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Totem Talk: Choosing a role for restoration

Joe Perez

Want to be a sultan of swing healing? A champion of Chain Heal? Totem Talk: Restoration will show you how. Brought to you by Joe Perez, otherwise known as Lodur from World of Matticus and the For The Lore podcast.

You have leveled to 80, done a plethora of heroics and gathered some gear. Now you are ready to begin picking your end game role. Whether it is healing a raid group in 10 and 25 man content, chain heroics with friends or everything in between, it is time for you to pick what your primary focus will be. This will have a large impact on what you choose for gear, key stats and upgrades along the way.

As a restoration shaman you have three main choices for your healing focus. Tank (and off-tank) healing, group healing and support or swing healing. While you can fill all three roles regardless of gear, it will shift your stat priority depending on what you choose as well as affect your potential choice in glyphs.

Let us take a look at each specialty

Tank healing

There is no standard set of rules for healing a tank, but there are certain tools you will use over others. There are a few schools of thought on how to tank heal as a restoration shaman.

The Lesser Healing Wave method:

That's right, LHW can be used very effectively as a tank heal. The spell is designed for fast healing much like Flash Heal from a priest. It is what you would call a top-off spell. It can however be used very effectively as your primary tank healing spell. This method requires a spam healing approach, and as a result you will be chain casting a lot of the time. With this method you want to make sure you do not let the tanks health drop too low and generally you want to keep it around 98% to 99% with lesser healing wave spam

Riptide should still be used often, even though spamming LHW makes the HoT effect less effective. It is still an instant cast spell that you can apply on the move and in events where you find yourself silenced or stunned the spell will still tick healing on your target. Since this method also does not use Chain Heal often or at all, Riptide will almost never be consumed. Earth Shield should also always be on the tank, keep it refreshed and never let it fall off!

Suggested glyphs:

The Healing Wave method:

Healing Wave is your big heal, affectionately referred to as a "nuke" heal. This slow heal is best suited for slower but harder hitting bosses. Think fights like Sartharion, Hodir and Saurfang where the tank will periodically take big hits. This is a less spam heal heavy than the LHW method is, but requires getting used to the timing of damage on boss fights. It also tends to be a little more mana hungry when compared to LHW. This method can produce some very large heals that can bring a tank back from the brink of death all the way to full.

Healing wave will not be the only spell you use, but it will be your primary spell cast. Keep riptide and earth shield up on the tank at all times as they will help smooth out the healing between healing wave casts. Even your Healing Stream Totem will help out, just make sure you are in the tank group for healing.

Suggested glyphs:

The Chain Heal method:

This method of tank healing is quite viable, but only really shines in heavy melee groups. Fights like Stinky and Precious, Rotface, and truthfully any encounter that has a large raid damage component. Consider that you will have riptide up on the tank on every cooldown, and that is an additional 25% healing on the main tank before the chain jumps to melee in range.

If you are not in a melee heavy group or you are in a group where melee is not taking a lot of damage, this method does have the downside of being low on the return for investment when you calculate healing per mana spent, and I would suggest going with either the LHW or HW method.

Suggested glyphs:
When you shift into tank healing your stat priority does change slightly. As a tank healer your stat values will look something like this

SP > Crit > MP/5 > Haste.

Now a lot of people will tell you haste is as important as the other three, or more so when tank healing, but if you look at the other stats they have a greater impact on your healing output when on a single target. Spell power increases not only the effectiveness of your direct healing spells such as HW and LHW but it also gives a steady bonus to Earth Shield, Riptide and if you decide to use it HST. As you will be focusing more on these spells as a tank healer, spell power pulls ahead in importance. Crit is important for very much the same reasons. Not only does your direct healing spells reap the benefit of this, but so does ES and Riptide. Both spells critical ratings are based on your crit amount. The higher it is, the more they heal for and the less direct healing you have to worry about. MP/5 also pulls ahead here for a few reason. You will be casting spells that rank fairly low on mana efficiency, and as a result you will find you will chew through mana very quickly. Having some extra MP/5 laying around helps keep you casting on the tank longer, which means a longer living raid, and that is always a good idea.

Tip: Bears and DK tanks tend to have higher health pools, but often times take larger spike damage than their shield wearing brethren. Keep your eyes peeled for this and react accordingly

Group healing

This is the more traditional role for shaman healers as of late. This focuses on keeping the group alive for as long as possible, and making sure that you get the most bang for your buck out of every bit of mana spent on healing. Your main spell of choice here is going to be Chain Heal. Glyphed this will be the absolute best choice for group healing. This spell has been improved since Ulduar, and now boasts a longer jump range between targets (12.5 yards), and with a glyph can affect up to 4 targets. The spell is also a smart heal and will travel from the target of the spell cast to the next lowest health target within range. This makes the spell particularly effective in clumps of raiders such as melee clusters or ranged that like to group hug.

Some fights chain heal might not be the best choice. There are some fights that require a group to be further away than 12.5 yards. At that point chain heal largely goes to waste so you need to be aware of when not to use the spell. Otherwise for group healing, accept no substitute, chain healing is the way to go.

If you are group healing chances are you don't have to worry about the tank as much or at all. You can do some things out of the ordinary to help not only yourself out but your raid as well. For example, when not on the tank you can move ES around the raid as needed. This is particularly useful if you have a raider that happens to... wander into damage. You can pop ES on them and give yourself a little buffer to top them off. I have employed this to great effect keeping "squishy" targets alive. You can then also use riptide as an instant cast hot for the majority of the fights. Similar to moving ES around, you can place it on targets that may require some additional love that chain heal might not be able to get to.

Suggested glyphs:
Group healing brings with it a new stat priority. To be incredibly effective at this you need to reduce the cast time of chain heal as much as possible, and so your will be valuing haste over all else. Getting yourself to the haste cap is very useful here. We will cover more about haste and it's usefulness next week, but for now here is the rough stat priority for a group healing shaman

Haste > SP > MP/5 > Crit

Haste for you will trigger mana regeneration, faster casts on chain heal and will lower the cast time of your HW as well, making it that much more effective.

Swing / support healing

This is the balance between the two roles of tank and group healing. A shaman that walks this path aims to fill the gap for group healing and single target healing as needed. You try to make yourself as versatile as possible and as a result you will use every tool you have in your toolbox. ES will be placed largely on tanks, and you will move between tank and group healing as each fight calls for. This lets you pick up the slack if another healer falls.

Suggested glyphs:
For stat priority when dealing with a balanced spec is a bit trickier. It will look something like this

SP > Haste/Crit > MP/5

This will allow you to be able to fill the gap of whatever is necessary in your group, but wont see you topping the healing meters. Your goal is to support the other healers around you. This is not always a viable choice and often times you will be choosing between single target or group healing, but it's still an option.

Note about totems

Totem choice is going to largely depend on group composition and what is needed. Take a look at your group and decide from there what is going to be best for the run, whether dropping Windfury Totem and Strength of Earth or Stoneskin and Wrath of Air, take a few moments to gauge the group and see what is needed.

Whatever you choose to heal, making sure you know how to handle the various roles you can fit is important. Next week we will talk a little more in-depth about haste and the effect it has on shaman healing

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk, whether reading Mike Sacco's Elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of Restoration or Rich Maloy's Enhancement edition, we have you covered.

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