Shaman Cataclysm Talents: My Thoughts
Due to my blogging break, I skimmed over the announced talents for Cataclysm but didn’t really make any attempt to discuss them. Obviously, a great deal can change between now and release but I decided it was time to discuss my early thoughts on our talent tree.
At present, elemental precision is our simple hit gain talent and has the additional benefit of reducing the threat generated by our offensive spells. It’s pretty much a “must have” elemental talent.
When Cataclysm launches, a number of stat changes go live. While spirit is being removed for all DPS casters, elemental shamans will be sharing their gear with their restoration counterparts. (We’re not the only ones, the boomkins are sharing theirs with their healing buddies too.) Spirit will be the core mana regeneration stat for all healers, including restoration shaman, due to the removal of MP5. What does this mean for the elemental shaman? We’ll have spirit on our gear and we can’t use it. To combat this, Blizzard decided to implement a spirit to hit conversion talent. It sounds overly complicated until you start to consider the benefits, the main one being that we you won’t need additional gear sets if you have a restoration offspec.
In Cataclysm, elemental precision is morphed to include this spirit to hit conversion. The talent reads:-
Increases your chance to hit with fire, frost and nature spells by 1% and increases your spell hit rating by an additional amount equal to 33% of your spirit.
We still keep the base hit increase that the talent boasts on live but we also gain the spirit to hit conversion that was promised to prevent our gear carrying “useless” stats. We do lose the threat reduction potion of this talent but this isn’t restricted to us as all such talents appear to be removed for Cataclysm while Blizzard plan on reworking threat management entirely.
Totem of wrath is replaced as our 41 point elemental talent by the eagerly awaited earthquake. The talent reads as follows:-
You cause the earth at the target location to tremble and break, dealing 36 physical damage every 1 second to enemies in 10 yard radius, with 30% of knocking down affected targets. lasts 10 seconds.
Regulars to this blog will know my thoughts on elemental AoE; I find it clumsy and overly complicated compared to other classes. I feel bitter when I’m running into mobs to drop down a magma totem, maybe throwing a thunderstorm on my way out while I then stand at range and weave a fire nova, chain lightning and lightning bolt based rotation. Why do I feel bitter? Because the mages, warlocks and boomkins are sat in one spot channelling their AoE spells while giggling at the shaman running around frantically. Don’t get me wrong, I have no objection to more complicated rotations but make them somewhat equal amongst classes.
As such, when earthquake was announced I was bouncing up and down in my chair and that hasn’t really changed. It hasn’t been confirmed but it is looking likely that this spell will be channelled so hopefully it will bring us somewhat close to the other casters. Admittedly I was slightly shocked that this deals physical damage and I suspect the knock down component means it isn’t going to deal the raw damage that our fellow casters channelled AoEs do, but time will tell.
This was the second talent that I was really excited about. It currently reads as:-
Causes your fire totems to increase the spell power of the party and raid members within 100 yards by 10%
Basically, this removes our tie to totem of wrath. This is a huge improvement for the elemental spec. Despite all the class tweaks and improvements in the last few months, I still feel that unless we’re free to use fire DPS totems, we are slightly under powered in a highly competitive atmosphere consisting of exceptional players. Naturally we bring additional utility to a raid and as always, a good elemental player is going to out perform poorer representatives of other classes but like for like I still believe we’re lacking slightly when forced to use totem of wrath.
As such this talent is the change I’m really looking forward to in Cataclysm. Not purely due to the additional DPS potential it will allow us but also because it ensures the player can fully explore their totems. So many elemental players don’t get to experience their fire totems because the raid is so dependent upon the spell power buff provided from totem of wrath and that in itself is a terrible shame for a class that is based around the utility of their totems. I will openly admit to finding the fire DPS totem a little clumsy also, much like our AoE capabilities. The relatively limited range of our searing totem can leave us moving around a great deal and thus losing DPS but those offensive totems are still a part of our spec that many players don’t get to experience.
In addition to freeing us to use our offensive totems, our spell power buff will also be dragged into line with the warlock’s demonic pact. The difference between totem of wrath and demonic pact in wrath has been quite unforgivable by Blizzard. Simply put, towards the end of the wrath expansion when casters are reaching very high levels of spell power, the warlock’s 10% spell power increase out weighs our 280 spell power buff by quite a large margin. Equally, the warlock doesn’t have the range issues nor do they forgo using offensive spells in exchange. Blizzard admitted this discrepancy made no sense and that the totem of wrath effect should equal demonic pact but they also stated that they had no immediate plans to alter this.
Demonic pact worked by providing the raid with 10% of the warlock’s spell power. This resulted in demonology warlock’s feeling pressed towards gemming purely for spell power with the aim of increasing the potency of their precious raid buff as much as possible. The initial concern about totemic wrath was elemental shaman’s feeling the same way. However, more recently it was confirmed that the buff provided 10% of the target’s spell power rather than the caster (and that demonic pact will also be altered in this way.)
One additional concern I have regarding this talent relates to it’s use with searing totem. As our primary offensive totem (due to the cool down limitations of our fire elemental), our spell power buff will primarily radiate from this totem. Searing totem has a relatively short duration and one has to wonder whether we will be forced to clip that duration to ensure 100% uptime of our buff. What would be ideal is if we were provided with some “grace period” where the buff stayed active for a few seconds after the totem expired, thus giving us time to replace the totem without clipping the last seconds. Given the annoyance that clipping DoTs has always caused for casters, it would certainly be a shame for us to now be pressed towards clipping offensive totems, even assuming that they do indeed either fix the range issue on searing totem or give us some kind of option to “throw” it into the thick of a fight.
A new addition to the elemental tree for Cataclysm requiring 45 points spent, this talent currently reads as follows:-
- Gives your flame shock periodic damage ticks a 10% chance to reset the cooldown of your lava burst spell.
I like the idea of this in that it could make the elemental rotation more dynamic. We’ll finally have a trigger that requires a fast response from us as a player and it will reward the more alert players out there. Charles from WoWhats was one of the lovely community members kind enough to run some maths on the potential DPS upgrade that we would get from such a talent and it’s not overwhelming in terms of the DPS increase. You can read more on the maths here. Still, as mentioned, I do like the idea behind this talent and I’m all for the introduction of more mechanics that reward the better, more attentive players out there via intuitive design. The elemental rotation has often been criticised for being very static and bland (though more often than not, this seems to come from people outside of the elemental community) and I’d personally like to see more procs added to our play style.
The other aspect of this talent to consider is it’s impact in PvP. While the DPS increase it could provide isn’t immense, it does offer rather a lot of burst damage potential.
For our restoration friends (or off specs), spirit link hasn’t yet made it’s appearance in the talent tree after being mentioned in the shaman cataclysm class preview back in April. I’m sincerely hoping that this is purely due to the talent trees still being in deep development as opposed to them deciding to abandon the idea again, as it was undoubtedly one of the popular proposed changes to the restoration tree.