Shaman Changes

Contents
Page Topic
1 Design & Gameplay Changes
2 New Spells & Abilities
3 Talents Overview (Lvl 15-45)
4 Talents Overview (Lvl 60-90)
5 Glyphs Overview
6 Extra for Experts

While Shamans on a whole have received a number of quality-of-life improvements and powerful abilities to wield in Mists of Pandaria, the core gameplay of all three specs has not fundamentally changed. The transition from Cataclysm to Mists will be very easy for most Shamans, with the only significant obstacle being the reset of combat ratings that comes with any new expansion.

A MoP Restoration Shaman is going to play very similarly to a Cataclysm Restoration Shaman, and as such, many of the complaints from Cataclysm still hold true. We are still designed to excel in stacked situations, and weaker in spread situations than the other healing classes. We are still paying a mana regeneration tax for being able to provide Mana Tide Totem as a raid-wide benefit. We will still feel weaker in a 10-man setting than in a 25-man setting. And we still lack a tank cooldown.

It’s not hopeless, though. We are in a much better position for Mists of Pandaria than we have been for the entirety of Cataclysm. We have gained a lot of new tools that can help us bridge the gap between our spread-healing capabilities and those of the other classes, including a change to our old stand-by, Healing Stream Totem, and an overwhelming number of cooldowns to help us manage our healing throughput. And gratefully, we are no longer quite so leashed to Telluric Currents, meaning we are no longer overpowered in situations where it can be abused and woefully inadequate for encounters without increased-damage mechanics or ample opportunities to DPS.

This article will cover most, if not all, of the changes to the Shaman class that affect any aspects of the Restoration spec. As MoP is still undergoing frequent changing and re-tuning, some of this information may change frequently; as such, I am keeping my recommendations and advice to a minimum until the class becomes more stable.

Design and Gameplay Changes

Totem Overhaul

Probably the biggest change for Shamans, Restoration or otherwise, in this expansion is the revamped totem system. Gone are the buff sticks that are dropped once at the start of the fight and forgotten about, only to be revisited after using a cooldown or getting randomly eaten by wayward adds. They have been replaced with a collection of utility totems, totems with short CDs and short durations that are designed to feel more meaningful and interactive; dropping the right totem for the situation will now play a more central role in our repertoire.

So Many Totems

So many totems, all of them useful…

Unfortunately, this means that a lot of our “buff utility” has been removed to make way for the new totem paradigm. Most of this is due to changes in the buff system that have been implemented in MoP – there are now only 8 raid buffs and 6 enemy debuffs that a raid group has to manage. Strength of Earth Totem, Stoneskin Totem, Stoneclaw Totem, Mana Spring Totem, Elemental Resistance Totem, Totem of the Tranquil Mind, Windfury Totem, Wrath of Air Totem, and Flametongue Totem have all been replaced or removed to fit the new buffing system.

Several of our existing totems have had mechanics upgrades. Healing Stream Totem has been significantly buffed. Instead of providing small heals limited to a single party, Healing Stream Totem is now a one-at-a-time smart heal with significant throughput and a potential 50% uptime.The totem lasts for 15 seconds, healing the lowest-health raid member within 40 yards for 19.5k (at level 90, 25k spell power) every 2 seconds. If we drop this totem when the raid is taking pulsing AoE damage, for example, this will act as a very efficient heal, dealing almost 140k healing for only 14k mana. Since it is a smart heal, it is very unlikely to overheal unless used at a suboptimal time.

Additionally, Searing Totem and the Elementals have had their AI improved a great deal, and are still slated to receive further AI buffs in a future build. The totem AI now ensures your totems will activate as you enter combat (even if you have dropped the totem before initiating battle), will react like Assist-stance pets if you are attacked, and will respond more quickly to target changes. This should make it less frustrating for Restoration Shamans to attempt to use our DPS totems.

As part of these changes, we have lost the spells that let us drop 4 totems in a single GCD – and the totem bar UI element is gone. This means we must spend a GCD for each totem that we wish to drop during an encounter. Because of the short uptime on most of our totems, it is rare that we would need to drop multiple totems at once, but in PvP or for some as yet unforeseen PvE mechanics this could get quite annoying. It also means finding additional keybinds and action bar spots for our totems, which may be difficult to come by for PvPing Shamans or players new to the game or class.

As of Patch 5.1, all Shaman totems are classified as Spells, not as Physical abilities. This means that Shamans will be unable to drop totems when Silenced or when locked out of the appropriate Spell Schools. Fire totems fall under the “Fire” school of spells, while all other totems fall under the “Nature” school of spells. This change has tremendous implications for Shaman PvP, which I am not really qualified to discuss here, but for PvE it is not terribly impactful. Do keep in mind, however, that this change may prevent you from casting totems in some very rare PvE situations – for example, if a player under the effects of Imperial Vizier Zorlok’s “Convert” ability uses an interrupt with a spell-school lockout on you while you are casting a heal, you will be unable to drop non-Fire totems until that lockout expires. It is also possible that future encounters will have silence or lockout mechanics that will impact PvE Shamans, so this is something to keep in mind as you consider your cooldown strategy for new fights.

Core Healing Spell Changes

I’ll address the elephant in the corner quickly here. Telluric Currents has been reworked, and the new implementation is a mere shadow of its former self. This change is part of Blizzard’s attempt to unlink Intelligence/Spell Power and mana regeneration, and in all this is a good thing, but it will come as quite a shock to many Shamans, and has the potential to drastically change our carefully cultivated Lightning-Bolt-weaving play style. I’ll discuss this in more depth in the Glyphs section, because Telluric Currents is now a Glyph.

As far as our healing spells are concerned, we are still designed around the “holy trinity” of a small-but-efficient Healing Wave, a large-but-slow Greater Healing Wave, and a fast-but-expensive Healing Surge. However, Healing Surge is no longer a useless spell as it has been since the PvP-oriented nerf in Cataclysm! It is the only single-target heal that non-Restoration Shamans have access to, so its throughput has been improved drastically for all Shamans. The higher chance to proc Resurgence, due to Tidal Waves’ interaction with Healing Surge, makes this spell a compelling choice whilst our mana regeneration suffers in dungeon and early raiding gear.

Water Shield's quality-of-life update

No more Water Shield mini-game!

We have also received a few boosts to our healing toolkit. The tier 12 4-piece bonus, which allowed Chain Heal to benefit from the presence of Riptide on its primary target without consuming that Riptide, has been baked into our Chain Heal. We should feel even stronger now in stacked-healing situations, since we can maintain our Riptides more easily whilst also ensuring every Chain Heal is 25% larger. In a similar vein, our healing done to our Earth Shielded target is now increased by 20% (up from a talented 18% in Cataclysm), giving us slightly more tank-healing power.

Chain Heal has also benefited from a reworking of smart heal AI; it will no longer fizzle when encountering a full-health target, as long as there is another eligible target within its jump radius. This reduces the penalty for casting Chain Heal on a slightly spread-out group or for casting it while other healers are healing up the targets you hoped it would bounce to. Additionally, since Patch 5.4, Chain Heal no longer loses healing power when it bounces. This is a huge buff to Chain Heal’s throughput, and justifies its use when it heals only two targets.

Water Shield’s mechanics have also been updated with a huge quality-of-life improvement. Our Water Shield now lasts for 60 minutes and has no charges. Instead, it simply returns mana to you if you are struck directly by an ability. We will have no more maddening Water Shield mini-game in MoP! This frees up valuable GCDs that we can use instead on managing our veritable stable of totems.

Healing Rain can now benefit from Unleash Life (not the additional buff provided by Unleashed Fury, though), which will certainly be the best use of Unleash Life for any encounter where the raid can stack and there is heavy AoE damage to counter. Unfortunately the Unleash Life cooldown does not line up well with Healing Rain’s cooldown, but every second Healing Rain could be buffed by 30%. Since it is not otherwise a good idea to use Unleash Life on cooldown, this change should encourage us to get more use out of this historically underutilised ability.

In Patch 5.4, Healing Rain has become a hard-target-capped, smart heal. Each time it pulses, it will heal the 6 lowest-health players in its area of effect, rather than healing every player for a smaller amount. This change will make Healing Rain more effective in situations where raid damage is not evenly distributed (e.g. if only a handful of players in the Rain are taking damage, while the others are on full health), and also increases the effect of our Mastery, since Healing Rain will be selecting players on whom Mastery will be most effective.

This does endanger our Earthliving HoT uptime (although since this is a very small portion of our throughput, and a very bland spell in general, this is not a big deal). Additionally, Ancestral Vigor’s duration has been increased to 30 seconds so that this change to Healing Rain will not affect our ability to stack and maintain this effective health buff on our raid.

Finally, Earthliving Weapon has received a significant buff compared to its Cataclysm incarnation. The Blessing of the Eternals talent has been incorporated baseline into the Earthliving Weapon imbue, and its proc rate on AoE healing has been increased.

Earthliving Weapon: Cataclysm vs MoP
Spell Cata Proc Rate MoP Proc Rate
Above 35% Below 35% Above 35% Below 35%
Riptide, Healing Wave, Greater Healing Wave, Healing Surge, Unleash Life 20% 100% 20% 100%
Chain Heal 5% 21.25% 10% 50%
Healing Rain Unknown; very low chance 6% 30%

Damage Potential

While Restoration Shamans do not have a great deal of damage potential, a few updates in Mists of Pandaria have affected our damage spells.

Lightning Bolt is now castable while moving for all Shaman specs; you no longer need to waste a Glyph slot and lose 5% casting speed to obtain this effect.

Lava Burst now auto-crits whether Flame Shock is present or not. It will deal 33% more damage when Flame Shock is present. The spell now has a 2-second base cast time.

Flame Shock now has a longer duration (30 seconds).

What We’re Missing

It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. A few of the abilities we know and love have been removed or reduced in power, primarily to make way for more streamlined spellbooks and the new buffing system. For example, we can no longer cast Water Breathing – not a terribly useful spell for PvE, given that most quests that require you to go underwater provide you with a Water Breathing buff anyway, but there also didn’t seem to be any reason to remove it.

More significantly, we have lost Ancestral Fortitude (10% reduced physical damage buff from healing critical strikes), although we do retain Ancestral Vigor (the stacking +health buff). Combined with our loss of Ancestral Resolve and the self-healing portion of Spark of Life, we are shaping up to have a lot less survivability in MoP. We have also lost access to several skills that complemented our offensive toolkit, such as Totemic Reach, the Spirit-to-Hit conversion, and Focused Insight. It’s hard to see these losses as anything other than PvP nerfs, but they will negatively affect our PvE survivability and utility as well.

34 Responses to Shaman Changes

  1. Ezmack says:

    Site looks great I look forward to reading more.

  2. Shamanamanam says:

    I agree!. Can’t wait to read more!

  3. Cheekymunkey says:

    Look forward to reading more.

  4. CataSurvivor says:

    I enjoyed this very much, thank you.

    However, I will note (as someone who posts on the Beta forums a lot) we are far more upset with Tier 45 than Tier 90, especially following the CotE nerf. If you could give your opinions on that sometime, it’d be great!

    • Dedralie says:

      Haha, yeah, that’s true – I wrote most of this before that nerf happened and forgot to mention how controversial t45 is now. I’ll add that in to the t45 section soon, thanks!

      I’m trying really hard to avoid giving opinions in these guides except where it is extremely clear-cut (e.g. Healing Tide Totem vs everything else), but personally … of course t45 is disappointing. I’m still looking forward to using Totemic Restoration to provide additional coverage with Spirit Link Totem, though. I had a lot of fun timing it properly for Heroic Blade Lord Ta’yak to cover every second Unseen Strike with the damage reduction and a tick of health redistribution (to save the person with Wind Step), and I think a similar thing can be useful for Heroic Garalon and probably a few other fights (Tremors for Tsulong if someone gets hit by Nightmare; Grounding for if you specifically are targeted by Lightning Bolt in Protetors of the Endless; Earthgrasp for kiting the adds on Heroic Elegon).

      CotE similarly has limited applicability, but an extra glyphed HST once every 3 minutes can really help survive things like Feng’s fiery AoE (if he does it a second time, because obviously you’ll be Healing Tide Toteming/Spirit Link Toteming through the first). And back-to-back Tremors for Sha of Fear seems solid.

      Overall, though, these talents will make such little difference to our play style and performance that you could, for most fights, pick any or none and not even notice. It’s sad that a whole tier comes down to “much of a muchness”.

  5. leda says:

    This is pretty awesome. Great job!

  6. shamanhands says:

    Probably the best compilation and added theorycrafting (and yes, drawing out useful information from our class’s mechanics and then applying the results to real-world healing IS theorycrafting) to date. Thanks for your work! Excellent spreadsheet!

  7. Adam says:

    Bunch of withrawn stuff that people know already but meh, decent blog anyway

    • Dedralie says:

      Hey Adam, could you point to something that has been withdrawn? I’m updating this pretty frequently and believe it’s all accurate for the current Beta build, but if I’m wrong somewhere I’d like to know so I can fix it. There’s not much point to this if it’s not accurate information :)

      • Adam says:

        Nothing is inaccurate. I said that you’ve just copied stuff from Mmo champion and added bunch of nonsense words to it.

      • Dedralie says:

        I’m not really going to be able to change your mind, and I recognise this is probably TL;DR for most :) But I haven’t copied anything from anywhere; this is all based on my actual use of the actual new abilities in raid testing, or my own calculations :)

  8. Adam says:

    /facepalm

    • shamanhands says:

      It’s an extremely useful compilation of the data that was already known, provided specific numbers from beta for comparison reasons, and also included niche situations for seemingly less useful talents.

      True, someone with common sense might have been able to piece together much of this information from data-mined sources, but I personally found the charts and visual aids tremendously helpful.

      I’m not even writing this in response to you, really. I wrote you off the moment I read “added bunch of nonsense words” and the amazingly inspiring “/facepalm”. But for those who read these comments first, ignore Adam completely.

  9. sargerik says:

    I am somewhat new to healing and will be doing so come MOP ,i really enjoyed this .I come from one of the best communties as a hunter with a great site that seemed to have started out the same way this one has http://www.warcrafthuntersunion.com/ and would love to see this community grow in the same way.Keep up the great work lets help make this a great place for us healers new/old to gather and share opinions and info

  10. shamanhands says:

    After the recent tweaks to Chain Heal, HS, GHW, and Healing Rain, I’m wishing the mana costs in your spreadsheet were formulas of base mana. That way, when they tweak the percentages, it doesn’t require recalculation.

    I’m also not sure what shaman base mana is. How did you calculate these originally?

    • shamanhands says:

      Duh, 60K. Easy just to reverse-engineer.

    • shamanhands says:

      It would also be nice to have a formula for tooltip healing.

      • Dedralie says:

        Hey shamanhands,
        The reason I haven’t supplied the exact formulae for the spells is that my goal here is really just to provide some baseline ideas of how much healing the spells will do, compared to other classes. The Tooltip Healing formulae are available on mop.wowhead.com, but I can proooobably throw them in the next version of the spreadsheet, which I’ll create when the changes reported on mmo-champion actually get implemented :)

        Originally I just, well, hovered over the tooltips to provide this information. Whether I use the formulae or just report what I see in the game, I’ll still have to recalculate every time they tweak things :P

      • shamanhands says:

        Thanks for replying!

        I feel like I need to explain why formulas will be so useful for both tooltip mana and healing.

        First of all, if they change the coefficients (say, Healing Surge costing 34.3% of Base Mana, up from 31.6%), then you’ll need to recalculate each Healing Surge tooltip accordingly. For instance, if there was a cell representing base mana at, say, E29, then the formula ‘=31.6/100 * $E$29′ would have worked for Healing Surge’s mana tooltip. After the update, 31.6 changes to 34.3, easy-peasy. Data entry is much easier than recalculation.

        Second, these kinds of spreadsheets usually support importing characters. For whoever updates your spreadsheet to support this, formulas will be the only way to go.

      • Dedralie says:

        Yep I totally get that, I just find it much of a muchness to type 20580 into the tooltip mana cell instead of 18960, versus 0.343*$E$29 instead of 0.316*$E$29. I’m working on updating it with formulae so you can plug in your own values, the problem is that the formulae I can find for several of our spells don’t seem to be accurate – e.g. the formula for Earthliving on wowhead works out to something like, say, 5849 healing, which is clearly too little if it is supposed to represent the full amount that the Earthliving HoT deals, but also clearly too large if it is meant to represent the healing each tick does. So I’m running into a bit of a snag ;)

  11. Dedralie says:

    This is now valid for Beta build 16004 (current build), and shamanhands, everything is now formula-based in my spreadsheets, so you can play around with things! I’m sorry I didn’t make it look prettier – I hope it is intuitive enough to use – I just can’t spare the energy on prettification while I am still so far behind on Priest, Paladin, and Monk spreadsheets! :)

  12. Jen says:

    Awesome, thanks for cross posting this on the shaman forums, too. It’s exactly what I was looking for to get up to speed on my resto shaman for MoP. Great work, thank you for it!

  13. heartsong says:

    Thank you for the information – from someone who is just now trying to catch up with everything, this has been everything I could have wanted.

  14. Lara says:

    This is lovely! Thank you so much! This is well put together. :)

  15. Odinar says:

    Is it possible to macro Totems at all… If so it would be of great use to us whom are a bit slow on the brain cells….

    • Dedralie says:

      Hey Odinar,

      I’m not really great with macros, but I think it should be possible. I mean, I have some macros on the Beta already to make use of Totemic Restoration with Spirit Link Totem and Tremor Totem (very simple macros really, /cast Spirit Link Totem /script DestroyTotem(4) lets me drop it and then destroy it with a second press of the button). So you can definitely make macros to call specific totems. You could probably very easily set up a macro for modifier keys, so like, x would drop Stone Bulwark, and shift-x would drop Tremor Totem, and ctrl-x would drop Earthbind Totem, and alt-X would drop Earth Ele, or something like that, but I just don’t know how to do it :)

  16. Kyui says:

    Great summarizing, I wouldn’t mind seeing some of what YOU personally think as long as you’re not like “do this and only this”. you obviously understand this class so I’m sure your personal opinion couldn’t be that bad. If anything I really enjoy how u keep up on replies =)

    • Dedralie says:

      Thanks Kyui! I stayed away from making recommendations/giving opinions mainly because I’m not confident that my own in-game experiences are terribly universal, and I want this particular page to be as close to objective and factual as possible. When we get a little bit closer to MoP release I might write up a post with opinions, though :)

  17. mintisaurus says:

    Hi! I have a few questions for you if you don’t mind(I play an rsham in a 25m).

    Assuming the shaman has around 3k haste, what talent should they go for? Ancestral swiftness won’t push them towards another breakpoint but can save lives with NS, echo of the elements is unreliable but can add efficiency and elemental mastery can give a boost only every 1.5m. Is there a clear-cut answer or does it depend on the encounter? If I took elemental mastery, what do you think is best paired with it(ascendance or HTT/AG)? Furthermore, if you were a troll, what spell would you macro your beserking(3m cd) to?

    Should I always use UE with HR? Or should I use UE on every other HR? I usually use UE for every HR but notice that other shamans on WOL use it maybe 6-8 times a fight only, so that confuses me. Also, when I’m raid healing, is it a good idea to refresh riptide to bounce CH off of, or simply just CH w/o riptide? For example, in a Megaera rampage: you go in with several targets riptided, but the riptide falls off near the end.. do you use a GCD to riptide someone or just keep using HR/CH?

    HTT v AG. Until recently, I thought HTT was the clear winner. However, looking at logs I see that some shamans use AG(Sonie used it on Megaera, for instance). What fights do you think AG outperforms HTT on? Only Meg, or maybe Iron Qon/Council too?

    Thanks for the blog and sharing your thoughts!

    • Dedralie says:

      Hi Mintisaurus,

      I also run a low-haste build personally, and I tend to vacillate between Echo and Elemental Mastery for various encounters. For something with fairly constant damage (e.g. Primordius) I stick with Echo for extra Chain Heals; for something with bursts of damage (e.g. Megaera) I use Elemental Mastery. When I’m using EM, I try to pair it with either Ascendance or HTT/AG, usually both if I can make it work (e.g. use EM/Ascendance for the first Lightning Storm on Jin’Rokh, and EM/HTT on the second). There really aren’t many clear-cut answers; it all depends on the content you’re doing, the level at which you’re doing it (e.g. heroic vs normal, a comfortable and organised group vs a pug), and of course, personal preference.

      I’d probably macro Berserking to Ascendance.

      I use UE with every HR. Other shamans might prefer not to hold back the HR for those extra few seconds, and instead do a UE/HR, HR, UE/HR, HR, etc. rotation. You’ll get better throughput of HR the second way, because you’re squeezing more HRs into the fight, so on a fight where you can stand still and don’t have much else to deal with that is probably the way to go. I just find myself too tied to one spot if I cast HR literally on CD – between my own movement, and the raid’s movement, I find that even when I *try* to cast HR on CD, I delay it anyway, so I figured I was better off just sticking with UE/HR every time. The shamans with 6-8 UEs in a fight sound like they are either experiencing very short fights and doing UE for every 2nd HR, or are missing some opportunities to use it (making mistakes).

      I definitely would re-cast Riptide during Rampage so you can CH off of it, because during Rampage, it’s unlikely that the player you just cast Riptide on will be on full health when you get that CH off on them. So it’s definitely worth it. The only time I avoid casting Riptide is during AG or Ascendance because there are other spells I can cast for more throughput while those CDs are up. In other cases there’s a trade-off; if casting that Riptide tops that player off, then I wouldn’t want them to be the first bounce target for Chain Heal, because that first bounce is the biggest heal, and to completely waste it makes Chain Heal remarkably bad. I’d rather take a CH(4) with no Riptide than a CH(4) with Riptide where the biggest bounce is entirely overheal. (Glyph of Riptide pretty much avoids this complication, making CH(4)RT a virtual inevitability, but I don’t run it for every fight.)

      I go over HTT vs AG on page 4 of this article (http://healiocentric.wordpress.com/whats-new-in-mop/mop-preview-shaman-changes/4/). If you can stack, AG will outperform HTT very easily. If you download my spreadsheet (from page 6, http://healiocentric.wordpress.com/whats-new-in-mop/mop-preview-shaman-changes/6/) you can plug in your own values and make sure this is true for you, but I strongly suspect it to be true for all Shaman. The fact is that HR is so powerful that buffing it with AG and casting no other spells at all during that 10-sec window is better than HTT (if you take into account that HTT is a 3-min CD and AG is only a 2-min CD). I use AG for H Megaera myself, and I used it for our first kill of H Iron Qon as having it available during phase 1 with the high melee-group damage, then again when we all get out of the windstorm, and twice during the final Fist Smash phase made up for a lot of healing.

      On the other hand, AG is fairly useless if you can’t stack. HTT is “default” because so many of the fights in Throne of Thunder require spreading out during high-damage phases. I even stuck with HTT for H Council, because the cooldown on Nuclear Inferno isn’t high enough to allow the use of AG more than once in Day phase, and HTT is good there for dropping it a little before the Inferno and making sure everyone’s topped up while they’re running to the stack point/away from the Comet once it’s over – dangerous times where AG wouldn’t do much good since the group isn’t stacked yet/still.

      I hope this makes sense, I am quite heavily medicated :P Thanks for reading and good luck!

  18. Fini says:

    Wow, I really liked this. It is always great to get to learn a few new things about Rshaman, and your explanations were very interesting and easy to understand, so thank you very much. :) Too bad I haven’t found this sooner.
    Greetings from Germany

  19. Fini says:

    Oh but why is there no mention of Glyph of Totemic Recall in your Glyph Section? I am using it for some time now, it is quite the mana gain if used with Healing Steam Totem. When timed correctly (Weak Auras or TellMeWhen help with duration-tracking) you only lose the last tick. Though it can be a little bugged when used directly after a successful direct heal, if I remember correctly.

    • Dedralie says:

      Hi Fini,

      Good call, that was a complete oversight. When I update this page to reflect 5.4 changes, I’ll throw it in. I may personally hate the Totemic Recall playstyle with the fury of 1000 suns, but it is damned popular, so I really should cover it :)

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