Last night, the (resto) shaman class preview for Legion was released. Since we adore resto shamans, we are eager to share our thoughts with our readers and (most notably) Blizzard. Allow us to comment per quote on all information we deemed relevant for restoration. If you want to read the full post yourself, you can do so right here on battle.net!
Lifting the constraints of totems
The use of totems is integral to the Shaman archetype, and we’re addressing some persistent issues with their mechanics. For a long time there have been significant constraints associated with totems, like the fact that they can only be dropped at the Shaman’s feet, or that they only have 5 health, or that no more than one of the same elemental type can be active at one time. While these constraints were intended to ensure that totems felt unique, they ultimately drove us to creating strange tools to allow the Shaman to bypass such constraints, such as Totemic Projection or Totemic Persistence. In Legion, we’re eliminating this awkwardness and simply removing the constraints.
A fresh rework of how we handle our totems. Alright, bring it on!
Totemic Persistence becomes baseline
Totems of the same nature type can now be summoned together, allowing you to have Healing Stream Totem and Healing Tide Totem up at the same time.
We won’t have to think about overlapping elements anymore when dropping our totems. This will be a great convenience for fights like Xhul’horac. You want to stun the imps, ground the Void Surge and perhaps have to throw out an emergency Spirit Link Totem. Being able to mindlessly place them when needed is a huge convenience. It is going to take away a bit of the depth with totem planning. However, it does allow you to enjoy your toolkit of totems more freely.
We have seen this mechanic in our current level 45 talent tier: Totemic Persistence. This is the current talent description: ‘Summoning a second totem of the same element no longer causes the first totem to be destroyed. May only have one extra totem at a time, and may not be a Fire totem.’
Elementals become ‘pets’?
Elementals are no longer tied to totems, but are guardians that follow and assist you.
Will shamans become the true masters of the elements, and make them do our bidding? Will they become a full-time pet? Most likely it is not something we will see as a resto shaman. But it would be fun to have a little elemental running around doing damage while we heal. The question is, will this be a ‘pet’ that is with you all the time, including the ‘pet bar’ to manage it? Or will it function more like Dire Beast does for hunters: you summon a temporary pet which (de)buffs in some way. We can imagine Primal Elementalist enabling pet bar stance for a ‘Dire Beast’ type of scenario.
Totemic Vigor becomes baseline
Totems’ maximum health will always equal a percentage of your maximum health.
This was a PvP glyph to begin with, and the change won’t affect PvE. It rarely happens that totems are being targeted and killed in a PvE scenario.
Totemic Projection becomes baseline
In addition, totems that need to be placed at a specific location will be directly placed using a targeting reticle. If you want to place Earthgrab Totem in the middle of a big pack of nasty orcs, you can do that without having to run into that nastiness or use a separate spell to throw the totem there.
This is the second talent in the tier of level 45 (Totemic Projection), that will become baseline. But how will this work? Like a trap launcher? That would give us two stances: dropping them at our feet, or projecting them by default. The idea of still dropping them at your feet at first, and then being able to reposition them is better for most cases. However, if you have to move your totems to root mobs far away from the raid, you want to do it without moving your output totem with it.
Projecting every totem could work. You can anticipate with the position of your mouse. Although it would remove the option to get two uses out of (most notably) Spirit Link Totem (dropping it in ranged next to you, then moving it in melee for a few ticks).
The removal of Searing Totem?
In general, totem mechanics are concentrated around temporary effects (either beneficial or hostile) in a localized area, as opposed to “maintenance buff” cooldowns you need to make sure are up at all times.
Good riddance! Searing Totem , is not a very interesting mechanic to play with. We won’t be sad to let it go. The removal has been confirmed by WarcraftDevs on Twitter:
Our resource remains unchanged
Mana is a fitting Restoration Shaman resource and will remain for that spec.
Mana is a great resource for healers, it is fairly simple and straightforward and still leads to some interesting playstyles. Even though Maelstrom sounds cool (that’s what Enhancement and Elemental are getting), camping at our class halls at the actual Maelstrom will be plenty.
- 2.1% Mana, 40 yd range, 2.5 sec cast
- A slow but efficient wave of healing energy that restores a moderate amount of a friendly target’s health.
Works like we know it right now. Slow efficient heal used when there is a steady inflow of little damage and to conserve mana. Nothing changes.
- 4.1% Mana, 40 yd range, 1.5 sec cast
- A quick but expensive surge of healing energy that restores a moderate amount of a friendly target’s health.
Not a lot changing here. Same old fast expensive heal for a tight spot.
- 5.6% Mana, 40 yd range, 2.5 sec cast
- Heals the friendly target for a moderate amount, then jumps to heal the most injured nearby party or raid members. Healing is reduced by 30% after each jump. Heals 4 total targets.
The healing reduction per jump is getting increased it seems from 10% as it is currently on live to 30%. In terms of current talents, with this change High Tide will only create even stronger synergy. High Tide neglects the healing reduction per jump, assuming that we will still have this talent as an option. Given the nerf to the healing the bounces do, we expect talents to buff it. This is what the WarcraftDevs had to say on Twitter:
However, what happens to our option to use Glyph of Chaining? Some of us found this glyph to be insanely strong during Highmaul. We didn’t have the mana to mindlessly spam Chain Heal and it created somewhat of a rotation with Tidal Waves. Now that there won’t be any major glyphs anymore, will the larger jumps become baseline then? Especially given the (later mentioned) Tidal Waves changes. We’re seeing a suggested spell weave of Riptides, Chain Heals, and Healing Waves (or Healing Surges if preferred/needed/affordable). So basically, alternating Healing Wave with Chain Heal, instead of spamming Chain Heal only. In the current scenario, this would enable us t look at using Glyph of Chaining. But with the removal of major glyphs, we won’t have that option. We don’t see a cooldown on Chain Heal. So we assume there’s no such trade-off planned. Perhaps there are plans to integrate this in a talent? We can’t wait to find out!
- 1.5% Mana, 40 yd range, Instant, 6 sec cooldown
- Restorative waters wash over a friendly target, healing them for a moderate amount and an additional moderate amount over 18 sec.
Nothing changed here. We assume that we’ll still see the Draenor perk integrated in some sort of way, bringing the cooldown of Riptide down with 1 second to 5 seconds in total. With the Glyph of Riptide gone, we’ll only have a talent like Echo of the Elements to get 2 charges. Changes to how we work with Riptide will occur through tier sets, trinkets and talents.
- 4.3% Mana, 40 yd range, 2 sec cast, 10 sec cooldown
- Blanket the target area in healing rains, restoring a moderate amount of health to up to 6 allies in the area over 10 sec.
No changes. We wouldn’t mind receiving some attention for this spell though. It has felt rather powerless and dull this expansion. To a point, where in a lot of fights you can get away with not even casting it at all. It’s a pity for such an iconic ability.
Healing Stream Totem
- 1.7% Mana, Instant, 30 sec cooldown
- Summons a Water Totem at the feet of the Shaman that heals an injured party or raid member within 40 yards for a minor amount every 2 sec. Lasts 15 sec.
No changes. However, since major glyphs are being removed: are we going to see the damage reduction integrated in some way or another? The Glyph of Healing Stream Totem has been baseline for a long time for all resto shamans.
- When you cast Chain Heal or Riptide, you gain the Tidal Waves effect, which reduces the cast time of your next Healing Wave by 40% or increases the critical effect chance of your next Healing Surge by 40%. Stacks up to 2 times.
This is one of the more interesting changes. It sounds like we will only earn a single Tidal Wave charge for every Riptide / Chain Heal we cast. Thus it will be hard for us to maintain 100% uptime on Tidal Waves. Currently you gain a 20% haste increase to Healing Wave, and 30% crit chance on Healing Surge. It becomes 40% haste on Healing Wave and 40% crit chance on Healing Surge. So the haste gains are drastically improved.
The size of the haste buff, and the single Tidal Waves charge, will impact how we weave our spells. Our performance in the early expansion, will be even more dependent on using Riptide on cooldown to gain optimal Tidal Waves uptime.
With the reduction of providing more leniency with keeping up Tidal Waves, the skill cap of the spec is going to be raised massively. The main thing we stumble upon when analyzing logs, is the high requirement on the player to keep high uptimes of riptides (indirectly tidal waves). Most shamans struggle to have good uptimes without running echo of the elements as is, with two charges of Tidal Waves. So this will be even harder when this takes effect. As veteran shamans, we would appreciate this kind of depths to the spec. As we enjoy discovering our new optimal ‘weave’ in the next tier to optimize our tidal waves uptime.
Mastery: Deep Healing
- Increases the potency of your healing spells by up to 60% (with Mastery from typical gear), based on the current health level of your target (lower health targets are healed for more).
Same old mastery that we’ve come to love during progress and despise while farming. Now that Disc Priests and Holy Paladins are being reworked, it suddenly is every man’s game to heal/snipe healing. The 60% mastery sounds similar to what we experienced at the start of Warlords.
Additionally, to provide a glimpse at how some talents may build upon this, here’s one example of a Restoration-specific talent:
- 2.4% Mana, 30 yd range, 1.5 sec cast, 12 sec cooldown
- Create a surge of water that flows forward, healing all friendly targets in a wide arc in front of you for a strong amount.
Sounds very interesting! Having something that you need to position yourself for, suggests engaging gameplay. Remembers us of the weapon we received in Dragon Soul that procced a cone heal. Look forward to seeing shamans standing in the back of the room to get most people with this heal. We heard paladins are going to blind tanks again with Light of Dawn, so let’s drown them with a wave too!
We have to admit, we had hoped for a little bit more information. Although we understand these being just the core abilities. Resto shamans have a great toolkit for almost all situations. We work well with what we have. There is no real reason to make big changes to the core set of abilities.
It is impossible to say anything about how healers will compare to each other in Legion. There are no numbers, no context. We don’t know anything about cooldowns either. Once beta hits, we hope we can immediately jump into it to the reporting on the new ‘flow’ of the resto shaman and the relative tuning and positioning in comparison to other healers.
This only leaves us with two question marks:
How about Earth Shield and how about Unleash Life? So far nothing has been mentioned about these. Both Earth Shield and Unleash have been very underwhelming this expansion. We could either see them being phased out completely or being reworked into something to fit into our spell weave *simmers away in happy thoughts of unleashing Healing Rain again*.
What questions do you have based on our analysis or Blizzard’s preview? Do you dread certain changes? Are you excited about them? Let us know in the comment section below, or on our forums!