Life in Group 5 – A Resto Shaman Blog
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Healing

September 14, 2011

Resto Shaman Lessons from Tier 12

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Written by: Vixsin
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In a way much different than its predecessors, Tier 12 was not so much a race to the finish line as much as it was a trial of endurance and determination. But after a whopping 461 attempts, spanning 7 weeks, and summed up in a 30-page strategy thread on our guild’s forums, Ragnaros fell under the resolute pressure of Pie Chart’s raiding team last Thursday, marking the end of our efforts to finish out current raiding content. And although it wasn’t the top 10 kill we were hoping for, I think it’s safe to say that it was an immensely satisfying victory nonetheless. For me personally, it was a triumph over a tier unlike any other, and hopefully unlike any to come.

But I think there’s more that we can take away from this tier, aside from stories of personal inspiration and a deep abiding appreciation for the red-yellow-orange color spectrum, both in regards to class design and resto’s overall performance. If you recall, Tier 12 marked a number of changes to our class—from Mana Tide’s nerf, to the introduction of Resurgence, and the actual testing of SLT and Resto Shamans’ globally applied Mastery in a world progression setting. So what I want to do today is two things—first look at some of the overarching issues/themes of Resto Shaman in Firelands, and then second, talk about what I think can/ should be done to address them.

 

The Short List

Shaman continue to have issues maintaining competitive HPS when players are spread out

Frankly, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that this tops my list of observations about this tier, as it is an issue that shaman have long struggled with. We are the undisputed kings of stacked healing—if the raid can stack and we have the mana to do so, HR+CH filler constitute absolutely incredible throughput (second to Tranquility, which is just cheating, IMO). Don’t believe me? Check out this segment of Phase 2 HM Beth’tilac, where my HPS can be credited with just those two main spells.

Butas good as that throughput is, ask a raid team to spread out and take that same damage, and we fall to the bottom of the pack. I think of fights like Firefighter and Freya +3, or more recently HM Council, HM Magmaw, HM Domo and HM Rag (to some extent) as prime demonstrations of this situation, not only because they required players to spread out, but also because each fight actually punished players for stacking up.

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t understand why a developer would make a design decision to include such a mechanic—because who wants the basic raid strat to be “stay stacked”—but what’s important to note here is that there is one healing class and one healing class who’s performance is directly tied to player density and has a much smaller margin of error on that density. And I know my fellow Restos in 10s will absolutely get behind me when I say that this circumstance is only exacerbated in the smaller raid setting. There is a significant difference between nagging players to be within 30 yards of eachother (WG, PoH, CoH) and needing them to be within 12 yards (when the mechanic range is 6,8, or 10 yards).

In the end, while healers’ abilities should be a consideration when designing any strat, with the constraints placed on Resto Shamans’ healing by HR and CH, it oftentimes comes to pass that raid teams must make a decision to either cater to their shaman healers or make do with less throughput from them. And that latter option is what concerns me the most, because that’s one step away from being benched.

 

There is a price to pay for slow, expensive heals

If there was a boss that highlighted some of the flaws in the Shaman healing model, it was my BFF Baleroc, the Gatekeeper. An absolutely punishing fight on HM 25, pre-nerf, what the encounter demonstrated more than anything was that in a world where speed and efficiency make the largest difference in HPS, shaman will be on bottom by a mile. As a point of reference, the top shaman parse on the encounter is at 33k dps (major props to Stormingire of Simple Math  for some amazing Vital Spark stacking), but that’s only 40% of the healing done by the top parse on the encounter, set at present by Adaqeu from Slashcry at 79k hps, which was recorded pre-nerf. (For what it’s worth, druids are similarly constrained in throughput, as the other healing class who lacks an absorption mechanic).

So, if shaman were looking to an encounter to point to as one that was significantly hampered by putting a resto in raid (I shudder to think what stress two Resto Shaman would bring), this would be it. So why don’t we do so well? First and foremost, our heals are slow, very slow in comparison to those of other healers. So we simply can’t land as many in a short window of time. Secondarily, our single-target heals are dependent on Tidal Waves to maintain equitable throughput, which means that our output looks more like rolling hills because we simply can’t spam GHW to our heart’s content. Thirdly, our single-target throughput is adjusted to work with Nature’s Blessing, which means that HW, HS, and GHW are weaker when we don’t switch ES to a target.

So while Baleroc was likely one of the most unique and innovative fights I’ve killed to date, I can’t help but think it highlighted those factors which are an intrinsic part of our class design and which will be consistent constraints on our functionality as healers.

 

Mana Issues remain, especially in regards to personal regen

While our PVP counterparts can sit back with an almost full mana pool for an entire 30-minute arena match, many PVE shaman seem to be crutching ever more on TC to stay competitive. With Resurgence returns still incredibly low in comparison to other healers’ personal regen mechanics, it’s oftentimes the case that a quick glance at Group 5 mana pools will reveal a stark comparison.

For example, on our recent HM Rag kill, the regen breakdown for each of our 4 healers (excluding returns from Hymns and MT) was as follows:

Now there are two things I want to call out about the above, aside from the differential in return from T12 2pc , which is highlighted, (and which, arguably, I did not do an admirable job of maintaining). The first point is the incredible difference in stat allocation and in-combat regen between our four healers.  Whereas our holy paladin remains almost even with me in terms of Spirit and in-combat regen, our resto druid  runs with a mere 2227 in-combat regen (which when you factor in that his passive regen remains on the level with our other healers, would indicate to me that he operates at a lower mana consumption level). Granted, I don’t expect stat levels or mana consumption to ever be equal across 4 different specs, but what I think it reveals about shaman is just how much more mana they need to remain competitive.

Secondarily, and most importantly in my eyes, consider the difference it would make if I removed TC from that regen table—I would lose almost ~8400 mana per minute, or 700 mp5. That is a massive chunk of passive regen and something which should, by all accounts, be a completely optional choice. But my point here is precisely that—118k mana over the course of a progression encounter is not optional, it’s not mana-neutral, and if you assume that I made the right spell choices, it was mandatory to being able to perform my job.

 

SLT’s applicability is limited in AOE damage environments

When introduced, Spiritlink Totem was intended to be the normalizing CD that Resto Shaman had been looking for and a way to keep us competitive with other healers. But I’ve always felt that SLT’s true design intent was a bit ambiguous—whether it was intended to be a tank CD or a raid CD, I can’t precisely say. And I think that ambiguity, and the (I hesitate to say it) gimmicky design, are qualities that were highlighted in Firelands, and not in a particularly good way. In truth, SLT’s use in Firelands was completely one-sided. By way of example, here are the mechanics I used SLT for during our raids:

  1. Shannox – Never
  2. Rhyolith – During Stomp (AOE Damage)
  3. Beth’tilac – Venom Rain (AOE Damage) and Ember Flare (AOE Damage)
  4. Alysrazor – Burnout (AOE Damage)
  5. Baleroc – Never
  6. Staghelm – Flame Sycthe (AOE Damage)
  7. Ragnaros – Seed Eruption (AOE Damage), Magma Trap Explosions (AOE) and Superheated Stacks (Pseudo-AOE)

Now, what’s wrong with the above list, aside from the idea that there are some encounters where I can’t use my CD at all? Answer: The fact that all of the uses for SLT in Tier 12 involved damage that was already spread out on the entire raid, thus negating one of the key selling points of shamans’ raid CD. So the effective use of SLT was a mere 10% damage reduction, which generally needed to be used when effects were are lower levels of damage (eg: early Flame Scythe hits) or in conjunction with another raid CD (eg: SLT + Rallying Cry), because of the CD’s comparative weakness versus a spell like PW: Barrier.

Again, this is a case, I think where the developers have a choice to make—between an effect which plays into SLT’s mechanics or an effect which can be addressed by a much larger spectrum of CDs. And therein lies the problem, because if you make SLT required, then you are limiting the healing team that can handle the encounter. But the flip side of it is, if you don’t play into the gimmick and instead make an effect that can be handled by Aura Mastery, Tranquility, and Barrier, then you’re left with a very weak CD in SLT.

 

Mastery change + Crit change + PVP = trouble

The last observation that I have about Tier 12 is something that I don’t think many of us in the community could really have predicted, or even pieced together. Back at the end of April, patch 4.1 went live and broadened the application of Deep Healing from a select few spells to all of those in Resto Shamans’ arsenal. Subsequently, in Patch 4.2, the decision was made to increase the bonus healing from all critical heals from 150% to 200%. And when these two healing adjustments united in 4.2 PVP, they made a perfect storm and almost single-handedly secured Resto Shamans’ spot on every arena team. 100k crits on a target near death? Yes please!

But those Mastery changes that made Resto Shaman such powerhouses in Arena and PVP play, are also those that bolstered shaman endgame healing, affording us the opportunity to do more with our limited mana pool and rack up some absolutely insane critical hits on tanks (my highest to date is a 180k GHW on a tank on the brink of being squashed). However, you didn’t see the same effect in PVE because of the difference in damage patterns—while PVP is about making good decisions about when to heal and when not to, PVE is about pumping out massive amounts of consistent healing to cover your raid’s ills. And thus in PVE, our Masetery’s benefits are going to be tempered by other healers.

Ultimately, the core of the problem that I see with Deep Healing isn’t what players often complain about—weaker heals as the tier progresses, the linear application—but rather that Masteries should not be game changers. They shouldn’t turn the tide of a PVP match, and likewise they shouldn’t account for a 4k HPS differential in the span of several months. And if it takes a nerf to make it less of focus and more of a bonus, then hand me the waffle bat, please.

 

Opportunities in 4.3


Consider the benefits of decoupling HR and CH …

Tying into the first point in the preceding section, one of the solutions that I’ve been musing over lately is how to address the problem of shaman being ill equipped to cope with a raid that cannot or will not respond to shamans’ density constraints. Whereas previously a spread raid would have resulted in the Resto Shaman turning to a RT+HS rotation (a la Razorscale), with the nerf to HS that unfortunately is no longer an option. So I think my best argument would be that we need to see some of the overlap removed from our two density-based heals.

At present, CH and HR synergize well with each other, and are able to operate on a stand-alone basis. In fact, one of the things I appreciate about HR is that it allows the shaman to choose the right level of supplemental healing to apply over the 10 seconds that HR is down. (In other words, I can HR and then fill with LB or HW in times of lower damage, or ramp it up with HR+CH during intense damage periods). But, the crux of the problem lies with the fact that both CH and HR are incredibly range-dependent, and thus the downside of one spell is the same as the other—both reward player density. And as I’ve said before, sometimes that isn’t an option because of fight constraints and other times it isn’t an option because of player choice.

And so, I think the solution is to stop asking shaman to fight with and nag their raid teams. It’s one thing when a priest asks players to stay on one side of the room so that everyone will be in range of a PoH, but it’s another thing entirely to ask them to set their proximity meters to 12 yards so that I can get 5 jumps of CH. Enabling Healing Rain to make it a directional Tsunami, a heal that emanates from the shaman, or an area-wide effect with a longer cast time, would remove the some of the stress that Resto Shaman are asked to introduce into a raid strat for the simple reason of optimizing their own healing.

 

… Or think about a Resto Burst CD

I haven’t harped on this too much in this tier but it’s something that’s been at the back of most of Resto Shamans’ minds since we lost our only throughput CD (RIP Tidal Force)—we really don’t have any way to throttle our healing, outside of letting Tidal Waves fall off (which I think most shaman would agree is like suggesting that a feral druid throttle his dps by letting all his bleeds fall off). In fact, one of the reasons that I’ve chosen to remain a troll through this entire expansion is because of the Berserking racial, and the mini-CD it affords me, which either allows me to nab another tick of HR or power my RT+GHW single-target rotation.

And so I bring this up again as another way that developers could enable shaman to handle high-damage situations or those scenarios when it’s ill advised to try to stack for healing. A personal CD could be positioned to address any one of a number of things that Resto Shaman struggle with, and maybe could take one of the following forms:

  • Give RT no CD for 15 seconds and made the initial hit 150% stronger (similar to ToL’s effect on Regrowth)
  • Empowered HST to be raid-wide for a short time (*cough totems matter cough*)
  • Enable our Stoneclaw totem to power-shield us (because survivability is something else we struggle with in PVE, and Glyph of Stoneclaw doesn’t scale)

This would essentially give us control over our output and enable us to keep pace when the going gets tough. And for anyone who thinks that shaman keeping pace isn’t an issue, let me show you something:

The above graph represents the HPS of our healing team over the course of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of our HM Rag kill. What’s particularly important to note (and you wouldn’t know without me telling you), is my HPS in two very specific periods of time—from 23:06:10 – 23:07:00 and from 23:10:20 to 23:11:00. These are the two transition phases where, as you might guess, I cannot efficiently use CH or HR. As a result, you can see my HPS drop significantly below my healing teammates’, who capitalize on their own healing CDs to power them through the burst damage period.

Again the emphasis here isn’t about “X class has this thing so I want it to”; the emphasis is on enabling Resto Shaman to make meaningful decisions about when and how we spend our mana. And a cooldown that helps us tackle some of the issues we struggle with (spread players, burst, and survivability) enables us to take control of our output and our own performance.

 

Re-address SLT

I hate using the word “gimmicky” because I think it’s thrown around quite carelessly by players wanting to trivialize mechanics that they don’t like or that they believe to be sub-par. But as it relates to SLT, I find it’s the only word I can use to describe a CD which can function in radically different ways depending on the effect it’s attempting to mitigate. Whereas other CD’s take a blanket approach to their effects, SLT remains the only CD which will not provide the same predictable benefits when applied to a single 200k hit versus a 200k hit spread out between all raid members. In fact, as I wonderfully discovered over the course of those 461 attempts, SLT can actually kill your tank (during the only phase where it’s of use anyways).

As to what can be done to improve this confused Resto Shaman CD, I think effort needs to be channeled into making it less of a gimmick and more of the CD that can address the same issues as others:

  • Increase the damage reduction component to 20%, so that the totem can serve as a significant and stand-alone CD, or
  • Have SLT heal players for 30% of the redistributed amount, something that will assure it scales based on density, or
  • Remove the spatial constraints so that SLT can be equivalent to Prot Paladin’s Divine Sacrifice

But what I do know is that if it continues to need to be supplemented by CD’s like Tranq or Rallying Cry to be effective, then it was only a half-step towards bringing Restos in line with other healers.

 

Reconsider WS Design

Although I am not an avid PVPer and the mere thought of arenas are enough to send me screaming into the hills, I will be the first to admit that Resto Shaman are in an odd position when it comes to our personal regen mechanic. While our dueling brothers in arms are able to use it as a pure regen tool, trading the on-proc mana return for the incoming damage from the attacker, we PVE’ers aren’t afforded the same benefit. And when you compare the average healing done for an 8-minute arena match versus an 8-minute encounter, it’s clear to see the large disparity between PVP and PVE resto shamans’ mana needs.

When it comes to how we compare to the other healers in group 5, I would speculate that the growing regen differential is due in large part to the limited scaling of WS. Whereas other healers have their mana return scale based on their total mana pool, making regen a function of their primary stats, Resto Shamans’ regen is tied to a secondary stat (Crit), and is thus limited by the 179:1 conversion of crit rating to crit %. Further, because our WS is limited to a static value, it fails to respond to increased mana consumption due to less efficient / more powerful heals, which will become more required as the expansion progresses.

I think the obvious change to make, to bring Resto Shaman in line with other healers and allow us to use those less efficient heals as they become more necessary, is to make our WS scale based on our primary stats. But beyond that, there are a variety of directions that WS could go to keep a cap on the “limitless” mana pool of Restos in PVP:

  • Have Resurgence function like Jar of Ancient Remedies, where each healing spell cast applies a small multiplier to WS’s effects. Introduce a new version of Unleash Elements for Resto (Unleash Water?) which would consume all WS charges but give the shaman a % of his total mana and place Resurgence regen on CD for a short duration. These WS charges would be purgable/dispellable in PVP.
  • Leave WS as a shield, but change Resurgence to apply an additional % of regen for each critical heal within a 15-second window. Because secondary stats are naturally limited in PVP, this would enable shaman to maintain the same baseline regen and encourage us to value crit more in a PVE environment.
  • Simply remove the chance to proc on attack, and increase the amount of passive regen to be a function of Spirit.

But, these proposed changes to WS assume that the developers don’t want to explore TC as Resto Shamans’ secondary regen source, which is at least in my eyes, a potential path that we could go down. TC scales with gear, it limits regen in PVP, and provided that something is done to remedy the miss chance that Restos currently have, TC could very well distinguish us once again as a “hybrid” healer and lead to some very interesting discussions about balancing dps and hps throughput.

 

Quality of Life is a Function of Expectations

One of the questions that you saw crop up quite frequently during the Sinestra kerfuffle over lack of shamans, and subsequently during the HM Rag PR nightmare, was a very basic one—“why would you bring a [resto] shaman to the raid?” Sitting in Mumble with one member of my healing team shortly after Paragon’s first kill, he asked me that question, and to be quite honest, my first answer was not about the class but about my skill as a healer. Not to be deterred, he asked me again—“What is Resto Shaman’s niche?” (Ahhh, the old “niche” question …)

The interesting thing is, I think the answer is different for 10s versus 25s. In 10s, were a raid leader to ask me why he should bring a Resto Shaman into raid, I would unequivocally answer: versatility. Flexible buffs, the capacity to adapt and fill gaps in your healing roster, ranged interrupts, extra mana—those are valuable commodities in a limited team environment. But in 25s, where versatility is not a valuable commodity (and I talked about this in my post last February, Shaman: The Last Vestiges of a Utility Class), I think shaman really struggle to identify what our “thing” actually is.

Although on the official WoW website, it identifies that shaman are masters of the elements and summon totems to support our allies or punish our foes, the fact of the matter is, in my 25s team, I rarely need to drop totems. The only ones I feel a deep connection with are HST, MT, and Stoneclaw (<3 16k shields), but the others aren’t necessary at all. To be quite honest, that absolutely boggles me—one of the “core” capabilities of my class and I don’t even have to use them? But the unfortunate thing is that my bafflement rarely stops there. With particular regards to Resto, I admit that I’m oftentimes confused as to what my intended raid role is—what do I bring to the table? Resto druids bring an army of hots, paladins bring intense single-target healing and a ton of raid CDs, priests bring shields and powerful aoe healing, and resto shaman bring … all of that in a weaker amount? I know we’ve made great strides to normalize healers, but I feel like somewhere in there, the identity of Shaman healers was lost.

Ultimately, what Nethara and the developers asked for in their recent appeal to the class communities was discussion of Quality of Life, which I find interesting because it’s actually something that comes up quite often in Blizzard-player discussions. To me, what Quality of Life in WoW boils down to is simple—it’s all about expectations. So if I’m asked about my Quality of Life on my resto shaman, to me that’s like being asked if it’s everything I expected it to be. And therein lies the problem, because at this point in the game, I don’t think anyone knows what to expect of the shaman class. Least of all, me.

 

———-

 

Edit: Forgot to include the link to my comments on the Shaman feedback thread! Vixsin’s Class Feedback, and also there were some good ones from Yibsu , Jinto , Ranixxi , and Mistiya . I’m sure there were a number on the EU side of the house as well; I’ve yet to start pouring through that thread!






34 Comments


  1. Drew F

    Just a comment/suggestion on the use of spirit link and Baleroc. I’ve started using it to protect the dps taking shard damage. It really helps with the last couple ticks of torment.


    • Cabòóse

      I thought about trying that but I never bothered because I figured you would then be healing more people than just your main target… but then again, people who aren’t soaking or tanking don’t take damage, so you could just heal them when you get around to it. I just timed my RT right before I spam 2 GHW and 1 HS, 1 more RT and 2 more GHW was enough before I had to switch the similar rotation to the next target. A couple of TC proc’s in between transitions was enough to recover from the HS.


    • Szekheem

      First of I’m raiding 10 mans – Felt like having to announce that, due to the fundamental differences for r-shamans between 10 and 25 man raiding.

      Anyways, I’ve found SLT to actually be invaluable to ensure the safety of our shadow priest during the window of torment stack 12 to dispersion. It basically allowed me to spam Healing Surge (+Unleash/Riptide), nabbing myself around 100 Stacks of Vital Spark in one go.


  2. As always great read Vixsin, I hope that Blizzard will turn or class and spec in a better direction for 4.3


  3. Spewchi

    Hopefully the devs take these feedback threads a lot more seriously this time. Resto is falling behind once again and its gonna need more than just another bandaid fix this time (what is it, 3 or 4 times Resto has been buffed/hotfixed due to being so far behind this xpac already?)

    With the SLT usage, I wouldn’t say ‘never’ for Shannox and Baleroc. You can use it on the Riplimb tank if you get bad stack resets, and on Baleroc you can drop it for a shard soaker on your rotation. Thankfully though I get to play Ele on Baleroc now :). Also on Rag you can use it for p2 trap pops and initial grouping on breadths in p4.


    • The thing is, I appreciate the position that they’re in given Resto Shamans’ domination in PVP. So any straight buffs which would help in PVE would upset the “balance” in PVP all the more. Add to that the fact that there are some fights where we do really well (Rhyo, now that I can cast HR on CD) and Alysrazor (man I love getting one of the first feathers), and I start to understand why a fix hasn’t been incoming.

      But I think you’ve hit the nail on the head when you mention how many buffs Resto has received–the +14% Purification buff, Mastery’s expanded application, the addition of SLT, the buff to GHW. Not to mention Enhance’s 4.2 buff and Elemental’s recent 10% buff–all of the shaman adjustments since Cata launch have been pretty major ones.

      I didn’t talk about it in the post (although I did write a section on it and dumped it during my edits), but that magnitude of adjustment on one class makes me start to wonder … what’s wrong the the shaman model? Because these aren’t simply “tweaks” here and there–these are significant adjustments to every single shaman spec. At some point it makes me wonder if all the hotfixes and patch notes aren’t simply treating the symptoms of some more deeply-rooted problem.


  4. Synnchro

    “(I shudder to think what stress two Resto Shaman would bring)”

    My guild just downed Bale 25 H last night with two Resto Shaman. I was exclusively healing shard targets while my counterpart was the “swing” healer helping out when I went 00m in between tides or when another healer got Torment/Countdown. It happened about 40-30 seconds before the first tide was up. It helped a lot when I realized I could get 2-3 LB’s in between each shard. This was probably the most stressful and frustrating fight I’ve encountered this expansion (we haven’t tried H Rag yet so I’m pretty sure that will top it – probably even with the nerf), mostly because I knew my class was lacking when it came to quick, direct heals. So many times I lost someone because I thought a GHW would land in time only for it to be .1 second too late. Throwing HS into the rotation at the end worked but only to an extent as it’s not that powerful and could end up not healing enough.

    Yeah, I hate that fight.


  5. that there is one healing class and one healing class who’s performance is directly tied to player density and has a much smaller margin of error on that density

    *cough* holy paladin *cough*

    Technically Holy paladins have the same issue with Holy Radiance. We’re just not even in the conversation when it comes to raid healing though. :/
    Rohan´s last post ..Class Feedback – Holy Paladin


    • You should definitely have a talk with our Holy Paladin, who isn’t at all constrained to healing tanks. He raid heals on every single fight, and does a pretty damn fine job of it. (/grumble grumble) Not to mention, his Holy Radiance timing is just impeccable (and eats into my darn AOE heals allllll the time. What a jerk, right?)

      But you are correct, Holy Radiance does have some density constraints that extend beyond the diminishing heals rule (which applies to Radiance, Rain, Sanc, and Efflo). The reason I simply don’t see it in the same camp as Rain though is twofold: not only is the range much larger (20 yards, versus Healing Rain’s 10 yards and CH’s 12 yards), but it’s also mobile. So whereas you can move to keep people in range, I can’t very well pick up the Healing Rain that I just dropped and move it back onto the idiot tank who decided to stand outside of it. Likewise, if a player moves just a smidge to his left or right, outside of the jump range of CH, there’s not a damn thing I can do to fix it.


      • Impeccable timing with Radiance is important because it’s very expensive and the cooldown feels like forever in heavy, extended AoE (Rhyolith and Beth).

        Regarding the issue of a way to boost output on demand, doesn’t Mastery provide for this? How does the additional output from Mastery compare to cooldowns like Avenging Wrath or Divine Favor (~20% output boost)? How is the constant presence of your Mastery valued against other healers’ 2 minute cooldowns?

        Lastly, I think the work you were looking for was “wiffle bat”. Alternately, for Raid Warning fans, “waffle bolt”.
        Joe Ego´s last post ..Notes For Any Other Class Learning to Paladin Heal


        • No, I clearly meant waffle bat … >_> … lol (/redface)

          Very good point about Resto Shaman Mastery versus other classes’ healing CDs; I mean, really fantastic! My initial thought would be to say, yes, Resto Shamans’ mastery does act like a smart CD, applying when and where it’s needed. But I think the problem lies in the fact that it is a) not constant and b) not consistent. And how do you balance something that fluctuates, for some shaman, between +5% and +40% healing done? I don’t think you can without making incredibly generalizations about raid conditions, which was why I would speculate our Mastery did get a refresher in Tier11–because the assumptions that were made were way off base.

          More importantly, at least to me, is how you justify taking that level of control away from a healer? I love it when I hit ToL on my resto druid, because it really does feel like I’m responding appropriately to an increase in damage–that’s a decision I *never* make on my shaman.


        • In what way is it not constant? The Mastery boost is predictable and always present. Am I right to say the Mastery boost is calculated when the heal lands? So while I’d call it dynamic rather than inconsistent, there isn’t much worry about losing output because you made the wrong decision.

          I can see where the lack of a cooldown presents a lack of choice (a lack of fun?) and gives the good player less of an opportunity to distinguish himself. (insert obligatory “there are no good shaman” joke here.) It seems like shaman could use a haste cooldown or something similar to Divine Favor, though maybe in a way which didn’t affect Rain or Chain Heal.

          While an increase in the size of each heal is great (especially when needed the most), shaman don’t have a way to cast heals faster when needed. This issue presents no problem when the raid is stacked for Rain or CH, unless you want to compete with Tranquility. Once the raid spreads out and CH stops being effective you are restricted by whatever haste you brought to the beginning of the fight.
          Joe Ego´s last post ..Notes For Any Other Class Learning to Paladin Heal


        • Shamans’ Mastery is not constant in that it does not apply a flat % increase all the time, regardless of the % HP of the target. So whereas, for example, a disc priest’s mastery will always contribute the same bonus no matter the circumstance, this is not the case for shamans.

          Now as to why I mentioned this … because of the way in which our mastery works, its relationship with other stats is dynamic, meaning that in some cases it may be more beneficial than crit while in other cases it may be less beneficial. So, when a shaman walks into a fight with, say, 45% Mastery bonus, he’s taking a gamble on whether that was the right choice. Further, he will never get the full benefit of his Mastery for the entirety of the encounter; in reality his +45% may nornmalize out to +17% healing done.

          Ultimately, I think it contributes to making Resto Shaman very hard to balance, which is why I’d advocate decreasing the value of Mastery and giving us more raw throughput.

          BTW, love the questions Joe. As always :-)


  6. I hope some Blizzard developer drops by :(

    Sad, but all you say is true. So sad :(


  7. Cabòóse

    This blog is my inspiration to continue improving my Shaman despite my ambition to try a different healing class, keep up the good work Vixsin! Some of the recent changes that I’ve made to my Shaman, whether it was gear/gem/enchant/reforge choices or talent choices, they have been noticeable by my raid mates and they now want me along on every raid.


  8. Tolimar

    On the returns for TC, did you factor the cost of all the lightening bolts you cast?


    • No, I didn’t. But you’re right that it would bring the return down by a portion. (Of course, it would also mean that I’d need to adjust the paladin’s numbers to account for the cost of judgement).


  9. Sekul

    Eloquent and meticulous, a perfect summation of all that is frustrating with our class.

    I currently heal with a Resto Druid (My Wife, NERF DRUIDS!!) and a Paladin in a 10 man that just got Normal Rag last night. In our progression through normals I’ve had the feeling that I’m not getting much love from my mastery as the other two healers do a very fine job of keeping the raid above 70%. I tried a 2K5 haste build and it performed horribly in our environment at my gear level, I even tried a crit heavy build at one point that was even more disappointing.

    My question to you is: Can I expect better performance in heroics, hoping that mastery will contribute more or am I just relegated to perpetual “nice try little guy” pity?


  10. Lardmus

    Vixsin,

    I’ve been reading your posts for quite some time now and, sadly, with every post I read I get just a little bit more depressed with my shaman. I love the darn thing, I even race changed from a tauren to a goblin for 1) mobility (rocket jump) 2)regen (mana pot) and 3) haste. Yet after wiping for 4 hours straight on hc Beth and watching our druid and disc priest just hammer me on the healing meters (few first pulls with me and druid downstairs, 27khps on the druid, 14-17k for me…hooray) I began sink deeper and deeper into the thought process of “why am I here when there’s a better geared holy paladin on the bench?”. I simply could not fathom why I was there letting my raid down with “sub-par” healing. Even when I did somewhat decently upstairs I was still crying for mana just as we hit p2. Again, I felt: “yeah, bring a pala who can easily heal upstairs without ooming himself AND bring better raid CD’s”…

    This is not the first time I’ve had these feelings, when cata hit and we were doing our pulls on Nefa I simply could not keep up with the aoe dmg from the barrages with my decently geared shammy. Later on 4.1 (or 4.something) I joined in with a holy priest in 346 hc gear and just wiped the floor in HPS and boom, nefa was dead.

    Things like these just take the fun out of my class. I don’t like it. Lately it’s been our raid leader and our healing team comforting and pushing me onwards as I keep on telling them “Take the druid, pala and the priest for progress. I simply cannot perform as well as they can”.

    Anyways, sorry about the wall of text here. Just a little steam that needed to be ventilated from a frustrated shammy’s lil head. Keep up blogging, I’ll keep on…erm… getting my arse handed over to me by our druid ^^


  11. Bell

    Vixsin, would you be willing to provide any tips for resto shaman in search of raiding guilds? I find myself sitting more and more on the bench or being asked to dps, and I’ve been trying to join a guild that doesn’t simply want that resto shaman spot filled but wants a quality player. Unfortunately, I’m having an awful time getting responses from guilds; many of them prefer me to be mostly dps with a healing offspec or they’re so far behind in progression that they don’t even plan to get normal Rag on farm.

    I’m feeling pretty discouraged at this point and even have people telling me to just go holy paladin if I want a guaranteed raid spot. Any advice for a displaced resto shaman?


  12. Aanzeijar

    Didn’t rread everything yet, but a couple of notes:

    – Baleroc with 2 shamans. Did that. Wasn’t funny. But Baleroc with 2 druids and one shaman. Did that too. Never again.

    – SLT on Baleroc. We used SLT as a rotational cooldown for shadow priests. Works like a charm. The other points are still valid of course.

    – About the mana regen chart. It seems you forgot the massive imbalance in Shard of Woe and Jaws of Defeat. Those two alone will give your druid about 1k mp5 more than you.


  13. Haztotems

    I just started raiding as resto on my shaman after pally tanking all of cataclysm because an old friend of mines guild wanted one.

    After just 2 raids of feeling fairly useless this blog entry sums up everything I’ve been concerned about.

    Bravo sir.


  14. Lardmus

    Something crossed my mind and I’m not sure if you’ve addressed it somewhere in your posts.

    Regardin both the t11 4pc and t12 pc bonus as compared to our other fellow healing classes. It seems the shamans are the only ones actually forced to cast and keep rolling the riptide in order to gain the benefit whereas priests, pallys and druids gain a more or less “passive” regen from their set bonus (not sure about druids as I’m not really that familiar with that class, aka lvl 19 druid alt ^^ ). What I mean is that their set bonus in no way limits their healing whereas ours puts some “limits” to what we can and can’t do (clipping riptide is a nono, HC baler anyone? Can’t really spread my riptide there effectively). Now having the set bonuses be tied to HS,HW,GHW or CH would correct this.

    As for our manaregen, couple of things, 1) give me a glyph as with lightning shield, so that I don’t have to refresh it constantly (HC Bethilac anyone -.- ). It would be possible to make this inactive in arenas/bg’s. Or 2) give me a proc chance for an instant LB cast AND a 17% hit glyph for it as with disc priests with smite or include the hit buff for LB in the proc. This proc could be tied to a cast of riptide (thus encouraging us to keep it off cd), or to a cast (hw,ghw,hs,ch) thus keeping it from being too imbalanced in arena due to interrupts. If the 2) option would occur then I’m quite sure something should be done about water shield proccing in order to prevent us from having unlimited mana.

    I’d be interested in hearing your ideas about these two and if I’m missing something crucial.

    -Lardmus


    • Cabòóse

      Ugh, Beth’tilac… I don’t think I’ve ever seen “MISSING: WATER SHIELD” more times in that 5-10 minute span than I’ve ever seen in all of WoW. I almost feel bad for my Alt-3 macro, LOL!


    • Very good points.

      Re: T12, I do think that our set bonuses are much more cumbersome than other healers. Stepping onto my Resto Druid, I can have near 95% uptime on my 2pc just by doing what I would normally do–keeping LB rolling on the tank. It’s 1 LB every 10seconds, or not necessary at all if I ever toss the LB’ed tank a direct heal. So our 2pc set bonus assumes (and functions best) if a shaman is casting RT on CD, which is a platstyle that I’m not sure we all abide by. And our 4pc … still baffles me as a playstyle decision. I have actually changed my decision-making in raid to now prioritize CH on RT’ed targets, simply so that I don’t lose out on the bonus. That is no good, but I’ll do it for the healing boost.

      Re: Water Shield, I’m not sure I agree with everyone who’s fussing over WS dropping off so frequently. It procs frequently in Beth, but that’s the only fight where I have to pay much more attention to keeping it refreshed. Ultimately though, it’s not the functionality so much that I want to see changed with WS, it’s the amount of mana it returns.


  15. Hunaiam

    Just a small comment about SLT. I read the recent Totem Talk and there was a suggestion for SLT to make it where it can be cast onto another player to emant from that person. I seem to have a hard time finding the right time to drop it because of all the running around I seem to be doing in the FL raids and thought that would be a great idea. It would allow me to pick whether I wanted to hit the ranged or the melee without trying to get there (probably to late to help anyway) and then have to reposition.


    • I’ve heard that idea bounced around for a while, and while I agree that it would provide some flexibility of use (oh thank god I wouldn’t have to run my ass all over the map!), I think the range issue still stands. Even if I could throw it onto someone at a distance, it would still catch a reduced percentage of people in its range. And when things are going downhill, and a healing team is stressed, it’s unlikely everyone but me is going to be standing in a nice clump. >.<


  16. rizzla

    thank you vixsin for your asweome blog, ive been following ure posts for a couple of years now…thanx for getting my own frustration out about shamans resto’s,im sad to say that ure absolutly right about this one!!!!!!
    riz.


  17. Lardmus

    Hmm, again a second thought crossed my mind while thinking about paladins. My suggestion to mitigate/correct the problem with chain heal would be to provide us with a Beacon of Light-style anchor point for the second jump. Give it a range of say 20-25 yards. What this would do is that we could cast chain heal on the tank on the other side of the boss and then, instead of jumping to a random target (or no target at all if there’s no one close enough) the CH would then jump to the beacon target and continue from there onwards with the regular range. This way we could ensure that CH hits at least 2 targets and we’d have a bit more control over our heals. Maybe beaconing the offtank who’s tanking adds etc. Personally I do not see this as a viable buff for arenas, but it would certainly aid us with raid healing and mitigate slightly the problem of raid stacking. Especially (!!!!!) in 10 mans.

    Any thoughts?


  18. Hoofshade

    I have a feeling this will end up as a wall of text so lets go with it :)

    I like that post… BUT… I have a feeling you are QQing about poor performance on meters and asking for buffing shamans. There is no such need, and here is why:

    Shamans were always (as long as I’m playing WOW – ober 3 years) jacks of all trades. Ofc. there will be questions why take shaman into 25man group where you don’t need that much versality. But what you should say to that question? “Because shammies are f*kup situation healers”. This is what shammy mastery is for – to do more healing when it is needed, and do less overhealing when there is no need for those heals. If you’re looking only on meters… then disco priests will always have advantage in times when there is mild dmg going around. If you don’t have disco priest or there is moderate dmg going around druids will rock on meters because they will hot many people and just wait for results.
    Shammies are damn raw healing power, period. You need that raw healing power in raids. Shields and HoTs won’t do – shields don’t soak enough dmg and have CD and HoTs work too slow.

    Another thing – change to SLT. Making it more burst CD? NO! Why? You want another Tranq? What about uniqueness of this class? Move HR with you? Why would you want to be “almost pally, bust still not pally”? And if you need burst, then use nature’s swiftness.
    And what you forgot about is spiritwakers grace – other healers can’t cast while running around. Other healers aren’t complaining that you can cast 2xCH and HR while running to stack up on sparks on raggy. Shammies have their niche and they don’t need burst CD which would make them “OP”. Think about holy priests – they do need some better CD (like making hymn 3m CD instead of 8).

    Now couple words about haste vs mastery. Shammies mastery isn’t the best one healing-meter-wise. Well that is how it works. If you want to rock on healing meters… you go with haste. I’ve tried those two builds – one with reforging comepletely to haste and one with mastery. Haste build makes you run OOM really fast, but you will rock on meters. But is this what you want? To show on meters that you can heal up people to 100%hp when there is mild/moderate dmg? Have you ever looked on total healing done stat? How much overheals others are doing? In my mastery build i was making tons of overheals (because of lack of haste my heals were landing always last).

    Now healing rotation and RT. This is the core of healing as shammy. You put what you can between another RT. That is how shammy healing looks like. Ofc in 25 mans (which i’m doing) shammies often change into spamming CH/HR monkeys, which 4pT12 even more encourages, but RT still is a flag spell of resto shammy. Putting backon (and eggs :P) on someone is pally flag, shields are disco flag, HoTs/Tranq/CR is druid flag, and for shammy it’s RT. Changing that will mean ripping away the core of shammy healing.

    Ok, now lets get to another topic. I like your point about totems – they are useless. The idea that stoneclaw could give shield raid/party wide is good – that would be usefull. In 10 man shield from stoneclaw is noticable on meters, but on 25 man… i don’t remember using it very often – only on some have aoe moments to mitigate incomming dmg and pair it with healtstone to be sure i will survive another hit. I would love to see some use of tranquility totem – i remember using it, but don’t remember on which fight :) basicaly sometimes sacrificing small healing from HST to lowering pushback and getting more from direct heals is good thing, but still it’s not needed to use it (and it will only make other healers HPS higher, not only yours :P)

    To summ this wall of text up. Shammies always were those standing in the shadow working hard oxes. They never shine on meters, but they do their job well – they save the raid in difficult moments. Looking at them from healing meters perspective is just wrong. Judging shammy basing on meters is wrong. They will stand in the shadow through all the times of mild/moderate dmg, but they will save the day when there is heavy dmg situation, but nobody remembers those times. They are specific class and there is no need to take away their uniqueness just to make another “almost as, but not exactly” as other class.


  19. Darlene

    “The fact that all of the uses for SLT in Tier 12 involved damage that was already spread out on the entire raid, thus negating one of the key selling points of shamans’ raid CD”

    I would have to agree for all fights except for Majordomo. I find if you use SLT during the seeds scorpion phase, when a player returns to the group after blowing up their seed, they can have their health instantly brought up, allowing you to focus only on AOE healing.


  20. Truely an amazing and insightful read.

    Thank you for your time, and research into this. I really hop the new PTR changes to the class will help us, but I feel that the latest changes to AH will only give other healers more HP to heal and us – well.. still lagging behind.

    Although it means we have a nice reason to bring a shaman. So the tank can stack more mitigation and less stam perhaps.


  21. […] condemned to repeat it.”) With that said, this post is similarly inspired by Vixsin’s post “Resto Shaman Lessons from Tier […]


  22. […] all of the issues we have currently (check out Vixsin‘s response to the Blizzard class feedback survey) and some other issues we may yet face when Patch 4.3 rolls […]



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