In defense of Shamanism.

I play a Shaman.  My friend plays a Shaman.  My wife plays a Shaman.  Which only goes to show you what noobs we are.

See, Shamans are the least popular class in the game.  Even soul sucking Warlocks, without a saving grace, other than being a requirement to kill Garr in Molten Core, are more popular.  WoW Insider has a story about it.

And I have to wonder: “Why??”

It’s a very powerful class.  It solos pretty well right from the get go.  Early play involves a combination of casting lightning bolts and knock stuff silly with big weapons.  In time the big weapon is imbued with Windfury and you’re really going to step out.  A little further in and you’re replacing your leather with mail armor.  You just became like this mini-Warrior.  Anyone remember the Shaman tanking General Drakkisith, when level 60 was the max?  And then you’re replacing your big two-hander with two one-handers.  Dual wielding Windfury (the flavor now might be windfury + flame tongue for synergy with flame lash, if I’m not mistaken) you’re pretty much a whirlwind of death.

My first, and only 80, is my Shaman.  It was trivial once I got flight to knock everything else out.  Being Elemental, I played the caster with solid self-healing ability, and when things got real bad I had some emergency features to use.  Stone Claw Totem, Earth and Fire Elemental Totems, Thunderstorm and run, etc, and I’d live to fight another day.  I can count on one hand, and have a few fingers left to hold a beer, how many corpse runs I made in Wrath of the Lich King on my way to 80.

Shamans have group buffs, can heals others and themselves, can melee or cast really well.

They say Hunters are the ultimate soloists.  I’ve got a Hunter.  I still prefer my Shaman.  He’s a self-contained execution machine.  (And by “execution” I mean getting things done.)

They’re good healers, good casters, good melee dps.  There’s nothing wrong with them.

So, why are they least popular?  The totems thing??

About Kinless

Gamer. Engineer. Lived lots of places.
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14 Responses to In defense of Shamanism.

  1. Pike says:

    I think people who are new to the game have a hard time really “getting” the shaman “archetype” and tend to shy away from it. Stuff like Warrior, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, is archetypal. You know what you are getting into. WoW shamans… it’s hard to think of a similar class in typical fantasy story or your basic D&D. Also I think that the style is hard to get used to, especially as a new player. I tried to roll a few shamans early on in my WoW career, quit each one before level 10. I just didn’t understand it, was I supposed to cast, was I supposed to melee, what did I do with the totems…

    …the same thing prevented me from playing a druid early on too (though now I’ve got a high-level one… but it took a while for me to warm up to the class).

    Why people don’t roll shamans later, though, once they’ve warmed up to the game, I’ve no idea. Maybe they still figure if they want to play a caster they’re better of mage, melee better off Fury Warrior or rogue, and healer, better off Priest. I dunno.

  2. Game Dame says:

    I’ve pondered this question from the moment I started my blog. I tried several classes before settling into the shaman and have never leveled another class past 37 (and guess what, that’s a warlock!). I’ve spoken with some people and read comments and I think it might be the totem mechanic that they don’t understand. It may seem to complex. Although what’s interesting is that I find Hunters WAY too complex for me (especially now that you have to spec out your pets) and yet they are one of the most popular classes. So maybe I just have a twisted upside-down mind: I can handle the shaman but not the hunter. I also wonder if it’s that people try to have their cake and eat it too by speccing up several trees at once instead of specializing in elemental or enhancement. It’s a great question and I’m glad you posed it.

  3. Kinless says:

    I’ll be honest. The first Draenei character I created on Kirin Tor, he started life as a Shaman. I was going to couple him with a Priest my wife created. And then, leveling through TBC I realized without an ability to tank, a DPS and a Healer were going to be somewhat limited.

    Playing the Shaman was going to be easy. I’d leveled one on a PvP server into Black Wing Lair, I got it.

    But I considered it, considered all those totems I was going to have to drop, and between me and the wife, the totems were mostly only benefiting one of us, not the two of us, and Exilarch the Warrior was born. And don’t forget the hatchet job they did to the lore to introduce Draenei Shamans. I felt like I was playing into the charade of the class crossovers.

    (And, frankly, nobody would deny that Paladins, today, are the better class. You couldn’t stick the Horde with the worse “faction flavor class.”)

    It has been difficult for me to want to replay another Shaman. Across the servers we play on, two, I’ve got four Warriors and one Shaman.

    However, if Blizzard opened up a few more character spots on the servers for us, I’d definitely create a few more. Most likely.

  4. Game Dame says:

    PvP? Forget it. Dude, I soooooooooo suck at PvP. For a while I thought it was shamans in general… but now I know it’s just me. I bow down in the we’re-not-worthy style at your PvP shamanism!

  5. Tomas says:

    Back in WoW 2.0 – my very first 70 was my horde shaman, Skychaser. I loved the guy. But I was kinda burnt on him. Somewhere between hanging up my big 2-hander and getting turned into a dual-wielding mob-julienne maker I think I sort of lost my way. I *liked* swinging a big stick – swinging two at a time reminded me too much of being a rogue. Then came the whole thing of being a Shaman and trying to PvP as a green 70.

    The Horror.

    Your quest reward green 59 dps potato-mashers were meeting up with toons decked out in S1 gear and torqued up on resilience. You couldn’t beat them – you couldn’t *run* from them.

    So I went resto for a while. Heal, Heal, Heal, Heal, Chain-Heal, Chain-Heal, hey guys! They’re on me! Die.

    That didn’t last long. Same problem – crap gear – crap pug team-mates (in most cases…)

    Then came this absurd dalliance with elemental…I don’t know what I was thinking. Dude – yer gear’s got like no +dmg on it. You have more +dmg in resto form – go back to resto.

    “I don’t wanna be resto – I wanna kill stuff. And I did kill stuff. Most of of it was nearly dead though – and the mobility problem was still there. I found myself missing my druid. For f’s sake – I almost wanted to tank again….

    So after tiring of lightning bolt spamming my way through AV (take that Belinda!) – and finding myself a glorified heal-bot *anyway* – Put poor Sky’ on a shelf one day and started leveling a horde hunter…which I had always wanted.

    Then the big patch – and the expansion – and suddenly *wow* – can haz spirit doggies? WOW – and maelstrom weapon! This is awesomesauce!

    Couple that with the fact I’d finally put together a somewhat schizophrenic set of S2 gear ( a mix of enhancement and elemental pieces ) – and suddenly I was viable.

    And still burnt out. I don’t know why. Sky’ sits in the Borean Tundra listening to that ponce Garrosh rant and the careful wise words of High Warlord Saurfang. He broods and contemplates the will of the Earthmother while taking chips out of the floor with his gladiators mace. I’ll be back one day, Sky’.

  6. Kinless says:

    Yep. I’ve done it all too. I’ve got to add it’s more than Lightning Bolt spam for me now. That’s two buttons. Now we’ve got to make sure Flame Shock is applied in order to get the Lava Burst to crit. And then LB and Chain LB. Four buttons now. 😉

  7. Drazmor says:

    Yea, the WoW shaman is very, very, different from anything else. Plus, since shamans are a jack of all trades, it’s a lot to take in if your a new player.

  8. Windpaw says:

    You know – I had a hard time leveling my Shammy back in the day. After Windfury things got a lot better and after LOL-Strike it got better still.

    The whole JackOfAllTrades achievement I thought I would have won by playing a gimped old-style druid.

    Guess not. At least the Druid could run away fast and break snares.

  9. *vlad* says:

    Why aren’t there more Shamans? Maybe because for Alliance you have to be a Draenei. I’m not sure why Night Elves can’t be Shamans.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I, myself a mid 70’s Enhancement shaman, feel that they are a very under-valued, unappreciated class. I like to look at it like I’m a one man group. I can dps, cast and even heal myself. Now I’m not saying that shamans are perfect, or unstoppable; far from it. What I am saying is that shamans have a lot of tricks in their bag, to survive some encounters that would prove difficult for others.
    Not only do shamans have healing spells, but also a healing totem, and my wonderful pup’s (spirit wolves) who also heal me as they attack. So if I’m low on hp and certainly if I have a Maelstrom Weapon stack available it’s as easy as insta-heal, followed by sprit wolves, and if necessary (once fully stacked) another insta-heal.
    Oh but what if I run out of mana? Easy, pop on Shamanistic Rage charge up your water shields and 2 Stormstrike rotations later…. Full mana, woot! Oh and don’t forget about the Mana Spring totem.
    Then we can talk about the significance of a shaman in a raid group, and all of the raid-wide buffs that boost dps like few others can. Pvp on the other hand, has not treated me well, but that is mostly due to my lack of skill in that area. With the proper use of totems (and of course properly geared) a shaman could be quite successful in a pvp situation.
    Between the snare totems, de-buff removing totems, power increasing totems, shields, elemental weapon imbues, elemental shocks, elemental guardian totems, and of course my pup’s, there is a lot to work with, and a lot to keep track of. Perhaps that, and the fact that totems are stationary (not allowing you to buff and forget) turns many people off to the class. I know that was one of my main problems when I first started my shaman. After playing a mage prior, I was disappointed to find that my only source for buffs was my totems. Totem placement and what totems you use can be a difficult task, but once you get the basics becomes quite easy.
    To say that shamans are a “Jack of all trades” class is correct, we can do a LOT; but that can also be our downfall, because we aren’t necessarily as good as another class whose main focus is DPS, Casting, or Healing. However, in my experience shamans are great for soloing, with little downtime and great self reliance to boot. I’m biased but it’s my favorite class by far.

  11. Kinless says:

    Looks like folks who know Shamans like Shamans.

    Folks, if you haven’t dropped a totem, or an enemy with a one-shot windfury crit, try it. You’ll like it!

  12. Windpaw says:

    Haven’t dropped an enemy with a 1-shot windfury since about level 59. But oh *man* – those were the *days*

  13. I started my blog with this very same question. My wife’s description of my shaman was I think most accurate in how people feel when the play a shaman.

    “It’s like having a panic attack.” Is how I think most people feel about totems.

    Thing is, totems, though a major gimmick of playing a shaman is not what it’s all about. In fact I go most fights without totems when I solo. The start of playing a shaman is how I feel shamans should be played, as in cast, cast, melee, melee they’re dead.

  14. Kinless says:

    Yep, that’s how the wife and I plays ours as well. The Totems just add a little extra and we only really use them for longer fights, to buff a group that’s in a longer fight, or provide AoE on a group of mobs I got unintentionally.

    How often do you need regular on-going cleansing of disease or poison? Yes, invaluable in an instance, Naxxramas say, but one-on-one in Zangarmarsh, no.

    Played like a caster that can then melee when it gets to hand-to-hand is about how it plays out.

    It’s not that tough folks. Roll a Shaman. The Earth Mother demands it!

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