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Totem Talk: Glyphing your leveling enhancement shaman

Josh Myers

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. On Saturdays, Josh Myers tackles the hard questions about enhancement. Can we tank? Can we DPS with a two-hander? How does one shoot web? The answer to the first two is "no," and roll a hunter for the third!

For any person who is new to World of Warcraft or starting a new character on another server, glyphs are one of the worst part of the leveling experience. Why? Because they're expensive. With the redesign of inscription that came with Cataclysm, glyphs take more money make and cost way more to buy. This leaves low-level alts and new players boggled as to how they're going to afford that Glyph of Totemic Recall that just went up for 200 gold.

To that end, I'm avoiding making a list of glyphs that you should have by specific levels. Me telling you that your first prime glyph at level 25 should be Glyph of Stormstrike isn't helpful if you don't have the gold to buy it at level 25, and it doesn't take into account the fact that more utility-focused major glyphs might be more useful at that level. To that end, I've come with a list of glyphs based on usefulness, separated them into two categories: top priority and low priority. Any glyphs not in this list aren't really worth getting while leveling. That doesn't make them bad glyphs -- glyphs like Glyph of Water Walking can be very useful, just not mandatory for leveling on a budget.

Top-priority glyphs

Prime glyphs don't make it to the top priority for glyph choices. While damage increases are certainly nice, doing 20% more damage on your Lava Lash doesn't necessarily make leveling any easier. The mob that you would have three-shot with Glyph of Lava Lash might end up lasting one more global cooldown ... or that glyph might have added 20% overkill, making it pretty useless in that specific situation.

DPS glyphs primarily exist for sustained DPS purposes. While in the previous example, Glyph of Lava Lash's contribution was minimal, in a 10-minute fight where you use Lava Lash 60 times, 20% more Lava Lash damage is huge. That's why they're so useful at high levels. They're even worthwhile at low levels if you focus on running dungeons, but more damage just isn't that vital for leveling.

So what is vital for leveling? First and foremost, Glyph of Lightning Shield should be your #1 glyph choice. If you buy one glyph from levels 25-85, you want Glyph of Lightning Shield. Before this glyph, any time you get hit by any attack, you lose a Lightning Shield orb. Orbs have slight internal cooldowns between procs, with current estimation being somewhere between 3 to 4 seconds. If you don't have this glyph and you are chain pulling mobs, you'll be refreshing Lightning Shield every 9 to 12 seconds. This becomes especially problematic if you don't have a mod like Power Auras that reminds you when Lightning Shield falls off, as you're losing out on tons of free damage. With this glyph, you refresh your shield once every 10 minutes, while still enjoying the benefits of Lightning Shield damage. This glyph will save you from one of the biggest headaches of leveling a shaman.

After Glyph of Lightning Shield, Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem is a solid contender. Because Lightning Shield is so incredibly good, chances are you won't be using anything else until level 50. This is a good thing, as you don't get Stoneclaw Totem until level 58. Once you get it, though, Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem provides a small self bubble that should buy you enough time to get a Healing Surge off or escape. A survivability cooldown on a 20-second cooldown, this glyph will be used from leveling to PvP to raiding.

Other good major glyphs are Glyph of Healing Stream Totem and Glyph of Ghost Wolf. I was going to put these under low-priority glyphs, but your third major glyph slot doesn't open up until level 75, and by that point, you're moving out of the money is an issue mindset. Glyph of Healing Stream takes a totem you should already have down and makes it even better, reducing all non-holy spell damage that is coming your way. Glyph of Ghost Wolf slightly speeds up chain pulling, which in turn speeds up the leveling process.

Finally, the last top-priority glyph is actually a minor: Glyph of Renewed Life. After all, you will die. When you die post level 30, you will want to Reincarnate yourself. At that time, you'll realize that you totally forgot to buy Ankhs and ragelog rather than ghost walking back to your corpse. We've all done it. Glyph of Renewed Life makes dying less painful.

Low-priority glyphs

Your low-priority glyphs are prime glyphs. While leveling, the best prime glyph you can get is actually Glyph of Feral Spirit. Spirit Hunt, the spirit wolves' passive healing ability, heals them and you for 150% of their damage done. Glyph of Feral Spirit increases their attack power by 30%; 30% more attack power means more damage done, which translates into more healing. For soloing elites and group quests while leveling, this glyph will be one of the most potent in your arsenal. The downside? You get Feral Spirit at level 69, so you'll really only be using it for Northrend and Cataclysm leveling.

Beyond that, if you really want to splurge on a prime glyph, Glyph of Stormstrike is the way to go. As we talked about in last week's post, Earth Shock will be your hardest-hitting ability at low levels, and Glyph of Stormstrike means that your hardest-hitting ability will hit for 150% of its normal damage 10% more often.

Glyph of Windfury Weapon is also a contender, as Windfury is excellent burst DPS if you have a level-appropriate weapon. As was also mentioned in last week's post, Lava Lash has pretty poor damage at low levels. As a result, Glyph of Lava Lash is not something you want to look at until your Lava Lash has fully talented support.

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Enhancement every week. We've got enhancement-specific advice on rep gear, heroic gear, and raiding gear, plus tips on maximizing your utility skills and tactics for raiding Blackwing Descent.

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