We'll look at the patch notes first.
- Earth Elemental Totem: The cooldown for this totem has been reduced from 20 minutes to 10 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.
- Fire Elemental Totem: The cooldown for this totem has been reduced from 20 minutes to 10 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.
- Fire Nova Totem: This totem has been replaced with a new spell, Fire Nova, which is available at the same ranks as the old Fire Nova Totem. Existing characters will automatically learn this new spell in place of the totem. With a Fire Totem active, shamans will be able to use Fire Nova (fire magic) to emit the same area-of-effect damage as the old Fire Nova Totem from the active Fire Totem, not consuming the totem in the process. Fire Nova will activate a 1.5-second global cooldown when used and has a 10-second spell cooldown. The caster must be within 30 yards of the totem to use this ability, but does not need to be within line of sight of the totem.
- Reincarnation: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 60 minutes down to 30 minutes.
- Elemental Mastery: This talent now increases spell haste by 15% instead of critical strike chance while active.
- Improved Fire Nova Totem: Renamed Improved Fire Nova. This talent now provides an additional 10/20% damage to the spell and reduces the cooldown by 2/4 seconds.
- Earth's Grasp: This talent now also reduces the cooldown of the Stoneclaw and Earthbind totems by 15/30%.
- Improved Reincarnation: This talent now reduces the cooldown of Reincarnation by 7/15 minutes, down from 10/20 minutes. Reincarnation cannot be used in Arenas.
I've already stated that I like the shorter cooldowns on the elementals... I'm generally always in favor of shorter cooldowns on abilities when I get to use them and against them for classes I don't play, because I'm selfish and horrible and make no apologies for it. I'm okay with the totems not being usable in arenas because, frankly, they wouldn't even be a speed bump in an arena setting anyway. How long is it going to take any DPS to kill a totem? Heck, I think I could ignore the totem itself and just two shot the elemental on some characters.
Fire Nova is a fun new ability. I haven't gotten much use out of it playing elemental in BG's yet, but when I go enhancement for five/ten man action it's a lot of fun and does reasonable damage. You can play around with positioning by running up, dropping a fire totem, then running back out to range (I've actually done this a few times when healing just for kicks) as long as you'll be within 30 yards of the totem. It's not enormous damage but it's reasonable and is very useful on big trash pulls or when running an instance with lots of adds spawning. Or if you have a DK tank who chain pulls like a lunatic and invites all the AoE you can muster. I'm just saying.
The Reincarnation/Improved Reincarnation changes can get it down to 15 minutes. On the one hand, this is longer than abilities like a druid's battle rez or a soulstone, both of which have more flexibility.Still, Reincarnation has its strengths (unlike a druid battle res, you don't lose Reincarnation just because, well, you died the way the druid will if he dies before casting it... we've all seen those ridiculous "Okay, Druidking res Druidcat, and Druidcat, you rest Druiddude as soon as you can... Druiddude, I'm going to need you to res Druidboy once you have mana" calls) and having it available every fifteen minutes is hardly a bad change, even if it seems underwhelming compared to other abilities.
It's kind of funny how often you end up saying that as a shaman sometimes. "X seems underwhelming compared to Y and Z." Perhaps the secret to being happy as a shaman player is never noticing what other classes can do. (This is both sardonic and unfair of me. I loves my chain heal.)
Since I only really play as Elemental in BG's now (and I admit, I only do it so I can Thunderstorm people off of bridges) the Elemental Mastery change was one I noticed, thought was good, and moved on. But the past week the elemental shamans in my raid group (Dasi, you're simply a beast) could not stop talking about how much better the talent is now. This makes me happy just because I've always found elemental combat to be a tree with a lot of potential that I utterly fail at utilizing, and yet even I knew the crit on the talent wasn't very compelling.
I hadn't really even noticed the change to Earth's Grasp. I'm going to leave this one up to the comments, frankly. I mean, I always like a cooldown reduction. Am I forgetting something that would make this a bad change?
We'll take a quick look at the bug fixes next. One of them makes me slightly happy.
- Glyph of Earthliving Weapon: Now updates the tooltip for Earthliving Weapon.
- Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave: Tooltip and functionality corrected to ensure this glyph will cause extra healing from Lesser Healing Wave regardless of which shaman cast Earth Shield on the target.
- Hex: Players are no longer able to use Battlemaster trinkets while under the effects of this spell.
- Mana Tide Totem: The tooltip on this spell will now be modified properly by the Glyph of Mana Tide Totem.
- Thunderstorm: It is no longer possible to use this ability while under the effects of the Druid spell Cyclone.
A tooltip update for Earthliving is all well and good, but the Glyph of Lesser Healing Wave change is nice and the Hex change is very nice indeed. Sure, Hex is still basically a glorified silence/disarm, but at least now when you're trying to kill someone under its effects they can't get more health on you. Losing Thunderstorm when Cycloned is unfortunate but most likely necessary. I still hate it, but I can't honestly complain about it.
In general, while shamans still have some issues with totems comparing poorly to other classes' buffs or debuffs (which we will be discussing in depth soon) this was a pretty nice little set of changes for the class. Coming up next week, a look at patch 3.3's itemization and if it suits or hinders shaman play.
Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Shamans in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: Totem Talk.