The last few weeks, we've gone over healing a couple of the dungeons in both normal and heroic, as well as the various gear that you can look forward to from the various encounters. We also went back and looked at the entirety of the year of 2010 for restoration shaman. This week, I thought we would take a break from that and instead address some concerns that have been brought up about restoration shaman.
For the last few weeks, I've been rolling through the official shaman and healing forums, Plus Heal and TotemSpot as well as various emails and comments from you the readers. There has recently been concern over our healing numbers in comparison to other classes', difficulty in healing certain fights, mana management problems, concerns over haste and questions about our raid viability as well as spell choices. Today I'd like to address some of those questions and concerns.
I can't heal these heroics; what am I doing wrong?
I saw quite a few threads about this; there are quite a few threads popping up on this all over the place. Resto shaman are starting to feel what I like to refer to as the "heroic crunch." We all know that healing is harder, and right now we don't outgear it. This means that instead of just "face-pulling" the entire instance, it takes time, communication and watching crowd control. As a healer, your job is tougher than ever before. You have to watch your mana constantly, you have to know when to manage your cooldowns, and you have to know what tool is right for the job.
A good question to ask yourself is are you using triage? One of the biggest problems I've noticed is that people feel that they need to heal everyone to full all the time no matter what. Learning how to properly triage will help you conserve mana, allowing you to heal for longer. If you see a DPSer constantly standing in something that is draining your healing and stressing your mana, you may just have to let them die. Remember, keeping your tank alive is your first priority, followed by yourself, then the rest of the group. Most DPS have ways to recover health, avoid damage for a bit of time, or in some cases even self heal. You have to learn when it is okay to not heal someone if it is a lost cause. Learn to recognize the signs.
Also keep with you the fact that you don't have to keep everyone at full. Someone coined the phrase that 50% is the new 100%, and in many ways, that is true. Until we out-gear the fights, don't expect to have everyone at full all the time.
Learn how to use your healing tools in the right situation. Keep in mind that spells like Chain Heal are now situational. There are times where you will want to rely on Healing Wave and others when you will need to use Healing Surge or Greater Healing Wave. Everything has a place; spend some time learning which spells to use in what situation. If something isn't working, don't be afraid to try something else. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Are you utilizing your cooldowns? Restoration shaman have some pretty amazing cooldowns. Spiritwalker's Grace is an ability I see quite a lot of people forgetting about when they talk about healing in heroics and raids. It lets you move and cast any heal while you are moving. There are a lot of fights that will force you to move out of the way, but the rest of the group and tank will continue to take damage. This 2-minute cooldown will let you get out of the bad while keeping your healing up -- use it!
Mana Tide Totem is another ability you should be utilizing frequently. Since it has only a 3-minute cooldown, there is no reason you shouldn't be using this often to keep your mana up. Using it when, say, your mana is at two-thirds of your total to fill back up will let you use it again later in a fight. I see too many people wait until they are already dangerously low on mana to use it. We'll talk more about that a little later on.
Do I have the right stats? Do I have enough haste or spirit? How about trinkets?
Shaman stats are something that will always be a topic of conversation. Right now, a big concern is whether or not healing shaman are stacking enough of the correct stats. Int is pretty much a given, as it gives us mana, spellpower, and to a lesser degree, mana regeneration. Everything a healer wants will have int on it. Haste is something that at the end of Wrath we were stacking to get the fastest heals, and it still continues to be useful now. Here's a quick breakdown of what you need to know for haste (at least for now):
262 rating Riptide gains one additional healing tick
610 rating Healing Rain gains one additional healing tick
916 rating Earthliving Weapon proc gains one additional healing tick
Once you get to 916 haste rating, you're pretty much set for heroics and raids. Think of this as your bare minimum haste rating. While more will continue to benefit you, once you reach this level, it's all right to sort of forget about haste for a while.
Spirit should hover somewhere around 2,000 by the time you're ready for heroics and raids. Remember, Meditation allows you to continue to regen 50% of your out-of-combat regeneration while in combat. Remember our Mana Tide Totem? It increases your spirit by 350% whenever you use it, giving your mana regeneration a serious boost whenever you use it.
After you've hit these levels, you can start looking at either crit or mastery. Mastery really comes into its own whenever you find yourself healing targets constantly at low health. So if you find yourself constantly healing targets near death or super-low health levels, you will get the most mileage. Progression raiding will likely see the most benefit of this. For all other instances, crit will be more valuable to you. Keep this in mind when reforging or choosing upgrades.
Tear of Blood is a fantastic trinket that you will hopefully get your hands on. It increases your spirit by a healthy amount and will go a very long way to helping your mana regeneration out. If you don't have much luck with drops and you're a jeweler, Figurine - Dream Owl is a good substitute until you can get the tear.
As far as purchasing gear, the very first thing you should spend your valor points on is a Core of Ripeness. Available for 1,650 valor points, this trinket significantly increases your spirit totals for 20 seconds at a time and on a meager 2-minute cooldown. That's an extra 1,926 spirit every 2 minutes. Combine that with your Mana Tide Totem and you have some serious mana regen. I use a macro to link both the trinket and mana tide at the same time.
/Use 13 (or 14 depending on trinket slot)
/cast Mana Tide Totem
/y SPIRIT BOMB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Every time I use it, my mana bar pretty much fills up so I can keep healing. Core of Ripeness should be your first valor purchase.
Our healing output is much lower than the other healers; what about my raid spot?
I'm seeing a lot of people posting links to World of Logs showing off the top 10 healers for various fights and showing how shaman aren't often among them. Truth is, number-wise, there are discrepancies between the healing classes -- but they aren't as vast as many people make them out to be. Remember that not everyone uploads their logs, so you're not seeing every single healer sampled on those fights. Also keep in mind that in Wrath, we suffered a lower healing per second than other healers in the Ulduar content release, only to come out on top at the end of the expansion. Another note here is that things are still balancing out, and it's early in the expansion yet.
I'm not going to harp on this for too long, but I've always hated meters for healing aside from seeing if someone is really sleeping on the job. The point of healing is surviving the encounter and keeping people up. So ask yourself, did your group survive to fight another day while you did everything you could to make sure they lived? If you did, congrats -- you did your job! The numbers don't really matter as long as you did everything you could and lived, while the boss died. Will HPS matter? When it comes time for heroic-mode fights, it very well may be, but unless you're getting ready to dive into heroic Blackwing Descent, don't sweat it for now. The truth is we offer a long list of buffs, versatility in crowd control, and solid healing for every situation. Our raid spots aren't in danger anytime soon, as long as you're making sure you are doing your job.
That's it for this week. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or leave comments here on the site. I'll do my best to answer in a timely manner. Next week, we'll talk more about heroic healing in the remaining instances.
Totem Talk: Restoration will show you the basics of endgame resto shaman play as well as how to find the expansion's best reputation gear for resto shaman and tips for easier leveling. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!