Sunday, September 28, 2008

End of BC Healing Roundup: The Shaman

Or: Chain Heal Ad Nauseam

Conduits of the ancient forces of nature. Able to hurl bolts of lightning. Even Captain Kirk is among our ranks.
But this is a post about healing, and last I checked, my Shaman doesn’t heal via bolts of lightning, but via Chain Heal. And also Chain Heal. And we can also cast… Chain Heal. Ooooo, we also have Earth Shield. But we don’t cast that as much as Chain Heal… sigh.

I don’t want to knock Chain Heal. It’s great. Half the reason I rolled my Shaman, besides being able to hurl bolts of lightning, was because my Holy Paladin main was jealous of Chain Heal. But let’s be honest, Chain Heal is so great that we Shamans can forget about Healing Wave and Lesser Healing Wave.

Arsenal of Healing/Utility Spells:
Chain Heal
Earth Shield
Healing Wave
Lesser Healing Wave
Healing Stream Totem
Mana Tide Totem
Mana Stream Totem
Water Shield
Cure Poison
Poison Cleansing Totem
Cure Disease
Disease Cleansing Totem
Nature’s Swiftness
Reincarnation

Strengths:
Multi-target healing: The true power of any Resto Shaman is his or her Chain Heal, and there’s simply no way around this fact. Whenever your raid is taking lots of damage, it comes down to the Shamans’ Chain Heal and the Holy Priests’ Circle of Healing to save the day.
Reactive heals: Earth Shield is a one of a kind heal, in that it activates when its recipient takes damage, but, unlike Prayer of Mending, it will stick to whomever it is cast on.
Survivability: Shamans, with their mail armor and shields, are a fairly hardy bunch. If a mob gets loose and aggros to the healers, you can expect a Resto Shaman to last a few seconds before being smashed into the ground, while a Priest or Druid would most likely be one-shot.
Totems: Like all Shamans, the Resto tree has access to a myriad of buffing totems. While the Enhancement Shaman, erm, enhances the melee friendly totems, and the Elemental Shaman does didily squat besides getting Totem of Wrath, the Resto Shaman brings improved Healing Stream and Mana Stream totems.

Weaknesses:
Single target healing: While a Shaman’s Chain Heal is very powerful, Lesser Healing Wave and Healing Wave are rather inefficient single target direct heals compared to the Priests’ or Paladins’.
Mobility: With Earth Shield being the Shaman’s only instant cast heal, moving and healing at the same time is an issue for the Shaman.
HoTs: While Earth Shield achieves the same end as a HoT, keeping a tank’s health up while direct heals are incoming, Shamans lack a true HoT ala Renew.

What’s coming?
At the moment, Shamans are in flux more than almost any other class. Each Shaman spec, Resto included, is still receiving constant changes and thus a great deal is still up in the air as to what Wrath of the Lich King will bring for the mail wearing healers.

A number of talents, however, such as Ancestral Awakening and Tidal Waves, are encouraging the use of Healing Wave and Lesser Healing Wave mixed in with Chain Heal. Ancestral Awakening, along with Improved Water Shield, are encouraging the use of Crit on the Shaman’s gear for both mana regen and healing. And finally, Earthliving Weapon is giving Shamans their own, unique HoT.

Part 1: The Priest
Part 2: The Druid
Part 4: The Paladin

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