Who were these crazy shamans, and what were they doing?
When I got started healing, I was almost always following Valinar around. Made sense to me at the time! I could throw an Earth shield on him, drop Strength of Earth and Windfury down, and trail behind him skinning things.
When we started getting into instances, I was still basically glued to Valinar, and we seemed to know more people who wanted to stay Tanks than who wanted to offspec and play DPS. So Val continued to be the Furious Whirlwind of Night Elf Rage, Yet Politely. Synergy being what it was, and what with everyone we knew leveling up at the same time, we were frequently spoiled for choice on things. We often took along other melee folks (rogues, c'mon down! you're the next contestant on the heals are for you!).
Then when I started raiding, I pretty much didn't see any reason not to keep doing that. We had lovely paladin healers to handle the tanks, and priests who could cover the tanks as well as raid heal if they liked, and druids who could make the whole raid HoT, and then… there was me. I like to raid heal. I really, really, really like to raid heal. I like the fact that my abilities make me a natural fit for raid healing. I like saving group 2 from themselves, and being part of the reason warriors can stand in shit they really shouldn't ("but it's RAGE!"). Mostly I like the fact that my careful watching of a situation includes the knowledge that my addons can't really predict who's going to soak up the chain heal, so I have to know whether someone's out by his lonesome somewhere, or whether he's surrounded by people who also need a heal. Generally, when we all take damage at once, I slam heals on all the dudes packed up by the boss's feets — the tank and melee, not necessarily in that order.
So what I don't know is what other shamans were doing, because apparently that wasn't it. Now, I've been in raids before where for some reason the actual assignment someone gets is this big status thing — "I'm the MT healer! I'd like to thank my family, friends, and Bolvar Fordragon for his inpsiration", but I'm happy to say that TRI is not like that. We do try to give everyone jobs suited to them, but I don't think any of us perceive it as a status thing. And yeah, if I reglyph and respec a little, I can make a perfectly tolerable tank healer…
…and maybe that's what other shamans were doing. Why? I don't know. It's a more straightforward job, sure, but to me it seemed kinda boring (I have one… big… very slow… heal, and Earth Shield, which I have on the tank most of the time anyway. Sure, I could occasionally throw a Lesser Healing Wave or a Riptide, but mostly… it's that one… big… sloooooooow… heal.), and very heavy on mana. If I'm going to be covering a single tank, I really like that he's often in the midst of a bunch of people, who I can hit with incidental chain heals, or when he's fighting something that has a spell that needs interrupting, which I can do with a timely Wind Shock, thus decreasing my threat on that mob, anyway. (When you have no other aggro dump, you get grateful for the ones you have, even if you wear mail and carry a shield.)
At any rate, apparently enough of the other shamans were Doing It Wrong (at least according to Blizzard) that… Chain Heal got buffed through the roof. What's more, my mana regeneration via chain heal got buffed through the roof. Take a look at this:
|Water Shield||97942||mana gained|
|Water Shield||232815||mana gained|
That's an average night's chain heal and water shield output before and after the patch. Hitting more people and doing more healing and replenishing more mana = happy happy happy shammy!
As for the totem bar, I am… undecided. It's useful and nice, but it's not very useful in the heat of combat, except to drop sets you've already established. There are no options on it; you can't make it fly up with mouseover. If you want to drop a new totem out of the bar, you have to click a teeny tiny
button, then click a very small picture of the totem you want, then click the teeny tiny button again. If you click wrong, you end up with NO totem in the bar, or some godawful totem you really do not want (magma totem + cc'd mobs = NOOOOO).
It's great to be able to drop more than one totem at a time, I'll give them that. Repositioning fights where I used to lose four GCDs are much easier to handle; never was I so grateful for it as I was during the gauntlet half of Thorim. (Though the Auriaya repositinings were nice, too.) However, on those times when I just want one totem, it falls short. I don't always have 1700 mana to spend on the entire totem spread; sometimes I need to drop Mana Tide, for instance. Or maybe I'm down to my last few hundred mana, but if I don't drop a Tremor Totem, things are going to go badly.
This is where the mod I've been using forever, Totem Timers, has always shined through. I have it set up so my (non-Blizz) totem bar is in the center of my screen (more or less), and when I mouse over each column by element, the totem choices spring up. At that point, they're keybound to 1-6 (or however many totems are in that column), and you can reposition them so the numbers make sense for you (in my case, for water, say, 1 is Mana Spring, 2 is Healing Stream, 3 is Cleansing Totem and 4 is Mana Tide). All I have to do is hover and hit "4" if I'm desperate for mana. With the new system, I'd probably be better off moving Mana Tide to a whole new key binding.
Which is problematic. I'd need a new key binding for the three totem sets, and then a new key binding for every totem I might want to drop without dropping all the other totems. (Mana Tide, Cleansing, Tremor, Earthbind, Grounding, and Magma, just to name a few.)
So while I like the eventual results from the totem bar — I'm not complaining about being able to drop all four at once; there have been times when not losing four global cooldowns has been fantastic — I'm not really sure they know what they're doing with the concept yet. And I'm definitely not giving up TotemTimers anytime soon.