I'll never forget the first time I saw a single-target healing resto shaman. It was in OS25 and I was overjoyed to be the only resto shaman in the raid. There were two other shaman, one enhancement and one wearing a bunch of what looked like elemental gear. It was full of crit rating, spell power, and haste rating. Then, to my surprise, I noticed that his spec was the same as mine.
The conversation went something like this:
Me: "Hey man, you left your grinding gear on. =)"
Me: "You're wearing all ele gear?"
Him: "No, this is my healing set."
Me: "Uh...but there's barely any mp5 on it!"
Him: "Yeah. [Improved Water Shield]"
Raiding through BC had left me with the impression that all resto shaman could do was spam chain heal. You just hit that button (3 for me) until the cows came home. So you could imagine my surprise when I found out that using Lesser Healing Wave in conjunction with heavy crit gear and the Improved Water Shield talent (which, at 3 points, gives your LHW/HW/Riptide crits a 100% [60% come 3.0.8] chance to expend a water shield charge) you could become an efficient and powerful single target healer.
Before we get into the numbers game, a quick introduction about what this means for you, the resto shaman.
Any major resto build will include Improved Water Shield in it, even if you're predominantly a raid healer who spams CH. The off-chance for a crit off of Riptide and the mana regen from that is good enough for the 3 points.
This means that as a resto shaman you can effectively fill two roles: single-target healer and raid healer. You're not quite as efficient of a single-target healer as a paladin or disc priest, but you're still one of the top raid healers in the game (perhaps the top once 3.0.8 comes out).
If you're assigned to single-target tank healing (for me this happens predominatly on Patchwerk, but it varies based on raid makeup) you want to throw on some of that ele gear that might be sitting in your bags or, if you're lucky, some of the resto gear that includes both mp5 and crit. Haste rating isn't as important for LHW as you can keep up tidal waves for most of the casts as long as you're hitting riptide on cooldown. What's important is that you're critting often enough that you're making back a significant amount of mana from water shield charges popping. It's like a mini Illumination. With a good crit rating and replenishment you can spam LHW until the cows come home. On Patchwerk, with some luck and skillfull cast canceling (dancing out of a .8 second heal is difficult, tell you what) you can chain cast almost endlessly. Combine this with the Lesser Healing Wave major glyph (which increases the healing of LHW by 10% on targets with Earth Shield on them) and you've got a powerful mana efficient quick heal.
The problem with this is that you have to waste a GCD every 3rd (or 4th with the Water Shield minor glyph) crit reapplying water shield. In some fights, Patchwerk especially, this single wasted GCD can mean a tank death.
On the other end of the spectrum you have the raid healing role, which requires heavy casting of every shaman's favorite spell: Chain Heal. When you're put on a raid healing there are two stats you're going to be looking at heavily: mp5 and haste rating. Mp5 is will allow you to keep healing while haste rating will increase the amount of healing you can put out. The two are tightly tied together, as too much haste will make you go OOM in the blink of an eye while too much mp5 will lower your healing output too much. The idea with setting up your gear for CH spam is to increase how many heals you can put out (haste) and how long you can keep it up (mp5).
The important thing to remember about all of this is that you can do both as long as you have the gear for it. You're one of the lucky healers that has the option to handle both of the major raid roles for healers, so take advantage of it!
So next time you see a resto shaman in what looks like elemental gear, give him a /salute and know that somewhere a holy paladin is crying. <3
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