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


Philosophy

July 24, 2011

Circle of Healers, Redux

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Written by: Vixsin
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Mana_Tide_Totem

It was a little over a year and a half ago that I started blogging in this corner of the world, looking to participate in some of the healing discussion and maybe carve out a bit of the blog-o-sphere for Resto Shaman. I started with a couple standard posts and one very personal rant, talking about the impact of bad resto shaman publicity. And so it seems I find myself now, facing the same issues I faced back then, only on a much, much more significant scale. With the recent fuss surrounding Shamans being, once again, excluded from a world first kill, it now seems as good of a time as you could get to re-launch my response to the Circle of Healers. So today’s post is yet another to add to the healing circle, touching on a number of issues, from class strengths to the current Paragon kersnuffle. And hopefully, somewhere in there, is some good PR for us blue names in Group 5.

1. What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?

Vixsin, Resto Shaman (for life)

 

2. What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

25-man raids  (I also do 10-mans on my healing alts)

 

3. What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?

2010 Response: Earth Shield

Although I have a somewhat tumultuous relationship with it, I would say that my favorite healing spell at the moment would be Healing Rain. Yes, it’s the highest HPS spell in Shamans’ arsenal, so I love the healing boost it gives me, but it’s also the one spell that I give the shaman developers a lot of credit for. Although I still loathe (LOATHE WITH THE FIRE OF ONE THOUSAND SUNS) the targeting reticule, especially give that it was broken for a couple of weeks and made my life a living hell, I think it was a creative solution to supplement shaman AOE healing, without making CH more powerful. And while the spell isn’t without its flaws, I like that it invokes shamans’ need to proactively anticipate damage and plan accordingly.

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

2010 Response: Healing Wave

It’s not a healing spell, but of all the tools in my arsenal, the one I use the least is Totem of Tranquil Mind. While I appreciate the fact that another class (aside from Pallies) has Concentration Aura, my biggest gripe is that I have to sacrifice mana or healing to get pushback resistance. While this isn’t such a big deal when I’m doing dungeons, in a 10- or 25-man raid group it can be especially frustrating to have to sacrifice 1.5M (yes, million) healing done, or Elemental Resistance, to drop this totem. I think it would be a much more elegant solution to make Tranquil mind either a glyph for your Water Totems or an aura associated with them. But as it stands, Tranquil doesn’t seem much usage from me.

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

2010 Response: Versatility

I would definitely say that shaman are a powerful healing class, and that’s due in large part to our Mastery. On low-hp targets, a correctly-timed GHW can make an attacker scream in frustration, as their target regains maybe 75% of his HP, or save a tank about to bite the dust. Likewise, I know I’ve staved off more than one raid death with a quick 20k RT or UE on a target in peril. And when we can get the sun and the moon aligned, and our raid in one clump, the AOE healing potential of HR+CH is bananas. (The problem is, the sun and the moon rarely do align … but more on that in a second).

6. What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?

2010 Response: Lack of a CD

If you had asked me this question a week or so ago, before we killed Baleroc HM, I think I would have been hard-pressed for an answer. But after having spent tens of hours working my ass off to do only a fraction of the healing of my teammates, I’d say the biggest weakness of the shaman class is our slow, expensive heals coupled with our low passive mana regen. If anything, this is the cost we pay for the power I was talking about in #5 and the reason that so many shaman turn to Telluric Currents to fill some of the gaps in our regen. There’s something to be said when I can be the lowest in overhealing, even lower than the disc priest, and still be using TC as a crutch to keep me competitive with our healing team.

Secondarily, and this is something that one of Paragon’s members touched on, is that shaman are good at most things, but there’s nothing that distinguishes us; there’s nothing that we excel at. Paladins’ beacon is unique and amazing in fights with targeted burst damage, likewise disc’s shields and absorbs are completely distinct from any other healers’ tools, holy priests are the kings of targeted AOE healing, and druids’ raw output through hots is almost unparalleled. But shaman … we’re the backup to all of that.

I wrote about this topic at some length in a previous post, but to sum it up … Shamans totems used to be unique, so because we could adjust to fill the gaps in your healing team and fill the gaps in your raid buff list, our power as a class was scaled back. But with the homogenization of buffs (something I’m completely for, btw) and the fairly harsh nerfs to mana tide, we no longer have those same distinguishing characteristics nor do we have the oomph to compete with other classes. The developers, I know, are playing a touchy game with our class, toeing the line of making us too powerful in smaller groups, because if we can bring almost every buff and annihilate other classes’ output, why would you bring anything else? The unfortunate thing is, in their reluctance to inch the shaman class forward, they’re not addressing the PR storm that’s happened twice already in this expansion alone, one which has each of us blue boxes trying to justify our raid spots.

7. In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?

2010 Response: Supplemental Tank Healing plus melee

I don’t think you’ll meet a healer out there who would claim that the best assignment for them *wasn’t* free-floating raid/tank healer, because quite frankly, it’s the one with the least responsibility (and also generally posts the biggest numbers). Who wouldn’t want that sort of freedom?

That’s why I really appreciate the perspective of PC’s healing lead—unless the fight mechanics dictate that healers stick to a certain position or player (think: Conclave of Wind), we don’t use healing assignments. Each one of us is responsible for tank healing, just as much as we are responsible for healing soakers, kiters, add tanks, etc. And truth be told, that sort of pairing of freedom and responsibility has really enabled me to elevate my game to an entirely new level of play. If anything, I’ve come to recognize that assignments are more limiting than they are helpful—not only do they narrow your understanding of the fight, but they lure you into thinking that your job as a raider (and as a healer) can somehow be defined by how you handle a narrow segment of tasks.

So, I’d say the best assignment for me is the FFA approach we take in PC. Tell me that I’m responsible for the entire raid, because I’ll work way harder than I ever would if you told me my world was only one guy doing one thing.

8. What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?

2010 Response: I like ‘em all

I think I’m going to stick with last year’s answer and say that there isn’t a class out there that I don’t like healing with. Interestingly enough, what I find most fun is to step onto one of my healing alts and pair up with a shaman, because it becomes this incredible, surreal experience, seeing shaman healing from the other side of the glass. But it’s also very instructional, because it gives me an outside perspective on ways that I can improve my own healing on Vixsin.

9. What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?

2010 Response: Other shaman

 

I think there are challenges to any healing comp, so there will be encounters that are more suited to pairing with a disc priest as opposed to a paladin. 2-healing Atramedes HM (on 25-man) with a disc priest, for example, was very stressful because neither of us had the “best” tools for picking up the HP of a raid that wasn’t clumped and was taking spike damage. But, we made it work. Likewise, going into Chimearon HM 10-man with a Pally and lots of ranged wasn’t a cake-walk, but again, we made it work.

I think the key to healing with a class that doesn’t line up well with your own class’s strengths and weaknesses, is identifying what challenges you’re going to have, and proactively coming up with good solutions. Even if the solution is simply mashing your buttons harder or spending more time using inefficient heals, I really do believe that you can make any comp work.

10. What is your worst habit as a healer?

2010 Response: Clicking certain macros (as opposed to binding them)

Choosing to heal versus choosing to renew a shield—it’s something I’m very guilty of and which bites me in the ass if I choose to hold off on a refresh for a while. I resolved some of this problem (and 2010’s problem) by developing and binding a number of macros to make sure that refreshing a shield, or even swapping it to another player, is a quick and easy task. But arguably, my shield uptime could be much better than it is.

11. What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?

2010 Response: Healers who blindly pad

Oh man, I have to choose just one? I’ve actually been working on a post as of late about “ways to piss Vixsin off” so I guess I’ll have to limit this to a preview …Possibly my biggest pet peeve in a group environment is when players feel inclined to explain why they died or failed at their responsibility. While context is sometimes important in identifying an issue to be resolved, I oftentimes think that players believe that saying “my bad” or “OMG I SUCK” somehow absolves them of any further blame. Likewise, “I lagged” or “the effect is bigger than the graphic” have become legendary in PC because of how absolutely shitty they are as excuses for poor play. If you screw up on something, I’m way more interested in how you’re going to not do it again versus the chain of bad choices that led up to your demise. (And no, RNG is not a reason for death—stop claiming that it is.)

12. Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?

2010 Response: Absolutely

When Cataclysm first came out, my answer would have been a resounding “no”. But, I think Blizzard has made some great strides to bring us in line with other healers by buffing Purification and our Mastery and finally giving us some sort of CD. It was really frustrating that it took so long to get to this point, but I’m definitely happier with our performance now versus at the start of the expac.

I think what concerns me most about Resto Shamans’ state at the moment, is that (once again) there’s a lot of bad press out there about our viability in end game healing. When players in Paragon step up and say “we don’t bring shaman because they’re not worth it”, regardless of whether than sentiment is rooted in fact or simply circumstance, the idea lodges itself in players’ minds. One of my very first posts on LiG5 talked about the stir that Mek (of Ensidia) created in Ulduar when he claimed that shaman were simply not viable HM healers. Not only did it hurt to have such a prominent member of the community (virtually) throwing up his hands, but it impacted me personally in that my GL at the time actually believed him, and I spent the rest of the tier as Elemental. So bad press about shamans really does set me on edge.

Ultimately, I do think shaman are in a good place, because you know what, life isn’t ever going to offer you a perfectly balanced situation. So whether I’m 200 HPS ahead or 2000 HPS behind, I’m going to work my ass off to prove that I’m worth the raid spot. I would never tell a shaman that you can’t kick everyone’s ass, because I truly believe that outside of those World First kills, what matters is the player, not the class. I’m still going to argue for a level playing field—because I think we deserve it—but I’ll never cut any Resto Shaman the slack of saying it’s okay to not be the best.

13. What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?

2010 Response: Meters

I’m a World of Logs nut, and I use its Expression Editor regularly. But I also heavily lean on CompareBot when I want to compare my own healing with another shaman (and because the creator is so receptive to feedback). Lastly, I whip up my own spreadsheets, based on Expression Editor queries, to aid me in picking apart the effects of stat and gearing changes.

14. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?

2010 Response: CH is 1-button win.

*chuckle* I’m not going to beat a dead horse here, so let’s just skip this one.

15. What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?

2010 Response: that CH isn’t the answer for everything and how to heal proactively

It’s interesting to look back on last year’s answer and realize how much Cataclysm has changed the healing game for shamans (for every healing class, really). I honestly don’t think players associated shaman with Chain Heal spam, like they once did. Nowadays, I think what new players struggle with more often than not, is settling into the flow of shaman healing. It’s slow and methodical, and can be quite punishing if you’re caught off-guard. Not only that, but to get the biggest impact (as I’ve said before), you really have to line up your heals 3-4 seconds out.

16. If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?

2010 Response: High effective healing

 

(Brief story … it’s relevant, I swear!) When I first interviewed with PC, one of the things that the healing lead and I discussed was how I looked on meters. At that point, as he was right to point out, I was using HR and CH almost exclusively and with apparent abandon; topping meters because of it but not really healing as smartly or as efficiently as I could have been. So, one of his challenges to me was to change that style of play, and work on being a better all-around healer (because again, PC doesn’t assign “tank heals” for fights).

So if you look at my healing now, and especially when we were 4-healing fights while farming T11 hardmodes, you’ll see my style of healing has changed significantly. My single-target heals (GHW predominantly) generally make up a significant portion of my healing, and my overhealing has tapered way off. My shield uptime always needs work (UGH, SHIELDS!) but the one thing I’ve been much better about in this tier is my HST usage, which has been netting me a nice boost in healing for AOE-damage encounters. Lastly, although sometimes I don’t succeed, I always aim to take the least amount of damage possible. This means heavy usage of Stoneclaw Totem (yes, it’s actually saved a wipe because the shield kept me alive) and lots of raid awareness.

 

17. Haste or Crit and why?

2010 Response: Haste

Neither. Mastery, mastery, mastery. And Crit. And Haste. Resto shaman stat priorities are ever-changing, so if you ask me this when we’re farming T12, my answer might be significantly different.

18. What healing class do you feel you understand least?

2010 Response: Druids

Of my healing alts, my paladin remains the only one not at 85 yet. So these days, I do feel like that’s the class that I understand the least. I know the Holy Pally healing game has changed since I stopped running Tartlet (my holy pally) through ICC, and from the feedback I’ve heard, it’s for the better. I’m looking forward to getting her up to speed sometime during T12, so I can enjoy the awesome healing power that’s keeping pink at the top of meters on every single encounter. (Cause hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join em!)

19. What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?

2010 Response: Grid, Clique, Decursive, PowerAuras

Some things just don’t change—my healing world wouldn’t quite be the same without Grid, Clique, and PowerAuras. In fact, in terms of tangible benefits, I would say PowerAuras has been the most beneficial for me, because once I figured out the real nuances of configuration, there isn’t anything that I can’t make display. If it’s something I need to know about, I’ve got a PowerAura for it.

20. Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?

2010 Response: I build different sets to address changing stat priorities (fight to fight)

I actually went away from the multiple-sets idea towards the end of Wrath, keeping just one set for all encounters since the large majority of my healing was CH. But, at the end of T11 and now just about wrapping up T12, I’ve gone back to the idea, not only because Resto Shaman stat priorities are in flux right along with raid health, but also because my healing distributions (which I’ve been posting about intermittently on Twitter) really do vary by fight. So, for example, I now have a Crit-heavy gearset, one that nets me about 1800 haste, another which favors regen, and a base set that’s Mastery-heavy.

Now, this works for me because I have access to every piece of loot out there and I can pick up, enchant, and gem different versions of the same piece to get them to suit my need. But for the majority of players, this isn’t really an option, which is why when I make gearlists, I try to identify a balance of stats that works to compliment all fights, not just the ones where you use 90% CH or alternately, the ones where you use 60% GHW.






15 Comments


  1. Aegle

    This is brilliant to see the differences from last year to today. The bad publicity does suck – wish people didn’t pay so much attention to the big guilds… It’s snagging that world first kill – but is the everyday raid leader pulling out a world first? Not if they’re reading DREAM Paragon’s website!

    Anyway, are you planning on a post to show us how you have your PowerAuras set? There are so many ways… I’d love to see what you find most efficient.


  2. I agree with the things Paragon said about all three specs of Shaman.

    I think we will find take some Shamans on there next kill and they will say ‘we even took Shamans’ and still re-killed it.

    Resto: It would be nice for Shamans to get a slight buff to healing when not grouped up.
    Enhancement: Need a slight dps buff (would be cool for a tanking build even if it is just for heroics and not end game raiding)
    Elemental: The whole tree is broken (Eathquake lol). Frost mages and Arms warriors do more damage in pve!

    /Kelami (Frostmane EU)


  3. Hunaiam

    I read the post by Paragon when it first came out and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My guild is a casual raid guild and there are 2 of us Shaman healing. I have never seen the issues that some people bring up about our class being …inferior?.. to other classes and I love healing as a Shaman. This is my first and only healer and I don’t have any experience playing the other classes, but I love this class and learn something that I can do better almost every week. I know I am not the best at what I do but with blogs such as yours I am getting better. This week for example I am going to try out PowerAuras and see how I like it. Thanks for the insight Vixsin.


    • johny

      Its not that Resto shamans are bad in anyway and on alot of fights were very usefull but in FL there is alot of tank healing to be done and that role is better suited for other classes. Shamans are good at it with their mastery but from a pure meter standpoint shamans will get outhealed by just about everyone on fights like alys,baleroc, and shannox. this is from a pure 10m standpoint tho and i couldnt speak for 25m tho im assuming its much like 10m for bale and alys. not sure about shannox.


  4. Bell

    Definitely give 85 holy pally healing a go! I’ve been playing my shaman pretty much exclusively for over two years, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy my new holy pally. I feel far more versatile than I did when tinkering with the spec back during mid-Wrath, and I actually enjoy refining my HoPo usage for better timed heals. Just practicing with precision on the holy paladin has me going back and asking myself where I can improve on my shaman.


  5. Jack of all trades and master of none … if I think back I believe that was in the original class description from the old wow manual and when your guild can guarantee masters of every class at their disposal like the Pro/Semi Pro guilds pushing for world firsts and adjusting raid composition for each boss as needed then the value of taking a very flexible ” shaman ” diminishes .

    @ Kelami , E.lemental is not a high dps spec i would agree but I can out some decent numbers when I have to , its my offspec and this week I pugged a raid with” geif pie or die” as Ele after being benched for our guilds main farm evening.

    I definitely was at the front of the pack but it took some serious concentration to do so and plenty of mastery too.

    Certain Elemental abilities are very situational and the rotation can be unforgiving at times but Earthquake is amazing for bethtilac’s spiderlings, and thunderstorm at raggy very useful too
    sure perhaps our numbers could be buffed but we still pay the price for being able to heal quite a bit with our healing spells + spell-power.


  6. I find it really refreshing that I can read this and identify with most of what you say, even though our raids and progression are so different. :) Thanks as always for the class insight, and it’s SO nice to know I’m not the only one coming it at ridiculously low overhealing but still gasping for every point of mana.
    Rhii´s last post ..Guest Post: Circle of Tanking


  7. Paragons comments about Shaman viability on Heroic Rag are close to the truth. Getting deeper into the fight it becomes a lot more apparent the weaknesses of Resto (although our Enhance is doing fine atm). The limitations of our higher throughput spells (CH/HR) and Spirit Link are even more evident when there is consistent high raid damage and the raid is all spread out, especially compared to Resto Druids on the fight. So for now I either get to play Ele or sit out for H Rag. And yea, healing H Baleroc… I only had to heal 4 or 5 attempts before our kill (and was actually healing for the kill), other than that it was playing Ele or sitting outside the instance.
    Spewchi´s last post ..6/7!


  8. wylhelmina

    Thanks vixsin for your time on this blog and answering your mail!

    I read your post quiet frequently as much as I can too! you give handfule tips and are veary accurate! from my raiding so far my guild is 2/7HM 25 man and we working on our third. Unfortunately for me i wasn’t able yet to be part of them only on normal mode due to dc issue and thing like that. I don’t think my guild will sit me becaus my number are inferior of our OP resto druid doing 1 milion more healing then every other healer lol. But on the other hand i would be glad to have more tool to help my raid . I find FL beehing hard on our class so far compar to tier 11. It’s still a young patch and the fight will become more easier and leanred that the habit will kick in and the next patch will favor us more i guess.

    As you said i will do my best to prove other wrong that shammy aren’t suit for the job! but i still have low hope for that lol!


  9. Regarding shaman not being viable HM healers… this has been something I have seen a few times.
    My personal experience is quite different. Our first (and only) heroic Al’Akir 10 kill in 4.1 (early May) was with an all shaman healing team. Three relatively modestly geared shaman (we hadn’t done a lot of HM kills before that for gear) healed through that fight with ease.
    http://www.worldoflogs.com/reports/lfmoj0u3tawx3zym/sum/healingDone/?s=461&e=948

    Our first Ragnaros 10 kill was also completed with the same 3 shaman healing team. The team works wonders, because each player in the team knows their class well and work together with the rest of the raid. True, we have yet to attempt Ragnaros 10 on HM… but I have an immense amount of faith in shaman healing.
    Arclight´s last post ..Ragnaros


  10. Halidax

    Thanks for the great read!

    Seeing something like that from Dream Paragon could be disheartening, if you were not being realistic. They are correct, and how we react to such things shows us as raiding resto shamans just how insecure we can be.

    I for one, agree and try to take it in my stride.

    I’m not Paladin, I’m no Prest and I am certainly no Druid. But what I am is enough to get the job done most of the time, and when paired with healing partners who work in tandem with my strengths and shortcomings it means we get the job done and people stay alive to dps and tank.


  11. Liz

    I can see where some think that shamans are weak. I dissagree though, I just think it is a class/spec that requires more thinking. Time and mana management are more sensitive issues for shammies i would say. You cant afford to heal with disregard to those two factors. If anything, kudos to shammies all over who are doing a fabulous job as it requires a higher level of calculation then other classes. It is just a more difficult class/spec to master then others i believe.

    I am wondering if you could in the future make a post about how you evaluate your healing and how to use the tools you use. As someone who uses Recount to evaluate my healing, i would love to learn how to use more detailed tools but find myself lost when it comes to looking at World of logs for example.


  12. Dak

    Some great info here, I love how thoughtful and methodical you are about, well, everything. One thing though that I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to see is another more in depth guide to the expression editor on world of logs. I try to use it when I can, but I think (even with that other wol guide you posted a long time ago) understanding is still eluding me.

    Cheers for restos!


  13. Xaenicael

    It’s nice to see your POV, but don’t you feel we have 2 pretty big deficiencies currently;

    #1 – Water Shield, as this is our main source of mana regen we need this up 24/7, with the heavy constant aoe damage on the majority of fights we seem to be punished by having to waste a gcd constantly having to refresh watershield. A glyph such as the lightening shield would be very welcomed. I don’t see other healers being penalised for keeping up their regen, after the big nerf to MT, I’m finding falling back to TC, which in its principality is a great spell, but sometimes their simply isn’t time nor chance to use this.

    #2 – Spread out healing (roughly 50% of the content atm), we only become on par with other healers when the raid (or at least 6 players) are grouped up within 12 yards of the shaman. This has been an issue for a long time with shaman – combine this with movement intense fights our efficiency really started to drop significantly.

    Some changes I’d like to see implimented : (not all obviously)

    #1 – Change AA to be able to Proc off all our spells but diminish its power (so say heal for 15% of the total amount)

    #2 – Change Unleash Elements : have it have multiple uses depending on what spell is currently on the target : (increase the CD accordingly)

    Riptide – Spreads your Riptide to 4 lowest hp targets within 30 yards.
    EarthShield – Consume all charges of ES for their total heal amount – so say 8 charges @ 10k would drop an instant 80k heal on your target.

    #3 – Make Water Shield constant in PVE – a glyph would be easiest.

    While I’m competetive within my guild, this is me playing out of my skin at times to keep on par with other healers – we’re so close to being right, but we do need slight tweaks for us to really get back on par with the other healers.


  14. Cads

    Most fights in Ulduar required lot of spreading around, and chain heal’s range was only 10 yards.
    Only after Mek and other shamans said that we were not viable healers, did blizzard change the range to 12.5 yards. Also in most encounters these days, the range for harmful effects is 6 – 10 yards. In wotlk it was always greater than that.



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