I envy shaman.
A latest look at the front page of World of Logs shows that the new shaman totem of awesomeness (Spirit Link Totem) has a rather intriguing property to it. We've had it for a while now, ever since patch 4.1, and this totem is the new shaman defensive mechanic. Anyone standing within 10 yards of it reduces incoming damage by 10%.
Cool. What else?
Every second, the health of all the players standing within it also gets redistributed. The interesting part is that the health can be increased to count as healing. However, that sword swings both ways. It'll also adjust health downward, which counts as damage.
Even better? This damage can be both resisted and mitigated.
The damage and modifications from Spirit Link is considered nature damage. To assist with shaman defensive cooldowns, savvy players may wish to switch on a nature resist of sorts, such as Aspect of the Wild from our hunter sharpshooters).
So if your raid group really wants to maximize your defense, drop a Spirit Link Totem and a Power Word: Barrier directly over top of it. The 25% mitigation from Power Word: Barrier should mitigate the incoming damage from any impending boss attacks and simultaneously reduce the damage taken during the Spirit Link Totem's health modification.
I doubt that 10-player raiders will ever encounter a situation when they can spare both a Spirit Link Totem and Power Word: Barrier for one ability. Depending on the number of healers available, 25-player raiders could find some major clutch opportunities to drop them both.
Does order matter?
However, I suggest getting the shaman to drop the totem of awesome first, and then prod your discipline priest to place the Barrier over top of it after. If it were the other way around, your shaman might be turning or going the wrong way (or otherwise caught out of position). Since placing the totem relies on where the shaman is and how he is facing, it is way easier for the priest to activate Barrier and use the targeting reticle to place it above the totem.
When is the right time?
Ideal encounters best suited for the totem/shield tactic involve full raid groups stacking together to mitigate some type of incoming effect.
Theralion and Valiona At the moment, my guild is taking on the deadly duo of Theralion and Valiona on heroic mode. After a few looks, I've started meticulously planning out the precise times I want to use our raid healing cooldowns defensively for Blackout (and ugh, it hurts).
Blackout 1 Spirit Link Totem 1, Power Word: Barrier 1
Blackout 2 Spirit Link Totem 2, Power Word: Barrier 2
The other dragon touches down and then we go through this stage of the fight before they switch.Blackout 3 Spirit Link Totem 1, Power Word: Barrier 1, Tranquility 1
Blackout 4 Spirit Link Totem 2, Power Word: Barrier 2, Rallying Cry 1
Blackout 5 Just go to a corner and die so a Rebirth can be used.
After that, another dragon switch occurs. After that, the plan is to keep players alive the rest of the way through with a variety of other cooldowns. We've gotten as far as the fifth Blackout and held out a bit further getting the dragons down to 16%. But we're still getting overwhelmed. Right now, we're thinking about using eight healers overall (up from seven).
Chimaeron Feud phases are a great time to use this tactic, since a majority of the raid is stacked together anyway. I'd say most raid groups are on target for about four feuds. You can easily set up some Power Word: Barrier and Spirit Link Totem action throughout the encounter. As one of the earlier heroics on the take-down list, this is a great boss fight to practice coordination on.
Conclave of Wind This was our most recent heroic kill and arguably toughest in terms of cooldown coordination. When the Conclave executes their ultimate spells and the majority of the raid is on Nezir's platform, drop a Barrier/totem combination for maximum mitigation. Most raids will go through three sets of ultimates. That blizzard will hammer the raid. I usually get my players to start spreading out and splitting up with 2 seconds left on his channeling cast time. With one shaman and priest team, you can get through the first and third set of ultimates on the raid group. The second ultimate can be mitigated through the use of other defensive cooldowns.
Maloriak Red phase. Fairly straightforward, right? Here's the kicker, though: Your raid is going to go through at least two red phases. In each red phase, Maloriak will breathe anywhere from two to three times. In other words, that's anywhere from four to six overall breaths your raid needs to cover.
One team can shut down two breaths, easy. If you have other tools, you'll need to whip those out for the other potential four breaths. With holy paladins, I like to keep an Aura Mastery in the back pocket if he uses it on the third breath of the first red phase or the third breath of the second red phase!
Now I can go back to being bitter about Healing Rain ...
Need advice on working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered. Send your questions about raid healing to firstname.lastname@example.org. For less healer-centric raiding advice, visit Ready Check for advanced tactics and advice for the endgame raider.