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Totem Talk: 21 to 40 the Shaman way

Matthew Rossi

Totem Talk talks leveling again with a discussion of the changes in 21 to 40 since the last time we discussed it. Matthew Rossi wanted to use this picture sent in by a reader, however. It has nothing at all to do with leveling. but it's a happy shaman with two 171 DPS 2.6 speed mugs. What more can you possibly want? Thanks to Russel Jones for sharing it.

I considered doing a big loregeek post this week while waiting for the 3.2.2 changes to continue shaking out for shamans. So far in my experience (raiding as enhance/resto, PvPing as resto/elemental) elemental seems to have had a nice little buff that, while hardly game breaking, helps bring caster shamans closer to other ranged DPS. Didn't really see the point of posting that again, so instead I considered doing a "Famous Shamans of WoW" post that talked about the impact shamans have had on the Warcraft setting for good and ill. I mean, Ner'Zhul alone gives shamans some serious lore cred, not to mention Thrall, Drek'Thar, Nobundo, and even Gul'Dan.

But then I remembered that we were talking about me leveling a baby shaman when stuff started hopping again. I got sidetracked leveling in AV, but that's no reason not to start talking about shamans and leveling again.

This is the original 21-40 Totem Talk leveling column. As you can see, it was written two years ago (well, almost) and while it's not entirely inaccurate now (shamans do still cast spells and drop totems) we still should talk about all the ways things have changed.

Heirloom items are one big change, of course, but we did cover those in our first foray back into leveling. It does bear repeating that if you can get heirlooms for your baby shaman (that is to say, if this shaman is your alt and not your main or only character) then by all means you should do so.

First up, for you leveling shamans, you'll get your first mount at level 20 and your epic mount at level 40, the same level as Dual Talent Specialization. DTS is a huge deal for a shaman, although the 1000g cost puts it out of reach of the average, this is my first time playing character. But for an alt, DTS will make soloing and grinding much more pleasant while also allowing you to have a healing spec in case you want to run a dungeon as a healer.

Also new this time around are the new ways to drop 4 totems at once. We've covered these before, but to specifically cover the ones 21 to 40 shamans will be seeing, you'll get Call of the Elements at level 30 and Call of the Ancestors at level 40. These make dropping multiple totems at once much less painful, removing the GCD issues that made shamans plonk plonk plonk one totem at a time while everyone else got to cast or attack.

The abilities you get at your level are pretty much unchanged otherwise. Totem Consolidation has given us a single Cleansing Totem which you get at level 38. This means you won't have the totem at level 22 to cleanse poison. (You should have Cure Toxin from level 18 on, so you'll just have to target and cleanse until level 38.) Similarly, while Windfury is still a popular totem it's nowhere's near the clamorous "gimmie gimmie" that melee used to regard it with now that it's a pure melee haste effect.

Call of Water remains unchanged for both Horde and Alliance with the Alliance one still being a trifle easier. Likewise, Call of Air is still a lot more fun and seems a lot more integrated Alliance side.

As far as what talent specialization to use between 21 and 40, that's still pretty much up to you. It's easier with heirlooms to build an elemental set for a lower level shaman and the changes to talent trees, while not ridiculously different at the levels described here, do allow you to feel more like an elemental shaman than was possible at the time I wrote the original post. By the mid 30's you can have talents like Elemental Fury, Call of Thunder, Elemental Reach and Unrelenting Storm, with Lightning Mastery within reach. While you'll probably still have to wear some cloth at these levels, it won't be as difficult to get caster leather and then mail at 40.

Enhancement won't really feel any different at all at these levels. You still won't get dual wielding until level 40 so enhancement will still be all about running around whacking stuff with a big, slow 2h with Windfury on it, and frankly, that's still good enough. Similarly, while restoration sees talents like Tidal Force, the improved Ancestral Healing and the entirely redesigned Healing Way, these changes don't really make restoration play any differently in 2009 at these levels than it did in 2007. (It's basically just better.) You'll be able to get Cleanse Spirit at level 40, allowing you to remove curses as well as poison and disease, which is very very nice. Again, though, it won't feel different, just better.

I feel amiss in that I haven't covered Sentry Totem. Yes, you still get Sentry Totem at level 34. It's still the totem I wrote an entire column about, and its magnificence has not dimmed a whit in the two years since I first wrote about leveling a shaman between 21 and 40. Sentry Totem, don't ever change. We love you for who you are.

Considering the amount of time that passed, the old column still lists a fairly strong selection of attainable gear for these levels, but that's not surprising since the big change to instances at those levels took place just before it was written. The real changes to the class that will have an impact on these levels are general ones (mount changes), heirlooms, and the totem interface improvements as well as changes to what totems you get when as some totems were consolidated. As long as you keep those changes in mind, it's basically still pretty much the same climb between these levels.

Next week we'll either return with 41 to 60, or we'll discuss shamans in Trial of the Crusader.

Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Shamans in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: Totem Talk.

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