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Build Shop: Shaman 15/5/41

Mike Schramm

Eliah is away from the Build Shop this week, so I'm taking his place, and I figured what better time to look at a great Resto Shaman build-- mine. Sure, some of you talent pros will probably tear it apart (it's a little less than conventional), but for my preferences and my playstyle, this build works pretty darn well.

So let's start by telling you how I play my Shaman. Clearly, I'm not an Enhancement Shammy-- while I leveled as one, I decided right when I hit 60 (and yeah, I leveled to 70 with this build, too) that I wanted this character to be a raider. I was just getting in good with a great guild, I loved being a great healer (keeping a group up even in dire straits is fun for me), and I knew that healers would always be in demand, letting me run lots of groups.

On the other hand, however, I didn't just want to be a healbot. I wanted to have the opportunity, when I was able, to crank out some DPS.

And so I filled out Resto talents first off in mind of raiding, and secondly with the option to do some damage when possible. It worked well, because some of the Resto talents vibe really well with Shaman DPS capabilities. In the end, I'm not usually the biggest healer in the group, and I'm definitely not the biggest DPS dealer. But with this build (and a good set of healing gear and a good set of DPS gear, which I switch back and forth when necessary), I'm able to help the group in both ways, I get to toss a few lightning bolts in between my heals, and I usually hit the upper half of both meters.

So let's start with Resto, and move right from there. Improved Healing Wave is a no brainer for any Shaman that heals regularly-- we have only a few heals, and when you can power one of them up, do it. Tidal Focus is another basic Shaman skill that even other builds will find useful-- we are always, always short on mana, and any time we can lower costs, it's usually a good deal. Ancestral Healing is one of my favorite Shaman talents-- my main tank loves to see it pop up on his buff bar, and even in PvP, I love throwing off a quick LHW and seeing my "patient" get a good Def buff out of the deal.

I passed on Reincarnation here-- I see it as mainly a PvP ability. While there are certainly lots of places where you can use it in PvE, I'd rather not die than die and have to pop back up with more health and mana. I also took a couple Totemic Focus points to lower the mana cost of my totems, but obviously I'd rather take the mana off of spells than totems-- usually I'll lay those once per fight and be done with it.

At the time I made this build, I actually had the set bonus from the Tier 1 Shaman armor, so I passed on Totemic Mastery, obviously. I believe they do stack (or they did once), but my group usually knows by now to stay close to my totems. Healing Grace is a good talent, but I have never really had a problem with threat, so it's not for me. Nature's Guidance is not bad for spells, and if I redid this build, I'd seriously consider switching out my two Healing Focus points for Nature's Guidance, as I tend not to get hit that much while healing.

Restorative Totems is a must, not for Healing Stream (that totem sucks until Blizzard buffs it up), but for Mana Spring. That sucker is due for a buff, too, and until we get it, this talent is all we've got (plus, it's required for Mana Tide, which is why casters everywhere cheer when they hear you're a Resto Shammy). Tidal Mastery is one of those talents I love-- beefs up both my healing spells and my damage spells.
Nature's Swiftness is also a must have for the kinds of things I want to do, as I can use it for a huge Healing Wave, or punch it along with my trinkets and cast an instant Chain Lightning (oh my, I love doing that in PvP-- clears out a flag but quick). Healing Way is another good buff my tank loves to see show up on him, and especially when I'm using the Ribbon of Sacrifice, I'll throw a bunch of little heals (or a few Chain Heals) around just to get this buff rolling.

Nature's Guardian was an interesting idea by Blizzard, but I can't say it procs all that often for me. If I redid this build (and I'm going to have to now that I've analyzed it this much for you all), I'd have to take those points and put them in Improved Chain Heal, a much better talent for my situation. And finally on the Resto side, Nature's Blessing is a great talent for both healing and DPS, and Earth Shield, with all my healing gear on, is actually a pretty good HoT.

I'm not Enhancement at all (though occasionally I dream about respeccing Dual Wield, if only to send my guild leader into convulsions), but if you're a Shaman, you have no excuses for not taking five points in Ancestral Mana. We need mana, and odds are that those five points will be more than worth it no matter what you're doing.

And finally, on the Elemental Side, I had a few points left to put into DPS. Convection is another mana saver (see? Blizzard knows we're low on mana), and while most raiders end up going with Elemental Warding, here's where I wanted to secretly be a Mage: I put points in Concussion and Call of Thunder. Too little, too late, you might say. Go Resto all the way or don't go at all, you might tell me. No-- I want to be both! Resto and DPS! And obviously I'm willing to sacrifice my raiding survivability for those few damage points.

And finally, I had to have Elemental Focus. Even though we Shamans got hit with the nerf bat on Clearcasting (ours isn't actually "clear," it's only 40% opaque), there is still no better way to save mana than to get free spells out of it. I would love for this talent to work on both my damage and healing spells, but I know it's wishful thinking-- Shamans OOM is working as intended.

Lighting Overload and Elemental Mastery taunt me further down on this tree, but then I remember my raiding responsibilities, and refuse-- I leave the really big DPS to my PvP Rogue.

So there's my build-- heckle and belittle it as you will. As I said, it's all about wearing healing gear and pumping out the heals on the weekend, and then switching to DPS gear and running 5 mans as a DPS Shammy during the week. Shaman is a great class to play because you can do all this different stuff with it, and a build like this has let me play lots of roles as necessary.

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