Leveling Guide: Growing up Shaman, Cataclysm

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Highly Rated
[Last update: 10/1/2011]

Updates to enchants section.

Table of Contents
1.Leveling style

Section 2: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/981898388#9
2. Mixing specs while leveling
3. Totems and their usage while leveling
4. Races

Section 3: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/981898388#10
5. Professions
6. Gemming

Section 4: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/981898388#11
7. Useful information for leveling
    Shaman Trainers
    Frost Shock Kiting
8. Enchants

Section 5: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/981898388#12
9. Helpful Online Resources

1. Leveling style
The most frequently asked question of those looking to level a shaman has to be: "What spec is the best for leveling?" The answer is simple: the one you enjoy most. As WoW has aged, Blizzard has made the leveling process considerably smoother and easier than it used to be. Better itemization at lower levels, higher quest and mob experience, smarter zone design, and clearer breadcrumb trails between questing hubs have greatly improved the overall leveling experience. With the revamping of our talent trees in 4.01 and the redesign of starting zones in Cataclysm, leveling should be in better shape than it has ever been before.

There was a time when Enhancement was arguably the best leveling spec, but those days have likely passed. Elemental and Enhancement both start out with excellent passive talents now, meaning both should be viable choices for quick leveling. Restoration is, as a healing spec, going to lag behind in terms of raw killing power; however, as most people who level in a healing spec do so for group leveling or fast queues in the Looking for Dungeon tool, this should balance out the weaker damage of the spec.

All three are now viable and decently quick leveling specs, so don't feel the need to choose one solely because you've heard it's "faster"; Leveling is fast regardless of spec, but the best leveling experience is the one you enjoy and that teaches you about the class. Choose your spec based on what you like or what you want to try out, what heirlooms you have available, etc. Having fun and being smart about leveling are going to make leveling a better experience than picking a spec recommended solely for its supposed advantages in terms of speed.

Since there are always a few "Help me" threads on the shaman forums, this guide is aimed at answering those questions in a general manner. This guide covers leveling from 1-85 as each spec. There's a lot of information to cover, even on a basic level, so feel free to make suggestions or ask if there's something you don't see. At the same time, do try to be thorough when searching the guide; asking questions covered in stickies generally gets you flamed as often as answered on these forums.

I'm also no master of shaman leveling, and the game has changed a lot since I leveled my own shaman. What I provide here is a basic outline of what are considered the "best practices" commonly. My choices are not beyond critique, by any means; as I wrote this guide, I sat and tried to make decisions that made the most sense for the given level. I ended up changing my mind many, many times, an indication of how difficult it can be to estimate effectiveness for talents while leveling. Take everything here with a grain of salt, because it's inevitable that your mileage will vary. It's a general leveling guide, not dictates from a deity handed down from on high.

I strongly suggest that, if you don't have a current PvE/PvP plan when you roll a shaman, think about it as you get close to 85; then, start reading up about the spec/playstyle beforehand so when you hit 85 you can start working toward it.

So anyways! Onwards with the guide! --the author

Note: this guide is written primarily for traditional solo and mixed dungeon play. Those who choose to level mostly or exclusively via LFD or spend a lot of time in PvP may want to tweak talents or playstyle for this differing approach.
Highly Rated
Elemental is the shaman caster DPS spec. While this used to be among the weakest specs in the game for leveling, changes have made it among the strongest, especially in terms of burst damage and AoE. As hybrids, shamans have a wide range of tools at their disposal, making them a great “jack of all trades” class and strong in situational adaptation.

Passive bonuses:
Elemental Fury
Mastery: Elemental Overload
Weapon imbue choice: Flametongue
Shield to use: Lightning Shield, Water shield

Main stats (in no particular order)
Intellect: Increases our spell power, mana, and spell crit chance. This is your main stat, so grab as much of it as you can.

Stamina: Increases our health (10 per point).

Crit rating: Increases the chance to get a critical hit with attacks (spells and melee).

Hit rating: Increases the chance to hit with an attack (spells and melee).
Haste rating- Decreases the cast time of spells, and melee swing time.

Spirit: grants mana regeneration. Also grants spell hit via Elemental Precision.

Talent Spec
Specs are going to be shown on a basis of 10 levels, with a *usually* short explanation of how to pick up the talents. You don’t have to go by this by the book, and you can reverse getting talents in the order I indicate; it’s completely up to you. Note that, in most cases, I opt for damage over mana; if you find yourself struggling with mana, pick up more mana management talents when you can.

10-19- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhhStart off by maxing out Concussion, then Acuity.

20-29- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhu0hoFill out Elemental Precision, then put a point into Call of Flame; after that, put a point into Elemental Focus. Reverberation is a possible choice as well, but generally you’ll be casting lightning bolts with the occasional shock, limiting the value of this talent. The point in EF is good because it will provide mana conservation, which is likely the biggest concern you have at this point. Rolling Thunder is a strong alternative if you are fine on mana and use Lightning Shield. The linked build goes with EF, as it is probably the safest baseline. Regardless, you’ll pick up whichever one you don’t take with the next level, so it’s not a big deal.

30-39- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhu0GRoFill out Rolling Thunder and Elemental Reach. The last point here is dropped into Elemental Oath, a nice boost made even nicer by the acquisition of Lava Burst at 34, guaranteeing you a crit for Clearcasting.

40-49- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhu0GRfzTop off EO, then fill in Lava Flows. The last point here is really a toss up; I go with Elemental Mastery, but Fulmination is probably just as good. Totemic Wrath, because it requires a fire totem that you may not be dropping that often, is probably the weakest. You’ll get them all with the next few points, so it won’t make much difference.

50-59- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhGzGRfkzzPick up Fulmination and Totemic Wrath. Now, go back and finish CoF and drop a point into Reverberation. This will open up the next tier, where you now take Lava Surge.

60-69- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhGzGRfkzGoFinish Lava Surge, fill up Feedback, and then grab Earthquake. EQ isn’t exactly a stellar leveling talent, but it’s probably a good idea to get it and learn how it works, especially if you plan on sticking with ele.

70-79- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhGzGRfkzGobh
Grab Elemental Weapons and Imp Shields from Enhancement.

80-85- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hGGMGRfkzGobhMGet Ancestral Swiftness (trust me, you'll love it) and top off Reverb. Now, you've got a choice: mana or health conservation? If you choose health, put points into Ancestral Resolve in the Resto tree; if mana, take Convection. The linked build goes with Convection for better mana efficiency.

At this point, you’ll probably want to respec to an endgame build, PvP spec, or to whichever other tree you might want to play instead. The stickied FAQs on these forums and the various articles at Elitist Jerks can help you choose builds for whatever your plans are.
Highly Rated
The initial rotation is pretty simple: lightning bolt. You can toss a shock in if you want (Flame Shock early so it ticks, Earth Shock if you have to move or to kill a mob causing spell pushback, Frost Shock for kiting), but chances are it’s best to lean on LB for most of your damage. Once you hit level 34, however, life gets better, as you get Lava Burst. Now you’ll want to make sure Flame Shock is up and that you use LvB whenever possible—LvB on a target with FlS is a guaranteed crit, which has great effects when combined with the various on crit effects like EF and EO. Once you get Fulmination, Earth Shock is also a source of good burst damage. Elemental has been pretty boring in the past; now, with all these new toys, it’s interesting and fun. Check out some of the endgame guides for more information on rotations.


Flame Shock, Flametongue Weapon, Lava Burst, Lightning Bolt, Shocking, Water Shield.
Lava Burst is probably your best choice, but since you don’t get that spell until 34, Lightning Bolt is a good first choice, either to be replaced by LvB when you get it or added when your next slot opens. Flametongue Weapon is really the only other option during leveling, since most mobs will die fast enough that the extra ticks of FlS are wasted and you likely won’t be using Waster Shield enough to justify glyphing it.

Lightning Shield, Ghost Wolf, Thunder, Stoneclaw Totem, Totemic Recall, Elemental Mastery, Chain Lightning.
Thunder is probably the first major to snag; while LS looks good, it won’t really shine until you get Fulmination, with the earliest level for that being 49. Besides Thunder and LS, the rest are mostly defensive or utility: Ele Mastery and Stoneclaw are both handy for taking less damage, great if you AoE a lot or solo elites; Totemic Recall is a mana regen talent; GW is nice but probably not very valuable for a spec without instant GW standard (not to mention mounts are available so early now); CL is a decent AoE glyph. As with all major glyphs, these aren’t make or break for your DPS; they are “quality of life” glyphs and entirely up to you.

Astral Recall, Renewed Life, Arctic Wolf, Water Walking, Water Breathing, Thunderstorm.
Other than Astral Recall (available at 30), these glyphs are simply convenience or aesthetic enhancers. Water walking is probably the most generally useful, although Renewed Life might be a good choice if you instance a lot. Thunderstorm may or may not be something you want, since it ups mana but removes TS’s knockback effect; consider well the value of the knockback to your playstyle before choosing this one.

I will list what I believe will be beneficial for the elemental specced shaman while leveling. You don’t need everything here, but I suggest getting both the chest/shoulders if you can. Really speeds up the leveling.

Mystical Pauldrons of Elements: This is a must. Gives int, stamina, and some crit. It also gives you +10% experience so it’s great for leveling.

Mystical Vest of Elements: Another must due to giving more exp. It also gives stamina and intellect, plus some crit rating. Unlikely you’ll find anything better.

Dignified Headmaster's Charge: A lot of people like to go 1h/shield with a shaman, but as of now there is no shield from heirlooms, and you’re not going find a weapon with stats like this throughout your entire leveling career, even on the other heirloom items.

Discerning Eye of the Beast: I’ve heard that this trinket is amazing to use while leveling. It apparently stacks it’s effect, and procs off killing small things like totems. You could definitely use 2 of them till outlands, and beyond if you wanted. It will really help you out when grinding and saving mana. Plus the extra spell power at lower levels is nice.
Highly Rated
Enhancement is the shaman melee spec. While enhancement shamans use a number of spells regularly—shocks, lightning bolt, and heals when necessary—these are cast from melee rather than range. Enhancement focuses on a blend of physical and magical damage, making it a strong DPS spec for a variety of situations. As with all shamans, enhancement has a decent bag of tricks, giving it good flexibility and an array of toys for different kinds of encounters.

Passive bonuses:
Lava Lash
Mental Quickness
Dual Wield
Primal Wisdom
Mastery: Enhanced Elements
Weapon imbue: flametongue, windfury/flametongue when available
Shield to use: Lightning Shield

Stats (in no particular order)
Agility: You get 2 Attack Power from it, it increases melee critical strike chance, and even gives us spell power. Our best stat for leveling.

Hit rating: Increases the chance to hit with an attack (spells and melee). A great stat when available.

Expertise rating: Removes mob chances to parry and dodge melee attacks. Important because we have several DPS abilities tied to melee hits. A good stat when available.

Crit rating: Increases the chance to get a critical hit with attacks (spells and melee).

Stamina: Increases health (10 per point). It’s another stat that we should have on our gear so we can survive.

Haste rating: Decreases spell cast time, and melee swing time. A pretty bad stat for enhancement, at least at later levels.

A note on strength: Shamans currently receive 1 AP from strength. At higher levels, strength is almost nonexistent on mail gear because both hunters and shamans use Agi as their primary stat; however, while leveling you may run across mail items with strength, especially random enchantment greens. If you end up with better overall stats with a piece that has strength, don't be afraid to grab it until something better comes along. Items "of the Tiger" (Agi and Str) are especially nice if you can take the stamina loss.

Weapon note: Remember with enhancement and dual wielding: Slow weapons. SLOW SLOW SLOW!

Talent Spec
Specs are going to be shown on a basis of 10 levels, with a *usually* short explanation of how to pick up the talents. You don’t have to go by this by the book, and you can reverse getting talents in the order I said to if you want, it’s completely up to you. If I tell you to grab a talent then assume I mean max it out, I will tell you otherwise when not to.

10-19- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZf0oPick up Focused Strikes, then Elemental Weapons. Start into Flurry.

20-29- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZf0G0oFinish Flurry; then you have a choice to make. The linked spec goes Ancestral Swiftness, as it provides a run speed and instant Ghost Wolf--both are great while leveling, even with mounts available so early. This also gives you a short path to Stormstrike. The alternative is to put points into Elemental Devastation, a decent DPS talent. However, with low spell crit rates and generally quick mob deaths, this isn't the most efficient use of points for leveling.

30-39- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZfMG0sPick up Static Shock, then go back and begin filling out Elemental Devastation.

40-49- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZfcG0s0hzFinish Ele Dev. Fill out Searing Flames--this is probably the fire totem you'll use most. Frozen Power may be an option to consider if you PvP a lot, but it's not much of a PvE talent, mainly because it requires you to run Frostbrand Weapon imbue.
Highly Rated
At 47, you'll have another choice to make: Shamanistic Rage or Unleashed Rage (it's an angry tier). The linked build goes with UR, as it adds DPS immediately, and is useful for both solo and group play. SR gives you a defensive CD and free abilities while it's up. I personally think UR is the better choice.

50-59- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZffG0s0hRz
Finish UR, then snag SR. Now, go all the way back to tier 1 (do not pass go, do not collect $200) and drop 2 points into Imp Shields.

Drop the next point into Imp Lava Lash, as this will start to be a major DPS source when combined with Searing Totem. Mobs will die before SF stacks too high, but dropping ST will probably get you at least one buff of SF on a mob, so you'll have 10% stronger LL hits. Not too shabby.

60-69- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZffG0s0hRGo
Top off Imp LL, then fill out Maelstrom Weapon. MSW will be a major source of DPS, but since it won't provide instant casts until 3/3, I opted to go with LL first, since it will generally be easier to use (provided you drop Searing Totem). Regardless, you'll end up with both filled out. Plus, you'll get Feral Spirits! The wolves are great, give you some handy utilities and self healing, and give you the ability to solo a lot of group quests and elites (especially when you add in SR's damage reduction).

That's it for the Enhance tree. Wasn't that fun? Just in time for Northrend...

70-79- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhbZffG0s0hRGoDrop 3 into Acuity, then the last 2 points into Concussion. You can really put these in any order you want, but Acuity is the better talent overall (hence only 2/3 for Concussion).

80-85- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhGMZffG0s0hRGo
Top off Concussion, Call of Flame, and Reverberation. You can take these talents in any order, since they are all relatively minor DPS increases.

The build you have now is a decent single target DPS build for PvE. Chances are, however, that you'll want to respec to either <http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhr0hZffG0s0hRGo> or <http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hhrMoZffG0s0hRGo> for better results. The difference is a little more utility with Reverb, allowing you to solo interrupt a target in virtually every encounter in the game requiring it, vs. a little more damage and a bit less required hit rating with +stats chest enchants. There are other variations, but these are the two you will likely see most shamans using.

The changes in 4.01 have made enhancement leveling a lot more interesting that it used to be. Your main rotation will be Primal Strike/Storm Strike, Lava Lash, and Earth Shock; most mobs will be dead pretty quickly with all this. You can also use Lightning Bolt or a shock (typically Earth or Flame) to pull if you want range, and Frost Shock to snare and kite or buy time. After 81, you get Unleash Elements, allowing you to toss some extra DPS at range and provide buffs for your attack speed and FS; be sure to toss Unleash Flame prior to FS to boost its DPS and Unleash Wind while running into melee.

A lot of people get confused about Primal Strike and Storm Strike--Primal Strike is replaced by Storm Strike, so once you get SS you won't cast PS anymore. Enhancement used to have no (literally zero) melee specials prior to level 40, when SS became available; Blizz added PS to give them something to do until SS, along with LL. Once you get Storm Strike, you will no longer use Primal Strike.

Note that getting the full benefit of Flame Shock means getting all of its 18 seconds of ticks to run their course. If the target isn't going to live long enough for that to happen, you're probably better off getting the direct damage of Earth Shock. Most non-elites will not live long enough for FS to tick down, so you'll generally be using ES during normal questing. In instances, you'll probably see enough time for FS on bosses, maybe occasionally on some trash. The short version: if the target will live for 18 seconds, use Flame Shock; if it won't, use Earth Shock.

You’ll generally want to use Flametongue on your weapons until lvl 30, when you go to WF/FT. While conventional knowledge has been to go WF/WF in the past, the changes granting us LL at lvl 10 make FT a more attractive offhand enchant, especially considering Glyph of Lava Lash is the first available prime for enhancement. At endgame, you’ll definitely want to use WF/FT. These changes also emphasize the necessity of having a slow offhand to maximize LL damage.

Once you get MSW, add Lightning Bolt (or Chain Lightning, if there are multiple mobs) when you get a 5 stack for instant casts. Use Feral Spirits and Shamanistic Rage if you’re in trouble or soloing a tough mob.
Highly Rated

Lava Lash, Stormstrike, Windfury, Feral Spirits.
Lava Lash is available at lvl 25, and considering how hard Lava Lash hits with a slow weapon (you’ve got a slow offhand, right?), it’s not a bad choice for your initial prime glyph. LL does not scale that well at low levels, however, so chances are you'll find Stormstrike (available at 29) to be a better option due to its effects on Earth Shock. Windfury becomes available at 32; LL is probably the better choice for the next time a prime slow opens up, since you'll start to have talent support for it. Depending on how often you use Feral Spirits, that glyph may or may not be better than Windfury. If you use FS on cooldown, solo a lot of tough mobs, like elites, or do a lot of instancing, FS is probably a good choice once you can get it. If you don’t, WF is probably a more useful, more consistent payoff for your glyph investment.

Lightning Shield, Ghost Wolf, Shamanistic Rage, Stoneclaw Totem.
While there are plenty of major glyphs that add utility and could feasibly be good choices, these four are probably the best for leveling. LS and GW are available at 25, SR at 49, and SCT at 58. LS and GW are great glyphs for convenience, with LS perhaps edging out GW simply because mounts will cover a lot of the travel that would make FW more useful. SR removes magic effects when glyphed, a handy thing to be able to do while leveling. SCT gives you a shield when you drop Stoneclaw, a potentially lifesaving utility if you solo big groups or elites. These glyphs aren’t going to directly impact your DPS; they are “quality of life” glyphs and entirely up to you.

Astral Recall, Renewed Life, Arctic Wolf, Water Walking, Water Breathing.
Other than Astral Recall (available at 30), these glyphs are simply convenience or aesthetic enhancers. Water walking is probably the most generally useful, although Renewed Life might be a good choice if you instance a lot.

For another perspective on glyphs while leveling, check out Elam's blog on the subject: <http://wow.joystiq.com/2011/04/23/totem-talk-glyphing-your-leveling-enhancement-shaman/>

The following heirloom items are great for enhancement shamans. You don’t have to get them, of course, but the chest and shoulders are especially helpful because of the bonus experience.

Champion Herod's Shoulder

Champion's Deathdealer Breastplate

Venerable Mass of McGowan: these are excellent for enhance—slow (2.8!), one-handed so they can be dual wielded, and providing good stats. Get one. Hell, get two. With DW now coming baseline at level 10, there’s no reason not to snag these if you can.

Swift Hand of Justice: the least desirable heirloom overall, but a decent thing to have if you have the badges to burn. Trinkets are often a weakness while leveling, so having anything is better than nothing.

NB: the level 60 and lvl 70 PvP weapons are exceptionally good and fairly easy to obtain. Definitely consider them, especially if you don't have the heirloom maces. Also consider that they can take enchants requiring specific item levels, so you may be able to add better enchants, like Mongoose, than those listed in this guide for heirlooms.

Here's a link to one of the later posts in this thread, giving links to the individual weapons: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/981898388?page=11#205. Thanks to Darde for including links in his post!
Restoration is the shaman healing tree. Resto shamans are one of the best all-around healers—they can tank heal and raid heal effectively, whereas other classes tend to be better suited to one or the other. Like other shaman specs, resto has a deep bag of tricks and buffs that make them flexible and a great addition to a group. While it’s a pretty bad tree for soloing due to weaker DPS than ele or enh, resto is a great tree for leveling through dungeons or with a friend.

Passive bonuses:
Earth Shield
Mastery: Deep Healing
Weapon imbue: Earthliving and Flametongue
Shield to use: Water Shield

Stats(in no particular order)
Intellect: Increases spell power, mana, and spell crit chance. This is resto’s main stat.

Stamina: Increases our health (10 per point).

Crit rating: Increases the chance to get a critical hit with abilities (spells and melee). Also provides mana regeneration via talents. A strong stat for resto.

Haste rating: Decreases the cast time of spells, and melee swing time.

Spirit: Provides mana regeneration.
Highly Rated
Talent Spec
Specs are going to be shown on a basis of 10 levels, with a *usually* short explanation of how to pick up the talents. You don’t have to go by this by the book, and you can reverse getting talents in the order I said to if you want, it’s completely up to you. Since the majority of resto talents impact healing or other healing-related tasks, it won’t make a huge difference in solo or group effectiveness, since optimal conditions are rare while leveling.

10-19- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZZdh
Drop points into Ancestral Resolve and Spark of Life. Since resto will typically be casting offensive spells, immediately taking less damage probably trumps waiting a few levels for it. Increasing the healing you do AND take is also nice, especially when you’ll be healing yourself often and you don’t have a sizable health pool. Start into Tidal Focus. If you are leveling in a group or through dungeons, you'll probably want to fill TF instead of AR, since you won't be getting hit as often.

20-29- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZZfub
Finish TF, then take Totemic Focus, since you’ll typically be dropping totems more often as resto than the other two specs. Now, you have a choice. If you mainly solo or PvP, Focused Insight is probably a good choice, since you’ll be casting shocks and healing with enough frequency that the mana savings will be useful. If you mostly run groups, Imp Water Shield is probably a better investment. Since most people who choose to level resto do so in a group or by running dungeons, the linked build goes with IWS.

30-39- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZZfGb0s
Finish IWS, grab Nature’s Swiftness, and top out Nature’s Blessing.

40-49- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZZfGbMszoo
Go ahead and grab Imp Cleanse Spirit for one point—it’;s useful enough to take. Fill out Ancestral Healing. At this point, you need one more point to get to the next tier. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter where you put it, as all the available talents are situational or of limited use. I’m going to toss it into Cleansing Waters. Put the next point into Mana Tide Totem.

50-59- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZZfGbMszRRo
This is a weird tier. Telluric Currents is probably the best choice to take first unless you do nothing but heal, period; if you ever cast lightning bolts, TC is probably worth it as your initial points. Ancestral Awakening is doubly damned in leveling by requiring a crit to trigger and only healing for a percentage of heals that may frequently be pretty weak. Spirit Link Totem is a powerful defensive CD for groups. Since most people leveling resto heal in groups, the linked spec picks up SL.

60-69- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZZfGbMszRRsk
Fill out Tidal Waves, drop a point into Blessing of the Eternals, then snag Riptide.

70-79- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZbhZfGbMszRRsk
The last series of choices are a bit up for grabs. Imp Shields in Enhancement is a decent investment, as is Elemental Weapons. On the other hand, Acuity’s bonus to crit is pretty attractive, considering how many talents resto has that rely on crit. I’ve gone with Imp Shields and EW, but you can mix and match depending on gear and preferences for these last few points.

80-85- http://www.wowhead.com/talent#hZbhMbZfGbMszRRsd
The real gem is the always fun Ancestral Swiftness; other than that, it's more of the same tossup of points. The linked build goes for Totemic Reach (better range on totems) and the last point of Blessing of the Eternals; tossing 3 points into Acuity is another option.

The good news is, you’ve survived to 85 as a resto shaman. The bad news: you’ll probably want to respec. Check out the shaman resto guides stickied here, at EJ, or at Totemspot for good build ideas.

For PvP…this is mainly a PvE guide. You’re on your own!

For DPS, the rotation you will have while leveling is pretty similar to elemental, except that you do a lot less damage; the tradeoff for this is greater survivability. This is probably the only spec that you will want to put totems down for on a consistent basis, especially mana spring and a fire totem. If you’re soloing or otherwise doing DPS for the majority of the time, use FT on your weapon to up your damage. Depending on your mana, Lightning Shield or Earth Shield are alternatives to Water Shield for better DPS or survivability, respectively.

As a healer, you don’t generally have a set rotation except in some specific encounters. There are combinations of spells that are sometimes good due to synergy from talents (Riptide for Tidal Waves, which buffs your next HW, GHW, or HS, for instance), but in general you use the spell that fits the situation. We have a large toolbox of spells at our disposal; learn the strengths of each as you level and you’ll be a much better healer for it.
Highly Rated

Earth Shield, Water Shield, Earthliving Weapon, Riptide.
Your first glyph will probably be Water Shield, as mana is generally going to be your biggest issue. After that, Earth Shield is probably your best investment; extra ES healing and the bonus from Nature’s Blessing will make you a strong single target healer. Riptide is also a decent choice later on, since our HoTs are limited. Riptide’s synergy with CH probably puts it ahead of ELW for players leveling up.

Totemic Recall, Stoneclaw Totem, Healing Wave, Healing Stream, Ghost Wolf, Chain Lightning, Fire Nova, Chain Heal.
Healing Wave is really the only one that is a must have from the list for anyone who does a decent amount of group healing. TR is a decent mana saver for resto, as you’ll probably be dropping totems more often than other specs. CL and FN give you better AoE, CH gives you a bit better group healing (at the cost of the initial jump), and Healing Stream adds resist to the totem (which you may or may not drop often enough to make it worthwhile). Stoneclaw’s shield is probably the second most useful after HW, especially for soloing. None of these glyphs are make or break, so whatever looks like a good utility for how you play will probably be fine.

Astral Recall, Renewed Life, Arctic Wolf, Water Walking, Water Breathing. Other than Astral Recall (available at 30), these glyphs are simply convenience or aesthetic enhancers. Water walking is probably the most generally useful, although Renewed Life might be a good choice if you instance a lot.

As before, these are nice but not necessary. Chest and shoulders provide bonus experience.

Mystical Pauldrons of Elements

Mystical Vest of Elements

Dignified Headmaster's Charge: Although you might also go with Devout Aurastone Hammer, it's unlikely you'll find an offhand that can make up for the difference in stats.

Discerning Eye of the Beast: as with elemental, this is great for resto. Two of these is a great way to seriously cut downtime.
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2. Mixed specs while leveling
As stated above, there was a time when certain specs were better for leveling than others; now, with the redesign of talent trees in 4.01 and the advent of dual specs and the random dungeon finder, all three specs are viable choices for going from 1-85. In terms of efficiency, dual spec ele/resto is probably tough to beat: since the specs can share gear, questing and leveling as ele and instancing as resto gives you the best of all worlds without requiring a lot of extra gear. If you aren’t able to afford dual spec but still plan on instancing and want fast queues, ele is probably your best bet because you can queue as a healer; having caster gear will help improve your healing ability, where as trying to heal as enhancement will demand another set of gear to be effective.

If you’re not worrying about queue times or instancing, either of the two DPS specs will be fine. In the past, it was sometimes a good idea to switch between the two for various level ranges, as there were dead spots in gearing that made it better to be enh or ele for a given set of levels. The complete redesign of the leveling areas of 1-60 in Cataclysm, along with the better itemization of the two previous expansions and the availability of heirlooms, means that these gearing problems are likely a thing of the past.

In general, elemental is probably going to be the best all around spec for leveling. The advantages of being at range are handy while leveling and in instances; caster also generally scale better at lower levels than melee and are typically less gear dependent. Having caster gear also means you’ll have the mana and spellpower to heal decently enough if you wish. Even with these advantages the difference won’t be extreme by any means, so you should still play whatever spec seems the most fun. Also don’t be afraid to mix it up and try the other specs…just don’t forget that gear is important, so keep that in mind when rating a spec’s performance.

3. Totems and their usage while leveling
Dropping totems while leveling is going often to be a waste of mana, especially if you’re dropping all four for killing only a mob or two. If you’re taking on large groups, an elite, or are in an instance, it may or may not be worth it; as you level, you’ll figure just when it’s worth it and when it isn’t. Resto will probably be the only spec to consistently drop multiple totems, but again, your experience will help you get a feel for their worth.

In instances, dropping totems will often depend on the buffs available from the other members of the group. Instances often move fast and have limited down time, so the mana investment to drop a full totem loadout on trash is a bit dicey; it’s definitely worth it on bosses, however.

Here’s the typical totem set used by each spec; keep in mind that different situations will call for different totems, so learning to use ALL your totems when they’re called for is a good idea. Don’t forget to use Stoneclaw for its taunt and shield (if glyphed), Earthbind for kiting, Tremor for fears and sleep, and Grounding to help mitigate caster damage.
Enhancement: Strength of Earth, Windfury, Healing stream, Searing. Magma +Fire Nova for AoE or large packs. Enhancement will have very few to no mana issues, so dropping totems is less of a problem for enh than for other specs.

Elemental: Stoneskin, Wrath of Air, Mana spring, Searing. Magma +Fire Nova for AoE or large packs. Mana may or may not be an issue, so monitor the returns of dropping all or a couple of totems. Drop none if you have severe mana issues and are traveling from mob to mob more than hitting packs.

Resto: Stoneskin, Wrath of Air, Mana spring, Searing. Magma +Fire Nova for AoE or large packs. As with Elemental, monitor costs and see if totems are worth the mana. Chances are that resto’s weaker killing power means totems will be a little more worth it, especially Searing and Mana spring.

4. Races
In general, as with specs it's best to play what you enjoy; the benefits for any race are minimal at best.

In terms of pure min/max:
Alliance: PvE- Draenei; PvP- Dwarf.

Horde: PvE-Orc (enh), Troll (ele/resto); PvP- All are good, although Tauren's Warstomp is generally a favorite.

A note on goblins: they have interesting racials that provide useful utility in both PvE and PvP. Rocket Jump is an extremely handy ability, especially for a class with a history of mobility issues. The racial haste bonus is also handy for caster specs. While it can be a little hard to estimate the worth of goblin racials, they have the potential to be excellent for whatever aspect of the game you choose.
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5. Professions
There is a lot of controversy as to what professions you should take while leveling. Personally I believe you should take moneymaking professions when leveling, and then get the ones you want at a higher level. If done right you can make a ton of money while leveling. For instance, Liax said in the previous version of this guide that he had a level 44 paladin who has taken skinning and herbing and had over 200 gold without help of a main, or playing the auction house, all without really trying to play the AH. That was a few years ago, and other players are reporting good returns on selling mats, so gathering is the way to go if you want money.

Probably the two best professions to take for money purposes while leveling are mining and herbing. 4.01 added the ability to track multiple items at the same time, so some of the inconvenience of trying to level two gathering professions has been removed. The downside is that mining is harder to level than herbalism. I suggest, for convenience, taking skinning and mining/herbing. Skins sell decently, and a lot of the herbs sell for a really high price. Mining will also net you a pretty penny when leveling, but it can be fairly annoying to try to level compared to other professions.

If you don’t want to do the work of leveling moneymaking professions or don’t need to, going to other professions to benefit you at 85 is a good idea. The generally accepted min/max is blacksmithing and jewelcrafting, as it gives you great flexibility with extra sockets and better gems. Enchanting and alchemy are both beneficial to raiding as well. It’s up to you if you want to try to level both of those professions (better have a lot of cash), or if you want to pick up its secondary profession to make it easier. If you have access to a ton of cash, holding off and leveling professions after you hit the level cap is also an option, as working on profs can be expensive and slow leveling considerably depending on your time commitment to it.

In the end, Blizz has done a decent job or balancing professions, so there will be few times when the choice is really going to matter much. Some are just more difficult or more expensive to level (Enchanting, Blacksmithing, Engineering); it's a good idea to check out which ones provide you good endgame benefits for what you want to do, since some are stronger in one area than others.
6. Gemming
While leveling, gemming is pretty straightforward. It’s not really beneficial to gem for hit caps or such, so your primary stat is going to be the best option.

Elemental- Intellect is now the spellpower stat, so go for this. If you’re trying for a socket bonus needing a yellow, go for Int/haste or possibly Int/mastery when it becomes available. You might also consider hit or int/hit gems for desirable blue sockets or if you spend a decent amount of time casting at mobs 2 to 3+ levels higher than you.

Enhancement- Agility; agi/haste for bonuses needing a yellow. Hit and agi/hit can be useful as well, although hit's value can vary a decent amount while leveling.

Restoration- Intellect. If you’re trying for a socket bonus needing a yellow, go for Int/haste.
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7. Useful information for leveling
This section will always be a work in progress, as I add whatever I happen to run into as good advice, useful general info, etc.

1. Shaman trainers: <http://www.wowhead.com/search?q=shaman+trainer#npcs:0-4+3-2+1>

Stuck out in the world and wondering where the closest trainer is? Check the above link, sorted by faction.

2. Frost shock kiting: I suggest you get decent at kiting and practice it. It will help you in PvP and when you need to run away from mobs. Kiting as a shaman (as any spec) can be done with 3 spells. Frost shock and earthbind are the kiting moves, and if you have improved ghost wolf you’re able to run away more easily.

In PvP (such as being jumped while leveling) your best bet is to frost shock kite, as Earthbind is likely going to be destroyed quickly (feel free to plant it, just don’t rely on it). Frost shock kiting works equally as well with mobs, but Eb can be reliable too since mobs rarely attack the totem.

Frost shock kiting is easy to do. Start off by casting frost shock on the target, then immediately jump and turn yourself 180 degrees (or whichever degree you need to do). It is important to jump and turn instead of just running the 180 degrees. This way you won’t lose running time. This is all it is. While running away, jump and turn to the enemy, frost shock and return to the direction you were running. It can be done in all one jump; you don’t lose running time at all and the target is continuously slowed.

Practice this on mobs that are lower level (green) than you, starting at close (but not melee range) and frost shock, and run then repeat the steps above. It shouldn’t take more than a a couple tries to master and you are better off doing this in case of too many mobs aggroing, or some other player trying to jump you . Eb is your panic button if they get close with frost shock on CD.

8. Enchants
Enchants are purely optional based on cash available/effort you want to go through.While enchanting will quicken leveling and may save you from dying from time to time, it's not a huge necessity. Other than heirloom items you'll be replacing gear fairly quickly.

The full list of enchants at WoWHead: <http://www.wowhead.com/skill=333>

Spell power, int, crit, and stat enchants are your friend. The changes to Int mean it's likely going to come out ahead in most cases, but it's a good idea to compare. There are very few crit and stat enchant choices, but it's possible to get them. Go with Int to weapons.

Agility, stats, attack power. Specifically, agi can go on cloak, bracers, gloves, and boots, and weapons. Always take agi over other types of enchants while leveling.

For weapons, dual crusader is also excellent (the proc stacks), as is Fiery Weapon. Note that Crusader's effect is reduced after level 60, by 4% each level; at 70 a single proc is worth 60 STR, putting dual Agi enchants at the same static benefit (but without the heal, which is rather pathetic once you hit Outlands) and no chance of wasting a proc. Consider things like cost/availability of enchants and the weapon being enchanted (like heirlooms that other alts might use) when you decide which enchant you want. Any of them will be decent for leveling. Also note that this is for heirlooms; there are other enchants (Mongoose, mainly) that require certain ilvls.

Elemental is the same as resto: spell power, crit, or int enchants. Stats on the chest.

Weapon is the same, go for Int.
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9. Helpful online resources
Although some are aimed at endgame theorycraft, they usually provide good information for players of all levels and skills.

TotemSpot (http://totemspot.com/): a community site by some of the best theorycrafters and shaman players.

Elitist Jerks, Shaman Section (http://elitistjerks.com/f79/): the premier theorycraft site's shaman class mechanics section. Individual sections for each spec (ele: <http://elitistjerks.com/f47/t82625-shaman_elemental/>, enh: <http://elitistjerks.com/f47/t20765-shaman_enhancement/>, resto: <http://elitistjerks.com/f47/t99442-shaman_restoration/>).

A new enhance post is up and running for 85 at EJ, courtesy of Cochice: <http://elitistjerks.com/f79/t110295-enhancement_unleashing_elements_cataclysmic_discussion/>

Life in Group 5 (http://lifeingroup5.com/): a resto blog by Vixsin. Consistently one of the best sources for all things resto.

Wowhead (http://www.wowhead.com): a WoW database, providing info on virtually every aspect of the game. Dungeons in your level range? Gear in the next zone? Where you can find profession recipes? It's all here.

Shaman section at WoWInsider (http://wow.joystiq.com/category/shaman/): a blogging site featuring our very own Elam (Josh Myers). Weekly columns from knowledgeable shamans on a variety of subjects.

A SPECIAL THANKS to Liax, the original author of the previous iteration of this guide, and the rest of the shaman community members who contribute to making this class a fun and rewarding experience.
Reserved, just in case.
Reported for sticky.
Really hope they add in an actual sticky request button. I'll just /like this for now :p
Thanks for the awesome thread.
Thanks, folks!

Reported for sticky.

Out of curiosity, how do you do this on the new setup? I'm not seeing the option.
Thanks, folks!

Reported for sticky.

Out of curiosity, how do you do this on the new setup? I'm not seeing the option.

You click the "Like" button. I guess.
After some investigation, the Like button is supposedly going to have this functionality in the future. If you look at Dislike, it gives you the option to report posts via a dropdown, which I believe is how the Like will work as well. I'm going to guess this is the only way to report posts for sticky right now, because the Dislike allows you to report with the "other" designation and a description, where you'd request sticky.

Of course, there's the offhand chance that this might also get the post removed, since it came from Dislike. I guess we'll see! :P
The 'report' under the thumbs-down works for reporting as stickies. They are unlikely to delete all the guides that got reported for stickies. ;)

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