Tuesday, February 24, 2009

3.1 PTR Notes - Shaman

The Public Test Realm is up and Blizzard has released the first round of patch notes (MMO-Champion version). Here are the relevant restoration shaman changes:

  • Bloodlust/Heroism: Cooldown reduced to 5 minutes, but Sated and Exhausted now last 10 minutes.
  • Poison Cleansing Totem and Disease Cleansing Totem have been merged into "Cleansing Totem." Cleansing Totem pulses every 3 sec, down from 5.
  • Ancestral Awakening: This talent now accounts for your ineffective healing, rather than effective.
  • Cleanse Spirit now has a new icon.
  • Riptide: This spell has a new icon.
  • Tremor Totem: Now correctly pulses every 3 sec, up from 1 sec.

I have to admit, I am disappointed - one tiny buff (Ancestral Awakening), a totem merge, a couple new icons, and two nerfs. The totem changes are undoubtedly pvp-related, but I am really sad about Tremor Totem. It's been absolutely lovely at a 1 second pulse. Many, many wipes have been prevented in 5-man instances because of that little totem (heroic Nexus or Halls of Lightning, anyone?).

I don't understand the nerf to bloodlust, except that Blizzard is apparently trying to enforce the one bloodlust per encounter rule. Disappointing to shaman in 25-mans, definitely. My 10-man won't be affected much because we typically bring one shaman.

Enhancement got some attention and it looks like many of the changes are towards an increase in pvp utility (buff to Frostbrand Weapon?! - I'd forgotten shaman even had that!). I am increasingly tempted to respec Salanthe enhancement and just dps with her. Perhaps I will...

Overall, I'm quite disappointed by the lack of changes to restoration shaman. I've essentially retired Salanthe because druid healing is so much more fun and enjoyable (and hax, I'll admit). I think Blizzard needs to address shaman mana regeneration and they need to give chain heal some benefit from our talents (like Tidal Waves, for example). Maybe even a new healing spell or two to mix things up, as long as the new spell is mana efficient and, well, useful.

If you'd like to read a very good synopsis of what's wrong with resto shaman, let me direct you to the blog Shields Up!, which has a very good post on the subject.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Malygos Down

My little 10-man raiding guild got Malygos tonight. Everyone forgot to take a screen shot though!

It was my first time in there and I have to say, I really enjoyed the fight. The drakes were a little hard to get the hang of, but didn't take too long to figure out. Hit "3" five times, then hit "4," and stay close to everyone!

I did go on my druid, Miothe, instead of on my shaman, however. I've mentioned before that my guild has two regular healers, myself and a resto shaman. After doing some reading on the fight and talking to a few folks that have done it before, I decided at the last minute to take Mio, primarily for healing during the vortex in Phase 1. It was a very wise decision, as I cannot imagine how horrible it would have been with two resto shaman unable to heal while everyone's health is dropping. Of course, I have the key on Salanthe and not on Miothe, so this means Sal will probably never finish the quest chain and get her necklace.

It took me a while to get the hang of healing the fight. I ended up keeping a full stack of lifeblooms up on the tank, usually regrowth as well. I used wild growth frequently to keep the raid topped off. I also used rejuvenation prodigiously. My feeling for druid healing is not very keen yet, so I have no idea if my spell distribution is good. It seemed to work pretty well and I certainly didn't have mana issues.

For reference, here's my WWS breakdown for all our attempts:I only used innervate once per attempt, usually just before Phase 1 ended. I'm not sure it was necessary to use it then, but I was trying to be careful. Miothe's gear is still pretty iffy (she got her first tier piece tonight!), so her regen isn't as good as it should be. All-in-all, Phase 1 was the only time I ran low on mana. All the other phases had enough downtime that I could keep my mana bar nearly topped off. Such a change from shaman healing! I know my fellow shaman was certainly hurting for mana by the end of Phase 1 and doesn't have the regen options to fill up his bar again.

The tl;dr version is that I was very excited to drop Malygos and very pleased with the way the druid handled. If she survives Kel'Thuzad this week, I am going to make a switch in main characters.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Trees Rock (for now)

Let's be honest. Shaman healing is brutal this expansion. It's stressful, horribly reliant on replenishment, and just not fun. Five-mans are awful, raids are a combination of boring and stressful, and the mechanics are bad.

This may be due to burnout from all the healing I did in Burning Crusade, but regardless, I have come to loathe shaman healing with all my heart. I'd rather retire Salanthe and never play her again than heal anything else.

There are a number of factors that make healing awful for me. Mana regen tops the list. I find myself running dry incredibly quickly if I don't have replenishment. This is what makes five-mans particularly miserable. In raids, my heals are not fast enough or don't hit hard enough to make a difference. Not to mention a number of fights in both five-mans and raids in which standing still is very, very bad or very hard (e.g. Heigan, Sapphiron (sort of), Loken, Keristraza).

As a result of my disillusionment of the shaman class due to aforementioned problems, I leveled my druid up and healed my first Naxxramas run on her. I am testing her out to see if I can find a healing class that doesn't send me into an emo rage everytime I try to heal something. I have to say, despite being quite undergeared compared to everyone else in the raid, Miothe the tree did very well.

I wish I had taken screenshots of Recount after the run, so you'll have to trust that I'm telling you the right thing. My raid composition was no different than what it is when I heal on Salanthe. I duo-healed Spider, Plague, and Construct quarters with a resto shaman (I'm fairly certain that some of my frustrations with raid healing are due to the fact that the two healers play the same class and spec). I topped overall healing for the night by a slight margain and some fights went much better than they typically do when I'm healing on my shaman (Anub'Rekhan and Gluth, most notably).

Overall impressions are definitely favorable towards the druid, although I am not passing official judgment until I can heal Kel'Thuzad. That fight makes me want to delete the shaman, so it will likely be the watershed for the druid as well.

Mana efficiency was not an issue. I do need to break myself from the Burning Crusade lifebloom dependency and tweak my healing overall, but there were no glaring problems or stumbling blocks. Unless you count the two trash wipes, which may have been prevented if I were on my shaman. My AoE damage panic healing is definitely not as effective as it is on Salanthe.

There is one thing I miss about shaman though - dispelling. A shaman can cleanse three things (poison, disease, and curses) with one global cooldown. This is a huge advantage over a druid, particularly when you consider that druids rely on heavily on instant-cast spells, so it seems much harder to devote a global cooldown to cleanse than it does on the shaman.

I am quite nervous about the changes to mana regen that are coming in the Ulduar patch, 3.1. Shaman will emerge largely unscathed, but druids will bear the brunt of it. Since mana efficiency and regeneration are one of my major complaints about shaman, I am very afraid that druids will end up the same way.

I will definitely continue to report here as I continue this experiment. Next time I'll use Recount or WWS to back up my claims, too!

(This post was inspired by Aurik over at /hug.)