What to Do With your Shaman
Well, I'm back in the game now after a bit of time off and glad to see that not too much has changed. My main (and first) toon is an 80 Troll Shaman (restoration spec). I know, I know... Troll? What was I thinking? Well, I had no idea what I was doing when I made my toon originally but now with the wonderful help of hindsight clarity I would like to help you decide what to do with your shaman! Just a heads up for all of you out there, this article is for someone who is new to the game, I don't get very technical and statistical so it should be easy to understand and evaluate what are the best choices for you and how you can enhance your WoW game experience!
There are three different ways to go with your shaman following your talent tree: Enhancement is a melee shaman, Elemental is a caster (dealing damage from afar) and Restoration is a healer.
If you are playing an Alliance character, your only option for Shaman is the Draenei. Now on the Horde side, if you're looking to play a Shaman, you must decide between three races: Orc, Tauren, and Troll. Keep in mind that every race has a unique racial ability attached to it.
Orcs get bloodfury, which increases melee attack power by (level*4)+2 AND your spellpower by (level*2)+3 for 15 seconds. Orcs also get three passive abilities: Hardiness reduces duration of stun effects by 15%, Command increases damage dealt by Warlock, Hunter, and Death Knight pets, and Axe Specialization increases your expertise with axes and two-handed axes. Looking at these racial abilities, the Orc seems to be specialized for melee combat, so if you are someone who likes to hit hard and deal damage, the Orc would be a good choice for an enhancement shaman.
The Tauren, which is usually chosen for a warrior or melee class, doesn't have any huge advantage as far as racials go for a shaman player. War Stomp is a nice move that stuns up to five enemies within eight yards. Taurens have Endurance that increases their base health by 5%, Cultivation that increases herbalism skill by 15 and Nature Resistance reducing the chance to be hit by nature spells by 2%. For a shaman, you could really go anywhere from enhancement to restoration with the Tauren as it does not lend itself to one of those specs in particular.
As far as trolls go, they have some interesting buffs on them: Berserking increases attack speed by 10%-30%. Trolls have five, yes five, passive racials: Regeneration (increases health regeneration by 10%), Beast Slaying (damage dealt to beasts increases by 5%), Throwing Specialization (chance to critically hit with throwing weapon increases by 1%), Bow Specialization (chance to crit with bow increases by 1%), and my favorite "Da Voodoo Shuffle," which reduces the duration of movement impairing effects by 15%. Important things to take into consideration here - Shamans cannot use bows! As these specializations are tailored more towards a hunter class, berserking is great for a caster and da voodoo shuffle is more helpful than you think as a healer. It is important in end-game raids as a healer to be able to heal 100% of the time. The less you are impaired by spells or other trickery from the environment the better. The Troll would definitely be a caster (elemental shaman) or healer (restoration shaman). I personally have enjoyed playing it as a healer but that differs person to person. Deal damage or save the day? Also keep in mind that Warriors, Rogues, Death Knights, and sometimes Paladins are abundant in melee.
No matter what you feel your endgame spec will be, it is important to know all of the specs of your toon. You never know what position might need to be filled in your guild or a raid group. I always recommend leveling a shaman as enhance/elemental spec. You will naturally want to put a few points in Restoration as you level, Totemic Focus (reduces the mana cost of your totems) is always a nice mana saver. But unless you plan on leveling in a group the whole way, restoration is slow and painful. You need to be able to deal damage as all your quests will require you to kill beats/creatures. Up until level 50 you don't really need a spec'd healer for instances.
As far as professions go, it definitely depends on your endgame goals. For a healing/restoration spec I think mining and jewelcrafting is a great profession skill set. Once you reach level 80, being able to make your gems and make those epic rings can make all the difference. Gems are a money-maker for sure (as is mining) and jewelcrafting is priceless for a healer to have. For enhancement, you can do mining/blacksmithing but a lot of blacksmithing can lead to plate which you will not be able to wear. If you specialize armorsmith though, you will definitely be rewarded with some very nice axes you can make yourself. Elemental shamen can really pick any profession. Again, jewelcrafting would be nice, as would engineering. Inscription is growing and is a great profession to have for a guild, very useful and everyone needs glyphs. Also keep in mind as you level to not neglect your three basic skills: Cooking, Fishing and First Aid! People can let these slip away to the sideline but it is very important to keep on top of that as you go. Trust me it's much easier that way than getting to 80 and realizing your cooking is still at 30... But whatever you do with your shaman, make sure it's a profession you will like and a spec you will have fun in. Don't heal just because someone needs it badly, play what you like. It's a game and you want to get your money's worth!