Dunderz, Keehn and myself met up in a rather wet part of The Heart of Azeroth. A circle of stones can be found towards the back. Our healing rain and spirit link fit exactly in its dimensions. Waves crash into the rock walls, the maelstrom is right beside us. Wet mist swirls up violently in the air. Yet it feels cozy and protected in the class halls. Halûcinogen joins us on TS – he didn’t get access but we are glad to have him join our discussion. The ones that got access were able to test at least one or more raid encounters so far. We talk about what setup we tested and how it felt in comparison to other healers. Dunderz and Keehn have clearly been through this process before. They were able to test out different builds and push their output quite far. I am the obvious scrub amongst them – having missed out completely on our basic artifact ability ‘Gift of the Queen’. It is my first time on the alpha, or raid test in general. I feel more like a tourist. Taking pictures of everything (my screenshot folder is beyond ridiculous), and just enjoying everything around me.
‘Gift of the Queen’ Is our basic artifact ability. On a 45 second cooldown, you can use this to consume your healing rain, healing all allies within its area – read mini revival. The spell is very strong. In fact, it is so strong that you can find yourself waiting to use it. Just to get most out of the ability. Some complaining went around in the team for the ability animation. Your character aims the mace in the air and that’s it – too feminine for a tough male orc if we have to believe a mumbling Dunderz. Occasionally a ‘heal’ will travel from you to an ally during 3 seconds, on triggering it will heal all allies in 5 yards. This means you can run into the bubble and force the heal to occur (think the orbs in phase 1 Socrethar). The animation for this is really cool. I had been spotting a bubble randomly, floating around from me to somewhere else. But I didn’t know what triggered it, or what it was. Imagine my excitement to find out this was a passive ability of our artifact.
When discussing the first talent tier, everyone disregarded Undulation. The way it works right now makes it feel like the old cloudburst totem: way too clunky and late to the party. Personally, I was really curious to see what torrent would be like (torrent increases your initial riptide heal with 50%). There’s an option on the artifact weapon to increase the initial and periodic healing of riptide, and ultimately a chance to leave a tidal totem (whatever that may be) under the target. Reason enough to experiment. During my dabbling into raids and dungeons, I noticed riptide can crit for crazy amounts – very strong. However, especially in the start of expansions the raid spends more time on lower than full hp. Which means that you have a lot of targets to heal and unless shamans are the best and most efficient tank healers, raid healing will be more rewarding in terms of output.
Therefore, it was no surprise to find out Dunderz and Keehn had been poking around with rushing streams. A familiar and loved talent that keeps coming back, often cookie cutter (default choice). This time around rushing streams will heal two targets at once. One of the ultimate artifact abilities is ‘Decree of the Queen’. It augments your healing stream totem to apply a healing-over-time effect after targets have been healed by the totem. On your way to this epic characteristic, you’ll find yourself gaining wavecrash most likely– causing your healing stream totem to heal 15% more frequently (going up to 45% when you level that ability to the max).
All gusting aside
Level 30 offers us mobility. There is no unleash elements anymore, so no speed increase from that either. There is ghost wolf, but as there are no glyphs at the moment (they are being reworked still) – you cannot go much faster with that either. For combat all we can resort to is the talents. Luckily, they are really interesting. There is gust of wind, a mini tornado carrying you forward on a 15 second cooldown, fun but probably disregarded for raiding. Graceful spirit, basically glyph of spiritwalker’s focus (reducing the cooldown) but with full duration and 20% movement increase. Even though the tornado is super fun, why float through the air if you can keep casting? And last but not least: wind rush totem. A projectable stampeding roar totem that gives all allies within 10 yards 60% increased movement speed for 5 seconds. We all discussed it and agreed: if the raid leader cries for the totem, tough luck! They better learn to run faster, because we’re all using graceful spirit (evil laughs).
Level 45 is all about crowd control. You can choose to either stun, root or hex multiple targets by projectable (yet nonadjustable) totems. The default raiding choice will most likely be stunning. Rooted mobs can melee hit people passing by, and hexed targets can be broken out when taking damage. Stunning is usually the overall most efficient, damage taken reducing cooldown. However, we have to be honest about the loss of life quality. We lost totemic projection. Even though the initial projection of totems feels a lot more smoother and well designed, we lose not only time to hand movement to place the totem (which is relevant when moving across raid frames for healing), but also we can’t adjust it anymore. 5 Seconds before the stun goes off is a long time to anticipate the location of a bunch of mobs. It requires coordination of the tank and respective shaman to say the least. We can’t move our spirit link with us, or from one player camp to another (RIP double dipping). We’ve lost something here, and I’m going to miss it. Let’s hope for a glyph that allows readjustment of totem.
50 Shades of water
At level 60 it starts to get interesting. Crashing waves, ancestral guidance or deluge. Both crashing waves and deluge are new and passive, ancestral guidance is a remnant of the past. Crashing waves has the property of granting you an additional tidal waves charge. Our passive tidal waves buff (which we gain by casting chain heal or riptide), reduces the cast time of your next healing wave by 30% or increases the crit chance of your next healing surge with 40% – this stacks up to 2 times with crashing waves. Traditionally, chain heal is too expensive at the start of an expansion and Legion looks like it won’t be an exception. Therefore, using riptide on cooldown becomes very important for keeping up tidal waves. Allowing for two charges of tidal waves (instead of one), gives more leniency to begin with. This makes crashing waves as a talent a solid base. On top of the extra tidal wave charge, crashing waves will increase the crit chance of healing surge and decrease the cast time of healing wave by another 10%.
When speccing into the ‘Decree of the Queen’ build, you will end up choosing queen ascendant by default. Through queen ascendant your resurgence (which procs through crits) will reduce the cast time of your next heal by 5%. Showing clear synergy with the talent crashing waves, that decreases the cast time of your healing wave as well (not to be confused with the artifact talent wavecrash). However, this trait seems to be bugged at the moment. Instead of reducting the cast time, it increases your cast time. Additionally, it removes the mana we gain through resurgence. This is obviously not intended, and this will not make it live.
Ancestral guidance did not really grasp our attention. As it stands now it will probably find usage in niche situations or not even. Regardless, none of us seem to be bother it being part of this talent tree. Which leads us to number three of level 60: deluge. This talent causes chain heal to heal for an additional 20% on targets affected by our healing rain or riptide. It shows synergy with High Tide (which we’re all too familiar with). Currently not desirable as pushing chain heals leave you rather out of mana half way into the fight. It shows potential for different builds in different tiers, something we can appreciate.
The level 75 talents add even more curiosity. Ancestral vigor is something that we lost in the past but remains loved to this day. That 10% hp often means the difference between a wipe and victory in progression. Due to the application restrictions and 10 second lasting buff it will be impossible to keep up for a mythic sized raid. But padding a targeted group before incoming damage will be amongst the options. Earthen shield totem works well in dungeons. With the size of a healing rain (with rumbling earth effects along the edges), it naturally directs the group to stand in it. On a 1 minute cooldown, with a shield equal to your own health it seems mildly interesting.
Raid spot secured
More fascinating is the ancestral protection totem. Even though it has a three minute cooldown, it does not share a cooldown with battle resurrection. That’s right, you have access to another battle ress, every three minutes under full control. Resetting tank stacks, ignoring fatal debuffs and mechanics is amongst the options. Even though normal battle resses offer the same option, a shaman will give you one more. This probably single handedly secure our raid spot in the upcoming tier. DISCLAIMER – Will not protect against stupidity!
The unexpected happened at level 90. We all preferred cloudburst totem. Whoever worked out this design at Blizzard – you surprised us all! It still doesn’t count totem healing, but it does collect over healing this time around. Counterproductive considering our mastery – but also a good match given our position as pure force of output healing. From what we’re seeing people are spending quite some time on not full hp. This makes Bottomless Depths interesting for the few weeks after the launch. However, it is probably not competitive with either cloudburst or echo, niche fights aside.
Echo does what it always does: giving you charges. This time it is earth shock (a larger part of resto dps in Legion), riptide, healing stream (new), and spirit link totem. Unless resto dps becomes vital for an encounter, earth shock won’t be the convincing argument for echo. The need for riptide charges goes down when you choose crashing waves (already move tidal wave leniency). When building into rushing streams, there is no real need to drop two at the same time. Far more likely is integration into our new spell weave, consisting of riptide, healing rain, healing stream totem and cloudburst totem on cooldown and filling up with healing waves. So let me say the unexpected once more. Unless we desperately need two spirit links, I think we’re going for cloudburst!
Level 100 is not too relevant to our start-of-expac rotation. High tide is too mana intensive, maybe in later tiers. Ascendance is not a first pick given its 5 minute cooldown (you would almost forget you had it). Wellspring seems our default choice for now. Even though it is costly in terms of mana, and not too strong right now. It does make for a very nice addition in the resto spell family, sending waves in a wide arc. We ended up using it occasionally, but certainly not on cooldown (20 seconds).
There you have it, our first alpha resto build review. We didn’t cover everything. Especially resto dps is something I want to elaborate more on sometime. Also one ultimate weapon build we left out of the story: cumulative upkeep. Basically, whenever you healing tide heals an ally, they take 25% increased healing from healing tide, and this effect stacks. Our initial preference goes to building out on healing stream and possibly riptide, but not healing tide. We don’t have enough artifact power available to test out one ultimate ‘golden dragon’ build, let alone test all of them. Until then, it remains guessing. Perhaps our preferences will change, like everything does on the alpha.
We do want to add that mana felt really tight during raid testing, and it was awesome. We hope there are chances it will stay this way – especially if mana stays scarce on items (please don’t add strong regen trinkets). It will keep the healing game very interesting.
See you next time!