So I asked my in-house Shaman expert about Totem Twisting (there is also a good explanation in the forums). For those of you who don't know (like I didn't), Totem Twisting is when you drop 2 totems of the same element in such a way that you have both of them active concurrently. Usually, the Shaman will drop Windfury to get the 10 second buff and then immediately drop Grace of Air until just before the Windfury buff is up. With creative use of hotkeys and a good rhythm, you can keep both totems active simultaneously. This technique is very mana intensive and severely limits the other things you can do at the same time.
Well, that sounds very familiar to me, having played a Bard in EQ. Any group-worthy Bard in the original EQ could twist at least 3 songs at the same time. It was obviously not an intentional game mechanic when the Bard was created, however, it was also not considered an exploit.
So are Shamans the Bards of WoW?
As far as backstories go, they couldn't be more different. Shamans are spiritual leaders and Bards entertain people in bars. Shamans use totems that harness the elements. Bards use instruments to make music. But if you look at what their skills actually accomplish and the utility they bring to groups, they are very similar:
Group buffs: The totems and the songs buff the entire group within a certain area.
Buff variety: Like the EQ Bard songs, the totems come in a wide variety of variable usefulness. Also, there can be some arguing among group members as to who gets the totems or songs that benefit their class the most.
Very limited single target buffs: Both the Bard and the Shaman are missing the "drive by" buffs that classes like Priests and Druids have.
Melee: Both Bards and Shamans have the ability to do decent melee damage and even dual wield -- but are rarely allowed to melee in groups.
Good but not great at many things: People in EQ often called the Bard a "jack of all trades". Here is the official description from the WoW Shaman Page:
The old phrase "jack of all trades, master of none" is an excellent way to describe the Shaman; they are the only real "hybrid" class in World of Warcraft.
Sparkles: Shamans are usually surrounded by fun sparkly shields while Bards have a sparkly glow when playing a song.
I always considered the Bard class in EQ as very incomplete. It seemed to me that the developers never got everything to work right with them. While they had some really useful skills, they always felt a little gimped and were not always welcome in groups, no matter how many songs you could twist.
Shamans, on the other hand, used to be the OP class that everyone (Alliance) complained about. Though they have been knocked a few times with the nerf bat, they are still a lot of fun to play and are considered extremely useful in groups and raids. Shamans also don't have a problem with their totems aggroing an entire dungeon and wiping everyone in it, which was always a danger with Bard songs.
Personally, I can't get past the extreme difference in the backstories. Though I see the similarities, I think there is room for a Bard or Minstrel class in WoW that uses songs instead of spells for their magic.
Do you think Shamans are the Bards of WoW? Would you like to see the Bard class introduced to Azeroth? Do you think Totem Twisting is useful and will you miss it when it is "addressed"?