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Resto Shaman Glyphs

February 19, 2010

Lodur’s inaugural post over at’s Totem Talk sparked a rather spirited geekout epeen contest comment war about glyph choices and stat priorities.  Some people just like to disagree, and some people don’t know how to disagree without being a tool.  On the positive side, I’m glad there are so many shamans out there who care so much about glyph choices.  I thought it might be helpful to provide my thoughts about each of our major glyphs, and when they might be most viable.  Just about all the major glyphs are useful in some way, but many of them will not be optimal for you depending on how you heal and your gear level.  

Most people seemed to gloss over the fact that Lodur was simply listing what he considered the most popular glyphs, not the best glyphs for every situation.  Don’t treat your three glyph choices as the only reasonable option.  Still, in a Resto 101 article, I would have liked to see a little more glyph advice for aspiring resto shamans.  Frankly, what is popular among resto shamans is not a very good guide to what you should be doing.  First, people are morons.  Second, you may not be at the same gear or content levels as a majority of the resto shamans, and thus certain glyphs will be less useful for you.  

Lets break the major glyphs into a few categories for convenience: the no brainer, the solid options, the situationally useful, and the why in God’s name are you using this glyph.  For your minor glyphs, use Water Shield to save a GCD once in a while.  You will take damage in raids that will proc your shields, and no other minor glyphs will help your healing, so just do it.  For the last two, use whatever floats your boat (I like Astral Recall and Renewed Life).

  • The No Brainer

Glyph of Earth Shield.  No matter what content you are running, you are going to want to have an Earth Shield up on something at all times.  Usually that will be one of the tanks, but it could be a caster or even yourself depending on who is taking damage and needs some interrupt protection.  In heroics, you just toss this on the tank and forget about it.  At higher gear levels, it will pretty much heal the heroic for you.  At lower gear levels it will provide a nice buffer and help you save mana by dumping less heals into the tank.  This glyph makes your ES 20% more effective.  I’m pretty sure it’s even mandatory for PvP.  A great glyph for a great spell.  Use this glyph.  

  • The Solid Options

Glyph of Chain Heal.  Chain Heal pretty much defines the resto shaman class, even if it’s not the only spell we use anymore.  When you’re hitting Chain Heal, it’s because several people have taken damage and you want to heal as many of them as possible.  Adding one more person to your chain heal is almost a no brainer.  The only exception would be if you are only running heroics where there are less places for the spell to jump, and so you may get some overhealing.  Even then, this isn’t overhealing that is costing you any mana (you were hitting Chain Heal anyway), so I wouldn’t get too worried about it.  If it hits a fourth person, it was probably helpful.  

Once you start raiding, I’d consider this a no-brainer for most folks.  It will improve your throughput and pump out extra healing when you need it the most, at no additional mana cost.  Even in 10 mans where you cast chain heal less often, I’d need to see a very convincing argument for not taking this glyph.  Perhaps if you hardly ever cast the spell some of the glyphs below would provide more benefit.

Glyph of Riptide.  Now we really start to get into glyphs were you can make arguments either way.  This glyph adds two extra ticks of HoT to your Riptide spell.  Beyond the extra healing, this also means that in a raid environment, you can have Riptide up on 4 people at time, rather than 3.  This lets you be a little bit like a resto druid, and also gives you more targets to bounce a Chain Heal off of, and still get the 25% improvement to Chain Heal at the cost of the Riptide HoT.  

For a new healer in 5-mans, I’d say this is not your best choice.  It’s not horrible and the extra HoT ticks are nice, but you probably won’t be trying to get Riptide on multiple targets to bounce Chain Heals.  As you start to get into raids, they glyph becomes more valuable.  In a 25 man raid with predictable damage, you can really improve your Chain Healing throughput with smart usage of this glyph.

Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave.  This one will really depending your particular spell usage.  Obviously, if you cast a lot of Lesser Healing Waves on the tank, this is a great glyph.  As such, it can be great for a new shaman healing a lot of heroics.  If you tend to only use LHW to save raid members standing in the fire occasionally (who probably don’t have an Earth Shield on), this will be a wasted glyph spot.  LHW is used a lot less often in 3.3, so if you are reading some old advice, they may be a much bigger fan of the spell than is currently warranted.  

With the two piece T10 bonus, your Healing Wave is extremely fast, big and efficient for a target taking a lot of damage.  For many tank healing situations, LHW becomes a filler spell.  However, some shamans still love LHW.  You can spam it all day on the tank and with a high crit rate from Tidal Waves, it is extremely mana efficient.  This is sort of like the holy paladin Holy Light/Flash of Light debate, and it will always shift around a bit depending on the content patch and talent adjustments.  The bottom line is you need to look at your own usage of LHW and decide if this glyph is useful for you.  For me, it used to be, but now I find that I cast more Healing Waves, so I go with Riptide.

Glyph of Healing Wave.  Before patch 3.3, I used to wonder who this glyph was for.  In PvP, you rarely have time to get a Healing Wave off, and in PvE most people used LHW instead of Healing Wave, unless it was in their Nature’s Swiftness macro.  But, in 3.3, Healing Wave has become a much bigger part of our arsenal.  With high haste and the T10 2 piece, it is great for both tank healing and spot healing on the raid.  Like the LHW glyph, you need to look at your own spell selection and decide if this is useful.  Whatever you do, don’t think of this glyph as “only helping yourself.”  A dead healer doesn’t do anyone much good.

If you do select this glyph, you are going to be doing a ton of passive healing on yourself.  This could be very helpful to a new resto shaman starting heroics, since new healers often forget to keep themselves alive.  Remember that after the tank, in most cases you’re the second highest healing priority.  It can also be great in a raid environment, and you are one less person that the other healers need to worry about.  Sort of like a shadow priest on steroids.  I haven’t tried this one out yet, but it intrigues me now that I cast more Healing Waves.

  • The Situationally Useful

Glyph of Healing Stream.  This will improve your Healing Stream Totem by 20%, making its passive healing even more effective.  That’s always nice, but there are a few key downsides to the glyph.  First, it will only affect members of your party.  Depending on the raid encounter, it might be ticking away, overhealing the already topped-off healers while the tanks and melee are taking massive damage.  Second, it only works if you can drop Healing Stream.  If you need to drop Mana Spring or Cleansing, then you get zero benefit out of this glyph.

Thus, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword for new healers.  In a 5-man, everyone will get the benefit of the glyph, but you may not have a paladin.  Or you might only have one giving out Kings to everyone, and thus you will want to drop Mana Spring if you have any mana problems.  Or, in an instance like Gundrak or Azjol-Nerub, you end up wanting Cleansing Totem out the whole time.  The glyph will often be useful, but you may not always get to use it.

For raiders, this glyph probably gets overlooked a bit, and I’m guilty of that as well.  In a fight like Blood Queen Lana’thel or Festergut, where there is constant raid damage, this can help provide a nice buffer of passive healing.  In a fight like Lord Marrowgar where it’s mostly the tanks taking damage, you’ll get less benefit.  Thus, this might be a good glyph to keep in your bag for the right situation.

Glyph of Water Mastery.  There’s only one situation where this is a good use of a slot, and that’s if you’re a new shaman with very low Mp5 levels.  As best I understand, this glyph will give you an extra 30 Mp5.  However, it does not scale with your gear levels, so that’s all it is ever going to give you.  If you’re just starting out with 150 Mp5 and are constantly going OOM in heroics, then sure, toss this glyph in.  As soon as you get a few solid upgrades, however, this is pretty weak compared to your other options.  Admittedly, I have not tried to heal heroics at a low gear level for a while, but as soon as you are somewhat comfortable with your mana, swap this one out.

  • The Why in God’s Name are You Using This Glyph?!?

Glyph of Mana Tide Totem.  At 20,000 mana, this glyph provides the equivalent of 13.3 Mp5for you, and 66 Mp5 for your party (per Elitist Jerks).  As you get more mana, this number will bump up a bit.  But, as an entry-level healer, this is probably worse for you than Water Mastery, which is already questionable.  Sure, it provides benefit to the rest of your party, but in a heroic you’re likely the only one with mana problems.

In a raid, mana is just so rarely an issue these days that I can’t see taking this glyph.  If you do have problems after mana tide and a potion, ask for an Innervate from a druid, since they may very well not be using it.  Even if you figure this adding about 20 Mp5 for you at higher mana levels, and 80 Mp5 for your party (combined), that’s just a very small amount of situational benefit, and hard to justify given all our other glyph choices.

Glyph of Earthliving Weapon.  This glyph is apparently bugged.  Earthliving already has a base 20% chance to proc.  This glyph increases that chance to 21% rather than the 25% you might expect.   It increases the base chance to proc by 5% of 20%, which is only 1% (do the math if you don’t believe me).  The bottom line is that this very small buff to Earthliving, which tends to be overhealing anyway, and is not worth a major glyph slot.

The Bottom Line: For a brand new resto shaman healing heroics, I’d go with Earth Shield, Lesser Healing Wave, and Healing Wave.  If you want to use Chain Heal or Water Mastery instead of Healing Wave, that works for me.  As a progression raider in 25 mans, I’d use Earth Shield, Chain Heal, and then choose between Riptide, Healing Wave, and Healing Stream depending on the fight or your healing style.  Again, if you cast LHW a lot on the tanks by all means glyph it.  If you apply to my raiding guild with the Earthliving Weapon, Mana Tide, or Water Mastery glyphs, I’m going to wonder if you know what you’re doing.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2010 6:57 AM

    Excellent summary. I’ve never been very sold on the Healing Wave glyph (as I am generally a staunch LHW advocate), but on our Heroic25 Dreamwalker kill last night, it couldn’t have been more ideal. RT is also one I find debatable, since the hps drop is fairly significant when you’re focusing on keeping it up on 3+ targets (versus using the same time to CH). Alternately, if you’re tank healing in t10, you’ll likely be overwriting the RT hot every CD, so the extended duration provides no benefit.

    But I think the thing I take away from this is that we have a number of viable options for that last major glyph spot, so it behooves us to understand which tool is right for the job (and be prepared to swap things around if need be.)

  2. Rahana permalink
    February 23, 2010 12:27 AM

    I am not sharing your oppinion on the HW glyph for newbies, actually. Yeah, it is great thing to keep yourself alive, but given the cast time in starter gear I don’t see it being cast often by a lowbie shaman. And imagine starting shaman with 17K mana and close to none mp5, low crit and low haste, HW becomes extreme mana hog.

    @ Vixsin: I opened my bags the other day just to find out 6 places are taken with spare glyphs.

    • February 23, 2010 12:57 AM

      You know, that’s a good point. It’s just been so long since I was a fresh 80. I’m thinking of the T10 bonus that makes Healing Waves so great.

      • Rahana permalink
        February 23, 2010 1:40 AM

        Well, HW is great. Glyph or no glyph, T10 or no T10. Tidal Waves nowadays hasten it quite reasonably, but still not to the point of 1.2s cast. Anyways, my point was that for newbie healer, using HW in heroics feels like bruteforcing – ie “I am gonna bomb the tank, save myself and hopefuly find a cooldown for party damage” – and as opposed to glyphed CH bruteforcing ie “I am gonna stand where I link the bounce and spam CH only” seems the HW casting less effective for the overal safety of the group.

        I personaly despise both as they lead to making lazy shamans that have only CH on their bars and nothing else and are unable to sort their tools in the right way.

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