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


March 25, 2010

Tidal Force: Rediscovered

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Written by: Vixsin
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About a month or so ago, during some down time at the end of my day, I wandered onto the MMO-Champion Shaman forums 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 release. I think most resto shaman are in this same boat—by and large we could spec resto in our sleep (and debate the value of Elemental Weapons while snoring away!) And so it was with some reticence that I allowed the forum post’s question to marinate in my draft topics folder, until the point when I could finally articulate an answer. The question at hand—what is the value of Tidal Force?

Sandwiched between Ancestral Healing and Healing Focus, Tidal Force hasn’t been a hot button of debate nor a talent that has undergone much revision since release of Wrath. It’s a staple of most shaman builds; a talent chosen by ~95% of our healing brethren according to Armory Data Mining. But to be quite frank, I can’t remember the last time I thought “Oh, thank goodness for Tidal Force!” If there’s anything I’m guilty of, it’s forgetting that I have this tool at my disposal.

So if you’re like me and need a refresher on this wallflower of a spell, here’s the basic gist:

When cast, TF places a buff on the player with 3 stacks of a crit modifier; each stack increases the critical effect chance of Lesser Healing Wave, Healing Wave, and Chain Heal by 20%. Every time one of these spells crit, the stack is reduced by one. This means that after one crit the effect is reduced to +40%, after two it is reduced to +20%, and after three crits the buff is removed. Remember, that each of these spells has a different crit percentage associated with it, so even at reduced stacks of TF, LHW will be close to, if not at, 100% crit.

In a 6-minute ICC fight, with its 2min CD, you’re likely going to have opportunity to use TF once or twice during the encounter. But then the questions becomes, what should you use those precious crit buffs with?


The Nature’s Swiftness + TF + HW macro is generally where resto shamans relegate their oft-overlooked 11-point talent. With that much incredible healing power all at once, HW and the two subsequent spells are almost guaranteed crits. Provided that you don’t use TF to spam overheal the tank, NS + TF + HW + RT + HWx2 can top off a double tank pair in around 4 seconds, giving you a wonderful way to swoop in with 25k+ bombs and save the day while your anxious raider of choice (every guild has one, believe you me) screams into vent “Heal the tank!”

As powerhouse combinations go, NS + TF is a life-saver, but the thing about tools like NS (and Lay on Hands) is that, more often than not, they sit on your bars or in your spellbook waiting for the ideal moment of use. So in a clean kill or run where a quick insta-heal isn’t needed, the net impact of TF is exactly 0 HEP.


Although TF is, as described above, commonly used in conjunction with single-target spells, it can be equally if not more powerful when used in conjunction with CH. But bear in mind that since CH has a separate chance to crit on each target, it will remove one charge from the buff for each target it crits on. If the spell crits on all three (or four) CH targets, it will immediately consume all three charges of the TF buff. A good example of this effect can be found in the combat logs from a recent hardmode Sindragosa kill:

[23:35:37.972] Vixsyn casts Tidal Force
[23:35:37.972] Vixsyn gains Tidal Force from Vixsyn
[23:35:37.972] Vixsyn gains Tidal Force (2) from Vixsyn
[23:35:37.972] Vixsyn gains Tidal Force (3) from Vixsyn
[23:35:37.972] Vixsyn gains Tidal Force from Vixsyn
[23:35:37.972] Vixsyn begins to cast Chain Heal
[23:35:39.275] Vixsyn Chain Heal Mov +*3031*
[23:35:39.275] Vixsyn Chain Heal Lazzek +*5266*
[23:35:39.275] Vixsyn Chain Heal Evinald +*8442*
[23:35:39.275] Vixsyn Chain Heal Toccata +*13929*
[23:35:39.656] Vixsyn's Tidal Force (2) fades
[23:35:39.656] Vixsyn's Tidal Force (1) fades
[23:35:39.656] Vixsyn's Tidal Force fades
[23:35:39.969] Vixsyn's Tidal Force fades
(And yeah, that is 0% overheal you’re seeing … hardmode is yeah, hard)

So, the use of Tidal Force with this cast of CH netted three sources of increased healing. First, the crit on the initial heal increased the base amount used to calculate subsequent CH jumps. Secondarily, the crits themselves netted me an additional increase in output. And lastly, 4 critical hits of CH, because of my 4pc t10, netted me an additional 7668 (758 + 1317 + 2111 + 3482) of healing. Now it’s important to note that this last jump in healing output is solely attributable to t10 4piece, and without it, the benefit to TF + CH would be restricted to only the first two gains.

Absolutely required?

As 11-point talents go, it’s not a bad one to have. Akin to Inner Focus or Desperate Prayer (or Divine Favor, an expensive 21-point version), it’s an added boost in a time of need, but not a game-breaker when the proverbial stuff hits the fan. To give you an idea how beneficial it actually is, in terms of HEP, I combed through the past month and a half of reports on EJ’s Shaman HEP thread to collect a sampling of HEP weights (on reports between 2 and 6 hours in length). The table below shows the results.

In reviewing this sampling, there are several points which stand out. At first glance, the range of HEP values is pretty wide; but looking a little deeper there does seem to be a correlation between usage (shown by “Use Rank”, with 1 being an indicator of the least frequent usage) and the HEP value (shown by ranking in “HEP Rank”, with 1 being an indicator of the lowest HEP value reported). So, although the sample set is relatively small, the data would seem to suggest that the more you use TF, the more value you get out of it. So all of us “but need to save it, just in case!” players are really cheating ourselves out of bigger healing numbers.

Secondarily, you can see that suffering from a case of “bad” TF timing is a possibility—Line C is a prime example. Although the player demonstrated an above average Use Rank, his HEP Ranking was only 3rd, over 400% less than the max recorded value and almost half the average recorded HEP value. So the second lesson would be—timing still matters.

The last point to take away is that for an 11-point talent, TF has a definite and demonstrated capacity to enhance your performance. With an average value of ~28 HEP, and upwards values tracking as high as 65 HEP, I think it’s safe to safe that you can get more than your money’s worth out of such a measly talent point. But again, it falls on the player to remember that TF isn’t just for use once in a blue moon and that it can be a viable CD to interweave into any encounter.

So, to the MMO-Champion forum poster who questioned if TF was worth the one point investment, I can now confidently reply … Tidal Force can be more valuable than your meta, but only if you put the effort into making it so. And for me, that means getting over my “but I might need it” tendencies and weaving TF in every place I can.


  1. When I first became a shaman healer I asked this question on my blog, what the heck is this talent good for. But everyone specs into it. In order to actually use it I had to macro it in, otherwise I will never think to myself, “OMG what am I going to do to save the raid, better hit tidal force!”
    .-= kayllnn´s last blog ..The Day the Mage Loved the Warlock =-.

  2. Praxus

    I used to macro it in, and only recently have taken it off as when you have it macroed in, the chances of you using it when you don’t need it are incredibly high (beginning of the fight most likely). I have it on a separate button now and only use it when I can predict massive damage spikes on the raid or on the MT. Damage through ICC has been pretty easy to predict so I think TF certainly deserves its own button and the 1 point.

    PS: HI Vixsin! 7 and I were talking last night about how we missed our Troll Queen in raids. Glad to see you found a good home in FH and I hope things are going well.

  3. This is an -excellent- post! Thank you so much for this. I’ll be pointing the shaman in my raiding group towards it.
    .-= Codi´s last blog ..Return of the Zero Add-on Project =-.

  4. /wave @ Chaac. You and 7 will always be dirty orcs to me.

  5. I have it macro’d with Nature’s Swiftness and love using it with CH in situations where the raid needs heals but i have to move. For example BQL Dark Pact, Festergut spores, Marrowgar Bonestorm etc. Can work really well if you position yourself as a centrepoint for jumps! :)

  6. Matt

    Great post. I use TF quite a bit but it’s still in the “but maybe i should save it in case i need it” category. Based on this article I think I will try to use it more on cooldown.

  7. I do the same as Perfectcell and macro it with NS. That way, I’m using it when I need some big healing, usually with Chain Heal. I’m also usually using my NS macro several times a fight, so I know it’s getting used. It’s not always perfect timing, but I know that I use Tidal Force much more often than I would be if I saved it for the right moment.
    .-= Wugan´s last blog ..Pimp My Resto Shaman: Katyberry =-.

  8. Rich

    Hi there, fairly new to the blog, though I have followed for a bit now.
    Well this is extremely good news for me. I have macroed TF on every HW/LHW and CH out there. I had always felt a bit guilty I did not made an effort to save it for the big heal. But I always believed that my meters were higher with the macro than without it. Glad to see I might have been right on that all along… Great blog btw!

  9. In the beginning of wrath, I had those macroed to both Chainheal and Healing way together with Nature’s swiftness. During that time, it was actually kind of a waste since it became more a question of sniping heals of my fellow healers instead of simply doing it to keep the raid alive. Since Ulduar, I have moved from a “keep cooldowns until neccesary” attitude and almost never using them to a “use’em if you got’em” attitude.

    In fights that I am tight on mana, I’ve also started uncoupling it again from my “oshit” button to use it as a mana regen tool. Since my raid group doesn’t always have replenishment up, it’s kind of usefull to start reusing it in this manner.

    Also, a point that I didn’t see in your summary, is that TF goes wonderfully with the T10 4set bonus. Use it with chainheal to lay an immediate hot on up to 4 targets, aside from the massive heal? Yummy!

    A very usefull analysis Vixsin, always a pleasure to read these topics.

  10. @Zorkolak

    Second paragraph under “TF + CH” speaks to the additional healing gained from the Resto 4pc. In fact, in terms of net healing of TF+HW versus TF+CH, I think the 4pc t10 CH hot actually makes a very compelling argument for using the latter combo more than the former. In 25-man hardmode content, I often find I’m more worried about a couple dps on the brink of death as opposed to the tank(s).

    Ultimately, I think a lot of Resto Shaman approach TF in the way that most healers approach “on use” trinkets–save them for when you really think you need the help. But in taking this incredibly conservative approach, we’re actually cheating ourselves out of a mountain of increased healing output.

  11. Wow, my bad then. I must have completely missed that. Consider myself suitably chastised!

  12. Making a note for myself … “Every time Zork brings up an incredibly valid point elsewhere, remind him of this one single, insignificant oversight … ” ^_^

  13. Monsieur

    Ooo, the site looks great Vixin! And yeap, I use it with NS -CH too, for a few reasons. First, all my real oh shit situations involve more than one healing target. a single target “oh shit” is usually quite manageable with normal spells, like a riptide gives you just about enough time to get a LHW of in most cases. And also, there are situations when I really want the 10% dmg reduction on as many people as possible.

  14. Kaelinh

    Funny, this recently came up on an old forum I lurk in at work. I saw a shaman without it because they figured it would do less good because the average healing value was so low.

    Maybe the post at EJ is what led him to that idea.

    I’ve always had TF macro’d into Riptide since the day I got the talent. But I tend to forget about my on use talents like that – Berserking is another one of those. So I have them marco’d to be used on trash, and I’ve found that actually rotates them in well on boss fights. Usually when I see a bunch of damage my first reaction is to hit riptide (if one person) or NS CH and I hardly think about hitting another key to pop some cds.

    I’ve thought about recalibrating my thinking, but I’m worried looking down to see if my cd is up or drawing my attention away from the main screen will cause me to be gibbed.

    Like you said … hardmodes are … hard.

  15. Hëxxer

    Hmmm..very interesting. I took my TF out of my spec about 2 months ago mainly because I never used it. Thanks for the heads up…I will be adding it again to try it out. We all need 2nd chances 😛

  16. […] Vixsin talks about the effectiveness of the Tidal Force Talent, mostly using HEP values. I personally gauge effectiveness based on feel, an is-my-heal-big-enough type thing. So while I use HEP as a guide for stat and spell selection, bigger healing numbers isn’t my goal. Once I have “enough” to do my job with some slack, it’s time to look at other things. I have three uses for Tidal Force: […]

  17. I too frequently use it as a regen tool, and also the Nevermelting Ice Crystal. I usually save it for those special moments, but try to make sure I use it at least once per fight. I don’t save it for those raid-saving moments, but to take care of spike damage, to catch up after movement, or to top up before I move
    .-= dalaani´s last blog ..All the small things =-.

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