Friday, 19 March 2010

Why chose a shaman?

Alterac Volley did a piece giving a thumbnail description of the classes. I'm not quite sure who the audience were for this - experienced players probably have a pretty good idea of what the classes are about, and new players will get more value out of the Blizzard descriptions (whatever their well-publicised shortcomings) and are more likely to find them. Two things did strike me though about these descriptions:
  • they are applicable to levelling and PvP (where good players exploit the full abilities of their class) but not really to end-game raiding where players are far more pigeon-holed. In fact, very little prepares a new WoW player for what the end game has in store.
  • the shaman description is way off. Are shamans really this little understood?

So, with a view to my audience (primarily me, and my constant alt indecision, with a view to who my main should be for Cataclysm), here's my view of what makes a shaman.

We're a damage / healing hybrid, with the emphasis on the damage. Sort of a reverse priest.

We have a strong healing spec, especially in small groups - we're better group healers than a paladin, better tank / burst healers than a druid.

We have good damage specs, and no aggro dump... so we probably cause tanks more problems than any class other than dps warriors! Elemental is a bit boring, and doesn't scale that well at high gear levels, enhancement is melee and therefore Blizzard (and raid leaders to a lesser extent) hate them. Still, we can do good damage, in distinctive and flavourful ways.

But what keeps me coming back to my shaman?

Reincarnation - with credit to Babasyzygy the "method school of acting feign death". The single thing that I miss most when not on my shaman.

Wolves - Ghost Wolf, especially instant GW, is my second favourite shaman ability. It's odd that I don't really have much interest in druid and their forms, but Ghost Wolf always cheers me up. Spirit Wolves are also deeply cool.

Water Walking - especially now that we can ride on water too. I have fond memories of walking across Darrowmere Lake as a shortcut to Scholomance, and since then it's never got old.

Totems - I wouldn't say that I "like a class that uses totems to support your attack", and their lack of mobility is a bit of a pain, but I'm rather fond of my cleansing and tremour totems. It's just nice to be able to drop these and forget about poisons, disease and fear (to some extent). If dispelling becomes less spammy in Cataclysm their advantages may become less clear cut, but they're invaluable at the moment.

To me those are the highlights, and the first two especially means I'll struggle to ever demote Grulnak from being my main.

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