Have I got a heal for you!
Somewhat belatedly, I have finally written up the first proper Holy Kneecaps post promised back in May. Sorry for the wait! In this installment we follow my trusty goblin shaman as he heals his way from level 30 to 40 using the dungeon finder, clutching his first three heirlooms for a very welcome 25% experience increase and hitting teammates with totems, wondering why it isn’t healing them.
It’s worth mentioning that I played through the content in this post during May, so all data is based on patch 4.1.
The main thing I noticed, right from my first level 30 dungeon all the way to 40, was that Earth Shield is so bloody powerful it’s unbelievable. In most dungeons it accounted for between 45 and 60% of my healing done, and that’s not including over-healing. Half of all the healing I did was practically passive! It did drop slightly under certain circumstances, for example when the tank ran through the whole instance without stopping to breathe or if the DPS kept taking aggro and needed extra healing, but even in those situations ES was still doing 35-40% of the work for me. I know this won’t last, it’s just the imbalance of spell and stat scaling at lower levels, but the best piece of advice I can give other levelling restoshams is to keep Earth Shield at 100% uptime on the tank. Seriously.
Even with numbers like those though, shamans cannot heal on Earth Shield alone. At least 30% of my healing was done by the staple shaman heal: Healing Wave. In fact, most of the time I wasn’t doing anything except refreshing Earth Shield on the tank and topping everyone off with HWs. In fact, throughout the whole 10 levels I used a grand total of 4 spells (not counting totems): Earth Shield and Healing Wave I already mentioned. On top of those I kept Water Shield up on myself and threw out Healing Surge in emergencies. OK, I admit I might have used Cleanse once but I really didn’t need to, I just had some spare time when very little damage was being taken and a weak little debuff popped up. I could have easily got this far without even knowing what Cleanse is. I’m not sure yet how much Water Shield actually helped my mana regen at this level but it took such little effort to keep it up all the time that not casting it seemed pointless, and I assume it will be important to be in the habit of using it by level 85.
I mentioned Healing Surge and emergencies. There weren’t a lot of those, but when they happened they were certainly memorable! These moments are a good time to learn what you can and cannot do, sustainably, as a healer and since we’re talking level 30-40 here they rarely ended with a wipe unless the tank pulled Mograine in Scarlet Monastery Cathedral without clearing the room first or something equally daft. Yeah, that mistake is still made incredibly often in SM, even 6 years on. I’m not sure why I was surprised since many people are new players even now, but I went in the first time genuinely expecting everyone to be aware of the mechanic. Oops!
Having played an enhancement shaman a few years back I had it in my head that totems would be unwieldy, inefficient and frustrating. However I actually found them simple and cheap to place at the start of each and every fight. Obviously the spells to summon and recall a full set of four totems help with that but the other critical factor in their ease of use is that the mana costs are almost nothing. Within a few runs I was already in the habit of sticking them down and recalling them every fight (the recall is the most important part to remember; nobody likes it when an abandoned totem pulls a patrol). The exceptions, of course, were the runs where the tank sped through as if finishing the whole dungeon in 30 seconds flat would make them instantly ding to level 85. I tried to keep up my totemic routine the first couple of times I was in runs like that, but I quickly learned it was pointless unless it was a boss fight, the only time the group stayed still long enough.
In short, these low-level dungeons are a nice, easy way to get to grips with healing before it gets more complicated later on. Having tried to jump into healing at level 85 as a priest, I definitely found that learning the role as you level a character up is a much better way to get the hang of the role. Starting at endgame isn’t too bad, but there’s much more pressure and many more spells to learn about all at once.
Feedback is very much encouraged, be it from shamans who already know what they’re doing, newbies at my own skill level or whoever else has an opinion. Use that comment box, folks!
Oh, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet but Rocket Jump is the most fun racial ability in the game. *BANG* “Wheeeeeeeeee!” *maniacal giggling*