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Resto Shaman Healing on Professor Putricide

February 22, 2010

This fight gave us fits on 25 man for weeks, and I was starting to hate this guy.  This is what happens when you give a grumpy professor tenure.  They just give up mentally and decide to make life difficult for their students by throwing goo at them.  Then, last week we went in on Wednesday and one shot him, and proceeded to down Dreamwalker for the first time as well.  All the wipes from the previous weeks had clearly driven some lessons into our brains.  If your guild is still having trouble with this fight, here’s some advice from a healing perspective.  For a general guide, check out the strategy at bosskillers.  Matt Low also has some healing thoughts here, which you should check out as well.

First, your number one job is to avoid the malleable goo.  Putricide will cast this about every 25 seconds.  On 25 man, I believe he launches two of these bouncing balls of goo at the raid.  He will target them at a player at range, and you need to avoid being hit by the ball or its splash damage (5 yards).  It does a ton of damage on a direct hit, and the splash damage will increase your casting speed by 200% for 20 seconds, which sort of counteracts all that lovely haste you’ve been stacking.  Malleable goo was responsible for most of our wipes once we had the basics down.

So, how do you avoid this?  First, practice.  Second, pay attention to your bossmod.  DBM will call out if you are targeted.  DXE will go a step further and provide a nice little arrow telling you where to run to get out of the way.  Third, adjust your camera angle.  In most fights, I prefer a pretty high angle, zoomed out to see as much of the room as possible.  In this fight, I zoom in about halfway and get my camera angle much closer to the ground (i.e., closer to first person view).  Try to keep your eyes on the Professor, because you’ll be able to see the goo leave his hand and will quickly be able to navigate to a safe location.

Some people advocate standing in the melee to avoid this ability, since they will not be targeted.  I think this is a bit of a cop-out, and is just asking the rest of your raid to do your job for you.  If you are in the melee, that’s one less person to be targeted at range, meaning those out there will be targeted more often.  If it’s DPS, that could slow down your kill, and if it’s healers it will hurt their throughput.  So, just suck it up and learn to dodge the balls flying at your face.  If you’re really having trouble, have your raid leader chuck some wrenches at you to get you motivated.

The damage in this fight can be a bit spikey and is not always on the tanks.  Of course, your tanks will need constant attention during the first two phases.  When the orange gas clouds target a player, they get a damaging debuff and will need some healing while they kite it around.  Riptide and some Lesser Healing Waves work great here.  When the green volatile ooze targets a player, get ready to chain heal around them, because when it hits it will do a knock-back and damage everyone in range.  This works especially when a melee member gets targeting, so I’m pretty much always casting a chain heal on the melee when it’s out, just in case. 

Oh by the way, it’s pronounced “mey-lay.”  Yeah, I know it looks like “me-lee” but that’s just wrong.  When I hear you pronounce it that way on vent, a little part of me dies inside.  Mostly the nerdy part, but still, stop it.

We found proper positioning to be very helpful here.  We had ranged and most of the healers stack up near the tables in the back of the room.  If a green volatile ooze targets one of the ranged players, they will need to stack up on that person to help spread the damage and keep them alive.  Try to be at max range from your tank when this ability is casting.  This will make sure the green goo takes longer to reach you, giving the DPS more time to kill it, and your raid members more time to stack on you.

Once you get to phase 3, you’re in a DPS race to get the boss down before his stacking AoE damage wipes the raid, and you run out of room on the floor due to all the slime puddles that your off tank can no longer remove.  You’ll want to Bloodlust right at the start of this phase.  Although it’s a DPS race, the more healing you can throw out, the longer your raid will last.  Positioning is key.  The tanks will be constantly moving the Professor around to keep out of the slime puddles and the choking gas bombs.  They will also be taking greatly increased damage and will be on a short taunt rotation.  Your tank healers will be going all out here, and even if you’re on the raid, you’ll want to help them out as much as possible.  Try to keep Earth Shield on the current tank if you’re the only resto shaman.

Early in the phase, I like to set up near the middle of the room, where I can hopefully stand still for a bit and pump out a bunch of healing.  As slime puddles begin to spawn, this will become harder to do, and you’ll have to start moving to the outside of the room, trying to stay ahead of where the tanks are kiting.  If you need to, you can stay with the tanks and melee in this phase, but I’ve found that the constant movement makes it tough to put out much raid healing.  This probably works well if you’re a resto druid.  Cheaters.  For the rest of us, try to find a safe spot, heal like crazy, and then move quickly to another safe spot as needed.  

There’s a little bit of RNG involved with the slime pool placement, and your raid needs to stay calm and put out as much damage as they can before the raid damage gets too high.  I think we had 4 people alive at the end of our kill, so it doesn’t have to be pretty the first time, and this fight should get a little easier each week as your raid gears up.

Resto Shaman Glyphs

February 19, 2010

Lodur’s inaugural post over at WoW.com’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.

Resto Shaman Grid Setup

February 18, 2010

There are many great guides out there for setting up Grid. Marcie Knox’s article on WoW.com is perhaps a bit dated now, but is a great introduction to the addon.  You can find a great list of Grid posts on BobTurkey’s site.  Or you could always just Google it.  I’m not going to go over the details of configuring the addon, because that has already been done so well elsewhere.  Instead, I’ll focus on what I find to be a good Grid setup as a resto shaman.

Grid is complicated, so you’re going to need to spend an hour or two getting used to how things work.  If this sounds too hard, then I guess you’re stuck with Healbot or VuhDo (which may be just fine, I don’t know).  However, I really enjoy tweaking my UI, and Grid in particular, because it makes me think through what information I need to see, which helps me be a better healer.  Once you get hooked, you are going to be constantly tweaking your Grid setup for maximum performance.

When tailoring your Grid setup for a resto shaman, your guiding principle should be displaying all the information you need, and none of the information you don’t.  Here are the top 10 things I want to see with a glance at Grid:

  1. Character names and classes
  2. Health totals
  3. Incoming heals
  4. Range indicator
  5. Raid debuffs
  6. Who has aggro
  7. Poison, Disease and Curse information
  8. Riptide HoTs
  9. Ancestral Fortitude
  10. Raid marks

Here are some things that you very easily could display in Grid, but I choose not to:

  1. Mana/energy bars for each raid member (possibly helpful for mana tide, not worth the clutter for me)
  2. HoT trackers (I just don’t need this info.  I assume the druids are hotting everything up, and heal accordingly)
  3. Priest or paladin shields (sometimes relevant, but again, I assume a disc priest is shielding)
  4. Earth Shield (I prefer to just look at the tanks and/or TotemTimers to see if my ES is up)
  5. My target (I can already tell who my target is through other parts of my UI)

Getting all this information on Grid takes a bit of setup time, but it’s worth the hassle.  In addition to the standard Grid addon, I use several additional modules to add flexibility.  GridRaidStatusDebuffs adds an icon to the center of Grid to display important raid debuffs, such as penetrating cold on Anub’arak or instability on Sindragosa.  I’m not sure how I ever played without this addon, as it really helps to keep track of raid debuffs to guide your healing priorities.  Make sure to update it often to get all the relevant debuffs for each encounter.

GridStatusRaidIcons allows me to see a miniature raid icon for any marked players, which can be very helpful when you raid leader calls out “heal square” or “X run to the ranged.”  GridIndicatorSideIcons allows me to place icons at the top of my Grid frame, which is where I prefer to place raid icons.  GridIndicatorText3 allows me to add a third line of text to Grid, which I appreciate for aesthetic reasons.  These are all the additional Grid modules that I need, but you can get crazy and add a ton of info to your basic Grid setup.  Just do a search for Grid on curse.com and see what’s out there.

Here’s how my UI looks in a 5 man heroic dungeon (click for a larger version).  It is still a little in flux, but I’m generally happy with how it looks and functions:

For now, I just want to focus on Grid.  I have it set up in the middle of my screen, below my character and his cast bar.  For the longest time, I played with Grid floating freely on my screen, and I’d usually place it just to the left or right of my character.  However, I’ve found that this position leaves the middle of the screen clear to improve my raid awareness, while allowing me to easily see what’s going on with my character and focus mostly on healing.

The one downside of having Grid in this location is that I need it to always take up a set amount of space.  I have it set to a constant 25 man setup.  I don’t need anything larger, since I rarely do battlegrounds.  If I really need to see pets in a 25 man raid, I can extend the size out a bit, since the actions bars to the right of Grid are not critical.

Let’s take a closer look at Grid itself:

I like to keep the center health bar colored by class so I can easily see who I am grouped with.  Some healers like to set these to green  bars, or have them change colors as people lose health, but I find this unnecessary.  The death knight here is an example of what I like to see from my DPS: no aggro, no debuffs, full health, just doing his thing.  The next player down is a boomkin.  You can see that his health is just below half based on his center bar.  The icon in the lower left tells me that he has a poison, disease, or curse that I can remove.  The center text icon lets me know that it is a poison.  If this was a raid, I would see raid debuffs in the center text as well, very similar to the poison icon here.  The rogue is in a similar position to the death knight, although in his case you can see that he’s about to receive an incoming heal of around 7.3k.  I’m not sure if I was mistakenly targeting him with my chain heal, or it was an estimated bounce from the druid, but I find this estimate of incoming heals very helpful, especially on a raid tank.  It will show estimated heals from all healers, not just yourself.

The paladin tank is next, and you can see a few things here.  First, the red aggro in the top left tells me that he has aggro, which is good.  Even better is that no one else has a red dot.  If someone does get aggro, I can see it quickly, and send heals their way.  If I feel like it.  The purple box on the top right lets me know that my Riptide HoT is on the target.  The green icon on the lower right tells me that the Ancestral Fortitude buff is up on the tank, reducing his incoming physical damage by 10%.  I can also see that he has a small heal incoming, likely the Riptide HoT.

Yours truly is on the bottom, just doing his thing and getting the heroic healed.  If someone was out of range, they would be clearly grayed out on Grid.  If there were raid marks out, you’d see a small version of the icon in the top, middle of their character box.  With this setup, I’m able to accomplish the ten goals I set out above, and I have a lot of information in a very small space on my UI.

In the next few weeks I’ll try to go over some other aspects of my UI.  For quick reference, here is a list of the main addons that you see above:

  1. Grid (and Clique, which is not seen but critical)
  2. Quartz (cast bars)
  3. IceHUD (heads up health and mana display)
  4. Razr Naga action bar addon (based on Dominos, I believe)
  5. Bison (buffs and debuffs)
  6. Omen Threat Meter
  7. Skada (modular healing and damage meters)
  8. TotemTimers (totem and weapon buff/shield bars)
  9. Prat (chat mod)
  10. ChocolateBar Broker Display and assorted mods (similar to Titan Panel or Fubar, but better)

Resto Shaman Healing on Valithria Dreamwalker

February 17, 2010

Valithria Dreamwalker is sweet revenge for all those bosses where you’ve had to work your butt off healing, while the dps just tunneled visioned on the boss and watched his health bar drop.  In this fight, it’s the DPS that has to carefully prioritize their targets and kill order, while most of the healers get to go all out on the boss.  It’s a unique mechanic, and I think most healers would agree it’s been a nice change of pace.  As of this evening, I’ve been able to participate in both a 10 and 25 man kill, so I wanted to share my experience.

First, depending on your raid makeup, you should angle for a “portal team” spot.  In 10 man, we kept one healer assigned to the tanks/raid and in 25 man we had 3 staying outside.  All the other healers were allowed to take a portal each time they were out, stack their debuffs high, and get some insane HPS going.  

The first candidate for the portals should be geared holy paladins.  It’s hard to match their raw throughput.  In my experience, resto shamans are the next best bet, and if you are skilled and geared, you can beat some paladins.  Druids and holy priests are each solid choices if you don’t have enough shamans or paladins, and getting Guardian Spirit (glyphed if possible) on the boss as much as possible is key.  Disc priests are going to be stuck on the outside, because their mitigation is not going to bump up the boss’s health bar.

There is very little you need to worry about in this fight if you are on the portal team.  There are two very obvious ground effects that will try to kill, so don’t stand in them.  I’ve found that the best rotation is Riptide (RT), Healing Wave (HW), Healing Wave, Healing Wave.  At my haste levels, RT is ready to go again after three HW’s.  You could also work some Lesser Healing Waves in here as needed.  It goes against your instincts, but I wouldn’t waste time refreshing your water shield on this fight.  With the portal buff, you are not going to be anywhere near mana problems.

Given this, gear for maximum throughput.  If you can throw together a set that maximizes your spellpower, haste and crit, that’s what you want here.  Mp5 is pretty much going to be unused.  Your T10 four piece bonus is going to add very little here so keep that in mind as well.  I wish I had remembered this before our 25 man kill tonight, because I have a higher throughput set sitting there ready to go, but instead I had my four piece T10 on.  I believe you can Earth Shield the boss for some extra heals, but I’ve found that it helps the raid healers out to keep it on the tanks.

Getting used to the portal mechanic is key to getting through this fight quickly, and takes a bit of time.  You should see a warning in your bossmod that portals are coming up.  You will also see Dreamwalker send out several green beams, with green dots at the end.  These will be spaced around her, so don’t be afraid to park yourself behind the boss.  I suggest moving to a green dot early, and make sure you and another healer are not angling for the same one.  Raid marks for the portal team can help with this.  Those green dots will be turning into portals in about 10 seconds.

When the portals spawn, stop your casts and enter immediately.  Hit your space bar to get up in the air about 15 yards or so, and you will see green orbs floating around the room.  Each guild may go about capturing orbs differently.  It’s a great idea to group up with one or more healers and grab orbs together, since everyone in the area when they pop will get a stack of the buff.  In order to pop the orb, simply “swim” through the air right on top of it.  You’re flying in 3 dimensions, so this takes a bit of practice.  Your goal is get as many stacks as you can, but don’t ninja them from your fellow healers.  If you see someone else flying up, wait until they get to you and share the buff.

Your main goal is to roll your buff stacks between portal phases so they don’t drop off.  To help with this, try to pop an orb near the end of your 15 or so seconds in the portal.  I believe your debuff will expire if you do not get another stack within 35 seconds.  Thus, it is imperative to stake out your next portal when they begin to spawn.  Make sure your DPS is interrupting Frostbolt Volleys from the Archmages.  These will slow you down and could keep you out of a portal if they come at the wrong time.  Hop in right away, fly up, and pop an orb to reset your timer and start building on your stacks.  If you are good, you can get up to around 35-40 stacks or more.  I was able to get to around 20 or so before I let mine drop tonight.

When you have a bunch of healers with big stacks (or at around 80-85% either way), get Guardian Spirit on the boss and pop Bloodlust right after a portal phase.  Spam your Healing Wave, and you should see Dreamwalker’s health bar start to shoot up.  If your tanks and DPS are doing their job, victory should ensue.

Basic Resto Shaman Macros

February 14, 2010

When should you not macro your trinkets?  If you often think to yourself “healing ICC is easy, I wish I had another thing I could worry about to tweak to max my HPS,” then you may not need to macro your trinkets.  You are probably timing them at important moments in the fight for maximum burst healing.

For everyone else, I recommend a few simple macros to ensure you’re getting maximum uptime out of your trinkets, racial abilities, and other cooldowns.  I know that if I don’t macro my trinkets, I simply fail to use them enough.  I always save them for when things get really bad, and then when they do, I’m too focused on healing to pop my trinkets.  The first macro is something I manually entered in Clique (bound to shift right-click), and is my “oh shit” macro using Nature’s Swiftness.

  • #showtooltop Nature’s Swiftness
    /stopcasting
    /use 13
    /use 14
    /cast Tidal Force
    /cast Nature’s Swiftness
    /script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
    /cast [target=mouseover] Chain Heal

This will pop both my trinkets and Tidal Force if they are up, Nature’s Swiftness and in instant Chain Heal.  If any of my cooldowns are not up, the second to last line will prevent any annoying UI messages on my screen.  Every resto shaman should have some version of this macro bound to an easily accessible key.  You can also create a separate macro using Healing Wave, but I find that keeping it simple with just Chain Heal works best for me, and the theory is that if the tank is getting low, other people probably are as well, so that Chain Heal bounces are almost always useful.

  • #showtooltip Riptide
    /stopcasting
    /use 13
    /use 14
    /script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
    /cast [target=mouseover] Riptide

This macro is also set up in Clique, and ensures that I’m getting maximum use out my trinket slots (/use 13 and /use 14).  It will attempt to use both trinkets every time I use Riptide, which I am doing almost on cooldown these days.  You can macro this to any healing spell you prefer as long as you use it fairly regularly.  You could add Tidal Force here if you like, but I prefer to keep mine in reserve for Nature’s Swiftness.  That’s when I’m really going to need the crit, and with a 3 minute cooldown compared to 2 minutes on Nature’s Swiftness, I’m already taking advantage of Tidal Force by using Nature’s Swiftness frequently.

With those two macros, or something like them, you’ll be able to take full advantage of your trinkets, Nature’s Swiftness and Tidal Force, no matter how focused you get on those health bars.  You can select trinkets with a great on-use ability without worrying that you’ll never remember to use them.  And, you’ll put out more healing without adding another thing to worry about during a difficult fight.  Any one else have another macro that they find essential?

The Plusses and Minuses of Theorycrafting

February 11, 2010

Once you have moved beyond the grinding heroics for T9 and emblem gear stage, you probably want to start raiding.  If you are serious about maximizing your healing, you’ll need to consider the relative values of the various healing stats (For us that is spellpower, haste, crit, mp5, and intellect).  Stat weightings provide a numerical value for each stat, helping you decide what gear, gems, or enchants will help you put out more healing.  The top shamans calculate their state weightings using Shaman HEP or similar programs.  

If you wander over to Elitist Jerks and copy what the top resto shamans in the world are doing, you will stack a lot of haste.  A lot of haste.  I suggest that you use Shaman HEP to come up with your own numbers, but realistically, not everyone will do so.  If you do calculate your own stat ratings, then much of what follows will not apply to you.  Most people want the bottom line advice, so they see that the top resto shamans stack haste and decide to do the same thing themselves.

Consider for a minute why haste is so valuable for these players.  For the most part, the top resto shamans are in highly focused progression raiding guilds.  These are the type of guilds that consider normal modes a warm-up for the heroic versions.  They aren’t wiping on Saurfang or Festergut.  They are running with highly geared and skilled tanks who are not taking unnecessary damage, and know how to time their cooldowns.  They have some of the best DPS on their server putting out top DPS and avoiding the fire as much as possible.  

In this controlled context, there is just not a ton of “extra” healing that needs to get done.  I just made this concept up, but extra healing is the healing you need to do because people stand in the fire too long, don’t understanding the boss mechanics, don’t time their tank cooldowns or tank swaps well, have not geared for mitigation as a tank, fail to interrupt, and make the fight take longer with slower (or dead) DPS.  There is also not a lot of need for longevity in top guilds, because these guilds do not bring 7 healers for normal modes and the DPS they bring is top-notch.  Things die quickly and mana is less of an issue.  

If the last two paragraphs describe your typical raid night or experience pugging raids, then you can probably just stack haste up to at least the soft cap (I believe that is 1269 haste rating) and be done with it.  Haste works so well because it allows us to pump out more healing in less time.  It also allows our some of our spells to land before they can be rendered overhealing by those pesky resto druids and their HoTs.  In short, bumping up your haste can really up your healing throughput, which is the amount of healing that you do over the course of a boss fight.  And yes, this will help your position on the healing meters.

But what if your resto shaman is an alt, or a main that doesn’t have the spare time to focus on progression raiding?  You like to raid, so you mostly find yourself in whatever random pugs that take place when you have a few hours to spare.  In this environment, you simply do not value the same stats as a progression raider.  I speak from experience, because I recently transferred servers to find a guild with a better raiding schedule.  Prior to that move, I could rarely make my guild’s raids.  I ran a lot of pugs and many of them were pretty horrible.  And I gemmed for a lot less haste because of it.

In a pug raid, the one thing you can count on is a wide variety of skills and experience.  You may have some very skilled and geared players who missed their guild run that week, and you may have people who dinged 80 on Friday on their first character and thought a 25 ToC would be fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  You’ll never be sure how good the group is until you get started, but it will almost certainly not be as smooth as a guild run.  People will stand in the fire too long.  The tanks won’t switch when they should have.  They will also probably have stacked stamina instead of mitigation, because a higher health pool makes them look more geared, and helps get them into pugs.  The DPS will take forever to down the boss, despite their impressive Gearscores.  The other healers will seem like they are healing with low ranked spells (and maybe they are, check out RankWatch!).

In this environment, you want a balance of stats, and a lot more intellect and mp5 than you would in a progression raid.  The fights will take longer, the tanks and the raid will take more damage, and you will find your mana bar dropping fairly quickly.  Don’t forget to use Mana Tide and a Mana Potion, or course, but sometimes that isn’t enough.  In short, intellect and mp5 are great insurance policies in a pug.  Spellpower is still valuable, of course, because there is a lot of healing that needs to be done.  Haste is great, because you’ll want to fire off fast heals to save slow-moving raid members.  Crit rating is always nice, because it improves both our throughput and our mana regeneration.  

Going for a balance of stats is what a lot of us instinctively guess we should be doing, for good reason.  Most people probably fall somewhere between world-first chasing guild and random Saturday afternoon pug.  You need do what works for you.  Don’t be discouraged if you read that you should stack haste.  Or maybe you heard to stack spellpower to the exclusion of everything else (not sure where you heard that, but you get my point).  What works for them will not always work for you, and if you feel like you need a bigger and more stable mana pool, then you probably do.  Mana left at the end of the fight is wasted mana, but dead raiders because you went OOM is a wasted boss kill.

How to Ensure Your Death

February 10, 2010

Don’t let anyone who enjoys healing get away with telling you that they don’t enjoy watching certain people die.  Of course, one of the main reasons we become healers is because we’re a bit OCD about health bars, and if there is a way we can get your health up to full, that’s what most of our brain is working on, even if that means we are taking some damage ourselves.  We enjoy healing you.  We don’t sleep well at night when we let nice people die.  Our entire job is to make sure as many people stay alive as possible so we can down the boss.  Our second most important job is prioritizing heals to make sure that if some people die, it’s not the ones that will cause a total wipe.

What does this mean to you if you’re dpsing a 5 man heroic these days?  You’re about as important as one of my totems.  We might notice if you disappear during the fight, but probably not.  Thus, if you have managed to piss me off, there is a very good chance that I will stop healing you, and you will die.  I will enjoy this to no end, and you will probably go away convinced that I am a noob healer that couldn’t keep you alive.  Here’s how to ensure (no, not insure, I don’t offer life insurance in WoW) that you will spend a lot of time staring at the floor in a heroic I’m healing:

  • Repeatedly draw aggro on mobs. Most tanks these days can hold aggro on a couple of pulls worth of mobs while you AoE them down.  In order to do this, they need maybe 1 or 2 GCDs to establish aggro.  Give them this time.  Or, if you are single target dpsing, please for the love of God follow the tank’s target.  Set up a focus macro and learn to use it.
  • Fail to timely drop aggro. Just about every class has a mechanic to drop threat these days.  If you aren’t using those tools, and are just sitting there tanking the mob, at some point I will stop healing you.  Consider it a cheap lesson in how to play.  If you can’t drop aggro, run towards the tank, not away from him.  You’re just making it harder for the tank to taunt off of you (if he still cares; tanks can be grouchy too).
  • Decide you can pull because the tank is too slow. If you can pull and stay alive until the tank comes to save you, then way to go.  But, I’m not going to burn all my mana healing an impatient fury warrior.  You yank it, you tank it, and good luck getting heals from me if you pull this more than once or twice in a run.
  • Tell me I suck. This one is pretty obvious.  I’m a well geared healer who runs 25 ICC.  While I’m not an all-star, I know what I’m doing and I know how to play my class.  If you tell me that I suck, I will just stop healing you.  It is quite easy for me to stop using Chain Heal and switch to Lesser Healing Wave to make sure you get no heals.  You will then become convinced that I suck, which is too bad for you.  Even the best healer cannot prevent every wipe, and it was probably caused by you doing something stupid in the first place, so chill out.   Even if the healer DOES suck, do you think yelling this at them makes them want to heal you?
  • Tell other people they suck. Are you that guy who berates lesser-geared players for doing bad DPS?  Yells at everyone throughout the heroic for not playing up to your required speed/skill/gear levels?  At some point, I’ll probably just decide that you deserve to die.  Should a DK ever be doing 800k DPS in a heroic?  No, probably not.  You making them feel like crap isn’t going to improve their DPS, it’s just going to ruin their day.  If you have helpful tips on a rotation, gearing choice, etc, find a tactful way to present them.  If you just want to be a tool, then I heard there’s some floor that needs tasting.
  • Start yelling things like “I need heals.” This applies more to a raid, where you might be using ventrilo, and is only really excusable if you are a tank.  Even then, unless there’s some burst damage or a tank switch incoming, we probably know you need heals.  When DPS yell this out it causes one of two reactions.  First, if your healer is contrary like me, they immediately think “no, I will not heal you; hope you enjoy dying.”  If they are nice, they will try to figure out who is talking, find that person on their Grid or other raid frames, and then heal them.  Which takes a while.  If you had just shut up, you probably would have already been healed.  I won’t tell you to DPS the boss, you don’t tell me to heal you.

If you’re not doing these things, then rest assured that your healer is probably doing their best to heal you.  All we do as healers is try to stay alive and heal people.  We appreciate that you are killing the big scary dudes for us so we can get emblems/gold/loot off of them.  We know your health levels at all times, and if you are the highest current priority for heals and are in range, we will heal you ASAP.  So, if you find that you keep dying even though you have a well-geared healer, ponder whether you have committed one of the violations above.