Spell and Talent Changes
In patch 8.1, Tides of Vengeance, Chain Heal is being buffed by 33.3%. This change brings Chain Heal back into relevancy for raid healing for all talent builds. Along with this buff to Chain Heal, High Tide has received a rework. High Tide no longer adds an additional bounce to Chain Heal while also reducing bounce falloff. Instead, upon spending 40,000 mana, you will gain two charges of High Tide. These charges are consumed on your next two casts of Chain Heal increasing the healing of that Chain Heal by 20% and causing it to have no bounce falloff. This means all bounces of Chain Heal will heal for the same base amount and they are all buffed by 20%. In addition, Unleash Life is receiving changes as well. The upfront healing of Unleash Life is being increased by about 18%. To counterbalance this change, the increased healing on your next healing spell is being reduced from an increase of 45% to 35%. This change is pretty much overall neutral and makes sense when considering the potential of Unleash Life with the new High Tide. The increased upfront healing also means the opportunity cost of using Unleash Life is much lower since it heals for slightly less than a Healing Surge. Overall when you add the spellpower from Unleash Life with the spell it buffed, there is almost no change in the total spellpower (slightly favoring the 8.1 version) when used on Healing Wave, Healing Surge, and Riptide. Chain Heal gains more from the 8.1 changes due to the 33.3% buff which outweighs the difference in the Unleash Life change. The total effectiveness of UnL + CH in patch 8.1 yields a gain of around 20% spellpower when UnL is used on a CH in comparison to their 8.0 counterparts.
Azerite Armor Changes
Azerite armor has a significant change in 8.1 upon the launch of “BFA Season 2,” the addition of a new outer ring of traits. This new outer ring contains two spec specific traits for every specialization. This means we will be able to have two outer ring traits on each piece of azerite gear resulting in a total of 6 outer ring traits. You are still only able to have a maximum of three points in a single trait. With the new outer ring, you can potentially have two traits fully maxed out with 3 points each, or you can go for a large variety of upwards of 6 individual traits. To prevent gear from being too repetitive, Blizzard is adding in a few new traits to increase diversity of character builds as well as retooling some familiar traits to be more appealing.
Azerite Trait Changes
There are a few changes incoming to a few traits we can use as Restoration Shamans in patch 8.1. The first of these is Ancestral Resonance. Ancestral Resonance now increases Heroism/Bloodlust duration by 10 seconds and provides a chance at a mastery buff anytime you cast a spell. The chance to proc this mastery buff is increased during Heroism/Bloodlust. Time Warp is also affected by this trait. Overflowing Shores is receiving a change to how it affects the radius of Healing Rain. Rather than being a stackable 10% radius increase, it now increases the radius once to 12 yards and the radius component no longer stacks. Spouting Spirits is being redesigned slightly by increasing the radius of SLT by 15% at the cost of healing for slightly less. This radius increase does not stack with multiple traits, but the healing still does. Lastly, Swelling Stream has received a heavy handed nerf of around 60%. Even with how easy Swelling Stream was to use and the throughput provided, this nerf is a little over the top from Blizzard. Overall these changes promote taking one trait of Overflowing Shores, Spouting Spirits and Ancestral Resonance to gain the non stacking components, while seeking other three other traits to fill in the 6 total outer ring traits available to us.
New Azerite Traits
There are two new traits coming in 8.1, with only one of them being an outer ring trait. Turn of the Tide is a new outer ring trait that increases the healing of Healing Wave and Healing Surge while they are affected by Tidal waves as well as increasing the effectiveness of tidal waves by an additive 5% on each aspect. This means the cast time reduction on Healing Wave goes to 35% from 30% and the increased critical chance on Healing Surge goes to 45% from 40%. The 5% bonus to tidal waves does not stack with multiple traits, but the increased healing on Healing Wave and Healing Surge does. This trait seems great as a one of for raids and could potentially be stacked for larger Healing Waves and Healing Surges in 5 man content. The other new trait is a utility trait that is present on the inner ring and it is called Ancient Ankh Talisman. This trait increases your maximum health while Reincarnation is off cooldown, and causes Reincarnation to cooldown 50% faster while you are at full health. Stacking multiples of this trait increases the maximum health provided while Reincarnation is off cooldown.