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Totem Talk: Ask a restoration shaman

Joe Perez

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement and restoration shaman. 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 host of the BDTU: Lore edition podcast.

Last week, we discussed the idea of glyphs for vanity purposes, something like changing dwarf shaman totems into kegs or rune stones. There was a lot to say about that topic alone, everything from loving the idea to downright hating it. We also went over some of the changes that are in store for us as far as mana cost for our spells when Cataclysm is released. This raised some concerns about our spell choices and mana for some of you, and I can understand why.

I also asked for your questions and concerns for this weeks restoration shaman Q&A. Readers submitted questions through comments on the site as well as through email. Today I would like to answer those questions and hopefully assuage some fears and concerns about our up coming cataclysmic debut. Let's get started, shall we?

The question is in the comment

I guess if I had a question, it would be how often are you using various spells? You've talked about Chain Heal, but how often are you using Healing Wave vs. Greater Healing Wave vs. Healing Surge vs. Riptide, etc.? Now that Chain Heal costs more, what would you say is our go-to spell? Is it Healing Wave, like Blizz intended? Or is it something else?
As you said yourself, Blizzard has stated that it wants certain values to be the same across all healers. The idea of a quick, expensive heal; a medium, low-cost heal; and a big, slow, expensive heal can be seen as close as our priest cousins.

Everything becomes situational now. Healing Surge is seeing heavy use at the end of Wrath of the Lich King because our mana regeneration is slightly off-kilter. In Cataclysm at level 85, I find that the spell really is used for those emergency situations when someone is hovering dangerously close to death and Nature's Swiftness is on cooldown. Greater Healing Wave is also something I tend not to use, unless a tank is getting pretty low and needs a big top-off. Tank mitigation abilities can afford you the extra second to heal, but the mana cost on the spell really deters you from using it quite so often. Like Healing Surge, it's something you use when the opportunity arises.

Healing Wave, Chain Heal, Riptide and Unleash Element - Unleash Life make up the majority of my "healing core" abilities. In 5-man content, I tend to lean pretty heavily on Healing Wave. The lower mana cost and decent heal make it very efficient, and in many of the dungeons, people are too spread out to really get the best bang for your buck out of Chain Heal. It also leaves you with enough mana banked so you can throw out HS or GHW when you need to and not have to worry too much about being out of mana.

In 10-man and 25-man content, Chain Heal starts to take over as the go-to spell. Larger groups of people mean that it is likely to hit more targets, and as a result, the HPM value of the spell increases dramatically. This makes it a much more attractive spell to use as a go-to heal.

To sum it up, Healing Wave is your go-to spell when you can't make Chain Heal hit more than two targets. Riptide will continue to be used on cooldown, and Unleash Life is a very good instant heal that you can use as liberally as Healing Wave.

Cleanse this problem

My question is about the raiding and how much cleansing comes into play as far as you've gotten. Is there a lot of cleansing needing to go on? What has there been a consistent focus on? The reason I ask is our primary cleanse is offensive magic; we still have purge but no poison or disease. Has this affected your spot in raid? Do you think it will affect spots in raid since we will not have that as option anymore?
This was actually a really big concern for a lot of people when the cleanse changes were announced for all classes. The current design model makes sure that every cleansing class can take out three of the possible effects. For restoration shaman, this means defensive magic with Purge and offensive magic like Polymorph and curses with Cleanse Spirit and Improved Cleanse Spirit.

While lack of ability to remove poisons and diseases is a pain in the totems at lower levels, in Cataclysm, the developers have made sure to spread the debuff lovin' around. You will be seeing as much (if not more) in the way of curses and magic for us to remove in all of the available group content. So honestly, it hasn't hurt our raid spot; if anything, it sort of helped us out in the end. Really, there are a ton of mobs that like to sheep your party now; being able to wipe that off and let that fury warrior continue to beat face instead of being a happy little bunny will make everyone in your group a lot happier. Also, with the amount of cleansing you will be doing (which will be a fair amount), make sure to pick up Cleansing Waters so that every time you make a successful cleanse you get a nice, free heal.

Feeling interchangeable?


Blizzard's design goal is to homogenize all the healers (TBH, they all seem less fun than The Burning Crusade but at least shaman deteriorated the least). Are there really "tank healer" and "raid healer" specs any more? Or do you still want what's left of a holy pally to tank heal and shaman always raid heal?

What's left of the healer role orthodoxy? Does BTPNTC apply to healers? Could you raid 10s with three shamans now?
To a certain extent, yes -- bring the player, not the class applies to all healers now, probably more than it ever has before. That said, it doesn't mean that each type of healer is without its flavor.

To address the tank vs. raid healer part of the question, the beauty of the changes to healing in Cataclysm is that all of the healers are capable of doing any of the roles they need to fairly well. A restoration shaman, for example, could be stuck right on the main tank and heal almost as well as a holy pally. On the other side of the coin, that means other healers are catching up to us in terms of raid healing. This sounds like a bad thing, but honestly it is not. This allows us to adapt to the situation more as healers than before. For shaman, glyph choices really help to define the role you wish to fulfill, be it tank healing or raid healing. Best part is, even if you glyph to give yourself an advantage for single-target healing on the tank, you aren't completely neutered if you have to switch to raid healing partway through the fight.

As far as raiding 10-man content with three shaman healers, there's a problem with that. All of the healers still have their own flavor, and things that they excel at ever-so-slightly over the others -- not to mention the availability of buffs and special tricks. For example, priests can Power Word: Shield and prevent damage on targets, which is something shaman can't do, and there are many fights where preventing some damage helps more than just being able to heal through it.

Linked up

zetatr asked:

Has there been any serious mention of giving shamans a cooldown along the lines of Pain Suppression or Guardian Spirit? I know Spirit Link has been brought up in the past but it seems to have been all but forgotten. I feel shaman could really benefit to having some sort of "tanking cooldown" since essentially all we have now is Nature's Swiftness.


I would like to know, what happend to Soul Link? It was such a good idea for the Wrath beta but got scrapped. Then come the Cata beta with all its glory, and don't they say they want to bring it back for some way? But we haven't gotten any more info on that subject. Or is it some changes that involve splitting dmg for us shaman that I don't know about? What are you guys' ideas around the idea?
I'm going to answer both of these at the same time. Anyone will tell you that for the last two years, I've been one of the largest pro-Spirit Link folks you'd ever meet. I went as far as to send a handwritten letter of no less than five pages to Blizzard with all my possible ideas for balancing it and actually bringing it to the game, because I didn't trust sending it in an email or forum post at the time. The topic was also a question I really wanted to ask at BlizzCon 2010 but didn't get a chance to.

Now, though, I'm reticent to say we need it. Honestly, in terms of how we feel as a healer, I'm not entirely certain we really need a tank cooldown anymore. First, Spirit Link just doesn't fit into the current Cataclysm damage model. Note that I said damage model, not healing model. There is a ton of group damage going around in all of the content, and linking three or four players together could spell instant death for them in many situations even if the spell were to break before danger levels. I've seen many fights where most of the party was below the 30 percent health mark at the end of the fight. I wouldn't have wanted to link them together at any point of that fight for fear that they would have died, and that would have meant wasting a spell slot if only from lack of use.

Secondly, shaman feel like a fairly aggressive healing class. While we may lack a defensive cooldown like Pain Suppression or Guardian Spirit, we have a cooldown that lets us do something pretty awesome. Spiritwalker's Grace is on a 2-minute cooldown and allows you to move and cast any spell in your arsenal for 10 seconds. This is an offensive healing cooldown -- and honestly, it is quite awesome to have one of those.

Many of the boss fights of all content sizes are requiring healers to move even more than we are used to. In some of those situations, you'll see a tank's health get pretty low. Sure, if we had a defensive cooldown, we could throw it on them -- but what if the tank and a key DPS were both low? You can't cast Pain Suppression on two targets, can you? You can, however, pop Spiritwalker's Grace and actively heal both targets and keep them from dying while saving your own bacon! For a 2-minute cooldown, that's pretty awesome for those clutch healing situations where you can't just be a turret healer.

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