Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Cataclysm Changes - Shaman

It appears Cataclysm is closer and closer, as blizzard has finished up their beta changes to all the classes except Paladins, which they are close on. So for the next three days we will get detailed class changes coming to the other 9 classes, and here at Healer Trek we will have it covered for you from the healer side. The first day brings us Shaman and Priest changes (sometime, Priest changes are still not announced as of 11 PM). The Shaman changes are more than enough to keep us occupied though.

Let's begin with the new spells being added at lower levels for Restoration Shamans. At level 4, a Shaman will get Healing Wave, as the current spell with that name will become Greater Healing Wave. Considering there is a Lesser Healing Wave, this will set up shamans with the same basic toolbox as priests with "Heal". This is not a major change but it may give the shaman more flexibility if the new Healing Wave is like a Flash Heal for a priest. This could be a good change or it could be worthless.

The second spell a shaman will learn is Unleashed Weapon, which will work like a paladin's judgement. You have the Windfury/Flametongue/Earthliving Weapon on and then you can release it for a special ability with Unleashed Weapon. The healing on is Earthliving Weapon, which will release to heal the shaman slightly and buff the next healing spell by 20%. This could be critical in some close fights, and it brings more strategy to healing.

The third spell is a rehash from a previous new spell called Spirit Link. Essentially Spirit Link links your target with two or more nearby targets, causing damage to be spread among the targets. This is a nifty idea that may allow a DPS to transfer hard hits to a tank in certain circumstances. Or on especially hard fights for a tank, you can spread the damage out a bit and then AoE heal. Again, this is adding more strategy and interest to healing.

Now we turn to Cataclysm level abilities. At level 83 you will receive Healing Rains
which is an AoE heal over time spell that you put down like a lightwell, except the healing happens automatically to all characters in the area for 10 seconds. This will obviously be a new complement to Chain Heal, and may allow the shaman to be an even more efficient raid healer. This would be the most exciting new spell if not for...

Spiritwalker's Grace at level 85. This is a self-target buff that allows you to avoid spellcasting interruption for 10 seconds due to MOVEMENT. Yes, a shaman will be able to cast all their heals on the move for 10 seconds, with a cooldown of 2 minutes. On current fights like Professor Putricide and Marrowgar, this would be a godsend. As it is, I think this is a much better endgame healing ability than the class has ever had. And again, the spells are encouraging smarter and more strategic play, something I am all for.

All in all, these changes alone make shaman healing quite a bit more versatile, like priests. It makes me, as a priest main, more excited about leveling my shaman Clara. But we're not quite done yet.

Each of the healing classes is changing to have one dispel mechanic for two of the four kinds of negative buffs in the game. This is a nerf for shamans, who will only be able to remove curses and magic (no more poison removal and no more brainless cleansing Totem). Blizzard wants you to actively monitor and remove debuffs, and this will bring shamans in line with everyone else. I agree with this change despite the fact that it is a nerf.

The mastery top level for resto shamans is called Deep Healing, which will give progressive bonuses to healing targets based on how much life they have. Thus, a tank at 5% will receive much more bonus healing than a tank at 95%. Without knowing the endgame mastery of other healing classes, it is hard to say where this will stack up. But it looks like resto shamans are going to become more "clutch".

That sums it up, and this is just for restoration shamans! There are tons of changes coming down the pipe, but that makes sense since this expansion is basically dubbed WoW 2.0. I think these changes will make restoration shamans far more versatile and powerful, but only time will tell if the other classes see a similar overhaul. One healing class down, and we're feeling very good so far about Cataclysm.

next up will be Priests tomorrow, my expertise. I'm kind of hoping for the return of Power Word Barrier, honestly. But priests are very balanced already, so it's just small stuff in all likelihood.

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