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Totem Talk: 3.0.8, The Rise of Shamanism

Matthew Rossi

The most recent patch notes for the PTR are among us. As promised, quite a few changes for shamans, especially elemental shamans, are included in this patch. First off, let's look at the specific changes to shamans.


  • Fire Nova Totem: Now no longer generates threat.
  • Healing Way: Now only one application is required to reach full benefit. No longer stacks.
  • Improved Water Shield: Lesser Healing Wave now has a reduced chance to trigger this talent.
  • Magma Totem: The damage and scaling has been increased and no longer generates threat.
  • Mental Quickness and Static Shock have switched positions in the talent tree.
  • Mental Quickness: Reduces the mana cost of instant cast Shaman spells by 2/4/6% and increases spell power by an amount equal to 10/20/30% of your attack power.
  • Searing Totem (Rank 4) now does the proper damage for its rank.
  • Tremor Totem's duration has been increased from 2 minutes to 5 minutes.
The changes to Fire Nova and Magma Totem are aimed at shaman AoE issues: it seems the Blizzard designers are really set on shaman AoE coming from totems or Chain Lightning. While I'm still not sold on losing either Flametongue or Totem of Wrath just to do some AoE, hopefully the removal of threat on these totems will help.

The Imp WS change keeps you from using up a charge on a relatively low mana cost LHW, which I can see even if I won't be happy if I have no mana left and am using LHW because it's the only healing spell I have the mana for. The change to Healing Way is probably due to the fact that a lot of resto shamans don't bother to take it anymore since they have a more varied spell rotation with Riptide and Chain Heal still the standouts. I honestly don't know if this change will really accomplish much: it may encourage people to put a Healing Wave into the rotation just to keep the buff up, but if you're doing 90% of your healing with riptide and CH anyway, you may just not bother and keep not spending the talent points on it.

So far you may be saying "Matt, these are either general shaman changes or, in fact seem to be aimed at restoration or enhancement, like the Mental Quickness/Static Shock change". Fair enough, but the Mental Quickness/Static Shock change is actually aimed at elemental shamans. Some elemental shamans are actually going that far into elemental to pick up Mental Quickness because they feel their own talent tree is bloated and underwhelming. This change is meant to keep enhancement more or less the same (I can't imagine an enhancement shaman not wanting that talent) but by placing it further down the tree, putting it out of reach of elemental.

The specifically elemental changes are as follows:

  • Elemental
    • Elemental Oath: In addition to existing effects, now increases spell damage done by the Shaman by 5/10% while Elemental Focus Clearcasting is active.
    • Elemental Mastery: Redesigned. Now increases the Shaman's critical strike chance by 20% for 30 seconds. Cooldown remains at 3 minutes.
    • Elemental Shields: This talent has been removed. It has now been merged with Elemental Warding.
    • Elemental Warding: Now reduces all damage taken by 2/4/6%. Changed from only reducing Nature, Fire and Frost by 4/7/10%.
    • New Talent: Shamanism-Your Lightning Bolt spell gains an additional 2/4/6/8/10% and your Lava Burst gains an additional 4/8/12/16/20% of your bonus damage effects.
    • Storm, Earth and Fire: This talent has been moved up in the tree, and its talent points have been reduced to 3 down from 5. Wind Shock is also included in the range increase (with Earth Shock). The damage bonus to Flame Shock has been increased, up from 10/20/30/40/50 to 20/40/60.
    • Unrelenting Storm: point cost reduced to 3, down from 5. Now does 4/8/12%
As you can see, the tree's bloat issue has been addressed. Several talents have been removed, consolidated with other talents or had their point costs reduced. Elemental Mastery, once used to guarantee your next spell would be a crit, now gives a flat 20% boost to your critical strike chance for 30 seconds, which I personally see as a buff but which is certainly a big change. Certainly, if you're used to relying on this talent to proc Elemental Focus you'll be leery of this change. (I have to think that you're going to get clearcasting in that 30 seconds of boosted crit, but I can understand not liking losing the certainty.) Storm, Earth and Fire gets a redesign as well, with the real winner being that three points now gets you 10% more periodic damage from Flame Shock than 5 points gets you at the moment. Since letting Flame Shock tick and then consuming it with Lava Burst is the new way to guarantee a critical hit for elemental, I generally see this as a buff not even counting that Wind Shock (our cheap interrupt) now gets the range increase as well as Earth Shock.

Elemental Oath, which up till now has been the shaman version of Moonkin Aura (and, much like warrior Rampage, is kind of inferior to its druid counterpart) now has a solid reason for a shaman to take it besides the buff to the casters that the moonkin will already be providing, namely that juicy 10% spell damage when the shaman goes into clearcasting following a spell crit. Since you will be critting your Lava Bursts, you will be getting this effect often. By itself this change makes my decision to focus my current efforts on assembling a set of heavy crit elemental gear even more appealing than it already was. This is synergy nearly on par with the enhancement tree's Maelstrom Weapon ability and it's very welcome.

Unrelenting Storm
is also buffed, less points, more benefit. The reason all of these talents have to have their points shaved off, however, is to make it possible for elemental shamans to pick up our new talent, Shamanism. So far it looks really solid.

Frankly, the reason elemental shamans were complaining about their damage all the way back to the beta for Wrath was because unlike other caster DPS, there was no clear-cut way to boost a shaman's spell power so that it scaled as gear improved. Elemental seemed to fall behind on damage compared to other classes as everyone got better gear. Now any such concerns seems to me to be fairly well covered by the one-two punch of the new Elemental Oath and Shamanism. With LB getting an additional 10% (at max rank) and Lava Burst getting an additional 20% of your bonus damage effects, and EO increasing your damage by 10% when you crit, I'm hopeful that this will help keep Elemental competitive with other caster DPS. I'd like to see Chain Lightning also get the effect of Shamanism (I'm hoping it's counted under Lightning Bolt, but until I can test it out once this week's raiding is over I simply can't say) but even so I'm excited.

Now, all we need is more DPS caster mail with stats elemental shamans would want like crit and hit so that we don't have to fight constantly with boomkin over every leather caster drop in existence. These new talents make crit even more attractive: clearcasting not only reduces how much mana you use, it ups your damage.

This is a good patch for shamans, and a very good one for elemental as a spec, in my opinion. Hopefully the reality will be as good as it looks in notes.

There are also several bug fixes worth pointing out from the patch notes:

  • Chain Heal: This spell will now give an invalid target error message if the primary target is a totem.
  • Earth Shield: Now correctly uses the Shaman?s own spell critical strike chance to determine the chance of a critical heal.
  • Elemental Shields was reducing flat physical damage, not a percentage. Now properly reduced by a percentage.
  • Lava Lash - Fixed a bug which allowed you to use the ability even if you had a shield in offhand. Now requires a 1hand axe, fist or dagger to be able to be used.
  • Fixed a bug where Thunderstorm (Elemental) was knocking back 15 yards, instead of 20. It should now roughly knockback the correct length of 20 yards.
  • Magma Totem: Fixed a bug that capped the damage of this ability at too low of a level.
  • Resistance Totems: Players will no longer see two copies of these buffs when two shamans cast the totems simultaneously.
  • Spirit Walk: This Feral Spirit ability will now properly clear roots and snares from the Shaman master.
  • Stoneclaw Totem: The tooltip has been revised to indicate the damage absorb shield also works on the Stoneclaw Totem itself
  • Totem of Hex now correctly grants 165 spell power to Chain Lightning and Lightning Bolt, up from 85.

Not much to say there: there were bugs, they've been fixed. Most were pretty good fixes for us.

Next week, either I complain some more about not enough caster mail before you go into raiding or I manage to force myself to talk about something else.

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