Know Your Enemy – Shamans

Continuing the short series of articles about other classes in PVP, this week I’ll be taking a look at Shamans. This isn’t the definitive guide to Shaman PVP, but rather a short guide to their most potentially damaging abilities.
As with all hybrid classes, its very important to recognise a Shaman’s spec as soon as possible – suddenly finding yourself being nuked hard by what you thought was a healer is pretty devastating. The easiest way to do so is by using the Gladius addon and setting it to announce your enemy specs in raid/party chat, but this only works in Arenas. There are however several spec-dependant buffs you can keep an eye out for.

Shamans in PVP – What to Expect


Shamans can put down four totems at once – there are 23 different totems, but the most problematic ones available to all specs of Shamans are as follows;

Water TotemWater Totem Cleansing Totem
Cleansing totems will attempt to remove one poison off each party member every 3seconds.
Earth TotemEarth Totem Earthbind Totem
Reduces your movement speed by 50%, 10yard range. Luckily this totem has a 15second CD so can’t be spammed.
Air TotemAir Totem Manaspring Totem
Restores a small amount of mana every 2seconds. Not as powerful as the Mana Tide totem, but worth destroying nonetheless.
Fire TotemFire Totem Magma Totem
This totem pulses an 8-yard AoE every 2 seconds. If this hits you it will remove your sltealth.

The other totems generally give party buffs so it’s a good idea to destroy them if you get the chance. If you play with a healer, try and convince them to either wand or melee down the totems whenever they get a spare few seconds between heals. The Shaman will most likely keep dropping them, but this costs mana and gives them a GCD. Unfortunately totems can no longer be targeted with macros, but your partners can use a [target=mouseover] macro to help wand/petattack them without changing target. AoE has no effect on totems, so don’t waste energy trying to FoK them down.


A 40second buff that increases all enemies melee/ranged/spell casting speed by 30%. I normally try and keep some defensive abilities in reserve for this as it’s not uncommon for the other team to combine this buff with their other DPS cooldowns.


A strange form of CC that lets you continue to move normally, but unable to cast/attack. You can still activate sprint/stealth, so it might be worth using this as on opportunity to get out of combat and re-open on someone, rather than just hopping around behind your target waiting for it to run out.


With the changes to Ghost Wolf last patch, it is now quite hard to keep on-top of a Shaman if they are trying their hardest to get away from you. Crippling poison/deadly throw won’t decrease a Ghost Wolf’s movement speed to less than 100% and they can combine this bonus with Frost Shock, Tremor Totem and even Thunderstorm to keep away from you.

Shaman Specs

Restoration Shamans

How to spot them: Check their partners for an Earth Shield buff
Strengths: Able to kite
Weaknesses: Can struggle with mana compared to other healing classes


Earth Shield
Each time you hit someone who has Earth Shield active, you will heal them for a small amount once every second. As a rogue there is nothing you can do about this (other than trying to LoS your target from the Shaman) but if your partner can keep dispelling it you will hurt the Shaman’s mana. Dispelling Earth Shield only removes one of the stacks.

Mana Tide Totem
Kill this as soon as you see it – it will restore 24% of the other team’s mana over 12 seconds. It’s quite easy to spot as it has a pulsing animation.

Nature’s Swiftness

Converts a Shaman’s timed heal into an instant cast. If you are partnered with a Mage they can spell-steal this buff if they are quick enough.


In 3v3 Resto Shamans seem very easy to burst down and our tactics generally involve opening on the Shaman as hard as we possibly can and swapping if needed. In 2v2 playing as rogue/healer it’s a different story – even when I’m in Mutilate/Prep spec I struggle to stay on top of a good Resto Shaman. Instead we concentrate on out-lasting them which seems relatively easy as long as we kill the Mana Tide totem and stop them from drinking. Playing as double-dps in 2v2 probably gives enough burst to kill them so it might be worth experimenting with.

Elemental Shamans

How to spot them: The buff from their Totem of Wrath. Using caster weapons and shields/caster offhands
Strengths: Insane damage if left alone
Weaknesses: Low survivability


While this isn’t as annoying in arenas as it is in BGs (especially in EotS and AB), it can still get in the way when you’re trying to burst down an Elemental Shaman. While it’s possible to use Cloak of Shadows to preempt the knockback, it’s a better idea to always makes sure that you position yourself properly. If you think they might use a Thunderstorm (often when they are low health and stunned), try and make sure your back is facing a wall/pillar if possible (to reduce the distance you are thrown backwards). Whatever you do, don’t let the Shaman use it to knock you off the bridge in the Blades Edge Arena or off the platform in Dalaran Sewers. If a shaman kites you behind the boxes in the sewers, expect them to use thunderstorm, so try and predict the cast and dodge backwards behind the corner of the boxes (easier said than done!).

Lava Burst
If you have the DoT from Flame Shock ticking on you, this 2-second cast spell will have a 100% crit chance. Expect to be hit for 5-8k damage every 8 seconds, unless you can keep interrupting.

Flame Shock
Used in conjunction with above, this guarantees a crit from a Lava Burst. However, if the DoT from Flame Shock is dispelled, you increase the Shaman’s casting time by 30%.

Interrupt like crazy, avoid the knockback and nuke as fast as you can. Left to their own devices, Elemental Shamans can pull insane amounts of damage out of nowhere, so don’t let them stand there casting on you while you chase their partners.

Enhancement Shamans

How to spot them: Dual wielding maces/fists/axes.
Strengths: High damage, their pets can stun/heal.
Weaknesses: A bit like fighting a hard hitting rogue that has blown their defensive CDs


Feral Spirit
The two pets that this spell summons are fast moving and can each stun you for two seconds. 150% of their damage is returned as healing for both the wolves and the Shaman. They last for 45seconds so it’s worth saving evasion for this spell.

Shamanistic Rage
A 15 second damage reduction talent that allows the Shaman to regen mana whilst hitting you. If you are managing to keep the Shaman’s mana low you might want to play defensively while this buff is active by gouging and trying to conserve energy.


Enhancement Shamans don’t seem very popular at the moment, so I haven’t played that many games against them. Shamans I have spoken to recommend going toe-to-toe Rogue vs Shaman as the lack of defensive cooldowns will become apparent after the Shaman has used all their Cooldowns.

About Dcruize

Rogue addict, PVP junkie, insomniac. I started playing WoW in 2006 and, after being told that 'nobody wants a rogue', tried to level a priest. I quickly realized that love and approval were a poor alternative to stealth and ambush and have been backstabbing away quite happily ever since.