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February 4, 2013

Resto Shamans’ Best Practices for MoP (and their WoL queries)

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Written by: Vixsin
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Since the beginning of January, when my progression in Tier 14 came to a close, I’ve finally been able to kick back my heels a bit, finish up some lingering items on my to-do list and get deeper involved in something that I’ve always loved—raiding on my alts. And, in anticipation for my forays into HM 25’s on my priest, I sent an email to a dear threorycrafting friend, asking for some general points of guidance about the “best practices” for class. Because although I’ve been playing a disc priest since late Wrath, since it’s not my primary focus, I wanted to make sure that those habits I picked up in Cata were still valid in MoP. It was that email that actually got me thinking about all of the changes that Resto Shaman have been working through in this expansion, from our added tools to our new treasure trove of cooldowns. And I found myself thinking of how helpful it might be to fellow shaman—ones who’ve been enjoying the class for years, ones who are getting to know Resto as an offspec, and ones who are dusting off an alt—to have a list of sorts about what constitute good PVE healing practices in this brave new world, because things have definitely changed.

So, I decided to take the “Advanced Resto Shaman WoL queries” post that I had been working on and give it a little bit of a twist by not only going through some (not all) of the best practices for Resto Shaman, but also to give you a way to isolate that information in WoL via Expression Editor. And while this post won’t give you wild new insights into the class and it’s not going to delve into theorycraft, what it should do is reinforce your priorities as a Shaman healer and lay the groundwork for solid healing output. (Because yes, every one of these points is key to higher HPS).

Note: if you’re new to Resto Shaman and their evaluation on WoL, I’d strongly recommend this excellent post by Jasyla of Cannot Be Tamed, Evaluating Resto Shaman on WoL, as a primer. 

Second Note: For some reason, copying and pasting the following queries into Expression Editor will generate an error, however if you manually type them into the WoL field exactly as they appear below, they will run correctly. I’ve no clue why this is–sorry! Totally fixed–the queries should be possible to copy/paste now. You guys are awesome. 


Best Practice #1 – Drop HST on CD

Gone are the days when Healing Stream Totem was a set-it-and-forget-it totem and gone are the days when it healed an entire party. In MoP, HST constitutes a single-target smart-heal on a 30-second cooldown, and an incredibly powerful one at that. Because of its smart-heal nature, HST almost consistently holds the title for lowest overhealing spell in a Shamans’ arsenal, and can, if dropped regularly, snag a top 3 spot in a Shaman’s effective healing done. In Tier 15, this totem will be even more powerful by virtue of our proposed 2pc bonus, which, at the moment, provides 25% additional healing on a second target for every HST drop. So, get in the habit of dropping this totem on CD—don’t cast another CH, don’t wait until after you do this handful of things, just DROP IT NOW, RIGHT NOW—and be sure to tap into Call of the Elements to eek out a couple additional drops every fight.

How to find this in WoL:

Pop open Expression Editor for the fight in question and run the following query:

spell="Healing Stream Totem" and type=TYPE_CAST and sourcename="Vixsin"

This will display all the times you dropped HST during the fight. For the rough number of times that you should have dropped it, take the fight duration and multiply by 2. If you have more drops than that number, you’re doing well; if not, consider adding an alert or warning to your UI to alert you when HST is off of CD.


Best Practice #2 – Unleash Life before Healing Rain

While in Cataclysm we had Focused Insight-buffed Healing Rains, in MoP, Resto Shaman can boost the power of our highest throughput spell through the use of Unleash Life. Casting UL immediately prior to dropping an HR will assure you an additional 30% healing done on every tick, which, given HR’s high cost, assures that you’ll get the most out of that substantial mana investment. Unfortunately, with a 15-second cooldown, Unleash Life doesn’t align perfectly with HR’s 10-second cooldown (plus ~2-second cast), meaning that you’ll have 2-3 seconds pause after your HR expires before you can pair the two again.

How to find this in WoL:

Since there’s no combat log even to show what consumes UL’s buff, the easiest way to verify that you’re using a UL+HR combo each time is check the application and fade of every Unleash Life. To do this, use the following query in expression editor:

sourcename="Vixsin" and ((spell="Unleash Life" and (fulltype=SPELL_AURA_APPLIED or fulltype=SPELL_AURA_REMOVED)) or (spell="Healing Rain" and type=TYPE_CAST))

If you’re using UL+HR correctly, every HR cast should be preceded by an application of the buff and succeeded by the removal of the buff.


Best Practice #3 – Chain Heal through RT targets

A quality of life change that draws inspiration from Resto Shamans’ T12 4pc, in MoP Ritpide is no longer consumed by a primary hit of Chain Heal. Instead, any CH’s that are cast on a target with an RT hot will receive a 25% boost to healing done without consuming the remainder of the hot. So, if there’s a fight where you know that you’ll be using CH to counter heavy raid damage, make sure you have RT hots on your assigned targets or on one player in a local cluster (eg: melee, ranged). If you’re a Vuhdo user, you can utilize Clusterfinder to identify targets which will make the most of your CH. And for the rest of us, it’s advisable to get very familiar the positioning of an encounter to ensure that your RT-powered CH doesn’t wind up with a single hit. Because there’s nothing sadder than a CH veering into nowhere to hit the offtank in the corner (and I speak from experience there!)

How to find this in WoL:

Another best practice that will take some log-diving, finding out if CH was cast on RT targets entails reviewing both your RT and CH targets for the fight to find the overlap (or lack thereof). To do this, use the following:

sourcename="Vixsin" and ((spell="Riptide" and (fulltype= SPELL_AURA_APPLIED or fulltype=SPELL_AURA_REMOVED)) or (spell="Chain Heal" and type=TYPE_HEAL))


Best Practice #4 – Use Ascendance or Healing Tide in conjunction with Spirit Link

Now official card-carrying members of the Raid Cooldowns Club, Resto Shaman have two main throughput CDs to offer their teams this expansion (Healing Tide and Ascendance), along with one sometimes under-appreciated damage reduction CD (Spirit Link). But, it’s really the through the combination of our two types of raid CDs that you start to see some impressive results, especially when you pair Ascendance+SLT with raid-wide damage on a stacked raid. While the pairing of HTT and SLT is still a damn solid combo, the reason that I’ll always advocate Ascendance+SLT is because of the complementary functionality of the two spells—SLT takes lots of damage spikes and spreads out the effect to everyone in range, whereas Ascendance copies lots of big healing numbers and distributes that effect to everyone in range. The net effect is lots of little additions and subtractions of health, which means that your Restorative Mists is able to see a much lower total overhealing than it otherwise would because of that HP shuffle.

How to find this in WoL:

Finally, an easy query! Just plop this into Expression Editor and see how your cooldowns lined up:

spell="Ascendance" or spell="Spirit Link Totem") and type=TYPE_CAST and sourcename="Vixsin"


Best Practice #5 – Don’t overwrite your Riptides

Something that first appeared on my radar because of Cata’s 21-second duration on Riptide (glyphed), this best practice stuck around in MoP for one main reason—clipping your RT hots significantly decreases their effectiveness. (Resto Druids can attest to this—clipping your Rejuv hots is a big no-no). With its 18-second base duration and 6-second cooldown, your overlap on that last RT cast won’t be as much as it was in Cata, but an overwrite still will clip (generally) 2 ticks of Riptide from the end of the hot if you’re only rolling RT on two targets. If you’re using Glyph of Riptide, preventing clipping even more important since the glyph removes the front-loading of the spell’s HPS, making a clip a greater percentage of healing lost.

How to find this in WoL:

Simply use the following query in WoL to see how many times you refreshed RT on a target:

sourcename=”Vixsin” and spell="Riptide" and fulltype=SPELL_AURA_REFRESH.

If the result comes up with no results, you know that you never lost out on RT healing due to a refresh.


Best Practice #6 – 100% ES uptime on your primary target

A shaman rule of thumb that’s existed since the days of Earth Shield being a 41-point talent, shielding a primary target has always been a function of asking “who’s going to be taking a lot of damage?” But, since the introduction of Nature’s Blessing in Cataclysm, Earth Shield has also been a way to boost our single-target healing on one specific player. Now that Nature Blessing’s bonus is baked into the spell, increasing shaman healing done to the target by 20%, ES is critical to ensuring that your single-target healing spells are doing all that they can. (Note: ES is not shaman-specific, so your healing on a target that has another Resto’s ES will still receive the bonus). Because of this boost to healing that ES provides, the question in MoP isn’t so much about who’s going to be taking the most damage but rather, “who am I going to be healing the most?” Oftentimes, the tanks are the logical conclusion, but don’t be afraid to cast your ES on another target (eg: Tsulong), or swap it between tanks when your assignment changes.

How to find this in WoL:

There are two ways to look at ES uptime in WoL. The first is to go to your player page for an encounter and look at the Buffs tab, to see ES’s total uptime. Secondary, if you’re interested in seeing who ES was on at a given point in time, you can head over to Expression Editor and use the following:

spell="Earth Shield" and (fulltype=SPELL_AURA_REMOVED or fulltype=SPELL_AURA_APPLIED)


Bonus Tip – Heal your Unleashed Fury target

Contrary to what you might think when you read Unleashed Fury’s tooltip and completely contrary to the buff granted by Unleash Life, which is on the shaman, the buff provided by the Resto variant of the level 90 talent Unleashed Fury is ON THE TARGET PLAYER. And given that this is a talent that I’d strongly recommend taking in 10s and 25s, at least until you become comfortable with the timing of Primal Elementalist on certain encounters, it’s important to understand that if you Unleash Fury on Player A and then heal Player B, you will not have consumed the Unleashed Fury buff on Player A. And this means there’s the distinct possibility that you’ve not been benefitting from Unleashed Fury at all.

How to find this in WoL:

Running the following query in Expression Editor will reveal the timing of all of the gains and fades of the buff:

spell="Unleashed Fury" and sourcename="Vixsin"

If the time in between gain and fade is < 10 seconds, the buff was consumed. If you see the buff fade 10 seconds after it was applied, then that’s an instance where your level 90 talent was wasted.


  1. Grid has a cluster heal plug in for chain heal… but its quite outdated and requires keeping the libmap data file updated and to be rolled back to a certain version which works with 5.0.

    Its set up so it displays the number of chain heal bounces you will get by hitting each player, and highlights the highest one with a change in colour. You can also set it so there are thresholds before it displays any information when people don’t need the healing, but the default values are all very small since this is a very old addon (BC I think). It is also older than the baseline buff to CH’s jump range, so needs some editing there.

    But if you can make those changes, and keep the map data updated, there is an addon out there to get that cluster function within grid 😀

  2. Found it, kind hard to find without the name it seems;

    Will work as is, but check jump distances in the code if you want to be sure.

    If you use the curse client disable updating for the addon or it will break itself.

    You will need to update and keep up to date the map data;

    Not at home so cant be sure, but if that doesn’t work try one version earlier… I had some issue like that but cant remember what revision I ended up with.

    Agree with the rest of the post Vix 😀 Once you cover all these bases you are already a good resto shaman!

    Im bad at keeping ES up on multi tank fights, and bad a overwriting RT on single tank fights…

    Do you try to pull every HST? Its the best thing you can do for your mana if your struggling imo, and well worth a GCD most times. Something else it would be worth having a string to check up on perhaps.

    • Yeah, I remember using this plug-in (or maybe its predecessor) in ToGC and ICC. It’s been a while since it was updated, and truth be told, I do like the clusterfinder in Vuhdo a lot more.

      Re: HST and Totemic Recall, it’s definitely a viable strategy for mana return and it can be valuable in fights where your mana pool feels a little bit emptier than usual. But, you do have to judge if that mana is going to be put to good use or simply going to contribute to you ending the fight with an excess amount.

      In terms of checking on your Recall usage, it would be as simple as using: spell=”Totemic Recall” and amount>14000 (You could also check and see your returns on your character detail page under the “buffs cast” tab).

  3. Zulrin

    Regarding CH + Riptide: I often find myself in situations where my riptide targets are at or near full health, while other targets are at lower hp.
    In these situations would it still be better hps wise to cast CH on the Riptide targets?

    I’m not sure how CH interacts with our mastery (does it calculate mastery on every bounce?) and that’s making me question what the right target for CH is.

    • shammypie

      I’d argue that if your riptide targets are at full health to then just choose the lowest health target. i don’t know if mastery is calculated dynamically or not but seeing how the first bounce is the biggest you would be wasting it if you did.

      Remember the best way to boost your numbers is not always the best way to keep your raid alive.

  4. Talarian

    Regarding your queries, it’s likely that your quotes are smart quotes (a UNICODE character) rather than just quotes (an ASCII character), especially if you wrote this up in a fancy word processor like Word and copied into your post. My suggestion would be to throw the query into notepad, strip the quotes and replace them by manually typing them, en put them into WoL or your post. Haven’t tested this yet, but I have had issues with smart quotes n the past.

    • Gorbag

      Smart quotes: not so smart? Word has an absolutely horrible formatting system, much of which is invisible. If you’re writing for the Internet (or anything that involves translating formats) you’re better using notepad. Sad but true. I like google docs myself.

    • That seemed to be the issue. Changed the formatting in the site to code and -presto!- copy/paste is functional.

      Thank goodness too, I thought I was going batty when I proofed the post and none of the queries worked. “Awesome, Vixsin, you write a post showing people how to look things up in WoL and then they can’t look things up in WoL …” /facepalm

      My thanks to you both. :)

      • Pache

        It’s still an issue in the riptide/chainheal example. If you look really closely, you’ll notice that the quotation marks around the caster name slant slightly from bottom left to top right (i.e. they’re closing quotation marks). Whereas the other, correctly functioning on copy/paste, quotation marks are precisely vertical (i.e. “normal” quotation marks)

        Confused the hell outta me until I just tried deleting & retyping parts of the copy paste until it worked, then looked closely at the part which’d been causing the problems.

  5. Pannita

    A tip I’d like to throw out to readers is in regards to Primal Elementalist. When you use this talent to buff your healing, recall the fire/earth totem right before the totem fades– exactly like recalling HST. It made using the talent during progression *much* less scary. =)

    Love what you do Vixsin. I’ve been reading you for years!

  6. Ganiccus

    Vixsin, can you share some of your insight concerning the use of healing surge vs greater healing wave with your current gear (i am sitting around 510ilvl). The two set bonus is nice but I tend to use healing surge a lot since haste is by far my lowest stat.
    Also, if I can add my grain of salt concerning Best Practices, I try to keep riptide up on both of my tanks as much as possible to refresh ancestral vigor and keep it at its maximum value.

  7. […] by a post by my good friend Vixsin, I’ve decided to do a quick “Best Practices” post. In the interest of […]

  8. Hey, interesting post.

    I, myself have actually been playing around with the Unleash Life HR. I’ve been trying to decide if it’s better to use UE for every HR or if it’s more optimal to do UE HR on the first one, then on 2nd cast HR as soon as it’s ready, and for 3rd UE again, so you have the highest uptime on your HR while still every 2nd has UE.

    I came up with that at 100% HP (no mastery included) it’s better to use UE for it only every 2nd.

    However when Mastery and Earthliving is included it’s a lot harder to make the calculations since there is no proper dummy for testing this as DPS has.

    So I was mostly curious as if you had done any sort of calculations for this, I would be happy to discuss this further with you. You can reach me on my email, aswell as here.

  9. Hightous

    I’ve been progressing Sha Hc and we have been having some problems sorting Huddle healing out. We assign properly (used your last post 😉 ) but it feels like some people are not coursing correctly.

    Do you have a WOL query for heals casted on targets afflicted by Huddle? I have tried to sort one myself but can’t figure it out!

    Keep up the awesome blogs always a good read!


  10. Jinaiya


    If you find the time, I wonder if you could explain to me how exactly you have set Vuhdo up to show you the appropriate clusters for CH. I have tried to figure it out, but for the life of me I just can’t seem to get it to work the way I’d like it to.

    Great post, thanks as always!


    • Jinaiya –
      I know this is a week late, but what you need to do is first set up a “Cluster Finder.”

      Vuhdo Options -> general -> cluster finder.

      Chained, range 12 yds (or 24 if glyphed). Also, if glyphed, tick the “Link to Spell CD” box, to enable the icon to ONLY show when CH is off CD (if you so desire). Spell source -> player. Spell destination -> raid. Display options -> counterDon’t really need to mess with any of the other settings. Max targets -> 4.
      “Fair Threshold” -> 3, and “Good Threshold” -> 4. I also like to have my health threshold set at 95%, because sometimes I run a CH through a riptided tank who is close to full into the melee, expecting him to take a hit during the cast of CH.

      Next is up to you, try both these methods, and find which works for you. You need to now be able to see that cluster finder.

      Easy method:
      Panels -> HoT icons -> select an empty HoT slot, and in the drop down menu, select “Cluster Finder.” In this case, if there are a minimum of 3 targets in range of player x, all below 95% hp, there will be an icon in player x’s raidframe with a “3” in it. Or, if there were 4 that met the criteria, you’d see a “4.” Sometimes, however, this is difficult to see. This leads to my preferred method, which is a bit more complicated.

      You will need to set up a bouquet.

      General -> Bouquets

      I like to name mine CH Ready, but it doesn’t matter – just make it something you remember.

      Select Special event -> Flag: Cluster >= Players
      Move the slider bar to 4. I like to make the color of this one GREEN so it stands out as an instant indicator of a good CH target.

      Repeat the above and set the slider bar to 3, I like setting the color to YELLOW so I know it’s an OK target to CH.

      Last thing to do with this is go to Indicators, and get it to show up via Indicators. I like setting it as the special dot, so it is a pretty obvious icon that doesn’t overlap with my other HoT icons. Alternatively, you can set it up in one of the HoT icon slots if you want. In my experience though, it was tough to see and react to quickly, but YMMV. This will work just like the cluster you set up already, but rather than a number, it pops up an obvious big dot that gives you instant feedback on good times to cast.

      I don’t know how the formatting will be in this, but it should walk you through it. LMK how it works out for you! I do know that once I got it set up like this, i was NEVER seeing my chain heal go off into BFE and only hit one target, which was really embarrassing to say the least. Not to mention, a huge loss of time. With this setup, I consistently find CH in my top heals, and use it to great effect, even on fights with a reasonable amount of spread raid healing going out.

  11. Xarava

    Vixsin, thank you for this terrific post. It’s a great reference for me, and something to share with the other healers on my raid team.

  12. hadron

    HST / SLT positionning is also very important.

    Do you have means to find out if positionning is optimal during a given fight?

    Not an easy task.

  13. […] there is some stacking involved.  Vixsin wrote a great post over at Life in Group 5 about some Resto Shaman “Best Practices”.  It is a great post, and I recommend it to anyone who is Shaman healing this tier.  In fact, I […]

  14. Burkhan3

    Thanks a lot for those advices, very helpful for the output hps

  15. Goltark

    Just fantastic tips. I am returning to the shaman world of healing and i gotta say those are really helpfull advises. I was able to improve a lot my performance.
    Thanks for the great job.

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