Saturday, January 15, 2011

Shaman at level 85

My second char to make it to level 85 turned out to be my enchancement/resto shaman. When I began leveling my alts I wasn't sure which one was going to get there first, it all depends on my mood for the day. Enchancement shaman turned out to be loads of fun, and the levels basically just flew by. Maybe because I didn't go to Vashj'ir, something I decided not to do on any of my alts later on. It's a great zone, but it's a little tedious the third time around.

People around me have already started asking "how many alts have you dinged 85 yet?", and are totally shocked when I tell them that it's only one so far. I've never been one to grind stuff, I'll level them when I feel like it! Currently I am waiting on rested on a couple and Settlers 2 and Final Fantasy 3 are stealing alot of time from WoW as well.

I leveled my shaman enhancement all the way (80-85). My history with shamans is an interesting one (well so I think anyway). If someone would ask me what character I'd play if I couldn't play priest, I'd probably say shaman. I know I go on and on about how much fun prot warriors are, but they're dull in raids. So if I wanted to play a character that I knew would stick with me, it'd definitely be a shaman. Shaman is also the char I have played the most times passed level 70, four times to date (prot warrior only 3 so far). Leveling a shaman is just loads of fun since you can be melee dps, caster dps or healer based on what you feel like in that particular moment. Before dual specs I simply leveled one shaman of each spec (plus an extra elemental shaman) to get access to them all, but now that there are dualspecs I have focused one shaman into my two favorites - resto and enhancement.

My very first shaman, the one I just leveled to 85 actually, initially leveled as elemental. This was several years ago when casters still sucked badly at low levels compared to melee. They still do, so imagine how bad it was at those times. As soon as she dinged 40 (because she was female then) I respecced into enhancement, and I think I liked enhancement better ever since. I eventually tried out resto, and being the healing freak as I am it stuck with me too. It was different enough but still resembled priest healing enough to entertain me alot. Holydin healing felt to one-spell spammy and I didn't like all the hot-management of resto druids, so resto shamans was juuuust right (ala Goldilocks). The healing role kinda stuck on him (because he switched sexes eventually), the way it usually does because everyone needs a healer and no one needs a dps. Overall I always really enjoyed enhancement, although in Wrath I felt it had become too advanced but not enough rewarding. You had to keep track of and think of alot, which I enjoyed, but it definitely lacked the oomph of most other dps classes. Come on, how many good enhancement shamans have you known? I've never seen one top dps meters in any of my ICC raids I think. Admittedly enhancement shamans weren't that common either. Enhancement shamans suffered from the same problems as retridins have for a very long time. Because they use mana as a resource they either will have issues with always ooming, or never ooming. In wrath Blizzard made it so that retridins and enhancement shamans worked with a basically limitless resourcepool. Getting out of mana just didn't happen. To limit damage output they have enhancement shamans (and retridins) basically work with cooldowns as a resource instead. Because of this neither enhancement shamans nor retridins have a spammable skill like Slam, Mangle or Sinister Strike. This also lead to alot of "breaks" during the rotation, where everything simply was on cooldown and you could just stand there, swinging idly while waiting for the next skill to come off cooldown. This is still how enhancement shamans work and you gotta love it or leave it.

I healed alot on my resto shaman. Everyone liked him because of Bloodlust so he got to get to places not even Zinn had been. I did Starcaller on him and healed most of ICC with him. He probably had the second best gear of all my characters and I don't know how many thousands of G i spent on buying gear to him in the gdkp runs we did towards the end of Wrath. Maybe him being second to level 85 isn't so odd in the end.

My shaman also made me discover another flaw with the current item level system. As soon as I had got the 329 item score I needed to join heroics with one gear, it also meant I had the possibility to join heroics with my other gear, since the system couldn't distinguish between the two. So if my enhancement gear had the score of 330 and my resto gear a score 270 I could still join heroics as resto, as long as the enhancement gear was in my bags.

I didn't have a clue about shamans when I started leveling him, and basically placed talents a little bit all over the place. I thought most of them felt pretty self explanatory and there weren't that many difficult choices. I have no idea if I've specced him the right way, but it's worked fairly well so far. Actually not having a clue about a character is a funny thing. I've really had to think when trying to figure out a good rotation and what stats would work best? I could just go read through EJ or some other shaman place on the matter (where are all the enhancement shaman bloggers btw) but that's not my style. I want to find my way first, and then see if I was right, and if I was wrong I have to see why.

Some issues regard which weapon enchants to use. Double windfury as have long been the case? Or should I go with windfury on mh and flametongue on oh to boost Lava Lash damage? I really didn't like Lava Lash back in Wrath, but it has become somewhat better now. With flametongue on my oh it actually deals a really nice amount of damage. It also allows me to gain two buffs when I use my Unleash Elements. Here is how I do a regular fight in an instance now, and I have no idea if that is the right way to go about it or not, but I usually deal more damage than the rest of a group which at least is a hint that I'm not doing it completely wrong;

  1. Unleash Elements while running toward target
  2. Flame Shock while running toward target
  3. Drop totems while running toward target
  4. Stormstrike
  5. Lava Lash
  6. Earthshock

And from there I pretty much go on what's off cooldown with prio on Maelstrom procs (which I often use on Healing Rain).

I have really no idea whatsoever in regards to what stats are the most useful. Here are some of my thoughts on that matter;

  • I can imagine haste being decent since that would proc alot of Maelstrom, on the other hand we already have alot of haste from Windfury Weapon, so how much more would we really need?
  • Crit seems nice because it will proc Elemental Devastation more often, which allows us to crit more often with our melee attacks.
  • Hit/Expertise probably work pretty much the way they did in Wrath, which means we want a minimum before we even look at other stats. How much that is? Well as far as hit is concerned I'd at least get hit cap for special attacks. Hit also affects our spells, but expertise won't which means we don't need expertise as much as other melee classes.
  • I'm really out on a whim when it comes to mastery. Mastery to enhancement reads; 
"Increases all Fire, Frost, and Nature damage done by 20%.  Each point of Mastery increases damage by an additional 2.5%". Alot of our damage is elemental damage, so it does sound like mastery is a good stat. Probably better than haste, but maybe not better than crit.
  • As for base stats I'm going all out on agility, just as in Wrath.
Remember I am really just guessing here, based on what little testing and knowledge I've been able to gather through questing and some instancing. If you happen to know alot about shamans and read this, any pointers are most welcome ;)

Resto shaman and me had a nasty break up when 4.0 hit. I had really enjoyed healing in ICC, and other places, before that but suddenly the resto shaman seemed so... dull. So 2009. While holdyins and resto druids went through major changes, and priests too but to a lesser extent (our changes didn't really notice until Cata came) the shaman was just exactly the same. Some of the things I had really been looking forward to, like Healing Rain and Spiritwalker Grace didn't show and I was deeply disappointed. I told my fellow raiders that I had lost all love to the resto shaman and was going to focus on enhancement. Why stick with old and boring when there was so much new things to explore?

Because of this I didn't have much of a clue about resto shamans either when Cata came. Since I read up on healing in general now and then I probably had a better clue than I did with enhancement, but after having done the instances with Zinn and realized what a tough cookie healing had become, my resto shaman scared me. I didn't dare to venture into an instance full with random people and make an arse of myself. Which is what I would've done. My shaman is still in my old guild, which is rather small, so finding enough guildies for a guildrun doesn't happen often. So I quested on as enhancement and only joined instances as dps. Ah, no responsibility (most people don't use cc in normals). But then I dinged 85 and thought I'd write this post and thought that I really couldn't until I had at least tried resto in an instance.

Fortunately I had been sane enough
to save all the caster gear I could find, so I had a decent gear. I still had 2 set tier 10, so my gear definitely wasn't all that, but probably not worse than the average normal puggers. When I get into the instance (HoO) the first thing the dps warrior tells me is to go get better gear. Yeah duh, I wonder what he thinks I was doing in there. The run was interesting, because I hadn't set up my ui to work with healing at all. I currently use Vuhdo, and I had only briefly checked through the healing bindings in case I wanted to use them when dpsing. I quickly noticed that my ui didn't show the Earth Shield buff, and I just couldn't find the setting for it. That was pretty annoying since I had no good way of telling when my ES dropped off, except you know, targetting the tank now and then (old school style).

While healing I also noticed that I hadn't placed all my heals on my action bars. Healing Rain and Spiritwalkers Grace where two. Oh and Unleash Elements too, just remembered it now while writing. Didn't use that even once in the instance. I hadn't placed all my skills where I wanted them either. That wasn't a big problem since the majority of my skills were bound to my mouse buttons, but skills like Mana Tide Totem, Earth Shock and Water Shield - where was I going to put them? So while running after the tank, trying to keep him and the crazy dps warrior alive, I reconfigured my actionbars and keys till I thought they worked. Then I remembered I didn't have all the glyphs needed, but that would have to wait until after the instance.

Which rotation to use? I experimented with shocking to increase the effect and lower the mana cost of my next healing spell through Focused Insight. I noticed that it only felt worth using when I was going to cast a big heal like Healing Rain, otherwise the extra mana cost of using the shock pretty much negated the mana reduction on the heal, when you use low mana cost heals like Healing Wave. I thought since Heal worked well when healing as holy and Greater Heal worked well when healing as disc so I varied a little between Healing Wave and Greater Healing Wave to find out which seemed to work better. Overall I felt like it depended on the healing situation. I spammed Healing Wave when damage was low or moderate and used Greater Healing Wave (with Riptide) when damage was heavier. Keeping a Healing Rain in the melee group seemed pretty effective as well. I tried some Chain Heal but that felt pretty sucky. I am glad they're going to buff it.

We made it without any wipes and with only the lock who stood in void zone dying. I think it was mostly due to the fact that we had a blood dk tank, and they're pretty op at the moment. I've even had dk blood tanks who've solo healed themselves through heroic bosses. Balanced? Not so sure.

What stats should I use? Knowing what I know of healers I'd say intellect and spirit are two sure stats to go for as resto shaman. But then it might differ a little from priests. Crit is probably alot better stat for resto shamans than it is for priests, thanks to the Improved Water Shield talent which makes crit give us extra mana regen. Haste might be less important since we get haste through totems if we like and a little through Riptide (on some spells). Mastery is kickass for priests, and seems it might be pretty decent for resto shamans too but maybe not as good as crit?

I'm currently focusing on getting my enhancement gear up and running, and will eventually do the same with restoration. I wonder which alt to level next?


  1. a bit late, but hey. I'm Enh/Resto on my main (and while I have lots of alts, I only raid on this toon).

    The rotation you listed is good, and you go with WF/FT. Don't forget your trinkets and your wolves. You use Searing Totem to really up your Lava Lash damage. Check to see if the Stormstrike debuff is up before you hit a MW5 lightningbolt.

    If necessary, I either heal myself or put a healing rain in very heavy AoE fights or if the healer is struggling.

    Statwise, you hit your +hit and +exp cap, then you gem for +agi and reforge for +mastery - mastery is very yummy now. Crit is a bit better than haste, but both are meh.

    Spec looks good.

    So, overall, well done for just goign with what you felt was right. :)

  2. @Anon
    Thank you! I was especially out in the blue on the stats, as I wrote. I had no idea if mastery was a good stat or not, but since it is for 90% of the classes in WoW right now I thought I'd go for it, I had no idea it was that good for enhancement though. As for the other stats I had a general idea but wasn't sure, so thanks for setting me on the right track :)

  3. Hi there! Do you use actively online social websites?