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Shaman Leveling Guide

Introduction -- How to Level a Shaman in WotLK

The shaman class' talent trees are: Enhancement, Restoration and Elemental that each offer a very unique play style and very different needs when it comes to gear. Elemental and Enhancement are the two trees that focus on damage dealing, while Restoration focuses on healing. Either of the damage dealing trees is your way to go if you want to solo level your way to 80, while if you want to use the random dungeon tool for leveling it's better to play Restoration for shorter queues and great rewards from instances. As an aside, Dugi's Dungeon Leveling Guide will greatly speed up your leveling through instances.

Shaman Leveling Gear -- stats to focus on

The Shaman class starts off as (cloth and) leather users, and at level 40 mail users.

Enhancement

The Enhancement shaman focuses on stats such as attack power, agility, crit and haste while leveling. You want to get your attack power up as high as possible because of your Mental Quickness talent that you can get around level 50-55. Intellect is nice as well, as all your attacks cost mana, and because of the talent Mental Dexterity. Expertise and Hit is always nice too. Strength on the other hand, is okay, but only translates into 1 attack power. You will be in melee-range taking damage as you grind through mobs, so stamina is never to be underestimated either.

To clarify:

Pre- Shamanistic Rage:
Attack power, Agility, Intellect and Strength

Post- Shamanistic Rage;
Attack power, Agility, Hit and Expertise

Haste and Crit is also okay.

Elemental

Elemental, on the other hand, requires intellect, crit and spell power. Spell haste never hurts. Intellect will let you cast more spells before running out of mana, and at the low levels it will work as your primary stat. IF you find cloth armor with the right stats, don't be afraid to use it.

Before level 40-50
Intellect, mp5 and Spell power

After level 40-50
Spell power, Haste, Crit and Intellect.

mp5 if you find yourself running out of mana quickly

Restoration

Pretty much the same as Elemental, but if you find yourself running out of mana, prioritize intellect and mana per 5.

Note: at lower levels, intellect will be your primary stat like with Elemental. Your heals will be big enough, but you will run out of mana quickly, so the more intellect, the more spells. Also, cloth armor with the right stats never hurts.

Before level 40-50
Intellect, mp5, Spell power

After level 40-50
Intellect, mp5, Haste, Crit and spell power

Shaman Leveling Heirlooms and enchants

Use your leftover Badges (or Emblems) / Stone Keeper's Shards / Champion's Seals to make leveling even easier. Heirlooms will greatly increase the leveling speed, as some of them provide extra experience. They improve as you level, and their stats often stay equal to dungeon drops around your level.

Which heirlooms for a shaman?

Trinkets

Discerning Eye of the Beast will provide you with both spell power and mana, as opposed to Swift Hand of Justice which provides haste and health, and therefore I suggest taking the first one as Elemental/Restoration, and the second one for Enhancement.

Also, remember that you can use two of the same heirloom trinket.

Ring

Every Saturday, the big Tuskarr named Elder Clearwater holds a fishing contest, with the Dread Pirate Ring as one of the rewards. He waits around in Dalaran starting 2PM Server Time for the first person to catch him a Blacktip Shark.

Enhancement heirlooms

Weapons

Up until level 40 you can't dual wield, so the best heirloom for this period is the Bloodied Arcanite Reaper, however once you train dual wielding you should go with two Venerable Mass of McGowan this mace is nice and slow can be used in either hand. Remember that you can enchant your heirloom weapons with level 60 enchants, so Crusader and/or Agility are a good idea if you can afford them and find an enchanter with the recipes.

Unfortunately for enhancement the heirlooms from PvP are not well optimized, the 2hander is a sword which shamans cant use and the 1h'ers are fast daggers (Sharpened Scarlet Kris). As enhancement you want to aim for the slowest possible weapons, 2.6 or slower is ideal.

Chest and shoulder slots:

For maximum damage output, combine Champion Herod's Shoulder and Champion's Deathdealer Breastplate. There is also a shoulder PvP equivalent, Prized Beastmaster's Mantle.

Elemental / Restoration heirlooms

Weapons -- 2h staff or 1h mace + offhand/shield

Here you have two options, you can either go with a 2h staff or a 1h mace & offhand/shield. I suggest that for convenience you stick with the staff, as this will prevent you from having to find a new offhand or shield every few levels. However if you tend to solo a lot the one hand option together with a shield can give you some added survivability, particularly if you use a tanking shield (often you may be forced to as caster shields are fairly rare at lower levels)

Heirloom Weapon Options

Dignified Headmaster's Charge(2h) and Devout Aurastone Hammer (1h) may be purchased with badges or champion's seals, however if you are lacking in these or if you would prefer some resilience so that you can PvP a bit then you can get the Grand Staff of Jordan (2h) or The Blessed Hammer of Grace(1h) which can be purchased in Wintergrasp for Stone Keeper's Shards.

Just note that the PvP equivalents will result in lower dps.

Chest and shoulders

As for the chest and shoulder slots, Mystical Pauldrons of Elements and Mystical Vest of Elements seems to be the best combo.

There’s also leather and cloth heirlooms, however the mail ones are better. If you can't afford the mail heirlooms, use whatever else you might have as the cloth and leather ones with spell power also can prove to be pretty decent.

There's also PvP shoulders you can buy for Stone Keeper's Shards, Aged Pauldrons of The Five Thunders. Again, they don't beat the emblem/seal ones when it comes to damage.

Elemental and Restoration Weapon Enchants

Weapons can take any enchant that doesn't have a level requirement, such as Enchant Weapon - Mighty Intellect and Enchant Weapon – Spellpower.

General Chest Enchants

As a shaman, you should get Enchant Chest - Greater Stats or Enchant Chest - Major Mana. Personally, I'd get the stats because it boosts your Intellect and health pool, plus Agility and Strength if you are Enhancement.

Other enchants

Enchanting and giving your character the best gear possible takes up a lot of time, and generally for a very small damage boost. Farming the materials/money/items can take up quite some time, and I generally advice you not to do it.

….these boots are made for walking

If anything, getting a low level pair of boots, like Tattered Cloth Boots and enchant them with Enchant Boots - Minor Speed can be nice. The run speed will work as a nice boost until you get your mount/Ghost Wolf. These boots can also be used on other low level alts.

Best Shaman Leveling Builds / Specs / Talents?

Enhancement Leveling Build

Enhancement has some great talents for leveling however many of these are not available right away (Such as Improved Stormstrike at level 45 and Shamanistic Rage at level 50) this can either lead to a fair amount of downtime at lower levels in order to replenish health and mana or it can result in you just using auto swing in an effort to save mana. This can put you off leveling as enhancement but if you stick with it and just carry around some water the effort will be well worth it. In the worst case, there's always Elemental!

Keep the above in mind when you are choosing your talents, try to go for the ones that will increase your mana efficiency and reduce downtime first, after that, go for damage enhancing talents, this way your leveling speed will be higher. If at low levels you find you are running low on mana, use water shield instead of lightning shield; since mobs should be hitting you fairly constantly you should be getting enough mana back to keep grinding, just remember to keep an eye on your health.

Once you have the Maelstrom Weapon talent, I strongly recommend you get an addon that can let you know once you have 5 stacks, this way you can use it as soon as it is ready and prevent wastage, for this I use Power Auras (See addon section for more information)

Elemental Leveling Build

Leveling as elemental can get very repetitive at lower levels where the only abilities you have are lightning bolt and flame shock/earth shock. However this does get somewhat better once you get lava burst(level 75) and thunderstorm (level 60 minimum via the talent).

Eye of the Storm is a really usefully talent if you intend to solo as it will prevent that pesky push back problem!

If you do find yourself doing dungeons a lot it is a good idea to invest in the Glyph of Thunderstorm (at level 70). If you don't have this glyph try be careful when and where you use this ability as it can be very annoying for the tank when mobs are bouncing around like pinballs.

Restoration Leveling Build 

If you are leveling as restoration you will be doing a lot of dungeons, if not, you should really consider a different spec, soloing as restoration is possible but it is considerably slower than either of the other two specs. If you are going to be PuGing most of your dungeons or grouping with an inexperienced tank then I would strongly recommend you take the Healing Focus talent, this will help a lot if the tank is unable to hold aggro as it will allow you to continue healing even if there is a mob hitting you. If you are confident in your tank's ability you can switch this talent out for Ancestral Healing as this will increase your efficiency by reducing damage taken. Nature's Swiftness can be particularly useful at lower levels where a single Healing Wave will take the tank back to full health. Improved Water Shield is a great efficiency talent, make sure you keep water shield on you at all times (See the addon section, I use Power Auras for this task).

General Shaman Leveling Tips

Totems

Totems are awesome. Just remember that totems cost mana, so don't pop all your totems if you are just killing a single mob.

Remember you can use fire nova with ANY fire totem down, and that it is an AOE ability and will damage all the mobs around the totem.

Enhancement

Keep an eye on your mana bar, you don't want to be left just auto swinging, make sure to carry around some water at lower levels and use Stormstrike on cooldown to regain as much mana as possible. If you are soloing, you want to start off with a flame shock to pull the mob, then use Stormstrike once the mob is in melee range, followed by Lava Lash and then earth shock.

A note on shocks – since earth shock and flame shock share a cooldown, you want to make sure that you use the correct one at each cooldown, the general rule is to keep flame shock up on the target. So if the target has flame shock, feel free to use earth shock instead, as the duration of flame shock is affected by haste, you will have to judge for yourself which one to use. Don't refresh the flame shock debuff before the dot has run out as this will lower your DPS.

Totems

Use Strength of Earth, Windfury Totem, Searing totem and Healing Stream/Mana Spring Totem depending on the situation. If you are AoE'ing switch Searing totem with Magma Totem.

Elemental

The rotation here is pretty straight forward, pull the mob with Lightning Bolt, followed by flame shock and then lava burst then Lightning Bolt until something is off cooldown. If there are many mobs you can use Chain Lightning however this is very expensive so use it wisely!

Totems

Use Strength of Earth if you are in a group with melees or else Stoneskin Totem, Wrath of Air, Totem of Wrath (Flametongue at lower levels)and Healing Stream/Mana Spring Totem depending on the situation. If you are AoE'ing switch your fire totem with Magma Totem.

Restoration

If you are new to healing, try and get an addon that estimates heals, this will help you to save mana by picking the correct spell. Don't spam the tank with heals if he is already topped off, this just wastes mana and if you are leveling in dungeons the damage shouldn't be so insane that you need to do this. Once you get Earth Shield, keep this on the tank at ALL times making sure to keep water shield on yourself. Riptide is a great spell for tank healing as it also applies a HoT which can help keep him topped off.

Totems

This will depend heavily on your group makeup and situation. Certain buffs from other classes will overwrite your totems but as a general rule use Strength of Earth if you are in a group with melees or else Stoneskin Totem, Wrath of Air, Flametongue and Healing Stream/Mana Spring Totem depending on the situation. You shouldn't need to AoE as a healer however if you do, you can cast Fire Nova.

Shaman Addons

There are some addons that I suggest getting, even for leveling! The types I recommend are:

DoT tracking

This makes checking the duration of those damn DoTs even easier. Instead of switching target to check how long there is till refresh, get a DoT timer such as:

DoT timer -- easy to understand while it keeps track your DoTs and cooldowns. Easy to understand and ready to track DoTs "right out of the box".

ForteXorcist -- requires a bit more modification than DoTimer does, but when you get it to work, you’ll love it! It can also track cooldowns in a neat easy-to-understand meter.

Threat Meter

If you do dungeons and level with others quite a lot, then this is a really nice addon for you.

I personally prefer Omen Threat Meter, which is easy to use and easy to customize.

Buffs

Power Auras – This neat little addon can be configured to show graphic overlays and play sounds when you gain or lose buffs and debuffs, in addition it is capable of showing a timer and the number of stacks for a buff or debuff.

When configured correctly you can ensure that you are never without a shield, make sure Earth Shield is always up on a friendly player in your party or raid. It is also capable of tracking cooldowns, so you can make sure you always pop that DPS trinket as soon as it's ready.

Shaman Glossary

CH – Chain Heal

CL – Chain Lightning

DW – Dual Wield 

ES – Earth Shield / Earth Shock (pay attention to the context)

HW – Healing Wave

LB – Lightning Bolt

LHW – Lesser Healing Wave

LL – Lava Lash

SS – Stormstrike

WF – Windfury Totem

Upcoming Shaman Cataclysm Changes

Here's a Blizzard post discussing the upcoming changes to the Shaman in Cata.

Source

In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, we’ll be making lots of changes and additions to class talents and abilities across the board. In this preview, you’ll get an early look at some of the changes in store for the shaman class, including a rundown of some of the new spells, abilities, and talents, and an overview of how the new Mastery system will work with the different talent specs.

New Shaman Spells


Primal Strike (available at level 3): Primal Strike is a new weapon-based attack that every shaman will learn very early in the game. Our goal with this ability is to make leveling as Enhancement rather than as Elemental more viable, since many key Enhancement talents become available at fairly high levels.

Healing Wave (level 4): While the shaman already has an ability called Healing Wave, we’re adding another spell to the class’s direct-healing arsenal and giving it a familiar name. The current Healing Wave will be renamed Greater Healing Wave, and the intent is for the “new” Healing Wave to be the shaman’s go-to heal. Lesser Healing Wave and Greater Healing Wave will be used on a more situational basis.

Unleash Weapon (level 81): Unleashes the power of your weapon enchants for additional effects (see below). A dual-wielding Enhancement shaman will activate the effects of both of their weapon enchants. Instant cast. 30-yard range. 15-second cooldown. Undispellable.

Here are a few examples of effects we’re considering for this ability:

  • Windfury Weapon – Hurls a spectral version of your weapon at a target, dealing 50% weapon damage and increasing the shaman’s Haste for the next five swings.
  • Flametongue Weapon – Deals instant Fire damage and buffs the shaman’s next Fire attack by 20%.
  • Earthliving Weapon – Heals the target slightly and buffs the shaman’s next healing spell by 20%.

Healing Rain (level 83): An area-effect heal-over-time (HoT) spell that calls down rain in a selected area, healing all players within it. There is no limit to the number of players who can potentially be affected; however, there are diminishing returns when healing a large number of targets, much like the diminishing returns associated with AoE damage spells. This should give Restoration shaman another healing tool that improves their group-healing and heal-over-time capabilities. 2-second cast time. 30-yard range. 10-second duration. 10-second cooldown.

Spiritwalker’s Grace (level 85): When this self-targeted buff is active, your spells are no longer interrupted by movement and possibly even by your own attacks. This will give shaman of all three specs another way to heal or do damage when it’s necessary to move in both PvE and PvP. Instant cast. 10-second duration. 2-minute cooldown.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics


In addition to adding new spells, we’re planning to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics you’re familiar with. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we intend for each spec.

Restoration shaman and other healing classes will need to pay attention to mana more than they’ve had to during Wrath of the Lich King. Spirit will be the Restoration shaman's primary mana-regeneration stat.

  • We’re making changes to which classes and specs are able to dispel magic, diseases, curses, and poison, largely for PvP purposes. Shaman will have Cleanse Spirit as a baseline ability, but it will only remove curses. Restoration shaman will have a talent that will improve Cleanse Spirit so that it also removes magic. Shaman will no longer be able to remove poison.
  • Cleansing Totem will be removed from the game, as we want dispels to be a decision for players, not something done mindlessly. To that end, all dispels will cost slightly more mana, and you will waste the spell if you cast it when there is nothing to remove. (Currently, the dispel is only cast when there is something to remove, which encourages spamming “just in case.”) We will balance PvE dispelling with this new model in mind.
  • Totem of Wrath now will replace Flametongue Totem for all shaman, and dropping this totem will buff the group’s spell power by 4%. Elemental shaman will have a talent that lets all Fire totems provide +10% spell power, allowing them to drop Searing, Magma, or Fire Elemental Totems without losing their spell-damage buff. The 4% and 10% buffs will be exclusive with each other and with the warlock’s Demonic Pact, so you can’t benefit from all of them at once. We’re also considering letting Elemental drop Searing Totem at range.
  • We want to free up Enhancement global cooldowns to make the spec more dynamic to play. We’re considering, for example, increasing the cooldown of Lava Lash so shaman have time to work other interesting abilities into their rotation.


New Talents and Talent Changes

  • Elemental Reach will be simplified so shaman have a more consistent spell range.
  • We plan to add Earthquake as a deep Elemental talent for targeted and persistent AoE.
  • Spirit Link will likely be worked back into deep Restoration in some form. The idea is that you will be able to link targets together so they share damage. When we had previously tried to implement Spirit Link, it was hard to balance and a little confusing. However, we really liked the concept -- and so did players -- so we are trying to bring it back.
  • Elemental will have a deep talent that allows Spirit (which will appear on the gear they share with Restoration shaman) to boost their Hit rating.
  • Ancestral Knowledge will boost mana pool size, not Intellect.
  • Enhancing Totems will be replaced with Focused Strikes, which will improve the damage of the new spell Primal Strike and Stormstrike.
  • With the Mastery system, we’re also considering removing a number of talents that grant passive bonuses, such as Mental Quickness, Improved Windfury Totem, Mental Dexterity, Call of Thunder, Tidal Mastery, Purification, Nature’s Blessing, and others, to allow players more freedom to choose more interesting talents.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Elemental
Spell damage
Spell Crit
Elemental Overload

Enhancement
Melee damage
Melee Haste
Nature Damage

Restoration
Healing
Meditation
Deep Healing

Elemental Overload: Your direct-damage spells have a chance to proc a less powerful “bonus" version of the spell. This will work much like the current Lightning Overload talent, but would also apply to Lava Burst.

Nature Damage: This will provide a passive bonus to the Nature damage dealt by the Enhancement shaman.

Deep Healing: Your direct heals will do more healing when the target’s health is lower. This will scale to damage (e.g. someone at 29% health would receive more healing than someone at 30%) rather than have arbitrary break points.

We hope you enjoyed this preview, and we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on these additions and changes. Please keep in mind that this information represents a work in progress and is subject to change as development on Cataclysm continues.

[Update 07/04]
Just to clarify a few things:

Meditation – the amount of mana you regenerate in combat as a function of your Spirit.

Also of note, you only get one set of passive talent tree bonuses: the tree in which you’ve spent the most points. Sub-speccing in another tree will not net you those bonuses in addition.

Last but not least, it's the intention of Primal Strike to let shaman play as an Enhancement at low levels. Currently when leveling in this spec, you end up just using Lightning Bolt a lot so you feel like an Elemental shaman instead. At a higher level, Primal Strike gets replaced by Storm Strike. They share a cooldown so Enhancement just won’t ever use Primal Strike after that, in the same way that Prot warriors don’t use Sunder Armor once they have Devastate or Feral druids don’t use Claw once they get Mangle.


[Update 07/04]
Answers to various questions:
http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=12947352584&sid=1&pageNo=7#132

[Update 08/04]
Another question answered:
http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=12947352584&sid=1&pageNo=10#199