What is the name, class, and spec of your primary healer?
Exelus, an Elemental (57/14/0) and sometimes Restoration Shaman (0/13/58)
What is your primary group healing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Most of my healing time is spent in 5-mans or 10-mans, with the occasional 25-man and rare foray into PvP (battlegrounds). As Elemental, I'm usually assigned to our 10-man raids as "heal-capable-DPS," meaning I spend the bulk of my time DPS'ing while spot-healing and backing-up our two main heals.
What is your favorite healing spell for your class and why?
No, it's not Chain Heal, even though it runs a close second behind my favorite: Riptide. I'm a big fan of damage-mitigation and passive healing (especially on a tank), so Riptide's trailing HoT is an important part of my style. I love the fire-and-forget nature of Riptide, and it also triggers the essential Tidal Waves ability which I try to keep up at all times.
What healing spell do you use least for your class and why?
Even though I'm spec'ed for it and consider it an essential part of my toolkit, Healing Wave seems to get the least amount of action. I think this is because in most cases, a critting LHW or Chain Heal will do the job. Still, with Tidal Waves up, I can go for an extremely powerful 1.5 second bomb-heal when needed, which is a really great option. I also have a Nature's Swiftness + Healing Wave macro for those "tank's gonna die now" moments.
What do you feel is the biggest strength of your healing class and why?
The obvious answer here is "raid healing," but I actually feel that a Resto Shaman's strength is versatility. While our healing kit is very basic (one instant, one AoE, two direct heals with the same effective cast time), with glyphs and spec tweaks I feel that Resto Shaman are very well setup to handle any healing role (tank, raid, 5-man content).
What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your healing class and why?
This is much less of an issues these days, but the lack of a threat dump or "keep 'em off me!" button has always been a sore spot. Priests have Fade, Night Elves have Shadowmeld, Druids have Barkskin/Cyclone/Roots, and Paladins have a bubble. Shaman do have Nature's Guardian, but it's a five-talent point expenditure that most avoid. I've used Earth Elemental before to taunt mobs away from me, but it's so situational and drastic that I don't really count it as a worthwhile panic button.
In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best healing assignment for you?
The ever-predictable raid healing role is best for Resto Shaman in 25+ content: preferably the melee group so folks are clumped-together for Chain Heal love.
What healing class do you enjoy healing with most and why?
Duo-healing 10-mans with another Resto Shaman is great for totem farms and the criss-crossing Chain Heals (ooh! purty!). I also enjoy pairing-up with Holy Paladins or Disc Priests, because I know their single-target forte is a great compliment to my raid-healing abilities.
What healing class do you enjoy healing with least and why?
Our guild has a mix of all classes/specs which participate in our 10-man raids, and I can't say there's any one class/spec that I enjoy healing with less than others. As a Resto Shaman, I can adjust my healing style based on who I'm teamed-up with, so team makeup has never been an issue.
What is your worst habit as a healer?
Aiming heals (usually Chain Heal) at the person with the lowest health: often times they'll die during the cast anyway, so I'm forced to spend the next few seconds re-casting and playing catchup with the others who could've been saved more easily. Along those same lines, I probably don't use Nature's Swiftness enough - I tend to save it for those oh-shit moments, but they are (by nature) harder to predict so it's harder for me to make that snap-decision sometimes.
What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while healing?
Avoidable raid damage or over-anxious DPS who divert my healing attention away from the tank. People who ask for rez's after the fight. People who openly question my decision to heal myself and the tank over them. Luckily, these peeves happen outside the guild on PUG runs, which is why I usually refuse to heal PUG raids anyway. :)
Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other healers for PvE healing?
Yes, absolutely. Just a few tweaks here and there (glyphs and spec) and we're well suited for almost anything, and have great synergy with other healing classes.
What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a healer?
Recount, WoW Web Stats, and in general, the number of deaths balanced against the successful completion (or wipe) of an encounter. I try not to worry too much about overhealing, but if I find myself going OOM on an encounter I will definitely check those numbers. In PUG raids, I sometimes do a quick healing meter check just to have a look at my performance relative to the other healers.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your healing class?
Contrary to popular belief, only half our keyboard is bound to Chain Heal. We also keep track of Earth Shield charges, Riptide durations, single-target heal with LHW/HW, Cleanse, drop specific totems for specific encounters, etc.
What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new healers of your class to learn?
Learning when/how to use Chain Heal vs. our other heals. CH has a long cast time, and certainly isn't the best heal in all situations.
If someone were to try to evaluate your performance as a healer via recount, what sort of patterns would they see (i.e. lots of overhealing, low healing output, etc)?
They would probably see more overheal than necessary, as I tend to pre-spam Chain Heal when I anticipate incoming raid damage and/or am trying to keep Tidal Waves up. Hopefully they'd see decent healing output, and very few healer-preventable deaths. (I refuse to take responsibility for those standing in the fire!) :)
Haste or Crit and why?
Haste FTW. I may have downplayed Chain Heal in some of the answers above, but in reality I do use it fairly often and since it starts with a talented cast time of 2.5 seconds, anything I can do to get that time down is helpful. I think currently I have it down to 2.1 seconds or so. Haste finishes your current cast faster, so you can get on to other things sooner. Over the course of a long fight, all that extra haste will add up to several more spell casts if your mana can handle it. Also, healing in faster bursts allows for longer regen periods.
What healing class do you feel you understand least?
Paladins. The single-target nature of them was a complete paradigm shift from playing a Resto Shaman and very difficult for me to get used to in a 5-man setting, so I eventually dumped my alt's Holy spec for Prot. In The Burning Crusade I raided as a Resto Druid, and one of my original mains was a Priest, so I feel like I understand them better than their plate-wearing brethren.
What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in healing?
Grid and Clique are essential for me, as I wouldn't be able to (nor want to) heal without them. I feel like one of the biggest problems with WoW right now is the lack of healing support in the default UI. I hope they'll address this next expansion when they announce the Arch Druid hero healing class. :) For macros, nothing too fancy other than auto-popping trinkets and alternate mouse-clicks set up for Nature's Swiftness + Chain Heal or Healing Wave.
Do you strive primarily for balance between your healing stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
I tend to balance between spell power, haste and MP5 - with a bias towards spell power. I know it's not typical for Resto Shaman to go with MP5, but for the content I heal in and the style in which I do it, I prefer the extra longevity. I may experiment more with stacking Intellect at some point, but I'm fairly satisfied with the setup now.