January 10, 2018 at 14:51 #24689
I am making this post ideally for a reference I can look back to / pull information from / recommend people to / etc. I was active on Chain Heal around the end of 2016 mainly doing log reviews. My plan is to continue that pattern, but there seems to be no un-reviewed logs at the moment, so I figured now would be a good time to write something up that I can reference at a later date. I gave WoW a break for the majority of 2017, but am now back and picking up rite where I left off. For those that are curious, I am a huge fan of the Restoration Shaman and I enjoy breaking things down on a mathematical / logical level. My previous job gave me lots of down time which was perfect for reviewing logs, (hence why I did it so much back then), and it has pretty much stuck with me since. Unfortunately, I do not have the time nor commitment to be a “top tier end game mythic raider”, but I do feel as though I have a very deep / logical understanding of the Restoration spec as a whole, and as a result can help others improve even at a “end game / top tier” level.
I will preface by stating this is not going to be so much of a “healing guide” so-to-say. I am not going to cover talent choices, gearing, specific fights, etc. This is going to be more of a broad idea of the Restoration Shaman spec as I see it in a raiding environment, and how my perspective of the spec can be applied to a vast majority of play styles. What I am putting out today is the beginning of what I would typically go over with someone who’s logs I am reviewing. I would consider this part part 1 of about 4. With that said, there may be some people out there who are going to entirely disagree with everything I say, and that is totally fine. If you have a different way of approaching / looking at things and you are successful with your approach, more power to you.
The Resto Shamans Role
The first thing I like to cover is the Restoration Shaman’s role in a raid. Obviously, they are healer, but let’s go a bit deeper than that by looking at a RShams tool kit. It almost feels as though the RSham was designed specifically to be THE raid progression healer. You have some of the most effective base raid healing abilities in the game (Healing Rain, Chain Heal), cool-downs that can turn around a raid’s bad situation (Healing Tide Totem, Spirit Link Totem), and to top it off, a mastery that favors low health-pools. What better way to utilize this tool kit than in an environment with 10-40 people that are constantly almost dying. (AKA: progression raiding). Now this isn’t to say RShams do not excel in other aspects of healing, but for the sake of this write-up I am going to be specifically looking at progression raiding.
So now that we understand our role and what makes us strong, how can we make the most out of it? Well let’s think. We’re very good at healing large groups of players, and our healing is most effective at low health-pools. Correct me if I am wrong, but the majority of wipes in progression raiding are towards the end of a fight, where enough people die and cause things to fall apart. What can we take from that; end of fight, people die. As the fight goes on, as the healers get drained, everything starts to slowly fall apart. Perhaps it’s just losing one person here and there, or a raid mechanic becomes too much for the healers to keep up with, whatever the case may be. Now the problem with healing in a progression raiding environment typically comes with mana issues. (No mana = No healing.) So, while it is always important to try and be as mana efficient as possible, this becomes even more true in a progression raiding environment. So how do we determine mana efficiency? Healing per mana cost. (Phrase it however you like, you get the idea.) You want to turn your resource (in this case mana) into as much healing output as possible. So, let’s think about what we know: We like healing groups, we like healing people at low health, we want to get the most healing out of our mana, people are (typically) at low health towards the end of the fight.
Maintain and Drain
This is where my method of “Maintain & Drain” comes into play. During low damage, high health, early fight stages, we maintain. What do I mean by “maintain”? Since we are not getting much benefit from our Mastery at this point in the fight, it would be foolish to be greedy with our mana. During this stage we want to still be effective and helpful to the raid in regards to healing, but we also want to be as mana efficient as possible so when the fight gets scary (low health, high damage, etc.) we can get the most bang for our buck in regards to our mana when we “Drain”.
How do I “maintain”? Maintain is a play style I use / recommend that is effective as well as mana efficient. While everyone is not taking extreme damage, and isn’t on the lower end of health we want to help out, but not be greedy. We do this by making use of our most mana efficient spells. We use Riptide off cool down, we use Healing Stream Totem off cool down, we use Healing Rain off cool down, we make use of every single Tidal Wave on a Healing Wave for any small spot healing that needs to be done, we make use of Gift of the Queen for any lite raid healing that needs to be done. (Depending on talents the “Maintain” stage would also include Cloud Burst Totem off CD as well as Earthen Shield Totem off CD.) Now this doesn’t sound like much, but the amount of healing output that comes out of this “maintain” is actually very significant. (Most players are absolutely amazed at how much healing output is done by a well-placed Healing Rain off cool down alone.) You have to understand early fight snipe healing here and there is not your strong point. Your goal should not be to use Healing Surge early fight to try and out snipe your Holy Paladin every chance you get. You shouldn’t be looking to Chain Heal the second 4 people are under 90% health. This doesn’t mean situations don’t come up where you need to break this rule, but the vast majority of fights will play out normally.
How do I “Drain”? So, you’ve been conservative with your mana all fight, your other healers are running low on mana, things are beginning to get spooky, health pools are dropping. Now is your time to shine. You are going to continue your “Maintain” play style with the exception of occasional Healing Surges and Chain Heals. How greedy you play in regards to mana is something you are going to have to determine in the heat of the moment, and is a skill you are going to develop with experience not only with healing, but the fight itself. Towards the end of the fight your other healers sniping ability is much lower / weaker than it was when they had a full mana pool, thus making use of Tidal Waves on Healing Surges makes a lot more sense. I am typically not an advocate for spamming Chain Heal, but that doesn’t mean the opportunity to do so doesn’t exist. Spamming Chain Heal may feel nice, but rarely will it be the most effective way to deal with a situation. Tidal Waves are your friend. They are essentially free healing in the grand scheme of things. Ignoring Tidal Waves is one of the most common mistakes among Restoration Shamans whether it be in the Maintain or Drain stage.
Now we have to understand every fight is different. There is no cut and paste staple fight. I am going to attempt to be as broad as possible, in order to apply to as many fights as possible. There will always be exceptions. Being a good healer is 50% knowing the spec and 50% knowing the fight. Proper cool down management in regards to the fight is one of the biggest aspects of being as efficient as possible.
Every healer has a fairly unique tool kit that can bring something more valuable than raw HPS (heals per second) to the table. I personally am not a huge fan of comparing healers strictly via raw healing output as there is so many factors that come into play. A great example of this is Spirit Link Totem (we will call it SLT to save some characters). SLT has no real healing output, but has an extremely large value to a raid. Perhaps the SLT was what saved the raid from a specific mechanic; How do you put a value on that? At what point does raw HPS outweigh the benefit of a SLT?
Another example. Healer A may be doing 100 million healing in a fight where Healer B does 75 million; But Healer B did 25 million of that healing when it mattered most, and as a result, saved the raid. Let’s also take an example where Healer A finished the fight with 100 million healing, and Healer B finished the fight with 75 million healing, but both players had plenty of left over mana and no players in the raid died. On paper Healer A may appear to be a “stronger” healer, but realistically neither healer was pushed to any extreme / used to it’s full potential, and no one died meaning raw healing output wasn’t even an issue in the first place.
If raw healing output isn’t a perfectly accurate way to determine how well I may be healing given the situation, how do I know if I am playing well? I would start by asking yourself the following questions: Is your raid’s progress hindered by people dying due to lack of raw healing output? If you are progression raiding there is a very good chance that could be true. Does your healing output seem to be low compared to other similarly geared Shamans? (By low I would compare to other Shamans with a similar item level, similar raid lineup in regards to players / healers, and similar fight durations.) Are you running out of mana too early in a fight / are you ending a fight / dying with plenty of mana to spare? Are you unsure how to react to certain situations in a fight?
Whatever your situation may be, feel free to post your logs for review. If you do not want to post your logs publicly, feel free to send me them privately via Discord (Kodiak#7355) and I will do my best to help you out.
Common Restoration Shaman Mistakes
One of the biggest mistakes I see Shamans make is improper cool down management. Let’s use Healing Tide Totem as an example. HTT is on a 3-minute cool down. Let’s assume your HTT does 10 million healing on average per cast and the fight you are progressing on is a 5-minute fight. Remember when we talked about being as mana efficient as possible? Well, Healing Tide Totem is insanely efficient. Let’s say the spookiest part of the fight where you are most likely going to need to use HTT is at the 4-minute mark. This means you could use HTT any time before the 1-minute mark, and you will still have it available for the spooky part. Why use HTT early on if the damage taken isn’t crazy? Because it is insanely efficient. Let’s say you use it at the 30 second mark, not much damage is going out but the HTT is enough to keep everyone topped off for the time being, during this time neither you or any of your fellow healers is wasting any mana keeping people topped off simply because you pushed this button one “unnecessary” time. Between 3-4 healers these 20 seconds of mostly downtime could be the difference between a wipe when it comes down to the last bits of mana. Now imagine cycling these cool downs efficiently between 3-4 healers and now you can see how together managing cool downs can make everyone’s life much, much easier. Now because not much damage is going out, and people are not low / adding to your mastery, your HTT won’t do the normal 10 million healing it typically does, instead it will do let’s say 2 million. This is now 2 million damage that you nor your other heals have to worry about for little to no mana. It is not uncommon I view a log and see HTT used 1 time throughout an 8-minute fight.
How do I know when I should use each cool down? That is something you are going to have to determine yourself. Each fight is different. Trial and error is your best bet. For example: The first few times around a fight determine when your HTT is going to be absolutely necessary and work from there. It is also not a bad idea to communicate with your fellow healers as overlapping cool downs can result in wasting healing output, which in other words is wasting mana.
I am going to be updating this thread as time goes on. It is currently almost 5 am and I am going to get some sleep. If anyone has some logs that they want reviewed, feel free to post them in the log review section or send them directly to me on Discord if you do not want them public. If anyone has anyone questions / comments about the thread feel free to leave them below. As I stated, this was mainly something I made in Microsoft Word in order to have access to common feedback I would give for log reviews, but figured it would do more good if it was public. Perhaps in the future I will also put out something on my opinion for talents / gear / etc. etc. but that is for another time.
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