Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mana Efficiency

One of the biggest challenges for healers is maintaining our healing output without running out of mana. Obviously, using appropriate gear and consumables is one way to help ensure we don't zero out that precious blue bar, but that can only take us so far. Choosing the appropriate spell - both in terms of which spell to cast and which rank to use - is an equally important part of the equation.

In general, the choice of spell is fairly straightforward. If you're healing a single target exclusively, Healing Wave is your best bet. When charged with group/raid healing, Chain Heal really shines, especially with the Improved Chain Heal talent giving an extra 20% healing output. In terms of pure healing output per mana spent, Chain Heal is our most efficient spell (assuming an average of two players healed per cast), which is why shaman are at our best in a raid-healing role.

The other way to conserve your mana is by casting a lower-ranked version of your spells. Although there is a penalty to your +heal coefficient for using these spells, the lower mana cost outweighs the loss in raw healing for any reasonable +healing values. From a strict ratio of healing done per mana spent, the lowest ranked spells are almost always the most efficient (excluding Healing Wave 1-4 and Lesser Healing Wave 1, all of which have additional penalties to their spell coefficients). However, these lower ranked spells won't have the throughput to keep your teammates alive, so there's a delicate balance to be maintained.

  • When healing a main tank, there are generally multiple healers assigned. To avoid overhealing and wasting mana (whether yours or other healers'), you should almost always down-rank your spellsIn these cases, your goal isn't to heal the tank to full health by yourself, but with the combined spells of all of the other healers. Depending on how many healers have been assigned to the tank and how much damage he or she is taking, I generally aim to heal about 2,000 health per non-crit casting (Rank 6 or 7 depending on your +healing stat). This greatly reduces my risk of overhealing (or causing others to overheal) while allowing me to conserve my mana. Of course, it's better to overheal than underheal, so if the tank spends too much time at anything other than full health, you should consider using a higher rank.
  • Raid healing is a different animal altogether, but the basic principal is the same: Select the rank that provides enough healing to keep your teammates alive. Unlike healing a tank, you're not necessarily worried about keeping everyone at full health, but you're also less likely to have backup. There are significant improvements in Chain Heal's mana efficiency between Ranks 5 and 4, and Ranks 3 and 2 so I will typically choose from Ranks 2, 4 and 5 depending on the healing output requirement. When in doubt, start with Rank 4 and either move up to 5 if the healing is insufficient, or drop down to Rank 2 if you have too much overhealing.
  • As a sidenote, don't be afraid to use Lesser Healing Wave if needed to keep someone in your care alive. The mana efficiency is poor, but that's not your goal in an emergency situation. I would recommend against down-ranking, however, as the lower ranks have only minimal gains in efficiency and if things are desperate enough to need LHW, you want maximum healing throughput.
Choosing which spells to use is part of the "art" of playing a healer. After a while, you'll be able to feel the flow of the battle well enough to instinctively up-rank or down-rank your spells, which will greatly improve your efficiency and effectiveness as a healer. If you're not yet to that stage, I've uploaded an Excel spreadsheet to File Front to help you along your way.

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Because of how fast it scales, Chain Heal beats out Healing Wave for single target healing reasonably quickly, especially if you are using the chain heal relic. I frequently use chain heal rank 4 for tank healing (and raid healing even in situations where it can't 'jump') unless I need large heals in which case I flip to max rank healing wave. I do use downranked healing waves very occasionally for tank healing if I'm healing the tank consistantly enough to have a good chunk of healing ways kept stacked up though. A lot of that depends on how much your +healing is.

You wake it, you tank it. said...

This is one of my biggest fears at the moment. I'm currently leveling my Shaman( 53 ) with the intent to bring some varied healing to our raids. However, given that itemization is so bad in pre-outlands areas, I decided to level as Enhancement and respec when I hit, say, 64. I'm hoping to build a set of healing gear if I can find drops, but I fear that if I respec at 60 with bad gear, I'll be unable to heal from the get go. Any advice on that or should I level to 70 as enhancement and just start there?

Draezele said...

Even without Healing Way, Healing Wave will have better HPM for single-target healing. However, having Chain Heal jump to even one more teammate can easily push the HPM beyond that of HW, especially as you move beyond Kara gear. Like the first commenter, I generally use CH 4 or 5 for my MT-healing duties because it's nearly as efficient and the "splatter" healing is very useful, especially on mobs with cleave. (I also don't have Healing Way, so that's added incentive to stick with CH.)

I can't really speak to playing resto from 60-70 as I levelled to 70 as enhancement. The better healing drops are hard to come by until the last half of the 60's (and I'd strongly suggest some of the gear guides in my links section for items you should be looking for), but I generally found that I could heal most 5-man instances with green "of the [X]" drops if I had to, even as enhancement - it just wasn't always easy. If you're gunning for raiding, though, I'd stick with enhancement or elemental as they're much faster levelling specs and just respec to resto when you've collected a couple of instance quests (or just get a guildmate to heal for you and enjoy the DPS role for the time being). I'd actually intended to post some leveling tips soon, so I'll bump them up the "to do" list.

chebbie427 said...

I actually leveled from 62 to 70 as resto and just spammed healer LFG on any instance that was within my level. I found that to be much quicker than trying to solo things in enhancement. Everyone is always looking for healers and tanks.

After a while you make friends with repeat tanks and you just need dps to round out the spots which is easy to find. The other good thing is you gain rep while leveling this way and gain access to some of the better gear since you'll be running instances over and over (for every spec).

Bokomatic said...

I appreciate amazing Draezele's spreadsheets. But I've found some mistakes in wowwiki formulaes what were used in Shaman_Healing_Efficiency spreadsheet. I modified spreadsheet and posted it here:
Description of fixed you can read here:

It would be nice if Draezele would use right formulaes in more complex spreadsheets like 'Gear Calculator Spreadsheet'.