Shaman Tanking Comprehensive Guide - Learn how to play World of Warcraft Classic as a proficient Shaman Tank

I’m Caperfin. Questions?

Can Shamans tank? The short and to the point answer is, yes. You might be rubbing your eyes in disbelief. Maybe conjuring a ten page manifesto about how only warriors can and should tank. Although, I can go on a long rant about the many other classes that can tank, today, I’ll be focusing on our totemic friend, the shaman.

The topic of viable and optimal is contentious as some don’t see the difference or mix them up and levy a misguided philosophy onto it. Optimal is the most efficient and foolproof solution that eliminates as many negative variables as possible and favors an easier path. Viable is seen as the more challenging path but to many is a greater personal triumph. Shaman Tank is labelled as Viable.

Many Shaman tanks agree their motivation is from the glory of seizing a feat the rest of the realm dares not try. If this resonates with you, please continue reading. You shaman tank for a challenge and a refreshing perspective from a 15 year old game.

When experienced players Shaman tank and put in the effort, it shines tenfold. Shamans can fully tank 5mans, 10mans, off-tank & main-tank raids. But, this relies on personal and guild experience. Our overall defensive statistics won’t reach a warrior’s. However, it isn’t necessary to do so, to tank.

Video Explanation: Tank Races
You’ll be staring at your character for a long time. So, consider your character’s appearance as a key factor as it may entice you to play more. All races have assets but they’re minor compared to other aspects. There is no wrong shaman tank race. See video to learn more about race options.

Video: Professions - Youtube
Engineering for Goblin Sapper Charge, Masterwork Target Dummy, Force Reactive Disk, etc… and go a high gold generating profession on your realm. Gold helps buy potions.

Threat Management
Video: Threat
We can increase our threat in many ways, notably: Earth Shock, Stormstrike, Rockbiter Weapon & Lightning Shield. I suggest installing a threat tracking addon, ex: ThreatClassic2. Consumable items deal threat, ex: Major Rejuvenation Potion based on half of the Health & Mana gained. Damage items, ex: Goblin Sapper Charge deals threat equal to the damage so do reflective Buffs, ex: Thorns. Lastly, certain items deal threat each time their Debuff is triggered, ex: Gift of Arthas. Here’s a list of threat dealing actions to learn how to capitalize on this aspect.

Video: Ally Threat

  • Allies can reduce their threat, for example, items: Fetish of the Sand Reaver. Mage have: Burning Soul. Shaman: Tranquil Air Totem. Rogue and Hunter wipe threat w/Vanish & Feign Death and so can Flask of Petrification. Items prevent aggro: Limited Invulnerability Potion & redirect aggro: Masterwork Target Dummy. Classes in the 30-40 yard range won’t get aggro t’ill they surpass the threat level of the mob’s target by 30%, as opposed to 10% for melee. See here: the many ways allies can reduce their threat.

Video: Totems
Totems can’t deal threat for you. Common totems: Grace of Air Totem, Stoneskin Totem & Healing Stream Totem. AoE Tanking: Stoneclaw Totem followed by Fire Nova Totem.

Video: Tank Talents - Video
The optimal talent setup for a Shaman Tank: (16/35/0). Here’s a rundown of the talents: This setup has steady threat per second for raids & excels on short fights.

Video: Rotations

  1. Pre-Pull: Cast Lightning Shield. Get all Buffs the group can give. Cast Rockbiter Weapon. Place: Stoneskin Totem, Grace of Air Totem & Healing Stream Totem. Mark the mobs in front of you by right-clicking their portrait, pick Raid Target Icon, pick from either a Skull = kill first, a red X = kill second, a blue square = Hunter trap or a moon = Polymorph.
  2. Pulling: Cast Lightning Bolt, followed by as many Lightning Bolt possible to trigger, Elemental Focus. Lastly, Earth Shock.
  3. Combat: For raids, use Nat Pagle’s Broken Reel to assure the first few Earth Shocks hit. In a fight, use relevant ranks of Earth Shock that suits your mana & threat. Stormstrike can’t be downranked but is also used in similar cases. If Lightning Shield expires, cast it. If you suddenly might die, equip a defensive weapon, ex: Spineshatter w/Enchant Weapon - Agility & Rockbiter Weapon, use Masterwork Target Dummy (taunts boss), use Juju Escape, possibly Major Rejuvenation Potion & Major Healthstone. (see Video ).

Buffs + Debuffs
Video: Buffs
There’s a max of 32 Buffs, avoid nearing the max as it may result in Buffs getting pushed off, the addon: Buff Cap Tracker helps. Prioritize getting defensive Buffs, ex: Elixir of Fortitude before getting Threat Buffs, ex: Juju Might. Here’s a list: of buffs to more efficiently view your options.

Video: Debuffs
A max of 16 Debuffs can be on a mob. Reaching the max is major in raids. There’s defensive Debuffs: Insect Swarm & threat Debuffs: Faerie Fire among others. With the raid leader’s consent, suggest ideal Debuffs without overstepping. We can apply Gift of Arthas & Stormstrike.

Gear + Enchants
Video: Gear
Cement defensive stats when gearing, threat is second. It’s advised to get 4k HP & 5k Armor unbuffed for Molten Core. Blackwing Lair, ~4800 to 5k HP and 6500-7k Armor. For reliable threat, 3% melee Hit is advised for dungeons. For Raid tanking, 4% Melee Hit. See the Gear List: You can’t equip gear in combat, except for a weapon & shield, enabling the equipping of a defensive weapon, ex: Spineshatter, if survival seems grim. To learn more, see the Video.

Video: Tank Enchants
There are two types of enchants, defensive, ex: Enchant Gloves - Superior Agility. And offensive, ex: Enchant Gloves - Threat. Here’s a list: of the most suitable enchants.

AoE Tanking
Video: Tank AoE
Many actions can further solidify AoE cases, ex: Oil of Immolation, Thorns, Force Reactive Disk, etc… It’s crucial to switch and attack another target ever so often. In combat, items & spells giving health or mana deal 50% threat divided by each mob. Items also help until a decent amount of threat is gained on all mobs, ex: Masterwork Target Dummy.

Group Composition
Video: Group Comp
With the raid leader’s consent, offer an ideal raid comp without overstepping. In our group, Warlock: Blood Pact, Warrior: Battle Shout, Shadow Priest: Vampiric Embrace, Resto Shaman: Mana Tide Totem. To learn more, see the Group/Raid Comp List: For damage dealing classes, we prefer ranged classes over melee. If melee are needed, rogues are best.

Warden Discord:
Shaman Tank Youtube:
Shaman Tank Gameplay:
Burning Crusade Shaman Tank guide

Melee Hunter DPS only guide


I was a big advocate for shaman tanks during the beginning of Classic. I was even impressed when I heard stories or watched videos of people tanking in MC.

There’s even a guild on my server named “IwannatankRag” or something, that was started by a Shaman named something similar.

But the Cold truth is that to make Shaman tanking work, you have to be very, very patient during the dungeon. You gotta let the “tank” get lots of aggro first, but even then you have to be careful not to rip threat, because if you do it’s unlikely the tank will get that aggro back.

Not to mention the fact that it almost always drains the healer dry. Even if a shaman is wearing full mail armor equipped with a shield they still take too much damage, and if any extra mobs join the fight it almost certainly means someone dies.

Good on you for trying to keep the dream alive. I’d rather have a Warrior or Druid tank my dungeons though.

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Cool story sadly this thread is about what it takes and not whether or not its worth it. Classic is for stuff like this let them have their fun imo.




The shorturl doesnt work for me to see talents.

Wait…dungeons? sorry bud, but dungeons are really easy. This is not a problem that many people have. Most players who shaman tank are more concerned at improving themselves when raid tanking.

You mean wasting everyone’s time?


In my experience, every early dungeon (RFC, WC, BFD) if you have a shaman tank you will clear significantly faster than if you have a warrior or druid. The DPS boost is great and no one is stealing aggro from an earth shock here.


Mark a caster mob as skull and don’t even bother tanking it. Just let the dps murder it.

Meanwhile, build aggro on the other mobs.

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Shaman can tank 5-man just fine.

The question is why would you want to? Even warriors need a little consideration from the team. I like to pull… to start with aggro. I like not to be rage starved. You can ask politely and have a conversation ahead of time, but the joke is still on you, and people will lol-pull and rofl do what they want at the expense of your mental health. I’ve been told it’s a ‘matter of personality.’ Whatever the hell that means.

Horde are so short on healers, that if I played a shaman again, I’d just rather be a healer god to the world… than try to convince the most toxic, dense userbase that something they think isn’t actually true.

Every Enh tank I’ve healed in Classic in 5 mans drastically slowed the dungeon down relative to Bears/Warriors at similar levels.
They’d just stay OOM the entire time and DPS would have to wait for threat.

Not saying it can’t work, but to pretend they’re BETTER in dungeons compared to other tanks is absolute denial. At best you’re comparing a terrible Warrior/Bear with a min-maxing Enh

I fixed the link. Test it out and let me know :slight_smile:

If you have questions, don’t be shy to ask.

A waste of time is sitting around for hours trying to find a tank, when a Shaman can do it just fine :slight_smile:


There’s actually some debate that in the right hands a Shaman Tank will outpace a Warrior Tank while dungeon leveling.


As long as you’re talking lvls 1-20.

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Fair point. In a group with decent players a tank isn’t really necessary for dungeons, especially if mages are involved. In higher level dungeons like BRD however you’ll at least need someone with defensive spells to take the mantle: Shadowform, pet tank, warlock tank, etc.

shams dont really tank 5 mans , they just hard carry them

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In SoM or TBC?

Because in SoM while leveling an Arms Warrior will tank a dungeon much faster than any Shaman. Arms is a busted tank while leveling.

I like memeing and seeing what specs can do, but the entirety of it loses credibility when you begin claiming it is “Better”.

Yes, your Shaman can tank a dungeon faster than a bad player. It doesn’t mean Shaman is a better tank, it means you chose a min-maxing Shaman example vs a dolt of a Warrior.

Are you asking why would you want to Shaman Tank in dungeons? I answer that question, in the 3rd paragraph. Also for mere simple dungeon tanking, Shamans are nearly indiscernible in the right hands to a warrior.

Personally, I don’t need to convince anyone, just saying “im BiS” does the trick. Sometimes it isn’t necessary since people remember my name from just tanking past dungeons.


Guide has been updated, if you have questions, let me know.