My Shaman Changes page and the Restoration Shaman spreadsheet therein are now fully updated for patch 5.3. Swing by if you have any questions!
Patch 5.3 has brought some significant changes to the overall healing landscape. With some healers’ raid cooldowns becoming more potent in 25-player content, and some rebalancing done to other classes (notably Druids and Discipline Priest), you may find your healing meters looking a little more volatile than you’re used to. Unfortunately, not a lot has changed for us in 5.3, but here’s a quick summary of what has.
The only mechanics change our class has received is in the AI that drives our Chain Heal’s target selection. It’s something the Shaman community has been asking for, for a long time, so it’s awesome that it has finally happened!
Chain Heal will no longer fizzle upon encountering a full-health target. This is not a buff to the best-case scenario of Chain Heal, but it is a solid buff to its not-quite-worst-case-scenario situations.
I’m sure we’ve all had that aggravating moment where Player A and Player C were both injured, but standing a little too far apart for Chain Heal to bounce directly between them. Player B stands tantalizingly between them, on full health. You Chain off of Player A, it bounces to Player B, and then it … just … stops! Augh!
Well, this will happen no more. Chain Heal will bounce from A-B-C drawing happy little blue beams all over the place. (You use Glyph of Deluge, right? Right? Because if you don’t, you are dead to me.)
Now, this doesn’t make Chain Heal suddenly amazing. A Chain Heal that bounces through full-HP-player-B to hit players A, C, and D with bounces 1, 3, and 4 will still do less healing than a Chain Heal that you cast on C and D with bounces 1 and 2 and didn’t hit anyone else. But remember that Chain Heal bounces still have a chance to proc Resurgence, Echo of the Elements (if you use the Talent), and Earthliving Weapon, even if they are ineffective healing, and that the alternative to the A-C-D scenario is single-target healing each of those three players – and by the time you got to D, surely some other random healing will have topped off D’s health pool! Personally, I prefer to spread my healing out whenever possible to effectively heal as many injured targets as I can, so this change is pretty much right up my alley.
What this will do is penalise you less for those Chain Heals you’re in the process of casting while freaking Cascade tops off one of the people you were hoping it’d bounce off of. At least you’ll get some healing out of those. And it makes the spell a bit more useful in spread fights of all types (I am absolutely salivating over being able to use it in Heroic Twin Consorts, to heal the ranged after Crashing Stars). I don’t expect to see its representation amongst 10-player-raiding Shamans’ spell breakdowns go up greatly, but hey, it’s a start!
The smart-heal targeting changes may also affect other sources of smart healing, such as Healing Stream Totem, Ancestral Awakening, and the Echo of the Elements/Chain Heal interaction. I haven’t really noticed those spells aggravatingly targeting pets in previous patches, so I can’t say for sure.
A few other changes that don’t really warrant much discussion:
- Lightning Bolt is now baseline castable while moving. This is pretty cool. I like to contribute a smidge of DPS here and there, and being able to default to LB when I’m moving and Riptide is on CD is pretty nice.
- The Glyph of Unleashed Lightning has been replaced with the Glyph of Lightning Shield, which reduces damage taken by 10% for 6 seconds after Lightning Shield is triggered by a hostile attack. This might be useful for some Restos in PvP, but in PvE the only fight where I can see this being triggerable is Dark Animus, and I’d rather Glyph of Water Shield for crazy mana.
- Lava Burst now has a 2-second baseline cast time instead of 1.5, and deals increased damage. This doesn’t affect us much, although if you used to use LvB as a quick damage spell during lulls, you’ll find it a little more sluggish now.
- Healing Tide Totem got a spiffy new spell effect, to help distinguish it visually from Mana Tide Totem.