As with every pre-patch for an expansion, Blizzard likes to throw in various changes and fixes. Last week, I talked about the new talent system and discussed them in brief. That’s not all that is changing, of course. Because of the way that the talent trees are being re-worked, certain spells and abilities aren’t “specced into”, instead you get them right away as you level up.
So this is a brief overview of how Elemental Shaman are changing.
Totems, Buffs and Cooldowns
Firstly, buff totems are gone! This means you won’t be laying Searing Totem, Stoneskin Totem, Healing Stream Totem and Wrath of Air when you pull. Instead, most of those buff totems have turned into aura buffs provided by the Shaman.
Your spellpower buff (previously from laying a Fire Totem or Flametongue Totem) is called Burning Wrath, and increases spellpower of you and nearby party/raid members by 10%.
Elemental Oath, as a replacement for Wrath of Air, now gives 5% haste rather than 5% crit.
We also have a new aura called Grace of Air which some of you may remember from way back in the day. This buff grants an increase in mastery.
Though some totems have been removed, there are a couple that you will get right away:
Stormlash Totem is a DPS cooldown totem, though as a caster you won’t see too huge of a benefit, it certainly benefits fast attacking melee classes like Rogues or Enhancement Shaman. This is learned at level 78.
Capacitor Totem. is a PvP defensive cooldown. 5 seconds (3 seconds, glyphed) after laying it down it explodes and stuns all enemies within 8 yards for 5 seconds. This is learned at level 63.
You can also pick up a couple new totems depending how your talent choices:
Stone Bulwark Totem which is basically a glyphed Stoneclaw Totem. This totem is available in the level 15 tier of talents.
Windwalk Totem is a nice defensive/mobility cooldown totem that grants your raid immunity to movement impairing effects for 6 seconds. This totem is available in the level 30 tier of talents.
Healing Tide Totem is basically a souped up version of Healing Stream Totem in that it heals for more and heals the five most injured people rather than the single most injured person. This totem is available in the level 75 tier of talents.
Here are the totems that are staying: Searing Totem, Earthbind Totem, Healing Stream Totem, Magma Totem, Grounding Totem, Tremor Totem, Earth Elemental Totem, and Fire Elemental Totem. Some of these may have changed slightly though. The biggest examples being that Healing Stream Totem won’t be put down all the time. Instead it’s a 30 second cooldown totem that heals the most injured raid member for 15 seconds. The other big one being Fire Elemental on a 5 minute cooldown, but only up for 1 minute. There’s a glyph for it that I’ll mention later.
Without the need to summon 4 totems at once Call of the Elements, Call of Ancestors and Call of Spirits have been removed. There is also a slight interface change as well. Instead of each totem cluttering up your spell book, each totem element has a button/icon that when you click shows you the various totems under it. Example, clicking the Fire Totem will show you Searing Totem, Magma Totem and Fire Elemental Totem. You can put the specific totem on your bars for your hotkeying needs. Totemic Recall will still be around in case you do need to pull your totems.
Along with totems being on cooldowns, mostly, here are some other cooldowns that you can pick up depending how you spec.
Astral Shift is a defensive cooldown that is available in the level 15 tier of talents. It reduces damage taken by 40% for 6 seconds. Finally, Elemental Shaman can have a decent defensive cooldown. I highly recommend this one.
Call of Elements is a totem that allows you to reset the cooldown of totems that have a base cooldown of less than three minutes. Unfortunately for Elemental Shaman, most of our useful totems are on a 5 minute cooldown. This is available in the level 45 tier of talents.
Totemic Projection is a short cooldown that lets you move your current deployed totems to a new location. This is great for moving your Searing or Fire Elemental Totems around if they’re out of range/leashed from the target. This is also in the level 45 tier of talents.
Ancestral Guidance – This is an amazing cooldown that, every 2 minutes will do 40% of your damage as healing to the 3 most injured nearby party/raid members. This is in the level 75 tier of talents.
All classes “Ranged Slot” has been removed. When you log in on Tuesday, the relic you have equipped will be a grey item in your inventory for you to vendor.
Helm Enchants are removed from the game. I’m glad they did this, because it meant a forced grind for a specific rep to get the head enchant that your class needed.
Expertise converts into spell hit for casters. A quick glance at Wowhead shows that there’s no gear with Expertise on it, so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting this at all. I think it’s mostly for the benefit of Enh Shaman. However for races that have an expertise racial it means they don’t have to use as much hit / spirit(for hybrids) on their gear.
As a result of the ranged slot being removed from all classes, the hit cap has been lowered to 15%. Make sure that you reforge that extra spirit/hit off.
In terms of stat priority, nothing changes. Once you are at the hit cap, Mastery and Haste are the way to go.
The Spell Penetration stat has been removed from PvP gear but replaced with a new stat called PvP Power which will increase the healing/damage done to player units.
To go along with this, resistance stats are gone from your character sheet. I guess Blizzard thought this wasn’t interesting. I guess I’m the only one who found it mildly interesting that you would require a slightly different gear setup for a boss? Without resistances, there’s no need for spell penetration.
Both the single- and multi-target rotations remain the same, more or less. There is only one small change to Lava Burst which I’ll talk about below.
The single target rotation/priority:
- Keep Flame Shock’s DoT up
- Cast Lava Burst when it’s up, always giving it priority
- Spam Lightning Bolt
- Use Earth Shock when you full or close-to-full stacks of Lightning Shield (and make sure that the cooldown doesn’t interfere with the Flameshock DoT expiring).
For multi-target (4+ targets):
- Pre-cast Earthquake if you are able to
- Throw down Magma Totem, if you have Totemic Projection, you don’t have to move yourself just use it to put the Magma Totem in the appropriate spot
- Spam Chain Lightning
- If you get a full stack of Lightning Shield, use Earth Shock
- When you’re down to like 2 targets, switch back to the single target rotation
A couple of things of note though:
Lightning Shield was re-worked slightly, though functions the same. It lasts for 1 hour and only has 1 charge. The charge is not depleted when you are attacked. Because the number of initial charges has been reduced by 2, to reach a full Fulmination charge you only need 7 charges of Lightning Shield.
Lava Surge is also re-worked so that it provides the same benefit as the Tier 12 4 piece set bonus. So pay extra attention to when Lava Surge procs because your Lava Burst will be instant cast.
At level 60 you will have to choose between Elemental Mastery, Ancestral Swiftness and Echo of Elements. These three talents will affect your DPS in some way. I’d recommend taking Elemental Mastery for the on-demand burst. Echo of Elements would provide more consistent DPS over time though. If you take either Elemental Mastery or Ancestral Swiftness make sure to use those cooldowns when appropriate. As a result of Elemental Mastery being open to all three specs, and not wanting to sway us to take Elemental Mastery, Feedback is no longer in game.
Because we won’t have access to the level 90 talents, be aware that your choice there can impact your rotation if you take either Elemental Blast or Unleashed Fury. But that’s for another time, when we’re all 90.
Glyphs have undergone a change as well. Prime Glyphs have been “removed”. You will only have Major and Minor glyphs now, some former Prime Glyphs are now Major Glyphs.
Here’s the list of Major Glyphs that an Elemental Shaman may use:
Glyph of Capacitor Totem – Reduces the charge up time of Capacitor totem to 3 secs. This is a PvP glyph.
Glyph of Chain Lightning – Your Chain Lightning spell now strikes 2 additional targets, but deals 10% less initial damage. This is the one that is already on live. This will have situational use in PvE.
Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem – Reduces the cooldown and duration of your Fire Elemental Totem by 40%. This brings the cooldown to 3 minutes, but he is only up for 36 seconds. This will be an optional glyph for PvE.
Glyph of Flame Shock – Increases the duration of your Flame Shock by 25%, but reduces the initial damage dealt by 25%. Similar to what we already have, but reduces the initial damage as a trade off. This will be a mandatory PvE glyph.
Glyph of Frost Shock – Increases the duration of Frost Shock by 2 seconds. This is another PvP glyph.
Glyph of Ghost Wolf – While in Ghost Wolf form, you are less hindered by effects that would reduce movement speed. PvP glyph.
Glyph of Grounding Totem – Instead of absorbing a spell, your Grounding Totem reflects the next harmful spell back at its caster, but the cooldown of your Grounding Totem is increased by 35 sec. Already exists in live, PvP glyph.
Glyph of Hex – Reduces the cooldown of Hex by 10 seconds. PvP glyph.
Glyph of Purge – Purge dispels 1 additional Magic effect. PvP glyph.
Glyph of Spiriwalker’s Grace – Increases the duration of your Spiritwalker’s Grace by 5 sec. This probably won’t get any use out of an Elemental Shaman considering our mobility with Lava Surge causing Lava Burst to be instant cast.
Glyph of Telluric Currents – Causes your Lightning Bolt to restore 2% of your mana when it strikes an enemy. This is the Resto talent but in a glyph. Elemental Shaman won’t have a need for this.
Glyph of Thunder – Reduces the cooldown on Thunderstorm by 10 sec. This already exists. While I did use it in the old system, I would rarely ever use this with the new glyph system. It has its uses, but I can’t see them being more beneficial versus other potential glyphs you could be using.
Glyph of Totemic Recall – Causes your Totemic Recall ability to return the full mana cost of any recalled totems. Buffed from the previous version, mostly because your totems are going to be cooldowns and not something that you’re laying down at all times. This is a throw away glyph, not worth taking ever.
Glyph of Totemic Vigor – Increases the health of your totems by 5% of your maximum health. I see this as a worthless glyph, it’s not worth the benefit of using compared to the other options available.
Glyph of Unleashed Lightning – Your Lightning Bolt takes 5% longer to cast, but may be cast while moving. A slight nerf to our overall damage, but allowed mobility makes up for it. This is an optional glyph for PvE depending on the mobility required in the encounter. Very useful for PvP though as you generally want to be able to move around at all times.
Glyph of Unstable Earth – Causes your Earthquake spell to also reduce the movement speed of affected targets by 40% for 3 sec. PvP glyph. This should be baseline in the ability for God’s sake.
Glyph of Wind Shear – Increases the school lockout duration of Wind Shear by 1 sec, but also increases the cooldown by 3 sec. PvP glyph.
A lot of the glyph options are more for PvP, which is fine. Though, Blizzard said they wanted to make your glyph choices to have an impact… and that we’d have to make a few different choices. If you’re into PvP, yes you do. However for PvE it’s pretty cut and dry for choosing two of your glyphs: Glyph of Flame Shock and Glyph of Unleashed Lightning will be required glyphs. The latter may be swapped out on more stationary fights, I have no experience in MoP raid encounters so I’m not sure how much mobility they require. The third one can go to either Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem or Glyph of Chain Lightning. The Chain Lightning Glyph would obviously benefit on a boss with a lot of adds. The re-vamped Fire Elemental Glyph could have it’s uses. Using current content as an example – Spine of Deathwing. Having the Fire Elemental up during a Burning Tendon would be pretty beneficial.
As before, Minor Glyphs are cosmetic and can be chosen at your preference. Though I like the Glyph of the Lakestrider – you get water walking when you go into Ghost Wolf. If you miss the warm fuzzy feeling of having all 4 totems down at once, there’s a glyph called Glyph of Totemic Encirclement which will lay dummy totems.
At the end of the day we don’t have too much changing for us, aside from totems. That will probably take the most getting used to by most Shaman, just remember to keep Searing Totem down then use your other cooldown totems as needed.
The rotation doesn’t change much and if you had the Tier 12 4 piece bonus you should be familiar with the delicious instant cast Lava Bursts. Your glyph choices won’t have any huge, meaningful impact on your play either as you should be accustomed to them already.
Are these changes good? Sure. I’ve been playing a Shaman since I started back in Vanilla and the class has never undergone any major, drastic changes that requires a complete re-understanding of how the class plays with abilities and mechanics. Warlocks, for example, have had a lot of go-arounds with how they play over the years. While some change would be nice, I’ve always felt that Shaman gameplay was fairly easy to understand.