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Totem Talk: The 3 easiest ways to improve your restoration performance

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, brought to you by Joe Perez (otherwise known as Lodur from World of Matticus and cohost of the For the Lore and Raid Warning podcasts), shows you how.

No matter how good you are at the job you're doing, there's always something more that you can do to make yourself better. Even at the top of your game, most of us are continuously looking for ways to improve our performance -- to squeeze out a little more DPS, to survive a bit longer, to do that much more healing.

While you can spend your time poring over logs or upgrading your internet to faster speeds, tweaking your stats or replacing your mouse and keyboard, I like to follow words of wisdom given to me years ago by a musician friend of mine: Sometimes you have to get real simple before you can get real good. To that effect, let's highlight the easy things you can do to improve your healing performance.

1. Communicate. Seems like a no-brainer, right? You'd be surprised at the number of us who sit in our own little bubble, ignoring the other healers around us. Healer tunnel vision doesn't just pertain to fight mechanics and the game environment when we're healing, but it can also lead us to not really talk to our other healers.

This was something that was really highlighted for me in tier 12 content when fighting Baleroc. One of the strategies we employed in our raid was to divide each of the groups into their own Mumble channels -- ranged in one, melee in another, and tanks and healers on their own. Before doing this, healing coordination had been a bit spotty, and the encounter was giving us quite a bit of trouble. I encouraged my healing team to communicate with one another openly about their stacks, if they were having trouble keeping a target up, and any number of other bits of information that needed to be monitored during the fight. By communicating clearly with one another, we were able to effectively topple the encounter with minimal trouble.

Even now, communication can be your greatest (and most easily achievable) ally in improving your healing. Talking with your healing team can only improve your overall healing. If you talk with your holy paladin healer and find that he's been focusing mainly on the melee, you can focus your effort on the ranged to make more use of your mastery and help stabilize the raid. Knowing which tank will need a little extra attention will make sure that he stays alive and you are on the right target.

Talking with your healing team will help you squeeze out that much more healing done. It sounds silly at first, but overlap causes overhealing, and overhealing is wasted mana and potential. While overhealing may not be as bad as it once was, it is still something that speaks to wasting your potential healing done.

Talk with your healing team. Talk with your raid group and find out where you're needed most. Find out where to place those Chain Heals, who needs to have Healing Rain positioned on them, and where your Riptides will do the most good. Communication will do nothing but improve your performance.

2. Challenge yourself. This concept tends to be tricky for a lot of healers. We often view our task as just getting the job done. Did the healing targets live? Did the raid kill the boss?

We also tend to put ourselves into categories like tank healers or raid healers too often. This is particularly troublesome with restoration shaman because of many years of conditioning. The Burning Crusade really saw us come into our own as raid healers, with CH becoming a champion for group healing all throughout the content. From Karazhan to Sunwell Plateau, we kicked group healing in the teeth and carved our niche. That trend continued throughout Wrath of the Lich King as well, where group healing was really our strongest suit. Now with Cataclysm coming to a close, we've spent the entire expansion struggling against those very bonds.

One very easy way you can improve your overall performance is to challenge yourself to operate outside of your comfort zone. Try your hand at tank healing, and do your best as you can at it. Use meters and logs as a way to challenge yourself. Are you able to push your active time close to 100%? How close can you get? Can you push out some more HPS on a fight? Can you maintain constant casting while ending the fight without having to use a mana potion? Set goals for yourself, challenges that you can strive to meet. It helps keep you sharp and gets you to push yourself. In my guild, our healers constantly set challenges for one another as a means to improve ourselves as a healing team. Setting those challenges is an easy way to make yourself a better healer.

3. Try something new. Over time, things change. This is one of the universal truths of things in and out of game. Different strategies develop as new talents and mechanics are introduced to the game. Sometimes strategies or methods of healing come up that seem foreign or against anything that logic would dictate. It wasn't that long ago that priests were skeptical of Atonement healing.

Even restoration shaman have had to deal with some very oddball ideas even just over the course of Cataclysm alone. When it was first talked about, Telluric Currents was one of those talents that many of us were skeptical about. How useful was it actually going to be throw Lightning Bolts instead of just healing? The answer was that it was quite effective after all, and it has continued to be one of our greatest tools throughout the expansion.

Open yourself up to the idea that there might be a different way to do something, and maybe even give it a shot. There was even a time when Focused Insight had some PvE merit and was viable in certain encounters. I didn't believe it at the time, but I tried it out for myself when it was suggested to me by someone. On heroic Chimaeron, I used it to help supercharge my Healing Rain and make a big impact on the healing of that fight. Was it a strategy many people employed? Maybe not -- but it was something different that made some fights a little better for us.

You never know until you try

The point is, you never know if something is going to work unless you try it -- it might just be the boost you need to give you that extra edge. Don't dismiss an idea because it sounds a little far-fetched. Give it a shot and see how it goes for you. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So that's it for my advice -- three very easy things that you can do to help better yourself. They may seem like common sense, but sometimes we forget about the simple, easy things when we look at ourselves with a critical lens. What do you do when you're looking to improve yourself as a restoration shaman?

Totem Talk: Restoration lets you Ask a Shaman about the tricks of the trade. We'll introduce you to the very latest pre-raid gear and show you how to manage your cooldowns. Happy healing, and may your mana be plentiful!

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