Legion Beta: Leveling as a Healer – The Surprising Result I Can’t Explain and You Won’t Believe!

There has been a lot of talk amongst the Alpha/Beta testing community about the concept of leveling as a healer.

The main driver behind players feeling like they must level as a healer if they want to play a healer at end-game is the Artifact Weapon system that Legion will be introducing. When the expansion drops, players will be asked to select one weapon for one spec that they wish to pursue, and that will be the weapon they will use in that spec for the rest of the expansion.

Players are worried about what this Artifact Weapon means for tanks and healers, who traditionally have chosen to level in DPS specs while accumulating gear for their intended role. Will they feel penalized for choosing their end-game-spec’s Artifact Weapon straight away? The devs have said that they’re giving healers stronger damage-dealing capabilities to make leveling as a healer viable, but in a lot of our community the mindset for every activity in the game is “optimal or GTFO”, and almost nobody believes that leveling as a healer will be optimal.

In short, there’s a lot of concern, and a lot of confusion, and I’d like to help clarify what I can.

/cast Unleash Facts

When we were first granted access to the Legion Alpha, the Artifact Weapon system had not been fully settled upon yet by the dev team. We’ve seen changes to how much Artifact Power it costs to buy traits, to where the traits are positioned within the trees, to what the traits provide, to how much Artifact Power you can gain from doing in-game activities, to how the Artifact Power is provided and applied to your weapon, to even the name of the Resto Artifact Weapon.

The Resto Shaman Artifact has undergone a few changes since its inception...

The Resto Shaman Artifact has undergone a few changes since its inception…

Unfortunately, one thing that tends to happen in our overly connected community is that information gets disseminated quickly, and it’s incredibly hard to correct the community perception once new or revised data comes out. We’ve seen this for several things already in the Alpha/Beta process, and the Artifact Weapon system is no different. There’s been a lot of iteration, but I still see information that’s been outdated since 2015 floating around out there offered up as Truthfact.

From my questing in the current Beta iteration, here is how things work:

  • Each spec has one lore-infused weapon they obtain at the start of Legion and wield for the entire expansion
  • You may choose Artifact Weapons for your other specs upon reaching Level 102
  • Artifact Weapons have two parallel progression paths: Artifact Traits, which are purchased through Artifact Power; and Item Level, which is increased by socketing Relics into Relic Slots on the weapon
Artifact Power is primarily obtained from consumable items

Artifact Power is primarily obtained from consumable items

Because you can gain another spec’s Artifact Weapon relatively early in the leveling process, there is almost no penalty to starting out with whatever spec you feel most comfortable leveling in. Most of the Artifact Power you will gain as you level can be banked and applied to your preferred weapon at your discretion.

  • As players quest, explore, fight rares, open treasures, and do dungeons, they will gain consumable items
  • The items will empower your currently equipped Artifact Weapon with Artifact Power when they are used
  • Examples: Questor’s Glory, History of the AeonsGlittering MementoCrude Statuette
  • Applying Artifact Power to your weapon allows you to purchase Artifact Traits
  • The traits’ cost increase each time you purchase, so the entire weapon is going to take thousands, if not millions, of Artifact Power to fully empower it

As the bolded statement implies, there are some sources of Artifact Power that are immediately applied to whatever Artifact Weapon you are currently wielding. So far I have only found two cases of this happening: once in a rare event inside my Class Order Hall, and one quest while passing through Aszuna. In the case of the rare event, this was not well communicated, so I was lucky that I had the right weapon equipped. Quests give you plenty of warning, though:

This quest rewards Artifact Power directly to your currently equipped weapon. Because I was wielding the Elemental weapon, I elected not to take/complete the quest.

This quest rewards Artifact Power directly to your currently equipped weapon. Note that the Artifact Weapon I’m currently wearing has shown up in the icon for the quest reward.

Because I was currently wielding the Elemental spec Artifact Weapon when this quest was offered to me, I simply declined it. After reaching level 102 and obtaining my Restoration spec Artifact Weapon, I’ll come back and complete it in Resto spec. It’s a very slight inconvenience.

Relics are more intimately linked to your weapon than Artifact Power is, but there is still a lot of room to quest in the “wrong” spec and still obtain the Relics you want for your “right” weapon by the time you hit max level.

  • Each Artifact Weapon has 3 Relic slots into which Relics can be socketed, but the 3rd slot is unlocked after players reach level 110
  • Relics have three attributes: their Element type (e.g. Life, Shadow, Fire, Blood, etc.), their item level bonus, and an Artifact Trait rank
  • You can only slot a Relic into a Relic slot of its appropriate Element
  • Placing a Relic into a Relic slot upgrades the item level of your weapon by the indicated amount (e.g. if your Artifact Weapon is empty of Relics, a 3-item-level Relic will raise its item level from 750 to 753)
  • Placing a Relic into a Relic slot grants you additional ranks in the associated Artifact Trait
  • Relics are attuned to whatever Artifact Weapon(s) you owned when you obtained the Relic
  • You cannot slot a Relic into an Artifact Weapon that it is not attuned for
  • Applying a new Relic to a currently occupied Relic slot will overwrite the previous Relic, similar to gems in gem sockets
  • The higher level you are when you obtain a Relic, the more item levels it will grant your weapon
If you have two Artifact Weapons, your Relic can go in either one.

If you have two Artifact Weapons, your Relic can go in either one. You just can’t see what trait it will buff for the weapon you’re not currently wielding.

The fact that Relics are not cumulative means that, no matter what you want to be doing when you actually hit max level in Legion, the only Relics that matter are the most recent Relics you slot in to your weapon. Relics you obtain while leveling up will be overwritten and discarded just as easily as any other questing gear. They’re irrelevant.

While you’re leveling, the only relevant stat on a Relic is the item level boost it will give you. There’s no leveling content that will be made significantly easier by having an extra rank in one minor trait compared to another. It is literally meaningless min/max – you’re just going to overwrite that Relic with whatever Relic you next find that has a higher item level boost!

Finally, the gold cost for changing specs has been removed, so there is now no material restriction on you swapping back and forth between a DPS and a healing spec at will.

What I’m trying to get at here is, there is no *game system* reason why you *must* level as a healer if you don’t want to. 

If you want to level entirely as a healer – dump all the AP items you get immediately into your weapon, slot in every Relic you obtain that’s an iLvl upgrade – that’s fine.

If you want to level entirely as a DPS – bank all your AP items until you obtain your healing Artifact, occasionally swap specs to check out a Relic quest reward and throw your AP into the healing weapon – that’s fine too. Just be careful not to complete any quests that dump AP directly onto your equipped weapon until you hit 102 and obtained your healing weapon. You may also wish to avoid dungeoning until you obtain your healing weapon, but that’s not necessary – a good HFC weapon will get you through any leveling dungeon just fine, and dungeon Relics you obtain from leveling dungeons would just get replaced by questing or dungeon Relics later anyway, so all you’re missing out on is the opportunity to overwrite those Relics later.

At the end of the leveling process, two players who follow the two paths I laid out above will have indistinguishable healer weapons from one another.

With that in mind, the only thing that really matters when you’re choosing whether to level as a healer or as a DPS when Legion hits is: Which is more efficient? Which feels better to play through leveling content? Which spec will get you where you want to go?

To try to answer that question, I have done a little bit of Beta experimentation.

Preliminary Trial: Larva Burst

The very first thing I did was test the difference in damage between a Resto Shaman and an Elemental Shaman. I wanted to look at three things:

  • Damage dealt by an Artifact-wielding Resto Shaman, representing a player leveling in their healing spec; this includes having purchased several Artifact Traits.
  • Damage dealt by an Elemental Shaman without an Artifact weapon, representing a player who chose the Restoration Artifact first but wants to level as Elemental anyway.
  • Damage dealt by an Elemental Shaman with an entry-level Elemental Artifact weapon, representing a healer who has chosen to begin their leveling journey in their DPS off-spec.

Because I strongly suspected that an Elemental Shaman and a Resto Shaman would perform similarly on extremely short fights (the kind that begin with Flame Shock – Lava Burst – Lava Burst and then the mob dies), I went in search of some relatively large mobs. I remembered in my early Alpha days that there was this quest in Highmountain with some Overgrown Larvae that took forever to kill as a Holy Priest, so I thought I’d head out there and kill one Larva with each of the three above-listed setups.

These results will not surprise anyone:

Damage dealt to 3 identical Overgrown Larva mobs in 3 different spec/weapon setups

Damage dealt to 3 identical Overgrown Larva mobs in 3 different spec/weapon setups

An Elemental Shaman with an Artifact is the clear winner, with higher DPS and a much faster kill time than the other two options. If you care about the numbers:

  • Overgrown Larva has 1.06M HP
  • Elemental Shaman with Artifact: 30.8 seconds to kill, 34415 DPS
  • Elemental Shaman, no Artifact: 44.6 seconds to kill, 23767 DPS
  • Restoration Shaman with Artifact: 44.7 seconds to kill, 23714 DPS

The big takeaway from this experiment is: There’s really no point to level in your DPS spec unless you have a strong weapon. It’s possible that a Mythic Hellfire Citadel weapon would have made the Elemental-no-Artifact more closely resemble the Elemental-with-Artifact outcomes. But if you have a crappy off-spec weapon, just take the Resto Artifact and quest in Resto, or take the Ele Artifact and quest in Ele. Don’t try to have it both ways. 🙂

It’s also important to note that survivability was vastly different for the three trials:

  • The Elemental Shaman with Artifact finished combat at 59% health.
  • The Elemental Shaman with no Artifact finished combat at 31%, had to use Astral Shift and Gift of the Naaru, nearly died.
  • The Restoration Shaman with Artifact finished combat at 76% hp, having used Healing Stream Totem and Riptide to replace Lightning Bolt casts.

Given that the quest I was doing required me to kill three of these Overgrown Larva, it becomes clear that only the Restoration Shaman could achieve this without stopping. The Elemental Shaman would need to pause between at least two of the fights in order to heal. Since Elemental does not have any instant healing, this would mean the DPS Shaman has to either eat food or use a weak, strictly-mana-limited Healing Surge to restore health between combats. This is a factor that the extremely limited analysis above simply cannot correct for.

Additionally, this brief test didn’t include any evaluation of AoE ability at all. While Elemental and Restoration have fairly similar single-target tools and damage abilities, the Elemental Shaman really pulls ahead with talent support for AoE damage, and they also have Earthquake Totem to provide both AoE damage and AoE CC. The question becomes, does the higher AoE capacity of the Elemental Shaman outweigh the greater survivability of the Restoration Shaman, and how can I test this?

Extended Trial: Quest-Chain Lightning

The simple fact is, testing time-to-kill on a single mob doesn’t really simulate the leveling process very well. There’s so much more to consider – a varied set of abilities you’ll be up against, the many different ways that packs of quest mobs can be structured, travel time, survivability, etc. Small differences in the speed or efficiency with which one spec or the other accomplishes these tasks can add up to a lot over the course of a long leveling process, so something short and simple just doesn’t cut it.

The only way to really see how Elemental versus Restoration leveling will pan out is to actually level. You all know how much I hate doing it, but just for you, I ran an extended leveling trial with two fresh new 100 Shamans – a Horde Troll Elemental Shaman (talents), and an Alliance Draenei Restoration Shaman (talents).

Before I began my trial, I ran each Shaman  through the Broken Shore opening and the Artifact Weapon scenario, through setting up the class hall and selecting my first assault point on the Scouting Map. This gave each character an Artifact Weapon with the initial active ability and a single trait purchased (Elemental Artifact | Restoration Artifact), as well as the starting items of Broken Shore gear (Signet of Stormwind/Mark of Orgrimmar; Accolade of House Wrynn/Accolade of the Banshee Queen)

I chose to do my leveling trial in Aszuna because I had already leveled a character through that content earlier. This means that I already knew the zone layout, which quests I wanted to target, what rares I’d find along the way, what bonus objectives I’d encounter, and so forth. There’s always an efficiency gain from doing a task repeatedly, but the gain from 1st to 2nd repetition is typically much greater than the gain from 2nd to 3rd, so I hope this eliminates some of that bias.

Because my Test Elemental Shaman had a lot of rested XP, and my Test Restoration Shaman had very little, I couldn’t just set a level-based goal like “how long until they both reach level 102”. Instead, I leveled my Elemental Shaman until she hit 102, and then I did those exact same quests, rares, and bonus objectives on my Restoration Shaman. I even tried to take the same quest rewards from every quest just to avoid any additional bias.

Duke Hydraxis' Combat Ally ability complements Elemental leveling

Duke Hydraxis’ Combat Ally ability complements Elemental leveling

Upon reaching level 101 with each character I immediately went back to The Maelstrom to do the Class Hall questline and open up Combat Ally options. On my Elemental Shaman, I assigned Duke Hydraxis as my Combat Ally; on my Restoration Shaman, I assigned Stormcaller Mylra. I took different Combat Allies because the two specs have different leveling weaknesses, and I wanted to use the Combat Ally system to combat (eh? eh?) those weaknesses.

I logged everything with Warcraft Logs (Elemental Shaman | Restoration Shaman). Unfortunately my first approximately 8 minutes or so of the Restoration Shaman trial were lost because I DCed on a flight path and forgot to re-enable logging until I was already partly into the trial. But everything else is there; you can check and see. I’ve also listed all of the quests, bonus objectives, and rares that I completed at the very end of this post, so you could even check my work with your preferred healer/DPS combination if you’d like!

Stormcaller Mylra's Flame Shock, Lava Burst, and Stormbeak Assault abilities add extra oomph for Resto leveling

Stormcaller Mylra’s Flame Shock, Lava Burst, and Stormbeak Assault abilities add extra oomph for Resto leveling, resulting in about a 10% damage increase overall.
You do get to see Stormbeak a lot, though. That counts for something.

I also recorded information for both runs:

  • The time at which I began and ended the trial
  • Starting XP and rested XP bonus for each character
  • Time and duration of any bio breaks/RL interruptions
  • Any time I died, or had to either heal or stop and eat before I felt comfortable to continue questing

With all that out of the way…

The Results Will Flame Shock You

You know, it’s funny. When I sat down to start my Restoration trial, every time I encountered a mob in the world I couldn’t help but lean my head back and drone “Uggggghhhhhhhh this suuuuuuucks.” I was positive that Resto leveling was going to take for. freaking. ever.

In fact, though, my results were … remarkably similar.

Questing Trial Results
Elemental Restoration
Start Time 12:32 20:07
End Time 15:34 23:05
Break 0:04 N/A
Total Time 2:58 2:58
Damage Dealt 113.63M 112.17M*
Deaths 2 1
Eat or Heal 14 1
*Remember, I’m missing 8 minutes of this log, so I probably had to deal a little more damage as Resto than I did as Ele.

I was completely flabbergasted. How? How did this make any sense at all? I’m still not sure, to be honest, but I have some ideas.

:: I am not as skilled at Elemental Shaman as I am at dealing DPS as a Resto Shaman
Despite the similarity of their basic toolkit, one of the Legion design principles has been to put some space between healers and their caster DPS specs’ gameplay. Elemental Shaman has a new secondary resource, Maelstrom, to manage – and I’m not yet that great at predicting when I need to Earth Shock to bleed off my Maelstrom before I cap out on it.

You can see evidence of this in the logs in other ways as well – I did not use Ascendance on CD, instead saving it for upcoming rares/”quest boss” mobs. I didn’t use Stormkeeper optimally (or much at all). I forgot about my Troll racial! (I’m like never Horde, okay? I wrote a macro for Heroism during the Artifact Weapon scenario and it didn’t work 😦 )

Of course, a person who main-specs DPS would have a much faster leveling experience than I had as an Elemental Shaman. But that’s not who I’m writing for. I’m writing for main-spec healers who aren’t as comfortable in their DPS specs. People like me. All four of you out there. Hi. How you doin’?

:: Elemental Shaman kills fast, but recovers slowly
This is the defining factor. I found Elemental Shaman leveling to be extremely risky. You’ll note in my table above I had to stop to eat and heal more as my Elemental Shaman than as my Restoration Shaman. Let’s talk about that a little bit.

First, here is my Elemental Shaman’s HP graph over the course of the leveling trial:

Elemental Shaman's health during leveling is very spiky, which led me to be more cautious in pulling mobs.

Elemental Shaman’s health during leveling is very spiky, which led me to be more cautious in pulling mobs.

While questing, I died twice (the first time I died, the low dip before the 15:00 mark, I Reincarnated, but since I was out of combat the log didn’t really record it properly), and I came scarily close at least one or two more times. It started happening less and less as I got used to the idea that I had to be more careful pulling enemies when questing as Elemental.

This survivability problem seemed like the thing that was holding me back the most, so when I hit level 101, around 1:36:00, I picked up Duke Hydraxis as my Combat Ally. Once I had access to his heal, I could be a little more reckless. But dying costs a lot of time, so whenever Hydraxis was on CD, I took it easy.

Meanwhile, my Restoration Shaman’s HP graph tells a completely different story:

Restoration Shaman health is much steadier, thanks to Healing Stream Totem and Riptide.

Restoration Shaman health is much steadier, thanks to Healing Stream Totem and Riptide.

Yes, I dropped low initially – and even died once, the big dip around 0:30:00. Basically what happened was, I was doing so well with my health management that I completely forgot to heal for a little while, because I just didn’t feel like I was in danger. Once the reality-check of death hit me, I managed my health much more proactively for the remainder of the leveling process.

Echo of the Elements (for extra charges on Riptide and Healing Stream Totem) were the healing MVPs here. But I also used Earthen Shield Totem when I couldn’t avoid pulling AoE packs, and I even used Ancestral Guidance’s DPS-to-heal conversion on a couple of rares. The key here was proactivity. I kept HST down so that I’d stay above 75% health. When I dropped below 75% health I’d Riptide myself – the boost to its up-front heal from Torrent would spike my health back up pretty quickly.

I did not even bind my Healing Surge or Healing Wave keys. Didn’t need ’em.

As a result of feeling so confident in my health, I was able to chain more mobs together, pull two at a time, and face more high-powered enemies than I could on my Elemental character. In fact, one of the mobs that killed me as Elemental?

I killed him successfully – eventually! – as Resto.

BOO. YAH.

:: Elemental spec has more variety and interest than Restoration spec, making it feel more exciting and fast-paced
Like I said, I felt incredibly slow as Resto, until I reached the first notable benchmark and discovered I was keeping pace with my Elemental spec. But it was a false perception – influenced by psychology and preconceived notions.

I’ve described the Resto DPS toolkit before as “Level 30 Elemental Shaman”, and it really does feel dull. The addition of Lava Surge! to our toolkit has done wonders for making us feel more dynamic, but we’re down to only four DPS spells, and one of them – Chain Lightning – just doesn’t feel particularly great to use. Being limited to only 3 targets means it doesn’t even hit everything in most multi-mob quest packs you’ll be exposed to!

You don’t get cooldowns, you don’t get pets or totems that help you offensively. You don’t even get to talent into Elemental Blast anymore. The only talent that affects your DPS throughput is Echo of the Elements (and it does make a huge difference in leveling speed!). Everything you do when you’re leveling as Resto feels “flat”.

Meanwhile, Elemental has at least some complex decision-making in Maelstrom management, and it has Earthquake Totem, Fire Elemental, and potentially Ascendance on offer. It’s fun to take Path of Flame and spread Flame Shock via Lava Burst. And it’s cool to pull out the Earth Elemental just to pick something up if you pull more than you’d intended. Elemental questing has varied texture, both in its damage-dealing and survivability aspects.

To be fair, we can’t expect a healer to have a DPS toolkit as interesting or flexible as that of their DPS spec counterparts. That would do dangerous things to the game.

Conclusion

These preliminary results seem to indicate that leveling as Restoration or leveling as Elemental are equally efficient. Obviously, this was only one trial, on only one spec, but it’s the best I could do without clawing my own eyes out because leveling augh blarg. It’s also a low-level, low-gear trial, which is all I can do on the Beta for now. But the first two levels are the levels that matter the most – once you reach level 102, you can go grab the other Artifact Weapon and from there it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Pros and Cons to Leveling As…
Elemental Restoration
  • Less survivability, have to heal between pulls
  • Stronger AoE, but have to use CDs to survive AoE packs
  • More interesting DPS toolkit
  • Much better burst damage for rares/”quest bosses”
  • Benefits heavily from Duke Hydraxis Combat Ally
  • Bags full of Artifact Power items!
  • Probably shouldn’t do dungeons as a healer until level 102
  • Strong self-healing
  • Weak AoE
  • Excellent utility
  • Limited DPS toolkit feels primitive, like a low-level character
  • Extremely slow for killing rares/”quest bosses”
  • Benefits heavily from Stormcaller Mylra Combat Ally
  • Leveling talents may not be optimal for dungeons

It’s worth noting that the difference between Elemental and Resto speed might be more significant in Mythic HFC gear compared to the really awful 680-iLvl gear we’re given on our Beta premades. If I’m feeling up to repeating this challenge again when Character Copy is available, I’ll let you know how that pans out.

I’m not sure if these results will extend to other healer/DPS pairs. Elemental and Resto Shamans have the same utility (Wind Shear, Lightning Surge Totem, Hex, Purge), which comes in handy for questing. Resto isn’t challenged by a mob with a healing buff or a healing cast, because it can Purge or Wind Shear to prevent the healing. This won’t be true for a Resto Druid or Holy Paladin, for example. But an Elemental Shaman is so fragile, and it’s possible that a Balance Druid or Ret Paladin would be able to pull larger packs or chain mobs for longer periods without having to be as careful. I’m not familiar enough with these specs to be able to say for sure.

Finally, we shouldn’t overlook the psychological factors. For some players, it may be much more enjoyable to level in a DPS spec. There’s more sources of damage to manage, a secondary resource, burst CDs, and danger! For other players like me, who aren’t as confident with their DPS specs, or for players who intend to do most of their leveling in dungeons rather than in outdoor content, it may be simpler and more relaxing to level as a healer.

Play what you want. You won’t lose any important Artifact Weapon progress by picking up your healing Artifact at level 102 instead of 100. You won’t lose any significant time leveling as a healer even if your DPS is lower, if that’s what you really prefer. And if you try one and don’t like it, you can start leveling in the other spec once you hit level 102 anyway. Just do what makes you happy.


Extended Trial: Exact Quests and Process
Breadcrumbs to Azsuna
Paradise Lost | Down to Azsuna | Into the Fray
Illidari Stand
Demon Souls | Reignite the Wards | The Scythe of Souls
Faronaar
From WithinRetake Faronaar (Bonus Objective) | Fel MachinationsSaving Stellagosa | Dark Revelations
Azurewing Repose
Rare: Daggerbeak
Journey to the Repose | The Death of the Eldest | AgapanthusTheir Dying Breaths
The Last of the LastThe Consumed | The WitheredRunas the Shamed
Runas Knows the Way | Those Beyond Redemption (Bonus Objective) | The Hunger Returns | Leyline AbuseYou Scratch My Back | The Nightborne Prince | Still Alive
On the Brink | Feasting on the Dragon | Cursed to Wither | Hunger’s End
Prince Farondis Questline
Rare: Valiyaka the Stormbringer
Those Who RememberThey Came From the Sea | Prince Farondis
Our Very BonesThe Magister of Mixology | Presentation is Everything | A Rather Long WalkBottled Up
Rare: Mrrgrl the Tide Reaver
The Broken Academy (Bonus Objective) | Nar’thalas Still Suffers | You Never Know Until You Scry | Children of Nar’thalas | Back From the Dead | The Walk of Shame | Trailing the Tidestone
Nar’thalas Academy
Into the Academy | Hit the Books | Dressing With Class
The Haunted Halls | Wanding 101 | Study Hall: Combat Research | Pop Quiz: Advanced Rune DrawingThe Headmistress’ Keys | The Tidestone: Shattered
Save Yourself (bugged at the time, only completed 1st and 2nd stage)
Marius and Tehd
Felblaze Ingress | Eye See You | They’re Doing It Wrong | ArkethraxQuantity Over Quality
Daglop
Missing Demon | Let’s Make a DealMinion! Kill Them!
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26 Responses to Legion Beta: Leveling as a Healer – The Surprising Result I Can’t Explain and You Won’t Believe!

  1. Samantha says:

    I have missed your in-depth explanations. Also this makes me feel better about leveling with an offspec in general – I hadn’t seen any updates on offspec leveling yet. Leveling in tank spec is generally easier in live than it is in a healing spec, but this is still comforting.

  2. Cinder says:

    THANK YOU for this. This has been my biggest “oh god, what will I do” for Legion – whether to level as resto or ele. I’ve been doing similar testing on beta (very casually though) and have felt that overwhelming arrgghhhhhh when levelling as resto. It’s like yes, I can do it, but it just feels kinda awful. I personally really hated having more than 1 or 2 mobs to kill – anything more just made it all take way too long. And rares… don’t get me started. I think the emotional drain of levelling as resto is going to push me to go ele instead. I found it incredibly disheartening killing mobs as resto, only to have a solid dps come in and blow them up so quickly. The psychological side of things is pretty important, I feel.

    My other concerns have been about my ability to jump in to a dungeon when I want to if I’m levelling as ele (I’d want to do dungeons as a healer). I wouldn’t do this until 102 as you’ve said because the artifact is needed, but I’m curious about gear and trinkets – is it going to be an issue if I don’t have healer specific ones, or can I fudge my way through? Maybe I just hold off on doing dungeons until max level…

    Anyway, I’m rambling. I just wanted to say thank you for the numbers and helping me figure out what to do – I really appreciate it!

    • Dedralie says:

      I’ve seen you talk about healing and WoW in general enough to know that you’ll be quite fine in a leveling dungeon without “spec-appropriate” trinkets, or using your Hellfire Citadel trinkets. The Artifact Weapon isn’t even needed (I’ve done quite a few without a weapon just while I was stuck on phasing issues or other questing bugs). The stats from a HFC weapon will get you through the dungeons just fine. 🙂

      The only healing spec that I wouldn’t do entry-level dungeons in without an artifact weapon is Disc Priest. That’s just because I’m terrible at Disc so I need every advantage I can get. 😛

  3. Pingback: Decision made – cinder says

  4. Cernunnas says:

    Thank you very much for this clarification. Helpful as ever! 🙂

  5. Pingback: Overwhelmed | Misdirections

  6. Excellent and timely post: very well received. Thank you.

  7. Pingback: The elements of questing (combat), from a DPS trying to quest as a healer – Fel Concentration

  8. Moonspeaker says:

    Thank you so much for this! Really reassuring. I’ve been so freaked out about trying to quest as a healer, or (as I thought) risk crippling my healer artifact if I went the DPS path … so relieved to know it won’t be a problem.

    In this heading “Preliminary Trial: Larva Burst” is that “Larva” a typo or a clever pun on the mobs you killed?

  9. Aeires says:

    Hey. So speaking as a holy priest I can confirm that your findings are incredibly similar to what I experienced with the Holy/Shadow questing experience. I also found at max level dummy dps that my unleveled shadow artifact only gave me a 2k dps increase over my level 14 Holy artifact. So I can confirm your testing holds up for at least 1 class combo besides shaman!

    Have you done any testing as enhancement? I imagine it Feels about the same?

  10. Aanzeijar says:

    > Relics are attuned to whatever Artifact Weapon(s) you owned when you obtained the Relic
    This is actually not true. There is some overlap between the specs, and relic slots that fit in more than one artifact are retroactively attuned to the new weapons when you get them. In my case I swapped to resto for the first quest reward in Stormheim which gave me a self healing proc frost relic. But it was still still tuned to the Fist of Ra-Den. After completing the Resto artifact event, I confirmed that it was indeed tuned to both weapons.

    Also it should be noted that not popping CDs as elemental is a HUGE deal. I played the first hours similar to you and then I started just using whatever cooldown was up, precasting the elemental artifact spell before fights. Especially in the first half of a level when you outlevel enemies this reduces downtime to nearly zero. The second half is brutal though. Enemies have so much health and hit like trucks. Even as elemental having to cast 7-9 casts to kill one white mob is normal.

  11. Twitchys says:

    Thanks for this Dayani! I’ve seen so much strife going around this issue that was not reflected in the actual beta, and it’s good to see someone with visibility addressing it.

    In regards to the druid experience, I felt the same way in general. Both balance and feral levelling are more engaging, but can be risky. Shadowmeld helps with that, but as resto (with moonkin affinity) survivability is leaps and bounds higher. Much of this is due to being able to cast efflorescence in Moonkin form (which may be a bug) and the Spring Blossoms talent. Without using efflorescence, I found resto to be a bit less of a survivability advantage due to the required form shifting to cast solid heals. A swiftmend/regrowth/rejuv when I got low takes over 5 seconds to execute with the additional GCD. Balance affinity was actually fairly fun, with Starsurge, Wrath, Lunar Strike, Sunfire, and Moonfire, there is a decent amount of spell management. Feral affinity was unusable when I initially tried it, with Shred, Rip, FB and abysmally slow energy regeneration, but there have apparently been some improvements made in recent builds, so that deserves another look. The interrupt note is very relevant, and healing mobs were an annoyance. Mighty Bash helps some, but for bigger mobs or chaining healing mobs, that stun isn’t always enough to down the enemy.

    Overall, I am planning to go feral to level as that is my only chance to play my favorite spec theme before we go back to healing raids, but resto with affinity seemed reasonably paced as well.

    Cheers

  12. Niomar says:

    This was a great article with a lot of real world examples/tests, but the only issue I have with it is that it compares a fully invested Restoration artifact weapon vs a 0 point Elemental off-spec weapon. I don’t think that’s actually optimal due to the scaling costs of Artifact Power and the ability to easily keep your off-spec weapon up to around “80%” of your main spec’s weapon. Specifically, after you train 13 traits in your primary artifact, the cost for the 14th trait is so high that you can literally opt to gain the first 13 traits in your off-spec weapon instead for the same cost. http://www.icy-veins.com/forums/topic/21362-artifact-power-mathed-out/ At least to me, it seems that’s a significantly better return on investment in terms of leveling and questing solo as a healer and that is going to make a difference in how fast you can kill with your off-spec.

  13. petpuzzles says:

    I’m very pleased to read your detailed analysis. I do like numbers. I think I will level as a holy priest (one of our talents – apothesis – increased serendipity when activated – looks like a ghetto dps cooldown). Shadow looks to be a lot “ickier” with the old god lore.

    Nzete

  14. B.J. Baye says:

    Thank you for this! I used to be a big healer, picking up a Paladin in Wrath and levelling up through Cata mainly healing, while using my hunter to enjoy questing. (I really didn’t like questing on a Paladin, it really wasn’t fun for me.) However, around the end of Cataclysm some disability issues popped up and I had to stop. So I levelled my hunter through Mists, just questing, and then level boosted a shaman for WoD when I got tired of hunters.

    Recently, however, I figured out the right mix of accessibility software and devices to be able to heal dungeons more often, maybe even LFR eventually. I can’t do it nearly as often as I used to, however, so I can still level with quests. With the new artifact system, I was afraid that I’d have to choose between questing and healing.

    I’m glad to see that I don’t. Even better, it sounds like levelling as Resto would be the better option for me. I absolutely suck at DPS, even soloing. I can keep a tank alive in a dungeon boss fight when the rest of the party has died from standing in the fire ten seconds into a fight (as happened to me yesterday in my trial run of my new accessibility set up), but for some reason the complexities of DPS fly right over my head. Even more, I hated how often I had to eat levelling 90 to 100 as elemental, and it sounds like that’s worse in Legion. So, this seems to solve both issues.

  15. Tehr says:

    I just wanted to drop by and put my two cents in:

    By not using Elemental cooldowns effectively (6 casts of Stormkeeper (a 1 minute CD) and 2 casts of Earth Elemental (a 2 minute CD)), I think you’re doing an extreme disservice to your data. By saying that your health was spiking a lot – but not using any of the abilities that will help you deal with it – you’re essentially creating a problem that you already have the tools to fix. Not using the resources that you’re given on one spec and then claiming that each spec is for all intents and purposes equal is like saying that pie is superior to cake, assuming you don’t put any frosting on the cake.

    Now, I think it’s entirely acceptable to level as a healer, and I personally encourage it if that’s what a player wants, but it seems to me that this data and your analysis of it only serves to mislead players (although I have no doubt that you did this innocently).

    • Dedralie says:

      I just didn’t find Earth Elemental to do anything when I summoned him those two times. I could pull aggro back off him so easily – I’d heal up, but then the next Lightning Bolt would bring the enemy back, so it was about as effective as a Thunderstorm (which I also probably criminally underused).

      It’s certainly true – and you’re quite right – that I wasn’t playing optimally as Ele. SK with a cast time (at that time) just felt suboptimal to use when I started most fights with FS – LvB – LvB – LvB (whee procs) and would hardly have any time left on the buff if I pre-cast it. I use it a lot more now that it’s instant 🙂 But I did point this out in the post – if you’re actually comfortable in your DPS spec it’ll be faster; if you’re uncomfortable in it the way I am, healing spec may be just as fast. I could probably do to make that a bit more clear.

      • Tehr says:

        It was clear, but I think that stating that using your cooldowns would overcome many of the problems with DPS leveling is important. For example, you can pull an enormous group of mobs and use your ridiculous AoE abilities (and AG) to not only stay topped off, but also kill groups of mobs at a much faster rate.

        While I agree that being uncomfortable in a DPS spec is definitely something that will slow you down, I also think that taking the time to BECOME comfortable is a worthy time investment.

    • B.J. Baye says:

      I absolutely suck at DPS. I try, I try to learn priorities and cooldowns and everything else, but I just suck. Seriously, my new guild did worldbosses tonight and I tried to DPS most of them as Ele and I was below the healers in DPS. I’m not the greatest healer, either, (I’m just way out of practice, all I’ve done is level the last few years) but I’m a lot more comfortable with it at least. So, for me, this info of how it compares when not able to make good use of DPS abilities is much more helpful.

  16. Scribbinge says:

    This is super useful and a really interesting read. I’m thinking I’ll just give levelling as a mistweaver a go for at least the first couple of levels. Maybe fistweaving will be viable – who knows?! I can always just swap to brewmaster if it’s not working. Getting to 110 quickly isnt too important in legion anyway from what I hear. Its best to get there and have progressed all your professions and class hall at the same time.

  17. Pingback: Leveling advice for Resto druids 100 to 110 | Restokin

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  19. Björn says:

    Most likely the most well comprehensive test of a gaming style I’ve ever seen! Very well written with clear logical structures. Are you a Ph.D student by any chance? 😛

  20. EA Berry says:

    I had leveled in WoTLK as resto shammy having NO IDEA what I had done to myself. There is no way it could be more painful now to level as resto.

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