So You Want to be a Resto Shaman
I get it. It’s all about the totems. I mean, they’re awesome. They provide useful things like healing or resistance or mana, and great ways to avoid having to use raid markers. Need to stack? “Go hug the totems!” Also – lots of totems in one place = awesomeness.
Alright, so maybe you have other reasons too. I rolled my shaman because chain heal looks pretty. So maybe you like healing rain or the style of armor, or you like putting rocks around your tanks.
In any case, here we are and you’re going to be a resto shaman. Tons of things are changing for us in Mists, so this first post won’t so much be a “do this” or “stack this stat” as much as a “here’s the deal with being a resto shaman.”
The bad news first:
You will have a perpetual inferiority complex.
This sorta goes hand-in-hand with one of our “good news” talking points (Jack of all trades healer). You need to get over right away that you’ll never be a disc priest with shields. You will never be a holy paladin with a beacon and holy radianceOMIGOSH. You do not have Tranquility or a chance to look like a tree. You will not be putting life-saving wings on tanks. Resto shaman have a few unique tricks, but we don’t have some of the “look at that!” bling that other classes get. We’re getting some new things in Mists, but shaman aren’t balanced around having “omigosh she’s awesome” moments.
You will struggle with mana.
At max level, in a raiding environment or heroic environment, shaman have more mana struggles than almost any other class. This is the number one complaint from new resto shamans. Your regen depends on keeping a water shield up, using mana tide proactively, and weaving in Telluric currents (which, by the way, means you won’t be healing during those casts). It gets better with gear, but pound for pound, the way a strong healing shaman keeps up those heals is to routinely dump chunks of their mana pool and then get it back. You just get used to the mana pool fight. I think I’ve almost trained my raid leader not to look at my mana pool as a judge for how healing is going. Oh? Spent all my mana during that black phase because we ponged the ball twenty gazillion times? No prob, just gonna lightning bolt for a bit!
You heal better when the group is struggling.
Our mastery works in such a way that we look the best when the raid or dungeon group is having a rough time. The lower everyone’s health, the more we heal for. My parses for wipes are often way better on the HPS metric than for actual kills…mostly because everyone was dying and my heals just kept getting better and better. This also means that as your group improves, you will start getting somewhat less juice from your mastery, as other classes will still be getting mileage out of theirs.
Your class has a bad rap going into Mists.
I hate to say it, but it’s true. There is more venom flung at the shaman healers on the healing forums than any other healing class (“dont play a shaman, they suck!” “LOL you heal??? Look at World of Logs!”) – and not just from other healers. Shaman hate themselves. See point #1. It’s even in my list!! And the truth is, shaman were in a rough spot at the beginning of Cata and going into the Firelands. If you’re rolling a healer to be loved and praised at every corner, pick at different class OR be the awesomest shamaning shaman ever. I picked the second, obviously.
The MUCH better news:
You can do pretty much anything**.
Shaman are the perfect example of the Jack of All Trades healer. You can swing between laying down heavy heals on the tank to heavy raid healing with little more than a blink of an eye. A good resto shaman is an asset to any healing team for this specific reason (screw Spirit Link Totem!): they can pick up the slack anywhere. I think one of the reason I’ve settled so well into my shaman and struggle going back to my other healers is that even at equivalent gear levels, they feel so much narrower. Shaman will never be the best tank healers or the best raid healers, but that would be overpowered anyway.
Mana Tide makes you everyone’s best bud.
Okay, lots of shaman hate that mana tide became a reason for bleeding edge raid groups to keep bringing us back in T11 when we were struggling (prior to a few buffs). In reality, however, other than Hymn of Hope (which requires a channel), we are currently the only healing class with a mana cooldown that can help everyone. On our first Madness kill, I saw the healers heading into the Kalecgos platform with low mana all around. I happily announced, “Dropping mana tide!” (Okay, I might have sounded a little bit too happy) and watched everyone’s bars go up. That’s a good feeling.
You are the Tricksy Healer.
Shaman healers have high utility and a bunch of little tricks that make us…well…us. Back in Tier 11, I used to get a few extra heals off before Valiona used her breath attack and then popped Ghost Wolf to get out of the way before dying. I think I once kited the beams on Atramedes. In ICC, Earth Shield and my ability to kite with totems let me off-tank the weekly quest boss. Did you know that Spirit Link Totem’s healing effect ignores healing absorbs or mortality debuffs? And even though it has a 6 second CD now, you can also back-up interrupt on various attacks.
Oh, and two forms of CC. Pretty cool, huh? No matter the changes coming in Mists, shaman will continue to be the healing class with the highest group utility and ability to do stupid stuff.
You get one Get Out of Jail Free card.
We all make mistakes. Oops, stood in the bad! Oops, didn’t hit my button on Ultraxion! Oops, oops, oops!
Other healers – you get to stare at the ground for the rest of the fight (or your 0% health bar on the raid frames) unless you get a b-rez.
Shaman? *self rez and throw off the chains of death* MWAHAHAHA!
This has caused much hilarity for me. One specific example: We were working on Blackhorn fight in Dragon Soul and had a bit of an oops with people getting to the Twilight Assault in time. I ended up soaking one all by my lonesome and died. My rogue buddy over vent: “Oh, no, a healer’s down — OH, it’s just Rhia.” He sounded so relieved. Me: “Thanks for making me feeling so special.”
So, who wants to roll a shaman now? Everyone, right?