Ten Ton Hammer's Class Guides - Shaman

6.0 - Roles - Tactics

As with all the hybrid classes in the game, the Shaman can play many different roles. Here are some of the main ways to play a shaman.


  • Healer – A shaman may develop himself to rival even the best Paladin and Priest healers with the correct gear and setup
  • Solo - You can also develop your shaman to solo fairly well
  • PVP - Shamans make excellent PvP characters thanks to all the shocks and totems to aid them.
  • DPS (Melee) – Shamans are able to output fairly good DPS and improve the other melee DPS in the group or raid when up-close to an enemy with their supporting totems from the Enhancement tree.
  • DPS (Caster) – Shamans are able to output excellent burst DPS on many encounters with their lightning attacks and shocks. Totems that aid ranged DPS also help.

6.1 - Tactics + Techniques

Elemental DPS: Standing with the other casters and healers, the shaman drops down his Wrath of Air totem, as well as any other supporting totems the group may want, and begins chain-casting chain-lightning and lightning-bolt, hoping for procs to keep shooting more and do great damage.

Enhancement DPS: Going up with the rogues and warriors, the shaman drops his windfury totem along with other similar totems to boost the party’s DPS and armor, and begins attacking with shocks and his mainhand/offhand or two-handed weapon.

Healing: Healing shamans stay back with the casters and monitor the group’s health, dropping totems like tranquil air to help out on aggro is a plus, as well as manatide and manaspring, healing the party as needed. Chain healing is the best healing spell in the game and should be used when in trouble.

6.2 - Totem n00bs - what to use, when to use it and why!

This excellent guide is thanks to Wraithwulf (Doogmeister on our forums):

My intention with this guide is to give some useful tips of commonly used totems and how to employ some of the better weapons to the Shaman arsenal to good effect! It is not a comprehensive listing of all totems or the tactics you can come up with - but hopefully it will get you pointed in the right direction!

A) Earth

Strength of Earth - A very commonly used totem, as it gives a sizable boost to strength for friendlies within a 30 yard radius of it. You'll use this in solo/grouping/PvP play very often. In fact, it's my earth totem of choice unless the tactical situation calls for a different one! Improves melee fighting power substantially (good both for you and the tanks in your party - drop it where it can cover all of you!) If using a shield, it also allows you to block more damage because of the +str bonus!

Stoneskin - this totem reduces the melee damage you (and friendlies within 30 yds) take from melee mobs. Again is quite commonly used, and some shaman use this in preference to strength of earth a lot of the time.

It's your choice between you (or your party) dealing more melee damage or taking less of it - but remember it's only effective against melee mobs. If the threat is from ranged attackers/casters this totem does nothing!

Stoneclaw - Sometimes it all goes BAD - even HORRIBLY WRONG - and a fast exit is needed! The Stoneclaw can allow you (and your party) to escape in true Houdini style! Simply put, it taunts mobs to attack it instead of you or your friends! As long as you all stop doing anything to generate further threat and RUN - the stoneclaw will stand fast and die gloriously for you giving you breathing space! Note: it is somewhat less effective against ranged attackers as it only has a limited radius in which it generates threat - and those attackers might be outside that! It can also be resisted sometimes - and if being chased by a whole crowd of mobs it won't pull them all off you! Still it's very helpful in many PvE situations where escape is needed! You won't use this in PvP though as players will just ignore it!

Earthbind - This totem slows enemy move speed within its radius (similar to that of the stoneclaw's hate radius!) This can be used solo/group/PvP to stop runners (damn I have owned flag runners in WSG with this baby!) but shines in PvE instance runs where you are up against humanoids that run in fear - eg. Scarlet Monastery/Zul Farrak/Sunken temple/Strat Live. The last thing you need here is adds brought in by their friends - slow em down and chop em down before they get too far! Combine this with a Frost Shock for even greater effect! Also of course highly useful in stopping Alliance escapees in PvP! It can also be used to cover an escape - as it slows down what's chasing you and friends hopefully allowing you get away! I often combine this with a stoneclaw in PvE - first the stoneclaw to taunt the melee chasers, then as the stoneclaw dies, an earthbind to further slow them when they start chasing you again!

B) Fire

These totems all create damage, except for Frost Resistance. Be warned - they can pull additonal hate you don't want - so in some parties in tightly packed instances you may be asked to watch what you're doing with them or even lay off using them!

Searing totem - A good early totem as it throws a ranged fireball attack up to 30 yds. But once you get access to the Magma Totem I would advise using that more often - this totem does have the annoying habit of blasting ANY hostile in its radius even if that mob was ignoring you at the time! This means using this totem can often pull in extra adds you don't want when you're trying to take a breather to heal/regroup! Still has it uses in later game though - as because of its range it's more helpful when you are in a shooting war with just ranged attackers! Also there are certain times in instances - when you've cleared everything else in the area and are pulling a named/boss mob that it will dish out more damage than the magma totem! Of course it's more used in PvP because there range is your friend and you're not really worrying about adds!

Fire Nova totem - this totem "nukes" an area with an AE fire attack 5 seconds after it's laid! The damage is impressive! What isn't so impressive is that it creates a MASSIVE amount of threat as soon as you drop it and is quite often taken out before it detonates! To use it well means waiting until all the mobs in the area you want to "nuke" have their attention well and truly occupied and won't kill your Nova totem as soon as you drop it! So in solo I've found it pretty useless - but it can be used in groups if you have good tanks/DPS who are keeping themselves high on the threat list! Also of course it can be used in PvP if the enemy doesn't realise you've dropped it - just a little smart positioning is all it takes! Then sit back and marvel at the "warmth" you bring to your targets' lives - ahhhhh I love the smell of napalm in the morning! MUHAHAHAHA!

Magma Totem - My fire totem of choice once you get access to it - level 24 from memory! It burns all hostiles in an 8 yd radius for fire damage - while the amount is not as large as Searing totem it does that damage to ALL within the area of effect - excellent if facing multiple melee mobs! As it doesn't have a long reach it doesn't have the add drawing problem of the Searing totem either - so is safer to use in many situations! And if you like getting up close and personal in big PVP tussles - then you can get 2 or 3.. or even 4.... Alliance for the price of one! Of course it's best used once you close to melee range!

Flametongue Totem - The shaman can imbue his own weapon with Flametongue for added fire damage on each hit - this totem grants the effect to your nearby allies! This effect does not stack on your own weapon though if you are using Flametongue or another buff like Rockbiter/ Frostbrand/Windfury - sorry! Because of this I don't use this totem in solo - I just use the buff spell! But in groups/large-scale PvP battles it is useful - especially in PvE instances where other fire totems are creating too much hate - this allows you to dish out the fire damage indirectly (and in a far less threatening way) through the melee attacks of your party/raid members!

Frost Resistance -Within the dread halls of Naxxramas, especially against Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad, Frost damage is a big problem! This totem is a necessity in situations like those, raising Frost resistance within a 20 yd radius and mitigating the damage taken from Frost attacks.

C) Water

Healing Stream - Heals all friends in a 30 yd radius over time! Whilst primary healing classes like the Priest/Druid have better heal over time spells this one works in an area! The totem also produces little threat in PvE! It can provide the small edge in damage mitigation needed to overcome a tough fight! Usuable in solo/group/PvP. You will use this one a lot - it is the most common water school totem I use! Multiple heal totems (from multiple shamans) will overlap and stack their effects!

Mana Spring - restores mana in 30 yd radius over time! It's just a small amount but can help! As you will probably have Healing Stream up during battle - this one is more used "post battle" when you (and your party) are resting and trying to recover mana! The mages and primary healers in your group will love you if you drop this totem near them every time the group pauses to rest/replenish, as it helps them conserve their mana drinks if they have the opportunity to rest near the totem long enough! Also if in a large raid there is more than one shaman - if you are the one on "priest guard" use this totem to extend their healing usefulness!

Poison cleansing - This totem cures poison effects from you and your allies in a 20 yd radius. This totem saves you (and your allies) from mobs that deal large amounts of poison damage! This is especially true against those green dragons and in Zul'Gurub - along with other high end battles! You will only use this totem when the tactical situation calls for it - but at that time it will become your best friend!

Fire resistance - Molten Core... Onyxia... Blackwing Lair anyone? This totem is a must for situations where your enemies pump out Fire damage. It raises the resistance to Fire in a 20 yd radius, helping mitigate the Fire damage you and your allies will take.

D) Air

Grace of Air - This is my most commonly used (and the same for many other shaman) air totem. Available at level 42 it confers a large Agility buff to allies within 30 yds. This buff of course adds to armor, increases crit chance and increases dodge chance- useful for all the melee fighters in the area! You can also drop one near your party hunters (if you have a few) to max out their ranged DPS! Used in any type of play!

Windfury Totem - Also is used quite a bit in groups/large PvP battles! Windfury weapon buff is my weapon buff of choice - as it grants a chance for 2 extra attacks (with increased attack power!) on each swing! This totem grants the effect in a more limited way to all nearby melee fighters! If you choose so you can drop this one instead of Grace of Air and watch the melee damage numbers of your party go berserk! It can be a tough call which one - but I see it used more in groups where there are 2 (or more) shaman - one drops Grace of Air while the other uses Windfury Totem - true melee carnage is the result here - MUHAHAHAHA!

Grounding Totem - This totem will (every so often) absorb a harmful spell directed at an ally in the area. If you are in a spell slinging war - this totem can come in handy! It's one less DD spell you are hit by - and if facing casters that use nasty debuff/DOT spells it's one less of these you and your party will have to worry about dispelling/enduring! Useful in solo/group/PvP - but would probably only be used where the threats are all spell based! If facing any melee threats most shaman will choose one of the two listed above. Again, seen used more in large raids with more than one shaman - as one shaman can use his air totem for some magic protection whilst others drop Grace/Windfury!

Nature Resistance - This totem helps mitigate the damage you and your allies will take from Nature-based attacks such as poison and lightning. It raises resistance to Nature, and thus is very handy in places like Zul'Gurub, AQ and those green dragon fights!

There are some other useful totems too that are not used that often - but in certain situations are extremely useful! Here are a couple more you'll probably want handy on toolbars for when you need them!

Tremor totem - earth school - this totem shakes the ground in an area - "waking up" any friend nearby who has been hit with a sleep effect! It can also help dispel Fear and Charm effects as well by shaking some sense into those affected! Useful in any situation where these spells are cast - but in solo you won't use it as if you are sleeping/feared/charmed you can't drop a totem! You'll use it in groups/PvP support

Windwall totem - air school - if you and your allies are taking a lot of damage from ranged attackers (not spellcasters) this totem creates a 'wall of air' in front of you that absorbs a part of the ranged damage being dealt to you! If you're not facing any real threats other than ranged shooting - you may choose to use this one to reduce the damage you (and your friends) will take!

6.3 - Totem Tactics

Wraithwulf (aka Doogmeister) our resident Shaman expert in the forums has compiled a ton of information regarding totem tactics. Here is a clip from the tactics article, the complete article can be found and commented on in our forums.

A) Communication

This is very important for all party characters of course - and doubly so for the shaman as he may be fulfilling more than one role much of the time! Commonly I find myself doing 2 or even 3 at once - acting as a secondary healer, providing support with my totems and even off-tanking!

You need to both maintain awareness of the situation and keep up communication with your team members so that you are doing what the party needs you to be doing!

For example you may have been off-tanking, but then your party's primary healers announce they are low on mana! You have to step up here and start casting more heals until they are back on-line!

Your party may also ask you to drop certain kinds of totems, or refrain from using others. You may also need to change which totem you are using if the situation calls for it!

And another way communication comes in important is if you are in a party/raid with multiple shaman! Now remember, each shaman can only have ONE totem from EACH of the four elements active at once - but you shouldn't all be dropping the same one! (unless you have to!) As you have more than one shaman you want to combine support effects!

B) Totem Combos

(in order earth/fire/water/air)

Melee support - Strength of Earth/Magma Totem/Healing Stream/Grace of Air

(this is my most frequently used combo as being a shaman with a shield and fair enhancement spec I'm near the front line usually!)]

Alternatives for melee support include using Stoneskin totem, or one of the weapon buffing totems - either Flametongue (fire) Windfury (air)

Caster/priest support - Stoneskin/Searing Totem/Mana Spring/Grace of Air

Here Stoneskin affords some protection for your cloth wearers if they are meleed, while grace of Air does the same through some increase in armor and dodge chance. Mana Spring is better here to keep their mana levels up.. and as you are out of melee range here use your ranged fire attack totem!

DPS combo- Strength of Earth/Flametongue/Healing stream/Grace of Air -

This gives the strength (for power) and agi (for more crits) buffs.. as well as a weapon buff that further adds to DPS. Another combo that does the same thing is SoE/Magma/Healing/Windfury... Windfury totem gives the chance for extra attacks with more power, and Flametongue is replaced here by Magma for AE fire damage. Note: You should never use two "weapon buffing" totems together... it's a waste of a totem as weapon buffs cannot stack! This also applies if you have more than one shaman working close together.. only one of you should use a weapon buff totem.. choose who will be dropping it (and which one it will be!) beforehand!

6.5 - 1 Hand vs. 2 Hand weapon debate

There is a lot of discussion as to whether Shamans should use 1-handed or two-handed weapons, and both sides have their ups and downs about it. It is much like asking a healer or a caster whether they prefer 1-handed + offhand or two-handed weapons.

It all comes down to the stats in the end. Do you prefer more stats, or more damage/healing or healing in your weaponry? How about more stats, or bigger melee modifiers? When looking at upgrades, think about everything relevant such as the effects your totems and buffs will have ontop of the weapon’s raw potential, and make your pick.

Many shamans go for 1Hander+Shield or Main hand +Off-Hand combos, regardless of spec, so unless you’ve stumbled upon a really great 2-handed weapon, aim for the former.

Have comments or suggestions? Thought of something that has been missed? Found an error? We would love to hear from you! Please post in our Shaman Class guide forum, or email me at [email protected]

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.


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