Life in Group 5 – A Resto Shaman Blog
A resto shaman perspective on raiding


March 31, 2011

Resto Shaman Mailbag #2

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Written by: Vixsin
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Much to my delight, it seems that readers took me seriously when I offered up the option of a regular feature on LiG5—the Resto Shaman Mailbag—provided that they sent in more Resto Shaman questions. Over the past couple weeks, my email Inbox has been brimming with questions covering all manner of topics and engaging me in all sorts of research, theorycrafting and discussion. So today I’m offering up another round of Q&A with a selection of answers covering gearing, performance, and glyphs.

As always, if you have a Resto Shaman question or maybe just a bone to pick with me (anyone feel like debating the merits of TC, again?), feel free to drop me a line at vixsin at lifeingroup5 dot com. Now, on with the show!

I started playing again after a 4 month break. Of course, now I’m behind by a lot and I have a few questions. First, I’m having significant mana problems. Obviously my gear is lacking, but, how have you combated that? Second, I definitely have learned to stay away from Healing surge, but it seems like Healing Wave, though very mana efficient, does nothing.  I find myself having to go from riptide to 2 GHW’s, which in turn also chews up mana. How did you handle this?

Lastly, what would you consider the most efficient way to raid heal, both in 5 and 10 man situations?  (I had a group that featured 2 melee today and they were getting absolutely ripped apart; though I was managing to keep them up, I was oom half way through the fight.)

Your questions sound pretty similar to the ones I had at the start of Cataclysm, so if it’s any consolation, I know exactly how you’re feeling right now. The great news is, you’re coming back to the game after Resto Shaman received a good number of buffs, so the state of healing is much better than it was when the xpac was released.

That being said, the healing game is quite changed from where it was in WotLK, especially, as you noted, when it comes to mana. The new fights (in dungeons, raids, and hard modes) are designed to make you go OOM. You will need to get used to this. When I was making my way through heroic dungeons back in December, I remember needing to drink constantly and drop MT on CD, even through trash. On bosses, I’d be running on fumes for the last 20% of the fight. The good news is that, yes, as with everything in game, it will get easier with gear and you will start to have a little more cushion.

But, in the interim when fights are still really tough, it’s good to keep a couple things in mind. First and foremost, if your group and/or tank are taking insane amounts of damage–you’re doing the fight incorrectly and/or sloppily. (The two melee getting ripped apart in a heroic shouldn’t happen; there are very few encounters where you’ll see massive group AOE that you’re expected to heal through.) Second, any advantage that you can give yourself is worth it. I flasked and food buffed for every heroic I ran, because Int/Spirit gain is no small amount and it made the run that much easier on me. Throwing on some cheap enchants on your gear is another way to increase your resources. If you started off doing Hyjal quests (as I would recommend all healers do), you should already have a helm enchant available. Picking up a useful raiding profession would be another way to get an edge (I’d personally recommend Alchemy–the epic trinket is amazing). Third, using Unleash Elements and RT on CD up will go a long way to making Healing Wave useful. (Yes, there will still be times where you need to turn to GHW, but remember that you don’t need to keep people topped all the time. If they’re above 80%, let them be.) CH may feel a bit gimped since ICC, but believe you me, it’s still very useful when AOE happens. Lining it up with an RT hot can also serve to boost the output a bit.

In the end, don’t feel disconcerted about re-learning how to heal and how to Resto Shaman–we all had to. But hopefully, once you get a little ways up on the learning curve, you’ll discover that Restos are actually are much more dynamic than we used to be. The days of 1-button CH spam are decidedly gone (hooray!)

I’ve seen more and more resto shamans go for spirit. They have more than 3k spirit as well as around 15 mastery. What is the benefit of this? Does this stat priority strategy involve a different type of spell selection?
As to the Spirit+Mastery combination that a number of Resto Shamans seem to be leaning towards these days, I’d say it’s due in large part to the progression of players into later hard modes, where raid damage really starts to ramp up and mana gets even tighter. In the large majority of the later hard mode encounters, raid damage is pretty high, which means players are consistently being dropped down to much lower HP values than you see in the early hard modes. Especially in 25s, this means that spells like HR and CH (and GHW, to some extent) can receive a pretty substantial boost in output via greater contributions of Mastery. Of course, the tradeoff is that to consistently utilize these spells–like for example, chain casting HR+CH+GHW all through HM Nef Phase 3–you eat up a ton of mana. So, that’s where the increased spirit levels come into play. If you can’t rely on TC regen, Spirit is your next best option.

In cases where you see Resto Shaman going for Haste + Spirit, the concept is essentially the same. They’re simply prioritizing speed of delivery over healing per mana (something which I don’t agree with, but which can definitely result in higher HPS, as some of the top WoL parses will attest).

Why go for improved grounding totem?

My use of Glyph of Grounding Totem is restricted only to HM Cho’gall–if dropped at the right time, it will prevent the tank from taking damage from Flaming Destruction. This enables us to spend more dps time on Cho’gall and less on adds. We have two Elemental Shamans with the glyph as well; I’m only glyphed as a backup in case something happens to one of their Grounding Totems.

At present, HM Cho’gall is the only fight that I believe Gounding Totem still works on. As of the most recent hotfixes, Grounding Totem will no longer reflect Flaming Destruction damage. In conjunction with the fix, Cho’gall’s HP was reduced by ~12M. (It used to be able to ground Blackouts on Valiona, but it was hotfixed shortly after our first HM kill of the encounter.)

Why Mandala of Stirring Patterns?

Good question! The answer is quite simple, really, and a combination of a couple factors:

  1. I don’t have DMC Tsunami (which is arguably BiS for this tier)
  2. We’re finishing out hard mode content, which means that mana is incredibly tight for our team (and thus I need to be able to offer my healing team as much from MT as possible), but ….
  3. It’s also the only trinket that will afford me both spirit for the MT equation and throughput, other than DMC. The +Int proc will either boost my healing spells or boost my TC regen by increasing my LB damage–either way, I benefit.
  4. When I align the +Int proc with MT, I can assure myself an extra 3k mana per drop (which is a minor amount, but still valuable when you’re fighting off being OOM for the last 15% of the encounter).

In general, I tend to use trinkets as a “wild card” slot, to boost particular stats or to modulate the amount of mana I have at the end of a fight. (I try to shoot for having <15% mana when the boss dies).

My main question is what range of overhealing should a good resto shaman be in? I’m usually around 15-24%. Furthermore, what healing styles or spells cause more or less overhealing? I’ve noticed druids tend to have the most overhealing, probably because of all their hots, while priests seem to be lowest (my guild doesn’t have any raiding holy pallies).

Although there were times where you could look to the overhealing meter as an indicator of healers’ skill, with the number of passive talents and AOE healing spells these days, the fact is that healers can’t control their healing as much as they used to be able to. For example, Holy Radiance and Protector of the Innocent are two of the biggest reasons Holy Pallies rule overhealing, even though there is nothing that they could reasonably do better to control the contribution of these two spells. Likewise for our Healing Rain–although you could spam your heart out of HR and waste a crapton of mana, even when used in the right situations, you still won’t be able to prevent a good amount of overhealing. Similarly, Druids are a class which relies on pure throughput and rolling hots (oftentimes before damage even hits), so overhealing is a greater part of their lives than ours.

Now, this is not to say that overhealing isn’t a good indicator of skill or of ease of the encounter. As a general rule of thumb, the more overhealing your team does, the more your team is wasting their mana, which also means that you’re likely bringing too many healers. (Seeing an increase in overhealing in kills after the first is to be expected though, since your team will come in every week with better gear and a better understanding of the fight). In general, I find that overhealing meters are usually ordered Holy Pally – Druid / Holy Priest – Shaman – Disc Priest, so if a Resto Shaman is leading on the overhealing charts, that’s definitely a sign that something is awry (most likely that the shaman is spamming with near-infinite mana).

In the end, I think healing meters (HPS, effective healing, overhealing) while valuable, are more an indication of relative performance than they are an objective indication of skill. And it’s important to look at them with an understanding of each healing class’s strengths and weaknesses, because that will ultimately enable you to understand how you and your arsenal fit into the larger picture.

I’ve always been anti pvp gear in a pve fight, but I was recently able to pick up the epic PVP mace, which is a solid upgrade from my heroic dungeon weapon. What you think of using PVP pieces in raiding sets?

I think this is one of those times where you should make an exception to your “No PVP gear” rule. Although you’ll be taking a hit in terms of Spirit and Mastery, the biggest gain for trading up your weapon will be the spellpower, which is no small drop in the bucket. Reforging the crit to Spirit should help minimize the regen loss, and really, as you progress further into raiding content, that additional boost to your heals will prove more useful than the handful of secondary stats you lost.

I’m an Elemental Shaman in a guild that thinks that only healers should get Spirit gear. So when it comes to all non-tier pieces, especially rings, trinkets, and weapons, dps is barred from getting the item until every healer has it already. Is my guild leader in the right for thinking that dps should keep their hands off of spirit pieces (even though it’s a 1:1 conversion to hit for us) or should I start looking for another guild that lets me roll on the gear I need?

I’d have to say it depends on the situation. Obviously, a good portion of the mail pieces that you’ll be picking up will have spirit on them, for the simple fact that Blizzard expected caster shamans (Resto and Elemental) to be wearing the same non-tier items. So, you should be getting a good portion of your hit from those. Looking at one of our elemental shaman, he’s wearing a spirit cloak but it looks like he’s also reforged a good deal of his stats to Spirit and Hit as well, to make up for those non-spirit pieces he does have.

As far as necks, rings, and weapons are concerned–I can see both your and your guild leader’s argument. In FH, although we use a dkp system, we generally try to talk out who an item would be a better upgrade for in terms of ilvl. So, if a healer wants a necklace for a side-grade of the same ilvl but a dps needs it to upgrade from the previous ilvl (359 versus 372, for example), the healer will generally bow out of the bidding to let the dps have it. Ultimately, a healer with better gear will ease the pressure of an encounter just as much as a dps with better gear will shorten the time that the healer needs to heal.

So, although I know this isn’t the answer you likely wanted to hear–I think you and your GL are in the right. The good news is, those pieces that should be in contention–neck, rings and cloak–all have viable rep and valor point options, so if your GL holds his position on the Spirit gear, you can set about getting your own independent upgrades. And as someone with pretty bad luck with loot drops, the option for self-sufficiency is something that I always appreciate!

My guild raids nothing but 10 mans and we’re only just starting HC modes. I mostly pick up slack from the other healers(usually a priest/drood combo) as in save the tank’s life and stuff like that so I’ve mostly geared for crit. I’ve kept my haste capped and have a decent 12-13 mastery with some 20-22% crit; I also have a mastery set that goes to around 16 mastery but whenever Ii use it, it feels like my output is lower in the mastery set, even in our HC modes. What’s your take on this?

Regarding crit, I can definitely appreciate that the perspective of a 10-man raider is going to be much different than that of a 25-man raider, for the simple fact that our spell distributions will be completely different. Whereas an average fight has HR and CH at the top of my effective healing list, they’ll typically see reduced usage in the smaller raid environment and single-target will play a much bigger role. (Obviously, some 10’s fights will lend themselves more than others to mass AOE healing). So, since crit can potentially net you a 95% boost to healing output (1.5% crit gain x 1.3% AA) on each one of your single-target spells, it follows that it would have good performance in a spot-healing world.

But, that being said, remember that all stats are not created equal, and you’re paying a big price for that investment in Crit. For every 1% crit that you gain, you could gain up to 3% additional healing through Mastery (or 1.4% haste). Let me give you an example … Let’s say you’re a new resto shaman and you have 1074 stat rating to allocate wherever you’d like–crit or mastery. This means you could have:

+6% crit (using my current Int value, this would net you 18.82% crit), OR
+6 Mastery rating (which would put you at 24% + 18% = up to 42% deep healing bonus)

If you were to take these ratings and Healing Wave someone 30 times, barring any other factors and assuming normal RNG, with the crit set you would score crits on 6 of the 30 casts. Assuming that HW hits for 10k on average and that the player has 70% HP, your allocation of stats would net you approximately 365k healing done. Now, if you were to reverse that investment and choose the +6 Mastery rating instead of the crit, you would net about 366k healing done. So, the performance would be about equal. But, the moment that player’s health starts dropping, to say 65%, 55%, or even lower, Mastery’s benefits take off. At 45% HP, you would gain an additional ~30,000 healing done by favoring Mastery. And that’s just one single-target spell with a very low HPS value.

At the end of the day, if I were to jump into a 10s hard mode environment, I would likely up my crit a little bit more to make sure my single-target spells got more of a boost. But, I’d likely also keep a good amount of Mastery in my set as well, to make sure that my spot healing could be powerful when needed (and after 4.1, to get that additional boost to RT hots). And for farm content, I’d stack the heck out of haste, because if there’s infinite mana to be had, it’s always going to be your biggest boost.


  1. Maesaya

    Hi Vixsin, great post as always.
    A quick follow up to that last question. My guild does only 10s too. I have, wihtout meaning it, also levitated to the high crit side. I use the meta with spirit and 3% healing crit – and that is a great boost to crit — and after caping haste and reforging to spirit, my gear does still has lots of crit. I got a JC/Alch that makes plenty gems and have some gold to spare, so I reforge/regem many times in and out of mastery to crit and haste. I do consistently better in my crit set up (some 25% crit once flasked/food and buffed). Maybe there is something about crit that’s being overlooked? I havent done any hard modes and suspect i’ll favour mastery for those, but at the moment, crit does give me a better output. My top healing spells are usually, GHW, ESH, RP and HST (HR gets in there in AOE heavy raids, like ToT4W, I hardly ever use CH nowdays).

    I also use Rawr (I know you love robot :) ) for upgrades, which favours crit over mastery/haste. I think thats how I ended with crit gear.

    • Grookshank

      Regarding the value of crit in 10mans: I am 4/13 heroic at the moment and find my self often between a mixture of tank and raid healing. I gear for max int; 2k+ spirit; 916 haste; 20%+ unbuffed crit and the rest into mastery.

      The reasons I keep running 20%+ unbuffed crit are:
      1. Improved Water Shield – I use Riptide and Greater Healing Wave a lot and the mana return is very big here.
      2. Ancentral Healing – If you are healing tanks regularly, this is an incredible help for keeping them alive. I know it does not show on any logs or meters, but 10% physical damage reduction is a lot and only priests – which in my raids usually do raid healing – give it.

    • On the Rawr versus Robot debate, it’s all about the stat weights that are used in evaluating the items in question. I only like Robot because it’s easier to fuss with, but I’m not tied to one sim in particular when it comes to gearing.

      As to Crit in 10s, I wonder if it really is giving you the output boost you think it is. While it’s true that with haste or Mastery you might not see those large numbers as often, I don’t think you can get around the fact that even if you dump all your points into Crit, the percentage gain is still relatively small. 5% crit doesn’t make a huge difference in regen, it certainly doesn’t translate to a vastly improved AA contribution, and I don’t think it’s going to impact your AF uptime that much.

      Speaking specifically to the idea of Ancestral Fortitude uptime … for example, on HM Nef in Phase 3, I contributed 16.7% of the healing to our MT. The pally who was on him full time, contributed 29% of the healing, so arguably, I wasn’t healing the MT all that consistently. You could maybe argue I was on him ~ 50% of the time. Even then, and even with ~21% crit raid buffed, his uptime on Ancestral Fortitude was 63%. Inspiration, from one of the other priests, made up the last 27%. ( Now granted you wouldn’t have the priest’s contribution in 10s, but 63% uptime when I wasn’t even trying for it makes me believe that if I was really focused on it, I could make sure it was parsing at over 90%. (And I’d likely wind up using more HS to do it).

      • Nabol

        If I may chime in on the Ancestral Fortitude dilemma here…

        The uptime you see in WoL is nice and all, but it’s kind of hard to see how much uptime there really is. From my experience, whenever you have AF up on multiple targets, you will just see it just the same as having AF on a single target.

        Especially when raid healing, taking into account that the actual damage reduction from AF is hard to grasp (at the very least), this makes for some skewed uptime numbers on AF. I say it’s time to fix this already. Have AF turn up as an absorb in the logs or something, anything that’s at least remotely easy to track.

        I’ve actually tried tracking AF damage reduction when playing around with a homebrew addon to see Deep Healing’s contribution as well and it’s a real pain to get a decent view on those numbers.

  2. Thanks for the update on Mandala. It helps me understand better how you use it. I always liked it if nothing else for the cool proc that looks like Arcane Power.

    I already had the Tear of Blood and even when the jury was still out on it, (ie. your first posts about trinkets, math, and spreadsheets), I went ahead and grinded the commendations to get it.

    You are correct, as long as you aren’t overhealing and are always casting ‘something’, the patterns of light proc is never wasted.
    Alacran´s last post ..The Goblin Barbecue- Sexy Search terms of the week

  3. The Mandala question was mine because Vix is slighly ahead of me on progression and the only other Shaman I know of that has used it and I wanted his thoughts.

    I used it last night on our HC Cho’gall attempts and can say that it certainly is pretty good, its midway between the Jar for Regen and actual Int Trinkets for throughput. So on a Mana Heavy fight this is a perfect trinket alongside Tsunami for regen and throughput.

    I recommend the time to grind this so that you at least have it as an option in your bags 😉


  4. Firestyle

    Insofar as 10 man hardmodes, I’ve tried a few different things. I like to keep things pretty balanced overall, and flip a trinket in/out as needed to change up some stats. I have a haste set and a mastery set, but even my haste set has a decent amount of mastery in it.

    It gets odd though, since as I get 372 loot – I basically scrapped the sets concept and just take the higher ilvl gear and again, keep things balanced between haste and mastery.

    I do find haste very valuable on H Magmaw, and mastery on H Chimaeron. Otherwise, balance works.

    • /agreed on the ilvl point.

      The Int and Spirit gains from the transition of 359 –> 372 gear make trading up a no-brainer, regardless of the secondary stats on the item. It’s only now that we have everything (except Sinestra) on farm that I’ve been able to trade out Crit pieces (Wyrmbreaker’s Amulet, Kingdom’s Heart, Earthen Ring boots, etc.) for “better” secondary stat options.

  5. Medeva

    From a visual point of view, please dont pile up the Bold, Italics and Underline on the questions, it becomes so hard to read! just make the question text a strong white with an italic slant. thanks!

  6. Turtle

    Crit – Mastery – Haste – arrgghhh I’m getting stuck in a never ending loop of what to gear for.

    My shaman has all epics (2 set tier but can go straight to 4 set once Chogall drop my token) except for helm and main hand weapon. My raid team is working primarily on Nefarian normal 10 man. We have gotten Heroic Halfus down though not on farm.

    Vixsin, HELP !!!

  7. tunkerbell

    love this site, and the informative articles in it. But cant seem to find whether mandella is prefered over the alcmy stone as a trinket. My guild is doing 25’s, and just going into HMs, so mana regen is important to look at even closer for me. Im a resto shammy and constantly looking for ways to tweak my heals even more. What is your opinion?

    • Well tunk as in most things Shammy wise, it is not a clear cut answer, it will depend on who you are healing alongside, how they are doing for mana etc.

      Things to think about, first of all do you NEED the haste from the Alch stone to hit your cap?….if yes then swapping it out will mean you need to reforge elsewhere to counter this.

      Alch stone gives a decent improvement in throughput, so unless you are really struggling for Mana, its better to at least start with this and see what happens and adjust from there.

      Also what is your other trinket?


      • tunkerbell

        thanks mal, my other trinket is the Tsunami card, and currently digging up half of azertoth for the Doll. I am the only resto in our 25, along side 2 priests, 2 druids and a pally.

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