Mastering the Shaman Class | Learn How to Level, PvE and PvP
With the release of Cataclysm, many of the classes in World of Warcraft have evolved into much different creatures than they were at vanilla's release. Enhancement Shaman and Resto Shaman rule, and here's all you need to know about why you must try this versatile and entertaining class.
How did we get here from there?
The Shaman class in World of Warcraft is one of the most unique available. In addition to being able to fill a number of party roles--melee dps, casting from range, healing, party buffs, crowd control--the Shaman is also a soloing beast of a character when played correctly. He's come a long way since the days of Vanilla WoW when Warlocks were thought of as a free Honor Kill and the Shaman was decried as horribly "OP." A series of nerfs from the developers brought this mighty utility class low and all but the most dedicated re-rolled.
However, life is a circle and like many amazing ideas, the time of the Shaman has come round again at last. If you've never tried a Shaman, or if you tried once and gave up, now's your chance to experience all the glory and beauty of this mail-wearing caster-melee-healing hybrid.
Learning to love leveling
Leveling the Shaman used to be the most difficult part--after, of course, learning all those totem details and when to drop which for what purpose and which effects are overwritten by other classes' effects and--okay, so leveling isn't really all that bad in the larger scheme of things. Navigating your way through the various class quests to get those special totems, now, that was a serious pain. The good news is that those horrific quests are no more. That means that leveling a Shaman is now right up there with breathing in terms of difficulty.
The changes made to the talent trees, and how the role-defining abilities are just handed to you now once you commit to a tree, combine to make leveling your Shaman a breeze. Want to go Resto? Awesome choice, you can pretty much dungeon your way all the way up to level 85, Earth Shielding people left and right and Chain-Healing your way to end game. Want to be a melee Shaman? Enhancement, baby, you get dual-wield right out of the box. You won't get queued for dungeons as quickly, but once you're in you'll be topping dps meters and crowd-controlling like a champ. Even if you choose Elemental, you'll still be doing decent dps and have many of the same buffing and utility abilities. Your favorite dungeons are those that are lousy with humanoid mobs. Dropping your Earthbind Totem will help keep runners from pulling other groups, and you can also Hex to your heart's desire if you're the crowd-controlling kind.
Rocking bosses at end game, yo
The thing with WoW is that the developers are constantly working to add new content and to keep everything balanced with each patch. That means that the Shaman of today will likely have a lot of differences from the Shaman of tomorrow. What you can count on, however, is that the Shaman's utility and comfort in a multitude of scenarios will persist. If you've bothered to level a Shaman to end game, by all means, you should do what you prefer and enjoy.
Healing as a Resto Shaman in WoW's end game involves a great deal of AoE; Chain Heal was and is--and probably always will be--one of your best friends. Additionally, take a cue from the Disc Priest and use that Earth Shield! Damage prevented can be even better than damage healed, and with the use of your shields and HoTs, you can also excel at single-target and tank healing.
If you're more of a dps-minded Shaman, however, you can enjoy being one of the few classes who never has to worry about those fights that suit either melee or casters better. Why? Because you can easily do either! Take an Enhancement spec, dual-wield, and be prepared to drop totems and Chain Lightning from a distance, if you have to. Want to be a serious pro? Make yourself a mouse-over Hex macro and never forget that you can always throw a Chain Heal or two during some of the more heavy-hitting boss fights. Your healer will love you.
Get your PvP on
Some of the best Shamans in the game are PvP-centric, and for good reason. There's a lot to love about being a Shaman in battlegrounds. Grounding Totem, Earthbind, Hex, Bind Elemental, and your Fire Elemental totem will all cause some serious havoc. Not to mention that your heals can keep a huge portion of your battlegroup up and fighting, and since you're sturdier in your mail gear, it can be much harder to take you down than your enemy expects.
If you're serious about being a pro Shaman in PvP, understand it's not about how many honorable kills orkilling blows you can rack up; it's about how much damage you can do to your enemy in other ways. Hindering his ability to complete objectives and take down your high-damage-output players will make you irreplaceable on a good PvP team, and knowing when you put the hurting on will also bump up your status. Keybinds are your best friend in PvP and this has never been more true than it is for a Shaman. Make sure that you have your totems arranged in the groups of four for your Calls, and create mouse-over macros to Bind, Hex and heal as needed. And finally, learn to love your Shocks. Whether you are stunning, interrupting casts, or just setting the world on fire, your Shock spells are a huge part of what makes your class unique.
All in all, playing a Shaman now is nothing like it was in Vanilla, Burning Crusade, or even Wrath. Tedious leveling paths are gone, the most interesting abilities are in your hot little hands much quicker than before and every specialization is capable of providing fun and interesting game play.