Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Building a healer (gear)

Cyclone Faceguard image credited to Sepirion on WoWHeadOnce you have your talents squared away, it's time to start collecting your gear. There are few healing-oriented quest rewards, but there're plenty of options available to a budding healer through 5-man raids and Karazhan. I have created ratings for all Restoration Shaman Gear, but these are some general guidelines for selecting your healing equipment.

  • Stick to mail whenever possible. Although there are many wonderful cloth and leather pieces out there, the ability to take a beating is one of the shaman's biggest advantages. Those items are worth taking if they're a huge upgrade in your healing ability (and once you leave Karazhan, you can start safely mixing in the occasional non-mail piece of gear), but you - and the druids and priests you're running with - will be happier with mail in the long run.
  • A one-handed weapon and shield is preferable to a two-handed weapon. Again, the extra armor is a huge benefit to your survivability and your shield can be enchanted with extra Intellect and Stamina as well.
  • The three most important stats on your gear are Intellect, healing, and mana/5. There are ways to calculate the relative "worth" of these stats based on your current gear (I plan to explain this in the near future), but in general, try for a 10:1 ratio between healing and mana/5. This ratio breaks down once you have more than a couple Karazhan pieces, but it's a good rough estimate for your early healing gear. Stamina shouldn't be ignored, but it's of secondary importance to the first three. The other stats (Spirit and spell crit) are nice bonuses, but generally unimportant when comparing two pieces of gear.
  • Enchants can provide a phenomenal boost to your overall stats, especially at lower gear levels. The three sets of "enchants" that provide the most benefit are:

    They're somewhat expensive, but if you can afford them, I'd highly recommend them. As for other enchants, stick with cheaper enchants until you have something worth all those primals and shards.
  • The choice between +healing and Spellsurge on your weapon is a personal one. Healing will generally be the best choice for PvP and 5-man, but Spellsurge is a very viable choice for 25-man caster/healer groups. Intellect is a good choice for a weapon you intend to replace sooner rather than later.
  • Never leave your gear unsocketed. The uncommon gems can be had for 1-2g and are an inexpensive way to upgrade even a so-so piece of gear. Once you get an epic you plan to keep, don't be cheap - put the rare gems in it (due to rounding, any gem with mana/5 has more item budget than any of the other gems). In general, [Royal Nightseye] is the best gem for shaman, with [Dazzling Talasite] used for yellow sockets. The best meta gem is the [Insightful Earthstorm Diamond], which can give you the equivalent of 12 mana/5 when healing. It requires 2 of each color of gem to work, which is relatively easy to obtain. In general, only worry about socket bonuses if they provide Intellect, healing or mana/5.
For more advanced methods of comparing individual pieces of gear, check out my Comparing Healing Gear series as well as my Healing Gear Ratings.

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