For the Resto Shaman: Settling the Crit vs Haste Discussion


This is a guest post from Lodur, a Resto Shaman who set up an experiment to determine what is better: Haste or Crit. The experiment consisted of two relatively equally geared Resto Shamans with slight variances in haste and crit thrown into a full clear Heroic Naxxramas.

Round 1

Lodur from Zul’jin here again. Today I’d like to talk a little bit on the topic of Crit versus Haste. This has been a hotly debated topic among the shaman community since patch 3.0 dropped on us giving us all kinds of goodies. Specs have been proposed and gear has been compared using every measuring stick imaginable. The arguments are all over the Internet, and you can find them on all sorts of forums and websites. Right now though I’d like to take a look at some key points for each camp that have recently been brought up in my guild’s Shaman Class forums.

Pro Crit:

  • Bigger heals = less heals needed

  • Allows for increased rate in procs in key talents such as Improved Water Shield,and Ancestral Awakening.

  • Takes full advantage of the fix to Earth Shield which now has a crit change equal to the caster and not the recipient of the shield

  • Allows for Increased performance of preventative healing

  • Allows for greater single target healing efficiency

Pro Haste:

  • Allows for lower casting time for Chain Heal which is a shamans most efficient heal (5.23 heal per mana)

  • Allows for a greater number of spell casts which will allow key talents such as, Ancestral Awakening, Tidal Waves, and Healing Way to proc more often on more targets

  • Allows for Increased performance in "twitch" or reactive healing

  • Allows for greater group healing efficiency, while giving the passive regen of a Glyphed Water Shield time to restore mana. 

  • Allows for quicker application of Earth Living Weapon so as to proc to more targets

To further understand these points we can look at the talents and abilities so you can begin to see where each is coming from.

Talents / abilities Described:

  • Ancestral Awakening: When you critically heal with your Healing Wave, Lesser Healing Wave or Riptide you summon an Ancestral spirit to aid you, instantly healing the lowest percentage health friendly party or raid target within 40 yards for 30% of the amount healed. This may not seem like much but this adds up over time. It normally clocks in at around 1% of your total healing output.

  • Improved Water Shield: You have a 100% chance to instantly consume a Water Shield Orb when you gain a critical effect from your Healing Wave or Riptide spells, and a 60% chance when you gain a critical effect from your Lesser Healing Wave spell. This is helpful with mana regen especially if your find your MP5 or raid replenishment lacking.

  • Healing Way:Your Healing Wave spells have a 100% chance to increase the effect of subsequent Healing Wave spells on that target by 18% for 15 sec. This turns your 15,000 Healing Wave crit into something that creeps up to around 20,000 and with the change to the talent applying the full bonus on once cast of Healing Wave, it has found it’s way into many rotation.

  • Earthliving:Imbue the Shaman’s weapon with earthen life. Increases healing done by 150 and each heal has a 20% chance to proc Earthliving on the target, healing an additional 652 over 12 sec. Lasts 30 minutes. 20% meaning 1 out of every 5 heals will land a hot on a target. Using a Glyphed Chain Heal means 4 targets per heal. A 652 HoT doesn’t seem like much but it adds up over time. 

Practical Application:

Someone once said me to "Lodur, I hear what you’re saying but I need to see the numbers." So after a lengthy discussion with another shaman in our guild we decided to give it a go. I would continue to stack haste (Hello, My name’s Lodur, and I’m a haste junkie) and they (I wont use their name simply because I don’t exactly have their permission to post their toon details on the interwebs and I’m respectful like that) would stack crit and change spec and see what numbers we got.

All numbers are without totems or self buffs, and not including Earthliving Weapon. These also do not take into account trinkets like Egg of Mortal Essence . Both of us were present for all four wings of Naxx and we were both tasked with Raid / OT healing at the same time in order to keep things as consistent as possible.

(And before anyone says quality of player or anything silly like that it should be noted that me and Shaman 2 are consistently within a stones throw of eachother every raid and both have been doing this for a long time!)

Let’s look at what some numbers produce, looking at builds and stats first. All gear is at the item level of i200 and i213. This is without totems, weapon buffs, food or raid buffs. Both shamans used the same Glyphs for the run. Glyph of Chain heal, Glyph of Water Mastery, Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave and Glyph of Water Shield

The Stats

  Lodur Shaman 2
Spec Spec here (Excludes Improved Water Shield in favor of Healing Way) Spec here (Inclusion of Thundering Strikes over Enhancing Totems )
Intellect 1010 983
Haste 419 (14%) 262 (8%)
Crit 19% 31%
Spellpower 1952 1936

As you can see the stats are fairly close, differing mainly in their haste and crit rating. So lets take a look and see what the end result of the run was number wise.

The Results

  Lodur Shaman 2
Total Healing 5328335 5089956
Water Shield 60813 64400
Earthliving 444686 311665
Ancestral Awakening 75251 67245
Average Crit 24% 34%
Overhealing 40% 40%

Wow. Pretty close there! Now that’s overall for the entire raid night. So as everything averages out at the end they wind up being pretty similar. We can break this down a bit further and look at some of the individual fights to look for strenghts and weaknesses for each. Lets pull out two boss kills here.


Lodur: Total Healing Done: 68,068
Shaman 2: Total Healing Done: 123,953

Damn, got almost doubled on that fight! The strong single target heals allowed for Shaman 2 to top off tanks and webbed people in one gulp causing my quicker heals to move on over into overhealing.

Heigan the Unclean:

Lodur: Total Healing Done: 222,257
Shaman 2: Total Healing Done: 109,780

Haste won that round! The faster group heals and lesser healing waves allowed for me to top people off quicker while diseases were cleansed.

The trade off between bosses carries on from there with Crit winning on Loatheb and Haste winning on Patchwerk. The two have fights where they will always shine slightly brighter then the other, but overall they perform to roughly the same output.

The Conclusion

It is, in the opinion of this shaman, so close that the difference really boils down to playstyle.

Both ways work! If you have a preference roll with it. Gearing for both is very easy. There’s haste on just about everything and what mail spell power pieces don’t have haste normally have a ton of crit (yes I know it can be argued that its elemental gear but it still works for healing all the same).

There will always be fights that are slightly tougher for your then if you had more haste rather then a ton of crit, but thats true about everything in the game. The synergy between the two is also noticeable. Fights where a hastened Healing Wave can keep Healing Way up so that the crit spec can land a huge, huge heal will always be there.

Well that’s it for round one of haste vs crit. Round 2 will be after 3.1 drops and Ulduar is available. Until next time, happy healing.

Image courtesy of Aurik

17 thoughts on “For the Resto Shaman: Settling the Crit vs Haste Discussion”

  1. I’d say Crit was heavily favored by a fight like Loatheb, because you’d need a REDICULOUS amount of haste to be able to squeeze three chain heals into the healing period, so your output is artifically limited.

    I recently wrote a blog post about this myself, so I’ve been thinking about it a lot as well, and from what I’ve read the general consesus around the EJ forums (which I agree with) is:

    Crit = pro single target heals
    Haste = pro chain heal spam

    In either case, get both sets of gear and roll with what the fight requires. As your numbers point out, every fight tends to lean one way or another depending on what you’re doing, so just be ready to swap out your gear when necessary.

  2. great post… i really enjoyed reading it. the 2 or 3 resto shammys in my guild all have 2 sets of healing gear: a haste one and a crit one. they switch their gear around quite a lot depending on the fight we have. i assume they change the way they heal as well but i haven’t really paid attention.

  3. @ Silvia , you are right, swapping your gear can help increase your efficiency quite a bit depending on the boss/encounter/event.

    @Apokteino, Thank you. I would second your a assumption that they change the way they heal based on what gear they are stacking =D

  4. Personally I have changed to a spec which is in between both your specs at the moment (I have both imp. water shield and healing way). I glyph for LHW and simply switch gear on fights where haste-stacked CHs are better and into high crit gear for when I need some single-target-loving. 😉

    I have a set tailored to HW, LHW and CH as well as a mixed set – only a few pieces of gear change between them but its enough to see a difference. I can also utilise those sets mid-fight to change between periods of LHW/HW healing and CH Raid healing 🙂

    I wouldn’t say that there is much to ‘settle’ here – all one way and all the other won’t work well for every fight. Flexibility is good! 🙂


    Auriks last blog post..Feral Shenanigans with Anzu

  5. I don’t play a resto shaman at the moment, but I’d be interested in an answer to this question:

    The conclusion seems to be you can stack one or the other with roughly the same efficiency. That’s not entirely surprising. But, is this a case where you should pick one or the other to stack, or are you equally well (or better) served by splitting the difference and stacking haste and crit in roughly equal proportions?

    In other words, 100% stacking haste = 100% stacking crit, but where does 50% crit + 50% haste fall?

  6. @ Jon. Through normal gearing of “Shaman” items you will wind up stacking a fair amount of both crit and haste. That more or less is the “50/50” split you were talking about. I’ll go ahead and say that most Shaman will fall into that group. If you are looking for hard numbers on how this performs I’ll be more then happy to post them in a reply after tonight’s raid as both me and my fellow shaman are back to pre-experiment gear / gem / chant / spec.

  7. @Jon: Not really, the idea behind the stacking of either crit or haste is that they support very specific play styles, single target or raid healing. If you go for a mixture, you really just end up with a slightly less focused style. I tend to use a mixture as a base set and then build from there based on the fight, such as crit on patch for single-target healing.

    Like Lodur says above, most resto intended gear WILL balance both, but going for the extremes requires using ele gear (and even ele t7 in some cases). There’s a great post on the EJ forums about gear choices for both:

    You won’t be a terribad healer for not stacking, you just will def. notice a difference should you lean one way or the other in the right situation.

  8. Thanks for another great post Lodur. (:

    IMHO, I’d choose haste over crit, because there is no guarantee that a spell will crit, but there it is guaranteed that you have a certain percent of haste, and therefore your spells will go that much faster.

    Both for sure will shine in different situations though.

    – <3 Bren.

    PS: Hooray fellow zul’jin healers.
    PPS: Game time is out for now, I’ll still do graphic for ta though. drop me an e-mail @

  9. As others have mentioned, the key here seems to be maintaining two sets of gear, one for haste and one for crit. I’ve found that the best way to do this is to get your hands on all five Tier 7 pieces and the two ilvl 226 items from Malygos 25. That way, you get to keep your set bonus and can swap in the appropriate offset piece as required. The T7 helm, shoulders, chest and legs plus Winter Spectacle Gauntlets make an excellent starting point for a haste set while the helm, shoulders, gloves and legs together with Tunic of the Artifact Guardian form the core of any crit set.

    As I gem heavily for Intellect, I find mana regen to be completely trivial so long as Replenishment is present in the raid. This means I can use quite a few pieces of ‘Elemental’ gear which are itemised with both crit and haste, boosting both my haste and crit for both sets (I should also note that I keep a third ‘regen’ set for 10-man raids where I sometimes lack Replenishment. Sarth 3D 10-man without it is by far the most challenging fight to heal in the game at the moment). I’m not sure if this will be viable in the long term if Blizzard’s promise/threat that healers will have to worry about mana regen again in the future rings true but for now, at least, it significantly boosts my healing power.

    One thing that I do think is worth mentioning is that since Patch 3.08, Chain Heal’s contribution to total raid healing has risen significantly in the aftermath of the CoH/WG nerf. As such, AoE healing is slowly becoming our niche again after a couple of months of dominance by priests and druids. Assuming this trend continues into Ulduar, it makes sense to focus most on the area where we contribute most and gear appropriately. This means raid healing and stacking haste. Crit, of course, remains very valuable but the fact remains that every other healing class in the game are better single target healers than we are. Play to your strengths and all that.

    If Replenishment continues to exist in its current form (which I doubt, as it just trivialises mana regen right now) and if Ulduar gear provides enough Intellect to reach a mana pool of in the region of 26k raid buffed WITHOUT taking sockets into account (this seems to be a magic number of sorts for replenishment regen) then I can see a return to gemming and enchanting for haste at the expense of all else. Personally I’d like to see us remain viable single-target and raid healers as I’ve enjoyed being liberated from the Sunwell sterotype of ” just spam chain heal” but I guess time will tell in this case.

    My armory profile is for anyone interested, currently logged out in haste gear although as you can see, it does sport a couple of crit pieces (hai2u necklace).

  10. I like to have a combination of Haste & Crit. In the current content I don’t see much of a need to min/max gear sets. Maybe it’s also because even as a “raid healer”, I tend to single target heal a decent amount. Haste has the highest potential Heal Per Second (HPS) but Crit combines added HPS, mana efficiency, and mana regen. A hasted shaman will probably outheal a critted shaman but the critted shaman will have a lot more mana left if something goes bad.

  11. Can u mix & match? My shaman is not my main (crit vs haste is easy for my Pally to choose) so my gear will be a lot more what’s available than a strategy. Gems are the main discretionary item. So would some haste and some crit work? OR is haste non-linear ( iirc there is a hunter buid were u need to get 3 shots in the window and 2.99 is same ass 2.01 and after that GCD means extra haste is wasted – extra haste has little value until u hit one haste amount then it is huge then it is of even less value past that. )

    Thanks for the very informative article. Now I know I need to keep two gear sets.

  12. Ideally , a raiding resto shaman should have goals set in mind with their play style. However for most shaman, there is an established baseline that you should shoot for. Number crunching in the Theorycraft Thinktank has come up with a fairly solid and provable optimal level of crit/haste balancing. The minimum level of crit(not counting the talented healing/lightning % crit chance) should be at 20.0%. Additionally , the level of haste recommended is approximately 10.0. ( I’ve found that 8% works just as well). Once the minimum has been established, A shaman should exceed no more than 27% crit , because at this point the amount of gain has hit the level of diminishing returns in a raid environment(ele shaman talent, etc). At this time the shaman should focus on raising thier haste higher so as to be able to reactively heal in a raid environment. I understand well that each playstyle is different but this is just a recommendation from seeing the article. I agree with the author and his study between the two aspects and just wish to lend some concrete numbers for resto shaman to work with. Happy Healing!

  13. I find personally like most here having 2 sets of gear is needed. I have 2k+ heals without totems and have 34% crit in one set and 15% haste in another set with 25% crit still. I use haste gear on trash pulls in nax and in Malygos because honestly your spamming CH most of the time. Taking .5 seconds off your chain heal pays for itself in only 4 cast, you will double a crit based shammy in heals with that kind of haste, chain pulling trash for say 5 min straight you will get out an avg of 15 to 20 ch that the crit based shammy couldn’t get out. Thats A LOT of heals. However in fights where chain heal is only used every 5 sec or so in rotation, or on say Kel fight in Nax. Everyone should be spread out except your melee. CH will not be used often here. I have found i get almost double the mana back in my crit gear while spamming riptide and LHW than i do with the same rotation in haste gear. So Basically what I am saying is what everyone else here is. For group heals and chain heal spammage HASTE ALL DAY! For single target riptide, LHW, and HW spammage your crit gear is where to be. Decide from that what gear you should put on for what encounter.

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