Being the Shaman Behind the Meat Shield

Being the Shaman Behind the Meat Shield

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Back on the 13th, Mera asked a question that I felt deserved a post to fully answer it.

“Can shamans make good MT or OT healers, as in to the same standard of other healing classes?”

I provided a short answer of yes on the 13th, but I’m going to try to flesh it out a bit more here.

Shaman have been given a lot of tools when Patch 3.0 was brought live. These tools allow us to be competitive with other healers in single target healing. Really we can break this down into a few sections – Spec (talents), Glyphs and Strategy.

Spec/Talents:

There are three very popular specs out there right now:

  • 0/16/55 This has been referred to as the cookie cutter spec.
  • 0/14/57 This spec. This spec moves points out of Elemental weapons to buff ancestral healing.
  • 0/14/57 A build which takes a few points out of Thundering Strikes in order to have a maxed Healing Way and Ancestral Healing while forsaking Improved Water Shield.

Each has different strengths they bring to the healing fight so to speak so lets take a quick peak at some of the choice talents.

Let’s take a look at the talents we pick up in enhancement first.

Thundering Strikes: This talent is five points of wonderful. It boosts your crit by a solid 5%. This is great because when you are on a Tank there can often times be spikes in damage. Having a higher crit ensures a better chance of being able to top off the tank with one healing wave instead of two or three.

Improved Shields:  This talent increases the bang for the buck you get out of your Earth Shield. That 15% counts for a lot in the long run, and your tank will thank you for picking it up.

Elemental Weapons: More spell power is always good.  This gives you an additional 45 spell power, no reason not to take it.

Now, those are very straight forward. One can argue the same about the next set but I’ll highlight the talents in the restoration tree that, in my opinion are great main tank healer abilities, or have been updated recently and can fill that role.

Healing Way: I’ll start with Healing Way, which is second only to Earth Shield in my book when one thinks of Shaman healing a tank.  This talent recently underwent a change that make it a very useful talent once again. The full affect of the talent is applied when you use the spell once. This means that you no longer have to spam the ability 3 times to get it rolling. Front loading the effect means that you can toss a Healing Wave on the tank, and then burn another 15 seconds worth of spells and Global Cool Downs until the ability expires. Tossing another healing wave on the tank will immediately receive an 18% boost and keeping this in mind it’s very very easy to net 20k crit heals and higher. I personally feel this is a must for shaman doing tank healing.

Earth Shield / Improved Earth Shield: These are pretty self explanatory. Earth Shield is a bread and butter talent. For as long as we’ve had it, we’ve been using it and rightly so. You toss this up on the main tank and it can help to create a very nice reactive buffer for health loss. This talent also underwent a fix recently. Previously the chance for the shield to crit heal was based on the person you put it on. Meaning a fire mage was more likely to get crit heals then a prot warrior. They’ve fixed it now so that it has a chance to crit based on your crit at the time of casting. Looking at your talents you have 14% built in before gear and INT are calculated. This just helps improve something that was already golden.

Ancestral Awakening: A lot of people don’t like this talent, but I personally love it. Taking a look at it, Ancestral Awakening really fits well with a main tank shaman healer. It procs off of Lesser Healing Wave, Healing Wave and Riptide. If you are on a tank, you’re going to be using a lot more Healing Wave then you usually do, and as a result this will proc more often. It heals for 30% of the amount healed. Lets say it procs off of a nice Healing Wave crit for 20,000 hp. The talent (like beacon of light) only spreads around the part that’s effective healing. Lets say 10,000hp of that heal is actually healing. That’s still a 3k heal that lands on someone who needs it.

Tidal Force: Again, pretty self explanatory. Having something that boosts your crit for Healing Wave is always a good thing

Tidal Waves: This talent is also very nice. It procs off Chain Heal and Riptide. We can assume that you’ll be using Riptide pretty liberally as it’s an instant cast hot with a flash heal at the front (so yes you should be using it if you’re not), and so this should be up all the time. It reduces the casting time of your Healing Wave spells by 30%. That extra little bit of haste helps to deliver your big heal faster.

Glyphs:

For Glyphs it might be a bit hard to choose for tank healing duty but we do have some good ones to choose from.

  • Glyph of Water Mastery: More mana! I hope I never hear anyone complain about more mana =D
  • Glyph of Mana Tide Totem: Again more mana, in this case taking full advantage of all the INT you have.
  • Glyph of Healing Wave: This takes advantage of your Healing Wave casts by returning 20% of the effective healing done, ignoring overheal amounts. Great glyph for AoE bosses and fights where you might not be able to heal yourself.
  • Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave: Less mana to cast, and faster then it’s big brother, this glyph lets LHW strike an Earth Shielded target for a respectable amount on par with non crit Healing Waves.
  • Glyph of Earthliving: This helps make sure you have a HoT up as much as possible. 5% more Earthliving procs can help cushion your healing a bit.
  • Glyph of Chain Heal: Even though you’re going to be casting more heals then Chain Heal, it still remains our most efficient heal. Casting it in between Healing Waves can help keep Tidal Waves up, and if you happen to catch any low melee in the process, so much the better.

Pick glyphs that help fill in gaps in what you need. If you need more mana, two glyphs will go along way to help that. If you find yourself taking damage and not being able to peel away from the tank, there is a glyph that help you keep standing long into the fight. Now these are just the Resto ones, I’ve heard people using ones to finagle more crit and such.  Take a look Here and find ones that work for you.

Strategy

Lets face it, loling around and chain healing a raid isn’t rocket science. Using our tools to their full potential while raid healing take much more finesse. Switching gears from Raid Healing to Tank Healing takes a different mindset. First thing to remember is Resto Shaman don’t really have any preventative measures to help mitigate incoming damage beyond Stoneskin Totem and Strength of Earth Totem to add armor or STR/AGI for mitigation. Our healing is all reactive aside from maybe our two HoTs, and even then we only have full control over one of them. Earth Shield requires the person you put it on to be hit before it goes off. As a result we spend a lot of time overhealing when we’re on a tank in an attempt to keep them topped off. With the amounts of mana regen we usually have, it’s not hard to keep the spells constantly streaming while keeping up on mana. You will also make full use of all your healing spells as a tank healer. Be adaptive to the situation and be ready to move with your tank. With raid healing it’s easy to sit put and plug away but a lot of times with the tank you’ll have to move with them to keep them in healing range or line of sight.

Conclusion

With all this in mind my answer to the question is Yes, I feel that shaman are more then capable Tank Healers, on par with other classes. We have all the tools necessary to fill both roles of the Raid Healer and Tank Healer effectively. There may be fights were a certain type of healer is better for the job (like a Discipline Priest healing the Sartharion Tank on Sarth 3D) but that doesn’t mean it’s the case every time. We can keep up with the Priests, Paladins and Druids in single target healing just fine.

Image courtesy of www.plan59.com

Chain Heal Rises as Circle of Healing Falls

Chain Heal Rises as Circle of Healing Falls

This is a guest post by Lodur, a blogger from Way of the Totem. Today, he examines the nerf to Circle of Healing, the impact it will have to Resto Shamans and how they may need to compensate.

The patch notes can be found here: PTR Patch Notes!

This is going to be important to us in several ways, not least of which is the change to some of the other classes. I’d like to offer my opinion on it. Let’s take a look at priests.

Holy: Circle of Healing now has a 6 second cooldown.

This is going to be extremely important to us. The fact that Circle of Healing is getting a 6 second cooldown is huge. My current experience with CoH raiding priests is they blow group healing out of the water. One of our Shadow priests rolled over to Holy to fill a gap for raiding in 25 man Naxx. With no gear change, he was able to blow past me in healing output while maintaining mana. Now I’m not suggesting that we need to be the kings of the roost, nor am I doubting the abilities of this priest, but it was a difference of almost half a million pure healing output over the next closest.

In a normal raid you would find a few percentage difference between the top 4 or 5. maybe 1-2% difference. Between healer in first and second was a whopping 6%. As someone who has poured over stats and combat logs after raids trying to figure out how to keep the tanks up while maintaining the raid’s health, let me tell you, that’s a lot. The higher the discrepancy between places, the more over-healing there is, the more mana issues during the actual encounter is, and so on.

This "nerf" to CoH to me, is an attempt to try to bring the spell back into line and make healing more consistent. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming, I do however think 6 seconds is going to be a bit much of a cooldownn, but only time will tell as the PTR is being run. I’ve been pestering my priests about it, so we’ll see what they say. In the meantime it means we should be preparing for another reliable group heal not being as powerful or present as it was before, we should be ready to pick up the slack so to speak.

I’ve gone on and on about the joys of haste, you can see it here For those that don’t remember there is a formula we follow to figure out the cast time of your spells and how it’s affected by haste. And look, here it is!

newcasttime

Importance of Haste Rating

If you want to spam your chain heals and heal a raid it’s time to start looking at your haste gear and to start looking at your glyphs.

First of all you should be shooting for somewhere near 350-400 haste. 340 haste with a Wrath of Air totem will net you a 2.2 second Chain Heal cast time.

Your goal should be around a 2.0s cast time on your chain heal.

This will allow for your Global Cool Down to be up but also allow you to keep a constant stream of CH casting. By using the formula above we see that 2.0 seconds = 820 haste rating, however one must take into account the haste around you in a raid. The trend of almost every raiding guild I’ve seen has been to include at least one Retribution Paladin, and lets face it, Balance Druids have come a long way since vanilla and have found their way into raids quite frequently.

I’m going to make the assumption that you’ll have at least a Ret Paladin. So we can assume you’ll have 350ish haste, Wrath of Air totem down and a Ret paladin, your chain heal will be 2.2 seconds. Not bad. If you snag yourself the all holy Egg (which currently does not have a cooldown on the proc) the proc will put you at a 1.9 second cast time. This is good as this thing procs off just about everything. You can see more about the egg proccing in my post here. Now the reason you want to shoot for a 2.0 second cast time is other haste effects. Heroism / Bloodlust give you 30% increase in your casting speed. If you push too much haste, when you use it you will push yourself past your global cooldown timer, causing you to trip over your heals and keeps you from being able to heal effectively.

Glyphs

To go with your haste gear you should also be looking at glyphs. If you are going to be raid healing I have three major suggestions.

  • Glyph of Water Mastery: Will help keep your mana supply coming in good order (30% counts for a lot more then you would normally assume),
  • Glyph of Chain Heal: Necessary. The extra target just makes the spell even more effective. This again allows it to claim the title as most mana efficient heal around.
  • Glyph of Earthliving Weapon This one is a must for a few reasons. First, the Earthliving Weapon ability can proc of any heal, and each target of Chain Heal counts towards it proccing. Second, is the fact that the egg procs off HoT ticks. So, with chain heal delivering Earth Living to everyone and ensuring you have 4 targets and more then likely a HoT up at all times, your egg should be giving you an almost constant 505 haste. Pushing you right at 1.9 – 1.8s chain heals constantly allowing you to keep that raid nice and topped off.

Mana Regen

Now I’m sure many of you are asking "but what about mana regen?"

MP5, the magic shaman stat, is still present. If you are collecting gear based on haste, much of it also comes with a healthy dose of MP5. With that said, it is well within reason to have around 350 haste while still being able to pull off close to 550 mp5 while in combat. Once you reach your haste number, start getting a few pieces with MP5 in spades and everything will be fine.

On the topic of MP5 we do have a change on the horizon that will help with this.

On the PTR currently we see these:

Healing Way: Now only one application is required to reach full benefit. No longer stacks.

Improved Water Shield: Lesser Healing Wave now has a reduced chance to trigger this talent WOOOOOO.

First, of all lets talk improved Water shield. On a crit of Lesser Healing Wave or Riptide It will consume a charge of water shield, giving you the mana return as if you were hit. This is fine and dandy but in the heat of a battle, there are times you won’t be able to give up the Global Cool Down to put it back up instead of healing. A reduction in the proc rate down from 100% is very very good as it allows the orbs to stay up giving use more passive mana regeneration, which will come out to more overall MP5 in the long run.

Second, the change to Healing Way means we only have to plop down one Healing Wave instead of the 3 we normally would have, which means we can conserve that mana and still get the full effect.

Front loading the effect was an amazing move on the part of Blizzard.

That’s it for my thoughts on this patch at this time. I’m currently waiting on a response from my priests as far as their input goes on the talent change, but in the meantime, be prepared to step up and fill the gap.

Happy healing!

Patch 2.3.2 Coming To You

Yup, it looks like it’s been officially announced. The first thing I do when upcoming patch notes are available is scanning the Priest section. I want to see what they’re changing to my class. Well guess what?

No changes.

As far as we can tell, Priests have had no adjustments made so far. Now isn’t that just peachy? Apparently, our class is balanced. However, I beg to differ. Take a look down below at exhibit A.

You might be able to recognize that screenshot. That’s me on my Shaman clearing to Attumen. To my left is a Shadowpriest (Hi John!). To my right is one of those undead horses being mind flayed. Or is it? Look at the angle of the flay. Normally, John’s a straight shooter. But to be fair, his CS skills have waned somewhat. Did it carry into Warcraft? Nah. This has got to be a graphical bug of some kind. That Mind Flay is clearly way off target.

However, my Shaman is getting some rather interesting changes.

Shaman

  • Earth Shield (Restoration) mana cost reduced.
  • Lightning Shield mana cost reduced.
  • Water Shield now restores mana periodically regardless of how many charges remain. Duration increased to 10 minutes.

In a nutshell, Shamans just became a lot more mana efficient. We don’t know for sure yet how often Water Shield will activate or how mana it returns. We’ve already seen the Mana Spring Totem get buffed.

Imp. Water Shield + Mana Spring Totem = Lots of Chain Heals

Shamans used to be at the bottom of the barrel when it came to mana efficiency. That no longer appears to be the case.