The first few seconds of an arena match usually make it or break it for your team. Before entering a rated match for the evening I usually go through this checklist so I know what I’m going to do when the doors open. Its a general order of operations for damage-dealing shaman that helps the team survive and turn the odds in their favor. It doesn’t always apply in every situation, but its a good start. Feel free to tweak it to your liking and offer comments below!
This is pretty basic and there’s not much for shaman to do here. If you have a higher ranked team you’ll probably want to give your teammates Water Breathing just as an added buff to be purged in hopes that the real buffs stay put. As melee, I also switch to a shield in case I’m targeted first especially by a rogue or warrior. I also make sure Lightning Shield or Water Shield (sometimes makes them think you’re the healer) is up.
The first step in any arena match is to identify your target. Once the first target has been chosen, I try and pick a secondary target (usually a healer) that might need interrupting or somehow watched and make them my focus target. My team usually does this on the fly as we run toward their starting location. Once you know who the first target is going to be you don’t need to actually target them until you’re ready to purge or attack them. This will camouflage your team’s decision and possibly give you an advantage.
Based on the other teams composition drop appropriate totems. I drop a Tremor Totem if I see a priest or warlock in their group otherwise its usually a Earthbind Totem or possibly a Strength of Earth Totem. I drop a Grounding Totem if I see any caster in the group otherwise I’ll drop a Grace of Air Totem or a Windfury Totem. I usually drop either a Poison Cleansing Totem or a Mana Spring Totem (not that it does much) as my third starting totem. The selection usually changes throughout the match, but getting a good set of totems down at the start helps with the initial burst of damage.
Purge is the reason why shaman opponents are disliked. Use it often, but with care. I will usually purge the main target twice followed by the healers of the group at least once. After that I’ll do at least one purge on the next main target. You don’t want to over use it since it can leave you with mana if you’re not careful.
Once the main target has been purged, I take a quick look at the health bars to see if anyone needs a quick heal or two. This is nothing major, but it does help if someone is being focused on and the team’s healer can’t quite keep up with the damage. If your team is geared around opening big (i.e. 4 DPS) then you’ll probably want to skip this step.
Last but not least, jump in and do some damage! If you’re enhancement and started with a shield now would be a good time to swap it out for that other one-hander. I only leave my shield equipped if I have a rogue or warrior attacking me. I rely mainly on Windfury and Stormstrike damage for my main damage output and save my Earth Shock and Frost Shock for interrupting or chasing casters.
One thing that I didn’t mention is Heroism/Bloodlust. I’ve found it best to do this early on, but not as the first attack lands on the main target. I usually wait until they’re at 50% health (or I’m about to die) and pop it then. It helps push your team over that first big hump that is killing the first opponent. Plus it should still be up well into the second target.
This is a relatively long list of bullet points that should really take seconds to go through. Once you have the first target down and the numbers are in your favor things generally come under more control.
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