Category Archives: healing

The Mists Shaman: Thoughts

With the Mists pre-patch heading to a PTR near you soon(tm), Cataclysm draws ever to a close.

It’s no secret that Cataclysm was not an “easy” expansion pack to be a shaman. While our Sunwell days are far behind us, Wrath was definitely in the shaman sweet spot. With gobs of haste, our chain heal could easily overshadow the other healing classes – and while many healing classes were still very “niche”-based, shaman in Wrath were among some of the most balanced, all around “good to have” healers.

We entered into early Cataclysm with devs saying that shamans were their “ideal” healer as far as toolkit and potential, and other healers were buffed/balanced to bring them in line with the versatility and output once solely the realm of a shaman. At the same time, shaman got relatively few changes and so we started Cataclysm somewhat “behind the curve”, so to speak. Thanks to a few adjustments during the course of the expansion pack (as well as a final, somewhat uninspired raid tier that catered heavily towards stacked healing and high output), healers are finishing Cataclysm with some amount of parity.

So what is Mists going to be like for us?

From the looks of it, shaman are shaping up to be a strong class. We have several new cooldowns at our disposal (Healing Tide Totem and Ascendance being the two most notable). At this stage in beta, we still struggle on spread healing but have arguably the best single target burst healing and stacked AOE healing. Mana remains tight for all classes, a fact oft overlooked when beta shaman report mana concerns.

In general, output-wise, shaman/druid/paladin are pretty much on par, with paladin occasionally pulling ahead slightly. Priests overall seem to be lagging behind, for whatever reason, but I suspect that most of it is just talents and abilities still being worked out design-side. Mistweaver monks trounce everyone at this moment, but they’re destined to be nerfed, and all in all, due to shaman raid utility, a monk is more likely to push out a druid or a paladin in a min-maxing 25-man group than an equivalently skilled shaman.

If you like playing your shaman now, you’ll like them in Mists. Our core playstyle is largely unchanged, save for some new cool-downs that will need to be worked into our arsenal.  It’s not clear what the FOTM healer will be in Mists (other than, perhaps Mistweaver), but shaman remain what they always have been: powerful burst healers with high group utility and stacked AOE potential.

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The Mists Shaman: Talents

As beta winds to a close over this summer, we draw nearer and nearer to the pre-Mists patch and the redesigned talent trees.  While the full-scale changes to the talent system can seem daunting, things become much easier to sort out once you actually dive in.

I went through and picked out my first iteration of preferred talents – and actually gave them a bit of a run through in some Mists dungeons. My talent focus is on healing in a group situation (PvE), so you’ll see a bit more healing and utility orientation than if I was selecting for more of a solo’ing or damage-focused build.

Level 15 talents

At level 15, you can choose between:

Nature’s Guardian – Ye olde “if your health is reduced below 30%, your max health is increased and your threat is reduced”. And about as MEH for a resto shaman as the original talent was. (Hey, if my health is getting that low, getting a boost to my health pool and reduced threat probably isn’t going to help much.)

Stone Bulwark Totem – Creates an initial and then periodic shield over the caster. CD time is 1 minute.

Astral Shift – Shift into the astral planes, reducing damage taken by 40% for the duration. CD time is 2 minutes.

Of these talents, Stone Bulwark is possibly the most viable (wholly dependent on how the scaling feels at 90 with the shield), mostly due to the low CD time and the fact that it’s a totem that will get reset with Call of the Elements (see below for more info on this MUST HAVE talent) so you could theoretically use it back to back. Astral Shift would be more useful for soaking heavy damage attacks (like Ultraxion’s Hours of Twilight), but it’s not a totem that benefits from Call of the Elements and its CD is twice that of Stone Bulwark.

I will, however, be going with Astral Shift because it suits Rhianon’s character more. Note to tanks: ONLY Nature’s Guardian reduces threat, so if the shaman is eating damage due to pulling aggro, you’ll still need to taunt off. This is mostly for my benefit, since I pull aggro a great deal (although our resto druids have been taking the cake for me on Blackhorn!).  I like to blame my big single target heals.

Level 30 Talents

Level 30 talents are our Crowd Control and/or Utility talents.

Frozen Power: Your frost shock will now encase the target in ice for five seconds.

Earthgrab Totem: Similar to our current Earthbind totem in effect. Roots enemies in range for 5 seconds and then reduces their movement speed (if already rooted once) for the remainder of the duration.

Windwalk Totem:  Grants party and raid members in range a brief period of immunity to movement-impairing effects.

Windwalk will have most of its use in PvP, unless there is some boss encounter that snares the entire raid when you need to be moving. Frozen Power will have the most kiting utility, but only against a single target. Earthgrab has the limitations of our current snaring totem (pulse and range), but will be effective against multi-targets.

The selection of this talent mostly depends on what you will be using it for, so you may want to switch it depending on what bosses/fights you will be facing. Frozen Power for single target kiting (think the adds on Erudax in GB), but Earthgrab whenever you need to multi-target kite or snare. I’ll probably be sticking with Earthgrab for the time being.

Level 45 talents

I like the call the Level 45 talents the “Tier of Glory” because not only does it have one talent shaman have been asking for since we had totems (“Why can’t I throw my totems at a location??”) but it also the first of the two most important, MUST HAVE talents for restos.

Call of the Elements : Resets the CD’s on all your totem spells with base CD’s less than 5 minutes. This includes – Healing Tide, Spirit Link, Mana Tide, Healing Stream, etc. This talent is pure awesome. I used it in dungeons on the beta and basically turned into a healing superhero. I’ve been babbling on vent for the past few weeks about how I can’t wait to have this talent in my arsenal (“Wouldn’t TWO spirit links back to back on 4th platform Madness be awesome?!! WELL, when I have my Mists talent —“) I’m sure everyone is sick of me by now.

Totemic Restoration: Reduces the CD on totems if they are destroyed or replaced before the CD is finished. P

Totemic Projection: Tosses your totems to the selected location.

I don’t even really need to bother going into these other two talents because Call of the Elements is such a must have. Briefly — Totemic Restoration will have its most use in PvP where your totems might be targeted/destroyed or if you are dopey and often place your totems in spots where they get destroy (or replace them before they are finished). Totemic Projection might be useful for a placing Spirit Link or Healing Tide/Healing Stream in a large raid environment. And Call of the Elements pretty much blows both of these out of the water.

Level 60 Talents

The Level 60 talents are more “I’ll have to see how these work out at 90”. Nothing screams “TAKE ME!” and all could theoretically have some use in specific circumstances.

Elemental Mastery: Boost your haste by 30% for 20 seconds.

Ancestral Swiftness: Nature’s Grace with a buff. Reduces the cast time of your next nature spell by 100% and passively buffs your haste  by 5%.

Echo of the Elements: Each damage or healing spell you cast has a chance to have a duplicated effect. So you might get two GHW’s for the price of one.

Echo is not really a healing talent as duplicated, unpredictable healing often means overheal (which will be doubly bad with our limited mana pools in Mists). Elemental Mastery will give you a situational HIGH boost to your haste which may be helpful in responding to spike damage situations. Ancestral Swiftness will provide your “OH CRAP” tank heal and a static boost to throughput.

I’ll probably be playing with both talents to see which is more useful once I get into raiding/end-game. In the beta, I’ve found Ancestral Swiftness to have more overall usefulness in the early five man dungeons, but I could see Mastery having more value in a raid environment where periodic throughput boosts for raid healing will outpace the smaller static boost and tank-saving heal.

Level 75 talents

Level 75 – another glorious tier of talents.

Healing Tide Totem: Creates a totem that will periodically heal the 5 most injured raid or party members for a short period of time. Think – mini-tranquility/Divine Hymn.

Ancestral Guidance: Copies 40% of your direct healing and or damage as healing to a nearby, injured raid or party member. Redesign of ye olde Ancestral Awakening talent that most of us dropped to take Spirit Link.

Conductivity: Somewhat complicated — when you cast healing wave, great healing wave, healing surge or lightning bolt at a target in your healing rain, the allies in your healing rain share healing equal to 20% of the damage or healing done.

This is one of those tiers where your selection will probably vary as you progress at end-game. Healing Tide totem is a fantastic small group/raid cluster cooldown that when combined with Call of the Elements will give you extremely high output over a tight period of time. Ancestral Guidance is more gimmicky and probably won’t provide as much of a boost to your throughput since, while it’s a smart heal, you can only have the effect active for a short period of time and requires the ally to be in range. It may be somewhat useful in a small group setting but definitely outpaced over the course of a fight by bigger CD’s like Healing Tide Totem. Conductivity may be more useful in a raiding environment since it would require high Healing Rain uptime combined with single target healing in your HR (not the usual chain healing). Healing Tide is the clear winner here for me, particularly with how you can combine it with Call of the Elements.

Level 90 Talents

I don’t have a beta character at 90 nor are pre-mades available, so I haven’t been able to test out these talents. My perspective is purely “theoretical.”

Unleashed Fury: Increases the effectiveness of your Unleash Elements (Earth Living – further increases your next single target heal on the target by another 50%.)

Prime Elementalist: Turns your Earth and Fire Elements into “pets” under your control with additional abilities. Of note to the Resto shaman, the fire elemental gets Empower which increases your healing done by 10% and the earth elemental gets Reinforce which reduces your damage taken by 20% and increases your healing done by 10%.

Elemental Blast: A blast of elemental energy that temporarily buffs your haste, mastery or crit (whichever stat is higher) by 3500.

Of these, Prime Elementalist will provide the most overall throughput, particularly when combined with Call of the Elements — unless Elemental Blast’s 3500 rating increase is ridiculous at level 90. The limiting factor with Elemental Blast is that you need to weave it into your spell casts, which if you are still taking Lightning Bolt, may be harder than anticipated. Unleashed Fury is the most painfree talent at 90, but a further 50% increase in a single target heal could definitely be outpaced easily in a raid environment with periodic 10% increases in total healing from Prime Elementalist. Unleashed Fury is only of high value if you take Ancestral Guidance AND will be doing a high amount of single target, tank-focused healing.  I might suggest taking Unleashed Fury for 5-man groups and swapping to Prime Elementalist in a raid environment.

Of course, all these selections are prone to change over the remaining course of the beta and during the initial period of launch. I remember thinking how lackluster Telluric Currents was at Cata launch – and it turned into one of my favorite talents. Things also change a bit when you switch your focus from 5-man dungeons to raiding. I can see playing with talents such as Conductivity or Elemental Mastery  in a raid environment where there is more flexibility with the healing arrangement and/or ability to use CD-based talents more regularly during boss encounters.

Once the pre-patch releases, we’ll be doing some Dragon Soul to try out our new abilities and I’ll have a better handle on how these abilities actually function in a live raiding environment.

Screenshot Dump

Back the beginning of Wrath, my husband built a new computer for me and in the process of transitioning over to the new computer, I forgot to save all my WoW screenshots.

I figured I had lost all of them…but this Monday, I found a profile on Photobucket that had a bunch of old screenshots uploaded to it. I picked out a few from the bunch that either made me remember something about Burning Crusade or made me smile.

Windfury!

This one comes from the Burning Steppes when I was leveling Rhianon…as enhancement. Yes, you saw this screenshot of Rhianon in a windfury proc. I remember the day because I had just gotten a new staff from a dungeon run and I was figuring out the quickest way to get my weapon skill up — remember those old days of weapon skills?

DING!

Tanaquil aka Blood-Elf-Anatevka dinging 70 — good timing on the screenshot, no? I had been working on getting her to 70 for about 6 months at that point in time and was so close; Illegible and Deirbhile joined me to help me kill off a few things quickly so I’d ding. I have to admit, I like the shoulders Tana is wearing — red and green crazy poofy things.

Water-Walking

I’m not even sure what I was doing in this picture other than water-walking across the bay outside Theramore. A few things of note in this pic — a random heroic invite (a relic of the era before LFD) and my Totemus add on (the little circle with buttons around it), which managed my totems quite effectively before Blizzard made their own totem UI element.  Odd how little has actually changed about my UI in the 4-5 years or so since this picture!

OOPS!

The important part of this screenshot is the white text just below the targeted unit (Dahwin – priest): “Missing Enchant – Main Hand”.  You see, before ‘Unleash Elements’ reminded me that ‘You are Missing an Enchant to Unleash’, I had an add-on that would remind me if I entered combat without a weapon enchant. And even though years of shamaning has made me almost reflexively hit that weapon enchant spell every few minutes (like the Recall Totems when moving), I still somehow manage to start boss fights without Earthliving enchant. Crazy stuff.

 

 

 

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.

Totem explosion from Around Azeroth WoW Insider column – click for source!

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?

Circle of Healing Redux – Shaman Version

I’m picking up this questionnaire that circulated around the healing blog community last summer; I wasn’t blogging when it first started out, but I did read it on Totem Forest – and it seems like a great thing to go back to during this pre-Mists lull.

Name, class and spec: Rhianon, Restoration Shaman

What is your primary group healing environment? 10-man.  Outside of LFR (and the random Wrath pug), I haven’t been in a 25-man since BC.

What is your favourite healing spell for your class and why?

Riptide. Who doesn’t love the sploosh? I was a complete non-believer in riptide when they first released it at the end of BC/beginning of Wrath, but now I can’t imagine NOT casting it on cooldown. Aside from the perfect sounds and animation (I love the idea of tossing some water on someone), the tidal waves buff to greater healing wave and associated spells – yes please.

What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?

Overall, I probably cast healing surge the least. I really only use it for “omigosh someone’s going to die” since the mana cost vs healing output is so terrible. If I have an extra second, I’d much rather use another spell — but Healing Surge is fast in a pinch. Unleash Elements is a close second, but I really try to use it on CD on heavy raid damage phases. Other than that, it can be a little clunky to throw into a standard rotation if nothing crazy is happening.

Revision: Okay. I cast healing surge alot when I’m bored and know I have the mana to spare. But that’s seriously NOT something anyone should be copying!

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?

Shaman are extremely versatile. We can back-up the tank healers with ease; we can back up the raid healers with ease.  I’ve always loved healing on my shaman because of that ability to swap between heavy hitting direct heals and AOE love. Read the rest of this entry

Expansion Packs: The Great Equalizer

I think I still get panic attacks (reflexively) when I see the loading screen for Heroic Stonecore

Tree Heals Go WOOSH had an excellent post (that I almost missed) last week, describing experiences taking an undergeared alt into LFR. There’s a bit more to the story, of course, and I recommend you go and check it out, but the part that really jumped out to me was her final point:

Expansions are WoW’s only true skill equalizer.  Gear may be reset each patch, but only an expansion asks us to look at our abilities from a fresh perspective and apply them to content for which we are, often, undergeared.

This equalizing effect is really the thing that gets me excited for Mists of Pandaria. I’m crazy: I loved that first month or two of Cataclysm where the heroic 5-mans were the endgame for the most of the player-base and most of us were barely geared or undergeared. We had to work for those heroic kills and there were no ilvl 410 players carrying us.  I loved seeing what I could do with my character’s abilities when she didn’t have the cushion of gear (which I eventually got in spades as we started doing raids).

I’m not saying that I’m perfect and all those starter heroics were walks in the park. They weren’t. They were hard, especially at the beginning. I made mistakes. I went OOM. My parties struggled at times.  I got frustrated. But that made the victories all the better and the praise (I lucked out and usually got pleasant LFD groups) that much sweeter.  It made me feel – darn, I’m good at what I do and it’s not just because I have full ICC tier. Strip me down and my heals still sing!

**Note: I still reserve the right to absolutely despise Stonecore – both in normal and heroic incarnations.

It was really my first time experiencing that on Rhianon, my main. By the time she got to the level cap in Burning Crusade, the expansion pack (obviously) was already months old and most of my fellow dungeoneers were in great gear. She got kitted out with crafted goods quickly by fellow guildies as well. In Wrath, I lagged about a month or two behind everyone getting to max level and into heroics as I was in a period trying to figure out my guild/server situation (story for another post!). Cataclysm was the first time I was on the “edge” with everyone else – and man, I loved it.

Just thinking about it makes me excited for Mists’ launch. Of course, all the other awesome stuff that’s been coming out about the game makes me excited too, but I really just am looking forward to the total RESET that happens with an expansion pack.

Are Shaman Whiners?

I was going to post something about some of the (awesome) shaman changes in MoP – particularly that cool watery chain heal glyph – or maybe some of my adventures in mastering D3.

Instead, I pose that perennial question:

“Are Shaman players whiners?”

Are we constantly accusing Blizzard of “nerfing” our class or saying that we’re the red-headed stepchildren of WoW? Is our DPS just not as good as it should be (in our minds) or our Healing just not as oomphy? Read the rest of this entry

Getting into Raid Healing

It’s not a complete week at the official forums if there isn’t someone popping by the healing forums and posting the obligatory: “I want to heal raids – am I ready? How do I start?” – and usually not in such an intelligible manner! To be honest, this is probably the ideal time to get your healing feet wet, so to speak. Dragon Soul is very accessible for fresh healers between the recent nerfs and the easy access to gear via the Twilight Heroics and Raid Finder. I’d also venture to say that its boss mechanics are largely more forgiving from a healing standpoint and ramp up in difficulty at an even keel, not some of the wacky stuff you saw in Tier 11. (Except Spine. I will always hate Spine.)

As someone who has been raid healing since Burning Crusade (not counting my alt priest in Vanilla), I sometimes forget that getting into raid healing as a complete newbie is often daunting. Back in Burning Crusade, we used to take the new healers through Karazhan and I’d coach them. It wasn’t nearly as demanding as the 25-man content and let completely fresh healers get a feel for how their style of healing would change in a raid environment. Read the rest of this entry

Graduating to Dragon Soul

This weekend, I took my first healer alt through Dragon Soul — my holy paladin, Gilberte (Gilly).

Gilberte is one of my two healing alts…of my two alts; I also have Anatevka, a holy/disc/shadow priest.  Anatevka is probably the better geared of the two; she has full LFR tier, 397 vendor pieces, and LFR Spine trinkets and DW weapons for BOTH healing and shadow. I also have the most experience priesting and definitely have a comfort zone there – whether I’m going as holy (omigosh all the buttons) or disc or even shadow.  Ana has also typically been my raiding alt, while Gilly trailed along far behind her on my preference list.

And yet, I’ve not really wanted to bring Ana into Dragon Soul as a healer. I’d love to bring her as a dps, but  (1) I prefer healing and (2) I prefer healing.  Shadow is a fun distraction, but I get bored after awhile.  DPS is boring. I know other healers who agree with me!  As far as not wanting to heal on Ana — I’m a little tired of priest healing after spending the past few months exclusively in LFR on her. It’s funny; I never get tired of shaman’ing, but I tend to get bored with other healing classes easily. Read the rest of this entry

I am a Bad Healer

At least that’s what some other healers in LFR have told me. Oh, no, it wasn’t because I did no healing. Quite the opposite, actually.

I’ve been accused of “heal sniping.”

“Stealing our heals.”

“Taking both crystals” on Ultraxion.**

Etc, etc.

And all those things are true. (**Okay, to be fair, with the Ultraxion one, I did WAIT 30 seconds after each set of crystals dropped to see if others were going to take them. NO ONE moved from the stack or clicked on the crystals – except for the blue.) Read the rest of this entry