When people think of Shamans, they think of two things: Heroism/Bloodlust, and totems. More often than not it seems that many Shaman make use of their totems in an improper way. Cataclysm changed things quite a bit for Shaman-kind; the Hero/Lust buff is now able to be given by a Mage's Time Warp and Hunter's pets the corehounds through Ancient Hysteria, and many raid buffs were consolidated.
So where does that leave us? Well, we're still the totem slingin' buff bots that we've always been, but now we must pay even closer attention to what we lay down. If your raid set up is just so, you may find yourself needing to place less than four totems down or simply doubling up on other buffs. Here is a list of all our totems and of the equivalent buffs offered up by other classes.
- Improved Icy Talons, Frost Death Knights
- Hunting Party, Survival Hunters
Wrath of Air Totem
- Shadowform, Shadow Priests
- Moonkin Form, Balance Druids
Totemic Wrath, Boosts Flametonuge Totem, Elemental Shaman Only
- Demonic Pact, Demonology Warlocks
- Arcane Brilliance, Mages
Fire Elemental Totem
Strength of Earth Totem
- Horn of Winter, Death Knights
- Battle Shout, Warriors
- Roar of Courage, Hunter's Pet (Cat)
- Devotion Aura, Paladins
Mana Tide Totem (CD)
- Innervate, Druids
- Hymn of Hope, Priests
Mana Spring Totem
- Blessing of Might, Paladins
- Felhunter, Affliction Warlocks (Mostly used by Affliction Warlocks, but can be summoned in any spec.)
Elemental Resistance Totem (Fire/Frost/Nature Resist)
- Aspect of the Wild, Hunters (Nature Resist)
- Resistance Aura, Paladins (Fire/Frost/Shadow Resist)
- Mark of the Wild, Druids (All Magical Resist)
Totem of Tranquil Mind
- Concentration Aura, Paladins
Healing Stream Totem
Here's the skinny: our totems are completely situational. Our totems allow us to be like all of the Hunters' pets rolled into one...sort of. They allow us to be adaptable; they make us flexible enough to help cover situational needs. What totems we use completely depends on the group/raid composition we which we find ourselves and the boss mechanics of the fight that we're participating in. Even though we have an immense variety of totem combinations in which to choose from, each one of our specializations has a basic totem setup that it favors. The lists below states which totems said specs favor. Use this list as a starting point, and then adjust your totems to help fill in the buff gaps of your group/raid.
Strength of Earth Totem
Wrath of Air
Wrath of Air
Now, it is okay to double up on some buffs so long as the other available buffs are covered and there are no situational needs to be met (tremor for boss fear mechanics, for example). Sometimes the doubling up of totems can help cover a broader radius, or sometimes it may prove to be handy to have the totem out in the event that someone dies, uses an Ankh/Soulstone/Battle Resurrect and is unable to get rebuffed. Just be mindful of the buffs present, and adjust your totems accordingly to the different situations as they present themselves.
If you happened to be a raid leader (or just a raid setup-minded individual) and are looking for a full chart of the new buff configurations, definitely check out Finalized Raid Buffs/Debuffs for Cata by Pwnwear and Cataclysm Hunter Pet and Raid Buffs done up by The Hunter's Union. Both of these lists were excellent references in helping me put together this guide and I highly recommend that you check them out.
In the event that I missed a totem or its buff counterpart in the chart/lists above, please feel free to correct me!
Cataclysm Totem Guide: Part 2 (Earth and Air)
Cataclysm Totem Guide: Part 3 (Fire and Water)
World of Saz 2011