I have something to confess: I haven’t changed my resto spec since I originally dinged 80. Okay, that isn’t precisely true—I have respecced a couple of times to try out various minor tweaks, but, when all is said and done, it almost pains me to admit that I’ve stuck with a standard 0/16/55 spec for over a year. Through a variety of bosses and challenges it has served me well, and been the all-around solution to my healing needs. But, in an effort to shake off my stagnation and explore the wild side of resto, I thought I’d take a look at some of the other viable PVE options out there; there are actually more than you might think.
As I’ve stated in the past (from my very biased perspective), one of the benefits of Resto Shaman is that we can comfortably fill two healing roles all in one spec. Our talent trees are packed full of great talents which complement each other very well. Arguably, there hasn’t been much change to the resto shaman tree over the course of the xpac; although 3.2 revamped a number of talents, the underlying structure remained intact. But, with only 71 points to spend, and a few more places than that in which to put them, how you spec becomes a function of what your priorities are. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the viable specs out there and some of the top-end Shaman who support them. (Note: the Shaman examples will likely not remain good examples for long, so I’ve also included a link to each of the precise builds on Armory.)
Spec: 0/13/58 (Healing Way, I choose you!)
The Upside: Phenomenal HW Power
The Downside: You need to drop Healing Focus, Elemental Weapons, or 3pts in Tidal Focus
While this spec was in use during Ulduar and Naxx, it really wasn’t as popular as it is today primarily because of the treatment of Healing Way (and secondarily, because haste levels weren’t on par with what we have today, HW was still a very long cast.) Post 3.2, however, things changed dramatically. Whereas previously HW had been an intense mana drain (even with 100% chance to proc a WS orb) and its power based on the shaman healer’s consistent use of HW on the tank, by switching Healing Way to a static buff, resto shamans can now use a more variable healing rotation. In addition, by keeping the haste of TW applicable to HW casts, and combining that with high levels of haste from gear and the t10 2piece bonus, HW can be a tps powerhouse. Currently, this spec *seems* to be the choice of many tank-healing shamans, and some dual-role restos as well. Unfortunately, to make this spec work, you will need to drop 3 points somewhere; Elemental Weapons is typically the sacrificial offering even though dropping SP in a role when you want all the SP you can get seems very counter-intuitive.
Spec: 0/16/55 (Give me Imp Conc or Give Me Death)
The Upside: 3 additional points, anywhere you need them
The Downside: better hope you don’t run into pushback
Back in the Sarth/Naxx days I had the crazy idea that I was wasting points in Healing Focus. I mean, what bosses have pushback? When do you not have conc aura in raid? We have great tanks; when do I get hit by mobs? Oh what a silly shaman I was—one attempt in Sarth 3D without complete pushback protection sent me running back to the trainer. Since then, pushback has made appearances through Ulduar, most notably in the pre-nerf Firefighter encounter (I still maintain a quiet loathing for those lasers), but remained largely absent in ToC/ToGC. For this reason, a number of shaman elected to drop Healing Focus in favor of picking up something more valuable (like Healing Way.) Be forewarned though, early reports out of ICC point to pushback making a comeback. I’m hoping to give this theory a trial next week and see if pushback is gone for good or was just simply resting before the big finale.
Spec: 0/13/58 (More is Better)
The Upside: Insurance for the Insta-Gib
The Downside: Assumes you have mana to spare
Although I was a bit surprised to see this spec at first, over the several days I’ve been researching/writing this post, I admit it’s intrigued me. As Zevyn maintains in the Resto Shaman guide he wrote for StratFu, his spec decision is based on two main factors: first, he ends fights with a good portion of mana, and second, the now 15-minute CD on reincarnation means that he has a free “do-over” every other progression attempt. (And Fusion is definitely a guild focused on progression.) He also notes that he elects not to pick up Healing Focus, on the basis of the lack of pushback in content. This may or may not be the case; I’ve not found conclusive evidence just yet.
Spec: 0/16/55 (Tried and True)
The Upside: You’re the jack of all trades
The Downside: You’ll be gimped if you use HW
By far and away, this is the spec I saw most often through Ulduar and ToC, and the one that I have been clinging to like a security blanket since xpac release. You get pushback protection through Healing Focus, and the additional SP from Elemental Weapons, but sacrifice Healing Way and Imp. Reincarnation to accomplish it. As someone who uses LHW and takes pride in survivability, it suits me perfectly. However, as tank-healing shamans propagate through guilds, and haste continues to accumulate, I would venture that you might see some shamans question whether or not those missing points in Healing Way are worth skipping or whether they’re speccing themselves out of higher HPS. (Although it might give away the topic of a future post, I’ll venture to say I’m one of those questioning shamans.)
Spec: 0/31/40 (Dual-wield Resto)
The Upside: More SP, ELW procs, throughput
The Downside: Proven to be less effective post-3.1
The Build / Sample Shaman: Thankfully, I couldn’t find one.
Although this is absolutely no longer a viable spec, I wanted to include this one on the basis that it was thinking outside the box, and for a short while, was actually being promoted by EJ. I only raided a couple of nights in Naxx as DW Resto, so I can’t speak intelligently about the true advantages and disadvantages, and unfortunately, the hopes of DW Resto were quashed with patch 3.1. But, the lesson here is that sometimes you can get good results by deviating from the norm.
Spec: 0/15/56 (I’m Only In Here for the LHW Totem)
The Upside: You last a little longer against a rogue
The Downside: You still get your arse handed to you in 4 seconds flat
Although I did specify that I was looking at PVE specs, I thought I would throw this one in for Shamans wishing to brave life and limb (and ego) to go after the arena LHW totem which, in a LHW-based rotation, will come very close to or will surpass the value of the t10 RT totem.
Nom nom nom, dataz
Brilliantly and completely coincidentally timed with my efforts to write this blog post was the explosion of Armory Data Mining onto the WoW community. (Although I do recall reading about the launch of the site on another WoW resource, it was Zigi’s recent post that ultimately prompted me to check it out. And, may I just say, I’m in data heaven.) Because of the sheer size of the WoW community, it’s oftentimes difficult to get a handle on overarching trends; but thanks to Armory Data Mining, I can actually back up my claims that the above specs are in use!
Their January 11, 2010 data, shows that level 80 resto shaman specs have the following distribution (only specs used by over 1% of the 20339 shaman are represented):
- 0/16/55 (Overall Popularity: 19.8%)
- 0/13/58 (Overall Popularity: 9.6%)
- 0/14/57 (Overall Popularity: 1.6%)
- 0/15/56 (Overall Popularity: 1.6%)
- 0/17/54 (Overall Popularity: 1.2%)
In addition, the site brought to light some specs which are represented by over 1% of the sampling size but which completely boggle my mind, including:
- 0/13/58 with no Imp Shields, but specced into Imp WS and Imp ES (so you want to buff your shields but not too much?)
- 0/13/58 with only 2/5 Thundering Strikes, but 3/3 Healing Way (so, you’re tank healing and don’t want crit?)
- 0/13/58 with Imp Ghostwolf but no other pvp talents …. *sigh*
- 0/16/55 with 3/3 Healing Way but no Ancestral Fortitude (people who always run 10s with a disc priest, maybe?)
Most interesting and surprising to me was that, in comparison to other healing builds, resto shaman suffer just as much spec distribution as our fellow Group 5 members. Holy, was the notable exception to spec variation, though I would hypothesize that the occurrence is more due to the fact that disc is the pvp preference so holy becomes an almost pure raiding spec.
In sum, and as seems to be the trend with my perspective on WoW, there is no right answer when it comes to speccing. What is “cookie cutter” to me, may seem odd to someone else, and visa versa. What matters in the end is that you understand your choices, that you have the gusto to back them up, and that you take a walk on the wild side from time to time.