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Totem Talk: You are the panic button

Matthew Rossi

Totem Talk is the column for shamans. Matthew Rossi has, between his orc and his draenei, logged no less than sixteen Tempest Keep runs over the holidays. He got some loot (yay new 2.6 speed main hand fist weapon yay), which he assumes means that Blizzard doesn't think he was a bad boy this year. EIther that, or their naughty/nice algorithm isn't as sophisticated as we were all led to believe.

Howdy again and welcome to Totem Talk. I promise I haven't forgotten about the leveling guide again. But like I said in the header, I've been running a lot of instances on my shammies lately and I thought some of the experinces I've had over the week were worth a column.

First off, I'm still sad to report that enhancement shamans only get invited along on a PuG if the group is desperate for a fourth or fifth man or if someone you know is putting the run together. Someone you know could be you yourself, I'm not super-fast to judge, but I did find that once I did a few runs with people they would start asking me back, which is nice. Since enhancement is such a good spec for soloing, it's been hard to jog myself into the instance mode with the squiddie.

Meanwhile, resto shamans still get deluged in requests to heal runs. So that hasn't changed. The orc wasn't even logged on when I got asked to switch faces and heal Botanica and Arcatraz. One thing I've decided, based on all these runs, is that as a shaman you basically have a plethora of abilities to help restore a run that's about to hit the skids.

The first run I'll discuss is a mechanar run I did with an elemental shaman (who really only came in for the last fight, before that we had a shadow priest), a beautiful and wise hunter who keeps bringing me on runs, (hi honey) a paladin tank and a priest healing. Even with only the hunter for CC, we were doing pretty well until on Capacitus our tank went down due to a miscommunication on the fight and in short order it was down to me, our healer and our hunter. I immediately went into emergency healing mode as I couldn't get into melee range without blowing myself up, and then a missed heal cost us the hunter's DPS and Capacitus charged our healer with less than 1% health.

To the rescue? Earth Elemental Totem! He picked up Capacitus on the staircase and received the last of my mana in a few frenzied heals while the healer frantically hit the Smite button. EE totem and those smites delivered just enough damage to put the Mechano-Lord on the floor. It wasn't EE totem's last tanking appearance in the instance, either, as he also ended up tanking the adds on Pathaleon. Quite honestly if not for EE totem we would have been flying back and trying again. (Well, I would probably have ankhed.) Fire Elemental Totem also made an appearance on the Nethermancer fight, mainly to confuse folks who saw three fire elementals instead of two and thought we'd somehow stumbled into the heroic fight by mistake. It IS funny to see a fire elemental whacking Septhrea in the back while she chases down your tank. Even she looked confused.

Another run save provided by shaman special abilities came during my healing run in Arc last night, when another miscommunication on Ventrilio this time (I said not to go into the room, he didn't hear the word 'not' and went into the room) ended up with our tank having three of the invisible succubi agging in a chain in addition to the mob we were trying to pull. As you might expect, I ended up having to overheal, leading to a whip party starring me and three now painfully visible succubi. The mage and I both ate death before they went back to hassle the tank, but thanks to my shaman inability to stay dead, a timely fire elemental totem combined with Bloodlust to make the feral druid unto a living engine of destruction (best part is, slap an earth shield on him and you don't even have to heal him anymore) and a mana tide to get me back into healing ranges of mana, and we pulled it out.

The shaman is possibly the truest 'hybrid' in the sense that we can do a lot of things with the fit hits the shan. (That's a deliberate typo.) On another run, I found myself shock-tanking the succubi when our tank got potted fast due to an unfortunate lack of healer mana combined with an unexpected add. Now, a shaman is not a good first, second or third choice for a tank. But shock tanking or shock kiting when you can't stand up to the punishment a mob puts out can work as an emergency solution, especially if you're one of those shamans who happens to be carrying a shield around. (Sadly, my enhancement shaman doesn't have a shield at all.) I once managed to shock kite the main tank of a Sethekk Halls run all the way back to the front door when he became temporarily hostile due to an unfortunate MC totem that was inside the wall and thus, out of our ability to kill it. By the way, I want one of those totems. Shamans need CC, give us an MC totem!

This has been my obligatory 'give shamans CC' portion of the column. Back to our regularly scheduled post, already in progess.

With our various totems including the totem minions, our ability to vastly increase the party's damage with Bloodlust/Heroism, our remarkable ability to say "You were dead! Oh, you got better?" and our unusual hybrid attritbutes like high armor and reasonably high threat abilities to help steal aggro when necessary, shamans are a toolkit for an instance run. It's not a question of what we can do, it's a question of what we're needed to do at the moment. Combined with our ability to buff the capacities of the various members of the group (having a feral druid, a hunter and a warrior in your group means you can drop GoA and Strength of Earth, with the most benefit being to the druid but hitting the hunter and warrior with solid buffs as well... don't forget that the hunter's pet is buffed as well) and shamans stand out as not the highest damage class, nor the hybrid class that is best at mastering specific roles, but rather as the hybrid that is most capable of plugging whatever hole is leaking your group's chances for success. Doing Steam Vaults and feeling a little underpowered to DPS down the tanks? Here comes bloodlust and a fire elemental. Have to keep a few adds tied up until the tank can come get them? Hello, my friendly earth elemental. What's that, you want that mob slowed down and run away from the healer? We can do that.

And you haven't lived until you've seen the look on Pathaleon's face when the first Heroism runs out and another one starts right up. He went down like a submarine.

I guess what I'm saying is, don't think of yourself as limited to a single role. You're there to DPS or heal, yes, but keep your head and your variety of abilities in mind while doing so. The greatest gift a shaman brings to his groups is his flexibility, so keep your eye on moments to make use of it. Next week, we'll start a new year by leveling to 70 in Outland.

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