Elemental Shaman Leveling Guide

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Leveling Speed70%


Shamans are a great choice for Hardcore mode, and a great pick as a dps or a healer class with tons of support tools. In this guide we will be going over Elemental spec and how to tackle difficult early game where Enhancement would have a smoother ride, and how at one point we take over. Because of the reliance on both weapon swings and stats like Intellect for a bigger mana pool to fuel our spells, early stages of Elemental leveling suffer. Many shaman players decide to go with Enhancement spec until the point where they get enough Intellect to have a big enough mana pool to have a decent pace with killing.

Advantage of going full Elemental from the get go is that you can choose to heal some dungeons and grab some gear that you would not usually roll as Enhancement.

Shamans are an excellent choice for Hardcore play. As a versatile damage/support class, we possess a wide range of tools and abilities that empower us in this game mode.


Shamans are a horde exclusive class, opposite to paladins.

Orc – an excellent choice fitting a shaman’s Enhancement spec perfectly. Giving you bonuses when using Axes with Axe Specialization, and a cooldown in Blood Fury.

Troll – is more suited to shaman’s caster and healing specs with Berserking. As well as some minor bonuses in Beast Slaying and Regeneration.

Tauren – are more focused on the defensive side of things, having bonuses in Endurance and an AoE stun with War Stomp that can give you some space to heal up uninterrupted, or run away.


Elemental Shaman leveling will play out in two stages. First one where you play almost like an enhancement shaman, relying on your totems, shocks and melee attacks for damage and only using Lightning Bolt as an opener to pull enemies. This is how your talents would look like.

Talent Link

You can choose to tackle this either way. Go for Improved Ghost Wolf for instant transformation and safety, or spec into Elemental tree first for more mana efficiency and damage, totally up to your playstyle.

At level 40, we will go back to our trainer and respec, if you used enhancement spec until now grab all your caster gear and do the same. Now the playstyle changes to burning our mana on Lightning Bolts and Shocks as our main source of damage, increasing the time we spend drinking, but significantly reducing our kill time. Here is your new talent build.

Talent Link

After reaching the bottom of your elemental tree, you can choose to even go with some restoration points to reduce mana cost of your totems and increase chance to hit your spells. But for our preference, we chose to slowly go back into enhancement to give you the option of using melee swings more efficiently for situations where you run out mana and still need to fight.


Totems are your classes’ signature mechanic and come in four elements, giving you and your party bonuses depending on which ones you choose. You can only have one of each kind down at the time, Earth, Fire, Water and Wind. For this guide we will go over the most useful ones. 

Keep in mind that in classic, you can’t recall your totems. So be aware of where your totems are as you keep fighting so as to not pull any unwanted enemies into combat.

For earth totems you have a choice of offensive and defensive ones. 

Stoneskin Totem reduces your melee damage taken by a flat amount, this helps when facing multiple enemies in close combat.

Earthbind Totem will slow down enemies in a radius, in combination with Frost Shock, it will be your main kiting tool.

Stoneclaw Totem taunts enemies and can come in clutch with giving you some space to run away when facing a single enemy. It does get better with ranks with stronger taunts and bigger health pool.

Strength of Earth Totem is your offensive totem and an excellent one to use in groups where you have at least one or two more melees that use both Agility and Strength.

Fire totems are all about dealing damage.

Searing Totem will be your first totem and deals consistent single target damage from range, simple yet effective.

Fire Nova Totem gives you one big burst of AoE damage after a few seconds.

Magma Totem also does AoE damage but is constantly pulsing, don’t use it if you can’t grab the threat of all enemies, so they don’t turn and destroy it.

Water totems focus on sustained healing and resistances, but there are only two you might want during leveling.

Healing Stream Totem gives you pulsing healing every few seconds and will help out with sustaining your health while you stay in range.

Mana Spring Totem does the same thing as the previous one, only for your mana, good for when you want to sit down and eat/drink.

Air totems have very few options and only one you might want during.

Windfury Totem gives you the signature Windfury Weapon but it works on group members, excellent when grouping with other melee classes for dungeons.

Another  source of our damage is our weapon imbuements. There are three viable enhancements.

Rockbiter – is our main and most used enhancement, providing a significant boost to our attack power but also generating additional threat in return. Make sure to keep track of what levels you can train the next rank of this spell and plan on making trips to your trainer accordingly.

Flametongue – is your fire imbuement, giving your weapon additional fire damage scaling better with slower weapons. It should be noted that the fire damage portion is scaled off your spell power and spell crit and that doesnt come into effect until endgame.

Windfury – is shamans signature bursty hit, it adds a chance to hit two additional times for a massive damage, but is unreliable because of its unpredictability. It also brings up the issue of overkill, and lowering your chances of pricing on your next enemy while you are chain killing mobs.

Another most used type of spell for Elemental is Shock, giving you an instant burst of damage that gives different kinds of damage with additional effects.

Earth Shock – you will mainly use this for shorter fights and in cases you know Flame Shock wont get full value and is not worth refreshing. It also has the additional benefit of interrupting spell casts.

Flame Shock – deals fire damage and has a damage over time component.

Frost Shock – does frost damage and will slow down an enemy, excellent for kiting enemies around in combination with your Earthbind Totem.

Lightning Bolt should also be kept up to date as it still plays a part in your opening rotation.

Chain Lightning is generally a better version of Lightning Bolt that jumps to another 2 targets, only drawback is way higher mana cost.

Lightning Shield will help with damage and needs to be refreshed often in combat because it works off charges.

Elemental Mastery is your 3 minute cooldown that empowers your next spell, this is best used with your shocks for single target, or chain lightning for 3+ targets, as it crits all 3 of them.

If you wish to have an option to heal in dungeons, keep your healing spells trained, otherwise, just do Healing Wave and Lesser Healing Wave.

For mobility, you will want to train Ghost Wolf that will be made instant through your talents, and learn Astral Recall as an additional Hearthstone effect.

Purge can come in handy when dealing with some nasty enemy buffs but you need to familiarize yourself with what can be purged off and what can not.


Elemental shaman’s rotation is different depending on the stage of the game.

Before level 40 respec:

  1. 1-2 Lightning Bolt from range
  2. Flame Shock
  3. Flametongue Totem if it is not already down
  4. Earth Shock or Frost Shock
  5. Refresh Lightning Shield
  6. Finish off the enemy with melee

After level 40 respec:

  1. Start with 3-4 Lightning Bolt from range
  2. Flame Shock if you will get the value from it, else
  3. Earth Shock or Frost Shock, make sure to jump away while you use it to create some added distance
  4. 1-2 Lightning Bolt 
  5. Earth Shock or Frost Shock to finish the enemy off

In early stages you will generally front load your spells to start your mp5 regeneration and finish enemies off with melee just like how Enhancer would do it.

Later, when you have mana pool to play around with and talents to increase your damage, you turn into pure caster.

For your AoE situations, you should:

  1. Body pull with Ghost Wolf or rank 1 Lightning Bolt
  2. Drop Stoneclaw Totem to protect your fire totems
  3. Fire Nova Totem
  4. Chain Lightning once
  5. Drop Magma Totem 
  6. Earth Shock or Frost Shock, make sure to jump away while you use it to create some added distance
  7. Refresh Lightning Shield while running
  8. Stop and finish enemies off with Chain Lightning or Lightning Bolt

Class Specific Quests

Shaman quests include some simple quests, mainly being made harder by lengthy travels and can be incorporated into a leveling route. In order you will finish Call of Earth, Fire, Water, Air. Giving you a corresponding totem and one of your totem abilities to start you off.

Call of Earth (Level 4) – will be done within your immediate starting zone depending on your race.

Call of Fire (Level 10) – includes a relatively short run between Durotar and The Barrens.

Call of Water (Level 20) – requires quite a bit of traveling between a few different zones across both Eastern Kingdom and Kalimdor.

Call of Air (Level 30) – final totem quest is very simple, sending you down to Thousand Needles. You can coordinate this with some difficult quest right after because of a huge buff you get to movement speed and attack speed that lasts an whole hour.


Early stage:

Strength >Agility > Stamina > Intellect > Spirit 

Late stage:

Intellect > Spirit > Stamina > Strength > Agility

Make sure to keep any gear that can be fitting when transitioning to late stage build and store it in your bank.

Weapon Progression

Elemental shaman will use anything they can get the same as Enhancer, and transition to looking at weapons as stat stick and a backup of a two hander for weapon swapping if the need for meleeing arises.

Jagged Dagger6.0010QuestDurotar - Skull Rock
Skorn's Hammer6.4810QuestMulgore - The Demon Scarred Cloak
Hammer of Orgrimmar9.1414Dungeon QuestRFC - Hidden Enemies
Harpy Skinner9.6418QuestBarrens - Serena Bloodfeather
Callous Axe15.0024VendorOtt in Hillsbrad
Daring Dirk17.5029VendorVharr in STV
Bleeding Crescent18.1333Quest1k Needles - Parts of the Swarm
Black Water Hammer22.2238QuestArathi - Deep Sea Salvage
Dull Heater Shield1615Vendor
Charging Buckler1359QuestDurotar - Need for a Cure
Welding Shield34514QuestBarrens - Samophlange
Bear Buckler46118VendorGrazlix in Ratchet
Ward of the Vale52825QuestBarrens - Isha Awok
Arctic Buckler64226Dungeon QuestBFD - Blackfathom Villainy
Deadskull Shield61130QuestHillsbrad - Battle of Hillsbrad
Marbled Buckler77531Dungeon QuestRFK - A Vengeful Fate
Grom'gol Buckler69535QuestSTV - Defense of Grom'gol
Studded Ring Shield71136QuestDesolace - Gizelton Caravan
Vile Protector105137Dungeon QuestSM - Compendium of the Fallen
Forcestone Buckler105137Dungeon QuestSM - Compendium of the Fallen
Earthclasp Barrier125741QuestFeralas - Battle Plans
Collection Plate138042QuestSTV - Cracking Maury's Foot
Optomatic Deflector157846QuestTanaris - Rescue OOX-17/TN
Shizzle's Drizzle Blocker169149QuestUn'Goro - Shizzle's Flyer
Milli's Shield210657Dungeon QuestDM - Shards of the Felvine
Walking Stick4.23Vendor
Quarter Staff9.4411Vendor
Cauldron Stirrer10.1613QuestBarrens - Apothecary Zamah
Crescent Staff20.3420Dungeon QuestWC - Leaders of the Fang
Big Stick25.6732VendorSTV
Nimboya's Mystical Staff35.6544QuestSTV - Saving Yenniku
Spellshifter Rod35.7444Dungeon QuestZF - Tiara of the Deep
Wildstaff4553Dungeon QuestST - Da Voodoo


Engineering / Mining

Like with other classes, Engineering provides great value for shamans. While they do have access to slows and interrupts, hard cc is hard to find and so bombs and dynamite give a decent chunk of AoE damage or cc. On the other hand you have a Target Dummy for efficient escapes in combination with Ghost Wolf. You can also opt in to taking Mining + Skinning to start with and farm up some Light Leather and Medium Leather before swapping it to Engineering, you have potential to get some early goggles at the time where hardly anyone will have access to helmets.

Alchemy / Herbalism

Alchemy is a great fit for shamans, offering versatility in choice of stat buffs as well as a mountain of health and mana potions you will craft during leveling it. Because Elemental shamans are reliant on long casts, it can be troublesome to get off lengthy heal in combat while doing damage at the same time so healing pots are always welcome, and mana pots can be used as fuel for longer fights or even just to reduce downtime between combat.

Leatherworking / Skinning

Leatherworking is your armoring profession and during your leveling and killing beasts, you should have plenty of leather to advance it at a decent pace. While stats on crafted items in the early game have less desirable stats, they can often come as an upgrade. And even with that, you will get stated shoulder armor way earlier than others.

Honorable mentions

Cooking / Fishing / First Aid

Cooking can give you many stat buffing food that increase your stamina and spirit while leveling. Paired with Fishing, if you want to spend your time on it, you can use the caught fish to level up cooking all the way to max skill level. You can use Bandages from First Aid in combination with Mana Spring Totem to let your mana regen while you restore your health.

Tackling Danger

Shamans are excellent at running away whenever danger arises and even more so in the open world.

If you are facing multiple enemies and decide that it is best to disengage, your first step would be to use Stoneclaw Totem or Target Dummy to make some distance. After that drop Earthbind Totem to slow them down and that should give you enough time to run away in Ghost Wolf.

To get away from a single target, again we use Stoneclaw Totem and then a simple rank 1 Frost Shock. Do not repeat this as it will keep leashing the enemy while you have mana.

If you are a Tauren, War Stomp can be a great tool to make some distance as well before dropping Earthbind Totem.

Good leveling partners

Shamans in general are Warrior’s and Rogue’s best friend. Early on giving them healing and buffing with Strength of Earth Totem, and later giving Windfury. Every melee loves a shaman in their group.


Shaman by itself does not contribute too much damage, but due to its bursty damage profile with windfury and rockbiter weapons, are able to generate a lot of threat. Consider your group’s composition and pick your totems to compliment that. Contribute damage with your melee and shocks but keep some mana in reserve if the need for healing pops up. Unlike enhancement shaman, you will be using a lot of mana. Unless you get a mage in your group, try to be stocked up on water.

Advanced Tips

Your main thought while leveling alone should be managing mana, front load your spells with Lightning Bolt, Shocks and Totems and then Melee to let your mana regen in meantime.

Totems will always spawn in the same spot respective of where your character is facing, familiarize yourself with that and make sure to replace them when moving from mob to mob if you can expect them to pull something behind you to ruin your day.

Your fire totems generate threat and are prone to getting destroyed, make sure to build some quick or plop down Stoneclaw Totem to protect your other totems.

Your earth spells generate a lot of threat, so be careful when using Rockbiter Weapon and Earth Shocks in group situations.


Stopcast interrupt macro:
#showtooltip Earth Shock
/cast Earth Shock

Weapon Swap Macro:
/equip [name of your one hander]
/equip [name of your shield]
/equip [name of your two hander]

Closing Remarks

As was said before, shamans are an excellent class to tackle Hardcore challenges. And because of their reliance on mana, early stages of the leveling can be tough. You should think about your class as more of a melee than caster and be more mindful when working on elite quests and enemies. After reaching level 40 you will totally change your playstyle and evolve into a lightning-slinging flame-spewing shock machine with excellent burst capabilities. Make sure you are stocked up on water and spam away.