Home > Squiggle > Cataclysm Changes: Restoration Shaman

Cataclysm Changes: Restoration Shaman

So we’ve had the Shaman class changes for quite some time and I’m certainly curious to know where they’ll take Shamans (especially Restoration) in the near future. Some of the changes are very welcome, some of them are not so welcome, but as always Blizzard are likely going to deviate from their plans anyway before Cataclysm actually hits. I have to say, there are going to be a thousand posts all over the world giving a thousand people’s different opinions, so why this one is worth reading is beyond me. That said, I’m usually pretty uncaring about things like what other people think, so I’ll ramble on as usual.

The biggest change is a healer-wide change in that three primary heals exist (instead of just two) on top of the situational heals we already have (i.e: Chain Heal, Riptide, Earth Shield, etc):

  • Lesser Healing Wave: a fast but less mana efficient heal.
  • Healing Wave: a new spell added in Cataclysm that is our regular spammable heal.
  • Greater Healing Wave: what Healing Wave currently is, a powerful but less mana efficient heal.

The idea behind this is that while spamming Healing Wave, our middle of the line heal, might be enough for lower geared content, at some point healers generally will need to deviate and change how they heal based on the situation. Always using your LHW or GHW will give you mana problems (as opposed to now, where running OOM is a problem of yesteryear) so careful moderation of what spells you use is going to be more important in Cataclysm than it ever was in Wrath. Think of this as the downranking of Vanilla and TBC. The good news is that as a Shaman, both of our heals are already quite useful in situations (unlike say… a Paladin spamming Flash of Light while tank healing or a Priest spamming Greater Heal), so the need to switch between three will seem less new. The other good news is that I’ve played many an MMO where this heal-switching was necessary to keep mana up, so it’s almost second nature right from the bat.

On a more Restoration specific note, we get three shiny new abilities that serve a reasonable purpose:

  • Unleash Weapons: uses your current weapon enchant to apply a various effect to the Shaman. In the case of Earthliving Weapon, it will heal the target slightly and boost your next healing spell by 20%.

What I’m seeing this effectively meaning is that we get a little extra cooldown to blow when damage gets a little heavy or when somebody needs a little instant heal just to keep them up. For AoE situations, having a boosted Chain Heal might make the difference between somebody living or dying, the same with any heal. The cooldown is only 15 seconds so if it gets wasted on overheal, then it’s not such a big deal as say… having your Nature’s Swiftness sniped a split second earlier.

  • Healing Rain: A non-channeled spell that creates a HoT zone (imagine a Blizzard or Rain of Fire that heals) for ten seconds.

So I’m seeing what is effectively a channel-free Tranquility, which is going to be very nice for AoE heavy fights, and because the cooldown is as long as the effect, it can be kept up indefinitely. That said, keeping Healing Rain up as well as having to manage mana by using your other healing spells is going to be quite difficult, so I can’t imagine it being used all the time, more of a preventative measure for incoming damage (as a buffer similar to any other HoT). Tally total is one extra single target heal, and one extra raid heal, firmly cementing Shamans at the heart of “jack of all trades”.

  • Spiritwalker’s Grace: Stops your spell casts from being interrupted by movement and weapon swings, allowing a Shaman to move and shoot.

Oh my god, it’s like my Ragnarok Online Scholar all over again! This seems very PvPesque, but if the overuse of movement fights from Wrath spills over into Cataclysm, then this will seem very useful, especially with some of the longer cast times like Chain Heal. It also means I no longer have to make excuses as to why I stand in fire to “finish my cast”.

Something else of note seems to be that Shamans lose the ability to remove Poisons but gain the ability to Dispel Magic. Now, lore-wise Shamans are much closer to Poison (being all close to the elements of Nature and whatnot), but utility-wise (at least if things stay similar to Wrath), then this is a much welcome change. I don’t think I’ve even seen Poison used in a raid since Naxxramas, and yet Magic debuffs seem to be appearing left, right and center. Dispel mechanics generally are changing too, Dispels are going to be considerably more expensive, and will cast on a target even if there is no debuff (as opposed to the “nothing to dispell” cast cancel there is now), so no debuff is wasted mana. A lot of people appear to be quite upset about this, because if three healers all try to Dispel the same thing then two of them are going to inevitably waste mana. Simple solution? Assign one healer to Dispel duty, I’m sure that’s how it used to be and I’m sure that’s how it will be again. It appears that we’ll be losing our ability to remove Diseases too, so that instead of four removal skills we have now (Poison, Disease, Curse, offensive Dispel) we’ll only have three (Curse, offensive Dispel, friendly Dispel). Cleansing Totem is also kaput, as the decision to Dispel should be a ‘taxing one if made incorrectly’ and that having a Totem simply cleansing at random makes life too easy.

Last but certainly not least (far from it) is the return of Spirit Link, whereby you can link two party members together and share damage split between them, kind of like a castable Hand of Sacrifice. For example, taking a current fight like Festergut, where tank damage is critically high for whoever is tanking after the second Inhale, being able to drop a Spirit link on a second off-tank (good news everyone!: we might need more than two tanks per raid if we ever have the use for a “soaker tank”) could make healing a whole lot easier, as two targets taking half damage is a lot safer than one target being potentially wiped out by two unlucky strikes in a row. I can see a difficulty with this skill in that you’re going to need to be able to pick two targets, cast a skill on each and link them, something that might be quite taxing if you’re in a bind and need to do it quickly to save a wipe. It also opens up a whole can of griefing if I ever want to get Njev killed.

I’m not too upset about the Shaman changes, I’m most skeptical about Spiritwalker’s Grace (since I can Riptide on the move anyway and I’ll never be moving for more than two or three seconds), it seems very PvP focused, but perhaps a PvE encounter will surprise me. The three heal model that is being put in is very welcome, in my opinion, and Healing Rain (at least if left untouched) will just give us another AoE skill (it’s not really all that different to Wild Growth apart from more/less targets and it has a cast time and longer duration) to play with, not that we don’t have enough buttons to mash already.

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