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Hi, my name is Caperfin and welcome to my guide! For a long time there's been some negative stigma surrounding shaman tanking in original World of Warcraft, many players don't consider them tanks and not worth a second look. However, this stigma is typically fueled by misinformation or players refusing to go the extra mile to make it work and much rather give up halfway and play a protection warrior when it comes to tanking.
Table of Contents
Introduction Basics Threat Management Shaman Threat Threat Diminishers Rotations Buffs Debuffs Gear + Enchants Totems Profession Race Talents Comparison What If Raid Composition Introduction
Can Shamans tank in Vanilla? The short and to the point answer is, yes. You might be rubbing your eyes right now in disbelief of this answer. Perhaps concocting up an entire four page manifesto around how only warriors can and should tank. Although, I could go on a long rant about how there are many other classes that can tank, today, I will be focusing on our totemic friend, the shaman.
My intent and statement with this guide is not to upset anyone or downplay different classes but to bring to light a rarely talked about topic of the game. Nothing about what will be detailed in this guide is orthodox, many distinctive elements can be tied to other hybrid classes looking to stray away from the path of normality. Every possible subject that comes to mind will be dissected to answer any lingering questions you might have. In the likely situation a subject is not addressed or poorly please bring it to my attention. I expect the same amount of scrutiny from readers as I have put into writing this guide, so don't hold back. Before continuing, an important aspect needs to be brought to everyone's attention. For some players this will be old news, but for many others players this will be a much needed revelation. The topic of Viable and Optimal is a highly controversial topic as some people simply don't see the difference or mixed these words up and commonly interject their own misguided philosophy onto it. To put it simply, Optimal is the most efficient and foolproof solution to solve a problem that eliminates as many negative variables as possible and favors a more easy going route. Next, is Viable or commonly referred to as possible, which is often seen as the more challenging path to take but to many feels like a greater personal achievement.
With all of this in mind, where are shaman tanks placed? Shamans are classified under Viable and with each theorycrafter joining our ranks and contributing their work, perhaps shaman could “feasibly” one day dethrone those braggadocious paladin tanks/bear tanks and reach a theoretical semi-optimal echelon. Many shaman tanks will agree their motivation or drive comes from the glory of accomplishing something that the rest of the server population dares not even try. If this sounds like you, I encourage you to continue reading. To reiterate my point, you decide to go a shaman tank if you want a challenge in an otherwise easy to clear raid. For example, Molten Core is on farm status. If it wasn't made obvious before, shield bearing is a sizable undertaking. When experienced players pick up a shaman tank and put in the effort, it shines tenfold. Nonetheless, your guild must also be experienced and prepared for a tempestuous task ahead. You will often see experienced raiders from top guilds play as a restoration shaman in raid and build a tanking set while healing. Eventually, they will transition into shaman tanking due to its extra challenge in an otherwise easy to clear content patch, they usually make the switch after the initial rush to get world first on a boss/raid is claimed or the subsequent following content drought approaches. As I previously stated it is not for the faint of heart, if you are brand spanking new to World Of Warcraft consider leveling up a ranged class, for example: a mage to get an adequate grasp of the PVE raids. All the while researching about tanking and talking to peers to get a feel for it and slowly transition to the world of shaman tanking. If you are a veteran of the game by all means start leveling that shaman.
Let me put your fears to rest, shamans are fully capable of tanking 5mans, 10mans, off-tanking and even main-tanking a few raid bosses. Of course, as stated before, each form of tanking is heavily reliant on personal and guild experience. I should specify there are non-traditional factors that make tanking easier, such as generally bad server coding, bugged items/talents and traditional factors such as having: Leader of the Pack , Trueshot Aura, tier sets, etc... Regardless, of these implementations and their magnitude a few things never change: A shaman's overall armor will never approach a warrior's armor mitigation. This results in a lower mitigation of physical damage. However, you compensate in other areas and provide some beneficial assets as well better threat output on single targets.
On this notion, pending any major weird coding or other factors, shaman tanks can do about the same personal damage as a protection warrior. But there is a drawback, many spells in our arsenal cost a hefty portion of mana, so be prepared to ask for a few Innervates and farm some mana regenerative items before a raid. We share the most similarity with feral druid tanks as we don’t have a major block activating ability and rely on a assortment of stats. The next downside is the nature immunity of certain mobs and the compelling burden it has on threat causing a drastic overhaul in gearing, rotation, etc.. which will be explained in detailed and rectified in the upcoming sections. Outside of guild mates, establishing a reliable and trusted friend list of healers or dps is highly advised for procuring buffs, consumables, etc... as they are more accustomed to the lesser known way of the shaman. In other situations, by all means, carrying a restoration shaman healing set when unsure of the group's competence is advisable.
Because a plethora of question surrounding aggro/threat are bound to come out of confusion. I'd like to first reference Kenco's and Nocturn's words about how gaining aggro on a mob functions and overall threat:
How does this affect our hybrid buddy? Shamans are on another tier when it comes to outputting threat, but it demands a hefty chunk of dedication comparably to the more laxed protection warrior. Although, this might come as a shock, with proper optimization, their threat is nearly equal to that of a pure protection warrior and in some situation just shy of a bears. Not only on the initial pull, but steadily throughout an entire fight. Of course, the shorter the altercation with a target, the better, since a shaman can freely throw mana around without going out of mana as fast. This results in more dependable damage being dished out and correlates into predictable threat. So without further ado, let me demonstrate how to get creatures more mad at you than unusual.
Earth Shock is first on the list as it provokes a tremendously high amount of threat because of its 2x damage threat modifier. Akin to other classes in WoW, downranking an ability is imperative and plays a big component in tanking as it can be the distinction between life and death, so pay attention. To begin with, Rank1 Earth Shock is mainly incorporated in combat to interrupt spells all the while preserving mana. Rank5 Earth Shock is an ordinary threat increase and seen as the most cost efficient. Some shaman tanks might relentlessly use this rank, if a group has an abundance of warriors or warlocks. Rank7 Earth Shock is seen as a way to force the creature to attack the caster by dealing the most threat, this is seen as the closest we will ever get to a warrior's “taunt” effect. This rank is seen as the luxury rank and can be constantly used in raiding once the best gear is acquired. The downsides of our shocks is that nature damage is severely burdened on various fronts: there are no warlock curses that buff it, a low spell coefficient of 40.71% of the caster's spell damage and some of the raid content is particularly resistant to nature.
Contrary to popular belief, gear with “increase Nature damage by X” will always be worse than the equivalent amount of regular spell damage gear. Next, as a point of reference, anything that resembles an elemental (noticeable in MC) will have a rather high resistance to nature damage. All the Dragons of Nightmare found in the outside world are also immune to nature damage or tend to have the same kind of lofty resistance to nature that they do to fire (server dependent). The same applies for some creatures in: AQ, ZG and Naxx. Basically, if an environment has a disease or poison theme, expect nature damage to be hampered. Here is a chart to better explain the notion. Do not fret, there are items to counter this downside, for example: Eye of Moam and the debuff that originates from Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker can help with ES dmg by reducing the target's nature resistance.
If a target is completely immune to nature damage there are alternatives, such as: Frost Shock our knight in shining white armor. Capable of hurling a modest amount of frost damage but at the trade-off of less threat. FS does not consume a debuff slot on a boss impervious to movement impairing effects (most bosses). There are additional ways to circumvent this lack of threat which will be peppered throughout the upcoming topics.
Rockbiter Weapon is second on the drawing board of threat generators and typically is not downranked. Each rank of Rockbiter Weapon triggers a weapon proc that is designed to give a fixed threat per second. At max rank, Rockbiter gives 72 threat per second on successful hits. If you have a 2.6 speed weapon, each successful hit (not a miss, dodge or parry) would add 2.6 * 72 = ~172 threat. This means weapon speed doesn’t matter, but haste (Flurry) does. Haste effects are exceedingly sought after not only to counteract nature defiant mobs but overcome the drawback of having a low percent chance to hit. To give a better impression of threat let’s compare with a warrior’s threat toolkit for the sake of testing. Sunder Armor, a warrior’s bread and butter spell, creates 261 threat. Rank 9 Heroic Strike adds an additional ~172 threat. So effectively, every swing from a shaman with Rockbiter on a 2.60 speed is equivalent to a Heroic Strike from a warrior using a 2.4 attack speed weapon. Of course this is not discrediting a warrior’s threat, they are kings at threat overall. However, a shaman with Rockbiter on its own will be dealing considerably more threat since max rank Rockbiter with talent improvements gives 665 additional attack power. I should mention, once you achieve a certain auto attack dps threshold (~140) it is no longer optimal to use Rockbiter, instead opt in for the more beneficial: Windfury Weapon. Lightning Shield and deals damage when hit but it imposes certain conditions to be cost effective. Firstly, Lightning Shield is on the GCD and should not be prioritized over other spells, such as: Earth Shock so properly weigh your mana and threat. Secondly, downranking LS is vital to conserve our resources and maintain productivity. However, the appealing aspect of LS is each charge scales with 33% of total spell damage and its facilitation in securing threat on numerous targets. A small remark that LS is incapable of critting but its damage is increased by Stormstrike. Rank2 Lightning Shield can be indiscriminately done in single and multiple target fights as part of a rotation. Rank4 Lightning Shield alongside relatively adequate gear and conventional raid buffs is a cost efficient enough rank to periodically activate in a fight. Rank7 Lightning Shield is weighed as a luxury and carried out in the pre-pulling phase of an encounter or at personal prudence during short comprehensible fights. Tip: Equip spell damage gear, cast LS and switch back to tank gear before pulling the boss.
Oil of Immolation might not seem like much but gravitates around fourth on the list. The reason its exact position is unclear is because it resets your swing timer on some servers. However, it is undeniably good to use before a boss pull or against multiple mobs. Luckily, they can be bought on the Auction House or simply created through Alchemy with a profession skill of 220. I suggest stocking up on them or the necessary ingredients when they are affordable and depositing a few in the bank for a later purpose. On top of all its benefits, it does not trigger a GCD so you can continue to wreck havoc uninterrupted. Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning (depending on number of mobs) are both nature-based direct damage spells that follow the traditional rule for damage to threat conversion. They will be the very first spells that form threat on the target. Luckily, downranking is not as harsh or compulsory since these spells are rarely used: Rank4 Lightning Shield is the economical version of the spell for pulling a target. It is ideal for subpar geared individuals in a less strict raiding environment with threat not being a main priority. Rank10 Lightning Shield can cause devastating damage at the beginning of an encounter. Tip: Move slightly ahead of the group, equip spell damage gear with a mix of spell crit gear and cast LB twice or once (depending on boss distance) then switch into tanking gear. Immediately sit down, drink mana and wait until mana is full or boss is 20 yrds away or forces you to stand up in order to proceed with your rotation.
Goblin Sapper Charge is great to generate additional threat but unfortunately has a long cooldown. Luckily, there are other bombs with shorter cooldowns. Regardless, it is a definite must have against multiple mobs. The majority of explosives are created through engineering with the exception of the last one in the following list: Here is the list of explosives centered around threat management: Firstly, we have Goblin Sapper Charge the highest threat generating explosive and is also instant cast. (shares a 1min cooldown with other bombs) Secondly, is Dark Iron Bomb deals damage in a 5yrd radius but requires to stand still and a 1 sec cast. The last one is: Crystal Charge, which deals similar damage to its predecessor but in a 3yrd radius and can be cast while moving. Another similarity is that both can be activated before Sapper is off its 5min CD. Major Rejuvenation Potion and similar healing potions as well as mana pots, bandages and eating food are last on the list of threat generators and they produce a very small quantity of threat. To be more accurate, the healing threat is global and normally .5x of the amount replenished. Unfortunately, both health and mana effects cause no threat if already at maximum capacity. Contrary to popular belief, the basic shaman restoration spell: Mana Spring Totem does in fact yield a small amount of threat with each pulse. Seasoned players on brisk coherent fights will often pop a heal pot after using a Goblin Sapper Charge or Major Rejuvenation Potion to induce an immense amount of threat. In the same vein, you can use Flask of the Titans and consume a pot or bandage up oneself to generate threat. Mana and healing over time potions do not generate threat. Here is a list of a few food/consumables centered around threat management. In order of threat:
- Major Rejuvenation Potion is the highest threat generator when it comes to regenerative items but it can be expensive.
- Major Healthstone is given to us by a warlock.
- Demonic Rune converts health into mana.
- Dark Rune nearly identical to the previous, however, this item can be traded between characters and bought on the Auction House.
- Night Dragon's Breath takes care of mana & health. Very easy to acquire so get a large amount and place them in the bank.
- Whipper Root Tuber it only grants health.
- Major Mana Potion grants a good chunk of mana and drops throughout the world quite often.
- Lily Root is created from a neck item and saves on time, money, etc… (the single root will disappear after 1hr.)
- Major Healing Potion is last because the amount ratio of granted health is on a large spectrum and random.
- Crystal Restore doesn't generate much threat, but it can be casted onto you by an ally. (this triggers the pot CD for ced ally)
These items can relive some pressure from healers as they have to spend less mana to keep you topped off. My personal recommendation is to have a diverse pool of the items featured in this section to cater to any situation that might arise. As you familiarize yourself with a fight and the limits of your raiding partners, it will come intuitively what is the best to use. Its worth mentioning some items don't share a cooldown, thus can follow each other in quick succession. Here are the two different cooldown categories:
Thorns and similar reflective effects to put it simply are passive buffs that deal damage to attacker when hit. Contrary to popular belief as well as many tooltips, reflective buffs will only damage the attacker if they strike you with in melee range. Although, it provides the lowest amount of threat in our toolkit it is still note worthy. Typically, these buffs are great against multiple mobs however they still maintain some relevancy in single target scenarios, especially versus bosses with high attack speeds. There is no reason to not have the majority of them. All the buffs below stack with each other. Mana and healing over time potions do not generate threat. In order of threat: - Thorns is the highest and originates from druids & its damage is amplified with a druid tier set bonus & a talent in the balance tree.
- Fire Shield is second and is casted by a warlock's imp and improved by a warlock talent in the demonology tree.
- Crystal Spire is an item any class can cast on you and should be accumulated and stored in the bank for later use.
- Razorhide originates from completing a repeatable quest in the Barrens from the NPC, Mangletooth a caged quillboar.
- Static Barrier is gained from using the head item: Electromagnetic Gigaflux Reactivator. The effect will stay even while unequipped.
Aggro and threat from teammates is another daunting obstacle to tackle with. Conveniently, there are ways for heavy hitting classes to reduce their threat. To begin with, ranged classes are highly adored because if they were to mistakenly get aggro, they are likely at that sweet 30-40yrd range, so it's easier to supervise. Also characters standing out of the 30-40yrd range will not draw aggro until they exceed the threat level of the mob's current target by 30% as opposed to 10% for melee classes. Here are a few examples of diminishers or dumps in no particular order:
Rogue reduce their threat w/Feint & flat our wipe threat w/Vanish. It might disrupt their rotation but it's appreciated. Mage who have taken the talent: Frost Channeling or the talent Burning Soul is their overall way to reduce threat. Druid who are mainly spending time in cat form have Cower & healing druids can obtain Subtlety through talents. Priest have two of the easiest threat reducers to acquire, within the discipline talent Silent Resolve and the spell Fade Shaman within the restoration talent tree can obtain: Healing Grace & casting the basic spell: Tranquil Air Totem. Additionally, there are some threat reducing items that drop in the latter portion of raiding content that are used in raids to combat the threat produced. This is good news because serious petal to the metal fury warriors generate a tremendous amount of threat. So we are grateful for the melee trinket Fetish of the Sand Reaver and the caster trinket Eye of Diminution used by fire mages and destruction warlocks. Advise your high dpser's to keep an eye out for these items. Also, an honorable mention should be made for the potion Limited Invulnerability Potion and its aggro reassignment effect as well as its halt on additional threat. All that was mentioned is also useful for bosses that reset threat globally due to a unique boss mechanic, a timely potion pop from teammates can help you quickly establish threat. There are some servers, where Flask of Petrification not only removes aggro but the debuff/buff it places can be clickable-off but these instances are rare and its unclear if that was the item's original intention. This guide will continue without considering this item as a key component to tanking.
First, on the list is a simple rotation and we’ll be presuming the enemy is a simple tank-spank and has very minimal or no nature resistance allowing our totemic friend to freely cause havoc unhindered. For the time being we are sticking with a basic rotation. A more complex rotation will be addressed later on as well as a solution to completely nature immune targets. The following rotation is split into several sections to better highlight the course of action.
Pre-pull: Begin by casting Lightning Shield Rank7. Next, make sure before pulling the mob all possible buffs are present on you and on their maximum duration. Refer to the section Buffs for suggestions. Next, position the appropriate totems on the ground. Lastly, if it hasn't been done yet, install the addon: KTM Threat, which displays the list of members and the amount of threat they each deal. I can't stress how much a scenario can go from peaceful to chaotic in the blink of an eye, so watch KTM at all times. At any moment, you need to be confident of the fitting Earth Shock rank to use, healers will be especially grateful. Pulling: Face the boss and cast a Rank10 Lightning Shield or Rank4 Chain Lightning and follow it up with a Rank7 Earth Shock. Bearing everything goes smoothly, proceed with a Rank5 Earth Shock and turn the boss away from the group. If the enemy suddenly targets a raid member or drops aggro due to a unique mechanic, lob a Rank7 Earth Shock to effectively redirect the boss to you, if engineering was chosen the next action is to throw a Goblin Sapper Charge. For foreseeable threat problems refer to the previous topic Threat Management. Secondly, is a rotation that deals with some bosses who are completely immune to nature. However, we can rectify this problem by replacing instances of nature damage with Frost Shock or Flame Shock. Because we lost the ability to use a massive threat inducing ability, we must cater to increasing the damage of Frost Shock/Flame Shock as much as possible. This means making sure debuffs, such as: Winter's chill are present. Funnily, enough Flame Shock can come very close to the threat produced by our lost brother, Earth Shock. This is possible with a near constant uptime of the debuff: Flame Buffet by fellow teammates among many other fire related debuffs.
Thirdly is a rotation and as promised a more complex rotation against non-resistant nature targets, this rotation yields unbelievable results but requires good gear, buffs, etc... Only experienced shaman tanks should consider the following:
Pre-pull: Equip spell damage gear and cast Rank7 Lightning Shield and drink mana. Equip 3 pieces of Stormcaller's Garb Equip the Augur's Regalia set. Place a Mana Spring Totem (it gives threat to you) Activate Oil of immolation. Place a Stoneclaw Totem in front of you and back up 25-30yrds. (This totem will later on make the boss stop for 0.5 seconds or boss will attack totem) Use Unconscious Dig Rat and cast Rank1 Lightning Bolt on the rat to proc the nature effect or try and get Flurry and Elemental Devastation instead, your choice. (a mage can polymorph the rat, until it triggers.) Pulling: Cast Rank10 Lightning Bolt While the bolt travels, equip tanking gear. Cast R6 Lesser Healing Wave twice on a warlock that has recently life-tapped. Cast R4 Chain Lightning, immediately after cast R7 Earth Shock. Activate Juju Flurry and Juju Escape, if the situation is ideal. Repeat max rank Earth Shock until boss is dead. Buffs
As you probably know a character can have a theoretical cap of 32 beneficial buffs. The limit may differ from server to server or what is acknowledged as a buff. Prioritize collecting survival buffs before acquiring damage buffs, Agility for example has the added byproduct of helping with survival and threat. Disclaimer: because of the nature and duties of an OT, less damage is taken, therefore, it is not 100% necessary to aim for survival buffs. Also, some buffs are unobtainable due to certain patch restrictions or unable to stack with others. On a side note, I suggest installing NirkBuffRemover/NBR to help with overall buff management and ease of mind. Down below is a table of relevant buffs, separated into sub groups to better highlight their usefulness. Resistance buffs/totems are disregarded.
Threat Increasing Buffs
Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer: +140 Attack power, +10% spell crit & +5% melee. Fengus' Ferocity: +200 Attack power Trueshot Aura: +50 Attack Power. Battle Shout: +185 Attack power for 2 min. (increased by warrior talent & T2 warrior set equipped before casting) Juju Might: +40 Attack power.
Sayge's Dark Fortune of Agility: +10% Agility or +10% damage. (A damage version of this buff also exists) Ground Scorpok Assay: +25 Agility. Elixir of the Mongoose: +25 Agility, +2% Melee Crit. (the agi won't stack w/Agamaggan's Agilitiy but the crit will) Agamaggan's Agility: +10 Agility for 30min. Grace of Air Totem: +77 Agility (effect is increased through a shaman talent) Call of the Raptor: +12 Agility for 30min. (non-repeatable quest reward item) Grilled Squid: +10 Agility for 10min. (does not stack with other food buffs)
Strength of Earth Totem: +77 Strength. (effect is increased through a shaman talent) Agamaggan's Strength: +10 Strength for 30 min.
Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian: +2% spell crit to all party members within 30 yards. (Can't stack with Moonkin Form) Slip'kik's Savvy: +3% Spell Crit. Moonkin Form: +3% Spell Crit. Wisdom of Agamaggan: +10 Intellect for 30 min. Headmaster's Charge: +20 Intellect. Arcane Intellect: +31 Intellect.
Gnomish Battle Chicken: +5% Attack Speed for 4 min. Warchief's Blessing: +15% Melee Haste, +300 Hp, 10 mana regen every 5 seconds. Fist of Shahram: Grants 25% haste to the party for 8 sec. Juju Flurry: +3% Attack Speed for 20 sec. Swift Wind: +40% run speed & +30% attack speed for 1 hr. (Only receivable upon completing the Call of Air shaman quest)
Mana Spring Totem: +10 mana every 2 sec. Mageblood Potion: +12 mana per 5 sec. Innervate: Increases Mana regen by 400% for 20 sec.
Oil of Immolation: Deals 50 Fire dmg to target within 5yds every 3 sec for 15 sec. Lightning Shield: Deals 226 Nature dmg to melee attackers until 3 charges are struck off by the enemy. Static Barrier: Deals 5 Nature dmg to melee attackers. Crystal Spire: Deals 12 Nature dmg to melee attackers. (the quest is repeatable and any class can cast this) Fire Shield: Deals 13 Fire dmg to melee attackers. Thorns: Deals 18 Nature dmg to melee attackers.(32 dmg talented + tier set)
Flask of Supreme Power: +150 damage done by magical spells & effects for 2 hr. Only 1 flask can be active at a time. Greater Arcane Elixir: +20 dmg dealt from spells & abilities. Traces of Silithyst: +5% dmg to melee, range and spell damage dealt. Power Infusion: The target receives +20% spell damage & healing for 15 sec.
Songflower Serenade: Increases a melee, ranged, or spell to crit by 5%, +15 all stats. Mark of the Chosen: 2% chance when struck in combat of increasing all stats by 25 for 1 min. Spirit of Zandalar: +10 move speed, +15 all stats. Mark of the Wild: +384 armor, +162 all attributes,+270 all resistance.
Elixir of Greater Firepower: Increases spell fire damage by up to 40 for 30 min. Blessing of Blackfathom: Increases intellect and spirit by 5 and frost damage done by 15. Elixir of Frost Power: Increases spell frost damage by up to 15 for 30 min.
Dragonbreath Chili: Often deals ~68 dmg at targets in melee. (scales w/spell damage) (can't stack with other food buffs). Here is a screenshot of common threat dealing buffs. With the Threat Increasing buffs out of the way, lets proceed to look at buffs that increase our chances of surviving a fight. Although, there is no strict order, you should still prioritize getting world buffs before obtaining other buffs. In the scenario some of the following buffs are not obtainable for whatever reason, they will be separated into categories to provide alternative solutions.
Survival Increasing Buffs
Sayge's Dark Fortune of Stamina: +10% Stamina or +10% Armor. (A armor version of this buff also exists) Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok Chops: +25 Stamina. (does not stack with other food buffs) Rumsey Rum Black Label: +15 Stamina. Power Word: Fortitude (Priest): +54 Stamina. Mol'dar's Moxie: +15% Stamina overall. Spirit of Zanza: +50 Stamina, +50 spirit. Admiral's Hat: +10 Stamina (must be applied by group member & then they logout) Blood Pact: +42 Stamina (the amount of stamina can be increased through a warlock talent)
Flask of the Titans: +1200 Hp. Elixir of Fortitude: +120 Hp. Regrowth Dreamwalker Raiment tier set bonus 6/6 (Druid): Increase max hp of target by 50, stacks 7 times.
The Lion Horn of Stormwind: When hit has a 1% chance of increasing the party's armor by +250. (2 can be equipped) Greater Stoneshield Potion: +2000 Armor for 2min. Elixir of Superior Defense: +450 Armor. Crystal Ward (allies can also cast): +200 Armor. Inspiration (Priest): Increases armor by 25% for 15 sec. (might not stack with Razorhide buff).
Power Word: Shield: Absorb 1105 dmg for 30 sec. When active, casting isn't interrupted by dmg... Scarab Brooch: Heals give a shield absorbing dmg equal to 15% of the amount healed for 30 sec. (can be item swapped) Greater Heal Vestments of Faith tier set bonus 4/4 (Priest): On critical hits, cast shield absorbing 500 damage.
Bloodkelp Elixir of Dodging: +3% dodge for 30 min. Juju Escape: +5% Dodge for 10 sec.
Healing Stream Totem (Shaman): Place a totem for 1 min healing group members within 20 yards for 14 every 2 sec. Greater Heal Renew Vestments of Transcendence tier set bonus. GH is now a Hot & equivalent to a rank5 Renew. Rejuvenation (Druid): Heal for 888 over 12 sec. Regrowth (Druid): Heal for 1064 over 21 sec. Renew (Priest): Heal for 970 damage over 15 sec.
Stoneskin Totem: Reduce melee damage taken by 30. (effect is increased through a shaman talent). Dampen Magic (Mage): Decreases damage from spells by 135 & healing spells by 270. Amplify Magic: Increase dmg taken from spells by 112 & healing spells by up to 225.
Mind Control Buffs
I wouldn't be thorough if I didn't mention the wonderful world of Mind Control buffing. It is possible for an alliance priest to use their basic shadow spell: Mind Control or someone with the engineering to create and use the head slot item Gnomish Mind Control Cap against players of the opposing faction. For that duration the mind controlled Horde character is now considered an Alliance player. This allows the character to receive buffs from paladins. In the many guild raids I’ve taken part, we'd have 2-3 players log onto to their lvl 60 pallies and level 60 priests and stationed themselves near the raid entrance or zone for mind control buffing. Before undertaking this endeavor, be sure that the server allows for the Mind Control possibility and find out its exact limits. Tip: Try and get Fear Ward from a dwarf priest and if survivability is not and issue get Curse of Recklessness from a horde warlock as well.
Greater Blessing of Sanctuary: Reduce dmg from all sources by 24. If you block a melee attack the attacker takes 35 Holy dmg. Greater Blessing of Salvation: Reducing the amount of all threat generated by 30% for 15 min. (higher threat reduction than Tranquil Air Totem) Tip: Although, this is not beneficial for a shaman tank, raid members with high threat should get this. Note: Sadly, this does not stack with Tranquil Air Totem. Greater Blessing of Wisdom: +45 mana per 5 seconds. Note: Icon vanishes if Mana Totem casted but effect remains. Greater Blessing of Might: +222 melee attack power for 15min. (Grants more attack power than Strength of Earth Totem.) Note: Try and convince the others in the group to forgo WF totem (pref. tank group) because WF totem does not stack with Strength of Earth Totem or Might. However, Imp. Greater Blessing of Might has its place in a group without a shaman. Greater Blessing of Kings: +10% to all stats for 15 min. Improved Lay on Hands: +30% bonus to armor value from items for 2 min. Tip: When the buff expires, leave raid & get rebuffed by nearby paladin/priest & resummon back into the instance.
The fun doesn't stop there. It is also possible for a priest of any faction to Mind Control certain mobs which can be controlled to dish out beneficial buffs to all raid members. In order, to fully utilize the duration of these buffs, its advised to have warlock be ready for immediate summoning.
Fury of Ragnaros: From Twilight Emissary in BRD, he increases the magical damage dealt by an ally by 25 for 30 min. Resist Arcane: From Scarlet Medic in Plaguelands, increases Arcane resistance by 78 for 1 hr. Resist Fire: Scarshield Spellbinder in BWL, he increases an ally's Fire resistance by 81 for 1 hr. Bloodlust: Gordok Mage-Lord in DM, increases an ally's attack speed by 60% for ONLY 30 sec. Bloodlust: Hamhock in Stockades, increases an ally's attack speed by 30% for ONLY 30 sec.
Special Event Buffs
On an ending note for buffs, we can also get buffs from special events/holidays. An example, is The Midsummer Fire Festival a seasonal event that celebrates the hottest season of the year. It starts on the (earthly) northern summer solstice, and lasts about two weeks (mid-late June to early July, usually). The next ones are Love is in the Air, Lunar Festival, Wickerman Festival and Scourge Invasion that all feature some useful buffs for tanking. It is possible for the Love is in the Air Capital Gift Collection buffs to be stacked with each other, ask around to find out its exact limits. The following buffs are separated by their event.
Stormwind Gift Collection: Increases Intellect by 30 for 1 hour. Undercity Gift Collection: Increases Intellect by 30 for 1 hour. Orgrimmar Gift Collection: Increases Agility by 30 for 1 hour. Darnassus Gift Collection: Increases Agility by 30 for 1 hour. Ironforge Gift Collection: Increases Stamina by 30 for 1 hour. Thunder Bluff Gift Collection: Increases Stamina by 30 for 1 hour.
Fire Festival Fortitude: Increases Stamina by 30 for 1 hour. (stack with the stamina buff above) Midsummer Sausage: Increases damage done from spells by up to 23 for 1 hr. Bonfire's Blessing: 30% chance to deal 60 Fire dmg on any melee, ranged, or spell attack. (works outside only) Fire-toasted Bun: Improves your chance to hit by 2% for 1 hr. Fire Festival Fury: Increases critical strike percent and spell critical strike percent by 3% for 1 hr.
Elderberry Pie: Increases Defense by 13 for 1 hr. Buttermilk Delight: Increases Defense by 13 for 1 hr. Very Berry Cream: Increases damage done from spells by up to 23 for 1 hr. Dark Desire: Improves your chance to hit by 2% for 1 hr.
Celebrate Good Times!: +10% to all stats for 30min.
Elune's Blessing: All stats increased by 10% for 1hr.
Invocation of the Wickerman: Increase health & mana regeneration by 25% and Stamina by 25%.
Soul Revival: Increases all damage caused by 10% for 30 minutes.
Having as many debuffs on the boss as possible is of paramount importance to tanking. Therefore, our interests are heavily tied to the release of patch 1.7, due to its extra 8 debuff slots introduction totaling to 16 debuffs. Tanking before patch 1.7 can be quite a troublesome route. All debuffs on the list below benefit us in either threat or survival and assumed to be at their maximum rank/talent improvement.
Curse of Recklessness: - 290 armor but bolsters melee attack power by 45. Only 1 curse can be active on any 1 target. Expose Armor: Reduce armor per combo point. (can't stack w/Sunder Armor but reduces more than it) Sunder Armor: Reduce armor by 450. Can be applied up to 5 times. Lasts 30 sec. Annihilator: Reduces an enemy's armor by 200. Stacks up to 3 times. Faerie Fire: Reduces armor by 505 for 40 sec. While active, the target cannot stealth or go invisible.
Imp. Shadow Bolt (Warlock): Shadow Bolt critical strikes bolster Shadow damage dealt to target by 20% until 4 non... Curse of Shadow: Reduce Shadow & Arcane resistance by 75 & increasing Shadow & Arcane damage taken by 10%. Shadow Weaving (Priest): Shadow damage spells have a 100% chance to cause your target to be vulnerable to Shadow damage. This vulnerability increases the Shadow damage dealt to your target by 3% and lasts 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.
Wail of the Banshee: After a 1.5sec cast, reduce target's chance to hit by 10% for 12 sec. (usually casted by healers) Insect Swarm (Druid): Reduce target's chance to hit by 2% & causes 324 Nature damage over 12 sec.
Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker: Periodically deal 300 Nature dmg & jumping to 5 nearby enemies. Each jump reduces the victim's Nature resistance by 25. The primary target is consumed by a cyclone, slowing attack speed by 20% for 12 sec. Thunder Clap: Increases the time between attacks by 10% for 30 sec. Will affect up to 4 targets.
Improved Scorch: Scorch has a 100% chance to cause your target to be vulnerable to Fire damage. This vulnerability increases the Fire damage dealt to the target by 3% and lasts 30 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. Flame Buffet (Arcanite Dragonling): Inflicts Fire damage to an enemy and increases the Fire damage it takes by 40 for 45 sec. Stacks 5 times. (The numbers in the toolitp are possibly not exact) Curse of the Elements: -75 resistance to Fire & Frost and increase Fire & Frost damage taken by 10%. Only 1 Curse per... Winter's Chill: Gives your Frost damage spells a 100% chance to apply the Winter's Chill effect, which increases the chance a Frost spell will critically hit the target by 2% for 15 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.
Gift of Arthas: If an enemy strikes the imbiber, the attacker has a 30% chance of being inflicted with disease that increases dmg taken by 8 for 3 min. Lasts 30 min.
Nightfall: Spell damage taken by target increased by 15% for 5 sec.
Demoralizing Shout (Warrior): Reduce melee attack power of enemies within 10 yards by 140 for 30 sec.
Curse of Weakness: Damage caused by target is reduced by 31 for 2 min. (effect is increased through a warlock talent)
Finding the perfect balance of gear will be the hardest aspect of this subject. To this day there is still a debate between the usefulness of stamina over dodge in the tanking community. If unsure of your guild’s performance, I recommend carrying several focused gear sets: a Stamina, Dodge and armor set in your bags to accommodate any encounters that might arise. For some players, a mix and match of particular gear stats may be needed, to compensate in other lacking aspects. Down below is a document with a plethora of options for proper gearing.
Gear Spreadsheet Link
A few things need to be remembered while gearing. Down the road, the universally top-grade gear gives hit chance as an unintended byproduct. Install the addon: “Outfitter” to assist with handling specific sets of gear against the numerous bosses out there. To give an example of a gear set, down below on image #1 is an armor centric set designed for bosses that deal high physical damage but don't require much threat. Image #2 to the right is a gear set focused on generating threat while retaining some survivability.
An item of notable value in the image#1 is: Zandalarian Hero Badge in the first trinket slot. This trinket can be activated before a boss fight and swap out for another item, these types of items are referred to as "Pre-Activated Items". Note: Pre activating items are very situational and not included in the google doc spreadsheet above. However, some will be listed below.
Zandalarian Hero Badge: Can be switched out for another trinket before pulling the boss. Defender of the Timbermaw: Can be switched out... lasts 40 sec, will heal if caster is below 50%. Petrified Scarab: Can be switched... great against bosses that cast spells. Similar to gear, enchants must be tailored against the specific boss you will be facing. Allies can also help us, by enchanting their own cloak with Formula: Enchant Cloak - Subtlety Note: To avoid constantly having to re-enchant a piece of gear to tailor to a specific boss fights, have different versions of that gear in the bank or backpack to save on time and money. Also, the talent: Toughness does not scale with armor enchants. Down below is a spreadsheet of enchants suited for our tanking duties:
Enchant Spreadsheet Link
I also suggest to keep on you Faintly Glowing Skull if you are aiming to assure the takedown of a specific boss and stay on top of aggro. The skull scales with spell damage and shadow buffs alongside related debuffs.
We’ll be asking our shamanistic brothers from the restoration side to land a hand in optimizing totem utility, so be considerate and compliment each others strengths within the group. Each individual totem listed below is in order of importance per category. Keep in mind, there can only be one type of totem per shaman so having another totem slave in the group is largely welcomed. Also the handful totems in our stockpile have different durations and don’t scale with spell damage or similar effects.
Stoneskin Totem: Provides a decent bulk of melee damage mitigation and generally is placed by the tanking shaman or a fellow totem brother with 2/2 Guardian Totems in the enhancement talent tree within the group. Strength of Earth Totem: Boost to attack power. Alongside benefiting the dmg of other melee users in the group. Stoneclaw Totem: Diverts loose mobs off your tail and quickly allows readjusting of a target's positioning. Tremor Totem: Mainly a situational totem to use when a boss encounter has fear, charm and sleep mechanics. Earthbind Totem: A tool for kiting/running possible unbound trash in an instance. Fire
Searing Totem: Damaging fire totems are a luxury during a fight. All fire totems can crit but do not cause threat to the caster. Fire Nova Totem: Ideal for bursting down low hp adds on encounters. Magma Totem: Great for tanking multiple mobs. Frost Resistance Totem: Beneficial for fights involving high doses of frost damage. Air
Grace of Air Totem: Roughly comes out to about 4% dodge and agi is always a pleasant stat to have and also is appreciated by the majority of other classes. A priority totem within the air types that should be taken seriously. Windfury Totem: Sadly, we are unable to benefit from this totem's effect since it is a temporary effect enchant to weapons and we already have an active temporary effect enchant, Rockbiter. However, it is appreciated by melee dps in the group and enforced by a restoration shaman with 2/2 Enhancing Totem with nothing else to do. Nature Resistance Totem: Advantageous for fights involving high doses of nature damage, such as: Ahn’Qiraj. Tranquil Air Totem: Avoid dropping in the tank group within a raid. Grounding Totem: Useful for redirecting ranged spells from susceptible mobs and bosses. Windwall Totem: Unfortunately, doesn't see much utility in most fights. Water
Mana Spring Totem: A very valuable totem in our arsenal. Optimally, it should be arranged by a resto shaman in the group who has the talent: Restorative Totem within the restoration talent tree. Healing Stream Totem: Typically, is planted by a resto shaman if you both come to a mutual understanding and comfortable with not having an improved Mana Spring Totem with 5/5 in the Restorative Totems. In this scenario, return the favor by placing a regular MST. HST does not generate any threat. Poison Cleansing Totem: Indispensable on fights with high poison output, ex: AQ bosses. Fire Resistance Totem: Pragmatic for fights involving high amounts of fire damage, ex MC. Disease Cleansing Totem: Unfortunately, rarely sees the light of day.
During the harsh and lengthy process of leveling, select Herbalism and Alchemy. A valid case can be made for also having a lvl 5 alt stationed permanently in a major city to disenchant unwanted items through mail and store items at a bank for later use. Back to the subject at hand, herbalism contributes convenient reagents for alchemy and a strong source of revenue for our eventual endgame professions. It also prevents players from spending an exorbitant portion of time pestering strangers in Orgrimmar to craft potions. The objective is straightforward, gather a substantial supply of gold and a bank chock-full of fruitful potions the raid might need. Next, I advise dropping Herbalism once the quantity of gold in one’s bags is overflowing and adopt the late game profession: engineering to scoop up a few useful tools, such as: Goblin Sapper Charge and Gnomish Battle Chicken. Finally, for secondary professions, I urge grabbing all of them as they all provide valuable assets. In terms of fishing, you can farm those elusive Stonescale Eels that are highly contested after for Flask of the Titans. First aid grants bandages for healing that dont require any mana to use. Lastly, cooking has Dragonbreath Chili a sheer delight as it not only scales with spell damage but also alongside the trinket: Arcanite Dragonling fire increasing debuff. The fire debuff scales with Goblin Sapper charge as well. All these items nicely combine into a decent boost in threat. But be mindful as only one food buff can be active at a time, cautiously evaluate the best possible food buff for the specific fight.
Races play a big part as we are grasping for any amount of extra efficiency possible. Unfortunately, shamans do not exist on the Alliance side, therefore, we are being relegated to spend our fighting days with the Horde. As for race, choose wisely as once the decision is made there is no going back. Some players might want to choose a certain race to assure the clearing of a specific boss or raid.
War Stomp: After 0.5 sec, stun up to 5 enemies within 8 yds for 2 sec. 2min cooldown. Endurance: Total Health increased by 5%. Cultivation: Herbalism skill increased by 15. Nature Resistance: Nature Resistance increased by 10. What does this mean?: Considered the most suited race for surviving long fights and ideally clearing ZG/AQ, which will be the first raids where difficulties will arise. The 5% hp is great and is inherently based on absolute hp, so it will scale with the amount of hp obtained from gear and world buffs. In regards to War Stomp, be cautious you cannot dodge, block, or parry while casting the spell. However, its overall usefulness outweigh this slight inconvenience. The 15 skill increase to Herbalism is also helpful and nothing to scoff at while leveling.
Throwing/Bow Specialization: Skill with Throwing/Bow Weapons increased by 5. Regeneration: Health regeneration rate increased by 10%. 10% of total Health regeneration may continue during combat. Beast Slaying: Damage dealt versus Beasts increased by 5%. Berserking: Increases your casting and attack speed by 10% to 25%. At full health the speed increase is 10% with... What does this mean?: The second leading race that converges more on setting up threat instead of having extra health as an option. Generally, threat is not problematic, if you glaringly foresee having threat issues, than I unquestionably advocate for troll above all other races. Berserking intertwined with Rockbiter Weapon is seen as an “emergency button” that alleviates healers of anxiety as a random group member quickly escalates the hate list, this is a great solution to further extend the gap in threat. Additionally, Berserking proves handy against nature immune targets. To be as thorough as possible, our long legged friends do gain an added benefit from spirit because it synergizes with their passive racial Regeneration. However, the end amount of spirit when fully buffed is insignificant to make a big impact in tanking. Trolls will also produce more threat than any other race on bosses that are beast, such as: Magmadar in MC, Whirlaxis and Gahz'ranka in ZG, etc...
Blood Fury: Increases base melee attack power by 25% for 15 sec and reduces healing effects on you by 50% for 25... Hardiness: Chance to resist Stun effects increased by an additional 25%. Command: Damage done by Hunter and Warlock pets increased by 5%. Axe Specialization: Skill with Axes and Two-Handed Axes increased by 5. What does this mean?: Last on the lineup, as Orcs sadly fall short in both survival and threat categories. Akin to the troll our green comrades focal point is threat at the compromise of potential health points and is seen as a more riskier race option considering the -50% to healing, especially detrimental for non-attentive healers. In all honesty, through our rigorous testing, they do in fact come out on top of all other races for instituting threat but it made the majority of healers very nervous. On the bright side, they proved more effective in the off-tank position. In conclusion, they plunge too deep into the situational category to be justified.
For the sake of generality and simplicity these talents setups assume a server between patch 1.9 - 1.12 and taking part in a serious guild who are confidently clearing raids. As stated earlier, the later a patch is, the easier the content is to tank.
https://classicdb.ch/?talent#hEczZxV0bExut The default talent Image build centered around this guide, calculated as the safest to pursue and viewed as a preliminary starter pack into the world of tanking 5mans/10mans/pre-raids. Highly, suggested if you are unsure of an upcoming boss fight or are still in the learning phase of tanking. If you are desperately in need of faster threat generation, withdraw 3 points from Convection and deposit them in Reverberation or Improved Lightning Shield.
https://classicdb.ch/?talent#hE0kVc0oZEV00vxz This talent setup is mostly centered around tanking multiple targets and revolves around Chain Lightning proccing with Eye of the Storm as the main conduit for dealing damage and preserving threat on multiple targets. Because it is not possible to dodge, block, parry while casting it is ideal to employ this build versus mobs that deal little to moderate damage. Against heavy hitting targets it is advisable to grab the weapon Hand of Edward the Odd and use EOTS procs occasionally during phases with less damage or avoid points in EOTS altogether and cater to proccing Edward as much as possible by prioritizing crit and haste. Feel free to use R1 Earth Shock to not only save mana but to increase the proc chance of ED and Elemental Focus, if you don't foresee at that instant a random mob leaving you to attack a teammate. Fiery Blaze Enchantment is also recommended for this type of tanking and “possibly” scales with EF and Elemental Focus. (ask around) Refer to: Gear, for additional help on this particular subject.
https://classicdb.ch/?talent#hAczx0hoZxV00Exuo This is the solution to individuals heavily resilient or completely immune to nature damage. Good gear alongside a solid understanding of shaman tanking is required since we loose the ability to cast Earth Shock. Therefore, we will be casting max rank Frost Shock often and require the necessary mana related item to back it up. This path is frequently taken as a player reaches 3% hit chance from gear. Among the many other topics that briefly explain potential threat solvers, also refer to the Threat Management section for help.
On patch 1.12 a full BIS and buffed shaman will be the closest in stats to approach a feral bear tank, let take an in-depth look at the stats to see the differences. As a guideline, the Example Druid Tank below is BIS/buffed and able to clear most bosses without a problem. A shaman like other tanks tailors his gear in accordance with the boss he will be facing. Obviously, the Example Druid Tank can reach higher numbers and has a plethora of defensive spells, but the goal is to showcase the class with the closest similarity to a shaman in stats across the board that gets the job done in raids.
Druids have the luxury of having multiple categories covered and a broader safety net on top of having access to join Alliance for the added advantage of paladins spells, while shaman tanks are required to significantly maximize a specific category for a certain boss.
Now, let's explores the threat generated by other classes to showcase where shaman tanks stand. Remember, threat will depend on gear, boss mechanics, etc... But in general, the current standing of tanks that can do the most threat are:
1. Feral Druid/Warrior.
2. Paladin/Enh Shaman.
3. Dem warlock.
4. Priest tanks.
The threat we can produce comes extremely close to Paladin Tanks using Holy Mightstone, if they don't use it we surpass them. We can reach an even higher threat ranking against bosses who have little to no nature resistance or the raiding group is capable of maintaining a consistent uptime of the Flame Buffet debuff.
This section explores past private server bugs and theoretical bugs that push Shaman Tanks to new heights on the raiding content spectrum. An example, is: Inspiration or/and Healing Way can be applied multiple times through different ranks. Before continuing, be sure to read the section: Comparison, to know where we initially stand with other tanks. Down below, is a compiled list in no particular order:
Razorhide's armor buff can stack with Inspiration. Rockbiter Weapon or Windfury Weapon triggers even if your auto attacks are dodged, parry, missed, etc.. Searing Totem can trigger ED and/or generate threat for the shaman. The talent: Toughness scales with the armor granted from agility. The buff cap is increased to 35 or some buffs are not considered buffs and do not consume a slot. The Windfury Weapon enchant can trigger weapon procs among other procs.
Raid composition differs with each boss but its considered an acquired technique that develops over time and reflects the playstyle of a guild or raid. The following image is an example raid comp with a few minor exceptions that differ from the norm. This image is by no means the perfect raid comp since raid comps drastically fluctuate along side: content patch, gear, experience, etc... With the raid leader's permission offer your advice on an ideal comp that caters to your needs without overstepping. A decent raid will always make sure that every group has a Tranquil Air Totem enforced by restoration shamans.
In (Group 1): On the topic of suvivability, a fellow tank in your party can equip The Lion Horn of Stormwind, granted they don't need the trinket slot for anything else. A bear can replace a prot warrior in the tank party, if the raid is comfortable enough with the idea and could probarbly use an emergency Innervate or Rebirth Also, only bring the bare minimum of tanks. This will open a spot for either: a lock with Blood Pact, or a hunter with Trueshot Aura. Rogues are favored over fury warrior, they Feint, Sprint, Evasion and Vanish to manage their threat/aggro. Feral cat druids can offer similar utilities as a bear and can Cower and Dash to manage their threat/aggro. Discipline priest with experience and ease of mind may occasionally throw a Power Infusion on a shaman tank during the pull phase to help the tank gain a larger amount of threat. In (Group 6): The shaman is elemental since healing is not an issue and we are relying mostly on Tranquil Air Totem. In the situation, you are taking too much damage this spot can be replaced by a restoration shaman. In (Group 7): A mage could be replaced by a shadow weaving healing priest. In (Group 8): Traditionally, mages tend to switch to Fire Specialization after AQ, however, keeping a single as Frost with the talent Winter's Chill is advisable. A rogue can be replaced by a melee hunter on Nightfall duty. Thanks for reading!
I hope you enjoyed exploring one of my favorite classes in World of Warcraft. If you are left with some lingering questions after having read the guide, feel free to swing over to the Discord: https://discordapp.com/invite/GYF3uNf and I would be more than happy to answer them. I will be continuously updating this guide as we learn more about Classic WoW.