Totem Talk: Restoration between now and Warlords of Draenor

Panda in Outland

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem talk for the 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 InternetDragons.TV), shows you how.

Well, I don't know about you but I'm still very excited about the announcement of Warlords of Draenor. I mean, it was honestly the big news from BlizzCon 2013 and the feeling is still quite electric from almost everyone in regards to it. For some, The Burning Crusade and going to Outlands was one of the greatest things to ever happen in the World of Wacraft. For restoration shaman in particular, BC was that point in time where everything was awesome and shaman were the top of the food chain for healing.

This week though, I'm not here to talk about the glory days of shaman healing. No, that will be an article for another week. This week I wanted to talk about the time between now and the next expansion. It is always a topic to think about what to do in that time where you're waiting for the next expansion to even enter beta phase. The good news is Mists of Pandaria offers so many more options than any other expansion before. I thought I would share how I'm spending my time between now and Warlords of Draenor.

Hit the Raids

This is one of those things that pops up on every end of expansion to do list and it's something that I really do feel everyone should get to experience at some point. That period of time when the final raid tier of an expansion rolls around is pretty much the best time to go through previous and current content. There are a lot of story points and cool cut scenes inside of those raid zones. In MoP, there are so a lot of options to actually get in.

  • LFR

  • Flex

  • Normal

  • Heroic

The Raid Finder, otherwise known as Looking For Raid, was introduced in patch 4.3 in Cataclysm. It was basically the introduction of Dungeon Finder for raids. You queue up in your respective role and then get matched up with others of all the various required roles. Each section of the raid is broken up into bite sized chunks so you can choose which parts to do at every tier. The difficulty is tuned lower than normal mode raiding and so it is easier to get through. Whether you love or hate LFR, it really is a great addition to the raiding structure and it's a great way for people to experience the raid content when they don't have a regular raid group.

Flex raiding is a new addition to the game that came along in patch 5.4.0. It fills a gap between LFR and Normal raids in terms of difficulty. This option introduced some very key things that make some people love it so much more than LFR. First, you queue with a group of people you know, not just random folks in the queue. This can be people on your friends list, in guild or even cross realm on your Real ID list. Flexible raids are also variable in size, ranging from 10 to 25 players, and adjusts it's difficulty, damage dealt and boss health based on the number of players in the group. This dynamic scaling is important because it means that, at least more so than LFR, you have to pay attention to raid mechanics. It offers a little more difficulty but a ton more options in raiding with friends and the size of the group. At the end of the day, it's another great option to experience the content.

Normal and Heroic mode raiding are also still options, and I always recommend this time in an expansion life cycle for people to try it out if you can. If you've done LFR and even Flex raiding and want to see how hard Heroic raiding is compared to the other flavors but haven't had the chance to try it, now is the time. There are still guilds and groups going full steam into heroic content and they are almost always looking for people to fill in raid spots. take some time and give it a shot if you are so inclined.

Challenge Yourself

Mists offers two very cool additions to occupy your time, and to test your skill and team work. I'm talking of course about Challenge Modes and Proving Grounds. Challenges modes were something that I think caught quite a few people by surprise. It is an advanced mode for 5-player dungeons that is made to test player coordination and skill. It take existing 5-player dungeons in the current expansion, makes them much more difficult and scales all of your gear so that everyone is at the exact same, which means all that fancy heroic gear all gets scaled down. This way, the challenge is more about skill, class knowledge and teamwork than simply over-gearing or overpowering the content. It even boasts a leader board so players can compare their groups and clear time to others around them. If you're looking for a good test of your skills with friends, it is a really good workout for healers. As a restoration shaman, you'll have to break out all of your abilities, totems and cooldowns to help your group reach the end in good time. You can do this cross realm with friends, and honestly it's a great test of your abilities. If you haven't had a chance to experience them yet, I would suggest giving them a try with your friends and see how you do.

Along the same vein are Proving Grounds. These are scenarios tailored to your specific class. In the case of restoration shaman, you get a party of NPCs to look after while they engage illusionary adversaries. These NPCs stand in fire, and do other things that you would expect a party to do. At lower levels such as Bronze or Silver they offer great practice for new healers, but when you get to gold and endless mode the challenge ramps up. In this challenge, you have to ensure that the entire party survives until the last wave of enemies is dead. In endless mode, well, like the name implies it is endless. Each wave you survive gets a buff that adds an additional 1% damage on top of what they would be doing at the gold level. It's a great test of your healing ability and a lot of fun. It will really test your resource management. If you haven't tried it, I would recommend taking a spin through. I plan on spending a great deal of time with both of these in the weeks to come.

Now, these are just a very small selection of what you can do. So the question remains, how about you? How are you going to spend your time between now and the next expansion?

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!