Shamans and You

Sorry guys, I had a 12 hour double shift on Saturday which reduced any thought of me writing. I’ll make up for it with a double header today. I’ve written virtually nothing about my Restoration Shaman. Let’s change that shall we?

As a Restoration Shaman, you are nothing but a support class. You’re not expected to DPS with Lightning Bolts or Shocks or what have you. Unlike a Priest where we can Flash Heal, Greater Heal, and PW: Shield players, Shamans are expected to assist offensively and defensively.

Offensive Arsenal

Purge: Similar to a Priest’s dispel, except it can only be used offensively against enemy targets. Unfortunately, it cannot be used against friendly targets to removed debuffs. At later levels, it can remove two at time.

Earth Shock: This is an interrupt spell. It’s pretty straight forward. If Aran starts casting a Frostbolt, press it. It also silences that school of magic for several seconds.

Frost Shock: This is a slowing magic effect. It’s like Frostbolt but without the massive damage and it’s instantaneous (like all shocks).

Flame Shock: Deals initial damage, with subsequent DoT Damage applied afterwards (Mind Blast followed up with SW: Pain).

Nike Shock: Makes a target run faster (Boy don’t I wish that was real).

Lightning Spells: Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning are the two mainstays in terms of pure damage dealing. Chain Lightning affects three targets within relatively close proximity of each other but contains a cooldown. Lightning Bolt just hits one target but has no cooldown.

Heroism: Alliance Shamans get the 40 seconds of increased haste to spells and attacks. Good finisher.

Defensive and Healing Spells

Earth Shield: The giant brownie floating around players is a must get talent for any Restoration Shaman. Unlike Power Word: Shield which absorbs and prevents damage being applied to a player, Earth Shield will automatically heal at random whenever a player is hit. The threat is redirected to the player who has Earth Shield on. It’s perfect for tanks who need extra aggro. Think of the spell as a 10 charge Prayer of Mending without the bouncing effect to other players. The only downside? At level 70, it costs a whopping 900 mana.

Healing Waves: Nothing special here. It’s the two direct healing spells that shamans have (Lesser Healing Wave and it’s bigger brother Healing Wave).

Nature’s Swiftness: This spell rocks. It’s on a two minute cooldown but it allows the next nature spell cast to be instantaneous. Is your tank just hundreds of health away from doing? Blow Nature’s Swiftness and Greater Healing Wave and make your other healers look bad. Can also be combined with offensive spells like Chain Lightning to finish off a player swiftly.

Chain Heal: In my opinion, this is where Shaman’s make their worth. It’s similar in nature to Chain Lightning except it heals your raidmates. I’d say Shamans are ideal for healing Melee DPS groups. When Chain Heal is cast, it will jump two additional times after your first target. You have no control over who gets the subsequent two heals and the amount healed for is less each time. For about 500 mana, its some insane healing efficiency. It’s three targets healed for the time it takes to cast off a Greater Heal on a Priest on only one target.

Play Overview

It’s a little more difficult to play a Shaman then a Priest in PvE encounters. You need to maintain your totems, make sure certain spells are interrupted, and heal in between. Obviously there’s no way you will ever match up to the amount that a Holy Priest can do nor the endurance of a Paladin. Chain Healing is the big key here. It’s the ability to heal multiple targets within a short amount of time at a decent mana cost which is significant.

Toteming Techniques (for the PvP Player)

With totems, you have the flexibility to increase the damage done by casters, melee characters, or hunters (but not all three at once). They provide additional buffs like increased mana regeneration or health and the ability to automatically remove totems. Earthbind can slowdown opposing enemies within the totem radius. Fire totems can provide additional damage from another source or increase resistance against certain schools of magic (like frost).

Understand that you can drop four totems at any one time: Air, Water, Earth & Fire.

I have several default setups depending on what classes I am playing against.

Air Totems: My threes and fives team both have Warriors and another melee class. Just before we are about to engage the other team, I will drop my windfury totem for a few seconds so that the effect is applied on the melee guys. Then I will drop a grounding totem to absorb that incoming frost bolt or shadowbolt that I can feel coming my way (XPerl lets me know when I’m targeted). I’d never use wrath of air or grace of air since it’s primarily windfury and grounding totem’s as soon as it’s available.

Fire Totems: There’s not a whole lot of selection. I could drop a searing totem to annoy the other team, but if it starts hitting the Warrior he ends up getting extra rage. If there’s a frost mage, I will drop the frost resist to help with that. It’s unfortunate we’re unable to use fire elementals in arena. But I suppose having a 5 shaman team with 5 fire elementals and nearly 200 seconds of Heroism would tear through most teams.

Water Totems: By default, I would leave a mana spring totem. If there’s a rogue or a hunter on the opposing team, poison cleansing gets dropped. Mana Tide comes down if healers need the mana (frequently myself and the paladin who gets mana burned).

Earth Totems: I have three choices here: Earthbind, Tremor, or Strength of Earth. Usually I’ll drop the Strength totem to help increase DPS a little bit. Tremor goes down if there’s a Warlock or if a team member gets hit with fear close to me. Earthbind’s a last resort that I keep open if there’s any kiting that needs to be done.

Within the first 10 seconds of the Arena gates opening, you should be able to figure out what classes are arrayed against you and what totems you need to drop. It’s especially important to position them in areas where it’s difficult to target. For example, if you get the bridge arena, place your totems under the bridge if you plan to engage up top. If you get pillars, you can even leave a few in the corner behind the pillars. For Lordaeron, consider placing them up close against the tomb in the middle of the map forcing the other team to run around and shoot it.

There is a lot of back and forth switching of players. You need to ensure that the opposing Paladin’s Greater Heal does not get cast or the Shadow Priest’s mana burn is interrupted with E. Shocks (I’d prioritize the shadow priest over healers). If Earthbind is on cooldown and you need to keep moving, jump, do a 180° mouse look, frost shock, and mouselook back to the original direction so you can keep running away.

Shamans do have a lot of potential in both raids and PvP. But there isn’t one specific area that they excel in. Except raid healing. Did I mention that already?

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.