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Totem Talk: Enhancement talents in Mists of Pandaria

Josh Myers

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. Josh Myers once only tackled the hard questions about enhancement but has recently expanded his sphere of responsibility to all shaman DPS specs. (And no, two-handed enhancement is still never coming back.)

At BlizzCon last week, Blizzard unveiled its plans for an entirely new talent system in Cataclysm. Designed to try and eliminate cookie-cutter specs, the new talent system includes practically no DPS-increasing talents and focuses mainly on utility. (Don't fear losing some of your familiar talents; those are being rolled into the specs you choose at level 10.)

Part of the problem with utility talents is that they tend to gravitate toward becoming PVP talents, particularly when you reach max level. Sure, Frozen Power or Earthgrab Totem might be excellent for soloing, but at level cap, you rarely do much soloing. And the soloing you do do comes in two forms: soloing old raids, where the mobs would be immune anyway; and dailies and quests, where heightened gear levels will eventually allow you to blow away mobs in a Windfury proc.

That said, some of the tiers look like they will have potential. As a result, I'm going to do my best to keep my doubts about whether or not we'll actually be able to utilize some of this utility in check, and do a tier-by-tier review of the talent tree for enhancement in Mists of Pandaria. Please remember, these are all subject to change ... and hopefully, some of them do. (I highly recommend keeping up the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator in another tab while reading this, as since most of these spells don't exist yet in game, I can't link to them like I normally would.)

The first tier of talents is really nothing special for enhancement. Frozen Power seems the obvious choice. It's a fairly powerful ability for PVP enhancement right now and will be mildly useful while leveling when mobs manage to start running away from you. Repulsion Totem seems counterproductive for enhancement, but I wonder if there will be any way to creatively use it in a corner to keep someone locked down there. Earthgrab Totem could be potent team utility for organized PVP, but I can't see much of a use for it in PVP.

Early cataclysm geared enhancement shaman.
Survivability talents

Tier two is one of my favorite tiers in the MoP tree. While I like Nature's Guardian and use it currently in my soloing-old-raids spec, it wouldn't be my first choice. Astral Shift is going to provide some really potent damage reduction and will probably be a no-brainer for PVP. Unfortunately, the 50% damage nerf while active is pretty painful for a PVE damage dealer, and if we still have Shamanistic Rage in MoP, I can't see Astral Shift as worth taking. Stone Bulwark Totem looks like it will be an improved Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem, and I've considered that a required major glyph since Cataclysm hit. SBT will probably be my main choice of this tier, especially if it does what Glyph of Stoneclaw never did: scale with AP or SP.

The next tier is full of situational ability. Both Windwalk Totem and Tranquil Mind Totem seem like very potent raid cooldowns, provided there are encounters with AOE snares or silence effects. For times when those cooldowns aren't needed, Improved Ghost Wolf is always a nice choice, though there generally aren't enough snares in PVE content for it to be too noticeable. The hardest part about this tier will be choosing which ability to use for PVP, I think.

Healing talents

The level 60 talents are my absolute favorite. This is the one tier that I actually really feel multiple compelling choices and the one that I hope makes it to Mists of Pandaria unscathed. Healing Tide Totem will be a mini-Tranquility, an excellent choice for fights with burst AOE damage. Ancestral Guidance is a potent single-target healing cooldown, transferring 40% of your damage done over the next 10 seconds to a nearby friendly target. With some careful maneuvering, this could function as a semi-tank cooldown, though not nearly as good as an actual healer's tank CD.

Healing rain healing people!
My absolute favorite talent in the tier and in the whole MoP tree is Fortifying Waters. While I wish it extended beyond just magic damage to physical damage, a 10% magic damage reduction on anyone standing in your Healing Rain is incredible group utility. I currently can keep 100% uptime on my Healing Rain if I really wanted to, but the loss of damage generally isn't worth it. However, 100% uptime on 10% less magic damage taken could be an excellent choice, provided your raid group knows that your DPS will drop to support it.

DPS talent? I thought these were just utility!

The next tier is significantly more mediocre, despite the fact that it's the personal cooldown tier. Elemental Mastery's 15% frost, fire and nature damage increase is nice, but the fact that it only gives spell haste means it will probably stay an elemental-only talent choice. Nature's Swiftness gives a passive 5% melee haste, but we have no guarantee haste will be any less pathetic for enhancement in MoP than it is now. Echo of the Elements seems like the only real choice. It seems nice, but it's not exactly a choice when it's our only option.

Unfortunately, the last tier of talents seems to be the worst of them all. Dealing entirely with totems, these talents seem a lot more suited to elemental and restoration than enhancement. Totemic Projection is something shaman have been asking about for forever but is nowhere near as vital for enhancement as it is for the caster specs. Totemic Restoration is good for PVP, but with bosses rarely attacking totems, I can't see much use for it in PVE. Elemental Harmony will most likely be my first choice, especially if it allows me to keep up Healing Stream Totem and Healing Tide Totem simultaneously.

The nice thing about these talents is that they're supposed to be easily changeable, because there are only two or three of them that I feel like I'd want to have all the time ... which seems fitting with Blizzard's intention. At any rate, I don't totally hate our Mists of Pandaria talent tree, and I'm interested to see what sort of changes it will see when we get into beta testing.

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Enhancement every week. We've got enhancement-specific advice on the latest gear and tier gear set bonuses, and we'll help you dig in and learn to level the enhancement way.

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