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

Shaman - General

June 6, 2011

Making Peace with Spirit Link Totem

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Written by: Vixsin
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It’s been a little over a month since Patch 4.1 hit, complete with new gear, rehashed troll instances, and the biggest, most awesome, most incredible, MOST SPARKLY PONY cooldown ever—Spirit Link Totem. Since then, raid teams have sat in awe as Resto Shamans everywhere have proudly, and somewhat blindly, contributed to increased luminosity and (hopefully) survivability, dropping our totem on trash, during encounters, and at random intervals for pure entertainment purposes. Even my own crankiness turned into gleeful chortling, whether due to the fantastic laser light show or the potential to kill my teammates, I can’t say for certain. And so the time has come at last where I can say that I’ve made peace with our newest addition and admit to you, dear readers, that Spirit Link Totem ain’t that bad after all.


Limitations and Liabilities

When the concept of Spirit Link Totem arose several months ago, I raised several concerns about its functionality (as I do so frequently about every resto shaman change). Pulling directly from that post, those concerns were:

  • Long time to target
  • Range of Application/Visibility
  • Tank/Raid applicability is not equal
  • It takes a little bit of a novel to explain
  • It’s a CD with a downside
  • Awkward placement in the Resto Tree

Obviously, some of these issues have become less of a concern over the past weeks, but I do still think that most remain applicable to SLT’s current design. It is a CD that requires some foresight to use, especially in movement-heavy encounters, in contrast to its viability as a tank CD, its 10% damage reduction is fairly weak, its effects are not easy to explain and predict, and it does contribute to the Resto tree being a bit top-heavy. But, it’s worth noting that none of these are significant barriers to its usage, especially when most Resto Shaman are simply happy to be involved in the CD discussion. (Or as PC’s GL recently put it, “Whenever something is happening, one of those darn totems goes down”)

In terms of the liability side of things—which is where I believe the concerns of Resto Shaman lay when SLT first went live—my raid would be happy to report that I’ve yet to cause a spectacular wipe due to my new CD. And although SLT contributed to my own death on Tron Council, in reality, it has saved a handful of lives, both tank and raid, across a variety of encounters in the past several weeks. So, whereas I had previously been concerned that SLT was a gamble to use, from all accounts it appears that the likelihood of it being the cause of a slaughter is almost non-existent.

I’m not going to get into the In’s and Out’s of functionality here, since Jadiera put together a great couple of posts detailing exactly that (here and here) but I do think there are several features of SLT that shaman might want to take note of:

  1. SLT ignores all Mortal Strike and Healing debuffs (for the moment)
  2. SLT’s healing is not affected by personal +healing talents or effects (a Divine Guardian’ed player under SLT’s will not received 30% more healing from SLT).
  3. PW:S will absorb the damage from SLT (Example), conceivably PW:B will as well despite the lack of combat log evidence
  4. SLT’s balance of healing and damage occurs within the same second, theoretically balancing out to 0 with each tick
  5. SLT can overheal! I would assume that it’s caused by a heal landing in between the point where a player is selected for a heal, which no doubt precedes the heal itself, and the point when SLT’s heal actually lands (Example)

The reason I point these out is twofold: first, they’re conditions that might not be common sense when you set out to use SLT. And second, in the case of the first point—that SLT ignores mortal strike and healing debuffs—it allows shaman to pack a very powerful punch and enable some “creative use of game mechanics”. (More about that when I get into the next section!)


Staging Your Own Laser Light Show

It slices, it dices and it distributes raid health with blinding efficiency. So let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of this post—those great times to use SLT in raiding content. I apologize that my perspective is only going to be from a hard mode raider, so some of the following suggestions won’t be applicable to those players still making their way through normal modes.

Bastion of Twilight

  • Halfus – Use it when your tank has high Mortal Strike stacks or when you have three tanks dipping prior to a flame breath, SLT is a boon early on in the fight to help smooth out spike damage on the tanks. If you use it early enough, you can also use it again during the roar, to save a tank from the massive damage he incurs while being knocked down (especially if he happens to be tanking a drake).
  • Twin Dragons – The great thing about the Twin Dragons encounter is that it provides ideal “group up” moments where SLT can easily cover the entire raid. The bad thing is that both of these mechanics (Blackout and Twilight Meteor) *already* split damage with those in range, so the sole benefit of dropping SLT for these effects is to benefit from the 10% damage reduction.
  • Ascendant Council – I generally don’t find much use for SLT until phase 3 (and late phase 3 at that), but it’s worth noting that if you find yourself within short range of a player who was too slow shedding their Waterlogged debuff, SLT can keep them from meeting a quick death.
  • Cho’gall – SLT is great for smoothing out the damage from Empowered Shadows and redistributing HP during Phase 3. But its real strength comes from its ability to heal players who are at 100% Corrupted Blood, to enable them to dps at full throttle for that much longer.
  • Sinestra – SLT is an excellent way to extend your first Wrack for a good period of time and it’s also incredibly handy at reducing spike damage on the Whelps tank in Phase 3. But do be sure to follow it up with some targeted AOE healing, since those affected players are at a greater risk during Sinestra’s Flame Breath.

Blackwing Descent

  • Magmaw – With SLT’s short CD, you can typically get in two uses during this encounter—once in an early Lava Spew (to capitalize on the damage reduction) and once during Phase 2 when Nefarian starts tossing out bursts of shadow damage.
  • Omnotron Council – Using SLT during Magmatron’s Incineration Measure is a given, but you can also use it to minimize the damage from Shadow Conductor or, in a pinch, drop it after being sucked into a poison clouds where oozes are still alive.
  • Maloriak – Although your tank can’t receive any direct healing while afflicted with Engulfing Shadows, SLT’s effects slide in under the radar, allowing you to use the totem as a way to save a tank that might not have been topped fully before the Maloriak’s subsequent breath. SLT can also be used during Maloriak’s Flame Breath to lessen the blow on the raid, during the Acid affliction in Phase 3, or to save an oblivious group from an errant Frost Sphere’s deadly explosion.
  • Atramedes – Although you can use SLT to forestall someone’s Devastation death, the more likely use of Spirit Link in this encounter is to even out Searing Flames damage.
  • Chimaeron – Aside from the typical timing of using SLT during Feud group-ups, SLT can help distribute HP to players who might not have been as high as possible during a bad transition into phase 2. SLT can also, combined with several clumped high HP players, stave off a death while you raid tries to get the Full of Sound and Fury achievement!
  • Nefarian – One fight where you can really push SLT to the limit—uses abound in every phase of the encounter. Drop it immediately prior to a crackle, right after you leap out of the lava (to stabilize the platform), when a healing partner gets Explosive Cinders, or to save a kiting tank who’s adds refuse to reset.

Throne of the Four Winds

  • Conclave of Wind – Unfortunately, the platform where it seems natural to use SLT (Nezir), features an ultimate with damage that’s already split between the entire raid, so the benefit isn’t as great as it could be. But, I’ve found that if you drop the totem later rather than sooner, you can have the tail end of SLT overlap with Nezir’s oftentimes deadly post-ultimate frost patch and thus save a life or two. That being said, it’s worth noting that you can use SLT to lessen Anshal’s post-ultimate blows, but unfortunately, even the best SLT placement in the world still won’t save you from being blown off of Rohash’s platform by a misjudged Wind Blast.
  • Al’Akir – Although I oftentimes forget I have this lovely CD while battling Squall Lines, Ice Patches, Wind Bursts and Lightning, using SLT in Phase 1 as an emergency oh-god-it’s-too-much button should leave more than enough time for it to come off of CD for use at the end of Phase 2 when healing really gets stressful.


What, no pessimism?

Although I was a very vocal opponent of SLT going live, I’ll be the first to admit that the implementation of this totemic cooldown did what it was supposed to do: get shamans past the CD velvet rope and back at the table as a viable end-game healer. And while there are still some fundamental problems that exist with the ability—I’d be more than happy to trade SLT for the 1million plus healing of Tranquility on any given encounter (*cough OP cough*)—the point is that the void in the shaman arsenal has been filled. In the end, I think it’s sometimes easy to forget, with all the critique and comments that come from the community (and me included), that WoW is really about making the most of what you have. And the best players out there know that no matter the spellpower coefficients that govern our heals, or the color of our square on grid, or the sparkly awesomeness of our CD, tools are only as good as the person wielding them. So, like the geometric-patterned sweatervest with terry-cloth arms I got from my Grandmother one holiday season (no joke), I’ll happily pack SLT away in my toolbelt and spend my time looking high and low for the appropriate time to show it off.


  1. On the twin dragons, SLT is nice for evening out health to possibly save someone who would die from the split damage.

    I still have a few times where I miss my mark and drop SLT and the intended target is a yard or two out of range of the effect. :(

    I love it though. Besides the gimmick mechanics of it, I love what it does for Lava Spews!
    Alacran´s last post ..Resto Shaman on Chimaeron 10HM

  2. Denia

    Thank you so much for this article. Although I don’t comment, I read and use every post. Keep it up!

  3. I was a little underwhelmed at first, I’ll admit, but I’ve since grown to respect this totem. The (overly?) limited range coupled with having to run to where its needed make it a poor reactive cooldown. You really have to be proactive, to think ahead about when its going to be needed as you may not be near close enough to use it often as you might like.

    I’ve used the healing bit on Halfus a time or two (gotta love that fast hitting mortal strike combo) but I hadn’t thought about using it on 100% corrupted raid memebers on Cho’gall. For those odd raids that have several resto shamans available that could rotate two or three of these while spamming heals on 1 non-corrupted player (to feed them into the corrupted ones), this could be a very interesting tactic. Not sure how wise it would be to put them in that group, but it might work. In my 10s group there is just me, so…. probably not so viable as a gimmick. I’ll have to play with that a bit more.

    Making the base range a bit higher and moving it a bit further toward the base of the tree would be nice. I like it, but doing this would add to its appeal without making it OP I think. Several of the Resto’s I’ve met while playing my tank weren’t sure they wanted to spare the point given its placement.

    • We actually used that exact SLT tactic this week on our Cho’gall kill. Double Resto Shaman so we could have 3 players work their way to 100% corruption. One of our mages clocked ~43k DPS, a lock pulled down ~39k DPS, and the third mage pulled in 33k DPS. Amazingly, we were still a minute off the fastest kill time of 6:27. But hey, it’s nice to hear in vent “Oh we *NEED* a Resto Shaman for that”. ^_^

  4. SLT is amazing, and ive found some very creative uses for it. My personal favorite is durring phase 2 of NEF when we push our electrocute, on my platform we save our pali bubble for that and i just top him off and drop totem and the whole platform reballances to 100%health after the tick. i always get 4 people in our 10man so we can cheese one of the electrocutes. Great for any situation where you have a spare pali bubble and a damage mecanic that goes out. , H-malorik fmale breaths, Magmaw Spews, omni Fmalethrowers ,ect. one more great use of SLT

    I love your posts and they are always great reads and really full of great info.

    Farnzworth, GL of AltoholicsAnonymous in Proudmoore server US.

    • Excellent add! I had forgotten that some guilds do take an Electrocute in that phase; SLT is perfect for capitalizing on classes’ innate damage reduction and preventing that Shadow Barrage nuke from happening right after the crackle.

  5. Aegle

    I dislike that it places like a normal totem.. I could deal with the range if they would make it drop by default directly on your toon – so that in a pinch situation, you can stack on the shaman instead of being a yard or two out of it. Also would be nice if they’d make it so you could target it and click to drop it where you want. Even if it’s a really limited range, then you could at least control it.

    And I just tried the bubble and drop it thing.. At least on live right now, it doesn’t work.

    • wylhelmina

      Ya i dislike how you can place the totem too. I personally get totemic reach only for that cuz it give more plce for error. as a goblin i lost myself often in the other 24 pepole surronding me so i might not be place quit well to drop it. so i have a 3 more yard to play with.

      I would prefer to have a green target circle to place it but maybe next expension lol

    • No. Just no. I hate, HATE, targeting reticules for healing spells. I have this smooth easy cast rhythm set up … oh wait I have to … HR circle right … erm, how about … GAH mouse sensitivity … GO cast it already …. GAAAAAAH!

      And don’t even get me started on trying to HR target on the run (with Ancestral Swiftness up).

      • Rhaegal

        I’ll fully admit to accidentally casting HR on chandeliers and the complete ass-wrong spot on stairs, or thinking the cast went off just because the targeting reticule disappeared. I often wish HR didn’t have a cooldown, but would cancel the previous circle when a new one is cast, so you could correct stupid placement. The high mana cost would make it something you do your best to avoid, but at least it wouldn’t put the entire group (especially on 10m) so far behind when I don’t account for terrain or camera angle quite right.

  6. I’m still not quite sure how I feel about this totem. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s just useless because the tank is 7 yards away from me and the totem 3 yards in my back, and sometimes I really don’t know if it helped or hurt.
    Last time I used it on Chimaeron p2, it fall in the last category. We already had many deaths. I suppose it would have been better if I had use it sooner, but I didn’t. When most of us were dead I thought I need to do something now to prevent the wipe, so I used SLT. But it almost wiped us. The tank had just been rezzed by our druid and was at full hp and he almost died from the totem + being hit by Chimaeon :/

    You really have to think a lot about how to use it.

    I suppose it’ll get better when we get used to this totem and how it stand in our back…
    Zahia´s last post ..Resurgence- Crit Rating as our New Regen Stat

  7. Bell

    I’m one of those noobs who still forgets to drop it sometimes. It still has that shiny new feeling to me and hitting my SLT macro hasn’t yet found its way into my muscle memory. /flail

  8. Calmseer

    I was doing Chimmy the other day, the tank was almost dead and I still had near full hits. So I walked up to him and dropped Spirit Link Totem (there were a few other high-health people in range, too).

    Boom. He had 3/4 health again. By the end of the encounter, he was the only one who had died thanks to SLT.

    This was on normal mode, not hard mode, so I didn’t have the ticking shadow damage to deal with. But I still thought it was a pretty cool use of the totem.

    And while I know this isn’t a PvP blog, it is just amazing in PvP. So long as there are people nearby, it can pull you back from the brink of death when you are being focused.

  9. Hunaiam

    I also haven’t gotten used to using this totem in raids. But usually after a wipe once I know what I’m dealing with I have found it to be very useful and it has definatly grown on me. I hadn’t thought to use it in PVP until recently and now I love it in arena. I’m running around a column and notice my hunter is taking damage, stop by him and drop SLT and viola! Rogue is suddedly backpeddling as hunter gets the upper hand. Absolutly love it in arena.

  10. Firestyle

    I killed everyone, but we were going to die anyway. We had the raid stacked on trons for shadow conductor and brought over electron’s tank. I dropped the totem, and saw everyone’s health even out nice and then electron’s shield promptly burst from the conductor AE.

    While the totem didn’t cause the wipe, I’ve never seen 10 players have such a synchronized death.

  11. Elizara

    I’m not in raiding content and probably won’t be, due to time/guild restraints, but I was wondering if anyone had any advice on where/when would be a good place to drop SLT in Za/Zgs… I’m currently running a bunch of those to get that awesome looking gear!

  12. Hallany

    Elizara, I use it on eagle boss during lightning storm if the tank is low (when everyone is stacked), and on last boss during bear or lynx phase for the same reason, in ZA. I think it could also be useful on the lynx boss and hex lord, but haven’t needed it for either. In ZG, it’s occasionally useful on cauldron boss (especially during poison phase when everyone runs to the green), cat lady (if people get hit by wave or tears and are in range), and Jin’do (when loosely stacked around a chain). If people are already stacked enough to drop HR, and the tank or one other key person is really low on HP, go ahead and use it. 😉

  13. I have been following your resto shaman blog for a while now and never posted, but just want to say thank your for this blog i really enjoy reading and soaking in all that it has to offer. Has also given me ideas on things i did not even think about keep up the great work on this blog.

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