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Shaman Tank Guide - Shaman Tanking in WoW

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About                                                                                                        eft.png
I’m Caperfin. Shaman tank, Rogue Raid Tank, warlock tank and others are my forte. This guide culminates many years of work. If a topic is not addressed or you have questions, see my Livestream.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Race
  • Profession
  • Threat
  • Threat Reducers
  • Totems
  • Talents
  • Rotations
  • Buffs
  • Debuffs
  • Gear
  • Enchants
  • AoE Tanking
  • Raid Composition
  • Burning Crusade Preparations

Can Shamans tank in WoW? The short and to the point answer is, yes. You might be rubbing your eyes in disbelief of this answer. Perhaps conjuring a ten page manifesto about how only warriors can and should tank. Although, I can go on a long rant about how there are many other classes that can tank, today, I’ll be focusing on our totemic friend, the shaman.

The topic of viable and optimal is contentious as some don’t see the difference or mix them up and levy a misguided philosophy onto it. Optimal is the most efficient and foolproof solution that eliminates as many negative variables as possible and favors an easier path. Viable or often referred to as: possible, seen as the more challenging path but to many is a greater personal triumph. Shaman Tank is labelled as viable.

Many Shaman tanks agree their motivation is from the glory of seizing a feat the rest of the realm dares not try. If this resonates with you, please continue reading. You shaman tank if you want a challenge and a refreshing perspective from a 15 year old game. If it wasn’t obvious before, shield bearing is a sizable undertaking.

When experienced players Shaman tank and put in the effort, it shines tenfold. Shamans can fully tank 5mans, 10mans, off-tank & main-tank raids. But, this is reliant on personal and guild experience. Our overall defensive statistics won’t reach a warrior’s. However, it isn’t necessary to do so, to tank.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSwrwzQu8LU

You’ll be staring at your character for a long time. So, consider your character’s appearance as a key factor as it may entice you to play more. All races have assets but they’re minor compared to other aspects. There is no wrong race. See video to learn more about race options.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHDrGXq4qxY

Engineering for: Goblin Sapper Charge, Masterwork Target Dummy, Force Reactive Disk, etc… The second useful profession, is whatever gives the most gold on the realm. Gold helps buy potions, ex: Flask of the Titans & consumable food, ex: Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok Chops and other items.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ackVIuwJcQU

Leading threat spells: Earth Shock, Stormstrike, Rockbiter Weapon & Lightning Shield. Consumable items deal threat, ex: Major Rejuvenation Potion based on half of the Health & Mana gained. Damage items, ex: Goblin Sapper Charge deals threat equal to the damage so do reflective Buffs, ex: Thorns. Lastly, certain items deal threat each time their Debuff is triggered, ex: Gift of Arthas. (see threat list)

Threat Reducers

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiUPOAtrqXY

Install a threat tracking addon, ex: ThreatClassic 2, which will show the threat of your group/raid. Classes can reduce threat with items ex: Fetish of the Sand Reaver, with talents, ex: Burning Soul. Reduce the threat of others thanks to spells, ex: Tranquil Air Totem. Wipe all threat with abilities, ex: Vanish & items, ex: Flask of Petrification. For a while, prevent Aggro, ex: Limited Invulnerability Potion. Lastly, redirect aggro, ex: Masterwork Target Dummy (taunts the target). Finally, classes within the 30-40 yard range won’t draw aggro until they outweigh the threat level of the mob’s current target by 30%, as opposed to 10% for melee classes.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGqY05WzUbA

Totems can’t deal threat for you. Common totems: Grace of Air Totem, Stoneskin Totem & Healing Stream Totem. AoE Tanking: Stoneclaw Totem followed by Fire Nova Totem. To learn more, see the video.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW7rOdYMNrs

If tanking for the first time (16/35/0), which has: Stormstrike, it has steady threat per second for raids & excels on short fights. The other setup (21/30/0) focuses on magical damage, with: Elemental Fury, it has many conditions to unlock its potential but thrives on long fights.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNHiqdqbKUg

Pre-Pull: Cast Lightning Shield. Get all Buffs the group can give. Cast Rockbiter Weapon. Place: Stoneskin Totem, Grace of Air Totem & Healing Stream Totem. Mark the mobs in front of you by right-clicking their portrait, pick Raid Target Icon, pick from either a Skull = kill first, a red X = kill second, a blue square = Hunter trap or a moon = Polymorph.

Pulling: Cast Lightning Bolt, followed by as many Lightning Bolt possible to trigger, Elemental Focus. Lastly, Earth Shock.

Combat: For raids, use Nat Pagle's Broken Reel to assure the first few Earth Shocks hit. In a fight, use relevant ranks of Earth Shock that suits your mana & threat. Stormstrike can’t be downranked but is also used in similar cases. If Lightning Shield expires, cast it. If you suddenly might die, equip a defensive weapon, ex: Spineshatter w/Enchant Weapon - Agility & Rockbiter Weapon, use Masterwork Target Dummy (taunts boss), use Juju Escape, possibly Major Rejuvenation Potion & Major Healthstone.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jqai5bITZyI

There’s a max of 32 Buffs, avoid nearing the max as it may result in Buffs getting pushed off, the addon: Buff Cap Tracker helps. Use Buff Cap Calc to see what Buffs stack. Prioritize getting defensive Buffs, ex: Elixir of Fortitude before getting Threat Buffs, ex: Juju Might. (see Defensive Buffs). Consumables not only give Buffs but some have instant effects, ex: Goblin Sapper Charge, Major Healthstone, Dark Rune among others.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FrsQ7rfSj8

A max of 16 Debuffs can be on a mob. Reaching the max is major in raids. There’s defensive Debuffs: Insect Swarm & threat Debuffs: Faerie Fire among others. With the raid leader’s consent, suggest ideal Debuffs without overstepping. We can apply Gift of Arthas & Stormstrike.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FrsQ7rfSj8

Cement defensive stats when gearing, threat is second. It’s advised to get 4k HP & 5k Armor unbuffed for Molten Core. Blackwing Lair, ~4800 to 5k HP and 6500-7k Armor. For reliable threat, 3% melee Hit is advised for dungeons. For Raid tanking, 6% Melee Hit and 10%-12% Spell Hit, Nat Pagle’s Broken Reel helps. Improving threat can be complex, use a TPS Simulator. You can only equip a weapon & shield in combat, enabling the swap to a defensive weapon, ex: Spineshatter, if survival seems grim.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJqx0yCkyig

There are two types of enchants, defensive, ex: Enchant Gloves - Superior Agility. And offensive, ex: Enchant Gloves - Threat. Having Enchanting isn’t needed to gain the profession’s advantages. Simply, give the Enchanter the required enchanting materials and they will enchant your gear for a small gold tip.

AoE Tanking

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJcEj5DpNjg
Many actions can further solidify AoE cases, ex: Oil of Immolation, Thorns, Force Reactive Disk, etc… (see list) It’s crucial to switch and attack another target ever so often. In combat, items & spells giving health or mana deal 50% threat divided by each mob. Items also help until a decent amount of threat is gained on all mobs, ex: Masterwork Target Dummy.

Raid Composition
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSmrU3T25wg

With the raid leader’s consent, offer an ideal raid comp without overstepping. In our group, Warlock:Blood Pact, Warrior:Battle Shout, Druid: Leader of the Pack, Hunter: Trueshot Aura. For damage dealing classes, we prefer ranged classes over melee. If melee are needed, rogues are best. Groups with high threat dealers can have a Shaman: Tranquil Air Totem.

Burning Crusade Preparations
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcglggmJNMQ

The Burning Crusade “TBC” is looming and being prepared is wise. A lot of gold is an asset, since there are many different gear sets needing: repair, enchants & gems. You’ll also need: potions, bind on equip gear, etc… Building a positive reputation on your realm helps open doors in the future as players recognise you. Next, find a guild welcoming of your future tanking ventures. For gear, Nat Pagle’s Broken Reel is advised going into TBC.

Have questions?
Edited by CaperfinWoW
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Oh I didn't see this before, it's pretty amazing. I've done a few dungeons when we had a friends tank as Shaman and it went pretty smoothly. Remains to see how we'll do at higher levels ?

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Very well written guide!  I knew that shamans were able to tank 5mans but had no idea they could tank raid bosses (although I have seen 1 video of a sham off tanking an add in Naxx).  Very well detailed and I'll be using this for sure as I level up my alt shaman, thank you!

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On 9/10/2019 at 10:57 AM, Valhalen said:

If I recall correctly, Balance Druids could tank in TBC too, right?

Every class in TBC can tank, it's somewhat silly how easy it gets with how much is implemented in TBC.

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Guide is currently being updated. If you guys know anything about how the following functions/behaviours, please let me know:

if Invulnerable Mail effect can be clicked off.

The threat generated by Rockbiter at max rank (not as easy as it sounds).

if Oil of Immolation reset the swing timer.

Apparently Dragon Breath Chili will stacks with food buffs, if you eat Chili after?

Debuff priority of Wail of the Banshee.

The behaviour behind Flask of Petrification. Been told it's like BoP, but can it be clicked off?

The threat caused by the buff: Eye of the storm, Elemental Focus, Elemental devastation.

The threat caused by the buff Headmaster's Charge, Crusader enchant.

The threat caused by Crystal Spire and if it resets swing timer.


Edited by CaperfinWoW

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I've always loved the early level tanking shaman could do very easily and am always surprised they never pursued locking in some buffs to make enh and optimal tank in future expansions and just made it dps. The breakdowns in this guide are amazing thank you so much for all the info

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Hey all, OP here.

I am slowly updating everything in the guide. I am still testing out a few things, so if you have some insight on the following please let me know.

if Invulnerable Mail effect can be clicked off.
Apparently Dragon Breath Chili will stacks with food buffs, if you eat Chili after?
Debuff priority of Wail of the Banshee and how much threat the debuffs deals?
The behaviour behind Flask of Petrification. Is like BoP, but can it be clicked off?
The threat caused by the buff: Eye of the storm, Elemental Focus, Lightning Shield, Flurry and Berserking.
The threat caused by the buff Headmaster's Charge, Oil of Immolation and Mark of the Chosen.
The threat caused by Crystal Ward and Crystal Spire and if it resets swing timer and if spamming it continues to generate threat?
Behaviour of Gnomish Cloaking Device (can you drop combat in-between boss combat pulse, if timed properly?)

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OP here!

Guide has been updated and cross-referenced with Classic WoW.

- Spells, buffs, debuff, etc... are now linking to their own database page.

- Scaling, stacking properties and numbers are adjusted to reflect Classic.


P.S. If there's something I missed or anything else, please let me know ?

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Guide has been updated, thanks for the feedback 🙂 I'm currently working on the Burning Crusade Shaman Tank Guide, if you guys would like to see something in particular please let me know.

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On 3/22/2021 at 4:31 AM, SamuelRichards said:

Thank you very much for the information!

My pleasure, if you have any questions, let me know. I'm also working on a Burning Crusade Shaman Tank guide and would love your feedback on it, stay tuned to know when it's publicly available.

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