Patch 5.4 Preview: T16 Set Bonuses and Healer Changes

Yesterday, some patch notes for 5.4 were released – first, data-mined versions on MMO-Champion, then the official version on the WoW Patch Notes Blog. I tend to stay out of the whole “speculating on patch note information” due to its typically dubious quality, and the fact that upcoming patch balance changes are often reverted quickly or change radically with each new build version, but these patch notes just kind of stuck in my head, and I had to get the thoughts out :P

Disclaimer: All of this information is subject to rapid, drastic change. The PTR is not even available yet. Data mining often introduces inaccuracies and outright errors. Grain of salt. Et cetera, et cetera.

For specific information on your class, click on the appropriate link below:

Druid | Monk | Paladin | Priest | Shaman

Or, if you’re nosy, just have a sticky beak at all the patch 5.4 changes!

Restoration-Druid-IconRestoration Druids

Resto Druids are being reworked substantially in patch 5.4. This was hinted at when Ghostcrawler was interviewed by Icy Veins for the release of patch 5.3:

gc icy veins interview re druids and absorbs

(This quote, and a few others from that interview, also touch on some healing design issues that concern me, but I’ll leave that for a later rant.)

Here’s the run-down on the Druid changes presented in the 5.4 patch notes:

New Ability: Genesis

genesis iconThe HoT-emphasis mechanic Ghostcrawler speaks of in the quote above appears to be a new spell granted to Restoration Druids at level 88, called Genesis.

Genesis will “accelerate” your existing Rejuvenation HoTs so that they will deliver their healing 400% faster (and over 400% less duration), which will allow Druids to use this spell to respond to burst AoE damage with burst AoE healing via pre-HoTting the raid.

genesis visual

Rejuvenations! Heal faster!

My Druid’s Rejuvenation HoT effect currently delivers 5 ticks of healing once every 2.8 seconds (the initial “up-front” tick at t=0, and the remaining 4 over 11.2 seconds). Under Genesis, the Rejuvenation would instead deal those 5 ticks of healing every 0.56 seconds, for a total duration of 2.8 seconds. I’m speculating here, but this shouldn’t increase the actual amount of healing that the individual Rejuvenation cast will produce, and (I’d hope) shouldn’t change the amount of ticks or create any new haste breakpoints for the spell. It should just vastly accelerate the delivery of the healing. Of course, remember that when you actually pop Genesis, you won’t have a bunch of full-duration Rejuvenations active – some will be about to expire already, some will be at medium duration, etc. There is probably some optimisation to be done here, but I’m not going to touch it yet :P

Genesis will cost the same amount of mana as Rejuvenation does, so 8700 mana. There is no information at this time regarding its cooldown (if any). Personally I’d like to see it be off the GCD and have a meaningful, but relatively short, cooldown (on the order of 30-45 seconds), so that it might be less of a rotational tool and more of a situational one.

Changes to Existing Spells

Wild Mushroom is getting an overhaul again. The new Mushroom spell will summon a single mushroom at the targeted ally’s location, and only one Mushroom can be active at a time. The Mushroom will deal a base healing amount that is equivalent to the amount that our three Mushrooms currently heal for, and will absorb 100% of our Rejuvenation overhealing until it has accumulated healing equal to twice our health pool. When you use Wild Mushroom: Bloom, the Mushroom will detonate and deliver this healing, spread evenly, over all allies within 10 yards.

Also, and get ready for this because it’s a bit of a big deal, the Mushroom will retain its stored-up healing when it is replaced. No more blowing up your ‘Shrooms just because the raid moved and you hope it’ll hit someone, anyone. Simply reposition the ‘Shroom and carry on.

The catch? The Rejuvenation overhealing that goes into your Wild Mushroom will now not count Harmony or Naturalist healing increases. My Druid’s Rejuvenation ticks for 19,692 currently, for example, but that includes 10% from Naturalist and 19% from my Mastery. If I factor those out, my “base Rejuvenation” tick is only 15,135, and this is the amount that my Wild Mushroom would store from my Rejuvenation ticking out on a full-health target. (I’ll note that this functionality is currently not working on the PTR; the Mushroom is storing exactly as much overhealing as I’m generating with Rejuvenation. The Bloom, however, does not seem to be affected by Naturalist or Harmony, so it seems like maybe they implemented this a bit backwards compared to how they described it.)

This will be a quite a nerf to its charging-up potential – going from 150% of our overheal (if 3 Mushrooms are present) to 100% makes it approximately 33% slower, and removing the Naturalist and Harmony contributions adds another *waves hands* 30-ish% to the time needed to charge up fully – but a huge quality-of-life buff in terms of ‘Shroom management. And charging the ‘Shroom up slower is really not that big of a deal. After all, the current Mushrooms soak up and deliver healing so quickly that it’s worth using them almost on CD, even if they’re not fully charged. Charging this much-easier-to-use Mushroom up slower will not meaningfully impact our playstyle with it. Plus, if you really need that fully-charged ‘ShroomBloom, like, right now, there’s always Genesis.

What this really does is remove the Mastery and Naturalist “double-dipping” that Mushrooms benefited from. Currently, Wild Mushrooms also double-dip from Critical Strike, in that Crit Rejuv ticks charge the ‘Shrooms up faster, and the Bloom can Crit, too. This is also being adjusted in 5.4; Wild Mushroom: Bloom will no longer be capable of Critically healing players. This is definitely a nerf to its output, but given how potent they are – and how difficult it is to avoid overhealing with them – it might not even be noticeable.

Innervate is being retooled so that it now delivers mana based upon the casting Druid’s Spirit. The new Innervate will return 50% of your Spirit in mana every second for 10 seconds. Since old Innervate was 20% of your mana pool, which is 60,000 mana, new Innervate requires you to have 12,000 Spirit in order to break even. This change does two things: it nerfs Innervate for non-Restoration Druids pretty harshly (I can’t see Ferals or Guardians ever using this button now), and it gives Druids an incentive to stack Spirit at least to the point where they are getting as much mana from Innervate as they used to.

Swiftmend’s AoE healing effect is now properly called Efflorescence. This is good primarily because we’ve been calling it Efflorescence for so long, it’ll be nice that it shows up with its proper name in the logs ;) This change comes along with a new Glyph, which makes a nice segue into the next section…

Glyph Changes

The Glyph of Efflorescence is a new introduction in patch 5.4. It increases your Swiftmend healing by 20%, and causes Efflorescence to be triggered by casting Wild Mushroom instead of Swiftmend. The new Efflorescence will last for as long as your Wild Mushroom is active, i.e. until you ‘splode your ‘Shroom.

This turns Wild Mushroom into an Efflorescence Totem, basically, and provides Druids with a persistent AoE ground effect.

Delinking Efflorescence from Swiftmend gives you a lot more options in who you can target with Swiftmend itself – no more need to worry about “wasting” Efflorescence healing when you emergency-oh-crap!-Swiftmend the tank or the hunter standing off in BFE.  And even if you hate Wild Mushrooms, being able to place your Efflorescence where it’s most needed, even if Swiftmend isn’t needed there, is really powerful. I’d suggest this Glyph as a default option for all Resto Druids – perhaps replacing Glyph of Regrowth as gear inflation continues to push your Crit high enough that nearly all your Regrowths are Crits anyway.

The Glyph of Innervate is being reworked, so that casting Innervate on another target will provide both the target and the caster with 60% of its normal effect.

Talent Changes

Several of the Talents have been reworked to make them more attractive and encourage all specs to experiment a little more with their Talent choices.

Most excitingly, Nature’s Swiftness is no longer a Level 30 Talent. It is now baseline for Restoration Druids, and not available to the other specs. I’m assuming this was done to combat the fact that nearly every Druid takes Nature’s Swiftness (its short cooldown and flexible utility make it extremely attractive across all specs), and that Restoration Druids in particular had little to no reason to ever consider Cenarion Ward or Renewal.

The new Talent that replaces Nature’s Swiftness in our Talent trees is called Ysera’s Gift, and provides passive healing. Ysera’s Gift heals the Druid for 5% of their maximum health every 5 seconds, and if the Druid is on full health when this effect triggers, the heal will instead be applied to the most injured target near the Druid.

Just as an example, for a Druid in ilvl 537 gear with 576k health, Ysera’s Gift provides 5,760 HPS. The healing is also affected by Naturalist (our 10% bonus to healing as Resto Druids), so for our spec, that would be more like 6,336 HPS. (It is not currently being affected by our Mastery on the PTR.) The healing dealt by Ysera’s Gift can also be boosted by the 10% increase to healing while Nature’s Vigil is active, and the new 25% boost to healing while Heart of the Wild is active (see below for details on that!).

The smart-ish healing may still be overheal in a lot of fights with erratic or infrequent raid damage, but in heavy damage fights like Garalon, Primordius, or Twin Consorts, this may be almost entirely effective healing. This is a pretty strong passive ability and will probably be most Restoration Druids’ choice to replace Nature’s Swiftness in 5.4.

Soul of the Forest is getting a buff as well. Swiftmend will grant the casting Druid 100% Haste on their next spell, up from 75%. At this point I think these SotF buffs are just getting ridiculous. I know a lot of Druids swear by their Incarnation: Tree of Life cooldown, but Soul of the Forest is already ridiculously strong and an excellent Talent for any constant-damage encounter or whenever frequent burst healing is needed. SotF-WG is already basically a cooldown in and of itself, one that happens every 15 seconds.

I’ll leave the precise Haste breakpoint calculations to Binkenstein of TotemSpot, but this change should make the +8 and +9 WG tick breakpoints accessible to Druids under SotF, meaning that each SotF WG will be at least twice as strong as its non-SotF counterpart. That’s a huge throughput buff for a spell that traditionally makes up quite a large portion of our healing. And SotF-WG + Genesis for your existing Rejuvenations + WM: Bloom will make for extremely potent on-demand burst AoE healing.

Finally, all three of the Level 90 Talents have been buffed for Restoration Druids. Heart of the Wild now grants 25% additional healing when the active portion of the Talent is used (the 45-second cross-role booster). This is a pretty significant buff for the Talent for Druids who find themselves in a situation where they don’t have the downtime to use HotW for its hybrid utility. For example, Druids in 10-man guilds who 2-heal Heroic mode fights may never feel they have the time to pop HotW and DPS enough to make it worthwhile; now, they can talent HotW for its passive Int bonus and also gain a healing boost from it.

25% additional healing for 45 seconds of every 6 minutes is not that amazing, but keep in mind that before these changes, HotW’s passive 6% Int was already very likely beating Nature’s Vigil’s average healing increase due to gear inflation. Plus, unlike the changes to Nature’s Vigil that I’ll get to in a moment, HotW’s active healing buff will work with Tranquility, meaning that at least one of your Tranqs in a fight can be 25% more effective. This is pretty huge, especially in 25-player mode where Tranq has been supercharged.

Nature’s Vigil has received a similar boost. While Nature’s Vigil is active, those healing spells that trigger the Nature’s Vigil damage effect will also heal a nearby injured ally for 25% of the amount healed. In other words, it’s a 25% healing throughput increase for Cenarion Ward, Healing Touch, Lifebloom, Nourish, Regrowth, Rejuvenation, Renewal, and Swiftmend. (Ysera’s Gift does not proc the Nature’s Vigil damage effect.) This is of course on top of the 10% healing bonus that you receive to all spells (including Efflorescence, Tranquility, Wild Growth, and Wild Mushroom: Bloom as usual). This makes the spell a much stronger throughput cooldown for us, and 10% stronger Tranquility every time may well outweigh a single-use, 25% stronger Tranquility as provided by Heart of the Wild.

Dream of Cenarius has been completely reworked; it was probably the least popular Talent on the tree, taken only by Feral Druids (who are typically bitter about it). For Resto Druids, this Talent now buffs Wrath damage by 20%, and when you deal damage with Wrath, you now heal a nearby injured player for 100% of the damage dealt.

Yes, that’s right. You now have Atonement.

For a quick and dirty comparison, my Resto Druid’s Wrath with Dream of Cenarius would deal, on average (folding in Crit and raid buffs), 61k damage. Since “Wrathtonement” currently sees no benefit from Naturalist or our Mastery, the heal it produces is also 61k in size. At a mana cost of 7,560 (because Wrath’s mana cost is going up by 50% in patch 5.4), this represents a HPM of 8.19, which frankly is worse than any single-target spell we have besides Nourish on a target with no HoTs, and it can’t compete with intelligent use of our AoE healing, either. Its 34k HPET likens it to Nourish rather than any other spells, and we are already not using Nourish for a good reason.

But. Resto Druids have typically had some of the lowest capacity to deal damage during raid encounters (especially those who do not take Heart of the Wild and use its active buff). This enables Druids to deal damage to a boss or add without losing the ability to heal, which is part of what makes Disc’s Atonement so powerful. While the heal is small, it is smart, which means it is likely to be effective, and it is spammable even when the damage hasn’t been dealt yet – removing your need to intelligently choose a target during downtimes. This Talent may be useful for any fight where there are significant periods of low healing requirement, during farm content, or – especially! – if an enemy has a modifier to damage taken (like Horridon, Wind Lord Mel’jarrak, or even Tortos). As little as a 25% damage increase will make it more mana efficient than Regrowth, and at a 100% damage increase, its throughput is more akin to Healing Touch than Nourish.

Wrath can consume Clearcasting procs, but if you have a Clearcasting proc available and significant healing is needed, Regrowth would still be the way to go. Clearcasting Wrathtonement would be much more useful, however, if your Clearcasting Regrowth would be largely overheal; at least the Wrath will deal damage to the boss, contributing to the success of the encounter in ways that overhealing just doesn’t.

Tier 16 Set Bonuses

The Restoration Druid set bonuses for PvE gear in 5.4 are not particularly inspiring.

2-piece: Ironbark increases your Critical Strike chance by 20% for 12 seconds.
4-piece: Rejuvenation, Lifebloom, and Wild Growth critical heals have a chance to cause all cast time heals for the next 12 sec to cause a Living Seed on the target for 80% of the amount healed.

While these set bonuses work together, and it’s nice to see an incentive to make sure you use Ironbark, I’m not sure that either of them really provide meaningful buffs or will be worth changing your behaviour for. The 4-piece in particular is underwhelming. Regrowth is still the only cast-time heal we have worth casting, and it would almost always provide a 30% Living Seed anyway, even if you don’t Glyph it, since it has such a high chance to Crit.

Living Seed is only triggered by direct attacks in the next 15 seconds, so for many targets of your Regrowth this Living Seed may expire without ever being used. (I’ll note here that in a random log I just opened up for my Restoration Druid, I generated 38 Living Seeds, 17 of which did any healing, and 52% of that was overheal. I tend to use my Regrowth Clearcasting procs on tanks where Living Seed will be effective, and even still, fewer than half the Seeds were ever triggered.)

Also, if a player already has a Living Seed active, a new Living Seed will either replace the old one (if it is larger) or be ignored (if it would be smaller); they will not stack or roll into one another the way Ignite/Echo of Light does. This means that spamming the tank – the one player you’d expect to be able to trigger Living Seeds reliably – with Regrowths during this period is still unlikely to generate the full potential healing of each Regrowth’s Living Seed. Bosses frequently have slow swing timers.

I guess what I’m saying is, this is less than a 50% boost to Regrowth’s effectiveness during its uptime, and we don’t even know what its chance will be, so while it’s difficult to put a precise numeric value on this set bonus, it’s far more likely that the stats on the next tier’s equivalent of Thunderforged non-tier pieces are going to be more valuable to us than chasing this 4-piece.

mistweaver monk iconMistweaver Monk

The only thing to discuss here are the Tier 16 set bonuses, as no new functionality for Monks has been introduced, other than a new visual effect for Ring of Peace. Chi Torpedo’s tooltip is being updated to reflect the fact that it not only replaces Roll, but also allows you to move farther than Roll does, but this is not a new function – it already exists.

The new Ring of Peace graphic seems 60% less likely to cause new tanks to freak out.

The new Ring of Peace graphic seems 60% less likely to cause new tanks to freak out.

Tier 16 Set Bonuses

The Mistweaver set bonuses for Tier 16 are amazing.

2-piece: When Gift of the Serpent spheres heal a player, they gain an absorb for 20% of the amount healed.
4-piece: When your Renewing Mist heals a target, you have a 20% chance to cast a Chi Wave healing bolt that will not bounce at a nearby low health friendly target.

Okay, so first off, this 2-piece set bonus. At 537 iLevel, a Mistweaver Monk’s Gift of the Serpent spheres heal for approximately 38k (or 19k when they expire and deliver half their healing to a nearby injured ally). This Tier bonus will generate a shield of 7,600 on any player who walks through a Gift of the Serpent sphere, or 3,800 on players who receive the expiry ‘pop’.

I know that doesn’t sound like a lot. But smaller, more frequent shielding is better than large, infrequent shielding. Why? Because smaller shields are “eaten up” first, making them more likely to be fully used up and fully effective before expiring. And Mistweaver Mastery actually does do a fairly significant amount of healing, most of which – 70 to 90% or so – comes from the full-potential Spheres as opposed to the half-potential ‘pop’:

Comparison of "Full" vs. "Expired" Gift of the Serpent spheres over three distinct encounter types (spread/heavy movement, stacked, spread/low movement) and all formats. Click to enlarge.

Comparison of “Full” vs. “Expired” Gift of the Serpent spheres over three distinct encounter types (spread/heavy movement, stacked, spread/low movement) and all formats. Click to enlarge.

This is going to add yet another layer of passive, effective absorbs to the already pervasive presence of Illuminated Healing and Divine Aegis. Frankly, I think it’s bad for the game in that it is going to further reduce the requirement for reactive healing from Druid, Shaman, and Holy Priest healers.

But, for Mistweavers, it’s undoubtedly great! It should improve the performance of Mastery spheres by pretty much 20%, since these absorption shields are highly likely to be fully effective. While this may not push Mastery up over Crit in terms of stat weights, it will make the Mastery you can’t get rid of a lot more effective ;)

Fountain of Chi Wave!

Fountain of Chi Wave!

The 4-piece is also amazing. With each tick of Renewing Mist having a 20% chance to generate a Chi Wave orb, using my ilvl 537 Monk profile (and an extremely conservative +2 ReM tick Haste breakpoint), we can calculate the increase in Renewing Mist’s throughput pretty simply by just adding 20% of a Chi Wave bounce to every tick of ReM.

My Monk profile’s Renewing Mist heals for an average of 10.3k per tick. A bounce of Chi Wave heals for an average of 69.5k, 20% of which is 13.9k. This more than doubles the output of Renewing Mist.

With Renewing Mist already being a huge part of the Mistweaver healing budget – anywhere from 20-60% depending on the damage pattern of the encounter and how lazy the Monk in question is being ;) – this is an incredible buff and the most powerful tier bonus I can remember seeing since the Holy Paladin 4-pc t14 pre-nerf. Serious raiding Mistweavers may even feel required to chase this set bonus through LFR and Flex raiding for the early part of the progression race in t16.

holy-paladin-iconHoly Paladin

While there are no changes that are specific to Holy Paladins, I will note a few Talent changes before moving on to discuss the Tier 16 set bonuses.

Talent Changes

Burden of Guilt has been removed, presumably because nobody ever took it compared to the actual CC options it competed against. Instead, the new Talent is called Evil is a Point of View (worst. Talent. name. ever?), which allows you to use Turn Evil on players and beasts. I doubt that this Talent will have any impact on raiding Holy Paladins.

Hand of Purity now reduces damage taken from harmful periodic effects by 80% if the effect can be removed or prevented by immunities, and by 40% if the effect cannot be removed or prevented by immunities. This Talent has had a kind of strange trajectory – first being buffed because it couldn’t compete with Clemency, then being made nearly useless by not working on things that couldn’t be immuned – but hopefully it will now settle into a niche but powerful ability. I’ve always loved Hand of Purity, so this change is welcome for me!

Unbreakable Spirit now flat-out reduces the CD on Divine Shield, Divine Protection, and Lay on Hands by 50%. This is a great Talent now for any encounter where frequent immunities are necessary (*cough*Heroic Lei Shen*cough*), but a 6-min LoH cooldown (assuming you Glyph Divinity) really can’t compete with a Purity that actually works on fights where the immunities are not useful, or a Clemency on fights with buff-clearing-via-HoP potential. As always, weigh your own personal survivability needs against those of your raid and determine which Talent is optimal for you on an encounter-by-encounter basis.

Tier 16 Set Bonuses

The Holy Paladin set bonuses for t16 gear are as follows:

2-piece: Infusion of Light also increases the healing done by Holy Light, Divine Light, and Holy Radiance by 10%. Instant.
4-piece: Reduces the cooldown of Divine Favor by 45 sec. While Divine Favor is active, Mastery is increased by 1,500.

The 2-piece is kind of just bland free healing. You were going to use your Infusion of Light procs anyway to cast Holy Radiance to generate Holy Power, so this is just 10% free healing on that (and of course, 10% additional Illuminated Healing as a result). It’s likely to be overhealing or insignificant a lot of the time, and it doesn’t change your priorities very much, but it’ll be … well … it’ll be something.

The 4-piece, however, is pretty darn amazing. This puts Divine Favor potential uptime at nearly 15% (20 seconds out of every 135 seconds). The additional 1,500 Mastery provides a fairly small benefit – an additioal 3.125% Mastery during those times, or a little less than 0.5% Mastery on average if Divine Favor is used on cooldown – but since Divine Favor is typically used during periods of heavy incoming damage, making your incredibly effective Illuminated Healing shields a bit stronger is always going to be useful. And having more access to Divine Favor is always going to be great – especially on fights where you take Holy Avenger, where you can hold the cooldown for 15 extra seconds in order to be able to use it with Divine Favor every time and generate a lot of throughput.

Since the output of these abilities depends very heavily on individual spell selection, I won’t attempt to math it out now, because it’s a serious PITA. As we get closer to 5.4′s release, though, I’ll be sure to cover it. :)


Not a lot of changes have been forthcoming for Priests in the new patch. Leap of Faith no longer has a facing requirement, which should make it a bit easier to use under duress. I’ll discuss a couple of Talent and possible Glyph changes before diving in to the Tier 16 set bonuses.

Talent Changes

Angelic Feather now increases movement speed by 80% and the feathers will persist for 10 minutes. Apparently, you will use your Feathers and you will like it! >:-{

According to the official patch notes, the Divine Insight talent for Discipline Priests now has a 100% chance to activate its effect upon using Penance. This means that, following every Penance, you may cast a Power Word: Shield that will ignore and not cause Weakened Soul effects.

I still think this Talent is pretty “meh” for Disc Priests, especially when compared to the Power Infusion/Spirit Shell synergy. I doubt that this fix will be enough to make it attractive to PvE Priests. However, it could represent a huge buff for PvPing Priests – I just don’t know enough about that scene to make an informed comment.

On MMO-champion, the data-mined patch notes indicate that this 100% chance applies to the Holy version of Divine Insight as well. This is a tooltip error; I’ve talented into Divine Insight on the PTR and cast a Prayer of Healing, and no proc, so clearly it’s not 100%, no matter what the Talent tooltip might say.

Twist of Fate is also being made somewhat easier to use, with its healing/damage threshold being increased to 35% (up from 20%). This doesn’t change the fact that Twist of Fate often would need ridiculous uptimes to compete with well-used Power Infusion or Holy’s Divine Insight, but it does make those ridiculous uptimes a little easier to reach.

Glyph Changes

This information was not reflected in the official patch notes and only appears in the data gleaned by MMO-Champion’s data miners. Since I am not certain these are intended to make it onto the PTR at all, I won’t spend much time discussing the implications.

The Glyph of Purify is reportedly increasing the healing done to your target on a successful dispel to 5% of their maximum health, instead of 3%.

The Glyph of Reflective Shield is reportedly increasing the damage reflected to 70% from 45%.

Tier 16 Set Bonuses

The healing Priest set bonuses for Tier 16 gear are as follows:

2-piece: Serendipity also increases the healing of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing by 50% per stack. While Archangel is active, your critical chance is increased by 10%.
4-piece: Circle of Healing and Prayer of Mending casts increase the effect of your next Holy Word spell by 50% 15%, stacking up to 10 times. While Spirit Shell is active, you gain 10% haste and 3,500 mastery.

I’ll consider each spec separately for a second here…

discipline-priest-iconFor Discipline, these are both very strong set bonuses. Keeping in mind that Archangel can have a 60% uptime, that’s like basically having an extra 6% crit. This will improve Disicpline’s Spirit Shell, and will also make Archangel/Atonement healing even more efficient. Ain’t no downside here.

The 10% haste bonus to Spirit Shell is also excellent. Since the cap is very difficult to reach even in 10-player content, this should directly improve the throughput of Spirit Shell across the board. Plus, the 3,500 Mastery – which works out to 9.33% Mastery – will be very nice. I know that Spirit Shell doesn’t scale from Mastery quite as nicely as it once did, but this will still improve Discipline’s number one best spell (if not from a throughput perspective, then at least from a utility and underhealing-Heroic-content-successfully perspective).

class_holy_priest_iconFor Holy, the 2-piece set bonus is … well, it really depends on how much time you spend casting Binding or Flash Heal in your raids. I’m no expert on Holy Priest behaviour, so I’ll leave the real speculation to those who are; I suspect that casting Binding or Flash heal just to supercharge your next Prayer of Healing is unlikely to be worth it mana-wise or throughput-wise (especially if you take Divine Insight), but I could be convinced otherwise.

The 4-piece set bonus, on the other hand, is pretty great. MMO-Champion has data-mined the buff as being 50% stacking up to 10 times, but according to the spell data associated with the tier bonus, it is really only 15% stacking up to 10 times. That seems a lot more sane, and a 150% effectiveness Holy Word: Sanctuary will actually be well worth casting. Of course, it’ll take you a while to build up those 10 stacks, but I’d estimate Sanc being worthwhile at about 6-7 stacks, and with Divine Insight that ought to be pretty easy to reach.

This does kind of lock Holy Priests into taking Divine Insight – at least, if they want to access an actually-worth-casting Sanctuary, for fights with heavy damage while stacking – but it may well be perfectly viable without DI for Holy Priests who prefer Serenity Chakra, as Holy Word: Serenity is already quite good, and its cooldown too short to ever be worth trying to fish for high stacks of the set bonus buff before casting.

restoration-shaman-iconRestoration Shaman

Not a lot of changes here, either. Healing Rain, of course, is being buffed again, this time increasing its radius up to 12 yards from 10. This will be a very modest increase in 10-player content where Shaman needs the most help, but … it’s something? Riptide is also having its mana cost reduced by 25%, which along with the changes to the Glyph of Riptide that I’ll get to in a moment, should popularise the Riptide-blanketing tactic a little more in tier 16 content.

I’ll note here that, of all the classes I’m covering, the Shaman changes and Tier set bonuses are probably the least exciting. I am hoping against hope that they simply are not done. In that same Icy Veins interview that I used to open my Druid section, Ghostcrawler admitted that Shaman do not have enough of an advantage at stack healing vis a vis the other specs to make their weakness at spread healing feel balanced, and I am hoping that this means we are getting more work than just the buffs to Chain Heal and Healing Rain and the addition of Healing Rain into Ancestral Guidance’s spell table.

I don’t think the sky is falling quite yet, and though my initial response to these changes was “OMG time to reroll Mistweaver?”, that’s mostly because I think the Mistweaver set bonuses are just way too insanely OP, and after all, I did just ding one to 90, and my guild currently doesn’t have one. No reason to panic just yet … but let’s hope that we have some more tweaks coming!

Talent Change

Astral Shift’s cooldown is being reduced to 90 seconds, which will make the Talent a lot more attractive to everyone. For us in specific, as the only Shaman spec who doesn’t grumble gruffly at the idea of spending a GCD on summoning Stone Bulwark Totem, it was a pretty hard sell to get us to use Astral Shift; even though it’s off the GCD, 2 minutes is just too long to deal with mechanics like Thunderstruck, Ionization, and Rampage. 1.5 minutes may be frequent enough to encourage us to take it more often.

Glyph Changes

Both of our Glyphs that “address” our spread-healing concerns have been buffed … erm … un-nerfed? … slightly.

The Glyph of Chaining now adds a 2-second CD to Chain Heal instead of a 4-second CD. Honestly, I’d still feel a little dirty using this, but with the recent buff to Chain Heal’s healing power and the change that allows it to bounce through full-health targets, it may well be worth it in 10-player raid settings. Even if it doesn’t bounce off of a Riptided target, Chain Heal that does hit four targets will deliver (very slightly) more healing than a Healing Surge, and of course being smart and small it is more likely to be effective. Still. I need to go have a shower for typing something remotely positive about this Glyph. BRB…

… Okay. And also, Glyph of Riptide now reduces the direct healing portion of Riptide by 75%, instead of 90%. With all the mana we have now thanks to the Legendary Meta Gem and stacking Spirit to act as mana batteries (in 25-player content, at least), Glyphed Riptide is already a frustratingly viable “filler” heal. I used it to good effect on Heroic Twin Consorts and Heroic Dark Animus, feeling slimy all the while. Reducing the direct heal penalty will only make this more powerful. In fact, let’s have a look.

“Filler Spells” Efficiency and Throughput
Conditions Adjusted Healing HPM HPET
5.4 Unglyphed Riptide 143284 22.35 107494
5.3 Glyphed Riptide 107458 12.57 80617
5.4 Glyphed Riptide 113429 17.7 85097
Healing Surge, Tidal Waves 163380 9.11 93232
Chain Heal, 3 targets 140265 11.94 63138
Chain Heal, 4 targets w/Riptide 201589 18.06 90741

So in 5.4, Glyphed Riptide will remain more mana-efficient and only about 10% less throughput than Healing Surge with Tidal Waves. (This chart accounts for the additional chance of mana return via Resurgence for HS-TW.) The benefit of Glyphed Riptide over Healing Surge is in the fact that Riptide’s healing is delivered as a HoT, which can in some circumstances be more useful than a single powerful direct heal, especially if you are casting in anticipation of more damage yet to come. Also, being more mana-efficient, it is less likely to run you OOM, which can still be a significant concern even at our current level of Spirit.

If you can ensure that your Chain Heal will hit four targets when you bounce it off of a Riptided target, then Chain Heal is still the better filler. However, for 10-player mode and for drastic spread fights like Heroic Dark Animus, the 5.4 version of Glyphed Riptide is likely to perform significantly better.

Tier 16 Set Bonuses

Welcome to my own personal hell:

2-Piece: When Earth Shield heals a target, the target will gain 100% of the amount healed as an absorb.
4-Piece: Spiritwalker’s Grace will also summon a spiritual version of yourself that will mimic all cast time targeted spells for 15 sec.

Can I just say, I hate it when utility spells are given a throughput boosting effect. I seriously hate it. I hated it when they did it to Spiritwalker’s Grace back in t13, and I will hate it now. No matter how cool our Spiritual body double looks, I am terribly disappointed. You see, I use Spiritwalker’s Grace when I need to heal on the move, which does not necessarily correlate to when I need to HEAL MOAR.

Argh! This frustrates me to no end.

"NOOOOOOOOOOoooooo!" pretty much sums up my response to this set bonus.

“NOOOOOOOOOOoooooo!” pretty much sums up my response to this set bonus.

As Vixsin rightly points out below, this effect will only copy targeted cast-time heals; so that’s Healing Wave, Healing Surge, Greater Healing Wave, and Chain Heal.  If you can’t cast Chain Heals, then you’re going to be double-Healing-Surge-bombing people, and I can’t see that being particularly productive. I hope that its interaction with Chain Heal will be much like Echo of the Elements’ interaction, and not just double the Chain Heal on the same targets, but again, these are things that remain to be seen.

Currently on the PTR, the Spirit Guardian’s heals are only 35% as strong as the heals you cast. This does alleviate my concerns about the uselessness of “double-Healing-Surge-bombing”, but I still maintain that an extra 35% of the targeted healing we do during the 15-second Spirit Guardian duration is highly underwhelming in this healing era where powerful AoE spells reign. I’ll also note a few more things that I’ve observed in the few moments I’ve played with this on the PTR so far:

  • The Glyph of Spiritwalker’s Grace has no effect on the Spirit Guardian’s 15-second duration;
  • The Spirit Guardian does not always heal your target. I targeted my Guardian and cast a heal upon it, and it cast its mimic spell upon me. This seems to indicate it won’t heal pets or summoned creatures, which is probably fine, as we’re not often likely to directly target them outside of gimmicky fights like Heroic Dark Animus – just interesting to note and something to keep in mind for future testing;
  • The Spirit Guardian’s heals do not trigger Ancestral Awakening, Ancestral Guidance, or Ascendance mechanics.

As for the 2-piece bonus… Well. I guess it will more than double the healing that Earth Shield does, because shields of that small size (12k or so on my Shaman) will be pretty likely to be fully effective, and will kind of act to “convert” Earth Shield overhealing into meaningful healing. It’s just not very exciting, and for example, Earth Shield did 2.1% of my healing over an entire night of boss kills, with 28% overhealing, so we’re looking at the fully effective shield – e.g. best-case scenario – bumping my Earth Shield healing up to 4.6% of my healing. That’s not completely worthless, but it’s pretty insignificant, and it’s pretty boring.

I don’t like the idea of set bonuses “fixing” classes, but I do feel that these Resto Shaman bonuses are pretty lacklustre, and that they might leave us proportionately even weaker in tier 16 without other changes to our class. Fortunately, these are still early days, so those class changes might be coming! Fingers crossed, people. Fingers crossed. :)

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This entry was posted in Discipline, Druid, Holy, Monk, Paladin, Priests, Shaman, Theorycrafting, Tier 16. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Patch 5.4 Preview: T16 Set Bonuses and Healer Changes

  1. Vixsin says:

    Re: Shaman 4pc, I’ve a suspicion based on the wording that Healing Rain is excluded from the duplication since it’s not a “targeted spell”. “Cast time” also means that the duplication won’t apply to Riptide, which is a shame and goes completely against the RT-blanketing model they’re encouraging with the RT buffs. (Also, under the “cast time” premise, the duplication also wouldn’t apply to AG, AA, HST, or HTT, which means …. HS or CH would pretty much be our only filler options … on a 2min CD. /facepalm)

  2. Dedralie says:

    Oh, I totally skimmed right over “targeted”. Damn. That’s … I … hmm.

  3. Jabari says:

    Is there any way we can talk them into lining up the CDs for Ascendance and Spiritwalker’s? I mean, I already macro them together for both my Elemental and Resto specs as it is (even though I’m losing SWG casts, I absolutely want to be able to cast on the move at all times during Ascendance), but that 4pc would make we want to separate them for Resto again. I hate how many buttons I _already_ deal with on my shaman (compared to my holy priest and (especially) druid) and I don’t particularly want any more. :/

  4. mimiandme88 says:

    5.4 5.4 5.4 5.4
    so so so excited for my PORTABLE MUSHROOM :D
    and my ATONEMENT O.O
    If the lv90 tier talents go ahead as posted do you think people will be more inclined to go for a certain talent? I’m pretty keen to try our Dream of Cenarius!

    • Dedralie says:

      I think DoC will be pretty viable for farm content or whenever you’re doing stuff that doesn’t really require a lot of attention to be paid in order to finish healing. Other than that, probably NV will be the go-to, but we’ll have to see how things develop. I haven’t had a chance to play around with these things on the PTR yet (and reportedly some of the effects aren’t in).

  5. Pingback: WoW… Oh hei! I still play that! | The Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon

  6. Elta says:

    Hello again!

    They updated a few things on MMO champion a little while back for shamans…HTT will be baseline, our two set in T15 will be the new talent in the HTT spot, and ….chain heal won’t become weaker upon jumps. Additionally, ES will have a 300% bubble instead of just 100%.

    The spiritwalker’s four piece is so frustrating, but they may intend it to be used for movement heavy times anyway. Dunno….wish it was more of a smart heal instead of just a rehash of echo of the elements. -__-

    Anyway, there’s some good news. Hope it keeps rolling in.

    • Dedralie says:

      Yeah, I keep intending to get around to another 5.4 update. A lot has changed, I know.

      The talent is much more powerful than our two set, but it bothers me that it’s pretty much useless for DPS specs, so it’s just going to be another “mandatory” talent for us and blah blah omg I am just so tired.

      I’m not happy with any of the Shaman changes tbh but … eh. Whatever. I’m going to do some math and stuff about it, and eventually write it up, but right now I’m neck-deep in exploring Mistweaver haste interactions :P

      On Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 4:01 PM, healiocentric

  7. Inho says:

    The 4T16 proc for Hmonk has been enrfed from 20 to 4%. Is it still worth it ?

    • Dedralie says:

      Yeah, there’s been a fair few changes since I wrote that post and I’ve been meaning to write an update. Not only has the proc chance been nerfed, but the size of the Chi Wave heal has been halved as well in the current build. Since we’re in the numbers tuning phase of the PTR right now, I’ve been reluctant to do much math for this, but I will try to get something done soon. :)

  8. Pingback: Patch 5.4 Preview: T16 Set Bonuses and Healer Changes | Moonkin's Flavor

  9. Pingback: Patch 5.4: Resto Druid Changes | healiocentric

  10. Tejayla says:

    You casually mention for Druid ‘we are already not using Nourish for a good reason.’
    Can you expand on that? I use it regularly during low damage periods or to extend Lifebloom and keep up Harmony. I think of it like my pally’s Holy Light (closest thing to filler).

    • Dedralie says:

      Sorry Tejayla, I didn’t reply immediately ’cause I was not at my computer when you posted this, and then I dropped the ball!

      The reasons I say “we don’t use Nourish” are:
      * It’s cheaper to maintain Lifebloom by re-casting Lifebloom on that target if they don’t need the healing (and I’d argue that if they are missing so little health that Nourish seems like the appropriate heal, then they probably don’t “need the healing”) –
      * Regrowth is actually more mana-efficient (in terms of Healing per Mana or HPM) than Nourish anyway, so if you need to refresh LB and the player needs healing, Regrowth is a better choice than Nourish
      * 2 ticks of Rejuv outheal 1 Nourish, so on a player who needs light healing, it’s better IMO to let Rejuv do its thing if it’s already up, or to cast Rejuv instead, and move on, since it’s instant/1 sec GCD and 2 ticks of Rejuv take about the same time as 1 cast of Nourish for me anyway :)
      * Swiftmend/OOC Regrowths are enough to keep Harmony up in my experience

      Now, this doesn’t mean that nobody should ever use Nourish – if it works for you, then I’m not gonna tell you you’re doing it wrong or that you should change. I just don’t see any room for it in comparison to the much better spells we have in our toolkit, and I extrapolated from my experience + what I’ve seen in the resto druid logs I’ve examined during this expansion. :)

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