A little introduction is required, as this is my first ChainHeal.com post. I am Seksi. I have been playing since vanilla and one of the older hardcore gamers around at 31 years. My main interest in this game is raiding and healing in particular. I played all healing classes along the years but currently focusing on my shaman, Seksixeny (on Ravencrest – EU) as I believe it is the most versatile and interesting healer in game currently, due to its amazing talent tree. In this post, I want to examine a few different builds that are being used currently.
Dorelei: In general, Seksi makes a distinction between throughput talents and flexible talents. He considers the flexible talents to not be part of specific builds. But rather fight and set-up dependent. He wants to share his trade-offs when selecting these non-throughput talents.
These rows depend on the fight and are not part of your throughput kit. The highlighted talents in the rows are the ones he personally prefers.
- Gust of Wind if you need the blink to react to abilities.
- Graceful Spirit if you can easily react by moving and rather want to optimize HPS.
- Wind Rush Totem if the raid needs to move away from a critical ability (like Mythic Helya combos). If you don’t have a druid that can roar, you might have to use this talent for the team.
- Lightning Surge Totem if you can stun things (for example Aluriel / Krosus / Botanist adds).
- Earthgrab Totem if rooting them is preferable (for example Botanist adds if you already have stuns covered).
- Voodoo Totem if cc’ing them is best, can’t think of any use case in Nighthold.
- Ancestral Protection Totem to deal with rare but extremely dangerous moments or guaranteed deaths (such as Botanist suicides in the last phase).
- Earthen Shield Totem if the fight has constant/pulsing, light damage on raids (for example Elisande).
- Ancestral Vigor when only a few people are in constant danger and you (are able to) keep the buff up (on Tichondrius soakers and tanks for example).
These three parses represent three different playstyles: the most common build, burst build, and dungeon build. On the right side of the image, you can see what talents he used for each parse. These correspond with each of the three builds we will discuss in this article.
I showcased each of the three talent builds on Botanist Mythic. A well-rounded fight with decent duration, requiring both single target and AoE healing. The first and main thing that surprised me was, how close to each other all the talents performed in practice (when used with similar gear/raid composition). However, the way you deliver it can vary quite a bit.
Dorelei: How does the Botanist fight allow you to showcase all these builds? Seksi: It is a balanced fight. No talent composition has a specific advantage. Each build has a pro and con on this fight. There’s no build that really shines.
The most common build
This is by far the most common build you will find when searching through restoration shaman parses. Usually with Torrent instead of Unleash Life but any of the level 15 talents can be made to work with it. The following images are based on this specific parse.
The logic behind this build is to rely on Chain Heal for AoE healing. To minimize overhealing overall and still have plenty of small and big cooldowns to carry hard moments. Also, if you use Focuser of Jonat, the Elder you pretty much must use this build or you will waste most of its power. Jonat makes your Chain Heal much stronger. It also directs you more to High Tide, as by not using it you are nerfing your Chain heal by 20-30%. In this log, Jonat’s was not used on purpose. Otherwise, Chain Heal would have been doing a lot more healing relatively.
This is a good build to use if your best gear has a lot of critical strike on it. Chain Heal benefits from crit the most (smart heals + resurgence mana refunds). As usual, mastery remains to be the top stat. It is also very important that you learn to combine Ancestral Guidance and Cloudburst Totem to create an effect as depicted below. In the image you see Cloudburst Totem’s (green) approximately every 30 seconds, and three Ancestral Guidance effects (blue).
A quick ‘how-to’ CBT+AG
Drop Cloudburst Totem first. If damage on the raid allows it, drop it at the end of a chain heal cast. That way, chain heal already counts towards the accumulated healing. Follow by using miscellaneous spells until ~10 sec is left on the cloudburst totem. Proceed with dropping healing rain and using ancestral guidance. This way, the heals from guidance will make the stored healing larger. On top of that, cloudburst will explode before ancestral guidance runs out (10-second uptime). This causes ancestral guidance to split 60% of the cloudburst totem’s total accumulated healing to the 3 most injured targets. Very powerful and especially, fun, to learn and use! For more information about optimizing your cloudburst totem, you can check Keehn’s ‘How to optimize cloudburst totem‘. For general cooldown optimizations, you can check Dorelei’s ‘How to become a cooldown canon‘.
About using Echo of the Elements
Some people use this build with Echo of the Elements instead of Cloudburst Totem. The end result is smoother healing throughput, at the cost of the bursts from cloudbursts totem. Especially the magnification of the burst by Ancestral Guidance.
About using Unleash or Torrent
Unleash life is a very cheap way to make your chain heal heal for a lot. When the fight is long, you will need your mana. That is when unleash life is valuable. You will get chain heal with the power of two, at the mana cost of one. For unleash life to be worth it, you will have to use it on cooldown. If it is not worth it to use it on a chain heal, I use it on a riptide. However, it should be worth it to use it on a chain heal most of the time, or you’re better off picking torrent or undulation.
You can always choose to spend more or less mana (more or less chain heals), depending on the situation. This build does have two weak points in my opinion:
- The reliance on chain heal makes it a mana expensive build. Meaning: you will want to cast as few healing surges as possible, and choose your healing rain’s wisely. Rain will be most useful when cloudburst is active. When it is cast outside of cloudburst, make sure it does not over heal (too much) for its duration.
- Developers seem to steer us away from a chain heal-centric build. In patch 7.1 we had a Jonat’s nerf (per stack from 15 to 10%) and a chain heal nerf (from 400 to 380% of spell power). On top of that, a set bonus that buffs single target healing and healing stream totem. In the Tomb of Sargeras, the tier set continues this trend by emphasizing healing rain. Additionally, we will receive new traits that will increase healing rain 30% baseline, and Gift of the Queen will automatically recast 3 seconds after the first cast. These changes will stimulate us to focus more on casting healing rains and gift of the queen’s, rather than bluntly chain healing whenever the raid takes damage.
The ultimate burst build
aka AG/CBT + Ascendance
This build (somewhat) originated from Keehn, and I have been tinkering with it as well recently.The idea is to focus more on single target healing. Meanwhile, you let your cooldowns and healing rain do most of your AoE healing, in a mana efficient way. The following information is based on this parse.
This build is centered around not using chain heal and healing surge (or barely). Healing wave, healing rain, riptide and healing stream totem are the bread and butter of this build. In this build, you gain Ascendance as a cooldown instead of improving the strength of chain heal. Critical strike is not as important in this build (relative to the ‘most common build’ / chain heal build). You will be using spells that don’t refund mana (healing rain) or that are efficient by themselves (healing wave). While not essential, the huge amount of cooldowns you have available make great use of Velen’s Legendary trinket.
While ascendance is considered a niche talent choice, it can be put to good use in most fights. The main requirement for this build to be successful is that healing rain can be efficient during the fight. As you will be using it constantly, and you can’t fall back to casting chain heal. Practice your cooldown usage: combining ascendance with ancestral guidance will do insane (Healing Tide Totem level) healing. Sometimes splitting those cooldowns up will be better. Knowing the difference will come from practice. There are two weak points to this build in my opinion:
- You can’t respond to unexpected AoE emergencies. You will have to anticipate. If you fail to do so, a chain heal spam fest will be at the expense of mana. Making this a less versatile build.
- It is harder to do well with this build. As you are required to chain cooldowns without a lot of overhealing if you want to perform better than the chain heal build. There are no second chances or innervate strategies to recover with this build.
The dungeon build
aka AG/Echo + Ascendance
The following information is based on this parse. Another one of my recent experiments. A sturdy dungeon build for quite some time, but it turns out it is surprisingly effective in raids too!
How does it work? Make your life easier and use the synergy of the Nighthold set bonuses. If you run cloudburst totem, it can be a lot of fun but also quite hard to optimize. And yes, cloudburst totem combines great with ancestral guidance. But if you add ascendance, you already have a lot of cooldowns to work with. So how much will you really miss cloudburst totem? Turns out, not a lot! A lot of the same recommendations from the ‘burst build’ apply here as well. The only difference is that instead of focussing on getting good cloudbursts off, you want to focus on keeping up riptide and healing stream totem. As this also is not a chain heal-centric build, the same stat principles apply: crit is not as important.
Shaman talents are surprisingly balanced and flexible. Only druids have the same kind of talent versatility. This makes both classes very strong in mythic progression. The classic ‘chain heal spam’ is universally regarded as a resto shaman’s identity (this website is called chainheal.com after all). However, recent tier sets and spec adjustments have made the other options very interesting. Are you still stuck in that same old chain heal build? Then these other builds might be worth checking out.
Dorelei: When we were discussing this article, we talked about chain heal focused builds and their performance in normal/heroic level raiding. Matter of the fact is when you are in an environment where there is overhealing, blunt chain heal spam can often take the lead. If you are in a normal/heroic raid team (even though you might still be progressing on content), chances are the overall gear level of the team is higher then the content requires. Know that this matters. The more challenging the content becomes, spamming chain heal might not be as effective.
- Are you a novice resto shaman? Consider starting out with the dungeon build as mentioned above.
- Know that your legendaries will dictate your playstyle a lot.
- You want the highest item level as possible. Itemization was more important before.
- If you have a lot of crit on your gear (relatively): chain heal will work for you.