Cataclysm has been out for a month and a week now. Natural Order has finally started our raiding schedule and it is time to start farming raid mats, and leveling alts.
With the time put into the expansion I would like to take a look at the Shaman healing toolkit and talk about when to use what heal.
Riptide: Our only non-proc HOT (not counting healing stream). Glyphed Riptide lasts 21 seconds, if you are at the haste soft cap you will get an additional tic out of your riptide. You should cast it every 6 seconds on cool down to any member of your raid taking damage. Do not cast over a currently ticking Riptide, that is just a wast of mana. This is our second cheapest heal, and is REALLY efficient to top off raid damage, or to give you a couple seconds of breathing room to land that big heal.
Healing Wave: Our baby heal. Cheap. Very small heal. Use it to top off only. I actually don't even have this on my regular cast bars. It is setup with a cast modifier and isn't used much.
Healing Surge/Greater Healing Wave: Big heals. Until 4.0.6 don't even bother with Greater Healing wave, as it is more expensive, slower and its heal is barley bigger than Healing Surge. We will revisit this after 4.0.6 when it is supposed to get bigger (20% bigger) but it's mana cost will also getting a 10% boost. Healing Surge is big, fast and sexy. Use it on the tank, or to bring a DPS from almost dead to near full health.
Healing Rain: Heal over time, AOE. The sexy. Heals anybody standing in it for a pretty good chunk, throw a chain heal or two during a healing rain and you have healed five or six people to almost full, but you have also just burned through 20% of your total mana. Situational for massive raid damage, try to overlap with other AOE heals to create a ven diagram of healing on the ground during raids to bring the raid back to full health.
Chain Heal: Used to be the iconic heal of the Resto Shaman. It has become slightly underpowered, and fairly inefficient. That should change some in 4.0.6, but we will have to wait and see. Still works great if you are on raid heals, procs up to 4 earthliving weapon HoT's. Use it anytime you have extra mana and raid wide damage to top off. Again works great with Healing Rain.
Water: Mana Spring, probably wont be used in a raid if there is 1 or 2 pallys. Use Healing Stream. It is a decent HoT, in current Heroic/entry Raid gear it heals for about 400 every 2 seconds. It isn't going to save anybody but essentially lowers incoming damage by 1% or so.
Earth: Again you will probably have a Pally or DK providing Earth's buffs, so drop Stoneskin Totem. Increases tank mitigation and lowers incoming damage. Earth has a few utility totems you may have call to use, on add heavy fights you may want to drop Earthbind to slow adds, or Grounding Totem to eat a spell every time it's CD is up. It just may save a tank on a magic heavy encounter.
Air: You are probably always going to use Wrath of Air . Unless someone specifically asks for windfury. I have never been asked to do this.
Fire: Fire totems are kind of problematic for the Resto Shaman. There really is nothing usefull for us here. There is usually a Elemental (at least in my raids) providing the superior Totemic Wrath on their fire totems. I usually either drop Searing Totem to contribute a tiny bit of DPS, or no fire totem at all.
Finally I am going to give Mana Tide it's own section as it really is too important to place with the other totems. This is our big mana regen ability. Use it every time you are below 75% mana and then every time it is off cool down the rest of the fight. Don't try to save it until later in the fight. If you are below 50% mana, it is too late and you will be oom before the fight is over. Pop it early, pop it often as it is on a 3 minute cool down. You may be able to pop it 3 times on a longer boss fight. In 4.0.6 it becomes raid wide, so it will really help your healing team.
Last night, after dinner I queued for a random, got Halls of Origination. (I have learned in the past any dungeon with "Halls" in the title is going to suck) First time I have been there and I must say, it is excellent dungeon design! It is by far the most fun I have had in a Cata dungeon! I mean come on! CAMELS! A boss that you fight while riding camels! What could be more fun? I had a great run. It was a dungeon finder PuG, and everyone seemed to know the place and their roles. Tank was great, explained his strats and marked targets. DPS didn't stand in the fire and went pew pew.
By the end of the run I was 1/10th of a bubble to level 85, some 100k experience. One quest, a few random mobs, and I would be 85. (I know I'm a slacker, 2 weeks in and still not 85) But instead of finishing the last little bit to 85 I sat down on the couch with the wife to watch this... Is that love? Oh I think it is.
*Disclaimer: These specs are not raid tested, not theory-crafted. These are just the specs I will be starting level 85 heroic grind with. Specs may change with raiding and after testing.
Restoration: I think the resto spec is pretty self explanatory. I did not take any of the PvP talents, and I also took none of the damage to increase mana/healing talents. I just do not see having the free GCD or mana to risk a lightning bolt or shock early in the expansion.
Other than the above mentioned talents I took pretty much everything in the resto tree. I took the talents in enhancement that allows for more efficient shields, and better weapon enhancements. (15% additional mana from water shield and 40% better earthliving) I also took ans am really excited for the reworked Ancestral Swiftness. I loved this talent in wrath, but could never find the free points to take it, and in Cata it is even better as it is an instant cast Ghost Wolf, but an overall 15% movement speed increase. Which should help in the promised "more movement" fights coming up. Other than that I took Acuity from Elemental, because 3% crit si 3% crit.
Elemental: Elemental is a little more difficult to come up with what I think of as an "optimal spec" as there are a few more discretionary points here. Basically I took the same 3 talents from the Enhancement tree to give me a little more oompf and the instant cast Ghost Wolf, plus all the standard DPS increasing talents from Elemental. There are 2 extra points at the end that you can move around. If you find yourself running out of mana drop the two points into Convection, otherwise I put them into Earth's Grasp. Rooting your targets isn't always what you want to do, but it is pretty helpful wen soloing, or kiting. Plus it is pretty nice if you find you have pulled agro and need to run to the tank before getting squashed.
Here is a quick guide to healing Blackrock Caverns, with a little bit of boss strategy thrown in. This is based on personal experience, so your mileage may vary.
Rom'ogg Bonecrusher: You need to clear the pat and packs close to the boss first. If you do not he will call for help and probably kill your group. Once you engage the boss, stay at max range and heal. The boss has a few abilities you need to worry about. First is Quake. Quake is a fairly quick cast, targeted/AOE. Near as I can tell it targets 3 ranged targets and does a fairly significant amount of damage over time. When you see it targeted run away. Second ability you need to worry about is Chains of Woe. Chains pull you to the boss, and roots you into place. Chains need to be AOE'd down fast. Twenty seconds after casting chains he will use The Skullcracker, 360degree cleave in a 10 yard radius that deals 100k damage. If you do not get out of it, you will die. I recommend running straight through the boss and away soon as your chains are broken. Use any cool downs you have, make sure Earth Shield and Riptide are up on the tank and kill the boss.
Once you kill the boss, a large NPC is released from a cage, when ever you see a pull that looks impossible, wait a few seconds the NPS pops out, and kills the mobs for you.
Corla, Herald of Twilight: Only allow one zealot to evolve at a time or you will wipe. You need to swap DPS in the evolution beam, or one of the players will evolve and become mind controlled and you will wipe. We found we had the DPS to kill the cultists before they evolved, but then the boss dropped no loot. I'm not sure if this is a bug or a feature. Once a zealot evolves he will cast Shadow Strike you should interrupt it. We found it best to burn the boss till the first zealot evolves, kill the evolved Zealot then back to the boss till the second evolution. Once the second zealot is evolved you should have the boss pretty much dead.
Corla casts Dark Command, but tremor totem and chain heal should take care of it. She also Death Grips a random player to her through the encounter. Watch the Zealots melee abilities while you are running back out. The zealots are the real boss of this encounter, once the zealots are down, it is pretty much tank-n-spank. Don't be afraid to use chain heal and riptide.
Karsh Steelbender: From a healers perspective this is a tank-n-spank fight. Watch for the cleave, and don't die. Tanking is a little more difficult. He has Quicksilver Armor making him basically undamageable. The tank needs to drag him through the fire in the center of the room, giving him Superheated Quicksilver Armor. Every stack increases damage against him by 5% +1000 per melee attack. But every melee attack causes an AOE splash to the group for 1000 damage over 12 seconds. Anything over 6-7 stacks becomes unhealable and the group wipes. So you have to let the stacks of superheated fall off, then drag him back through the flames.
Beauty: Optional boss, Tank-n-spank. Boss has a fear, drop tremor totem. The only other things to look out for is the knock back ability Flamebreak and a random charge ability Beserker Charge. There is a lot of group damage, so chain heal liberally. One final ability is a living bomb like ability called Magma Spit. If you cleanse it, and the target is close to other members it will blow them up. Run from the group before cleansing, or just let the timer tick down.
Ascendant Lord Obsidius: The final boss of the first Cataclysm dungeon. He has two Shadow of Obsidius who should be off tanked or CC'ed away from the boss. These adds are pretty much immune to damage so ignore them. Obsidius will randomly swap into one of his shadows, so there is a target switch with an aggro reset.
Obsidius really doesnt have any abilities of note. A pretty basic melee ability Stone Blow, an identical ability to Warriors, Thunderclap and a shadow damage spell Twilight Corruption. This fight is by far the easiest in the instance, assuming you can target switch mid-fight.
See this post from a week or so ago. Cataclysm was Blizzards smoothest expansion launch to date. Servers were up at midnight, there was no regular Tuesday maintenance and near as I can tell there was no server outages all day yesterday. Good job Blizzard, I hope this sets a precedent for the future.
Of course it was brilliant planing on Blizzards side to put all the game-breaking data in a patch two weeks before the launch of the expansion, so returning players see nothing but a smooth running remade world.
I went to my local GameStop Monday night at midnight, with many protests from Mrs. Skraps. I got there a little late, almost 11 and paid for my copy and went to get in line to pick it up at 12:00. As I was walking out of the store I ran into a friend who was 5th in line who said as I was walking out "John! here we are come get in line!".
There were about 100 people in line, so unexpectedly being able to jump to the front of the line was nice, I was out of the store at 12:08 and on my way home to install. I promised Mrs. Skraps I wouldn't play Monday night/Tuesday morning, so soon as the install was complete I logged on grabbed my Lil'Deathwing and signed off to go to bed.
Yesterday, despite having the day off from work I didn't get to play much. I had to go do a bit of a side job, clean house, do laundry and go pick up my new lap top that conveniently was delivered to work on my day off.
I then powered on my new laptop, and they hard drive failed. I spent an hour on the phone with Dell before I could convince them to just send me a hard disk.
Well after all that, I spent some time in Vashj'ir, it is a beautiful zone, with some fun quests and you get the awesome seahorse mount. I then decided to head over to Hyjal. This zone is awesome. There are scenic views, awesome monsters, great quests and some surprises. (1980's Joust arcade game style mini-game with vulture non-combat pet as a reward)
I got to level 82 last night, 3 pieces of my T10 gear are still left, but 3 epics have been replaced with greens and 1 epic has been replaced with a dungeon blue. I have enshrined my T10 set in my bank, to marvel over forever. I will only replace the T10 shoulders when something more awesome than a elk pops out of the replacement.
I am 36 years old, work in IT played pen and paper RPG's in high school (no really! Who would believe that?) Father of two and despite all that some how managed to marry my love...the super hot dance teacher.