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Totem Talk: Leveling a shaman in the Cataclysm era, page 2

Josh Myers

The basics of leveling as restoration

Leveling as restoration in Cataclysm can be a difficult but rewarding adventure. Your real adventure for leveling as restoration has a few major events early in your leveling experience. Your first milestone is when you make that first decision at level 10 to choose your specialization. Choosing restoration as your specialization will give you access to the restoration talent tree and some of your key abilities.

Earth Shield is one of your few heal over time effects, but unlike other spells of the HoT nature, it is a reflexive spell. Whenever the player protected by Earth Shield takes damage, it will heal them. Not only will it heal them, but it will also reduce the spell pushback from damage by 30% on the target. This is an ability that will be used as one of your main tank heals. Placing it on your group's tank is a smart idea, and at lower levels, it's a great idea to get in the habit of making sure you have maximum uptime of the ability. This also has synergy with later talents that you can pick up like Nature's Blessing, which will increase the direct healing you do on targets with Earth Shield.

Purification increases the effectiveness of your healing spells by 25% and reduces the casting time of your Healing Wave and Greater Healing Wave by 0.5 seconds. It's a staple of the shaman healing and once you can get your hands on it, it really helps with low-level healing. Another immediate perk is Meditation, which allows you to continue 50% of your mana regeneration while in combat. This is where all that spirit on your gear comes in quite handy and as you gain more spirit while leveling up.

The second milestone is when you hit level 15 and are capable of using the Dungeon Finder to queue for dungeons throughout Azeroth. The Dungeon Finder is a great tool when leveling as a restoration shaman. It allows you to practice your healing early on in a group environment, and it lets you try out all of your new tools as you level.

Before the Dungeon Finder, leveling as restoration was a long, arduous task, but it has since become much easier. Questing as restoration can be quite difficult, as you lack ways to quickly kill mobs, and healing them to death really isn't an option. Grouping in instances lets you focus on making sure four other stalwart companions are alive and doing the killing for you. It also offers you some very good choices in gear as you're leveling up.

The third milestone is when you can get into Battlegrounds. Random Battlegrounds are another great way to hone your healing skills. Sometimes a human opponent is the best training you could ask for. Once you're able to queue for RBGs, it offers an alternate route to leveling, mastering your way to maximum level, and healing other than dungeons or questing. The zones are colorful, and the different objectives for each give you new uses for your abilities above and beyond simple healing.

The last major milestone is when you hit that glorious level cap at 85. You then have full access to all your spells and all of your talents. When you hit 85, you should be shooting for a talent set that looks like this endgame spec. It's well rounded and gives you a ton of perks. Simply fill in the restoration talents as you level, as most of our key abilities will be very obvious choices as you fill the tree in.

Stat priorities and healing tips

An enterprising shaman healer who is leveling is going to have a few things to keep in mind. First on the list is stat priority. The good news is that while leveling, your stat priority is very simple and easy to remember. First priority is intellect, as that stat fuels your total mana available, your spellpower for healing, and (to a lesser degree) your crit.

Your second priority is going to be spirit. Mana regeneration is going to be the biggest thing you have to worry about while leveling, as you don't get access to your main regeneration tricks like Mana Tide Totem until a bit later on.

The best part is, that's pretty much it for your stats as your leveling, as all the other secondary stats can take a back seat until you get closer to your level cap. So if the gear has intellect and spirit on it, it's something worth you grabbing as long as it increases your overall total.

Mana consumption at early levels is something that a lot of restoration shaman struggle with. There are a few things besides stats that will help keep your mana and healing up. Triage healing will be your friend early on in dungeon and Battleground healing. If someone is standing in something that will certainly kill them, it's not worth using the mana or the global cooldown if it means wasting that mana on a lost cause. It sounds harsh, but your priority in groups while leveling will be your tank, followed by yourself. Learning what damage you can heal through and what you can't heal through is incredibly important and will help make sure you have the mana to keep people alive in your group.

When you reach level 20, this becomes a little easier as you unlock three very key restoration abilities, Healing Stream Totem, Healing Surge and Water Shield. Make sure to utilize them as soon as you can, as they are great quality-of-life improvements for your healing needs.

As you approach 50 through 85, it will start to be very important to make sure you're keeping uptime on all of your abilities. Making sure your Water Shield is always active is incredibly important, as it helps to keep your mana totals up. Also make sure you're keeping Earthliving Weapon active at all times. It gives you a flat bonus to your healing and also allows you to have an extra HoT active on your targets.

When you gain access to Riptide at level 69, it is also important that you make certain that you're keeping it up on each cooldown. This is your controllable HoT that not only gives you a that healing over time, but also allows you to buff your next Chain Heal by an additional 25% if your primary target is affected by Riptide.

Another very important point is to make sure you're using the right healing spell for the right job. What do I mean by this? Well, if you're in a situation where your group is spread out, you shouldn't be relying on Chain Heal or Healing Rain to do the job; if you're all grouped up together, Greater Healing Wave may not be the right tool. Selecting your tools wisely is incredibly important and something that will come to you as you use them. Right-sizing your heals will help you keep your group alive and your mana plentiful and help you defeat the content. In short:
  • Practice triage.
  • Keep Riptide up.
  • Keep Healing Stream totem down.
  • Keep Water Shield active.
  • Keep Earthliving active at all times.
  • Pick the right heal for the right job.
  • User your mana regeneration tools.
Another tip: If it's your first time healing a dungeon or Battleground, don't be afraid of it. Be confident in your abilities, and know that you are very capable of healing anything the game has to throw at you, no matter what level the content is. I do highly suggest that you let the group know if it's your first time in the zone.

Also, be vocal with your group. If you notice that a player in your group is dying consistently to things you can't heal through, tell them. Be nice about it, but not remaining silent about it is a big boon to yourself. If you're lucky, they'll listen and stop doing what they're doing. The point is that communication is key. If a tank is clipping your line of sight, inform them. If someone is taking a lot unnecessary damage, let them know. Be confident, and be vocal.

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Enhancement every week. We've got enhancement-specific advice on the latest gear and tier gear set bonuses, and we'll help you dig in and learn to level the enhancement way.

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