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Patch 2.4 and Shamans - How did we do?

Matthew Rossi

Back in February I made this post on Totem Talk discussing the patch 2.4 changes for shamans. Since then, things have changed and the current changes to the class are as follows.

  • Call of Thunder: (Rank 5) now gives 5% critical strike chance.
  • Chain Lightning: This ability will no longer jump to secondary targets which are under the effect of crowd-control spells that break on taking damage. i.e. Polymorph, Sap, etc. (Edited to add - Hortus explain it all - it was rolled back on live.)
  • Earth Shield: Mana cost reduced roughly in half, and charges reduced from 10 to 6.
  • Elemental Focus: This buff will no longer be removed when Shamanistic Focus is triggered.
  • Flametongue Weapon: Having different ranks of this enchantment cast on two different weapons will no longer cause the enchantments to trigger multiple times per swing.
  • Ghost Wolf: Cast time reduced to 2 seconds, down from 3.
  • The Global Cooldown of all Totems has been reduced to 1 seconds, down from 1.5 seconds.
  • Healing Grace: This talent now reduces the chance your spells will be dispelled by 10/20/30%.The resistance to being dispelled modifier from this talent now applies correctly to Water Breathing.
  • Rockbiter Weapon: Tooltip and error messages have been adjusted slightly.
  • Shamanistic Rage is now a Physical ability instead of a Magic spell, and thus is no longer dispellable. It now reduces all damage taken by 30% and gives your successful melee attacks a chance to regenerate mana equal to 30% of your attack power. This lasts for 15 seconds with a 2 minute cooldown.
  • Stormstrike has a new icon.
  • Totem timer icons will now show up under your player portrait when you cast totem spells. Right-clicking a totem timer icon will destroy that totem.
  • Toughness will now also reduce the duration of movement slowing effects on you by 10/20/30/40/50%.
  • Tremor Totem now pulses every 3 seconds, down from 4 seconds.
  • The Shaman spell Fire Nova Totem will no longer sometimes detonate without doing any damage.
That's a pretty substantial list of changes all told. Some are clearly bug fixes, while others are straightforward buffs (the totem cooldown being reduced to 1 second, Shamanistic Rage no longer dispellable, totem timers) and others have the horrible taint of nerf upon them (Call of Thunder giving 1% less crit). Still others aren't so cut and dried. So let's take a look at what this patch means for us shamans.

First, let's talk about the change that didn't happen: the saga of Flametongue weapon. When it was revealed that Flametongue weapon (and then Flametongue totem) would apply a debuff to healing effects on a target struck by a weapon with the enhancement, visions of all melee teams constantly debuffing the enemy healing in Arenas started to swim through the heads of shaman players everywhere. It didn't take long at all for this to be rolled back. When I first reported on it, I said that I thought it wouldn't make it live in that form, and I turned out to be right, but even I didn't expect they'd just roll the change back and replace it with nothing. Was the idea of a cheap weapon imbue and totem being available to all talent specs a little ridiculous? Yes. Was yet another healing debuff an unexciting development? Again, yes. But still, to see the idea brought up and then ignored seemed odd, and as far as I can tell, when patch 2.4 goes live there will have been no alternative ability provided to the shaman class.

The Chain Lightning change is nice, if part of a global attempt by Blizzard to make changes to how multiple-target non-AoE effects work. Aside from this change, practically every single other change made to shaman abilities in patch 2.4 is a PvP related change. The change of duration and mana cost on Earth Shield, the change to Healing Grace to reduce the chance for spells to be dispelled, the reduction on cast speed for Ghost Wolf, and Toughness' reducing the duration of movement slowing effects are all PvP related changes, as is the reduction of Shamanistic Rage's duration and its alteration to a physical (i.e. non-dispellable) effect. The only outright PvE buffs in the patch are the reduction of totem global cooldown and the alteration of the Tremor Totem pulse time.

For such a long list of changes, it's actually a disappointing patch from a shaman's perspective. Stormstrike gets a new icon, yes, I hate to sound bitter and cynical but I am so my response to that news is a resounding 'meh'. Totem timers would be awesome if I didn't already have them on a mod since I stopped waiting for them two years ago. Elemental Focus no longer being removed if Shamanistic Focus pops up? That's a solid change, if one that's not going to affect all that many shamans.

There's lots of nice badge gear coming in that shamans, the quintessential hybrid class, would be interested in. So much, in fact, that to list it all would take a lot of time. So we'll just look at some of the standouts.

Scaled Drakeskin Chestguard: If you're an enhancement shaman with a lot of badges, this is a nice chestguard, probably equal to if not superior to a lot of the PvE mail available at the T5/T6 level. I know, it would rock if it had strength on it, but then hunters wouldn't like it and Blizzard is trying for gear that appeals to more than one class. Between the haste rating, attack power, high agility and stamina and a socket, it's a very nice option for enhancement shamans.

Scryer's Blade of Focus
: Since elemental shamans can't use swords, this may well be the best DPS main hand option available to them, badges or otherwise, in 2.4. (There are nice mace options in Hyjal/BT.) 247 damage/healing is nothing to sneeze at, and it's got a boatload of stamina which is always nice when things are hitting you or you're taking a lot of AoE damage.

Runed Scales of Antiquity: There's some dispute as to whether or not it's worth 100 badges to buy these over the 75 badge Natural Life Leggings. The new legs will give you a significant increase in mp/5 and raw +healing, but the older legs have crit bonus and an extra socket. The stats are identical. To my mind, if you have the Natural Life Leggings, get other upgrades first. But if not, save the extra 25 badges and get these legs, while the crit is nice that +healing is significantly better. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Rushing Storm Kilt: So, you're curious about Spell Haste? Nice stats and a dollop of that hasty hasty goodness. The stats alone are compelling, with that significant +damage over the Avalanche Leggings off of Halazzi in ZA. Comparable to but inferior to Skyshatter, at least in my opinion.

Vanir's Right Fist of Brutality and Vanir's Left Fist of Brutality: If you happen to be an enhancement shaman with 150 badges burning a hole in your pocket, pick these up. The speed is good, they won't overlap Windfury procs or waste Flurry charges, and they look awesome.

Wave of Life Chestguard: If you do not have T6, get this, resto shamans. It's a very very nice chest.

Anveena's Touch: For a resto shaman, this is a very nice ring. Straight up awesome +healing, stamina for survivability, the all important intellect to boost your resto shammy in his mana pool, and 11 mp/5.

Gavel of Naaru Blessings: If you've been running KZ and ZA for a while now and are sitting on a ton of badges, this is a big upgrade over Dark Blessing or Light's Justice. Intellect, Stamina and a nice amount of +heal.

In general, patch 2.4 looks more impressive than it actually turns out to be in terms of changes/modifications to the shaman class. The standout change is the reduction of the global cooldown on totems. Everything else is either a minor bug fix, a PvP change of as yet undetermined utility (instant talented Ghost Wolf and Toughness combined could make mobility less of an issue for shamans, we don't know yet, and the Earth Shield change doesn't seem like that big a deal to me) or something along the lines of a new graphic (granted, it's a good new graphic) for Stormstrike. I expected more from the patch, in part because Blizzard really led me to expect more with that Flametongue change. Still, what we have isn't bad, and there's riches via the badge vendor for a class as dependent on gear tailored for the spec as we can be.

Patch 2.4 sounds great, but what's in it for you? Find out on our Sunwell Isle page where we list the impact on classes, professions, PvP, Raiders and many other playstyles and interests. Looking for more great info? Check out the WoW Insider Directory for the best of our guides and analysis.

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