I’m fairly confident that most people are operating under the assumption that the new content is in fact launching 6/28. Of course this means new strategies, talent shuffling, and stat priorities for most people but what does it mean to both Resto Shaman in general and to me personally.
The Shock and Awe of T11 Healing
I’ve made it pretty clear that T11 was my first tier of involved progression raiding. I’m just repeating it now in case I happen to get a new reader who picks up here. For me, the first raid I entered this tier was Blackwing Descent (or just BWD). I was pretty pumped for a few minutes. Mostly 346 gear except for my 333 cloak (ugliest damned cloak I’ve ever seen). You know…the one that’s red, purple, and white. Ugh! We worked a bit on Omnotron Defense System that night and I went oom on the 2 Golems in front of their little room. We were also running only 2 healers in a 10 man. Our guild was officially a 25 man guild but these pulls were to see the content before official raiding started in a couple weeks. So, me and a Paladin only that night. Of course, in the early days of Cata, that was only a big deal to me, since I’m sure everyone remembers the lack of mana concerns that Pallies had in the beginning. Of course, I was spamming Healing Surge at the time… a move that only took about 10 minutes to rethink. Mid-way through that first or second ODS pull, I was almost OOM again. I was literally panicked and not sure what to do. The terms “triage healing” and “heals per mana” immediately clicked and I began incorporating more Healing Waves into my “rotation.” Even though it was a really shitty heal at that ilvl, it was mana neutral and allowed for some stabilization of the target.
I spent the next week or so really fine tuning how I would approach healing spells and when/how to use them more efficiently. I read many forum posts and blogs in that time regarding Shaman healing. At that time, it seemed like everyone was preaching doom and gloom on Shaman healing. That especially rang loudly when a Paragon Druid made a post regarding the state of Druid and Shaman healing in Cata. I didn’t fear for my raid spot at that time because, in reality, I knew that the Shaman around the world who were being sat were probably in the top x% of guilds. Our guild was decent but not your typical min/max guild. We progressed, we learned, we played well together, even though there was still much learning to do.
The Great Stat Debate (and a potentially unconventional approach)
Let’s face it, Mastery, in its early days, really was a shitty stat for Resto Shaman. Yeah, there were those who rushed to its defense but what I found is that the complete limitations on which heals it affected, coupled with its linear function made it a largely undesirable stat for NORMAL mode progression. People just weren’t that damaged often enough to make mastery worth a damn. What still chaps my ass to this day is that damned guide that got stickied on the official WoW Shaman forums. It’s a guide written and defended by a guy with extremely little T11 experience. In other words, his guide is 95% theory, and 5% practical. While I can appreciate the value of the work that the number crunchers put in, the numbers really don’t mean a thing if you can’t recreate your theories in an actual raid environment. Yes, I acknowledge that people may even disagree with me here but I really don’t mind. I still think I was right (as did many others) in the normal progression. Even objectively, you have to admit there were problems with Mastery or Blizzard would not have made adjustments to it….twice.
Since Mastery was obviously designed to be a go-to throughput stat and I was having none of it, I had to start looking for other means of reforging. Mana was a problem in the early days and throughput was lagging behind. We weren’t scaling as well as Priests and Druids (at least in my guild’s raids) as we got new gear. I toyed with the idea of haste but I never put that into play in a raiding environment. I wasn’t confident enough that I would have the mana-longevity required to maintain a haste build. What did I do? Crit. Maybe that sounds silly but boy was that the key for my play style. When I made that choice, I went to 9% mastery, the required 916 haste, and an unbuffed 22% crit. Of course, with crit being fairly universally viewed as a “regen stat,” I had far fewer mana issues once I did this, but I also saw an immediate increase in throughput. I was very pleased with the decision to go that route.
It wasn’t until 4.1 rolled out that I really accepted Mastery. I reforged out of all of my beloved crit and moved it all into mastery. The first night with this, I saw a small decrease in throughput and started to doubt this mastery thing all over again. As we continued to progress and put HM bosses on farm, I started seeing the benefits. In the later HM fights, people really ARE that damaged for that much of the time. Mastery, with all the changes in 4.0.6 and 4.1 was really the preferred throughput stat for HM progression Shaman.
The Talent Juggler
Just before 4.0 came out, I played with the talent calculators out there and came up with an 85 talent build that went against what EJ had come up with. I know…many people refute EJ consistently but it was one of the tools I used to evaluate my decisions. I didn’t like what they were proposing in our build. I posted my proposed build in my guild’s theorycrafting subforum and got no response. Well, I went with that build and sure enough, EJ had made the adjustments too. I’m not suggesting at all that I had anything to do with that. I’m just asserting that my build made *sense* without any number crunching at all. Just sense.
Those talents though…they changed frequently this tier. I’ve been in and out of Cleansing Waters, Telluric Currents, Ancestral Resolve, Acuity, and even Totemic Reach. If you armory my character right now, you’ll find me in my preferred generic resto build since 4.1. I’ll say though that Telluric Currents is one of those Love/Hate talents. I hated it until we started doing H Maloriak and H Magmaw. The gimmicks of those fights really allow me to go balls to the wall healing and regen in exposed head/green phase with Lightning Bolts. What I didn’t ever toy with was Elemental Precision. Even without the hit %, I was netting more mana than spending by a large margin. Sure, I don’t use it on every fight but I like having it there for when I can “squeeze off a few rounds.”
What I Liked about T11
A lot, actually. I liked the encounters. I think some of them were very creative (Chimaeron, Atramedes, and Conclave come to mind). Learning my limitations as a player and as a Resto Shaman were things I thoroughly enjoyed. My first tier of progression raiding (RAWR Dragonslayer Nastiest!). I think my favorite encounters, though, were Nefarian (only finished normal D:), H Conclave, and Sinestra (hello coordination!).
What I Didn’t Like about T11
As a newer player to the game, I don’t think the “recycled content” affected me as much as some of the more experienced WoW’ers. I do miss Dalaran and really don’t care for hanging out in Orgrimmar/Stormwind all the time. I’m not really a big fan of Blackrock Mountain in general whether it’s for new content, recycled content, or old content. Hell, I never even really liked Burning Steppes, Blasted Lands, or Badlands. I think that whole region of the Eastern Kingdoms is just dismal. I know it’s an RPG but it still doesn’t even make sense geographically. You’ve got Duskwood, STV, Loch Modan, and Redridge surrounding that whole area and then *those* areas stuck in all of it. I don’t like that the fish I need are not all in schools. I don’t like phased herbs/ores that disappear as soon as I land. I don’t like that Ony’s aggro was all bugged out and still isn’t fixed. Hell, I’m tired of Ony.
The biggest things that I found/find not pleasing were the constant class adjustments from Blizzard. Early in the expansion, some random poster made the comment in a forum that indicated that this expansion felt more like a beta than a finished product. I agree, now that it’s been said. The little accompanying statements from Blizz are the most annoying part of it though. Not the ones that state “x ability is doing too much damage.” It’s the “We feel that players are using x ability too much, instead of y ability so we’re going to nerf x ability so it’s no longer attractive to players.” W.T.F. Leave me and my abilities alone. I can understand that the development team may have ideas on what they want each class to use, but overall, it really should be up to the players to choose which abilities they use and when. Pallies using WoG too much? Oh well. Warlocks using Drain Life instead of Shadow Bolt? Oh effing well. /sigh What I will not bitch about are balance nerfs/buffs. Whether we like it or not, PvP is a large part of the game and these issues will always occur as long as we have it.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed this tier. I’ve made friends, learned bosses, lost friends, learned more bosses…I am pleased.