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Totem Talk: Elemental spells in Cataclysm


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. He's the shaman behind TotemSpot, the new shaman community site/forum/wiki and might have been a hunter if only hunter pets hadn't sucked when WoW was launched.

Hello again, fellow elemental shaman. All you nonelemental types can stand at the back of the room and keep quiet. I've already rambled on about talents, twice even, but so far haven't touched on the new abilities yet. There are a few goodies for all the specs.

Before we begin, a brief word from our sponsor. No, wait, sorry, I mean Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer).

We're fine with totem health given how easy totems are to replace. We also think it's fine to have to (sometimes) choose between a buff totem and a non-buff totem given how many different things a shaman can do.

However, we are going to increase buff totem range (and possibly other totem range) and we have figured out a way to make Searing Totem attack your target, instead of a random and probably inappropriate target.

The increase of buff range will be a godsend. Hopefully they increase it to the standard 100-yard range of all other auras, preventing the classic "the raid just moved and now I have to redrop totems a few times to make sure everyone is covered" problem. The other side of that is with the additional instant-cast spell in Unleash Elements, and the casting-while-moving ability that is Spiritwalker's Grace, there will be less running time during which to recast totems.

The Searing Totem change is also very, very nice, not to mention something that we have been asking the development team for for a while. The question remains whether the totem range increase will be applied to Searing Totem as well, to avoid the "I can be 36 yards away from the target for everything but my DPS totem" problem.

Now, on with the main topic of today's post, Cataclysm spells. We've finally got a proper crowd control spell in Bind Elemental. (I don't count Hex as a decent crowd control spell.) Bind Elemental is the elemental version of Shackle Undead, with a 50-second duration and no cooldown. The spell effect is fairly similar to Shackle Undead, as shown in the image above. The only downside is that unless you've played a priest, mage or warlock in another life, you'll need to bone up on crowd control macros and management (an addon to manage it for you wouldn't go amiss, either).

As I mentioned earlier, we now have a cast-while-moving spell named Spiritwalker's Grace. This is a 10-second, 2-minute cooldown ability that allows you to cast non-instant spells while running. My first question is whether it applies to all movement, which means you could continue to cast spells while falling, knockbacks, etc. If so, I would say that the "Shaman Bomb" becomes the next amusing YouTube video of shaman abilities. Unfortunately, as it is a level 85 ability and the beta servers have a level cap of 83, nobody has this spell yet.

Also from earlier, Unleash Elements is a new instant-cast ability that has a different effect depending on which weapon enchant you currently have. With Flametongue Weapon, it deals fire damage to the target and is supposed to apply a 20 percent extra damage debuff on the target for your next fire spell. Unfortunately, this debuff does not seem to be working in the current beta build, which means I can't do any testing on it, so it is unclear as to whether it will apply to the DoT portion of Flame Shock or not. Until then, we can't make any educated guesses as to whether this will be used on every cooldown, prior to a fire spell or some combination in between, and all these points will be moot if it changes to purely a direct damage spell.

Next on the list is Healing Rains. This is a cross between a targeted AoE spell like Blizzard and a group heal spell like Tranquility. Most of you will probably be thinking, "Why are you talking about a healing spell in a damage column?" You've probably forgotten about the emergency heals thrown on yourself or others while trying to turn that sub-five-percent wipe into a killed-the-boss-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth victory. Use this as an emergency heal on your melee group when there is a lot of damage.

It's worth mentioning Elemental Mastery in here as well, even if it's a talented ability rather than a base ability. I did go on about it last time, but I'm glad to report that Feedback stacks with the tier 10 two-piece bonus, meaning you get a grand total of 5 seconds off the cooldown for every Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning spell you cast. I'm currently running around with a /cast Elemental Mastery /cast Lightning Bolt macro to use EM on every cooldown.

Lastly, we have another talent ability, Earthquake. I made a passing mention to this last week, but this spell fills in the previously lacking proper AoE damage spell. The typical approach will be to mix in Chain Lightning, Magma Totem, Fire Nova and normal single-target spells during the 5-plus seconds between casts (depending on haste, of course). The interesting question will be whether any cooldown reduction glyphs will be introduced.

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,'s shaman experts have you covered.

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