The Mists Shaman: Thoughts
With the Mists pre-patch heading to a PTR near you soon(tm), Cataclysm draws ever to a close.
It’s no secret that Cataclysm was not an “easy” expansion pack to be a shaman. While our Sunwell days are far behind us, Wrath was definitely in the shaman sweet spot. With gobs of haste, our chain heal could easily overshadow the other healing classes – and while many healing classes were still very “niche”-based, shaman in Wrath were among some of the most balanced, all around “good to have” healers.
We entered into early Cataclysm with devs saying that shamans were their “ideal” healer as far as toolkit and potential, and other healers were buffed/balanced to bring them in line with the versatility and output once solely the realm of a shaman. At the same time, shaman got relatively few changes and so we started Cataclysm somewhat “behind the curve”, so to speak. Thanks to a few adjustments during the course of the expansion pack (as well as a final, somewhat uninspired raid tier that catered heavily towards stacked healing and high output), healers are finishing Cataclysm with some amount of parity.
So what is Mists going to be like for us?
From the looks of it, shaman are shaping up to be a strong class. We have several new cooldowns at our disposal (Healing Tide Totem and Ascendance being the two most notable). At this stage in beta, we still struggle on spread healing but have arguably the best single target burst healing and stacked AOE healing. Mana remains tight for all classes, a fact oft overlooked when beta shaman report mana concerns.
In general, output-wise, shaman/druid/paladin are pretty much on par, with paladin occasionally pulling ahead slightly. Priests overall seem to be lagging behind, for whatever reason, but I suspect that most of it is just talents and abilities still being worked out design-side. Mistweaver monks trounce everyone at this moment, but they’re destined to be nerfed, and all in all, due to shaman raid utility, a monk is more likely to push out a druid or a paladin in a min-maxing 25-man group than an equivalently skilled shaman.
If you like playing your shaman now, you’ll like them in Mists. Our core playstyle is largely unchanged, save for some new cool-downs that will need to be worked into our arsenal. It’s not clear what the FOTM healer will be in Mists (other than, perhaps Mistweaver), but shaman remain what they always have been: powerful burst healers with high group utility and stacked AOE potential.