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


November 30, 2009

Healing Rotation: One Shaman’s complicated IF/THEN tree

More articles by »
Written by: Vixsin
Tags: ,

Maybe it’s the geek in me, but I never fail to find flowcharts and graphs amusing when they are populated by WoW content. The Venn of tradechat content on GraphJam, the random diagram describing feral kitty or paladin dps, or the L2Tree guide—they all make me chuckle and nod in agreement. They also make me think “if only healing was that simple”.

Back in BC I played a mage, and it was wonderful. I trounced people on meters (pre-Funwell), I got to kill things, and I had a cool polymorph macro that I delighted in using. But, arguably, the goal in every fight was the same for me: maximize dps. I had my optimum dps rotation that I stuck to religiously and the only variability I encountered was due to movement, either the boss’s or my own, fight mechanics, or target switching. So in the end, everything started to feel the same to me because my actions were the same no matter the encounter. When my guild collapsed mid-way through Sunwell (quite literally and figuratively, our guild leader had a mild stroke one night,) I saw the opportunity to change things up and main switched to my Resto Shaman. It’s a decision I will never regret, because as I see it, variability is what a healer’s job is all about. For a good healer, there simply is no healing rotation.

Now, before you jump all over me, I will concede that every healer out there has a sequence of heals that will assure them maximum throughput, provided that certain conditions exist (being able to stand in one place is a significant factor, especially for a shaman.) But, by virtue of the fact that encounters contain any number of damage variables (scripted and player based), a healer cannot predetermine what heals they will cast and in what order, before the fight starts. For people like me, who like being stressed and having to think on their toes, this makes healing a delight. In general, I maintain the perspective that as a healer, if I have the capacity and power to do so, I should always be healing. So, my conditional decision tree looks a bit messy:

Vixsin's Healing Decision Tree (the abbreviated version!)

Vixsin's Healing Decision Tree (the abbreviated version!)

Note: I could have made it even more complicated by including movement decisions (where to move and in what increments), special totem conditionals (alternate drops, positioning, refreshing), and mana pot usage but I wanted to keep it as healing-centric as possible.


Things that you might take notice of: Yes, I absolutely am one of those healers who will go off my assignment if my assignment is not taking predictable and regular damage. Yes, my healing rotation involves heavy use of riptide. No, I don’t use Healing Wave. (I’ll save that reasoning for another post.) And yes, I will precast based on anticipated damage within a 2-3 second window. Furthermore, I go through that whole decision tree in less than a second. IMO, healing is where the excitement is.

One last flowchart!


  1. Excellent flowchart! Bookmarked!

    And the one last flowchart made me laugh. Thank you!

    Have a nice day, Rahana

  2. Monsieur

    I agree on your decision tree :) This is one of the reasons I really like the resto shaman, theres always new decisions to be made. I used to play a priest, but shamans just feel so much more dynamic. I actually like not having any defensive cooldowns, as i think they become have a tendency to become the focus of your actions. Usually I say my “tactics” as a shaman is keep everyone alive, and be ready to help if someone fucks up or dies in a fire. My favorite fights are always the ones where something goes seriously wrong, like the tankhealer dying or pulling mobs in a bossfight, half the dps is dead, and offtank dead. And still pulling through! 😀 Those are the fights where shaman really shine in my opinion.

  3. Juzaba

    I’m a priest by trade, but I have a baby resto shammy who is running through heroics and occasional OS/Naxx buffoonery. Initially, I tried to keep RT ticking on the tank at all times. However, I found that I was often just tossing a RT on the tank even though they were at full health, which I eventually decided was a waste. How important do you find the RT hot? Do you tend to save that for random folks who need an instant heal, or do you keep it rolling on a tank?

  4. I’m already curious how you explain banishing Healing Wave from your keyboard. I guess I’m going to strongly disagree.

  5. keyez

    I agree with drug, in that I’d really like to hear your reasoning behind no healing wave. Yea, it doesnt hit as hard as a pallys holy light, but it gets pretty damn close, and with riptide on constant cooldown its at about a 1.3 second cast(at least with my amount of haste). Anyways, great post.

  6. Vixsin

    As to RT, I’d have to say I use it more for its instant heal than its hot effect, though my frequency of application depends really on the role I’m filling. When raid healing, I’ll use it intermittently as a quick pickup heal, counting on a solid 4-6k initial hit. When single-target healing, I’ll use RT every time the CD is up, weaving it into a LHW-based rotation so that I maintain the Tidal Waves buff. I’ve always been underwhelmed by the hot, which at around 1300 healing every tick, can really only fill in smaller gaps and doesn’t do much to alleviate a tank’s spike damage. (ES, in comparison, is leagues beyond in terms of both efficiency and healing effect.)

    As to the banishment of HW to the depths of my spellbook, I’ll address that in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

  7. A think the RT HoT is in fact really good.

    The primary use should always be dictated by the instant heal and directed towards people suddenly dropping low. Sometimes the HoT will help in that case, sometimes it will be lost in overheal. If everyone is at full health, rolling RT HoTs on tanks is absolutely a good idea. RT is cheap (because of IWS), crits will proc Ancestral Fortitude and the HoT will smoothen out damage. Of course one single Tick seems week, but most of the time it’s the pure mass of HoTs ticking on tanks, which makes the difference.

    Also, the RT HoT profits more from each additional point of SP, as the calculation is done through HoT coefficient, not instant heal coefficent.

    That’s why I’m also very happy with RT glyph, which I switch out only for tank healing duties.
    .-= drug´s last blog ..Introducing: Life in Group 5/Blueberry Totem/25 boxes =-.

  8. Sham

    I also disagree with your hw banish.

    I have a strong use of hw in my singletarget “rotation” on fights like anub 25 heroic or algalon.
    Its quite more effectively as rt and lhw on its output and mana efficency.

    besides the rt/hw “rotation” i use the lhw to keep up the buff ancestrial awaking.

    in my opinion mana shouldn´t be a big issue for shamans. with a good ulduar and Coli25 nh eq and intelligent use of their opportunities during a fight you shouldn´t have any manaproblems. so my experience this far.

    anyway i like your blog and its good to read and understandable :-)

  9. oh healing wave, what a dilema.

    haven’t used it since….. months or a year?

    i know it’s wrong, but in my 25men raids, there is no room for that slow but strong single heal
    whatever, i’m the best healer in my guild, so HW, gtfo my keyboard

  10. Jacko

    What goes through my mind when the fight begins:

    “Ready check…I think so…YES! Oops…/cast Earth Shield on MT, /cast weapon imbue, /cast Water Shield.

    Tank is running in…/cast Riptide…/cast LHW…damn it, no crit! /cast LHW again…crit, YAY!

    Okay…running, watch out for that tail! Drop totems, crap, I hate GCDs! /cast RT /cast LHW /cast LHW /cast Earth Shield /cast RT /cast CH /rw um…watch out for cleaves, please”

    Vix, I am looking forward to your HW ban post as much as everybody else but you won’t have to twist my arm too much. I can MT heal without it and rarely use it in my 10 mans. Half of it is usually over heal and I prefer the synergy of RT/CH with LHW crits to keep my mana and my MT up.

    Enjoying the new blog so far, keep it up!

  11. Thanks for the feedback, and yes I definitely agree, the LHW versus HW debate is a heated one, with numbers to back up both sides. Hopefully, I’ll do it justice!

  12. Sham

    @jerigonzo: don´t forget tidal waves, this buff will push down your hw cd by 30%.
    so your hw will be very close to your gcd

  13. […] how to make your tools work for you. Some classes may not have very large arsenals, but regardless, developing your own spell selection roadmap will go a long way to increasing your healing effectiveness. And to take it one step further, […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge