Totem Talk, the column for Shamans, finally takes a look at leveling a shaman from the Dark Portal to level 70. Matthew Rossi has done this twice now so he has a heart full of hope and sympathy. It's actually quite nice, like being stuffed full of candy but if you hit him with sticks he doesn't drop any of it, just blood and broken stuff.
You've read the previous leveling columns. You've gone forth and run instances, done totem quests, gotten geared up, stripped the feathers off of trolls in Sunken Temple, and are now level 58 - 60. That means it's time to take a trip through the Dark Portal and into Outland, starring Sean Connery.
No, no, I'm wrong, sorry about that. This particular Outland you're about to step into stars you, and a host of others played by your friends, guildmates, and even jerks who clog up general chat telling incredibly dumb jokes about their own 'Pits of Aggonar' which will have you putting them on ignore so fast your fingers will actually hurt afterwards.
Leveling to 70, you'll find that whatever your spec and playstyle is, it won't change very much. The main additions to the Shaman arsenal in these levels are the Earth and Fire Elemental totems, limited but powerful minions that can help in a variety of situations. (I've saved instance runs with my EE totem.) Upon getting to 70, you'll get the rather exciting Bloodlust or Heroism, which I simply love on boss fights. There's also the excellent Water Shield, a very useful (and more useful since patch 2.3 and 2.3.2) mana generation ability. And there's Wrath of Air totem, which adds to spell damage and healing and is very useful for both elemental and restoration shamans. I use it whenever I main heal and feel like an additional +100 to my healing would be useful.
Since we now know what goodies are waiting for us as we level, let's get down to brass tacks. You step through the Dark Portal, see a lot of demons being held off by the Horde and Alliance, and make your way down to a quest giver who points you at Thrallmar or Honor Hold. Then what?
Questing! Lots and lots of questing. I always give the following advice to characters leveling up and I'll do so again: avoid the Auction House. Yes, there are a few nice drops you can pick up there but the quests in Hellfire Peninsula will reward you with equivalent or even better gear and won't cost you anything. As a shaman, I further advise you to look over the rewards carefully: you could easily build a decent 'off spec' set of gear as well as gaining gear for your preferred talent spec. I myself cobbled together a very serviceable healing kit (it has about +1000 healing on it) for my draenei enhancement shammy, and my resto orc has really rather nice DPS kit for both elemental and enhancement if he's ever so inclined. We've covered elemental gear in Outland before, and it's worth keeping in mind that a lot of that gear will also serve for a healing role until you can get better. With the variety of gear a shaman can make use of (especially if he or she is willing to respec) there's never a reason to dump gear until you're sure you have a better piece out there somewhere.
While questing in Hellfire, you'll get the chance to run Hellfire Ramparts and Blood Furnace inside Hellfire Citadel. Both instances have nice drops, and more importantly they'll help you get used to running the newer design philosophy in the BC instances. There are also a great deal of useful drops (without focusing on a specific spec it's hard to post specific items, since shamans can use spell damage items, healing items or attack power items depending) and some nice quests that can be accomplished here.
As a shaman I'd say you want to hit Zangarmarsh before Terokkar. There's a very nice healing mace available from the Cenarion Expedition at Honored which you'll want to pick up for a healing set (I always recommend going for gear that can be achieved without trusting to drop luck) and there's a lot of mail available through the Zangarmarsh quests, including some with sockets, which makes customizing them for your needs easier. Terokkar has some good rewards as well, but it's generally accepted that the quests are slightly harder there, and you'll also be thinking of your faction choice between Aldor and Scryer when you get there. It is my opinion that Scryers is the way to go for an elemental shaman, while my enhancement shaman went Aldor for the Lightwarden's Band, although I don't disagree with the comments about the ring not being as good as it could be.
By the time you're done in Terokkar you can easily be 64 or even 65. You'll have access to the two Hellfire Citadel dungeons at your level, two Coilfang Reservoir ones (Slave Pens and Underbog) and similarly two instances in Auchindoun (Mana-Tombs and Aucehnai Crypts). As a leveling shaman, I encourage you to experiment with your spec and/or role while you level through these zones. Try out your healing set (maybe spec resto, maybe try it in whatever your native spec is) or give elemental a whirl if you haven't already. This is possibly your best time to find out if you like doing things you don't usually do and to collect some gear for possible future respecs. Also, familiarize yourself with these dungeons now if you can, as you'll be coming back here eventually when you start running heroics, and the layouts don't change.
Level 65 through 68 can easily be accomplished in Nagrand and Blade's Edge. Neither of these zones has a dungeon (at least none you'll be running at those levels) but they both have their own attractions. Nagrand has the Durn the Hungerer questline, complete with a nice healing dagger reward, the excellent Ring of Blood quests which can net you a slew of XP, potions and gold as well as an item you could use all the way to 70. (Between the Battle Mage's staff for elemental, the Anointing Club for resto, and the Fury Brand for enhancement, plus a wicked 2h axe if you want a grinding weapon) and several other questlines that end in blue rewards that will last you a while. As for Blade's Edge, the Alliance questlines there are fine, and you get to kill a couple of Gronn. But the Horde get to do it alongside Rexxar! (Quest rewards are the same for both factions, I just really enjoy the idea of fighting alongside Rexxar.) Elemental shamans, I know it's cloth, but get Tourmaline Crown, please, for the love of all that you hold dear. Look at it! It orbits your head! Blade's Edge also has the questline that leads to some of the best blue necks in the game. I mean, look at the +healing on this one. The real difficulty here will be in not feeling bad that you had to pick just one. (You can get this neck from a quest in Netherstorm if you're Aldor, which is almost as good and allows you to take one of the DPS necks from this quest.)
From here, you have two levels to go, can now run Sethekk Halls (which you should, it's only got a couple of bosses in it so it's not a terribly long instance and there's some nice gear for any shaman spec in here) and you have two zones to quest in, Netherstorm and Shadowmoon Valley. I'd advise you to pick one of these zones to get you to 70 and use the quests in the other to help fund your flying mount fund. Since Netherstorm is close to Blade's Edge, I usually get to 70 there: there are plenty of quests to help you grind Consortium and either Aldor or Scryer faction here as well as some nice quest gear to be had. By the time you've finished up all the available quests in Netherstorm that you can do without a flying mount, you should be 70 and ready to grind for your flying mount, running the Tempest Keep instances as well as Shadow Labyrinth, Steam Vaults and Shattered Halls for the gear you'll want to start prepping for Heroics and raiding.
So there we go, a quick and dirty guide to leveling in Outland. Next week, we'll talk about spec in more detail, especially about how to go about switching, since the three specs are different enough to require careful though and gearing to be able to switch effectively.