The Circle of Healers Webring, the brainchild of Miss Medicina herself, has been done and gone for just over 4 months now. It was enlightening, uniting and incredibly interesting to follow as a study in information flow. In party form, it would have been the kind where the cops were called, arrived on scene and then decided to join in the fun. Of course, like any basement-nerd worth his or her salt, I shied away from the action until well after things had cooled off, even going so far as to wait for the reminiscing to start before lumbering clumsily into the fray. So here it is, my much-belated, awkwardly-timed, and completely unsolicited Circle of Healing response.
What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Vixsin, Troll Resto Shaman
What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
25 and 10 mans. When I’m feeling adventurous I’ll venture into LFD, but nothing aside from a 350 flying mount could get me to PVP with any regularity.
What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
Though I appreciate all the spells in our small healing arsenal, I’d have to go with Earth Shield as my favorite resto shaman tool, possibly because I like to root for the underappreciated. I’ve found that it’s easy to forget how powerful this ability is, but for a mere 626 mana, I can get on-demand, instant healing that is applied immediately after the target takes damage and is completely independent of what I happen to be doing at the time. You only have to do General Vezax once with a resto shaman to see how powerful Earth Shield can be.
What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Healing Wave, by a long shot. It’s a long-bomb spell that I typically don’t have time or use for in my rotation. Aftermath’s healing team is very tight and very skilled, so players rarely need the type of topping off that Healing Wave can provide. However, (BIG however), on Heroic Dreamwalker Healing Wave is my go-to spell, because without the mana constraints and HP limitations of players, its power really shines.
What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
It seems to be an underlying theme in all my posts, but I honestly believe that resto shaman are the most versatile healing class out there. (Hell yes, I’m biased.) Given the proper setup, we can match the tank healing capacity of pallies and the raid healing capacity of druids and priests. We can fill in the gaps where we’re needed. (Even our totems are versatile!) Oh yes, and we can justify our raid spot every 5 minutes.
What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
Without a doubt, the thing I dislike most about playing a resto shaman is not being able to offer some sort of CD. Especially when learning hard modes, our lack of additional raid or tank CD really makes things more challenging. When I first started attempting Firefighter 10, with the same druid I collaborated with on Sarth 3D, our lack of tank CD really hurt (and led to Phase 1 being a function of RNG survivability). It’s a painful thing to watch a tank die and have nothing to offer as a solution.
In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
Because our healing team has been together since Ulduar, Aftermath generally forgoes healing assignments in favor of just letting the healers do what they do best. So, for me this typically translates to supplemental tank healing + melee. With only 1 holy pally in raid, it’s generally understood that I’ll keep a watchful eye (and some Chain Heals) on the tank(s). And in the event that the pally becomes incapacitated, I will switch over to full time tank heals (naturally, with support from the rest of the team). With Chain Heal being in such a great place, in terms of the T10 set bonuses and the effect of haste stacking, switching to tank healing mid-fight definitely doesn’t feel as painful as it once did. (Ugh, bad Algalon memories!)
What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
Speaking from a strictly 10-man perspective, since that tends to be where you really have to rely on your healing partner … I enjoy healing with any other class of healer, because I appreciate the challenge that each offers. I think back to 2-healing Sarth 3D with a resto druid, and how incredibly difficult it was for me at the time keeping 2 tanks alive while he focused on the raid, but damn was it fun as well. Shifting into Ulduar, I 2-healed most of the later hard modes with a disc priest, which required me to be more on all-around pickup duty, and be able to deal with damage after PW:S wore off. (Our first kill of Firefighter10, back in June, I healed with a disc priest. Oh man that was … fun.) When I started out healing ToGC10 with a fairly unskilled pally, I learned rather quickly that pally + anything does not necessarily equate to win (especially when he went afk during Twins, during an Insanity attempt!) And even most recently, stepping into an ICC10 with a fairly undergeared holy priest, I was delighted to discover how much easier fights can be if you don’t have to worry about tanks and the raid at the same time.
What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
Hands down, I dislike 2-healing with other shamans. Though my first ToGC Insanity run was with another shaman, I can’t say it was the greatest experience. With no way to smooth out spikey damage on spread out players, raid health seemed like a roller coaster ride. We powered through it, but I think we both realized that it would have been so much easier with another class instead.
What is your worst habit as a healer?
Oh this is going to be embarrassing … clicking. (I know, I KNOW! The shame.) I still click some of my macros, especially my one for mana tide because of the announce associated with it. Otherwise, people in my group can get spammed with “>>Mana Tide down; Hymns if you got ‘em!<<” I also click bloodlust because I am incredibly fearful of “fat-fingering” it or casting it precipitously. One of my former guildmates will always snicker at the phrase “My lip gloss be poppin” because in the heat of a Sarth progression attempt, I misheard him and hit BL, much to the annoyance of the RL.
What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
Barely beating out life-tapping locks, who tap themselves down to nothing while I’m sitting and drinking, one of my biggest group pet-peeves are healers who heal for meters and not where healing is needed. You don’t come across this very often in 10man groups, because in a 2-healing environment you can’t really afford to do your own meter-topping thing. But in 25s there is the definite potential for players to fluff their own epeen at the cost of the raid’s general upkeep or immediate healing need. It’s easy to fall victim to sometimes, but players who do it habitually (healing frantically after a wipe has been called, never wanting to drop mana spring, always vying for the cush spot,) such that I actually notice, will likely be on the receiving end of some very pointed remarks from me. I like topping meters as much as the next guy, but I’d rather do my job well than make decisions based on what increases my epeen.
Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
Absolutely; I think resto shamans are in a really good place right now. In comparison to Ulduar, I feel much more confident about our ability to address both raid and tank healing, and remain competitive at both. Maybe it’s a function of the type of damage we’re seeing in ICC, maybe it’s a function of the various tweaks that Blizzard made, or maybe it’s a combination of the two. But, at this point I would be hard-pressed to argue that any one healing class in particular has an advantage over the others.
What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
I’m going to seem incredibly contradictory here and say meters. Though many of my healing brethren will preach that you should never compare one healing class to another, I will do it on every fight, every chance I get. I genuinely admire our healing team (I’ve been healing with the same group for over 6 months now), so I know that to measure up to them, I need to work my arse off. But, this doesn’t mean cheating meters. It means I work harder to anticipate damage, to visualize patterns, and to maximize my potential contribution (though minimizing movement, using procs more effectively, etc.) WoL has proved invaluable in providing me a way of comparing current and past performance and affording me enough data to play with until the wee hours.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
Chain Heal is an iconic ability, no bones about it. But I find it incredibly frustrating when players, even other shamans, tend to think it’s a 1-button win. Yes, there are absolutely some fights out there that lend themselves to Chain Heal spam, but to think that the same healing strat applies to all fights is a little narrow-minded.
What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
Tying into the misconception that Chain Heal is the answer to all problems, I think the difference between being a good shaman and a better shaman is being able to predict damage. Compared to holy priests and resto druids, shamans’ aoe healing ability is a slow, clunky tool. Lodur recently described Chain Heal as the most powerful “reactive” spell in the game; I think the challenge that we all face is making it a proactive tool. . The same goes for Healing Wave, and to a lesser extent, Riptide and Lesser Healing Wave. As a reaction, they are all almost guaranteed to be overheal. To be a truly pro resto shaman, you need to be able to think 3 seconds out, at the very least. Plan your Riptide target, line up your Chain Heal, and time it so that it lands the moment after damage hits. Similarly with Lesser Healing Wave—keeping Tidal Waves up consistently provides a substantial difference in healing. Making choices in anticipation of things to come; for me, that’s what defines great healers.
If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
Though it would be difficult to see on recount, when compared to other shamans on WoL, a reviewer might note my high healing output (effective + overhealing). As a general rule of thumb in any encounter, I never stop healing. Even if I have to move, I try to do it in small intervals so that I can toss in heals along the way. (I started incorporating this technique into my healing approach a while back, after reading a WoR interview with Kripparrian, arguably one of the best hunters in the game at the time.) If there’s no healing to be done, I’m working on anticipating where damage will come next, and refreshing Riptide hots, Earth Shield, and totems. In my mind, if I end a fight with more than 30% mana, then I didn’t work hard enough.
Haste or Crit and why?
Haste all the way; anything (within reason) that I can do to lower the cast time on Chain Heal, I will do most willingly. As to why haste is better, you only need look at any Shaman HEP evaluation to see the math. This however comes with the gigantic, huge, monstrous asterisk that haste will always be secondary to survivability and longevity. If you neglect your own life and neglect to ensure that you last longer than 30seconds in any encounter, then all the haste in the world won’t help increase your potential.
What healing class do you feel you understand least?
To date, I’ve raided on every healing class except druids and that’s by personal choice. To be honest, after trying my hand at the hot game in BC (and failing so horribly), my druid specced and stayed feral for all of Wrath. Unfortunately, dot/hot management is not my strong suit (which is why the only toon I haven’t rolled is a warlock!)
What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
Grid and Clique are my healing staples; I honestly don’t know how I ever healed without them. I also consider Decursive essential, along with Power Auras. To a lesser extent, I know I likely wouldn’t be as good a healer without reliable boss timers (be they BigWigs or DXE).
Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
Since the beginnings of Ulduar, I’ve been running with two sets of gear—one that’s heavily hasted, and the other that focuses on a more even mix of spellpower, crit and haste. Obviously, the haste stacking set provides a direct benefit to my Chain Heal and has increased mana regen to support the amount I consume as a result of the greater levels of haste and frequent use of Riptide. Currently, my haste has unbuffed (totemless, flaskless, with Water Shield and Earthliving Weapon) values of: 1263 haste, 32.4% crit, 3288 spellpower, and 342 mp5, without double Solace procs. Alternately, I maintain a crit set, which places a greater value on spellpower and prefers crit/haste or crit/mp5 over straight haste items. This latter set is optimized around a Lesser Healing Wave-based rotation (tank or spot-healing), and because of the high levels of crit, needs less mp5 than the pure haste set. In my crit set, my unbuffed stats are: 1049 haste, 37.87% crit, 3358 spellpower, and 281 mp5, without double Solace procs. And depending on the healing the fight requires I may switch around pieces as needed, opting for more or less regen or more or less haste.