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


Healing

February 24, 2010

Crashing the Healers’ Party

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Written by: Vixsin
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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.






11 Comments


  1. Hi Vixsin,

    Some interesting answers you have there. I tend to agree with your comment on players understanding the differences and abilities that each healing class offers (especially people new to the class). I enjoy breaking down the misconception that shamans enjoy breaking meters with CH spam the same as yourself, but have been known to in a flurry of bad AoE dmg management (mostly from DPS members – I PuG a lot) to reach for the CH macro linked in with NS, trinkets etc. and start hitting it a few times before realizing I should probably stop (in most cases it’s a wipe anyway).

    I have a question RE your mp5 in both gear sets you mentioned. You say you have double solace and the mp5 values are NOT including the stacking proc from these. Some people on EJ are calculating that the mp5 worth of both of them together exceeds 220 mp5. Adding in other raid buffs such as either mana spring or Wisdom could pop your mp5 to 433 and 372 respectively.

    I remember reading when I first started out as Resto (I’m still kind of green to be honest, but have had a lot of encouraging support from others about my ability) that an optimum amount of mp5 would be around 500. This ended up fitting with my style (or the other way around maybe) and so keep that in mind at all times when re-gearing. Let’s say you’re getting 200mp5 from double solace, that would push your mp5 to 633 and 572 in regards to your gear. Is this high value a result of your style? You mention that you are always casting a heal, or at least preparing to after some movement in a raid situation. Or maybe your raid buff situation is generally lacking in terms of crit buffs/mana buffs (a la 10-man without replenishment; yes, I’ve been there lots)?

    Sorry for taking so long to ask the question, I just realised I took the long route, but thanks for the blog, I always enjoy reading your posts.

    - An Avid Fan


  2. Excellent question about mp5!

    There a couple reasons why I run with higher mp5 values than most shaman; the fact that I tend to “chain cast” being one of them. Secondarily, I elect to use RSD instead of IED for my meta (so that cuts down on ~ 50mp5 that most shamans have in addition to static values). In addition, at higher values of haste, provided that your casting window decreases (meaning: provided that you are casting spells back to back and not casting 1 CH every 2 seconds, despite a 1.6sec cast time), you need more mp5 to sustain your normal healing rotation. Thus, the same mp5 level that was able to sustain me at 800 haste will now be insufficient at 1300 haste, because the mana consumption in that “per 5″ window has increased. Add to that the fact that I cast Riptide more frequently in t10 (because of the 2pc bonus) and –voilà!– I needed higher levels of mp5 to keep myself in the healing style that I’ve become accustomed to.

    So, in the end, it’s not that I’m lacking crucial buffs (my gear sets are more tuned to 25man encounters which have an overabundance of buffs, plus innervates), it’s simply that I consume more mana than some of my shaman comrades. 500mp5 seems as good a number as any to aim for, but in my opinion, it should be the start of the discussion, not the end.


  3. So you know I remember seeing your post on the RSD a while back, but I believe this was pre-ICC. Do you still find the RSD to be better than the IED?

    I’m very curious to make the plunge, but there are still occasional fights where mana is a little tight for me, so I’m a little hesistant… For one thing, I don’t stack any crit at the moment. Is there a certain amount of crit you have to pass for the RSD to be worth it?
    .-= Zigi´s last blog ..First night with T10-4 =-.


  4. Definitely enjoyed reading your answers. Added you to the master list!


  5. @Vixsin

    Thanks for the reply, that makes sense RE the t10 bonus and your pre-bonus haste. I’ve been attempting to pick up double solace trinkets for some time and still see that as a way to survive through my future mana consumption once I get my 2pc t10.

    I also remember reading about the use of RSD over IED on EJ. They had some interesting numbers regarding the point at which to switch. They always assume that the hep value of RSD improves once you gain double solace trinkets, but I can’t find any actual values of passive mp5 on top of the double trinket option.

    @Zigi

    I also recently read this Plus Heal post which discusses the relative value of crit as additional (hidden) MP5. Possibly with this in mind and some relative HEP calcs with trinkets/meta HEP value there is another clear delineation once crit and current MP5 balance out to help increase throughput and mana regen?

    I’m actually quite interested in this, so may try my hand at a little math later on.


  6. Sanctos

    This is the only “circle of healing” response I’ve read the whole way through. You’re the only one that has said something new and interesting – the rest was all mindless drivel. Good read.


  7. I think the RSD versus IED question is definitely worth taking a new look at, but I do believe it’s more closely tied to haste and mana consumption than crit values.

    Based on my own experience in ICC thus far, I would posit that IED is going to be back on top in light of our increased mana consumption (attributed to t10 2pc usage). I switched out my RSD meta for IED last night for our attempts of Saurfang (Heroic 25), so I’m looking forward to getting a better look at the HEP values this weekend (when I actually will have time to work the numbers.)

    In the meantime though, as Astrapi pointed out, the crit as a regen mechanic debate fostered by Zorkolak on PlusHeal is an amazing read.


  8. Didn’t realize that the link I posted got trimmed to remove the actual page so here is the direct text link, as long as there is no spam filtering on URLs :)

    http://www.plusheal.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5399


  9. I love reading your post! It’s ok that you are a little late it’s coming up at the perfect time for me. I made my shaman’s main spec resto when I had the money to dual spec. My raid needed more competent dpsers so I had to switch my main spec to ele. I end up healing quite a bit when needed, and have healed in ten ICC quite a bit. So now that I’m increasing in the amount I heal, I really want to understand the resto world. My main raiding toon all through BC and until previously has been a resto druid. Analyzing myself I have noticed I have so many habits that I got from being a druid, and I am curious how bad it is. Riptide seems like my go to spell. I use it all the time, trying not to override someone’s riptide HoT. I am so use to HoTs, instant casts, and having high mobility. Of course I don’t just spam riptide, but I use it all the time to top people off, and try to keep it on the tanks. I guess it’s the druid in me. On my recount my riptide is always second or third. Am I overusing it? It is hard to break that habit because I raided on a druid for so long.

    Another completely different question. You mention that you don’t use healing wave. In ten mans I use it instead of lesser healing wave most of the time and I don’t notice much of a difference in overheals. Do you think that lesser healing wave vs healing wave is a preference or maybe just dependent on your raid group? Or do you really feel like LHW is better. B/C my healing wave is close to the cast time of LHW after my riptide (which I use all the time remember). So it is a quick huge heal, which in my ten man is very useful. I prefer to top people off in 25s with LHW. Ok sorry for the incredibly long post but please share your thoughts!
    .-= kayllnn´s last blog ..Dual Healing ICC- Shaman+Shaman =-.


  10. Hey Vixsin,

    I’ve been looking into finding some decent resto shaman blogs but other then finding ones that repeat topics that have already been broached on WoW.com or even WoWinsider before, real in depth analyses (sp?) of healing mechanics of a shaman and how to use that in a healergroup seems to sadly lacking in the community… or quite possibly I’ve missed them/not found them yet so it’s a real joy to read a topclass blog!

    Also, it’s intriguing that you gear and gem with a specific strat in mind: I personally try to get all my stats up and tweak them just a bit depending on contentneeds, but I like your haste/mp5 and crit/sp gemming strat very much. I might just have to give that a go.

    Anywho, It’s very interesting and educational to read how other people are playing the class and how they approach fights. I’ll be following this with great interest!

    Cheers,

    Zorko


  11. Riptide is, no doubt, a great spell–the synergy it has with CH (and with LHW/HW in our 2pc t10) make it something that I think you should be casting quite frequently. The downside to it is, of course, the reduced HPS and the high mana per healing point ratio. So the challenge becomes finding the balance between using it once in a blue moon and micromanaging RT hots on multiple players. The former will make sure you hardly ever benefit from its buffs to your other spells while the latter will likely have you devoting too much time to small heals and less time to firing off group/tank heals.

    As to the question of LHW versus HW, I authored this post a while back on my perspective. Essentially, I think it boils down to your raid comp and your capacity to sustain healing output. HW used selectively is great (and yes, I do use it more often in 10s than in 25s), but as a rotation staple it will quickly drain your mana. So I tend to err on the conservative side of things and opt for the smaller, more sustainable heal as a basis, with HW woven in when it’s needed or when I know a big spike is incoming.



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