needs it.

Again, we recognize that these changes are going to require some extra tuning, so we'll be keeping a close eye on how things shake out in continued testing.

Let's take a stab at the first part, Earthliving Weapon and Healing Rain changes. The behavior of Healing Rain continues to be tweaked, in this case and most recent incarnation, it's becoming a smart heal that will heal the six most damaged players standing in it at a time. We've covered this before, but it's an important fact to keep in mind while we talk about this. Not only has HR been changed into a smart heal, the overall healing of it has been reduced by 30% in the last PTR build, which is a pretty significant nerf. I'm really not a fan of that last part, and I don't think anyone really is. So, the thing about the change to how the ticks work for HR is that it means a very large reduction in the amount of ticks that are actually occurring overall. As a result, the number of targets that will have Earthliving procs on them through HR is going to go dramatically down, at least that is the theory that folks are worried about becoming a reality.

Truth is, I'm not sure how much it's actually going to impact overall healing. Looking at my own logs, the procs are only counting for about 5% of the healing done on any given fight. I'm not overly concerned that the change to how the ticks for HR work are really going to have such a large impact on our healing in terms of ELW. I am personally more concerned with the 30% reduction in healing that HR is receiving, and I think that is something we should be focusing on a little bit more. While it's true that a lot of the fights in the upcoming tier won't have us seeing large clumps of people grouped up as often as previous tiers, but at the end of the day, the 30% nerf will still have a potentially large impact on our overall healing. It's a little early to call, but that HR change is one we're going to have to watch.

On the topic of Ancestral Vigor, I couldn't agree more with what Lore posted here on this. Ancestral Vigor is a big part of our tool kit, and it is often times very overlooked. One of the corner stones of restoration shaman healing is the ability to passively increase the health of everyone you heal. The ramp up time, and the rather short duration of a mere 15 seconds have to be considered. During that time however, the health increase is rather significant. I wouldn't mind seeing some of the healing that was taken out of HR shifted over into this passive. Maybe a reduction in the ramp up time or an increase in the duration. Possibly even an increase in the amount of health the passive grants. The only problem I could see potentially would be a unbalancing of PvP, which I could see keeping them from actually buffing this too far, but we can only wait and see.

Ancestral Guidance and Ascendance are also in a potentially weird spot due to the change in HR. The way these two abilities work is based off of the raw healing done. This means heals, over heals on every target we heal. Making it so that HR only affects 6 targets, and reducing the amount it heals by that 30%, has the potential to diminish how much healing these two can contribute overall. The counter argument is that the total healing on the 6 targets will even out to near the same total we were working with prior to patch 5.4. I'm not totally convinced of this yet, and I will be looking at it myself pretty closely between now and September 10th. And to think, all of these changes stem from attempting to tackle, at least in part, the lag caused by healing in 25 man raid groups.

Parting thoughts

I wouldn't mind seeing some more changes, in particular with Ancestral Vigor, if only because it is something interesting that we bring to a raid or group of any size and more health is always useful in all but the weirdest encounters. I am really not a fan of the healing reduction to HR, it feels like it's going to have a butterfly effect on a lot of our healing and I'm never looking forward to anything that reduces the amount of healing we're doing. I'm also waiting for a bug, or at least what I hope is only a bug, to be fixed. Currently the healing done by the spiritual version of yourself by the Shaman Tier 16 4-Piece Bonus is not using any spellpower modifiers, at least not from what I can see. Heals from it are currently very weak, and I'm hoping that as the last set bonus we'll be seeing this expansion it wouldn't be something quite so very weak. Again, I'm sure it's a bug, but we'll have to wait and see.

I think we still have a lot more tweaking before patch 5.4 goes live, and I suspect we'll have more still even after the Siege of Orgrimmar has started.

Totem Talk: Restoration lends you advice on healing groups, DK tanks and heroics and mana concerns in today's endgame -- or take a break and look back at the rise of the resto shaman. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!