Over the years I’ve healed end-game as a shaman and paladin in World of Warcraft, and a Sorcerer/Sage in The Old Republic. I say this to show I have extensive experience healing over three classes in two different games. Throughout this time, shaman have had three distinct regen models. Out of all of them, my favorite is the most recent, using the talent Telluric Currents in an active model. In this post I will break down each model and explain why I prefer an active over passive.
From Vanilla to Wrath, shaman had a very passive regen model. From Vanilla to Burning Crusade, shaman regen was based solely on the stat “mana gained every 5 seconds” (mp5). Wrath of the Lich King introduced Improved Water Shield. High amounts of crit on later tiers’ gear allowed for a very dull regen model in which crit became the regen stat, rather than mp5. In Cataclysm Spirit became the main regen stat, as IWS (later renamed Resurgence) was reduced in effectiveness. Telluric Currents was also introduced, and will be the focal point of the remainder of the post.
Telluric Currents effectively turned Lightning Bolt into a regen mechanic. Each LB hit restores mana based on the total damage of the spell, meaning TC got better as spell power values increased. What started as a way for Resto Shaman to throw a little mana-neutral damage during healing lulls (according to Ghostcrawler), soon became a central part of a shaman’s endurance as Intellect values on gear scaled, encounters became more demanding on throughput, and shamans’ passive regen failed to keep up with other classes’.
There is much debate in the shaman community as to whether this is healthy for the class, and if it fits in with the original intentions for the class’ niche in end-game encounters. In Mists of Pandaria, TC is being changed to a glyph that decreases the damage of LB by 30%, but buffs the amount restored from 40% of the total damage to 50%. If a shaman’s LB hits for ~9000, the current TC talent would restore ~3600 mana. With the new TC glyph, it would restore ~3150 mana. It’s a nerf, but it will still scale with spell power. It’s currently difficult to say whether the glyph will be worth it from a min/max standpoint. It depends on how well Spirit regen scales with talents/glyphs, the throughput demands of level 90 content, and how well spell power scales on level 90 gear.
As for my personal opinion, however, I much prefer an active regen model over passive. As the type of player who has to fill every global cooldown doing something, I found current TC play very engaging and fun. I am a very reactive healer, so really I had no reason to bother paying attention to an encounter. I looked at health bars and boss addon timers only. With TC, I have to plan out periods where I can afford to stop healing to cast LB. It allows me to use Greater Healing Wave, Chain Heal, and Healing Rain almost exclusively (obviously using Riptide on cooldown). I don’t have to worry about a lack of throughput from Healing Wave, our mana-neutral heal.
Obviously I am hoping they allow for an active regen model in MoP. From looking at the various glyphs, talents, and stats it looks like they’re trying to make passive regen more attractive, possibly giving shaman the option to choose which model they like best. If this is the case, I can finally say that Blizzard has Resto in a good place. Until that day comes, I will obviously use the best model for an encounter, of course. But for now, I will continue to prefer an active model over passive.