It’s been just two months since Dragon Soul was released, and whether due to the holidays or maybe just the excitement of consuming new content, it seems like time has been racing by. Judging by the number of emails that I’ve received since 4.3 launch, it’s been a busy time for you all as well, as you worked your way into the new heroic dungeons, through LFR, and onto the final battle with Deathwing. Today I wanted to do another round of the Resto Shaman mailbag, addressing some of the most common Dragon Soul questions that I’ve received post-4.3. As always, if you don’t see your question answered below, you can always feel free to drop me an email. And, at the end of the post I’ve included something that might just make you feel better about yourself, in my “WTF Moment of the Week”.
So, without further ado, let’s get into the Q&A!
Question #1: Stat Priorities in 10s
For regular raids, where I’m usually healing with a Druid and Pally combo, my stats appear to be fine. I’m sitting with just over 4k mp5 in combat with slightly over 19% crit and 15.23% mastery. My haste is currently a little over 1k, but I’m having trouble debating which stats I should reforge out of and into. I like speed healing but I also like seeing a tank or raid member that’s nearly dead come back to life after a Greater Healing Wave. Any advice would be most helpful.
When evaluating stats in a 10-man normal-mode environment, your stat priority will vary based on two things—first, the spells that you’re using, and second, the average level of HP in the raid. The first factor, your spell selection, is important because it impacts how much value you get from Crit. If you’re using predominantly single-target spells, then Crit will be of greater value. If you’re using multi-target AOE healing, like CH and HR, then Mastery will be more beneficial. Tied into this is the second major impact on Resto Shaman stat priority–the average level of HP of the raid. Obviously, this isn’t something that you can easily evaluate while in raid or even through a WoL parse, so the general rule of thumb is: if you’re in normal-modes, then Mastery won’t be as valuable as Crit/Haste, but if you are doing hard modes, then Mastery will be king.
So, in terms of what this means to you … If you’re doing DS10, I’d suggest sticking to your current levels of haste (~1k) and Spirit, and going with a balance of Crit and Mastery after that point. If you use CH/HR significantly, favor Mastery. If you use GHW/HS/RT more often, favor Crit. That one big Mastery-based critical heal might be nice to see, but if it’s only necessary once in a blue moon, then you’re pouring a lot of stats into something that could be going to waste the majority of the time.
Question #2: Should I really be dropping Spirit?
I have been using one particular website for a while, along with your site, and the gear recommendations have typically lined up. Recently though, it has been telling me to reforge about 600 spirit off my gear for Mastery and Haste when I’m not at the 2800 Spirit cap. I don’t usually question the suggestions because the people that make it usually know a lot more then I do but the idea of reforging off spirit scares the bejesus out of me. Any advice or ideas?
The easy answer to your question is–go with the amount of Spirit that you need to not be OOM. It may be less than 2800 and it might be more–it depends on the fight and how you like to heal. The suggestions that come from sites like WoWReforge and AskMrRobot are based on a set of conditions (fight duration, stat valuation, etc.) that might not apply to you as a healer, and that is oftentimes why they might make suggestions that seem counter-intuitive.
For example, I prefer a higher amount of Spirit (3000+ unbuffed) because progression fights are often dependent on how long the healers can stave off an empty mana bar. But, that level of Spirit might not be appropriate for other healers who aren’t pushing the same level of progression and are working on normal modes. Case in point, if I head over to AskMrRobot, pull up my armory, and use the default PVE build to optimize my current gear, the suggestion is that I drop almost 1100 Spirit off of my gear. Quite frankly, if I followed that advice, I’d find myself to be absolutely useless on HM Spine and Madness.
So, my suggestion would be: play around with it a bit in raid. Go in one week with a comfortable level of Spirit, see how full or empty you are at the end of each fight, and then the next week, go in with significantly less Spirit. Compare the results and see if less Spirit really had an impact on your mana pool. (If you’re ending fights at > 40% mana, I would argue that you have some Spirit that is going to waste).
Question #3: Battling HM Yor’sahj
Yor’sahj hard mode is driving me up the wall! I’m healing the tanks during purple phase, but I can’t get by without Paladins’ World of Glory and beacon heals to keep them up. How do you handle the debuff?
When healing tanks on HM Yor’sahj, I found it was beneficial to keep Tidal Waves up by RT’ing melee (or pets, if melee’s stacks were too high) and use GHW when the tank’s HP got to 50-60%. Unleash Life is also a must in this phase—be sure to use it after RT to get the most out of your GHW (it’s your choice whether or not to use it on a pet, since you might not want to burn a stack of the debuff on such a smaller “filler” heal). Combined with our pallies’ Beacon heals, this generally is sufficient to keep the tanks alive without proccing their debuff. Because you only have a limited number of stacks to play with, you want to be careful to not incur too much overhealing during the phase (i.e.: if you heal a tank at 90% HP you’re not only wasting your mana, but also burning 1 stack on a 10% heal).
That being said, tanks will be the hardest people to keep up during the shadow phase. Their health will not only dip from normal attacks, but also from the debuff that’s applied to them. So, that makes the end of the phase the sketchiest time because they oftentimes reach 4 stacks and can’t be healed, all the while their health keeps dropping. For those points in time, they should use their own personal CDs (trinkets too—the TB resist trinket is major in this regard) in order to stay alive until the debuff falls off. Ultimately, HM Yor’sahj is a fight that tests your judgment as a healer and your ability to accurately assess the damage that’s going out on the raid. Because although purple seems scary, the reality is that the damage during that phase should be easy for you and your team to heal through, provided you can avoid your knee-jerk reaction to drop Healing Rain and spam your heart out.
Speaking of, here is the list of what will and will not proc Deep Corruption from a Shaman PoV:
- Healing Rain: 1 stack per person per heal (if dropped after the debuff is applied). If dropped before Deep Corruption is applied, HR will only generate stacks when someone moves out of it and back in again. I generally do not recommend trying to sneak in an HR before the debuff is applied because the potential for error / raid wiping, is high.
- CH: 1 stack to each player hit, even if the initial hit is on a pet.
- Riptide: 1 stack on initial application, no stacks from the hot
- GHW/HS/HW: 1 stack per heal
- Unleash Elements: 1 stack per heal (used to apply to the resto shaman as well, but this has been fixed)
- HST: no stacks
- ES: no stacks
- Earthliving (hot): no stacks
- AA: no stacks
- SLT: no stacks (but worth noting that you shouldn’t need to use it during a purple phase)
- Stoneclaw Totem: 1 stack (if cast after the debuff is applied)
- Glyph of Healing Wave: unknown, because no one should be casting HW during this phase. Period. No discussion. Is crap heal. DO NOT USE.
Question #4: Mastery versus Haste
I raid in a 25 man guild where there are two Resto Shaman—me and the GM. I went mastery for those times when the group’s health is low but the GM went for haste in order to be able to spam quicker. It’s been working well so far but I wanted to ask do you think it would be better If I went Haste alongside him? I personally feel Mastery for shaman is great and is too good to be pushed aside for haste but I’d like to hear your thoughts.
Oh the joy of the Mastery versus Haste argument! The easy answer is … you both have a valid approach to gearing, but you’re gearing for separate conditions (as you pointed out).
The math behind it all will definitely point to Mastery as the stat of choice once you and your guild get into hard modes (especially if CH and HR make up a significant portion of your healing). This is because the HPS gain from Mastery will become greater the lower your raid’s HP is. Haste, on the other hand, in between Hot breakpoints, only decreases the amount of time in between casts (by fractions of a second), which may only garner you a handful of additional casts in the whole of a fight. For example, let’s take Chain Heal:
- CH Base Cast time: 2.5 seconds
- Cast time at 916 haste: 2.22 seconds (assuming only WoA)
- Cast time at 2005 haste: 2.06 seconds
- Total gain: 0.16 seconds per cast (=2.22 – 2.06)
- Total number of casts it would take to gain 1 additional CH: 13 (=2.06 / 0.16)
- Time elapsed: 26.78 seconds
- Number of CH casts gained in a 6-minute fight: ~13
So, assuming that you do nothing else for an entire fight but cast Chain Heal, your 1089 haste investment will garner you 13 additional casts of Chain Heal. But what if you have to move? Or you stop for a couple seconds to, say, move out of a Twilight Meteor impact or to soak a Morchok crystal? Then you start to cut into those additional seconds that you gained.
Ultimately, for normal modes, haste makes more sense because at that gear level, you’re going to competing with your teammates’ heals, thus making it a race to see who lands a heal first. If you’ve got a good twitch reflex and loads of haste, you can make it worth the investment. In hard modes, however, the goal changes, and you have to sustain high HPS rotations for much longer, meaning that your HPS gains are based on the power of your heals and not the number of casts. Further, since haste has a negative impact on regen, it reduces the sustainability of your typical rotation, meaning that you will have a shorter amount of time before you OOM. Since I’ve started running with Seal of the Seven Signs (a move to boost my throughput on Spine and Madness), there has been a decided impact on my mana pool, such that I needed to pick up a little more Spirit to compensate for the hastened throughput.
All that being said, it’s entirely possible that your GM could outheal you when you get into hard mode encounters, because there’s more to HPS than just your stats. Your decisions, spell choices, positioning, timing, raid strategy. etc. all play a much bigger part in performance than stat choices. So, if you find someone inching ahead of you, whether they’re stacking Crit or Mastery or Spirit, it’s worth looking at what they’re doing well so that you can take that and incorporate it into your own healing practices. If anything, I think this is what the discussion on theorycrafting sites misses more often than not—yes, healers do need to pay some attention to stats, but the greatest impact to your healing doesn’t come from your stats, it comes from the choices you make as a player.
Question #5: Unleash Life
As my guild makes its way into hard modes I have seen, fight after fight, the stress that is placed on healers and so, I have re-examined my play style to see where I could improve. My concern lies with UE:E and how to correctly incorporate it into my arsenal, as I have ignored it entirely for much of the expansion. I have read in some places of people using it after Riptide and following with a HS rather than a GHW, while others are using it in addition to CH or Healing Rain (which I had presumed it would not affect). Others altogether dismiss the spell and claim that it is too significant an HPS loss to make up for the HPM gain in hard modes. If you could, please tackle this issue as I am terrible at compiling the necessary spreadsheets for comparison, or direct me to someone who has already done so.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy spreadsheet to point to with an answer to your question about if Unleash Elements: Life worth using. But fortunately, I think we can come to an answer without getting into the math of it (even though the math side of it could be fun). So let’s start with what UE does–for the price of 7% base mana it provides a small heal and boosts your next direct heal by 20%. At present, UE’s heal is averaging about 7-8k non-crit for me. In comparison to RT, which is 10% base mana and averaging 45k-55k healing done (initial hit + hot), we can clearly see that RT is the more powerful option; no math needed.
But this doesn’t mean we should discount UE entirely, because even though it doesn’t provide a significant of healing on its own, its real benefit lies in being able to provide you with some additional burst at times when you might need it. HM Yor’sahj with the Deep Corruption debuff up is a great example of when UE shines–if you set up an RT+UE+GHW combo, you can land a pretty incredible heal (think: upwards of 110k critical). You can set up a similar situation with CH–because UE will boost the initial hit, all subsequent hits will also benefit from the increased healing. Likewise, UE is a great spell to use when you’re on the move without Spiritwalker’s, because it remains one of the two instant-casts we have and the +20% to your next spell will partially make up for the decreased HPS associated with movement.
The players that you read who stated that UE is an HPS loss, aren’t incorrect, however. In a world when you start an encounter, perform a max HPS rotation, have limitless mana and never stop casting for one moment, they are right to say that UE would be an HPS loss. But, there exists no fight in game where that’s current the case (no, not even Ultraxion). In most every fight there is downtime and your mana is not limitless, so a max HPS rotation isn’t something that you should be worrying about. In which case, UE becomes a great mana-efficient way to boost your throughput and do more with what you have. It may take you a while to get comfortable integrating it into your rotation, but once you do, you’ll be a better healer for it.
Question #6: What do you look for in WoL?
We have recently started logging our fights. I look over my uptimes and they aren’t great but I figure they aren’t too bad either. I am constantly casting and work very hard to keep my healing up. But when it comes to looking at the ranking my numbers are really low. What are some of the common problems you look for in logs, that I might be able to fix?
First, it’s worth noting that fight rankings on WoL are the combination of a number of factors, including raid comp, fight duration, external buffs, etc. So using ranks as a gauge for your personal success can be very misleading. Likewise, having good parses doesn’t mean you don’t have room for improvement–there’s always something that a healer can be doing better.
So, when I’m looking through logs, there are a couple areas that I target:
- Uptime – I brought this up on Twitter the other day—resto shaman have a load of maintenance activities that we need to perform in order to buff our own healing. So, the first thing I look at in logs is how much uptime the shaman in question has for major buffs like Healing Stream, Earth Shield, Water Shield, Ancestral Vigor, Earthliving Weapon (refreshing mid-fight is a no-no), Focused Insight (if they’re specced into it), and Tidal Waves. And when it comes to those performing in Dragon Soul, you can bet I look at the uptime of Heart of Unliving (which should be at 95% or higher).
- CD Usage – Granted, Resto Shaman aren’t all that blessed in the cooldown department, but as any super-powered Holy Pally or Resto Druid will attest, using your CD’s appropriately and frequently is key to maximizing your HPS (and looking good on meters). For CD’s like Mana Tide and Jaws of Defeat, I expect to see a maximum number of uses per encounter, but when it comes to other CD’s like Shard of Woe’s haste buff (in T12) or Spiritwalker’s Grace (in T13), timing matters as well. For these latter CDs, you want to make sure that your usage corresponds to the points of AOE damage in the fight, but you don’t want to hold them for an extended amount of time and lose out on the buff. So, for example, on HM Spine, I know that my timing of SWG won’t line up with every tendon phase (because they’re ~1.5 mins apart), so I use the haste buff for the first, third, and fifth pops and after each of the barrel rolls (in conjunction with my SLT) to maximize my throughput.
- Spell selection and overhealing – One of the other major things I look for in logs, before I dive into the nitty gritty of queries and comparisons, is how a Resto Shaman is fitting his spells to the damage that’s being dealt. Overhealing that’s greater than 50% on any cast spell (e.g.: HS, GHW, HW, CH, RT, UE, and HR) throws up a red flag that something odd could be going on. If I look at the shaman’s other spells and see significantly less overhealing, then I can confirm that something is amiss—the shaman is likely not fitting the heal to the damage that’s going out. Sometimes, it can be intentional, like for example, in the case of HM Spine, where part of a Resto’s “job” is to keep down HR 100% of the time. So, it’s no surprise that your HR overhealing would hover between 50-60%. But, if I were to look at the same fight and see RT usage at >50%, then it would be an indication that the shaman isn’t choosing his targets properly. Likewise, reviewing the shaman’s spell selection be key to identifying issues with low HPS; isolating one segment of a fight, like Hagara’s Ice Phase or a HM Yor’sahj’s Shadow Phase, will illuminate the healing choices made in high-stress or high-HPS times.
- Riptide usage – It’s our only controllable hot, a spell that’s integral to our single-target healing, and it can pack a good punch of HPS, so a shaman’s RT management is something I zero in on when reviewing logs. Not only should a shaman be using RT on CD–yes even during AOE,–you should also beware of clipping your RT hots. For Resto Shaman who glyph RT (which should, really, be everyone) clipping your RT hot translates to a significant decrease in healing, especially in light of the buff that the hot portion of the spell received in 4.3. But how do you know if you’re clipping RT’s? Pull up any fight in WoL and then select Expression Editor. Once there, modify the following query with your character’s name in place of YourName and hit Run:
sourcename=”YourName” and spell=”Riptide” and fulltype=SPELL_AURA_REFRESH
The results of the query are the times you managed to truncate RT’s full duration by reapplying RT to the target. If you see a blank page, congrats, you’re doin it right.
Lastly, if you’re really interested in finding out how your parses compare to other 10-man resto shaman, I’d recommend taking a look at CompareBot. It will allow you to compare 2 or 3 parses and will show the difference between them in terms of buffs, uptime, spell usage, average heal, etc. It’s something I use rather frequently to compare my own performance from week to week.
Question #7: AOE healing
I wanted to ask you how to maximize healing output during AOE damage situations. What I do is I drop HR and then spam chain heal until HR is up again. I was wondering if weaving in riptides would provide a greater output with the recent buffs to riptide. I am not sure if it is worth it. Thanks.
These days, you really do want to take time from that CH filler to make sure that you use RT on CD. With the 4.3 buff to RT’s hot, I’m averaging about 45k total healing per RT application, which makes its performance on par with a typical 4-hit CH. When combined with the fact that RT is an incredibly mana-efficient spell, procs AA, and can be used on targets that might be out of the AOE healing clump, (I’m looking at you, hunters), it should be sufficient reason to work it into your rotation at every opportunity. Arguably, it seems counter-intuitive that a single-target, instant-cast hot would do as much healing as an AOE heal, but there you have it. The one thing you do want to be careful about though, is that you don’t consume your RT while tossing out CH–the loss is now even more substantial than before, such that the 25% boost to CH output simply isn’t worth the loss of the hot.
The WTF Moment of the Week
And finally, I just wanted to include this screenshot as a massive warning for all shaman. DO. NOT. EVER. DO. THIS.
This is a shaman with a Top 10 world kill of Madness who is … and I can’t even believe this … gemming Purple gems (Int/Spirit) in *red* sockets. I actually Armory’ed myself and then pulled up Wowhead as a double-check, just to make sure that they were indeed red! Had this resto shaman not suffered from a mild concussion before gemming, he/she would have 175 more Intellect. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FUCKING-FIVE; that’s the equivalent of moving from a T11 ilvl372 headpiece to a T13 ilvl410 headpiece. So before you start thinking that people in the top tier of progression are infallible, let me remind of you of this guy. He’s a great example of why I’m happy to have all of you out there, to keep me honest and humble, and prevent me from socketing my gear with Agi gems after a long night of raiding.
Credit to: M. DeMino for the slider artwork. His portfolio at Deviant Art can be found here.