With all the changes to healing between the expansion’s release and subsequent patches, restoration shaman have kind of gone in a bit of a circle almost. We started out the expansion with the inclusion of a few new spells that really set the tone. Healing Rain was an absolute power-house addition to our healing, and Spiritwalker’s Grace along with Unleash Elements gave us some additional healing versatility.
Not too long after Cataclysm’s release, shaman healing started falling behind some of the other healers not from lack of trying but for lack of throughput and cooldowns. We have a diverse toolkit to use, but there just wasn’t enough juice in the batteries. The developers at Blizzard ramped up our healing in an attempt to bring us up to par with other healers, and gave us a brand new cooldown to use. It just so happened to be a spell that we’ve been pining over for almost three years. As of patch 4.1 our healing has gone up exponentially and we can keep pace with the other healers pretty well, and we have enough tools an abilities to cover the main healing roles.
But now it’s time to look to the future. One of the big things about Cataclysm was that there would be a great homogenization where all healers could cover all of the roles in a raid or group. This is mostly true at this point. I can tank heal pretty damn well now, and have been for the last several weeks, and can switch between that and raid healing at the drop of a hat without losing pace. Paladins can pile on some massive raid healing and still nuke heal a single target. I think, though, that we’ve reached almost full circle and while we can cover all the roles necessary I think we all still have a specialty. Lets look at shaman and the toolkit we have.
Healing Rain is a massive AoE healing spell with an area of effect large enough to encompass two priest or druid healing circles. It is affected by mastery at each tick, so it can be used for lower health targets to great effect, and each healing tick has a chance to proc Earthliving. Chain Heal has had its coefficient buffed, and overall throughput increased. It was changed to include the additional target from the glyph as a base part of the spell, bringing our total targets up to 4. Riptide, with glyph, can be rolled across multiple targets when applied every cooldown, and Healing Stream Totem also got a bit of a boost and Spirit Link Totem is a clutch cooldown that can bring a raid from the brink of death to flat-out victory. Shaman still thrive pretty hardily in the barren lands of AoE healing, it’s the point I think we excel the most at overall. This isn’t bad, it’s good to have a specialty, but we’ve done maybe a 310 turn. I won’t say 360 because we aren’t in that awful spot we were before, but we’re close enough to our old niche that we can still claim it, and we get the tools to be able to hang with the single target healers as well. I think though, that it was an intentional move to put us in the niche to give us that specialty and I think that it will become important in the next tier of raiding.
Tier 12 promises to ramp up the AoE damage. This is based purely on speculation of the content as well as some of the items that have been data-mined for set bonuses. As Vixsin pointed out in comments to my last post, is that every 4pc focuses on providing additional splash healing. This is a pretty good indicator as to what we’ll be dealing with, considering the set bonuses are usually tooled towards boosting your healing for the current content. So from set bonuses, and from the general fact we’ll be in the elmental plane of fire, we can expect a lot of raid wide damage and healing. This is something shaman normally can capitalize on by using all our tools. I think that T12 raiding content could be a shaman break out tier, where due to just the nature of our healing, you will see some ridiculous healing done. Basically I think we’ll make a strong showing in the next tier of content based on our cooldown, our healing spells and our ability to just be general healing bad-asses. After that, on the road to Deathwing, who knows what we’ll look like. But for right now I think we’re poised for greatness in the next tier.