So, I’m one of those specialists who spend hours and hours and hours focusing on one character. This means that I know druids really, really well – but I know much less about other classes. Lissanna feels more like an extension of myself than a character that I play in the video game.
I do, however, have a shaman (Lissiel) that I played for a while during Burning Crusade. I had a couple months where I just didn’t like rolling lifeblooms and being at the bottom of healing meters, so I rerolled the king of all BC healing: The shaman!
I healed raids several months as a resto shaman in Burning Crusade, and my druid became my non-raiding character for a while. I did really good as a chain-healing shaman in my raiding group, and I was much happier. A number of months later, due to the improvements that resto druids underwent for WotLK, I faithfully returned to my druid, and left my shaman mostly abandoned as I raced into Northrend’s frozen lands.
So, over this year’s Thanksgiving break, my shaman finally hit level 80 – mostly out of boredom waiting for patch 3.3 to hit. However, I had leveled up as Enhancement most of the way from 70 to 80, so I hit 80 with mostly level 70 gear left over from BC raiding (and only some quest blues as healing upgrades).
The new instance mechanics have made it really easy to gear up my shaman alt. I melee’d my way through a handful of heroics, and came out with pieces of my melee and healing sets. Nothing spectacular, but good enough.
This week, I was called on to use my healing spec (which I had set up when I hit 80). I had my new spec, the glyphs I had bought off the AH, and thought that I was all ready to go. However, what we were going to run was the “normal” versions of the brand new Icecrown instances. Not really the best place to be trying out your healing spells for the first time in a year.It was difficult for me to figure out how all my abilities and talents actually worked together. It was an all guild run, so I didn’t have to worry about embarrassing myself in front of PUGs (otherwise, I would have just healed on my druid).
I died a lot as I learned how to heal with my new healing style, while also being pretty under-geared at the start of the night (I was equipping any caster item that dropped over the night, and had a couple good upgrades by the end).
My biggest fail was that I hadn’t put the minor glyphs into my resto set that were in my Enhancement set, so I didn’t have the Ankh’s that I needed to self-res. So, when I died, I couldn’t self-res because I didn’t have it glyphed in that spec, and I hadn’t needed reagents for it because my Enh set glyphed it a long time back. Eventually, I had to take a quick Reagent run during our night of dungeon crawling.
Over the course of the night, I was able to re-learn how to heal on my shaman again. However, the best way to get better at playing a character is just to jump head-in (hopefully with a supportive group of guildmates), and just start healing!
One of the nice parts of the random dungeon system is that it won’t let you into an instance if your gear isn’t up to par for doing that content. So, you can try to queue up for things at your level (you may want to start with normal dungeons before heroics). I had to do more than just chain heal, and I learned that I could riptide the tank to boost my chain heal, and then cast 2 lesser healing waves that crit more, and then I could probably cast another chain heal or riptide again after that, and so on.
There is some general advice for making the transition, which transcends what class you are playing. These points became really obvious to me as I picked up a new character that I didn’t already know really well.
When you are leveling up and want to start healing at 80 is, what you do need to do is:
A) Get healing gear as you level up, and don’t try to heal in melee gear or something silly like that. You can also run some instances as DPS and pick up spare healing upgrades until you know the content and have the gear to succeed.
B) Make sure you have the talent spec, reagents, and glyphs necessary to do your job right.
C) Set up your UI so that it’s possible to do what you want to do.
D) It helps if you dual-spec into healing from earlier, and get practice as you level up. This is why I added a dual-spec healing guide for 40 to 79.
E) Practice, because practice makes perfect! As much as you can try to prepare by reading guides and such, only really getting in and playing with your spells will allow you to develop your healing style. Start with easier dungeons and work your way to harder ones.