Tuesday, December 15, 2009

WTB Effective Healing

Well then. It finally happened. I took part in my very first ToC-25 run. And it was glorious. I was Pugg’d for the task, though, so I can’t imagine getting my healing hands back in there anytime soon. That part, not so glorious. We couldn’t down Anub’Arak, but I got a souvenir from the ordeal, which is certainly nice.
I noticed, though, when I checked the healing meters, that I was on the bottom of the list among the 4 healers. Now before you club me to death like a baby seal for comparing heals in Recount, let me assure you that I am not a healwhore, and am not looking to top the charts in heals. What I am looking to do, though, is improve my game. That being said, being at the bottom of heals reinforced the fact that I am not using Nimala to her full Shamany-healy potential. That in itself was not news to me, but it did give me a sort of wake-up call. I’ve been overgeared for most heroics for as long as I can remember (pretty much since I respecced into Resto), and since those were all I had to run, those are all I ran. This not only made me a lazy healer, but it made me a healer who thought that that was the norm.

Bellwether over at 4Haelz has a post about Being Extraordinary. It's an excellent article, both on giving a new healer some basic information, as well as how to be "Extraordinary". There are four base rules, according to Bell, that every healer needs to understand before they can even consider raid healing, The first rule she mentions is something that I've never really done. "You must understand your spells. If you don't understand the mechanics upon which your healing operates, you cannot heal." She elaborates later on with "...don't just read the text and go "Oh, huh. Neat-o." Actually attempt to understand what you're reading. Look at how the puzzles pieces fit together." And nothing is more of a puzzle for Shamans than Tidal Waves.
Tidal Waves, a Resto Shaman's 11-tier talent, takes the cake (it's a lie!) for me on this point. I first looked at it and thought "Huh, nifty", and didn't put a second thought into it. Upon actually reading it, I realized just how good this talent was. It's a lot of words, but it basically works like this: After casting Riptide or Chain Heal, You get 2 charges of this buff. If you cast Healing Wave or Lesser Healing Wave, it eats up 1 charge. While the buff is active, it gives your Lesser Healing Wave an extra 25% crit chance and your Healing Wave's cast time is reduced by 30%. It also gives a bonus to healing from your Healing Wave and Lesser Healing Wave. To me, this screams diversity. Not only do two of your spells trigger the ability, but you have two spells the ability affects. The talent is good if you use is passively, but it can be great if you actively make use of it. If you know when it's up, when you want it to be up, and plan your spells accordingly, you can make great use for it. Problem is, it's difficult to consider these things in the middle of battle. I don't always think "I am casting Riptide and getting Tidal Waves. I am going to cast LHW on the tank, then on the DPS who just took damage. I will then cast Chain Heal to get my Tidal Waves back." Generally, my mindset is geared more toward "Shit shit heal shit don't die shit shit shit".
I do use Tidal Waves to my advantage on two occasions. Firstly, if my Nature's Swiftness is on cooldown and I need to get in some big heals fast, I will cast Riptide and follow it up with a Healing Wave or two. It's no instant cast, but a 1.4 second Healing Wave is nothing to gawk at, especially if cast twice. I also use Tidal Waves when I need to 'force' a crit onto a tank in order to give them Ancestral Healing.
Obviously, effective healing is more than just how to manage Tidal Waves, though. Shamans have four different heals, all of which are excellent in certain situations, and pretty much useless in others. You need to keep tabs on Riptide's cooldown, especially since it's your only instant-cast healing spell, as well as your only HOT (Earthliving Weapon notwithstanding). It's a lot to keep track up in the middle of battle (See paragraph 4, starting with the word "Shit"). I'm working on it.

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