So, you're thinking of playing a Shaman? This page is intended to give a short overview of what to do over the first 10 levels or so, just to get you started on the right path. If you're looking for more of an overview of the class's abilities, see the main Shaman page. For more advanced topics, see the Shaman Tactics.
For a more general overview on starting out playing WoW, see the Newbie Guide.
Shamans are jack-of-all-trades, meaning that they are a hybrid of several abilities rather than a class with one specialized role. They can heal, fight, do direct damage, do damage over time, and buff groups. They can do it all. Unfortunately, they cannot do it all very well. Their versatility spreads wide, but not deep. They will not typically heal as well as a Priest, fight as well as a Warrior, smite the enemy from afar as well as a Warlock, or crowd control at all.
Being versatile, they can handle most situations themselves, so they make good solo characters.
A defining characteristic of Shamans is their totems, which can be a serious advantage to groups when used correctly. One challenge in using Shaman totems is that they are stationary, and only affect the Shaman, party members, or enemies who are within range. However, in exchange for this limitation, Shaman Totems include one of the most varied set of skills in the game. Further, four totems may be active at once, typically two or three of which are improving every member of the group. As a result, a single Shaman brings skills that would take several other classes to provide to a group.
Whether your Shaman specializes in healing, melee dps, or caster dps, you will have the opportunity to play a utility role through totems. In lower level groups, this utility function will often go unnoticed. For example, Stoneskin Totem reduces the damage taken by party members, and a resistance totem can reduce the magic damage in a particular school of magic. In certain encounters, these group bonuses will make a dramatic difference. At lower levels, other players may not realize your appropriate use of totems is playing such an important role, and as a result they will go under-appreciated. However, at higher levels, and especially at maximum-level where players are more experienced, your totems will not only be appreciated, but sought out, talked about, negotiated for, revered, and sometimes even demanded.
If you're considering playing a shaman, you'll have to ask yourself a few questions, first:
- Do I want the challenge of a class with multiple simultaneous roles?
- Can I easily switch modes between a caster role in the back of the fight to being in the thick of battle?
- Can I think quickly, and handle a large set of hotkeys in the process of getting my job done?
- Can I quickly sort through a vast range of choices and choose the best tool for the job at that exact instant?
These are all things a shaman will deal with. It's an unorthodox hybrid role, and sometimes under-appreciated. Shaman are not as popular healers as priests when people need to set up a group, but will get just as much blame if the whole party is killed. It will take more to gain the respect of other players, but that fact will make the respect all the greater.
If you're a power-player, you'll want to consider the various Racial Traits when choosing what race to play. You might also consider the racial Attributes, but after the first 20 levels or so these become largely irrelevant, as the items you've gained will often outstrip any racial bonuses.
Shamans can be only four of the Horde races and two on the Alliance side, but also a Pandaren, each of which has an ability that lends itself to the class:
- The war-stomp of the Tauren can greatly enhance a Shaman's survivability, as it allows a pause to self-heal or run. It helps control multiple foes, which shamans sometimes have a problem with, and it allows them to stun enemies in PvP.
- Orcs have Blood Fury, which is useful to a hybrid class since it increases both attack power and spell power. They also have Hardiness, which makes them recover from stuns a bit more quickly.
- Both the berserking and regeneration of the Troll are useful to the shaman, and the Beast Slaying bonus tends to be useful for leveling and Skinning. The Troll specializations in Thrown Weapons and Bows are useless to shaman, who are unable to use ranged weapons.
- The Draenei have Gift of the Naaru, which can save healing mana while soloing, and Heroic Presence, which increases the group's chance to hit.
- Stoneform will Give the Dwarves of Ironforge an extremely useful self-cleanse if you were to encounter an enemy that relies on attacks that causes varying debuffs going from poisons and bleeds to diseases and curses. In PVP, it is extremely powerful against rogues. Might of the Mountain is also a handy passive buff that will strengthen your own healing spells and damaging attacks.
- The Pandaren carries on Quaking Palm, a useful four second stun that can give a good break to summon several totems or to heal up. Inner Peace is also very useful, thanks to it doubling the duration of the rested bonus that the shaman is given, allowing for a quicker leveling up whenever you disconnect from an inn. Bouncy can sometimes be an invaluble asset should you fall off a high place by accident.
For more casual gamers, there's really no major difference between the races - choose the race that you want to play, whether for its looks, its voice, or because it's simply good fun!
Base stats at level 70
Again, shamans are a balanced class, so you should balance your gear as well, with emphasis on maximizing the effectiveness of your desired role(s).
Elementalists will want burst damage caster stats, so look for hit rating, crit rating, intellect, MP5, and spellpower.
Enhancement shamans will want light melee stats with a lesser emphasis on caster stats. Look for hit rating, crit rating, attack power (especially via agility, though raw AP tends to come in larger quantities), and intellect. Thanks to Mental Quickness, spellpower is basically ignorable, but you shouldn't necessarily refuse it.
Restoration shamans naturally want healing stats. Look for intellect, spellpower, MP5, and crit rating.
- Leatherworking lets you make leather and later mail armor, which is what shaman wear.
- Equipment from Jewelcrafting tends to be more caster oriented, and a hybrid class would likely appreciate it most.
- Alchemy is useful to all classes.
- Engineering offers the shaman more abilities, and the various bombs and grenades in particular expand AoE options.
- Inscription lets you make your own glyphs, and the off-hand tomes may be useful to an elemental or restoration shaman.
- Enchanting lets you perform your own enchantments or make money from enchanting others.
- Blacksmithing produces mail armor and melee weapons and may appeal to an enhancement shaman.
- Or you might decide to just take two of Mining, Skinning or Herbalism and sell the materials you gather for gold.
Totems: Drop em like they are HOT! (Something that was a staple in a shaman's past was Totemic Focus. This very helpful and essential part of a shaman was removed on a recent patch.)
Don't stand next to them, get behind your opponent! Put them between you and your totems.
The easiest way to progress through the early levels is to simply do any and all of the quests you can find. Not only will you breeze through the first 5 to 10 levels, but you'll get useful gear and precious money. Money is particularly important so you can purchase your spells.
You will spend levels 1 to 5 in your starting town. Make sure you get all the spells you can from your trainer. Between level 5 and 6 you'll find yourself heading off to your second town and a new trainer who can teach you various things. At the second town, repeat the process - do each and every quest you can find. It's important to keep up with your abilities and your gear. Now is also an appropriate time to start training in your chosen professions.
Levels 1 - 3
Initially, you're equipped with a ranged attack, Lightning Bolt. At maximum range, open combat by casting Lightning Bolt, spamming it until the mob is dead.
Levels 4 - 5
At level 4, you can learn Earth Shock and Rockbiter Weapon. If you are soloing or actively assuming the role of a tank, keep Rockbiter active at all times, and continually spam Earth Shock as often as possible. Continue to open combat with Lightning Bolt at maximum range. Also use Earth Shock to snipe runners.
Levels 6 - 7
At level 6, you can learn Earthbind Totem and soon acquire Stoneskin Totem. Cast Stoneskin Totem to buff your defenses before combat. Switch to Earthbind Totem if the enemy starts to run or if you're trying to run away.
Notable early quests
The following lists are not intended to be comprehensive, but cover a selection of the best quests in the starting areas from levels 1 to 10.
- Call of the Earth, available from Canaga Earthcaller in the Valley of the Trials, will get you started on the path of the shaman by gaining your earth totem.
- Call of the Earth, available from Seer Ravenfeather on Red Cloud Mesa, will get you started on the path of the shaman by gaining your earth totem.
- Call of the Earth is available from the shaman trainer in Ammen Vale. You earn your Earth Totem by performing a very simple task for a very large Earth Elemental.
On soloing and grouping
At early levels, the shaman is usually more than a match for any single opponent of their own level or less, but can almost never defeat two such opponents at once. When approaching groups of opponents, try to pick out one on the edge and draw it away with Earth Shock. At low levels, the mob should obediently run over to you without alerting its comrades. Exchange blows with your opponent, keeping an Earth Shock in reserve in case they try to run.
Make sure you have a weapon buff like Rockbiter Weapon on at all times. Once you get it, keep your Lightning Shield active all of the time (you may need to reactivate it repeatedly during combat). Most of the time, you should have a Stoneskin Totem active, preferably cast before the combat (this totem lasts long enough that you can often cast it, then regenerate your mana before starting your attack).
Since you can only cast one totem of each element at a time, the Earthbind Totem tends not to be used often. Use it only when fighting fast opponents, or those likely to run. (Plainstriders are both of these.) Similarly, the Stoneclaw Totem is of limited utility, as generally you will quickly generate more threat than it. It can be useful as a decoy, however, if you are being chased or are trying to slip by a mob. Also, if you accidentally get 2 (or more) mobs on a pull or an add runs up while you are busy, you can drop a stoneclaw totem to keep the extra(s) busy for a while as you bash the first one into submission, because, if you don't attack them they will stay interested in the totem and not you.
Shamans are one of the few casting classes that can wear leather armor, so push this advantage as much as possible. Make sure you have the best armor you can afford, and either make or buy armor kits to pump your armor.
The shaman is a jack-of-all-trades class, 2nd to only the druids, which make them both a blessing and a curse for groups. They can fulfill multiple roles in a group (not effective tanks), but never fill any one role as well as a more specialized class. Additionally, most skills that make shamans useful to a group come after reaching level 10.
Still, low-level shamans can help most groups significantly. Their totem spells are some of the only spells in the game that affect entire groups. At low levels, the Stoneskin Totem improves the survivability of the party significantly, as does Healing Wave. The combination makes low-level shamans best at being a group's secondary healer, though they can be primary healers if necessary. If acting as primary healer, refrain from activating your Lightning Shield in order to avoid drawing aggro that might interrupt your heals. Shamans can also both deal and take damage, so often will act as a buffer between front line fighters and the direct damage dealers.
If your group dynamic allows it, try to focus less on fighting and more on monitoring the battlefield. Heal when needed. Always group buff with Stoneskin. Watch for mobs harassing spell casters, particularly the primary healer. If you are the primary healer, resist the urge to pummel opponents. Playing a group shaman is something of an art. You have a wide range of tricks at your disposal and using the right one at the right time makes all the difference.
Most classes are given advice to "assist" the Warrior if you have one in your group, to ensure you focus your party's firepower on one mob. You can do this by selecting the tank (use the F1-F5 keys to target group members) and then pressing "F". This way, mobs will die faster. If you don't have a tank in the group, agree amongst yourselves who to assist. Although it's not all that important now, it's an important habit to get used to for later levels.
While good advice, shamans should take it with a grain of salt. If tank support is your role in the group, then do it; however, more often your job will be to assist the other players who are assisting the tank.
- As shaman can wear leather armor, the benefits of being able to gather and make it should be obvious. Note, however, that shaman gain the ability to wear mail at level 40. As a skilled Leatherworker, you will be able to make mail armor at that level. However, this profession combination is not nearly as profitable later on.
- The spells of a shaman are not as mana-efficient as those of other classes, so being able to make your own mana potions is a big help. Note also that Tauren get bonuses to herbalism.
- Given their eventual ability to wear mail, this combination is more of a long term choice, but can be very lucrative and allows the ability to make your own weapons. Note that some of the blacksmithing recipes cost money better spent elsewhere (on spells, for example), so pick designs for a reason. For example, if you don't use swords, you may be able to pass on the lower level sword patterns.
- With a variety of weapon-buffing spells, enchanting isn't as useful for shaman as it is for some other classes; it is, however, a good moneymaker at higher levels.
- Although expensive and time-consuming to level up, jewelcrafting has its payoffs later on when you can obtain higher level recipes and begin to take orders for gem cuts. If you become the guild jewelcrafter you can quickly become the recipient of hard-to-find recipes that are time consuming to farm and expensive on the Auction House with tremendous payoffs for your guildmates and yourself.
- One school of thought is to gather two types of resources, sell them on the Auction House and buy what you need. Many people who go the Mining / Skinning route have enough gold to buy their mount at 20 as soon as they level although Mining / Herbalism tends to be more profitable over level 65.
Start your profession early! It's usually not too expensive, and you want to ensure that anything you create with your skills is applicable to your shaman's level.
- With their abundant healing abilities, cooking doesn't help shaman as much as others. Still, some of the early quests in the game give rewards of recipes that boost spirit, which can be useful. At low levels, being able to cook some of the critter parts you are collecting anyway into more profitable forms can be useful. Since it is cheap to pick up, it doesn't hurt to be a low-level cook.
- Fishing is mostly useful as additional income, though is not as lucrative as it once was. Fishing is also useful to provide ingredients for Cooking and Alchemy if you have taken those professions.
- Because Shamans are healers, First Aid may not be quite as important as in other classes but there are definite benefits. For starters, learning First Aid is (virtually) free and doesn't take up a skill slot. First Aid can greatly reduce the down-time after a battle by letting you avoid expending mana to heal you and your party back up. You will also be able to make anti-venoms to remove poisons, although a Shaman is able to train Cure Poison at level 16.
The most important goal for a low-level shaman is to get the earth and (at level 10) fire totems whilst also learning all available spells.
As you approach level ten, you should develop a strategy for your talents and be building up the skills and professions for them. For example, will you use a fast weapon and a shield or a heavy hitting two-hander? Which of these you favor may color your choices of talents.