So, hands up: Who saw this coming? No, I don't mean the fact that Lightning Shield is now our preferred shield, but rather the Unrelenting Storm vanishing act, the mana restore when casting Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning and the introduction of Earth Shock into the rotation. Yes, that's right. Earth Shock. Seems a bit odd for us elementals to be stealing abilities from enhancement rather than the other way around. Also, some of you may be wondering why I'm on fire in the screenshot above. Well, that happens to be the new animation for the Unleash Elements Flametongue Weapon proc.
Before we begin, there has already been feedback on the forums about some internal beta changes that haven't been pushed out to the external beta yet (software in development goes alpha, internal beta, external beta, internal live and then external live), so I will be breaking down the notes and updating them with what we know as I go. I'll post a modified list of the changes at the end, too.
Before one can build, one must first take away, and this is what's happened to Unrelenting Storm. It's one of the rather boring talents in the tree, so I don't think anyone will shed a tear now it has been completely removed. PvP players ignore it, and a fair number of PvE players do as well, thanks to the number of mana restoration mechanisms like Replenishment or Thunderstorm. However, the mana restoration was a necessary function so the new two point talent Rolling Thunder has a 30/60 percent chance to restore 2 percent of your mana every time you deal damage with Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning while your Lightning Shield is active. (The patch notes say 1 percent, but Ghostcrawler, lead systems designer, posted later in the day saying it is actually 2 percent). Putting that into numbers, three out of every five hits will restore mana, so looking at a 1.6-second cast time gives us 6 percent of our mana back every 8 seconds. For comparison, Replenishment gives 1 percent every 5 seconds while Thunderstorm gives 0.88 percent every 5 seconds, assuming it gets used as soon as it is available.
But wait, there's more!
That's not all that Rolling Thunder can do. Combined in the same proc, it will also increase the number of charges on your Lightning Shield by one, up to a maximum of nine. Initially, you may think that this isn't much of a big deal, until you get to the follow up tier 5 talent called Fulmination. If you don't know what the word fulmination means, read this. In short, it's based on the Latin word fulminare, which means "to strike with lightning," and would be a perfectly suitable name for an elemental shaman. (For example, my own Askledarea is based on the Swedish word askledare, which translates to English as "lightning conductor" -- but enough of the naming sidetrack.) Fulmination (the proc this time, not the talent) consumes any additional lightning shield charges over the base three and deals these as separate damage ability when you cast Earth Shock. There's a current bug with it in game, in which instead of damaging your target, Fulmination damages you (you can come up with your own Soviet Cataclysm jokes for this). Not particularly fun or useful, but we can at least get some testing done.
Totemic Wrath has been dropped down to tier 4. Elemental Weapons now has a 25/50 percent bonus to the Unleash Elements effect, which means that with Flametongue it gives an extra 30 percent damage to your next fire attack, rather than the untalented 20 percent. There are also forum posts indicating that Elemental Reach will increase all shock ranges to 40 yards, in line with our other spells. Searing Totem also gets a range increase in the form of Totemic Reach, but this leaves us with questions about what the base range of the totem will be (currently 20 yards, so the talent brings it up to 26) and whether this talent is actually any use. Hopefully, Searing is changed to be a practical totem for us to use while not giving unnecessary buffs to the other specs at the same time, as enhancement won't need the extra range and restoration shouldn't be dropping Searing Totem, anyway.
So what does this all mean?
As for the effect all of these changes have on our rotation, Unleash Elements was going to be a standard part of our rotation before the buff even when you aren't moving. Earth Shock will be used either when you are moving with any number of Lightning Shield charges, or stationary with three or more, but only if you don't need to cast Flame Shock before the shared cooldown will expire. This also finally makes Reverberation a possible talent choice, although you will most likely only have one point spare to use on it.
Updated patch notes
In short, we've got some buffs and some nice changes, and we're still scratching our collective heads about the totem talents and the overall situation with Searing Totem. For more information, visit TotemSpot, where we're discussing the updated rotation or the underlying mechanics and calculations behind the new talents.
And now for the weather. Tiffany? (Warning: contains blood.)
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