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Totem Talk: A Cataclysm 101 guide to 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

To quote The Smashing Pumpkins, "Today is the greatest day I've ever known." Tuesday, Dec. 7 marks the release of the third World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm. Over the last several months, we've been talking about all the changes leading up to this expansion. We've covered new spells, changes to old spells, and everything in between.

If you remember, not too long ago, we did our series of everything you needed to know about each class. Restoration 101 was my first post here for Totem Talk. Today, we're going to round up all of the changes to restoration shaman that Cataclysm brings. The changes have already been implemented before Cataclysm was released, we have already had an opportunity to become familiar with them. We're also going to talk about what it is to be a restoration shaman and what you have to look forward to as you explore the world of Azeroth. Note that this is not a guide for the endgame content and is meant for beginners new to the game or just starting as restoration.

What is a restoration shaman?

Upon reaching level 10, you are presented with a choice in talent specialization. Three choices will present themselves to you: elemental, enhancement or restoration. If you choose restoration, congratulations and welcome to the healing elite. As a restoration shaman, we're in the business of healing people and keeping groups alive. Our element of choice tends to be water, and like the element of water, we flow and adapt to the situations at hand. We are responsible for literally saving lives and in many cases, saving the day. We are front-line warriors of the spirits and elements, never shying from combat or getting ourselves dirty in order to save those around us. We are not defenseless healers; we can call down lightning and throw fire when needed. Basically, we're pretty awesome all around.

What are the benefits of restoration?

Restoration shaman offer some of the best versatility among all of the healing classes in the game, without drowning in choices that go unused. Upon choosing restoration, you gain access to the following benefits:

  • strong group healing
  • access to Earth Shield
  • ability to change from group healing to single-target healing without needing to change spec or glyphs
  • totems offer buffs for every class you can group with and augment your spell casting
  • clear gear upgrade choices
Restoration shaman are one of the few classes that can change duties mid-fight without having to worry too much. Being able to swap between single-target healing and group healing is quite important. Restoration shaman can do this without having to stop and change around talents or needing to swap out glyphs to get the job done.

What are the drawbacks of restoration?

Shaman are a hybrid class and are intended to fill multiple roles. These roles are traditionally defined as tanking, DPS and healing. Shaman can traditionally fill two of the roles, DPS and healing. While you will still be able to DPS as a healer, by choosing the restoration tree, you greatly reduce your ability to deal damage in exchange for bigger, more efficient heals. Due to our unique gear needs, mainly spellcaster shields as an off hand, it can sometimes be hard to find upgrades from bosses and raids.

What stats do I want as a restoration shaman?

Choosing restoration will mean that you are going to be looking for some very specific stats. In Cataclysm here's what you will be looking for on your gear.
  • Intellect Spellpower on our gear has been replaced by intellect. Int is now the stat from which we derive our spellpower totals, as well as our mana pools. For healers, this stat is one of our most important ones. Blizzard has included all of the conversions we need to figure out how much benefit our intellect gives us. If you mouse over your int total on your character screen, it will tell you how much mana, spellpower and crit rating you are receiving.
  • Spirit MP5 has been removed from all of our healing gear. Instead, spirit is now what we use to determine how much mana we regain while in and out of combat. It goes hand in hand with our new specialization ability, Meditation, which allows us to maintain half of our mana regeneration while in combat. This also helps define what gear is made for restoration shaman and makes it easier to know if it belongs to us or not.
  • Crit A lot of our talents and abilities rely on critical healing to activate. Ancestral Healing and Ancestral Awakening, for example, require a critical heal. Critical heals also reduce the amount of healing spells we have to cast, based purely on the virtue of healing for more. Crit is also very important for mana regeneration, as it triggers Improved Water Shield.
  • Haste This stat has become quite important for restoration shaman over the last few years, and it will still be something important for us now. Haste reduces the casting time of our spells, and with our most used spells being on longer cast times, this makes them very useful. Recent changes to haste also allow it to have an impact on Riptide by reducing the amount of time between each tick.
  • Mastery In Cataclysm, we received a new stat to look forward to. Mastery increases the effectiveness of one of the abilities gained when we choose our specialization. For restoration shaman, this means making Deep Healing more effective. While our healing is not going to be balanced around this stat, it is still quite useful

Is it important to wear only mail gear?

In Cataclysm, it will be very important to make sure that you are stacking mail gear. Mail Specialization gives you an additional 5 percent intellect for doing nothing more than wearing all mail gear. This in turn will increase your mana pool, spellpower and crit rating.

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