From the replies I received on the blog itself and on twitter from those who read it, the Shaman was voted as the top choice for being the first class to use in this project. I’m sure I probably influenced that vote a bit as I mentioned that I had already enjoyed a bit of Resto Shaman leveling in the recent past, but that’s fine.
For those of you who have not read the introductory post, Project: High Heals, I’ll give you a quick recap. Most guides that you find online in relation to healing are all aimed at end game content, making it hard to find quality information on leveling your healing character beyond a simple layout of when/where to spend your talent points. Since writing guides to help people level, and have fun while they do it, is what I do – that’s what I’m going to do with this project. I’m going to level each of the four healing classes from 1-85 without using a non-healing spec the entire time.
Today I’m going to do a bit of outlining for my plans to level the first of the Project: High Heals leveling guides, Bottledwatah the Restoration Shaman.
Shamans have one of the most balanced healing sets of all the healers, which makes them a good choice for both single-target and multi-target healing. You don’t get active multi-target heals until level 40 where you get the Shaman signature, Chain Heal, but your spec-specific bonus heal of Earth Shield allows you to passively heal a target with it while you focus your healing spells on others when necessary. You do get a glimpse of some of your group healing at level 20 when you get Healing Stream Totem, but it’s a bit of a passive heal while the totem is in play, and while the healing from it certainly helps, it’s not something you can rely on if there’s any real amount of damage being applied to your group.
As far as defensive dispels go, Shamans by default can remove Curses and can spend talent points to also remove Magic effects. You can also spec so that using your dispel (Cleanse Spirit) heals the target when you remove a harmful effect so that you’re both cleansing and healing with the same spell.
While not exactly a healing ability, Shamans also have the unique ability to resurrect themselves when they die. Warlocks can use soul stones to mimic the effect, but theirs is a “use it or lose it” option so if you die at a time where resurrecting isn’t important the effect is kind of wasted where a Shaman can chose to resurrect or not any time they die so long as the 30 minute cooldown is up. It’s not really crucial by any means from a leveling standpoint, but it does have its uses and advantages now and then.
The Shaman’s other two talent trees are both DPS, one caster and one melee. This gives the Shaman an interesting advantage when it comes to leveling as Resto because you’re collecting gear that naturally makes you good at casting offensive spells while also having built-in melee attacks that they give you to help you level early on. To compare, the Paladin has melee attacks it can use but there is no Paladin caster spec to draw from, the Priest has two other caster specs that can deal damage but no melee benefit, and while the Druid shares the ability to use melee attacks it requires weaving in and out of forms to switch between casting and melee.
Shamans also have the wonderful use of Ghost Wolf. Granted, you get the spell four levels shy of getting a mount, and it does have a cast time for non-Enhancement Shamans until end game (if you spend the talent points on it), but it’s still a great mobility spell that can be used both in doors and during combat. They also have spells that allow them to breath underwater and to walk on top of it.
You can’t talk about the Shaman class as a whole without mentioning Reincarnation, the self resurrection spell that you can use after any death so long as it’s not on cooldown (30 minutes). The other, big signature feature of the class is the use of Totems. Totems allow you to provide a great number of different buffs to your party which can also be put to good use when leveling solo. Combining the passive/reactive healing of Earth Shield with the glyphed bubble from Stoneclaw Totem for example can give you some incredible survivability.
One of the major advantages of leveling a Restoration Shaman is that you have a solid offensive tool belt that includes both melee and casting attacks, and when you combine that with healing from Earth Shield questing becomes incredibly easy (though not necessarily fast since you get none of the damage buffs that the two DPS specs receive).
As I’ve mentioned before, you also have the use of Ghost Wolf which can make a lot of your questing faster by increasing your movement speed in doors and such. While you don’t have access to them until you’re in Northrend levels, you also receive two totems which act as pets and can be a great help while leveling as well. The Fire and Earth Elemental totems are both really good for when you find yourself being attacked my multiple mobs, or when you want to contribute a bit of damage to a boss fight where your other totems aren’t necessary.
One of the major drawbacks while leveling is that you have no form of crowd control (other than slows) until you reach level 80. Until that point if you happen to pull more mobs than you intended to your only options are to either run away until they reset, or say a prayer to the elements that you can heal yourself enough to survive the pull.
You also have a disadvantage when it comes to gear. While you’re leveling you’ll often find that Cloth pieces are the best items you can get your hands on when you should be wearing Leather (1-39) or Mail (40+) instead. Caster Leather/Mail pieces and caster shields aren’t impossible to find, but they aren’t as abundant thanks to the small number of classes and specs that use them.
Intended Leveling Focus
I haven’t decided 100% which path I’m going to focus on with Bottledwatah. As I said in the initial post, I’m going to do a bit of everything with these little healers, but each of them is also going to lean towards a certain aspect of the game more than others. The Druid will likely focus more on PvP, for example, where the Paladin may focus more on questing.
Right now I’m leaning towards keeping this one pretty evenly focused on all of the different aspects of the game. I have really been enjoying PvP with her, but I’ve had a some fun in LFG as well (though I got more queues to pop as DPS in my Resto spec than I have healing so far). Questing is sort of the in between to pass the time between whichever queue I’m in except for when I’m leveling my professions in which case questing is the norm while I gather materials.
Right now Bottledwatah has Herbalism and Alchemy, but with an 85 Tauren Druid with herbalism on the same server I’m considering dropping Bottle’s herbs for Tailoring instead. Doing this would remove the benefit of gathering experience (which can really help when you’re leveling a healer), but it would make her professions more useful in the long run. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of that in the actual leveling guides, though.
This is the spec that I’m planning to use while I level. My healing experience on a Shaman is pretty limited, so hopefully I’ve chosen a good build there but I can’t say for sure since I’m only level 20. Time will tell, and I’ll be sure to pass on any information it happens to share with me.
And as always I’ll share the details of the spec along with the order in which I spend the talent points in the actual leveling guides.