Warlords Update: Resto Shaman Talents & Minutiae

There’ve been a few changes to Resto Shaman in the Beta that I thought I ought to cover, since a couple of my WoD Mini-Analysis posts focused on these spells and Talents in their first incarnations. This should be a “short post”.

Just to keep myself feeling all proper and academic-like, I should acknowledge that I’ve used Hamlet’s HealerCalcs spreadsheet – which I’ve been helping him maintain, in lieu of building my own spreadsheets – to hammer out some of the mathematical details herein; he’s been posting about it over at his blog if you want more details (see here and here).

Riptide Rebalanced

Riptide’s sources of healing have been shuffled around. The initial heal has been increased by about 70%, while the HoT effect has been reduced by about 20%. This change was probably aimed at reducing the benefit of the Riptide glyph (and perhaps even at shifting the balance of power of Riptide itself, since HoT effects are strong in Warlords).

Prior to this change, glyphing Riptide resulted in a heal 80% the size of an unglyphed Riptide; now, glyphing Riptide results in a heal 67% the size of an unglyphed Riptide.

But of course, the full value of glyphing Riptide is not at all accounted for by the healing of a single cast. So to compare the benefit of glyphed versus unglyphed Riptide, before and after the change, I turned to HealerCalcs and built a quick-and-dirty Shaman AoE rotation. The priority I followed was:

  1. Cast cooldown heals like Healing Rain and Healing Stream Totem on CD
  2. Use Unleash Life/Healing Surge (with Tidal Waves) once every UL CD, because emergency single-target healing during AoE damage will be common (based on my experiences in raid tests so far)
  3. If Riptide has a CD, use Riptide on CD
  4. If Riptide has no CD, use Riptide as a cheap filler spell for some proportion of the time left over after your CD spells
  5. Fill all remaining time with Chain Heal

This AoE rotation uses the High Tide Talent because that is where glyphed Riptide makes the largest contribution to our AoE healing and frankly because I suspect that is going to be a very common Level 100 Talent choice. So the number of Riptides we’re able to keep active on the raid determines the coefficient on each Chain Heal (refer back to my High Tide analysis post); when Riptide is not glyphed, this is functionally 3. When Riptide is glyphed, this is determined by the amount of time we spend casting our cheap Riptide filler – the more time we spend on RT, the more RTs are out, and the more jumps our CHes get, but the fewer CHes we get to cast.

See the table below for my results, showing the maximum throughput and mana cost per second of the glyphed RT rotations compared to the throughput of the unglyphed RT rotation:

Shaman AoE Healing Strategies: Glyphed vs Unglyphed Riptide
Riptide Behaviour HPS Net MP5
Unglyphed RT 41644 -4024
New Glyphed RT 37602 -3992
Old Glyphed RT 38867 N/A

So you can see, using Glyph of Riptide now does 90% of the healing that your unglyphed rotation does, for 99% of the mana cost. This is not exactly a compelling trade-off; however, I can see using the Glyph of Riptide strategy on a fight where you are so massively spread out or must move so frequently that you cannot use effective High Tide casts very often. I’ll also note that it wasn’t a great idea to be using Glyph of Riptide even before this change – 93% of the healing (the mana cost isn’t compared here because the price of our spells has been changed since then).

(Note that HealerCalcs supposes a baseline level of gear with 4000 Spell Power, 1000 Spirit, and 600 of every other secondary attribute like Critical Strike or Versatility. I’ve just left this in place because I don’t want to get into futzing with stat weights right now – we’re comparing two rotations with the same priorities, and while yes, Haste would make Riptide do more healing and thus could bump up the glyphed Riptide rotation a bit, keep in mind that Haste does still increase the number of Chain Heals we can cast in both rotations, and Chain Heal is a slightly better cast – with High Tide – than Riptide anyway.)

(Note also that yes, this rotation drains our mana heavily, so we won’t be able to do it for terribly long. It doesn’t really get better at 0 Chain Heals – we save 10% mana by spamming glyphed Riptide, woohoo?)

And if you’re curious, I recorded the HPS of every possible proportion of time spent casting glyphed Riptide vs Chain Heal, and graphed the data. A roughly 50-50 split produces the best results.

Throughput of AoE rotations with Glyphed (cyan) and unglyphed (dark blue) Riptide. Assumes High Tide talent.

Throughput of AoE rotations with new glyphed (cyan), old glyphed (yellow) and unglyphed (dark blue) Riptide. Assumes High Tide talent.

So in all, this change has reduced the value of the Glyph of Riptide, not to a point where it will never be used, but perhaps to a point where it is less of an automatic choice. Yay!

Echo of the Elements

Healing Rain has been removed from the EotE proc, and has been replaced by Unleash Life.

I had a few problems with the initial implementation of this Talent:

  1. No meaningful choices were presented, since a second HR was always going to be more valuable than an additional Riptide;
  2. To properly use the proc on HR, you had to avoid casting RT until your HR came off CD, which disrupted your RT casting pattern, depriving you of Chain Heal/High Tide targets, so this never felt nice;
  3. The Glyph of Riptide (and the new Glyph of Purify Spirit) does not mesh with Echo of the Elements;
  4. Knock it off with the Healing Rain incentives already!!

Not to mention, the Talent seemed bugged on the Beta servers; you couldn’t ever actually get a second Healing Rain – the first one always disappeared – which significantly limited the usefulness of the proc, and if you were using the Glyph of Riptide, casting Riptide would eat the Echo proc with absolutely no benefit to you (since glyphed Riptide already had no cooldown).

The new Talent is a little cleaner, but not much. It addresses 1) and 4) of my list above, but not so much 2) or 3).

In this section I’ll be comparing spells based on their Spell Power coefficients and nothing else – it just makes things cleaner.

  • Riptide generates 397.5% of your Spell Power in healing.
  • Unleash Life used on a Tidal Waves-empowered Healing Surge generates 312% of your Spell Power in healing.

These are pretty close, so if you’re not using the Unleashed Fury Talent, you can pretty much just use your Echo of the Elements proc on either Riptide or Unleash Life, whichever spell is off CD next or that you were going to use anyway.


  • With Unleashed Fury, Unleash Life used on a Tidal Waves-empowered Healing Surge generates 704% of your Spell Power in healing.

So if you’ve taken Unleashed Fury, there is a clear winner for your Echo proc. And now we’re back in the same boat as we were in for the original incarnation of Echo of the Elements – you’re being torn between “wasting” a proc on Riptide so that you can keep your RT-CH engine churning, and halting your RT-CH engine so you can use the proc on the best-throughput spell. Only now, the boat has a hole in it; Unleash Life has a 15-second cooldown, which means that you’ll only be lucky enough to get an Echo proc at a time where you could reasonably use UL instead of RT about 33% of the time.

Ultimately, I think you’ll want to just always use your Echo proc on whatever eligible spell comes off CD next, or even possibly always on Riptide just to keep flexibility and additional benefit out of your RT-CH/High Tide healing. But it does concern me a little bit that the Talent is still terrible with the Glyph of Riptide – apparently, the behaviour I described above is intended, and you’re just not meant to use Echo and Glyph of Riptide together:

And it now concerns me that this is the only Talent on the tier that doesn’t affect our best spell, Healing Rain (Elemental Mastery and Ancestral Swiftness both provide additional ticks of Healing Rain, of course). I suppose for fights where you can’t make a lot of use out of Healing Rain, this could catch up, especially if you are using Unleashed Fury and get to use some of the procs on UL-HS/TW, but I’m not terribly convinced.

Double HR Scrapped

Celestalon confirmed here:

This is another driver behind the change in Echo of the Elements – double Healing Rain is just too situationally strong (I gasped about the possibility of double-HR-Ascendance earlier). This also means we will be unable to stack two Healing Rains with Conductivity.

Conductivity is still a good mana-conservation Talent, so don’t shun it so soon, especially with the reduction in power of Healing Stream Totem (which is a de facto reduction in power for Rushing Streams) and the fact that Rushing Streams’ second HST tick will no longer put up Glyph of Healing Stream Totem on its target. That RS/GoHST interaction was worth a LOT of damage reduction in Mists, and it made an already mathematically strong Talent even ridiculously stronger. Glad to see that go.

Condensation Cloudburst Totem

Just a little while ago I remarked here that “I would question whether there is ever a situation for which Condensation Totem makes sense“, and it seems like the developers agreed, because we now have a shiny new totem that doesn’t suck as much.

Cloudburst Totem currently heals non-injured targets.

Cloudburst Totem currently heals non-injured targets.

Cloudburst Totem will collect all of the Shaman’s healing, excluding other totem heals, and at the end of its 15-second lifespan or whenever you accidentally replace it, it will burst and deal 20% of that total healing to nearby allies (I’m estimating 30-40 yard range here from Shattrath testing). Note that the tooltip claims this will heal only injured allies, but that is not accurate –it heals all targets in range regardless of their health level.

Using the unglyphed Riptide AoE rotation above, I did a quick-and-dirty idea of how much healing we could expect to see from Cloudburst Totem should we use it with a max-throughput rotation, like a mini-cooldown. We have to give up High Tide for this, of course, so I modified my rotation above to remove the additional High Tide healing.

The answer is that during those 15 seconds of healing, we would generate a little over 450k eligible healing, and thus when Cloudburst expires, it would deal around 90k healing to the raid. Thus, the healing-per-cooldown – dividing that amount by 30 seconds, which is how frequently we can use Cloudburst – puts the totem at slightly better throughput than Rushing Streams’ Healing Stream Totem, with only a slight drop in mana efficiency. It is contingent, however, on you being able – and needing -to maintain that maximum-throughput AoE rotation for 15 seconds every 30 seconds. That’s probably very unrealistic.

Just FTR, this is still way better than Storm Elemental for throughput (although Storm Elemental is cheaper, of course, and deals some damage, the value of which is pretty small but non-zero). For High Tide to generate 90k healing in 30 seconds, you have to cast an average of 3.2 Chain Heals in that time. That’s 24% of your casting time spent on using Chain Heal, which is not unreasonable, but it may be close to the upper end of what’s reasonable. In my unglyphed Riptide rotation above, the player spends 35% of their time on Chain Heal, so 24% should be achievable unless there is a moderate movement requirement or if you need to play a more mana-efficient rotation.

I’ll think more about comparing these Talents later, once I am more facile with HealerCalcs in general 🙂

… I think that’s it. See? A short post. 😀


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15 Responses to Warlords Update: Resto Shaman Talents & Minutiae

  1. Mark says:

    So does that mean the Cloudburst Totem collects all healing ( including effective healing ) done by the shaman now and redistribute at the end ? Or is it still just collecting overhealing ?

    • Dedralie says:

      Yes that’s right, all non-totem healing (effective AND overheal). It is a completely new talent 🙂

      • Mark says:

        That does make the talent seem slightly more useful. I’m glad they changed it as i really couldn’t see the totem in it’s original format being any good at all until everyone possibly gets to a point well down the track where they are again easily doing a tonne of overhealing.

        Does Primal Elementalist buff the Storm Elemental in terms of output at all do you know? I have heard things both ways. I’m guessing the Storm Elemental doesn’t have any kinda empower or reinforce ability ?

      • Dedralie says:

        I haven’t tested it recently, but to my knowledge Primal Elementalist is intended to provide ONLY a utility bonus to Storm Elemental. The Primal Storm Elemental gains a CC ability (knocks an enemy into the air) and a 10-yard-radius aura (centered on the Elemental) that boosts allies’ movement speed by 10%.

        The Primal Storm Ele does NOT gain a Reinforce/Empower analogue.

      • Dalmasca says:

        It’s not clear from the tooltip, but does the totem collect from other healers’ spells too? It seems like it should, based on the wording.

      • Dedralie says:

        Nope, it doesn’t – it doesn’t even collect our totem healing (which is good, because if it did, it’d mandate Totemic Persistence), so the wording isn’t super significant.

  2. Gingervitis says:

    The more I read about WoD shaman healing, the more I feel it is time to start playing my priest again. There just feels like there is so little variety in the heals now. RT/CH spam with the occasional HR/HST. Not really engaging play, not to mention it seems pretty under powered.

    • Dedralie says:

      Hi Ginger. I don’t want to argue you into or out of playing whatever you like in Warlords, because it’s most important that you enjoy whatever you end up with. Just want to comment a little on this is all. 🙂

      The devs haven’t done any work whatsoever on balancing healers against one another yet (and I’d argue there’s a fair few cases to be made that they haven’t gotten around to balancing the classes internally either – some have really bizarrely awesome spells and some spells that seem to be traps). The balance and tuning passes simply haven’t happened yet. So it’s a bit early to worry about being over- or under-powered in terms of throughput.

      However, it certainly seems like we can start making some judgments based on mechanics. All of the raid fights I’ve tested (which has been about half of them) have been very high movement, so right now Druid and Holy Priest seem very strong since they can be very mobile without having to sacrifice much in the way of throughput. This is a problem of course because you can’t just buff stationary healers so that their spells will be strong enough to make a difference if they can only cast half the time due to movement, because then when raiders figure out how to stand still during a fight, these healers will be too strong.

      I trust that the devs are smarter than me and can figure out a way to deal with this, but I’m stumped personally 🙂

  3. strafe says:

    Talking about the riptide glyph and RT + CH rotation along with high tide and celestions recentish tweet “It’ll add targets to the CH that are within 30yd of the primary target and have riptide”. What do you think it will do for our decision to whom to place RT on, if RT is unglyphed?

    • Dedralie says:

      I’ll be honest, I haven’t exactly gotten a hang of how to use High Tide without glyphed Riptide yet. I’ve always felt that Riptide and High Tide work at opposite ends to one another – a player with a HoT on them is more stable than a player without, and on the whole probably doesn’t need as much healing because of that stability. And when you factor in that WoD Riptide puts more strength into its upfront heal, after you Riptide a player they’re probably in less need of Chain Heals than others. Granted the HoT lasts for 18 seconds, so in some encounters where you can predict who is going to take the most damage you can leverage High Tide quite well, but it still just seems to be counterintuitive to me.

      It’s still more valuable to cast a High Tide Chain Heal off a Riptided target than to cast on a non-Riptided target. +25% to the whole cast is worth more than +1 target (assuming that you get at least 4 bounces from CH by targeting off a Riptided player). So it’s tough; you want a centralised person with Riptide as your CH target, plus 2 other Riptided targets who need healing and who ideally aren’t within range of your CH’s usual bouncing radius so that they don’t get RNG-CHed and remove themselves from the Tide pool. I’d probably have a tank, a melee, and a ranged Riptide, but I’ve mostly been using the Glyph of Riptide anyway since mobility is a huge factor in t17 raids and that gives me things I can do while I’m moving.

      • strafe says:

        I think I’m going to have riptide on both tanks if both are tanking that way ch will always jump to a tank as an emergency and I think ill probably prioritise my third riptide on a melee. I’m not to sure yet. I’m not completely keen on subjecting ch to the melee group only though and taking away my option to CH through a riptide on rdps. This is ofc without the riptide glyph. I’m still not sure on it myself. Maybe we shouldn’t look at the power of glyphed or Unglyphed riptide in terms of hps but like u say more the utility it provides and options it opens up for CH and high tide?
        But overall this is my confusion with how to work riptide and high tide. I really feel like ch what was once a great raid heal seems more grouped/party heal then ever before?

  4. Tahliya says:

    I have heard a fair bit around the web recently that a number of the healing classes are falling more into a ‘specialist’ style of play and away from the androgenous – every healer can do every job’ situation we have seen developing over the last 2 expansions – ie) the holy paladin is shaping to look like a strong tank healer again, and the druid a strong raid healer (not to say that a paladin couldnt heal a raid, and a druid couldnt heal a tank – but certain classes having greater strengths in one area over another)..

    Is this something you would agree with based on your testing – and if so do you think there is a niche the Resto Shammy will ‘fit’ into or will it remain a utility ‘we-can-do-everything’ healer?

  5. Mark says:

    I finally got into the beta and have been doing dungeons and had the chance to do a raid wing, albeit lfr.

    I must say though in general the cloudburst totem surprised me. It seems a more versatile talent overall. It made healing dungeons a lot easier with conductivity, and out of the 3 lfr bosses I managed to do I used high tide for 2, with riptide glyphed and cloudburst for the last one.

    Assuming I used cloudburst by leaving it up for it’s duration and dropping it near CD reset it did quite a lot of noticeable healing and conserved some mana. It had a 40 yard range.

    Now this could be due to me still figuring out how to use high tide properly too! Cloudburst does seem like a very valid choice if you want to manage the CD though. 🙂

    • Dedralie says:

      Hey, welcome to the Beta 🙂

      I haven’t given Condensation Totem a very good workout on Beta, admittedly. I use Storm Elemental for dungeons (primarily because he looks cool and, well, his healing has been fairly buffed so he’s actually kind of okay now, and I prefer more CDs for this kind of content). I should really muck around with it more, maybe give it a go in some random Heroic queues or something.

      It’s always interesting to hear from other people on how they approach content. I take Ancestral Guidance for dungeons (again, more CDs) and I use Healing Rain extremely rarely, so I’d prefer even Rushing Streams over Conductivity (I say “even” because I hate Rushing Streams with an irrational passion). Obviously any talent choice is valid – which is great! – so I’m not criticising at all, it’s just neat to compare styles 🙂

      • Mark says:

        of course no criticism 🙂 i hope it didn’t sound like i was saying you were!! i was just expecting cloudburst to be a real dud too lol.

        The storm totem looks awesome, especially if you use Primal Elementalist! Wish it gave another way to empower the caster in some manner though like the other 2 do …

        perhaps it cause people in dungeons are still trying to roll them MOP style, but i find dumping a HR down and being able to extend it by healing wave and having the entire group sit in the healing rain with HST & the Cloudburst totem down a pretty easy stroll. Of course people need to move for mechanics and whatnot though!

        I don’t think i would take conductivity in a raid though, i’m a still a Rushing Streams person. I tried out Elemental Blast and to be honest found it hard to manage it into my rotation

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