An overview of other healers: Shaman
I’m going to take a look at the other members of the healing team, from the point of view of the priest. These looks will be overviews – picture a hunter describing a shadow-priest’s abilities to get some idea. Basically, I’ll look at what the class can do to supplement and enhance you. I won’t, however, break out the numbers. Not least because they’re going to get modified by talents and gear. Today’s spotlight is on the Shaman.
The Restoration (Healing) Shaman isn’t going to compete (much) on the direct healing. He’s basically got two spells – healing wave and lesser healing wave. The former is more or less comparable to our Greater Heal (including cast time), while the latter corresponds pretty well with Flash Heal (again, including cast time). On a heal per mana basis, our spells are a lot better (before talents and gear are applied).
Where the Shaman is going to make you drool at the thought of working with him are the totems. The totems are basically action-over-time area-of-effect devices. The shaman can have one of each group (element) out at a time. There are four elements – Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. As healers (and in some cases as Shadow), you will really only be interested in some of what’s available for Water and Air.
Water has healing totems – think AoE Renews. It also has a disease removal totem and a poison removal totem. There are also two – TWO – totems that’ll restore mana over time. And just to add to the frustration, this is the element that provides the Fire Resistance totem. Again, only one Water totem can be active at any time.
In Air, there are again several that your party will be clamoring to have placed. You, the priest, will be interested in two. One reduces threat by a significant amount. The other is essentially a spellpower boost, increasing healing and damage of the group’s spells. Competing with these will be nature resist and an agility increase and a melee haste and a defense against ranged attacks and the peculiar Sentry Totem, which helps spot the normally unseen (stealth, hidden, invisible, that sort of thing).
Earth and fire have things that are also useful to us, but not specifically as spellcasters/healers. As a consequence I’ll keep this short. Just recognize that essentially what you’ve got is a priest with flash heal and greater heal, both with worse mana efficiency (though that and speed can be modified by talents), but who has some of the most wonderful trinkets if you can keep the other classes from getting THEIR buffs instead. And all of the totems have an optimal time and place for use.
One final note when you’re dividing tasks. All else being equal, let the shaman be the one that generates more aggro from healing. He can wear better armor than you, which improves his survivability. This meshes well with the fact you’re more mana efficient — he can do the heavy burst and take the hits when it’s too much, while you can do the secondary bursts and take over when he’s OOM or under attack. In fact, if your party can afford it split the healing tasks in half by time – the Shaman takes the first half (till he reaches a point where he can only maintain totems with the mana he has left), at which point you take over – fresh and without any aggro buildup. Other alternations of healing maximize both your mana regen capabilities to the utmost – IF your party can afford it.