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Totem Talk: Patch 3.2.2 and you (if you're a shaman)

Matthew Rossi

Totem Talk is the column for shamans. This week, Matthew Rossi continues looking at patch 3.2.2, this time with a more general view of the changes.

One thing I did wrong yesterday was that I really did not focus enough on the changes to Flame Shock, Lava Burst and Shamanism. I was admittedly very angry with the loss of just about every anti-stealth tool in my toolkit (especially as I've been leveling my orc shaman in AV as Elemental this week as part of my promise to you guys while also considering faction changing my space goat to a tauren) but the very silver lining to the particular patch 3.2.2 cloud is the significant DPS increase for Elemental.

Frankly, the duration increase on Flame Shock and the removal of Lava Burst's consuming the FS damage over time component, by themselves, would have resulted in a nice little DPS boost by freeing up a Glyph slot and extending the duration of the damage. (It also allows you to use other shocks and let FS tick off by itself rather than worrying about reapplying it). But when you combine this change with the significant increase in Shamanism's effect on Lightning Bolt and it now also working on Chain Lightning, what we have here is a very nice series of changes that help Elemental with those pesky scaling issues that have dogged the spec.

I'll admit, even with the XP loss in Alterac Valley and the loss of all my anti-stealth I still can't help but love AV on my orc. As I've gone up in level I'm not getting as many of those pesky resists and then this came along and my damage went up nicely even in my hodgepodge of old epics and new greens.

Just to give us a grounding in what exactly happened in patch 3.2.2 we'll repost the shaman changes here.

  • Cleansing Totem: No longer pulses instantly when dropped.
  • Flame Shock: The duration of all ranks has been increased by 6 seconds.
  • Lava Burst: This ability no longer ever consumes a Flame Shock debuff off of the target.
  • Talents
    • Elemental Combat
      • Shamanism: Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells gain an additional 3/6/9/12/15% and your Lava Burst gains an additional 4/8/12/16/20% of your bonus damage effects.
    • Enhancement
      • Earthen Power: No longer causes Earthbind to pulse a persistent snare immunity aura. It does still remove snares from allies as an instant pulse, but there is no lingering immunity. Earthen Power now also brings Earth Shock's melee attack speed reduction up to -15%/-20% (with 1 or 2 points in it, respectively).
The Earthen Power change seems aimed at giving shamans the means to provide an Improved Thunderclap style debuff to their raids while also reducing the total immunity to snares that made Earthen Power/Earthbind a poor man's Hand of Freedom. (To be fair, in some ways EP/Earthbind was superior to HoF, since it pulsed complete immunity for up to 45 seconds while HoF only lasts for six, but HoF works on more things than EP/Earthbind.) We discussed the FS/LB/Shamanism changes at the top of the post, but it bears repeating that these are some very nice changes overall. Taking my draenei elemental for an Onyxia run last night, in Naxx 10/25 and some TotC 5 Heroic gear I was up an easy 300 DPS. (This also might be in part due to my having the Glyph of Flame Shock with its new ability to allow the FS DoT to crit.)

From my previous week as Enhancement in AV, I'm really sad to see Earthen Power no longer pulse immunity, but I'm not surprised by it. I am however very surprised as well as saddened to see Cleansing Totem no longer immediately pulse on being dropped. I assume this change is PvP oriented as the totem could help shut down DK diseases and rogue poisons immediately and could be dropped frequently to keep pulsing that cleanse effect. I imagine it could be quite frustrating in 5v5 arena to have a DPS shaman dropping this totem and trivializing poison and disease removal.

I'd be lying if I said I cared, but I do possess the capacity to at least understand it. I don't care, though. I don't mind at all that shamans possessed at least one useful ability that helped counter DK's and rogues in PvP, and I don't in the slightest think making it harder to counter them is in any way a good thing.

I also really hate the fact that this totem is now less useful (although hardly useless) in PvE. That immediate pulse of cleanse on an instant cast ability was a godsend on quite a few encounters: I remember using it to get past Hadronox and his odious poison. I suppose this is the price we pay for having both our cleansing totems in one neat little package.
  • Grounding Totem will now properly protect against the Death Grip spell.
  • Lava Burst can no longer deal critical damage to targets who are immune to critical strikes (due to, e.g. Roar of Sacrifice, Blessed Resilience).
  • Lightning Shield: This spell will no longer set off some trinkets when it is cast.
  • Stoneclaw Totem's pulses will no longer break stealth on nearby hostile units.
  • Thunderstorm and Shamanistic Rage can no longer be used while Frozen, Cycloned, Sapped, or Incapacitated.
Yeah yeah, I complained up a storm about these yesterday (and probably overstated it somewhat, but dang it, I was just figuring out how to use them proactively and bang, gone) but man, losing my anti-stealth capacities just rankles. I can't complain that Lava Burst can't crit on targets who can't be critically hit, that's an understandable bug fix all told. Likewise, I'd rather I wasn't proccing my spell power trinkets just by casting Lightning Shield and putting them on cooldown, that's just silly.

Ultimately, the PvP inconvenience of the bug fixes is far outweighed by the DPS increase for caster shamans, which I didn't anticipate and was very pleasantly surprised by. It's nice to say "Hey, man, I really dig this talent now" for once as a patch rolls along.

Next week, I may have faction changed, or finished my PvP leveling. So a lot depends on that.

>Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Shamans in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: Totem Talk.

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