What is Shaman healing like?

Starting to level up a shaman, they seem pretty appealing. My only other healers are a resto druid (that i love) and holy paladin (that is ok, I don't feel confident with it), and they're practically polar opposites of each other. But what about resto shaman? Do I fill any "niche" like resto being HOTs and disc being shields, what situations would I shine on and what situations will I be kind of bleh? Is it pretty lazy like resto or am I very reactive? (wasn't sure how to word that last one)
It really all comes down to what you like to play, for me i have a druid, pally, and a priest. I heal on them all, but i love the shaman healing the best, i always go back to him. what i like most is all the healing cd's we have, and overall the playstyle.
If you love AoE healing, you'll love Resto sham.

Healing rain and chain heal are wonderful.

Along with your big AoE healing CD's like healing Tide Totem as well as Ascendance.

Ascendance + Healing rain + chain heal = full raid full health.
I find that Resto Shaman is great if you like Big numbers. Mastery makes you heal for more the lower the health the target is, so you can 1-100 someone with enough mastery.

I mostly stick with Shaman as a whole because I like them in PvP and I've been playing a shaman since BC.
If you like Resto druids, you're probably going to like playing Resto shaman. I like to joke we're the "middle of the flavor" healing class. We do a LOT of stuff...just differently from other classes. Just to list some pros and cons:

  • We are AoE Gods. No, seriously. We have Blue Circle of Puppies, Ascendance, the Crit=free heal to second person passive, Healing Tide, Jesus Beam and healing streams totem.
  • We are AMAZINGLY flexible at both tank healing and raid healing. In fact, if you're doing it right, you're doing BOTH at the same time. Tidal Waves procs from Jesus beam allowing you to quickly jump in and help a tank, while crit healing on a tank gives free heals to other raid members. Additionally (See later) we're so HoT/"passive heal" intensive we can turn away from somebody for a second to help somebody else.
  • We bring a lot of HoTs to the table that rival Resto Druids...just ours are weird. Both of our healing totems and Circle of Puppies are AoEHoTs, and one of our main heals (riptide) is an instant cast HoT which synergizes with our burst healing. Technically, Earth Shield is a HoT and, probably the biggest unsung piece of a kit, Earthliving Weapon is a HUGE passive HoT which procs constantly. This HoT passive can stack up from the ticks of our Other HoTs, adding to our AoE frenzy!
  • We have a crapton of "OH CRAP!" buttons for any situation. Seriously, when the crap hits the fans, we have Ascendance, Bloodlust and Healing Tide Totem.
  • (Coming from somebody who's raided as a Pally, Holy Priest, Disc Priest and MW) We by far have the most complicated rotation/situation adaption to master. This is a big plus if you like things complicated, it's a big downer if you like things simple.
  • Cons:
  • If you DON'T like complex rotations, you might want to look at a generally different class. The key to staying in the game as a Resto shaman is juggling your Tidal Waves buff and relying on HoTs, one of which is completely out of your control. Additionally, your totems and Ascendance are each major CDs you have to be able to keep track of and be wise in using. So many of them are that good (and seriously, Healing Streams totem is better than most I originally thought it was!) but require you to keep track of passive HoTs and short CDs. Additionally, Tidal Waves makes it so you have to cast at least two spells to get the effect you want going, (For example, using Tidal Waves and regular healing to conserve mana.) yet also opens up the box of HOW do you get your tidal waves buff. Do you use riptide on a target, or Jesus beam?
  • We rely a lot on our HoTs, but they're not always in our control. It's kind of like having the stability power of Renew except you don't control when it goes off.
  • So. Many. Damn. Spells. The only healing spec I played which came close is Holy Priest.
  • Because we rely on so many wonderful heals and passive HoTs, we don't really have time to do "other things." If you want to DPS, put on shields, or toss out something on the side like a shield or channel something related to mana, you don't get a lot of time to do so. Your primary focus is and should be flat healing as a resto shaman.
  • I'm selling the HoTs as something amazing, but really they just serve to keep your target stable as you focus on something else. They don't ultimately replace your burst healing or become the defining feature of the spec. Learning to rely on HoTs can be nightmarish, especially if you're thinking they should do the brunt of your work for you like a Druid does.
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