When going into an encounter, one of the first things to do is to set up optimal healer cooldowns in your raid such that you can conserve mana and live through high raidwide damage periods. When setting these cooldowns up, it is important to look at what healers you are bringing to an encounter as well as whether the fight has lots of burst damage or sustained damage. To start, let’s go over all the healing cooldowns in the game class by class and where these abilities excel.
- Ancestral Guidance – 2 min CD, variable effectiveness depending on spells cast during the buff.
- Healing Tide Totem – 3 min CD, ramps up over time, lasts 10 seconds.
- Ascendance – 3 min CD, must be talented into, pairs well with AG, but has the same drawbacks of variable effectiveness.
- Spirit Link Totem – 3 min CD, 10% damage reduction and splits health based on average percentage of raid hp.
- Revival – variable CD (2.33min baseline), instant burst heal with a small HoT afterwards.
- Divine Hymn – 3 min CD, Large healing as well as 10% healing buff to everyone.
As you can see, every class has their own large healing cooldown that is typically on a longer cooldown but has a large impact on overall raid healing. Most of these large healing cooldowns also heal over time or have longer duration windows in which the healing is spread over. These abilities are the ones that you will want to sync up with large pulses of raid damage or ticking damage.
Most classes also have shorter cooldowns that are quite effective at taking care of small chip damage that happens throughout an encounter. Most of these small cooldowns synergize extremely well with Velen’s Future Sight since the cooldowns mostly line up with the trinket’s cooldown and increase the effectiveness of these small cooldowns into something significant.
Shaman cooldowns are by far the most versatile since they all scale off our mastery which increases their throughput massively during critical periods of damage. The most flexible of our cooldowns is easily Ancestral Guidance (AG). On a two minute cooldown, it essentially replicates 60% of the healing you do and spreads it evenly across three targets. This healing feeds into cloudburst totem and ancestral guidance will then replicate the detonation healing of Cloudburst. Paired with Velen’s Future Sight, you gain the 15% healing increase, and even more double dipping since Cloudburst Totem will “store” healing done by Velen’s as well creating an even larger burst of healing that AG can provide if used properly. Ideally you want to pair AG with larger healing per cast spells like Healing Rain, Gift of the Queen, and Chain Heal.
If talented into Ascendance, it is typically best to save AG for Ascendance and pair the two together. Ascendance works very similar to AG except it replicates 100% of the healing you do and spreads it evenly to everyone in range. Ancestral Guidance also replicates the healing done by Ascendance, but Ascendance does not replicate healing done by AG. The healing that AG replicates off Ascendance is done with the total amount healed by the Ascendance replication. Therefore, when using AG with Ascendance, AG not only replicates 60% of the healing you did but also 60% of the healing done by your Ascendance. This doubles the effectiveness of AG overall allowing it to heal up to 6 unique targets for 20% of a cast. Since these two cooldowns synergize so well together, you will want to use them during a window of 10 seconds of intense healing while having a cloudburst totem prepared to capture the feeding from both the AG and Ascendance while also detonating in the AG window. For maximum effectiveness, use Ascendance just after dropping CBT, then AG 6 sec later.
Healing Tide Totem is our standalone best cooldown. With the trait Cumulative Upkeep, the value of haste increases while Healing Tide Totem is active (this is where trolls will want to use their racial ability berserking). While Cumulative Upkeep caps at 70%, baseline haste values you will only get 6 ticks out of Healing Tide Totem (a 50% increase to the final tick). With at least 17% haste (rounding up to be safe), you will gain full effectiveness out of Cumulative Upkeep (although anything below 33.33% haste will only provide a partial tick for Healing Tide Totem). If available, Velen’s Future Sight also pairs well with Healing Tide Totem since totems benefit from the 15% healing increase as well as the overheal protection.
Spirit Link Totem (SLT) is arguably the most powerful raid cooldown in the game. Health re-balancing by percentage allows to stabilise the raid at the same level while also providing a small damage reduction. SLT can be used to heal off raid-wide absorbs (such as on Sisters of the Moon from ToS) by having multiple people at a health deficit while having the majority of the group at high or full health. This creates a differential the totem tries to correct, but since the people that are low hp do not actually get their health increased (the healing is absorbed), the totem will keep trying to re-balance thus removing the absorb on the low health targets allowing them to quickly be healed. Something that I have picked up during my time raiding with a Mistweaver is trying to pair Spirit Link Totem with their Revival the majority of the Revival’s healing is in the burst and SLT can prevent overhealing raid wide if everyone is at a health deficit.