Beta Build: 188.8.131.5242 Spoiler Types:
– New features
– Low level class abilities or traits
– General impression of starting areas (no specific lore)
With my beta key firmly in hand, and the client downloaded and installed (after 38 hours), a lot of my leveling now is done in the beta rather than the live, and it’s most likely going to stay that way. I don’t want to leave the blog hanging or go off in another direction with it, so I’m going to keep right on blogging about leveling, just with a Cataclysm touch in mind instead.
I’m going to stay away from spoilers as far as the game itself goes, but I am going to talk about new abilities, where you get them, how you get them, and so on and so forth. There will be some small spoilers in relation to those topics, so if you don’t even want to know what abilities are changing and such, then you’ll probably want to ignore me for a couple more months until it comes out live. I’ve said it since Cataclysm was revealed to us in BlizzCon 2009, that it will launch in November and I still believe that that is true.
Each post that I make in relation to Cataclysm prior to its actual launch will have a disclaimer at the top noting which type of spoilers (if any) you’ll find in the post, along with the beta build number associated with the information in the post.
For this post I’m going to talk about leveling for all of the races and classes up to level 10, just to give you an idea of how they’re going to feel coming right out of the box. Turn the page to find out more…
Today we’re going to look at which heirlooms you should purchase for your leveling alts. A couple of weeks ago I covered Enchanting Your Heirlooms, so I’ll refer you back to that post if you have already purchased heirlooms and would like to look into the various ways that you can enhance their performance via enchants and item enhancements.
I’m going to make a list of heirlooms for each class individually, and I will mention certain items that would work better for certain specs as well. I will tell you right now though, that while I have leveled most classes to a significant leveling milestone, I have not played every class and every spec. So if you see me suggest an item for your class because I know you’re looking for Spell Power, but you feel it would be better for you to go with another because it has Spirit as well as Spell Power, then go with your gut as you may very well know that particular class better than I do.
What I am going to have is a list of weapons, chests, and shoulders for you to use in each of your different specs, and a (hopefully) short explanation of why. In some cases there may be multiple suggestions made for a particular slot, particularly when it comes to weapons. The reason for this will generally be because there are multiple builds that people use for that class, or because certain equipment options aren’t available until a higher level. A good example of this is the Enhancement Shaman who benefits more from a large two-hand weapon until level 40 when they can dual wield one-handers, or the Warrior who may dual wield one-handers until level 60 and then dual wield two-handers from there on.
Under each class header you’ll find the list of gear that I suggest and prefer. There will also be a Substitutions list which are items that I consider to be reasonable replacements for the items I suggest in case you already have some of those and would rather not purchase others, or in case you have more of one currency than another and can’t afford all of the recommended pieces. Turn the page to find out more…
Every now and then I get drawn back to the class that was my first real main, the Shaman. My first shaman didn’t make it all that far, capping at level 35, but he was the first character that I seriously leveled and intended to play for a long while. I had recently purchased the BoA Axe for a warrior that I was planning to level but then deleted after he got to level 3 (have I ever mentioned how much I hate playing Warriors?). I didn’t want that axe to go to waste though so I had to decide who else I could give it too. I didn’t want to give it to my hunter since he was already rocking some solid weapons, and my paladin will most likely be deleted before this article is even posted, so my only other option was to go back to my roots and roll a shaman.
Other than the ever-restricted Druid class, Shamans share the worst racial selection in the game with the Paladin with only one option for Alliance and three for Horde.
Horde: Orc, Tauren, Troll
After Cataclysm arrives we’ll be able to add Dwarves to the Alliance list, and Goblins to the Horde list.
If you roll Alliance pre-Cataclysm then your racial selection is made for you since you only have one option. If you roll Horde then I suggest Orc or Tauren if you’re going to roll Enhancement, or Troll if you prefer either Elemental or Restoration (neither of which I’m talking about this time).
My personal preference for Horde (and overall) is the Orc, but you’ll do just as well with a Tauren. I’m not a fan of troll shamans, but I’m not a fan of trolls to begin with. Basically, roll whatever you want to and looks the coolest in your opinion, but there’s mine.
Since I’m focusing on Enhancement here I’m going to emphasize those spells, but part of being a Shaman is tapping all of your available resources to be the best you can be at the position you’re in. You have more tools to use than almost every other class in any given situation, and your utility is what really makes you stand out.
Combat Spells Lightning Bolt: Casts a bolt of lightning at the target dealing Nature damage. Earth Shock: Your burst damage shock, deals Nature damage and slows the target’s melee attack speed by 10%. Flame Shock: Your dps shock, deals initial Fire damage plus additional periodic Fire damage over 18 seconds which can individually crit. Fire Nova: Deals Fire damage in a 10 yard radius around your active Fire Totem. Wind Shear: Spell interrupt that prevents spells from that school from being cast for 2 seconds, and also reduces your threat on the target when in a group. Frost Shock: Deals Frost damage and slows target movement by 50%.
I tend to use Lightning Bolt a lot up to level 12 or so, then I pretty well stop using it for about 30 levels or so. It’s great for pulling and adding in ranged DPS, but since we’re playing the melee spec it’s all about instant casts and weapon attacks for me.
Flame Shock should be your opening spell once you have it so that you get the extra damage from it’s DoT effect, otherwise Earth Shock is your burst spell and the one I usually use as a finisher of sorts if my melee falls just short of killing them.
I really only use Frost Shock in PvP or when things turn to crap and I have to either kite or die. For the most part I don’t bother using it. Wind Shear is situational when solo questing and for the most part I’d say just ignore it. I use it myself only to stay familiar with its use because of how much I PvP. Otherwise I’d say keep it somewhere handy if you’re running dungeons, but otherwise it doesn’t serve much purpose in questing.
If you’re in combat you’re generally better off using LHW because of the shorter cast time than HW. If you need a lot of health then it’s usually better to do LHW once or twice for a quick buffer and then HW for the big heal. If you’re actually healing in a group, then you should probably look for someone that knows more about shammy healing than I do.
Reincarnate is the beloved ability to self resurrect. When you die, assuming you have an ankh on you or the glyph to remove their need, you have the option of either releasing your spirit or using Reincarnate. One of the coolest things a shaman can do in PvP is to jump back up right after being killed and slay the attacker who thinks he’s safe. As for PvE uses, sometimes you’re going to die and this makes it easier to deal with. Otherwise I also like to use it for ease of travel by jumping off of a cliff and then just bringing myself back once I hit the bottom. But maybe that’s just me.
Shield Spells Lightning Shield: Your DPS shield. It has three charges and each time you’re hit expends one charge to deal Nature damage to that enemy. Water Shield: Your Mana Regen shield. Restores mana every 5 seconds and when hit it expends one of its three charges to restore mana.
You’ll bounce back and forth between these two shield spells (which have no mana cost, by the way) as Enhancement. When you’re running low on mana, switch over to Water Shield. If your mana’s fine and you want to increase your DPS then switch back to Lightning. When I AoE I default to Water, and when doing single target I default to Lightning.
Utility Spells Ghost Wolf: Turns you into a Ghost Wolf, increases speed by 40%, regenerating 1% of your health ever 5 seconds, and you are less hindered by effects that reduce movement speed. Far Sight: Changes your viewpoint to the targeted location for 1 minute, outdoors only. Water Walking: Allows you to walk on water for 10 minutes or until you take damage. Water Breathing: Allows you to breath underwater for 10 minutes. Astral Recall: A spell version of your Hearthstone.
Ghost Wolf is your method of travel prior to getting a mount and is often used in place of a mount until your epic ground mount becomes available at level 40, and it’s also useful in combat when you need to keep distance between yourself and your targets or when you need to get away for a quick heal. Water Walking is good for traveling and great for fishing. Water Breathing has its uses, but with the 3 minute timer we have these days it’s not really that important. Astral Recall is a second method of “hearthing”, which you can use in place of or in addition to your hearth stone.
Far Sight gets its own little mention here because it’s often dismissed completely by most players. It’s a spell that lets you target any area you can reach on your screen and lets you look as though you were standing at the point you cast it on. The great thing about this spell is that it lets you cast Far Sight again as though you’re standing at the point you’re currently viewing. The furthest I’ve ever bothered looking is from Iron Forge all the way down to Booty Bay, which is about 5 zones worth of chain casting. For regular play it’s not that useful, but it is fun. For PvP it’s amazing for strategical advantage.
Weapon Enhancements Rockbiter Weapon: Increases your weapon’s damage per second. Flametongue Weapon: Increases spell damage and your attacks deal additional Fire damage based on weapon speed (slower weapon, higher damage). Frostbrand Weapon: Deals Frost damage and slows target movement by 50%. Windfury Weapon: Each hit has a 20% chance of dealing additional damage equal to two extra attacks with additional attack power. Earthliving Weapon: Increases healing done and gives your heals a % chance to proc a HoT on the target for 12 seconds.
Weapon enhancements are one of the most frequently disputed subjects in leveling guides. Some people prefer sticking with Rockbiter because they feel a consistent increase in DPS is better than spiky procs, others feel that Flametongue is better for the buff to your spells and the additional Fire damage can crit for burst dps, and some feel that Frostbrand’s slowing effect as well as it’s Frost damage makes leveling simpler. I don’t think anybody outside of PvP would ever suggest anything other than Windfury once you get to level 30, with the possible exception of your offhand weapon once you get dual wielding at level 40. Earthliving is what you’ll use if you ever have to fill the Healer’s role, otherwise not used in Enhancement.
Personally I prefer to switch from Rockbiter to Flametongue once it becomes available and then stick with it until Windfury at level 30. Frostbrand I’m not a huge fan of but I did try it out a bit on my most recent Shaman and it wasn’t all that bad. I suggest you play around with all three of them before level 30 and just figure out which one works best for you. Once level 30 rolls around, forget those three exist and switch to Windfury.
I’ll discuss Windfury in a bit more detail down below.
Totems are the signature ability of the Shaman class. Rather than casting buff spells on your party members, you drop totems and grant their buff to everyone in your party that stays within range of them. This system has is benefits and it’s drawbacks, but it’s what we have and so we’ll use them. Some people prefer not to bother with totems while they’re leveling because you have to recast them every time you relocate which is a major annoyance.
My personal preference for totem use is sort of half and half on using them versus not using them, depending on the situation. If you’re a frequent reader then you’ll know that I’m crazy about AoE grinding, and while many people feel that AoE is a Shaman’s weak point, I merely embrace what tools we do have and put them to use.
You do get more totems that what I’m covering here, but I’m going to point out the ones that you’ll actually use as Enhancement.
Earth Totems Earthbind Totem: A 45 second totem that slows enemies within 10 yards by 50%. Stoneclaw Totem: A 15 second totem that taunts creatures in an 8 yard radius and provides a damage absorbing shield to your other totems. Enemies attacking it have a 50% chance of being stunned for 3 seconds. Strength of Earth Totem: A 5 minute totem increasing Strength and Agility. Tremor Totem: A 5 minute totem that removes Fear, Charm and Sleep effects within 30 yards.
Earthbind is something I use a lot in PvP (obviously), but it’s also great for when you need to run away or when you’re kiting. Keep it handy, but it’s not your default Earth totem. Stoneclaw is great for setting up your initial AoE pulls, for when you accidentally pull multiple mobs, of when you need to pull higher level mobs off of you. If you use the glyph that goes with it, Stoneclaw becomes one of the most important totems for you when soloing (see glyph section below). Strength of Earth is your default earth totem providing you with a big DPS boost by increasing both your Strength and Agility. Tremor totem is more situational. It has obvious use in PvP, but it’s also good for some questing areas or dungeons.
Fire Totems Searing Totem: A 40 second totem that repeatedly attacks an enemy within 20 yards with Fire damage. Magma Totem: A 20 second totem that deals Fire damage to creatures within 8 yards every 2 seconds. Flametongue Totem: A 5 minute totem that increases Spell Damage and healing.
Air Totems Grounding Totem: A 45 second totem that redirects to itself one harmful spell cast at you or your party, destroying itself as it does so.
Totem-Related Spells Call of Elements: Simultaneously places up to 4 totems specified in the Totem bar. Totemic Recall: Dispels all of your active totems, restoring 25% of their mana costs to you.
You get both of these spells at level 30, allowing you to drop (up to) all four of your totems with a single click instead of casting each on individually with CoE, or destroying your totems after using them to restore 25% of their mana cost with TR. Totem management becomes a lot simpler, but be careful not to overuse your totems with this and waste your mana. Always “eat” your totems with Totemic Recall, but don’t overuse CoE.
Leveling 1-10: Starting Area and Starting Zone Rotation: Lightning Bolt, Earth Shock, Auto-Attack
During your first 10 levels there’s really nothing to it. You’re sort of a caster but sort of melee. If I’m feeling especially caster-like then I’ll LBolt things to death just to do it, if I’m feeling melee-like then I’ll just bash things in the face. After I get Earth Shock I tend to just leave LBolt out of the rotation for the most part and just run in with Earth Shock, Auto-Attack, and finish off with another Shock if for some reason they aren’t already dead yet.
Make sure you do your Shaman quest at level 4 to get your first totem, Stoneskin. You aren’t going to use the stupid thing while questing, but at least you’ll have it for later in case you want to give your tank more armor in a dungeon or something. And since it is a quest it’s basically free experience that most other classes don’t get at that level.
If you don’t have access to BoA weapons, but are willing to spend a little extra coin in the AH, then I suggest you get a Severing Axe which you’ll usually find for less than 1g. It comes with a random enchant, so the ones to look for are (of Power, of Agility, of Strength, of the Tiger).
Rotation-wise you’re not going to do much different than what you have been. I personally stop bothering with Lighting Bolt for the most part during these levels, but that’s because I’m a toon-twinking fool and always have great weapons with good enchants on them.
At level 10 you get a quest to go get your Fire Totem. For Alliance it’s a somewhat annoying back and forth trip across the Draenei starting area, but overall it’s not too bad and it’s actually pretty easy. For Horde it’s an annoying trip into the Barrens to get specific items to drop that have a bad drop rate.
Do this quest as early as you can because Fire is the totem that will benefit you the most during your leveling by adding to your DPS.
Again, if you don’t have a BoA weapon and you haven’t gotten anything good from dungeons or questing then you can look for weapons on the Auction House. The more expensive leveling weapon (usually 15-75g) is Boahn’s Fang, or you can save a little gold by looking for a Certain Green Items with random, or base, enchants that provide Agility, Strength, Attack Power, or a combination of them.
We don’t have any of our special attacks from our talent tree yet, instead we’ve just been buffing up our melee abilities. As such we don’t see a lot of change yet in our “rotation”. Start with Flame Shock to get a DoT going, bash them in the face while you wait for shocks to cooldown, and then Earth Shock to finish them off if they’re not already dead.
[UPDATE: At level 20 you get the quest to get your Water Totem. It's going to provide you with healing and mana regen throughout the rest of your days so you'll want to get it. Head back to your race's main city to get the quest started. The water totem isn't hard, but it's a lot of traveling around, so be prepared for it.
At level 30 you get the quest for your final totem, Air. The quest to get this one is pretty simple. I think Blizzard sort of ran out of ideas when it came time to quest out the Air totem so they just threw something together for you and send you on your way. Air is your source of Haste for the most part, though it does have other useful tools as well such as the Grounding Totem which redirects a harmful spell from you to itself.]
Once you reach level 30 and you start using Windfury I tend to lay off of Flame Shock and go for Earth Shock instead for the higher burst damage. When Windfury procs whatever it is you’re hitting is probably going to die. As such I prefer getting a big burst to start with to try to take them down with the melee attacks, and then use Earth Shock again once it’s off of cooldown if necessary.
After you get Windfury it’s time to get serious about weapon selection. When you’re dealing with a big two-handed weapon you want to go with the slowest one you can find, with the highest minimum and maximum damage you can find, so that you can maximize your Windfury damage.
Enhancement Shaman Tactics
There are a few different ways that you can play your Shaman as Enhancement, and each one involves different amounts of spell use and/or totem use. I personally have three different approaches to playing my Shaman.
Single Target, No Totems: This is probably my most common in which I simply rush straight at a mob casting Flame Strike or Earth Strike as I move into melee range and then just bash them in the face until they’re dead. When the mob drops you loot the corpse and then move on to the next target and just bring them down one at a time like that. In lower levels and especially in solo play you’re going to find that most of your totems are a waste of time and mana because of the fact that they buff an area rather than an individual. So while a class such as a Paladin can give themselves an Attack Power buff that lasts for 10-30 minutes, ours only lasts until we move out of range.
For this I almost always stick with Lightning Shield unless I’m casting so frequently that I need to switch to Water Shield for the mana regen.
Single Target, Totem-Assisted: This is one I do when I’m fighting higher level mobs, when I’m doing a “Kill X of Y-mobs” quest, or when I just want to kill more things faster. Typically this involves dropping a Strength of Earth Totem to increase my melee abilities, or dropping a Magma/Searing Totem for extra damage and use of Fire Nova if necessary. With the “Kill X of Y-mobs” quests if I can find a place that has 6 or more of the mobs that I need then I’ll drop one of each type of totem, whichever benefits me the most. Generally that ends up being Strength of Earth, Flametounge, and Mana Spring totems.
I will set my totems and then attack the first mob as I would any other, starting with Flame Shock and following it up with melee attacks until dead, then pulling a second mob near my totems and repeating that process over and over to take as much advantage of my totems’ 5 minute duration as possible before moving on to the next area.
Since I’m using totems and chain pulling mobs one after the other I tend to run with Water Shield when doing this rather than Lightning Shield since I use more mana due to less downtime between mobs to regenerate.
Mana-Intensive AoE: Up to level 20 this is going to involve setting up your totems (Strength of Earth, Mana Spring, and Magma), keeping your Water Shield up at all times for the mana regen, using Flame Nova every time it comes off of cooldown, and recasting Magma every time it wears off. If you’re good on mana then you can switch to Lightning Shield for extra damage, but you’re probably better off with Water for the extra mana.
If you have access to the Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem it will provide you with a damage-absorbing shield for 15 seconds after dropping that totem. If you do have this glyph then my personal preference for doing AoE pulls is to use either your mount or Ghost Wolf form to body pull three or more mobs, drop Stoneclaw Totem to have it taunt and draw agro off of you, then drop Mana Spring, then Magma, and then Strength of Earth Totem. Follow that up with Fire Nova, then cast Flame Shock on your first target and take the mobs down one at a time.
If you want to kill them faster then use Flame Shock on the individual targets each time its cooldown is up so that the DoT will tick longer and on multiple mobs, but keep your melee focused on a single target until it’s dead. If you want to bring them down one at a time then Flame Shock first and then Earth Shock until they’re dead.
Windfury Weapon: How to (Ab)Use It
I’m not going to get into the actual formula here because that’s not what I do here. However, it’s important to know what the key numbers are in a weapon in order to find out whether one weapon is an upgrade over another, or not. There are three key numbers when deciding which weapon to use when running as Enhancement: Minimum Damage, Maximum Damage, and Weapon Speed.
When calculating how much damage your Windfury procs will do, the game plugs your min/max damage into a formula to get the base damage range (x damage to y damage) while taking in the AP buff of Windfury and adding it in, essentially calculating a new min/max damage for Windfury. The Weapon Speed is the key to how much damage you end up with though, because it’s the multiplier.
So let’s say your minimum weapon damage is 20 and your maximum weapon damage 60 with a 2.5 speed weapon. Windfury generates a number between the min and max damage and then multiplies it by the weapon speed for the damage (that’s not technically true, I’m just trying to express the concept). So if it picks the number 40 (between 20 and 60) it will then multiply it by 2.5 to deal 40 x 2.5 = 100 damage. If you have the same min and max damage, but on a weapon with 4.0 speed (slowest in the game) then you instead get 40 x 4 = 160 damage. If you’re using a higher damage weapon and your random number for damage happens to be 250 then the difference between the two speeds is 250×2.5=625 damage versus 250×4.0=1000 damage, so you can see how important weapon speed and weapon damage is.
Before duel wielding you want the slowest weapon you can find for the largest Windfury hits possible. Anything that’s 3.0 or slower should work for you at this point, though the closer you get to 4.0 the harder you’ll hit. When you’re using Windfury, whether it’s for a two-hander or for duel wielding after 40, never go faster than 2.6 weapon speed if you can help it or else not only are you gimping your WF damage but you’re also robbing yourself of some WF procs because it has a 3 second internal cooldown. Prior to duel wielding I prefer a two-hander that’s no faster than 3.5 because I really enjoy bashing things in the face for more health than they have in the first place.
Talent Points and Glyphs
Ancestral Knowledge 5/5: Increases your Intellect by 10%. Improved Ghost Wolf 2/2: Reduces the cast time of your Ghost Wolf spell by 2 seconds. Thundering Strikes 3/5: Improves your chance to get a critical strike with all spells and attacks by 3%. Shamanistic Focus 1/1: Reduces the cost of your Shock spells by 45%. Elemental Weapons 2/3: Increases the damage caused by your Windfury Weapon effect by 40%, increases the spell damage of your Flametongue Weapon by 30%, and increases the bonus healing on your Earthliving Weapon by 30%. Thundering Strikes +2 (5/5): Improves your chance to get a critical strike with all spells and attacks by 5%. Flurry 5/5: Increaes your attack speed by 25% for your next 3 swings after dealing a critical strike. Spirit Weapons 1/1: Gives a chance to parry enemy melee attacks and reduces all threat generated by 30%.
Ancestral Knowledge serves multiple purposes. First it gives you more mana which is great since without mana you suck, second it increases your spell power and spell crit which helps your Shock damage, and third here in three more levels you’re going to be able to add 100% of your Intellect to your Attack Power so another 10% is sweet.
Major Glyphs Glyph of Windfury Weapon: Increases the chance per swing for Windfury Weapon to trigger by 2%. [Requires level 30] Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem: Your Stoneclaw Totem also places a damage absorb shield on you, equal to 4 times the strength of the shield it places on your totems. Glyph of Fire Nova: Reduces the cooldown of your Fire Nova spell by 3 seconds.
For your first glyph my personal suggestion is Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem because that damage shield is amazing. It’s great for PvE and it’s a must have for PvP. I rocked the Glyph of Fire Nova for a while and really liked being able to use Nova more often, but in the long run I felt the increased DPS wasn’t really worth the extra downtime from having to restore mana or that having its cooldown faster didn’t actually speed things up since mobs were usually dead before it mattered. Lightning Shield is a solid boost to your kill speed when you’re solo, but if you plan on grouping it sucks since you’re not going to be hit very often.
Once you hit level 30 the Glyph of Windfury Weapon is an absolute must. Windfury is the whole reason you play Enhancement in the first place. That 2% isn’t a huge number, but when the difference between a WF attack and a non-WF attack is like the difference between having a Tauren stomp on your face and a Gnome step on your toe, you want that 2%.
Personal Preference: Stoneclaw at 15, add Windfury at 30.
I don’t like the Ghost Wolf glyph, though I love the spell, because we can both actively (healing spells) and passively (healing stream totem) heal ourselves at any time. Use it if you’re a twink, otherwise I suggest you skip it unless you find it for less than 1g on the AH or can make it yourself. I only mention it because it’s your only option prior to level 20. Water Walking is my personal choice for our first minor slot since I’m a big fan of extra mobility and hate wasted bag slots. If you don’t care about that then go for Water Shield instead so that you can spend less time reapplying the shield when your questing. Renewed Life is another bag slot saver, but it’s for a spell you’ll be using for the rest of your career so you might as well grab it.
Personal Preference: GW at 16 if you’re twinking (otherwise ignore it), Water Walking at 20 or Renewed Life at 30.
Oddly enough I don’t use a whole lot of macros for my Shaman even though they probably deserve more macros than almost any other class.
/cast Lightning Bolt
I use this same macro for Earth Shock, Flame Shock, Wind Shear and every other attack I ever get. You’ve seen me post a version of this macro on almost every class guide I’ve written, and it’s on every one for a reason. It’s all about simplification and saving time/effort, even if it’s only one keystroke or one button press at a time.
#showtooltip Ghost Wolf
/cast !Ghost Wolf
This one is your one-button travel macro. If you’re not moving it will first try to cast your flying mount (if you have one and can fly where you are), if you don’t have one or can’t summon it then it will summon your ground mount (if you have one and can ride it), and failing that it will cast Ghost Wolf if you’re able (can’t be used in doors).
The exclamation point (!) before Ghost Wolf will stop the macro from activating if you already have Ghost Wolf active, so you won’t break the spell if you press the button a second time unless you use it to summon a mount. You can also put the (!) in front of your mount names if you don’t want the macro to dismount you. You may also want to replace that last line with /cast [modifer:nomounted] !Ghost Wolf so that activating the macro will not dismount you and cast Ghost Wolf while you’re mounted.
I personally love dismounting by turning into a Ghost Wolf, chasing down my target on all fours, and then popping out of GW with a Shock following by an axe (and hopefully a Windfury proc) to the face. I’m just a goofy cheeseball like that sometimes. It’s one of those pseudo-roleplaying things that I do because I like to do it which really provides no in-game benefit to me at all other than wasting my mana, but it makes me enjoy the experience more so I do it anyway.
I made this macro a long time ago for a Shaman who happened to be an Inscriptionist. If you’re not an Inscriptionist, then delete the Scroll of Recall line since you’ll never be able to use one. Without the SoR line this macro will cast Astral Recall if it’s not on cooldown, otherwise it will use your Hearthstone.
Some people prefer more direct control of it, so if that’s what you want then the second option
If you do a lot of travelling all around the world (or happen to be used to playing a Mage like I am), then it’s always better to use your short cooldowns first so that you get more overall use out of them if you’re bouncing all over the place. Just trust me on this one.
Gearing Up: Guidelines and Suggestions
If you’re going to rock an Enhancement build then early on you want to shoot for things that are going to increase your Attack Power, which will be Strength and Agility (both at 1:1 ratio for AP). I prefer going for Agility over Strength because Agi is going to give you melee Crit as well while the AP value is the same for the two stats. Any gear you find that’s “of the Tiger” is great as it will provide both Strength and Agility increases, though you will also make good use of “of Power” items which add higher values of straight AP.
You also make use of Spell Power and Intellect since shamans are a hybrid melee/caster class. Intellect will become more important to you a bit later when you’re able to add your Intellect to your AP as well, but we’re not there just yet so for now take it if you find it but don’t bother focusing on it.
During this level bracket you want: Agility = Attack Power > Strength > Intellect > Stamina
If you’re willing to do a little PvP on your Shaman then you can do just a couple of runs in Warsong Gulch between level 10-20 for a great neck piece that proves both Agility and Stamina that costs a dinky 100 Honor. I ran several BG’s to get an average amount of honor per fight and after averaging them together it came out to be about 46 Honor per battle, so anywhere from 92 to 138 Honor per hour depending on how fast the matches go and how long the queue times are. After level 20 you can do a few runs in Arathi Basin if you’re still in a PvP mood and get both a Belt and Boots upgrade for 100 Honor each that provide excellent stats as well.
As far as instances go there are a few good pieces here and there that are solid, and others that are especially good. I strongly suggest you run some randoms once you get to level 15 and try to get your hands on a good cloak in particular. There are several upgrades that you can get from the Satchel of Helpful Goods that will last you for 10 or more levels. Items you’re looking for in particular from the satchel form level 15-25 include:
You’re looking for the “of the Bandit” gear in particular, but the others are good choices as well. Some of the other items I didn’t list are good for you as well, and you may consider holding onto some of the more caster-oriented items in case you find yourself in queue as a Healer. If you aren’t going to queue to heal at all and refuse to be a healer then you can ignore that bit of advice of course.
After level 25 the Random queues will drop a different version of the Satchel of Helpful Goods which will reward you with necklaces or gloves instead. (Protip: If you happen to be an enchanter you may want to consider selling these necklaces that aren’t upgrades rather than disenchanting them as they sell rather high to vendors for their level.)
Razorfen Kraul has a couple of really big upgrades you’ll want to watch out for, particularly Ferine Leggings which look horrid but offer huge melee stats, and Corpsemaker which lives up to its name nicely. You also may want to grab the Tusken Helm which you can’t use until level 40 because it’s mail, but if no other mail wearers want it then it’s 24 AP waiting for you right when you hit level 40. If you only get one item from here, the Leggings are some of the best you’ll find for a while.
Gnomeregan is the last one we’ll discuss in this portion. If you still need a decent weapon then Thermaplugg’s Left Arm is a solid option even if it is a bit rarer on the drop list. While not exactly in line with the stats we’re looking for, the Electromagnetic Gigaflux Reactivator can lay some serious hurt down for you, has great +Int, and even though it looks ridiculous it’s hard to find head gear this early so it’s a great choice. There’s also the Charged Gear ring which drops with a random enchant on it. You’re looking for “of the Tiger”, “of Agility”, “of the Monkey”, “of the Falcon”, “of the Boar”, “of the Bear”, “of Strength”, or possibly “of Intellect”. Tiger and Agility are the big ones.
There are several upgrades to be found in Scarlet Monastery as well, but I’ll leave those for the next guide since at 30 you’ll just barely be getting into SM country and not particularly the parts you’ll find upgrades in.
I focused a lot of my game time this weekend on leveling my Orc Shaman, Belgawrath. Over half of his quest log was filled with quests that are done in instances ranging from Wailing Caverns to Scarlet Monastery. Since I was already level 31, I decided that Wailing Caverns was not worth my time and just dropped them instead.
Just as I prepared to delete the quests for Razorfen Kraul as well, I saw an LFG message asking for a healer for RFK. I don’t have a single point in the Restoration tree, and I haven’t done any real healing other than my own, but since I had the quest and they were ready to go I went ahead and offered my services. They quickly grabbed me up as apparently they had been looking for a healer for quite a while, so off I went to RFK.
The rest of the group was made of characters in their low 20′s except for the 29 Warrior who was tanking for us. The warrior was the only one high enough to be summoned by the stone. Since a lot of warrior gear looks pretty cool I like to inspect warriors and have a look at what gear they are actually using. The tank was wearing BoA shoulders and a BoA weapon though I do not remember which one it was now. The rest was mostly green drops but he did have a couple of enchants on there so I assumed he knew what he was doing.
After the third pull I gave up on just sitting in the background to heal and proceeded to show the rest of the group how a real dps class does damage and then threw the heals around when needed. Healing wasn’t hard, but everyone was pulling agro all over the place so I had to heal pretty much everyone but myself. It went in little spurts though where healing was needed everywhere one second and then nobody needed it the next.
After the fifth pull I noticed a dangerous trend and started asking questions. We’ll just call this tank Cuddlebear.
“Cuddlebear, how many instances have you tanked before?” (Answer: 8 or 9)
“Cuddlebear, why do you keep losing agro? Do you know what taunts are?” (Answers: I don’t know. No?)
“Cuddlebear, why aren’t you using Thunder Clap?” (Answer: )
“Cuddlebear, why are you doing nothing by auto-attacks?” (Answer: )
“Cuddlebear, why do you keep moving all over the place for no reason?” (Answer: )
So, after figuring out that this tank has no idea what he’s doing, I explained to him how a warrior tank works at his level. And to my surprise, he still can’t hold agro on anything at all. And I’m not talking about holding it against me and my comparatively epic dps, I’m talking about the mage who cast a single Frostbolt and pulled the tank’s main target. To give the guy some bit of credit, there was another dps warrior in there that was using Thunder Clap and pulling some of the mobs off of him.
Since he stopped replying to my questions, which I can understand if he felt like I was attacking him with the questioning, I decided I would go ahead and tank the instance in addition to the healing and dps I was already doing. I was already the strongest dps, obviously, and I was the only one in the instance that even had the option of healing, but I was pretty sure I could tank better than the warrior, so that’s what I did.
I just went ahead and beat the snot out of everything that came at us, threw down some Stoneclaw, Healing Stream, and Magma Totems and went to town owning face with my mace. When people got low on hit points I stopped what I was doing to heal them instead. When someone pulled agro away and started taking too much damage I went ahead and switched targets to get agro or kill the mob.
So, for RFK I did my usual job of dps, while filling the necessary role of healing, and also tanking 80% of the instance as well. Sorry Mr. Cuddlebear, but you just got out-tanked by a leather wearing class that has the lowest hit points in the game. Cuddlebear (Orc Warrior), I can do anything better than you.
It took quite a while for some reason, but I did eventually find a group that was willing to run through SM: Library and Armory. We had a 38 Warlock who actually managed to out-dps me a few times, and a 38 Paladin who came to tank for us but bailed after the first boss in Library. The rest of the group were low 30′s, with me at 33.
After the paladin bailed the 29 Warrior (not Cuddlebear from RFK) offered to tank for us and since he used the Equipment Manager to switch to his tanking gear I was actually a little impressed that he might have an idea of what he was doing. Luckily, he actually did a great job even though he was a bit low level. We had a druid doing the healing and though I was strictly dps I did jump in several times to help him heal when the…less than intelligent, rogue wanted to “peek into the next room” and by so doing pulled way more mobs than we wanted.
I have to assume that the rogue was otherwise occupied with something else because (s)he constantly went into the wrong room or pulled mobs from who knows where, or just whatever could possibly be done to screw things up. Luckily the rest of us actually melded surprisingly well and easily made up for the rogue’s mistakes.
The tank was good at what he did, but he was also having connection issues, so when the rogue came running in with another group of mobs chomping at her heals, I had to switch over to being an off-tank and steal the mobs from her. Luckily she was smart enough to not build up any agro when she pulled the groups, so my totems, shocks, and attacks were enough to gather them all to me and chew them down. We didn’t want to lose the tank while he was dc’ed, so we kept the druid healing him and I just healed myself when I needed it.
The druid was pretty good on heals for the most part, but I think he was pretty new to it. When things got hairy, I dropped the dps gig and went pseudo-resto instead. When things were cool the druid worked just fine, but when extra mobs were pulled he fell apart. When it comes to healing in a pinch, Mr. Resto Druid, I can do anything better than you.
The warlock’s blueberry was supposed to be our off-tank, but he couldn’t match me for holding agro so we sent him back to the void for the Felhound instead. Yes Mr. Voidwalker, I can do anything better than you. The Felhound’s Fel Intellect buff is my new best friend though. With Mental Dexterity I get attack power from my Intellect, and the boost this little guy was giving me sent my windfury crits up another 200 damage.
After clearing Library the tank got dc’ed and never came back, so I had a DK in the guild come and run us through the rest of it instead. Got a few decent gear upgrades, but mostly mail armor I can’t wear until 40 anyway.
Useful Tools Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem
One thing I want to share that really helped me out in my “tanking” as a shaman, was the Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem. When you use the totem the glyph makes a protective bubble pop up around you that absorbs damage. This was critical at times when I had 4 or more mobs on me and really needed to heal. I dropped the totem for the sake of getting the bubble. The threat generation is nice if you haven’t built up threat on the mobs around you, but the main thing was that bubble.
When the bubble is up I have time to let my Healing Wave cast, and that’s usually enough by itself to heal about 50-60% of my overall health in one cast. I usually cast my healing spells on myself in a reactive manner, only using them when I drop below 40% in health. I don’t cast them when things just start to look a little bad, I wait until I get to the point death is soon to follow if something doesn’t happen pretty fast.
Since my Shaman is an Inscriptionist (no, I don’t like calling myself a “scribe”), I went ahead and just made the glyph myself to try it out, knowing that I could just as easily make a different glyph to replace it in all of 3 seconds if I needed to. As it turns out, it’s extremely useful in leveling and questing as well as in instances where you have to pick up the slack for the other players.
Where To Level
After getting my Fire Totem right before hitting level 13, I went ahead and pushed forward into the Barrens. There are a ton of quests to do in the Barrens, and while they do stretch across the whole map, most of the ones for a given level are bundled together in a fairly small area making it easier to level.
When I level a character in the barrens, I basically grab every quest I can find and just do them all. There is a troll standing in front of a hut right across from the orc blacksmithing area, and I never take the quests that he has to offer. Otherwise, if I see a quest I take it.
A lot of the mobs in the Barrens like to run away from you, which bugs me to no end. I found the Earthbind totem to be particularly useful for that. I also started saving my Earthshock for when I might be able to score a killing blow on a runner, or I would just throw a lightning bolt at them instead if they were headed off in a direction with no other mobs in it.
If you don’t like the Barrens, or you are even more tired of running characters through there than I am, then feel free to go somewhere else. I gave a lot of thought to questing in the Ghostlands over by the Blood Elf city instead, and the only reason I did not was because there is no Shaman trainer in Silvermoon City.
All of the quests in the Barrens can take you right up to level 30. I usually quest here until about level 25-28 and then move on to another location. I prefer Tarren Mill as my next stop, personally. The bad thing about Tarren Mill is that the nearest major city, Undercity, does not have a Shaman trainer in it either. The good thing about UC though, is that there’s a zeplin right outside waiting to take you to Orgrimar where you can train.
I still love Tarren Mill and the quests in that area, so almost every character I ever make ends up questing there for those levels.
Gear Upgrades Weapons:
The axe that I had was still doing an excellent job over here, though I did have a few mobs that actually lived long enough to require a second or third attack. At level 15 I had the chance to pick up an excellent axe called Boahn’s Fang that falls off of a rare spawn named Boahn that can be found every 8 hours outside the entrance of the Wailing Caverns instance. You do have to go inside the cave, but he’s found in the cavern right outside the portal to the instance itself. Since my main character is also an enchanter, I had him enchant the axe to add another 7 damage to it just to beef it up a little bit more.
I bought it on the AH with my main character for 15g. Now, not every shaman is going to be able to buy this axe. Either because they don’t have the gold, or because it’s simply not available to them. The axe is not required to level a shaman, it just happened to make it easier for me personally.
Once I started using Boahn’s Fang I went right back to killing everything with a Lightning Bolt, Earth Shock, Attack combination. The axe was insanely brutal in my orc’s powerful hands, and he chewed right through his quests.
When I hit level 22, I did end up replacing the axe with Living Root which dropped off of one of the bosses in Wailing Caverns. I tested it out and found that it dealt more damage on a consistent basis than Boahn’s Fang did. The axe crit more often, but the staff’s crits dealt more damage, so I went ahead and switched. Boahn’s Fang did last me for 7 levels, and easily could have lasted longer as well.
After a few levels of questing I started running through Wailing Caverns and was able to collect almost the entire Embrace of the Viper Set, which is all “of the Fang”. The belt was the only thing I missed out on. From the set pieces that I did manage to grab I gain +18 Strength, +21 Agility, +18 Stamina, and 289 Armor. Since I have 4 of the 5 pieces in the set, I also gain 7 Nature Spell Power, 4 Expertise, and 6 Spell Power, and I am missing out on +10 Intellect for having the belt as well.
If you can find the Fang Set, then I suggest you go ahead and pick it up because the Strength and Agility bonuses that it gives to you provides a solid boost to your attack power and crit chance. The Gloves are the only piece that are not Bind on Pickup, so you will have to get all of the rest of the pieces yourself. Even though the gloves can be bought on the AH, I would suggest trying to run the instance to find them for yourself as the AH price is usually pretty high since twinks still use them.
My shaman, Belgawrath (Level 28 Orc), is still using the Living Branch for his weapon and the Fang set for most of his armor. The weapon is not as strong now as it was when I first switched over to it, but I have another axe ready for him to pick up at level 31 that should fix that problem. The armor will still be good for a few more levels still, and I am able to deal enough damage right now that I can kill most mobs before it becomes an issue.
The Glory of Ghost Wolf
Ghost Wolf is a wonderful addition to your skills when you hit level 20, granting you +40% run speed. You can also spend talent points to reduce the casting time from 2 seconds down to an instant cast, which is what I suggest. Some guides will tell you to save the points in Improved Ghost Wolf until about level 22 or so. Personally, I love moving faster, so I put the 2 points it takes at levels 18 and 19, so that I can take advantage of it just as I get it.
Ghost Wolf is one of your most useful spells, especially if you spend those talent points to make it an instant cast. Besides the obvious benefit of being able to move faster at level 20, you can also put it to good use in combat. If you are fighting mobs that flee when their health is low, then you can pop Ghost Wolf and chase them down if needed. If you cast a spell while GW is active, then it will cancel the GW spell. But, you can still attack while in GW form, so you don’t have to turn it off in order to attack. Ghost Wolf is also great for kiting enemies around, as well as for making quick escapes by throwing down Earthbind or Stoneclaw totems when you pull too many mobs and then casting GW to run away.
Most of the time I did not bother using my totems in this area, generally speaking. When I was able to fight mobs one on one, then I would throw down an occasional Strength of the Earth totem to make my attacks stronger.
When I happened to pull multiple mobs, or I when I pulled mobs that have pets, I would use the Stoneclaw Totem to draw agro to it while I attacked a single target. If I pulled more than two mobs, I used Stoneclaw first and tried to kill one of them. If the totem did not last long enough, or for some reason I could not kill the mob fast enough, I instead dropped an Earthbind totem and just ran away until I lost agro.
Luckily, most of the mobs in this area do not hit very hard unless they are 3-4 levels higher than you. So if you do find yourself facing more than one mob, you do also have the option of just relying on your attacks for your damage and spending your mana on healing spells for yourself instead of attack spells. I was quite successful with this when fighting mobs that were closer to my level.
After you get Water Shield, you can use your totems more freely and more often. I don’t suggest you use them constantly, or that you throw down all the totems available to you at every fight, but you don’t have to worry so much about running out of mana as you used to. If you find yourself low on mana, try to pull over a low level mob and let them beat on you a few times while your Water Shield is up so that you can restore some of your mana.
Shamans have the lowest hit point totals in the game. They might have better armor than mages, but mages have more hit points. Don’t hesitate to drop either a Stoneclaw or Earthbind totem and then run away for the sake of staying alive. Your low health pool doesn’t last very long against a multiple sources of damage.
Enhancement Shamans rely heavily on their mana to be able to do anything other than regular attacks. While your attacks can be very powerful, you also tend to have to use a slow weapon in exchange for that power. There are two things that I want to suggest to help you conserve mana:
Keep Water Shield active unless Lightning Shield is needed
Use Bandages and/or Potions whenever possible
Don’t overuse your totems
Water Shield: Water Shield works just like Lightning shield, but instead of dealing damage to enemies that hit you, Water Shield restores 10 mana every 15 seconds and it also restores 40+ mana each time you get hit. So while you are in combat your mana is constantly being refreshed. Even with the mana get regain by using WS, the following points are still important.
Bandages and Potions: This is free healing. Sure, they can’t be used when you’re in the thick of melee, but they can used right after you finish. You can also use them right after you drop a Stoneclaw Totem and it grabs agro from the mobs around you. You can also use one when you drop an Earthbind totem and then run away faster than the mobs can chase you down.
If you can’t get away, or your totems don’t buy you enough time, then potions are your next best option if you need to conserve your mana. If you don’t have any potions, or your health is too low for the potion to be of any real use, then by all means cast your healing spells instead. If you have to use mana to survive, then go ahead and do it. But if you don’t have to, then don’t waste the mana.
Overusing Totems: A totem is basically a buff that you cast on an area instead of on individuals. That’s a great thing, because a single spell buffs your whole party (if they’re in range). The bad thing is, that area you cast it in never changes. So if you want the buff after you move, you have to recast your totems. Don’t feel like you always have to have your totem “buffs” on you. They certainly help, but they aren’t required.
When I am leveling solo, I prefer to only drop totems if I know that there are plenty of mobs around me that I can pull over to within the totem’s range. I drop my totems, pull the first mob, and then focus on him until he’s down. I then pull the second right back to the very same place, and continue this cycle until I have killed all of the mobs nearby. You get the most out of your totems when you are not forced to move out of their range and can take advantage of their duration.
Fire totems are a huge drain to your mana. If you need a fire totem, then go ahead and drop one. But the first couple of fire totems you get don’t really provide enough benefit or for a long enough amount of time for them to be worth their mana cost. Now, I have gotten some serious help from throwing down a Fire Nova totem while questing in the Barrens, and it has saved my life more than once. I’m not trying to tell you not to use them at all, I just want you to know that there is no reason to feel like you have to to throw them down every chance you get. If you don’t need your totems, then don’t bother casting them. They are there to help you and your party, but they are not required.