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Cataclysm Beta: Enhancement talent preview

Rich Maloy

As many of my fellow bloggers noted, the starting talents are a welcome change, and even more so for enhancement. New shaman will hit level 10, choose the ultimate spec, and bam! We'll have dual wield, dual wield specialization, Mental Quickness and Lava Lash! This means no more playing as an elemental wannabe lobbing Lightning Bolts until the 2 button on your keyboard wears off.

The way things stand now, leveling as enhancement doesn't feel like enhancement until the 30s, when we get Windfury, or 40s, when we currently get Dual Wield. That stretch of 20s and 30s really is rough right now, if you are true to the path of enhancement. Heck, even Faience from Choose My Adventure is feeling the pain of the lack of enhancement in the 20s. But no more! We will be enhancement from the beginning with dual wield plus hit, attack power conversion to spellpower and an off-hand attack!

The talent tree is highly streamlined, but with only 41 talent points to spend, we won't be painting the trees with points. I don't see any tough choices in the enhancement tree, and getting down to Feral Spirit should be easy with something like 0/31/0. The last 10 points could look something like 8/33/0, but that remains to be seen.

Ancestral Swiftness

Ancestral Swiftness will be amazing. On the recent Raid Warning shaman roundtable podcast, Rouncer and Juggy -- two enhancers who I respect a lot -- both emphasized the importance of run speed. We were talking about these things before the revised trees were released; at that time, Improved Ghost Wolf and Ancestral Swiftness were separate talents. They both said they'd max both out, even if it meant sacrificing points in passive damage components. The new combined talent is a perfect example of removing talent tree bloat and making each talent point impactful.

Mana regen

Primal Wisdom will be our big mana-returning talent. With this, we'll be gulping down goblets of mana squeezed from the pain we inflict on our foes. Drink it up, brothers and sisters, drink it up. Will our cup runneth over?

On a recent enhance simulation using the latest EnhSim, I had 110 procs per minute (PPM) for white damage, with 13.44% melee haste from gems and gear, before raid buffs. With a 40% chance to proc, that would give me 44 PPM of Primal Wisdom. Since I'm not in the beta *coughBlizzardinvitemepleasecough*, I'll just use my current mana levels to finish the calculation. I'm at 5,976 base mana, 5% of which is 299, which means at 44 PPM I'll have 13,156 mana return per minute. With no intellect on melee gear, we can expect our mana levels to stay around baseline; thus at those levels, we should be able to refill our mana pools 2.2 times per minute with continuous attacks.

Comparing Wrath to beta is not the ideal way to sim this stuff out, but with Primal Wisdom, Mental Quickness reducing the cost of instant-cast spells and Shamanistic Rage still in full force, our little blue bars should stay full.


Our rotation hasn't been simplified yet, though. From all I can, tell we'll still be cooldown-starved at all times. Don't get me wrong, I love that about enhancement; it's one of my favorite things. Even in those rare moments when absolutely everything that could be on cooldown is on cooldown, even then I have something to do: refresh Lightning Shield or Magma Totem.

It looks like we'll drop from our rotation:
And adding to the selection of spells for enhancement:By my math, X - 2 + 4 = more than what we have now. Obviously we're months away from release, so we'll see what comes of it.

One talent that has piqued my curiosity is Elemental Precision. The spirit portion of this talent is a waste for us, but would the extra hit for fire, frost and nature spells boost our damage more than Call of Flame? It's too early to tell, and no doubt we'll have many revisions between now and then.


Lastly, I'll speculate a bit about enhancement in PvP, though I am admittedly not much of a PvPer these days. As I'm experimenting with builds, I wonder if Searing Flames and Improved Lava Lash will be worth taking at the sacrifice of some defensive abilities. Also, how many points should we put in Totemic Vigor? Will one point be enough to prevent drive-by totem killing, or will be need a full two points? An enhancement PvP spec could look something like 7/34/0.

Also, did you notice Frozen Power is gone? No more snare? Sure, we'll get an additional slow from Unleashed Weapon: Frostbrand, but we lose the damage buff and root effect. Plus Frostbrand is still not included in Elemental Weapons. This needs more development; I will surely miss the loss of the snare effect.

What do you think of the talents thus far? What would you like to see?

May all your hits be crits!

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