Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Building a healer (talents)

Restoration shaman are very strong in both PvE and PvP play. They benefit from a lot of great talents, two rather unique healing spells, and a wealth of mail healing gear in the early raiding scene. These inherent strengths can be used to your advantage with a good talent spec, good gear selection, and knowing how to get the most out of your healing spells. I'll talk about gear and healing strategies in another posting, but let's take a quick look at the available talents.

Tier One

  • Improved Healing Wave: Reduced casting time for a shaman's biggest heal. Less useful to a pure PvPer, but very strong for main tank healing.
  • Tidal Focus: Reduced mana cost for all healing spells. Mana inefficiency is one of the shaman's biggest weaknesses, so another good talent.
Tier Two
  • Improved Reincarnation: Many see reincarnation simply as wipe recovery, but 2 points in this talent allows you to rez mid-fight and still be able to contribute. This was a great talent for me while my guild learned Karazhan, but I've found less use for it recently. You can't reincarnate during arena games, so PvP'ers probably won't want this talent.
  • Ancestral Healing: Increases target's armor value after a critical heal. Although it doesn't sound that exciting, this is a great talent for improving your tank's mitigation. A little less useful if you're only raid healing, but still a strong talent. (Note: This is a great talent for primarily elemental shaman since they tend to sport huge spell crit percentages.)
  • Totemic Focus: Reduces totem mana cost. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it's actually not that great of a talent. If you're just refreshing your totems every two minutes, it works out to about 3 mana/5 per point invested. Not horrible, but not a great return on your "investment" either. More useful for PvP since you'll undoubtedly be dropping grounding totem fairly often.
Tier Three
  • Nature's Guidance: Increases spell/melee hit chance. This is a great talent for dual-wielding enhancement shaman, and raiding elemental shaman to some extent as well, but isn't terribly useful for healing builds.
  • Healing Focus: Reduces chance of interruption. Very useful when you're getting beat on, either directly or through AoE. A "must have" talent.
  • Totemic Mastery: Increases totem range. I consider this a "must have" as well. It's especially important if you're not standing near the rest of your group (I'm usually in the melee or tanking group and don't want to get too close to those nasty critters) or if there is a lot of movement during the fight.
  • Healing Grace: Reduces threat from healing spells. Early on in your healing career, this is a godsend. Once you've moved into Karazhan, however, you should only be stealing aggro if your tank is dead or asleep. If this is the case, then you're basically competing with the other healers to see who gets beat on first. From an alturistic standpoint, better the shaman in mail and a shield than the squishy priest. I currently have the talent, but I plan on dropping it in the future. Useless for pure PvP'ers, obviously.
Tier Four
  • Restorative Totems: Increased Mana Spring and Healing Stream. The talent itself isn't that great (improves your Mana Spring by 2.5 mana/5 per talent point), but as a prerequisite for Mana Tide, you'll be taking it anyhow.
  • Tidal Mastery: Increased crit for healing and lightning spells. Crit is one of the least important stats overall for a resto shaman, but there aren't a lot of talents outside the tree worth putting points into and this one isn't bad. Has good synergy with Ancestral Healing. This is a "must have" talent for elemental builds in a lot of cases, however.
Tier Five
  • Healing Way: Increase effect of subsequent Healing Wave spells. HW isn't as strong inherently as some of the other classes' big heals, but Healing Way gives a big boost for main tank healing. You can skip it if you know you'll rarely/never be healing the MT, but it's a pretty good talent to have if you do occasionally. Not very useful for PvP since you'll typically go with the faster LHW or Chain Heal.
  • Nature's Swiftness: Next spell is instant. The "oh shit" spell. Take it. It's also great for hybrid and elemental builds for an instant-cast lightning bolt.
  • Focused Mind: Reduces duration of silence or interrupts. Back when this was a flat resistance to silence/interrupt, it was a "must have" for PvP. The current talent is pretty weak, but it should be buffed in the 2.2 patch to 10/20/30% reduction. Definitely a good talent for a pure PvP'er, not very important for PvE.
Tier Six
  • Purification: Increased healing effectiveness. Makes your heals better. Take it, it's a staple of a good healing build.
Tier Seven
  • Mana Tide Totem: Mana Tide restores 24% of all party member's mana over 12 seconds. A phenomenal talent for PvE, even if the only one in your group with mana is you. Can also be strong for PvP, but you better believe your opponents will target it quickly (especially now that it has a big glowy "kill it now!" animation).
  • Nature's Guardian: Chance to heal and reduced threat if damaged below 30% health. This is a wonderful talent for PvP and part of why resto shaman are so hard to take down. Although it doesn't sound like a great PvE talent since you shouldn't get hit often, it can activate off of periodic damage as well and is a healing spell that not only keeps you up a little longer, but lowers your threat as well.
Tier Eight
  • Nature's Blessing: Increases spell/healing by 30% of Intellect. A great boost by itself, it's a prerequisite for Earth Shield.
  • Improved Chain Heal: Increases healing by Chain Heal by 20%. This is a huge boost to an already mana-efficient spell. Take it and don't look back.
Tier Nine
  • Earth Shield: Earth Shield is a great spell to toss on your MT (or yourself) to provide an as-needed "heal over time." It's guaranteed not to overheal, uses the +heal bonus from when you cast it (so great for activating trinkets before a boss fight), and the healing threat is applied to the recipient, not the caster (bad for your healing meter epeen, good for helping your tank keep aggro).
Elemental Talents
  • Elemental Warding (Tier Two): Reduced damage from Fire, Frost and Nature. This is a great talent, both for PvP and PvE, reducing damage taken across the board. You have to "waste" points in Tier One to get it, but it's a very strong talent.
Enhancement Talents
  • Ancestral Knowledge (Tier One): Increases maximum Mana. Just say no, this is a terrible waste of talent points.
  • Guardian Totems (Tier Two): Reduces cooldown of Grounding Totem. Vaguely useful in some fights and PvP, it's not a very strong talent in general.
  • Improved Ghost Wolf (Tier Two): Reduced casting time. Good for running away. Potentially useful for PvP, but having to spend points in Tier One makes this not worth getting.
There are several "standard" restoration builds, although there's always variety amongst even the cookie-cutter builds.
  • 8/0/53: Takes Elemental Warding and puts the rest of the points in restoration. PvP folks would probably prefer Concussion over Convection in the elemental tree, and would favor Focused Mind over Healing Grace. They might also consider dropping Improved Healing Wave in favor of Totemic Focus.
  • 0/5/56: Not having a better place to put those last five points, many shaman put them in enhancement for the bigger mana pool. I personally consider this a waste, however.
  • Elemental Hybrid: 30/0/31, or some variant thereof is a fairly popular build as well, particularly for PvP. It's not a great PvE build since you won't heal as well as a pure healer and won't DPS as well as a pure DPSer. Also not recommended for solo-healing heroics unless you have very solid gear.
More to follow regarding gear, spell choice, and other healing tricks and tips!


Sulo said...

hey i just wanna say thank you for an excelent blog. i'm currently leveling a resto shammy (lvl 66 atm) and i like to plan ahead for speccs and talents. Althou i like the elitistjerks forums your blogg basicly says the same things with a toutch more personality.

over all, great blog and post(s).

Sulo (70 0/21/40 warlock)
Stonelove (66 resto shammy)
Phantasmagoria guild of Darkspear,EU

Anonymous said...

i would jus like to ask, you have a resto build with 5/5 in shield spec, yet you havent stated why this would be necessary for anything, its only validity i can see is in pvp. 5% more mana is that such a waste? our spells are mana eaters.

echoes (70resto shammy)

Anonymous said...

I know the +5% mana is alot of talent points, but ive tried the spell damage reduction and at over halfway through BT I found myself wishing for that extra man, which with current gear + full raid buffs = about 800ish mana, putting me just over 14k (kings/motw/AB/Elixers)

Anonymous said...

800 mana allows you only to cast two more heals which is utterly crap considering for five talent points. You better be off with Elemental Warding.