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The Wrath of the Shaman Part 2: Elemental Combat

Matthew Rossi

Continuing our series on Shaman talents in Wrath, we're going to talk today about Elemental Combat, and the new talents for it. One of the first things I notice comparing the current talent trees to the ones coming is the move of Elemental Devastation down to a 5 point talent, making it much friendlier for Enhancement Shamans to pick up (as was commented upon in our previous post on the subject) especially now that Nature's Guidance is gone from the Restoration tree. With the ability to guarantee a Lava Burst crit by using Flame Shock, you could theoretically keep your melee crit rate up for a very long time, and in so doing reduce the cost of your shocks significantly as well as keep Maelstrom Weapon stacked.

Which is very nice for enhancement shamans who want to spec into Elemental, yes, but what about for elemental shamans themselves? What talents will they be looking at?

Well, just for starters, let's talk about Paralysis.

This is one of those spells up on the same tier as Totem of Wrath, and deservedly so. The effect is a snare, but in addition to your target being slowed by 75% it also slows attack and casting speed and increases the benefit of your spell power on Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells. Fully talented your LB will have a 15% chance to proc the effect. Sadly, Chain Lightning does not seem to proc the effect, based on wording. But then again, 10% bonus spell power fully talented would probably be worth the three talent points by itself if you're fully committed to elemental combat as your spec of choice.
I don't know if I like the short duration and the incremental way the effect wears off, but until I actually get to play with it the talent definitely stands out in the mind. Elemental Oath, which appears on the tree after Elemental Mastery, has a very interesting effect, reducing your party's mana costs and increasing their critical strike damage both by 2% when you crit with a spell. I have no idea if this will be raid wide or not, the wording doesn't seem to imply that it will be but that could just be an oversight. Still, combined with Totem of Wrath this makes elemental shamans even more helpful for other casters. Combined with the capstone new talent, Thunderstorm, it appears Elemental Shamans have a variety of ways to regain mana or reduce how much they need to spend now. Thunderstorm actually looks fairly good for PvP to me, as does Astral Shift. I'd like to see more of a reduction effect on Astral Shift, admittedly, but working on stuns, fears and silences seems like a positive step for shaman survivability.

I really like Storm, Earth and Fire but so far the shamans I've spoken with aren't as enthusiastic as I am about it. I personally love the chance to root with my frost shocks, anything that extends the range of my interrupt is good in my eyes, and more periodic damage for flame shock is more damage, plain and simple. But I've been taken to task for liking it when it seems more like a combination of three somewhat weak buffs to our shocks rather than a standout strong buff to one school or another. You be the judge, I guess.

Elemental Shields reduces all physical damage by up to 6%. I think it's a touch weak. But it's still a nice talent, I'd just like to see more damage reduced, or for it to work on all kinds of damage.

The new spell you'll be working into your DPS rotations is, as previously mentioned, Lava Burst. It's in the elemental combat 'tree' but not talented, meaning all shamans can cast it. Since you can use it in combination with flame shock to guarantee that it crits, it would seem perfect for proccing Elemental Oath and reducing your entire party's (or even raid, if that ends up being raid wide) mana costs while increasing their critical hit damage. Over a long fight this could be a very big boost to both mana efficiency and raid DPS.

Looking at it so far, while I do think that several talents could be stronger, I think elemental sees strong gains for its primary role of ranged DPS and for its ability to contribute to ranged DPS from other casters while gaining some strong abilities to contribute to mana efficiency as well. I also think we'll see a lot more Elemental/Enhancement hybrid specs. (I still think Resto will be the offspec of choice for Elemental, however, and we'll discuss more why that is in tomorrow's Totem Talk.)

Since I missed a day, we'll be covering Resto in Wrath in Totem Talk, and probably then discussing all three trees and their new synergies as well, and also how the new spellpower might shake out for us.

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