Answering Questions the Lazy Way

I haven’t made a ton of time to write lately, and I know that for every comment I get asking for help, there are probably 10 other people who are wondering the same thing but not asking. Unfortunately, my energy is pretty limited these days, and writing often takes more out of me than I expect it will. So, I’ll write something on my guild forums or TotemSpot, and I realize I’m pretty much drained for the day. In this post, I want to direct people to some other Resto Shaman blogs that have great Cata content, and also give you some feedback on how I’m healing so far.

Answering Questions with Links :)
I’ve had several requests for a basic “how should I heal as a Resto Shaman” post. Thankfully, Jadeira has already done a great job of this over on her blog, Totem Forest (I think it’s “her” please correct me if that’s wrong). Check out “So You Just Specced Resto” for a rundown of our heals, what they do, and when you want to be casting them. There are also a ton of other great posts there, and sometimes I will have something I want to write about, and then realize Jadeira has already done it. So rather than duplicating that effort, add Totem Forest to your reader as well. :)

I have also had lots of questions about whether Core of Ripeness is worth the Valor Points with the impending Mana Tide change. Another great Shaman blogger, Vixsin, has tackled this one too with a nice math-laden analysis of our various trinket options. His general opinion on Core of Ripeness, which I agree with, is that although it’s no longer an amazing, must-have trinket, it’s still a solid version for those who don’t have access to a lucky raid drop or the Archaeology trinket that never seems to come up.

Many people are also wondering how to build up, gem and enchant their gear. As I predicted a while back (along with many others), Cataclysm has made theorycrafting out our numbers pretty tricky. Because we need to make sure we don’t run out of mana, Spirit and a big mana pool are really important on some fights, especially as you learn them. In other fights (Chimaeron and lots of the hard modes, from what I hear), we need to take low health people out of the danger zone very quickly, so our Mastery is amazing. Sometimes, what we’d really like is some more throughput with Haste. Crit seems like it should be amazing by giving us bigger heals and increased mana return through Improved Water Shield, but in practice stacking a lot of Crit doesn’t always work well, because it takes so much Crit to get an increase in our rating.

With all of that in mind, I’m doing the same thing as Vixsin and trying to build a balanced gear set for Tier 11. Your general approach should be to pick up epics to replace your blues wherever you can. It’s hard to make a really “wrong” choice, because all of our secondary stats provide something useful, and it’s quite easy to gem and reforge to change up your gear. With Mastery, Crit and Haste all proving beneficial to varying degrees, you really don’t want to turn down a clear upgrade just because it has Mastery, and you heard Mastery was bad from some random poster on MMO Champion. Frankly, it’s not bad at all depending on the fight, and with patch 4.0.6 incoming shortly, it’s getting even better.

My Healing Experience So Far
So, how am I healing right now in Cata? First, I’m taking care of the basics and making sure I have high uptime on Earth Shield, Water Shield, and Tidal Waves. You really want to keep Riptide on cooldown as much as possible, both for the HoT it provides and to take advantage of the Tidal Waves buff. Looking at my logs from last week, Riptide is consistently my highest heal, doing between 23-27% of my healing depending on the night. Keep in mind this is for 10 man raiding. I had between 72-84% uptime on Tidal Waves throughout the week.

You want your Earth Shield uptime to be up over 90%. One night mine dipped to 86%, and there’s not really a good reason for it to go any lower. Water Shield should be around 90% or more as well, which I’m generally pretty good at. If your Water Shield is not up, you are absolutely killing your regen, so make sure you can easily track this. Power Auras or another buff mod is key to making sure you always have your shields up.

Healing Rain is a great spell when people are grouped up, so I use it as much as possible depending on the encounter. If you’re only hitting 2-3 people, however, it’s going to burn right through your mana without providing much benefit. On a fight like Magmaw it’s my top heal, while on Halfus it was hardly used.

With our direct heals, I find that I get the most use out of Healing Surge. It was generally my second highest heal last week, ranging between 15-25% percent depending on the night. When you fire off a Healing Surge with Tidal Waves up, you have a great chance to crit. The mana return from the crit helps make up for the increased cost of the HS, which ends up healing about as much as a Greater Healing Wave, but much faster. This calculation will change a bit in 4.0.6 with a buff to GHW (and an increased mana cost), but for now HS is really your go to spell when one player is taking some significant damage.

Healing Wave is unfortunately lagging behind for me, making up only around 3-5% of my healing. It’s nice when things are going steady and no one is about to die, but when things hit the fan, it drops right out of my healing rotation. I’d rather get out some quick Healing Surges, make sure no ones dies, and then drop Mana Tide to replenish my mana.

Earthliving and Ancestral Awakening are doing their job nicely, usually around 7% of my healing done for each. Of course, the great thing about these spells is that they pretty much take care of themselves, allowing you to focus on everything else.

Unleash Elements is something you want to get used to casting pretty often for the 20% buff to your next heal. I generally try to follow it up with a Greater Healing Wave if I have the time, or a Healing Surge if I don’t. I have seen indications that if you queue up a Riptide while your direct heal is casting, it will also gain the Unleash Life benefit, although I have not confirmed this in practice. I try to do it anyway, in part because if Riptide is off cooldown it’s usually what I want to be casting next anyway.

Chain Heal must think I’ve gotten sick of it and moved on to a younger, more attractive heal. We had a nice run in Wrath 25 mans, but right now, the opportunities to make much use out of Chain Heal in a 10 man are few and far between. It’s basically a way to get a large group healed up after HR has already been dropped. Even then, it’s sometimes too slow and I revert to HS spam. The 10% buff in the next patch should help work Chain Heal back into my rotation more often, and should be a nice boost to 25 man raiders who are probably still using it, but cursing its ineffectiveness.

Minimizing overhealing is key to stretching your mana. I’m trying my best to let my Healing Stream Totem and HoTs top people off, rather than firing off another Healing Surge and wasting mana. Last week I was right around 14% overhealing each night. That seems generally pretty good to me, but I’d love to hear what other people are doing and see if this is an area I can improve.

Finally, I use Wind Shear, a lot. I pride myself on doing the most interrupts every raid night. There are so many boss fights where interrupts are simply not optional. If you want to defeat the encounter, you need to have solid interrupters. With a six second cooldown and no GCD, the only reason you shouldn’t be interrupting is if you miss due to lack of hit rating. Bosses like Halfus, Omnitron, Ascendant Council, and Maloriak all have tons of opportunities to interrupt, so make sure you’re not missing this important part of being a Resto Shaman!

Some Thoughts on Talents
Right now, I am running with this spec, which takes Ancestral Swiftness, Cleansing Waters, and Blessing of the Eternals. In my opinion, Ancestral Swiftness is pretty much mandatory. In just about every fight, I find a reason to cast an instant ghost wolf to get out of the bad stuff or more quickly get grouped up for heals. Off the top of my head, it’s invaluable for kiting the flame breath and death beam in Atramedes and avoiding Valiona’s gigantic purple breath. At all other times, it provides a constant movement speed buff (and frees up my boots for the Haste enchant) that keeps me out of bad while maximizing my healing time.

Cleansing Waters is kind of a “meh” talent for raiding right now. I use it a ton in heroics and on trash pulls to help heal while I dispel, but all of last week I only got off 14 dispels on boss fights. That’s not much of a return for two talent points. So, as much as I love reducing the mana cost and adding some healing to my dispelling, this talent might be on the way out shortly, since heroics are getting much easier as I gear up.

I am probably going to remove those two points and stick them back into Telluric Currents. (Edit – apparently you can’t actually do this and still move down the tree. Try something more like this build) I tried TC out for a while, and while I don’t have any math to back it up, there are definitely fights where it is useful. On Magmaw, you can spam LB during the burn phases and return a good chunk of mana. After the initial Halfus craziness is over and some drakes have died, there is room to hit LB to regen a bit of mana. Or, if you happen to get low near the end of a fight or need to Ankh, spending a bit of time to regen with TC can let you build up a mana cushion and give the other healers a chance to regen once you’re done. Some people seem to hate TC, but I’d urge you to give it a shot, and see if you can’t find some time to fire off a few LBs. Long ago Ghostcrawler said that we weren’t supposed to regen mana this way, but in the game we’re playing right now, it can be a useful tool.