Water(Totem)gate: 5.4 and the Resto Shaman Controversies

HR/CH Buffs
Ascendance and AG
Ancestral Vigor
Baseline HTT
Level 75 Talents
T16 Set Bonuses

*pokes her little wombat head out of her burrow*

G’day, mates! It looks like I’ve forgotten all about this place. I hear that Patch 5.4 is coming, is there anything new for Shaman healers?

Oh, check the patch notes, you say? Well all right then … let me just load up Rygarius’ blog, here, and may as well check in on the PTR Discussion forum … and …

"That's a lotta patch notes!"

“That’s a lotta patch notes!”

Wow, that’s a lot of Resto Shaman outcry. Like, a lot. People are panicking harder than that little guy over there. ->

But how much of the panic is warranted? That’s what I’m here to help you with, dear reader. That, and digging holes.

So there is a lot of change coming up for Resto Shamans in 5.4, and a lot of controversy surrounding the most prominent of these changes. Healing Tide Totem has gone baseline, and is being given the “Tranq treatment”; a new Talent has taken its place that buffs our Healing Stream Totem; Conductivity has been completely redesigned. Healing Rain and Chain Heal were buffed to improve Resto Shaman throughput. The Glyphs of Riptide and Chaining were buffed to make them less punitive for Resto Shaman needing more spread-healing capacity.

But the biggest change is a technical fix that is being applied to reduce “input lag” – a delay between pressing your button and the ability firing – that has been plaguing 25-player raiders all throughout Throne of Thunder. This lag has been rather convincingly determined to originate from healing events, causing the developers to change the way most of the AoE raid-blanketing heals will work in 5.4. As part of this fix, Healing Rain will now heal only six targets each time it pulses, and will choose the most injured targets within its radius.

This will have a run-on effect on several of our abilities – Earthliving Weapon healing, Ancestral Vigor, Ascendance, and Ancestral Guidance, most notably, but also on our legendary cloak proc and any trinket effects that proc from healing events. These effects are legitimately hard to quantify, and like any set of people faced with uncertainty and change, the Resto Shaman community is uneasy and angry. Accusations are flying of effective 30% nerfs to abilities, of useless Talents, of doom and gloom, of woe and YOLO.

In this article I’m going to go through the most prominent of these changes and break down how they’ll affect our healing in raids – at least, to the best of my ability. As I’ve said already, the new behaviour of our spells in 5.4 can be quite complicated to model, so some of what I’ll be doing is just a rough approximation. As usual, I’ll lay out all my assumptions and try to make it clear where the model fails reality, so you can decide for yourself how concerned you ought to be, on a scale of 1 to Watergate 🙂

Bear with me, this is a long’n. If you need a TL;DR, see the Conclusions section!

Healing Rain and Chain Heal Buffs

In order to address systematically low Resto Shaman throughput in stacked healing situations, both Healing Rain and Chain Heal have been buffed substantially.

First, Chain Heal. This isn’t specifically a stacked healing change, but since Chain Heal is easier to use while stacked than it is while spread out, simply due to the ease of choosing targets you know are in a cluster, it will boost our stack healing quite a bit. Chain Heal no longer drops off in effectiveness with each jump. This is a 58% buff to Chain Heal’s raw healing potential.

Chain Heal AI fix in 5.3: Now passes through full-health targets.

Chain Heal AI fix in 5.3: Now passes through full-health targets.

Combined with last patch’s update to give Chain Heal the ability to bounce through full-health targets to reach a lower-health target otherwise out of its range, this will result in very powerful Chain Heals. So long as it effectively heals two targets, it’s better than casting a Healing Surge in terms of total healing. Each player gets less healing from the Chain Heal, but it is often better to heal more targets for less than to heal fewer targets for more, and especially in 10-player raids you may well be better off Chain Healing two targets rather than Healing Surging one.

Similarly, this buff to Chain Heal makes Glyph of Chaining far more palatable, especially since the Glyph has been buffed as well, reducing the incurred cooldown from 4 seconds to 2 seconds. If your unglyphed Chain Heal would have healed 2, but your buffed Chain Heal would heal 4, then Glyph of Chain is a mostly neutral change. For extreme-spread, heavy-movement fights like several of those coming up in the next raid tier, this will be valuable in that it allows you to target ranged as well as melee players, and greater flexibility of this very powerful spell will very likely result in increased throughput.

So what’s the problem? As my GM so eloquently put it on Twitter,

— Moshne July 9, 2013

Now that every bounce of Chain Heal will heal for the same amount, you no longer need to worry about finding the best possible target to chain from. You no longer are rewarded for having had a Riptide up on a target who then took the lion’s share of the damage. You can Chain Heal off of any damaged, Riptide-buffed player and be reasonably assured that your Chain Heal will be almost as good as it could have been had you spent time choosing the right target. And the smaller the disparity between thoughtless and thoughtful healing, the more likely that thoughtless healing will pull ahead, because it is easier, more convenient, and reduces reaction time by eliminating decision-making.

This also has reduced the incentive to use your single-target heals unless there is literally only one player in need of healing. (Of course, use your own judgment here. You may prefer using single-target heals for players in dire circumstances, like Heroic Council of the Elders’ Frostbite target, or Heroic Primordius’ Volatile Pathogen target.)

Now, these are buffs. I know. But they are a degradation of the healing style. The more our budget shifts into smart healing, the less important our decisions become. Using our Tidal Waves intelligently, choosing proper targets, forecasting Riptide, and selecting the appropriate heal for the job – these are traits I’ve always loved about Shaman healing, even if I’ve often fallen into the “spam Chain Heal” mentality that plagued Hyjal and ICC raiders. They’re all less meaningful now, and while I recognise that our throughput will increase, and I do understand that the developers needed to do something to bring us parity and protect our raid spots, I’m just a little disappointed regardless.

Healing Rain itself was subject to a 30% nerf to its base healing and spellpower coefficients, but there’s a new addition to our Purification tooltip that doubles its healing for Restoration-specced Shaman only. As a result, we are seeing a 40% boost in the amount that Healing Rain will heal for in each tick (2*(1-0.3)=1.4). The radius was also increased 2 yards, which really won’t do too terribly much, but may be moderately handy for fights like Iron Juggernaut in SoO where not even the melee want to stack.

News of Healing Rain buffs made me cackle maniacally at the situation. Honest.

News of Healing Rain buffs made me cackle maniacally at the situation. Honest.

But the bigger news is the change in Healing Rain’s function – going from a soft-target-capped blanket AoE to a hard-target-capped smart heal. What is this really going to do for us?

Well, for fights where everyone is stacked up together in our soothing, beautiful blue circle and taking the same damage and receiving the same healing, this is a very, very mild nerf. In these situations, it’s much better to heal more targets for less, than to heal fewer targets for more. However, these situations are incredibly rare to the point where I’m happy to say they don’t exist – particularly because every other healer in your raid is spamming their smart AoE heals as well, and some players have damage reduction cooldowns active, so there’s always going to be some targets who need more healing than others. And since it’s smart, those targets will be prioritised, and your Healing Rain overhealing numbers are likely to go down.

For fights where players are taking highly disparate damage while stacked inside Healing Rain – imagine, for example, a Rampage that only targeted a fraction of your raid with each volley – this is a huge buff. Rather than healing 25 players for (6/25) of a Healing Rain tick, as you would have in 5.3, when only 8 of them need the healing and the other 17 are on full health – thus creating 68% overheal – you’ll now heal 6 of the 8 injured players for a full Healing Rain tick each, yielding 0% overheal. (Yes, I am assuming that the incoming damage is stronger than a Healing Rain tick here. This is definitely true of Megaera’s Rampage.)

For fights where only 6 or fewer targets can stand in your Healing Rain, this produces no change to the healing done.

I will note that this is a nerf to our Earthliving Weapon throughput. Healing Rain ticks have a 6% chance to trigger the Earthliving Weapon HoT on each player it heals. Before 5.4, in a 10-player raid and with 8 ticks of Healing Rain, you’re bestowing an average of 8*10*0.06 = 4.8 players with Earthliving Weapon per cast. Now, it’ll be 8*6*0.06 or 2.9 players with Earthliving Weapon. For a 25-player raid, you’re going from a pre-5.4 Earthliving rate of 12 players per cast down to that same 2.9 players per cast. (In situations where player health is below 35%, though, these numbers look stronger; all players in 10-player raids are likely to have the Earthliving HoT, and 14.4 of 25 in 25-player raids are likely to have it.)

How big of a deal is this? Well, keep in mind that you’ll be casting other spells that can proc Earthliving as well – Riptide and Chain Heal primarily – and they have higher chances to do so than Healing Rain does. So you’re likely to see far more Earthliving on the raid than this simple HR analysis would lead you to believe.

Furthermore, Earthliving Weapon is an extremely small portion of our throughput, and a completely uninteresting and non-interactive one, so losing a bit of throughput here, but gaining 40% throughput or more from Healing Rain, does not exactly concern me. Yes, the chance for Healing Rain to proc Earthliving could be increased to something more like 8-10% in order to reach parity with what we had before, but *shrugs* it’s really not anything to lose your head over.

This Healing Rain change has more profound implications for Ancestral Vigor and our major throughput cooldowns, but these each deserve their own sections.

Ascendance and Ancestral Guidance

Now we’re getting into the real meat of this controversy…

"I am not a crook! ... anymore."

“I am not a crook! … anymore.”

In order to fully explain the way that the Healing Rain target cap impacts our Ascendance and Ancestral Guidance cooldowns, I’m going to need to walk you through a brief primer on how the previous versions of this spell have worked.

Healing spells with no hard target cap – usually noted on the tooltip with language like, “effectiveness diminishes for each player beyond 6 within the area” – operated with what we like to call diminishing returns (DR). What this all really means is that, if HR’s tooltip claims it’ll heal for 20,000 each tick, this is only true if there are 6 or fewer players inside the spell’s radius. If there are, say, 10 players inside the radius, Healing Rain would heal them each for 60% of the value of the tick, or 12,000 healing. If all 25 players were inside the radius, then Healing Rain would heal them each for 6*20,000/25 = 4,800 healing. Note that in both cases, each “pulse” of Healing Rain heals for the same total amount – 120,000 healing.

At some point, pets became valid targets for this sort of healing. I honestly can’t remember when this occurred, but I think it was at the start of MoP. The problem here is that, originally, the pets would also count against the target total of the heal. So if there were 25 players and, say, 10 pets in the Healing Rain, each player and pet would be getting healed for 3,429 healing. We still have a per-“pulse” healing total of 120,000. However, 34,290 of that is completely wasted on pets that we do not care about and that pretty much never leave full health.

This was actually kind of nerfing our ground-based AoE healing (and everyone else’s) by a ridiculous extent, so in 5.1, I believe, pets no longer counted against the diminishing return limit of these types of heals. They were still being healed by Healing Rain, getting the benefit (minus Mastery, since as we previously mentioned, they don’t really leave full health in raids) of the same size of heal as players got. Using the same numbers as above, let me illustrate what this did.

25 players and 10 pets in the HR, which heals for 20,000 per tick according to the tooltip. Only 25 of these targets count against its DR limit, so all 25 players and all 10 pets receive healing of 4,800. This boosts the total healed by that “pulse” of HR up to 168,000 instead of 120,000 – or in other words, you were getting 40% additional healing out of your HR just because your raid was lucky enough to have 10 pet classes in it.

Now, again. That extra healing was being dealt to pets that we don’t really care about because they very rarely take damage. In 90% of cases, it was pure, unadulterated overheal, so nobody batted an eye.

However, it was still existent healing. And we have a button or two that turns all healing, even overheals, into redistributed raid healing – it’s called Ascendance (and sometimes, Ancestral Guidance).

Ascendance copies all the healing that we do – overhealing or not – and divides it evenly amongst all nearby targets. If you’re thinking “Hey, do pets not count against that, either?” then you’re starting to understand the problem. Pets do not count against that, at all. So that 168,000 healing that you just did with a Healing Rain pulse turns into 168,000/25 = 6,720 healing per player, instead of 4,800 we’d expect to see. That 6,720 healing gets dealt to each of the 25 players and to the 10 pets (but again, we really don’t care, so I’m not going to bother calculating this at all – it all goes into your considerable overhealing amount, and it doesn’t matter one whit). The point here is that players are receiving 40% more Healing Rain healing from Ascendance than they would have if those pets didn’t exist.

If you’re particularly bright-eyed this morning you’ll realise that the Ascendance boost of 40% is equal to the proportion of pets to players (10/25 = 0.4). So you’ll realise that the more pets there are, the more prominent this additional healing becomes.

Gnomore cheaty bullshit

Gnomore petsploitation in 5.4

Now we reach 5.2, and in 5.2, we fitted out our melee DPS with the Bad Juju trinket, which summons three Voodoo Gnomes each time it procs, and we gave our DPS Death Knights a 2-piece t15 set bonus that summons Fallen Zandalari pets. Not to mention there’s still 8 Ghouls from Army of the Dead, as well as Risen Ally and the enchantingly-named Gary the Gargoyle, Warlocks with Doomguards and regular pets and Wild Imp armies, Feral Spirits (from Enhancement Shaman and Feral Druid Symbiosis) and Fire/Earth Elementals, Mirror Images (from Mages and Balance Druid Symbiosis) and Water Elementals, Hunter pets and Stampede-summoned pets and Dire Beast and Snake Trap, Xuen, Shadowfiend or Mindbender and Void Tendrils or Psyfiend, and well, as you can see, things can get quite out of hand. A top Resto Shaman parse for 25H Megaera had 44 freaking pets active during their Ascendance, which for those of you keeping track, is 176% additional Healing Rain healing from Ascendance that really pushed that cooldown usage over the top.

It is worth noting that Healing Rain isn’t the only source of healing that contributes to Ascendance’s power, but it is definitely a powerful and prominent one. Your regular healing like Chain Heal and existing Riptides are not affected by the pets’ existence, so depending on how many non-DR casts you squeeze into your Ascendance uptime, you will be seeing an overall throughput boost that is much lower than the number I’ve calculated above. However, pets are also eligible targets for the Earthliving HoT, and the Earthliving HoT is copied by Ascendance, so we were also seeing extra throughput from pet Earthlivings. I’ve left this out of my analysis since it’s not as easy to model as the rest, and it’s relatively small potatoes compared to the spurious Healing Rain healing.

Fortunately, the developers have agreed that this bonus, “free”, utterly skillless healing is not what Ascendance is all about, and that it never should have been happening in the first place. I completely agree. Our healing budget is already tied up in cooldown usage. It is not fun to have that also vary wildly based upon the number of pets that happened to be spawned by trinket procs, and it’s also not fun to have to “compete” for ranks with players who can badger their raid into using their pet-summoning cooldowns during Ascendance for extra ridiculosity.

In 5.4, with Healing Rain being hard-target-capped, it simply will not extend additional healing to pets at all. So this extra (pets/players)% healing will disappear completely.

Let me make this clear: This is undoubtedly a nerf to the “potential maximum throughput” of these cooldowns. But that doesn’t matter, because come 5.4, we will not be living in a world where that “potential maximum throughput” is attainable. We will instead be living in a world where our Healing Rain is 40% stronger, and our Chain heal is 58% stronger, and Ascendance has stopped cheating. And those buffs will more than make up for the loss of the pet healing, unlike some naysayers have been worried about.

I can prove this to you with math!

Using a 4pc t16 + all off-tier items Warforged gear profile, I simulated the healing that would be done by our Ascendance if everything was still working under 5.3 rules (e.g. unlimited target HR, pets not counting against DR total, Chain Heal still has fall-off) but in 5.4 gear (so I removed Voodoo Gnomes or Fallen Zandalari, but still included many other pets). I used the maximum pet totals from the top-ranking 10H and 25H Megaera Resto Shamans because I figure, hey, they probably got that top rank because they were lucky with pet procs, or at least, luckier than the average Shaman. For reference, that was 8 non-5.3-specific pets for the 10H Megaera Resto Shaman, and 29 non-5.3-specific pets for the 25H Megaera Resto Shaman.

I then calculated the expected throughput of Ascendance using that same gearset and 5.4 rules (e.g. 40% buffed HR with no pet shenanigans, Chain Heal that doesn’t drop off between targets). In both cases I used an average raid HP of 40% (because why would we pop Ascendance if the raid wasn’t low-ish) to factor Mastery in to the heals that strike players. (Since pets do not leave full HP, they get no effect from Mastery, which means that in practice – and in my model – the pet contribution to Ascendance’s player-healing is lower than the proportion of pets to players.)

I used the same exact rotation for both simulations – pre-existing Riptides, pre-Unleashing and casting HR, then filling the dead space with Chain Heals off Riptided targets until HR needs to be cast again. I am again ignoring ELW because hard and buh. It would undoubtedly make a difference, but I do not believe it would make enough of one. I also did not include the healing that these cooldowns would have done to the pets in the area – sorry to be so repeaty, but it just does not matter at all how much we heal pets when they do not take damage, so I am only looking at the healing we care about, sorry to be so repeaty.

Similar rules apply for Ancestral Guidance, so I also calculated this one, although I’ll spare you the most intricate details, and just leave you with this one simple table:

Ascendance and Ancestral Guidance in 5.4
CD Ascendance Ancestral Guidance
Format 10 25 10 25
5.3 Rules 5.37M 5.88M 7.18M 7.93M
5.4 Rules 6.19M 6.19M 8.16M 8.16M
% Diff +15.2% +5.3% +13.6% +2.9%

Remember, this is just an example situation, not necessarily a written-in-stone prediction of the exact throughput of your abilities in your raid. This is looking at pretty much a worst-case scenario of how many pets you’re losing access to in 5.4. If your raid tended to have fewer than 8 (in 10-player mode) or 29 (in 25-player mode) pets, then you’ll see a much larger swing from having HR and CH’s healing boosted. If your raid tended to have more than 8 or 29 pets, then you’ll see a much smaller swing, and at some point, it may actually become a nerf, but I am hoping that most players will experience a throughput increase from the 5.4 changes.

So let me just be clear:

The Patch 5.4 changes in no way make Ascendance or Ancestral Guidance “worthless” or “nerfed below live levels”.

You can certainly argue – or be disappointed by – the fact that the buff to these throughput cooldowns isn’t as strong as you’d hoped for from a 40% HR and 58% CH buff. I get that. I really do. But our cooldowns are bananas anyway, even without the cheaty pet bullshit, and the cheaty pet bullshit was a mistake that really needed to be rectified. These cooldowns still perform admirably when compared to other healers’ cooldowns – especially because they are predicated on us casting spells and therefore we’re putting out an equivalent amount of (or in the case of AG, 55.6% as much) healing on our own while the cooldown is active.

These cooldowns are already stronger than their live-server counterparts and will continue to perform incredibly well. Ancestral Guidance is not a “useless Talent”. It will still be strong in the same sorts of situations that it was strong in for tier 15 content – and these situations arise more frequently in SoO than they do in ToT, so we’ll see some real diversity in the Level 75 Talent selection like we’ve been pining for all along.

Ancestral Vigor

A much more valid concern is the affect that the Healing Rain change will have on our Ancestral Vigor uptime. This is incredibly difficult to evaluate because the value of the effective health buff is somewhat ephemeral in nature. It does nothing at all for a player who takes no damage, is very valuable for tanks, and is somewhere in between for all the rest. It definitely has a non-zero benefit, and it is definitely, definitely a good buff, and an excellent reason to bring a Resto Shaman to a fight, but nailing down exactly how much it’s worth – and how big a problem it is if it falls off – is much harder.

The first thing I want to note is that the size of the AV buff you do get from HR is going to increase with these changes, assuming a stacked raid. 10-player raiders who are healed by HR will get an AV buff that is more than twice as large as what they would have gotten in 5.3, and 25-player raiders will get an AV buff that is nearly 6 times as large. This largely counterbalances the effects of receiving HR ticks less often – so long as your buff is refreshed every second HR tick in 10s, or every 6th HR tick in 25s, you should be able to stack your AV to full at the same rate as occurred in 5.3.

That’s it for the math … for now. It’ll come back, don’t you worry. But I’d like to delve into some philosophical/theoretical implications here.

First of all, there are loosely two kinds of fights: Fights where everyone can stand in your Healing Rain at least some of the time, and fights where they can’t. For fights where they can’t – where players really must remain spread out to avoid death mechanics – the AV change will be unnoticeable. Your HR will be on the melee where it always has been, and so long as there are fewer than 12 targets in your HR, it’s extremely likely that AV will stack just as fast as it did pre-5.4, and won’t fall off those targets. Similarly, your ranged players will remain at the mercy of your direct heals in order to gain their AV buffs – just like they do now.

For fights where everyone can stand in your Healing Rain at least some of the time, we’ll start to see the effects of the target-cap change. Pre-5.4, each of the 25 players would receive a very small AV buff each time HR ticked, slooooowly stacking up to its maximum effectiveness over the course of around a minute or so. Post -5.4, each “pulse” of HR will only hit 6 people. This does mean there is a chance that certain players may never receive an AV buff, or that their buff will fall off because they do not get healed during the 15-second buff duration.

However, note that HR is a smart heal now. And it is a pretty sizeable chunk of healing, too. If you were the only healer in the pile, you could be pretty sure that the people who got healed by the first tick of the Healing Rain would still be on higher health than everyone else once the second tick occurred, and HR would kind of “round-robin” its way through the raid group. In this situation, each tick would apply a stack of AV to 6 new people, and you’d have the entire raid covered by the 5th HR tick, which is only 10 seconds. If this pattern kept going, you’d be able to keep AV up indefinitely on everyone.

This is unrealistic, because of course there are other healers in your raid. And those healers are going to be using their multi-target smart heals, splash healing, single-target smart heals, and party-limited direct heals, which is going to put this whole “round-robin” idea out of whack. The more smart healing and splash healing you have flying around your raid, the closer to pure randomness the HR targeting becomes. In this case, we can use statistical principles to determine the likelihood that AV will fall off of any player, using the simple formula of (1-(6/raid size))^(# of HR ticks in 15sec). This is calculating the likelihood that a given player won’t get healed each time HR ticks.

At the Haste levels I’ve used to do all my other computational work here, there are 10 ticks of HR in 15 seconds. (2 upfront ticks, because 2 casts, plus 8 ticks between the two casts.) This means that the likelihood of AV falling off in a 10-player stacked raid is 0.01%, and the likelihood of AV falling off of a player in a 25-player raid is 6.43%.

This assumes a pretty long ramp-up time, though, on distributing the buffs throughout the raid. In situations where you stack only briefly, and then spread out again, like the Malkorok fight, this ramp-up time of approximately 10 seconds (really, less, given that the melee are likely to already have AV on them) before the entire raid is affected by AV may be noticeable. And it may well be undesirable. But you are still very likely to get the whole raid covered within that 10 seconds, by at least some AV, and it’s also very likely that the AV amount will be larger than it would have been in 5.3 (10 seconds is 5 ticks of the old AV, but 1 tick of the 5.8-times-larger new AV, so you come out a bit ahead).

Now, the purely-random model is not exactly accurate either, especially in 10-player raids where smart healing is less of a factor and “round-robin” is far more likely to kick in. I don’t predict AV falling off of a 10-player stacked raid very often at all. Even in 25s, players who have not yet been healed by Healing Rain are probably going to be more likely to be healed by future ticks of it, so the purely-random model is probably overestimating the likelihood that AV will drop off.

Remember, there are other spells you can cast to stack Ancestral Vigor, too. Chain Heal, for example, still being smart, is still likely to target people who haven’t yet been healed up by Healing Rain. You could always put an Ancestral Vigor indicator on your raid frames and CH-target or Riptide the players who are in danger of losing it (or who have not yet gained it), if it was something you’re really worried about, but I honestly don’t believe it will be worth changing our behaviour in order to keep 100% uptime on everyone in a stacked raid situation. The game will probably take care of that for us.

I also want to point out that, with more of our healing coming from smart sources, it’s the players who take the least damage or have the most self-healing that are likely to be skipped over by AV. They’re the players who need it the least, so it’s kind of self-correcting. I’m not saying that there is no reason at all to be concerned – this is something we’ll have to watch to see how it plays out, but on Flex raiding tests on the PTR, my AV uptimes for occasional-stack fights look pretty similar to the way they look now on live servers.

Baseline Healing Tide Totem

Healing Tide Totem: Pretty, but a little lacking.

Healing Tide Totem: Now one size fits all!

There is not a whole lot to say here. Healing Tide Totem was made baseline for all Shaman specs so that it could be given the scaling-with-raid-size treatment that Tranquility, Divine Hymn, and Revival got earlier in the expansion. This couldn’t be done when HTT was a Talent, because then it would definitely pigeon-hole 25-player raiding Resto Shamans into that Talent.

I’m really not sure the scaling-up treatment was a good idea for the DPS specs’ HTT – given that Ancestral Guidance for DPS specs has always been very powerful when well-timed, and that 25-player raiding is already dominated by cooldown choreography that makes each individual healer’s skill less significant, I worry that the additional cooldown will drain a little more depth out of the healing pool, and let’s face it, in 25-player raids we’re already kind of paddling in the kiddie end. However, HTT would have felt like a pretty useless button for them to press without the scaling factor, so I guess I can see it.

25-player raiding Resto Shamans can expect to get around 7.2 million healing from their Healing Tide Totem (assuming the same gear and the same 40% average raid HP as the previous calculations). For 10-player Resto Shaman, you won’t see any change in your expected HTT healing from now, other than, of course, the increase in healing you get from increasing your gear’s item level. Again, this is not as high as some of the other classes’ raid cooldowns in terms of throughput, but remember, you get to keep casting/moving/not dying while it’s up, and they don’t, HA-ha.

Level 75 Talents

With HTT going baseline, the developers had a gap to fill in the Level 75 Talent tier, and they filled it with Rushing Streams, a Talent that buffs our Healing Stream Totem. Rushing Streams increases the healing dealt by each tick of Healing Stream Totem by 15%, and also allows it to heal two targets each pulse instead of just one.

This is a fantastic buff for our spread healing throughput, and with this Talent we may well see HST at the top of our meters on certain heavy-movement/mostly-spread fights like the Iron Juggernaut, Siegecrafter Blackfuse, and Paragons of the Klaxxi encounters. Another excellent benefit of this Talent is that it spreads our Glyph of Healing Stream Totem buff to two people per tick instead of just one, which is an incalculably fantastic buff to be able to hand out. I can’t model how much healing-equivalent this glyph buff will provide, but see the table below to compare Rushing Stream’s throughput with our other options on this tier.

Ancestral Guidance I already covered above at length, so let’s move on, except to note that in order to make this a fairer comparison I have removed Mastery from my AG calculations (since I can’t assume the raid is always on 40% HP for HST or Conductivity).

Speaking of Conductivity, this talent also got reworked. Now, casting any of our targeted, cast-time heals (that’s HS, HW, GHW, and CH) will extend the duration of our active Healing Rain by 4 seconds, up to a maximum duration of 40 seconds. (This last bit is a little misleading – the game doesn’t count the time it takes you between casting the HR and casting your first HR-extending heal, so you can normally get 42 seconds out of each HR; and under temporary Haste effects the duration gets even weirder. But for the sake of simplicity and the fact that I hope they’re going to fix this, let’s just say 40 seconds for now.)

This Talent provides several benefits:

  • Without Conductivity, Healing Rain has downtime equal to its cast time between each cast. With Conductivity, Healing Rain can achieve true 100% uptime. In the best-case scenario, this saves 7 HR spellcasts per 40 seconds.
  • Instead of every 2nd Healing Rain having no Unleash Life boost, the entire Healing Rain healing pool will have it. This saves a number of UE spellcasts that can be replaced with higher-throughput spells such as Chain Heal.
  • We also save mana to the tune of several HR spellcasts and several UE spellcasts, although if we are replacing these gaps in our “rotation” with Chain Heal, then we’ll have to account for that.

One interesting thing about this Talent is that it does not provide as many extra ticks of HR as you might have expected. At the 30% Haste levels that I’m using for my t16 gear set, I am receiving 78 ticks over 120 seconds (assuming perfect overlap between the end of the first HR and the beginning of the 2nd) plus 3 additional ticks from the up-front tick that occurs when you cast the HR. This gives a total of 81 ticks. However, in 120 seconds without Conductivity, you could have cast 10 Healing Rains, and each one would have ticked 7 times + the up-front tick, so you would get 80 ticks of HR this way. Those up-front ticks from normal HR casts are pretty much balanced out by the extra ticks you gain from having 100% uptime on the spell, so it’s almost a wash.

Consider, though, that the difference between half of your HRs being UE-buffed versus all of your HRs being UE-buffed is 15% throughput, so Conductivity wins on those grounds alone. When you factor in approximately 6 extra Chain Heals you can cast in the time freed up by cutting out 7 HR casts and 2 UE casts, Conductivity’s throughput boost actually comes out somewhat competitively with Rushing Streams’ increase…

But Rushing Streams is a lot easier to use to its full potential than Conductivity is. Any time your raid has to move, you’ll have to recast your Healing Rain anyway. And on fights where you simply can’t have a fully effective HR, Conductivity will suffer more than Rushing Streams will. And as you can see in the table below, Ancestral Guidance wins over both of these Talents for burst healing, so I really think that most Resto Shamans will be choosing between the set-it-and-forget-it Rushing Streams Talent and the use-it-or-lose-it Ancestral Guidance.

Level 75 Talents in Patch 5.4
Talent Healing per 2 min
Rushing Streams 4,236,908
Ancestral Guidance 6,059,384
Conductivity 4,164,144

There is a significant mana savings with Conductivity, under this best-case scenario, equivalent to the cost of 7 HR and 2 UE minus 6 Chain Heals; this works out to 82.7k mana over the 2-minute period being measured, which is an mp5 of ~3400, equivalent to about 6k Spirit. This could tip the scales toward Conductivity especially for lower-geared players, but remember that the best-case scenario is really, really uncommon, and that you’ll on average receive far lesser benefit from this Talent than I’ve calculated here.

Sorry, Conductivity. I’m just not feeling that spark, you know?

(Remember, the above numbers do not include Mastery. You’re more likely to get a strong Mastery benefit out of Ancestral Guidance than out of Rushing Streams or Conductivity, since AG is a burst-healing, use-it-when-shit-hits-the-fan cooldown, and Rushing Streams and Conductivity are more about sustained healing, so AG will still win the pure throughput contest in the end.)

Tier 16 Set Bonuses

Our Tier 16 2-piece set bonus is pretty solid:

When Earth Shield heals a target, the target will receive 300% of the amount healed as an absorb.

Earth Shield’s healing is unlikely to be overheal anyway, but fortunately for us, overhealing is included in the shield amount, so that really doesn’t matter.

Nature's Barrier brings some sparklepriest flavour

Nature’s Barrier brings some sparklepriest flavour

This healing appears as “Nature’s Barrier” in World of Logs, but gets assigned to the target who has the Earth Shield on them, not to you. In order to view the benefit you’re getting from the set bonus, then, you’ll have to look at your tanks’ Healing Done tab and tally up the Nature’s Barrier healing.

Based on my Flex raid testing logs, this set bonus would be a sizeable throughput increase if it were attributed to me. Earth Shield typically does around 2.3% of my healing, and since the Barrier includes overhealing, I see a slightly more than 3x increase in my Earth Shield throughput. Restandardising as if the Nature’s Barrier healing were attributed to me, it works out to around a 7% throughput increase. This is strong for a set bonus, even if it is boring.

I will note that Earth Shield does not proc until Nature’s Barrier falls off, so in some low-tank-damage situations you may see your Earth Shield proccing less frequently, and may lose a small amount of throughput from that. However, you gain much more than you lose, and also, by re-casting Earth Shield less frequently, you get to maintain your 20% incoming healing buff on that target while spending that extra time casting spells with higher throughput, such as Chain Heal, so it’s a net gain anyway.

The Tier 16 4-piece set bonus is a little more difficult to understand, and has been behaving erratically in previous PTR builds, so a lot of people are discounting it as “not worth” giving up two Warforged items.

So what is it?

Spiritwalker’s Grace will also summon a spiritual version of yourself that will mimic all cast time targeted healing spells for 15 sec.

And what does that mean?

<I won’t rant too much about how I hate this tactic of merging throughput with utility cooldowns. I did that earlier and I’m sure you can find it yourself if you care. :P>

Twinsies <3

Twinsies ❤

Well, it’s not 100% additional throughput. The Spirit Champion you summon with this set bonus has his or her own version of your eligible spells (again, HW, GHW, HS, CH) that it will cast instantly upon you completing your spellcast. These versions have very low Spellpower coefficients compared to normal heals, and so feel somewhat weak. I spent way too much time deriving these equations, and mind you, I haven’t gotten any confirmation that they’re right, but they’re predicting my Spirit Champion’s healing to within 1% of the in-game observations, so I’m pretty happy with them:

  • Chain Heal: 8669 to 9845 plus 3.6% of your Spellpower, per target (max 4)
  • Greater Healing Wave: 17461 to 19670 plus 6.9% of your Spellpower
  • Healing Surge: 14304 to 16227 plus 5.9% of your Spellpower
  • Healing Wave: 9537 to 10815 plus 4.1% of your Spellpower

These low Spellpower coefficients are disheartening, in that the Spirit Champion’s healing will not improve significantly as our gear improves. However, it does mean that waiting for your trinkets to proc before popping your Spiritwalker’s Grace will only net you something like a 100-200 HPS increase. This means don’t bother – seriously. Use your cooldown when you need it, not when you get lucky with procs. (Granted, the two trinkets with Int procs have 115-second ICDs, so you’re pretty likely to have the procs up when you use Spiritwalker’s Grace if you sync them up even once, but again, it’s really not worth losing your autonomy over when to pop this CD for a mere 200 HPS.)

The Spirit Champion’s heals are boosted by Purification – so you can multiply those equations above by an additional 25% – but do not interact with any of our other passive or active Talents; you cannot increase your Champion’s healing with the Reinforce/Empower abilities of your Primal Elementals, nor will your Champion copy Echo of the Elements healing, Ancestral Awakening, Ancestral Guidance, or Ascendance.

The Spirit Champion will inherit our Critical Strike Chance and is affected by our Haste, in so much that the more spells we cast during Spiritwalker’s Grace, the more spells our Champion has to mimic. The Spirit Champion gains no benefit from our Mastery. I’ll also note that the Spirit Champion’s duration is extended by the Glyph of Spiritwalker’s Grace.

She doesn't use Glyph of Deluge. Noob.

She doesn’t use Glyph of Deluge. Noob.

All of the Champion’s healing is smart healing, which means that your Champion will not necessarily target the same player you targeted. This makes the Champion’s mimicry of your single-target spells a little more useful – since you often don’t need to heal that target again if you just bombed them with something big – but it does pose some problems for Chain Heal. The Champion puts health deficit ahead of cluster detection when choosing a Chain Heal target, and as such you may not get all of the expected throughput out of the Champion if his or her target selection is poor.

The maximum throughput you can get out of your Spirit Champion in the gear that I’ve used for this assessment – without popping Heroism or Elemental Mastery since I’m stipulating you may save them for a more important cooldown – is 30k HPS during the 20-second uptime, or around 5k HPS sustained over the course of an encounter. This is obtained by still maintaining your Healing Rain and Riptide buffs, and filling the remaining time with Chain Heals, and hoping that your Spirit Champion will hit four targets each time. This burst healing is actually not bad – I’m estimating it’ll be around 8 – 10% of our stacked healing throughput when we’re not using cooldowns, and more like 4 – 5% if we are. More sources of on-demand burst do not hurt.

Note that this is more likely to occur when the raid is stacked and stationary than when the raid is spread out or moving. In other words, your Spirit Champion is less likely to be fully effective when you’re using Spiritwalker’s Grace to help you move or cope with a spread-out fight. This is a seriously counterintuitive result, but what do you expect when the game turns a movement cooldown into a throughput cooldown? *sigh* I will note, though, that your HPS tends to drop quite a bit in fights like this, so the throughput increase of your Spirit Champion relative to your own throughput may still be stronger than it would be during a stacked fight.

In comparison, upgrading to Warforged gear in two slots is approximately a 0.44% throughput increase thanks to 170-ish extra spellpower and 84 extra secondary stats. Even in a sustained-damage fight where there’s no clear opportunity for burst healing, the Spirit Champion is going to outweigh the miniscule improvement from upgrading to 2-piece t16 and 2 Warforged items. Chase this set bonus, because there are a lot of fights in SoO where you may want an additional burst cooldown, and besides, who doesn’t want a spiritual stunt double?

I am super sad, though, that you cannot activate Spiritwalker’s Grace while in Ghost Wolf form. A Spirit Champion puppy would have been amazing. When I am Queen of the World I will make this happen, I promise you all.


I’ll keep this short and sweet. No, really.

  1. The buffs to Healing Rain and Chain Heal are great for our throughput – we are doing very well in PTR raid tests – but IMO are a detriment to our healing playstyle.
  2. Don’t worry about Ascendance and Ancestral Guidance. They’re still very powerful. They’ve survived this Healing Reckoning.
  3. Ancestral Vigor probably won’t come off too much worse than it does on live now, assuming you also heal moderately intelligently.
  4. Forget Conductivity. Take Rushing Streams for heavy-movement, low-stacking fights, and Ancestral Guidance for fights with stack potential.
  5. Both the two- and four-piece tier 16 set bonuses are worth getting, no matter how much I might grumble that turning SWG into a throughput cooldown is bad for the class.

I know I’ve said a bunch of things in here that seem to contradict the community outcry. As always, I invite you to post your logs or math if you think I’ve made an error and am being too optimistic, and I’m happy to go through and explain any of the calculations underpinning these analyses in depth if anyone so desires. But for now, it’s back to the burrow with me, because I’m sick and I need some sleep 😦


About Dedralie

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26 Responses to Water(Totem)gate: 5.4 and the Resto Shaman Controversies

  1. stoove says:

    Honestly, and this is entirely my opinion, I’m saddened by one thing; we get **more** burst cooldowns. Seriously, while I’d have jumped for joy in Cataclysm this is starting to take the biscuit; in a 10-man raid, I’ll be casting at least HTT x2, Ascendance x2, Fire Elemental x2, and Earth Elemental, not to mention Heroism, Stormlash Totem x2, possibly MANY Elemental Mastery casts, AND Ancestral Guidance on fights that are appropriate, oh and Spirit Link Totem as well. Having ANOTHER throughput cooldown, and more to the point on that only really shines on stacked raids, is just preposterous.

    My guild have already renamed me “the cooldown bot” and while I love being able to burst, I don’t like having such a bewildering number of buttons. Ascendance and Healing Tide Totem can deal with most fights on their own, and they are awesome fun – having AG as an **alternative** was great, but now having the potential to be casting over 20 cooldowns per fight is just silly. That’s roughly two per minute! If I just chain-cast them it’d be approximately a 30% uptime.

    I. Don’t. Even!

    Say what you like, but I definitely felt like being a skilled healer made more of a difference in Tier 11/12 than it will in Tier 15/16.

    • Dedralie says:

      “Say what you like, but I definitely felt like being a skilled healer made more of a difference in Tier 11/12 than it will in Tier 15/16.”

      You know I agree with this. And as bad as it is in 10-player raids, it’s even worse in 25-player raids, where smart healing and raid cooldowns far, far outweigh what any player is doing in terms of targeted, thoughtful healing. This is something I need to save for another post, though, because no matter how loudly and fervently I rant about it, it’s not going to change in time for Siege of Orgrimmar.

      Rest assured, I’ll be complaining about this issue loudly and often when it comes time to think about 6.0 🙂

  2. Tiberria says:

    I think your math on the 4 piece bonus is off because of a few issues. For one, the 4 piece bonus only lasts 15 seconds, with or without the SWG glyph extending the duration of SWG to 20 seconds. That immediately takes the calculation of 5000 potential HPS down to 3750 HPS.

    For another, I don’t think that the bonus from having the set bonus active is going to be strong enough to override our normal spell “rotation”. It will be an output loss to not cast ULE-HR, HST and probably Riptide on cooldown in favor of spamming CH/single target heals to maximize the value of the set bonus. Within the 15 second window of SWG, you can expect to need to cast ULE and HR at least once and Riptide at least twice (as well as possibly HST once). Assuming that you cast 1 ULE, 1 HR and 2 RT during that duration, you are looking at losing around 5 seconds of the 15 second duration. That brings the maximum potential HPS gain from your calculation down further to around 2500 HPS.

    Finally, I don’t think that you can model the 4 piece bonus around 0% overheal. I would expect average overheal on the Spirit Champion heals to be at least 50%, which is on par or slightly below our total overall overheal on most PTR testing. At 50% overheal, the gains from the 4 piece bonus then drop to around 1250 HPS.

    Average HPS for T16 fights seems to be in the 150k range (with some fights at 200k+), which puts the 4 piece bonus at being worth around a 0.8% output increase, not the 5-10% you are estimating. This is in line with where I have seen it perform in actual testing of the set bonus (in fact it was closer to 0.5%). At 0.8%, it is a very disappointing set bonus. The T15 2pc set bonus is giving upwards of 3% when used with Rushing Streams with the added bonus of hitting a third target with the HST glyph, so I definitely think going from T15 2 pc + T16 2 pc to T16 4pc will be an output loss at least until you are replacing T15 2 pc with heroic T16 items. Overall, it feels like the set bonus could use a 300% to 400% buff to bring it in line with the 2%-3% itemization budget that set bonuses are typically balanced around.

    • Dedralie says:

      Definitely at the start of the PTR, the Spirit Champion was not lasting 20 seconds when Spiritwalker’s Grace was glyphed, however now it most certainly does. From Flex raiding two weekends ago:

      [13:28:00.123] Dayani gains Spiritwalker’s Grace from Dayani
      [13:28:00.123] Dayani summons Spirit Champion with Spiritwalker Champion
      [13:28:20.168] Dayani’s Spiritwalker’s Grace fades from Dayani
      [13:28:20.512] Spirit Champion dies

      My calculations for throughput (of all CDs, actually, and this is probably something I should have spelled out above) assume:

      * You have planned ahead, so you pre-dropped your HST, and it will not be off CD before your throughput CD ends.
      * You have two pre-existing Riptides and just cast a new Riptide, so there will be at least one Riptide active to Chain Heal from for another 15+sec.
      * You pop the CD just after casting a UE/HR.
      * For CDs longer than 10sec, you will cast one HR, and only one Riptide, because you will get better throughput out of continuing to Chain Heal off pre-existing Riptides rather than casting a new one now that CH is so strong.

      I make these assumption because we tend to pop CDs when we need to put out massive healing, and so are more likely to be focused on our maximum throughput, which is definitely not to continue casting maintenance Riptides now that Chain Heal no longer mandates that the target we chain from is the most injured target in the raid.

      While it’s true that our other cooldowns mandate this rotation change much moreso than Spirit Champion does, the Spirit Champion still does provide enough burst that we end up with more throughput during these dangerous times if we change our rotation to follow those assumptions above. And since I do not particularly care about my overall meters, but just that I am doing the most healing I can when the raid is in the most danger, I’m not fussed that I may need to spend some time outside of the cooldown rebuilding my Riptide cache. Also, in many fights this tier there are scary phases that occur far enough apart that you will be stacking CDs for them, and Spirit Champion will just be piggy-backing off our other CDs. (Immersius slimes, Protector/Sun Tenderheart’s Desperate Measures,

      The 5-10% estimate is not overall throughput, but the throughput boost we get from using the Spirit Champion _during its uptime_, when we are stacked. I recognise that its overall throughput, being largely fixed thanks to the low Spellpower coefficients, is going to be lower on our overall meters – after all, at only 5k HPS, we only need to exceed 100k HPS ourselves for it to be less than a 5% contribution to our total healing. The problem with using testing logs to determine the strength of the Spirit Champion’s healing is that she was bugged in most of the previous builds and was not mimicking all of our casts properly – I’d have entire SWGs where she did absolutely nothing at all, even though I spammed CH hard. This has been fixed in the most recent build, but there hasn’t been much testing going on since then AFAIK – just LFR?.

      The overheal is a real consideration, although as far as I can tell the healing is smart – definitely the mimicry of our single-target heals is, since it doesn’t always target the same player I just healed. The problem with Chain Heal is that the Spirit Champion doesn’t have a cluster-finder so may Chain Heal someone off in the middle of nowhere (she really must learn never to CH a Hunter *sigh*) or someone who is surrounded by higher-health targets that do not need the CH bounces as badly. (Hey, that’s something I should test, I wonder if her Chain Heal can bounce crazy far if we glyph the Glyph of Chaining…) When we’re stacked this is going to be less of a concern, to the point where she should be able to get much closer to her maximum throughput. It is frustrating that on fights with spread positioning and heavy movement, she will perform worse than on stacked fights, but so will we, and I think it’ll end up being a wash.

      I’ve suggested that the bonus receive a buff to its spellpower coefficients to make it more noticeable when we upgrade our gear. I’ve also suggested that the Spirit Champion’s Chain heal targeting needs to be improved. If by nothing else, it’d be nice if she Chained off the same initial target that we did, just so that we could control whether she cast into a cluster of players or not. This would help a lot, but with the patch coming so soon I’m just not sure anyone’s going to get to it.

      I realise that with RS, 2pc t15 is strong, and for those of us upgrading from Heroic t15 to normal t16 it may not seem very attractive to drop that bonus at least for some fights (Siegecrafter and Iron Juggernaut come to mind as particularly awful fights for the Spirit Champion). However, not everyone is in that position – many will be upgrading from normal t15 to normal t16, and I think that the 30 ilvls per item are going to outweigh the benefit of the t15 2pc. And on fights where we are going to take Ancestral Guidance, because we are going to be doing our most important healing in short, stacked bursts, the t16 4pc bonus will definitely be worth more than the 2pc t15. However, I don’t actually mind the idea that we might hang on to t15 2pc for a few particularly-awful-for-Shamans fights. It’s better to have gearing options than to not, after all! 🙂

      • Dedralie says:

        Haha, left a thought unfinished up there:

        “…(Immerseus slimes, Sun Tenderheart’s Desperate Measures in Fallen Protectors, Norushen’s healer trial, Malkorok’s p2, forcing transitions during the Thok encounter, and perhaps Desecrate/Exploding Iron Star in p1 of the Garrosh encounter are places where I could see us stacking two cooldowns together to handle the damage pattern.)”

  3. jsahuydf ahusbgd says:

    just because resto shamans were buffed from where they are currently on live does not mean that they are competitive with other healing classes now. they are still a ways behind. sucking less =/= not sucking.

    • Dedralie says:

      In no way did I address, or even intend to address, the issue of overall class balance in this post. Without an ability to pore over logs of actual raid encounters on the PTR, I don’t even remotely have enough information to form hypotheses, let alone draw conclusions. I don’t place any confidence in what is being said on the forums, since there is a huge community-wide rift between healing classes and so much of what is posted is motivated by painting the poster’s class as in desperate need of buffs and by denigrating every other class as “OP”. All this article is trying to do is forestall the sense of panic that many Shamans are expressing in regards to the Healing Rain tech change and its trickle-down effect on other class mechanics.

      Now, perhaps my outlook is rare. I admit that. I don’t care at all about where I place on the meters; I care about whether pressing my buttons creates actual results that impact upon the success of my raid. Many healers these days do care about meters or even believe that meters = success, and while I think that’s a shallow analysis of the situation, I can’t definitively say it is wrong.

      Fortunately, for both mindsets, I have the same happy anecdote to report: In SoO, in the raids I have done so far, Shaman healing has been performing very well. I have been at the top or in 2nd place behind the other Shaman in many of the Flex encounters we’ve tested; I’ve been performing very well in the 10- and 25-player normal/heroic raid tests; I’ve felt that my spells are making a difference. This is not true of every single fight – there are still several that pose real challenges for Shaman healers, and as usual, Shaman QoL is diminished in 10-player raids compared to 25-player raids.

      Do we still suck? Well, I don’t think so.

      Do I wish our mechanics were different, or that we weren’t so strictly bound by our niche? Of course. I have been growing less and less fond of the healing game all expansion with the focus on smart heals and the increased reliance on rotational playstyle. But it is too late in this expansion to change these things, so I’m working with what I have, and building up evidence and arguments to hopefully advocate for a more interesting healing game in 6.0 and beyond 🙂

  4. Jabari says:

    You missed a change 😛

    Resto Unleashed Fury says that its bonus is now on the shaman instead of the target of UE. Does this make a UE/HR at +80% now instead of +50%?

    (Or, at least it did last time I looked at the PTR notes – hopefully it’s still there and I don’t look like more of a fool than usual! *laugh*).

    • Jabari says:

      LOL, bad #s are bad, but you hopefully understand what I mean.

      (UE is +30%, UF is +50%. Current UE/HR is +30% regardless of if you have UF talent or not. Does UF talent make the rain +95% as it would a GHW?)

    • Dedralie says:

      No, this is just a Quality of Life fix. The way the talent works now in 5.3, it gives you a buff to increase your next direct heal or Healing Rain by 30%, and then places a buff on the player you targeted with Unleash Elements that means the next single-target direct heal you do to them will be 50% larger. This constrains you into having to heal the person you Unleashed on in order to get the 50% additional boost and is a really silly design.

      In 5.4, instead of things working this way, you will receive _two_ buffs on yourself whenever you cast Unleash Elements; one that makes your next direct heal or Healing Rain 30% stronger, and one that will make your next single-target heal 50% stronger. Casting Healing Rain consumes the 30% buff but leaves the 50% buff behind. Casting Chain Heal consumes the 30% buff but leaves the 50% buff behind.

      The difference is just that now you can spend that 50% buff on whomever you like, rather than being tied to the player you cast the Unleash upon. There’s no way they would let us have a 95% boosted Healing Rain (and especially with the Conductivity redesign, give us a 100% uptime of said 95% boosted Healing Rain).

      Despite this QoL fix, IMO Unleashed Fury is still not a very compelling talent. I do appreciate that it is probably different in 10-player raids and may still be worth taking for that format, but basically with the change to Chain Heal making it worth casting even if it only deals effective healing to 2 targets, and the change to Glyph of Chaining making it worthwhile to use in extreme spread/movement fights, I think we’ll see a significant reduction in the use of our single-target healing spells.

      • Jabari says:

        Hmm. Ok.

        The problem (to me) is that I honestly can’t stand Primal Elementalist. *shrug* Probably just “player error” on my part, but I either never use them (i.e., only 10%, “when do you use it exactly” and/or “why bother”?), or I stupidly overwrite the Earth Elemental with a Tremor/Earthgrasp that’s needed at the time.

        Mind testing something for me when you get a chance? Does the 50% non-rain UF buff apply to the HoT portion of Riptide?

        I still use UE/Riptide quite a bit on tanks even now (as the 30% part applies to both direct and HoT), and if even the 50% part still applies to both the direct and HoT portions I think UF would work a lot better for me than PE will.

        (But maybe I just need to be WAY more aggressive putting the elementals down *shrug*)

        Aside: I wonder if the fix to the goofy “input/healing lag” thing will fix the HST haste-breakpoint issues that Binkenstein has written about. It’d be nice to have a clear cutoff for HST that’s actually correct.

  5. Dedralie says:

    Hey Jabari, I tested your question (thanks for the prompting!) and yes; the 50% buff does apply to both the direct and HoT portions of Riptide. So you can choose to have a 30% buffed HR/50% buffed Riptide or just a 95% buffed Riptide, whichever would suit your purposes.

    I do understand your dislike of Primal Elementalist. Most of the time I use my Primal Fire Elemental for damage since I am not meter-focused and don’t care to use the Ele to boost my maintenance healing by 10%. I do use the Reinforce ability of the Primal Earth Elemental, though, quite often, since 1 whole minute of 20%-reduced incoming damage is amazing, and often I can find uses for that which coincide with heavy raid healing requirements.

    As I’ve said before, the beauty of this new Talent system is that whatever works for you and your raid is the right answer. If you prefer UF, by all means use it! It’s certainly been made less awkward with this QoL change. 🙂

    • UF is amazing for Healer Proving Grounds.
      Helped me reach wave 24 until the dreaded double dispel landed.
      You will need the higher efficiency of UF because Proving Grounds stresses the mana pool!

      Highly doubtful I will use it in my 10 man raids though unless there will be predictable spike damage on tanks like Megaera breaths.

      I wish Elemental Blast had a healing component to it to offer resto another option.
      The 3500 RNG stat boost might have been decent for 5.0 raids, but is now very meh.
      Instead of the stat boost they could get creative with an AoE dps/heal akin to any L90 priest talent. It’s a blast for crying out loud… what blast doesn’t have splash effects. 🙂
      That would give us 3 distinct choices for L90 talents. But I digress.

      BTW nice posts in the Issues and Concerns thread, Dayani. Your logic and math helps calm the obsessed meter monsters.

      • Dedralie says:

        Man, wouldn’t it be awesome to have a reason to use EB? It really would. I like the whole concept of being an offensive healer, but I just can’t justify EB to myself in light of the ridiculous 1-minute-long 20% damage reduction capabilities of the Primal Earth Elemental.

        Turning EB into multicoloured Cascade would be lovely of course but I don’t think we should get our hopes up too highly 😉

        Thanks for the Proving Grounds POV – I haven’t done them much on PTR, though I certainly intend to get Proven Healer x6 😀 And thanks for the support re: the official forums thread. I hate posting in there and it always makes me nervous, so I’m glad that the responses have been well-reasoned and polite and that maybe I’ve helped some people with something somehow 🙂

    • Jabari says:

      Cool – thanks for checking. 🙂

      I’ve actually never use the PFE just for damage – I have it set right now where Reinforce and Empower are both just macroed into Riptide. *shrug* Reinforce is amazing, of course – it’s just that I tend to stupidly blow up the totem with a different earth one. *cringe*

      The new L45(?) talent that allows doubles would obviously help this. Reinforce + Stone Bulwark down at the same time seems kinda good.

  6. Cairme says:

    Hey, just thought i’d come by and tell you how great your post was. I’ve been trying to find a decent 5.4 explanation without too much depth and this was just mind-blowing.

    Great read 😀 Thank you.

  7. Elta says:

    This post made me happy, as usual. 🙂 I link this website to guildies all the time for the straightforward and easy to read side of healing. xD

    I haven’t been explorative enough with AG though…What is the ideal situation? Because, in my 10 man, it seems that the healing stream would be way better as the spread’s going to be pretty prominent in SoO, BUT! I was wondering if AG was still tied to the trifecta healing, basically. I mean…applying two buffs from HST at once just seems to be a great addition in comparison to a heal that bursts well, but is limited in the amount of casts one can get off. Yet, I see how it’s good for bursty fights. I just wanna know where you use it most often so that I can make a correlation of events.

    Thank you for your time!

    • Dedralie says:

      Hi Elta, thanks for spreading the word ❤

      I use AG whenever:
      (a) the most dangerous part of a fight occurs in short burst windows (for example, Megaera's Rampage, Malkorok's Blood Rage, Fallen Protectors' Desperate Measures); OR
      (b) when there is a phase of a fight that has sustained periodic damage (Iron Qon's Fist Smash, Norushen phase 2); AND
      (c) when the raid can be stacked up or (in 5.4) at least 6 players can be in my Healing Rain while the rest of the raid can be within 30 yards of the centre of my Healing Rain.

      So if either A/C or B/C are true, I tend to take Ancestral Guidance for that encounter.

      In t15 content I use it for Heroic Council of Elders, and pop it during Kazra'jin's Overcharge; on Heroic Megaera, and pop it on Rampages 1/4/6; on Heroic Iron Qon, and use it to heal melee through Unleashed Flames in p1 and p3, and through Fist Smash in p4; on Heroic Twin Consorts, for Corrupted Healing-free burst during Night phase and for Nuclear Inferno in Day phase; and on Ra-den for post-ballsplosion healing in p1 and as part of my crazypants cooldown chain for p2.

      I haven't fully decided on my cooldown plans for t16 content yet as I still need to review the recordings of our PTR testing and get a better grip on the fights.

  8. hoofdee says:

    so the 4pc still seems rather unappetizing to me. in order to get decent usage out of it, you need to use 4 GCD (+HR cast time) in a window before you pop SWG. HST, riptide, UE, HR. that’s a lot of setup time that we might not have. i think the reality is that we will get much less of an actual boost than you are calculating because of that.

    in addition to the slight stat boosts available from offset warforged items, there is the issue of stat allocation. although i can see that you stack mastery, many shaman do not; so only picking up the 2pc bonus leaves us free to focus on other secondary stats.

    re: conductivity. does it now maintain the UE buff throughout the duration? i had read earlier that it did not.

    • Dedralie says:

      I suppose it all depends on what you’re used to. I do that regularly pre-Ascendance and pre-AG (on the fights I use AG for) so I’m pretty used to thinking about and planning out my cooldowns in that way. If your cooldown usage is more ad-hoc/reactive than planned, I can see how you may regularly get less throughput out of each cooldown, but that’s a huge loss for AG and Ascendance (a very minor one from the 4pc set bonus) so I’d suggest at least practicing this plan with those cooldowns because it can make a huge difference 🙂

      While I do run Mastery (mainly because I do not care about WoL rankings so I am too lazy to bother regemming/reforging my gear once progression is over :P), I did my calculations assuming a Shaman who followed the more conventional advice of Crit > all. In the gearset I built to simulate 2pc t16 + warforged off-set pieces I replaced the Mastery pieces of t16 with Crit or Haste pieces (so I could maintain my high Haste breakpoint). I ended up with 84 extra secondary stats compared to the t16 gearset, and shifted about 1800 rating out of Mastery and into Crit that way. It was a 9% Mastery loss for a 3% Crit gain. That’s pretty much a wash, throughput-wise (I admit there is a mana regen benefit that is difficult to valuate since Shaman healing is so heavily cooldown-limited rather than mana-limited), unless your raid is typically on very high health (where this will be much better) or very low health (where the Mastery loss is significant). At an average of around 63% raid health for your main heals – HST, HR, HTT – the Mastery/Crit trade-off comes out pretty much equivalent (assuming you are using the Amplification trinket that boosts your Crit healing size by 7%).

      I’ll double-check Conductivity because I didn’t get screenshots of my combat log UI, but I don’t recall seeing a fall-off in the size of the heal within one 40-sec duration. I imagine they may have limited it back when Conductivity allowed you to keep a single Healing Rain going indefinitely, but the cap on duration kind of removes the need to do this. Will get back to you shortly 🙂

  9. hoofdee says:

    good, glad to hear that was fixed at least.

    back to the 4pc, i still say there is a difference between SWG and Ascendance/AG. first, in order to get full use out of the 4 pc, you have to guarantee that SWG will not be needed during the fight for actual movement. unless of course, you can guarantee that i will need to move AND have burst healing exactly together exactly every 2 minutes.

    sorry, but i just hate, hate, hate when SWG gets tied to a throughput cooldown.

    btw, great article 🙂

  10. Pingback: Patch 5.4: Resto Shaman Changes | healiocentric

  11. Cool post thanks! We think your articles are great and hope more soon. We love anything to do with word games/word play.

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