Restoration Shaman Healing Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoD 6.0.3)

7 comments
Restoration Shaman Art Image
General Information

On this page, we list your Restoration Shaman core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft WoD 6.0.3. 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

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Vixsin, the author of Life in Group 5, the main Restoration Shaman theorycrafting resouce, and by Stoove, our in-house Restoration Shaman theorycrafter and occasional blogger.

6.0.2 Transition Guide

If you want to read all about the Patch 6.0.2 changes and learn how they affect your character, make sure to read our Shaman Transition Guide!

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.
        • It should be your goal, in single-target healing, to maintain 100% uptime on Tidal Waves (or rather to always have it up for Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave and Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge), so you should use Riptide or Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal every time it drops.
      • Never override an existing Riptide Icon Riptide.
    • Make extensive use of Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave to heal without spending much Mana, buff it with Unleash Life Icon Unleash Life whenever it is off cooldown.
    • 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 injured nearby players within 40 yards every 2 seconds.
  • 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 injured nearby players within 40 yards every 2 seconds.
    • Start using Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal (buffed whenever possible with Unleash Life Icon Unleash Life).
      • 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 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
    • Spam Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge. 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.
    • If you have taken Ancestral Swiftness Icon Ancestral Swiftness, combine it with Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave. This will allow you to instantly heal an ally, if there is no time to cast Healing Surge.

1.1. Shield

Use Water Shield Icon Water Shield.

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 direct heals 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 (even if another Restoration Shaman is already shielding the tank).
  • When single-target healing, cast Unleash Life Icon Unleash Life in preparation for a large amount of incoming damage. The healing boost to your next direct heal will help you get your target back at full health.
  • When moving, make sure that you cast Riptide Icon Riptide on allies.
  • 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). In addition to buffing one of your stats and dealing damage, it also increases your Mana regeneration.

2. Cooldown Usage↑top

As a Restoration Shaman, you have 3 healing cooldowns that are granted to you by default (technically, there are 4, but Healing Stream Totem Icon Healing Stream Totem is already covered in the rotation section).

  • Ascendance Icon Ascendance 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 all 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. While the totem is up, it also reduces damage taken by all allies within 10 yards by 10%.

When you want to get the highest throughput possible, try using Spirit Link Totem Icon Spirit Link Totem together with Ascendance Icon Ascendance, as Spirit Link Totem prevents your Ascendance healing from overhealing (or greatly reduces the risk of overhealing, to be precise). 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. When you heal a target with full health, you get no additional healing. When you heal a target with 1% health, you get the full benefit of your Mastery.

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.

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 try to cast Riptide Icon Riptide on players who are most likely to take damage and then use these players as Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal targets. See our Addons article for addons to track Riptide on multiple targets.

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 20% 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 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 solely with Riptide Icon Riptide, which is not otherwise possible because of Riptide's 6-second cooldown.

3.1.4. 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. 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).

Casting Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield on a target already shielded by another Restoration Shaman will simply add a second Earth Shield, so do not worry about overriding another Restoration Shaman's Earth Shield.

3.2. Cloudburst Totem

If you use Cloudburst Totem Icon Cloudburst Totem as your Tier 7 talent, then your rotation changes to some extent. Cloudburst Totem and Healing Stream Totem Icon Healing Stream Totem have exactly the same duration, which is 15 seconds, and the same cooldown, which is 30 seconds. This means that these two spells synchronise perfectly. This allows you to always cast Cloudburst Totem immediately after Healing Stream Totem expires and Healing Stream Totem immediately after Cloudburst Totem expires.

Getting out of sync makes you lose in efficiency, but can sometimes be required, for example to force Cloudburst Totem Icon Cloudburst Totem to expire at a specific time.

3.3. 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 never changes, so your entire Mana regeneration will depend on Water Shield Icon Water Shield and the amount of Spirit you have.

3.4. Dealing Damage

If at some point during an encounter, your raid needs you to deal damage, your Restoration Shaman is perfectly equipped to do that. Following the priority list below should allow you to do half the damage a DPS player can, which is already very good for a healer.

  1. Put down Searing Totem Icon Searing Totem and refresh it when it expires.
  2. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock and refresh it when there are 9 seconds or less remaining.
  3. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  4. Cast Frost Shock Icon Frost Shock.
  5. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt, as a filler.

If you did not use your Fire Elemental Totem Icon Fire Elemental Totem and Earth Elemental Totem Icon Earth Elemental Totem to boost your healing (thanks to Primal Elementalist Icon Primal Elementalist), then it is a good idea to use them for increased damage.

3.5. Talent Cooldowns

3.5.1. Tier 4 Talents

Ancestral Swiftness Icon Ancestral Swiftness gives you an emergency heal if you combine it with Healing Wave Icon 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.

3.5.2. Tier 5 Talents

Ancestral Guidance Icon Ancestral Guidance is a decent 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.

3.5.3. 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. We advise to always instruct your Elementals to empower/reinforce you, instead of letting them attack.

4. Changelog↑top

  • 14 Nov. 2014: Added discussion about Cloudburst Totem.