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Totem Talk: Enhancement Cataclysm update

Rich Maloy

Axes, maces, lightning, Windfury, and wolves. It can mean only one thing: enhancement. Rich Maloy lives it and loves it. His main spec is enhance. His off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance, and leads the guild Big Crits (Week 9 now out!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

With such a lame title, you'd never guess we have so much to talk about this week! Mastery bonus is all elemental damage, not just nature! Smarter Searing Totems! Four Ghostcrawler replies (11 paragraphs!) about Shamans, with four paragraphs solely about Enhancement! Longer Hex! New crit-increasing talents! Increased totem ranges! Well, okay, maybe that last one isn't as exciting as the first few. But there's so much news out there for us enhancers, I don't even know where to begin.

The logical place to start is with the biggest news: Enhancement Mastery bonus "increases all elemental damage done by 20%. Damage increased further by mastery rating." This is a change from the first Cataclysm build that included mastery; previously our bonus was only increasing our nature damage. The nature-only mastery was great for our core spell, Lightning Bolt (LB), but with Maelstrom Weapon (MW) now including Lava Burst (LvB) we would not benefit from our Mastery bonus with LvB. This was a problem for two reasons: first LvB does more damage than LB, and second, LvB could be used to keep Elemental Devastation up. Lava Burst will automatically crit when Flame Shock (FS) is on a target, making it a smart choice to used to keep Elemental Devastation active.

That choice changed. Mastery now affects all elemental damage, which includes Lava Burst. Hence, Lava Burst plus Flame Shock plus mastery equals happy enhancer. This is a great buff for us. Because LvB has an 8 second cooldown and LB has none, we'll still keep LB handy for when LvB is on cooldown.

Speaking of cooldowns

In recent post, Ghostcrawler acknowledged that not only are Enhancement Shamans heavily reliant on procs, but that we're so reliant that we suffer too much on high movement fights. This acknowledgment is awesome, though I've yet to see how it's changed in Cataclysm so far. Sure we get Spiritwalker's Grace and the uber Unleash Elements (UE), but the need for time-on-target hasn't changed. Even GC pointed out that warriors regen rage and reset cooldowns while moving, and filthy rogues store up energy. This makes them both ready to burst upon contact, while we have the brakes on and have to accelerate up to speed again.

With a 15 second cooldown, UE pretty much can only be used once each time we're forced to run around like an idiot. If you're running for more than 15 seconds then you're either not fighting a boss, in which case the damage doesn't really matter, or you're doing something wrong, in which case I can't help you. I don't know what the solution is, but let's hope they're working on it.

Improved shields?

One of the first things I noticed in recent builds was the change to Static Shock. Since the first beta build Static Shock lost the component that increased the charges on our shield. In Cataclysm, we're stuck as a set 3 charges on Lightning Shield. In the most recent build, the proc changed from melee attacks and abilities to Stormstrike, Primal Strike, and Lava Lash only. And it was changed to include the funky 15/30/45% chance to do the shield damage without consuming a charge. What does this mean for us? With fewer shields procing from fewer strikes per minute, but with a lower chance to be consumed, I'm not sure what to say without testing.

I did some rough back-of-the-napkin math. On a recent Heroic Deathbringer Saurfang fight I had a total of 501 hits that could possibly proc Static Shock. They were 46 Stormstrike, 23 Lava Lash, 62 Windfury, and 370 melee (including 86 glancing). With a 6% chance to proc that means approximately 30 of my Lightning Shield attacks on the logs should be a result of Static Shock (WoL). In Cataclysm, with this ability only procing off SS & LL but doing so 45% of the time, it should result in 31 Lightning Shield attacks in the same time frame (46 + 23 = 69 * 45% = 31.05).

This is a six point investment, 3/3 Static Shock combined with 3/3 Improved Shields, and makes me wonder if it will be worth it. Six talent points is nothing right now -- actually most specs only use 2/3 Improved Shields -- but come Cataclysm, six points is a huge spend. If we don't take those points we'll still have to reinvest two in the enhance tree, but that frees up four more points for things like Reverberation, Elemental Precision, and Call of Flame.

I couldn't find any test results from the latest build, from what I'll admit to be a cursory search. For my part, I had to download the new downloader, which is currently downloading the, uh, downloadering things. I promise I'll pop on the beta as soon as I can to test this stuff out, either that or just be a better googler.

Smarter searing

I was also pleased to read about the smarter Searing Totems, which will "now prefer to target enemies that are afflicted by your Flame Shock or Stormstrike effects." This is good news, although we may have to wait for the totem to change on fights requiring a fast target switch. Either that or drop a new Searing Totem. Regardless, the change is welcome considering that Searing Flames and Improved Lava Lash look delicious. And by "delicious" I mean "eat-@!%-and-die-rogue."

Talent moves

Some of the big talent changes include Reverberation swapping places with Improved Fire Nova, making the former accessible and the latter unreachable. I think we'll find a place for Reverberation in PvP specs, or maybe even PvE if Static Shock + Improved Shields doesn't pan out. Next, lackluster Ancestral Knowledge was replaced with the crit-inducing Acuity. This is a change I can get behind.

Next, Totemic Reach: Increases the radius of your totems' effects by 15/30%. I can't see a good reason to use this in PvE. Now for PvP, I see it being a great option.

Also, Convection now reduces mana cost of offensive damaging spells, changed from all spells and abilities, and Elemental Warding now reduces magical damage instead of all damage.

Wait. What? What was that last one? Elemental Warding now reduces magical damage instead of all damage? Oh yeah, and don't forget that the defensive cooldown portion of Shamanistic Rage is gone. As if I needed another reason to hate rogues, now we're even more susceptible to their filthy little pinprick, backstabbing knives simply because they're not magical. I might as well buy another two headsets now and keep them handy so I can smash them to bits in Cataclysm PvP while I'm stun-locked to death with no defensive cooldowns or damage reducing abilities.

Give me hex or give me death

Last up for the night, Hex now lasts one minute, increased from 30 seconds. This is a mixed blessing. If crowd control becomes an important factor in running dungeons once again -- and I suspect/hope it will be -- we can expect to be the new Mage. Step aside Mr. Pants, I'm a chain CCing Shaman. I can hear tanks now, "Stoney, your symbol is {moon}, keep that CC'd until we're done with the other six mobs." Granted it's just another GCD to use, we can reapply quickly with MW stacks, and we can keep smashing face while our targets are CC'd.

But the ability to chain CC goes against my very nature. My idea of CC is simple: death. Death is the perfect CC; it's unbreakable and doesn't need to be reapplied. A dead mob does no damage. When Magister's Terrace came out, and before we were given Hex, I was "crowd controlling" Sunblade Warlocks to death with Earth Shock (back when it interrupted casting), a Grounding Totem, and a helluva lot of damage. That is an enhancement shaman's idea of CC. Thank you and good night.

May all your hits be crits!

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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