Wednesday, November 25, 2015

[WoW] The Talented Mr. Enhancement Shaman - Datamined Talents and Thoughts

Thanks to WoWHead, MMO-Champ, etc. we now have a lot of datamined information. With the alpha client actually accessible to some folks (not me, though), I'll be working on the assumption that the new talents that were datamined actually somewhat reflect what's currently in the alpha client.

NOTE: The datamined information is not final. Numbers may change, abilities may change. Heck, half this stuff might've already been altered on some internal test server Blizzard runs. Take everything below with a large grain of salt. I won't be focusing on damage numbers too much.

You can find the Enhancement Shaman talents here:

Before I dive in, from a high level there doesn't seem to be much in the way of spenders (as mattH also pointed out on the previous post in the comments). 3 AoEs, 1 interrupt, and 1 big hit plus vulnerability debuff on the target. Our primary rotation largely doesn't change either. I see nothing in the talents that alleviate any of my concerns in my previous posts.

Warning: This is going to be a really long post.

Rehashing the Basics

Before I dive into the talents, let's just cover the basics that Blizzard revealed in the class previews and what's in the datamined information:

Rockbiter is our primary attack. It's a 10yd free instant spell that deals Nature damage and generates 15 Maelstrom. Spam this when we need to generate Maelstrom and we have empty GCDs.

Flametongue is our maintenance buff plus some damage on the target, 10yd, free, instant, Fire damage. It "enhances" our weapons (this is important to an unannounced mechanic that was datamined, more on that below), and basically acts as the ye olde Flametongue, dealing fire damage normalized by weapon speed.

Stormstrike is our big hit. 60 Maelstrom, melee only, 16s cooldown. Deals about 4x as much damage as Rockbiter, and just under 3x as much damage as Lava Lash as datamined (both before Mastery)

Lava Lash is our Maelstrom dump. 30 Maelstrom, melee only, no cooldown. Deals about 1.5x as much damage as Rockbiter.

We generate 5 Maelstrom per melee hit, Windfury still exists, and Stormfury sometimes procs, allowing us a 30 Maelstrom Stormstrike + 60 Maelstrom Stormstrike back-to-back. See my Maelstrom Power post for calcs about Maelstrom generation.

Our opening rotation is basically FT->RB->RB->RB->SS->RB->RB->LL->RB->RB->FT->..., ignoring the fact that we want to hit ~70ish Maelstrom ASAP to pool for Stormfury procs.

Note the significant number of Rockbiters. Note that the number of Rockbiters will go down as our Haste goes up (as we get more auto-attacks which means more Maelstrom generation). Also note how simple it is, especially compared to our previous rotation. Blizzard is on record stating they want to reduce the number of sources of our damage, but 4+Auto Attack is getting a little silly in terms of simplicity.

The Talented Mr. Shaman

Let's dig in without further ado.

The Enhancing Weapons Tier

Windsong is a 15s maintenance buff, with a 30s cooldown, with a slightly more powerful than Rockbiter damage component. Similar to Flametongue, except instead of extra fire damage, it increases attack speed by 50% (so if you have perfect uptime, it amounts to a 25% average attack speed bonus). A 25% attack speed bonus increases Maelstrom generation by a decent amount, but since it's only auto-attacks, this only helps if you have few Rockbiter casts. I could see this being useful if you have ways to reduce your overall Rockbiter casts.

Spiritual Resonance is passive, and increases the Maelstrom generated by Rockbiter and Feral Spirits by 10. I fully expect that 10 to go down because a 66% increase in Maelstrom generation via Rockbiter is massive. It radically alters our rotation and removes pretty much a full Rockbiter cast every set (ie: FT->RB->RB->SS->RB->LL->RB->LL->RB->LL->RB->FT->...).

Passive, plus a better Maelstrom generator than Windsong means that Windsong will probably lose unless it gets a relatively large damage component as well, OR it can generate 15 Maelstrom like Rockbiter can, basically allowing us to slot it into our rotation subbing it for Rockbiter without any loss.

Fists of Stone is a 10s DPS mini-cooldown on a 30s cooldown timer, increasing Crit by 10% and all damage by 5%, but reducing Attack Speed by 50% and movement speed by 50%. If you have a chance to hunker down for a short period of time, this allows you to boost your DPS. Except the attack speed decrease lowers your auto-attack DPS and reduces the amount of Maelstrom you generate. I can see sort of why Blizzard built this talent, but as is I don't see anyone taking it. I fully expect a balance pass to increase the damage dealt and/or reduce/remove the attack speed decrease.

Overall I see Windsong and Spirtual Resonance being somewhat competitive with some number tweaks, but Spirtual Resonance feels like the winner largely because it's passive. The active abilities need to be better than the passive, or everybody will take the passive. Fists of Stone needs to go back to the drawing board.

The Movement Tier

Gust of Wind looks like Shaman Blink. 15s cooldown, no cost.

Feral Lunge is a gap closer in Ghost Wolf only which basically is a Charge +  Stormstrike opener. Interesting that it can only be used in Ghost Wolf, though brings up something strange where it might be worth the 2 GCDs to Ghost Wolf and Feral Lunge on cooldown because it's a free Stormstrike (and SS does 4x as much damage as Rockbiter). I really like it though because it does address the whole issue where we require Maelstrom to use Stormstrike as our opener when traditionally SS has been our opening move. I also enjoy that it's tied to Ghost Wolf, and gives us a way to get adds or back to the boss after a heavy movement phase.

Overall this talent is A+ awesome for me, but the damage component is worrisome as it encourages weird rotation shenanigans, and probably makes it strictly better than Gust of Wind.

Wind Rush Totem is basically Feral Roar (a group speed buff), except with a Shaman Totem twist. The totem lasts for 15 seconds and boosts allies' movement within 10yd by 60% for 5s. Can you imagine having this totem for the dance on Will of the Emperor?

A solid tier, though Feral Lunge is going to be default, with Wind Rush probably chosen for specific encounters. Gust of Wind isn't strong enough against Feral Lunge to be worthwhile in my opinion. Ghost Wolf and walking out of the bad is usually sufficient, and then you can Feral Lunge right back. Why bother with Shaman Blink?

The Crowd Control Tier

Lightning Surge Totem is Capacitor Totem renamed and made a talent rather than default.

Earthgrab Totem is the same as it ever was.

Voodoo Totem replaces Hex and basically acts as an AoE Hex, which is pretty neat.

Something to note here is that Enhancement seems to have lost all of its totems from its kit aside from talents. No more Healing Stream, no more Magma Totem, no more Earthbind, no more Tremor Totem. All gone. Talents are the only way to get them back. So I guess that's one way to deal with the fact we won't have free GCDs for utility: remove our utility. Maybe it's a datamining error, but both wowdb and wowhead show the same thing.

Otherwise this tier seems pretty solid. You'll take the totem that makes the most sense for a given encounter.

The Self-Buff Tier

Lightning Shield is now a talent, and it costs a variable amount of Maelstrom to deal damage to random enemies within 10 yards. The base cost of 20 Maelstrom plus 5 per second is pretty hefty for what seems like a pittance of damage, but that's just tuning. It's basically single target Liquid Magma by the looks of things.

Ancestral Swiftness is now only what Enhancement Shaman took it for in the first place: the passive haste/attack speed buff.

Landslide is a new ability that makes Rockbiter "enhance" your weapon, increasing Attack Power by 20%.

Unless you're swimming in Maelstrom, I don't know if Lightning Shield is going to be a great talent to choose. If you're doing AoE damage, you'll be wanting to spend your Maelstrom on Crash Lighting + LL/SS. If you're doing single-target damage, you're spending 7.5 Maelstrom per GCD to deal a very small amount of damage. This needs a significant buff to be worthwhile.

Ancestral Swiftness will increase your Maelstrom generation along with your passive DPS, versus Landslide which will basically provide a flat 20% attack power increase given how often we cast Rockbiter. The "enhance" your weapon mentioned there (which I still have to explain!) is a useless keyword, as Flametongue's uptime should be 100% already.

Overall, a really boring tier. Harkens back to the talent trees of old.

The First Cooldown Tier

Tempest modifies the Stormfury proc to give 2 Stormstrikes with no cooldown and 30 Maelstrom cost. Sort of a variant on the old Echo of the Elements. If Stormstrike hits proc Maelstrom generation, then if we have 90+ banked, we should be able to take advantage of all three Stormstrikes back-to-back. But 90 Maelstrom banked means you're probably losing Maelstrom. Still, given just how powerful Stormstrike is this could be a decent choice if you have enough Mastery to boost the proc rate.

Spiritual Affinity reduces the cooldown of Feral Spirits by 60 seconds, basically halving it (or the 100 talent, Feral Kin). So every 60 seconds you can have 15s of Spirit Wolves. Something to note is that Feral Spirit is our only major DPS cooldown now (Ascendance is a talent, and no more Fire Elemental for us), and it is effectively a mini-bloodlust, increasing Haste by 50% while active, and also generating 5 Maelstrom per second.

This talent works out to an average increase of 12.5% Haste if you use Feral Spirit on cooldown (and with a 1-minute cooldown you really should be). It's far less effective for Feral Kin to the point where it's not worth even looking at if you're running Feral Kin. It really needs to halve the cooldown rather than reduce by a static 60 seconds.

Sundering is a 60 Maelstrom AoE with a knock-side effect, good for interrupting en-masse normally uninterruptible mobs. The damage on it is a pittance, and I expect that to get buffed significantly.

Sundering is a special case, I expect either Tempest or Spiritual Affinity to be the defaults here. It depends on how the math shakes down, though. I'm sure there'll be a Mastery inflection where ~12.5% extra Haste is overtaken by Tempest's extra Stormstrike per Stormfury proc, but that's a far more complex calculation than I care to do right now.

The AoE Tier (Plus a Stun)

Fury of Air is what Lightning Shield aspires to be but fails miserably, which makes me think the Lightning Shield talent is completely unfinished. 20 Maelstrom plus 5/s for up to 10 seconds of 8 yard wind AoE damage. Also slows enemies down so it's harder for them to leave the vortex. Expensive as heck, but does a lot of damage. If you need significant on-demand burst AoE, assuming you have the Maelstrom, this is probably your talent.

Crashing Storm increases the range on Crash Lighting (which is melee range, blech) by 4 yards. I'm a little underwhelmed by Crash Lightning now that I know it's melee range. This talent gives it a bit more leeway (though we don't know if it increases the range of the SS/LL cleave as well).

Stonefist Strike is a proper stun, 30s cooldown, 30 Maelstrom, and deals extra damage if the enemy is unstunnable. Lava Lash should do more damage still, I think, so I doubt you'd want to use Stonefist Strike on unstunnable enemies. But hey, we finally have a real stun!

Crashing Storm feels underwhelming. I expect Stonefist Strike or Fury of Air will be the choices depending on if you need stuns or AoEs.

The Second Cooldown Tier

Ascendance got turned into a talent. Now a 10 minute cooldown, and lasts for 1 minute, but otherwise the same as our old Ascendance. It's underwhelming except for possibly anything that has a long ranged-only phase, as we can sub Lightning Bolt for Lava Lash as our Maelstrom dump, though without Flametongue and Rockbiter being upped to 30 yards, this is of limited utility still. It's awkward.

Feral Kin doubles the length of Feral Spirits, but increases the cooldown 150%. Short of trying to line it up for longer with Bloodlust, I don't see much point. This is likely not the final form of this talent.

Earthen Spike hits harder than Stormstrike (!!!) at 10 yards on a 20 second cooldown for 30 Maelstrom. It also increases the Nature and Physical damage taken by the target by 10% for 10 seconds. I'm expecting this to be a typo, or work similar to how Stormstrike only debuffs the enemy for the Enhancement Shaman today. Otherwise an Enhancement Shaman will be required for raiding and will be required to take this talent.

I expect Earthen Spike will be the default, but this tier is really wonky overall; all 3 talents need work. Clearly unfinished.

Other Datamined Changes

As mentioned above, Feral Spirits is now our only DPS cooldown, and acts as a shorter super-powered Bloodlust every time they show up (plus bonus Maelstrom generation!) making them quite powerful. But Ascendance is now a talent, and no more Elementals for Enhancement.

All of our totems are gone, and along with them most of our utility. It sort of solves the issue of throwing out utility in empty GCDs if we don't have much utility left.

Lightning Bolt and Healing Surge still exist, and scale based on Maelstrom spent. I wouldn't suggest spending Maelstrom on Lightning Bolt though unless you can't reach the target for an extended period of time. Even with spending 20 Maelstrom, the damage is so anemic that you're probably better off waiting. Lightning Bolt is instant baseline though. Healing Surge has a 2 second cast time.

Frost Shock got replaced by Frostbrand, which is literally the same. Just a new name.

Crash Lightning is our cleave, and turns Stormstrike and Lava Lash into a cleave for 10 seconds as well as long as Crash Lightning hit 2+ targets. A little underwhelming, as now we have to be in their face like a Warrior does.

Flurry still reduces the global cooldown of a bunch of melee abilities using Haste, but it still lists a bunch of old abilities that are gone so take that with a grain of salt.


Stormlash is a passive ability that looks really neat, and really concerning. As long as your weapons are "enhanced", whenever you attack there's a 5% chance to enhance up to 2 allies or yourself, causing attacks and spellcasts to deal additional Nature damage.

Basically, it turns you into a ye olde Stormlash totem, along with all of the problems that Stormlash totem brought before they axed it in Warlords. It's a unique buff, so stacking Enhancement Shaman might be a thing. It's also boring, it's passive, and thanks to Flametongue your weapons should be enhanced 100% of the time unless you're really bad at uptime.

This ability either needs to go, or needs to change significantly. I like the concept of buffing my allies, but making it passive feels really lame. I'd rather it just go away rather than being a passive effect. Or turn it into a talent or an active spell. That'd be fantastic. But as is? Nope. Not interested.

Overall Thoughts

With some talents, and the Feral Spirits cooldown, I think Maelstrom as a resource will yo-yo a bit faster than Rage does on a Fury Warrior (hopefully), which will keep a more fast and furious feel that Enhancement is today, which is nice.

Overall, however, we're still just magic Warriors. We have Bladestorm, Charge, Colossus Smash, and a Stun in our talents; we have a spammable generator, and both a major attack and a rage Maelstrom dump; we seem to have lost most of our utility which set us apart from other melee classes; our spell casting range has been reduced significantly (from 25yd to 10yd in nearly all cases).

I'll still wait for more implementation to occur as the class is clearly in the early stages of development. They're basically recreating Enhancement from scratch, the ground up. Ambitious, really. But I'll be honest, the direction that Enhancement is heading in doesn't really interest me long term. I said it before and I'll say it again: I liked Enhancement because we were a spell caster who was capable in melee, using our melee to super power our spells.

I'm trying to stay positive, or at least neutral. Let it be said again that I really enjoy the direction Holy Paladins are taking, so it's not like I hate everything about Legion.

I don't have anything against the spellsword concept; I actually really like the concept. I just dislike the fact that the only spell/melee hybrid class got gutted for this new concept. The reasons I play Enhancement keep getting whittled away in this redesign. But I suppose they're finally making good on their promise to simplify the class.
#WorldOfWarcraft, #Shaman, #Legion

1 comment:

  1. I know this is well past it's sell-by date, but I find it interesting that Enhancement is losing utility (as an aside, the introduction of Maelstrom seems to be an aspect of that) at the same time almost every tank has at least one "heal players other than the tank" abilities. I guess concentrating certain types of utility in the healing and tanking roles makes for easier balancing and less need and opportunity to stack specs.