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Totem Talk: Patch 3.3 PTR Roundup Madness

Matthew Rossi

Totem Talk is the column for shamans. Matthew Rossi has been eying the PTR with an eye towards what path his shaman will take as we march on Icecrown. This week we talk about it.

Before I say anything else, let me reassure elemental shamans, your Tier 10 relic is going to have haste instead of crit. Coming from someone who is at best a middling elemental shaman, even I knew that crit isn't terribly compelling to a spec that can force a crit whenever it wants. We covered the relics the other day, but I wanted to make sure to go over that change in case anyone was scratching their head at a crit totem for a spec that doesn't really need it anymore.

Yesterday's changes on the PTR weren't terribly expansive, so let's reproduce the relevant ones here.
  • Elemental - Your Earth Shock, Flame Shock, and Frost Shock spells grant 73 critical strike rating for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. (We now know this will be haste for 30 seconds.)
  • Enhancement - Your Stormstrike ability grant 146 attack power rating for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.
  • Restoration - Your Riptide spell grants 85 spell power for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.

First, we'll discuss the Reincarnation change. While I find the tone of a lot of the comments to be deplorably aggressive (frankly, we as a class tend to go ape on the forums) I can't argue with the point being made: reducing Reincarnation to a 50 minute cooldown from 60, and having the talent shave at most another 20 minutes off of it, ends up with a 30 minute cooldown that is twice as long as any other such ability. That being said, Ghostcrawler's point here is perfectly valid: as soon as Reincarnation is usable every fight, it will be used every fight. Heck, we use ankh's in Heroic TotC (probably wouldn't have gotten our Twins kill without them) to get a DPS or healer up as soon as it's relatively safe to do so. Why wouldn't you? Reincarnation is dependable: you know you'll have it no matter what if a shaman dies. Still, I don't think anyone talents for it (I know I don't) - perhaps we would if it could get the cooldown to 15 minutes, perhaps we wouldn't.

The comment linked to above also makes an interesting point (that's completely unrelated to patch 3.3 except that now's as good a time as any to fix it) that the orc Blood Fury racial is useless for Resto Shamans, and only Resto Shamans, out of every other spec/class an orc can possibly play. (And since orc mages will most likely receive the exact same version that warlocks do now, that will continue into Cataclysm unless fixed.) Since I play an orc shaman and I'm incredibly selfish, I'm hoping this will be fixed and it will simply add AP and Spell Power for shamans in the future. It's not a major issue, but it vexes me. Since we're running around getting new totems for trolls and orcs (and incoming new totems for dwarves even though they won't even be in the game for a while) it seems like a good time to buff Blood Fury.

We mentioned Fire Nova Totem becoming an aura emitted by any fire totem when it was first announced, and one of the big concerns from commenters was that this seemed better for enhancement, with their up-close fighting style, than elemental who stay in the back casting spells. Since then I've gotten the chance to run Pit of Saron with Tristan from the Extremists podcast as well as transfer my orc over, and I have to say, both Tristan's comments and my own experience bear out that you'll use the totem as AoE about as much as any other caster. It's as if you had Arcane Explosion but you could drop it and then run away from where it was going to be. The tank on each run was so solid that it's hard to tell how much threat the totem aura puts out: mobs didn't seem to be running to one shot it, but that could be a consequence of a massive aggro lead. At any rate, the damage felt competitive for AoE, it's certainly not terribly hard to get the totem into range of an AoE pack, and at least I am looking forward to seeing it on live.

Okay, now let's talk about those relics again.

The elemental one would have been frankly terrible as crit. As haste, especially with a 30 second duration and the ability to stack three times, it's better. But does it really wow you enough to cast aside your Totem of Electrifying Winds? It will really depend on a comparison of uptime, ultimately. Does the three stack (219 haste) build up fast enough and stay up long enough to be better than a flat 200 haste? This is simply a question that will have to wait until someone gets one and does some tests. At least you have more options on how you might proc the new totem's effects, and that's something.

The new enhancement totem is even less impressive until we know proc rate and uptime. The Totem of Quaking Earth just seems like it will give you more AP (even a three stack of the 146 AP from the new totem will be, when fully stacked, 438 AP, just barely above the Quaking Earth, and you need to get it stacked) so again, we're talking about how long it will take to proc. (For the moment, let's just pretend that some theorycrafters aren't already saying the ToEW is better for single target enhancement damage than the Quaking Earth, as that kind of discussion is going to complicate this even more.) I'm hopeful the enhancement totem will also see a 30 second duration as the elemental one has.

The resto totem has a similar problem: it just doesn't seem all that much better than the T9 level Totem of Calming Tides. The exact same issues with duration, stacking and uptime: if you're going to have the buff start off so much smaller and stack up, it really has to stack faster. Once we see these in action we'll know more.

Next week, either back to leveling or (hopefully) more discussion of patch 3.3 and shamans, with a side possibility of talking about shamans in TotC/TotGC.

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

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