An In-Depth Look at Haste Breakpoints
There are a lot of choices when it comes to our secondary stats, and many different ways to approach shaman healing. One of the most important is which haste breakpoint you want to sit at, and which of the tier 60 talents you choose. How much spirit to roll with, and how to balance your crit VS mastery are separate issues, and depend on many different factors. For haste however there definitely seem to be a few sweet spots in the haste breakpoint chart. These can drastically change your performance and testing out different setups is one of the best ways to improve as a healer in Heroic Throne of Thunder and beyond.
Here is the chart, straight from Blinkenstein’s Totemspot page, much props to him for doing all the math. Some of the # total ticks are labeled incorrectly, but that doesn’t really matter since the breakpoints are accurate, at each point you will get another tick from that ability.
Biggest thing when first looking at this is to understand which column you’re in. There is a 10% column (labeled AS/+5% Raid), and 5% column (+5% raid), and a None column. In a raid there are two possible 5% haste buffs we can have, one personal from our Ancestral Swiftness talent, and one raid buff brought from either a boomkin, shadow priest, elemental shaman, or hunter pet.
If you have both use the 10% column, if you have one of the two use the 5% column, if you have neither than use the none column. Getting the raid spell haste buff is key, in a 25 man you should never have to worry about it, but in a 10-man it’s possible to not have any of the above classes. If you don’t, get your hunter to bring a sporebat, and if you don’t have a hunter …. tough luck, going to have to press on with a non-ideal comp. Push for change!
One very important note before we look at which breakpoint to aim for; the HST and HTT breakpoints are currently affected by an issue involving your personal ping, and might not always grant you the intended amount of ticks. The higher your ping, the more you need to be over the threshold to ensure the full amount of ticks 100% of the time.
As an example, I play between 85-90 ping, and for me to get the full amount of ticks from the 20.01% breakpoint, I need to go almost to 21%. That means, for me, about 6469 rating instead of the 6077 (in the 5% column). When I sat as close to the breakpoint as I could get, at 6081, I got 10 ticks (what I should have gotten) roughly 70% of the time, and 9 ticks the other 30%.
This is a huge issue, since getting that extra tick of HST/HTT is one of the main goals for us, as both of them make up massive amounts of our healing (especially with the T15 2-pc). So when analyzing the 20.01% breakpoint, keep this latency issue in mind, as well as how often (if ever) you swap to Ancestral Guidance. Depending on how much extra haste you need to ensure 100% ticks, and how often you don’t have HTT as a talent, the 20.01% BP could seem much less appealing.
Ancestral Swiftness vs Elemental Mastery
The most important decision in regards to haste is the choice between Ancestral Swiftness and Elemental Mastery (Echo of the Elements is also on the talent tier, but not highly recommended, so we’ll just ignore it for now). Basically it comes down to either being faster all the time, and getting yourself into that 10% column (plus a instant-cooldown button), OR being slower most of the time but having a personal burst cooldown, like a mini-heroism, for big damage spikes.
Both have their advantages. Using AS you will obviously be faster, and be able to reach higher haste breakpoints, like the 7613 rating / 30% Healing rain one. That is a VERY strong option, with you personally casting fast, having a instant-cast c/d button, and having your Healing Rain, Riptide, and Healing totems get extra ticks.
Using EM, by contrast, will make you cast slower and won’t give you access to the 30% breakpoint (possibly in T16 gear), HOWEVER for 20 seconds every 90 seconds you will get a massive haste boost, which will put you at breakpoints higher than those you get to with AS. EM being 90 seconds now (since 5.2) is also nice in that it can potentially be used with every HTT & Ascendance, if you stagger them 90 seconds apart.
The added 30% bonus is multiplicative, not a straight addition, so keep that in mind to see what breakpoint you’ll be over when EM is activated. For instance, if your haste is 13%, using EM won’t push you to an even 43%, it will be a little higher. And the more haste you have, the higher the bonus. For me personally, some results were…
7.17% -> EM -> 39.32% (+32.15%)
12.53% -> EM -> 46.28% (+33.75%)
20.43% -> EM -> 56.56% (+36.13%)
So keep in mind what haste you’ll be at before and after using EM when deciding where to put your haste. Like in the middle example, it might be worth it to add just a tiny but more haste, since your post-EM number is .4% below the next healing stream tick. You would need to add less than .4% haste, since EMs boost is multiplicative, and if you’re not using HTT that fight then you would be dropping HST on most EM periods. Also your ping would play a factor.
As you can see, LOTS of variables go into this, try to consider as much as possible when choosing. Both talents are 100% viable, and shine on different fights (EM is perfect for H-Megaera, AS better for Dark Animus). As always I encourage people to test for themselves and adjust to their specific situation.
Meta Gem of Legendary Goodiness
The meta gem is another thing to factor in when deciding where to put your haste. Acquiring it is an immediate boost to your mana, and most people are shaving off a bit of spirit to compensate. Adding haste is a VERY good option after getting the meta gem, since bumping haste is one surefire way to increase our effectiveness. It also has the added benefit of being able to squeeze more into the 4-second proc window (spells have to land within the 4 second window to be free).
As with everything else, test if out for yourself, but the addition of the meta gem should definitely ease mana restrictions, and allow you to lose a bit of spirit and gain points in other areas, as well as put yourself at a higher haste breakpoint for more output capacity.
Results, aka TL:DR
So, there are a lot of choices, but a few of them seem to stand out as sweet spots to aim for. While by no means saying any of these are mandatory, or the only ways that work, here are some of the more popular Shaman haste builds at the moment. Using non-goblin values, so goblins, adjust as needed, you lucky so and so’s.
30% – 7613 rating – AS
This is a strong build that’s gaining popularity as people get more geared and get their legendary metas. Reaching 7613 rating is difficult before being having an ilvl in the 520’s, and you might need to gem some haste and enchant your gloves and possibly boots. This high-haste build can be incredibly effective, casting speed is very high ( and being at 30% always gives your HR, RT, and healing totems extra ticks.
20.01% – 3764 rating – AS
Same benefits from AS as the build above, but with your RT and HR getting one less tick. This was where most people using AS were earlier this tier, before gear & the legendary meta allowed a push to 30%. Remember to test your ping and adjust accordingly. This build does allow for almost 4k worth of other secondary stats compared to the one above, but taking a tick away from both RT & HR is a big hit. This might be preferable if you’re using AS in a 10-man where HR doesn’t account for as much of your healing as it does in 25.
12.51% – 3039 rating – EM
This tiers version of “I want minimum haste to bump up all my other output stats”, this build takes advantage of high crit/mastery combined with burst when you need it. It it hard to get much lower than this on haste anyway unless you really strategize to avoid it. You do get the extra tick of HTT from the 40.01% breakpoint, which is important. This can be a very strong build given the right situation.
You may want to go just a tad over the minimum rating to reach the HST 46.68% bp when EM is active. One extra tick of HST, and only during EM, might not sounds like much, but if it’s only a few hundred points of haste or less for it, it could be beneficial.
20.01% – 6077 – EM
As with the 20.01% bp with AS above, be sure to test your ping and tick % first before setting this. If you go with EM, I recommend the above bp more than this one, since it’s basically 3k more haste rating for only an extra tick of HST. HTT will get the same amount of ticks from this or the 3039 bp with EM. That being said, HST is a huge part of our healing, and this can be a strong build.
Well, there you have it, as with almost everything Shaman healing related, most of it depends on your specific situation. Some of the main factors are whether you’re in 10man vs 25man raid, how many absorb classes you play with, and your personal preference & play style. The great thing about being a resto shammy is how many different directions we can go with stats/talents and still be successful. Take care and have fun healing :)