Well, we've had the big patch notes bomb dropped on us, and they weren't kidding about changing restoration around, were they? Of course, if you're an orc shaman, you also got expertise with fist weapons added on to your racial, which is pretty neat all told. We also finally saw the debut of the new totem interface, which I can't say enough good things about. The ability not only to drop up to four totems in one GCD but to have up to three customizable sets of four totems for different uses (I plan on making a set just for when there's no DK's around and I can finally use Strength of Earth totem instead of freaking Stoneskin) just made the clouds part and a host of glorious angels descend upon me. Turns out they wanted some money, but still, for a moment it was pretty keen.
Before we get rolling, though, I want to remind people: I want your horde screenshots! Otherwise this column is just going to be goat-men from the Twisting Nether, and I know you don't want that. I personally don't care, but you guys get so upset, and while that orc racial does make leveling my orc shaman appealing, I don't really think I have the time.
I should probably also mention that rogues got axes in an attempt to give the design team more freedom to actually put some axes into the content. (Yay for one 1h DPS axe in all of Naxxramas, EoE, the Obsidian Sanctum and Ulduar!) I can only look forward to the host of axes in Argent Coliseum that are too fast for shamans to use effectively. On the up side, goodbye, totem stomper macros! We hate you!
First off, let's look at those patch notes for shamans. We'll break them down and comment on each change as we go along, to save time and allow me to use the plural personal reference for no good reason at all.
- A customizable totem bar will now be available for shaman allowing the storing of 4 different totems. These totems can be placed on the ground at once in one global cooldown for the combined mana cost of all 4 totems.
- All Shocks now have a default range of 25 yards, up from 20 yards.
- Base health increased by approximately 7% to correct for shamans having lower health than other classes.
- Chain Heal: Jump distance increased to 10 yards. In addition, the amount of healing now decreases by 40% as it jumps to each new target, instead of 50%.
Ghost Wolf: Can now be learned at level 16. While in this form, snaring effects may not bring the shaman below base normal run speed.
Disclaimer: if you are not my wife, I'm not allowed to kiss you. Unless you're an distaff relative. So if any of my aunts are reading this, get ready for some tongue I guess.
- Shamanistic Rage: Cooldown is now 1 minute, down from 2 minutes. Successful melee attacks now have a chance to generate mana equal to 15% of the shaman's attack power, down from 30%.
I guess I'll be using Shamanistic Rage more often. Not a really big deal, I don't think, one way or another. The ability will grant less mana when you use it but you'll use it every minute so it will average out and you won't have to wait the extra minute if you're feeling low on mana. Not entirely a non-change but not terribly significant, either.
And now we get to the big list of changes, namely restoration. Hold on to your hats, they've done a lot of work on this tree, it seems.
- Ancestral Healing: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target's armor.
- Earth Shield: Dispel effects will now remove charges of Earth Shield rather than the entire aura.
- Healing Way: Redesigned. Rather than providing a chance of increasing Healing Wave spells on a friendly target, this talent now innately increases the effectiveness of the shaman's Healing Wave by 8/16/25%.
- Mana Tide Totem: Totem health now equal to 10% of the shaman's health.
- Nature's Guardian: Redesigned. Now has a fixed 100% proc rate, has a 30-second internal cooldown and increases the shaman's maximum health by 3/6/9/12/15% for 10 seconds.
- Nature's Swiftness: Cooldown is now 2 minutes, down from 3 minutes.
- Tidal Waves: No longer reduces the cast time of Lesser Healing Wave by 30%. It instead now provides +25% critical strike chance to Lesser Healing Wave, along with the previous 30% cast time benefit to Healing Wave.
- Improved Water Shield: This talent now has a 10/20/30% chance to be triggered by Chain Heal, and the charges of Water Shield are no longer consumed by this talent.
Overall this is a pretty solid patch for shamans. Some of the changes (axes for rogues, for instance) are intended as an indirect benefit to us, while the restoration overhaul is pretty solid and seems aimed both at giving us some group healing bite back and making us stronger single target healers. And man, I cannot exaggerate how happy I am about the totem changes. What the heck, I'll threaten to kiss people over those, too.