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Totem Talk: Elemental changes, part two


Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets.

Hello again, dear readers. It's time for me to waffle on again about elemental shaman. A few weeks ago, we saw the talent tree revamp down to seven tiers, and there have been a number of changes in the builds since then. Some of the changes are small, but there's one or two in there that I think you'll like, if you haven't heard about them already.

I've also spent a little time on the beta, and aside from being totally unfamiliar with the UI, I'm enjoying it. Earthquake is fun to use, although I do wish that the cooldown didn't exist. As you can see from the image above, the current animation isn't quite finished yet, but looks promising.

But before we get started, I'd like to let you in on a little project I've been working on lately: TotemSpot. TotemSpot is our new Shaman Community Site that's been set up by a few shaman bloggers, and we're currently in beta (everything is there, but there are a few layout issues and changes we are working on). There is a forum, a blog/news front page, and a Wiki as well. Pop on over and have a look.

Swapping talents

In build 12539 last week, we saw the ugly stepchild of the elemental tree, Elemental Devastation, depart and become a tier two talent for enhancement after its journey from tier two elemental to tier one. It shall not be missed. In its place we have gained the formerly enhancement-based talent, Ancestral Knowledge. This still increases mana by 5/10/15% and will have to contend with Convection for the remaining two points to be spent in the first tier (the first three points will, of course, go into Concussion).

The interesting question is going to be whether increasing your mana pool, and thusly increasing the regen from Thunderstorm, will be of more benefit than reducing your mana costs by 10%. It is also quite likely that Unrelenting Storm will come into the mix when considering which mana related talents to use. You may recall that I did something on this last year, and I plan on revisiting this after Cataclysm hits. Subsequent to this, Improved Shields is now the three-point filler talent in enhancement tier one that we'll be using. Nothing flashy, but more mana from Water Shield charges is better than improving an ability we won't even use.

Old dogs with new tricks

As you know, Elemental Mastery has long had a shared cooldown with Nature's Swiftness from the days when it had a 100% crit chance rather than the current version we have today. Now that we've seen a reduction to 41 talent points and the restriction to one tree until 31 points are spent, the 11 point talents in enhancement and restoration are no longer available to us. Build 12604 removed that cooldown link, most likely to reduce the code behind both talents, and also added a nice new bonus to the spell. Elemental Mastery now increases your damage by 15%, in addition to the current 20% spell haste and next spell instant-cast benefits.

But wait, it gets better. Shamanism has been moved into a "base" ability for elemental, leaving a three-point talent gap at the top of the tree. In its place is Feedback, which is a 1/2/3 second cooldown reduction on the Elemental Mastery cooldown for every Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning hit. Say hello to the two-piece tier 10 set bonus in talent form. In other words, assuming no haste and only spending one minute casting Lightning Bolts, you've reduced your three-minute cooldown to 1 minute and 30 seconds. (Lightning Bolt cast time is 2 seconds, 60 seconds divided by 2 is 30 hits. 30 multiplied by 3 is 90 seconds off the cooldown). Obviously, this is just a rough example, but you begin to see how much of a change this is.

Armor bonuses

The mastery bonuses from wearing mail armor have been removed and replaced with "Armor Specializations." These give you bonuses when you're only wearing mail, ours being aptly named Elemental Mail Specialization, which increases Intellect by 5%.

This means that if you want to consider using a cloth or leather item as an upgrade, and you have 2,000 intellect, the upgrade needs to be worth 100 intellect more than the mail item you are replacing. As your intellect increases, so does this bonus, to a point where I'd only expect to see non-mail being used in the very early stages of dungeons and heroics, or newly-levelled characters who have been unlucky with drops.

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether it's Matt Sampson's elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Rich Maloy's enhancement edition, we have you covered.

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