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


November 9, 2011

Tier 13 and Resto Shaman: Thoughts on our Final Chance at Parity (Part II)

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Written by: Vixsin
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(This is Part II of a 2-parter on Resto Shaman in the upcoming patch 4.3, which is currently being tested on PTR servers. Part I talked about some of the changes that Restos have waiting for them in the final tier of the expansion. This post is going to try and wrap up that preview with a discussion on healer parity).

I don’t think there’s any question that WoW has changed significantly from those first days of Vanilla. And certainly the raiding game itself has evolved by such leaps and bounds that it’s fairly difficult to compare the tank-and-spank, pallies-spend-the-entire-fight-buffing fights of Molten Core against the incredibly complex, demanding dances that populate the instances of Cataclysm. And although the large majority of the game’s evolution can be attributed to Blizzard’s guiding hand, I think a small part of it also needs to be attributed to a community that pours its collective intellect into figuring out the puzzles that Blizzard puts in front of us. But why am I talking about the evolution of raiding in a post about T13?

Because I think that at its heart, the “problem” that Resto Shaman have been experiencing since the start of Cataclysm is due to a disconnect between the raiding philosophies of Vanilla and those touted by the top guilds in the world today. We’ve seen a tightening of the ropes in Cataclysm, an attempt at narrowing the margins between all specs, and time and again, Shaman, and Resto Shaman in particular, appear to get the short end of the stick. And unless Blizzard decides to finally let go of those old Vanilla truisms, I fear that Resto Shaman might remain exactly where we’ve been for an entire expansion—looking for healer parity.

Then Versus Now

You often hear players who have been around since WoW’s beginnings talk about the glory days of Vanilla raiding, where claims of “it was harder back then” frequently abound. But the fact of the matter is that Vanilla raiding was just about as subjective an endeavor as you could get. In Vanilla, raid meters, metrics, and quantitative measurement of player performance didn’t exist. You had no gauge of your own performance other than a general sense of doing the job you were assigned to do. And so, you could easily “feel” like everyone was pulling their weight; you could “feel” like you were doing awesome with your frostbolt rotation even though you might have been struggling to beat the tank. It was a subjective game, the only certainty in which was that either the boss died or you did.

In contrast, today’s raiding environment is all about metrics. Subjectivity (or at least the perception of it) is out; hard data is in. Today’s raiders, today’s guilds, are focused on numbers, about eeking out that last bit of healing or last bit of DPS. Today’s posters and forum commenters are much more willing to talk about the math that GC asks them for, to the point that I’m willing to guess, he maybe wants a bit less of it. For me personally and others in top guilds, those numbers are 90% of the focus. I head to WoL or WMO to be able to see the math behind the game. Or I turn to CompareBot, DPSBot, or Stateofdps to tell me what spec to turn to, what I can improve on, and where my class stands in terms of performance.

Today’s raiders are on a quest to find “optimal”, to measure up to the class next to them in raid, no matter the other player’s class, spec or skill. But, as GC has said before, and I’m sure as every Blizzard developer tasked with balancing will attest, we all rely on flawed methods. Yes, I want that last bit to resonate with everyone. The ways that we determine what dps is better than others, or what a max HPS rotation consists of, is inherently flawed because the fact of the matter is, we’re working with a smaller data set than the folks whose job it is to manage that data. But, be that as it may, the fact remains that those tools we’re using are the only tools, and the best tools, we have. So we use them, copiously, and define class balance according to them. And, when it comes to healing balance, that means you end up looking at charts like the ones below:

Overall HPS for 25 HM, based on all parses in the last 3 months


Even with very little understanding of the data behind this chart (and man, is there A LOT of data backing this up) we can start to identify various elements. The orange line is druids, the bright white line is disc priests, the pink line represents holy paladins, the grey line is holy priests, and the dark blue line, is resto shaman. (The spikes and valleys, remember, are the result of a couple things: gearing, content, and patch/hotfix changes. So that big druid spike you see post-4.1? That’s likely due to Tranquility being shortened to a 3min CD. And the drop in HPS immediately after 4.2? That’s the differential in NM Firelands fights versus HM T11). The point here is … even if we paid no attention to the numbers, even if we had no understanding of the classes or the game, we could all answer the question: “who’s at the bottom?” We’d identify the lowest line on the chart and confidently say “the dark blue line”. And that is precisely what the community does—we look at this data and we identify that Resto Shaman are low on meters. But is there all that there is to it?

As you’re thinking about that last question, I think this is a good time to bring back an old but very true quote from our favorite blue crab (yes, this one dates back to the end of 2009)

I make the analogy a lot of the thermometer. If you go outside and read a thermometer nailed to the side of your house, it’s a pretty safe bet that you now know the actual temperature outside and you only need a value more accurate and precise than that if you are a meteorologist or something. You can’t in the same way go to Wow Meters Online or World of logs or Simcraft and accept that number as what your class does or more specifically how you perform individually. That is not to disparage those sites or tools at all. You just have to interpret the data in context and I fear too often players approach the forums with a preconceived conclusion and a desire to have the data support what they want it to support.

So I ask again, are these meters that we’re basing our class theory on really giving us the complete picture?

The Haunting Intangibles

Although we may not get much credit for it in the eyes of the optimal-focused community and although it never shows on any meter, Resto Shaman do offer a significant amount of the intangible. As I talked about in a post back at the beginning of this year, Shaman – The Last Vestiges of a Utility Class, Shaman are a class designed around utility. If you want to do pure dps and nothing but, roll a warlock, mage, hunter, or rogue. But if you want flexibility and the ability to make smaller teams and groups of players delight in your presence, roll a shaman.  Simply put, even in a time where we talk about class homogenization, shamans’ versatility that we have to change our buffs to compliment our teammates is unparalleled. And for every shaman in 25s who doesn’t even drop totems, is a 10s team hoping for their buff-stick carrying blue box to log on.

Speaking in specific regards to Resto Shaman, we bring another layer of versatility in a class that’s come a long way since Sunwell and the days where an iconic ability was our only ability of note. We bring solid tank and raid heals, hots and direct healing, damage reduction, and some of the most powerful AOE throughput on a stacked raid of 25. We bring a Mastery designed to make us scale, slightly, with incoming damage. And if anything, this past arena season demonstrated just how powerful and versatile shamans are on a small-scale team.

So why is it that when we look at sites like those above that aggregate parses from actual players, Resto Shaman still don’t seem all that great? Why is it that we can power-heal a 3’s or 5’s team but struggle when we get into larger groups? The answer lies in the intangibles.

As a general rule, the community still focuses way too much on healing meters as a proxy for how good a healer they are. Meters aren’t even that great for comparing dps without a lot of analysis. (Source)

And therein lies the bulk of the problem. Some of the major things that Resto Shaman bring to the table, and the things that make a great healer, aren’t things that show up on any meter. The versatility that makes us powerhouses on small teams (ie: PVP) pales in comparison to the specialization that is inherent in larger team settings (ie: PVE). And so we’re left with a major disconnect in the experiences of PVE Resto Shaman and the views of the class designers, because our focus is not the same as theirs. They see the intangibles, they can assign them weights and values, whereas we can only see the meters right in front of our eyes.

This disconnect, between the tangible performance of Restos and the intangible benefits we bring, is exacerbated by the choice of Blizzard’s developers to not make those invisible benefits known. Our Mastery, which is downright amazing during progression, isn’t even measurable by looking at the combat log. Our big selling point in Ancestral Fortitude, doesn’t create any log event so there’s no way to see if it was on the tank during the big hit or not. Our raid CD (which I still think is incredibly gimp), does no effective healing and again, doesn’t show any value for amount absorbed. And this … this is the point where the wise developer would speak up and point out that none of these address parity or balance—they only address “winning on meters”.

To which I would reply … PRECISELY!

Back in the middle of Wrath a small mod was introduced that aggregated your item values into a single number, in order to easily evaluate your level of progression. I’m talking, of course, about GearScore. (No no, put down the pitchforks … I’m not reviving the GearScore debate). As I was saying … the community reaction to the mod was divisive, and the blue reaction was pretty darn clear:

We actually talked today about adding an item level 300 shirt that did absolutely nothing but mess with mods that attempt to boil down players to gear scores. :) (Source)

GearScore became a lightning rod and it was panned by blues across the board. And then, when Cataclysm came out—guess what? It was actually integrated in game, just not in the way that you were used to seeing it. The ilvl requirements tacked onto normal and heroic Cataclysm dungeons are the worked-over incarnation of GearScore, and that number is still used by players attempting to find PuGs, discuss their gear (or lack thereof), and brag to other players about progression. The point here is that sometimes, the tools players use to evaluate the game, while they may only be capturing a small piece of the picture, are nonetheless, valuable to the community.

Remember how I started this post talking about how the raiding community should receive a little credit for driving the evolution of WoW (at least in terms of endgame)? GearScore’s integration is a credit to that exact sentiment. Or how about this … back in BC, disc was starting to make itself known on the raiding scene, but they were struggling to justify their spots because the healing meters at the time could only identify healing done. Absorbs didn’t show on the combat log, and thus couldn’t be tracked by any mods (Source). So, having a disc priest in raid was more an act of faith than a simple matter of choosing the “best healer” for the task. When Blizzard finally figured out a solution and started including absorbs in the combat log, in one fell swoop, disc priests became an incredibly sought-after class to bring to any group or raid. I don’t know if it was a small change or a labor-intensive one, but I do know that in making the intangible tangible, in moving away from the Vanilla concept of “I think I’m doing good here” to “I can see if I’m doing good here”, Blizzard changed the perception of an entire spec.

Bringing Healer Parity Home

I’m quite sure that I faked a number of readers out with the title of this post, and instead of walking into a discussion about the state of healing, a comparison of HPS for all healers, and the typical plea for Resto Shaman buffs, you walked into an argument for one very simple change. Because, as I realized one night, before we can start a discussion about healer performance, we have to be able to see all the cards on the table. Since the start of the expansion, and since the first Resto Shaman PR nightmare was launched, I have been lobbying for changes for my beloved class. And as anyone on my healing team would tell you, I watch meters like a hawk. But, my argument here is not that Resto Shaman need a tool to help us win on healing meters, but rather this:

If the contention is that Resto Shaman bring more than they’re given credit for, then FFS figure out a way to demonstrate that. As the ordeal with disc priests illustrated, there is a distinct difference between Blizzard saying a class is good, and Blizzard making it possible for people to see that a class is good.

What I’m asking for here is healer parity, at its most basic level.  What I want is to be able to put my arms around the complete picture, to be able to present an argument based on all the data. We’re being told time and time again that players don’t have the full picture on what a healer evaluation should entail. If Ancestral Fortitude is what’s supposedly keeping me competitive, show me that. If I’m not making good use of my RT-buffed CH hits, give me a way to see that. If my Mastery is boosting my heals in a non-uniform way, SHOW ME.  And if Ancestral Vigor is somehow going to solve all of our end boss woes, then show us how.

Because in the absence of this information, healers, teammates, and raid leaders will look to the information available to them. They will look to meters and parsers, much as they looked to GearScore, to compress a difficult evaluation down to a more simplistic task. Guilds and players alike will continue to make decisions against Resto Shaman (or any healer, for that matter) if they don’t see sufficient evidence that the class can perform up to snuff. And regardless of whether Blizzard thinks those methods are valid or not or of sufficient depth, this is one case where it is not Blizzard leading the way, but rather the players. For as much as we all like feeling powerful, feeling like our class plays well, feeling like we’re among friends, and feeling like we’re doing a good job, the fact remains that this is Vanilla WoW no longer–feelings are not enough. Intangible benefits don’t cut it when it comes to raiding. And “bring the player, not the class” can’t exist in a world where the first mod a player installs is a damage meter.


  1. I agree with your post, it has some really interesting thoughts.
    But what maybe should be added is, that all other healers (with the exception of maybe Resto druids who only have Barkskin) have those invisible benefits, too. I think that if there was a way to display all those hidden benefits in a log, it would still leave Resto shamans at the bottom. Holy paladins for example have a whole arsenal of dmg reduction spells that aren’t displayed in the logs, both for themselves (Bubble, Divine protection..) and the raid/tank (Aura mastery on a 2min Cd, Hand of Sacrifice/Protection), I believe that’s much more hidden stuff than Resto Shamans could possibly provide. Plus they already have superior healing output to begin with.
    I think every healing class brings fairly equal intangible support to the raid, be it Holy priests’ Body&Soul, Guardian Spirit and Inspiration, Disc with PW:Barrier and Pain Sup or the Paladin hand buffs. Only druids lag a bit behind in that departement, arguably you could maybe count their great mobility while healing as an invisible extra, or glyphed BR.
    I don’t think shamans having lower Hps because of the support they offer is justified at all, because other classes bring hidden benefits, too, plus higher healing output that isn’t so much dependant on the raid’s positioning.
    I would love to have some logs though, that could show the complete picture. Would Resto shamans look better in them? Or would it make specs like Holy paladin or Disc even more desired? I’m not quite sure..
    Would be interesting to know what you think about that.

    • I agree, I don’t think that Resto Shaman are the only class who have intangibles that don’t show on meters. All the examples you mentioned–Inspiration, PW:B, D-Sac, etc.–have effects that don’t show in the combat log. But, I think in Resto Shamans’ case that lack of information is much more pervasive because we can’t see some of the functionality behind our class. Not being able to see the effect of our Mastery is a huge one for me. Not being able to track the effectiveness of my T12 set bonus is another one. So the first major point of this post is … we need that information, for all classes, so that we can evaluate ourselves.

      This leads into your second point about if that information will tell the same story that we already see evidence of in WoL/Raidbots–that Resto Shaman still aren’t that great. And if after Blizzard gave us the information we need, that was still the answer we came up with, then my point is that at least then we’d be able to have a valuable discussion about what could equalize our performance.

      I didn’t expressly state this in the content of the post … but, the problem here is that in all of my musings about balance, I’ve become startlingly aware of the fact that I don’t have the complete picture on shaman performance. I’ve the feeling that if I sat down with a developer to talk about the state of shaman, that we’d have two very different perspectives about the class. And for me, that’s incredibly frustrating, because I’d like very much to give feedback and to make arguments for the class that resonate with those people who control Shamans’ future. But, without being able to understand their position, how I can effectively argue mine?

  2. Vorin

    Well put. A fully justified use of FFS. As always, thank you.

  3. Thanpriest

    Excellent commentary on a complex issue. I recently completed leveling a Shaman to 85 and it is my third healing class. I can say with no malice that the Shaman healing portfolio is not as versitle as that of my main Discipline Priest or my alt Druid. I also don’t feel the strength of those heals compares with that of the Priest or Druid, but I do realize the gear level contributes to that also.

    Your make a big issue on the value of Ancestral Fortitude and the inability to measure that in logs. I don’ think that is a totally fair statement because the priest class has Inspiration which has the same damage reduction but is not captured in logs.

    The other utilities the Resto Shaman brinds are centered around their totems. This is an important “art” that I think is often overlooked. Providing the right buff at the right time is not measureable but is valuable. The biggest problem there is the huge amount of movement and the importance of spreading out that today’s boss fights require. Many buffs from other classes are now raid wide or atleast have a huge range. I hope that Blizzard can change the mechanics of totems so that they radiate raid wide thereby improving our “utility” to the raid.

    But even that change would not help in the log battle. Let’s face it… Shaman healers need more spells and harder hitting ones other than our signature Healing Rain which can suck the mana right out of us if cast at multiple locations. Come on… why does Tranquility or Divine Hymn not have a small radius and Healing Rain does??

  4. I think we can all agree with Vixin’s point that raid performance evaluation is number driven, compounded by poor data output in the logs, compounded with small sample sizes, all drive down the value and accuracy of the evaluations we all make.

    Some things that would be useful to track:
    How many jumps a CH hit would be useful.
    How much extra healing our mastery provided would be useful: (Spell healed Target X (Y overhealed, Z due to mastery)
    How much damage was reduced by , though you would need to know if a few people provide the same buff, then maybe give both credit?

    If the data ended up showing that we’re not as broken as I feel we are in my gut, wonderful! Let my instinct be proven false with some good hard data.

    But let us increase the quality of the data so that decisions can be made with good data rather than bad.

    Garbage in…..Garbage out.

  5. OK, all my formatting was removed.

    “How much damage was reduced by *****SomeTalentOrSpell,****”

  6. […] which are almost invisible to 99% of players – can cause a class to rise to massive popularity or be condemned to the raiding bench –“You often hear players who have been around since WoW’s beginnings talk about the glory […]

  7. Very eloquently put. Also worth noting is how well balanced Disc priests were despite not showing on meters. It’s not as though they only saw the numbers for the first time and quickly brought them inline as they made the change to let them be parsed, and I like to think it is the same for Shaman. At crunch time we perform with the best of them. I can totally agree it would go a long way to keeping Shaman happy to SHOW us this fact however.

    Also something on the mastery which is only recently obvious to me but something everyone should consider, we are the only healer with a mastery that does not give extra healing with our healing. All other healers get additional throughput based on doing healing in the first place as some kind of positive feedback effect. This of course scales awesomely. Our mastery is the opposite, and gives us more throughput the more the raids healers cannot keep up. The weaker our initial healing work was compared to the damage we are taking the stronger our mastery becomes, so as we and the rest of the raid gears up the impact of our negative feedback mastery is overshadowed by the now overpowering positive feedback masterys of the other healers.

    Of course this isn’t “bad”, just different, but it only pushes us further behind on meters. Worse is that while we have the choice to stack mastery as a stat or not, a large amount of its effect is standard in our spec, more so than any other secondary stat (other than perhaps spi), and it does not help us on the majority of fights when chasing meters. And if you try compare yourself to the other healers there is immediate imbalance from this alone.

  8. I agree with the issue.

    But I think your proposed solution is an infinite rabbit hole. Incomplete information is not the problem, but the solution. At least on a global scale. Of course, it would help resto shamans right now if all their abilities could show up on a meter.

    In my eyes, the problem is that Blizzard made so many things measurable (tangible, as you call it) that players start to talk about raiding in terms of measurables. This can be solved only by moving away from making everything measurable. If you made *everything* measurable – even if that were possible without simplifying and homogenizing classes even more – there would always be some class that is 1% better.

    The search for Complete Information is a rabbit hole. It becomes ever more painful the deeper you’re in that damn hole. You need to turn around to breathe some fresh air again :)
    Nils´s last post ..Character Power Progression, again

    • Very valid point.

      I think it begs the question though, at least from a developer standpoint–how much do you strive to accommodate/address how your consumers are playing the game? I think it’s clear that the quantification of class performance, at least in the way that the community is doing it, isn’t something that the Blizzard developers consider an appropriate representation of the value of each class. Regardless, it is still a direction that the community is headed, with or without Blizzard’s endorsement.

      But the problem this creates is that the frequent response to numerical feedback from the community is the claim of bad data, small sample size, etc. In which case arguing about that data, in an attempt to bring about changes in a class that I have a vested interest in, is akin to taking a shot in the dark and hoping that I hit something.

  9. Great post Vixsen (came across this post via MMOMP).
    I feel, however, that you give too much credit to the suits and not enough to the playerbase. There are more than just isolated cases whereby the community knew more than the devs for this game.
    For the raiding scene alone, glancing blows, dodge invulnerability, and the recent hot topic of item scaling are all issues the devs did not keep tabs on, but players did.
    Not having all the data might be a consideration, but what’s important is having pertinent data. Lord knows we can all make statistics say what we want them to- and the devs are no different. Given the limited number of them compared to the playerbase would indicate stronger biases as well.
    On the upswing, perhaps all this min-max’ing will promote interest in math amongst the rising illiterates of our youth…
    Ahtchu´s last post ..It’s Two Much!

    • I oftentimes think it’s the other way around–the community doesn’t give very much credit to Blizzard. 😛

      You’re correct in that the community has been right about a number of things coming to pass. But they (the community) have also been wrong far more often. The thing to remember about this is that Blizzard can’t afford to be wrong; the community can. We can spew out ideas until the cows come home, because we have no responsibility for the impact of those ideas on the whole of the game. The devs, on the other hand, don’t have that luxury. The good changes they make are oftentimes invisible to the community, while the less ideal changes earn them a flood of forum and blog posts for months to come.

  10. Sorry for this being a little off topic, but this blog is where I go for shaman things and I had a thought on my way to class today:

    I was enumerating to myself what resto shaman were good at, not counting utility. Cluster healing, single tank healing, spot healing. And it occurred to me… I feel like WoW as a community doesn’t really have “spot healing” as a category anymore. My rdrood friend was jealous of and annoyed at resto shaman in ICC (10m) because someone would take damage, he’d put a HoT on them, and then our rShaman would snipe the heal, “negating” the HoT. But I can’t remember the last time someone talked about spot healing as an issue in Cataclysm. And my intuition is that this is because the other healers no longer have to spot heal – or possibly that spot healing is now trivial for them.

    If the devs divide healing situation types into tank/AoE (clustered)/spot (spread), that could explain the gulf between the way that the devs see the spec, and the way the community does.

    I haven’t healed more than a couple bosses in the whole expansion though (my guild has been suffering from an acute tank shortage, so I never get to run as anything else), so I’m not sure if this observation is at all on base.
    Button´s last post ..A Change in Focus

  11. Squidfayce

    @Ahtchu –

    I think the post is more a reflection of Devs being Data Rich and Information poor. What Vixsin is saying is we (playerbase) are data poor but could be information rich (with the pertinent data).

    While the devs hold vast amounts of data on all issues, theyve never justified (in my knowledge) any design decisions theyve made by showing us data that lead them to that decision.
    Untill we are able to refer to the same information that bthe devs do, they will always be able to play the “according to our numbers, youre assumptions are wrong” card without ever proving it. How can we argue with that, when aparently we have flawed data? We have nothing to compare it to.

    Were not assuming anything, but comng to conclusions with the resources we have. Thats aparently what they do too, but they tell us that they are more accurate because they a) have a larger sample size and b) have magical information that they will not share that says we’re wrong and they’re right.

    I wonder if in fact things that arent captured via combat log ect can in fact be captured by the devs at all. Are they making the same type of assumption off the back of what they THINK was a good design idea, but lack the data to back it up?

    I feelits a distinct posibility, because if you have a look at how much info is captured by the logs, how is it possible they havent included a small number of things that could tell a different story?
    If they cant implement the capture in combat log, how did they capture it on their end?

    Are we being played?

    • Are we being played?

      Absolutely!(?) How *can* you measure the perfect timing of a heal? You can be bottom of the ‘charts’, but at a moment where everyone else made a bad positioning decision and got stunned, you keep everyone important alive. Because of that moment, you are the best healer for the entire attempt. Perhaps your choice of race/class/spec allowed the aforementioned to occur. How do you track something like that? You can’t.
      Armor buffs, supplying regen to others (zomgosh 1.1-.3 druids and innervate) so that they may heal. Sure, these *might* be able to be tracked, but how can you effectively? They are relative to the people receiving the blessing of resources.

      I only agree with everything you’ve said. I maintain that all the information needed is already in the hands of the players. “According to our data…” is just PR attempting to keep the lid on a high pressure situation.
      Ahtchu´s last post ..The Lone Star State

  12. Orjin

    Nice post, though I can’t say I wholeheartedly agree with all of it. Even not looking at meters as such, my guild has had experiences where incorporating a Holy Paladin and Resto Druid, instead of me as RShaman and a Holy Priest (talking 10man here) brought us swift kills of heroic Baleroc and Beth’tilac. Even on normals, bringing in a RDruid made an incredible difference in how stressed/relaxed it felt to perform kills and progress further.
    It’s the main reason why I switched to Elemental as main spec during Firelands. The other one was when I compared mana gains I got from rolling 3 riptides in fights and 2p T12 with how the RDruid’s mana gains from lifebloom 2p T12. That was depressing.

    In any case, I think that with all the disparity and ancient class balancing philosophy, the worst problem I have with the shaman class right now is the complete inexistance of communication from the devs. There’s no dialogue on the official forums, no acknowledgement that our concerns are heard, and it bugs me to no end.

  13. Lardmus

    I loooooooove you! A few outstanding points you got here which, to my shame, I must admit I hadn’t considered.

    But, when it comes to showing up on the meters, I’m not entirely sure if that would fix the problem due to homogenization of healer classes.

    For example, consider a our Ancestral Fort. VS Holy/disc Inspiration. Same talent, different name. If the amount of mitigation would be shown on the meters we’d simply be back to square one with regards to priests. Naturally it would be a “buff” of sort when comparing us to e.g. resto druids.

    Not to mention that even if this would bring us up to par or even closer to the top healing classes it would still not fix a broken spell chain mechanic =/. Note that I’m using the word “broken” rather cautiously here as it is so very situational. Sometimes it shines, sometimes it makes you look like a complete fool.

  14. Kaathu

    After This post i want to hug you.
    I totally agree with that.
    I also think that it’s up to a raid leader to see what a player can bring to the raid, even without a damage meter to back the decision up.

    • This is a good point, the Rshaman community might be up in arms, and the meters might point to us as the weakest class by far, but we are still in raids. Vixsin herself was in their first kills, in what is a very competitive guild. There are plenty of raid leaders out there even in high end situations that think their Rshaman are worth bringing along.

      There’s also the point (more so in 10s) of class balance. For eg – I have, what came to our guild as a MS healer of each spec. This let us pick our healer lineup for 4.3. We have a good spread of classes throughout the rest of the raid and can pick up every other buff/debuff, but miss replenishment. To keep both replenishment and a physical damage reduction without adding another melee (not to mention a healer with an OS that requires a completely new set of gear, unlike the Shaman/Priest/Druid) we have decided to have the Pally/Shaman be our primary healers. The druid our 3rd healer but also have a solid DPS spec, and the priest full time shadow. So even given the choice, for group balance we will have a shaman healing.

      This is hardly something 25mans need to think about, but in 10mans shaman bring just the right set of tools to slot in perfectly as healers, and so they do, and it works just fine.

  15. Why do some of you think it’s only Resto shamans who have hidden utility? Other healing classes have that too, and, what is my main point: they have that _on top_ of higher healing output, and not instead of, like it seems to be the case with rshamans.

    Ancestral Healing e.g. can be also brought by Holy/Disc Priest and it just reduces physical damage anyway, what is negbligible when raidhealing, as most raid damage is magic. It also doesn’t stack. If there was a way to really track _all_ that hidden stuff from all healing classes (Aura Mastery, PW:Barrier, Inspiration, Hand of Protection, ect..) I’m pretty sure it would still leave Resto shamans at the bottom, maybe the gap to some classes (Paladin, Disc priest) would even be bigger than it it at the moment.
    This is why I also think you can’t really compare the situation Disc were in with the situation Rshamans are in atm. When bubbles were made visible in logs, only Disc profitted from this change, because bubbles were unique to their spec. Damage reduction abilites like shamans have them aren’t, if they would be made visible, all healers’ Hps would rise, not just shamans’, because they all have dmg reduction abilities (except Rdruids, until they get their targetable barkskin at least).
    Bottom line, I don’t think shamans would look better in such logs.

  16. Taymatt

    Wonderful post, thank you. I would add just one slight niggle. Your request to have Blizz give us the ability to see what they see (i.e., Shaman are good in intangible ways) may well be giving Blizz too much credit.

    Please remember, we’ve heard this same song and dance from them before: all during the Cataclysm beta testing and for several months after Cataclysm was released, Blizz repeatedly stated they felt Shaman healing was perfectly fine. They maintained this position in the face of overwhelming feedback indicating significant problems with Shaman healing. Well, it turns out they were, to be exceedingly charitable, mistaken. In fact, they were so mistaken, they felt the need to buff ALL of our heals by around 13%.

    So I’m not sure I would give them the benefit of the doubt on their pronouncements that Shaman healing is fine.

  17. Calypsa

    Great read as always.

  18. Oh, my instincts are in line with others that adding such stuff to logs would show us as worse rather than better, but instincts can be wrong and often are. It is hard to push for any change based purely on supposition in todays data driven world.

    Let the data be improved and shed light on what it may; at least we will know where we are so we can plot a course forward together with the devs.

  19. Kuro

    I generally like this post, and your other posts, but I don’t think you know too much about PvP. You’re right that resto shamans are good in PvP right now, but the other statements are not quite there (so don’t mention PvP issues at all…).

    • In the whole of this 2600-word post, I made a whopping 2 statements about PVP …

      The first said that the versatility that we offer on a PVP team is a selling point that we don’t have in PVE. At present, that versatility is in the form of totems, bloodlust, and a ranged interrupt. And whereas these are valuable traits in a PVP environment, they are not as valuable in PVE where you can afford a greater degree of specialization.

      The second PVP-related statement said that we could power-heal a 3’s and 5’s team (by “5’s” I was actually referring to a dungeon group, so I can understand how that might have been confusing). This statement was again making a distinction between our perceived value in PVP versus our perceived value in PVE, where the teams are larger.

      Neither of these statements pontificate about PVP balance issues or imply that I have a deep and profound understanding of the nuances of Arena play. What they do do is highlight the differential in the valuation of Restos in end-game content.

  20. Harm

    I don’t think blizz cares if we have all the info they have. I think they may even not want us to have all the info they have.

    If we had the tools they do and could see the larger picture of class performance they couldn’t shut us up by saying “it’s working as intended”.

  21. Stunchy

    Hi Vixsin,

    I’ve followed your blog for about a year and a half but have never commented before. So let me say right out of the gates that you are a WOW Goddess, your site is gorgeous, you have opened up so much of this game to me that I would otherwise have not noticed, and you have made me a better resto shaman. Thank you a thousand times over for everything you have done here.

    The reason I finally decided to post is to ask you about the future of your shaman. For so long, you were a devout fan/educator/leader for resto shamans and your ability to stay positive about the spec you love amidst so many complainers was truley impressive. But your posts have taken a very different tone over the past few months. There has been a great deal more pessimism and negativity, you seemed to take a break in posting for a while, and now this post, while very well written, sounds kind of like you are giving Blizzard one final chance before you hang up your shaman in favor of one of your alts. So, that’s what I am wondering. Are you about to give up your shaman as your main? Is LIG5 about to change into a blog about healing in general, about druids or disc priests, or maybe even disappear?

    Full disclosure on my part: I am a casual 10 man raider who is now just 3/7 in hard modes. I have stayed with my shaman since early Wrath (when I first started raiding) and have been a huge fan and defender of all things shaman. But I am finally done. I am so tired of Riptide and GHW spam. I seem to spend half of each raid night trying to get people to stand closer together. It is annoying, limiting, and just not fun. I have a disc priest that is now raid ready. It is so much more capable and fun to play with that I am badgering my raid leader and our GM regularly about letting me bench the shaman and bring a the disc instead. The only problem is that I am the only source of heroism. So until we fix that, I am stuck.

    In fear that your shaman days (as your main) are near an end, I wish you all the best. I also hope that no matter what you do with your shaman, you find a way to share your insights on this game and the specs you play with the rest of us who can benefit so much from it.


  22. Halidax

    “And “bring the player, not the class” can’t exist in a world where the first mod a player installs is a damage meter. ”

    Amazing article. I couldn’t agree with you more about how Disc was brought into the light when their intangibles could be seen. And while I romanticize about playing the game again where MANY more things could be so intangible to assess, the reality is, as you say, otherwise.

    It seems unfair that Shaman have been denied this. Especially when you consider the personal weight a resto sham player must carry if they want to continue to play their class in the face of such difficulties.

    I’m glad GC has addressed that Resto are not on par, and hence the 4.3 changes, but it seems they have yet again decided to keep us in the intangible for the foreseeable future.

  23. Kendri


    This was an excellent post, I’ve found myself feeling the same way regarding the healing model in Cataclysm as a whole.

    I’ve always loved my resto shaman, which actually was an alt of mine, and tried to make it my main this expansion with lackluster results. I feel the same way you do, I’ve always felt that I had my raid spot not because I was playing the flavor of the month class, but because my survivability was high and I excelled at being a healer. And then Firelands came and I started warming the bench more. My guild had broken up and trying to find a new home while being a resto shaman, just made me abandon a character I worked very hard on to return to my resto druid, which I actually hate. Guilds didn’t care that I had a Sinesta kill under my belt or a solid raiding history in the past in top 200 guilds.

    But that’s enough of my shaman sob story 😉 What are your thoughts on resto shaman in 4.3? I’ve done some PTR testing using the LFR tool and it seems that resto shaman might be more in demand. Though I don’t know if using LFR is skewing the results I’m seeing since there are so many bad healers testing content, it would be nice to hear from someone like yourself if PC has done some testing in the 25s.

  24. Zen

    You really do need to speak with the development team. I cannot believe that someone who runs a site like yours cannot get an audience with someone who you can talk to about these types of issues. However, you will need to keep an open mind in those discussions, if you ever do get to speak with them. I know you are in the very elite raiding class and sometimes you also need to consider that the population of that level of raider is very very small. The bulk of scrubs like myself don’t play by the same rules. In my experience, I consider it a succesful encounter when we beat the boss as a group. I almost always lag behind our other healers (Paladin, Priest) in our 10-man raids, but I am not one to look at meters. Our raid is just a friendly gathering of guildmates trying to do the best we can to beat the content. We would likely never have made it past more than two of the heroic encounters pre-nerf and even post nerf we are only 3/7 at present. This gives you some idea about how mediocre our raiding is. But I think the vast majority of players are in this category.

    This is not to say I don’t agree with you because I do. Shaman healing is certainly lacking way behind other healers at this point, and I agree that the measures being taking by Blizzard in 4.3 do not go far enough to remedy that.

  25. Magrice

    I think another large issue is the fact that our single target healing (Healing Wave, Greater Healing Wave and so on) is tuned around having the target of our heals buffed with Earth Shield and thus granting our heals an extra 18% power. It is depressing when im sitting in org to have some random poorly geared priest cast heal on me (without having grace stacked may I add) and have it heal for 2-3k more than my Healing Wave, even though I am confident that in a raiding enviroment my healing throughput will be more than double theirs.

  26. Xaris

    As a longtime reader of the blog with a resto shaman alt, I appreciate the post and have some random comments:
    I’m the MT for our 10man guild (4/7 HM) and have to say you’re scaring me because our resto druid wants to switch to his resto shaman for the next raid tier. ;P Go figure, someone switching from druid to shaman and not the other way around.
    You make a very valid point about what shows up in WoL. Tranquility does and that boosts druid numbers by a not insignificant amount. You’re also right that spirit link totem is nowhere near as good as tranq or barrier. (It it was 20% that’d be a different story.)
    Last comment…
    How might things change if shamans could glyph to make their spirit link totem provide greater dmg reduction but shorter duration or greater dmg reduction but remove the health balancing (yes, it would make it a barrier duplicate but I dont care ;P) Or what about a glyph that allows Earth Shield on two targets but reduces the charges by 3?
    Or changes like this not matter because there is something more fundamentally wrong with resto shaman?

  27. Your friend would be very correct. If your speced for it you can single target heal pretty well but it’s still weaker when there are chunks of damage going out to single players. LB basically costs 3gcd’s to get up so it healing a tank who lets say has teh bleed from alys. can be tricky when you have to let them drop and heal back up quick again.I view rd’s as a cushion for other healers, we provide the raw hps, and the other classes can quickly single target and spot heal the ones who are in danger.That being said we definitely are the kings of mobile aoe heals. I like having the resto niche, it’s the only healing class that plays differently these days.
    Sugel´s last post ..No last blog posts to return.

  28. Cnossus

    Marvelous discussion. But to bring it home. I have loved my resto shammy, and am 8/10 proficient. But I flat burned out trying to frantically raid heal the Cata raids. Could almost keep up, but not quite. After a couple of months, I quit, and now my gear is so far behind, I will never catch up with curve (were that possible). My shammy, in vanilla, was a level 60 mushroom farmer, in Skulk Cave for a long time. Cnossus is now, sadly, a level 85 benchwarmer and herb picker.

  29. […] in raiding, for example, get passed over because of their character selection choice to play a given class, and that class not having the 0s and 1s that other classes do. The numerical representations do […]

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