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


January 28, 2010

Alternative Speccing for the Renegade Shaman

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Written by: Vixsin
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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

The Build / Sample Shaman

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

The BuildSample Shaman

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

The BuildSample Shaman

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

The Build / Sample Shaman

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

The Build

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.


  1. maccae

    i specced into “Spec: 0/13/58 (Healing Way, I choose you!)” when i had to tank heal more ( less of a problem now with holy paladins in the raids, but i still like it) because i do like the giant 24kcrit of healing wave; the crit that Healing Way talent gives you make this mana hog spell worth adding to your list of heals used in a raid.

    As for the talent you have to drop;
    Healing focus = i prefer to be safe than sorry
    Elemental Weapons VS 3pts in Tidal Focus = EW is like what? 45 spell power? versus 3% cost reduction of spell? i can get 45SP easily but 3% mana reduction is harder to achieve, you would need to drop some vital stats like haste-crit-sp to get enough mp5 to even be able to cast healing wave in a fight.

    In the end it’s all about your role in the raid. if you are strictly raid heal, you may not need this talent. if like me you get to tank heal / raid heal you may want to get it. with T10 2set bonus my first healing wave is cast in 1 second – as fast as LHW – and it will top a tank that is about to die.

    We’re lucky we can fine tune our talents like that to match our roles in a raid and yet still be able to do it all :)

  2. Thank you for this analysis of the options out there for the resto shaman!

  3. To be honest, I’ve never seen the logic in the “Elemental Weapons is bad, period.” premise. While the talent doesn’t have the best scaling when it comes to its comparative benefit at level 80, (an observation that is parroted around resto shaman forums everywhere,) the fact remains that it’s still free SP. To me, it’s like walking around without your mainhand enchanted, because “it’s only spellpower”. Uh, yeah, NO.

    The counter to this, however, is that if you have to skip necessary talents to acquire said spellpower, then yes, its value is definitely diminished. Provided that there is pushback in a fight, SP would be an easy sacrifice to ensure uninterrupted heals. Skipping Imp WS would be suicide, opting out of AF would be ridiculous if your intention is to tank heal, and I can’t imagine that dropping 3 pts in Thundering Strikes would outweigh the SP benefit. So, that leaves Elemental Weapons on the chopping block.

    As you aptly pointed out, you can tank heal with it or without it; raid heal with it or without it. So long as your understand the rationale and the impact your selection has your healing, then 3 points here becomes a function of preference. Now if you try to argue that 0/0/71 is a function of preference …. /facepalm (hehe)

  4. Alacran

    You may wish to take a look at your More is Better spec.

    The description you give sounds more like
    a 0/16/55 spec with Improved Reincarnation instead of Tidal Focus.

  5. Alacran

    Vixsin, what I was saying above about the More is Better spec is that the link to the build gives your Imp ghost wolf no thundering strikes 1% *sigh* build.

    I have two requests/ideas for upcoming posts from you.

    The first one which is relevant to this post, is analyzing cases of Spellpushback in ICC encounters, conc aura and healing focus. I have pretty much decided to go for the Healing Way, I choose you! for healing focus. We 6 heal just about everything so I don’t value the flat 45SP from Elemental Weapons due to the amount of overhealing I do when tank healing. On Festergut, my LHW is at 70% overheal while tank healing with a Holy Pally partner.

    The second idea is to talk about 4 piece t10 bonus! I’m really excited to get it soon, just need about 40 more badges and I would love to read your thoughts about it.

  6. maccae

    oh, i don’t think that ” “Elemental Weapons is bad” it’s really a choice you have to make. i wish i had 3 more points and have it too :)

  7. Foiled by copy+paste. Sometimes, I am the epitome of noob …

    And it appears that great minds think very much alike. I’m hoping to have a definitive pushback post next week after my 10man. I wasn’t willing to risk the potential impact to our ICC25 this week to test out a Healing Focus-less spec, but I figure my 10s team is the perfect captive audience, and we have alot less on the line.

    I also will be picking up my 4th piece of tier, and giving that a shot in ICC25 next week (the last wing! Arthas! YAY!!!) Data coming in from EJ at this point looks very positive, the bonus is performing in the range of 6-11% on CH-based fights. I’m very much looking forward to writing about it.

  8. valkyrierisen

    In TOC and Ulduar, I ditched Healing Focus completely, then relented and figured one point there wouldn’t hurt. I’d rather have bigger Healing Way spells if/when I use it, so the other 2 points went there. Far from perfect, but I kept everything else I wanted and still have the standard 0/16/55 values. Sneaky shaman!

    I don’t raid ICC much, just a few pugs every now and then, but haven’t noticed pushback hurting terribly. Pushback means stack more haste? 😉

  9. I think this is a great post, but for me it shows mainly one thing: the resto tree is really boring. We really have to talk it more interesting than it actually is. Except from Healing Focus/Healing Way/Elemental Weapons, there really isn’t any room to switch points around.

    No matter how we spend those last three points, the outcome is nearly the same (Unless you’d build some strange paladin-like HW bombing set, which I don’t think is viable).

    I’m actually back to 3/3 EW. I’m pretty sure I’ll switch back to Healing Way some day. EW gives us a really little SP boost. Over a whole raiding night, the HEP value of the SP is pretty decent though. Healing Way is the exact opposite: the HEP value is horrible, we just don’t cast HW that often. The huge burst healing when needed is great though. Shamans should cast HW occasionally no matter if specced into Healing Way or not. Especially 2pcT10 RT-HW is genius.

    Healing Focus: I’ll stick to it. I remember S3D as well and I just don’t want to re-decide if I take this talent or not with every new raiding tier. Especially because I don’t think I’ll loose anything by investing full 3 points. I think there’s some irrational fear as well to be in a raid one night and just not get those heals out in time. Even if there probably isn’t an encounter like that. I’m glad it’s you who’s going to test it, not me.

    I really hope blizzard is going to do it right in Cataclysm, the way they promised: Less mandatory boring talents (=flat increase of healing/crit/mana regen) and more fun gimmick talents we can choice however we like.

    The priest talent tree has some good talents I consider great optional but fun talents: Body&Soul. (running speed), Desperate Prayer (instant self heal), hell, maybe even lolwell. Those are all talents I don’t consider mandatory at all, but who have great situational use. The resto tree is just incredibly bloated and offers really no real, ground-breaking choices. Priests don’t have that much room to play around as well though, but as they have two healing specs, I don’t hear that much complaint. Paladins can choose between personal throughput or raid utility (DS), this means to choice to spec into prot OR retribution. Druids have some little room to play shift around points, it’s mainly about reaching the haste cap and group healing vs. tank healing. Resto shaman tree: static and boring as hell. Playing resto shaman: good as never.

    (Maybe a similar comment got lost in your spam folder or I forgot to submit)
    .-= drug´s last blog ..@Tanks: Charge from a Healer’s Perspective =-.

  10. Hypernetic

    I like Healing Way with the t10 2pc bonus. I had always ran with elemental weapons too, but with the 2pc proc my HW is about 1.0 sec cast. Having that extra bonus healing to HW comes in handy in those “oh shit moments”

  11. Yo- nice to see that there are other geeks as excited about overanalyzing that armory data site as I am.

    Regarding your pushback build- there was a recent EJ post on the subject of pushback, and of the current existing fights there are only 4 things that can cause pushback:

    – Saurfang’s Blood Beast (which you shouldn’t be getting hit by anyway)
    – Rotface’s Oozes (which you shouldn’t be getting hit by anyway)
    – Rotface’s Slime (which you shouldn’t be getting hit by anyway)
    – Putricide’s Ooze throw

    Given that almost all of these are associated with heavy movement requirements anyway, I’ve found Healing Focus to be a little unnecessary these days. Given that new content is coming out so soon though, it would probably be worth it to look at those fights as well.
    .-= Zigi´s last blog ..I CAN HAZ DATAZ? =-.

  12. maccae

    little addendum: Healing way is extra sexy on Valithria the sleepy dragon: 58kcrit healing wave? yummy! we didn’t *heal* her yet, but we got pretty close ; the other shaman wasn’t spec into it and it showed :(

  13. TheDeacon

    Great blog Vix!

    Just wanted to throw two comment in the mix. My guild raids exclusively 10 man content, as I know many guilds have chosen to do. If you are the only shaman in the raid, or even more, the only one on the roster, a spec such as this[url][/url] may be the way to go. Elemental Weapons, as discussed, is a pretty weak 3 points. Healing Focus similarly subpar.

    However, if you are the only shaman, the value added of Enhancing Totems is pretty high. +23 Strength and Agility to all physical dps and tanks, and +22 Sp to all casters (already 1/2 of what Elemental Weapons would give you) is very good investment of 3 talent points.

    I also want to mention that any 10 man resto shaman worth his or her salt has Healing Way. It’s non-negotiable. You cast a lot more HW than in 25, and when you cast it, it’s *important*. You’re choosing to cast it because you need power right now. If you didn’t care, you should be casting LHW. You don’t lose because of slow, gradual outpacing of damage to healing (usually). You lose because something bad happens and you need huge output several places at once very quickly. Healing Way improves that situation.

    I go so far as swearing by Glyph of Healing Wave because despite it being junk ~95% of the time, it eliminates one potential wipe scenario where me and someone else (usually a tank) both need healing right *now*! It also allows you hang in AoE damage like Marrowgar’s coldflame, Putricide’s slime, BQL’s shadows, etc. the extra 1/2 second to finish off a huge, necessary heal without putting yourself in jeapordy.

  14. […] only are there are a myriad of somewhat viable specs for Resto, but they have a choice of 3 glyphs for that third slot that will somewhat empower their […]

  15. […] ready to answer some questions and, instead, walked away with one of my own. As I detailed in a previous post, it’s been my joy as a healer in WotLK to have maintained a fairly consistent spec since xpac […]

  16. mitila

    Hey, I read about the LHW totem under the pvp spec, so I’ve been setting up to get it. Just wondering, does anoyone know where I could find a basic guide to resto shamans in arena that includes glyphs, gems and enchants?

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