Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shaman Healing is Fun

So after reading about how to heal as a Shaman on Friday I went home and picked the best of the gear I collected while leveling and was ready to jump into Shaman healing. 

Compared to Priest healing it did not seem like it would be much of an issue leaning.  There are just not as many tools to keep track of for a Shaman.

First thing first, a quick scan of the auction house to see if there are any cheap fill ins for my missing spots.  I had an item for every spot except for trinkets.  There was one trinket on the auction house for 300 gold so I snatched that up and figured I would fly with one trinket until I could get a drop.

I enlisted a few guild members to help me on my learning experiment and when I was done with all my gear and making all my macros we went out to test drive Shaman healing. 

I use mouse overs for everything I do when healing.  It makes life so easy, a few numbers, shift, alt modifiers, and everything you need is at your finger tips.

We get HoO as my first random normal.  We die... horribly... on the first pack.  I'm sorry.  That is about all I can say really.  I need to get used to knowing where I put what.  Trying to riptide when it is on CD is not a good thing.  Trying to chain heal and casting a healing wave does not exactly have the same desired results.  You know, all that jazz.

We try again and all is fine and dandy.  What exactly does fine and dandy even mean?  We make it a few bosses in and wipe again on another trash pack.  Damn it.  I can not keep up with the trash mobs.  Bosses, no problem, trash is killing me or better said, killing everyone because of me.

More CC please.  Okay, all is fine now.  After clearing the four elemental we get ready for the big guy and it is going well for the most part but for the first time every I go oom.  A shadow priest takes over on healing and I throw whatever little I can when I regen mana and we down it.  Maybe once I get another trinket that will help a little.

We go through the whole thing.  Nothing drops for my poor little shammy.  We do another random and once again, nothing for my restoration set but at least I got two enhancement drops.

Third time is a charm on Saturday.  I grab a second trinket and a replacement for the trinket I bought on the auction house as filler and get two other drops and now had enough rep to get another item.  So the restoration set is starting to look nice.

Another run later and I am suddenly 329 item level.  Don't let the number fool you.  Blizzard, in all their infinite wisdom (please note that is sarcasm), decided that they like to count both my enhancement set and my restoration set as part of my item level. 

As it worked out, the pieces I was missing and still wearing 272 and 285 items on my restoration set I had a 333 and 346 of in my enhancement set up.  I was no where near heroics in either spec but put together I had enough. 

A guild member wanted me to heal a heroic and my basic response was, what the hell, are you insane?  Just try it they said.  Okay, but when you die don't come looking to me to cover your repair bills.  We try, we wipe, we give up after about 6 more wipes.  It is partly me still learning and it is partly me having a 272 chest piece and other crap items.  I was doing fine every try, until I started to go oom. 

The trash packs where more deadly then the bosses.  Even if we downed them I had to drain every bit of healing into the tank and the tank alone.  If anyone else took any damage they where on their own.  If I took my eye off the tank for even a riptide on anyone else it would have been a wipe. 

The bosses, I could just not last through.  My heals where not landing for enough which meant I needed to cast a lot more of them then I should have which meant that I went oom a lot faster.  If one DPS took aggro and I tried to save him then it was good night for everyone.  I told them I was not heroic ready.

We moved back to normals and I gathered up a few more pieces for both sets, still wearing that damn 272 chest piece however.  I am up to a 336 item level between the two sets of gear.  Funny part is, on their own, neither one is heroic ready (325 Enhancement and 316 Restoration) but together I am more then heroic ready.  Blizzards system needs some serious fixing I think.

All in all Shaman healing is fun because there is not a great deal to it.  It is basically three buttons.  A few more for occasional use and a few more for situational use.  That is it.  I have more healing spells alone on my Priest then I have all spells on my Shaman. 

Priest healing means I need to decide what to cast, when to cast it, consider the mana usage, consider the possible impact, etc.  Shaman healing there are basically three things to do.  That's it for the most part.  If the tank will be taking some big hits I need to add a forth into normal usage maybe.

Now I really see why everyone says Shaman healing is laughable.  It really is a learning class for healers.  If you have never healed before this seems to be the way to go.  Fewer buttons means fewer decisions that need to be made on the fly which in turn means fewer chances for error.

I am still overhealing a lot, but I contribute that to not knowing what the incoming damage will be so I am always playing it safe and over compensating for the fact I know my heals are not strong.  I need to learn to stop that.  That is my downfall when it comes to mana management.

There is a healer rotation even if everyone will tell you there isn't, even if rotation is kind of the wrong word for it.  In a way you need to be just like the DPS.  You need to know when you use your rapid fire or use your berserk. 

You can't go burning your big damage ability when you know you will not get to use it.  Learning the fight means you learn when you can use your damage boosting abilities to their best effect. 

Healing is the same way.  Knowing when the big damage is coming to the tank allows you to plan for it and have that really long cast big heal in mid cast so it lands the split second that the tank takes that huge hit.  Knowing when a huge AoE is going to come and how much it is going to hit for makes life easier too.  If the AoE is going to come and tick for 50K total over 10 seconds then you know, as long as everyone is over 50K and not taking any additional avoidable damage that you can concentrate on the tank alone and go do some catch up work on them later.

So that is the stage I am at.  I am thinking, while learning that part of it.  The healing rotation so to speak.  I might be better off doing it on my Shaman.  Like I said, less buttons means less chance for a mistake.  On my Priest there are so many time where I could make the mistake of casting something that I would have been better casting something else.  That can't happen with a Shaman, there is nothing else they can cast to make that mistake with.

That is what makes Shaman healing fun.  I look forward to doing it more.  Maybe I will even start doing some randoms without guild members soon as well.  That is always the true test for healing ability.  I just worry about stupid DPS taking avoidable damage.  DPS taking avoidable damage is the downfall of most healers, even the good ones.  The learning ones like me, well, if DPS starts taking huge damage you might as well just call for a wipe.  I either heal them and oom or ignore them and hope that the tank and me can finish the fight alone because they are going to die from their own stupidity.

My few attempts at heroic healing however left a bad taste in my mouth.  I know I was amazingly undergeared at the time (would guess around 305 item level) and there was no reason for me to be there at all but I really feel I should have done better and I didn't.  It is not all about gear.  It is about skill and I do not feel I operated at the skill level I needed to. 

From what I have seen, a skilled healer, can easily heal heroics even in green gear.  I know it for a fact, I had a healer in one of my randoms that must have had better gear on their offspec because all but 4 pieces of gear were green and they healed it no problem.  There is no way they were heroic ready. I hope one day I can get that good.  Trying to get that good will be the fun part.  Trying on a Shaman seems like it will be a lot easier.

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