Restoration Shaman Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoW MoP 5.4)

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General Information

On this page, we list your Restoration Shaman core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing a Restoration Shaman.

The other pages of our Restoration Shaman guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewers

For 10-man raiding, this guide has been reviewed and approved by Zetian, who raids in MCO, one of the most efficient 10-man guilds in the world (top 100 with a 13-hour a week schedule).

For 25-man raiding, this guide has been reviewed and approved by Sonie, one of the best Restoration Shamans in the world, who raids in Method. You can watch his stream on Twitch.

1. Rotation↑top

Healing is in great part based on your ability to react to the damage that the raid takes, and as such there is no set rotation. Rather, you must understand what spells are best suited to the different situations that can occur during a raid encounter.

  • Low to moderate damage (raid or tank)
    • Keep Riptide Icon Riptide up on both tanks and possibly one or two additional players.
      • Riptide Icon Riptide provides you with the Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves buff and does significant healing over time.
      • Riptide Icon Riptide keeps stacking and refreshing Ancestral Vigor Icon Ancestral Vigor on affected players, increasing their maximum health by up to 10%.
      • Never override an existing Riptide Icon Riptide.
    • Make extensive use of Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave to heal without spending much mana.
    • Use Healing Stream Totem Icon Healing Stream Totem on cooldown (i.e., every 30 seconds), especially if you have taken Rushing Streams Icon Rushing Streams. For 15 seconds, it will heal the most injured nearby players within 40 yards every 2 seconds. Thanks to Glyph of Totemic Recall Icon Glyph of Totemic Recall, you can recall it after the last tick and still get refunded 100% of the mana cast.
  • Moderate to high tank or single-target damage
  • Moderate to high raid damage
    • Keep Riptide Icon Riptide up on the tanks and several other players.
    • Use Healing Stream Totem Icon Healing Stream Totem on cooldown (i.e., every 30 seconds), especially if you have taken Rushing Streams Icon Rushing Streams. For 15 seconds, it will heal the most injured nearby players within 40 yards every 2 seconds.
    • Start using Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal.
      • Chain Heal should preferentially be used on targets with an active Riptide Icon Riptide, as this causes Chain Heal to be 25% more efficient. That said, between a Riptide Icon Riptide player with 98% health and a non-Riptide player with 70% health, it is more efficient to cast Chain Heal on the latter.
      • If there is no player with an active Riptide Icon Riptide, then you can cast Chain Heal anyway or do surgical heals with Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave or Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave.
    • Use Healing Stream Totem Icon Healing Stream Totem on cooldown.
  • High sustained tank or single-target damage
  • High sustained raid damage
  • Emergency situations
    • Use Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge, but only if you feel that the target will die before you have a chance to complete a Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave cast on them. If you suspect that a player may be in danger of dying in the near future, apply Riptide Icon Riptide on them, this will give them a bit of healing and, thanks to Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves, this will increase the critical strike chance of Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge.
    • Healing with Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge will drain your mana very quickly and should not be used lightly.

1.1. Shield and Weapon Imbue

Use Water Shield Icon Water Shield and Earthliving Weapon Icon Earthliving Weapon.

Water Shield Icon Water Shield lasts for 1 hour and damage does not cause it to drop. Water Shield increases your mana regeneration and, thanks to Resurgence Icon Resurgence (a Restoration-specific passive ability), your critical heals with single-target spells will also cause you to recover mana.

1.2. Additional Actions To Perform

  • You should always have Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield up on the current tank (or another target that is likely to take damage, if another Restoration Shaman is already shielding the tank).
  • If you have chosen Glyph of Telluric Currents Icon Glyph of Telluric Currents as one of your major glyphs, then you should cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt on the boss or an add whenever you can, in order to regain mana.
  • When you want to increase the mana efficiency of one of your direct heals, cast it after casting Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements.
  • If you chose Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast as your tier 6 talent, then you should use it on cooldown (i.e., every 12 seconds).

2. Cooldown Usage↑top

As a Restoration Shaman, you have 4 healing cooldowns that are granted to you by default (technically, there are 5, but Healing Stream Totem Icon Healing Stream Totem is already covered in the rotation section).

  • Mana Tide Totem Icon Mana Tide Totem is a powerful raid-wide mana regeneration cooldown and you should consult with your raid leader(s) to decide when to use it.
  • Ascendance Icon Ascendance is your Mists of Pandaria ability. It has a 3-minute cooldown and causes all the healing you do for 15 seconds to be duplicated and distributed evenly among nearby allies. This spell is best activated in times of heavy raid-damage when you can make extensive use of Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain and Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal.
  • Healing Tide Totem Icon Healing Tide Totem is a powerful healing totem that heals the 5 most injured raid or party members within 40 yards every 2 seconds for 10 seconds.
  • Spirit Link Totem Icon Spirit Link Totem is one of the most powerful healing cooldowns in the game. It has a 3-minute cooldown and causes all players within 10 yards of the totem to have a shared health for 6 seconds.

When you want to get the highest throughput possible, try using Spirit Link Totem Icon Spirit Link Totem together with Ascendance Icon Ascendance or Healing Tide Totem Icon Healing Tide Totem, as Spirit Link Totem causes these two abilities to do no overhealing. That said, using 2 healing cooldowns at once may not always be the optimal way to keep your raid alive. Sometimes, it is better to spread them out.

Spiritwalker's Grace Icon Spiritwalker's Grace is not a healing cooldown per se, but it will be useful in movement-heavy encounters. This ability should be used when you need to move and heal at the same time. You can also use it to cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt during periods of movement where there is no damage to heal. Finally, Spiritwalker's Grace can be really useful when you need to use Ascendance Icon Ascendance during a time of heavy movement.

In addition, your talents grant you a number of DPS cooldowns that you can use to contribute DPS to the raid. We give more details in a subsequent dealing damage as a Restoration Shaman section.

Finally, your talents grant you a number of cooldowns, as we explain in our talent cooldown section.

3. Optional Read: Mastering Your Restoration Shaman↑top

Restoration Shamans are a sort of hybrid healing class. They shine when they have to combine single-target healing and raid healing, thanks to the way their single-target heals interact with their AoE heals, and vice versa.

Therefore, it is important to understand the various mechanics of your heals and how they work together. This way, you will know how to efficiently combine your single-target and raid healing capabilities.

3.1. Procs and Mechanics

3.1.1. Mastery: Deep Healing

Mastery: Deep Healing Icon Mastery: Deep Healing is your Mastery as a Restoration Shaman. It causes your heals to be more powerful on low health targets.

Your mastery heavily influences the way you play a Restoration Shaman.

  • When raid healing, you should focus on low health targets more so than any other type of healer, as you have the most efficient tools to heal them.
  • When single-target healing, your mastery has less influence because you should give priority to your assignment and cannot freely choose low health targets. By being aware of how much damage your assignment will take, you can optimise your heals to benefit from your mastery. For example, Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave is more mana efficient than Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave, but not so efficient that you should cast 3 or 4 Healing Waves to keep your assignment topped off when you can just let it take damage and then heal it with one Greater Healing Wave.

In addition, you have smart healing mechanics, such as Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal and Ancestral Awakening Icon Ancestral Awakening, that always heal the players that are lowest on health. These heals benefit from your mastery and contribute to making it very desirable, as we will see in the Statistics article.

3.1.2. Riptide and Chain Heal

Riptide Icon Riptide and Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal have an important synergy. Whenever you cast Chain Heal on a target on which you have an active Riptide, it will cause your Chain Heal to be 25% more powerful.

Therefore, you should always cast Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal on targets with an active Riptide Icon Riptide. See our Addons article for addons to track Riptide on multiple targets.

Note that Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal is a smart heal. It will always try to jump to the player in range (12.5 yards) with the lowest health.

3.1.3. Tidal Waves

Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves is an important mechanic for a Restoration Shaman. Every time you use Riptide Icon Riptide or Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal, you get the Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves buff. The buff lasts for 15 seconds and has two charges. Each charge enables you to cast Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave or Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave 30% faster. Tidal Waves also buffs your Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge spell by increasing its critical strike chance by 30%; this can be useful when the buff is up and you need to use Healing Surge for an emergency.

If you are focusing on single-target healing, keeping a good uptime on Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves (with Riptide Icon Riptide) is important as it makes it easier to react to damage (since your main spells are cast faster).

If you are focusing on raid healing, Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves is less of a concern, as you will cast Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave, Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave, and Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge less often. Moreover, your frequent casts of Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal will enable you to keep a high uptime on Tidal Waves without really focusing on it.

Note that when you use Glyph of Riptide Icon Glyph of Riptide, you can maintain a 100% uptime on Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves, which is not otherwise possible because of Riptide Icon Riptide's 6-second cooldown.

3.1.4. Earthliving

The Earthliving Icon Earthliving effect is triggered by any of your heals, thanks the Earthliving Weapon Icon Earthliving Weapon buff on your weapon. This effect has no internal cooldown, meaning that it will sometimes be refreshed to its original duration. It can also proc on different players at the same time.

When you cast a single-target spell on a player who is below 35%, Earthliving Icon Earthliving will always be triggered.

You have no real control over Earthliving Icon Earthliving, as it randomly procs. However, when the raid is stacked, using Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain will give you a good chance to have Earthliving Icon Earthliving up on almost every raid member.

3.1.5. Earth Shield

Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield places a 9-charge shield on a friendly player. You can only have one Earth Shield active at a time and only one Earth Shield can be active on the same target at a time. Every time a shielded player takes damage, the shield will heal them for a small amount, losing a charge in the process.

Even though Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield is tailored for tank healing, you should still have it up when raid healing. In the latter case, simply choose a target that will take constant damage (usually the tank, if no other Restoration Shaman is shielding them).

Casting Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield on a target already shielded by another Restoration Shaman will cancel the previous shield and create a new one with 9 charges. Therefore, discuss with other Restoration Shamans in your raid to decide who will cast Earth Shield on whom.

3.2. Mana Management

As with all healing classes, you will need to carefully choose your spells so that you avoid overhealing your fellow raid members, thus wasting your mana.

Your mana pool will remain constant at 300,000 mana at level 90. So your entire mana regeneration will depend on Water Shield Icon Water Shield and the amount of Spirit you have.

To use your mana efficiently, you should be aware of two mechanics that can make your life easier.

3.2.1. Telluric Currents and Lightning Bolt

If you have chosen Glyph of Telluric Currents Icon Glyph of Telluric Currents as a major glyph, you will be able to regenerate 2% mana every time you deal damage with Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt. The amount of mana you will regenerate is very small because casting Lightning Bolt costs for most players 1.42% of their maximum mana. Therefore, the only time when you can realistically use this spell as a mana regeneration means is when there is no damage to heal and you have a target you can attack (thanks to Spiritual Insight Icon Spiritual Insight, you will never miss with Lightning Bolt).

3.2.2. Unleash Weapons and Direct Heals

Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements provides you with Unleash Life Icon Unleash Life, a temporary buff. This buff increases the efficiency of your next direct heal. It even increases the potency of Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain, even though this spell is not exactly a direct heal.

Using Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements does not increase your healing throughput. Indeed, the increased efficiency of your next direct heal does not make up for having wasted a global cooldown casting Unleash Elements.

You should usually use Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements with mana management in mind and preferably in combination with Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave.

You can sometimes use Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements with Riptide Icon Riptide, in case you will not be able to heal for a given period of time and want to leave a strong HoT on a player.

3.3. Dealing Damage as a Restoration Shaman

Thanks to Spiritual Insight Icon Spiritual Insight, your casts of Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt, Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst, and Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock will never miss their targets. Therefore, you can easily contribute DPS to your raid by casting Lightning Bolt (which can regenerate mana, thanks to Glyph of Telluric Currents Icon Glyph of Telluric Currents), and Lava Burst, all the while keeping Flame Shock on the target (your Lava Burst will always crit if Flame Shock is applied on the target).

In addition, you should keep Searing Totem Icon Searing Totem (single-target damage) or Magma Totem Icon Magma Totem (multiple-target damage) down at all times. Also, use your Fire Elemental Totem Icon Fire Elemental Totem and Earth Elemental Totem Icon Earth Elemental Totem on cooldown because it only takes a global cooldown to cast them and they will deal, over the course of their duration, a high amount of damage (especially your Fire Elemental).

Stormlash Totem Icon Stormlash Totem is a raid-wide DPS cooldown that causes every players within 40 yards of the totem to deal additional Nature damage for 10 seconds.

These 3 Totems have a 5-minute cooldown, which means that you will usually only be able to summon them twice per fight. Plan their usage ahead of time.

Finally, Tier 6 talents give you the Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast ability, which will deal a bit of damage every time you use it.

3.4. Talent Cooldowns

3.4.1. Tier 4 Talents

Ancestral Swiftness Icon Ancestral Swiftness gives you an emergency heal if you combine it with Greater Healing Wave Icon Greater Healing Wave (see our macro).

Elemental Mastery Icon Elemental Mastery greatly increases your healing throughput (and your mana consumption in the process) for 20 seconds, so you should keep it for times of high damage.

3.4.2. Tier 5 Talents

Ancestral Guidance Icon Ancestral Guidance is a very powerful healing cooldown. You can combine it with your other cooldowns to get the highest possible healing throughput, but, in the general case, we advise you to simply spread your cooldowns out during the encounter.

3.4.3. Tier 6 Talent: Primal Elementalist

If you chose Primal Elementalist Icon Primal Elementalist as your Tier 6 talent, you can get your Earth Elemental Totem Icon Earth Elemental Totem and your Fire Elemental Totem Icon Fire Elemental Totem to stop attacking and channel a spell on you that increases your healing done by 10%: Reinforce Icon Reinforce for your Earth Elemental and Empower Icon Empower for your Fire Elemental.

Your Earth Elemental does little damage, so you will most likely prefer letting it boost your healing all the time.

Your Fire Elemental does a significant enough amount of damage that you may want to turn on Empower when you need to do more healing, and turn it off when you want to do more damage.

3.5. Play Style Differences Between 10-man and 25-man

The main difference between 10-man and 25-man is that you will cast Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal and Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain a lot more in 25-man. In 10-man, there are less potential targets to heal, so the efficiency of Chain Heal and Healing Rain is reduced and you will find yourself casting more single-target heals.

Ancestral Awakening Icon Ancestral Awakening, one of your passive abilities, only procs from your single-target heals, so it has a higher chance to proc in 10-man than in 25-man, because you will cast more single-target heals. This means that the Tier 15 4-piece bonus is very valuable for 10-man raiding.

In 25-man, your frequent casts of Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain make Glyph of Telluric Currents Icon Glyph of Telluric Currents more interesting than in 10-man. Also, you can more easily interrupt your healing to cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt, since there are 3, 4, or 5 other healers that will continue healing during your break. In 10-man, especially if you are 2-healing fights, it is much more difficult to find a proper timing for your casts of Lightning Bolt.

4. Changelog↑top

  • 05 Dec. 2013: Cleared up an explanation about having 100% uptime on Tidal Waves.
  • 18 Sep. 2013: More updates from Sonie.
  • 10 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4: there have been significant buffs to many spells, but this does not really change the way you play the class.
  • 19 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update: nothing to change.
  • 22 Apr. 2013: Improved rotation and cooldown sections (added several tips for using spells optimally).
  • 15 Mar. 2013: Added tip for using Riptide Icon Riptide on a target that may soon require urgent healing, so that Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves is up, which grants Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge a higher critical strike chance.