|New Raiding Hierarchy|
|Level 100 Talents|
So, BlizzCon happened, and thankfully – since I can’t be there myself this year – my Twitter is all a-flurry with speculation and excitement over what’s been announced. There’s Garrisons, item squishes, Level 90 at the touch of a button, new models, new organisational options for inventory … the list goes on. You can see a great deal of this information via Wowhead’s Blizzcon coverage.
I’m just going to highlight a few of the things that are healer-specific, but keep in mind there’s much, much more information to soak up at the above link and all over the web.
Of all the things that have been announced so far, the one that concerns me the most is the change to the raiding hierarchy:
What I’ve taken away from this image and the discussion via Twitter is that most raid difficulties will be flexible in nature, scaling fluidly based on how many people are in your raid group. (Exactly how this is going to work and many, many other details are still yet to come.) The difficulty of “6.0 Normal” will be equivalent to the difficulty of 5.4 Flexible raiding; the difficulty of “6.0 Heroic” will be equivalent to the difficulty of 5.4 Normal modes.
The raiding difficulty that most closely resembles what we now consider to be Heroic or “hard-core” raiding, Mythic, is limited to a 20-player format. It is designed with 5 healers in mind as the baseline healing requirements.
Now, it’s far too early to speculate about what this means for individual healing specs – especially since I suspect healing is going to get a significant overhaul in 6.0. My main concern in this regard is that healing specs with more flexibility or overall utility will crowd out healing specs that are primarily throughput-focused or niche when competing for a reduced number of raid slots. One thing about having a larger raid size is that you can support a wider variety of specs, but as we have already seen when 25-player Heroic strategies call for culling healers, spec diversity suffers. (And in 10-player Heroic raid compositions, the gap between “favoured” specs and “non-favoured” specs is quite wide, if RaidBots’ collation of the number of parses in each healer spec is any indicator. I accept that RaidBots historically is a touchy site for spec performance, but for spec representation this seems like a fairly solid way to measure it.)
Again, it’s too early to spell doom and gloom for any particular spec, or even any particular player. I just fear that, when the Warlords of Draenor dust settles, the healing world will be a lot less diverse than it ought to be. I also worry about the impact of hybrid raid CDs, especially with a whole new tier of talents to be factored in, and new spells as well, but I’m trying not to get too far ahead of the curve here! Early days, early days.
Every class will get a new Talent choice at Level 100, and some prototype Talents have already been released. Here’s Wowhead’s WoD Talent Calculator for reference! Remember that actual analysis of these Talents is impossible given the impending item squish, the lack of proper tooltip data, and of course, the ever-changing nature of pre-Beta gameplay elements. But here are my first impressions of what we’ve been able to see, offered in the spirit that discussing these Talents on a conceptual level can help us refine what we want to see and direct our feedback :)
Druid Level 100 Talents (Talent Calculator)
Touch of Elune – Moment of Clarity: Omen of Clarity now lasts 5 seconds, instead of for one cast.
This is a straight mana-conservation Talent, which may be useful in the early stages of the expansion when we have to lean harder on efficiency over throughput, or in small group/solo play where direct heals may make up a larger part of our healing breakdown. However, the more of our healing is HoT related or Efflorescence, the less likely this is to be a useful Talent.
I’ll also note that, while this does change our gameplay somewhat, it may also interfere with our interaction with Omen of Clarity. Currently, OoC is a proc that lasts 15 seconds and allows us one free Regrowth, Healing Touch, or Nourish. If this healing isn’t needed at the time it procs, we can sit on the proc for a little while and use it just before it expires to refresh a Lifebloom. Yes, this means we might waste a proc by overwriting it with a second proc, but if that happens, it just means that Regrowth wasn’t a spell we needed to cast at that time anyway – so it wasn’t much of a loss.
With this Talent, the Omen of Clarity state will last for five seconds, instead of one cast within a 15-second window, which means we’ll have to respond much more quickly. If it procs when the healing isn’t needed, well, Living Seed is better now than it was so there’s something to do with it, but in general I tend to prefer a proc I can wait on and use at the right time than a proc for which I need to spam subpar spells.
The only way I can see this Talent being generally useful is if Healing Touch and/or Regrowth are designed to be more powerful than our HoT healing, but so costly that it is not possible to cast these spells outside of Omen of Clarity. While this could happen, it goes so far in the opposite direction of Druid design that I find it pretty unlikely.
Will of Malfurion – Germination: Genesis now also extends Rejuvenation by 1 second after hastening it.
I love Genesis, and this Talent would make Genesis actually provide an increase in healing-per-cast of Rejuvenation. Just as a thought experiment, I worked out what this would do for Druids now. Unless the duration and tick interval of Rejuvenation are changed in Warlords of Draenor, this interaction should stay the same in the next expansion.
- For Druids at the 3043 Haste breakpoint, generating 1 additional tick from Rejuvenation, Germination would provide one extra tick of Rejuvenation on each target, an approximately 17% increase to the healing from any Rejuvenation hasted by Genesis.
- If one of those Rejuvenations was SotF-hasted, it would jump from 10 ticks to 13 under Genesis, or a 30% increase to that Rejuvenation’s healing.
- For Druids at the 13163 Haste breakpoint, generating 2 additional ticks from Rejuvenation, Germination would provide two extra ticks of Rejuvenation on each target, an approximately 29% increase to the healing from any Rejuvenation hasted by Genesis.
- If one of those Rejuvenations was SotF-hasted, it would jump from 12 to 16 ticks under Genesis, or a 33% increase to that Rejuvenation’s healing.
These seem pretty solid to me, but I know that a lot of Druid players do not find much use in Genesis, and while I maintain that it is a useful tool for burst healing on several targets, I think this may be a situationally good Talent at best.
Might of Malfurion – Rampant Growth: Swiftmend now consumes Regrowth or Rejuvenation, but has no cooldown.
At first glance, this Talent seems amazing, because I can think of a few ways to abuse it. First, Talent into Soul of the Forest. No CD on Swiftmend = every Wild Growth, every Lifebloom refresh, and lots of Rejuvenations can be hastened. Second, unglyph Glyph of Efflorescence, and now you’re handing out more Efflo than Oprah. Note, though, that this is a MoP-biased view of things, and Druid Swiftmend interactions are not likely to remain the same if this Talent makes it into WoD unchanged.
I strongly suspect that the Glyph of Efflorescence is going to become baseline in WoD, and there will be no option to tie Efflo to Swiftmend at all. Consider the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Glyph of Efflorescence (amongst the Druid community, I mean – I know other healers have complained about it!) and I think it’s clear that this Glyph has filled a mechanical gap in the Druid toolkit and has improved Druid playstyle dramatically. Having your ground-based AoE effect tied to an emergency single-target heal never made sense in the first place.
As for the SotF interaction, well remember that in order to get this SotF Haste on every Wild Growth and Lifebloom, you’re sacrificing existing Regrowth or Rejuvenation HoTs, and a lot of GCDs on recasting them. It may not be as powerful as it seems, but I do find it concerning how this Talent becomes so much better if you also take Soul of the Forest, and I think that developers want to avoid having two Talents linked like this. I wouldn’t be surprised to see SotF get an internal cooldown, or perhaps to get its bonus Haste rating toned down, maybe only when this Talent is chosen.
Monk Level 100 Talents (Talent Calculator)
Vital Connections (1000 Mana) – Detonate Chi: Causes your Healing Spheres to instantly trigger, healing the nearest ally within 6 yards.
Well, Monks have been asking for this forever as a way of boosting their Mastery’s value, and the bursty nature of this Talent can’t be ignored. However, this still has the problem that players need to be within 6 yards of those Spheres for this to be useful, and Mastery Healing Spheres would have to do a lot of healing to make this competitive with Chi Explosion. We’ll have to wait and see how Mastery spheres end up before we can truly evaluate this Talent.
Chi Explosion – Consumes up to 4 Chi to cause the target to explode with Chi energy, causing additional effects based on the Chi consumed:
- 1+ Chi: Heals the targeted ally for 2500.
- 2+ Chi: This healing also heals all allies within 8 yards of the target.
- 3+ Chi: Also summons 8 Healing Spheres in an 8-yard-radius ring around the target.
- 4+ Chi: Healed allies are also healed for an additional 800 over 6 seconds.
Now, remember, those numbers seem low to us now, but we’ll be seeing an item squish in WoD, so we will have to wait until we get proper tooltip data to determine how powerful this healing will be in comparison to our other abilities.
I will just note that, assuming our 20-man Mythic raid has 5 melee in a stack pile, and Chi Explosion is used on one of those 5 melee, the first Chi generates 2,500 healing; the 2nd Chi adds 10,000 healing; and the fourth Chi adds 4,000 healing.
I’m not sure that waiting for 4 Chi will ever be useful. Even in a Megaera-type situation where you know the HoT healing would be useful and you are already Chi-capped, you’d likely be better off spending 2 Chi on Uplift and then 2 Chi on Chi Explosion, generating another 2 Chi, and casting Chi Explosion again. This calculus doesn’t change based on number of targets, at least, until you get to a point where there are more players within 8 yards of your target than you can heal with TFT/Uplift – but you’d still be better off avoiding Chi-capping and doing two staggered 2-Chi Chi Explosions than one 4-Chi Chi Explosion.
The third Chi is much harder to evaluate, because its healing potential depends on whether they are Gift of the Serpent Healing Spheres or proper Healing Spheres, and on whether players will be able to or willing to move to pick them up. Depending on the answers to these questions, it could be the “ideal” Chi at which to cast this spell, or it could be pretty “meh”. I suspect this will also be situational.
Serene Mists – Soothing Tendrils: Your Soothing Mist now also chains up to 2 additional allies within 15 yards of the last ally and has a 50% higher chance to generate Chi.
This Talent doesn’t seem that exciting by comparison. While I don’t expect the WoD healing paradigm to be the same as MoP’s “AoE healing before all else” model, it’s hard to pass up the AoE potential of Chi Explosion in favour of more steady Chi gains from Soothing Mist and more raid coverage with our weakest heal. This may well be the frontrunner Talent for small group play, PvP (especially if this applies to the Jade Serpent Statue’s Soothing Mist clone), or early in the expansion where we must rely on our low-mana-cost healing more heavily.
That said, this Talent may be the go-to choice on spread fights, to give us more Chi for the spread-friendly Uplift, while Chi Explosion seems to be the choice for stack fights.
Paladin Level 100 Talents (Talent Calculator)
The Light Within – Bastions of Light: Beacon of Light can now be placed on up to 2 targets.
The viability of this Talent depends almost entirely on the way it is implemented in the UI. Being able to move the Beacon of your choice, and not just the “oldest” Beacon, is going to be vital to ensuring this Talent’s playability. In an ideal world where it’s easy to move the Beacon you want to move, I think this could be a great feature, allowing the Paladin to heal both tanks via EF raid healing on fights where two tanks are continually active, or to move one Beacon to generate Holy Power while leaving the other Beacon on the current tank for tank-swapping fights.
This could be a solid throughput increase, but it doesn’t change gameplay very much.
Seal of Faith - Fills you with Holy Light causing you to gain Faith equal to all damage dealt. Faith acts as Spell Power toward the next healing spell you cast. While Seal of Faith is active, Holy Paladins gain a 30% increase to all damage dealt.
This is another Talent that is extremely difficult to evaluate without knowing how the item squish is going to affect numbers. However, I’ll note that this isn’t terribly different to the original Dream of Cenarius talent for Druids, which granted a 30% boost to your next healing spell after using specific DPS abilities, and that Talent was adamantly ignored by Restoration Druids. Primarily, the problem was that in order to generate the boost to your next heal, you had to spend a GCD on something that didn’t heal, which was fine if you were just DPSing your way through downtime, but pretty awful in the sorts of Heroic progression situations where you’re underhealing and overstressed.
Things really depend on how clunky the integration of damage and healing ends up being. We’ve already been discouraged from standing in melee and DPSing, what with the elimination of Seal of Insight’s mana return on melee hit and our loss of Spirit-to-Hit conversion making our Crusader Strike unreliable. With the elimination of Hit/Expertise stats in the upcoming expansion, perhaps the latter point won’t be a concern anymore, but the lack of interaction between our DPS abilities and our healing spells will still make this Talent a “mode-switching”/”5.3 fistweaving” type of Talent instead of an integrated, Atonement-like model.
Selfless Healer Paladins may find this more fluid to use since they’ll already be Judging, but Judgment may not generate enough damage to make this Talent worthwhile (it is very weak already, with Denounce dealing approximately 2.5x as much damage).
In general though, I can’t see any way in which this Talent will mesh with the current Holy Paladin healing playstyle of generate all the HoPo, then spend all the HoPo. I guess you might rely on your Level 90 Talent to generate all the damage for you, but even in the best-case scenario of sticking with Holy Prism and gaining a healing boost every 20-ish seconds (still not wanting to sacrifice your HoPo rhythm), this doesn’t seem as though it could generate enough healing to make up for the loss of Seal of Insight’s 5% passive healing boost and 10% Spell Haste.
Seal-swapping may save this Talent, allowing you to run Seal of Faith during healing downtimes, deal some damage, then switch back to Insight to cast the actual heals, but that is predicated on Faith actually persisting through Seal swaps, which we simply don’t know yet.
Divine Conviction – Saved by the Light: When (you or) your Beacon of Light target drops below 30% health, you instantly grant the injured target a protective shield absorbing up to 30% of their maximum health for 10 seconds. You cannot shield the same person this way twice within 60 seconds.
Quasi-uncontrollable shielding that will encourage Beacon-swapping to get the most out of the Talent, and tracking the shield’s ICD on each player. It’ll be a somewhat solid personal survivability option, although like Angelic Bulwark or Nature’s Guardian I do not believe it will save a player from attacks that would kill them. But let’s think about it in a raid-healing sense:
The group of players most likely to fall predictably below 30% health are the tanks, so we’d likely be seeing one shield on each tank every minute. How good this is depends on a few things, primarily: will the Saved by the Light shield be subject to the usual hierarchy of shield depletion mechanics, i.e. smallest > largest? If so, and depending on the size of other shields relative to the size of the Saved by the Light shield, this may lead to shields expiring before they can be used. However, if, like Blood Shield, this shield has its own special rules, it could be useful (and since other healers’ shielding effects have a longer duration, and can be up for more than once every minute, it shouldn’t affect their absorption too much). Still, 30% of each tank’s HP every minute is likely to be less throughput than the double-Beacon Talent, although if the shields help save tank lives where Beacon wouldn’t, then this is a moot point.
On many fights, spiky random damage makes it difficult to predict who, beyond the tanks, will be likely to trigger Saved by the Light’s effects, so I don’t see it as a viable option to swap Beacon around to save lives in these situations. Even if you get lucky, the damaging strike has to reduce them to 30% before the shield kicks in, so they’d need to take even more damage in the next 10 seconds before your shield would even be useful. However, in fights where you may have a “soaking” order for heavily damaging DoT effects, like Frostbite in Heroic Council of Elders, or where you may have a designated team of players who will handle some dangerous mechanic, Beacon-swapping to trigger Saved by the Light shields could in fact save lives and be an incredible Talent.
This one seems pretty situational, is what I’m sayin’.
Priest Level 100 Talents (Talent Calculator)
Divine Clarity (Discipline) - Clarity of Will: Shields the target with a protective ward, absorbing 2500 damage within 30 seconds. Replaces Greater Heal.
This is an homage to the original, Beta concept of Spirit Shell, and I think this is the right way to go with absorption spells in general. While there’s nothing preventing a Disc Priest from blanketing the raid in Clarity of Will, at least it turns off “regular’ healing to do so, representing a real choice between healing and absorption, and it’s not an AoE blanket so it will take time.
That said, whether this is a competitive Talent really depends on fight design and the relative strength of the absorption shield – and mana cost – compared to Power Word: Shield.
Divine Clarity (Holy) - Clarity of Purpose: Heals allies within 10 yards of the target for 5000, split such that more injured targets will receive a larger portion of the healing. Replaces Greater Heal.
This gives Holy yet another, potentially powerful AoE healing tool, with the added benefit of not being party-specific, and of not requiring you to select the most injured target yourself (as the spell will automatically optimise itself). If this interacts with Serendipity (which I’d imagine it would), this could prove to be an excellent choice for heavy-damage stack fights.
Touch of the Void – Your Void Shift no longer has a cooldown, but can only be used on players at lower health than you, and no longer heals.
What this means is that Void Shift will no longer bring the most injured party to 25% health if they were below 25% when you used Void Shift on them. You will basically have an unlimited, zero-mana-cost capacity to insta-heal players to full, so long as you pause between casts to heal yourself to full (or reasonably full). Added bonus: you can play some form of raid-frame Tetris. I like Tetris.
Of course, this won’t scale with any of your stats, so I’m not sure that it’ll be a compelling choice – especially for Holy in comparison with the AoE Clarity of Purpose. We have seen in MoP (though not specifically with Priests) that Talents which offer solely single-target capabilities are often abandoned in favour of anything that can be even clumsily forced into an AoE role, but the item squish and game rebalancing in WoD may change this.
Spiritual Guidance – Saving Grace: Instantly heals a friendly target for 50% of their maximum health. Reduces your healing done by 10% for 10 sec, stacking up to 10 times.
I’m … not impressed. Having a huge, instant, single-target spell with no CD is really cool. But it scaling with target health means no scaling with your stats (instead it scales with iLvl flatly), and will it interact with Mastery mechanics? My particular concern here is Divine Aegis for Disc Priests (since this likely won’t be able to Crit, the size of the heal being based on target health and not any of the casting Priest’s stats) – we’ve seen Disc Priests abandon effects that don’t proc DA in this last tier of MoP raiding (primarily the Cleave/Multistrike trinkets and the Legendary cloak, so I’m concerned this (and the Void Shift Talent) will fall out of favour by the end of the expansion. Of course, Divine Aegis could be going away entirely, or reworked into something completely different – something I’d actually prefer; something that would make Disc Priests less dependent upon gear would be lovely – so this concern could well be moot.
I also don’t know how many players will be willing to take a 10% throughput reduction for 10 seconds in return for one life-saving emergency heal, with the ‘threat’ of further throughput reduction should the emergency heal be needed again. This is kind of like punishing the Priest for being in a raid group that fails to avoid avoidable mechanics, even if the Priest herself didn’t make the mistake.
That said, if you are able to rely heavily on single-target healing for an encounter, or if you just need an oh-crap-button every so often to save your tank … take Touch of the Void, because it won’t penalise you afterwards, and will be potentially a much larger heal, and it costs no mana. I’m just not sure I see a place for this Talent given that TotV exists.
Shaman Level 100 Talents (Talent Calculator)
Rainstorm – Condensation Totem: Summons a Water totem with 5 health at the feet of the caster for 1 minute that collects 25% of all overhealing, and grants it to the Shaman as Spell Power toward their next Healing Wave, Healing Surge, Greater Healing Wave, Chain Heal, or Riptide.
Okay, I’m relatively sure it will collect only the Shaman’s overhealing, not “all” as in everyone’s overhealing, so I’m going to write this with that assumption. There is no cooldown listed on the Talent, but I’m also relatively sure that it’ll have a cooldown, otherwise it would be ridiculously overpowered. Its one-minute duration is similar to that of our Fire/Earth Elementals, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this have the same CD as they do.
The situation in which you have a lot of overhealing to condense is not the situation in which you want Spell Power bonuses, in general. However, this could be great for fights like Siegecrafter Blackfuse today, where damage comes in spurts and we have very little constructive things to do between those spurts; now, we could “charge up” with our Healing Rain’s overheal and then let out a massive Chain Heal of awesome as soon as the damage comes in. This could also be useful for spread situations where you drop Healing Rain on melee who are taking relatively little damage, but your ranged players need more powerful heals; you can use the HR’s overheal to power up your Glyphed Chain Heals and effectively redistribute the healing.
One of the few weaknesses of Ascendance – which I still think is an amazing CD – is that its blanket healing style doesn’t mesh well with times where you need powerful healing, but only on this small subsection of people. Condensation Totem could absolutely turn Ascendance into a very powerful tool for these types of situations, giving us greater flexibility to use Ascendance well on encounters with a wider variety of damage patterns.
This is a Water Totem, so of course it will interfere with our usage of HST (for a whole minute!) and HTT. Unless you take Totemic Persistence, but honestly I think this could be powerful enough that we wouldn’t need to take Totemic Persistence to get the most out of it. It really depends on exactly how the math works and on the damage patterns of the encounters in the next tiers of raiding.
For fights where overhealing doesn’t occur – for example, Heroic Tortos, or even Malkorok – this Talent will be pretty awful. But here’s hoping there are fewer such encounters in the future!
Storm Elemental Totem – Summons an Air totem with 6,000 health at the feet of the caster, calling forth a Greater Storm Elemental to hurl gusts of winds on the caster’s enemies. Each gust of wind does damage to the enemy, and then heals all allies within 15 yards for 100% of the damage dealt, split evenly. Lasts until cancelled. 5 min CD.
AIR ELE AIR ELE AIR ELE AIR ELE OMG
Okay. I’m over that now. (AIR ELE!)
We have basically no information on which to evaluate the strength of this Talent, because we don’t know how much damage the gusts are going to do, or how often; whether they will be multi-target (and thus OP on cleave fights) or single-target. However, there is one thing I want to highlight:
“Lasts until cancelled.”
Now, I’d assume that this will be mutually exclusive with our Fire and Earth Elementals, because that’s just the way these things usually work, which means that DPS players who take this Talent will have at best 3 minutes of uptime on it every 5 minutes. However, if WoD manages to unyoke Resto Shamans from Primal Elementalist, we could have 100% uptime on this splash-healing, boss-gusting, in-my-imagination-AMAZING-looking stormslinger.
But what about Stormlash, Spirit Link Totem, Grounding Totem?, you ask. If they really mean it with “lasts until cancelled”, we would have real throughput reasons to take Totemic Persistence. In fact, it’s possible that this interaction between the two Talents might be too strong for us, though I don’t think that will be a problem for DPS specs who have no Spirit Link Totem to worry about and who would likely prefer to drop their Stormlash Totems during Fire Elemental/Ascendance instead of later when their Air Elemental is active.
My greatest concern about this Talent, though, is that if the Elemental scales with DPS stats, this is another nearly omnipresent raid healing ability given to DPS specs. I think this is bad for the healing game, just as much as Enhancement’s insanely good raid healing with the pre-nerf Glyph of Healing Storm was bad for the healing game.
I’d like to see the developers give the splash healing a modifier – perhaps 50% less powerful for DPS specs, AND 50% more powerful for healing specs (since ours will likely do much less damage, and its healing is predicated on its damage) – so that DPS aren’t tempted to take it as part of a “grab all the healing Talents you can and let’s drop a healer to meet this enrage timer” strategy.
Reach of the Elements – High Tide: Your Chain Heal also bounces to all targets affected by your Riptide.
In a world where the Glyph of Riptide exists…
In a world where Ascendance and Ancestral Guidance can be used in one healing spec…
In a world where Echo of the Elements’ chance to proc scales from the number of bounces on Chain Heal…
Michael Bay presents: HIGH TIDE
Okay, I’m getting a bit loopy. Sorry. But seriously, this Talent is amazeballs. Even if you don’t use the Glyph of Riptide, you’re looking at potentially 2 extra bounces from Chain Heal every time you cast it (assuming that you’re targeting one Riptided player, and are maintaining a total of 3). With the Glyph of Riptide, though, you can strategically place your Chain Heal anchors around the room, being sure to heal those out-of-reach people without having to use the Glyph of Chaining.
And for Ascendance-while-spread out? Or AG-while-spread-out? And with Echo of the Elements? *faints*
I want to take the Storm Elemental Totem. But on the other hand, unless Glyph of Deluge gets taken away from me, there’s no way in the world I can overlook infinitely chaining blue laser beam. Just. No. Way.
And that concludes this episode of Rampant Speculation. I’ve been your host, Dayani “Overanalysis” Dedralie. As with MoP Beta, I’ll be bringing you all the healing details of the WoD Beta as soon as it starts, and I hope to be extremely involved with the community and to provide a lot of feedback. Keep an eye out here for in-depth discussions, and follow me on Twitter for slightly more succinct WoD info! (Assuming, of course, I get in to the Beta … :P)