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Patch 4.3 PTR: Shaman class changes

Joe Perez

Patch 4.3 is now up on the PTR, as well as the official patch 4.3 patch notes. With the latest build comes a rather large amount of changes for shaman of all three talent specializations. Some come as no shock; others were things I don't think many of us planned on seeing. Everything, though, seems aimed at bringing balance back to the class on every front.

As always, we look at the upcoming changes for any patch with both excitement and trepidation. Will our changes make a difference for the better or the worse? Are they buffs or are they nerfs? Will we finally get that spectral moose we were promised so long ago? As always, remember that these changes are tentative, and since they are on the test realm, they are subject to change at any time that the developers at Blizzard Entertainment feel they should change.

So what's in store, and what does it mean for shaman? Jump after the cut for the full list.

Patch 4.3 PTR: Patch notes
  • Flametongue Weapon no longer increases spell damage. It now increases all non-physical damage done by the wielder by 5%.
  • Lightning Bolt has a new spell effect.
  • Wind Shear now has a 25-second base cooldown, up from 6 seconds.
Talent Specializations

  • Call of Flame no longer causes Fire Nova to extend the duration of Flame Shock.
  • Earthquake damage has been increased by roughly 75%.
  • Elemental Fury now removes the cooldown from Chain Lightning.
  • Reverberation now reduces the cooldown of Wind Shear by 10/20 seconds, up from 0.5/1 second.

  • Improved Lava Lash now causes Lava Lash to spread a Flame Shock debuff from the target to up to 4 nearby targets. This excludes crowd-controlled targets and those who already have a Flame Shock debuff from the shaman.
  • Improved Lava Lash no longer increases base Lava Lash damage by 15/30%. This increase has been rolled into the base Lava Lash skill.
  • Mental Quickness has been redesigned. Instead of granting the shaman spell power, Mental Quickness now causes Enhancement shaman spells to behave as though the shaman has spell power equal to 55% of attack power. Enhancement shaman spells no longer benefit from spell power from other sources.

  • Ancestral Healing now also causes the shaman's heals to increase the target's maximum health by 5/10% of the amount healed, up to a maximum of 10% of the target's maximum health, for 15 seconds. This effect does not stack if multiple Restoration shaman are present, and does not apply to heals from procs.
  • Riptide's periodic healing coefficient has been increased by 50%. The initial direct heal is unchanged.

Changes for all specs

First off, let's take a look at the general class changes that will affect you no matter what your talent choice is. Flametongue Weapon will no longer increase spell damage; instead, it will now increase all non-physical damage done by the wielder by 5%. Currently, when Flametongue Weapon is equipped on a melee weapon, each hit causes 99 to 306 additional fire damage based on the speed of the weapon. It seems interesting that this part is either being ignored right now in the notes or is completely removed. Will it be a net gain for damage-dealing shaman? Seems like it could be, based on the fact that it is a percentage gain. I notice that at least now the word "base" is missing, so this might just wind up scaling much better for all shaman than it currently is.

Lightning Bolt's getting a new animation is very exciting. I think all three specs use this spell, so adding a different flare to the spell that might help distinguish it from say, a random elemental minion's Lightning Bolt is welcome.

Last but not least is the change to Wind Shear, a massive increase in the cooldown that will certainly have an impact on all the shaman variants. Raising this cooldown just made it a little bit harder in some aspects of shaman life to get those dispels in.

New elements for elemental

Now, this ties in with another change found in the elemental talent trees. Reverberation is now being changed to reduce the cooldown of Wind Shear by 10/20 seconds, depending on your point investment. Requiring a minimum of five talent points spent in the elemental tree before you can even put points into the talent moves this pretty firmly away from restoration shaman, so interrupting will likely be a job that falls squarely on the shoulders of those of you who like to melt and or bash faces.

Call of Flame no longer extends the duration of Flame Shock. This seems like an attempt to curb an endless run of fire DOTs from the shaman turret. Earthquake's damage being increased seems like a way to make the spell more viable for AOE mob packs. Considering I rarely see it used as it is right now, this seems like a promising change. And certainly not to be forgotten, Elemental Fury now removes the cooldown from Chain Lightning, making it spammable on the global cooldown. Seems like plenty of changes to make the shaman more AOE-friendly all around.

Enhancements for enhancement

Enhancement is next out with changes to Improved Lava Lash. The new version will allow the spreading of your Flame Shock on up to four nearby targets. It ignores mobs under CC effects and ones that already have the Flame Shock debuff. That seems pretty cool to me, and for some reason it makes me think of a Balrog beating things with a fire whip. Honestly, it seems pretty cool and like something that will go a long way to helping up the damage on melee packs when you're in the thick of things.

Improved Lava Lash will also no longer increase the base damage by 15/30%; instead, the bonus has been put in as a base part of the spell. Mental Quickness is being redesigned to no longer grant spellpower. Instead, it grants 55% of your attack power as spellpower. Blizzard also snuck in that your spells will no longer gain spellpower from any other source besides this talent. I think that this might be an attempt to move enhancement shaman away from wanting to wield one-handed spellpower weapons like the Eye of Purification. What these changes really mean for damage-dealing shaman is something I'm sure that Josh Myers will cover more in depth later on.

Resto revisions

Restoration was certainly not one to be left out in the cold, receiving a number of changes. Ancestral Healing will also increase the maximum health total of critical heal targets by 5/10% for 15 seconds. The effect won't stack with other restoration shaman in your group, but it means bigger health pools on your targets. This has the potential to be both really good and really bad. Larger health pools, even for a shorter period of time, can be incredibly helpful for healers. They can also be very useful when combined with effects like Spirit Link Totem, which when the effect wears off can cause a large jump in the leveling of health totals in a positive matter. The downside is that on bosses like Baleroc, I could see there being potential problems using the new talent and it might wind up being something that you have to spec out of, at least for that boss. I'll cover this in more detail later on.

Riptide also gets a bit of a tweak. In this case, the HOT portion of the spell gets a boost. Getting the healing coefficient raised by 50% means that the spell will go from healing around 3,700 over the spell's duration to something more attuned to 5,500. That might not seem like a lot, but when you combine it with our restoration four-piece set bonus from tier 12 -- well, that little bit has the potential to add up quite nicely. Overall, it is a net gain for our controllable HOT, and one I think will be most welcome in the next tier of raiding.

My copy of the PTR is downloading right now, so I'll have more information about these changes for healing shaman within the week.

So shaman, a lot of potential changes out there in the latest PTR build. What do you think about them?

Brace yourselves for what could be some of most exciting updates to the game recently with patch 4.3. Look at what's ahead: new item storage options, cross-realm raiding, cosmetic armor skinning and your chance to battle the mighty Deathwing -- from astride his back!

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