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Restoration Shaman guide (7.1.5) - World of Warcraft: Legion

Our constantly updated guide on how to play the Restoration Shaman specialization in World of Warcraft.

While most Shamans use the elements to enhance their battle prowess or directly smite their enemies, the Restoration Shaman guides the nurturing and restorative facets of the primal forces to heal and protect their allies. This results in an unique and remarkably satisfying playstyle that we’ll detail in this Restoration Shaman guide.

Restoration Shamans are some of the hottest healers at the moment, delivering outstanding multiple-target healing that makes them a great asset in raids, while still having the ability to heal dungeon content with relative ease. Their one weakness is that their best tools are predicated on their targets being closely bunched together - in situations where the party or raid is forced to spread out, they lose much of their effectiveness.

Below, you’ll find our top picks for Restoration talents and clear explanation of the best use-cases for your most important spells and healing cooldowns. You’ll want to avoid trying to level up your character by questing as Restoration, as your offensive capabilities are merely decent. You can, however, use this build to provide healing in groups using the Dungeon Finder to run leveling dungeons, and level up that way. Still feel like questing? Save yourself from a slow grind and follow our Enhancement Shaman guide instead.

As is usual in our healing specialisation guides, we’re also going to give you some addon recommendations in the Gameplay and Cooldowns section below, as we believe that Blizzard’s current default UI solutions are insufficient for baseline healing effectiveness.

This guide will be updated continuouslym, and on the next iteration we will cover the recommended upgrade path for your Artifact Weapon, and deal with picking the optimal stats for your Restoration Shaman, explaining how each particular stat affects your healing ability.

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Restoration Shaman talent build

Restoration Shamans have what is probably the best thought-out and viable talent selection among all of World of Warcraft’s classes. There are almost no useless talents, and it makes picking a “correct” talent build contingent to the specific content and playstyle that it is aimed at.

What we have here - at least in this first iteration of the guide - is a “jack of all trades” build that will be effective both when raiding and running dungeons. In future updates we’ll include optional builds tailored to each individual situation.

Level Talent Option Reason for Choice
15 Torrent - Increases the initial heal from Riptide by 30%. All abilities in this tier are viable, but Riptide is one of the healing spells we expect to use the most, so we’re choosing to upgrade it.
30 Graceful Spirit - Reduces the cooldown of Spiritwalker's Grace by 60 sec and increases your movement speed by 20% while it is active, and increases your movement speed in Ghost Wolf by an additional 10%. This will make you able to cast while moving more often.
45 Lightning Surge Totem - Summons a totem at the target location that gathers electrical energy from the surrounding air and then explodes after 2 sec to stun all enemies within 8 yards for 5 sec. While the delayed activation makes this one of WOW’s hardest stuns to master, this totem will prove very useful in dungeons, where you can use it to briefly reduce a group’s damage, or even to mass-interrupt a group of casters.
60 Crashing Waves - Riptide grants an additional stack of Tidal Waves. A further boost to Riptide. In the next section, we’ll discuss what Tidal Waves are and how best to use them.
75 Ancestral Vigor - Targets you heal with Healing Wave, Healing Surge, Chain Heal, or Riptide's initial heal gain 10% increased health for 10 sec. A very nice boost to all of your targets’ health pools, this will be especially useful when you need to heal the tank.
90 Echo of the Elements - Riptide, Healing Stream Totem, and Lava Burst now have 2 charges. Other effects that reset their remaining cooldown will instead grant 1 charge. In addition, when you consume a charge of Tidal Waves, you have a 10% chance to generate a charge of Riptide. This gives you more frequent access to your massively important Riptide, and the extra Healing Stream Totem is a nice bonus.
100 Ascendance - Transform into a Water Ascendant for 15 sec, causing all healing you deal to be duplicated and distributed evenly among nearby allies. (180 seconds cooldown) Doubling your healing over 15 seconds is no small thing, even if you are unable to direct the extra amount.

Restoration Shaman Gameplay and Cooldowns

As a healer, triage is a constant necessity. You need to be aware of all your potential targets and their health. This point is especially relevant to Restoration Shamans, as their healing is boosted in direct proportion to their target’s missing health. Moreover, it is important for them to keep track of the Heal-over-Time (HoT) effect of their Riptide, to avoid needlessly using precious time and resources overwriting it.

Blizzard’s default UI doesn’t provide the necessary clarity for this kind of gameplay, so we recommend the Grid addon as a complement to your standard unit frames. This is a minimalistic grid-shaped list of everyone in your party, one that you can move anywhere in your screen, granting you at-a-glance awareness of both health totals and HoT duration.

Finally, you should consider setting keybindings for your healing spells. In end-game scenarios, health pools frequently deplete at a rate that is hard to keep up with when relying on mouse navigation and clicking. Even if you manage it for a while, it is likely that you won’t be able to keep up the pace for a full run, and your performance will suffer.

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Frost Death Knight guideVengeance Demon Hunter guideFeral Druid guide
Unholy Death Knight guide-Guardian Druid guide
--Restoration Druid guide
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Elemental Shaman guideAffliction Warlock guideArms Warrior guide
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Gameplay and Abilities

To excel as a Restoration Shaman, you need to know when and where to apply each of your spells. Below we’ll offer a loose prioritization of tasks in a group content situation, but you should place immediate player survival over predetermined optimisation whenever required. Or, put simply: it doesn’t matter how elegantly or efficiently you chain your abilities together if people die.

Two things are worthy of note here. First, you need to keep an eye out for your Tidal Waves stacks. This is a predictable buff that you will earn whenever you cast Riptide or Chain Heal. You will then spend it by casting enhanced versions of Healing Surge or Healing Wave. You can only stack 2 Tidal Waves at once, so make sure to use them up before generating (and wasting) more.

The second thing you must consider is that your healing as a Shaman is greater the more damaged your target is. This means that it is crucial to prioritise healing the most damaged target - but also to resist the temptation of “topping up” slightly-damaged targets. Try to make an educated guess of the amount of damage each party member is likely to get in any given situation, and don’t pull the healing trigger too soon.

Priority When to Use / Special Considerations
1 Healing Wave For moderate damage, if you have 2 stacks of Tidal Waves.
2 Riptide Cast this whenever available, on players that don’t have the HoT component active. Make sure the tank has the HoT at all times.
3 Healing Stream Totem Whenever available.
4 Gift of the Queen (Level 100 Artifact Weapon ability) Whenever available. Delay if you know there is party-wide damage coming within the next 15 seconds.
5 Healing Rain If the party (or 4+ raid members) are clumped together in a spot during an area-wide enemy attack.
6 Chain Heal If 2 - 3 people are taking damage.
7 Healing Surge In emergency situations (ie a player very low on health). Prioritise if you have 2 stacks of Tidal Waves.
8 Healing Wave For moderate damage.
9 Flame Shock If mana is plentiful, and no-one is in need of healing.
10 Lightning Bolt To contribute to damage without mana expenditure.

Cooldowns

Restoration Shamans have some very unique and potent cooldowns. Here’s when to best make use of them.

Healing Tide Totem This shines as one of the most powerful healing cooldowns in the game, simply because you can deploy it, leave it be and continue your regular healing while it does its thing. In a raid setting, you should coordinate with the other healers so they don’t use a similarly powerful cooldown at the same time. Use after the party / raid is damaged.
Spirit Link Totem This prevents damage and makes the party / raid share their health pools, basically trying to keep everyone at the same rough % of health as the group takes damage. You should use this just before large attacks on the group. If possible, sync it with your talented cooldown, Ascendance.
Ascendance You should trigger this whenever the whole group is taking high damage, and you intend to focus on healing it through area-of-effect healing like Healing Rain or Gift of the Queen.

This is the end of the first version of our Restoration Shaman guide. Up next: how to best upgrade your Artifact Weapon, and what stats to look for in gear. Check back soon for these sections, and more!

Any comments or suggestions? Please let us know below!

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