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Totem Talk: A lazy Thursday

Matthew Rossi

Shattrath's a ghost town. Emptiest I've seen it ever, with a few low level toons wandering through the empty streets begging for an instance run and the occasional demand for a portal to Dala-someplace or other. I didn't catch it.

Sorry, you'll have to forgive me, I'm still a trifle out of it over the launch of Wrath of the Lich King and my own late night excursion to procure copies, made possible by my good friend Ruarri (thank you very much, man) who is himself currently running around Outland on a level 65 shaman with a Spinal Reaper equipped that he got from an MC pug a couple of weeks ago. It's a strange time in WoW, as The Burning Crusade joins all that level 60 raid content on the ash heap of obsolescence.

I personally find myself on the horns of a dilemma with my shaman: while I very much enjoy restoration spec and healing instances, the current improvements to enhancement make it hands down my favorite spec for leveling. Until the dual-spec switching comes to pass, I'm probably going to focus my leveling on my orc shaman and take him enhancement in a clown suit of cast-off raiding epics no one wanted (I have bear heads on my shoulders and my best weapon is a two handed axe for a spec designed to dual wield, but I'll gear up fast enough) rather than elemental in his far superior caster set. Why am I doing this?

Because Windfury is what got me into this class, Windfury is how I made it to 70, and by all that whispers in the wind and the rock I'm betting on Windfury to take me the rest of the way.

I admit that this is sort of a private mission of mine. I admit that dual wielding is the superior DPS path for enhancement shamans now. I admit that with Lava Lash and the option to use Flametongue it only gets more complex, with deeper math, that the time of the big two handed weapon in a shaman's grasping mitts is a relic of the past. I would not recommend that you emulate me in any way. But seeing that Spinal Reaper swinging around inside a Ramparts run I took Ruarri through, I could not stop myself.

What spec am I using for this crazy experiment, you ask? This one. I've deliberately refrained from the dual wielding talents (since I don't intend to dual wield) and I'm intended to go into Static Shock for my next three levels. Since Windfury Weapon and Windfury Totem no longer overlap, I'll be dropping Strength of Earth and Windfury Totem more or less constantly, making my choice to go full Enhancing Totems instead of Anticipation or Toughness slightly less absurd.

I tested it out this morning by running around Borean Tundra killing various Nerubians and so on for Garrosh Hellscream, who thinks I've forgotten what an incredibly emo pain in the butt he was in Nagrand now that he's gone fury and given Thrall a hard time. Well, I haven't, Captain Crybaby. I hope the Greatmother can see what an incredible jerk you are, now give me my quest reward and I can go back to remembering you as the whiny jerk you really are. (God, why doesn't Saurfang backhand this idiot?) Not that I have strong feelings about this questline or anything. At any rate, the burst damage potential is still as good as it ever was, mobs die, I get loot, it's good enough for me.

Let me be totally honest with you. You only get so many chances to play the way you want to, especially as the social aspect of the game overlaps with raiding and you're asked to fulfill roles the group needs. I don't mind, and in fact even enjoy healing for raids and once we're 80 I will doubtlessly strap on the caster gear and get back into the swing of things. But the next ten levels for me (and for you, too) are, in their way, a time of absolute freedom. You will be running five mans, you will be grinding quests, there's no pressure to be ready to respec and fill a role in a raid force for the next nine levels. Now is the time for you to take your hybrid healer/caster DPS/melee DPS and play with what he or she can do. Now is the time to experiment.

There are two excellent, fun instances in the starting zones: we covered their loot and quests last week, Have you been healing for the past year? Now is the time to say I'm going elemental if you've always been curious about the spec. Now is the time to take all that offspec healing gear and try out resto if you never have. Now is the time to try offspec healing, or even DPSing as melee with your resto spec just because you can.

Too many people treat these ten levels as a grind, an ordeal, something to burn through as fast as possible to get to the good stuff. I don't like this attitude for any class, but for a shaman it's criminal: this is a class with some real depth and versatility. Now is the time to really go nuts and see how far you can bend your expected class roles, because you never know when you're going to have to do that kind of thing. With the new unified spell power and enchancement being much more of a melee/caster fusion that ever before, you have the ability to try out various aspects of the game to see if you like them.

Sure, we can tell you all about the changes. But what that cheats you out of is the opportunity to experience them, if you don't go and try them out for yourself. Why not take a day out of your usual enhancement spec and see what Thunderstorm is like? It's not like you have to be back to enhancement any time soon, there's no raid relying on you, the next ten levels are effectively yours to do what you like with. You might discover that you really enjoy the new talents and abilities for healing, or that dual wielding with the new instant attack and the possibility of a neat Maelstrom Weapon proc has made melee much more fun for you. Now is the time. Don't hold your nose and try and rip through these ten levels like a chore. Go out there and do whatever crazy thing you've wanted to do for the past year, but haven't been able to.

Even if it is as crazy as speccing two hand enhancement like it was 2005 all over again. Wrath of the Lich King is your time to take this class out and bend it till it screams. As for me? I'm going to be lopping heads off with two handed axes. I'm an orc, it's what we do.

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