Flask Half-Empty

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Week 4 Challenge: Tons and Tons of Totems

We’re nearing the end of May and the Newbie Blogger Initiative! For this week’s NBI Challenge, we were asked to research a topic that we have little knowledge about, learn something new, and report our findings! I chose to do some reading into shaman totems. While I have a shammy alt in the mid-50′s, I’ve always been confused about which totems were appropriate in which situation. Sure, I understand to drop an Earthbind Totem in a battleground to gain some distance from an enemy. But what if you’re in a raid with multiple shamans? Who drops what? And when? I didn’t have to dig too far to find a ton of information, so I’ll just cover some of the basics in this post — minus all the footnotes, of course! ;)

Indomitable totems are immune to Assault Drake’s Twilight Barrage!

Week 4 Challenge: Learning is Fun

Totems are the trademarks of the shaman class, and they serve as an essential tool in calling forth powers from each of the elements to aid in battle. There are four elements that shamans can call totems from (one of each element at a time) — Earth, Fire, Water, and Air. Totems can’t be moved around, but they can be easily summoned and recalled. They not only provide nice enhancements to the shaman casting them, but other group members who are within range can gain from totem buffs, too.

Totems can be learned by shamans after completing a series of class-specific quests. The first totem that is learned is the Earth Totem, which has generally defensive capabilities. The second totem learned is the Fire Totem, which can deal fire damage as well as enhance damaging spells. The third totem is the Water Totem, which provides several restorative attributes. And finally, the last totem learned is the Air Totem, with many speed enhancing benefits. A shammy can only one totem of each element at a time. For instance, it’s not possible to have both Flametongue and Magma totems up at the same time since they both are Fire Totems.

Since Cataclysm hit, we were met with several new totem designs, as well as new races available for the shaman class. No longer did all shammies sport the same totems! I hopped onto the beta servers and rolled a premade shaman of each race, just to look at the different, shiny totems. Here they are below (including the Pandaren model, from upcoming Mists):

(Click on images for larger view… It took me longer than it really should’ve to take these screens!)

Troll Totems

Tauren Totems

Orc Totems

Goblin Totems

Draenei Totems

Dwarf Totems

Pandaren Kegs Totems

Most of the totems don’t stack, and since many provide a buff to the entire raid it isn’t necesary for more than one shaman to drop a Flametongue Totem, for example. This can go even more into detail regarding specific shaman specs in the raid composition, such as if you gain the Totemic Wrath buff from an elemental-specced shaman, then there is no need for anyone to drop a Flametongue Totem (See: Wowpedia, Which Totem to Drop). It gets pretty complicated, as several of the totem buffs not only work with additional buffs from shammy talent specialization, but also match similar buffs from other classes! (ie: Paladin Blessing of Might vs Mana Spring Totem.) Thankfully, Zarac over on Wowhead made this handy dandy map showing the cross-over of all buffs, which makes it much easier to decide what combination(s) of totems to use in which situations. Of course, considerations should always be made depending on whatever spec the shammy is, and if still leveling or just playing solo then the selection in totems is less rigid and complicated.

This led me to think — are there addons that can simplify totem organization?? I remember how much I loved the paladin addon, PallyPower, back when you had multiple paladins in raid and didn’t know who should use Blessing of Kings, Might, Wisdom, or even Sanctuary. And then there were all the different auras! Nowadays, we have it far too simple — more than often, I’ll have a druid in the raid with Mark of the Wild, and I only need to throw up a Might. With the many totems that shammies have, it seemed logical to have a kind of ShammyPower or similar. Upon searching, I ran across a very old (2008!) blog post by Salanthe over at Totem of Wrath about this very issue. In addition, I found two addons — Totemus and RaidTotems — but it seems that neither have been really up to date. My only assumption is that people use other trackers (maybe Power Auras, etc.) instead.

Overall, in my brief researching of totems and shamans in general, I learned a great deal about one of the remaining classes I’ve had little experience in playing! Despite that, I feel like I’ve definitely only scraped off a tiny tip of the iceberg in terms of all the shaman databases out there …and I haven’t even touched lore! For now, I’m somewhat satisfied with what I’ve learned in regards to my lowbie shammy alt, but I definitely know there’s still a lot more to learn if I ever intend on raiding on her! Such is the never-ending thirst for more knowledge… :)

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11 responses to “Week 4 Challenge: Tons and Tons of Totems

  1. Gnomegates (@Gnomegates) 05/27/2012 at 8:03 am

    Excellent! I never played a shammy, but I often wondered why and when they drop certain totems. I’m embarrassed to say that, because as a raid lead its something I should know, but I suppose I always just trusted my shammy to do what was best for the group. Now I know a little more and understand a bit more. Learning is Fun lol

    • Ninevi 05/27/2012 at 9:42 pm

      Thanks for reading! :D

      Glad that I could give a small bit of insight on shammy totems. Raid leading seems like such a daunting job to me, especially with having to keep up with everyone and their mechanics. I salute you and all the raid leaders out there for your hard work!

  2. battlechicken 05/27/2012 at 11:51 am

    Shaman is one of the only two classes I haven’t played past level 30 (and my poor shaman never made it past 19). One day, maybe… I do think totems are pretty darn nifty! Great post!

    • Ninevi 05/27/2012 at 9:44 pm

      Aww, maybe someday. They are definitely very fun — still a bit complicated to me at times, but very unique! Thank you for reading and again for the fun challenge! :)

  3. Erinys 05/27/2012 at 4:33 pm

    I now have a bad case of totem envy :(

    The Horde definitely have the best totems. My Draenei would swap hers in a heartbeat for either the Troll or Goblin ones.

    It’s the little differences which make WoW so addictive I think.

    • Ninevi 05/27/2012 at 9:49 pm

      Ohnoes, that wasn’t my intention! :(

      I always hoped that Alliance would see more race options for shaman, especially when they announced the Worgen. I’m sure if they had shamans, their totems would be awesome!

      And I definitely agree! All the details in WoW are what make the game so alive and fun. :)

  4. Pingback: Week 5: The Final Challenge | Tastes Like Battle Chicken

  5. Elunamakata 05/30/2012 at 11:00 am

    Great information here! I have to admit, my shaman may be going Panda when the expansion drops. I’m still learning to play her though, I don’t spend enough time working with her.

    • Ninevi 05/30/2012 at 2:51 pm

      Thanks, Eluna!

      Pandaren shammies are so enticing — I love their totem design. Perhaps a race change when MoP hits will be the boost we need to play the class more!

  6. clumsygrrrl 05/30/2012 at 5:54 pm

    Definitely favourite-ing this post! My not-yet-a-twinkle-in-her-mother’s-eye Panda is going to be a Shammy :)

    • Ninevi 05/31/2012 at 9:36 am

      Aw..thanks for the fave, Eva! :D

      Seems like quite a few of us will be rolling Panda shammies! If only MoP would come sooner…

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