I've been playing resto shaman since season 11, giving me plenty of time to explore almost every composition imaginable for a resto shaman. Over this chunk of time, I have managed to progress through the ladders and gain a lot of experience and knowledge along the way. I was really bored, so I decided to try and put together something like a guide for resto shamans out there of hopefully a wide variety of playing levels. I have a lot of fun discussing mechanics and strategies that have to do with the game, and it's cool to help some people out with advice or some other kind of helpful information. I'm going to make an effort to answer a lot of the common questions I've received in regards to playing resto shaman pretty thoroughly, and I hope to spark somewhat of a discussion about resto shaman where new questions may arise and receive attention.
This is the typical talent tree for a resto shaman, and while you can probably take this set up and use it with and against almost any composition, I am going to take the time to discuss the pros and cons of all the options.
Tier 1 (level 15):
Nature's Guardian is one of the strongest abilities to a resto shaman. One of the biggest weaknesses a shaman has is the lack of options when caught in a stun or silence, and that's where Nature's Guardian comes in. It has a 30 second cool down, and it essentially heals you for 25% of your maximum health (this counts all buffs). While NG is up, it increases your maximum health by 25%, and heals you for this same amount. Once the buff falls off, you lose the extra maximum health, but you do not lose the amount that it healed you. Knowing when NG is going to proc can save you other cool downs, mana, or allow you to use other abilities to prevent NG from procing before you get stunned or silenced, which would be when you need it to proc.
Remember that maximum health includes things like rally, stam buff, and ancestral vigor. If it is optimal, you could get a rally before NG procs, so that it will heal for an extra amount as well as increase your health pool even more.
Stone Bulwark Totem is nice for those situations where you will take a lot of consistent damage, especially if there is going to be a lack of stuns and other CC to keep you from having up-time while an enemy team is attacking you. It has a pretty long cool down, the absorb is dispellable, and obviously the totem is killable. It costs you an earth totem slot, which could mean your earthbind/grab or tremor, and if you come into a situation where you need one of those totems down immediately, it could cause you to have to replace your stone bulwark for them.
Astral Shift can be used while silenced, which is probably the strongest quality of this talent. It is nice if you are going to take most of the damage in a small interval, but its cool down is the longest in this tier.
Tier 2 (level 30):
Frozen Power becomes extremely effective when coordinated with a mage teammate, especially a fire mage (due to their lack of frost nova abilities and reliance on them). It can be more effective than earth grab for gaining distance from enemies, as you can use it much more often, but it is plenty mana inefficient, so be careful in situations where mana is an issue when using this talent. Bear in mind that using earth bind can aid in making this a talent for endless kiting in some situations.
Earth Grab Totem is one of my personal favorite talents. I find it effective for the obvious, helping to get a melee cleave off of you, but also in allowing for more globals and helping to manipulate enemies into cap totems (hex -> earth grab + cap totem). Remember that after the root, earth grab slows the enemy as much as earth bind would, so it is far from useless after its root effect.
Windwalk Totem is the most common choice in this tier. It is essentially an area of effect freedom. It's really nice vs mage comps, for obvious offensive reasoning, but also defensively by negating nova effects which mages often rely heavily on in order to burst. One effective strategy is to try and windwalk before a water elemental's frost nova, as it will immune the nova, but also keep the mage from getting any fingers of frost procs(another essential tool in the frost mage's burst damage kit) from the spell.
Tier 3 (level 45):
Call of the Elements is the only talent in the third third tier that really buffs your healing. On top of that, it also provides a good chunk of utility. Using CoTE to summon healing stream can help out a lot when your team is under a lot of pressure, or it can be used to summon any of the other short cool down totem spells, including windwalk, earth grab, tremor, grounding, earth bind, and capacitor. An important detail to remember is that if you get full locked out by an interrupt spell, you will still be able to cast CoTE, and after doing so, you are able to summon the affected totems, including healing stream, even though the rest of your nature school spells will still be locked out.
Totemic Persistence can be effective when combined with talents such as earth grab, windwalk, and stone bulwark; but most of the effectiveness of this talent is in the ability to use tremor without needing to replace your other earth totem, and to use grounding in the same manner. You can use it to healing tide and healing stream simultaneously, rendering a ton of burst healing from your totems alone, but it doesn't usually outweigh the strength of Call of the Elements as healing tide is generally enough totem healing when you need the extra amount, and you can't always guarantee healing stream totem is off cool down when you healing tide.
Totemic Projection is really strong in combination with earth grab and/or capacitor totem. It allows you to get that extra cc off without over extending. Projection is also pretty good for manipulating the range of your totems. For example, you can place a grounding totem down at an inopportune moment, extremely far away from your enemy team, and then launch it forward when you need it's effect, and using this method you can have another grounding totem ready 10-15 seconds afterwards. It is also nice to launch healing tide / stream away from enemies, or across the map to allies when ranging the enemy CCs or swaps, or when separated due to a lock's gateway.
Tier 4 (level 60):
Elemental Mastery is pretty bad for arena resto shamans. It is a long cool down for what it provides, it is dispellable, its healing throughput calls for you to spend more mana by casting more spells in a shorter time frame, and it is weak because it relies on a situation where shamans need to chain cast quite a few spells, and due to the riptide/tidal waves mechanic, chain casting is not something resto shamans do when casting efficiently or effectively.
Astral Swiftness is the preferred talent in this tier because it allows you to cast CC instantly, or get instant, powerful heals. It has a short cool down, and it also provides you and your team a passive haste buff.
Echo of the Elements can greatly improve your sustained healing output, however it is very RNG based and just not even close to as strong as being able to instantly cast a heal or CC in the most dire moments.
Tier 5 (level 75):
Rushing Streams is the most used talent in the 5th tier.for resto shamans because healing stream is one of the most efficient and effective healing spells available to shamans. This talent makes it heal two targets at once (essentially doubling its healing assuming no overheal) and increases the effectiveness of those heals by 15%, meaning that even if you only have one target that requires healing, this talent is still pretty strong, but obviously it helps a ton for any situation where two targets are not full health. This can be so nice vs mage comps that make a ton of swaps, especially to the shaman; for example, if the shaman and one team mate are both full hp, and the third is 95% hp, healing stream will tick to heal the 95% hp team member, and overheal one of the others, providing them the damage reduction from the glyph, which with some luck will be the target that the mage team makes a swap to.
This glyph / talent combination is amazing for relieving spread pressure put out by a frost mage's frozen orb as well.
Ancestral Guidance is a talent that I personally think is undervalued and underused. It is essentially a weakened version of ascendance, on a pretty good cool down. It's obviously strong for spread healing, but it can outweigh the rushing streams talents especially in situations where healing stream is killed almost instantly every time. The biggest weakness of this talent is probably the uptime that it requires in order to take full advantage of the spell, but even without chain casting, I think this talent is still a lot stronger than its presence suggests.
Conductivity is extremely weak because it requires a ton of hard casting, it limits mobility of your team, healing rain's healing isn't really overpowered enough to make this talent worthwhile in arena, and conductivity doesn't really even compare with the other two choices in the tier.
Tier 6 (level 90):
Unleashed Fury is an amazing talent. For healing, it increases the effectiveness of earthliving's unleashed elements effect, which can be used to increase sustained healing (by UE'ing a riptide [yes it effects the heal over time effect]) or burst healing (when used with a healing surge or greater healing wave). It can also be used with rockbiter's unleash to provide a 40% damage reduction from a single enemy for a few seconds. Finally, if used with frostbrand, unleashed fury causes your UE to give you a 50% sprint for 4 seconds on top of slowing the enemy (remember that frostbrand's effect and unleashed effect are both undispellable, and only removed via freedom spells or similar effects).
Primal Elementalist is nice for earth elemental's shield wall and stun, controlling a pet so that you can use it to possibly eat hunter traps, and for the healing increase and damage taken reduction buffs that they can provide. The pets just do not have strong enough effects or last long enough / have short enough cool downs in order to outweigh the strength of the unleashed fury talent.
Elemental Blast is just all around pretty terrible for resto shaman. Even for damage, it is not as effective as other choices in that talent tier.
I do not plan to be as thorough with glyphs as I was with talents as there are obviously a lot more of them that are not useful almost at all to resto shamans.
These are the most commonly used glyphs for resto shamans in arena. These are applicable for most situations, but there are a couple of alternate options available as well, effective in more specific situations.
Glyph of Ghost Wolf is needed in most situations, otherwise slows are extremely effective, even while in ghost wolf. Some slows are effected by this glyph more than others, but if you are getting slowed and trying to run away in ghost wolf without this glyph, especially while getting trained, you are going to have a lot of trouble surviving or developing any distance between you and your attackers.
Glyph of Totemic Vigor is pretty strong because of how essential totems are to resto shamans. This can deter people from killing your totems, or cause totems to become much more difficult to destroy for certain classes (like affliction warlocks). Most shamans use this glyph in every match up, and it is especially strong for capacitor totem and stone bulwark totem due to the huge health pools it gives them. This glyph also buffs healing stream a ton because if it prevents healing stream from getting 1 shot, healing stream will heal itself (obviously even more effective when combined with the rushing streams talent). Personally, I think this talent as required as it is common, because careful placement vs ranged classes will allow you to prevent the important totems from being killed, usually, and melee targets that instantly go for your totems likely won't be stopped because of a small buff to the totem's health.
Note that the glyph is maximum health, so all health buffs will effect it (rally, NG, ancestral vigor, battle master [if you otherwise will have no use for battle master, you can use it while you healing tide for example, or maybe cap totem, to try and help it live a bit longer for an extra second to tick or explode).
Glyph of Hex is self explanatory, and obviously even better when other glyphs are not useful or when there is only one player able to decurse on the enemy team (or none of course).
Glyph of Healing Stream Totem is extremely good, especially when combined with the rushing streams talent (as explained above) however it is only useful against nature damage, frost damage, and fire damage: so mostly mages, shamans, balance druids, and destro locks (some other classes have damaging spells that deal nature damage (serpent sting) or frost damage (death knight's frost fever / icy touch) but it may not be worthwhile to choose this glyph for those match ups).
Glyph of Totemic Encirclement (minor glyph)is nice because it can confuse and disorient your enemy team, it can allow for an intervene target for a warrior team mate to use for escaping a root effect, but it can also be used for charging, so be careful allowing enemies to use it to close gaps. Note that the fake totems dropped by this glyph do not show up with name plates to enemies, and remember that they can be killed if needed.
Glyph of Rain of Frogs is useful just to try and trick enemies into using their interrupt spell on something that does not actually lock out the nature (healing) school.
Gemming / Stat Priority
There are a few effective options when it comes to gemming and stat priority for resto shaman. In full gear currently, the most common and possibly strongest priority is Int>Crit>Spirit>Mastery>Haste.. Other common set ups put spirit ahead of crit, and sometimes mastery above crit. The effectiveness of the stat priority is really difficult to measure accurately on paper, and it pretty much rolls out to personal preference. The best way to know if a stat priority works out as a healer, is test how it feels, because stat priority isn't as simple for healers as it is for dps, as it is rare that straight throughput outweighs burst healing, and you also have to worry more about defenses and obviously mana.
Most people just pick up the 4 piece resto with the elemental gloves, as this set up provides the most crit and spirit available with pvp gear, with the meditation (spirit) off pieces, and the crit or spirit battlemaster (because shamans are very susceptible to dying) and insignia/medallion trinket.
Most shamans are gemming straight crit chance now. Other viable options are int>crit>spirit; or resil. Meta gem can range between the Stam + stun reduction meta (especially effective for orcs as it stacks with their passive stun reduction racial); the int + silence reduction (still nice for reducing cc, and it provides throughput via int (which also provides some crit)); and the pvp meta which is not as strong as the int metas in throughput, but still nice defensively due to the resil.
Why is crit so strong?
Crit provides shamans quite a bit of mana return due to resurgence (even almost as much mp5 as spirit when spamming the spells healing wave and greater healing wave). Also, crit heals are 100% stronger than non-crit heals, and crit provides 30% more throughput to shamans due to ancestral awakening. With crit trinkets, crit gems, and reforging with crit priority, shamans reach something around 33% crit unbuffed, which is nice in general for heals over time and normal healing spells (healing stream is affected by your crit chance too), but because of tidal waves, healing surge has an extra 30% crit chance, giving it a 63% crit chance with the set up mentioned above.
Crit is great for mana, not only because of resurgence, but also because a crit can mean the difference between having to cast another heal or not, where as other stats do not come close to having the throughput to compete without critting. In other words, if you crit a healing surge or two in a row, you are probably going to top your teammate. If you do not crit, gemming full int or even mastery you will likely have to cast 4-6 surges to top that same teammate.
Note that just because you prioritize gemming crit, does not mean it outweighs int. When you gem crit, you gain 320 of the stat, when you gem int, you gain 160. So if you gem full crit, you are prioritizing 2 crit > 1 int. Jewlcrafter's profession only gems are a tough choice when considering this idea, because a JC crit gem provides 480 crit,
while the JC int gem provides 320 int. The JC gems provide 1.5 x the normal crit gem, and 2 x the normal int gem, so in order to choose which JC gems you choose, you have to decide whether you believe that 3 crit outweighs 2 int or not, because that is the proportion of crit to int via the JC special gems. Of course, it is all preference, but understanding the difference helps to form the preference and makes for an interesting consideration.
All of the profession choices are pretty balanced (aside from mining / herb) but JC and Blacksmithing are the most commonly used and arguably the strongest as they give you the option to gain the secondary stats Crit or resill, which have been two of the most common set gem priority set ups as of late.
The most important and imperative macros are targeting macros (for both enemies and teammates), arena 1 2 3 / focus wind shear, and focus purge. These macros allow you to act more quickly healing, dispelling, interrupting, CCing, and the focus purge allows you to heal your teammates while watching specific enemies for crucial buffs you may need to clean off immediately. Having a /stopcasting command is really nice for wind shear or grounding totem so that you are sure to stop casting and immediately cast those spells the second you need to.
Other optional macros are those such as focus hex, focus frost shock, frost shock 1 2 3, purge target of target, and NS, all of which are not imperative but can make everything more fluid and concise, which is important.
Target Party 1
Target Party 2
Target arena 1
Target arena 2
Target arena 3
Shear arena 1
/cast [target=arena1] wind shear
Shear arena 2
/cast [target=arena2] wind shear
Shear arena 3
/cast [target=arena3] wind shear
Focus wind Shear macro
/cast [target=focus] Wind Shear
Focus Purge Macro
/cast [target=focus] Purge
/cast [target=focus] Hex
Focus Frost Shock
/cast [target=focus] Frost Shock
/cast Wind Shear
/cast [harm] [target=targettarget] Purge
The only addon I think is really important to success as an rsham, or at least extremely helpful, is interrupt bar. There are too many classes with interrupts available to manage all of them or allow each of them to rotate full lock outs on you without resulting in your death.
I do use bindpad though, I find that it is nice for saving all of the macro's and binds I have even though there isn't much room in my macro book or on my action bars.
Most comps work with a resto shaman healing, to some degree, usually so long as you do not class stack (but even then things can sort of work to some extent). The strongest comps for resto shamans right now are probably MLS (tons of CC [peels for the shaman xP]), WLS, RMS, and WMS. Although they aren't the strongest, KFC, Kitty Cleave, RPS, Shatterplay, RLS, Shadowcleave, and more can still work quite well.
Rshamans VS Casters
Shamans have a lot of tools to compete against casters in their kit, however this does not mean they simply "counter" casters in general. If a good shaman is left unchecked, he or she can manipulate the outcome of a match against caster tremendously, however, like in most situations, resto shamans are very susceptible to death in a stun or silence, or simply after being trained. Positioning is the strongest defense shamans have against death, as it prevents swaps, prevents CC, and causes the control the shaman has to be even more effective as good positioning will render enemy players stuck in the open during shear lock outs and hexes, or stuck out of line when shear and grounding are not available.
Try to use LoS in between your control on off targets. Between hex, shear, and grounding, it is extremely difficult to land hard casted CC's onto a shaman (and on top of that you have tremor for when you finally do get feared ).
It is important to prioritize which spells you shear and ground. Grounding and shear shouldn't be used just simply on cool down, but properly in order to put the enemy team behind. Typically it is a good idea to use stops on crowd control spells, but careful not to waste the shear on the third DR polly and then have no answer for the cyclone cast incoming. Other than CCs, there are specific spells to try and negate for each specific class. Some great examples are deep freeze and counter spell for mage; lava burst and ele blast for shamans; chaos bolts and haunts for warlocks (they both cost shards so it's extra good to ground these spells as it wastes the resource); devouring plague or silence for spriests; etc. Something I like to keep in mind is that it isn't always important to slow the caster down, as in shear the lightning bolts, frost bolts, or incinerates. Sometimes it is more important to save the shear for the CC, or the bigger spells. It is nice to wind shear lock out those spells like lightning bolt or poly and follow up with a hex since they are shortly locked on their schools they need available in order to interrupt your hex; so this essentially gives you a "free" hex in their face.
As stated above, it is important, almost essential, to properly time shear and especially grounding, as it can change a game completely sometimes, so make a true effort to avoid simply mindlessly dropping grounding on cool down.
Remember when trying to lock down a high crowd control caster (like a mage) to incorporate your dispell cool down within your grounding and shear cool downs. For example, say the mage casts a poly on a friendly rogue, dispell can be used on the first polly, grounding on the next polly (if you shock the 2nd dr polly sometimes it isn't as good as grounding because the two second lock out tends to deter enemies from relentlessly casting poly on everyone unlike grounding for some reason, lol), wind shear following the third polly cast, and a hex during the lock out... and dispell is ready again. Obviously it is not always cut and dry, but some type of fluid idea similar to this is always good to aim for when attempting to help your teammates maintain uptime and lock down the enemy in order to keep them behind and build pressure.
Some specific tips to remember versus casters are to try and alert your teammates when a follow up fear that you can't stop is coming, or polly, or whatever. Try to avoid wasting tremors when they would actually be wasted (if you have full demonsoul dots and the enemy team isn't even on you, and you just got full feared, why tremor if your teammate isn't in much trouble yet; you could sit 1 or two seconds and the fear is likely to break). Watch for frozen orb, often you can position yourself in route of it when it is going to be used on your teammates and this way you can cause the frozen orb to break the polly on yourself early, careful not to overextend or get swapped to too hard, though. Finally, watch for dots like living bomb, vamperic touch, immolate, etc. when playing against casters to try and get a head start on their swaps. Having earth shield and riptide (as well as ancestral vigor building up) before a swap is always nice. Beware of DR's on yourself for enemy CC's as well, if you just ate full polly and fear dr's all together, and deep is ready, they are probably going to attempt to use it on you since chain CC'ing may not be an option in that situation.
Rshamans vs Melee Cleaves (tsg / kitty cleave)
Most shamans have problems living vs cleaves. Tsg is a hell of a lot easier to live against as an rsham than a kitty cleave, though. TSG lets you actually use roots on both enemies, but you have to still play pretty well in every way in order to barely survive, but it's possible to do so consistently. Don't think of it as kiting though, you are not trying to avoid damage, you should be trying to avoid interrupts. When you earth grab the two full (no dispell or intervene) do not try to run across the map, just move far enough away to where they can't interrupt you (be mindful of disrupting shout's range, the length of the root [do not go so far where they can charge you or just take 1 step forward and kick you]), maybe run a little bit if you are sure that you can get into a position to top yourself, if you're low HP then that means enough time to cast 2-4 healing surges, usually via LOS behind a pillar or wall in order to avoid charge or grip.
CD usage vs the cleaves pretty much should be played by ear. Spend time juking, (don't juke too much play the kick/fake mind game well, it can get you free casts and if you're very smart you can force them to waste interrupts together quite often, like barely out ranging them or barely out of LOS and you know they can get to you before the cast goes of but you're sort of fine, juke as soon as they in range, etc) and get casts off during cc your team provides (roots, shockwave, fear, deep, etc) Try to healing tide large burst during cc, or maybe link the cc (healing tide ticking or link ticking during a shockwave or asphyxiate for example). Remember that you can not live forever no matter what, and so sometimes you need to play offensively (hexing / purging / shearing a healer) to help land the kill, but be careful with your decision making here, obviously. The best defense is often a great offense.
For cap totem I like to use it at times where the player has to either kill it and lose crucial uptime, or eat a stun... Like if a warrior is about to charge (it's barely off cd, maybe i just got a freedom away, idk) i will maybe drop a cap and time it so that they can either hit the cap then charge me, maybe giving me time to get a heal off, hex, or LOS, or they can charge me and get capped followed by spam heals on myself or a full hex out of the cap.
It is often that you have to blow all your cd's really fast vs cleaves, healing tide asendance ns auramastery even all at once. You shouldn't really have to blow all that + trinket or link though, and if you use gate properly it will be enough to top yourself once every time you take it (cc the team with earthgrab or other cc's while you gate + have good positioning of it).
Just remember that one of the weaknesses of a shaman is that you don't make the plays, really, you just react to everything. All you can do to help your team to win is make the best of every situation, and by that I mean if the enemy team plays great while training you there isn't much you can do.
For example tsg can just dispel your aura mastery, interrupt you nonstop between their 3 kicks +1 if they have a shaman, and all of their stuns + charge and grip, they can kil all your totems (earth grab, cap, healing stream, windwalk), they can dispel your ghostwolf, out damage your heals if you could free cast, have 100% uptime between gap closers, ams, intervene, charge, lichborne, etc. So don't get too discouraged if / when you lose to that stuff, it's just the state of the game.
Btw, kittycleave is even harder, especially if you aren't dwarf; the way I like to play it is try to juke the feral all the time (juke the maims, typhoon, skull bash, etc [remember if you have a little distance on the feral they are a lot more easily juked because they get an opportunity to use the skull bash as a kick and gap closer and try to take it) and i try to use earthgrab or windwalk, gateway, and stuns and what not to let me get casts off while avoiding the warrior's uptime on me. I like to have my lock fear maybe during stuns and stuff, or cd's (on the feral mostly, of course), but try and save it for opportune moments where the warrior is stuck away and the feral has interrupts ready, so i can get free casts. Try and coordinate with cross CCs (even something like half fears) on the warrior and what not to get casts off the best you can, and try to get juicy cap totems off as well, especially if your team doesn't have stuns (often you can cap totem, and call of the elements cap again and they won't kill it SHHH xp). Stop the hardcasted clones too, since it's about all you are good for, lol, with your grounding / shear of course.
For those pesky teams that spam kill totems, try dropping searing totem once in a while maybe while you cap totem / healing stream, sometimes it actually helps to confuse them and let you get free casts off once in a while.
Always watch your NG, being able to save it for a good time is pretty nice, don't let your ng proc then get stunned afterwards, because that will either force a trinket + more cd's or hurt very badly. Remember that 90% of the time if you're getting hit, trinket isn't enough. You need to use trinket to do something else usually, like healing tide or link, so beware of that (it's a lot different than it used to be).
Rsham vs Rogue / Mage
Versus rogue mage you are a shaman, so control the mage while you can, and have a good offense; mess up their opener, and punish it quick. Purges, shears, good hex's with cross cc if there are two decurses. Sometimes hex just to stop casts etc, try to hex on a deep maybe, it's all situational.
Rogue mage isn't as reliant on deep as other comps, generally the cheap shotted or kidney'd person is the one who dies and the deep is for cross cc, so keep that in mind.
Obviously use healing stream totem, try to drop it in good places where it won't be killed, stand in good positions so that your team can help you or you can gate / los properly. Try to drop a cap at a nice time as well (healing stream / cap totems right before you get stunned or opened on can be very effective).
Earthgrab vs windwalk is pretty meh vs rmx because the freedom is so nice vs mage offensively (like i said you need to pressure fast because it can force them defensive the entire game, swap healer quickly and let your shaman control the mage while he tries to peel with maybe a fear on rogue) and windwalk can negate pet novas as well as let you escape from the rogue more effectively than a warrior due to no berserker rage for your lock's cc, and the fact that a rogue can't just chase you all day without the risk of ever dieing like a warrior can these days.
I still like earthgrab sometimes though, vs rmx, because it can help avoid fears vs a holy priest (keep eg between you and the priest so the chastise -> spectral -> fear can get negated by rooting them mid route) and because it can be great cc for the mage and rogue both, and allow you to cast without the rogue on you.
If the rogue just trains you mindnumbing + not getting juked can pretty much force all your cds / kill you eventually so punish well.
"Countering" a mage
When a shaman plays against a mage, especially if it is the only dps caster on the enemy team and the shaman is left free reign most of the game, the mage can feel completely countered or dominated by the shaman. Obviously well timed shears, groundings, LoS, and hex's can really mess with the mage, but there is even more. One of the best things you can do against a lot of mage comps (mage / warrior, mage / feral, mage / spriest, mage / lock) is ground the deep freeze. A lot of it comes with experience, but if you manage to ground that deep you or your teammate are free to run around, stop casts, LoS, or even just dispel a lot of incoming damage. Watch for fingers of frost procs, use trinket, look at icicles built up on the mage, and when orb comes out be looking to time a well placed grounding totem in attempt to get that deep. Especially since with glyph of deep freeze, deep is off of the global, it is extremely difficult and unreliable to just ground the deep, but it is a great and simple thing to aim for. Grounding a deep can cause the mage's team to fall behind for 30 seconds to a minute, or even snowball into an easy win against the mage.
Another easy tip against a mage is for when they attack the shaman. Out of a deep freeze, there will generally be a blanket counter spell, so make sure to try and spam spiritwalker's grace (aura mastery) and immune the counter spell that follows the deep.
Cool spell effects xD
Asendance is an extremely good cooldown for resto shamans. Obviously, the extra healing is really nice single target, and for spread healing. Something that is often overlooked, is that asendance's effects are applied to riptide and its heal over time. This includes previously applied riptides. For example, if a shaman has a riptide on all three team members, and a pet even, if he or she uses ascendance and just stands there, or better yet eats a polymorph; all 4 riptide HoTs will have their effects doubled and spread between the allied targets. This makes ascendance so strong, even while CC'd, or without hard casting very much; full hots out and an ascendance healing surge or two is often plenty enough to negate a huge chunk of burst or CD's coming out of the enemy team.
Spiritwalker's grace is originally used to move while casting, and with the 4 piece resto gear it applies an aura mastery effect. The spell can still be casted mid cast, though, obviously off the global. This means that you can often trick enemies into using their interrupts late into your cast because you use the spiritwalker's grace mid way through. Careful to wait too late, though, as this can cause you to use the cool down and gain the buff, but still get locked out. Remember to move around a lot while you are using your aura mastery effect versus players trying to purge you and interrupt you; it only takes one purge to remove the buffs, but if you are moving around and it gets purged, you will stop casting before you locked out because you can't cast while moving without the buff.
Frostbrand weapon imbue causes your melee attacks to slow the target, and UE with this buff puts a slow on them which is undispellable (aside freedom effects); and with unleashed fury the shaman gains a 50% movement speed for 4 seconds that stacks with ghost wolf, which can make for a great get-away, especially in combination with a root on the enemy or a windwalk totem.
Healing stream Totem is extremely strong: it's mana efficient, heals through walls, heals for a ton (especially when it crits), and with the glyph it reduces damage taken by certain spells. One of the keys to healing stream is placement and timing. It can be pretty effectively used simply on cooldown, however timing it is even better. Using healing stream while you have to move anyway, or while out of LoS of the enemy and about to go in LoS (in order to keep the totem from being killed). Try to use healing stream before you eat CC, including polly and fear, or even kidneys and swaps.
Whenever you hex, offensively, do not aim to just use the spell because you have a little bit of extra time. Especially when the healer is the only one who can decurse on the enemy team, it is important to land good, well timed hex's that line up with your team's burst damage or DR's on other CC's in order to chain them. Sometimes, depending on comp, again, it can be worth it to hex just to stop casts or negate cool downs (situations like where there are two or three who can decurse). Careful not to waste the DR on poly or trap if your team relies on those CCs, because an inopportunely placed hex can end up putting you too far behind to recover sometimes.
Shamans are extremely reliant on hard casting spells, and they are often trained by the enemy team, so it is pretty imperative to become comfortable with managing how you interact with interrupt spells. I find personally that casters are a lot easier to handle than melee. One reason is that a lot of casters blanket rather than try to land the interrupt full (ie a mage blankets you into a pom polly while a deep/orb is happening on your warrior). Casters also have much longer CD's on their interrupt spells, of course, which can be a relief as well. It seems that casters are often easier to trick using specific spells, though.There are those times where you just ate a deep, 3 pollys and overlapped fears, and now a counterspell attempt is most likely coming, as your teammate is hovering around 30%, so you can pretty safely juke early in the cast in that situation, but let's say its a much more safe situation where there isn't much CC on you yet, and not much damage out. If you just begin to go for a hex the mage is most likely going to first instinct try to stop you, especially if that mage is the only decurse on the team, because you won't have hex for a good 40 seconds, but you will cast a bunch of heals regardless of the CS, so that one hex sticks out in the mind more, especially since it effects the player much more obviously by stopping them from doing anything for a few seconds.
If you get a good feel for a caster, and manage to juke them a lot, you can stop casting and drop a grounding and have them counter spell into the grounding totem pretty often. There is also the basic strategy to start casting, drop a grounding, then re start casting quickly and often they will use their interrupt into the totem. Careful, if something like a mage notices your trick, often they will icelance and maybe try to counter you as soon as grounding dies since it is off the global and has no travel time (for mages at least, note that lock cs's have travel time so it's a lot easier to manage). This is another situation where certain spells make it easier to fake them, because if that spell you're casting while they kill grounding is hex, for some reason the mage is more likely to try and cs that cast immediately as grounding falls, because I guess healers must fake with CC ability casts much less often than healing spells. It's pretty tough to explain why / how casting a hex makes such a big difference with how jumpy the player usually is to CS, but based off of past experiences, it is an extremely common occurrence.
Versus melee interrupts, try and get a good feel for how they kick, if you have time. I like to often just go for it, because if you play with the mindset that you just can't no matter what get kicked (even though it's often true, if you get kicked you will probably lose, lol) you can just lose because they wait until the last second to kick or they just decide to hold their kick completely with their brains off. Each player is different, with latency, strategy, how hard they try, etc. so keep that in mind. Remember if you get kicked while you're full HP it's not so bad but if you wait and juke until you're low and they land a kick it is a lot more scary.
Keep in mind that melee often look for sort of two for one opportunities and / or "pro" plays. Warriors will try to off kick you with disrupting shout a lot, and rogues maybe shadow step + kick, most melee with off kicks if they are running by, or just near by; so pay attention and try to juke those things when they are obviously going to go for them. Usually players don't expect you to fake the cast for these situations, because I guess that they are too preoccupied with trying to do something somewhat fancy or impressive, so they are not concerned or considerate of you trying to out play their attempt to outplay. Haha. Another good example of this is after you drop a cap totem, and start casting a surge, they may turn and hit the cap totem to kill it and then turn back to you, thinking you won't fake because you are too slow and nonreactive to them killing the totem so "quickly" so they are less likely to wait for you to juke.
One of the most common examples of what i'm talking about when I say two for one opportunities is like when feral druids are a good distance away from you, and you are casting, they try to close the gap and take a shot at kicking you (+ apply a pesky mana debuff) so they are pretty clumsy with kicks in that situation as well.
It's better to cross CC and get casts off than to just fake yourself to death or waste too much time faking. With two melee, especially two with a lot of interrupts individually, it's sometimes good to fake one (like the feral) then CC the other (warrior) and get casts off. Sometimes look for chances to cast preemptively (knowing they won't kick until at least like 75% through the cast) so you can take advantage of really short 1-3 second CC's on the enemy team by getting the last portion of the cast off during that short CC effect.
Funny jump juke
Often those pesky melee cleaves will tunnel so hard that you can juke them off the edge on maps like blade's edge. It can help a lot by letting you have breathing room to cast. All you do is try and notice that neither you nor the enemy team is slowed, ghost wolf, run at the edge, stop on the edge, and jump in place once. It's pretty funny / beautiful when it happens, and it's nice to get even further away or top yourself before they reconnect. It doesn't usually work more than once or twice in a match though, so be careful not to waste too much time doing it. You can jump off with spiritwalker's grace when it's a good time to aura mastery, so maybe they will subconsciously expect you to jump the next time you run at the edge in the same manner, but don't pop aura mastery just to jump off the edge
Unleash elements (with earthliving), especially with the unleash fury talent, is a huge part of helping a team or a shaman his or her self survive. There are a ton of shamans that just use unleash elements on CD, which performs minimally but sadly, acceptably. UE can save tons of CD's and negate swaps, if used well enough. So sometimes when consistent damage is high, and offensive dispells are low, unleashing for a riptide can be alright. It's pretty good for preemptive heals as well, because the buff applies to the HoT effect from the riptide, as well as the instant heal effect it produces. The buff to the HoT, however, isn't the full percentage that UE normally applies to heals, so keep that in mind. This doesn't negate how strong UE riptides can be, especially when the shaman is in a situation where he or she has to run across the map, or if like an RMP is about to open.
A well timed UE can be the difference between topping someone or not. Reading situations well enough to figure out when a shaman can get a cast off helps to take full advantage of the strength of UE. For example, if a TSG is chasing, and earth grab is dropped, then making it behind the pillar (warrior has no leap) is a sure-fire thing, casting UE on the way and following up with a big healing surge can top the shaman if it crits. In the moments of free casting, unleash elements can be really huge. It's just huge to avoid simply UE on cooldown, and to really make sure to take advantage of the buff. Never unleash and let it fall off before casting a heal, and avoid getting CC'd on it before at the very least a riptide is used with the buff.
Positioning well can mean the difference between life or death, building pressure or not, getting CC'd or not, etc. The easiest concept of positioning to grasp is to not stand in the open, and to pillar, however it's not always that simple. Behind the pillar is where you can avoid things like CC casts, damage, or swaps, but simply standing behind the pillar won't make you immune to all those things. If you stay behind the pillar, sometimes that mage warrior team is just going to blink and leap + charge to you and BAM! Your pillar isn't of much use. It's important to know when to pillar and when to not.
When you're behind a pillar with enemies on you, sometimes your teammates can not get to you or help. The enemy dps are often out of line from them, just as you, so fears, pollys, scatters, CS's, w/e utility your team carries is pretty much void (including leap of faith, off heals) if you are out of line.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, standing in the open the entire game is obviously a very weak strategy as you can be tunneled with damage, CC, and swaps and although your team will be able to help you out, once they are out of help due to diminishing returns or cooldowns, the damage will still be coming because of your positioning, and you'll likely die (or at least have to pop unnecessary cooldowns).
Pillars are fantastic, but it's important to know when to abuse them. When matched against due caster teams, for example, it's nice to be a bit of distance away from the pillar so you can take advantage of wind shear, grounding, or maybe purges, but so long as you aren't too far you can run to the pillar to LOS CC / damage when your tools to avoid them are on cooldown. Sometimes it isn't worth it to run out to wind shear that frostbolt, like when the mage is super far back and to run in and shear would put you in a position to easily be CCd or swapped to, and that frostbolt is often pretty low on the interrupt priority list nowadays.
So for a swap, pillars are amazing for letting you get away. What that means is being near the pillar, so that when the enemy team swaps you can just run away and LOS the follow up pressure (after a step cheap you just make your way out of LOS, or after a deep swap, etc). What this does is keep you in line of your team mates, yet allow you to not only LOS CC consistently, but also prevent the enemy team from tunneling you so much. Some comps can handle just tunneling you anyway, lol, but abusing the pillar properly can help a ton.
When you are tunneled, say by something like a KFC with a melee and a ranged, it takes a lot of practice and experience to know where to stand, from you and your team mates. Sometimes, it's important to come off the pillar a bit so that your team can help with peels and off heals, and sometimes it's important to just LOS that ranged even with the melee tunneling. It's pretty much about when you are going to get stunned or silenced, when you can free cast because you juked interrupts or have aura mastery / earth grab, w/e, and how much damage you are randomly taking. If you know a stormbolt is coming up, and you're hovering around 70%, you might need help during the stun so pulling out into the open a bit for your team is probably a good idea so that they can land fears or pollys during the stun. If you're 100% hp and you think the warrior is about to stun, it might be okay to sit around the pillar throughout the stun without any help. It's tough to read the situations, and tough to say that "you should LOS when this happens" and be specific but it's just important to remember that you can die easier if you're in the open even with teammate's help, but running around the pillar all game might help avoid damage, but sometimes it makes it impossible for your team to help you, which you need at some point.
Remember that taking a melee out of LOS can open him or her up for a swap; warriors don't seem to care usually but rogues or DKs or maybe monks, something a bit squishier can die because they overextend behind the pillar for too long.
It's not always best to play positioned so defensively, though. Sometimes it's important to play at the pillar close to the enemies, and sometimes you are forced to play in the open. Usually you don't want to do this vs comps that are really likely to swap to you and kill you easily, but for example if you are playing KFC vs another KFC, you want to play sort of pushed in, close for your teammates to be able to eat traps when traps come nearly off cd, and sometimes close enough to help CC by shocking the healer or hexxing (maybe your hunter missed a trap or got it eaten). You want to be close sometimes to tremor or dispell stuff when your team needs to play extremely offensive, as certain comps. Positioning aggressively like this can help snowball into a victory as well, like when your play against an MLD, if you got the block really early, and your team still has every CD (maybe you negated the deep orb swap somehow), it can really help to push in and shear some key casts and keep your team as offensive as possible with purges, shears, and dispells, so that you can snowball and force the enemy team so defensive it's nearly impossible for them to recover.
Edited by Votlol, 11 December 2013 - 10:58 PM.