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Restoration Shaman Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoW 4.3.4)

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In this article, we list your Restoration Shaman (WoW 4.3) core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation). We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that playing a Restoration Shaman will face you with. The other articles of our Restoration Shaman guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the left.

1. Basic Rotation↑top

Healing is in great part based on your ability to react to the damage that the raid takes, and as such there is no set rotation. Rather, you must understand what spells are best suited to the different situations that can occur during a raid encounter.

  • Low to moderate damage (raid or tank)
    • Keep Riptide Icon Riptide up on as many players as possible (including the tank).
      • It provides you with the Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves buff and does significant healing over time.
    • Make extensive use of Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave to heal without spending much mana.
  • Moderate to high tank or single-target damage
  • Moderate to high raid damage
    • Keep Riptide Icon Riptide up on as many players as possible (including the tank).
    • Start using Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal.
      • Chain Heal should preferentially be used on targets with an active Riptide Icon Riptide that is about to expire.
      • If there is no player with an active Riptide Icon Riptide, then you can cast Chain Heal anyway or do surgical heals with Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave or Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave.
  • High sustained tank or single-target damage
    • Keep Riptide Icon Riptide up on as many players as possible (including the tank).
    • Make extensive use of Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave.
    • Forsake Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave, as its low throughput will cause you to fall behind in healing.
  • High sustained raid damage
  • Emergency situations
    • Use Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge, but only if you feel that the target will die before you have a chance to complete a Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave cast on them.
    • Healing with Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge will drain your mana very quickly and should not be used lightly.

1.1. Additional Actions To Perform

  • You should always have Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield up on the current tank (or another target that is likely to take damage, if another Restoration Shaman is already shielding the tank).
  • Your Water Shield Icon Water Shield, which should always be up, will often drop due to you taking damage. You will need to refresh it.
  • If you have talented Telluric Currents Icon Telluric Currents, then you should cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt on the boss or an add whenever you can, in order to regain mana.
  • When you want to increase the mana efficiency of one of your direct heals, cast it after casting Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements.

2. Cooldown Usage↑top

As a Restoration Shaman, you have a total of 5 cooldowns, of which only Nature's Swiftness Icon Nature's Swiftness and Spirit Link Totem Icon Spirit Link Totem are actual healing cooldowns:

  • Nature's Swiftness Icon Nature's Swiftness should generally be combined with Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave to create a powerful emergency heal (see our Macro article).
  • Spirit Link Totem Icon Spirit Link Totem is a very powerful healing cooldown that will ensure that regardless of the damage that they take, everyone in range will remain at the same health. The effect of this totem is not considered a heal by the game engine, so you can use it to bypass fight mechanics that considerably reduce healing.
  • Spiritwalker's Grace Icon Spiritwalker's Grace should be used when you need to move and heal at the same time. If you have talented Telluric Currents Icon Telluric Currents, you can also use it to cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt during periods of movement where there is no damage to heal.
  • Mana Tide Totem Icon Mana Tide Totem is the most powerful raid-wide mana regeneration ability in the game. You will generally use it when instructed to do so.
  • Heroism Icon Heroism is a powerful raid-wide haste cooldown and you will generally use it when instructed to do so.

3. Self Buffs and Totems↑top

There are two self-buffs that you should always have up:

As a Shaman, you can provide your raid with various buffs from your totems. As other classes can provide buffs equivalent to those of your totems, you should discuss with your fellow raid members and your raid leader before deciding on which totems you will use. By default, use the following:

4. Optional Read: Mastering Your Restoration Shaman↑top

Restoration Shamans are a sort of hybrid healing class. They shine when they have to combine single-target healing and raid healing, thanks to the way their single-target heals interact with their AoE heals, and vice versa.

Therefore, it is important to understand the various mechanics of your heals and how they work together. This way, you will know how to efficiently combine your single-target and raid healing capabilities.

4.1. Procs and Mechanics

4.2. Mastery: Deep Healing

Deep Healing Icon Deep Healing is your Mastery as a Restoration Shaman. It causes your heals to be more powerful on low health targets.

Your mastery heavily influences the way you play a Restoration Shaman.

  • When raid healing, you should focus on low health targets more so than any other type of healer, as you have the most efficient tools to heal them.
  • When single-target healing, your mastery has less influence because you should give priority to your assignment and cannot freely choose low health targets. By being aware of how much damage your assignment will take, you can optimise your heals to benefit from your mastery. For example, Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave is only slightly more mana efficient than Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave, so it is more beneficial to cast only one Greater Healing Wave when your assignment is low on health, rather than 3 or 4 Healing Waves to keep your assignment topped off.

As we will see in the following sections, you have smart healing mechanics, such as Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal and Ancestral Awakening Icon Ancestral Awakening, that always heal the players that are lowest on health. These heals benefit from your mastery and contribute to making it very desirable, as we will see in the Statistics article.

4.2.1. Riptide and Chain Heal

Riptide Icon Riptide and Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal have an important synergy. Whenever you cast Chain Heal on a target on which you have an active Riptide, it will cause your Riptide to be consumed (i.e. removed from the target) and will cause your Chain Heal to be 25% more powerful.

Ideally, you should use Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal on targets with a Riptide Icon Riptide that is about to expire, so that as few ticks as possible are wasted when Chain Heal removes Riptide from the target. See our Addons article for addons to track Riptide on multiple targets.

Note that Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal is a smart heal. It will always try to jump to the player in range (12.5 yards) with the lowest health.

4.2.2. Tidal Waves

Riptide Icon Riptide and Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal both trigger Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves, thanks to the Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves talent. This is a very important mechanic for a Restoration Shaman, especially for single-target healing. Every time you use Riptide Icon Riptide or Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal, you get the Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves buff. The buff lasts for 15 seconds and has two charges. Each charge enables you to cast Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave or Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave 30% faster. Tidal Waves also buffs your Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge spell; this can be useful when the buff is up and you need to use Healing Surge for an emergency.

If you are focusing on single-target healing, keeping a good uptime on Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves (with Riptide Icon Riptide) is important as it makes it easier to react to damage (since your main spells are cast faster).

If you are focusing on raid healing, Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves is less of a concern, as you will cast Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave, Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave, and Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge less often. Moreover, your frequent casts of Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal will enable you to keep a high uptime on Tidal Waves without really focusing on it.

4.2.3. Earthliving

The Earthliving Icon Earthliving effect is triggered by any of your heals, thanks the Earthliving Weapon Icon Earthliving Weapon buff on your weapon. This effect has no internal cooldown, meaning that it will sometimes be refreshed to its original duration. It can also proc on different players at the same time. The Blessing of the Eternals Icon Blessing of the Eternals talent grants you an increased chance to proc the effect on players under 35% health.

Note that all your heals, with the exception of the HoT component of Riptide Icon Riptide, can proc Earthliving Icon Earthliving.

You have no real control over Earthliving Icon Earthliving, as it randomly procs. However, when the raid is stacked, using Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain will give you a good chance to have Earthliving Icon Earthliving up on almost every raid member.

4.2.4. Earth Shield

Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield places a 9-charge shield on a friendly player. You can only have one Earth Shield active at a time and only one Earth Shield can be active on the same target at a time. Every time a shielded player takes damage, the shield will heal them for a small amount, losing a charge in the process.

Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield is improved by Glyph of Earth Shield, Nature's Blessing Icon Nature's Blessing, and Improved Shields Icon Improved Shields.

Even though Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield is tailored for tank healing, you should still have it up when raid healing. In the latter case, simply choose a target that will take constant damage (usually the tank, if no other Restoration Shaman is shielding them).

Casting Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield on a target already shielded by another Restoration Shaman will cancel the previous shield and create a new one with 9 charges. Therefore, discuss with other Restoration Shamans in your raid to decide who will cast Earth Shield on whom.

4.2.5. Focused Insight

If you have talented Focused Insight Icon Focused Insight, then you should always use a shock spell before casting Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain, as this will greatly increase its healing.

As a shock spell, you should always use Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock, as it deals the most damage. It is also less expensive to cast than Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock and Frost Shock Icon Frost Shock, your other shock spells.

Note that you should not worry about your shock spell missing. Even if it does, you will still get the Focused Insight Icon Focused Insight buff. Therefore, it is unnecessary to invest talent points in Elemental Precision Icon Elemental Precision for the sole purpose of never missing with your shock spells.

While Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain is the healing spell that benefits the most from Focused Insight Icon Focused Insight (because it heals for so much), it is possible to use Focused Insight with other healing spells (such as Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave) in anticipation of a damage spike. You can also use it with Riptide Icon Riptide in order to leave a strong HoT on a player before a period of downtime.

4.2.6. Ancestral Awakening

If you have talented Ancestral Awakening Icon Ancestral Awakening, then each time you critically heal with a single-target spell, you instantly heal the lowest health player within 40 yards for 30% of the amount healed.

Single-target healing spells are: Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave, Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave, Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge, Riptide Icon Riptide, and Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements.

Ancestral Awakening Icon Ancestral Awakening is close to mandatory in 10-man raiding. In 25-man raiding, you will cast fewer single-target heals and the mechanic loses its appeal. Even so, we believe that it remains very valuable, for it is a smart heal and will rarely overheal.

4.3. Mana Management

As with all healing classes, you will need to carefully choose your spells so that you avoid overhealing your fellow raid members, thus wasting your mana.

Other than that, you can make use of two mechanics to improve your mana management.

4.3.1. Telluric Currents and Lightning Bolt

If you have talented Telluric Currents Icon Telluric Currents, you will be able to regenerate your mana by dealing damage with Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt. The idea is usually to have enough mana to keep Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain up. Since you get more chances to use Healing Rain in 25-man raids, this optional play style is usually more beneficial in 25-man raiding than it is in 10-man raiding (though Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave is very costly and will also benefit from Telluric Currents Icon Telluric Currents).

In a fight with adds, try to damage the adds and not the boss, as your chance to miss will be lower on the adds. For fights where you can only attack the boss, you can invest points in Elemental Precision Icon Elemental Precision to prevent Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt from missing.

4.3.2. Unleash Weapons and Direct Heals

Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements provides you with Unleash Life Icon Unleash Life, a temporary buff. This buff increases the efficiency of your next direct heal (everything besides Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain and jumps of Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal).

Using Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements does not increase your healing throughput. Indeed, the increased efficiency of your next direct heal does not make up for having wasted a global cooldown casting Unleash Elements.

You should usually use Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements with mana management in mind. The only spell with which it is worth combining is Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave. Indeed, casting Unleash Elements followed by Greater Healing Wave costs you 22% more mana than casting Greater Healing Wave alone, but it does enable you to do 30% more healing. Therefore, when Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave is cast with Unleash Life Icon Unleash Life active, you will heal in a more mana efficient manner.

You can sometimes use Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements with Riptide Icon Riptide, in case you will not be able to heal for a given period of time and want to leave a strong HoT on a player.

Note that Focused Insight Icon Focused Insight could also be used with mana management in mind, but it is slightly less mana efficient than Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements. With Earthliving Weapon Icon Earthliving Weapon, Unleash Elements also heals your target, whereas the spell shock you use for Focused Insight does not.

4.4. Play Style Differences Between 10-man and 25-man

The main difference between 10-man and 25-man is that you will cast Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal and Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain a lot more in 25-man. In 10-man, there are less potential targets to heal, so the efficiency of Chain Heal and Healing Rain is reduced and you will find yourself casting more single-target heals.

Ancestral Awakening Icon Ancestral Awakening only procs from your single-target heals, so it has a higher chance to proc in 10-man than in 25-man, because you will cast more single-target heals. That said, we still believe that Ancestral Awakening is a very useful talent in 25-man because its heals are smart heals, so even if it procs less often, it will still be very valuable when it does proc.

In 25-man, your frequent casts of Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain make Telluric Currents Icon Telluric Currents more interesting than in 10-man. Also, you can more easily interrupt your healing to cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt, since there are 3, 4, or 5 other healers that will continue healing during your break. In 10-man, especially if you are 2-healing fights, it is much more difficult to find a proper timing for your casts of Lightning Bolt.

4.5. Tier Bonuses

Your Tier 12 4-piece Bonus causes Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal to no longer consume your Riptide Icon Riptide HoT on the primary target. This means that you will no longer prioritise targets with only a few seconds remaining on Riptide for your Chain Heal's primary target.

You Tier 13 4-piece Bonus causes your Spiritwalker's Grace Icon Spiritwalker's Grace spell to become a healing cooldown. Indeed, you gain 30% haste while it is active. Therefore, you should now cast Spiritwalker's Grace on cooldown and avoid stacking it with Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, Heroism Icon Heroism, or Time Warp Icon Time Warp.




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