Shamans are a very versatile class which offer a plethora of options for both DPS and healing. I’ll focus on the healing in this guide at level 80 for both 5 man dungeons and then raid content. Like Paladins, Shamans are a utility class whose strength lies almost as much in what benefits they bring to others in the party/raid as their actual performance itself. The main difference in how this is achieved is our totems and one very ‘heroic’ ability. Yes they can be confusing, and it will take a while to figure out the best situation to use them in, but you’ll get there sooner than you think. This guide will be broken up into eight main sections: Spells/Abilities, Totems, Talent Builds, Glyphs, Gems, Enchants, Healing Guide and Macros. Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
This has long been the target of most Shaman button clicks. The spell ‘jumps to 3 targets’ (or 4 with a major Glyph). Who it heals is based on who is missing the most health (by absolute value and not percentage). Each jump reduces the healing done by 50%. The range for each ‘jump’ of the spell is approximately 10-15 yards.
Chain heal can crit on any of the three jumps or all) but the healing done to the next target is based on the non-crit healing done. Crits from chain heal will proc Ancestral Fortitude and Tidal Waves.
This is a great spell for when your party/raid is taking a lot of damage and players are bunched. Useful scenarios are for AOE bosses or anytime a group needs to be bunched. Think Loken from Halls of Lightning or Sapphiron from Naxxramus.
Another point of note is that Chain Heal will proc Tidal Waves, which is a must for all healing scenarios. Whether you use Chain Heal or Riptide for its proc depends on if it is single target damage you are facing or clustered damage.
A new addition with WoTLK, Riptide is an excellent addition to the Shamans arsenal. Riptide is a talent that gives us our only instant heal (not counting Nature’s Swiftness). It has a 6-second cooldown. If you cast Chain Heal on someone with Riptide, it consumes the remaining healing left on the Riptide and increases your Chain Heal by 25%. Only a direct Chain Heal will proc Riptide though, not the jumps. The other big plus, as I mentioned above, is that it ill proc Tidal Waves.
This spell is very useful for any fight involving movement or burst damage. Earth shield your tank and cast a riptide before the pull and keeping him up during the initial pull is a simple task with your 30% quicker Lesser Healing Waves and Healing Waves.
This is our big heal, It takes 2.5 seconds to cast (3.0 seconds without talents) and is not as powerful as other classes’ big heal spells. In the past this spell was buried in many Shaman’s spell books because of its high mana cost and the greater effectiveness of other spells. However, with the Tidal Wave talents mentioned above and also the Healing Way talent it can be very useful in certain high damage situations.
This is the fastest heal a shaman can cast. With a nominal amount of haste and with the Tidal Waves buff this spell is a ~1 second cast. It does not stack Healing Way, but it is relatively cheap with talents at 626 Mana. This is the staple heal for many Shamans for light to mid single target damage. A combination of Chain Heal > Lesser Healing Wave x 2, or Riptide > Lesser Healing Wave x 2 makes full use of ease Tidal Waves proc and if you have a decent amount of crit it is very mana efficient thanks to the Improved Water Shield talent. Stack enough crit and with decent raid buffs you can chain cast Riptide > Lesser Healing Wave x 2 for a very long time.
This is the Shaman’s version of the Priest’s Power Word: Shield if you like. It has 6 charges (8 with talents) that heals the wearer every few seconds while taking damage.
What it heals for is based on the spellpower at the time it is cast, not when it procs. Hence, if its a tricky healing intensive pull you can drop a Flametongue totem if needed to boost its healing power.
It is important to note that it does generate aggro – 0.725 threat divided evenly among the mobs present. That is no problem for the tank to keep them off of you usually but if your tank is running into a set of mobs to round them up for an AOE tank and spank don’t be surprised if one lunges for you.
This spell is very mana efficient, in that it heals for 2-3k depending on your spell power. Given that it has 8 charges, you can see why it is a must to have it up at all times on any target taking sustained damage. 626 mana with talents is damn good for 16-24k in heals.
One of the hardest things to manage when playing a Shaman is your water shield. This is absolutely critical for your mana regen and ability to heal. Not only does it give you an obscene amount of MP5, but thanks to the Improved Water Shield and Improved Shields it becomes even stronger and gives you back mana on each critical heal from Healing Wave, Lesser Healing Wave and Riptide. It cost no mana to cast, but it does steal GCDs, which can get tricky in a very healing intensive fight. You need to time it well, if no healing is required at any given moment it is often wise to refresh your shield even if you still have a charge or to left.
Other important Support Spells
Nature’s Swiftness – Alt tabbed for a second while your tank pulled? Or need an emergency heal for an aggroing dpser? Then this is a godsent. Use this in conjunction with a Healing Wave and you can survive many mistakes.
Ancestral Awakening – There is much debate as to how useful this is in the Shammy community but I for one think its a godsent. Every little bit helps at times, and this has saved countless wipes for me already where a key DPS or healer gets damaged while i’m in the middle of a spellcast, and when it procs it saved them from certain death. No its not going to heal for a massive percent of your heals but the ~5% of your total heals that it does will often be the difference between a wipe and a clear on progression bosses/tough heroics.
Tidal Force – I use this with Nature’s Swiftness thanks to a nifty macro is part of my ‘Oh Crap’ solution. Use it with a Healing Wave since it has a large chance proc ancestral awakening if you are talented for it, for a large amount.
Now here we go. Totems are what set us apart from other classes. Think of them like pets, you need to keep an eye on them, make sure they are still alive, make sure they are in range of those they need to effect and be sure to refresh them on time. Also, never underestimate the power they possess to change the outcome of a fight. Yes their buffs may seem small, but small differences can be the difference between a wipe and a clear. Get to know fight encounters, and know hat totems would be the most beneficial. Also, get to know what totems stack with other raid buffs. If you have a Pally with Fire Resistance Aura up then don’t waste your Water totem on Fire Resistance since they don’t stack. One last thing, again it may seem insignificant, but always recall your totems! The mana returned means less downtime drinking, and in some cases it can prevent a wipe since an errant pat might sniff them out and get pulled to your unsuspecting group.
Stoneskin Totem – This should be your totem of choice for Earth totems while in a party or raid. It helps mitigate tank damage taken, which is always a huge plus.
Earthbind Totem – Great for running away from mobs while soloing, also very valuable for fights where it is necessary to slow down the bosses, such as Gluth in Naxxramus.
Strength of the Earth Totem – Huge boost to dps, but it does not stack with Deathknight’s Horn of Winter spell. Only useful for when there is not Deathknight in the party/raid, and tank healing is not stressful.
Tremor Totem – Situation specific, but invaluable when needed. This is one of the most useful totems you have. If a boss or mob fears then you want to drop this totem during the pull. Simple.
Stoneclaw Totem – Really only useful for soloing, especially when you get unexpected adds. Can be a lifesaver in that situation, but keep it far away from dungeons/raids.
Earth Elemental Totem – This guy can save a lot of dungeon wipes if your tank does something silly and gets himself killed. It has a decent taunt and decent enough HP that you can keep it up for short periods of time if you need to. It will be one shot in most raid scenarios, but if things are falling to high hell around you it doesn’t hurt to bring him out and hope for a miracle.
Flametongue Totem – This is your totem of choice for most situations for Fire Totems. Huge boost to spell power is great for your heals and all casters in the group and unless fire or frost resistance is needed there really is no other viable option.
Fire Nova Totem / Magma Totem / Searing Totem – These are mainly offense totems which you will seldom use for raids or dungeons. Better to save your mana for healing, besides the raid or party ill usually get much more of a buffs from Flametongue. Searing Totems can sometimes have utility for bosses which have an aggro wipe since they will often go for the Totem first, giving the tank more time to pick them up. But, for the most part stay away. I don’t even have them on my main toolbar.
Frost Resistance Totem – Pretty self-explanatory. If you need extra Frost resistance for some reason then this is an option. Remember that it does not stack with the Pally Frost Resistance Aura so plan accordingly.
Fire Elemental Totem – Useful in situations here AOE dps is needed, but chances are if your group is looking for help from their healer to DPS that you are in a fail group anyway. Aside from the novelty of it, save this for soloing if you are in a pinch.
Windfury Totem – Your staple air totem unless there is an Enhancement Shammy or Frost Deathknight. Excellent boost for melee DPS and your tank’s aggro.
Wrath of Air Totem – Decent boost for spellcasters, use when you have a Frost Deathknight or Enhancement Shammy around.
Grounding Totem – This is often a forgotten totem, but can really be a huge boost to you and your raids survivability. Lay it down whenever you can to soak up errant shadowbolts or frostbolts from bosses and mobs. If you are getting pwned by a caster that your tank hasn’t picked up yet rather than sit there and eat them all, drop a Grounding Totem to take one or two off of you. Can help to avoid a wipe.
Nature Resistance Totem – Pretty Self-explanatory. If you need nature resistance then this is an option. Note that this does not stack with the Hunter Nature Resistance Aspect.
Sentry Totem – Useful for some PVP situations, but never used in a raid or dungeon setting. Leave it in your spellbook unless you feel like having some fun.
Point of note here is that water totems only affect your 5 man party, not the whole raid like the others.
Mana Tide Totem – Ok so this is a talent, but no quarter decent Resto Shammy would ever not spec it. It is just awesome for all mana users in your party. Between this, water shield and the below Mana Spring Totem it is going to take a lot to make you OOM. One thing to watch though is that since this is a water totem it ill replace all other mana totems when used, be sure to drop them again once this is finished pulsing.
Mana Spring Totem – Unless you know you aren’t going to have mana issues during a fight then this is your staple totem. It stacks with other Shaman’s Mana Spring Totems also for uber regeneration in a raid.
Healing Stream Totem – If mana is not going to be an issue due to your party makeup or it isn’t a healing intensive fight then this is often a valid choice. 200-300 health every couple seconds stacks up very quickly and can be a great help for fights which are short but healing intensive. Loken in Heroic Halls of Lightning comes to mind. Forget running away from the lightning. Drop this, heroism and chain heal till the cos come home and he’s dead in < 1 minute.
Disease Cleansing Totem / Poison Cleansing Totem – These will take preference in fights where a mass poison or disease is put on your group. To important things to bear in mind, is that it only affects your party, so just cause you drop it in your 25 man raid doesn’t mean it will take care of everyone, also, though it immediately takes off the poison/disease when placed, it then only does it every 5 seconds. In some fights 5 seconds is too long, and you ill still have to cleanse vital people faster than that, up to you to gauge.
Fire Resistance Totem – Gives fire resistance. Go figure…Also doesn’t stack with the Pally aura, if there is a pally in your group get them to use their aura if fire resistance is needed, your other water totems are far more valuable that his silly Ret or Devotion Aura.
There are a ton of outdated Shaman talent guides on the web, most of which haven’t been updated for WoTLK. There really isn’t much wiggle room when it comes to talents, and most build are exactly the same minus a talent or two.
Here is what I currently run with – 0/14/57
This build maximizes crit by choosing Thundering Strikes. I also chose to go with Healing Focus which some skip for Healing Way but since I never use Healing Wave I rather have the minimal pushbacks. Lastly, some people chose to forgo a few points in Thundering Strikes to get Elemental Weapons. Personally I rather the crit for the extra heals and Water shield procs but to each their own.
Here is a slightly different build – 0/14/57
Experimental Dual Wield Build – 0/31/40
No i’ve never run with it but with it you can get a heap more SP easily by using two healing weapons and enchanting both*. Also you get almost double the chance to proc Earthliving Weapon. You also get to carry many Enhancement Shaman raid-wide talents which can prove useful if there is no other Enhancement Shamans in your guild. The drawbacks are no Riptide, Earthshield, Ancestral Awakening or Tidal Waves but if you are going to be spamming Chain Heal all day long the benefits might outweigh the drawbacks. Up to you to decide.
It’s been pointed out that most healing weapons are Main Hand only, however, it really doesn’t change the fact that you get double the chance to proc Earthliving plus the extra heals from it), get an extra 63 spell dmg from the enchant and are a pseudo-Enhancement Shaman also so provide many important raid buffs. Even off hand +haste fist weapons might be useful. Again, not that I’d necessarily recommend it, but I can see it being useful for certain guilds/situations.
Now that Inscription has been added to the game, it offers a huge array in play style choices. Depending on what glyphs you chose you can radically change how your Shaman can be played. Below are a list of all the Resto Shaman friendly Major Glyphs.
Since you can only chose 3 there are some definite choices here that you need to make which ill change your play style. Glyph of Water Mastery is almost universally taken since regardless hat play style you adopt mana regeneration will be very important. Glyph of Chain Heal is very very valuable for raid scenarios if you will be doing a lot of raid healing. Not so valuable for party scenarios since most times your group won’t all be in range for heals. Glyph of Healing Stream I found very valuable for heroic runs, especially if you are undergeared. The extra healing is very nice. Glyph of Healing Wave can be valuable if you playstyle suits, personally since I almost never cast it there is no need for it. Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave is a very intriguing option, especially for MT heals in raids. This really boosts the performance of your Lesser Healing Wave. Thanks to this Glyph and Improved Water Shield spamming Lesser Healing Wave like a Pally click drunk on Flash of Light is actually a valid playstyle.
If you are going to be primarily solo and running a few heroics i’d recommend Glyph of Healing Stream Totem , Glyph of Water Mastery and Glyph of Earthliving Weapon. Whereas if you raid often i’d recommend Glyph of Chain Heal , Glyph of Water Mastery and either Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave or Glyph of Earthliving Weapon. But fear not, the beauty of Inscription is that it is cheap and very easy to try things out. Most of these glyphs run for 5-20G in the AH so its not like trying out an enchantment which costs significantly more. Now onto Minor Glyphs…
Glyph of Water Shield is a must have for every Resto Shaman, and a close second is Glyph of Renewed Life which can greatly help on tough bosses. The rest are a crapshoot, I went with Astral Recall which helps with my dailies grinding.
Ah gems, the bane of many pocket books around. I’ll list both blue and green gems for the financially challenged. I won’t list the JC only gems since that ill just confuse non-JCers. One point of note is that Perfect green cuts are a random proc for JCs as they cut gems. No one can cut perfect gems always, its just luck of the draw. Giving a JC a gem and getting pissy when you don’t get a perfect cut back is very pedestrian, don’t expect it, its just a nice surprise when you are getting things cut.
There is no right or wrong way to gem. If you are very lo on spell power I would look at ignoring all socket bonuses and just going with Runed Scarlet Ruby (unless the socket bonus is very good). If your spell power is looking good then you might want to look at your haste rating, or crit. I included all the crit gems because many Shaman’s overlook how important crit is to us for regen of mana. Depending on your play style you can get tons and tons of mana back through your crits, making it very very important just from a regen standpoint, forget the fact that it makes you heal more.
Ah the great money suck that is enchanting. Enchanting your gear is a must, it gives huge boosts to your effectiveness and also demonstrates your dedication to your character. That having been said, just because you’ve dinged 80 and bought a BOE blue from the AH doesn’t necessarily mean you want to sink a 200G enchant on it. Use your head and you’ll be fine.
Arcanum of Blissful Mending – Needs revered with the Wyrmcrest Accord. Available from their quartermaster in Dragonblight.
Greater Inscription of the Crag – Needs exalted with The Sons of Hodir, Available from their quartermaster in Storm Peaks.
Lesser Inscription of the Crag – Needs honored with The Sons of Hodir, Available from their quartermaster in Storm Peaks.
Yes I know there is no enchants for the waist but be sure to buy an Eternal Belt Buckle for it. Good for another socket for your gear. Very very valuable and usually not too expensive (goes for 60-75G on my server).
Healing rotations for Shamans are very different depending on what you are being asked to do. If you are on raid damage then you might spam Chain Heal almost exclusively, not much fun but effective. If you are on MT duty or in charge of keeping up single targets then it gets a bit more fun. The general panic attack cycle for Resto Shamans is:
Riptide + LHW + LHW
Thanks to the Tidal Waves talent the whole cycle takes 3 seconds (Riptide, 1 sec GCD, LHW ~1 sec cast, LHW ~1 sec cast), and will keep up just about anyone. About 350 haste or so is decent if you heal using this cycle a lot since that will reduce the cast time of Lesser Healing Wave while Tidal Waves is up to ~ 1 sec. Any more haste is wasted at this point since the 1 sec GCD will cap you.
Another valid healing cycle is:
Chain Heal + LHW + LHW
Chain heal also procs Tidal Waves, so this gives you two quick Lesser Healing Waves to splash around the raid before coming back to another Chain Heal. The good thing about this rotation is that since there is no cooldown on Chain Heal you can spam more out in a given window.
Now, you can also substitute Healing Wave for Lesser Healing Wave for the above rotation if there is some seriously injured folk in the raid. This can lead to massive healing since it will get +4% to its healing from Tidal Waves. Also, if you have 4 piece T7 bonus you get +5% heals to Healing Wave. No its is not as mana effective as Lesser Healing Wave or Chain Heal in the right scenarios, but it can be very useful in the right situations.
Healing as a Shaman is pretty damn fun. I’ve raided on a Holy Priest and Paladin extensively before and I must say Shammies rock. First thing you need to realize, is know what you are supposed to do and do it first before anything else. For heroics that is keeping the tank alive. Your priorities in heroics should always be tank/you, then dps in order of how good they are. Might sound crude, but if your party has been hit by a nasty aoe and everyone is dangling at 10%. Get your tank and yourself up ASAP, but then do you chose the 2.5K DPS hunter or the nub 1k DPS Deathknight? You know the answer. When in a raid, if you have been assigned to keep the raid topped up, don’t be healing only the MT and forgetting about the raid. Research your fights, your poison cleansing or disease cleansing totems can often make fights a lot easier, so use them wisely. Learn to anticipate damage and heal accordingly, focus on bosses so you know at all times what they are doing so you can react better.
Here is some more drivel that I will spew while it is fresh in my memory. Always have your water shield in place. If you have a spare second and it is at 2 charges refresh it. Always know where your totems are, how much time they have left. Make sure to recall them after moving so as to not aggro pats. Always have your Earthliving Weapon on your weapon, never be caught without it. Know your party/raid makeup, it will determine what totems you drop. If you are getting pwned by a spellcasting mob, don’t be afraid to break out Wind Shock to interrupt it and save yourself some damage.
In the end there is no substitute for knowing your class well, that will come with time, just read read read, and don’t be afraid to ask other Shaman’s a thing or two.
Totem Dropping can be a pain, make yourself a macro with your most used totem dropping rotation to eliminate the monotony:
/castsequence reset=4 Flametongue Totem, Mana Spring Totem, Windfury Totem, Strength of Earth Totem
Mana Tide Alert Macro
#showtooltip Mana Tide Totem
/script local u,m = IsUsableSpell(“Mana Tide Totem”) if u and not m and GetNumPartyMembers() > 0 then SendChatMessage(” >>> Dropping Mana Tide <<<“,”PARTY”) end /cast Mana Tide Totem Heroism Alert Macro – Alliance #showtooltip Heroism /stopmacro [nocombat] /script local u,m = IsUsableSpell(“Heroism”) if u and not m and GetNumPartyMembers() > 0 then SendChatMessage(” >>> Popping Hero now! <<<“,”PARTY”) end /cast Heroism Heroism Alert Macro – Horde #showtooltip Bloodlust /stopmacro [nocombat] /script local u,m = IsUsableSpell(“Bloodlust”) if u and not m and GetNumPartyMembers() > 0 then SendChatMessage(” >>> Bloodlust used! <<<“,”PARTY”) end
Pop both trinks and insta-cast Healing Wave
#showtooltip Healing Wave
/cast Healing Wave [nocombat]
/cast Nature’s Swiftness
/cast Healing Wave