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Totem Talk: Last call for enhancement buffs

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 shot web? The answer to the first two is "no," and roll a hunter for the third!

Patch 4.2 was barely a week away, and things were looking bleak for enhance shaman everywhere. Enhancement shaman were watching their calendars in much the same way normal people watch Fox Van Allen and Tyler Caraway interact on Twitter; with much trepidation and little hope for the future of mankind. Fortunately for enhancement shaman everywhere, on the Thursday before (rumored) Patch Day, Blizzard came through for enhancement like a last minute visit from Santa Claus and gifted us with two tasty buffs. Unfortunately, neither Blizzard or Santa Claus can do anything for Fox and Tyler's Twitter followers.
Patch 4.2 Public Test Realm Guide - [Updated 6/16]
Unleash Wind now deals 175% weapon damage, up from 125%.

Stormstrike now deals 225% weapon damage, up from 125%.

The mathy part:

Now, for the astute enhancement shaman, you might notice that your Stormstrike tooltip actually currently reads "Instantly strike an enemy with both weapons, dealing 193% weapon damage." 193% to 225% damage doesn't seem like a big jump, but that's because tooltips come after talents and glyphs are already factored in. Stormstrike's base damage is 125%, which is then increased by 10% by your two piece tier 11 and by 45% from the first tier enhancement talent Focused Strikes.

Stormstrike is getting buffed by a considerable amount in patch 4.2. Since the base damage is increasing to 225%, the increase from our two-piece bonus will bring it to 235% weapon damage. Multiply that by the 45% we get from Focused Strikes and we end up with 348% weapon damage. To quote Ryethe from the Elitist Jerks forums, your Stormstrike damage should go up by around 80%. According to EnhSim, Stormstrike should be around 6% of my damage on a given fight, which means we're looking at around a 5% increase from this alone.
This also doesn't take into account that the buff to Stormstrike might push it higher on the priority list. There is already talk that the ability should be higher on our priority list now, and a buff to the ability would certainly push it higher. Higher priority means more uses of the ability per boss, which translates into more Stormstrike damage. Using my same EnhSim configuration from before, I increased Stormstrike's priority such that it was second only keeping Searing Totem up. This pushed Stormstrike to being 7.14% of my damage, which would make this buff roughly a 5.75% increase.

The one slight downside? While I've talked about how we'll be milking our tier 11 two-piece bonus for all it's worth well into Firelands, there will be a time when we have to give it up. This makes the buff slightly less amazing, as Stormstrike will then only be 326% weapon damage with Focused Strikes. It's still a sizable increase over live, however.

Unleash Wind is a less mathy buff. As we have no talents, glyphs, or set bonuses that directly increase Unleash Wind's damage, the increase to 175% weapon damage is just an overall 40% increase to our Unleash Wind damage. On a good day, Unleash Wind is 2% of our damage, meaning this equates to about a 0.8% damage increase. And, since it is rather small damage on its own and on a 15-second cooldown, bumping it higher in the priority list isn't very likely.

All together, we're optimistically looking at a 6.5% damage increase from live. Current max DPS set up on Elitist Jerks puts us at 26,101 DPS in a single target fight. This increase should increase that potential to around 27,800 in current BiS gear; Firelands gear will see us doing more.

Not all that glitters is gold

Now that we're done with math class, we can move on to talking about the ramifications of this buff. First off, in both cases this buff directly addresses our scaling with spellpower weapons. By increasing the damage done by Stormstrike and Unleash Wind -- both main-hand-weapon-based attacks -- weapon DPS becomes a more attractive stat for us to look for. That means less looking at spellpower weapons in our mainhand and more looking at the Gatecrasher. (That said, spellpower weapons still reign supreme for any fight that requires a substantial amount of AOE, as our AOE is all spell damage.) This also means better scaling with weapon damage. As one of the worst-scaling specs in the game currently, anything that helps us scale better with gear and stay competitive longer is a welcome addition.
On the downside, what this buff doesn't do is address our other scaling issues: We currently sacrifice entirely too many secondary stats to hit and expertise cap, and we don't gain enough benefit from the critical hit and expertise we do have. Critical hit scaling will be slightly helped by this change, but haste is still left in the dark. Since this buff comes to two abilities that are both tied to cooldowns, haste doesn't even play a factor in their damage.

This also doesn't serve to address our still lackluster AOE, or the fact that we remain one of the few specs in the game that lacks any form of execute. However, I do think this is a step in the right direction. For current content, this change for us combined with a number of nerfs to other classes -- here's looking at you, arcane mages, fury warriors, marksmanship hunters, etc. -- should be enough to push us to be competitive in our current gear level. Hopefully, Blizzard will figure out a way to fix our scaling issues before we get to heroic mode.

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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