World of Warcraft shamans are in many ways the inverse of the paladin. While paladins are defensive in nature, shamans are offensive. Before the Burning Crusade, only Horde characters could choose be shamans. After its release, Alliance players who wish to be shamans can play a dranei shaman.
Shamans lend themselves to a variety of play styles, a shaman can be tank, caster, or healer and may be called upon to do any of the three, but at higher levels the shaman is called upon to be a tank less often. A good place to go to get advice on how to play a shaman are on the official World of Warcraft forums maintained by Blizzard.
1. Know what your Totems Do
The key to playing a successful shaman of any specialization is understanding what each totem does. Some totems such as the tremor totem are only applicable in certain cases, while others like the mana stream totem, healing totem, or grace of air have more general applications. Certain totems may not see much use depending on the shaman’s specialization, but may be called upon from time to time. Setting up a hokey bar with the lesser used totems is the easiest solution, while the other hot key bars may be adapted to specific situations.
2. Learn How to be a Healer
World of Warcraft Shamans, especially restoration shamans, can fill the role of healer well, but often a shaman gets invited to run an instance precisely because of his healing spells. Even though a shaman may not be specialized in healing, a player who knows how to have his shaman fill this role well will never be at a loss for groups. If the character also can deal decent damage and back up heal, it is a plus.
3. Learn How to Manage Mana
This is by far the trickiest part of any caster, but unlike wands that can continue to damage the opponent, heal over time spells cannot keep a party alive when a shaman is out of mana. Not casting a heals unless needed on party members that are not supposed to be taking the brunt of an enemy’s attack can help as well as setting a limit on what percentage of a party member’s health to cast a heal.
Being too open about this or letting someone die one time too often tends to lead to a bad reputation, and tools like chain heal can help keep DPS character’s health high.
4. Learn to Work with Other Shamans
This is difficult, but multiple shamans in a group can increase the overall damage output of the overall more than just a single shaman could. Since higher level shaman totems overwrite lower level ones, consulting with another shaman before a group begins can ease many problems.
Shamans can be called upon to fill a variety of roles in World of Warcraft, although shamans not quite as versatile as druids, shamsns can fill for many roles in a pinch. They also make excellent backup healers.
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