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Resto Shaman 101 – Spells
comment 18 Written by on December 16, 2008 – 12:03 pm

This is not a strategy post.

It’s not going to tell you any awesome stupendous shortcuts to healing as a Resto Shaman – but it *will* introduce you to the various spells and abilities that you’re going to want to remember and use as you are healing as a Resto Shaman. Consider this Resto Shaman 101.

Resto Shaman 102 and 103 are in the works to cover gear and customizations.  Resto Shaman 201 will be when I start raiding again, and I have a massive Totem Overview post in the works as well (since Totems are for more than just Resto Shamans, I’ll be doing that as its own thing).

For those of you who are NOT Resto Shamans – this is for you too.  This is for anyone that runs instances with a Resto Shaman, is their healer lead, their raid leader, or their loot-distribution-specialist.  This is basic, no frills, standard (healing specific) Resto Shaman infos for your brains.

(And yes, you can expect some “Holy Paladin 101” posts too!)

Basic Spells:

  • Long heal Healing Wave – 2.5 seconds talented, this is your bomb heal.  It’s less mana efficient than Chain Heal, but more mana efficient than Lesser Healing Wave.
  • Short heal Lesser Healing Wave – 1.5 seconds talented, this is your “flash heal”.  It’s not very mana efficient, but it’s fast!  You can glyph this one so it’s more effective for oshit moments when healing a tank, but it’s still more of a situational heal.
  • Group HealChain Heal – 2 seconds talented, this is your “smart heal”.  If it hits one target, it’s not very mana efficient, and it hits for somewhere between a Lesser Healing Wave and a Healing Wave.  But Chain Heal bounces to targets within 15 yards that need healing (and it’ll pick the target with the lowest health to bounce first!).  If Chain Heal hits three targets, it’s the most mana efficient spell we have.
  • Instant HealRiptide – an instant heal with an accompanying HOT that also buffs your next Chain Heals on that target.  This is your “oshit!” heal, your “run away!” heal, and your “don’t stand in fire!” heal.  It’s also a nice thing to douse your target with if you are expecting a lot of incoming damage.
  • Passive Heal Earthliving Weapon – talented, has a chance to put a HoT on your healing targets.  It’s not huge, but it’s a really nice weapon imbue and also increases your +healing.
  • Passive HealEarth Shield – throws a giant rock that spins around your target, healing them whenever they get hit.  Six charges.  Your tank should ALWAYS have Earth Shield (except in situations where you’re taking tons of spell knockback, which is a much lesser problem now than it used to be!).

(Your) Buffs to your Healing:

  • Tidal Waves – a buff for small group more than raid healing, this increases your healing and decreases your cast time of Healing Wave and Lesser Healing Wave after you use Chain Heal or Riptide.  Tidal Waves is intended to make it easier to switch between Chain Healing to keep a group alive and Main Tank healing – and it does a nice job!
  • Tidal Force – Increases your chance to crit with healing spells by 60% (decreasing each time you crit).  A nice spike damage modifier, this is a good one to use if you know that the boss is about to use his giant AOE stompy spell and you don’t want the nubhat rogue to keel over.
  • Healing Way – Currently after 3 applications of Healing Wave (but in 3.1 will require just one) your mana efficiency of Healing Wave goes up significantly because of this buff.  Great for tank healing.
  • Flametongue Totem – nom nom nom spellpower.  use it!

So that’s your basic breakdown of the tools in your toolbox.

But Anna, you ask, what does all that MEAN?

Well, it means that you have a lot of tools at your disposal, and that rather than being relegated to chain heal spam (like we were in Burning Crusade raids), we have a lot more utility.  The addition of Tidal Waves and Riptide gives us some flexibility in our healing – and no, we can’t keep up with a Paladin for long term tank healing.  Chain heal/group healing is still our forte, but in a pinch, we can definitely keep a tank alive.  We’re capable 5 man healers, excellent additions to any 10 or 25 man group thanks to totem buffs, and we’re hawt too.

There was some discussion over at EJ and PlusHeal about using the Lesser Healing Wave glyph and PILES of crit to be an effective fast-heal tank healer – and this works relatively well in small group situations, and will likely be the way that you’ll find yourself healing in 5 and sometimes 10 man situations.

In a 25 man raid, however, it’s an effective way to get out of a pinch, but riptide plus chain heal is still a more reliable and sustainable method of healing – particularly with the massive raid and tank damage found in raids in Northrend.  Chain heal is still incredibly desirable, useful, and efficient in large raids – but the new mechanics make it so that a Resto shaman can absolutely pinch hit as a tank healer with little ill effect.

Unfortunately, farther than breaking down the spells, I can’t tell you “hit button 3, button 4 and then button 2 four times to heal any situation”.  One of the advantages of the new abilities that we have is that we’re more flexible healers.  Each of us will have slightly different rotations based on our gear, the gear of the tank and group we’re healing, the instance we’re in, and whether or not this is the 14th wipe on this boss.  So be flexible, and know your stuff.  With Riptide and Tidal Waves, even raid healing has flexibility for more than just chain heal spam!

Remember, getting better at healing is a two step process:  first – knowledge and second – practice!

So good luck, and may the Loot Fu (and the Totems!) be with you!

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18 Responses to “Resto Shaman 101 – Spells”

  1. Very informative post for the new resto shaman. Good work Anna.

    I have to admit I am one of the crit/LHW spam junkies at the moment. Is it perfect, absolutely not. I really wish I didn’t have to keep blowing a cool down on for WS but it is nice not only for the oh sh!t moments, but for those fights where you need to move a lot.

    Early on in our raiding we have been rolling with 2 resto shamans and we have had to split the duty of bomb heals and fast heals. Our big bomber has stacked haste and spell power to speed up that big heal and I have stacked crit for those watershield proc’ing 4/5k lhw crits. Unfortunately this has made me crave fast heals and HW just seems so slow now. Granted with the patch upcomming I might start looking at HW more, especialy since I have the glyph to heal me for a % of what I heal on HW so I don’t ahve to worry about myself as much.

  2. @Jagerbombz:

    It’s definitely more viable for what we have now, and for tank healing it’s better than a lot of other options – especially if you have to hotfoot around to stay out of the fire! I’m told by people smarter and more progressed than I am that as we get past tier 7 gear, it’ll be even less usable, because our crit % will get so high, but we’ll have to see.

    What I’d *really* like is to have our mana regen ability NOT be linked to our casting. Priests have a passive ability that returns mana based on overheal. Paladins have passive regen from crits. Druids have a passive proc for clearcasting. We get shackled with an active buff that can – when things go right – need to be recast every 2-3 heals.

    By Anna on Dec 16, 2008 | Reply
  3. Ok, here is something I just starting thinking about listening to the BRK podcast of all things. I am hooked on the 1.5 sec cast time on LHW since it is fast and syncs with the global cool down. What about stacking haste to get HW down from a 2.5 cast time to a 1.5 second cast time? If so, how much haste would that be? That way after the patch we have the fast heal that will proc the watershield but give us more wiggle room since it is a big heal and give us a proc on the new Healing Way.

    Jagerbombzs last blog post..Another Tip for the Raiding Resto Shaman

  4. @Jagerbombz:

    Ok. INCOMING MATH. (do not yell at me if I’m wrong. I am a musician and a history buff. I can count to 8 in whole numbers only. It’s not my fault if I can’t do this complicated stuff). I got my formulas from http://www.wowwiki.com/Casting_speed

    Getting HW from 2.5 to 1.5 is a reduction of 40% (2.5-(2.5*.4) = 1.5)
    % Spell Haste at level 80 = (Haste Rating / 32.79)

    so to get 40% spell haste, we need about 40×32.79 haste rating. That’s 1312 spell haste rating. I’m not sure that’s going to be feasible, at least not with the gear that I’ve been seeing right now. To get HW down to 2 seconds is a reduction of 20%, which is 656 haste rating. That’s probably closer to feasible, but will require a lot of other gear sacrifices, most likely. Also, can you say mana problems?

    By Anna on Dec 16, 2008 | Reply
  5. Yeah, I had some math, but I now see my math was completely wrong. I blame the company firewall on that one. Yeah 1312 haste would be ridiculous. Maybe I should just get used to the slower heals again at some point =) Granted with the patch I actually like the fact LHW will proc watershield less since I was going to remove a point or two based on the global cool down issue. Maybe I can keep LHW and Riptiding and still be ok. Granted, the other night in naxx I did go back to hitting chain heal a ton in the plague wing.

    Jagerbombzs last blog post..Another Tip for the Raiding Resto Shaman

  6. I am so not a fan of the constant refresh of water shield. NOT A FAN. I really wish we had better passive regen because the amount of crit we’re itemized for now means we waste stupid amounts of time on water shield GCDs. I can’t decide what to do about it.

    I am really intrigued by this build though. So tempted to try… http://tinyurl.com/6p7sp4

    By Salanthe on Dec 16, 2008 | Reply
  7. I have been using the LHW tactic a LOT. Mainly in 5 mans it has proven quite useful, due to mobility of fights, and the CD on Riptide, it’s very easy to refresh Watershield, and often. It was hard to get the hang of at first, but I slapped it on one of my side mouse buttons, and am spamming it whenever I move, or have a second to spare (which as tanks get more geared, come more and more often). In conjunction with the glyph it becomes quite efficient, and using with riptide as a lead in, you can seriously haul booty through 10-15k in heals in no time.

    Generally my LHW hits for around 5k on the Earthshield target, I have 20% crit, 2300 spellpower (totem and imbue), and 2 pieces of T7 from badges.

    No doubt riptide + chain heal is fantastic, but at times it is hard to get that off in combination due to tidal waves not helping chain heal (riptide procs tidal wave). The consumption of the hot also hurts at times, as I prefer to have the mitigativeness of the hot rollin as much as possible.

    Generally when tanking healing I won’t use that buff on the chain heal until my riptide hot is on its last few ticks. Definitely worth using that buff, but the sooner you consume it, the less efficient of a spell it becomes.

    In raid settings you will find more time to use that GCD for WS, and as long as you have it in an easy place to spam constantly, you’ll find you won’t run out of Water Shield charges. Especially if it is glyphed.

    By snostrebla on Dec 16, 2008 | Reply
  8. I’m sorry Anna but I’m also gonna disagree with you here. I know its easy to look from the outside in and hear complaints from some people about ‘omg refreshing water shield’ and think that this must be detestable and unworkable. I’d actually shied away from taking a full 3pt imp. water shield build for this very reason until now.

    “You can glyph this one so it’s more effective for oshit moments when healing a tank, but it’s still more of a situational heal.”

    Chain Heal + riptide is ridiculously mana hungry for single target healing (and if you’re tasked with tank healing then you should not be making ‘bouncing extra heals off the melee’ your priority. That is a ‘false economy’ as you’re simply using your own mana to do someone else’s job :P).

    “It’s an effective way to get out of a pinch, but riptide plus chain heal is still a more reliable and sustainable method of healing – particularly with the massive tank damage found in raids in Northrend. Having to use every 4th or 5th global cooldown to refresh your water shield means that you can’t effectively keep up the LHW spam – and not keeping that shield up means you go OOM in a hurry.”

    There’s a simple breakdown. Are you single target healing or raid healing? If you’re single target healing you should be using LHW, even un-glyphed it is more mana efficient than chain heal is when you figure in water shield procs even at lower levels of crit. I can understand the ‘fear’ that it will become a ‘problem’ at higher levels of crit, my LHW crit sits around 45% (around 23% paper doll) and I’m not seeing many issues with refreshing water shield – I know when my tanks will and won’t likely be taking damage and I refresh my shield sometimes before it goes down so I will not be left without.

    Your assertion that LHW cannot keep up with massive tank damage is a little unfair. If I was to be using riptide boosted chain heals in a raid situation I’d be overhealing by an insane amount for single target (and even multi-target) healing and even hasted CH would often be healing ‘too slow’.

    “no, we can’t keep up with a Paladin for long term tank healing”

    If the fight goes on longer than 5-7 minutes? Maybe not… but how many boss fights do these days? Tonight I chain-cast LHW for 3m 52seconds on Patchwerk, only using GCDs to refresh WS and put down mana tide. Even though I’d accidentally left my pvp trinket in (instead of my alchemy trinket) and without taking a pot I was having no mana problems at all, finishing the fight with over 30% mana. Using chain heal? That’ll oom me in the same amount of time. Healing Wave isn’t really a better option (Though I’ll be interested to see if the new ‘buff’ makes it worthwhile rather than another slow heal which overheals to hell).

    It also comes own to who you’re grouped and healing with. On Patchwerk I assign it so that I am paired with a holy priest who can drop bigger heals alongside my smaller ones but I’ve had similar success healing alongside a druid (of the hot-loving variety).


    Sorry for the essay. My point is basically: It might be the ‘new trend’ but it’s taken off because it *is* a viable and interesting way of healing – especially if your guild lacks quality single-target healers.

    At the moment druids and priests can easily outdo a resto shaman on raid healing – just because there are very few fights where there is ‘enough’raid damage Chain Heal to shine. Shamans can easily tank heal as well as or better than (holy) priests and, to some extent, druids and are not so far behind Paladins on a single target.

    The new ‘nerfs’ to CoH and Wild Growth as well as the changes to imp ws etc. may change this dynamic and I do agree with you that having the water shield ‘proc’ without removing an orb would be much nicer but I think your current list, as it stands, is a little outdated and based on pre-Wrath raiding. This is, of course simply, my opinion, based on trying a few specs and different methods within current 10 and 25-man raids please don’t take it too harshly but I don’t have anyone to discuss this with in-guild 😛


    Auriks last blog post..Red is the New Blue!

  9. I am brand-new to resto shaman healing, but for leveling and 5-man healing, I really love the glyphed LHW spam. I have no mana issues whatsoever, and my hasted LHW cast in 0.9 seconds. With nearly 6k crits it’s really something not to frown at. Chain Heal just seems too slow in 5-mans, unless I have a really melee-heavy party.

    Kadomis last blog post..Something else entirely

  10. I think this may be a feature of my not being 80 yet, but I’ve not found the LHW spam to be sustainable or enough to keep a tank alive in the instances I’ve healed, and had to resort to HW spam or CH spam depending on how much melee damage.

    And yeah – it *does* work, I just haven’t found it to have enough oomph for the stuff I’ve been doing, and I’ve been needing a lot of raid heal from the people I raid with because we don’t have ANY druids, and we have only one priest specced CoH and he’s only around sometimes 🙂 It’ll be interesting to see what happens once the cooldown gets slapped on CoH and Wild Growth.

    By Anna on Dec 17, 2008 | Reply
  11. Aurik, I agree with you as well. =) Granted, we are just working in Naxx right now, but I’ve found that I have ample opportunities to refresh my water shield. Also, it’s my understanding that refreshing water shield does NOT put you back into the 5 second rule since there’s no mana to cast. I do not wait until the last orb goes down, but rather refreshes the shield about every chance I get. Finish topping off the tank? Refresh. Adds are dead and dps back on the boss? Refresh. Waiting for adds? Refresh. =)

    My spell rotation varies depending on my task. When my hubby tanks, I’m usually assigned to MT healing. In that case, I use a lot of riptide and LHW, while keeping earth shield up at all times. Sometimes spikey damage does come in, but in those few cases, I can tell him to start pushing buttons and all of a sudden I’ve got another 10k health buffer. =) Beyond that, I’ve been able to heal him without many issues, once my gear reached a certain level.

    In 10 and 25 mans when I’m not MT healing, I’ve found that using riptide or LHW to be a very effective way to top off dps that takes damage. It’s fast, and effective. It also means that I can make sure our dps stays up long enough to kill the boss. Chain heal is less effective, simply because our ranged has a tendency to be really spread out and I hardly ever get chain procs. Plus, chain heal feels sooo much slower. In addition, there are so many movement-based fights that sometimes I have to break a heal to stay alive, even if it means I lose the dps.

    I’m not a math-person, so it may not be the most mana efficient combination of spells, but I rarely find myself oom in the content we’ve done so far.

    By Niyahti on Dec 17, 2008 | Reply
  12. And yes Anna, get that mp5 and intellect going, and a few key gear upgrades and you’ll find that LHW spam is much more viable.

    By Niyahti on Dec 17, 2008 | Reply
  13. I’ve been using LHW a lot lately (previously always used either CH or HW on the Tank, but somehow they tended to die around me due to long casting of HW – amongst other things).

    I also changed my glyphs to include the LHW increase to get me a little more ‘power’ on that. I hope that helps me heal the main tank a bit when raiding aswell, when the other healers start dying around me.

  14. A couple of things… the crit is nice if you can spam your WS during a long fight. I rarely go OOM. Macro your water shield to the wheel button on your mouse and you can rebuff this nonstop and easy during the fights. Also– Save HW for those Oh Crap moments and use with nature swiftness. Otherwise Riptide followed by chain or LHW is the way to go. I am still figuring out the best rotation and its hard to give up chain heal. Best to try and get assigned to healing off tank + melee. With the earth living proc and the glyph for 4th target you can have 8 heals go off at one time= sweet 🙂
    Still trying to figure out my best rotation since EVERYTHING about my shammy has changed but I am glad I can at least keep a 5 man heroic alive now which was close to impossible in BC.

    By shama on Dec 27, 2008 | Reply
  15. I’m still learning how to use riptide & tidal force. My first instance/raid after the 3.0 patch was actually Zul’Drak, and I was in shock at how fast I went oom, but after playing around with no longer being able to downrank spells, and swapping out a few gems for +MP5, I was fine the next week when we re-ran ZD.

    I never had any problems healing 5-man heroics in BC once I had a few Kara pieces of gear, so not sure what to say to your experience, shama. Maybe group composition has something to do with it. But I doubt anyone can effectively heal a group that is constantly fighting for aggro with each other ;-P

    Since I have not found a specific healing “groove” for Northrend heroics, I use all known techniques depending on situation (or mood!) I have found LHW spam to be effective, also found CH and HW to be effective, too. There does seem to be more “hopping around” in which cases the bomb HW gets used less in those situations, but Tidal Force + CW is nice when you gotta heal the group after a mis-read in AoE (some people can never seem get out of the way of a whirlwind or a nova!)

    Flask of major mojo + Blessing of Wisdom means you can play around with various casting styles and not worry too much about mana while playing.

    Many sites say CH is useless in 5-mans – people who say this may not play a resto shaman very much IMHO ;-P Like it says elsewhere on this site – if it hits at least two people = “we win” button. Especially when you tavel with either a hunter or a warlock (or both) with pets – then CH has 7 potential targets to work on. In this aspect, 10-mans typically have 12-13 CH targets… What hunter or warlock will say that losing their pet is no big deal to their dps or survival?

    By Nils on Jan 7, 2009 | Reply
  16. So… How does one place enough talents to make CH a 2 second Cast..

    By Vashi on Jan 12, 2009 | Reply
  17. I will say that I do think that riptide and CH heal combo is awesome. I use it fairly often and top almost all the healing meters, which don’t get me wrong, don’t say that I am a great healer, but I do know that with out me, the raid and tanks could be falling. I usually try to to riptide and ES the tank and CH the melee, if a healer is going down they get the riptide. I have 4 set t7.5 and i t8. My trikents are both lvl 200 but they increase my haste by 505 when proced. I would say these are the best trinkets for shamans healing 25 naxx. I have ran with several shamans and they ask me how I get my heals off so fast. When these proc together my hast is over 1k, giving me below a 1 sec CH. In uludar CH is not as useful. I have about a 23% crit, 13% haste rating and about 2300 SP. I don’t think you need to do all the math to know how to heal as a shaman. Everyone heals differently and thats why I hate reading negative comments. I have never, never been a LHW shaman, I am adding it in my rotation, but I still don’t use it as much. Most fights, people are standing withthin 10-15 feet close enough where CH will reach them. Yes, you will overheal, but does that really matter??? I use SheildsUp for an addon and it gives me a bell when my ES and Water shield is up! With totem timers, so all i have to do is click the totem timers addon beside my healbot when the bell chimes and refresh them both so I am not moving all over the screen. Shamans can be very effective healers, either using CH or LHW, i will stay stack crit for LHW, but you do still need haste!

    By Selv on May 27, 2009 | Reply

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