Keen’s Shaman Impressions

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As promised, here is a look at the class that I have played the most during the Warhammer Online Beta. I’m going to give you guys my thoughts and impressions as I have experienced them first hand. Don’t think of this as the end all be all of Shamanism and don’t think of my impressions as infallible scripture.


Keens Shaman @ Lvl 12
Keen's Shaman @ Lvl 12

The Shaman fits into the caster/healer archtype making him the perfect choice for players who want to sit back, cast offensive spells, and heal. However, this is totally the wrong choice for players who want to be up in the thick of the action taking hits. The Shaman is a very squishy class since he is restricted to ‘robe’ armor but is quite capable of dealing out both damage and healing. The Shaman is without question a hybrid class and a jack of all trades. He’s not going to excel at healing, damage, buffing, cc, debuffing, or any one thing. He will, however, give you a little taste of it all.

The Shaman’s waaagh mechanic is a back and forth system where his heals make his damage spells better and vice versa. Some heals (perhaps all, I have not used every heal) will become instant cast at 5 waaagh which makes burst healing nice. The downside to this system is that in a big fight there is never enough time to build up waaagh -and- keep people alive.

Mastery Paths

  • Mork – The healing tree. This is, without a doubt, the most important mastery path. Why? Because the shaman healing suffers from hybrid-syndrome. In other words, if you want to heal well then you need to boost your heals by speccing in this tree at least some.
  • Gork – Damage Spec. There are some interesting abilities in this tree, especially at the end, like aoe knockbacks. Right now the jury is out on whether or not it’s worth speccing to the end to get these interesting abilities because if you do then you’ll sacrifice Mork points. It’s also a tough call on whether or not speccing to deal damage will be socially acceptable. If you’re not healing constantly then people will die. If people die because you were doing damage… it gets ugly.
  • Da Green – It’s a debuff/buff tree. I like some of the potential this tree has for really hindering the enemy except I can’t in good conscience justify spending a single point in here when the other two trees are so much more active. In a fight I’ll use 90% Mork/Gork and maybe cast a debuff once. This tree also benefits little from the waaagh mechanic.

So is he good or does he suck? Out with it!

Healing – Life is tough as a Shaman from 1-20. This much was made crystal clear to me. My heals were not sufficient to keep my group alive in big RvR fights even when I went full Mork. I judge my Shaman’s ability to heal based on how well the other classes do. I did some research and found that the Archmage is the same way but all the other healers are not having anywhere near as much trouble as I am. I’m saddened and actually turned off from the Shaman given that if things don’t change I will be forced to spec Mork and be a healbot. Playing at level 31 I noticed things did change some. I have more HoT’s, the ability to remove DoT’s, and overall my heals were slightly better but still nowhere near the other healers in RvR. (In PvE the shaman heals just fine.)

Damage – Okay, we’re a caster/healer. We’re supposed to deal the most damage of all the healers. That justifies our survivability being low and our healing being low, right? Maybe I missed it but aside from Gork sez Stop I can’t find a single way for Shaman to out damage Warrior Priests or Disciples of Khaine. (Note: Archmage is the same). I think we definitely out damage the Zealot and Runepriest though. The damage level 1-20 was not enough to kill anyone 1v1 (which is fine, I can accept that) but it was so low that if the enemy had a healer of any class in their group my entire damage was negated with one heal.

Survivability – The pits. Levels 12-20 I was dying in 4-5 hits from a tank. That’s just a matter of seconds. I could throw up my bubble (it’s a damage absorption shield that absorbs 300 something dmg) but the tanks were hitting me for 200+ … so two hits and it’s gone. I just die too quick as a Shaman at low levels. It just compounds the issue of having to keep my group alive in RvR. If I’m constantly avoiding damage then I’m adding another obstacle keeping me from healing. Having ONE person attacking me has often caused people in my group to die. At level 31+ the survivability gets better with our HoT’s stacking and our Hex removal. We can essentially make one target invulnerable while they have all the HoT’s on them.

Bottom line here is that the Shaman class has a few serious issues. He is too squishy early on and is shown up on the battlefield by others. Aside from Hex removal, why have a Shaman over a Zealot or DoK? That’s the BIGGEST question that people have to ask themselves. For those of you saying “ohhh Shaman are fine!”… would YOU want one healing you?

The class has some issues but is it FUN?!

Heck yes! The class is a blast to play! I get pissed off when my heals suck and I cry a little inside when I spent 3 minutes getting someone to half HP just to watch 1 heal bring them back to full but I still enjoy everything about the class. I love the look of a Shaman, the theme of his abilities, the style of gameplay being a caster/healer provides, and the potential he has at higher levels. If the Shaman can get just a few tweaks he will be golden.

Given the state of the Shaman I am currently debating whether or not this will be my class at launch. I’ve played all the other classes and find myself doing/performing better with them. I’m just not sure I enjoy the other classes as much. What a conundrum! If I do end up playing a Shaman at least I know it can only get better.

If anyone has Shaman tips or information to share with me (especially end-game Shaman info) that would boost my spirits about this class please share them!

  • Keen, did you try and go pure dps spec w/ pure dps (intelligence) gear on your shaman? I did this with my archmage, and felt pretty good about how much damage I was dealing, although it wasnt bursty, it was solid.

  • Argh! No edits 🙁
    I dont know how the shaman compares directly to the archmage, but one thing I found that was a must for survivability was usage of my detaunts. The archmage has an AOE detaunt that makes everybody around them deal less damage to me, and at the same time stops spell push back for 5 seconds. Its a hugely powerful spell which can buy you one big heal while your hots are ticking.

  • @Perce: Good question. On my level 31 template I spec’d pure damage and bought the intel renown gear. The damage was definitely better. My healing suffered greatly though.

    That’s something I really didn’t talk about, which I should have in the post. *maybe I’ll edit it in*.

    Intel = Your stat for damage

    Willpower = Your stat for healing.

    As for detaunts all I have at low levels is a single target detaunt that decreases damage. I didn’t use one at higher levels because I found it possible to heal myself better.

  • Great write up Keen! I’m still debating my class between Black Orc, Shaman, or Sorceress, but Shaman does look fun despite the issues. All your videos make it look like fun, and a bit challenging too, which in my opinion will add to the enjoyment. Looking forward to this weekend.

  • Yeah Keen, I just found the archmage had a lot more survivability then you’re describing with your shaman. But that could just have been my taste vs your taste, and the fact I was with a pre-set guild group a lot, and we had a spam healing rune priest with us, and only one pure DPS (tank heavy).

  • @Perce: Lol, well a spam healing runepriest will make ANY class feel like a tank.

    @Pseven: No. That is all. 😉

  • That’s too bad to hear bro. My sister is an unstoppable healing priest in WoW (Ya know, the one’s that take an entire team to take down) and she was only complaining about the damage output from the shamans. That was during patch 3.2ish though so maybe some wires got crossed in the transition. I’m playing a disciple right now and having a blast, but he was very squishy too in previous patches and when I was reading your post the same thoughts went through my head at the time. I’m the same way, it’s extremely frustrating when you can’t keep your friends alive through no fault of your own. In the later parts of 3.3 they started cranking up the healing done on some of my HoT’s and mixed up a few of my abilities and I feel really confident about the class now. Hang in there, I’m sure a fix is right around the corner. 🙂

  • @Pseven

    Destruction will net alot of the annoying, cry baby, l33t, barrens chat nerds, I will admit that. Oh well. Doesn’t mean we all have to be that way.

  • Hahah. So WAR Shamans are basically in the same boat as WoW Shamans, except it’s not their lack of CC, but lack of damage. …I’m not sure if I died a little inside, or if it’s just the remnants of said dead corpse enjoying the irony.

  • I still think we should join the “losing” team and play Order at release 😉

    Almost for that exactly reason Bartlebe!

  • @Pseven: Order isn’t the losing team. 😉 They’ve been more than holding their own in beta. And it would never happen. Destruction is just too much cooler and offers more ‘character’ to the game for me. Destruction 4 Lyfe.

  • I loved my archmage.

    With the damage, I was comfortably outdamaging warrior priests but not on single target. They have to be in melee, we don’t. I could easily sit back and throw dots on lots of different targets and keep healing. I don’t think there was a single scenario or PQ where I didn’t beat them on contributions.

  • @Keen

    I’ve been contributing to the Order’s success 😉 Runepriests are awesome lol

    I’m afraid at launch though with Open RvR rule set I’m going to see a swarm of destruction players everywhere I go…

    I don’t mind if the population is 1.5:1 – It just means I get Scenario queues quicker 🙂

  • @Spinks: That’s PvE though. In PvE I have zero Shaman complaints. It’s RvR where my damage is negligible for the most part and my healing can’t keep up compared to other healers.

    @Pseven: Traitor. And a SPAMpriest of all things?!

  • oh but I agree – Destruction environments, characters and classes do offer more on a unique experience.

  • Bah! Destro pwned Order in practically every Elder phase. I never say the Destro Capital the whole time. Good example was the other day on Warpstone; logged in to find Order pushed all the way to Reikwald with Destro pushing through the inner keep to take down the Lord and open up Altdorf.

    Where were all the Order players?

    5 in Reikwald. 30+ zerging themselves silly in Reikland at a keep they couldn’t even take, even if they wanted to. You guys really need to play both sides a LOT before you keep pushing the Destro > Order theme :p

    Otherwise, fun post! Shamans / Archmage definitely need a little love, but so do DOK/WP. I would suggest spamming the hell out of that detaunt though. It works wonders for survivability when you can negate 50% of a marauder’s damage.

  • As an Archmage, I constantly hit the top of both the damage and the healing charts. (I only got to level 8.) What I can tell you is that it is less of a nuking class and more of a DoTting class. Less of a direct heal class and more of a HoTting class. I see myself as complete support — I’m there to help damage and help heal, but I am not equipped to do either as well as other classes. All unbalanced-pair issues aside, yes, both the Shaman and the Archmage have problems right now. Am I going to choose another class to play? HECK NO! None of them even come close to being as fun. (Not to mention the fact that this is the first game in which I can have my character have four feet of hair like I do.)

  • I did pretty well in RvR on the archmage. Runepriests who sat back and healed beat me on healing, but I wsn’t far behind them and did a lot more damage too. But I am a pretty experienced PvP healer, I did it in DaoC and in WoW.

  • @Cedia: Get your Archmage into the late teens. I’m interested in what you think about it in that range. My Shaman had little problems at level 8 as well. Unless the Archmage is in much better shape than the Shaman, your DoT’s are like a mosquito that the enemy can shrug off.

    @Spinks: Oh I have the experience as well. For the past 7 years I’ve played healer/support in PvP and for longer than that I’ve done it in PvE. And again it’s not about being beat on the numbers. I know Shaman are middle road and should not beat the pure healer numbers or the pure damage numbers – not at all – but that doesn’t mean we should be so far behind the rest.

  • @Lumio: Yes. From the blog post above:

    The Shaman’s waaagh mechanic is a back and forth system where his heals make his damage spells better and vice versa. Some heals (perhaps all, I have not used every heal) will become instant cast at 5 waaagh which makes burst healing nice. The downside to this system is that in a big fight there is never enough time to build up waaagh -and- keep people alive.

  • Im not sure how you’re judging it though. In my late teens as the archmage, in t2 scenarios, I have done things like finishing 2nd in healing to a RP while being 4th in damage (after a bright wizard, witch hunter, and sorc I believe)

    Sure, single dots are nothing. But when I have full high magic and put up a dot, followed by both my other dots, its pretty significant overall.

  • @Perce: I don’t look at the numbers in scenarios as much as I look at how I am contributing in overall effectiveness. Sure, I can put a DoT on every single enemy that I see. It’s instant cast, no cooldown. I can put a dot on 18 people in a scenario. That’s a lot of damage! But… did that damage really do anything?

    I can spam heal myself, allies, put HoT’s on everyone and rake in all the healing points I want. I can score top 2 healers. But when the healing mattered did it DO anything? In my experience when healing is crucial I am unable to keep people alive (in the 12-21 range mostly, mind you. The 31+ gets a lot easier when Mork spec’d)

    I’m all about practical application of the Shaman abilities.

  • What gives you the idea that Disciples outheal shaman? You say you’re not just looking at numbers, but DoK healing is spread out exactly like how you describe your damage – most of it is not actually affecting the outcome.

    DoK have no good direct heal, and since you ask, I’d rather have a shaman healing me any time when I’m being focus-fired. Maybe they don’t quite stack up with the Zealot, but heck, those guys can’t do damage.

    Also by the endgame shaman survivability goes up because they’re really hard to pin down, between Eeek! and their escape abilities and talents.

    Shaman will probably be one of my first characters.

  • I enjoy the shaman and hope that Mythic will show a little love to our heals. I felt like my small stature made it easier for me to hide and heal (standing behind the bigger classes or a rock)

    My best moment up to this point was watching an Order group trying to take down the final boss objective in a PQ…I was hiding behind something and kept healing their target. They had no idea I was there and probably would have left thinking it was bugged until somebody found me 🙂

  • Quoth Keen: “It’s also a tough call on whether or not speccing to deal damage will be socially acceptable.”

    I’m disappointed, but not surprised, to hear that. This class is clearly designed to fill both roles in an effort to make playing healers more fun so that more players will choose to do so. That’s a moot point if the community won’t tolerate any less than 100% healing out of you. One might have thought that the game that invented the Public Quest/Open Group would foster a community that would welcome the contribution of a player who prefers to spend 60% of their time on DPS and 40% healing.

  • @ Keen
    Get a Chosen friend and have him “Guard” you at all times making him take half the damage people do to you.

    @ Graev
    Roll a Chosen and put “Guard” on Keen at all times, then enjoy the feeling of being a walking brickwall as Keen heals ur ass through a ton of damage.

    Furthermore Chosen can taunt enemies attacking Keen so they do 30% less damage to him, pretty nice but in the end you won’t survive a zerg though.

    My 2 cents 😛

    (cant remember the actual name of the spell, but its something like “Guard” that splits the damage done to one target with the Chosen)

  • I only played the beta for about a week, so take this for what you will.

    Destruction outnumbered Order by a whole lot every time I played, but I noticed something interesting. Order still held its own in open world RvR and in scenarios. Our healers…healed. Tanks tanked. People communicated and worked as a team. When I would play a Destruction toon, on the other hand, my teammates zerged about randomly. Healers were dpsing, tanks weren’t guarding.

    I think there might be something about being on the underdog side that makes people work together, because I always felt similarly in WoW, only reversed in faction types.

  • From above: “I don’t look at the numbers in scenarios as much as I look at how I am contributing in overall effectiveness. Sure, I can put a DoT on every single enemy that I see. It’s instant cast, no cooldown. I can put a dot on 18 people in a scenario. That’s a lot of damage! But… did that damage really do anything?”

    I understand what you’re saying, and, agreed, I never leveled to even 1/4 of the game, but to me, I think that’s how the class is supposed to be played. I know we are labeled “Healer” in the character creation page, but I think they need to change that. We’re not supposed to be standing back spamming heals being a main healer, though I know that’s what the community will expect (headaches inc). Really, that’s why I wanted to play this class — I refuse to be a healbot, but I like to run around helping out.

    Maybe it’s just a communication error? Maybe you want to see big numbers and aren’t used to seeing a little trickle? I’m of the mind that every little bit helps. I don’t know, I agree with the above poster when he says that the l4z3rb34m3y3s (Radiant Gaze) debuff/DoT stacked with all my other DoT’s does some pretty nice damage. And really, unless I’m full of Force (hmmm… Force and laser eyes?), my single target heal isn’t all that great. The morale oh-shi- heal is nice, though.

  • I just want to be useful – if that makes sense. I don’t really feel like I can contribute on the same level as other classes. Being the top damager or top healer isn’t important. Making sure I contribute is.

  • Proximo, it is Guard that allows a Chosen to guard someone, taking half their damage. If there is a group of people behind you then Hold The Line is better, but it’s not guaranteed, as it gives a 15% buff to dodge and disrupt on those people you’re defending. If there are multiple Chosen, they can stack this effect three times though which is pretty nice, as it creates a pretty tough line.

    Instead of getting the tanks to rush forward and attack their front line though, I think it would be better if Marauders and so forth rushed forward, did quick strikes on a selective target for maximum effect, and then retreated back behind the tanks for defense again.

    BTW I agree with “I don’t look at numbers…as much as how I’m contributing”. I mean I’ve done kamikaze attacks on enemy groups running right into the midst of them and out the back. What happens is the enemy starts focusing on you and loses focus on the front line, thus allowing the rest of your group to crush their front line at that moment. It requires timing but if done right and optimal targets are selected, it can turn the tide of battle at the right moment. Again it’s the effect of the tactic that’s important, not how much damage you do.

  • just out of curiosity… would it be a terrible idea to go dps spec and healing gear? would it just leave you gimp at both healing and damage?

    haven’t had the opportunity to mess around with gear or specs but maybe I’ll get a better idea how things work when I can try it first hand this weekend.

  • If you went DPS spec I think it would be mandatory to at least have a set of gear with lots of +willpower on it. Your heals will be really bad if not.

  • @Proximo Black Orcs have the same ability. From what I’ve seen, ANY of the healers – including the melee healers benefit from having a solid tank guarding their butts. The melee-healers need to be in the thick of it to constantly recharge their power and so are going to be wasting all that energy on self-heals without some tank-love.

    The caster-healers are just… squishy. I liked my zealot, but damn. I spent more time running in circles like a crazy man, trying to heal through the abuse I was getting from witch hunters than I did anything else. 😉

  • I would love to see some info on the Chosen too, and how they cope in pvp more specifically 🙂
    Seems like a very cool tank class, but will be slightly overplayed i guess hehe!

    Nice work on the Shaman btw, looks like Zealot will be my healer alt then 🙂

  • I never liked the Greenskin playing area. It did not look realistic enough for me compared to the other areas.

    Guys we all know that with a few clicks of a key board you will go from the ulimate killer to a person upset because they just nerfed you. The devs will be adjusting things non stop in an effort to keep things equal.

    See you Friday when the servers come back.

  • Assuming you have the choice in how you allocate your stats when you level (i havnt played in beta thankfully), you didnt make the cardinal mistake by pumping too many points into toughness/wounds/resists did you? IMHO, the lure of added surviveabilty always nerfs the crap out of your healer, because its at the expense of your healing.

  • Hmm, how was our equipment then? If you even recall, and if you dont i dont blame you because i sure as heck wouldnt.

  • My gear on my level 31 shaman spec’d for damage was mostly intel/wounds/toughness/resists and my Level 15 shaman currently is setup with Willpower/wounds/resists because I can’t find much toughness stuff yet. They’re both in renown gear.

  • Hopefully im not badgering you too much Keen :), but im considering a Shaman Mork (15) and Green (10) spec, and your concerns (as well as others) about healing have me almost running for the Zealot. So, im curious about details 🙂 The last thing i want to do is spec for a heal-based Shaman (or heal-bot) and then find out that im still a ghetto (DAOC-esk) Shaman Healer.

    Im guessing you found the different specs/equipment to be pretty transparent?

  • Gear matters A LOT. It makes a HUGE difference, especially at low levels. Albeit gear is easily obtained so it really evens out.. it’s not like WoW where gear can be hard to get and still matter. Since I know you played DAOC I’ll use a DAOC reference.

    My shaman felt like a cave spec DAOC Shaman compared to everyone else being a Norse Healer.

    If you want to be the best healer then you’re going to want to play a Zealot. If you want to be a decent healer then you’re going to be okay playing a Shaman but you’re going to have to go full heal spec, stack willpower, and learn which abilities to use while realizing you’re going to feel like you suck at keeping people alive until 30+. That’s my true opinion.

    It’s all about playstyles here. Zealots WILL sit back and do more healing. Shaman CAN do that but they can also get up and throw DoT’s, knockbacks, nukes, etc.

  • Woof, tough decision, a challenge then verses what i would call class “bias”.

    Keen, as always: thanks for your candor. I suppose if i dont like the shaman’s end game (because i will suffer the in between for a good end game), there is always ranged dps! [in DAOC I also played a cleric, void eldy and a cabalist (the cabalist i still rank as my favorite class of any MMO!)].

  • Hmm i will play destruction, but i dont know what class to play yet, maybe a will play a marauder or a zealot..

    I hope that dev concentrate in balance the classes from here to the release, because is very annoying put all your effort in play a class that is not in the same lvl as others.

  • hey keen wut server u going to play on for preview i notice the server u pickd for closed isnt there

  • I bought my pre-order on Direct2Drive last night and received my Open Beta key by email.

    Just for fun, i downloaded the client on fileplanet and tried logging in this morning even though the Open Beta is in september.

    It worked !

    I guess my open beta key is good for the preview weekend that was suppose to be only for collector edition.

    If you got a key, try it !

    and uh, this game is so much fun. I was late at the office ;/ tgif.

  • @sauer maybe Direct2Drive buyers all have this privilege since its part of fileplanet ? ive used the same login to download the beta client on fileplanet.

  • I think my biggest fear is that people have been griping over these very same issues in beta for months now, yet Mythic has yet to truly improve the Shaman class (in those areas). Do they think they are “working as indended?”

    Here’s hoping not…