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Totem Talk: Post-patch enhancement shaman still waiting for buffs

Rich Maloy

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shamans. Rich Maloy lives and breathes enhancement: 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 (Season 2 Ep 06 now out!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

We're now two full weeks into patch 4.0.1 with our new and improved enhancement spec. Improved? Actually, no. Our DPS is only marginally improved over the previous incarnation, while our fellow melee brethren were buffed to the teeth. My rough analysis shows the difference between us and top melee DPS, usually warrior and death knight, has widened significantly since the patch.

I'm going to preface all of this analysis by saying that I am not the top enhancement shaman, by far. I play well, I study my class, I optimize my spec, gems, forging, gear and rotations. I don't die to stupid stuff -- well, at least not often! In other words, I try to push my damage without sacrificing myself. Be forewarned that some of these numbers I'm embarrassed to post in such a public manner, and while I'm hardly the benchmark for DPS, I can at least provide a baseline of what your average progression raider's numbers look like.

On average across eight of 12 hard-mode fights in ICC (excluding the gimmick fights Gunship, VDW and BQL, and excluding H-LK because we're just now working on him), the top melee DPS was doing 50 percent more damage than me pre-patch and 64 percent more post-patch. I could narrow that gap down to about 15 percent on a standstill fight such as Deathbringer Saurfang, but on high-movement fights such as Sindy, the top melee would do as much as 80 percent more damage than me overall.

As much as it pains me to say this, as a raid leader I have to ask the question: Am I dead weight in raids right now? Will level 85 with Unleash Elements bring better output?

Breaking down the numbers

Above, I was speaking about the difference in damage compared to other melee; here is the breakdown by fight:

Pre-Patch Post-patch
Boss Enhance damage Diff from top melee % Diff from top melee Enhance damage Diff from top melee % Diff from top melee
H-Lord M 1,694,247 1,207,022 71.24% 1,354,342 912,153 67.35%
H-LDW 2,166,237 2,007,775 92.68% 1,777,883 2,190,030 123.18%
H-DS 2,935,839 506,884 17.27% 2,403,901 660,713 27.49%
H-Fester 2,865,681 650,329 22.69% 2,358,686 1,099,880 46.63%
H-Rot 2,618,336 516,424 19.72% 2,416,002 746,005 30.88%
H-PP 4,072,590 1,111,490 27.29% 3,627,213 1,641,455 45.25%
H-BPC 1,870,860 1,450,928 77.55% 981,119 1,888,343 192.47%
H-Sindy 3,402,771 2,705,110 79.50% 2,853,807 2,312,656 81.04%
Total 21,626,561 10,155,962 46.96% 17,772,953 11,451,235 64.43%

The first thing that jumps out at me is that I played that BPC fight very conservatively, which I tend to do when we're melee-heavy. Taking that out, I was far outdone by the top melee, with improved warriors and death knights widening an already wide gap. Even on every melee's favorite punching bag, Saurfang, I couldn't close the gap between me and the next highest melee. Pre-patch, the top melee was only doing about 18 percent more damage than me, compared to about 27 percent more damage post-patch.

Across the board, the total damage is lower, though that may be a function of time; with everyone doing more damage, the fights will be shorter, so let's take a look at the DPS differences:

Boss Pre-Patch DPS Post-Patch DPS Difference
H-Lord M 9,785 9,947 162
H-LDW 7,086 8,519 1,433
H-DS 15,224 15,405 181
H-Fester 13,419 13,348 -71
H-Rot 12,406 13,669 1,263
H-PP 9,802 9,262 -540
H-BPC 6,535 5,978 -557
H-Sindy 8,703 8,543 -160
Average 10,370 10,584 214

My DPS was mostly higher. I can attribute the higher LDW and Rotface numbers to spending some time on the boss for LDW to give threat-hogs a break, and on Rot, I probably didn't get a little ooze on me in the post-patch fight.

The two fights I like to use as benchmarks are Deathbringer Saurfang and Professor Putricide; DS is our punching bag, and for PP, I find the RNG evens out over the full length of the fight. Looking just at those two, my DPS was slightly higher for DS, though only marginally, and was lower for PP. I'm not really happy with the state of enhancement shaman DPS right now.

The next question I wanted to answer was, how do I compare to world top enhancement shaman? I started looking at top enhancement shaman DPS stats and realized that most of the top numbers come from guilds running a two- to three-healer setup and burning down bosses before they can pop off their big abilities. Have you ever done a 1:23 heroic Lord Marrowgar? Me, neither -- but we might start!

Regardless, life is tough right now for enhance. We're not quite buffed, we're far behind other melee, our buffs can be provided by any number of other classes, and our damage is still heavily reliant on procs. If you were leading a 10-man hard mode group, would you bring an enhance shaman or an unholy death knight? Well, I'd bring myself -- the advantage of being the GM, I suppose -- but even then, I'd know I was making the wrong decision for the good of the group.

Calling for a buff to Maelstrom Weapon

I can think of a few things to help enhancement shaman really top out the numbers, but I think the key is in improving Maelstrom Weapon. Make it either proc more often, or have it also give a boost to Lightning Bolt. Alternatively, Blizzard could bring Lava Burst back into Maelstrom Weapon. Yes, I've said how it doesn't "feel enhancement" and I still feel that way, but it would be a huge increase to our numbers. As for rotational complexity, we're used to it. We thrive on it. Bring it on!

Increases to Windfury Weapon procs would be great, or bigger numbers from both that and Flametongue Weapon. Improved Lava Lash is already pretty strong when buffed with Searing Flames, and I'm happy with the way that mechanic works and how fast the totem attacks. Buffing shocks will benefit our elemental brothers, but it's not really what makes or breaks us.

We'll have to see how Unleash Elements and Spiritwalker's Grace pans out. But I keep coming back to Maelstrom Weapon as the ability that will give us that an extra edge, making it the pinnacle enhancement ability used to crush our opponents. We need a killer hit, because right now, we're taking the hit.

Regardless, even if my numbers are low compared to what we're capable of doing, there's no denying that enhancement shaman got the short end of the buff stick this round. What do you think of the numbers? What do you think of your output so far since the patch?

May all your hits be crits!

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether it's Sarah Nichol's elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Rich Maloy's enhancement edition, WoW Insider's shaman experts have you covered.

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