Well, I had a long rant about the Mana Spring change and some more about the leveling process and then Blizzard chose to drop a new PTR build on us, so we'll be talking about that instead. Some of these changes are holdovers from previous PTR builds and some are totally new. We'll be covering them step by step here and discussing them all as they are the state of the art for what's coming for the class, but to avoid deluging anyone with information they'd prefer not to see yet (since it is all of course subject to change before going live) we'll do so behind the jump. First off we'll reproduce the changes courtesy of MMO-Champion:
- Nature Resistance Totem, Stoneskin Totem, Fire Resistance Totem, Frost Resistance Totem, Strength of Earth Totem, Flametongue Totem, Wrath of Air Totem, Windfury Totem descriptions have been changed to reflect the latest changes, they now affects all raid members.
- Spirit Weapons now decrease the threat on all attacks by 30% (Old - Only Melee attacks)
- Earthen Power now also make you and nearby friendly targets immune to snare effects for 5 sec when it pulses.
Okay, the various totems going raid wide is a change we've known they were intending since we first heard about the change to Mana Spring totem. It's still nice to get a list of totems which will now be raid-wide (it looks like basically everything) so there will be much less confusion in groups over which totems affect party only. Even if a lot of these are just tooltip corrections.
The Earthen Power change, however, is clearly PvP aimed. The way it currently works, Earthbind will clear snares when it pulses but they can just be reapplied and will last until the next pulse, which doesn't seem like a major issue but which adds up. Adding snare immunity to the totem means that once it clears a snare, it will stay cleared. Whether or not this will motivate people to use the totem over Tremor or Glyphed Stoneclaw Totem is another story, however. Still, a buff's a buff.
- Healing Stream Totem range increased from 20 to 30 yards.
- Mana Spring Totem now restores 91 mana every 5 seconds at max rank. (Old - 34 mana every 2 seconds)
- Nature's Swiftness changed to - When activated, your next Nature spell with a base casting time less than 10 sec. becomes an instant cast spell. Nature's Swiftness shares a cooldown with Elemental Mastery.
- Restorative Totems now Increases the effect of your Mana Spring and Healing Stream Totems by 4/8/12/16/20%. (Down from 5/10/15/20/25%)
- Healing Grace has been moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2.
- Ancestral Healing has been moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3.
First off we'll note the biggest change and one I haven't seen in going over the other ptr patch notes so far: the change to Nature's Swiftness is undeniably aimed at putting the final nail in the coffin of the PvP elemental/restoration build that depended on Elemental Mastery and Nature's Swiftness to cast a big critical hit chain lighting at the opening of an arena match for large burst. This particular style of play was already hard-hit by the change to Elemental Mastery that changed the spell from being a guaranteed next cast crit to a 20% increase in crit strike chance. This change effectively destroys it, since you won't be able to cast both Elemental Mastery and Nature's Swiftness one after the other anymore. However, if you check out Elemental Mastery and how it's changing, you'll see how it really doesn't matter at all from the perspective of Elemental in PvP. Nature's Swiftness still does what it was meant to do for healing, and EM now does what both spells were used together to do for Elemental in PvP.
I assume the change to Healing Grace and Ancestral Healing is similarly aimed at PvP, but I don't really understand it. I guess having it will make it less likely that your Flame Shock DoT effect will be dispelled, so you can be more confident in your Lava Burst crits. If you're elemental speccing into resto for PvP, that could matter. For PvP resto these are effectively non-changes, it's not like moving them like this will change whether or not you take them. (I like Ancestral Healing, but I'm not very good at PvP.) Restorative Totems got a nerf (all part of the nerf to raid wide mana regen, I assume) and both Healing Stream and Mana Spring see other changes (but not the totem consolidation we'd originally expected) in addition to Mana Spring's new exclusivity. No mention of Mana Spring being raid wide yet, though. The change to Mana Spring's pulse time is, I assume, to make it a more straightforward MP/5 mechanic (It's straightforwardly 91 MP5 now.) as part of the move making it mechanically identical to Blessing of Wisdom.
- Thunderstorm is now useable while stunned.
- Lava Flows now Iincreases the critical strike damage bonus of your Lava Burst spell by an additional 6/12/24%, and when your Flame Shock is dispelled your spell casting speed is increased by 10/20/30% for 6 sec.
- Lightning Overload changed from 5 to 3 ranks, now Gives your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells a 7/14/20% (Up from 4/8/12/16/20%) chance to cast a second, similar spell on the same target at no additional cost that causes half damage and no threat.
- Elemental Mastery has been changed to - When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, your Fire, Frost, and Nature damage spells a 20% increased critical strike chance for 15 sec. Elemental Mastery shares a cooldown with Nature's Swiftness. Instant, 3 min cooldown
- Storm, Earth, and Fire changed to - Reduces the cooldown of your Chain Lightning spell by .75 sec (on all ranks, down from 0.75/1/2.5sec), your Earthbind Totem also has a 33/66/100% chance to root targets for 5 sec when cast and the periodic damage done by your Flame Shock is increased by 20%.
- Elemental Reach now also increases the range of your Flame Shock by 7/15 yards.
Thunderstorm being castable while stunned is a direct PvP buff aimed at getting some ability to move stunlocking classes (rogues, paladins, feral druids with that jump thing they do which is an ouchie) away from you in melee. Lava Flows seems to offer an alternative way to deal with Flame Shock being dispelled for PvP elemental, making the change to Healing Grace the more puzzling to me, but you have to love that elemental gets a dispel counter. The changes to Lightning Overload are also a buff, saves you talent points for the same effect as before.
We covered the Elemental Mastery change in our discussion of Nature's Swiftness, to my mind it's still just pounding the last nail in the coffin of a PvP spec Blizzard clearly didn't want to encourage. However, since they compensated by giving LB, Chain Lightning and Lava Burst an instant cast effect folded right into Elemental Mastery, you don't even need to take that talent in the first place. This most likely means, especially with the ability to cast Thunderstorm when stunned, that we'll be seeing a lot more elemental shamans go 51 points in elemental for PvP.
The SEF change is definitely aimed at PvP as well. I'll miss the extended range on my Earth and Wind Shocks, but clearly they're trying to give elemental more options for snaring. I don't know if the root effect will make elemental drop Earthbind over Tremor or glyphed Stoneclaw, especially when Earthen Power is way, way out of an elemental shamans with SEF's reach. Losing the shocks from SEF means that interrupts will be slightly harder, but getting a root might be a fair trade off. My gut says no, but more experienced elemental PvP shamans may have a better idea.
Elemental Reach increasing Flame Shock range is a good thing for PvE and PvP. Makes getting those Lava Burst crits easier, and if the shock is dispelled PvP elemental will get that Lava Flows speed increase for casting. It basically takes the range increase from current Lava Flows and makes it easier to acquire.
In the end, of the three trees it's clear that Elemental sees the farthest reaching changes this time around, easily on par with Enhancement gaining Frozen Power in previous builds. Taken together, the changes to Thunderstrom, Elemental Mastery and gaining points from a consolidated Lightning Mastery should be interesting to watch. I'm interested to see if Thunderstorm while stunned is enough of a peel for elemental.
All in all, this build is yet another PvP oriented one.
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.