We asked members of the community to submit a screenshot of their resto shaman, to feature on each different post we’d publish for these guides. Above this post you see the screenshot of Ayriae – The Maelstrom (EU).
We went into this expansion with a general preference for mastery, followed by crit. What followed was a chaos of options and different experiences.
Determining the stat priority this expansion has been quite a journey. If you read our pre-expansion guides, you can see us swinging back and forth. Mastery, crit, mastery, crit, what about haste? During my time on the alpha / early beta, I started adding crit to my mastery / haste build and noticed a certain fluidity to the spec. When looking at the artifact traits there clearly was some crit interaction you didn’t want to miss out on. But mastery is traditionally our strongest stat in the start of an expansion. On top of that, we gain additional mastery passively and we have a unique ability (that allows us to heal low hp targets more) that benefits from it.
With the removal of spirit, it became clear early on that the role of haste would be less prominent than mastery or crit. Unless resurgence would defy all arguments, or some crazy trinket, set bonus or ability would change this dynamic. In which case, a more prominent role of haste could be interesting early on. The artifact itself gave it away: mastery and crit. Clearly, it was the intention of Blizzard to create a dynamic between these two. As the expansion arrived, we had three camps: the mastery enthusiast (Keehn), the crit aficionados (Dunderz and Halucinogen), and the people in between (Canibehealz and myself – Dorelei).
Our thoughts on intellect
At the start of an expansion, we crave stats. Later on, an upgrade will be less impactful in terms of (for example) intellect gained. Intellect upgrades will impact your output massively. It is the single most reliable and impactful stat of them all. This means that you should probably be less picky on your secondary stats. Therefore:
Stat priority no. 1: intellect
Our thoughts on mastery
This stat will increase our strength relative to the health of the player: the lower hp the target, the stronger the heal. There is no cap on mastery. This means that you can make use of mastery above 100%. Your heal will simply be 100+x% stronger on a low hp target. This is why mastery excels in progress (when the raid is consistently on low hp). If you want to look it up, the passive ability is called ‘Deep Healing’. When progress is over, shamans tend to resort to crit and haste oriented builds to increase their sniping potential. Or raid groups run with one healer less, straining the healers more and allowing the mastery to kick in again. Be aware of the relativity of mastery, though. Let’s say you are running with 95% mastery. This means that when your target is at 1 hp, your heal will be 95% stronger. This reduces as your target has more hp. At 99% hp your heal will heal for close to nothing extra. So when you are making the trade-off between a high intellect piece, with less favorable secondary stats, or a high mastery piece. Know that it is a relative trade-off. Which only is at full effect when targets are very low on hp. When you start feeling like your heals are not effective when the raid drops low – you know you lost too much mastery. Most shamans will experience this early on in the expansion. When swapping in a new legs or chest (high stat pieces) can massively alter your stat balance. Leading to some drastic changes in how you experience the strength of your shaman in different fights. The increase in stamina is also huge. Every single piece, except for your trinkets, has stamina on it. Accepting item level upgrades because of the intellect is generally not a bad idea.
Our thoughts on critical strike
Crit is remarkably more interesting this time around, due to how it interacts with our passives and artifact traits. When a spell crits, it will double the strength of the heal. On top of that, resto shamans have a passive ability called: Resurgence. When certain spells crit, resurgence will restore a part your maximum/base mana:
- 1.00% from Healing Wave (costs 19.800 mana) – 11.000 restored mana / 1.100.000 maximum mana,
- 0.60% from Healing Surge (costs 44.000 mana) and Riptide (costs 17.600 mana) – 6.600 restored mana / 1.100.000 maximum mana,
- 0.25% from Chain Heal (costs 55.000 mana) – 2.750 restored mana / 1.100.000 maximum mana.
As you can see, the resurgence from Chain Heal is not spectacular. However, there are a few things that happen when you progress your artifact:
- Tidal Chains: Tidal Waves reduces cast time and increases critical effect chance by an additional 30% (rank 3).
- Queen Ascendant: Your direct heal criticals reduce the cast time of your next heal by 15% (rank 3).
- Refreshing Currents: Increases mana refunded by Resurgence by 50% when Chain Heal critically heals.
- Floodwaters: Increases the critical strike chance of Chain Heal by 10% (rank 3).
With all these amazing modifications to crit, it is no surprise that a lot of shamans ended up building into this path.
Our thoughts on haste
As our mana pools are capped (at 1.100.000 mana) and spirit has been removed (aside from the fixed 44.000 mana per 5 seconds we gain). All our other mana gains are with resurgence, mana pots, and clever use of abilities. If you have a high casting speed, in comparison to the fight length and/or intensity, you may find yourself without mana. The quicker you can cast heals, the more you can cast. And that is beneficial for your output.
Canibehealz: “We have many global spells (Riptide, Gust of Wind, Healing Stream Totem, Flame Shock, Cleanse, Earthen Shield Totem). Sometimes adding up to a third of all my casts. If all of those globals (which are 1.50-second baseline) are 1/4th of a second faster (which occurs around 20% haste), that would free up a lot of cast time. If a global cast moves to 1.25 seconds, that would free up about 15 seconds of casting time on an average fight.”
Our thoughts on versatility
Versatility is not a bad stat. Much like intellect, versatility is just a plain old buff to your healing power. However, it is weaker than intellect. Unlike mastery and crit you don’t gain a secondary benefit (deep healing or resurgence).
So how does this translate into a secondary stat priority?
There are different options. You can lean a bit more towards mastery, which promotes single target healing. And you can lean more towards crit, promoting chain heal casting. Right now we see two different stat priorities amongst the top resto shamans:
Intellect > Mastery > Crit > Haste > Versatility
Intellect > Crit > Mastery > Haste > Versatility
The more crit you have, the more you can play into resurgence through chain heal. It is the old straightforward chain heal build many people love. On the other hand, there’s the focus towards single target healing. With an item level of 870 (approximately) you can consider your build mastery heavy when you have > 100-115% (probably with a corresponding < 20% crit). You can consider yourself crit heavy with > crit 25-35%, resulting in mastery levels of 75-85% depending on your gear. Haste levels vary from close to nothing (5%) to relatively hasty (10-15%). Anything above the 15% haste mark, would currently be considered haste heavy.
Overall, we think that a healthy balance is beneficial right now. In a severe sniping setup (competitive healers), running high mastery and low crit levels could affect your competitive position on the meters. It won’t affect the quality of your heals, but you are prone to losing the sniping game. Having a bit of haste feels nice, but is not necessary. The haste levels in our writer team vary from 4% to 15%, mostly due to whatever gear dropped for them. Prioritizing crit allows you to cast chain heal more (we will explain this in our rotation post), and gives a different flow to the spec. Be aware that your legendary can also affect the amount of single target or AoE spells you will be casting. And perhaps the balance you need to keep between them, promoting balanced stat selection as well.
How to select an upgrade?
- If it has a lot of intellect on it, chances are it’s an upgrade.
- If it has a lot of mastery, you probably want it.
- If it has a lot of crit on it, you probably want it.
Since stats are still scarce, getting a massive upgrade on a chest or leg piece (pieces that are stat heavy) can affect the balance of your stats. Feel free to gem and enchant towards both mastery and crit. This can be a great tool to stay in your chosen sweet spot.