State of Chain Heal 2:”Hail to The King, Baby!”

State of Chain Heal 2:”Hail to The King, Baby!”

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Alright you Primitive Screwheads, listen up! You see this? This… is my boomstick! The twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington. S-Mart’s top of the line. You can find this in the sporting goods department. That’s right, this sweet baby was made in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Retails for about a hundred and nine, ninety five. It’s got a walnut stock, cobalt blue steel, and a hair trigger. That’s right. Shop smart. Shop S-Mart. You got that?

I simply can’t resist making Army of Darkness references, especially with all the WoW movie talk  and everything circling Sam Rami. This also mirrors a conversation I had with a guildie the other night on the current state of Restoration Shamans and where we are after this most recent patch. For some reason it always makes me think of Army of Darkness and Bruce Campbell, each time I chain heal I feel the urge to yell “THIS. IS. MY. CHAIN HEAL!”

Patch 3.2 brought with it not only a new instance in the coliseum, but a slew of Restoration Shaman changes that helped bring our healing up a little bit. Back in May I responded to a very lengthy thread with my own thoughts on chain heal, and in truth shaman healing as a whole. A lot of people thought we were broken in a bad way and were QQing about how it was time to re-roll. I stood up for us and said, yes we need tweaking but we aren’t broken. Patch 3.2 brought us that tweaking. In 3.0 and in 3.1 Shaman were given a slew of other spells to round out our healing and move us further away from the Haste / MP5 Chain heal spamming model of the Sunwell days. Blizzard did an amazing job doing that… but swung a little too far and inadvertently took Chain Heal down a few pegs to the point that we were having a very difficult time keeping up with AE damage in hard modes. Many Shaman were getting passed over to bring in other healers, that was bad news and quite frankly made me a sad Shaman. Then the man himself Ghost Crawler chimed in and said that changes were coming but they had to ride the knifes edge to not over power Chain Heal and make it the only spell we cast. Congratulations sir I dare say you guys did a fine job!

Lets take a look at what made the cut, First let’s look at Chain Heal.

Chain Heal: First of all, the Range between target was increased. 12.5 yards between targets is pretty good. It’s better when you consider that this is a smart heal and directs itself to a healing priority list and makes sure those who need it get it. This gets even better when you add in the Glyph of Chain Heal which lets it hit another target for a grand total of Four at a time! Now add in the change that between jumps the amount healed only is reduced by 40% (down from 50%) and you have yourself one sexy heal again.

But wait, there’s more!

Chain Heal was made very attractive again, but there were some other changes that compliment this as well.

Improved Water Shield: Not only does this give mana back on crit heals from LHW, HW and Riptide, but now it includes Chain Heal! The other good thing about this, is when you gain the effect, it doesn’t burn an orb. This is great news because that means it’s one less GCD you have to burn, which means that much more healing. This helps fix a lot of shaman mana problems, and ensures we can hang with paladins and disc priests for that near infinite mana.

Tidal Force: Another change that included chain heal. This now gives, HW, LHW and Chain Heal 60% additional critical strike rating. This also goes well with the next change

Nature’s Swiftness: The major change here is the Cool down. It’s been reduced to 2 minutes down from 3. This is huge in fights where you’ll need a fast chain heal or a fast healing wave more often (Hodir comes to mind). Having this available 1-2 more times a fight is a big boon to us.

Tidal Waves: Again this was changed to give a different bonus to LHW. When you cast riptide or chain heal, this bad boy procs. Before it gave a haste rating to LHW, now it gives it an additional 25% crit chance. That again is pretty huge considering everything we have that procs off of critical healing.

Healing Way:  This change was bigger then a lot of people I believe have noticed. Prior to the patch it placed a buff on your target that increased healing from Healing Wave. No other target benefited from it except for the one with the buff. This made the spell primarily a nuking tank heal spell. Now however it adds a flat increase to the healing output of the spell. A 25% bonus is nothing to scoff at. This allows you to work it into your spell rotation and make sure everyone you hit with it gets the added bonus of the talent

Ancestral Healing: This used to add armor. Now it adds a 10% physical damage reduction on any person you critically heal. This procs off of every crit, including Earth Shield crit heals. Look at the other above changes. The increased crit rate, the talents that add crit and make your heals faster combined with this? You could be rolling that 10% reduction over almost the entire raid with some smartly placed chain heals and liberal use of your talents. This is huge because it helps take environmental damage and even it out for the rest of the healers. This means less mana consumed trying to catch up and top people off and overall greater raid survivability.

Putting it all together, you get a rather complex and complete toolkit with which to heal your raid. We solidify our position as one of the games best swing healers, we can put out some very very good AE healing, or can spot heal on the fly. We can take over tank healing duties, or simply roll between them all. The changes to the spells make sure we are competitive in hard mode raids, but aren’t limited to casting a single spell over and over again. Personally I think the devs did a great job with us this patch. I feel they did a great job balancing Chain Heal out while not letting it overshadow all the other spells we have at our disposal. The synergy our class has always enjoyed is still there. Personally I’ve seen somewhere between a 350-450 hps increase in throughput, which puts us on par with the other healers, I’ve been able to keep up better with area effect damage and have been able to nuke heal a tank as needed. Healing is still challenging and fun, but I don’t feel underwhelmed by the shaman’s ability to keep up.

How about you? How has your healing been since the patch? Do you think they did a good job with the changes? What would you change, add or remove that the devs didn’t? Do you feel confident to head into a hard mode encounter and give it your all?

That’s it for today, Until next time Happy Healing

Sig

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Faction Change Service Announced

I normally don’t post news but I think this one merits something. I’m a bit stunned by this. Blue’s have announced that a faction switching service is in the works. It allows players to transform an existing character into a roughly equivalent character of the opposing faction on the same realm. In other words, I can switch from Alliance to Horde and back. I wonder what a Dwarf would transform into.

More ways to make money, I suppose. I’m almost certain this service is going to involve cash. Hands up anyone out there who would take advantage of this service. Why? Who wouldn’t? Why not? Personally not a bad idea as this would enable Wyn to raid with me if it ever came down to it.

Some more news is coming up on how tier loot and tier tokens will be handled in 3.2.

More on this later…

Why Emblem Changes are Great

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Let’s cut to the chase.

Badges of Heroism and Valor are going to be phased out. Every raid instance and 5 man dungeon is going to be dropping Conquest emblems.

I like this change from a raid leader perspective! Here’s why:

Raising the floor – The minimum standard is being raised. During Burning Crusade, many guilds were either starting on Karazhan, Gruul’s Lair or Magtheridon. Other guilds were wrapping up in Mount Hyjal, Black Temple and Sunwell. There weren’t a lot of guilds working on SSC and TK. But this change will help shrink the gear gap between upper end guilds and lower end guilds. The minimum gear standard is going to go up.

Less time spent gearing – Are you a skilled player? Your gear just doesn’t show it right? Good, then this is another change. I’ve met many “skilled” players who wanted to apply to Conquest. Unfortunately, their gear level did not meet the minimum requirements to enter Ulduar. I’ve had to turn them away. Now those same players can come back and reapply. Since gear won’t be as big of an issue, they can demonstrate their skills in a raid environment. The fact that gear sucks won’t be much of an excuse.

Reduces the links in the progression chain – Currently, the order of operations in which players go through to get loot is:

  • Heroics/Badge gear
  • Naxx/OS/VoA
  • Eye of Eternity
  • Ulduar

Similarly, let’s look at the projected badge drops.

  • Emblem of Heroism
  • Emblem of Valor
  • Emblem of Conquest
  • Emblem of Triumph

What’s essentially going to happen is that the game will be reset so that Conquest badges are going to be at the bottom of the ladder. Who knows what the Triumph gear will be. Right now it takes players a lot of time investment to work their way up from zero to hero.

People have a reason to do stuff again – Hard time finding healers for Naxx or DPS for an instance? Fear not. Trade chat will rev up again and you won’t have to spend hours trying to find a player to fill that spot. From my perspective, once my Priest hit a threshold in gear, I never went back to Naxx. The badges meant nothing to me. I didn’t need the items anymore. I had no reason to go back into Naxx. I know other players feel the same way. Why participate in an activity when there’s no reward for the time invested? Now there is. Conquest badges give players an incentive to head back in. That’s a bonus to everyone. Epic gems, right? With Triumph badges dropping from heroic daily quests, I think they’re going to raise the cost of new Triumph level items. I remember some of the stuff we got from Sunwell vendors. That was over 100 badges for several of the items.

Alts – This makes it really easy to gear up alts now. I’ve got a Ret Paladin and an Elemental Shaman that I like to mess around on from time to time. This will help hasten the rate at which I can join Ulduar pickup groups or other raiding alliances.

Yes, I am very much in favor of this change.

Resto Shaman Tier 9 and More!

Resto Shaman Tier 9 and More!

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about the tier 9 sets that have been released. Unlike Tier 7 and 8, instead of having two different levels of gear, there are three levels.

Conquest (ilevel 232)

Triumph (ilevel 245)

Heroic Triumph (ilevel 258)

This is kind of nifty. It adds more opportunity for raiders of all levels to gain tier set pieces. There is no artwork for it yet, but you can click the link and check the stats. The big thing here is the set bonuses.

Instant cast
Increases the healing done by your Riptide spell by 20%.
Instant cast
Increases the critical strike chance of your Chain Heal spell by 5%.

These might not seem like a lot, but these are quite nice as it stands. Lets take a look at the 2 Piece. Riptide already seems to have received a little buff in it’s healing come the patch but lets use the value of the Rank 4 Riptide and according to the 3.2 talent sheet, the current rank 1 Riptide

The spell has two parts we’ll make the assumption that the set bonus affects both parts. The spell initially hits for 1604 to 1736, a 20% increase on that 1925 to 2083 on the front end. After the initial heal it places a heal over time for 1670. With the set bonus that HoT becomes 2004 over 15 seconds. While that might not seem like a lot consider a couple things. First it’s an instant heal and HoT for Shamans, never a bad thing. The new ranks for the spell haven’t been released yet (that I can find, if you see them please link them to me) so you can imagine those numbers will be higher. Secondly combine the 2 piece with Glyph of Riptide which increases the duration of the HoT by 6 seconds (or with these numbers should be another 800 healing if my math is right) and 2 piece Tier 8 , which lowers the CD of Riptide by a second and you have an instant heal that places a 21 second HoT on your target, and it only has a 5 second cool down. I can see that being extremely useful. Oh, and it still buffs chain heal on the target by 25%.
Let’s take a look at the 4 piece bonus now. Increasing the critical strike change of Chain Heal by 5% might not seem like a lot either, but you have to keep in mind a couple things. Before raid buffs I’m packing close to 27 % crit, maybe more depending on what pieces I am wearing. I suspect the vast majority of the Shaman Healing community falls between 25% and 30% before buffs (cursory glace at armory seems to support that theory) in a raid environment you can already get close to 40% crit. Adding another 5% to that is just insane, it will definitely increase our throughput quite a bit. It will also work hand in hand with changes to Improved Water Shield which now procs off of chain heal without consuming an orb. This will do wonders for our mana regeneration along with our healing throughput.

The newest item I’m probably most excited about though so far is not the Tier 9 set (while it is nice) but we have a new Totem. The Totem of Calming Tides is, quite simply put sexy. When you cast Chain Heal you have a chance to gain 234 spell power for 15 seconds. That is just nice any way you slice it. Combine that with the increased crit chance and the fact we’ll most likely be packing enough haste to have 2 second or sub 2 second chain heals and I suspect more often then not we’ll have the buff. There is no information on proc percentages yet, but it’s still very early in the PTR.  It should also be noted that this so far does not just affect your chain heal spell power, but your overall spellpower, meaning when it procs Earth Shield, Riptide, our various Healing Waves and even Healing Stream Totem will gain a benefit. Personally I can’t wait to get my grubby little Shaman fingers on this one.

Along with the Tier Sets we were provided information for Badge Goggles andBadge Shoulders. While they are pretty good I just find myself hard pressed to get excited about them. Maybe after the models are released for Horde / Alliance.

The new totem and the Tier set fits very nicely with the talent and spell changes for Shamans in the coming patch, you can read my initial thoughts on them Here.

For those who don’t remember here they are again.

  • Call of Air – Simultaneously places up to 4 totems specified in the Totem Bar. Can call different totems that Call of Fire or Call of Water.
  • Call of Water – Simultaneously places up to 4 totems specified in the Totem Bar. Can call different totems that Call of Fire.
  • Call of Fire – Simultaneously places up to 4 totems specified in the Totem Bar.
  • Totemic Call has been renamed to Call of Earth -     Returns your totems to the earth, giving you 25% of the mana required to cast each totem destroyed by Call of Earth.
  • Tidal Waves has been changed to -     When you cast Chain Heal or Riptide, you have a 100% chance to lower the cast time of your Healing Wave spell by 30% and increase the critical effect chance of your Lesser Healing Wave spell by 25%, until two such spells have been cast. In addition, your Healing Wave gains an additional 4/8/12/16/20% of your bonus healing effects and your Lesser Healing Wave gains an additional 2/4/6/8/10% of your bonus healing effects.
  • Nature’s Guardian now give you a 100% chance to increase your maximum health by 15% for 10 sec instead of 50% chance to heal for 10% of your total health. Cooldown increased from 8 second to 30 second.
  • Mana Tide Totem now has 10% of the caster’s health. (Up from 5 health)
  • Nature’s Swiftness now has a 2 min cooldown. (Down from 3 min)
  • Improved Water Shield no longer consumes a Water Shield Orb when you gain a critical effect from your spells, now also has a 10/20/30% chance to proc from Chain Heal.
  • Ancestral Healing now reduces your target’s physical damage taken by 3/7/10% instead of increasing its armor by 8/16/25%.

Looking at those and looking at the set bonus I’m definitely starting to get excited. I’ll report more on it after I get some time in on the PTR, Lodur is transferred over on the PvE server for the PTR and will be getting some play time tonight after my raid and tomorrow for sure. I’ll update this when I get some more information on how the talents are working and how it feels in a raid environment, particularly hard modes.

What do you guys think of the Tier set and the Relic? Are you going to transfer over onto the PTR and try the new talents out? Are you looking forward to hard mode as a Shaman healer?

Until next time, Happy Healing.

Sig

Patch 3.2: Crusader’s Coliseum Reactions

In case you haven’t heard, some details of Patch 3.2 have been released. The biggest change that appeals to me is the Crusader’s Coliseum. We’re not even done Ulduar yet and already there’s another instance being released.

What is it?

It looks to be the new instance hub that 3.2 will offer.

Let’s stop for a second. Lots of reactions on Twitter have been knee-jerk negative reactions.

“I don’t want to 25 man joust!”
“What? A PvP instance?”

Take a step back and start analyzing. We don’t know anything about this instance yet. All we know is that:

  • There is an instance
  • It will come in 5-player, 10-player, and 25-player varieties

I want to stress that we do not know what type instance it’s going to be inside.

Speculations

I love raiding. I love looking at the lore behind it and the mechanics, the environment and so forth.

I don’t think the Coliseum is any sort of PvP type instance.

What I think will happen is that a raid group is going to march in there and engage in gladiatorial combat against raid bosses. Think of an instanced version of the Ring of Blood quests that we first saw in Nagrand and then in Zul’Drak.

Are we going to see mounted combat? It’s a possibility. Maybe half the raid is on horseback and the other half is on their feet. I honestly have no idea.

New Battleground: Isle of Conquest

A new large-scale siege Battleground where Horde and Alliance have to battle head-to-head for control of strategic resources to lay siege to the keeps of their opponents.

Not quite death match. Sounds to me like it’s another control-the-point battleground with vehicles (large-scale and siege). Now I wonder if it means large-scale as in 15 player or large-scale as in 40 player.

Yeah. Alterac Valley in siege tanks.

Also, note that it’s called Isle of Conquest. (The island part, not the Conquest part, although it’ll be corny to jump in there and go “GET OFF MY ISLAND!”, because you know my guild’s name is Conquest, hah.). This leads me to wonder if we’ll get access to naval units. Maybe drivable ships or something to attack from the water in addition to laying siege on land.

Final Notes

Don’t perceive that this is what’s actually going to happen. Take a step back. We’re only seeing pieces of the puzzle here. There could be more stuff coming out. Actually, there will be more stuff coming out.

What do you guys think? How’s my reasoning? Sound? Terrible? Are you looking forward to any of these? (Bloggers can link and trackback here too!)