Healing Alongside a Shaman
Folks like Miss Medicina and Pyoska over at The Angry Healers have called for more resto shaman bloggers, even though they play a priest and druid, respectively. So, I’m guessing that one thing they are looking for is advice on how to heal alongside a resto shaman. Most groups these days are only taking two healers into ICC 10 mans, along with maybe a healer/dps hybrid for the harder bosses. You really need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your co-healer so you can do your best to compensate and keep the raid alive. I’ll attempt to give you my own self-analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the resto shaman class, and then let you know my thought process with each of the other healing classes. I’m focusing on a 10 man raid here, because that’s where you really need to work closely with your other healer(s). In a 25 man raid, people tend to settle into their normal roles, and there is less overlap, but some of the thoughts below will still apply.
Resto shamans are full of plusses and minuses, and each person will play their character with their own unique style. However, a few generalizations are helpful.
First, shamans are not great at healing on the run. Or maybe I just suck at it. Although we can handle the normal “move or the floor will kill you” mechanic, if you ask us to be continuously moving, do not expect much healing output. We only have two instant cast heals. The first is Riptide, which does a small initial heal and then places a HoT on the target. Shamans love this spell like you probably loved your first car. Sure, it had limitations, but you waited 16 years to get one and you were happy to drive it. Riptide is on a 6 second cool down and doesn’t do a ton of healing on its own. Unless we can afford to stop and get another cast in quick, that’s usually all we can do until we can afford to stop.
Our other option is to pop Nature’s Swiftness (which is more or less identical to the druid version), giving us an instant cast Healing Wave or Chain Heal (usually macroed with trinkets and other cooldowns for maximum effectiveness). However, we can only use NS every two minutes, and we often save it for an “oh shit” moment, so it’s usually just Riptide. This is why it is a great idea to let your resto shaman stay up in the melee group during a fight like Festergut, for example. If we are constantly running to spores, we just can’t heal like we are supposed to.
Second, shamans are above average raid healers, especially when focusing on the melee groups. With a glyphed Chain Heal, we can heal up to 4 closely-grouped targets with one cast. We usually cast Riptide on the tank(s), and then use our Chain Heal one of two ways. First, we can let the Riptide HoT stay up on the tank by casting our Chain Heal on a Melee DPS or an OT. Alternatively, we can bounce our Chain Heal off the Riptided target to increase the Chain Heal by 25%, at the cost of losing the HoT portion of Riptide. With our T10 two piece bonus and high levels of haste, we can fire off some fast chain heals and get the raid back up to safe levels very quickly.
Third, shamans can also be more than adequate tank healers, which sometimes surprises people. Again, with our T10 two piece bonus, we can fire off a Riptide and two extremely fast Healing Waves to save a tank by putting out a lot of single-target healing. We can then fill in with a Lesser Healing Wave or two until Riptide is up again. Can we last as long and do as much tank healing as a Holy Pally? No, probably not. But with Earth Shield and Ancestral Healing, we can certainly be tasked with keeping a tank alive. Oh, and please let us go in the portals and heal Valithria Dreamwalker; you won’t be disappointed.
More commonly, resto shamans are asked to do a little of everything, and the great thing about our class is that we can do that with just one spec (I prefer 0/16/55). We are great at healing the tanks, spot healing where needed, and providing some steady raid healing. Every resto shaman is going to have an Earth Shield to throw out, usually on the tanks. We all have 4 totems at our disposal. And we all have four main healing spells that can be used with a surprising amount of flexibility. And yes, we have Bloodlust, but you bring us for our winning personalities, right? Here’s what I try to do when grouped with the other healing classes:
I really enjoy healing with disc priests, because they complement resto shamans so well. I will almost always defer to the disc priest and let them handle the tank healing duties, because they are just so good at it. I will still hit the tanks with Riptide to help add the HoT effect, and will give them heals as needed. But with a good disc priest, I know the tanks are in good hands.
This frees me to focus on the raid, which I can do with my strong direct heals. I may also drop Healing Stream Totem to provide some constant AoE healing to my party (note, not the raid, just my party). If the disc priest wants to drop some shields on the raid, that just makes my job easier and doesn’t screw anything up for me at all. If the fight calls for mobility, the disc priest can help out the shaman by casting shields and/or hots on the raid during movement. We’ll catch up once we’re out of the bad. Basically, we can both do our thing, with the disc priest focusing on the tanks and helping out on the raid, and me doing the opposite.
Holy Paladins are similar to healing next to a disc priest, from a resto shaman’s point of view. They are strong tank healers, so I know that I can safely focus on the raid. Even more so than with a disc priest, we will each stick to our roles with minimum overlap. I have never played as a holy pally, but my sense is that they are at their best when they can beacon one tank and spam heals on the other, and let me take care of the raid. As I noted in a previous post, I’ll still try to keep Ancestral Awakening up on the tanks.
Unfortunately, if there’s a class that hates to heal on the run more than shamans, it’s paladins. There’s not much we can do about it, other than each trying to maximize our move/heal/move/heal skills, and this is something to think about when forming your raid groups. Two healing something like Professor Putricide with a shaman/pally setup would be pretty difficult to pull off at this point.
Also, if you are a holy pally, please please try to refrain from rolling on mail healing gear over a shaman. I know it is itemized well for you, might be BiS, and you don’t need the plate armor when you heal; I really do get all that. The problem is the same is true for your healing plate, except shamans just can’t equip it. So, do us all a solid and give the resto and elemental shamans first crack at the spellpower mail. Please? We promise to do the same thing for the druids and priests when they happen to not put spirit in their gear. Yuck, spirit.
With a resto druid, I start to slide my thinking over into the tank healing side of the spectrum. Druids are such great raid healers at this point, and can seemingly heal forever and while on the run, without much of a drop in output. If I try to fire off Chain Heals, most of them are going to end up as overhealing because the druid’s HoTs have already done the job by the time my 2 second cast gets there. What this means is that I’m focusing my Riptides and Healing Waves or Lesser Healing Waves on the tanks, and then only raid healing when I see people dropping really low (resto shamans are good at saving people standing in the fire, and then your HoTs can bring them back to full). We are also really good at letting people die in the fire if they’ve pissed us off, but that’s a topic for another post.
At the same time, druids get told that they can’t tank heal far too often. I expect every tree that I heal with to keep at least some HoTs up on the tank, and in many instances that makes the healing load pretty light for me, so I can help out with raid healing. Some druids love to tank heal, in which case I’m happy to focus on the raid. For the most part, however, we can each be at our best with the druid focusing around 70% on the raid, 30% on the tanks, and me doing the opposite. During movement phases, a resto shaman loves a druid for any and all healing they can throw out. And since you guys never seem to run out of mana, feel free to toss your friendly resto shaman an innervate should they need it.
I have a holy priest alt, and if there is one thing I don’t want to be doing with her, it’s healing the tanks. This will vary a little bit for each holy priest, as I tend to focus on Renew at the expense of my direct heals. But I think most holy priests will agree that AoE healing with Circle of Healing, Prayer of Mending, and Prayer of Healing is their bread and butter. Thus, more than with any other healer, I prepare myself to be the tank healer when I’m with a holy priest. As with a druid, a shaman loves your mobile AoE healing, which we just can’t provide. If you can help keep the tank up with Guardian Spirit while we get to a safe spot, that’s just a perfect synergy.
This can be a great combination, as long as your resto shaman is prepared to be a tank healer. Frankly, some of us have gotten lazy (no no, not you, that idiot on your server who hasn’t even trained his max rank spells) and don’t do much besides spam Chain Heal. This is unacceptable and just won’t work when healing with a holy priest.
Other Resto Shamans
What if you find yourself as another resto shaman in a 10 man raid with Wugan? Well, if you’re named Kolenzo, be prepared to lose some rolls for gear (Hi Kolenzo, sorry!). The hardest part about this composition is not overwriting each other’s Earth Shields. You each need to pick a tank and sort out in raid chat or whispers who is going to ES which tank. If you keep overwriting my Earth Shields, I will not be a happy camper. If you are doing so with less spellpower and thus endangering lives, I might get angry.
Once you have your ES sorted out, you can really handle this however you want. One of you can focus on the tanks, the other can raid heal, or you can each do a little of both. Make sure not to overlap your totems, since with two shamans you’ll be able to provide most of your buffs to the group (hint, one of you can drop melee totems). Because we can do a little bit of everything, healing with two shamans is perfectly acceptable, even if it’s not ideal from a loot and raid buffs perspective.
I hope that gives someone out there a look inside what a shaman healer is thinking about our fellow healers. If I totally misrepresented your class above, or if you’re a shaman who has other thoughts, I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments or on your blog.