Restoration Shaman Healing Guide — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1

Last updated on Dec 22, 2018 at 13:38 by Seksixeny 19 comments

Welcome to our Restoration Shaman guide for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1. Here, you will learn how to heal as a Restoration Shaman in both raids and Mythic+ dungeons. We cover everything from the basics all the way to min-maxing techniques to optimize your output.

1. Restoration Shaman Overview

Restoration Shaman is an extremely flexible specialization that shines when healing groups of players that are clumped together. They have a variety of unique tools to deal with otherwise deadly influxes of damage, such as Spirit Link Icon Spirit Link. Because Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal has no cooldown, Restoration Shamans are one of the few healers that can area of effect heal continuously when dangerous unexpected damage happens.

While mobility is not one of the specialization's strong points, periods of heavy movement can be handled by Spiritwalker's Grace Icon Spiritwalker's Grace. It is also notable that Restoration Shamans deal most of their maximum potential damage in the form of instants: Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock and Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge-enabled Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst allow them to put out a respectable amount of damage while moving, without cutting into healing time.

In order to properly play a healing role, you will need more than just class-specific information. To better understand healing in general, we recommend that you read our healing guide.

2. Patch 8.1.0 Changes for Restoration Shaman

2.1. Spell / Talent Changes

  • Capacitor Totem Icon Capacitor Totem and Earthbind Totem Icon Earthbind Totem can now be placed from 40 yards away.
  • Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal now heals for a lot more (105% spell power > 140%) by default, doing similar levels of baseline total healing when compared to old High Tide Chain Heal, but on 4 targets instead of 5.
  • New High Tide Icon High Tide talent grants 20% extra healing and no decrease after each jump to your next two Chain Heals every time you spend 40.000 Mana. This buff lasts for 25 seconds and thus can safely be stored for situations where it is needed.
  • Unleash Life Icon Unleash Life now heals for more (110% spell power > 130% spell power) when cast, but increases your next direct heal by less (45% > 35% boost). It also costs slightly less Mana (5% base Mana > 4% base Mana).

2.2. PvP Changes

  • Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal healing was increased by 50% in PvP.
  • Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge healing was increased by 15% in PvP.
  • Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave healing was increased by 25% in PvP.
  • Rippling Waters was removed.
  • Calming Waters was removed.
  • Purifying Waters was removed (only from Restoration Shamans).
  • New talent: Cleansing Waters Icon Cleansing Waters.
  • New talent: Ancestral Gift Icon Ancestral Gift.
  • Spirit Link Icon Spirit Link nerfed: it now has a 1.5-second cast time (was instant), costs 50% more Mana to cast, and redistributes 25% of taken damage instead of 35%.

2.3. Azerite Changes

2.4. Significance of Patch 8.1.0 Changes

Overall, 8.1's changes are a significant buff to our PvE kit, especially in 5 mans, where we previously lacked options to quickly and reliably AoE heal the party. Keep in mind that Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal still grants Tidal Waves Icon Tidal Waves, so it is a more powerful spell than it might look at first glance, as long as you are using those.

On new High Tide Icon High Tide specifically, while Wellspring Icon Wellspring is still the best healing-per-Mana option if you can use it on cooldown with low overhealing, High Tide will allow you to bank huge burst healing potential that you can unleash all at once, if that is the encounter's requirement.

The PvP changes introduce a new, Chain Heal and Healing Rain Icon Healing Rain-based playstyle, and reduces the effectiveness of our old, Riptide Icon Riptide-centric playstyle. However, even with our new talent, Ancestral Gift Icon Ancestral Gift, this new playstyle is very vulnerable to enemy disruption, which is a big weakness in most PvP situations.

Finally, it should be noted that Swelling Stream Icon Swelling Stream's nerf turns it into a middle-power trait rather than the must-have it was so far. The reworked Ancestral Resonance Icon Ancestral Resonance and new Turn of the Tide Icon Turn of the Tide have powerful, unique effects that are not increased when you have multiples of these traits. You will usually want exactly one of these on your gear for most types of content.

3. Patch 8.0.1 Changes for Restoration Shaman

  • The Netherlight Crucible and Artifacts traits are now disabled.
  • There has been a stat squish, meaning all the numbers in the game have been heavily reduced and rebalanced accordingly.
  • Healing Wave Icon Healing Wave now heals for more than Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge.
  • Ascendance Icon Ascendance is now on the global cooldown.
  • Tremor Totem Icon Tremor Totem returns as a baseline ability, removing fear, sleep and charm effects for 10 seconds, on a 1-minute cooldown.
  • Lightning Surge Totem is now baseline and called Capacitor Totem Icon Capacitor Totem, its 8-yard stun now lasts 3 seconds on a 1-minute cooldown.
  • Gust of Wind was replaced by Nature's Guardian Icon Nature's Guardian.
  • Crashing Waves was replaced by Flash Flood Icon Flash Flood.
  • Voodoo Totem was replaced by Spirit Wolf Icon Spirit Wolf.
  • Ancestral Guidance was replaced by Earth Shield Icon Earth Shield.
  • Bottomless Depths was replaced by Downpour Icon Downpour.
  • Echo of the Elements Icon Echo of the Elements is now a level 30 talent (swapped from level 90).
  • Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge has a 5% higher chance to activate on Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock ticks.
  • Cloudburst Totem Icon Cloudburst Totem now stores 30% (was 25%) of the healing done by your other spells. Items and Azerite traits no longer count towards the stored healing.

4. Restoration Shaman Strengths

5. Restoration Shaman Weaknesses

  • Mediocre sustained targeted healing and no tank cooldowns
  • Mediocre group healing in situations that force a large spread
  • Mediocre mobility, most of a Restoration Shaman's healing comes from spells with high casting times
  • Mediocre survivability, no immunities or very high damage reduction defensive abilities

6. Restoration Shaman Viability in the Current Patch

Most of all, Restoration is a fun specialization with lots of viable talent choices that affect your playstyle. These choices make the gameplay as complex / simple as you want, allowing for your own growth as a player to reflect on the talents you pick as well as your gameplay.

Raid content, especially while clearing for the first time, is still where Restoration thrives. Their burst / emergency healing is very strong and allows the raid to recover from mistakes that cause high raid damage. This strength is helped along by their mastery, Mastery: Deep Healing Icon Mastery: Deep Healing, which gains value when healing low health targets. Last, but decidedly not least, they also have some of the best group support tools out of all healer specializations, with Spirit Link Totem Icon Spirit Link Totem being irreplaceable on certain situations.

In Mythic+ dungeon content, Restoration has been vastly improved by patch 8.1. While it still doesn't have the best sustained single target healing and a tank cooldown, it can now do significant AoE burst healing with Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal and High Tide Icon High Tide, and do it quite often, as Mana is typically plentiful in this content. This also allows the Shaman to dedicate more time to DPS without worrying about falling behind on healing, helping push clear times significantly.

Finally, Restoration Shaman is a very strong PvP healer, as it has all the tools to heavily disrupt the enemy team, while supporting its own. It is the only healer specialization with an interrupt, and that interrupt is ranged, with a short cooldown! It has great PvP cooldowns as well such as Earthen Wall Totem Icon Earthen Wall Totem and Spirit Link Totem Icon Spirit Link Totem. This said, Restoration Shamans are very vulnerable to being disrupted themselves, which caused them to not be a top choice for Rated Battlegrounds in previous patches. The significant Chain Heal Icon Chain Heal buffs in 8.1, as well as the introduction of Ancestral Gift Icon Ancestral Gift and Cleansing Waters Icon Cleansing Waters (alongside nerfs to other healer specializations) look to make Restoration Shaman a stronger contender than ever in this content type.

7. Changelog

  • 22 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added and ranked the new PvP traits.
  • 19 Dec. 2018 (gear page): Added the new crafted Alchemy trinket.
  • 18 Dec. 2018 (FAQ page): Added new questions on viability, stat caps, and race choices.
  • 14 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated rankings and clarified the way Spouting Spirits and Overflowing Shores work in 8.1.
  • 14 Dec. 2018 (gear page): Added the Darkshore Warfront World Boss trinket.
  • 14 Dec. 2018 (this page): Added Overflowing Shores Azerite trait to the list of changes.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (FAQ page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes and added FAQ entries related to some obscure Restoration Shaman / Azerite mechanics.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes, High Tide is now the recommended talent for all types of PvE content. Also added new Azerite Traits to look out for.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (how to improve page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (simulations page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (gear page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (addons page): Updated for 8.1 and added a Weak Aura section.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (enchants page): Updated for Patch 8.1, Coastal Surge is no longer recommended.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (stats page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (spells page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (talents page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes: High Tide is now a recommended talent for all types of PvE content. Changed High Tide's description to match its 8.1 rework and adjusted numbers on Unleash Life.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (bosses page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (mythic+ page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes: High Tide is now a recommended talent for Mythic+ dungeons. Added a detailed explanation on several build types under the talent table.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (rotation page): This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and only minor changes were necessary.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes: new traits added and trait rankings adjusted.
  • 10 Dec. 2018 (this page): Updated for Patch 8.1 changes.
  • 11 Nov. 2018 (mythic+ page): Updated talent recommendations.
  • 11 Nov. 2018 (gear page): Minor title / BiS table boss link fixes.
  • 11 Nov. 2018 (talents page): Changed Cloudburst Totem to recommended for the raiding build and Spirit Wolf to situational so it is clear that its talent row is completely situational.
  • 22 Oct. 2018 (gear page): Updated with new layout and the complete information on Battle For Azeroth loot systems.
  • 22 Oct. 2018 (how to improve page): Added new section on healing basics.
  • 22 Oct. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated ranks and added information on the new Restoration Shaman spreadsheet.
  • 22 Oct. 2018 (talents page): Changed Deluge to not recommended, Wind Rush Totem to recommended and minor talent recommendation tweaks.
  • 22 Oct. 2018 (mythic+ page): Updated talent choices.
  • 10 Oct. 2018 (bosses page): Minor typo and talent fixes and added extra tips for Mythic G'huun.
  • 08 Oct. 2018 (bosses page): Updated talent and boss information based on our full Mythic progression experience.
  • 27 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated ranks to reflect hotfixed changes and added choosing gear section.
  • 12 Sep. 2018 (gear page): Updated with new trinket theorycrafting after hotifxes.
  • 12 Sep. 2018 (bosses page): Added Tremor Totem boss information and other tips.
  • 12 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated ranks to reflect new theorycrafting information.
  • 12 Sep. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated stat priority and Azerite traits to match other guide pages.
  • 05 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Small changes to rankings and typo correction.
  • 05 Sep. 2018 (enchants page): Updated weapon enchants to recommend Coastal Surge or Deadly Navigation.
  • 03 Sep. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Introduced ranking buckets.
  • 02 Sep. 2018 (bosses page): Added talent cheatsheet.
  • 28 Aug. 2018 (FAQ page): Added two new FAQ entries.
  • 28 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Changed dungeon-recommended talents.
  • 28 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated ranks to reflect new theorycrafting information.
  • 27 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated weapon enchant.
  • 26 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated with trinket and general gear recommendations for the pre-raid period.
  • 20 Aug. 2018 (stats page): Simplified stat priority and updated ratings per 1% based on live testing.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Updated Azerite traits.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (gear page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (stats page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Updated ranks to reflect new theorycrafting information.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (rotation page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 13 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 11 Aug. 2018 (easy mode page): Added a short list of the best Azerite traits.
  • 11 Aug. 2018 (bosses page): Updated some talent recommendations.
  • 10 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added final missing traits and descriptions and updated ranks to reflect recent hotfixes.
  • 09 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Some PvP missing traits added, updated rank based on new theorycrafting information.
  • 07 Aug. 2018 (talents page): Updated Cloudburst Totem storing 30% of healing after the latest hotfix and clarified items / Azerite traits do not count towards stored healing. Small note on Unleash Life: it can be used in Ghost Wolf.
  • 07 Aug. 2018 (this page): Updated Cloudburst Totem storing 30% of healing after the latest hotfix.
  • 07 Aug. 2018 (bosses page): Updated MOTHER, Zul and Mythrax recommendations.
  • 06 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Corrected a few typos and added a few missing traits.
  • 05 Aug. 2018 (mythic+ page): Added page.
  • 05 Aug. 2018 (bosses page): Added preliminary Uldir guide for Restoration Shamans.
  • 04 Aug. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Vastly expanded the amount of traits listed and categorized them according to their power in the current Beta build.
  • 04 Aug. 2018 (FAQ page): Added page.
  • 04 Aug. 2018 (enchants page): Added page.
  • 03 Aug. 2018 (how to improve page): Clarified some of the text.
  • 28 Jul. 2018 (azerite traits and gear page): Added Azerite page.
  • 28 Jul. 2018 (bosses page): Removed Legion content in preparation for BfA.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (rotation page): General text clarifications and style improvements.
  • 20 Jul. 2018 (spells page): Small clarifications to general text and on when / how to use Chain Lightning.
  • 18 Jul. 2018 (gear page): Updated to reflect Soul of the Farseer now giving Echo of the Elements instead of Flash Flood.
  • 16 Jul. 2018 (this page): Updated for the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch.
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