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


January 13, 2010

A Grudging Look at Resto Shaman “BiS”

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Written by: Vixsin
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I always enjoy the first weeks after the Christmas holiday, not only because my work slows down as clients take their holiday vacations, but also because all of the fuss of the preceding month(s) finally comes to an end. But this year, I had no respite from the anxious crowds—WoW’s Christmas season was (and is) still in full effect. Everywhere I turn, players are oogling new epics brought in with patch 3.3, newly-minted 80s are chattering about the must-haves of the season, and everyone is assembling their own shopping list of drops and badge purchases. Silent prayers are being muttered—“Please Saurfang, drop that shiny trinket that I want and make me the only person in raid who can use it,”—and players excited to see new items start frantically clicking bosses’ bodies before they even hit the ground. And as adamant as I am about not issuing a Best in Slot list, I must say that in the spirit of it all, it seems a little crotchety to not give a nod to some of the notable pieces from ICC.

But first, a disclaimer!


Okay, now that that’s out of my system, we can get down to business. At the onset of ICC, I posted about the need for resto shaman to start saving their frost badges, in anticipation of having a number of quality badge and tier pieces to purchase. And now that I picked up my 2-piece this week— helm and shoulders, to replace the elemental set pieces I’ve been using in my resto set—I’ve been paying slightly more attention to gear. Why start looking a month after instance release, you ask? My answer: because I think it’s wise to get a feel for the fights before I start planning about how to gear for them. How much my mana is tested, how much throughput I feel I need, and what my spell distribution is, will all play factors in which stats I prioritize. And with a full 10 weeks of normal modes, I should be able to set myself up nicely for the hard modes to follow.

Step 1: The base lists

My first stop in evaluating any new instance or zone full of gear is simply to get a handle on what’s available (including cloth or leather items). I actually did this pre-work when looking at my upgrade progression into t10, so I know right off the bat that I’m going to be undergoing some slight stat shifts from the tier alone. Then, after giving it all the once-over, I started polling some of the BiS lists out there. From two notable sources on the EJ forums, came the following (the Wowhead comparison of which be found here.)

Set 1 Set 2
Helm: Sanctified Frost Witch’s Headpiece
Neck: Soulcleave Pendant
Shoulders: Sanctified Frost Witch’s Spaulders
Cloak: Frostbinder’s Shredded Cape
Chest: Sanctified Frost Witch’s Tunic
Bracers: Coldwraith Bracers
Gloves: Unclean Surgical Gloves
Belt: Belt of the Blood Nova
Pants: Lightning-Infused Leggings
Boots: Earthsoul Boots
Ring 1: Marrowgar’s Frigid Eye
Ring 2: Ring of Rapid Ascent
Shield: Bulwark of Smouldering Steel
Weapon: Midnight Sun
Trinkets are still double Solace.
Helm: Sanctified Frost Witch’s Headpiece
Neck: Blood Queen’s Crimson Choker
Shoulders: Sanctified Frost Witch’s Spaulders
Cloak: Frostbinder’s Shredded Cape
Chest: Sanctified Frost Witch’s Tunic
Bracers: Bloodsunder’s Bracers
Gloves: Sanc. Frost Witch’s Handguards
Belt: Belt of the Blood Nova
Pants: Lightning-Infused Leggings
Boots: Earthsoul Boots
Ring 1: Marrowgar’s Frigid Eye
Ring 2: Ashen Band of Endless Wisdom
Shield : Bastion of Resolve
Weapon: Trauma
Trinkets: Althor’s Abacus / Solace of the Fallen

Step 2: Evaluation

Normally, this would be the most fun step—I’d import Vixsin into and be on my way to building multiple comparison sets. But, with CharDev’s author slightly absentee these days, this time around I resorted to putting everything I could into an excel spreadsheet and working from there. To provide a basis for comparison, I did’t look at enchants and I assumed (unless otherwise stated) the same gemming strategy throughout. So, base stats of the aforementioned two sets are shown in the chart below (with the complete comparison between all gearsets found here, shown in order of Set 1-4.)

Comparison Stats for ICC Sets 1 & 2

Comparison Stats for ICC Sets 1 & 2

As you would imagine, both sets prioritize haste over all other stats, and have an almost 2:1 ratio of haste to crit. Because of this, you might immediately jump on Set 1 as the best of the best because of its high haste value. However, looking in closer detail at Set 1, you should notice two things: first, it has 64 less crit and 53 less spell power, and second, it will put you over the haste cap on LHW. This is even more important when you consider that Shaman’s T10 set bonus is 20% spell haste after an RT, which when I tested it last night, brought my LHW down to 0.9 sec in my ~900 haste single-target healing set. If you use the LHW haste cap (1268 haste) as the max haste level, this means that even before enchants you are essentially wasting 70 haste by being over the cap. When the difference between the sets is only 139 points, this also means that you have a 50% loss on your haste investment.

To put this in terms of the investment differential between Set 1 and Set 2, let’s talk in HEP. If I were to utilize the HEP values generated from one of my last fights in ICC (which places Haste at 1.7, Crit at 0.9 and Sp at 1 HEP, for a snipe-healing encounter), the comparison would be 117 HEP versus 110 HEP in favor of Set 1. However, given that I was wearing the t10 2piece, which my Shaman HEP did not yet support, I would estimate that upon re-evaluation, the value of haste would drop to the point where the combined differential of Set 2 would overtake the haste benefit Set 1. (Recent conjecture on EJ’s Shaman forums seems to support this hypothesis, with some reporting significantly decreased haste HEP ratings.) So, if you’re a LHW fan like me and therefore limited by the LHW haste cap, Set 2 seems like it could be the better option.

However, if we look at the values of these sets with regards to CH and HW, the perspective shifts. Set 1’s additional 139 haste will fully benefit your CH, dropping it down to a ~1.6 sec cast time. Your HW will also drop down to a ~1.2sec cast time (with TW), and would easily reach the GCD with the t10 2-piece bonus. Combined with Healing Way, this would amount to a potential 20k+ healing bomb in under 1sec. Even a LHW enthusiast would have to admit, that’s not too shabby at all.

But … and this is one hell of a but … both of these sets absolutely shock me with how much regen they don’t have. At 259 and 241 mp5 respectively, Sets 1 and 2 come in at 164/182 under the 423mp5 I have in my CH-spam set (with unprocced double-solaces). In terms of single-target healing, they fare a little better against my 296 mp5 in my crit-heavy set. Now I will admit, I am definitely at the top end of the spectrum when it comes to mana consumption. But with Festergut25 (normal) testing the limits of my CH-spam longevity this week, I can only imagine what the hard mode encounter will do to me if I elect for reduced regen.

Step 3: Application

As I’m sure most would concede, the goal of a BiS list is to optimize your contribution to the raid on a specific set of encounters. And, as I noted in my disclaimer, not every fight has the same characteristics. For resto shaman, our stat preferences vary, to some degree, based on what type of rotation we’re using—CH will encourage more haste with less crit and spellpower, while single-target healing benefits more from the latter two stats and *comparatively* less from the former. However, given that some players may not have the luxury of time or free access to all available with loot, a more reasonable option might be to pursue a gearset that doesn’t excel significantly in one such stat category, assuring that your gear will be applicable to all situations. Gearsets 1 and 2 actually accomplish this happy medium, with Set 2 looking a little more “middle of the road” than the haste-heavy Set 1.

To give you an even broader view of your options, let’s take a look at my “pick list” for both my haste-based set and my crit one (my thanks to Zigi over at Twenty-Five boxes for penning such an appropriate phrase, so that I can phase out BiS from my vocabulary.) The comparison of my two sets and the aforementioned ones can be found here.

Comparison of Sets 1 - 4 (corresponds to gear sets included in the Wowhead comparison)

Comparison of Sets 1 – 4 (corresponds to gear sets included in the Wowhead comparison)

As you can see, Set 3 is designed around higher haste values and, accordingly, much higher mp5, and can drop regen for throughput items as the fight demands. Set 4, on the other hand, is built around maximizing sp and crit while staying close to the LHW haste cap. Gemming in this set deviates slightly from the established resto shaman norm of “haste everywhere”, and takes a page from EJ’s Guild Leader’s strategy of using Reckless Monarch Topazes (12sp/10haste) to provide more power to single-target healing.

Going Shopping

As a player who doesn’t often find luck on my side, the above pick lists are very likely to change and adapt in the coming months as I try to work around the fact that, for example, Binding of the Ice Burrower hasn’t dropped for my guild since TOGC was released while Sabatons of Tremoring Earth drop every bloody week. And it absolutely is possible that I might end up in a set similar to those offered up by Gwaiihir and Stassart, because, make no mistake, they definitely do know what they’re talking about when it comes to gear. But hopefully, I’ve at least managed to illustrate that even though Taurens and Belfs wear the same size shoes, when it comes to healing, it definitely isn’t one gearset fits all.


  1. “But with Festergut25 (normal) testing the limits of my CH-spam longevity this week, I can only imagine what the hard mode encounter will do to me if I elect for reduced regen.”

    That’s interesting, because CH fights are the ones where I find it nearly impossible to run oom. So long as there’s enough raid damage going around to guarantee 4 hops on CH, water shield is giving me a ridiculous amount of mana back. On a fight like Heroic Twins, I ended with 85%+ mana having received over 30k from water shield alone in the 3:30 fight duration. Depending on how effective I find the T10 4pc bonus, I’m seriously considering gearing for crit beyond the LHW haste soft cap, potentially swapping to SP if raid damage is high enough that I’m not producing massive overhealing (which I think I will be). For CH heavy fights, I’d probably just keep a few pieces of pure haste gear around, or pop on a haste trinket, to boost way above the soft cap.

    I realized the other day that the only time I’ve swapped gear around recently is when I’m in a 10m and doing dedicated MT healing. Maybe I should swap gear more often, but I have a hard time justifying the minor tweaks when I’m never running oom and the minor tweaks are potentially displaced by overhealing. When I have access to the T10 4pc, I may have to make more decisions about specific gearsets.
    .-= Jaede´s last blog ..I’m on a Boat, apparently =-.

  2. I fear I’ve been suffering from a leaky mana bar since BC, and despite my best efforts to apply copious amounts duct-tape to it, I do generally find that I need more mp5 than the average shaman healer out there. So, I definitely take this into account when gearing. But, I also assume based on past hard mode experience (think: Mim, Sarth 3D, Twins to some extent, Freya) that the raid damage differential from normal to hard will be quite noticeable and the fight will be that much longer.

    It’s because of this I have the sneaking suspicion that the t10 bonus won’t look too great until you get into some of the hard modes, where more druid-esque hots on the raid will be a good thing. (For example: over the past couple of weeks, earthliving has generally been around ~80% overheal for me on H.Jaraxxus, but on H.Twins it comes in at an amazing ~25% overheal.)

  3. I think BiS for resto shamans are pretty viable, because A) according to shaman hep haste is my best stat for RT/LHW as well as CH spamming and B) most of the time different gear sets see changes mostly in trinket/totem/non-set slots and we have a large number of gear slots where we won’t change anything no matter which encounter we’re gearing for.

    The mana regen concern is very valid though and depends largely on your play style. I tend to heal somewhat holy priest like: lull – burst heal – lull. This allows me to focus on throughput stats. Especially with Resto Druids/Holy Priests bringing someone from 95% to 100% will often just snipe HoTs. Also I think resto shamans should look at their mana regen after 1x mana pot and 2x mana tide. In most fights, this is easily possible.

    The last thing I’d like to comment on is the haste cap: Lowering LHW under 1 sec is only bad in terms of HPS but not at all in terms of having a fast heal. So I think reaching the haste cap is a very good thing, even if it means “wasted” haste regarding our HPS when casting LHW. It’s going to be very interesting to see what HEP values theorycrafting is going to suggest after the haste cap. Do we shift our focus towards SP with the risk of loosing a lot of heal generated by SP in overheal or do we keep pushing haste even if GCD based spells won’t profit from haste anymore and LHW (and HW after RT) won’t profit from haste in terms of HPS but still in terms of “omg this heals is so fast” to maximize CH output?

    MH: Trauma proc is pretty underwhelming. I nearly spent a good chunk of my DKPs on this thing but a resto druid got it in the end. Even if rolling HoTs is ideal to make the proc work, the overall healing generated is still very low, somewhat over 1%.

    Trinkets: I got the Abacus and I’m very happy with the proc, around 3,6% of my healing, can crit and save lives, very decent throughput trinket. Might pair it with melee haste trinket because solace hates me.
    .-= drug´s last blog ..Yes, Resto 2pc T10 is THAT good =-.

  4. Khi

    I actually picked up Trauma the other night in our raid. I found the results also to be extremely frustrating. For most fights I tested it on I wasn’t able to pick up more than 1.2% effective healing. On the other hand, it was giving me over 70k over healing. The couple of fights i did find it to work well in were Putricide (because of the hot-like heals while moving), Twins, and Faction Champs. I’m not really sure if I’ll be using it for every fight now. It seems to be mostly situational atm.

    On the mana concern, I’ve come to notice that shaman healing has changed alot. Atleast in my guild, we’re running atleast 2 druids and a disc priest. This has allowed to pick my heal timing and placement alot better, instead of chain heal spamming. It also means I conserve most of my mana for raid wide damage instense moments (ie Putricide p3). It isn’t so fantastic for healing meters but it has made for a very strong healing team.

  5. The reports that I’ve read about Trauma thus far have indicated that the proc is incredibly underwhelming, even if overhealing is taken into account. (Initial reads also note that the effect only applies to the target’s party, but I haven’t confirmed this.) Until I start hearing some rave reviews, hell even some lukewarm ones, or Blizzard announces an upgrade (they did mention that they were re-evaluating some ICC procs), I think I’m going to stick with my ToGC mace of ugliness and spend my DKP elsewhere.

  6. Khi

    Yeah I wouldn’t recommend picking it up. I grabbed it because it was just going to an app (loot council). It is def a cool weapon. When the procs start rolling, the numbers are crazy. 😀 Just seems like it isn’t everything they made it out to be. On a side note, a little shaman QQ on how annoying the Blood Princes and Putricide are to heal. Standing apart and consistently moving is a shamans worst nightmare. Kinda hate Blizzard atm. BUT I do own in Rotface LOL.

  7. […] Vixsin has (amongst other things) featured a resto BiS analysis and a great look at tank healing.  ShieldsUp! has an important illustrated guide to the […]

  8. Steampunk

    I’ve got a Trauma as well — and I agree it’s very underwhelming. Kind of a let down when some of the DPS weapons are getting their proc buffed.

    Hopefully the same is in for us soon!

  9. […] months of abstaining from the discussion of BiS, aside from the one grudging post which I made back in January of this year, and which has had more traffic lately than all the posts I’ve had mentioned on (okay, […]

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