Life in Group 5 – A Resto Shaman Blog
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Shaman - General

December 31, 2009

A Shaman Retrospective: The Year in Review

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Written by: Vixsin
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A little more than a year ago, midnight lines at local retailers marked the release of a new expansion pack for WoW. WotLK brought with it new lands, new mechanics, a new class, new stats, and new challenges. But for Resto Shaman, this past year also brought with it significant changes to our healing tools and, more so than any of our healing compatriots, sharply brought into question our niche in the healing team. So, as this year comes to a close, I thought I’d take a look back on the progression of Shaman healing through the WotLK dungeons and instances, and explain why we’ve come a long way, baby.


The Pinnacle of “Brain Heal

Can you count the Shamans?

Can you count the Shamans?

As BC was coming to a close in late 2008, Shaman were still enjoying the awe-inspiring power of their healing staple—chain heal. Although the limelight had diminished slightly post patch-3.0.2 (where priests’ party-only limitation on CoH was removed), we still were widely acknowledged as the champs of raid healing. In those days, my healing combat log for any fight in BT, MHJ, or Sunwell would appear almost identical, dominated by excessive use of our iconic spell. And I won’t lie, I loved my easy spot atop meters; I was confident in my place in the world.


The Wrath of Reality (I made a pun!)

Like most of the players who leveled furiously those first couple of days of the xpac (yes, I admit it, I took vacation time to hit 80 by that first Monday) I gained the majority of my xp to 80 outside of the world of instances. Although I did get in several along the way, it wasn’t until I hit 80 and started into heroics that I was forced to acknowledge that I wasn’t in BC anymore. My CH wasn’t the powerhouse it used to be, my mana wasn’t limitless, fights were long in comparison to my longevity, and my precious Crystal Spire of Karabor was replaced by a dungeon drop! More than that, I was struggling, really working my arse off, to keep tanks and dps alive and forstall wipes when things went bad. Naxx, however, was the salve to my heroic pains, returning me to my CH roots. And stepping up to tank heal in Patchwerk proved a non-threatening way to develop my RT-LHW rotation, (though admittedly it was more LHW spam than it was a steady interweaving of the two.)

Sportin the t7

Sportin the t7

It wasn’t until my guild buckled down and got serious about Sarth3D that I started to understand the new role Blizzard wanted us to play. It wasn’t the 25-man version, (where I, incidentally, really started to see the HPS effects of haste on CH), that drove it home. It was 2-healing Sarth3D with a Resto Druid where I finally heard the death knell of the Sunwell approach. With him on raid heals, and myself on the tanks, CH was finally the underdog of my rotation, used only when I could spare the time in between Sarth’s near-fatal breaths. During that fight I used to refer to myself as the “half-pally”, with all the same tools but half the potential. Little did I know, that description would be applicable in the instances to come.

Ulduar brought with it some amazing challenges for Resto Shaman, outside of those brought on by select members of the community. It didn’t usher in many changes for us in terms of our healing arsenal, though Patch 3.1’s removal of the Blessing of Wisdom / Mana Spring overlap was felt by Shaman’s mana bars the world over. Going through normal modes, I felt that there were some fights designed to make me shine, and others designed to make me feel like shyte. Razorscale was always a favorite, as I abused my Tidal Waves hasted LHW to its fullest potential, Auriaya made me nostalgic for BC, and Vezax encouraged me to appreciate the power of my Earth pellet shield in a way I had never thought possible. But even before hard modes, I still simmered with a little envy at priests and tree druids, who could quickly and promptly respond to the raid damage that I still saw as my domain.

Glitches are fun!

Glitches are fun!

Then the hardmodes came. [Insert ominous music]. And yes, I struggled. I was switched into a tank-healing role, switched to Elemental, and switched back to raid-healing again. I got into the habit of carrying 3+ gearsets with me (one for single-target healing, one for raid healing, and one for elemental). I had to work ten times harder to combat the increased raid damage, learn how to strictly limit my movement to optimize output, and put multiple innervates on reserve. And despite an amazing t8 4-piece bonus, it was easy to fall behind. But, the challenge in front of me was either be versatile or die trying. When our pallies got caught in flames or in a cosmic explosion, I learned how to step in to keep things running; when our priests or druids died to overload or lasher explosions, the raid would still be taken care of. I learned how to fill in the gaps, be what was needed at that time, and earned my hardmode healing spot.

Aftermath – 0 | Anub – 1

It was with this perspective that I entered ToC, where I switched between healing styles with relative ease. In stark contrast to BC and even Naxx, my healing summaries for fights varied by orders of magnitude, no longer dominated by one consistent spell. And in the release of 3.2, Blizzard further bolstered the Resto Shaman’s healing arsenal by strengthening our long-bomb spell, Healing Wave, finally making me more than “half a pally”. Mana thankfully returned to being a resource that I didn’t have to strictly ration, and the Tidal Waves shift made everything fall into place. Even Healing Stream Totem felt useful as I squared off against Anub, arguably one of the most precise and potentially stressful healing encounters to date.


What a Long Journey It’s Been

WTB Talbuks PST

WTB Talbuks PST

From Chain Heal spammers to versatile clutch healers, I certainly didn’t expect that Shaman would have such a path through the course of the expansion. We had some bumps along the way, some slow adopters (*shifty eyes*), and some setbacks. But we emerged in front of the Lich King as the all-around healer, able to bat from the left and right, able to switch from regular to goofy foot without losing ground.

I think this is something that Shaman critics haven’t quite grasped when they look at pure modeling numbers. Druid’s can switch to a tank-healing build, disc priests can respec to holy to counter heavy raid damage, and pallies can provide some splash healing while bombing a tank, but shaman can do it all, and do it well, in one spec. And on fights with select burst damage (eg: Lady Deathwhisper and Faction Champs), we quite simply kick ass. Although we don’t have a particularly large arsenal, the complementary nature of the few spells we do have enables Resto Shaman to be amazingly versatile without needing to make major spec or gearing shifts. Personally, I wouldn’t be against changing our t10 shoulder animation from talbuks to chameleons, because in the healing world that is exactly what we are.

Here’s to another great year for all Resto Shamans (with lots to blog about). Cheers!


  1. Jai

    Just wanted to drop a comment and tell you how much I’m enjoying your blog. I can tell you are putting effort into it and it definitely shows. I’m a new shaman(lvl 32 atm) but have been healing since original WoW(holy priest, then resto druid, and now holy priest). I started a shaman recently so that I could better understand my healer brothers and sisters and I am very much enjoying the class.

    So keep up the great work, I’ll definitely be checking your blog daily.


  2. Züg

    Thanks for your blog! One of my fav website (and the only I know for sham lovers ;))

  3. Thanks for the compliments. I can only claim great inspiration from Drug (at, Matticus (, and other fantastic blogs out there, more of which I’m discovering daily (and adding to my blogroll!) Hopefully, in the year to come, I can live up to the high standards they’ve set.

  4. Talooka

    very nice post :)
    that’s what a long journal it’s been

    i never enjoy my shammy this much till toc patch came out

  5. Praxus

    Certainly a nice overcap and I completely echo your sentiments about the early WOTLK days as I was main spec resto then too. I LOVED LOVED LOVED healing Sarth 3d it was so much fun. I was still on the raid healing with a tank assigned to me to heal as I could, but covering the raid damage from welps/lava/waves was such an amazing time to be a resto Shaman. The 10 man version of Sarth 3d was simply my favorite fight in WOTLK to date. I broke 1000 haste for the first time and my mana wasn’t an issue at all (we 3 healed it though, that could have been the reason) and my group was the only group to get Sarth 3d done in the guild consistently before Ulduar hit. Reading your recap makes me nostalgic to dust off that resto spec on hard content, maybe 3 resto shaman will be a requirement in ICC hards *crosses fingers*.

  6. Sarth 3D (10man) is definitely on my list of all-time favorite fights, probably because I’m a sucker for stress! Interestingly enough, the second or third time our guild killed Sarth 3D, we did it with a Blueberry tank and lots of patience. (This was before the nerf to Voidwalkers.) I’d have to rank Firefighter up there as well, for the same reasons–our first or second kill was myself + a disc priest, which was definitely not an ideal setup in the early days of Ulduar.

    I can only hope to see an abundance of CH’s flying again in ICC, if nothing but for nostalgia’s sake!

  7. Gigawatt

    Good post but sometimes I do miss the old days of topping meters without effort (I know they are not the be all of it in raids). I can’t help feel we have gone down the pecking order in raids. Druids and Priests seem to have moved ahead in the xpac while we have gone down. Obviously I generalizng a little as player skill can be a factor. When it comes to raw healign power for most fights int eh xpac so far Druid’s seem to crush everybody else.

  8. Monsieur

    It was an awesome year indeed 😀 I don’t think any class has had so many and different challenges in one specc as resto has had this expansion. Cheers for the new year, and hope this one brings as much fun to resto as the last one (gimme dwarf shamans naow!!)

  9. maccae

    it’s true we evolved massively in this expansion; it’s really all about the players skills, and how smart they can play their role in a raid. It’s also a very thankless job since most other class think we are all about the chain heals still.

    Throughout all of toc/togc 25, i rarely – if ever- top the healing chart; we usually have 1 or 2 druid and 1 holy priest in our raid, there is no way i can top off a raid as fast and as efficient as they can. What i did though is the odd job: help counter predictable damage on the melees, catching the ones falling through the crack and taking alot of damage, or help the holy paladin by smoothing out spike damage on the tanks. We lost our only holy paladin 3 weeks before ICC; the other healers were freaking out, thinking there was no way we could make it without him.

    For me, ICC 25 was like the crowning of the homecoming queen: people discovered just how much of a powerhouse a resto shaman can be. I entered this place confident in my ability to keeps a MT and OT alive, while some other healers were yelping there was no way we could do this without a holy paladin. Not only i did it without trouble, but i was able to cycle some chain heals -LHW etc here and there , and finish the night on top of Recount (overall and per fight) with 25%+ more healing done than the second top healer. /stroke epeen ^_^

    we have a holy paladin now, and i will not be on top of recount anymore, but it’s fine: i may not be as specialized or as efficient as some other classes, but no one can adapt and fulfill any roles on the fly in an encounter like a resto shaman can. Go us!

  10. To venture out on a limb here … I think what Shaman lacked most in this xpac wasn’t faster heals or a larger arsenal, but rather, confidence. Not having a clearly defined and exclusive niche is hard for a class which was known for one thing and one thing alone through all of BC. Contrast us with BC pallies, who regularly under-performed by orders of magnitude, but had one of the most vital roles in the raid.

    As I detailed in my post about Mek and Ulduar, I’ve fought a long and hard battle to convince my raid teams and leadership over 3 different guilds, just how good resto shaman can be if they’re set up to succeed. This doesn’t necessarily mean giving me the “cushy” healing assignment and assigning me an innervate buddy, but rather understanding the versatility that our class can offer and the limitations that we work with.

    Now, with ICC, I think Shaman have that confidence back, believing that they can do well no matter where meters show them. Hard modes could still be reminiscent of Ulduar, but at least this time I go in thinking that I’m an important part of a healing solution, instead of some blue lump coming along for the ride.

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