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Totem Talk: What's wrong with Shamans?

Every other week, Robin Torres investigates Shaman issues, interviews experienced Shamans and reports her findings in Totem Talk.

First of all, let me get this out of the way. I don't like the sound of Shamans as a plural for Shaman. I much prefer Shaman, but I'm going with WoWWiki, at least for now.

Secondly, I am not a Shaman. I am reporting on Shamans. I am interviewing Shaman veterans. I am provoking Shaman discussions. I am in ur forumz reading ur threadz. You will notice when reading the newspaper or Fark or whatever that these people you are reading are not presidents and soldiers and socialites. They are writing about presidents and soldiers and socialites. And I am writing about Shamans. Regardless, I've been through this before, so my fire resistant gear is equipped.

I am, however, constantly bombarded with all things Shaman because my husband is a rabid, raiding, Level 70 Tauren Shaman. As I write this, he is in Serpentshrine Cavern with his Barbie DreamShield and his cape taken from a little girl and I'm trying to get him to take some screenshots. You may already know him from this story, but right now he is Onnix, the Shammy Healbot from the guild Grim on Daggerspine.

According to Warcraft Realms, the Shaman is the least played class currently among characters played in the last 30 days above level 10. And the Alliance have not raced to make as many Blueberry Shamans as the Horde have made Belfadins. Clearly, the general WoW population considers Shamans the least fun/useful class to play at this time. So I asked Onnix why he thought that was the case. Onnix would rather have answered the question "What is fun about playing an endgame Shaman?", but I was able to put that off to a future column. Instead, he told me the top 5 things that should be changed to make the Shaman a more successful class.

[Onnix]

1. Mana Efficiency: It is the worst of all healing classes/specs. Shamans don't get any bonuses to spirit, so we must rely solely on stacking Mana Per 5 gear and Mana Potions. We also don't have any talents like the Paladin's illumination or the innate mana reduction of the Druid's Tree of Life. All of this is not to say that Shaman are bad healers, we're not. Shaman make great healers, and i think in general are very under appreciated. It just takes a higher level of gear and consumables to heal as effectively as other classes.

2. Aggro: Shamans have no aggro wipe mechanics like other healing classes and the Tranquil Air Totem is useless if grouped with tanks/melee. The Tranquil Air Totem gives a 30% threat reduction, but melee classes generally want DPS enhancing totems, like Windfury or Agility, which is the same element as the Tranquil Air Totem. Also, if grouped with your Main Tank, you don't want the tank's threat reduced at all. Another problem with it is if you're in a caster group, they want Wrath of Air to increase DPS, but again that is the same element. It is really only useful in a pure healing group, but then, honestly, I'd still go with Wrath of Air, because it increases healing as well.

3. Totems: The totem system, while providing great buffs, needs a lot of re-working in mechanics. The global cooldown between each cast is painful, especially in PVP where you don't have the luxury of prepping all your totems before you engage. The two minute duration means you spend a lot of time re-casting totems. This is woefully inadequate when compared to paladin blessings (compare blessing of wisdom to mana spring totem). The totem system is a great idea conceptually, i mean who doesnt want different buffs/defuffs for each element? The problem is with its implementation. Since they have a short 2 minute duration, you want to drop them just before battle, or as you engage to get the maximum benefit out of them, but with the global cooldown, you're spending the first 8 seconds of your fight dropping totems. Ever been killed by a mage in 8 seconds?

The second main problem with totems, is that they are stationary, you have to constantly re-drop totems whenever your teammates run out of range, which is usually more of a problem for PvE than PvP. I've heard people suggest making them mobile, or making them re-castable with one click, or affect more than just your party -- all kinds of useful ideas. I personally don't know what would be best, but a complete re-working of the totem system is definitely in order.

4. Crowd Control: We have no crowd control and we have no anti crowd control.

5. PVP: The Elemental and Enhancement specs are poor PvP specs because of a lack of survivability. Restoration is the best for PvP because of great survivability (not necessarily bad, but makes dps specs less useful).

[End Onnix]

Admittedly, Onnix is a Restoration Shaman with fond memories of his Elemental days. So fond, that he sometimes spends his gold to respec, if only for a few hours. He is not very familiar with the current state of Enhancement and says they have a separate list of issues.

Do you agree with Onnix's list of needed changes for Shamans? Do you have a high level Shaman that you are not playing? And the burning question: which plural of Shaman do you prefer?

Are you a Shaman with interesting experiences or insightful opinions or inside knowledge that you would like to share? Please email Robin.Torres@weblogsinc.com with your Shaman's name and server for a possible interview.

Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, (Shaman) Totem Talk

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