Back at the end of Wrath, Life in Group 5 and Totem Forest did a fabulous retrospective. Now that we’re approaching the end of Cataclysm, I thought I would take that and tweak it a bit as a way to look back at this expansion pack.
Healing In General
1. What encounter really showcased your [class’s] healing potential?
Chimaeron in Blackwing Descent.
Back when shaman were largely considered back-seat healers to the much more competitive paladins and priests, even the elitest of the elite agreed that this gimmicky fight was tailor-made for the resto shaman toolbox. And it wasn’t just our mastery that made us kings here, it was the combination of mastery, our perfectly-sized small and fast yet efficient heals (riptide+riptide-buffed healing waves), Earth Living’s HOT, and our heavy burst potential on collapse phases. Oh, and the fact that Spirit Link Totem’s healing effect isn’t really considered healing so a carefully dropped totem can “heal” a tank with the mortality debuff.
In two tiers of early/mid Cata content that made me feel like I was pushing a square-shaped shaman boulder up a hill, Chimaeron was a relief.
2. What was the most challenging fight for you and/or your guild?
Although I took a mini-break during Firelands and missed our Fandral kill, once we were progressing through FL, we had some speed bumps but nothing like Ragnaros. Our difficulties with the fight were probably a combination of raid composition and just playing style, but we eventually put him on the back-burner until we were ready to finish the Legendary. And even then, in Dragon Soul gear, it wasn’t easy for us!
3. What was one talent that your class underestimated in Cata beta which turned out to be amazing?
I admit, I never thought much of the talent back when Cata was still in beta. It seemed great for some spot AOE, but nothing amazing.
I take that back now. Healing Rain is amazing. A-maze-ing.
4. Were there any changes to the class during Cata that really improved your functionality as a healer?
Can I say ‘actually getting a healing cool-down’? From Wrath to Cata, shaman didn’t have any really major functional changes but the addition of Spirit Link Totem during Cata definitely changed the game for most resto shaman.
On an actual functionality standpoint, Unleash Elements rather effectively plays the role of warning me that I don’t have Earthliving buff up. Even us old-school BC shaman forget sometimes! We were about 40% of the way through NM Zon’ozz a few weeks ago when I “unleashed” and saw ye olde “There is no active enchantment to unleash”. I laughed, but I think the raid leader rolled his eyes a bit!
5. What is one thing you personally struggled with as a healer?
The first 2/3rds of Cataclysm really tried my patience as a resto shaman healer. Let me rephrase that: it tried my patience as a competitive shaman healer — not competitive as in wanting to beat up other healers, but in that I like to perform at my top potential.
As I said in Question 1, I felt like I was pushing a square-shaped shaman boulder up a steep incline. There was the general community backlash against shaman healers (thanks to the very public discussion from Paragon about how shamans and resto shamans in particular weren’t worthy of cutting edge raid slots) and then there was the actual CONTENT that forced 10 man resto shamans to work twice as hard for the same results as other healers.
I may have been a diehard shaman supporter in forums and blog comments, saying “bring the player, not the class”…
“But the rest of us? We don’t run with the best of the best players. Our guildies may be very good, but there are also average to mediocre players in the raid groups. This minimizes the impact that our class mechanics have on our ability to produce in most casual to mid-core raiding environments. An excellent resto shaman is still a valuable asset to a raiding team, particularly if they know how to play up their strengths and play down their weaknesses. My raw healing output is not always #1 and sometimes it’s near the bottom – but I also am the one who has the fast reflexes to throw out a clutch heal when it’s needed. That makes me, as a player and even as a resto shaman, valuable.” – from my comment on a post on Totem Forest
But the reality was that it was extremely disheartening to me. Dumping my entire mana pool and fighting to get regen from Telluric Currents just to help keep the raid alive on spread-out fights (Omnitron, I’m looking at you) was not my idea of fun. Being told by pug groups that “shamans suck, reroll” was not fun. Probably only other shaman who played through the raid content on a progression level can understand the frustration that made many of us more competitive players reconsider our class choice.
My voice of frustration from early Cata days:
“I’m really sick and tired of hearing [shaman do consistently 10-20% less healing than the other healing classes]. What the heck am I supposed to do with that? Reroll or delete the character and class that I LOVE playing? Cry? Beg Blizzard to fix it?”
Whew. If anything, I think Cata taught me more patience with myself and that I don’t always have to be “the best” to have fun. And for good old, competitive “I have to be valedictorian or I suck” me, that’s probably a GOOD lesson.
6. Name one thing about the class that you know now that you would have liked to have known when you originally rolled your toon.
That apparently shaman have a thing for wearing bones, chains and spikes. Where’s my pretty armor?!
7. When was your latest “Ah-ha!” resto moment? What sparked it?
As a 10-man shaman, I never really had much opportunity in raids to abuse riptide HOT buffing chain heal. You know, us 10 man shamans don’t chain heal nearly as often as the 25-mans! (When I’m chaining and it’s not a heavy stack phase where every GCD is consumed by HR or CH, it’s probably because I’m feeling lazy or it’s trash and therefore not important.)
So I sorta ignored this functionality — until Mists beta. Since chain heal no longer consumes riptide in Mists, I spent some time specifically chaining off of targets with riptide. I was definitely starting to see why all those 25-man shaman swore on chaining off of riptide targets!
Since my LIVE chain heal still consumes riptide, I probably won’t be using it much until Mists, but it’s nice to gain appreciation for a little-used spell functionality.
8. What’s one spell/talent from another healing class that you’d like to poach, if you could?
Rebirth. Combat rez. I would love to have one! Or a throughput CD like Archangel or Divine Favor/Avenging Wrath.
1. Do you think Spirit-Link Totem filled the gap as our answer to a healing cooldown? Why or why not?
I am a big big fan of Spirit Link Totem. It is all good, in my book. You can treat Spirit Link like an ordinary damage reduction cooldown and then you can make it magical. We use Spirit Link as one of our Elementium Bolt CD’s on Kalecgos’ platform (Madness) and if I time the drop of the totem perfectly so it’s down for the hit and 5 seconds or so afterwards, it can do amazing amazing things in keeping people alive at the brink of death. It is the one CD that can instantly do 10% of your healing for an encounter, if you know how to drop it. I love it.
2. INSTANT Ghost wolf indoors: only for baddies who have issues getting out of fire?
Instant ghost wolf is useful. It means I can spend an extra second healing, precariously near the brink of death (ice walls, Valiona breath) and still get out alive.
Also, you can kite stuff.
3. Armor sets – opinion?
I really hate our armor this expansion. As I said, if I had known shaman armor was all about animal skulls, chains and other creepy things, I might have reconsidered! Rhia is completely NOT into that kind of thing, you know.
Priests, paladins. I’m jealous.
4. At the start of Cata, Blizzard said that shaman were a great example of what they wanted healing to be like .They liked our toolbox and our level of healing. How do you think this played out in Cataclysm?
Shaman have always been the versatile healing class, and I think that’s what Blizzard liked. We are the jacks of all trades, master of none. A shaman can pick up the tank healing or do heavy AOE raid healing without much sweat. Can we tank heal as well as a paladin or disc priest? Nope. Can we raid heal as well as ah holy priest or druid? Nope. We can, however, do either job as required of us, and so a resto shaman is a powerful healer in a team environment.
So, Cata began with Blizzard trying to give “missing” tools to other healers — AOE to paladins, single target strength to holy priests, etc — and ended up with some very lopsided results.
5. Far Sight: did you forget you had this in your spellbook?
I just remembered last week when I was pvping!
6. When players think Shaman they immediately think of Chain Heal; do you think this association with a single defining heal has impacted shaman?
Man, I got so sick of people joking “shaman just cast chain heal and top the meters” in Wrath! I think the good thing about Cataclysm was that people could see that we do so much more, especially if you’re a 10 man shaman, since chain heal was very weak for T11 and T12.
I also think that the shaman who couldn’t get away from chain heal as their staple spell really suffered as far as strength and versatility in Cata.
7. How have shaman changed in terms of PVP performance, from the beginning to the end of Cata?
Don’t pvp much, but my understanding is that shamans are powerful in PVP and even moreso once they added Spirit Link Totem (which cheats).
8. To compensate for Shamans’ lack of spread AOE healing capabilities, what sort of proactive healing strategies/techniques have you found most helpful?
High regen and abuse of telluric currents to support long-term riptide/GHW/HW twisting.
It’s as simple as that, really. To spread heal at the same level as a priest or druid, a shaman must be able to dump their whole mana pool with Riptide/HW and Riptide/GHW twists…and then get it back at the same time by weaving lightning bolts in between casts.
I think the major technique I would tell any aspiring 10-man shaman is that you can’t be afraid of OOM’ing. Shamans are a class that’s all about throwing the whole kitchen sink at a problem. Totems, unleash elements, nature’s swiftness. GHW. Riptide.
And sometimes your whole mana pool.
That’s why you talented Telluric Currents, isn’t it?