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Totem Talk: When things go off the rails

Matthew Rossi

Yesterday, a new PTR patch dropped with changes for shamans. We'll be covering them. But first I wanted to talk about the change to the Windfury Glyph that I've frankly been avoiding discussing for weeks now. I've avoided it because, frankly, I haven't wanted to discuss it until I could come up with something to say that wasn't a lot of cursing. Amazingly this change was so extreme that the highest damage an enhancement shaman can get right now is to use the Torch of Holy Fire in your mainhand and a fast offhand with flametongue on each weapon.

Yes, that's right, a healer/caster weapon is the highest DPS an enhancement shaman can get. This is the sound of me banging my head against the desk. My forehead's got splinters. Honestly, I still don't know what to say about this. When the attack power was taken out of WF glyph they might as well have just removed it from the game.

In the above post Blizzard hightlights their intention for the class (slow MH/slow OH with WF/FT), the problem here is not what they intended but what they did. By reducing the WF glyph and removing the attack power bonus it was giving, the glyph became inferior to double flametongue with a caster MH/fast OH, due to how Flametongue Weapon works.

Right now, the base damage on each Flametongue proc scales with weapon speed, but the percent of spellpower that affects the damage that the imbue does is always a flat 10%, meaning that until 3.1 flametongue does more damage on a faster weapon. The enhancement playstyle that takes advantage of this is an anomaly, in that we know it will be much less effective in 3.1, but as of right now we know that if you are an enhancement shaman, you will do more damage with a caster weapon and a fast offhand.

Frankly, what really annoys me about all this is the heavy handed nerfs that seem totally unmindful of consequences. It's not of any real consequence on my orc shaman, he's still leveling, but for my draenei who is in the middle of gearing up in 10 man raiding it's very annoying. If I want him to do max DPS now, I need a caster MH and a fast offhand. If I focus on those now then once 3.1 comes they won't be worth having, but if I don't I'm hurting my DPS until the patch comes out. I went out and crafted a MH and have been running CoT Strat for gear drops and badge purchases that aren't even going to be good when I get them. (To be fair, they'll be good, just not as good as Blizzard intended them to be.)

I don't know why, if this is the intended design for the enhancement shaman (slow melee MH/slow offhand with WF/FT) that a small patch can't be deployed now making just that change. But I'm fine with the change being made: although I feel bad for anyone who caught the new reality fast (unlike me, hoping the AP on the WF glyph would stick around) and changed to the higher DPS of caster MH/fast OH with FT/FT because their ingenuity was rewarded by being removed. If you're going to change the way FT scales, why not hotfix it? You hotfixed the AP on WF glyph, after all, when it was apparent that even having nerfed the glyph from 5% to 2% that the extra AP on the glyph managed to make it desireable. If we were so quick to fix that, why not be equally quick to fix this?

Personally I'd like to see some form of this playstyle be viable as a reward to those who figured it out. Why shouldn't a Wraith Strike and Murder be viable for enhancement? Instead of reeling drunkenly between extremes, I'd like to see both provide viable DPS and preference becoming more important. But I don't expect that to happen, so if you're using Caster/Fast right now, enjoy it while you can.

Okay, now to cover the new PTR changes. They're in line with the patch notes we saw recently. Thanks again to MMO-Champion for their good work in bringing them to light.


  • Stoneclaw Totem has been changed to display the amount of damage absorbed. (990 damage for Rank 9)
  • Elemental Mastery now gives your Fire, Frost, and Nature damage spells a 15% (down from 20%) increased critical strike chance for 15 sec.
  • Restorative Totems has been changed from 5 to 3 ranks and now increases the effect of your Mana Spring Totem by 7/12/20%, and increases the amount healed by your Healing Stream Totem by 15/30/45%
There's nothing really new or surprising here if you've been looking at the PTR patch notes as they've dropped. The Stoneclaw change is nice, not earth shaking but a good nod to convenience. The Elemental Mastery change is not unexpected: once they folded the instant cast ability from Nature's Swiftness into the talent you had to expect some sort of compensatory nerf. The ability to cast a chain lightning or lava burst instantly with 15% increased crit chance is still pretty sweet.

Shamanistic Rage when stunned is clearly aimed at trying to give enhancement a PvP panic button to reduce incoming damage while stunlocked. Is it good enough? Probably not, but it's a nice effort. The UR change just brings it up to parity with similar effects and lets be honest, you're going to take the talent for the expertise anyway, so any buff to its utility is good. The Restorative Totem's change is probably aimed at getting some shamans to keep the talent once Mana Spring goes exclusive with Blessing of Wisdom. On live, a five point investment in the talent would get you 25% to both totems, so you're getting more (much more in the case of Healing Stream) for less points. I have no idea if this is going to work or not, but since you're almost guaranteed to drop either Healing Stream or the new combined Cleansing Totem as your water choice, it could work out to a nice boost to healing.

On the glyph front, both the Glyph of Thunder and Riptide got three second buffs, which in the case of Riptide makes it pretty compelling for healing. I'm already sure that PvP elemental will be using Thunder, and even PvE might want to shave 10 seconds off of their mana regain panic button.

Finally, Tier 8 set bonuses, as posted last night by Alex Zie Bart, Zie.

  • Enhancement 2Piece Bonus -- Increases the damage done by Lava Lash and Stormstrike by 20%.
  • Enhancement 4Piece Bonus -- Increases the frequency of Maelstrom Weapon being triggered by your melee weapon attacks by 20%.
  • Restoration 2Piece Bonus -- Reduces the cooldown on Riptide by 1 sec.
  • Restoration 4Piece Bonus -- Reduces the cast time of Chain Heal by 0.2 sec.
  • Elemental 2Piece Bonus -- The periodic damage dealt by your Flame Shock can now be critical strikes.
  • Elemental 4Piece Bonus -- Your critical Strikes from Lightning Bolt cause the target to take nature damage equal to 8% of the Lightning Bolt's damage over until cancelled sec.
The enhancement set bonuses are actually good. I'm as shocked as you are. A 20% increased Maelstrom chance? The only possible down side there is chewing through your mana, but the change to Improved Stormstrike that allows it to refund mana should help with that. And 20% increased damage on enhancement's two big attacks? Nothing bad to say about that.

Resto could use some love on that second set bonus: a reduced cast time on CH is good, but 0.2 seconds isn't that impressive. Granted, you'll probably already be stacking some serious haste by this point anyway. The reduction on Riptide's cooldown is sweet.

Elemental now gets crits on their dots. Interesting. Does this mean Elemental Mastery's increased crit chance will be applied to Flame Shock DoT? The 4 pc could use some clearing up, it's kind of vague. Over until canceled? What does that mean?

And thus concludes this week's Totem Talk. I know I failed to avoid ranting and did not address the WF glyph/ caster weapon issue in a calm and rational manner. The whole thing just makes me livid.

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