For those of you who might not have caught it yet, the Shaman Q & A is out HERE . Go ahead and take a look, there is some interesting answers there. Lets talk a little bit about some of whats there, I’ll try to keep it focused on things that affect us as healers.
Ghost crawler opens up with explaining what makes the shaman class unique, and I tend to agree with him. We are a unique hybrid in the fact that we can throw out healing while melting faces without having to shift forms like a druid would have to do and we can change those roles faster then a Paladin can. He also talks about how we are the ying to the paladin yang. We are in many ways the anti paladin.
As envisioned from the start, shamans were also the Ã¢â‚¬Å“offensiveÃ¢â‚¬Â hybrid. Things have inevitably blurred a bit since then, but they are still a counterpart and complement to paladins Ã¢â‚¬â€œ paladins have cleanse, shamans have purge; paladins will let an ally move freely to escape or catch an opponent, shamans will snare an enemy to let their ally escape or catch him or her; paladins will make sure their alliesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ casts arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t interrupted, shamans will interrupt enemy casts; and so forth.
It’s true, just think about it. We are balanced in many ways to work against a paladin, but with each faction now having both classes, we stack up in a weird and awesome synergy with them.
Next point of interest is the discussion of totems. The question was asked Are there plans to look at totems in general, the way they are managed, their uses, and their benefits in the future? I’m very happy to say the answer was yes, there are plans and the first thing mentioned is the ability to drop all four totems on one GCD! When I saw that I’ll be honest, I almost did a lap around the block from sheer excitement. As any experienced raid healer will tell you, it often boils down to effective use not only of your heals, but of your Global Cooldowns. This will free up three seconds of cooldowns (totems have a one second GCD) That’s another heal, or a faster heroism, or if you’re on melee totem duty three seconds more to get your rear out of harms way. The other important note about this is since they are looking at abilities to drop all four totems on one cooldown it means they will have to continue working on the totem UI. While I appreciate the Totem timers blizzard built into the game, it still pales in comparison to mods like Totem Timers and Yata. I’m excited to see how they are going to balance this change as well as update the game’s UI for this.
Beyond this the discussion also talked about the mechanics and possible further consolidation of totems,Ã‚Â and there are some very interesting ideas in there. There was talk of removing buff totems and replacing them with spells (which as a shaman who is constantly supplying wind fury totem to melee I can certainly appreciate this idea) and making all the totems do something active like Healing Stream Totem. The idea of possibly letting you carry an active totem around on your back was also tossed around. GC continues on to talk about consolidation of totems (magma and fire nova potentially being combined as an example) as well as some hitting the chopping block (bye bye sentry totem). Most interesting is the talk about possibly using any Fire or Earth totem as an anchor point for Elementals. Personally I think that’s a fantastic idea and one I hope they fully explore. It’s hard to chose between that little extra damage from the fire elemental or keeping up Flame Tongue / Totem of Wrath.
There was also mention about our health pools. If you didn’t notice we have the lowest base health pool out of any of the classes. According to GC and crew they will be looking at this for 3.2. This will be good for us on those fights (like Hodir with frozen blows) where we see our health drop like a rock and have to quickly heal ourselves before we use our Aggro Dump.
After talking about totems and our health pools, the topic of PvE healing comes up.
I know there is some concern about Restoration shamans losing their healing niche of area damage. We think that perception might exist in Ulduar just because recent talents, glyphs, and set bonuses have all propped up things like Lesser Healing Wave over Chain Heal. Chain Heal is still quite useful in some situations and with different gear in the next couple of tiers, we expect to see more shamans going back to it. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to see them return to just using Chain Heal as was the case in much of Burning Crusade. We do think Restoration shamans are at the risk of running out of mana perhaps more than any other healer right now, and in fact the seemingly unlimited mana in some healers is what leads to Chain Heal getting stomped on by other big heals. This is a problem we plan on addressing.
Well that’s refreshing. He goes on to say;
We want Restoration shamans to be a strong group healer with the option of focusing on a single target with Lesser Healing Wave as needed. Restoration shamans have two distinct healing styles now that they can shift between, and we want to preserve that. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to return to the Sunwell era, where 95% of healing came from Chain Heal. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just a boring play style. (And yes, paladins, we hear you.) We suspect that with a new totem or set bonus that propped up Chain Heal a little more, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d see it getting a lot more use. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re cool with that. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fun when you upgrade your gear from tier to tier and it actually pushes you into a slightly different play style.
I can honestly say I’m ok with that. Like I said in my post about Chain Heal I don’t think we’re broken or that the spell stinks, but I do agree that it needs tweaking to be competitive. I’m perfectly fine with them addressing it through gear be it totems or tier set bonuses. It’s a great way to balance out the spell without reworking the whole mechanic of it. It is a great spell and I adore my lazer beam of love. It’s iconic and distinct and has one of the coolest spell effect sounds ever (turn your volume way up and listen. Rolling thunder ftw!). On the other hand I love our new spells and abilities too. I love having heals and abilities that are synergistic and having the ability to pop out of raid healing to get some single target loving in. I’ll be honest, I hated the mindlessness of Shaman healing in BC in the end game, I like my variety I just want to be able to keep up in hard modes.
The last item I’ll talk about is something they touched on in the PvP section but I think will have an effect on PvE as well. When asked Are there any other considerations in store for improving overall performance for shaman in PvP encounters (whether in Arena or in Battlegrounds)? GC replies with
Mobility is a big problem. One of the designers described casting shamans the other day as Ã¢â‚¬Å“turrets,Ã¢â‚¬Â which is very apt. You sit and spin and shoot (or heal). We need to get shamans some more mobility, and we have some ideas for how to do that without just giving everyone Blink.
Well, this is true for PvE as well. Think about fights like Hodir, lots of movement where we have to stop long enough to push out our healing. He’s right though, we are turrets. Like survival hunters, give us a nice warm spot to sit where we don’t have to move and watch the healing fly. I’d love to see a bit more mobility added to the class (maybe something like a hunter’s readiness so we can use Natures Swiftness quickly).
All in all it seems like we’ll be getting some much needed love. I’m hopeful and the Q&A helped keep me there. I look forward to the changes to totems and I really look forward to seeing how they address our burst AE healing.
What do you guys think? Think things will work out? Think we’re doomed?
Till next time, Happy Healing,
Image courtesy of Wired.com