Healing so far, Lodur’s thoughts

It’s been a while since Cataclysm has been released, and I’ve been hitting heroics, dungeons and now raids as often as I can. So I figured it would be a good time to report on the trends I’m seeing, and how restoration shaman are fitting into the scheme of things.

Tank healing

Tank healing is a new and interesting animal. With everyone’s health totals rising exponentially due to ridiculous stam values on gear, tanks are getting absolutely insane health totals. In Wrath, our main tank could push himself above 100k health. Healers gasped at this and commented on “EZ mode” healing with a health pool that size. Being heroic level geared in Cata, as a healer I’m sporting 106k – 116k depending on the buffs available. Tanks are pushing closer to 200k health. So what does this mean? Well, tanks can take a beating that’s for sure, but the design of the higher health totals means that tank damage is meant to be a lot less spiky, and a lot more predictable. I’m finding my medium, cheap heal is sufficient in most cases to continually cast on the tank, and still be able to keep my mana reserves quite high. When the tank takes his big damage, I can pop a quick expensive heal, or a slow expensive big heal to give me the buffer to switch back to my medium heal.

In most cases I’m finding tank healing has a steep curve to learn, but is a lot easier than it was before once you get used to it thanks to the normalization in damage. This counts normals, heroics and raids. The trick really is just knowing when the damage is coming. Boss mods of course help with that, but I find it much more important to know the fights now than it was in Wrath. I like it honestly, it’s a lot less boring than it was in the previous expansions and I find myself not falling asleep at the keyboard while healing tanks.

Healing the rest of the group

Healing the rest of the group is an interesting shift as well. Not only does everyone have higher health totals, but everyone has a way to stay a live a lot longer without the direct intervention of the healer. True it is important to “not stand in bad”, but on those times someone gets caught they can keep themselves a live a little bit longer. Whether it is a cooldown to avoid damage, a self heal or an ability to GTFO before damage gets too bad, every class has something.

The beautiful thing about this, is that for the most part I can put them on the back burner and actually pay attention to the fights. It provides just enough buffer for me to not have to solely play green bar whack-a-mole. I can safely navigate away from fire and other bad things, and not have to worry about snapping off that last heal that very second on that DPS. Now I’m not saying that you ignore them completely, obviously that would be rather silly. Instead I’m just saying you have breathing room to save your own bacon, or that of the tank, before absolutely turning your attention to the DPS.

In the last few weeks, I’ve learned to rely pretty heavily on passive healing quite a bit where DPS is concerned. For a resto shaman this really means loving that Healing Stream Totem and Healing Rain. Trusting in those two spells to do their job I can usually stay above board on mana longer. I’m hearing this report back from many of the healers from all walks of life.

Spirit is the new MP5, and my new overlord?

Spirit is really catching me as something, at least for shaman, that is proving more important than maximum mana. This may be a design glitch, but in this past weeks raid on Halfus I was the only healer with mana left at the end of the fight and I never stopped healing. I packed about 3k-3.2k spirit with buffs / flasks and made liberal use of Mana Spring Totem, but the results were definitely there. I’m not saying you should move entirely towards spirit, but I saw a lot of healers forsaking spirit entirely, or keeping their levels very low, in order to stack more int to increase mana pools.

It’s true that int gives you more spellpower as well, but it’s all about balance. Conserving mana is important, but making sure you’re getting positive mana returns is also very important. I won’t give you hard numbers here because I think each healing class will wind up with very different sweet spots, but I urge you to play around with your numbers a little.

Working as a team

It has become more important than ever to work with your healing team to achieve healing balance and total victory. In the Halfus Wyrmbreaker fight (10 man version) we were running with a resto druid, holy pally and myself. We put the holy pally on the main tank as his primary focus, I took the off tank, and the druid roll healed. The goal was to cross heal when applicable, but to have a specific section to babysit, so to speak. Very early into the first attempt, the druid went OoM. We talked about it after the attempt before the second try and found he was pretty low on spirit, and pumping everything into int while attempting to HoT the entire raid. We swapped his int stacking for more spirit (flask, food, gem) and then strategized a “healing zone” for the raid. We decided we would create a safe zone to layer healing rains and efflorescence. It went so much better that it was just silly. The healing load balanced (so to speak) the rest of the fight was easy mode.

The rest of the night was the same. We strategized our healing spell choices for each fight and assigned areas of responsibilities for each that overlapped. The three healers really worked to support each other throughout the raid, and it worked out very well. It just illustrated to me how much more important working together is now compared to Wrath. In Wrath it was so easy to just sit by and do your own thing, not really worrying about what the healers are doing, but coordinating now at least in the 10 man raiding environment works out so much better.

I AM HEROIC DAMN IT!

Healer gear seems to be falling from the trees right now. Crated items are fairly easy to obtain, every heroic seems to drop at least a single piece of healer usable loot, and I don’t feel like I’m starved for items to fill slots anymore. All the healers in my guild are saying the same thing, and I find that refreshing. It helps us to be better prepared (and properly geared) for raids than we were in Wrath. The level of difficulty of healing heroics right now I feel is tuned properly, and helps us develop the healing skills with our new changes that we need to have. It’s less about rolling face and mashing one button, and more about really learning what to do. At least for now that is.

I walk into heroics and raids confident that I can accomplish any goal set before me now as well. I seriously do not fear healing anything. It’s not from a position of being overpowered, it’s honestly from knowing that I have all the tools I need at my disposal. It’s a really great feeling to not go into an instance and say “shit, I just don’t have the right tools to heal this.” Color me giddy at that one.

What about your adventure?

So I’m curious as to everyone’s experience in Cataclysm so far. How have things been going for you now? What type of situations have you run into? What lessons have you learned that you can share with others?

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About Lodur

Lodur is the right hand shaman to Matticus on World of Matticus, and a recruiting officer of Conquest and Co-Host of For the Lore podcast. Read more of his works at WoW Insider.

Comments

  1. I’m only 84 and with only three dungeons under my belt because I kind of had a momentary panic after all the changes. From the little bit I’ve seen your assessment is dead on, though the problem I’ve encountered is that the rest of the group may have tools at their disposal but they don’t seem to want to use them! I guess they haven’t got into the new frame of mind.

    • I’ve found that myself, a lot lately.
      For some reason those who can do a little self healing don’t, even tanks that have cool down don’t use them, and I burn through mana when I shouldn’t have to.

      One thing I have started doing is not healing people fully after trash, I leave them at say 85% and it’s been forcing them to do a bit of bandaging or what not.

  2. I’ve probably been unlucky then, because heroic loot so far has been really bad to me, if it was anything healy at all then it was mail. what I’mm mostly looking for at the moment is spirit and haste even though I am definitely going to try and get more int, crit and mastery too as soon as I can and switch some stats around. but first things first – if you’re only just starting off with heroics, as a holypriest you wanna get ‘heal’ down to a decent speed and regen always comes before spellpower for me as long as I run out of mana. that said, with the huge healthpools now where you never top or overheal, SP and crit have actually become more important and certainly translate into mana conservation a lot more than they used to in the past. so I will have to make some comparisons soon.

    And I’m already looking forward to raid with my team on 25man, I’ve always loved the need to teamwork and coordinate lots back in vanilla and have started to miss this somewhat the past years (even though I always coordinated every bossfight still). bring on the tough fights!! =)

  3. I think that the different healers are much more different than people give them credit for being. Perhaps resto shamans and holy priests have some commonalities, but discipline priests, resto druids and paladins all heal quite differently.

    Because of the 15% intellect bonus, shadowfiend, rapture and replenishment, a point of intellect provides quite a bit more mana regeneration for discipline than a point of spirit. Because of Train of Thought and Divine Aegis, Greater Heal and Prayer of Healing are nearly always superior options to Heal, and I don’t even keep that small efficient heal on my bar.

  4. I have to agree on the spirit comment. As my gear improved, and I aimed for adding spirit into the mix, I found things to get easier in Heroics. There are still situations where I go near OOM, even as a Holy paladin, though that is either due to a bad pull, or dps doing what they should not be doing.

    I have yet to raid much (waiting for post-Christmas slum to pass) however do you find due to the larger pools you are using the bigger heals more than anticipated? The mediums are great for the slow no damage periods but if things get hairy, the mediums seem pointless and cannot keep up. I suppose is a pacing issue at that point.

    • honestly, not really. I find myself still only using the bigger heals when absolutely necessary. A lot of that comes from the players reacting to the damage as well. If they don’t react at all, it becomes really difficult and the fast, expensive big heals get more usage. But if things go the right way, you shouldn’t be relying on them too much.

  5. Are there any spreadsheets yet on how many points of int spirit is worth, or vice versa? I remember there used to be some. Especially for say disc priests where int and crit can provide mana returns due to the way their mana return abilities work. But I imagine there are diminishing returns or some way to balance it.

    • Pretty sure EJ has one for each class in the works. I know some folks at totemspot were working on it for shaman. I don’t really know though because I like figuring this stuff out through trial and error before checking with the math wizards.

    • Here are the simple comparisons between spirit and intellect in terms of mana regen (so ignoring that intellect gives spell power), using only built in abilities (so resto shaman gets mana tide and priests get hymn of hope but others don’t)

      Holy: 1 spi = 2.34 int
      Discipline: 1 spi = 0.810 int
      Shaman: 1 spi = 2.75 int
      Paladin: 1 spi = 1.95 int

      I didn’t include druids because there is a mechanic they have that I haven’t studied. These values aren’t super realistic since they just average everything out over time. In reality I’d value int a little higher than that because it does provide base mana, which matters over the course of a five minute fight, and matters even more over a two or three minute fight like the ones you will meet in heroics.

      Anyway, if you have having mana problems, get spirit. Even gem for spirit. Unless you are a discipline priest, then just get int. Note that these values are comparisons within classes, not between them. The discipline priest ratio is both a function of them having nothing to boost spirit *and* of them getting far more return from int than anyone else.

  6. I completely agree about the spirit. Below 1800 spirit in heroics was brutal. I’m sitting at about 2100 now without buffs and it is much more comfortable on my priest. I’m looking forward to the raiding. Hopefully my healing core can gel like your’s did! I still need more spirit!

  7. Your observations are very much like my own. I’m also sporting a slightly non traditional raid spec for healing (folks on EJs will probably be hating on me) but what I’ve found in our 25 man (<9% wipe on Magmaw) was that Telluric Currents gave me back to 100%. I'm also still assisting with being a mana battery and popping mana tide often and early.

    Another thing I'm continually working on is getting a shock up for the reduced healing cost.

    Out of curiosity, how's your crit/haste? and are you seeing any benefits of mastery?

    • Mastery is hit and miss. Really strong for a crit / tank build, OK for a raid healing / haste build but nothing to really stress about. I’m finding the passive amount of mastery on gear more than enough right now.

      As far as my numbers, Before totems / buffs, 18.15% crit 7.43% haste. Honestly I want more haste right now as I think that benefits resto shaman the most still. I’ve also shed a little spirit to see how that goes for now.

  8. Isn’t the maximum Divine Aegis amount somehow tied to the casting priest’s healthpool? Well anyway, I managed to get one of my DA’s to say “Absorbs 14k-ish” damage, which I’m assuming was after I had two GHeal crits in a row for about 30k each (so 7k-ish from each applied to DA). Anyway, I’m starting to warm up to using GHeal more often because of the bigger possible DA procs. Coupled with a PW:S for 10k, I’m able to mitigate quite a bit of damage.

  9. One observation I have that I didn’t read here is regarding Chain Heal. I no longer see it as being the “go to” heal it’s been ever since my shaman became my main during late BC. This is arguably the biggest change to the “healing model” that shaman will have to adapt to. That said, CH on top of Healing Rain and Healing Stream Totem makes for some potent multi-target healing; perhaps not as much or noticable as our CH used to be in times past, but still a potent combo nonetheless.

    • chain heal is still chock full of delicious candy, but you’re right, it’s not the go to heal it used to be. I’ve commented on this a few times in my wow insider posts and here as well. I’m actually really excited someone else finally saw it as well.

      You’re right though, chain heal is still one hell of a 1-2-3 punch with HST and HR.

  10. For me heroics have been… not fun. Horrible wipefests even with a guild group because my heals are slow, hit for shit, and my mana is basically non-existent. It’s probably due to gear (I’ve only got 1 or 2 heroic items), but LFG insists on putting me in Grim Batol hc and I just can’t heal the second boss. I can understand why the so-called “casuals” are upset right now. I’m not going to QQ, I know it gets better, but oh my god do I feel useless now. I couldn’t see anything wrong with the performance of my DPS and tank, but yesterday night I had two losing choices: try to heal them up with slow-but-efficient heals (they died before I could finish a cast) or try to heal them up with fast-but-mana-expensive heals (they died 1 minute later when I ran oom). After the disaster I went and reforged all my crit to spirit and I hope it helps… but I’m not going near that place any time soon.

  11. I’d say for the most part, in 346 gear I feel I can start overpowering some of the heroic mechanics, and heal through some stupid stuff. Some bosses seem designed to frustrate such play no matter what, such as the first boss in SFK. If your DPS are too brain dead to interrupt right, you might as well forget it.

    Other than those few fights, things go pretty well.

  12. I agree with the poster above. Now that I am in all 346 plus, it is much easier. We will be steamrolling these heroics in no time.

  13. So if I understand this correctly… INT>SPI for Disc? I tried that and I went oom very quickly, so I went back to spirit gear. Am I doing it wrong or something? I mean by that stat weight logic, I should be ok in my shadow dps gear (minus anything with +hit) for disc right? Or should I just wear anything with spirit, but gem/enchant for intel?

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