A slow, clunky heal with not much base power, Healing Wave has long struggled to find its niche application within the Shaman’s limited healing arsenal. In BC, a Shaman who regularly cast HW was akin to a Priest who used Heal—a veritable healing pariah. The beginning of WotLK brought some changes to the spell, but not enough to completely alleviate the stigma. However, with Patch 3.2, Healing Wave was given an additional facelift, to make it more appealing to Shamans as a rotational spell instead of just a one-off that was macro’ed with Nature’s Swiftness. With Healing Way increasing the innate power of HW, and Tidal Waves augmented to be one of the most verbose descriptions of a buff ever, HW has become a viable “long bomb” tank healing spell.
So why is it still collecting cobwebs in my spellbook?
Technically speaking, I still have HW keybound and, of course, it is used in one of my NS macros, but the reality is that I’m one of Resto Shamans out there who doesn’t frequently use this powerhouse of a spell. Though I’m not entirely convinced of my own reasoning, in the following I’ll detail the factors that influenced my choice—efficiency/sustainability, and my healing team. To supplement my discussion, I’ll be referencing Daidalos’ amazing, incredible and [insert superfluous adjective here] spreadsheet, with some of my own data added in.
Right now, I regularly utilize two different gear sets—one that’s heavily hasted (Set 1) and one that focuses more on spellpower while maintaining enough haste to keep my LHW at 1.1 seconds (Set 2). To summarize:
- Set 1: 3004 SP, 1259 Int, 1050 Haste, 28% crit, 303 mp5 (without Solace x2 procs)
- Set 2: 3294 SP, 1298 int, 814 Haste, 37% crit, 177mp5 (without Solace x1 proc)
As you can see, by dropping a good portion of my haste, I can pick up additional spellpower (partially gained from the inclusion of Eye of the Broodmother) and around 9% crit. Supplemented by two Solace trinkets, Set 1 has amazing regen for CH-heavy environments. Set 2 alternately, has less regen but significantly more power, and recovers a greater percentage of its mana through WS procs.
The summary data generated for these two sets by Daidalos’ spreadsheet can be seen at right. Set 1 is provided as a point of comparison, showing how much of a difference there would be in my healing output were I to accidently leave my haste set on when taking on single-target assignments. (Yeah, um, no that’s never happened before … *shifty eyes*.) But let’s focus on Set 2.
Utilizing a 3.33sec rotation of RT + LHWx2 (highlighted in blue) you can see that I generate an approximate HPS of 10.8k (Column f) and get a value of 26.81 healing per mana point (Column e). Not bad. In comparison, using a 3.70sec rotation of RT + HWx2 (highlighted in green) nets me an approximate HPS of 13.9k and 24.08 healing per mana point. This means that all of those shamans out there using HW based on the premise that it generates the highest HPS value are, in fact, correct. It does. However, what you should also note is that the high HPS comes at a very high cost. You’re paying more for every point of healing that you dish out; 2.7 mana per point of healing to be precise. This cost becomes very apparent when you look at your sustainability—the time it takes you to go oom if you spam that rotation. The HW-based rotation can only be sustained for a mere minute when spamming, whereas the LHW-based rotation can last almost double the time. This highlights the first reason I elect to use LHW—efficiency/sustainability. I get more healing per point of mana for a longer duration.
So on to the second reason I stick with LHW—my healing teammates. On fights with heavy tank damage (think: Algalon, Anub, Thorim HM towards the last 30%) we generally have 3+ healers on the tank, one of whom is an amazing holy pally. He can be counted on to use Holy Light when the occasion dictates it, so I know that he’ll be bombing the tank with heals up to 20k every ~1.3sec. If I elected to use a HW rotation, I would essentially be serving as a second holy pally (only with significantly less endurance.) Unfortunately, this means that we’re healing at approximately the same interval and at the same level of power. And, let’s remember that I don’t make a good holy pally for very long. So my alternative is to switch to something with more endurance and less likelihood of aligning with the healing intervals of our other tank healers–hello LHW! By supplementing our pally’s healing peaks and lows with a faster rotation, I can provide an even buffer against incoming damage. Thus, LHW provides me with a way to contribute to a more sustained and even raid HPS to counter any spikes which could occur along the way.
In sum, HW provides a powerful way to compensate if your raid lacks a long-bomb healer, or when tank damage reaches an apex. However, in the long run, LHW wins out in terms of healing per mana and sustainability. Given my predilection for efficiency, I doubt I’ll be dusting those cobwebs off of HW just yet.
As with any hypothesis, it’s always good to outline the assumptions. First, as I see it, the debate over HW usage is applicable only in single-target healing environments, where your rotation is sustained on one player for the duration. Although you might toss out a few HWs on incredibly low-health targets while assigned to raid healing, that would be the exception and not the rule. (Also, I would imagine you’d take a significant hit in hps what with the target-switching.) Second, I’m assuming that the limiting factor in any tank-healing rotation is the Tidal Waves buff, because its impact on LHW and HW is very significant. Third, I’m assuming that CH isn’t in the single-target healing debate. Although the rule in BC was that it was always better to CH, my experience in fights like Algalon, where even a geared tank can get gibbed in 2 seconds, have taught me that the extra cast time (0.7seconds in my crit set) isn’t worth the additional bounce healing. Sure, you may toss one in from time to time, but to maintain dependable uptime of Tidal Waves and Ancestral Fortitude, you’ll want to use something with a higher likelihood of crit on the primary target.