Legion is here!
As Legion is upon us (a few days to go as I am writing this), I just want to share my current view on the resto shaman. Proof-read by all my fellow Chainheal.com authors and some of their quotes are added into the story. It has been about 9 months since we got access to the Legion alpha. During this time we’ve seen the spec evolve, change, and being optimized. We have done elaborate raid testing (months and months) and extensive dungeoneering (from normal to high up in mythic +). We have gotten a lot of questions lately, both on the site and on the shaman discord, asking us to give our opinion on our final builds. Now that the last patch has hit the beta servers, and Legion is a mere few days away, things are falling into place.
As announced previously, as soon as the expansion hits, the progress race starts. And with the progress race our writers will join their respective teams and race to the finish line. After we’re done we’ll be back with all mythic resto shaman boss guides – our tips and tricks included. Until then we present you with our ‘The launch of Legion – state of the resto shaman’! We hope this info will help you guys get started on the Broken Isles. As always, we look forward to hearing your experiences, questions and information in the comment section.
How do we develop our artifact?
Different golden dragon portraits had their shining moment during the alpha and the beta. But currently I’m slightly indifferent. All three are ok, but not great (nothing is standing out). Cumulative Upkeep (the middle one) has the lowest priority to me. As the fact that you have a cooldown is usually more important than the actual strength of it. And given the fact that healing tide is already performing quite strongly without the trait, does not increase the priority to obtain it.
Choosing your path along your artifact lines is largely dependent on how many traits you can acquire before a given date. Be it the opening of normal/heroic raids (and mythic +), or mythic raiding. Perhaps you are not on a time schedule, but just interested which way to go first. Either way, week 3 and week 4 of the expansion are important weeks timing-wise. All the calculations seem to indicate that we will be able to gather around 19-23 traits when the raids open. Where 20-21 traits should be realistic when you make a bit more than a minimum effort.
My current initial preference goes to Empowered Droplets and Queen Ascendant. They give the spec strength and an enjoyable flow. There have been changes to this constantly throughout the alpha and beta. But the healing Empowered Droplets does right now, is really solid. With 19 traits to spend, I could end up obtaining both traits fully maxed out. Making a bit of an extra effort will allow me to add the two golden dragon portraits (left and right) as well. For anyone really rushing and prepping, this is realistic to assume.
As we progress to mythic, I’ll have to end up deciding what is going to happen in the middle of my artifact. Do I prioritize Refreshing Currents, Sense of Urgency (turning heroism into another cooldown), Servant of the Queen (hit with the nerfhammer not too long ago) or Floodwaters (Keehn’s favorite of the middle traits)? A lot of this depends on tuning, which may well change as the expansion unfolds. I’ll buy myself some time on the middle section. I love the idea of Refreshing Currents, however the actual mana refunded equals about a chain heal per 5 minutes. Which means that in the current state of the trait, it would not be very interesting.
EDIT: As requested on Discord, a visual representation of the artifact path below. Two zones are depicted. The first phase in green, representing the first three weeks. And the second phase in orange, after week 3 when the raids are open.
What relics do we choose?
Relics are largely dependent on luck. What drops for you, what procs warforged or perhaps even titanforged. You start out with two relic slots, and later you unlock a third. Relics are basically trait ranks. Some traits are a single rank, others you have to build (up to three) into before you are able to move on to the next trait. Relics are like an extra level of an existing trait. Needless to say, having a relic drop that enhances your favorite trait also proccing warforged/titanforged is what you’re after. My personal preference goes to Empowered Droplets (no surprise), Queen Ascendant (no surprise either), Pull of the Sea, or Floodwaters. Not every relic will be easy to come by, but luckily a lot of other relics will do just fine. You will probably end up running with whatever procs the highest.
Which legendaries are we after?
In the start you will only be able to equip one legendary. Later on, you will unlock the possibility to equip two. Drops should be scarce, but occurring. The question is.. which ones are we really after? The boots are my favorite (Elemental Rebalancers). Healing rain is incredibly strong this expansion and prominently/effectively used in both dungeons and raids. We cast it on cooldown, and it is easy to fully benefit from this legendary.
This does not occur as much with the other legendaries. There’s the “generic” neck (Prydaz, Xavaric’s Magnum Opus), which can drop for pretty much everyone. Even though an absorb is nice, it is more of a bonus than an actual output enhancer. It is also fight dependent whether it will be of much use. Constant group/raid AoE incoming damage will obviously reduce the effectiveness.
The waist is interesting (Intact Nazjatar Molting). In raids this may shine if we encounter a fight like Tyrant, but it will be hard to continuously benefit from this legendary. 40% Health is not very common to occur on most fights on a 6 second basis (the cooldown of Riptide). In dungeons it feels a bit redundant if you run with Echo of the Elements (double charges on your Riptide). Which is looking like the go to talent in 5 mans. You end up with Riptide’s on the whole group, which is strong but usually largely redundant.
The ring (Focuser of Jonat, the Elder) is pretty nice. The concept behind it is pretty cool, you empower your AoE heal through single target healing. A bit of a passive Unleash. In dungeons you will find yourself single target healing a lot, in raids chain heal will be cast more prominently.
Canibehealz: “The legendary ring encourages a playstyle (that we will likely end up playing) where we weave our single target heals as much as possible. Especially once we get tier gear. That will bring even more focus into single target healing, to make use of the tidal waves buffs. It also never times out. No matter how many spells you weave in between those single target heals, you never lose your stacks.”
Last but not least the gloves (Praetorian’s Tidecallers). The same argument as with the golden dragon trait Cumulative Upkeep: the availability of a cooldown matters more than the strength or the (in this case) duration of it. Then again, the reduction on damage taken from Spirit Link for 20% longer is quite massive. Also a lot more powerful in progression, and less so in overhealing and farm scenario’s. How often does a raid take intense damage for more than 10 seconds? Not very often and only on a couple of fights. A nice legendary, but not always easy to maximize.
EDIT: On Discord I got asked the question.. but how about the synergy between the legendary hands and our upcoming 4 piece set bonus (as the gloves also increase the duration of our Healing Stream Totem)? Well, I completely forgot about that! In our State of the shaman: beta edition, I explained my perspective on healing stream totem. Like Canibehealz says, we foresee a single target / tidal wave playstyle. With which we’ll be rewarded by a more powerful and present healing stream (its healing isn’t exactly high at the moment – healing rain does way more). The gloves do play into this. Read the article I just linked if you want more information on this topic. You can find it in the part where I talk about healing stream nerfs.
What talents are we going to use?
Even though Unleash Life got buffed recently it still triggers a global. In my recent mythic + runs, I found that quite often either you had to save the tank from dying (think cooldowns like the ress totem and SLT), or you have time to slowly (in a few casts time) get the group up. Unleashing a powerful Chain Heal as a sort of in between strength spell felt redundant at this point. I can imagine it playing out stronger when you are still under gearing dungeon difficulties. But as soon as you get to the higher mythic + levels, keeping your tank alive will become more of a priority. Torrent remains the go-to talent for me. Easy to benefit from in both dungeons and raids.
Whereas Graceful Spirit remains my favorite for raids (maximizing the healing you do while running = always keep casting principle), Gust of Wind is more often my go-to in dungeons. Perhaps Wind Rush Totem will become part of specific strategies in mythic + and perhaps even raids, so far it has not been necessary. Being able to quickly jump from or to a location has been vital in mythic +.
The level 45 talent tier is pretty straightforward.
The stun has a shorter cooldown than the rooting totem. The stun has a 45 second cd, versus 30 seconds for the root. However, I ended up running the stunning totem regardless. Default in all the situations I encountered so far. Level 60 talents is where it becomes more interesting. In raids I alternate between Ancestral Guidance and Deluge. Depending on how chain heal heavy a fight is, or how much I can benefit from that guidance burst. As I don’t chain heal that much in dungeons, Crashing Waves becomes more interesting to me. I love combining ancestral guidance with cloudburst. But as you cannot benefit from that as much in 5 mans (way more potential healing power in a raid) from guidance, I ended up running crashing waves by default in mythic +.
I spotted a similar pattern in the level 75 tier. In raids I usually swap in between Ancestral Vigor and Earthen Shield Totem. Is there AoE incoming (mini hits) on a cluster of players or are you over healing a fight: earthen shield. If not, vigor. Using Ancestral Protection Totem can be interesting because of the 10% increased hp for a luxurious 30 seconds, but the totem itself has a 5 minute cooldown. As most raid bosses last around 5-10 minutes, this will mean you can benefit from it 1-2 times max. Cheesing raid mechanics has been guarded off as massive one shots are not eligible to be ressed by the totem. In dungeons however, where you walk around for 20-30 minutes (4-6 uses), it is a lot different. Generally you arrive at a boss every 5 minutes. And if the tank dies (usually because of a nasty affix) a death can usually be foreseen. Resurrects are more likely to occur as the hits are not as massive as they happen in raids.
The level 90 tier has a pretty big crowd favorite: Cloud Burst Totem. Which is my default raid talent. The synergy with Ancestral Guidance and Wellspring is great, and it just is too strong not to play with. But once you run into a dungeon CBT can end up feeling a bit useless, especially in higher mythic +. That’s when you will probably pick up Echo of the Elements. The constant padding of riptide, a more prominent Healing Stream, and recharges becoming available during your travel time in between packs and bosses. Bottomless Depths only over ended up active when I was healing an under geared, slightly confused Monk tank. But in most scenario’s echo or cloudburst should do.
The highest tier is home to Ascendance, our former baseline cooldown. With its active range being 20 yards around you, more of a dungeon talent than in raids. High Tide is strong as long as you focus on Chain Heal. Perhaps slightly repetitive, but thus more so in raids. If you cast a Chain Heal for every 10 single target heals in a dungeon, it won’t be very effective.
Wellspring is very mana intensive, but great to feed into cloudburst. If you’re in a raid encounter where you can burst the raid back up every 30 seconds, than this might be something to look into. Even though Wellspring has a 20 second cooldown, it often would be a waste not to double dip by feeding it into your cloudburst totem. Effectively making it a 30 second cooldown. Mind that Wellspring is capped at 1800% of your spell power, and capped at 6 people for its effective healing.
What will be our stat priority?
This one has been tossed and turned a few times over the past few months. However, as it looks now mastery is still the bread and butter of the resto shaman. With less prominent shield and absorb mechanics of other healers, even more so. Crit becomes more important as mana becomes more important, but also to further increase the potency of our heals. It has been a question how important crit actually is and will become in comparison to mastery. This is what we have settled on:
Intellect > Mastery > Critical Strike > Haste > Versatility
Keehn: ‘Another thing that brings crit up a notch, is that it procs Queen Ascendant more reliably. Combine it with Floodwaters and you will amost be guaranteed of it proccing after any chain heal cast.’
Off we go!
And that’s it! That’s how I’ll head into Legion. As we level and gear up, we’ll encounter final tuning. There will be testing and experimenting. There will be RNG (which items, relics, legendaries do I get?). I look forward to progressing, and I look forward to sharing the tips and tricks with you after it is all over.