Friday, April 3, 2009

Learning to Resto

I'll admit it... I went 80 levels (and a year-and-a-half) before I even thought about healing with my Shaman. So Blizzard releases WotLK and the second-coming of Naxxramas, and (like many guilds) we found ourselves short on healers when raiding resumed.

With a gulp and and one eye closed I hit the "unlearn talents" button and found myself staring at the Resto tab for the first time. It's been a few months now (with many respecs back and forth), so hopefully my experiences can be help those giving Resto a try - especially with dual specs around the corner!

The Tools
Earth Shield - the orbiting poo is usually placed on your main tank, soaking up damage on a periodic basis. Always take Improved Earth Shield, and after 3.1, consider the glyph of ES as well. (Grid users should add it as a buff to help keep track of it's uptime: on my setup I use a little yellow dot in the lower left corner of the unit frame.)

Riptide - an outstanding instant-cast splash heal with a trailing HoT (heal over time), which I use for either main tank damage mitigation or quick spot heals on a single target. Also brilliant for two-left-footed dancers in Heigan. :)

Lesser Healing Wave - a fast but rather inefficient heal on it's own, when combined with the glyph on an earth-shielded target (usually your tank) it starts to approach the efficiency of it's big brother Healing Wave. Excellent for topping-off your tanks, and with a healthy amount of crit, good for triggering Ancestral Healing.

Healing Wave - personally I rarely ever use this spell (except when combined with a Nature's Swiftness macro*), as I'm not really talented for it and I prefer a more twitchy healing style rather than the pre-cast/cancel style (more on this later).

Chain Heal - the defining Shaman heal, excellent for healing melee-heavy groups. The longer cast time means some pre-casting may be required, but it's a very efficient way to patch up two or more people (up to four when glyphed, excellent for raid heals).

Cleanse Spirit - not a heal, but a very important utility.

Healing Styles and Talent Builds
Maybe I spent too much time as a Tree in the Burning Crusade, but I grew fond of the mitigation-style of healing backed-up with fast-cast reactive heals. As such, I've personally adopted a style that keeps ES and Riptide rolling on the tank with glyphed LHW and Chain Heals as needed. My typical Resto spec looks something like this.

The other style which may appeal to others focuses more on pre-casting/cancel-casting big Healing Waves, and requires a slightly different spec. I have not personally tried this one out yet.

If you adopt the mitigation+fast cast style, Mp5 becomes very important since we're hardly ever out of the 5SR (five second rule). Otherwise if you're going for big Healing Waves, haste is likely to be more important to you, since hopefully you're staying inside the 5SR as much as possible.

With so many abilities triggering off crits, having high crit is important: 25% is probably a decent number to shoot for, but if you can get to 30% you're in good shape.

Weapon Imbues
Glyphed Earthliving Weapon, always! Also I read somewhere (EJ?) that the Elemental Weapons talent in Enhancement scales poorly with better gear, but it may be useful early on as you're starting heroics.

Tactics: Typical Heroic Trash Pull
Your tank's about to charge into a typical heroic trash group, CC be damned! If you have time, spam a few LHW's on him to trigger Ancestral Healing beforehand (or better yet use a single Tidal Force macro**), and make sure he's got a full stack of ES and Riptide him just before the charge.

Spikey damage happens, so have your fingers ready to LHW, CH or NS+HW. Try to build a mental database of which mobs murder melee or do big AoE damage (whirlwinds, etc), and pre-cast Chain Heals.

Heroics can get a little nutty if your tank has a hard time picking everything up, so I recommend taking Nature's Guardian and also learning to use Wind Shock and Hex to save yourself.

Tactics: Raid Healing
If you have plenty of healing classes to go around in your raid, chances are you'll be assigned to raid heal, which is arguably our forte:

Bind every key to Chain Heal and roll your face across the keyboard.

I'm halfway kidding - you should also keep ES on either MT or OT depending on who's likely to take bigger damage on a particular pull/boss. Since Riptide has a six-second cooldown I usually reserve it for someone who just took a big hit from a loose mob, but otherwise keep it rolling on one of the tanks.

Main Tank healing in a raid setting is certainly possible and viable, just have to ensure that you're fully spec'ed into Ancestral Healing (have it up as much as possible) and Improved Shields, along with the usual Improved ES and Riptide business.

Handy Macros
*Nature's Swiftness + Healing Wave
This is your tanks-gonna-die-now-unless-you-do-something-quick button.

#showtooltip Healing Wave
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast Nature's Swiftness
/cast Tidal Force
/use 13
/use 14
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/cast [target=mouseover] Healing Wave

**Tidal Force + Lesser Healing Wave
This macro guarantees a LHW crit, triggering Ancestral Healing.

#showtooltip Lesser Healing Wave
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast Tidal Force
/use 13
/use 14
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/cast [target=mouseover] Lesser Healing Wave

Both macros above have /use 13 and 14 to auto-pop your trinkets, and have [target=mouseover] since I use these in conjunction with Clique to click-cast my heals. The Sound_Enable and UIErrorsFrame business just keeps the game from spamming you with "that ability is not ready yet" feedback.

Further Reading
Check out Elitist Jerks and


TristanPEJ said...

Wait... we have healing waves now?

can i heal with lightning bolts?

Savin (Nay) Wangtal said...

Healing bolt? Bad idea, man. You should be using Chain Lightning to heal, since it's much more mana efficient in raid.

What about totem usage?

TristanPEJ said...

Totem of wrath gives spell power. I'm fine

Geanor said...

Excellent guide, I can't wait to play a restoration shaman at high level :)