Make Your Own Guide To Leveling A _____

If you’re anything like me, by this time, you’ve nearly had your fill of heroics and are eying your low level alts.  The problem is that you have no idea how to play _____, and all the guides you can find are for end game raiding.  What the fuck does your level 30 shaman need all that for?

I’m going to show you how to quickly deconstruct those headache inducing guides into something useful!  Since I currently have a baby!shaman, let’s look at that, shall we?

Step 1: How I Gear!?

…okay so I’m going through google and actually finding shit all for helpful information.  Damn.  Anyway, all I found was an EJ thread of doom.  Totally overwhelming for a baby!alt, so the first thing you’re going to look for is a list of stat priorities or some such.  This particular guide didn’t really have a SIMPLE list (as in SP > Crit > Int, whatever) which would make this easy, but after a little bid of eye bleeding, this is what I pulled out:

Spell Power <– holy grail stat!
Mp5 = blah for ele
Spirit = well nigh useless for ele

Now you’ll want to keep that full list around somewhere, because you’ll be reaching the point where it all matters eventually…but of course at level 30 or whatever, you’re not seeing all of those stats.   It’s easy to see that you’ll be looking for stam/spellpower/int gear, though! 

A quick glance at the BiS gear lists tells me that one-handed weapon + shield is also the way to go, long-term.

In one fell swoop, you know what type of gear to get, roughly what to gem, and roughly what to enchant for once you’re at that stage of the game.  


Look for a rotation and give it the same treatment you did the stats-just ignore whatever the hell you don’t have.  In our shaman example I found this:
FS, LvB, CL/LB filler, LvB, CL/LB filler, and repeat.

Okay well, first, I have to translate.  But after that I have, for my level 38 shaman:  Flame Shock, Lava Blast, Chain Lightning/Lightning Bolt, Lava Blast, Chain Lightning/Lightning Bolt, etc. 

…ah, hello boring lowbie rotation.   Excuse me while I throw in some Fire Nova for shits and giggles.

This elimination method should work well for most classes…though I can think of baby priests who might want to sub in some smite, much the way I do Fire Nova, just for varieties sake.  A bit more skimming and it mentions that ele shamans should us flametongue weapon.  Sweet, I’ve had no idea. 


Glyphs for leveling can be a bit harder to shake out from an end game guide-after all, lowbies can encounter problems (like mana starvation) that higher levels won’t.  This just requires a bit of critical thinking on your part.  For example, this particular guide recommends Lightning Bolt-and you know, that actually sounds like a good idea!  But it says no to Water Mastery, although that +30mp5 might be useful to you at your stage of the game. 


Again, if you can’t find a specific leveling spec, this will involve some critical thinking on your part.  Take the cookie cutter spec and get to know it.  Are you having mana issues?  Does the raid spec skip a mana talent?  You might want to tank some points “off the top” and throw them in there, then.  I have leveled with an unmodified “end game” spec without any issues before (prot warrior) but it varies on class, spec, and situation.



  1. #1 by dorgol on January 19, 2010 - 12:46 pm

    “Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)


    Honestly, I think the quoted section was the best part of this post!


    This is a pretty good way of breaking things down. But I look at it and I wonder… “what do you need a rotation for”? When leveling things die pretty quickly (unless you are leveling something like a Resto Druid…) so a rotation doesn’t really make sense.

    For example – Leveling Warlocks will early on get Curse of Agony. This is a HORRIBLE spell for leveling… nothing lives 24 seconds unless you are pulling multiple targets (which, amusingly enough, most Warlocks will do). A better spell is Curse of Elements as the 10% increased damage kills stuff even faster.

    But once you get to END GAME ™ Curse of Agony becomes a staple spell in many Warlock rotations.

    Looking at your Shaman… Flame Shock is needed for raiding Elemental because of the crit bonus it gives Lava Blast. But until you have Lava Blast I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find out that Earth Shock does more damage.

  2. #2 by Kiramaren/Shadowhisper on January 19, 2010 - 12:52 pm

    I’m running into a similar issue with my baby rogue, I am going sub (love the sneaky sneaky) and mostly BG levelling. Talents are the hardest choices for me and to sword or have daggers instead. A buddy tried to explain for Hemo you should have swords… but but but my daggers are better then the swords (heirloom gear) and stat wise it is a big difference, and with swords there is no ambush :( I tried 1 sword in my OH but its still seems lower… I am still torn to duel daggers or swords… and speccing /sigh I think mine is good :s LF guides that are applicable at low lvls to understand the whos and whats of my baby rogue :s lvl 46 now wha wha!

  3. #3 by Zuki on January 19, 2010 - 12:57 pm

    You should never LvB without FS on the target. FS on the target will guarantee a crit on the LvB.

  4. #4 by Copernicus on January 19, 2010 - 1:24 pm

    The whole gearing while leveling thing confuses me. Before heirlooms, I just bought new gear (GREENS) off the AH every 10 levels to replace anything I haven’t gotten from quest rewards. The only thing I might update faster is a weapon.

    These days I just put on heirloom weapon, shoulders and chest, and don’t bother going to the AH unless I need to sell mats I’ve collected.

    Stats I look for in gear?
    Casters —> int & spell power (hell, half the time they’re beating on mobs with their weapon, until level 30 or 40. I don’t like drinking.)
    Rogue/Hunter —> Agility
    Warrior/Paladin —> Strength

    Anything else is unnecessary to worry about.

    I’ll glyph if I remember to. I’ll focus on this after level 40 when things start to slow down a bit.

    Talents- anything that adds to damage (reduced cast time counts as damage). If nothing is available for damage, go for mana cost reduction or mitigation.

    After I get into Outlands I’ll go back and look at my talents and see what I’m using most and what I may not be using anymore.

    For my DK though, I changed my standard procedure. Since I didn’t get 50 odd levels to get a feel for how they work, I actually hit the target dummy and tested rotations and talents. It was pretty effective because I was pushing 1100 dps in UK at level 68, which is more than I see some doing at level 80.

    But the biggest thing is: time spent gearing, glyphing and talenting, is time taken away from leveling.

  5. #5 by Ambrosine on January 19, 2010 - 1:57 pm

    @dorgol – I like to try thinking about rotations and such early on. :P I think it helps me when things start to matter…otherwise you get people who are all “oh it doesn’t matter until 80” and then you have…a lot of stupid 80s. Or at lot of flailing 80s who suddenly want to correctly use a shit ton of buttons.

    At this stage of the game I boredly work in Earth Shock while the dot from FS is still up. I can be a very bored ele shaman. :P

  6. #6 by Kiramaren/Shadowhisper on January 19, 2010 - 2:09 pm

    Better to learn now of priorities and rotations and what to use when so that as you lvl up that you can add spells/attacks into the arsonal so at 80 like Amber said you dont lolfail and you use your attacks appropriately, better to do it right the first time.

    And I enjoy the crafting/mechanics of a class, I like to read as much as I can on it its interesting…

    I also enchant my gear at this lvl and I am not an enchanter on this toon… but my lil rogue can hit like a truck and it gives me more of a chance against higher targets in my BG bracket, its worth it.


  7. #7 by Argon on January 19, 2010 - 3:08 pm

    I work out a custom “rotation” as I go along. Optimal leveling spells can be very different than what is good for a raid situation. Things die very quickly, you won’t have all the supporting talents and buffs, and you won’t have the highest rank of every spell. If you just got a new rank of spell A, and your last rank of spell B was 5 levels ago, spell A may be better than B.

    Also, use Recount to analyze where your damage is coming from, when deciding how to allocate talent points. No point in boosting a spell that doesn’t do much for you. I also tend to pick up “fun” talents that help my survivability, or give me an extra button to push, rather than a talent that will increase my DPS by half a percent.

    As one example, on my Shaman, when I picked up Frost Shock, I switched over to using it from whatever shock I was using, and at one point it was over 50% of my damage! But it doesn’t seem like a talent people would use at 80, except maybe for PvP.

  8. #8 by Argon on January 19, 2010 - 3:10 pm

    In summary, I wouldn’t bother with following the EJ guide to any class until you get to 70 or 75, as they will likely be horrible suboptimal at low levels. That still gives you 20 or so hours of practice doing things the “right way”.

  9. #9 by Zobu on January 19, 2010 - 3:31 pm

    Tbh the lightning bolt glyph really isn’t useful until you start raiding – the extra damage (FOUR WHOLE PERCENTS!) is barely noticeable on anything you’re gonna encounter whilst questing.

    As for fire nova, just beware that it uses a ton of mana.

    Also, you’ll generally find that half the time it’s not even worth putting totems down when you only have 1 target. If you have more than 1, magma totem burns them all up nicely >:)

    Protip: bind a key to Water Shield if you haven’t already. By the time you hit 80 you’ll be hitting it almost every spare GCD out of habit, including for the first 10 minutes when you switch to your non-shaman chars.

    Um… rotation. Lightning Bolt all the way tbh. You could mix it up with a Frost/Earth Shock every now and then for an instant mob-slap, and Frost is good for when humanoids try to run away, obv. It’s Lava *Burst* too btw :D

    As for boring rotation, it’s way more exciting at 80, cos it involves three spells instead of two.

    Ehh my shaman’s only been 80 for about a month or so and already I’ve forgotten what I did while levelling.

    Hm, I seem to have preached a bit there. Sorry!

  10. #10 by supernose on January 19, 2010 - 3:45 pm

    I do this generally with my alts. Except I don’t take leveling specs, I level with raid specs. Not optimal, but I feel it helps me learn how to perform in that spec by the time I get into a raid enviroment.

  11. #11 by Vailladin on January 19, 2010 - 5:29 pm

    I just started doing this for Holy Pallys last week … cuz you know we dont have enough Paladin blogs :)

    I was helped a ton when I first started healing, I figured i should pass it on.

  12. #12 by supernose on January 19, 2010 - 6:23 pm

    You know, I’m TRYING with the Pally Blog, I’ve gotta get some stuff together to write about having to do with a Pally, and then write it out. Then comes getting people to actually read it.



  13. #13 by LabRat on January 19, 2010 - 6:27 pm

    I picked up one of those rotation metronome type addons, the kind that suggests what the next thing in your rotation should be when I picked up my ret spec (shut up yes I know ret is faceroll but I’d never played a melee dps before), and while I don’t really need it for ret anymore, I’ve found it’s really handy when levelling the results of my flareups of altitis. It suggested the fire shock/lightning/lightning/fire shock you’re using, and darned if my DPS didn’t go up over the one I’d been using.

    As for talent speccing, the shaman is being levelled with my husband’s prot warrior alt, so my build has turned into a resto build focused totally on mana conservation while being able to DPS reasonably well at the same time. Lots of talents I’m sure are verboten in raiding builds but are very helpful right now.

  14. #14 by Armagon on January 19, 2010 - 8:37 pm

    What helped me tremendously for various alts is (by Corial of BoK fame) – sadly it’s been a bit dated at the moment, but for levelling purposes it’s still sufficient.

    It’s basically EJ condensed to 1-2 screen pages. Perfect.

  15. #15 by Kazgrel on January 20, 2010 - 10:46 am

    I’ve observed similar situations in the past as far as the difference between leveling gear/spec/glyphs/etc. and their raiding counterparts go.

    Priests – When I dual boxed a priest with my hunter (and when I briefly played around on lowbie priests solo), wand spec (when they had it) was AMAZING. 25% more damage and mana free? Yes, please.

    DK – I started up a DK the other weekend, went over some EJ threads, and ended up mirroring one of the Blood builds. However, looking over the glyphs, I noticed most of them were worthless to my lowbie DK because he didn’t utilize the abilities that the glyphs empowered, so to speak. Then as I browsed the glyphs my druid could make, I stumbled upon the glyph for Death Grip, which would be total trash for raids but is insane for leveling: Grip something, 2-3 shot it, grip something else, wash, rinse, repeat.

    Shaman – LvB is for Lava Burst, not blast, lol. Close enough, though. :) Your post here has my brain gears turning up ideas for a new post on my blog, so I may put something up on there regarding shaman leveling and how I would do it now (because it has changed considerably since I leveled 3ish years ago). I could mention stuff here, but I’d turn this comment into a small novel. :-o

  16. #16 by Fuubaar/ Abigora on January 20, 2010 - 11:43 am

    This is an extremely helpful guide to reading between the lines of yet another guide.

    Writing a leveling guide for any class is just too specific when it comes to how your circumstances are when you do it.

    Are you leveling solo? With a friend? PvP? LFD? What is the class that you want to end up with at the end? Is this a viable way to level? etc. etc.

    I always find it interesting that players look to guides to be the BE ALL answer. As Amber said, disect the raiding guides. Get an idea of what are key components of your Class & Spec. Take those ideas and interweave them into what works for you.

    Again, great Post Bubbles!

    <3 Fuu

  17. #17 by tytalus on January 20, 2010 - 3:44 pm

    I find grouping and instancing to be the best learning tool while leveling a character. Beyond things like spec/glyphs/gear, working with groups prepares you for the endgame and compels you to learn more of the tricks of your class.

    While leveling I often find a bit less complaining as groups of fellow incompetents flail their way through a dungeon. Besides, you may also run into some alt whose main is your new class. You could learn a thing or two, they could stroke their ego! Everybody wins.

  18. #18 by Linedan on January 21, 2010 - 7:45 am

    Your problems are why I did So You Want to Be a Prot Warrior the way I did–starting at level 1 and chopping into 10-level pieces. It’s easy to find information about gearing your level 80 but it seems much harder to find information about GETTING to level 80.

  1. Shaman 101: Leveling, Elemental Style! « Storm, Earth, and Fire – Tales of an Elemental Shaman's Journey

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