Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cataclysm Changes to Resto Shaman - First Thoughts

I don't know where the last month went as far as blogging goes. I had a few posts flying around in my head, and they never seemed to get off the ground. So let me take this moment to stretch, so I don't hurt my typing fingers.
Alright... that felt good.

In case you haven't heard, Blizzard has been releasing come class previews for Cataclysm. As of this writing (and without me constantly checking on MMO-Champion), they have released Shaman, Warlocks, and Priests. I actually like some of the more creative things they're doing with Priests. I'm kind of neutral to the Warlock changes (mainly since my only lock is like lvl 23). And honestly, I'm unsure about the Shaman changes.

See, here's the thing... I actually like the simple healing of the Shaman. Unless I'm doing it wrong, there's essentially about 7 healing spells for a Shaman. And a few of those are pretty much fire-and-forget spells. First off, there's Earthliving Weapon. Every 30 minutes, I have to put it on my weapon. That's almost a true fire-and-forget heal. (I even have a mod that puts this on for me.) Next is Healing Stream Totem. It isn't a strong heal, but gradually ticks and will slowly heal all group members for 5 minutes. Then there's Earth Shield that lasts 10 minutes, but has charges, so usually less than that. A spell that's used a lot, but not cast a lot. Then you get into our active spells. Chain Heal is for group heals. Riptide is nice, insta-cast heal with a HoT, but has a cooldown. And finally you have Lesser Healing Wave (fast) and Healing Wave.

That's it. Simple. Straight forward. Spells that take care of the job.

Now, never having played the other classes as healers at lvl 80, here's what I came up with for them. (So, feel free to correct me if I missed a spell.) Paladins are also pretty straight-forward with 6 healing spells: Sacred Shield, Holy Shock, Holy Light, Flash of Light, Lay on Hands, and Beacon of Light. Druids get a tad more complex with 8 spells: Wild Growth, Tranquility, Rejuvenation, Nourish, Lifebloom, Healing Touch, Regrowth, and Rebirth. (Yep, I'm including their Battle Rez.) And then you have Priests that have all sorts of crazy heal spells for every situation imaginable. There's 13 spells. I'm not listing them out.

So, now with the changes to Cataclysm, they want to add 3 spells to our arsenal. And I'm just not sure they're needed. Here's my thoughts why.

Healing Wave
This is the new Healing Wave. Don't confuse it with the old Healing Wave. The old one will be called Greater Healing Wave while the new one will be just Healing Wave. This will be the Shaman's "go-to heal". Maybe I'm too casual of a player now, but really, Tidal Waves seems to fill in the gap quite nicely for me. Riptide, two quick (Greater) Healing Waves, and then maybe a Lesser Healing Wave before Riptide is off cool down, then start it all over again. With my haste, I think I'm about 1.8 seconds for a (Greater) Healing Wave that's been buffed with Tidal Wave. Seems like a pretty quick nuke-heal. I can certainly see the need if you want to spam one spell, but it doesn't seem like that's Blizzard's approach. At any rate... not sure this was necessary, but we're getting it anyway.

Unleash Weapon
Let me quote what this does for the Earthliving Weapon enchant "Heals the target slightly and buffs the shaman's next healing spell by 20%." Holy crap! How original! Wait... isn't that pretty much the exact same thing that Riptide does with Tidal Waves? Only, Riptide has a HoT on it as well... and does 2 spells not 1... and has a 6-second cooldown instead of a 15. Yeah.. umm.. not sure I'm interested in this one just to have a new spell.

Healing Rain
Okay, now maybe we're getting somewhere. 2-second targetable cast with a 10-second HoT AoE. I can certainly see the limitation on Chain Heal, especially for 25-man raiding. But... I don't know... Can't we have an AoE spell that doesn't have such a limiting range or area? Or maybe just improve Chain Heal so that it jumps a lot further. (Raid Leader says, "Spread out so you don't get hurt as much by the AoE." Shamans cry.) So, maybe it just depends on the size of the area healed. But Circle of Healing is 15 yards. And Prayer of Healing is 30. I suppose it really depends on the encounters. And maybe I'm not as disappointed with this spell as the others, but still see a niche where our healing spells kind of fall short. In all honesty, this is probably the spell I see the most potential for. But I reserve the right to be excited until I actually see it in action. But being that you get it at lvl 83... and how long they say it will take to lvl in Cataclysm... I'm thinking I'll probably see it in action by Christmas... of next year.