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How to Play a Resto Shaman

So you want to learn how to play a Restoration Shaman. Well, you’ve come to the right place. On this page we’ll take you through the spell use, rotations and best advice for a Resto Shaman Healer, from low-level right up to maximum level. This page informs you how to play a Resto Shaman Healer in general at maximum level. We’re going through a lot of spells in this section, so if you haven’t already, have a look at the Resto Shaman spells page for descriptions. For this page, we’ll assume that you have followed or will follow our advice on gems, enchants, glyphs, talents and specs for the Resto Shaman.


Short version

Long version:

As a Resto Shaman, there aren’t any spells you need to ‘press’ to provide “buffs” to yourself and your party/raid members, as your buffs are automatically applied through simply choosing your specialization. For the sake of reference, the buffs you do provide automatically are: Grace of Air which increases Mastery by 550 and Haste by 5%.

A large part of Resto Shaman gameplay includes Shaman shields. These shields remain on targets for an amount of time/amount of stacks and provide benefits to that target. Place your Earth Shield on the main tank. This will heal the tank when they a struck by enemies, giving you some wiggle room to heal your tank. Cast your Water Shield spell, which will place a shield on yourself, which returns small amounts of mana back constantly during an encounter and larger portions of mana when you’re struck by an enemy(this shield can only be cast on yourself).

Before Combat

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After buffing your party/raid members and casting your shields, be sure to drink a consumable such as Conjured Mana Pudding to regain your mana, so that you have maximum mana. As you gain experience you will gain an understanding of the mana required for each fight, along with your gear improvements, you won’t have to drink to regain mana before every encounter. But when starting out it’s best to drink when you can. You can’t drink while you’re in combat.

You should also obtain and consume a consumable to gain extra buffs from food or drinks. To view what consumables are beneficial to you head to the Resto Shaman Consumables page.

Now that you’re buffed, have full hp/mana bars and the rest of your party/raid members are ready, it’s time to prepare to engage with the enemy NPC or “mobs”. As a Healer, you’re not going to be the first to run in, the first to run in will usually be the Tank (Feral Druid, Protection Warrior, Blood Death Knight, Protection Paladin or Brewmaster Monk). As a Resto Shaman, the play style calls for a more reactive role than proactive.

Slightly before the tank is going into combat, we’ll want to prepare them for the damage they’re going to receive, otherwise you will be on the back foot as soon as the tank takes damage. Therefore you’ll want to cast Riptide on the tank, preferably 6 seconds before the tank enters combat (so it’s off cool down asap). It may appear to have done nothing, but it has 1) placed a HoT on the tank and 2) provided your with the buff Tidal Waves. Continue reading to find what to do next.

Tank Healing

Short version:

  • Continue using Riptide on the tank.
  • Use Healing Wave to heal the tank a moderate amount.
  • Use Healing Surge for a faster but more expensive heal.
  • Use Unleash Life for an instant heal and also buff your next direct heal.

Long version:

The Riptide Heal over Time (unless glyphed) should already be “rolling” on the tank when they enter combat after you cast Riptide just before they engaged the enemies. Riptide should also be cast on a target whenever it’s off cool down, not only for initial heal or the HoT it places on the target, but also the buff it provides you: Tidal Waves. This reduces the cast time of your next two Healing Waves so you can use your Healing Wave to top up the tank a moderate amount. If you need to heal the tank for a decent amount but don’t believe you have enough time for a Healing Wave, you can use Healing Surge, a fast but mana-expensive heal.

While healing the tank, you can use your Unleash Life to not only instantly heal them for a small amount, but also boost your next direct heal by 30%. This includes single target heals Healing Wave and Healing Surge, as well as multi-targets heals that we’ll talk about later.

Continue using Riptide on the tank/s.

Party/Raid Healing

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For raid healing, it’s a good idea to still keep Earth Shield on the tank, giving you room to move when casting spells on others. If there are one or two members missing a small amount of hp, just top them up one at a time with Riptide and Healing Wave. Or you can use Healing Surge if low on time, need a fast heal and you don’t have Tidal Waves. Try and keep Riptide rolling on 3 targets at all times if you can. 

If you’re looking to heal many targets at once, look to your Chain Heal. This heals your initial target and then jumps to up to 3 additional targets, sometimes including yourself. To get the most out of this spell, we really want to target a player with Riptide rolling on them, as this buffs our Chain Heal (including jumps) by 25%. We can also use Unleash Life before using Chain Heal to boost the heal even more by 30%. 

One of the most important totems we have available to us is the Healing Stream Totem. This “ticks” small amounts of Heals over Time (HoT) on random injured party/raid members. It lasts for 15 seconds, heals every 2 seconds, and is available every 30 seconds. You’ll want to use this pretty much every time it comes off cool down, however be sure not to use it too early. This helps us to keep those with small-mid damage to them topped up while we focus on other targets.

Sometimes all of these options aren’t quite enough and we may come to the scenario where a bunch of players close together, for example the melee group behind the boss, have taken considerable damage. Here is where we can use our Healing Rain spell by placing it underneath said group of targets. This heals those standing within the circle, up to 6 allies and for 10 seconds. 

For heavy damage to the raid, read below.

Heavy Damage Phase Healing

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At times during an encounter there is likely to be some heavy damage phases, meaning you and your party/raid members are going to suffer more damage faster, at which point more healing from you is required. We have covered what to do should your tank suffer from large damage spikes, so this will be more about using your cooldown abilities for party/raid wide damage (which can include your tank).

When these heavy damage phases occur, they usually last for a short amount of time and occur several times throughout an encounter. During these heavy phases, it’s a good idea to continue to cast Riptide when it’s off cooldown as it’s a strong fast heal with a Heal over Time. As the damage starts to remp up and begins damaging serveral targets, it’s unwise to try and single target heal your party/raid members, so lessen your use of Healing Wave. As your Riptide is going to contiue giving you Tidal Waves, you can use these to hopefully get Healing Surge to crit.

As damage begins to ramp up or you anticipate damage to occur very soon, drop your Healing Stream Totem so it helps you heal up your allies, even just a little bit of healing can go a long way.

When damage gets really serious, pop your Ascendance – this will duplicate any healing you do and distributes it evenly among nearby allies. This is a very strong cool down, especially when you use Unleash Life + Chain Heal or Healing Rain. This cool down lasts for 15 seconds and should be used for maximum healing by casting almost 100% of the time it is up.

Healing Tide Totem is a very strong healing cool down that pulses heals on party/raid member every 2 seconds for 10 seconds total. 

Spirit Link Totem is a different kind of healing totem, in the way that it takes away health from those with high HP and gives it you those with low HP until they’re close to even – this is a great time to use the other cool downs mentioned here as it reduces any overhealing that may have occured had some of your party/raid members already been at full health.

If there is a time where damage is high, but you also need to move around the encounter, you can use your Spiritwalker’s Grace so you can continue casting while moving where you need to.

After some experience, you’ll start to get a feeling of how much healing each cool down provides. You’re free to use many cooldowns together or you can space them out – every person plays differently and not all encounters are the same. 

Mana Regeneration

Short Version:

  • Mana Regen mostly comes from your stats in Spirit.
  • Keep Water Shield up always – it returns mana.
  • Crit healing with refunds mana through Resurgence.
  • The level 90 talent Elemental Blast is a good option for mana regen.

Long version:

Since Warlords of Draenor, we no longer have an ‘active’ spell to regenerate mana. It mostly comes from our Spirit, so you’ll want to ensure you’re comfortable with your amount of spirit, which we’ll cover on the Stat Priority page. We need to make sure our Water Shield is always up, as this causes us to regain 326 mana every 5 seconds which is a big help. Alongside this, when you Crit heal with Healing Wave, Healing Surge, Riptide, Unleash Life or Chain Heal, you get a mana refund – this is why Crit is an important stat to the Resto Shaman.

You also have the option of taking the level 90 talent Elemental Blast, which when used on an enemy, you will gain 1000 Spirit for 8 seconds. With a 12 second cool down you could have 1000 spirit for 66% of the time, however, it does require that you use the spell on an enemy target and also means you miss out on other pretty impressive talents in the same tier.


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Occasionally encounters present themselves as to place “debuffs” or negative spells whether from mobs or bosses. These debuffs can range from bleeds, poisons, diseases, curses and magic. All healing specs can remove magic debuffs, but each class has a different removal tool unique to themselves. A Resto Shaman can remove magic and curse debuffs using Purify Spirit. Remove these debuffs as soon as you can, though be sure that they need removal, as sometimes debuffs, though bad, may need to remain on a player.


Like all class specializations, there are more spells that are available to a Resto Shaman through talent selection. To learn more about choosing your talents and the benefits, head to the Resto Shaman Talents & Specs page.

Now you have a grasp on how to play your Resto Shaman, it’s time to learn what your best stats are on the Resto Shaman Stat Priority.

Originally published on December 4th, 2012 by on HealingWoW.com, Last modified: .

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