State of Chain Heal, Lodur’s Thoughts

State of Chain Heal, Lodur’s Thoughts


A couple days ago one of my twitter buddies linked me a forum post that has been going on centered around the state of Chain Heal. Here’s the thread if you want to take a look. I generally make it a rule not to troll the official forums for the sheer amount of flotsam that tends to be present, but I did read it. All 22 pages (at the time of this post). I have a few opinions on this topic (keep in mind this is my opinion), and I’d like to take a moment to share them.

(this will probably be a bit  of a rant. so apologies in advance I just hate gross generalization)


There seems to be a perception that Chain Heal, and Restoration Shamans are broken in general. Not broken in the “DUDE I totally need to roll a Resto Shaman” but broken as in not functioning correctly. I cannot agree with that, not even a little. As a true lover of the class and all it’s faults and strengths, I can honestly say we are better off then most classes and specs. Are we perfect? No, we’re not. Are we broken? Hardly.

In the thread people quote the musings of Mek from Ensidia. I’m going to copy and paste the opening statement from the thread here.

There has been theorycraft showing that CH isn’t as strong as the other options. There have been logs produced showing how shaman are HPS capped. I’m not going to repeat all the data here, because you’ve read every post. Further, you have some of the top guilds putting shaman on spot heals instead of AOE heals or even replacing shaman with other healers for hard modes.

Mek, the resto Shaman from the #1 raiding guild Ensidia, is abandoning Chain Heal in favor of spot healing with LHW/RT.

Chain Heal cannot compete with the comprehensive AoE healing power of four highly skilled Priest and Druid AoE healers. This is simply because if you compare the relative spell combos they have many advantages.

Vis Maior, a Top 20 US progression guild recently replaced one of their shaman with a priest, because Chain Heal could not keep up. Sixthy, the other resto is spot healing the raid with RT/LHW. His Chain Heal for the raid was 6% of his total heals.

Deconstructor hard mode (25) really made Chain Heal look weak in my opinion. We had a 2nd resto shaman in for a few attempts and CH just flat out couldn’t keep up with PoH / CoH / WG / etc / etc.

Mek and Sixthy are not scrubs that just started playing. They are some of the best players in the world.

While I respect Mek and Sixthy , and appreciate everything they have contributed to the Shaman Community as a whole (this is in no way a shot at them or the OP of the comment above), I cannot agree that Chain Heal fails to measure up to the other AoE healing. I also feel that they are taken out of context quite often and people take statements like “this spell is better in this fight compared to this one” as “OMG SHAMANS ARE BEING REPLACED CAUSE THEY STINK”.  With Vis Maior, pointing out that they replaced a shaman with a priest is fine, but that’s going to have a lot to do with their composition. ( I checked their site they don’t have a raiding roster posted) I did notice they had three Resto Shamans on their members list. Unfortunately I don’t have details as to whether or not they were all raiders, but looking at each toon’s loot page it seems likely they are. I can see that being a problem, not because of the weakness of the class or spells, but based on composition. As a Healing Lead I can tell you, too much of a good thing often turns swiftly into a bad thing, and there have been many nights a raid has suffered from too much of one concentration.

Second thing I would like to point out is quoting that Chain Heal for Sixthy was 6% of his total casts. That’s fine and all but is that one fight? I started going through the EJ post, there is a lot of information there, but all of it is subjective. Keep in mind your mileage may vary. I can produce WWS that show Chain Heal being 50% of all healing done, doesn’t mean it’s a “God Spell” by any means. Also, pointing out that the spell is HPS capped is moot. Technically all healing spells in the game are HPS capped if you have all the items/gems/enchants necessary to push that cap.

I’m going to quote Ghost Crawler here. He chimes in on the topic with the following.

We’re not convinced there is a Resto or Chain Heal problem in PvE.

Part of what we wanted to do was give shamans other spells to cast besides CH. Riptide is an awesome spell and seems to be fun for a lot of shamans. People are still casting CH, and probably a lot more often than priests are using PoH and druids WG (depending on the fight of course). We would want to make sure that any change to CH didn’t send shamans back to the Sunwell world of just using that one spell.

Well, I agree 100% with GC. Blizz gave us a multitude of spells so we weren’t one trick ponies. Back in BT / Sunwell days you could bind all your keys to Chain Heal and just roll your face on the keyboard and win (with the exception of keeping one key for Heroism / Bloodlust). Well… that just wasn’t fun. Now we have a lot of cookies, and they are quite delicious. Personally I think Chain Heal is just fine. Would I complain if they did buff it a little? No sir, I’d be grateful but I don’t expect it. I like the fact that unlike Wild Growth and Circle of Healing, there is no cooldown on the spell other then the GCD. I like the fact that if glyphed I can hit 4 targets at a time. I love the fact that it is a smart heal and not just blindly jumping to pad over healing. I love the fact that it feeds our other talents and spells with buffs and loving. I love the iconic spell, bottom line, but you can’t lose sight of every other tool we have at our disposal and say that we don’t measure up or that the spell fails. Math can be produced to support any argument, ask my buddy mike. He has a degree in Computational Physics. His entire job is to debunk the theories put forth by other scientists using math. His stance is

“I can find an equation to prove or disprove anything given enough time. Numbers change and statistics are subjective”

I agree with mike. In a game of Random Number Generation no numbers can be absolute. I can roll a 20 sided dice 10 times, and I can get multiple 20′s in a row. That doesn’t mean the die isn’t balanced, I just had a hot streak. Try to keep that in mind when applying numbers to the game. We can shift the tables, but at the end of the night it still boils down to RNG


Ok, now that I have the rant out of the way, lets take a look at the Resto Shaman’s Tool box and what we bring to the table.

Cleanse Spirit – While not a “healing” spell in the effect that it doesn’t restore health, it’s a reactionary tool to stabilize. It removes 1 disease, 1 poison and 1 curse for a 7% base mana cost. Well, thats kind of an amazing tool, and one that shouldn’t be looked over.

Riptide – Our instant cast HoT. This spell Is more amazing then people give it credit. As a HoT it’s admittedly not as good as some of the others available, but adding the T8 2pc bonus and the Riptide Glyph makes it a bit better for use as one. Lets not forget the spell gives your Chain Heal a 25% boost. Oh and it can trigger Improved water Shield. Thats hardly something to scoff at.

Tidal Force – This talent is on 3min timer. It gives you a 60% increased chance to crit on your Chain Heal, Healing Wave and Lesser Healing Wave with a diminishing factor of 20% on each successful crit. I know in a normal raid I run about a 31% crit chance. Poping this to give myself a 91% crit chance, and combining that with say Riptide on a target is a very attractive healing explosion.

Tidal Waves – This ability gives your next 2 healing wave or lesser healing waves a 30% haste increase after you cast CH or Riptide. It also gives HW a 20% increase in healing, and LHW 10% boost. Combine that with Tidal Force and you can have some big HW heals in clutch situations.

Earth Shield – This bad boy is a great little cookie. You toss it up on a tank and it gives you a little bit of a buffer for healing. It really shines on a tank that has a ton of avoidance (see Death Knight or Bear Tank). It has a few second internal cooldown between healing procs, but when your tank is dodging 70% of the incoming attacks that becomes less of a factor. Average healing is between 2 – 3k . I tossed this up on our Main Tank (DK) in Uld last week and after one fight he asked if he even got hit. ES was down 3 charges but no healers had to touch him. I think that says something about this spell right there.

Lesser Healing Wave – This is our Flash heal. It’s fast and works like our healing jab. Combine that with Tidal Waves and it’s that much faster while Tidal Force can give it a little more bang for your buck. You can also toss in a LHW Glyph and give your ES target a little LHW loving. It also triggers your Improved Water Shield to help with your mana regeneration.

Healing Wave – This is our Greater Heal. It’s slow and it hits hard. You can speed it up with a Tidal Waves proc and boost it with Tidal Force. It also can trigger IWS and you can Glyph it to heal yourself whenever you use it.

Healing Stream Totem – Since patch 3.1 this has become one of the greatest tools we have at our disposal. Combine it with the recent changes to Restorative Totems and toss in a Glyph of Healing Stream Totem and watch this puppy start pumping out massive AoE HoT healing. Using this with Chain Heal on top of it just becomes a ridiculous amount of raid healing.

Acenstral Awakening – This little puppy might not be the greatest tool we have, but it is definitely useful. It can proc off Riptide, LHW and HW and heals the lowest health target within 40 yards for 30% of the amount you just healed. Combine that with some of the aforementioned talents and you can get a decent amount of mileage out of this one.

Earth Living Weapon – Our healing weapon imbue adds 150 healing and has a 20% chance to toss a small HoT off the target of the heal. This can and does proc off of chain heal and taking Blessing of the Eternals can increase the proc percentage as well as the Glyph. It might not seem like a lot but free healing is free healing, and it does add up.

We have so much going for us now, we are a complete healer. Our strength lies in the synergy of spells and talents as well as our ability to compliment every healer in the game. I once referred to Restoration Shamans as the driving bass line that keeps the song moving forward. I still fully believe that. I think our spells are strong and I think they give us an ability to fill multiple roles in a raid at the drop of a hat. I think our versatility and synergy allow us a certain amount of freedom many classes don’t always have. I can go from raid healing to tank healing in the blink of an eye, and be just as good as any other healing class.

I don’t think chain heal is broken, I just think it’s not the crutch it used to be. I think people should stop looking to it to be the spell it was in Sunwell, and should accept that it is one of many tools to be used with great effect. You have to use every tool you have at your disposal to be effective or as the saying goes, the sum is greater then the parts. I think chain heal keeps up with PoM, CoH, and WG just fine. I think swinging to one extreme and favoring one spell or the other is horrible. You should never grow to rely on a single spell, nor should a class be defined by the strength of a single spell. For all the people who claim that a shaman’s worth lies in Bloodlust and Heroism solely, or that since chain heal isn’t a god-like spell that we have no use in a raid. That just makes me sad. As someone who truly loves the shaman class, and as a person who enjoys it so much that other classes pale in comparison to play I beg you. Please look at the class as a whole. Look at all the wonderful things we bring to the raid and treat us like any other healer. I beg you to keep in mind composition of the entire raid over individual classes. We stack up just fine compared to other AoE healing, don’t write us off.

I’m ok if you say one of our spells is not suited for a specific task, but it really sets me off when it degenerates down into a crude understanding of how things are. I know for a fact I can keep up on hard modes, I know my spells will be there to back me up. I know this because I use everything and the kitchen sink when healing.

What do you guys think? Do you think Shaman Healing is broken? Do you think we can’t keep up with hard mode healing? Do you still love your Lazer Beam of Love?

Until next time, Happy Healing


Image courtesy of Lize of <Gladius Dei> on Kilrogg
Found through official forums

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.



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