We talked a lot this week about this patch. My concerns about elemental are still there (I want every shaman spec to not only be viable but fun, exciting and attractive for players, because I want more people to play shamans and discover how awesome they are) but we left out a few things. While I don't want to belabor this post with more lists of changes, one important thing to mention is that relics now count as all four of your totems. So you can put those four boards you're lugging around in your bags in the bank as souvenirs if you would like.
This week, rather than just pound the subject into the ground, let me talk to you instead about what my first day after the patch was like. In the space of one day I ran a heroic MrT as a DPS, off-healed a Molten Core nostalgia run to get people the attunement, did Karazhan and goggled at the DPS people (including myself) were putting out, and took part in a crazy BT pug that steamrolled to Bloodboil before people had to log out. I healed and DPS'd in the BT pug in my full enhancement set in a full enhancement spec with the sole exception of a weapon and shield switchover and Earthliving on my weapon. Could I have main healed it? No way, not even with the changes to raiding, but finally I actually feel like a versatile hybrid class. I'm definitely doing more damage, and more of it is spell damage. The people who told me that the Shamanistic Focus change was a buff, you were right. Mana is rarely a concern for me while DPSing, even with all the casting I do now. Maelstrom Weapon is even more fun than it was in the beta because I've gotten to use it in raids, and yes, it's extremely versatile. The fact that no, it won't work with Lava Burst makes me sad, but in all other respects it's simply beautiful to experience it. Do I need to throw myself a quick heal? Do I need to throw AoE DPS into this trash pull? Would I like to focus more DPS on the boss? Maelstrom Weapon has me covered.
I've been experimenting with DPS rotations (I screwed up my Recount somehow, it's the new version but it's not working for some reason, most likely a problem between the computer and the chair) and so far I'm liking slow/slow with WF/FT and alternating between Stormstrike and Lava Lash. My rotation is a lot more active now: there's the two instant attacks (8 seconds for SS, 6 for Lava Lash) with a choice of shocks (I am playing with using Flame Shock to see if Flametongue's bonus spell damage makes the DoT tick higher, but sometimes I use ES instead... if I had Static Shock I might not use it at all), and then Maelstrom procs allow me the choice between Chain Lightning and Lightning Bolt (almost always CL unless I'm worried about pulling threat on trash for some reason... so far I haven't really had to worry about it, though). That doesn't even include my every two minutes use of Feral Spirit, or popping Heroism on boss fights
Simply put, right now enhancement seems to have more DPS, more fun things to do, and is simply more involved and rewards your attention. I no longer have to worry about slapping up Stormstrike like an automaton for others to take advantage of, I use it because it's solid damage and with Improved Stormstrike the debuff lasts long enough to get some use out of it even with shock cooldowns. Lava Lash, the Maelstrom effect, and Feral Spirit simply help extend the tree both in depth and breadth. You think more about what you're doing now, what you will be doing when you get a proc, and when the right time for two howling spirit wolves to come into the fight is. And with the Spirit Wolves being under your control it makes for some micromanagement but I don't see that as a bad thing at all here.
Rarely do I get to say anything so unabashedly positive as this, but at least for right now the worst thing about speccing enhancement is being surrounded by more good than you can actually achieve. There are talents I would love to take (the totem ones, Static Shock, and Anticipation, Toughness and Instant Ghost Wolf for PvP) that I simply didn't have points for, and on several occasions I felt like I just wasn't quite there yet in terms of handling all my new options in combat. I find the way Blizzard implemented Earthen Power to be kludgy, but I'd have a hard time not taking it if I were a serious PvP enhancement shaman. This may be my one real dislike of the current talent implementation for the spec.
I'm loving enhancement right now. I feel powerful, versatile, able to DPS at a consistently good level, to off-heal effectively if needed (although I hardly compare to a real healer in this circumstance) and the majority of my time spent playing so far has been a dream. If elemental and restoration have this much fun to them, then the shaman class is in good shape for the next month or so at least. I'm aware that none of this deals with level 80 itemization or concerns, so if you elementals out there think I'll forget your worries on that score, please don't: if it looks like shamans will fall behind as we progress through Wrath please keep mentioning it to me and I'll keep talking about it here.
Next week, either elemental or restoration will get the same treatment, maybe both so as to mitigate the delay. And please leave your initial impressions of your current spec in the comments so I can get some perspective on what I should be trying out. Heck, if shamans keep being this much fun I forsee painfully expensive respecs every day to try every talent I can. Thank god I have two shamans. Think I should level a third? A tauren shaman would look pretty cool. I could just leave him elemental all the time and not have to respec anymore.