PvE Restoration Shaman Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities

wotlk pve restoration shaman rotation, cooldowns, and abilities

In this section of the guide, we will present you with an overview of their abilities and what both a single target rotation and an area of effect rotation should look like along with some useful tips and tricks. This section will help you both in dungeons and raids.

Fun Fact: Did you know, young shamans, that you can heal your totems, and they will be healed significantly more than any other target?

Rotations: Quick Overview

This section serves as a very truncated version of the information contained in the rest of the guide. While it is by no means comprehensive, the two rotations below should cover most of the situations you’ll find yourself in while healing as a Restoration Shaman.

Raid Healing Rotation

It is hard to boil down any healing task into a simple rotation, as everything you do is based on the needs of your raid at the current moment. Your rotation is more something to keep in mind while healing, using your own judgement to decide who needs what and when.

Tank Healing Rotation

Shamans are in a bit of an odd spot for tank healing. Chain Heal is still your most efficient heal, and most of your other healing is slow and mana inefficient. Even when you are focused on tank healing, you will still likely find yourself using Chain Heal often.

We highly recommend that you take a look at the tabs below for in-depth discussion of the Abilities (which includes Pre-Fight Setup), Totems and Presets, as well as the ability priority for Single-Target and Area-of-Effect rotations.

Ability Overview

  • Chain Heal is your main area of effect spell, healing 3 total targets, with the heal losing significant strength each time the spell jumps to a new target. This spell is extremely powerful and works in conjunction with a lot of your talents. It will be your main area of effect spell, however, it will be used even in single target scenarios in order to empower your other abilities. This spell can trigger different effects such as Tidal Waves, Ancestral Healing, and the latter part of Riptide.
  • Healing Wave is your strongest single-target heal, having a high cast time (3-seconds). This is your most powerful single-target spell, but it is also expensive and slow to cast.
  • Lesser Healing Wave is a direct single-target healing spell, that has a low cast time. This spell is used when you need a quick heal, not necessarily a strong heal.
  • Riptide is a spell that has a direct healing part and a heal-over-time effect. This is your only true heal-over-time effect. Riptide‘s heal-over-time will be consumed if you use Chain Heal on a target with the buff, strengthening the Chain Heals effect. You will want to keep this on the main tank at all times! Keep in mind that you can place this HoT on multiple targets at the same time, limited only by the cooldown.
  • Earth Shield is an ability that places a few different effects on a target. The target will take less pushback when hit, and receive a small heal each time they take damage. This spell can only be placed on one target at a time and lasts for 10-minutes. This is a very low-effort spell, mostly set and forget, but it has limited charges and will typically need to be refreshed during a fight. Earth Shield should be placed on your tank in most situations, as they will get the most consistent use out of it.
  • Earthliving Weapon is a new Shaman weapon-enchant that stacks alongside regular weapon enchants. This increases your Healing Power, and causes every heal you cast to have a 20% chance to place a heal-over-time effect on the target, healing them for a small amount over 12-seconds. This is simply passive healing that should always be on your weapon.
  • Nature’s Swiftness is a spell that allows you to instantly cast any Nature Spell that has a lower cast time than 10 seconds. This effect is consumed after one cast and has a 3-minute cooldown. You should always aim to use this spell in combination with a macro, to ensure that you follow it up as fast as possible. This way you will not waste any time or have to press two buttons in a sequence.
  • Tidal Force is an ability that allows you to increase the critical strike chance of Lesser Healing Wave, Healing Wave, and Chain Heal by 60%. Each cast of the abilities uses one of 3 charges available, reducing the critical strike chance bonus by 20%. This spell should be used when encountering a hard-hitting phase from a boss. You can consider this spell your “burst” window, allowing you to save critically injured allies.
  • Ancestral Spirit is a spell that allows you to revive a fallen ally — this spell can not be used in combat, unfortunately. Still, one great thing about Restoration Shamans is the ability to use Reincarnation and utilize the Ancestral Spirit, allowing the group to save great amounts of time after a potential wipe.

When it comes to what totems you will want to use, it really all boils down to what other buffs are already given by your raid, and what situation you find yourself in. You will want to communicate with the other shamans in order to not overlap totem usage. While a few totems are entirely dependent on the situation you find yourself in, there will be totems that you will want to use as your “main” totem for any type of encounter. 

  • Earth Elemental Totem is an ability that summons forth a large Earth Elemental in order to provide protection for you and your allies.
    • This ability has a long cooldown and often proves to provide extremely low damage. The use of this ability is situational at best, as it can only be used effectively as a taunting target for a couple of seconds for one potential threatening add.
  • Fire Elemental Totem is an ability that summons forth a large Fire Elemental that provides both a single target and area of effect damage.
    • This ability has a long cooldown but can be a great DPS cooldown, allowing you to keep healing while dealing damage.
  • Fire Resistance Totem is an ability that allows you to provide support for all your nearby allies, providing them with 130 Fire Resistance.
    • This ability can be great when you do not have many paladins in your group, and you expect to take high amounts of Fire damage. This ability does not stack with a Paladin’s Fire Aura.
  • Nature Resistance Totem is an ability that allows you to provide support for all your nearby allies, providing them with 130 Nature Resistance.
    • This totem can be great when you do not have many Hunters in your group and you expect to take high amounts of Nature damage. This ability does not stack with a Hunter’s Aspect of the Wild.
  • Frost Resistance Totem is an ability that allows you to provide support for all your nearby allies, providing them with 130 Frost Resistance.
    • This totem can be great when you do not have many paladins in your group and you expect to take high amounts of Frost damage. This ability does not stack with a Paladin’s Frost Aura
  • Flametongue Totem is an ability that allows you to empower your allies with increased spell damage and increased healing in a 30-yard radius.
    • This can be one of your main totems to use throughout most encounters, but note that it does not stack with Totem of Wrath or Demonic Pact, both of which are stronger.
  • Grounding Totem is an ability that allows you to negate one harmful spell effect directed towards one of your nearby party members, consuming the totem in the process.
    • This ability does not work against melee attacks, but can still be incredibly strong in the right circumstances, absorbing CC abilities or high damage spells. It’s important to note that this ability only affects your party, not the whole raid.
  • Healing Stream Totem is an ability that heals all group members in a 30-yard radius for 25 seconds.
    • This ability is one of your most used and powerful Water Totems, helping you excel at AoE healing. 
  • Magma Totem is an ability that allows you to deal area of effect damage to all enemies in an 8-yard radius of the totem.
    • This ability can be useful in Area of Effect situations, however, you should not use it if you are the only shaman in a group as Flametongue Totem is superior.
  • Searing Totem provides you with single-target fire damage.
    • This is an ability that has limited use as a Restoration Shaman. You should not prioritize the use of this ability if your raid needs Flametongue Totem, or if there are multiple enemies up.
  • Mana Spring Totem is an ability that allows you to provide mana regeneration to an entire raid group in a 30-yard radius.
    • This totem will be one of your main totems as long as there is no Paladin to offer Blessing of Wisdom to your group (as the two do not stack).
  • Mana Tide Totem regenerates 6% total mana to your entire group every 3-seconds for 12-seconds.
    • This totem is one of your key cooldowns, invaluable for longer fights and one of the strongest tools you have.
  • Stoneclaw Totem is an ability that allows you to place a totem that shields you and your totems for a small amount, as well as taunting enemies within 8-yards. Enemies that attack the Stoneclaw Totem have a 50% chance of being stunned for 3-seconds.
    • This is rarely useful in raids, but is fantastic for soloing or PvP.
  • Stoneskin Totem is an ability that increases the armor of your allies.
    • This totem does not stack with Devotion Aura and should therefore be used in the absence of a Paladin that can use Devotion Aura in order to provide your allies with better protection.
  • Strength of Earth Totem is an ability that allows you to buff your entire raid group with 155 agility and strength.
    • This totem is extremely strong, but it does not stack with Horn of Winter, which will always be cast by any Death Knights in the raid. If you find yourself without a Death Knight, you should absolutely use this as your main totem.
  • Windfury Totem is an ability that allows you to enhance all your allies in the raid group with increased melee haste by 16%.
    • Our Windfury Totem is weaker than the Enhancement Shaman version because of Imp. WF Totem, and also doesn’t stack with Imp. Icy Talons provided by Death Knights. If you find yourself in a group without either of these two, you should absolutely keep this totem up, as it is an incredible boost for all melees.
  • Wrath of Air Totem is an ability that allows you to enhance all your allies with increased spell haste by 5%.
    • This totem is extremely strong and should be prioritized if you have a heavy caster raid composition.
  • Tremor Totem is an ability that allows you to remove sleep, charm, and fear effects from your party in a 30-yard radius.
    • This ability is extremely strong, especially given its 5-minute duration. This effect does not work for the entire raid, only for your party.
  • Cleansing Totem is a totem that cleanses 1 disease and 1 poison effect every 3-seconds from all party members within 30-yards of the totem.
    • This is an incredibly strong passive dispel, but it only works on your party, not the entire raid.
  • Totemic Recall destroys all your totems, restoring 25% of the mana cost of each individual totem that it destroys.
    • This is an ability that allows you to manage your mana more efficiently. Ideally, you will want to use this ability before using any of your 3 “Call of the Elements” abilities, to clean up your previous totems.
  • Water Shield is a spell that places an elemental shield on yourself, granting you 100 mana per 5 seconds. Furthermore, this spell allows you to recuperate 400 mana when hit by a melee or ranged attack.
  • Purge is a utility spell that allows you to remove 2 beneficial magical effects from your target.
    • This spell can prove to be extremely useful against adds or bosses that have the empowering types of buffs, as usually, most of them fall under the “magic” buff category.
  • Reincarnation is a spell that allows a shaman to restore their spirit unto their fallen body upon death.
    • This spell has extreme value both in the situation of a raid wipe or in the situation of unexpected death while the group is still mostly alive. You should not be hasty in using this spell — remember that the usage of this spell is mainly dictated by the scenario you find yourself in. It also depends on who gets to decide when it’s used; your raid leader may want you to save this cooldown for use later.
  • Cleanse Spirit is an ability that allows you to remove 1 poison effect, 1 disease effect, and 1 curse effect.
    • With the launch of Wrath of the Lich King, Restoration Shamans finally get rewarded with the much-needed dispel curse effect, proving that their endless pleas have been heard.
  • Cure Toxins is an ability that allows you to remove 1 poison effect and 1 disease effect.
    • Naturally, this ability is the precursor of Cleanse Spirit, and should only be used before the acquisition of the latter. 
  • Bloodlust/Heroism allows you to buff your entire raid with increased attack and casting speed, massively enhancing both their damage and healing capabilities.
    • This is one of your biggest cooldowns and at the same time one of the strongest if not the strongest ability in your entire arsenal. This buff, however, should never be used recklessly and should always be discussed with your team about its proper usage depending on the situation. In some fights, you will want to use this ability at the very beginning of the fight while in others you will want to preserve this ability for the very last 15% health of a boss fight.
    • Beware that using this ability in an improper manner can be extremely punishing, as it gives you a debuff for 10 minutes that does not allow you or your group to benefit from it anymore. This means that your raid can only benefit from this effect once per fight, so time it wisely.
  • Astral Recall is a utility ability that allows you to travel faster around the world, literally acting as your second hearthstone, only with a lower cooldown.
  • Ghost Wolf is an ability that allows you to take the shape of a spirit animal, allowing you to move faster by 40% and be less affected by movement impairing effects, however, you are unable to attack or use any spell while in the wolf form.
    • This ability cannot be used inside, making it only usable in certain areas. This ability sees little to no use in actual PvE situations, but can be useful while traveling the world.
  • Water Breathing is an ability that allows you to buff your allies and yourself with the ability to breathe underwater for 10 minutes.
    • Like Ghost Wolf, This ability is mostly useful for the open-world, as it has no real value inside a raid or dungeon.
  • Water Walking is an ability that allows you to buff yourself and your allies with the ability to walk on water for 10 minutes.
    • Beware — any damage you sustain while having this buff will remove its effect.
    • There is a common joke about Shamans when it comes to the use of this ability: it is said that a Shaman’s love is only shown if you receive this ability while traveling on water surfaces. 
  • Hex is an ability that allows you to transform a target into a frog for 30 seconds.
    • This ability will only work on a humanoid or beast.
    • This spell works a bit different from a mage’s polymorph, as damaging the target does not always have the effect of breaking the curse. You will sadly not be able to spam this ability on a target to crowd control it, as it has a longer cooldown than its duration.
  • Frost Shock is an ability that allows you to damage a target while reducing its movement speed by 50% for 8 seconds.
    • As a Restoration Shaman, you will be hard-pressed to find a use for this ability, especially due to our gear having no Hit Rating.
    • As there are multiple Hit Rating increasing effects in the game from your companions, you are still very much welcome to try to use this ability as it is an instant-cast ability, as it can provide your team with additional crowd control. 
  • Earth Shock is an ability that allows you to directly damage a target while reducing its attack speed by 10% for 8 seconds.
    • This effect shares a spot with a lot of other attack speed-reducing effects, making its use extremely situational. Just like with Frost Shock, due to the nature of our specialization, we might think that it is useless to try to use this spell as it will certainly miss.
    • You are, however, welcome to try to use this spell as there are many Hit Rating increasing effects provided by your allies, and the attack speed reduction debuff can be strong on adds.
  • Flame Shock does an immediate 500 fire damage, plus an additional 834 over 18 seconds; the DoT can critically strike, and is improved by Haste.
    • This is a controversial ability, as it can certainly be used in your downtime when no target requires healing, however, due to the Hit Rating limitation of our specialization, we will have to rely on our allies in order to make this ability effective.
    • Using this ability without any effect on your target can prove to be punishing, as it will simply waste one global cooldown without achieving the desired effect.
  • Wind Shear is an ability that allows you to interrupt an enemy spell caster, whether a boss or an add.
    • This ability is subjected to the same type of behavior as your other shock effects, meaning that you will have to rely on your allies for the required Hit Rating to pull this ability off. Even with a high chance of missing, this is one of the best interrupts available and should always be kept in mind.
  • Far Sight is an ability that allows you to place your field of view in a different location, allowing you to overwatch a location at a very large distance from your current location.
    • This can be useful in a raid in only one situation: if you wish to scout ahead while being the raid leader or a raid assistant in order to mark your targets for your allies to see. 

Pre-Fight Setup

Shamans have a lot to maintain before and during a fight. You want to always maintain Water Shield on yourself, Earth Shield on a tank, Earthliving Weapon on yourself, and your Totems need to always be in a good position and situationally appropriate.

Abilities that you don’t want to use!

  • Flametongue Weapon is an ability that can easily be mistaken by Restoration Shamans due to its tooltip. This ability will not help you in any shape or form when it comes to your healing spells, only empowering your damaging spells. Avoid it at all costs.
  • Rockbiter Weapon is a low-level ability that enhances your weapon’s melee damage. This ability on its own should never be considered by a Restoration Shaman, forget that it even exists!
  • Lightning Shield is an ability that can be useful for an Enhancement Shaman. You should never use this ability as a Restoration Shaman, as the damage it provides will never prove to be useful. 
  • Frostbrand Weapon is an ability that allows your weapons to deal direct damage while also reducing the target’s movement speed. As we are a healer we should avoid this ability at all costs! 

Totems and Presets

Before mentioning a Single Target Rotation, need to examine the use of preset abilities like Call of the Elements. There are 3 abilities of this type, and they allow you to create Totem Presets. A totem preset allows you to select 4 individual totems in your special totem bar above your action bar and then use an ability such as Call of the Elements to memorize those individual totems. The next time you will cast Call of the Elements, the totems that you initially selected will be placed down. Note that if you select a different totem when having Call of the Elements highlighted in the special totem bar, your preset will change, and you will not return to the initial preset that you selected.

There are 3 types of presets: Call of the Elements, Call of the Ancestors, and Call of the Spirits. Using the preset from Call of the Ancestors will not override the preset you initially formed with Call of the Elements. These presets are made in such a way that you will not have to entirely fill your action bar with individual totems, but rather save time and space by having 3 different predetermined totem arrangements for you. We can offer you an example of a preset, keeping in mind the most useful totems that you will generally want to use!

Preset 1 – Physical

Use this preset if you are in a Physical heavy party or raid, providing them with all you can.

Preset 2 – Caster

Use this preset if you are in a Caster heavy party or raid, providing them with all you can.

Preset 3 – Planned Raid Group

Use this preset if you are in a planned raid, providing them with all you can without overlapping totems and other classes’ raid buffs.

Remember that all of these setups are fluid, and a good Shaman should be setting up all 3 individually before starting a raid based on what the raid has and needs.

Single-Target Rotation

When it comes to single-target healing, we can mention two distinct situations. The first situation is that in which you entirely focus on a tank and no one else, being a directly dedicated tank healer. The second situation is that in which you individually heal different targets from your raid or dungeon group with single target spells. 

As we have mentioned earlier, there are 2 specific builds that you can follow, each of them utilizing a main “filler” spell. Depending on which build you chose, your main healing spell will either be Healing Wave or Lesser Healing Wave.Either one of those two spells will be spammed on the target that you decide to heal in a single target rotation.

It is important to note that either one of those builds is extremely potent and usually comes down to your overall haste rating when it comes to efficiency. Not taking into consideration the filler spell that you will want to use and the build afferent to it, you will always want to place Riptide on your target first as it produces two distinct effects.

Firstly, Riptide offers you a direct healing component and an HoT component. Not only that  Riptide can proc Earthliving Weapon on your target, but it will also 100% proc Tidal Waves on yourself. 

Tidal Waves is a very powerful mechanic as it will enhance your next filler spell either reducing the cast time of  Healing Wave or increasing the critical strike chance of  Lesser Healing Wave. Not only that it provides two stacks of those effects but it also increases the overall bonus healing of both filler spells. 

Taking a look at how Riptide works, it is safe to say that you should always place it on whichever target you will heal next when considering Single-Target Healing before using either  Lesser Healing Wave or Healing Wave.

Next up, we will talk about Earth Shield. Earth Shield is an ability that should always be maintained on the target that has aggro on your foes. Specifically, in a raid scenario where you are facing a boss encounter, this ability should always be used on the target that is currently under attack by the boss. 

As we have mentioned earlier, Earth Shield can have up to 8 stacks, with each stack being consumed between a 2-3 seconds interval. Upkeep of this ability is crucial as it provides reduced pushback effects and quite a substantial heal.

Another worthwhile mechanic that you should always take into consideration is that when your allies are facing heavy physical damage, you should always try to maintain Ancestral Fortitude on them.

This can be achieved in a multitude of ways, you can either naturally place Ancestral Fortitude through the use of a random critical strike from either Healing Wave or  Lesser Healing Wave. You can use the Tidal Waves effect in order to make sure that  Lesser Healing Wave will produce a critical strike or you can use Tidal Force to ensure that your next 3  Healing Waves or Lesser Healing Waves produce critical strikes.

Ancestral Fortitude is an extremely strong buff and you should always upkeep it on your tanks!

There are no other intricacies to the Single-Target rotation other than maintaining Water Shield on yourself at all times and always using Earthliving Weapon.

Having talked about how the rotation works, we will offer you a typical showcase of how it should look!


There is nothing more to add to the Area of Effect rotation, as it can be performed extremely easily!

When it comes to the Area of Effect rotation, Restoration Shamans can be considered one of the most powerful healer specializations in the game.

Shamans benefit from one extremely powerful Area of Effect spell, that can also trigger several of your beneficial talents and magical effects.

The spell we are talking about is called Chain Heal.

Chain Heal, as we mentioned earlier in the overview of the abilities, is a spell that targets multiple targets, up to 3 targets initially, and 4 targets if you use the specific glyph for it. This spell can trigger effects such as  Earthliving Weapon, Tidal Waves, and Ancestral Fortitude.

Not only that Chain Heal can trigger those effects, but it can also be empowered by the use of  Riptide, allowing you to benefit from a 25% stronger Chain Heal when used on a target affected by Riptide, with the downside of consuming the Heal-over-Time effect of Riptide.

The rotation for Area of Effect is extremely simple, as all you have to do is effectively spam Chain Heal, with the added benefit of using it on a target affected by  Riptide for increased healing when your raid or dungeon group takes heavy AoE damage.

Another element that can help you achieve higher AoE healing, albeit with the only disadvantage of only affecting the current group you find yourself in, Healing Stream Totem can provide huge AoE healing! Make sure to use it when you find yourself and the group that you are placed in, in a dangerous situation


About the Author


Hey there folks, I am Nevermore and have been deeply passionate about WoW for more than a decade. Whether we talk about the hidden mysteries of Azeroth or the otherworldly Outland, my journey brought me here to share the things that I have experienced with you all.
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