Pretty late in the evening for you Western Hemisphere types, Celestalon dropped a major bomb on Twitter about Restoration Shaman:
<< record scratch >> What?!
Yep, that’s right. In Warlords of Draenor, the single Healing Rain restriction will be lifted. You can see us discussing the implications of this change in that conversation if you click through to Twitter. And you can see me boggle in text format, too. :)
This won’t affect you unless you take one or both of the following Talents: Echo of the Elements, or Conductivity.
Without either of these Talents, Healing Rain will remain restricted by its cooldown, which is identical to its duration. You won’t be able to maintain two Healing Rains under normal circumstances; you won’t even be able to start casting your new Healing Rain while your old Healing Rain is still around, since Healing Rain’s duration will no longer be artificially inflated by Haste breakpoints in Warlords. It’ll remain fixed at 10 seconds.
Echo of the Elements
Right now, Echo of the Elements does not interact with Healing Rain at all, so you may be wondering what I’m talking about. The Talent is slated to be revamped in WoD, primarily due to its unpleasant function in Elemental PvP, where the Talent occasionally allows an Elemental Shaman to burst down a player’s entire health bar with a single Elemental Blast cast (or a Lava Surge proc, which is instant), determined entirely by RNG. This feels pretty awful to the player being killed, since it really isn’t something they can reasonably defend against, and is pretty skillless for the Shaman as well – just the kind of gameplay that the developers are hoping to curb.
The new version of Echo of the Elements will instead proc from any spell cast, and the new EotE proc will allow us to cast one of a small subset of our spells without invoking its cooldown. You can see the screenie I pulled off of Wowhead, right, for the nitty-gritty for all specs.
Notice for Restoration Shaman, the three cooldown-bearing spells chosen to benefit from the EotE proc are Riptide, Purify Spirit, and …
So what this means is, we are just merrily casting spells, when we see that Echo of the Elements has procced. We know that our next Healing Rain will not incur its cooldown. It’s still on cooldown now, so we wait for that cooldown to finish, and then we cast Healing Rain, and at the end of that cast, we could cast Healing Rain again.
If this was implemented without changing the one-HR-only rule, it’d be a ridiculously niche Talent. We’d cast the second HR, and the first one would fade. The only situation in which that would be useful is when we want to cast HR now, but know we are going to have to move again before HR comes back off CD, and will want to cast HR in the new location. And having a proc-based ability to move our HR like that would be pretty frustrating, since we’d have to rely on RNGesus to let EotE proc right when we’d need this functionality.
So it makes sense that, in order to implement this Talent change, developers would have to lift the one-HR-only rule.
But does this Talent make sense?
I really don’t think that it is mind-blowing. We don’t know yet what the proc chance is on the Echo effect, so it’s difficult to prove anything with numbers. Conceptually, though, having the chance to drop two Healing Rains at once is amazing, but being restricted to a proc chance to allow that to occur is … well, unsatisfactory. Healers generally don’t want random effects, we want to be able to plan – and I suspect this will be even more true in Warlords than it has been all throughout MoP.
If the proc rate is low, then we can never plan on it, and each procced extra Healing Rain will be like a gift, but one that may not be very useful at the time. If the proc rate is high, and we’re casting double Healing Rain all the time, I suspect the Talent will be too strong. (If HR continues to make up around 30% of our healing done, it would only take a 20% proc chance to make Echo of the Elements improve our overall healing by 6%, which is far better than what the old Echo of the Elements used to provide.)
It’ll bum us out when Echo doesn’t proc during the highest damage portions of the encounter, and instead procs on the pull or during lulls in incoming damage. And the other two things it affects…
Riptide is not a very interesting spell to tie this effect to. First of all, the Glyph of Riptide exists, and many Shamans may be running it in WoD (I’ll cover this more when I post about High Tide, a new Level 100 Talent, in a later post). With that Glyph, none of our Riptide casts incur their cooldown, so this Talent doesn’t affect our Riptide abilities at all.
Unglyphed, Riptide has only a 5-second cooldown in Warlords, thanks to the Draenor leveling perk, Improved Riptide. Allowing us to cast two before incurring the spell’s cooldown just really isn’t that impressive considering that we’d usually only wait 5 seconds between casts. However, it would allow us to occasionally have more than the standard 3 Riptides up at any one time, so it would definitely be an improvement. Just not a very exciting one.
Purify Spirit, on the other hand, will be very situationally useful. In PvP I can see that being the go-to use of this proc ability – and if the proc chance is high enough, it could push Echo ahead of the other Talents for Resto PvP. But in PvE, fights must be designed around the concept that all healers have an 8-second CD on their Dispel spell, and hand out debuffs accordingly. It’ll be very rare that a situation presents itself where a double Purify is useful, and when that situation does occur, we still have to get lucky with an EotE proc in order to take advantage of it.
Finally, I don’t like the interaction this would provide with Ascendance. It would be extremely powerful to be able to activate this cooldown with two Healing Rains in play. So much so that, if we took EotE for whatever reason, we might end up holding our Ascendance CD until we got an EotE proc, and then using it. And I really don’t like mechanics that encourage us to hold a throughput CD until we get a proc that will make us feel awesome, instead of using it when the raid needs it most.
Overall, I think EotE will not be a very strong throughput boost, and will be more of a novelty than a real contender. I suspect Resto Shaman will continue to stick with Ancestral Swiftness at early gear levels, and with Elemental Mastery for fights with heavy burst healing demands or at higher gear levels. But Echo could still surprise me…
The other Talent that interacts with multiple Healing Rain technology is Conductivity. I asked about it in that Twitter conversation, and here was Celestalon’s reply:
What this means is, if you have Conductivity selected as your Level 75 Talent, you will be potentially able to maintain two Healing Rains for almost an entire encounter.
How, you ask?
Cast the first Healing Rain. It has a duration of 10 seconds. During those 10 seconds, you can cast 6 Healing Surges, or five Chain Heals. If you cast 6 Healing Surges, you have extended the duration of your Conductivity by 24 seconds, so that after 10 seconds have passed, there are still ~14 seconds of Healing Rain left.
Healing Rain is off cooldown, so you now cast a second one. The first one will no longer be extended by your other spell casts, and has 12 seconds remaining of its duration (since it took you 2 seconds to cast the new Healing Rain).
You cast 6 Healing Surges again and extend the new Healing Rain by 24 seconds, so that it has 14 seconds remaining on its duration when Healing Rain comes off cooldown. Your first Healing Rain has 2 seconds left on its duration. You begin to cast a third Healing Rain, and by the time you’ve finished, the first Healing Rain has faded, the second Healing Rain has 12 seconds of duration remaining, and you can begin to charge up your third Healing Rain.
This cycle could continue for the entirety of an encounter.
Now, it wouldn’t, for a number of reasons – you’ll have to do other things, like drop Healing Stream Totem or cast Riptide or refresh Earth Shield or use your throughput CDs, for one. For two, casting that many Healing Surges would be very expensive and I suspect we won’t have the mana efficiency to be able to keep this rotation going very long, at least not at the start of the expansion. But for short, high-damage portions of an encounter, this rotation could be very worthwhile.
And this allows us to plan out our Ascendance usage with two Healing Rains. It’d become the throughput cooldown with the longest and most ridiculous ramp-up, but for those 15 seconds of Ascendance, we’d be healing Gods!
Just last week I was involved in a long and protracted (and disorganised, so I can’t really link you to a whole conversation thread) debate about Conductivity’s usefulness (or lack thereof) on Twitter. You can see some of it here. For now, it looks like the developers have found a way to revitalise our interest in Conductivity for Warlords!
When I know more about these abilities, I’ll write a more cogent and analytical post. But for now, good morning, and welcome to a new age of Healing Rain.
One that I am grumpy about, but whatever. :P