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Totem Talk: Changes for enhancement shaman in 4.0.6

Josh Myers

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. On Saturdays, Josh Myers tackles the hard questions about enhancement. Can we tank? Can we DPS with a two-hander? How does one shoot web? The answer to the first two is "no," and I have no idea about the third.

Last week, I posted a view of the first three bosses of Blackwing Descent from an enhancement perspective. My plan was to continue that trend this week and look at Chimaeron, Atramedes, and Nefarian. However, our long-anticipated patch 4.0.6 was released this week, and along with it came a slew of buffs! At least, to fury warriors.

For our part, enhancement shaman didn't receive the short end of the stick in PvE. For PvP, we saw some huge hits: Purge was removed from Mental Quickness and now only removes one buff from the target, glyphed Hex's cooldown is 5 seconds longer and its duration is 2 seconds shorter, and Tremor Totem has received an entire design overhaul. Oh, and Bloodlust was removed from the entire arena game. I don't PvP at anywhere near a competitive enough level to offer opinion on these changes, so I'm just reporting them as fact.

To move into an area I do know, we're going to take a look at the positive changes for PvE enhancement shaman that came in patch 4.0.6. More after the break!

Wrath of the Windfury swing

The first major change of 4.0.6: Windfury Weapon is back in style. The release of Cataclysm and the past two months saw us maximizing our DPS with spellpower main-hands and Flametongue Weapon on both of our weapons. A 20% nerf to the damage Flametongue Weapon put out, coupled with a buff to make Windfury proc three hits rather than two, changes our entire imbue strategy. Windfury is back in style with an agility main-hand. Your off-hand remains the same, being a slow weapon with Flametongue imbued. Glyph of Windfury Weapon is also making a return and is now our best contender for a third glyph slot.

More maelstrom procs

For those of you who have had some quality time with the local training dummy or raid boss since Tuesday, you might have noticed that Maelstrom Weapon is proccing considerably more than it did a week ago. This is due to a number of factors. First, Stormstrike was recently hotfixed to properly have a chance to proc Maelstrom Weapon stacks. Second, for those whose moral code kept them from using a spellpower main-hand, the extra Windfury Weapon proc means another chance at proccing Maelstrom Weapon.

Those who were rocking the mathematically superior Flametongue/Flametongue setup will be noticing significantly more Maelstrom Weapon procs this patch. Since we now are changing to Windfury Weapon, that's an extra three chances for Maelstrom Weapon to stack per Windfury proc that we weren't seeing before. Beyond that, we'll now be using Unleash Wind and be gaining the 40% melee haste buff. More melee attacks mean more Maelstrom Weapon procs.

Your gear is still good

This patch is incredibly fun for the enhancement shaman's wallet. Unlike certain other classes/specs that required total regemming overhauls, literally nothing has changed for enhancement. Agility is still our favorite stat. We still need to cap spell hit rating at 1,742 and expertise at 541 (values assume no racial bonuses). Mastery is still doubtlessly our superior secondary stat. The only slight change is that the value of haste has gone up a small amount. A very small amount. A minuscule amount. Haste is still bad -- it's just gone from "terrible" to "awful."

The second part of post-patch gearing to look at is trinkets. In patch 4.0.6, Unheeded Warning was changed to proc a 680 increase in weapon damage for 10 seconds. However, that increase in damage only applies to auto-attacks, which make up less than 25% of our total damage. Windfury, Lava Lash, and Stormstrike are all not affected. Unheeded Warning is still an abysmal trinket for enhancement and should be avoided like a duel against a frost mage. Fluid Death and Darkmoon Card: Hurricane are what you should be shooting for. Consider an Essence of the Cyclone if you don't have the funds for DMC:H yet.

The perks of being a professional

One of the real big changes in 4.0.6 was the addition of a slew of new profession items into the game. Most of these changes are restricted to shaman of a certain profession; for instance, alchemists now have access to the excellent Quicksilver Alchemist's Stone, an agility heavy stone with passive crit rating and a delicious red socket. Engineering shaman like myself now see our Synapse Springs providing 480 agility on a minute-long cooldown, bringing the profession more in line with the passive bonuses from other classes.

However, not all positive profession changes are crafter-specific. These are the changes we're really in love with. First off, enchanters can now enchant their bracers with 50 agility after finding or buying the BoE formula. This enchant is more expensive than other comparable bracer enchants like 65 crit, but 50 agility is nearly double the value of 65 crit rating. If you can afford this enchant, get it.

More importantly, patch 4.0.6 gave us some amazing changes to meta gems. First off, our old staple Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond has become obsolete. In its place, we now have the Agile Shadowspirit Diamond. It gives the exact same amount of agility as Chaotic gave crit rating, meaning we're now getting a significantly larger bonus just for slotting this gem. Second, the gem requirements have been changed to requiring three red gems to activate. This is a huge change, as activating our meta used to be nearly as large a DPS loss as the 3% crit damage buff was a gain. Since we're gemming straight agility now, the meta will be activated with no DPS loss. This is a nice DPS buff. The entire meta gem is about a 2.5% DPS increase.

The big question

The most important question on anyone's mind after any major patch is "Did I just get nerfed?" Taking the patch notes at first glance, it might seem that way, as the 20% Flametongue nerf looks painful.

Things aren't that simple, though. Here's the lowdown:

If you were using an agility main-hand pre-patch, you will see a DPS increase. The Windfury change easily makes up for the 20% Flametongue damage loss, and everything else is just gravy on top.

If you were using double Flametongue and a caster main-hand pre-patch, you will see a change that is largely DPS-neutral. While the nerf to Flametongue hit us hard and we're losing nearly 2,000 spellpower on all our spells, we made up a lot of that lost damage through Windfury/Maelstrom Fix/meta gem change.

Overall, we might be seeing a slight DPS nerf in the long run. However, we're talking a nerf that is within the low hundreds of DPS, whereas pre-patch, the difference between a caster main-hand and an agility main-hand was in the thousands. Overall, the patch ended up being a great addition to the actual flavor and playstyle of the class and, at worst, a slight nerf to DPS for those of us who weren't playing as intended. And, for those of you who stuck through it with your melee main-hand weapon, congrats on the DPS buff!

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Enhancement every week. We've got enhancement-specific advice on rep gear, heroic gear, and raiding gear, plus tips on maximizing your utility skills and tactics for raiding Blackwing Descent.

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