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Best Races for Shamans in World of Warcraft (2024)

The best options for mastering the elements in Dragonflight and WoW Classic

A whisper in the wind, the rumbling of the earth, the crackle of the flame, and the ripples in the water. Tales as old as the land itself are told by the elements, but only a select few can hear. Those who listen and reply in turn are granted the strength of the elements — the right to be a Shaman.

Races with a deep connection to the land and their ancestors are often the most likely to become Shamans. By invoking that connection, Shamans can wield the elements themselves to devastate their foes and aid their allies.

But who amongst the races hear the call of the elements most clearly? Who embodies the strength of the storm itself and can mend the cracks in the world? The world of Azeroth (and even those beyond) is constantly in peril. It’s more critical now than ever to have emissaries of the land itself guide its denizens in defending it.

Today, I’ll be taking a look at the best races for Shamans in World of Warcraft. I have iconic Shaman options for Alliance and Horde players alike, and will be covering all types of gameplay as well as all current versions of the game.

Best Race for PVE Shamans

With two DPS specs and a healing one, you’re a rather versatile class. Of course, this means you’ll also be looking for different racial bonuses to complement your playstyle. To that end, I’m breaking down the best races for each Shaman spec.

If you want to swap between multiple specs, I recommend going Dwarf or Tauren due to how much their racial abilities can make a difference on your output for each spec.

Best Race for Elemental Shamans

For those interested in the path of a caster, I recommend the respective race from both factions that has a racial ability boosting your crit damage output.

Your spec has a passive ability (Elemental Fury) that increases your crit damage up to 250% from the standard 200%, and Lava Burst is always a guaranteed crit. I’m sure you can see why boosting your critical effectiveness is your main priority when it comes to racial abilities.

Alliance: Dwarf

Best Race for Elemental Shamans - Dwarf
Imagine the static in his beard. | Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

On the Alliance side, Dwarves reign supreme as the best race for Elemental Shamans. This is thanks to Might of the Mountain providing the aforementioned boost to your crit damage and healing by 2%. No other racial in the game can consistently increase your DPS more than this one, making Dwarves the dominant race.

On top of that, Stoneform is one of the best racial abilities in the game for its defensive value. Being able to cleanse yourself of all negative effects and take 10% less damage is amazing. Even more so due to only being a two-minute cooldown. You can cheese a lot of fight mechanics by using this ability and simply continue DPSing while everyone else is scrambling for safety.

Horde: Tauren

Horde: Tauren
When the steak sears you. | Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

As for the Horde, the Tauren are unquestionably the best race for Elemental Shamans. Like the Dwarves, they too have a racial boosting their critical damage and healing output by 2%, though theirs is called Brawn.

Additionally, they have some extra survivability thanks to the extra Stamina they get from Endurance. While it may not seem that much, having more HP always makes your healers’ lives easier. Plus, you can use your War Stomp to get some breathing room if enemies ever get too close to you or if your party needs to keep certain enemies locked down for a bit longer.

Best Race for Enhancement Shamans

As the melee spec of the class, you embody the storm. In other words, you want to constantly be striking as fast as lightning. To that end, anything that can boost the speed and power of your attacks is what you’re after.

As you’ll be in the thick of a fight as a melee spec, anything that provides a bit of extra survivability and mobility is highly appreciated for living through attacks.

Alliance: Draenei/Dwarf

Best Race for Enhancement Shamans Draenei
Embody the flames and storm. Strike and lash. Become a maelstrom of death. | Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

For Enhancement Shamans, we’re going to have to go with our favorite space goats, the Draenei, as the best race. Unfortunately, the Alliance has no Shaman-accessible race that boosts your attack speed or haste.

Thankfully, the Draenei make up for this by providing a constant sizeable boost to their primary stat via Heroic Presence. This means that all of your abilities will be hitting harder to make up for the lack of speed boosts.

On top of that, you have Gift of the Naaru as a rather nice emergency heal that can be cast on yourself or any ally to heal them for 20% of your max health over five seconds. Being able to help save an ally who’s taking massive damage is always incredibly welcomed in a group. Even if it’s just yourself. Remember — dead DPS do zero damage.

If you’re planning on actively swapping back and forth between Elemental and Enhancement, we recommend choosing a Dwarf. The performance differential between Draenei and Dwarf is negligible for Enhancement, but makes a notable difference in Elemental.

Horde: Goblin/Troll

Horde: Goblin/Troll
Goblins also harness the powers of a 5th element – gold. | Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

As for the Horde, you have two nearly equal options that both provide a boost to your attack speed.

Goblin edges out slightly ahead thanks to the 1% boost to Haste from Time is Money being constantly active. Plus, they can fire off their Rocket Barrage whenever it’s on cooldown and there’s a lull in your rotation for some free damage.

In comparison, the 15% Haste boost from the Trolls’ Berserking ability is incredibly strong (especially when lined up with your major offensive cooldowns), but is only available once every three minutes. Depending on which enemy you’re fighting, it may be more beneficial to burst harder making Trolls situationally better.

However, we have to go with Goblins as the best Horde race for Enhancement Shamans because of Rocket Jump. Having an instant dash on a 1.5-minute cooldown can be invaluable for dodging certain mechanics, especially as a melee spec. Just make sure to face the direction you want to be going in before activating it.

Best Race for Restoration Shamans

This section will be brief, as the logic behind my recommended races is very similar to that of Elemental Shamans. As opposed to having a 250% crit modifier, you’re playing more off the mana return from Resurgence.

Every time you crit on a direct heal, it’ll refund anywhere between 0.25% to 1% of your max mana. As it’s a passive ability you begin with at Level 1, you’ll be incredibly reliant upon it throughout your entire journey for sustaining your mana pool. Unsurprisingly, crit chance will be your main secondary stat, so races that provide bonuses to your crit output are the most ideal.

Alliance: Dwarf

Best Race for Restoration Shamans: Dwarf
I hope you don’t mind being soaked in sub-zero temperatures. It’s good for you, probably. | Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

As Might of the Mountain increases your critical heals by an additional 2% and you already want to be stacking crit, it’s self-explanatory why Dwarves are the best race for Restoration Shamans.

The Dwarves’ Stoneform ability shines even more so here than it does for Elemental Shamans. If you’re forced to stop healing in order to deal with some debuff or mechanic, there’s a good chance your party will start dying. Being able to simply ignore mechanics to continue healing is priceless, especially during high damage phases of a fight.

Horde: Tauren

Tauren Healer
Gotta keep those luscious locks hydrated on the go. | Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

Much like the Dwarves, the Taurens’ Brawn ability increases their critical heals by 2%, making them the best Horde race for Restoration Shamans.

Unfortunately they don’t have an equivalent of Stoneform, but the extra health from Endurance and on-demand AOE stun from War Stomp will provide some extra survivability.

Best Race for PVP Shamans

In PVP, a single second can be the difference between life and death. That’s why it’s so important to be able to mitigate CC and enhance your burst damage to execute an opponent. Thankfully, Shamans have access to two races that ideal for exactly that.

Alliance: Dark Iron Dwarf/Kul Tiran

Best Race for PvP Shamans
His blood burns and so will yours. | Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

If you’re playing one of the two DPS specs, we strongly recommend going Dark Iron Dwarf. This is thanks to Fireblood being an absolutely amazing turn around ability. Besides purging yourself of all debuffs, it’ll boost your primary stat for each effect dispelled.

Time it right, and you can not only negate your enemies’ offense, but drastically bolster your burst damage (though do note that the stat boost is capped at three effects). Perfect given that Shamans are known for their massive crit nuke potential in PvP.

If you’re going into PVP as a Restoration Shaman, you may want to take a look at the Kul Tirans. Given how important it is to stack versatility in PVP, their 1% boost to their versatility stat from Brush It Off is immensely appreciated. Being able to regenerate 2% of all damage taken is also nice for making you even more unkillable, given that healers always have a target painted on their backs in PVP.

On top of that, the stun and knockback from Haymaker can let you make some really cheeky plays if you use your environment to your advantage. Throw an enemy off a ledge and use the time they spend reaching you again to fully top off your team.

Horde: Orc

Horde: Orc
He probably shouts “ELEMENTARY!” every time he bashes someone’s head in. | Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

Stuns are incredibly prevalent in PVP. Thankfully, the Orcs’ Hardiness reduces all incoming stuns by 20%. Stack that with the diminishing returns on being stunned multiple times in a row, and you’ll basically shrug off any stun as soon as it lands.

Even better, your Blood Fury racial ability is an incredibly powerful stat steroid whether you’re healing or DPSing. Given that it’s only a two-minute cooldown and lasts for 15 seconds, you can easily pair it with any of your major cooldowns whenever you need burst on demand.

Best Race for Lore Shamans

Alliance: Draenei

Best Race for Lore Shamans - Dranei
Nobundo reflecting on the path he has walked. Once a paladin, now a farseer. | Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

Shamanism is relatively new to the Alliance. The Draenei were the first major practitioners of the art — even then, it’s new to them as well, having been discovered only after years of suffering.

For a time, the Draenei lived in peace beside the Orcish clans of Draenor after fleeing from their home world of Argus. However, it was only a matter of time before their pursuers, the Burning Legion, caught up to them and manipulated the Orcs to rise against them.

The resulting attacks were an absolute slaughter. Countless Draenei died, thousands were enslaved, and some were warped beyond recognition by the fel magics wielded by Orc warlocks. The warped Draenei that managed to retain their sanity were known as the Broken for their physical deformities and inability to call upon the Light.

Shunned by most in society, these Broken were scattered throughout Draenor to eke out a desperate living. One Broken in particular, a former vindicator by the name of Nobundo, spent his days praying to the Light in hopes of rekindling his connection to it. After years of silence, he was answered one day, but not by the Light. No, it was the wind that spoke to him.

He learned of the elements and of how everything was intertwined in nature. Training for years under the direct guidance of the elements, Nobundo became the first Draenei shaman. Seeking to bring this newfound strength to his people, he returned to the remnants of the Draenei.

The Prophet Velen, leader of the Draenei and one of the mightiest wielders of the Light, was the only one willing to listen to a Broken. With Velen’s support and insistence on including Nobundo amongst his inner circle, shamanism began to spread throughout the Draenei people.

In the coming years, when the Draenei were forced to flee once more to Azeroth, an army of shamans were prepared to defend and mend their new home. With time, more races in the Alliance would come to accept shamanism and look to the Draenei for their expertise and guidance.

Horde: Orc

Thrall Cutscene - Orc best race for shaman
The elements and the world still cry out to Thrall, and he shall answer. | Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

Shamanism was deeply rooted in the Orcs’ culture back on Draenor, with many of the tribes being led by a single shaman. Long lineages of ancestors would impart their wisdom to aspiring upcomers and guide their connection to the elements. However, the Burning Legion would set its sight upon Draenor after discovering the Draenei had fled to it.

Kil’jaeden the Deceiver posed as some of the most influential shamans’ ancestors and urged the Orcs to slay the Draenei, claiming they were sabotaging and plotting against the Orcs. Spurred on by these malignant whispers, the Orcs massacred hundreds of Draenei. Such an act of brutality and savagery disgusted the elements, who in turn abandoned the Orcs.

With the guidance and strength of the elements gone, the Orc shamans were thrown into disarray. Desperate to reclaim their power, they were all too easily seduced by the fel energies offered by the Burning Legion. Many of the former shamans became warlocks and would go on to commit unspeakable acts of depravity, further alienating the elements. Shamanism had all but died to the Orcish people.

It wasn’t until years later, after the opening of the Dark Portal, did the Orcs rediscover their shaman roots. Thrall, the future war-chief of the newly reformed Horde, would meet and befriend the elemental spirits during his journey to discover his heritage and place in the world. Pleased by his demeanor and promise, the elements granted him their strength. With their blessings, Thrall became the first Orcish shaman in decades.

As Thrall rallied the races of the Horde under one banner, he reintroduced the ways of shamanism to his kin. Shackled to the dark magics of the Burning Legion no longer, the Orcs fervently communed with the elemental spirits once more to restore their nobility and purpose in the world. What was once a derisive term for storytellers was once again a noble role, headed by one of the most promising shamans in the world.

Best Looking Race for Shamans

The most important question of them all. Which is the best looking race for shamans? Who truly embodies the look and feel of wielding the elements? Who has the best looking totems? Let’s take a look.

Alliance: Dark Iron Dwarf

Best Looking Race for Shamans Dark Iron Shaman
Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

The Dark Iron Dwarves are my top pick for the best looking Alliance race for shamans, thanks to their innately glowing eyes and magma themes. Naturally, they look best when wielding fire and earth, but one could argue that water and wind are also heavily utilized in forging.

It helps that their totems are also in the shape of anvils, pulsating with the different elements. If you’re keen on hammering out those impurities in your enemies with the earth itself, this is the race for you.

Horde: Vulpera

Horde: Vulpera
Blizzard Entertainment / Jeffrey Hsu

While the Vulpera might not have anything going for them gameplay-wise, aesthetically, they make for really nice shamans. Besides being adorable fox people, they have some very unique looking totems that are also in the shape of foxes! Bonus points for being about as tall the Vulpera as well.

They also have really crisp casting animations and the theme of a fox utilizing nature is just fitting. Mail armor also scales fairly nicely on them in most cases despite being smaller than most other races.

Best Race for Shamans in WoW Classic

Due to changes to racial abilities over the years, what was considered the best back in Vanilla/Burning Crusade differs greatly from modern WoW. Wrath of the Lich King also saw a few more changes, but don’t worry. We account for that as well.

Alliance: Draenei

Given that the Alliance couldn’t play shaman back during the Vanilla era and only gained access to them via the Draenei in Burning Crusade… well, it’s self-explanatory.

No other Alliance race can pick Shaman until Cataclysm, so we hope you like space goats.

If you’re playing WoW Classic Hardcore or Season of Discovery, you’re out of luck – there are no shamans for Alliance in those version of the game.

Horde: Troll

Troll reigns supreme across all three Shaman specs in the Classic era. This is solely due to Berserking providing such a drastic casting/attack speed buff that it easily outperformed any other option.

During Classic and Burning Crusade, the ability scaled between 10–30%, depending on how low your health was. Naturally, it was ideal to cast it when you were taking heavy damage to turn around the situation.

As of Wrath of the Lich King, the attack/casting speed buff changed to 20% regardless of your health, but is still considered the best Shaman racial. However, Orc also became more viable for Shamans during this era due to Blood Fury being reworked to benefit casters as well (and losing the healing debuff too).

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