Saturday, June 03, 2006

Shamans vs Paladins

Onto a controversial topic: Shamans vs Paladins, which one is better? I've never played a shaman to any significant level, only fought against them in PvP, so my impressions of them may be flawed.

In PvE, my thoughts on which are better is a bit complicated. I think a group with paladins is better than a group with shamans. Most people would agree, and say it is because paladin buffs cover the entire raid, while shaman buffs only cover the group. I don't think this is true though. A normal 40-man Alliance raid gets 200 person-buffs (5 paladins x 40 people). A normal Horde raid gets 100 person-buffs (5 shamans x 5 people in party x 4 totems). So on a strict level, shamans give about half the buffs of paladins. However, shamans have far more flexibility with buffs. I believe that they have 16 different totems to chose from. In contrast, paladins only have 6 (and 2 of them are talents). Additionally, the tactical blessings erase the raid blessings, so they are rarely used.

The lower number of buffs is the price the shamans pay for flexibility. I actually think that in terms of number of buffs, Horde and Alliance are reasonably balanced. Alliance covers more people, but with limited choice. Horde covers less people, but has a lot more options available.

In my opinion, the reason an Alliance raid is stronger is because a single Blessing, Blessing of Salvation, is overpowered. Salvation basically allows the Alliance dps and healers to do 20-40% more damage or healing than the Horde equivalent, or never worry about pulling aggro. Quite honestly, Salvation spoils the Alliance. I find that Horde warriors and dps are far more tuned to the nuances of aggro. In fact, I think if you removed Salvation (and Tranquil Air Totem), an Alliance raid would be significantly underpowered compared to a Horde raid.

(As an aside, you often see Horde complaining on the message boards about Blessing of Kings, which amuses me. If you ranked the Blessings in order of importance, Kings is #4 behind Salvation, Wisdom, and Might. It's really only good for tanks, and while it's a strong Blessing, it's not necessary in the same manner as Salvation.)

In PvP, on the other hand, I think shamans are clearly more powerful. They do significant damage, and have a lot more options than a paladin does. Their greatest strength, however, is their mobility. This includes effects like Earthbind Totem. A good shaman has a lot more options that allow them to control the battlefield. The shaman's advantage in PvP is the fact that she has a wide variety of tools. The paladin's advantage is her survivability. A paladin has a few very powerful tools on long cooldowns. A Hammer of Justice may be strictly better than a Shock, but HoJ is once a minute and there is a choice of 3 different Shocks available every 6s.

In my opinion, mobility and flexibility trump survivability and rare powerful effects, especially in games with 30s ressurrection timers. The fact that a shaman can do more damage than a paladin is not what makes her superior. It is the arsenal of options available to a shaman that gives her power.

Comments from any shaman readers are appreciated.


  1. Well thought out, but I'll have to disagree with you on this one. I personally play a healadin. I know many people will disagree with me, but I made this class for PvP healing and I love it. Anyways, you pretty much made three different points...

    1. Raid buffing
    Go into a horde MC raid, you will almost never see any totems...ever. The chances of my orc hunter getting grace of air were smaller than me having aimed shot crit, multi shot crit, 2 auto-shots crit and having feign death resisted all at once. Horde raids never get buffed, while alliance raids are so dependant, everybody freaks out when one mage doesnt have wisdom.

    2.Salvation actually is only 10% better than tranquil air, which doesnt really matter in the end. But overall, I agree with this point. We spoil our raids.

    3. PvP shamans are better...i strongly disagree with this. In the end it all depends on luck. Paladins are a very solid solo PvP class. With tons of damage/survivability options. However, group pvp is where we truly shine. As a support class, with a team of 2 warriors another paladin and a mage, I dominate. Earlier today I was healing a mage who was fighting a lock, while taking a beating from a rogue and a warrior. I made a shaman on the test servers, specced him for support, and shamans have NOTHING compared to paladins when it comes to being a PvP support class

  2. Raid Buffing.

    I don't know, maybe I'm a noob, but I'm always dropping Totems in MC.

    It's very situational, obviously. With the Main or Off Tanks groups I'll drop Stone Skin (earth), Fire Resist (water), and Windfury (air) totems. (No real use for our fire based totems in MC.)

    If I'm with a Hunter group I'd switch to Grace of Air (air), Strength (earth), and Mana Spring (water) if we're avoiding fire damage, Fire Resist if we aren't.

    If I'm with casters, I'd be specc'd with Mana Tide Totem and otherwise just keep a Mana Spring down. Not as many totems dropped just means more healing done.

    (And with only 21 points in Restoration, albeit full 8/8 Earthfury, I still crank out the most healing in an MC raid.)

    So, coming from a Horde raiding guild that clears through to Chromaggus in BWL regularly, and does MC very easily, I'll say our Shamans, me included, are always dropping totems. And we have 5 to 7 Shamans along and that's a lot of groups getting buffs of one sort or another. (Or a lot of Shamans are withholding their support to their raid by not doing everything they could be.)

    Alliance Pally's have raid-wide buffs???! Nerf Pallys! :) (Just joking!)

  3. Of course there are shamans that actually drop totems in raids, and i salute you for that, but realistically , from my experience on my horde warrior and hunter, they're usually too lazy because nobody forces them to. Its kinda like when a player looks at their buffs, they freak out when they dont see Fortitude or Blessings. With shamans, Horde looks at their bar and they're content to see MoTW, PW:F and AI...anything beyond that is "oh cool."

  4. I respect your opinion Coriel, but I have to disagree with your Blessing vs Totem analysis.

    Blessings are great because they can affect the full raid, for 15 minutes, and only require a 4-5 paladin. Totems, as you noticed, can only buff about half the people that Paladin can. You're also forgetting that their duration is shorter (1-2 minutes), are immobile, and can easily be one shot by anything including that level 1 rabbit. (We hate purge/dispel, imagine having one damaging affect drop the buff off everyone you're responsible for.)

    In any fight that requires mobility, Totems are automatically useless because people don't stay in one place, thus run out of the totem's range. Ah yes, range, I almost forgot about that. Trying to keep a whole group buffed is really difficult. Generally healers/casters will hang back while the melee characters run in and fight. Does this mean the shaman is supposed to run back and forth to keep everyone buffed?

    Also, each totem's mana cost varies between 250 and about 800 mana. So they're immobile, affect less people, have a range, and cost more mana.

    You claim they have a plethora of totems to choose from, while I bet only a handful of them are actually used. My guess (I don't have a shaman) is that the following are used (pve):

    -Tranquil Air
    -Grace of Air
    -Strength of Earth
    -Resist Totems

    Keep in mind the first three are all air totems and cannot all be laid down at once. Also keep in mind that resist totems equal an always on aura for us, not a blessing.

    The reason Shaman seem to excell in some areas is because they live for the short term. Hows that quote go, "a candle that burns twice as bright, will only burn half as long?" While they can pump out some serious damage for a little while, once they run oom, it's good game shaman. Paladin live for the long term. I highly doubt even AQ geared shaman can heal as long as an MC geared Paladin. Their mana efficiency isn't there.

    This makes them seem awesome in PvP with their 1.5 second heals (where burst is the name of the game). I still don't think their totems are as awesome as you make them sound. While I hate Earthbind with a passion in WSG, it's quite easy to knock out. Grounding totem is obnoxious, but a single fiery weapon proc will kill it off.

    I just realized I went into brain dump mode, for that I apologize. Hopefully you'll get something out of what I wrote. :)

  5. The most ironic thing about Salvation is that everyone complains when i put it on them. Squishies who still manage to sometimes pull aggro with Salvation on.. keep telling me to put Wisdom on them.

    They clearly overestimate their strength.

  6. About Salvation vs Tranquil Air, the amount of dps difference is larger than you think (because you are dividing, not multiplying). If the aggro ceiling is 100 threat/s, Salvation allows 143 dps, while Tranquil Air only allows 125 dps.

    Also, I'm not saying that Totems are absolutely equivalent to Blessings when considered in isolation. The Blessing mechanic is probably superior to the Totem mechanic in general.

    I'm saying that, when considered as a whole, Alliance raids are probably ahead of Horde raids because Salvation is stupidly overpowered, and not because of the Blessing mechanic in general.

    If you were looking to balance Horde and Alliance, removing Salvation and Tranquil Air will probably do more than buffing Totems.

    As for PvP, sure you can take out an earthbind totem, but it's job is not slow *everyone* down. A good shaman drops the totem such that it breaks up a group, separating people. Controlling the battlefield. Similar tactics with Frost Shock. This is an area where a paladin has very low capabilities.

    A shaman supports offensively, while a paladin supports defensively. Purge, Earthshock, etc. are support tools. Just aimed at the opposition. As well, as I've said earlier, survival is devalued in a game where death means 15s out of the battle.

    (As an aside, I said this would be controversial. :)

    Of course, it is hard to see from only the opposite perspective. The thing is that Horde raids are not *that* far behind Alliance raids. So either Horde players are far superior to Alliance players, or the difference isn't that big.)

  7. I would say that the difference is not that big. Good DPS'ers know how to feint/feign death to control their aggro. Warriors have plate so it doesnt hurt too much if they get aggro for a few seconds. Its not like your mind is a computer and you know exactly where you're breaching that extra 10%.

    From PvP persepcetive, you can't really be an offensive support class because in high-end pvp, with people who have 500 spelldamage and wear ashkandi's, the second you turn away from healing, a team member dies. Thats my opinion anyway.

    If you're going to be talking about raid advatanages/disadvatages I think the biggest difference is not blessings vs totems but the fact that paladins have cleanse. Cleanse is crazy, it takes out everything except for curses. So when a raid boss does a massive AoE debuff that can kill the entire raid (Geddon's Ignite Mana comes to mind), paladins start cleansing and priests keep healing. With the horde however, shamans can't deal with magic debuffs, so priests have to start decursing, leaving the weaker shaman healing for raid heals. Obviously its doable, but much more difficult.

  8. It's all the longevity issue, really. If raid fights were looking to be more like vael vs more like cthuun, then shaman might feel as if they are becoming more useful vs more obsolete.

    However, we only really feel powerful when we can gimmick our way out of something overwhelmingly annoying to alliance with our totems, such as an AoE poison or disease which takes us 1.5 seconds (global cooldown) to cure per group, vs a paladin taking 7.5 seconds to cure a group with cleanse spam.

    Also, if you guys weren't aware, blessing of wisdom is considerred a heal over time as far as aggro is concerned, so you can use a paladin as an aggro ceiling sometimes.

  9. just to the twats who said pally's over shamans in pvp, get real pally's are the most underpowered pvp class in the game, also get real about the paladin heals vs shaman heals, shamans heal for more with a lower mana cost.. please learn something about the game dynamics before expecting paladins have better heals. Pally is the biggest noob class in the game and many paladins play it for its bubble, seriously how many people have rolled pally just to piss about in the bubble. Oh, AQ shammy heal worse than a MC pally, now ur just making urself to be more of a twat, good fucking game, check the spells u will shamans pwn, and the MC gear and AQ gear, shamans always get the best BB l2p

  10. The following is mainly in response to Alinda, as it seems whoever arranges the groups in your raids doesn't have a clue.
    My guild is only in ZG and AQ20, so I'll relate this in terms of a 20 man raid.

    -DPS Caster/Hunters
    -Melee DPS

    Each group should have a Shaman appropriately spec'd dropping totems appropriate for his group. If the entire group is where they should be, there should be little problem with buffing the entire lot.

    That list of totems is incomplete, also. It's understandable if that's all you've seen dropped, as I'll agree that most Shamans are lazy. Good Shamans will drop an assortment from the following list:

    Mana Spring-Water
    Healing Stream-Water
    Poison Cleansing-Water
    Disease Cleansing-Water
    Strength of Earth-Earth
    Tremor Totem-Earth
    Grace of Air-Air
    Tranquil Air-Air
    Grounding Totem-Air
    Nature Resistance Totem-Air
    Fire Resistance Totem-Water
    Frost Resistance Totem-Fire
    *Mana Tide-Water
    *Totem of Wrath-Fire

    Also consider that Shamans are on Purge duty, spellcasting interupts, and Earth Shield if Restoration spec'd.

    The mana costs of my totems (as a Restoration Shaman with 5/5 Totemic Focus) range from 33-487. Not including fire totems, 33-232.
    Totems for a Shaman without 5/5 Totemic Focus would cost 25% more mana.

    Anyway, I have to agree with GSH on all points in the original post. Skilled Shamans, in PvP, exploit every aspect of the class to its fullest. making them very dangerous. Most just watched Unbreakable's video, and run about Windfurying with TUF instead.

    I can't say if Blessings or Totems are better or how significant they are to their respective factions. Though, I do think that come Burning Crusade, when Paladins and Shamans fight side by side, endgame raid material will become a joke thanks to the buffs that'll be thrown around.

    I do believe that a Restoration Shaman is better than a Paladin. Any other spec may be debatable. But, with the patch, Mana Tide restores 24% of each party member's mana pool. Four priests and the Resto' Shaman dropping the totem all suddenly regaining almost a full quarter of their mana? That is what I dare call a raid saver. I'd also like to point out Healing Stream. When used by a nonResto' Shaman, it's worth very little, ticking for only 14 or so, I believe. I, myself, am in blues with a few epics. My Healing Stream ticks for 42-43 per 2 seconds. Small when looked at individually, but it certainly adds up fast. The Shaman's 60 Mana, 1 minute duration, heal over time. In theory, healing 1200-1300 health in 1 minute, and that's just the numbers on one subject. Consider placing that in a group of melee DPSers or tanks/offtanks.


  11. Lets just say that I luckily coincedently stumbled across this such Blog while surfing for Shaman Strats for the coming TBC.

    I would like to start off by saying how grateful I am with all the insight from all the players who have commented, since I was completely clueless with BOTH classes as I was a newb to WoW and my only other character was a Lock.

    The last post by shnapp really inspired me to go a PVE build for shaman. I think that it would be a good opportunity for Alliance/Horde to have that extra edge with the buffs and this would also mean that I am consider doing End-Game raids. (I was reluctant to do so in the beginning after watching some of my friends do raids - which took hours after hours). If by theory, all the buffs would stack, then my logic is, killing the same monsters but 10-20% faster would mean that, effectively, the raid would end up to 30-40% faster.

    In any case, thanks for all the tips, I will strive to be the best shaman on my server =] (At least on Alliance).