Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tossing Heals - Talent Builds by Salanthe

I was invited to my first Naxxramus run a few days ago as a healer, so I was forced to sit down and think seriously about what talent build to use. I've been kicking some ideas around since I first saw the new shaman talent trees, but I haven't posted anything worthwhile yet. Here's my attempt at it and I'd be very interested in some feedback.

After looking over the shaman talent trees, it looks like Blizzard tried to increase a shaman's effectiveness as a main tank healer. Talents like Riptide, Tidal Waves, Healing Way, Earth Shield, and Improved Earth Shield complement each other very well to make a shaman good at single-target healing. This is particularly useful for five mans and has made us, in my opinion, very good five man instance healers. A glyph that works well with this style of healing is the Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave.

There are also a number of talents that work very well to increase our effectiveness as raid healers. Earthliving Weapon, Blessing of the Eternals, and Ancestral Awakening work to spread healing across as much of the group as possible. There are a couple of glyphs that assist in this style of healing, such as Glyph of Chain Heal and the Glyph of Earthliving Weapon.

Blizzard gave shaman some very good tools for main tank and raid healing. We are effective at both instead of specializing in raid healing. Even our Tier 7 set bonuses benefit both styles, rather than promoting one over another.

Talent point distribution is a problem though. While it seems as though Blizzard has made every effort to prevent a shaman healer from being pidgeon-holed in one style of healing, we end up choosing one style through our talent builds. Thus, I've come up with a couple talent builds - one for AoE/raid healing and one for main tank/five-man healing and by using the corresponding glyphs that I mentioned previously, you can optimize your abilities to fit each style.

Restoration for main tank / five-man healing or this if you don't care about threat reduction. This is the jack-of-all trades talent build. It promotes a more dynamic and exciting healing style, where you rely less on chain heal and more on Riptide, Healing Wave, and Lesser Healing Wave to get the job done. Earthliving weapon is icing on the cake and not the bread and butter of your healing.

Restoration for AoE/raid healing (aka the Earthliving build). This is my favorite talent build because I am enamored with the elegance of earthliving weapon. It is designed for chain heal spam and spreading the earthliving HoT over as much of the raid as possible.

Your choice between builds depends on what sort of healing you do most frequently and what meshes well with your style. Shaman can be main tank/single-target healers or AoE healers with either talent build.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

You Can Go No Higher

Salanthe finally reached level 80 last night! I got up early yesterday morning and decided to try and power level those last two levels. I did it, too. 78-80 in one day!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Long Time No Post

It has been a while! Based on my previous post, I think you can guess what I've been up to though!

I've been taking it nice and easy while leveling my shaman. She had some really good rested experience accumulated while I couldn't play her, so I decided to use that as my leveling timer. When she runs out of rested experience, I switch to leveling either Miothe or Zgu for a few days, then go back to Sal.

It's a very good method for me. Miothe is my gathering alt and Sal's supplier of herbs and leather. By switching to her for a day or two, I'm able to level Salanthe's professions as I go. I thought I would end up buying the materials once I got to level cap, so this is much cheaper! I'm also trying to combat leveling burn out, so all three characters are trying different areas, with the notable exception of Dragonblight because I love that zone SO much.

In two weeks, give or take a few days, Salanthe is level 77, Miothe is level 72, and Zgu is level 71. Miyasi, my tauren death knight, is level 60, and Alsa, my dwarf death knight, is level 58 and clear of the starting area. Overall, I've been online less than during Burning Crusade when I was raiding heavily, so this is very steady and good progress considering. I'm pleased!

Now, a word on shaman talent trees. From 70 to 75, I leveled Salanthe as enhancement. I adored it. I was able to solo every non-dungeon elite I came across, except Sarathstra, whom I didn't even attempt to solo. Salanthe killed things very quickly and with very minimal effort and almost no down-time. Instancing was simple, but I always forgot to check Recount at the end of a run, so I don't know how my dps measured up, unfortunately.

When Sal hit 75, I respecced her to elemental (level 77 build). I waited until 75 because I read that elemental dps is poor until the shaman learns Lava Burst at level 75. Based on my experience thus far, I would have to agree whole-heartedly. Lava Burst hits very hard and lightning is very lack-luster in comparison.

Thus far, I'm enjoying elemental. I'm using the Flame Shock - Lava Burst - Chain Lightning - Lightning Bolt - Lightning Bolt - repeat, rotation, which seems to be working quite well. My dps in instances seems to be competitive (averaging around 1200), though I haven't run enough yet to make an accurate judgment. There is more downtime because of mana efficiency problems, but I mitigated some of that by remembering to use Thunderstorm more frequently. I am also able to solo elites like Rattlebore of the Really Big Worm quest without too much trouble, although it seems to take longer than it did as enhancement.

As of right now, I don't want to declare a preference between the two specs. Both feel solid to me and I enjoy playing them. I'd like to try them both out at 80, definitely. Maybe then I will be able to make a more precise comparison. Either way, I would definitely level as enhancement until at least 75. Wait for Lava Burst because it makes all the difference in the world.