Category Archives: Shaman

Signature Abilities

There are certain things in the game that scream: “THIS IS WORLD OF WARCRAFT!” Each class has their own special thing that people think of when they picture the class in their head. Some have changed over time, being iconic when the game came out and all but vanished now. Some have emerged over time, starting as a thought and finally being realized.

One good thing is that I couldn’t think of one specific ability that is recognizable for the entire game. There are a few front-runners, but there are many that define each class. Blizzard has done a great job of making each class very individual (with a few exceptions), and you know who you are playing by what you can do.

Shamans get two picks from me: Frost Shock and Bloodlust. Sorry Alliance, but it will always be Bloodlust and not Heroism. In Vanilla PvP, Frost Shock was one of the biggest abilities that the Horde had in their arsenal, as it was a good snare on a short cooldown that did a decent amount of damage. There used to be an addon that would have an audio file of “FROST SHOOOOOCK!” when it was used. Bloodlust, including the roaring-murloc-style sound, is such a great feeling. The very first time it was used in game for my character gave me goosebumps.

(The above is my son being a good PvP Shaman in training)

Druids are pretty straight forward, being that their forms truly define who they are. Not as much as previously, with the removal of a permanent Tree Form, but I believe that Bear Form & Cat Form are truly iconic (and of course the laser chicken). There’s no mistaking what you’re fighting when you have a cat tearing up your face. Being able to be a warrior, rogue, mage, and priest all in one is a nice feeling.

To me, the Warrior’s signature ability was mainly visible in Vanilla as it was before big nerfs. Mortal Strike was a high damage move that also caused the target to receive 50% less healing as a debuff. This was in place for a very long time until it was nerfed to be only 10% less healing, as it was very overpowered for PvP. Many tanks were Arms spec in Vanilla mainly for this ability, so mobs that healed themselves could be mitigated. Close second is Titan’s Grip – being able to wield two two-handed weapons is just awesome.

Rogues are mainly known for one thing: their stuns. They have close to fifty thousand of them (or so it would seem at time in PvP), and used well they can completely lock out someone for a good period of time. By the time the stuns wear off, the target’s health is low enough that they’re as good as dead.

Warlocks also have two great abilities to cause grief to people: Fear and Death Coil. Both mainly in Vanilla again, but the combination of the two spells were great to keep a player or a mob out of the way for a good period of time. The only problem with PvE use of them is that they have a very good chance to pull approximately one thousand other mobs who are close by.

Mages have two things that I believe is their signature, which is Polymorph and the ability to blow stuff up. Polymorph’s history goes back to the early RTS games, and thankfully stays in the game today as a great crowd control device. Being able to have different animals other than sheep is nice for groups or raids with multiple mages, but the sheep is still awesome. Plus, mages can blow stuff up, including Living Bomb. How can you go wrong?

Hunters are definitely known for having their pets and their traps. The removal of Eyes of the Beast, allowing direct control over the pet, is definitely a big loss – it was also the way our guild pulled Baron Geddon in Molten Core back in Vanilla. When pets had their happiness system or needing to tame specific pets to learn specific abilities, or basically how pets were before they were all made generic are what truly defined hunters for a very long time. The traps have become a lot better, as rather than having to place them where the character is, they are now able to be launched to a location without having to sacrifice yourself. Coming close behind is feign death, which is also useful in real life.

I had a difficult time coming up with a specific priest signature ability. Eventually I decided on Shadowform and the ability to be a very flexible healer. Unfortunately with all the specific heals that a priest has, there are too many to narrow down to one signature one, apart from Greater Heal. Bread and butter healing. Shadowform is very different in the fact that it gave priests a way to do very good damage and still be a priest at heart.

Death Knights are pretty easy, as Death Grip is one of the first things that a player uses after rolling one. Being able to yank someone right to you, also acting as a taunt, is a tank’s best friend. Plus, a lot of fun in PvP. Army of the Dead is a close contender, as there are few things more awesome than an army of ghouls rampaging on your behalf.

The Paladin signature ability was the easiest one to come up with. Divine Shield, or the infamous “Bubble”. Unfortunately not being able to last long enough for a full bubble-hearth, it still has the reputation that it definitely deserves.

In conclusion, each class has things that truly make them feel unique. Even the Druid, which “borrows” the styles of other classes, still makes the playstyle their own. Even though they use rage like a warrior, they are not warriors (parrying with their faces takes skill).

As a signature ability for the game? I don’t think there needs to be one. The closest “iconic” one that I can think of would have to be Bloodlust. It is synonymous with the Orc culture, and every time I hear the sound effect I can’t help but think of the Warcraft series.

To Alt, or Not To Alt

I’ve confessed a couple times before that I’m an altaholic.  I go through various stages of it, and there have been times where I’ve gone weeks without working on my main for any significant amount of time.  I enjoy the different scenery, mechanics, point of view, role… all of these.  However, recently I seem to have been doing the exact opposite – rarely ever have I had so many alts with full rested experience waiting to be played.

The circumstances haven’t changed much, apart from the fact that I haven’t been raiding much in the past little while due to family stuff.  Even before that, I’ve been working on things to improve my main more and more.  First it was getting the Therazane reputation complete, since that would give access to good shoulder enchants.  Then it was the Tol Barad dailies, and wanting to get the dragon (because it’s a dragon!).  These could be classified as working towards improving my character, as there are benefits that are associated with those repuatations.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the reputations that came next.  I managed to hit exalted with Lower City by doing my daily runs for Anzu, and started up my Ogri’la dailies again after not touching them for a long time.  After getting exalted with Ogri’la on two characters, I really hope I never put myself through that again.  Currently, I’m trying to finish up the Sha’tari Skyguard and Netherwing reputations so I can get some Nether Rays and Nether Dragons to fly – which are both really good looking mounts.

These things I’m working on have absolutely no benefit to me in a raiding or progression standpoint.  They are things to occupy my time and give me something to do while I watch the rest of my guild do other things that I wish I could be doing.  I only do the daily heroic because I need the valour points, and many times I don’t do it because I want a guild group, or I’m listening to see if my son is actually asleep.

There are a few alts in particular that I want to level: my shaman, priest, and warrior.  The guild has a lack of those three classes and I want to help out if needed, but even though the majority of the leveling is going through new content that I haven’t seen yet, it’s still getting a bit boring.  I’m actually enjoying working on my main, and working towards accomplishments that I’ve been wanting for a long time.

As with everything, I go through phases.  It seems that I’ve run out of stuff to do for new Cataclysm things right now, so I’m working on older stuff.  Once I have my new dragons and nether rays, I’m sure I’ll be moving back to the alts again.

Altaholic-ness, Redux

A while back, I mentioned how much I enjoy leveling alts. To this day the trend continues, and unfortunately Cataclysm has made it even easier to enjoy this hobby. The addition of new races, new race/class combinations, and the complete redesign of the level 1-60 leveling process was just a bit of encouragement. Then I go and splurge on all three heirloom cloaks from guild rep, making it that much easier.

My habit has continued, and it has flourished.

One big thing that I’m a bit surprised about is that two classes that I enjoyed quite a bit before have not interested me as much now. The Warlock, my very first class that I got to the level cap with on the Horde side in Vanilla, has no presence on my character list at all. I tried rolling one a few times, but it’s just not doing it for me right now. Perhaps later. The Death Knight, a class that I thoroughly enjoyed back in WotLK, is now my bank alt. I have one that I’m trying to level through Outland right now, but I think it might be more of that continent’s fault than the DK class itself.

My Shaman just recently hit 65 after simmering on the backburner for a while. I wanted to get geared up and ready for heroics and raids before I focused too much on any alt for a little bit. Now that I’m raiding again (woot!), I’ve been slowly working him through Outland. As I mentioned before, it really is a chore to get through the BC content. I remember trying to rush as fast as possible to 58 so we could get away from the junk of Vanilla content – oh, how times have changed.

There’s the hunter who’s in the late thirties. I was going pretty steady with it for a while, but I’ve lost interest in it for the moment. These phases come and go quite quickly with various classes and how I feel with it. On our old server, I was leveling a rogue with my wife and was having a blast. I tried rolling a rogue a few times already, and it’s just not doing anything for me right now. More than likely, it’s too close to the cat druid that I work on mostly right now.

One character that I was looking forward to rolling at Cataclysm was my goblin priest, and she’s been quite a bit of fun. Checking out the talent trees previously, Discipline looked like a great spec to try out for leveling as it had a good mixture of damage and healing abilities. So far I’ve leveled exclusively through the dungeon finder from level 15 on, just to work on my skills so when I hit a higher level I’m not completely out of it. I’m only level 29, so it’s not really too big of a challenge, but it’s been a good experience so far.

Lastly, I have lowbies of the rest of them: paladin, mage, and warrior. I’ve played a paladin and mage to level cap previously and enjoyed it, and the highest I’ve ever gotten a warrior was to the mid twenties. Some of the higher levels that I have right now are going to be DPS and healing, so I’m thinking a tanking warrior would be fun. Heirloom shield please?

I enjoy the different experiences that I have on each character when I play them. Each has their own different feel, their own nuances that I have to figure out – it’s nice to have such flexibility within the game. Plus, this is all on the Horde side. If I wanted something completely new, I’d work on my Alliance characters… maybe.

The Shaman experiment

Not too long ago, I started a new character as an alt to work on while I waited to transfer my main over from another server. As I’ve mentioned before, our guild decided to move from Vek’nilash to Thrall in the interests of getting a better pool of raiders to make better progress. We had our date of the move, but there was about a month or so of time in between. As I’ve also mentioned, I’m an altaholic, so I was quite excited about being able to start brand new characters and do the leveling experience again – even moreso with the changes coming in Cataclysm.

I had a hard time deciding what class to work on. There were a few that I wanted to try, mainly ones that I had difficulty leveling or staying focused on in the past. Ultimately, I decided on rolling a new Troll Shaman. As of right now, I think I made a wise decision.

Currently, I only have three characters at level 80: a Druid, Paladin, and Shaman. For whatever reason, the hybrid classes seemed to be a good fit for me. However, I’ve only put significant effort into my Druid (currently my main) and my Paladin (a former main), while getting bored of my Shaman incredibly fast. This is quite disappointing, since I put a fair amount of money into him, getting epic flying and dual spec. If I would have known that I wasn’t going to stick with it, I most definitely wouldn’t have spent that extra 6000 gold.

This time I’m doing things a bit differently. When I leveled my first Shaman, I had done it as Elemental with a Resto offspec, with the heirloom shoulders only. This time I’m doing it as Enhancement with no current offspec (but will eventually do a Resto offspec), with both the heirloom shoulders and chest, as well as two heirloom maces. I had gotten to the early 30s without any heirlooms, since I was waiting to transfer things over from the old server, and even while doing that I found it to be incredibly fun.

Once I was able to get the heirlooms over, along with patch 4.0.1 hitting, I went from doing decently to hitting like a truck. I was able to kill elites who were four levels higher than me and barely needing to heal myself afterwards. I’m currently level 44 going between Tanaris and Feralas, and still having a great deal of fun. So far the only thing that I’m not particularly liking is the lack of cleansing. I miss being able to have a poison and disease cleanse while being Enhancement, which made leveling even easier.

Blizzard recently announced some changes to damage dealt at the lower levels, as they say it’s currently a little overpowered. As much as I hate to say this, I agree completely. That being said, I’m certainly not complaining about it at all. As long as I can continue to solo elites, I’ll be one very happy person.

Trying the Shaman again was a big experiment. I wanted to have a character who was versatile and not locked in to one role, but was able to do well at whatever spec I chose. Enhancement is definitely a winner in the new talent tree revamp. This experiment has gone well, and I look forward to continuing it.

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