So, now the first week of Firelands is basically over. The fights themselves are decent in terms of learning curves, complexity, and difficulty. With the adjustments to how healers regenerate mana with patch 4.2, I started planning prior to patch release on what I would do once the patch hit live. I saw some discussion on a Resto Forum somewhere and I responded with some brief responses to which I got some fairly snark replies. Nothing to be e-mad about, but it caused me to create a longer response, justifying some of my decisions. The beauty of the Resto Shaman, however, is that each stat a player chooses to run with changes the playing style a bit, while still providing similar results. I want to address some of the things that struck me as either plain ‘ol naivety or just simply stubborn.
“We stopped arguing about Mastery back in like February”
This was a statement made in an effort to dismiss any questioning of the usefulness of Mastery in every scenario. The caution I would take on this statement is that you have to look at variables then, variables now, and what caused arguments to continue or cease. With 4.0.6, we saw a slight buff to Mastery that did make it a bit more enticing. We also saw changes to how MTT affected ourselves and the raid. This was also the time when many guilds were into heroics and gear was supporting longevity and throughput simultaneously. Early in any tier, it really is sort of a balancing act both in theory and in practice. We can’t go pure throughput (usually) because we don’t have longevity tools. We can’t go strictly longevity because we need to keep under-geared or moderately geared DPS and tanks alive. In other words, you can’t stop with what was “definitely good” 4 months ago, and from an entirely different tier, and just leave it at that.
As we enter Firelands now, you must reevaluate all the things you know are good and bad. What changes were made and how do we adjust, if even adjust at all? Mastery is still *the* throughput stat, in my opinion, but how do you maintain your throughput without longevity? We’re back to where we were in December. With the MTT and Innervate nerfs, we’re all largely self-reliant now when it comes to mana efficiency. MTT is no longer going to save the day (probably will be back to respectable levels once geared for HM’s) and Druids are going to have to be stingy with their innervates because: 1)it’s weaker on other players; and 2) they’re not relying on our MTT for any notable regen any longer.
“Mastery was always great in T11 normals, especially during abilities like spew, flamethrower, etc”
The abilities listed here definitely allowed mastery to shine for those brief moments where we had to heal through them. The main point of my “crappy mastery in normals” point of view was based on what we were doing when those short duration events were not occurring. Even with 150% crits, I *could* still get a better heal (based on RNG of course) on an 80% hp target with crit than I could with mastery. Plus, I would get some regen from it too. To even get a 50% increase in healing from mastery could only possibly come from insane amounts of mastery and on a fight like Chimaeron. It’s just how the linear function of it works. In heroics and especially after 4.1 buffs, Mastery was without a doubt the go-to stat.
“X, Y, and Z resources said A, B, and C”
I use external resources quite often. I like to look at EJ to see what the number crunchers are proposing. I read Life in Group 5 often to get Vixsin’s perspective. I read some forums here and there to get the general sentiment of the Shaman community. What I do not do (and what I encourage everyone to practice) is take their word for and run like the wind! I evaluate what they say, look at how I play the Resto game, and see which components I can use in my own playstyle.
The Plan Thus Far
So what happens when I personally evaluate all of that? Well, Blizz sort of threw us a bone there. Devs specifically stated the increase on crits was to make it a more attractive stat to healers. Ok, I like it. They revamp our Imp WS to resurgence. What did I do? I went back to crit for early T12. At the time of this writing, I’m sitting at 23% unbuffed crit, 12pts of Mastery, and staying at the 916 haste breakpoint. I’m at ilvl 368, so better than 359, but not quite all in 372’s. So far, I like it. My throughput is excellent and at very competitive levels and my longevity is persistent (not going OOM). We’re back to the same issue of “people are not staying damaged enough for long enough” to promote a heavy throughput build.
Where do I plan to go late this tier? Haste/Crit. Don’t take that as me saying that I’ve always been on the haste bandwagon because believe me, I haven’t. After T10, I toyed with everything BUT haste (I knew our mana wouldn’t support it) and went crit for normals, Mastery for heroics. I do believe that crit is going to play a large role throughout this whole tier and with mastery and haste both being our true dependable throughput stats, haste will allow me to crit more often, thereby making sure I have the mana to maintain a heavier haste build.
The beauty of it all? Shaman can go with any of these stats as their primary focus and do just fine. I think determining *the* best stat individually will depend on how the player behind the Shaman plays.