Sometimes I think the Internet just hates me a little. I was well on my way to posting my experiences with the Shaman and the power goes out at my workplace on exactly 6 PCs near me. 4 of which were unused entirely, and the 5th was only powering a monitoring dashboard that automatically restarted anyway. I was well over halfway done with the content too. It’s annoying because I used to write blog posts in my browser but would end up doing some stupid keyboard shortcut and reloading the page. Now I apparently need to be worry about power going out in a corporate setting… Ready to buy a UPS or something to keep under my desk here, just in case. That’s enough whining about how my productivity on the blog is persistently curbed by the damn Universe getting in my way, moving along. Fuck me, I had a cool title and now I’ve forgotten it… bah!
Right, so, I’ve specced out a 51pt Shaman to run around and crush in faces with my big hammer of he-must-be-overcompensating-for-something. This is the closet that Clerics can get to a melee DPS role and it’s missing a whole lot of goodies that other traditional (rogue/warrior) dps roles bring to the table. However, if you’re a class masochist like me then you’re probably used to smashing that square peg in the round hole. First off the bat, the biggest strength for a Shaman is their multiple non-global-cooldown abilities. These are abilities that fire as soon as you hit them with no delay between the next cast. These are meaningful for the shaman because the three main ones have a cooldown of 5s and should absolutely be fired off as often as possible.
Jolt – fair amount of Air damage with the buffs high in the Shaman tree, fires after crits
Glory of the Chosen – the most potent Shaman heal, fires after being crit
Fated Blow – undefendable attack that fires after being blocked or parried
Rage of the North – 7s of 100% crit chance, long cooldown of 1m30s
The Shaman has very little, if any, issues with Mana due to Endless Winter constantly giving back after crits land, oh and you crit a LOT with a full Shaman spec. It’s because of this that you’re able to spam abilities nigh endlessly and I encourage you to use to non-GCD abilities as often as possible. The second part of running a Shaman is respecting the Massive Blow . This is your go-to ability of ass-kickery. I’ve had this critting on L52 elites for upwards of 1200 damage, on players it can be even higher. The reason Massive Blow is so awesome is really because of how high you’re specced into Shaman.
Long Memory – Resets the cooldown with Crushing Blow (which is your #2 ability)
Frozen Embrace – Huge boost to crit with Massive Blow
Brutalize – Peripheral bleed damage
Lust For Blood – Making those crits hurt so good (in addition to Overwhelming )
So for a quick and painful burst in PvP as you’re running up on your target the first thing you do is pray you’re not terribly CC’d. Once that happens you should be in good territory to tear a clothy in half. Turn on your Glacial Shield which might not last very long then hit Vengeance of the Primal North as you’re closing the gap which sets you up for some very respectable AoE on hit for 25s or so. Pop Battle Charge once you’re in range to snare them and break any that you might have had on you. Rage of the North, (any xGCD abilities after RotN), Massive Blow, Crushing Blow until MB is up again, after the next MB and your 7s of crit is worn off you can work Lightning Hammer and Glacial Shield into the rotation. This makes for some very aggressive front-end burst capability that leaves you swinging a steady rotation of pain afterwards but far from impotent. The only issue is going to be getting CC’d right after popping your big cooldown abilities which is fairly common. If you have room somewhere on your bar, Bitter Wind is an xGCD interrupt. I haven’t had a lot of use out of it so far, but against a single target it might make the difference in a close fight.
I haven’t really talked about all of the buffs (moreso with Justicar tied in). Shamans get three sets of three, Heart, Courage, and Vengeance (which has a fourth, but it’s special). Heart of XX is your paired up as Life/Death, Air/Water, and Fire/Earth +30 resistances. I haven’t run any numbers to figure out what would be most prevalent, but in PvP I tend to stick with Life and Death resists, no particular reason. Courage of XX gives a meaty buff to Strength, Dexterity, or Wisdom. Since Shaman derive their attack power from spell power I’m almost always running Wisdom here as it gives the best returns. Vengeance of XX are your on-hit effects. There’s a Snare, increase Physical damage by 5%, and additional Water damage (even though Shaman are Air based). The fourth I already mentioned is on a 2m cooldown so you would need to reapply one of these three after it wears off. These are harder to recommend, the snare proc is really nice if you’re after a fast moving target that refuses to hold still. The 5% damage boost applies for anyone attacking that target but the extra elemental damage might be more useful on armored opponents. I haven’t had enough time bouncing between them to really recommend one or the other.
You’re not going to be topping any leaderboards as a Shaman in warfronts, but your enemies will give you a wider berth after you shred them to pieces almost effortlessly the first time. You MIGHT be able to take down two squishies if they’re right on top of each other during your 7s window, but I wouldn’t expect that to be anywhere near the norm. This has been my favored spec as of late, and my favorite moment so far was actually in The Codex when a rogue caught me running to the opposite side of the map, stunned me for 4s, and then I turned around and tore him in half. You might also be tempted to go with some AoE, but it’s a futile endeavor as a melee class. Save the AoE for dungeons and raids.
Speaking of dungeons and raids, I had the opportunity to run xFoLH a couple days ago and toward the end our off-healing was so good I busted out the Shaman spec to see how it’d fare against some bosses. Now, you may know from the past that I’m a bit of an addon junkie, so it isn’t going to be a suprise to reveal that I’m a fan of the RiftJunkies combat parser. I know, it’s flawed probably, doesn’t give off 100% accurate numbers and all that rot, but still it’s something. That being said, as a Shaman in a t1 dungeon I was rocking upwards of 800dps in si
ngle target mode with close to double that spamming AoE. This was on par with the Cabalist in the group, and not far behind the Assassin. On top of that, with my partial Justicar spec I was offhealing the tank enough (along with a bard and chloro) that we didn’t even need a pure healer. I actually had to hold off on some of my messy AoE because I was managing to pull aggro a little bit.
The Shaman can be a solid DPS class, but like the Justicar, it lacks the CC tools to really excel at it’s job. The xGCD abilities when used in a macro with your basic attacks make quite a difference and their ability to ignore mana management means you’re always mashing buttons to squeeze every last drop out of the class. Not the top of the pile for either PvP or PvE, but a rewarding class to play nonetheless.