Or, TOTEMS…. IN…. SPAAAAAAAACE!!!
So this is the other half of the raiding shaman coin. Part one was addressed specifically to you, the resto shaman who finds him/herself in a 25 man raid, trying to heal and figure out what’s going on. Part two tackles the other side of things – you, the raid leader, who had this odd blue thing show up for your raid last week mumbling stuff about maximizing totem synergy, chain heal bouncing, keeping the elements separate, and not crossing the streams. You think.
My horde friends will have to excuse me here, if I say things you already know – you have raided with Shaman since release. Many Alliance raids don’t have any Shamans (or have one token enhancement shaman to buff the melee), and so don’t really know what to do with them or how to best use them for the benefit of the raid. This is aggravated by the fact that shaman often have not done a lot of instancing when they hit 70, due to the nature of Azeroth questing right now.
Anyway. You have two major concerns with your shaman. Healing Assignments and Group Synergy.
By the time you get to 25 man raid content, healers should be using some kind of raid interface (addon or standard, I use Grid but am looking into PitBull, HealBot, PerfectRaid and BunchaBars are other options) to heal, and shaman are at their best when healing clumps of people – chain heal FTW – so you don’t have to worry so much about putting them in a group with the person you expect them to heal. In fact, often (unless there are not enough healers to go around) you will be better off NOT assigning the shaman a specific healing target.
No really. I’m not kidding. Shaman are really not so stellar as “bomb” healers and do not possess a HOT spell. We have a bomb heal – Healing Wave. It costs a TON of mana and doesn’t heal for nearly as much as, say, a Priest’s Greater Heal. The fastest way to send your shaman OOM is to expect him to keep up a single isolated target that’s taking a lot of sustained damage over an extended period. Can he do it? Yes, for a certain amount of time. Is it the best use of the shaman? HELL no.
So, give out your healing assignments. Most fights in 10 and 25 man content have an element of raid damage to them. Tell the shaman “you are in charge of keeping all those scrub DPS alive” (within reason – range is an issue here, particularly on a fight like The Lurker Below, but you get the point).
Or, in my case “Anna, heal stuff” and/or “Anna, heal those melee scrubs, bonus points if Tarquin is the only one that dies”… (ahem)
Then sit back, relax, and watch the chain heals fly, confident that unless he is an idiot and forgets where his vanish button is, the scrub rogue lead will live through Voidwalker’s Poundings to dish out his 1200 DPS and lead you all along the happy trail toward Hawt Purpl Itamz.
So now that you have your Resto Shaman gainfully employed… where should you put her?
Where you put the shaman will depend entirely on the other 24 people in your raid.
If you have only one shaman, and you have a group of rogues/ret paladins/fury warriors – put the shaman in the melee group. Windfury alone will increase all of their DPS by upwards of 150 over the course of the raid, not to mention Strength of Earth and Heroism/Bloodlust. And what ret paladin doesn’t love an infinite mana pool?
Hunters and Feral Druids are also greatly improved by the presence of Strength of Earth and Grace of Air totems, along with Heroism/Bloodlust (along with that mana pool thing), but not quite to the extent that you will see with Windfury on the melee. If you have multiple shamans, this is not an issue, and you will likely have happy hunters.
Now, if you happen to have a rather melee-light raid, or your priests are having a significant problem with mana regen, try putting the shaman in with the other healers. Though Heroism/Bloodlust doesn’t really have a place here, mana spring and mana tide totems will greatly feed alleviate the mana addiction needs of the healing group on long fights, not to mention a Wrath of Air totem, which gives a blanket 101 +heal/spell damage. This is *not* the best use of the shaman’s synergy abilities, but it is a viable way to increase your healer’s lasting power, which can make or break a fight.
Have a Shadowpriest? Offer them a Mana Spring totem and a Wrath of Air totem and watch them dance around like a 2 year old in a Toys-R-Us. (Mages are known to have similar reactions, particularly in the presence of a Boomkin). The shadow priest/shaman combination is truly symbiotic – they each feed the mana of the other, allowing both to be more effective. If you throw a boomkin and two mages into that group, you’ll have what is really the ideal caster powerhouse (with the exception of Totem of Wrath, but you need to respec your resto shaman for that, and he or she might not like the idea).
Main Tanks don’t usually need a shaman in the group – BUT – there are some cases where tossing your shaman over with the meatshields is a good idea. Any high burst tanking situation (Prince Malchezzar, Karathress’ Shaman-add, Gurtogg Bloodboil) will benefit from a shaman – Grace of Air (agility totem) will increase the dodge of a clanky-tank by 3% and a fuzzy tank by 5.25%, making them less likely to get those crushing blows that are the bane of those encounters.
The other time you might consider putting your shaman in with the main tanks is Void Reaver – what better way to have them fight for aggro if you can give them all Windfury and Strength of Earth.
- Note: This is particularly good if you have TWO shamans, and can stick another one in with the melee DPS.
- Note2: If you have a paladin tank, and can give him a ret paladin’s sanctity aura, plus Windfury, Heroism/Bloodlust, and Strength of Earth, do not be surprised if there ceases to be an “aggro fight” and begins to be “aggro domination” and you can put your other tanks in DPS gear and tell them to have fun.
You may be saying that this seems to require a lot of bouncing groups around for the shaman… and you’re right. The best way to make use of your one shaman is to remember that setting groups at the beginning of the raid is not an end-all be-all situation. Give your shaman a moment to figure out totems for a new group, certainly, but don’t be afraid to move us around! We know we’re useful – heck, that’s often the thing we like best about being shaman – so use us to the best of our capabilities!
Aside: Earthshield – not just for the main tank?
Nope. Earthshield is a very very useful spell – it has 10 charges (6 after 2.4 goes live) and costs around 1000 mana (half that once 2.4 goes live). But it does more than reactively heal its target of incoming damage. All healing done by Earthshield is credited to the person that it heals – meaning that having Earthshield up *helps your tank with aggro*. This may not seem like a big deal, and sometimes it’s not, but if you have a touchy aggro fight, or someone dies and a new tank has to pick up where an old tank left off on a loose mob – Earthshield is a nice little buffer. Paladins also receive mana from the healing done by Earthshield.
The other thing Earthshield does is protect its target from some spell interruptions due to damage. In particular, Boomkin, elemental shamans and any non-healing priest have no talents to help with pushback. Very useful if you have a holy priest fighting his own Inner Demon in the Leotheras fight, for instance, as his smite spells will be less likely to get pushed back, and the Inner Demon will die more quickly. Also helps keep him alive.
For a fantastic summary of meatballs Earth Shields and why they’re awesome, check out this post by the Egotistical Priest.
Aside: What if we have too many healers for some fights/trash but not others?
Just because your shaman is resto specced does not mean that they no longer have the ability to do any damage. Particularly spell damage. With the changes introduced in recent patches, a shaman in full healing gear will have a fairly respectable amount of spelldamage as well. If the fight is not one where the entire raid is taking periodic damage? All the better!
Most shaman carry around a few pieces (or maybe two entire sets… er…) of gear for farming/other uses, so ask and see if he/she has some spelldamage gear hanging around – particularly spell hit gear – and set him or her to nuke for a few pulls. The shaman gets to have fun being mindless DPS, the nature-vulnerable Bog Giants in SSC die faster, and you’re less likely to burn out the shaman on pure healing for weeks on end! Everyone wins!
So here’s hoping that your raids go a little smoother and your shaman (and their groups) will be a little happier! Good luck, happy raiding, and may the Loot-Fu be with you.
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