Elamism didn't hit level 87 on the beta this week. It wasn't for lack of trying, but something more akin to lack of time. Despite grabbing two heroic No'kaleds from our first heroic Madness kill two weeks ago, I still had guild raiding to do this week (I ended up picking up a heroic Rathrak for my elemental spec, so I can't complain too much), and I had to make preparations for my trip to Michigan next week. Coupled with the fact that I had to dedicate a night to testing my arcane mage as well, I wasn't able to dedicate enough alone time with my shaman to hit level 87.
Thankfully, other people have had the opportunity to play more than I did (special thanks to Ashunera, who graciously allowed me to use this Ascendance video here). It's thanks to Ashunera that we've gotten our first taste of Ascendance, the new class ability coming to shaman in Mists of Pandaria. Spoiler alert: It's totally and completely awesome.
Ascendance is a potent cooldown for every spec of shaman. It shines brightest for both of the caster specs, with enhancement coming in a fairly close third; that said, I'll let Joe Perez share the joys of resto's Ascendance with his readers.
Step aside, arcane mages
Elemental's Ascendence is definitely the shining star of the two, as it allows elemental shaman to do the one thing we've wanted to do since the spell was introduced -- spam Lava Burst for 15 straight seconds. Provided you have a Flame Shock up, which you always should, that's 15 seconds of Lava Burst crits. If you have absolutely zero haste, that's 10 Lava Bursts, and that's assuming no Lava Surge procs. (Lava Surge makes your next LvB instant in addition to resetting the cooldown.)
Ascendance gets even better when you factor in Unleashed Fury, the level 90 talent that buffs your Unleash Flame and causes it to make your target take an increased 25% damage from Lightning Bolt and Lava Burst for 10 seconds. Throw that debuff up, Ascendance, and spam Lava Bursts until the debuff runs out for some huge burst damage. Since UF's cooldown syncs perfectly with Ascendence's duration, you won't even have to break your Lava Burst spam to reapply the debuff (though it will wear off five seconds before Ascendance does). Together, though, these abilities might make elemental shaman the kings of burst in Mists of Pandaria.
Passive Aggression: An enhancement mainstay
In a vacuum, Enhancement's Ascendance is pretty awesome. For 15 seconds, our auto-attack and Stormstrike are usable at up to a 30-yard range and deal pure nature damage. This second effect has a lot of bonuses:
- Nature damage means it ignores armor. Bosses tend to have about 20% damage resistance from armor, so our auto-attacks and Stormstrike will do 20% more damage just from that.
- Our mastery increases our attacks that deal elemental damage, and mastery is our best stat. On live, I have around a 50% increase to nature damage from mastery. Stormstrike's already good damage + 20% from removing armor + 50% from mastery is a promise for a very potent hit.
That said, enhancement's Ascendance just lacks in comparison to elemental. First off, it just misses out on the sheer cool factor; there are very few experiences in this game that will be more fun than 15 seconds of Lava Burst crits to the opponent's face. While the long-range Stormstrike graphic is pretty awesome, it lacks the same sense of awesomeness that elemental's Ascendance has in spades.
This isn't to say I'm unhappy with Ascendance or need to see it changed. If it hits live the way it works now, I'll be happy. We honestly have the coolest level 87 ability of any class in Mists of Pandaria. That said, if Blizzard were to maybe also make Windfury Weapon deal nature damage during Ascendance or cut Stormstrike's CD in half while Ascended, I would not complain one bit. I'd do the opposite of complaining.
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.