It’s been a while since Cataclysm has been released, and I’ve been hitting heroics, dungeons and now raids as often as I can. So I figured it would be a good time to report on the trends I’m seeing, and how restoration shaman are fitting into the scheme of things.
Tank healing is a new and interesting animal. With everyone’s health totals rising exponentially due to ridiculous stam values on gear, tanks are getting absolutely insane health totals. In Wrath, our main tank could push himself above 100k health. Healers gasped at this and commented on “EZ mode” healing with a health pool that size. Being heroic level geared in Cata, as a healer I’m sporting 106k – 116k depending on the buffs available. Tanks are pushing closer to 200k health. So what does this mean? Well, tanks can take a beating that’s for sure, but the design of the higher health totals means that tank damage is meant to be a lot less spiky, and a lot more predictable. I’m finding my medium, cheap heal is sufficient in most cases to continually cast on the tank, and still be able to keep my mana reserves quite high. When the tank takes his big damage, I can pop a quick expensive heal, or a slow expensive big heal to give me the buffer to switch back to my medium heal.
In most cases I’m finding tank healing has a steep curve to learn, but is a lot easier than it was before once you get used to it thanks to the normalization in damage. This counts normals, heroics and raids. The trick really is just knowing when the damage is coming. Boss mods of course help with that, but I find it much more important to know the fights now than it was in Wrath. I like it honestly, it’s a lot less boring than it was in the previous expansions and I find myself not falling asleep at the keyboard while healing tanks.
Healing the rest of the group
Healing the rest of the group is an interesting shift as well. Not only does everyone have higher health totals, but everyone has a way to stay a live a lot longer without the direct intervention of the healer. True it is important to “not stand in bad”, but on those times someone gets caught they can keep themselves a live a little bit longer. Whether it is a cooldown to avoid damage, a self heal or an ability to GTFO before damage gets too bad, every class has something.
The beautiful thing about this, is that for the most part I can put them on the back burner and actually pay attention to the fights. It provides just enough buffer for me to not have to solely play green bar whack-a-mole. I can safely navigate away from fire and other bad things, and not have to worry about snapping off that last heal that very second on that DPS. Now I’m not saying that you ignore them completely, obviously that would be rather silly. Instead I’m just saying you have breathing room to save your own bacon, or that of the tank, before absolutely turning your attention to the DPS.
In the last few weeks, I’ve learned to rely pretty heavily on passive healing quite a bit where DPS is concerned. For a resto shaman this really means loving that Healing Stream Totem and Healing Rain. Trusting in those two spells to do their job I can usually stay above board on mana longer. I’m hearing this report back from many of the healers from all walks of life.
Spirit is the new MP5, and my new overlord?
Spirit is really catching me as something, at least for shaman, that is proving more important than maximum mana. This may be a design glitch, but in this past weeks raid on Halfus I was the only healer with mana left at the end of the fight and I never stopped healing. I packed about 3k-3.2k spirit with buffs / flasks and made liberal use of Mana Spring Totem, but the results were definitely there. I’m not saying you should move entirely towards spirit, but I saw a lot of healers forsaking spirit entirely, or keeping their levels very low, in order to stack more int to increase mana pools.
It’s true that int gives you more spellpower as well, but it’s all about balance. Conserving mana is important, but making sure you’re getting positive mana returns is also very important. I won’t give you hard numbers here because I think each healing class will wind up with very different sweet spots, but I urge you to play around with your numbers a little.
Working as a team
It has become more important than ever to work with your healing team to achieve healing balance and total victory. In the Halfus Wyrmbreaker fight (10 man version) we were running with a resto druid, holy pally and myself. We put the holy pally on the main tank as his primary focus, I took the off tank, and the druid roll healed. The goal was to cross heal when applicable, but to have a specific section to babysit, so to speak. Very early into the first attempt, the druid went OoM. We talked about it after the attempt before the second try and found he was pretty low on spirit, and pumping everything into int while attempting to HoT the entire raid. We swapped his int stacking for more spirit (flask, food, gem) and then strategized a “healing zone” for the raid. We decided we would create a safe zone to layer healing rains and efflorescence. It went so much better that it was just silly. The healing load balanced (so to speak) the rest of the fight was easy mode.
The rest of the night was the same. We strategized our healing spell choices for each fight and assigned areas of responsibilities for each that overlapped. The three healers really worked to support each other throughout the raid, and it worked out very well. It just illustrated to me how much more important working together is now compared to Wrath. In Wrath it was so easy to just sit by and do your own thing, not really worrying about what the healers are doing, but coordinating now at least in the 10 man raiding environment works out so much better.
I AM HEROIC DAMN IT!
Healer gear seems to be falling from the trees right now. Crated items are fairly easy to obtain, every heroic seems to drop at least a single piece of healer usable loot, and I don’t feel like I’m starved for items to fill slots anymore. All the healers in my guild are saying the same thing, and I find that refreshing. It helps us to be better prepared (and properly geared) for raids than we were in Wrath. The level of difficulty of healing heroics right now I feel is tuned properly, and helps us develop the healing skills with our new changes that we need to have. It’s less about rolling face and mashing one button, and more about really learning what to do. At least for now that is.
I walk into heroics and raids confident that I can accomplish any goal set before me now as well. I seriously do not fear healing anything. It’s not from a position of being overpowered, it’s honestly from knowing that I have all the tools I need at my disposal. It’s a really great feeling to not go into an instance and say “shit, I just don’t have the right tools to heal this.” Color me giddy at that one.
What about your adventure?
So I’m curious as to everyone’s experience in Cataclysm so far. How have things been going for you now? What type of situations have you run into? What lessons have you learned that you can share with others?