I'm doing my best not to be excited for Mists of Pandaria yet. This is partly because we've not even seen a hint of the beta starting yet and thus have a few more months of patch 4.3 to play before MoP comes out. This is also partly due to the fact that my new guild just started heroic Spine of Deathwing attempts, and I'm not sure I'm ever going to look forward to anything ever again. Ever.
Even though I'll never be excited for anything ever again, Blizzard has released some juicy new MoP information over the past two weeks, and a good chunk of it pertains to enhancement shaman. If you still have the ability to be excited for things, this something you want to read. If you're also progressing on heroic Spine of Deathwing, you probably still want to read this ... if only to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Thursday night, Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer Greg Street), the world's classiest crustacean, posted a blog discussing buff consolidation in Mists of Pandaria. First off, buff totems are gone. This was said last fall at BlizzCon, but it's been confirmed again. This is an awesome change, since your raid buffs are going to be mobile and travel with you at all times. While this might open you up to having your buffs dispelled in PvP, I'd take that over having any class with an auto-attack or instant-cast spell or pet being able to kill them in one shot.
But they already took our Sentry Totem!
The actual buffs we're getting are interesting because we're actually losing a number of buffs. Mana Spring Totem, Strength of Earth Totem, and Stoneskin Totem will all simply not exist anymore. This isn't something shaman specifically are losing but rather are buffs that won't exist anymore. No class in the game will bring mana per 5, strength/agility, or added armor. As someone who spent the better part of the past expansion raiding 10-mans, I can't say I mind cutting the fat and consolidating the buff system. It also looks like the 20% attack speed debuff is being removed from the game, which means it will be taken off of Earth Shock. (Props to you if you knew this was on Earth Shock to begin with.)
I know that buff consolidation is a scary thing to a lot of shaman because it was what they used to justify a raid spot in The Burning Crusade, but we're thankfully not playing that game anymore. Your raid spot is now wholly justifiable based on whether or not you can AoE tiny abominations effectively or burst down a tendon down in 23 seconds. Oh, wait ...
We found buffs in a ... Deathwingless place?
On the positive side of things, we will offer some useful buffs. Every shaman, including enhancement, brings 10% spellpower. This is a little counterintuitive, as we don't actually benefit from this buff at all. (This is why Mental Quickness was buffed to be 55% of our attack power in 4.3.) Our lovely 10% melee haste from Windfury hasn't been touched too much but will require speccing enhancement to use, which I actually enjoy for flavor reasons.
Finally, what has me super excited is the juicy new +5 mastery buff that all specs of shaman will be bringing. Anyone who has followed enhancement during any of Cataclysm should know how incredibly good mastery is for us, and finally having a raid buff that enhances that stat should bring much rejoicing in our community.
More damage, fewer people = happy
Playing an enhancement shaman has given me a unique view on buff consolidation. On one hand, I did use my status as the ultimate melee buffer to jump from Karazhan to Black Temple raiding in The Burning Crusade. On the other hand, I remember playing the one spec in the game in Wrath that required every raid buff/debuff in the game to be present to do my maximum DPS, which was particularly frustrating in 10-man raids. When buffs were consolidated originally for Cataclysm, I was a huge proponent for the change, and I am in favor of it happening again.
In fact, I'm 90% happy with the changes Ghostcrawler put up. I feel the buffs fit the flavor of the spec, and I'm glad to see the fit trimmed. I won't be sorry saying goodbye to Strength of Earth or Stoneskin Totem and welcome our new mastery buff with open arms. The only thing that would make me happier would be to see us included in 10% attack power, because we had it first and I still remember the glory days of maximizing crit to ensure Unleashed Rage had 100% uptime in combat.
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Enhancement every week. We've got enhancement-specific advice on 4 ways to increase your DPS, the ups and downs of enhancement in Dragon Soul, and gearing up for Raid Finder raids.