Lissanna wrote a really great article last week about gearing your Restokin. Although gear sets are much closer, and many pieces can be shared between restoration and balance nowadays, there’s always a tension that arises when you’re trying to keep two sets in the best shape possible. While I didn’t want to repeat information that has already been covered with finesse, I did want to take a moment to talk about my own experiences with covering a dual role, and how it impacts gear decisions.
One of the things that caught my eye when reading Lissanna’s article was her point that you should choose a main and off-spec and stick with it. I’ve always found this true with other roles, most notably when I was a tank. My tank set was always my main priority, and I cobbled together my dps set on the side.
This seemed like a no brainer when I became a restokin. Healing was my primary function, and I should always upgrade my healing set first. This worked really well in the first tier of Cataclysm. I didn’t particularly notice any issues when I swapped from restoration to dps. My dps was always lower than the main-spec dps, but not so much so that I ever felt like this:
And then we went on to Firelands. I kept gearing up my restoration set as the end-all and be-all of my universe. It worked out fine in normal modes. It went ok for most of heroic modes. I started to notice a bit more of a lag between the main-spec deeps and myself, but I wasn’t horribly worried: this was my off-spec after all. But as my regular readers know, Ragnaros happened, and it rocked my world.
Going into Dragon Soul, I thought about Ragnaros. As we began doing clears on normal-mode, I was thinking to myself, “two heals or three?” When I won my first tier token, I held on to it over the weekend, debating. I talked to our resident strategy guy.
I finally decided, despite my role, despite my main-spec designation of restoration, that gearing primarily for restoration was a bad idea.
If I stayed in normal-modes, the difference between healing and dps requirements wasn’t a problem. This is probably to some extent due to the group I run with. Enrage timers, whether hard or soft, haven’t been a problem for us for most of Cataclysm. Healing intensive fights have been even less so.
But when facing hard-mode encounters, dps requirements become tighter. It wasn’t until Ragnaros that I felt the sting of that requirement. But perusing the heroic modes we’ll be facing in Dragon Soul, there seem to be a few dps races. Ultraxion and Deathwing seem like the biggest issues.
My role in the raid might be different than yours. I’m a main-spec healer on 3-healing fights. On 2-healing fights, I get shuffled to balance… unless someone is out for the night. Then I need to step into a 2-heal situation. Fortunately my 2 sets are remarkably interchangeable. My biggest issue with balancing my set is hit for balance and mana for restoration.
I started out kitting my gear for balance primarily, with a partial focus on restoration. What this means for me is that I have way too much haste when in my restoration set, and I’m quite a bit over the hit cap in my balance set. I always look for overall stat upgrades, even if it means it skews my stats a bit for either set: my main goal is to increase my intellect as much as possible, get as much haste as possible in my boomkin set, while shearing off all the spirit I can find. If I have any reforges left to do, I boost my mastery. Sometimes I do have different pieces for the same slot for both specs, but it’s always a balancing act with every piece of gear.
What I found this week though encourages me that it was the right thing to do. We had the last four bosses to take down in normal-mode Dragon Soul this week, and we decided to 2-heal it all the way. I was competitive. In the first time in a few weeks, I managed to get more raw output than our restoration shaman. I chalk this up to less healers, and more HoT effectiveness, but whatever the reason, I was definitely moving enough healing mojo. My mana was tight. I did have to keep an eagle eye on the blue bar, but it worked.
So as a caveat to Lissanna’s excellent advice, I’d add this: if you spend at least equal time between restoration and balance, consider gearing for balance first, at the very least for your tier pieces. It can make a big difference in your effectiveness as a dps player, and is more likely to make you a better balanced addition to your team in whichever role you’re asked to perform.