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Shaman Class Guide
The Gotwarcraft Shaman Guide
for Cataclysm

Contents

 

This guide is simply intended to provide a general overview of the Shaman class.

For a more in-depth and highly detailed resource on everything Shaman related, from leveling to PvP to Raiding to earning gold, check out the Killer Guides' Shaman guide.

 

The Shaman

Shamans represent one among three hybrid classes (the others being Druids and Paladins,) and much like the others, they possess numerous abilities within three primary paths, capable of excelling within one while remaining viable for support within the others.  These paths are Healing, Damage, and Buffing.

With the 4.0 patch, heading into Cataclysm, there is a little less hybridization. At level 10 you pick your Specialization and then you are locked into that tree until level 71, when you can spend your first point in one of the other trees.

31 points have to be spent buying talents in your Specialization of choice, and then the other trees are unlocked. This pretty much ends real hybridization.

In exchange for being locked into one of the three talent trees you will receive certain abilities, unique to each tree, and a Mastery ability (trainable at 80) which buffs some aspect of your abilities. See below for more details on how this works.

 

Buffs and Nerfage: With patch 4.0 class balance became... interesting. One day any given class might rule (casters, in this case) and on the next day the same class might drool. Hot fixes and minor patches will tweak the class balance and things will eventually settle down.

Those of you with multiple 85s can play the "flavor of the minute" game, but we won't do that on these pages. Instead we'll concentrate on what should be good builds and mechanics and let the buff/nerf game sort itself out.

If you like this guide how about sharing it?

Thanks!

 

The Totem

Totems gift all shamans with the ability to bring along a slew (4) of helpers, each emitting dramatically helpful increases to damage, mana regeneration, and much more, depending upon what the shaman requires for each encounter.

With totems comes the Shaman's adaptability, although they are forced to remain in one spot, unlike a Paladin's aura. As I said above we can have four going at any one time, and with a bit of learning possibly even more buffs.

 

"Enchants"

However we have more than just totems to enhance our effectiveness. Shamen also possess numerous pseudo-enchants for melee weapons, each providing a separate style of buff such as a chance for extra attacks (windfury,) or additional fire/frost damage.

These spells represent a massive boost to melee DPS for enhancement shamans, and with use of dual-wield you gain an even higher chance to proc the effects, being able to apply them to both right and left hand weapons.

 

Bolt lobbing and healing

Beyond melee abilities, Shaman possess elemental attacks giving them the ability to play the role of ranged caster, elemental shamans being quite versatile and capable in PvP and playing a lesser role if at all in raiding.

Finally, the crown jewel: healing.  Shamen with totems and healing capabilities represent one of the most desired healers for all endgame raiding. Chain heal brings massive amounts of health back to multiple raid members and renders us one of the best instance healers in the game.

With the combination of all these facets, Shamans become an immensely powerful class for any situation conceivable with the added bonus of being great soloers. Not bad, at all.


Race Choice for the Shaman

Race doesn’t factor all that much into a shaman, all of our viability coming from spells and talents plus our variety of abilities make any racials almost pointless. 

Alliance: Once upon a time there were no Alliance Shamen, since they were unworthy. This has changed. With Cataclysm came even more races. Not anyone can be a Shaman, though.

  • Dwarves
    • Yes, really. Their ability to take on a Stone Form has occasional utility, though more for PvP. Stoneform reduces damage by 10% as well as washing away bleeds. Nice for those times when Rogues or Ferals are about.
    • They have some expertise with maces, which might help in end-game melee.

  • Draenei
    • They get a +1% chance to hit (which will be nice in Cataclysm raiding)
    • and a small heal.

Horde:

  • Orcs:
    • Enrage is a nice DPS increasing ability for either the Melee or bolt-lobbing Shaman and
    • the resistance to stuns is nice at times, especially for PvP.

  • Tauren:
    • Increased health is always good, but doesn't scale well at very high level.
    • War Stomp is great for melee

  • Troll:
    • Their Berserk increases your spell casting and melee speed,
    • they do more damage against beasts (which is nice for leveling,)
    • and their Voodoo Shuffle (reduced duration of movement impairing effects) is also nice.

  • Goblins
    • Their totems look (and act) like large piles of explosives... Ok, not really.
    • They have a Rocket Jump, which is a nice gap closer or escape, and
    • some extra Haste, which is nice for anyone.

 

4.1 Patch Notes for the Shaman

  • Fire Nova has been redesigned and decoupled from shaman Fire totems. Instead, it now pulses the Fire Nova effect from each target that is afflicted by the shaman's own Flame Shock debuff. It now damages all enemies except the target hit by Flame Shock. The ability's cooldown has been reduced to 4 seconds, down from 10.
  • Grounding Totem cooldown has been increased to 25 seconds, up from 15.
  • Magma Totem now lasts for 60 seconds, up from 21.
  • Stoneclaw Totem's area-of-effect threat pulse no longer affects critters.

Elemental Combat

  • Earthquake is no longer a channeled spell. It now has a 2-second cast time, lasts for 10 seconds, and has a 10-second cooldown. Its damage has been reduced by 40% from its channeled version.

Enhancement

  • Improved Fire Nova has been redesigned and replaced by a talent called Seasoned Winds. When an enemy spell cast is successfully prevented with Wind Shear, the shaman gains magical resistance (in an amount equal to what a protection totem/aura would grant, stacking with such buffs) to the spell school(s) of the interrupted spell (except for Holy spells), lasting 10 seconds.

Restoration

  • Cleansing Waters now has a 6-second internal cooldown.
  • Deep Healing now benefits all heals, not just direct heals.
  • Earth Shield healing done by Restoration shaman has been reduced by 20%.
  • Nature's Blessing has been improved to 6/12/18% bonus direct healing on Earth Shielded targets, up from 5/10/15%.
  • Spirit Link Totem (new talent) reduces damage taken by all party and raid members within 10 yards by 10%. This lasts 6 seconds, and every second it is active the health of all affected players is redistributed among them, such that each player ends up with the same percentage of their maximum health. This counts as an Air totem and has a 3-minute cooldown.

Glyphs

  • Glyph of Grounding Totem now increases the cooldown of the ability by 35 seconds, down from 45 seconds.

 

 

Tradeskills

Tradeskills are somewhat less meaningful for most shamans as opposed to class such as Warlock or Priest which gain some of the best gear in the game through crafting.  However, that doesn’t mean it’s all unimportant, and for a tradeskill capable of crafting reasonable armor for your shaman, invest in leatherworking.

Oddly enough leatherworking allows you to make mail armor 40+, obviously intended to suit the progression of shamans & hunters.  I personally preferred to simply use quest items or PvP gear as opposed to crafting gear, but that’s not to say it’s not useful. With Cataclysm there is some very nice Leatherworking gear, indeed.

Money makers are the three staples: Mining, Skinning, and Herbalism.  Find everything you possibly can and sell it all to make solid amounts of gold, this applies from level 1 all the way to 85. Mining also adds some Stamina, Skinning adds Crit rating, and Herbalism adds a heal and a few seconds of hHaste.

Finally, despite the fact that you possess healing spells, First Aid is always a good investment, and at the very least you become slightly more mana efficient even If you don’t really need it, unlike some other classes (warrior) which definitely need First Aid.

All of the profession skills also have some form of "self-only" enchant which adds about 80 points to your best stat.

 

Shaman Class Guide

Shaman Abilities

Shaman abilities are divided into three primary spell trees: Elemental, Enhancement, and Restoration.  Each serves a purpose in gifting the shaman with the ability to support or lead in a variety of scenarios. 

The Restoration tree is obviously healing centric, enhancement for those who like crushing skulls, and finally elemental (my personal favorite) for anyone wanting to nuke the target from orbit… figuratively speaking.

Whether you be enhancement, elemental, or even restoration, a large amount of our killing ability comes directly from the spells we learn and that remains whether you choose to improve them or not.  With careful play an elemental shaman can also match enhancement for sheer leveling speed.

 

Elemental Spec

Elemental is the ranged caster tree of the shaman, comparable to say a druid’s moonkin/balance tree, it’s just that we happen to avoid the whole turning into an oversized owlbear in the process, a definite positive.

This tree encompasses all of our shocks, such as earth shock, flame shock, or the ever so well known ‘frost shawk’ from ye old days of overpowered shamans.  Despite the passing of our dominating era, shaman are still present as formidable opponents when correctly utilized, and that means using all of ours shocks dependent upon the situation.

Flame can be used to prevent rogues from stealthing, frost to catch someone/slow them down and prevent them from catching you, earth allows you to interrupt spell casting (this one's the most utilized in PvP.) Finally the fire elemental totem enhances your ability to blast away at anything from players to bosses with massive amounts of burst damage.

Intellect is now the go-to elemental stat, and spellpower will only appear on some items. Intellect still gives us mana, mana return and a smidgen of crit chance, too. In short, load up on the Int.

Spirit is replacing MP5 and is becoming a staple requirement for elemental shamans.  The spirit we get will be turned into Spell Hit Rating through the revamped Elemental Precision talent, but only spirit from your gear counts, base spirit is worthless. This means that gemming for Spirit is good, but eating foods that boost personal spirit likely isn't.

For PvE (Raiding) the stats are:
Spirit/Hit (until capped (17%)) >> Intellect >= Spellpower > Haste = Mastery >> Crit

Your crit on gear should be reforged into the best available stat.

At level 10 you will get the following abilities (Mastery is trainable at 80:)

  • Thunderstorm - Calls down a bolt of lightning, damaging enemies and restoring some of your mana.
  • Elemental Fury - Crit bonus damage of various effects is increased.
  • Shamanism - Lightning bolt, Chain Lightning, and Lava Burst do more damage and are a bit faster to cast.
  • Mastery: Elemental Overload - provides a chance for additional bolts to be lobbed.

 

Elemental Leveling

For more details on Elemental Shammies, see our Elemental Shaman guide and our Shaman leveling guide.

Leveling as elemental is a mixture between awed fascination and mired boredom.  How can this be? Downtime.  Elemental shaman leveling is five seconds of overpowering slaughter followed by five seconds of drinking. Repeat ad infinitum, or at least until you get some nice mana regeneration.

With the 4.0 patch mana problems seem to be gone, for the moment. A future "fix" may or may not change that.

Elemental starts out fairly ho-hum before becoming increasingly flashy as the levels go by.  Around 30+ I started unleashing the real power with massive lightning bolt critical and taking down multiples with chain lightning. This is our forte.

Additionally post 50 or so I started maintaining actually good levels of mana efficiency, leading to some long grinds without being forced to stop and drink every other fight, a notably good increase in my leveling speed. Again, this isn't such an issue with Cataclysm.

Melee should always be combined in-between spells to pump out your best mixture of quick killing and mana conservation, try and set a specific rotation of what works best for both your life and mana pools.

 

Enhancement Spec

Enhancement is our low intelligence high strength and attack power tree. To put it simply: how to hit stuff really hard and make it die.  Enhancement is the primary tree for efficient leveling, conserving mana for only the necessary buffs and heals while using our potent melee capabilities to bring death.

Windfury is the primary weapon buff of choice when leveling enhancement, and for good reason too.  Windfury provides you with a massive attack power boost, made only greater via enhancement talents, for two free attacks, procced quite frequently in fact.

With some luck you’ll find yourself mowing down even level or higher mobs without much trouble at all, and with some mana regeneration you’ll likely never have to stop as long as you take up a good pace, never expending more than you gain back between fights.

Agility is your #1 stat. Gems and enchants should all be for Agility except for any gems needed to activate a meta-gem. Next most valuable stats are Hit (to 17%) > Expertise (to 26) > Mastery

Your abilites gained, upon choosing this spec, are:

  • Lava Lash - Charge your off-hand with Lava to do more damage
  • Mental Quickness - Increases your Spellpower and reduces the mana cast of various spells
  • Dual Wield - Also increases your chance to hit by 6%
  • Primal Wisdom - Your melee attacks have a chance to restore some mana.
  • Mastery: Enhanced Elements - increases your elemental damage.

 

Enhancement Leveling

Enhancement leveling is the easiest and generally draws the more favorable reviews. Besides, becoming a whirlwinding blender machine of death and destruction isn’t at all a bad thing for grinding/questing.  Windfury is where this truly begins to shine, and combined with dual-wield you become basically unstoppable.

Most ability rotations will require perhaps one use of earth shock and doing so will save you some life by interrupting any mob abilities. Use the rank one version if you really want to save mana and if you feel fine relying entirely on melee for your DPS.

Totems can alternate between mana regeneration, strength, agility, and possibly a fire totem for some increase in consistent DPS should you want it.

See our Enhancement Shaman guide for builds and more details, and also see our Shaman leveling guide.

 

Click here to level fast

 

Restoration Spec

Restoration is healing, the thing that makes us so wildly useful in raids for our massive amounts of semi-AoE healing with chain heal spam.  Restoration shamans are in high demand in raiding for good reason, we bring massive amounts of utility via insane healing capabilities and totems as a side-dish.

PvE wise we excel, many of the current endgame dungeons practically demand three shamans healers if not even more, and even in small time instances you’ll find yourself quite capable of main-healing all the way through.

Our only problems emerge if you ever hit the arena, we simply lack the survivability inherent to most other healing classes and as a result get smashed the instant we show our face, skill alone will determine whether you thrive or fall in PvP.

Stat prioroity is, generally speaking: Int > Spirit > all others are roughly equal.

Your special abilities gained from going Resto spec are:

  • Earth Shield - reduces time lost when casting spells while under attack and those attacks will heal the shielded target.
  • Purification - Increases the effectiveness of your heals by 10%
  • Meditation - Some of your mana regeneration continues while in combat.
  • Mastery: Deep Healing - improves your heals and lower health targets are healed for more than higher health targets.

 

Restoration Leveling

See our Restoration guide for more info on this tree.

Restoration is one of the more uncommon builds for leveling. That would likely be due to the prevalence of solo players, at least for the 1-85 grind, as opposed to leveling teams. 

In the old days (before the Dungeon Finder tool) Restoration (leveling solo) would get the job done, but it would be very much on the slow side. The recommended tactic was to grab a team and heal them while they slaughtered everything.

Since all your primary abilities will be in healing efficiency you’ll have to use that to your advantage. Generally my experience as restoration was to beat the mob down as efficiently as possible, and what with my heals taking less than 1% my total mana pool, that was fairly easy.

The only real problem with restoration was taking a minute per mob, at least I never had to stop and drink either.  If you're leveling up you should really consider one of the other trees.

If you have an extra 10 gold, and you're 30+, consider getting the dual talent ability from your trainer. Then you can switch between resto and whatever, whenever you like.

Nowadays you can use the Dungeon Finder tool and heal dungeon teams all the way to 85. You'll get fast XP and better gear, too. Plus, think of how much that will prepare you for end-game raiding.

See our Restoration Shaman guide for more on this build and check out our Dungeon Leveling Guide if you want to go the dungeon route.

 

 

Shaman Class Guide

PvP

Specs and discussion for Elemental PvP can be found on ArenaJunkies as well as a ton of macros, all of which are Cataclysm ready.

A basic Cataclysm PvP build is on our Shaman PvP builds page and you will also be able to find builds and spec specific info on our individual Shaman pages: Elemental, Enhancement, Restoration.

PvP gear

  • Vicious Gladiator is your top tier PvP set. See it here. Purchased with Conquest points
  • Bloodthirsty Gladiator is your next tier down. Here. Purchased with Honor points
  • Leatherworking 525 can make the entry level PvP sets. They can also be bought on the AH.
    • Bloodied scale gear is your Int gear. Here.
    • Bloodied Dragonscale gear is your agility gear. Here.

For some killer PvP info, and to get better at that game, check out ArenaPwnage

 


Shaman Class Guide

Raiding

Raiding notes, builds, info, and any gear lists will be on the individual spec pages.

General gear notes for any Shaman:

  • Higher-ilvl gear is stronger and this applies to all specs of all classes.
  • Intellect/Agility usually increases very regularly with ilvl, so we have a predictable gain.
  • More sockets are better (since they allow us to stack more Intellect/Agility, primarily)
  • For Enhancement you should ignore socket bonuses unless that bonus is at least 20 Ag or 30 of the next best stat.
  • Enchants should be for Int/Agil if possible, Spellpower/Attackpower being the #2 choice.

 

 

This is a level 70 gear list, aimed at people wanting to do that content. Some of these items may (or may not) become unavailable when Cataclysm lands, but we're keeping it here for legacy reasons. An updated list may appear here at some point.

This is aimed at restoration shamans wanting to start raiding such as Karazhan and heroic 5-mans etc. At a later time we may add and enhancement/elemental gear guide but for now it's just the restoration build oriented gear.

Helm:

Metallic Headband of Simm'onz - Quest Reward
Headdress of the Tides - Drop(Underbog)

Neck:

Necklace of Resplendent Hope - Drop(Old Hillsbrad)
Karja's Medallion - Quest Reward
Natasha's Guardian Cord - Quest Reward

Back:

Lifegiving Cloak - World Drop BoE
White Remedy Cape - Crafted
Cloak of Scintillating Auras - Drop(Arcatraz)

Shoulders:

Mantle of the Sea Wolf - Drop(Heroic Mana Tombs)
Tidefury Shoulderguards - Drop(Shattered Halls)

Chest:

Void Slayer's Tunic - Quest Reward
Earthpeace Breastplate - Crafted
Harness of the Deep Currents - Drop(Murmur)

Wrist:

Primal Surge Bracers - Drop(Black Morass)
World's End Bracers - Drop(Heroic Blood Furnace)
All-Weather Armguards - Quest Reward(Alliance)

Hands:

Fathomheart Gauntlets - Drop(Steamvault)
Earth Mantle Handwraps - Drop(Steamvault)
Thundercaller's Gauntlets - World Drop BoE
Tidefury Gauntlets - Drop(Steamvault)

Belt:

Stillwater Girdle - Drop(Heroic Mana Tombs)
Girdle of the Gale Storm - Drop(Blood Furnace)

Legs:

Oceansong Kilt - Drop(Heroic Ramparts)
Tidefury Kilt - Drop(Shadow Laybrinth)

Boots:

Auchenai Boots - Quest Reward
Earthbreaker's Greaves - Quest Reward

Rings:

Spiritualist's Mark of the Sha'tar - Quest Reward
Celestial Jewel Ring - Quest Reward
Ancestral Band / Ring of Convalescence - Reputation Reward(Thrallmar/Honor Hold)

Trinkets:

Scarab of the Infinite Cycle- Drop(Black Morass)
Bangle of Endless Blessings - Drop(Botanica)
Scryer's Bloodgem - Reputation Reward(Scryers)
Lower City Prayerbook - Reputation Reward(Lower City)

Weapons:

Lightsworn Hammer - Drop(Shattered Halls)
Hammer of the Penitent - Drop(Mechanar)
The Sun Eater - Drop(Mechanar - Heroic Only)

Shield:

Crystal Pulse Shield - World Drop BoE
Light-Bearer's Faith Shield - Vendor(33 Heroic Badges)
Silvermoon Crest Shield - Drop(Shadow Laybrinth)

 

1-85 Shaman Leveling Guide

The best way to get to level 85 fast is to do it with a pre-written leveling guide. If it's automated to the point where you don't have to look anything up then it will be just that much faster. Expecially if it trakes where you are and what you're doing, then auto-updates the guide as you complete tasks and quests.

Zygor's Guide fits this bill and can get you to 85 in well under ten days, maybe even in the 7 days advertised, assuming you pay attention to your leveling and stay out of the raids, gank and duel sessions, and endless RPing and Shopping.

Planning to gain a few levels in the dungeons or the battlegrounds? No problem! Zygor will detect your new level and advance the guide appropriately. You'll be able to pick right back up with your questing and Zygor's will even help clean up your obsolete quests.

There's even a slick Talent Advisor which will allow you to experiment will different specs and builds.

And, of course, Zygor's is fully updated for Cataclysm and is always quickly updated for any new patch or expansion.

Snag your copy of Zygor's Guide here or read our review.

 

 


 

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