Life in Group 5 – A Resto Shaman Blog
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November 22, 2009

Mek and the Butterfly Effect

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Written by: Vixsin
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The_Butterfly_EffectIt seems I’m a little late on the scene with this one, but I found the topic so compelling, I thought I’d address it anyway. While stumbling around the interwebs the other day, I decided to venture onto Mek’s blog and check out some of his latest posts. Admittedly, I haven’t been reviewing his content since the release of Ulduar, so I was a bit behind. After reading one of his posts, I discovered how behind I really am. Apparently, according to Mek, Resto Shamans are the lowest of the low, not even worthy of a single raid spot.

[queue Office Space … I guess I need another copy of that memo.]

After I vented my rage on the nearest fax machine, I got to thinking about another movie which seemed relevant—the Butterfly Effect. In simplistic terms (and bear with me, I’m no quantum mathematician or chaos-theory scientist,) the “butterfly effect” suggests that a small change in initial circumstances can result in a large variation of outcomes. It is an effect that Mek seemed to have been at the heart of once before with his Ulduar post about the state of Resto. Or maybe it was the storm created by Vis Maior’s declaration on the state of healing in Ulduar, suggesting that Resto Shamans were hardly useful and that it was a waste to bring any more than one. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate the original post, only a WoW forum storm.) Whether intended to or not, those small posts had an impact on a number of resto shamans in game, myself for one.

I had just left my casual guild, where I was considered a fairly competent healer and joined a more progression-focused one, when I found my raid spot had dried up. The basis: shamans weren’t good hardmode healers. The proof: Mek and Vis Maior. No discussion, no comparison, and nevermind the fact that I was consistently outperforming priests and druids; my raid leader pointed to “the best” in WoW and said I couldn’t do it. I needed to go Elemental if I wanted to participate in any hardmode kill. And that, friends, is why I stopped reading Mek’s blog. The notion that there was some guy, across the pond somewhere, who could take away my raid spot simply by sharing his opinion (and yes, it is a bloody opinion) was enough to make me see red. Call me a humanist (playerist?) but I believe that a healer’s potential is a function of a number of things—gear, play style, strategy, mental aptitude and PERSONAL SKILL. No fight in this game comes down to pure throughput, because *GASP* fights are more complicated than “stand here and heal Bob for 5 minutes while he takes insane amounts of damage.” And whether or not anyone cares to admit it, players in top guilds are not there because they are video game prodigies; they are people who suffer the same mental and physical restrictions as the entire player base.

I’m in a more stable position this time around, which is maybe why the butterfly effect of Mek’s little October post didn’t have a profound effect on my raiding. Maybe I should give credit to my raid and guild leaders, who didn’t let that sort of utter nonsense taint their impressions of my performance. They let me earn a raid spot, not as a resto shaman, but as a member of the healing team. For that, I am very grateful. In the end, I’m quite certain that Mek didn’t consider the effect of his posts (then and now) on all of the resto shamans out there who’s guildmates and leadership follow the musings of one of the best guilds in the world. It strikes me as incredibly irresponsible (or incredibly naive), to have such a platform of influence and have its ultimate effect be the deprecation of an entirely competent healing class. Thankfully, I’ve always fed on people telling me what I couldn’t do, so it only gives me more fuel to buttonmash with. But to all the resto shamans out there who will have an uphill battle to fight, who will have to work their arses off to counterbalance the careless words of one of our former brethren—I feel your pain.

And to Mek … don’t let the door hit you on the way out.


  1. The way I remember Ulduar, it was actually tough times for resto shamans. I’m absolutely not a bad healer, but I often struggled when I tried to find my place in the healing team. Tank healing was decent, but if that place is covered by paladins, well it’s hard to compete against that. CH was a lot worse than it is now, so group healing wasn’t something we would really shine. Most of the time I’d be assigned to spot heal, which was a great task, but wouldn’t need more than one shaman per raid.

    If mek’s latest ramblings about resto shamans are true, I don’t know. I don’t raid in a hardcore guild so I won’t talk about stuff I haven’t personally experienced. Maybe there is a lot of truth in it for the best 0.01 % of guilds, I just don’t know. The only thing I know is that all healing classes are pretty balanced at this time, the choice of class won’t make a huge difference, gear, skill and experience will.

    I won’t say though, that we’re in a great place though. We’re in a role somewhat similar to the role priests occupied in BC: we do everything very good, but nothing great.

  2. […] real math, nice flowcharts and proper grammar. Oh, and it has rants and controversy, I love the counterpoint to Mek’s view on the state of resto shamans and the critical view on our favorite stat: […]

  3. Nice blog.

    I think in Ulduar it was decided by ‘everyone’ that priests with PoH and druids, for some reason i can’t remember, were the thing healing wise.

    3.2 came and PoH got nerfed and druids became an endangered species. I (a disc priest) heal with a couple of of very good resto shaman and they have some pretty devasatingly good healing output, especially raid healing. They seem to heal fine in hard modes and the main time I hear them complaining is the extreme spike damage of ToGC Faction Champions, where their limited instants reduce their effectiveness.

    I think all the healers are pretty well balance ATM.

    Gobble gobbl.e

  4. Drug wrote:
    CH was a lot worse than it is now, so group healing wasn’t something we would really shine. and If mek’s latest ramblings about resto shamans are true, I don’t know.

    Well, I don’t know either. What I do know is that Mek’s post was posted on October 2nd. That’s way into 3.2 and “new” CH and overaly nice resto shaman patch. So, yeah.

    The thing I dislike about the post is what Vixsin (did I get it right?) already spot on expressed – many people took his statement as the absolute truth and people started loosing their spots all over the servers just because “ensidia guy said so”. Yeah.

    As my experience goes, shamans are versatile healers (mind you I am raiding 10M progress and not 25) so the combination of tank and raid healer, mobile and on-spot healing is absolutely awesome. And all the things we bring additionaly to encounter, interrupts and other things… Shamans definitely do have their use – although I see the same fate we share with wotlk ret paladins – we are support all-round healers, and we shine more in smaller settings.

  5. Comparing Shamans now to Shamans in Sunwell, I’m simply amazed at how far we’ve come. We have incredible versatility, and in my experience, some of the most powerful quick heals out there. I come from a collegiate sports background, and I can say with absolute certainty, you can’t gauge a player on one metric alone. Throughput numbers can’t describe reaction time, skill, forethought, or reasoning–all elements I would consider vastly more important than how much your 1.5sec heal can hit for. Assuming that the best healer out there will consequently have the greatest healing output disregards every other influential factor.

  6. Bymynn

    Having never played alongside Mek I have no first hand knowledge of his skill, but as a resto shaman who pugs into most of his raids I often have groups fighting over me, my totems and my bloodlust. (of course it doesn’t hurt that, as a pugger, I actually do a good job and I get added to a lot of friend lists as a fill in for guild runs.)

    Would it hurt to dual spec elemental and carry a decent set of dps armor in your bags when you raid? Absolutely not, because there are some fights where your dps might be needed. But do I think that resto shamans are about to be purged from all raiding rosters? Absolutely not.

  7. […] But still, that is completely reasonable as seen above and expected. What is the problem then? The problem I see emerging there is that these claims are getting to be felt as “absolute”. We are slowly getting to a point where this overview of PvE content can be as devastating for us as was Mek’s post on Resto shamans (I recommend you read this post on it by Vixsin of Life In Group 5). […]

  8. […] 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 […]

  9. unkle

    Coming late to the game, but I’m starting to feel some of the things Mek is talking about. I’m currently in a ten man raiding guild, we have all about the same ilevel of gear and skill. We are all pretty good players and have completed things like ‘Tribute to Insanity’.

    For me as a Resto Shaman, it is getting hard to get a spot on progression runs. We have two equally geared and skilled Paladin and Resto Druid that honestly, I just can’t keep up with. The RL is taking this Pally/Druid combo to all new content now and I’m stuck healing ‘alt’ runs later in the week.

    I’m not sure what else I can do…when I’ve healed with either of them I just cant put out the same healing numbers…any advice?

  10. Persefonee

    Mek’s post was very unfortunate, it’s impact has been far reaching and long lived. I’m still told that shamans are the weakest healing class in the game, despite the fact I regularly outperform, other healers, and was throughout Ulduar.

    Resto shamans went through a lot of changes at the start of wrath, we had to re-adjust our strategies for gearing/gemming and, spell choices, this took a bit of trial and error, I know I initially felt a bit gymped compared to other healing classes, this combined with there being no more security of the sunwell resto shammy in every group spamming chain heal, made me concerned about my raid spot. I decided I could either re-roll another class(was never going to happen I enjoy my shammy too much) or I had to find a new niche. I dont know if the stress from this type of thing is what motivated Mek’s post.

    When I first read his post, once I got over my initial anger, I promply decided to take everything he said with a grain of salt, in short, he lost my respect.

    Luckly I’ve been with my guild since Sunwell, am an officer, and continue to be a core raider. Personally I consider myself to be a competent healer that contributes significantly to the success of my guild despite, peoples opinions of the class I choose to play. As we venture into attempts on Blood Queen, I’ll continue to ignore the negativity and prove them wrong with actions.

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