Earth, Water, and Lightning: How I Shaman Heal


~~This post is something I’ve been wanting to post for awhile but hesitated because, really, why do another guide? So this really isn’t a guide, but an insight into how I specifically play. It’s not about right or wrong (because I don’t think I’m really doing anything _wrong_); it’s for informational purposes for my healing teammates.~~

The healers on our raid team have had an idea to get together to discuss how we operate during raids to provide insight and opportunity for strategic planning. This is my contribution to get the ball rolling.

My background
I have been healing on a shaman since I started Cathrynis (Now Balma, the trollie) in late May 2011. I transferred Marsaili to Medivh in early July and began seriously healing on her. I have, however, been a healer my entire WoW career — from my first character, a night elf druid casting heals on Rick’s night elf warrior. I never really played the official healer role until I rolled my priest, Elizabeth. But when I did, it just felt right. I finally had a legitimate excuse for my constantly watching health bars and estimating incoming damage. I am a healer.


I am Dorflady. I whip my hair back and forth.

My character
I have set up my shaman’s talents and glyphs to provide the most throughput as possible. Note, however, that shaman sacrifice raw healing output to gain the utility of totems. As a shaman, I will never match or exceed a druid’s or holy priest’s awesome throughput. And I shouldn’t. I bring additional utility through my totems to hopefully make up for the lack of raw healing. Some days I recognize this sacrifice; some days I literally cry out in frustration. But everytime I slap down Healing Rains, Spirit Link Totem and Chain Heal, I am reminded why I heal on my shaman.

Talents & Glyphs
My shaman uses a pretty standard talent setup, found here. I have been thinking of creating two resto specs, one aimed at raid healing and one aimed at tank healing. This is a second raid healing-specific talent spec/glyph setup I’ve been playing with.

You’ll notice something about the resto talent tree — there’s not a lot of room for variance. Sure, there are some talents I don’t *have* to take. It seems, however, that I would lose even more throughput or utility by transferring talents from the resto tree to either the enhancement or elemental trees. I’m comfortable where I am currently, but I may play with that second spec some to see what happens.

Things to note with this talent setup:
1.) My Earth Shielded targets gain 18% healing effectiveness through Nature’s Blessing. This is one of a few talents that increases my tank-healing effectiveness.
2.) Ancestral Healing provides a buff, Ancestral Fortitude that mitigates damage.
3.) I gain instant-cast Ghost Wolf by talenting into Ancestral Swiftness in the enhancement tree. This ability is pretty awesome as it allows me to run faster — I tend to use it when I need to get near someone to heal them up. Fabulous talent.
4.) I have a 20% chance to heal a target for 1.4k when I dispel Curses or Magic from people.
5.) I have two important talents taken, Focused Insight and Telluric Currents, that allow me to either cut my mana cost or actively regen mana during a fight.

Glyphs
Glyph choices for resto shaman are quite limited.  There really are only so many glyphs that actually pertain to healing. My main talent setup uses the following glyphs:

Prime

  • Earthliving Weapon – Increases the effectiveness of your Earthliving weapon’s periodic healing by 20%.
  • Riptide – Increases the duration of Riptide by 40%.
  • Earth Shield – Increases the amount healed by your Earth Shield by 20%.

Major

  • Chain Heal – Increases healing done by your Chain Heal spell to targets beyond the first by 15%, but decreases the amount received by the initial target by 10%.
  • Healing Stream Totem – Your Healing Stream Totem also increases the Fire, Frost, and Nature resistance of party and raid members within 30 yards by 195.
  • Healing Wave – Your Healing Wave also heals you for 20% of the healing effect when you heal someone else.

Minor

  • Renewed Life – Your Reincarnation spell no longer requires a reagent.
  • Water Breathing – Your Water Breathing spell no longer requires a reagent.
  • Water Walking – Your Water Walking spell no longer requires a reagent.

I won’t go in-depth on these glyphs as they are pretty straight forward, but if you have any questions, please ask!

Mastery
The restoration shaman mastery is very nice for my current healing assignments. This mastery tends to wane in usefulness as we overcome raiding obstacles and learn the fights better — less damage is taken due to better damage avoidance, so the need to spike heal is less.

For the time being, I am enjoying the ability to bring a player from 10% health to 80% in one cast. :>

My mastery is called Deep Healing and it provides:

Spells, Abilities & Totems
This part of my contribution, I think, is the most important. This is how I actually do my healing. Since I typically raid-heal, that is what I will outline below.

Pre-pull
The first three things I do before doing anything else are 1) cast Water Shield; 2) imbue my weapon with Earthliving Weapon; and 3) drop my totems. Preparedness really does pay off when playing a shaman.

I will Earth Shield one of the tanks; either the one pulling the boss (who tends to take more damage) or the one tanking the boss.  As each fight is different, this strategy will and can change on the fly.

I then tend to cast Riptide on the tank as a buffer (because I still try to be a druid okay) if they will be in range of the melee players so I can cast Chain Heal, which is buffed by Riptide.

Depending on my mana needs for the fight (I’m looking at you, ugly Psider) or anticipated incoming damage, I will Flame Shock the boss to gain Focused Insight and then, depending on amount of incoming damage AND number of people being damaged AND ALSO how close together they are, drop Healing Rain. You may have noticed that Chain Heal is buffed by Healing Rain; the two are meant to be used together. So when I see someone standing OUTSIDE the shiny blue circle, I cry on the inside.

Note about Healing Rain: It costs me 46% of base mana, which is just over 10k mana. OVER TEN THOUSAND MANA. My mana pool is, fully buffed & with Power Torrent procs, ~120k mana. So this spell is essentially 8% of my entire mana pool. Suffice it to say that I simply cannot spam Healing Rain.

During the Fight
I typically try to keep Riptide up and Chain Heal when I can. I have had a hard time with melee not standing near enough to each other to make Chain Heal worth its mana cost. I realize that some fights require movement and being spread out, so I tend to switch to spamming Healing Wave. I save Greater Healing Wave for moments when someone is taking more damage than anticipated and I need to get them up fast.

Tidal Waves
Tidal Waves is a buff gained from the Tidal Waves talent in the restoration tree. Tidal Waves really shapes the actual feel of shaman healing — it’s almost like you’re waltzing with the raid. Riptide – Healing Wave – Healing Wave, Riptide – Healing Wave – Healing Wave. The 30% reduction in cast time really does help get healing to people that need it. This will come as second nature to new shaman healers (which is why I forgot about it completely!)

In-combat Mana Regen
Shaman have both active and passive means of in-combat mana regen. I’ve outlined these abilities below:

Active

  • Mana Tide Totem – See below.
  • Telluric Currents – Note: TC is great on a fight where I have some downtime, but know that I have to make a decision between losing a GCD to TC for mana regen OR using that GCD to throw out a Healing Wave. (Trust me on using HW; if I am at the point of considering TC, I probably don’t have enough mana to use Greater Healing Wave.)

Passive

  • Resurgence
  • Water Shield
  • Spirit – My in-combat mana regen is about 2.7k, which seems like a lot, but you have to consider the mana cost of my spells is rather high and my mana pool is rather limited (even with 2.4k Spirit and 5.6k Intellect).

Oh-Crap! Button
Most healers have an “Oh Crap!” button they hit when big, fast heals are needed.  I actually have a combination of buttons I press to produce the achieve the same goal:

1.) Unleash Elements with Earthliving Weapon
2.) Nature’s Swiftness (Note: Resto Druids have a spell of the same name but it does not do they same thing, exactly)
3.) Greater Healing Wave

If I have my wits about me (and a second to spare), I will also mash my Moonwell Chalice button before doing the above to make sure whomever I’m healing is at least brought back to 75% health.
I don’t have these abilities macro’d together as I would still be required to press a button three times (or three buttons one time each).

Totems
Shaman have an epic ton of totems. Totems, however, only have a range of 20 yards (I have it talented with Totemic Reach; without the talent, my totems would only reach 15 yards). There are totems useful for buffing your groupmates and debuffing your enemies.  Some totems are intended by the developers to be used in PVp situations and others in PVE situations.  The fun thing about totems is figuring out which ones to use when and where. Sometimes, I’ll find a use for a PVP-oriented totem in a PVE situation (a good example is Grounding Totem when being barraged by shadow bolts on what’s-her-face-cat-lady boss in Zul Gurub).

For my healing purposes and in consideration of our raidteam makeup, I tend to run with the following totems, at all times:

  • Stoneskin Totem – Our death knights provide a similar buff to Strength of Earth Totem with their Horn of Winter ability.
  • Flametongue Totem – Straight up spellpower buff
  • Healing Stream Totem – This is a workhorse totem. Can be up to 1.5m healing. When looking at my performance on raid logs, it’s important to remember how much healing HST does — You have to effectively combine the “Marsaili” row on Healing Done with the “Healing Stream Totem” row to get a rough idea.
  • Windfury Totem – Buff to our consistently melee-heavy raid composition.

I do weave in other totems during a fight as they are more like cooldown abilities.  These totems are very special and provide flavor and uniqueness to restoration shaman. One of them is why I love my shaman.

Mana Tide Totem – Once the great spirit-slaving totem of yore, MTT is now a mana regen cooldown useful for gaining back some mana during lulls of some fights. It has a short duration (12 seconds), but does provide a nice chunk of mana.

Spirit Link Totem – This totem can be confusing as when placed, it displays a circular, moving yellow graphic and appears to give health to raid/party members.  What actually happens, however, is not that simple. This totem provides two benefits: 1) 10% damage reduction and 2) health. The latter benefit is derived from redistributing the collective group health across all raid/party members during a 6-second period. Jadiera of Totem Forest created this nifty graphic to really show how this totem works and you should take a look at it to fully understand.

I will try to get into the habit of announcing when I’m going to drop Slink — this will hopefully get everyone aware and using their damage mitigation cooldowns such as Anti-Magic Shield, Plasma Shield (engineering tinker), or other similar cooldowns.

Something to keep in mind about Spirit Link Totem: I am apprehensive about just dropping it anytime. I feel that the raid should be healed up to some extent before using it as it does have the potential to kill people or wipe the raid due to low health and constant incoming damage. Most experienced shaman healers will disagree or question my hesitation and that’s okay. This totem is like driving on your own the first time ever: It’s really powerful yet very scary at the same time. The more I heal, the more comfortable I will get.

UI
Here is a screenshot of my UI, trying to be in-combat at a training dummy <:\ (Click to make bigger)

I think I’ve covered just about everything — please ask questions! You can email me liz at authorizedtoramble dot com or send me a message on Twitter. Or yanno, leave a comment. :>

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