Home > Cataclysm > Shaman Class Changes and Q&A with Ghostcrawler

Shaman Class Changes and Q&A with Ghostcrawler

A new beta build was applied to the test servers over the weekend. In addition to changes for all three shaman specs, there has been a Q&A panel with Ghostcrawler.

The spec changes in the new build are as follows:-

Elemental Changes

  • Magma Totem now costs 18% of base mana, down from 27%
  • Lava Burst damage has been increased by 25%

Restoration Changes

  • Totem of Tranquil Mind *New* – Summons a Totem of Tranquil Mind with 5 health at the feet of the caster for 5 minutes, causing party or raid members within 30 yards to lose 0% less casting or channeling time when damaged. (Value not yet implemented.)

Enhancement Changes

  • Maelstrom Weapon now also reduces the mana cost of the spell.

Shaman Q&A

When will elemental not have to run into melee to do aoe?

When you’re casting Earthquake?

Are resto shaman now the only healer being forced to spec into a hit talent to supplement their active mana recovery ability? Paladins now apparently get the hit that was in enlightened judgements for free?

Our goal was to not have all of the healer talent trees to be mirror images of each other. So a priest might get one thing for free and have to talent into something else. As long as the end result is pretty similar (e.g. the priest can’t get everything for free and just be able to spend talent points on candy) then it should be fine.

Personally, I’d like to know the rationale behind the fact that the Elemental Shamans did not recieve any spells that alter their rotation on ‘primary’ targets. Their level 10 effect was something halfway between a mana restore, an AoE, and a pvp gimmick. Our capstone of the talent tree is an AoE. I can’t think of any other dps spec that doesn’t get something ‘unique’ that changes their rotation from the other specs.

That’s just part of the shaman design though, namely that Enhancement still cares a lot about spells instead of being a 100% melee weapon class. I’d argue that Enhance and Elemental still play fairly differently (such that you do have to adjust when respeccing). I’m not sure the mage design, where there is virtually no overlap among talent trees, is a superior model. It’s just a different model.

Mana – I’ve heard mana has recently begun to be an issue for Enhancement in the last few beta builds. Will the ultimate solution just be to tweak Primal Wisdom s’more? Oh, and what about all that discussion about moving Primal Wisdom to being part of Enhancement’s lvl 10 skillset? It’s going to be hellish on new Enhancers not having their primary mana restoration technique until much later. Also on the table here, and I’m sorry it touches on totems again – a full set of totems or an AoE rotation kills Enhancement’s mana very very quickly. It’d be nice if the mana cost got reduced on some of these abilities.

It’s not the intent that Enhancement has to worry about mana a lot. Generally you should have enough mana to do what you want to do. It’s a model we’re still adjusting. We haven’t quite established a base regen for the casters and healers that we’re happy with and every time we tweak that, it affects the Ret paladins and Enhancement shaman, who aren’t really supposed to be mana-constrained.

This is the kind of thing I’m talking about. Tier 1 of Enhance is one of the bigger culprits. While tier 2 has one talent that’s really attractive (nigh on required for Elemental and Enhance), tier 1 is pretty bland. People would prefer to skip over Imp Shields, and Elemental Weapons is a flat spell power buff that scales with level rather than gear.

The model we’re trying to use for all the classes is that you can’t just soak up no-brainer talents in the first few tiers. Often there is a dps talent, and then a survival talent and then maybe an efficiency talent. You definitely get the first one, but you often need to get one of the others to progress down. This is what we mean about not being able to cherry pick just throughput-oriented talents and skipping everything else that is utility, etc. It’s an evolving process though. I’m not sure I could point to a class yet and say “There. We nailed it.”

Also, Enhance has 9 “required” points in Elemental – would be 10 if it weren’t for Ancestral Swiftness – on top of their own tree being filled up, which highly limits their utility options (well, to be more specific, limits them to 0). Even if an additional point or two were freed up, they may feel obligated to spend those to grab the third point in Acuity (which I don’t like as 3 points to start with – it creates a ‘floater’ point in Elemental specs rather than getting us stuck around tier 4 needing to pick a full utility talent, which I think is a good thing. But I digress), or Improved Shields, even though all three are fairly marginal DPS gains.

Yup. This is a challenge. As I mentioned above, Enhancement likes spell damage so it’s hard to put anything in Elemental that Elemental wants that Enhancement also doesn’t want.

Lightning and Water shield do not seem that useful for Elemental in many ways.

Agreed. This is something we’re discussing. A new shield doesn’t have to be the answer though.

Nature’s Blessing doesn’t feel like a bonus when healing earth shielded targets, it feels like a penalty when healing targets without it. If the intent is to make shamans better tank healers, perhaps make it work in some other way. Perhaps change it to Earthliving or Riptide instead of Earth Shield?

This is the kind of feedback we struggle with a lot on most classes. As soon as something grants a bonus, it feels like a penalty when it’s not up because players are very efficiency-focused. If it was say Riptide, wouldn’t it feel like a penalty whenever Riptide wasn’t available? Or a penalty because every heal cost that extra GCD for Riptide in order to behave at maximum efficiency?

Honestly GC when our dps is competitive with the other hybrid specs you barely ever see us whine. We just really want to be as good as others. It’s when it isn’t that we come out in masses to whine about everything. Since our totems are our thing they are what is an easy target for our QQ. I guarantee you that if we do competitive DPS and never fall behind the endless Shaman crying will be puddles instead of rivers.

I agree with that. I think a lot of the complaints about “we’re the only class” or “are buffs aren’t awesome enough” only come to bear when dps is low. As I said recently, we think Enhancement dps was competitive when there wasn’t a lot of movement involved and when you weren’t competing with guys using orange weapons. We can fix the movement problem. We don’t think we need to fix the legendary “problem” because those Shadowmournes will all be banked at level 85.

I honestly don’t see how healing rains AND chain heal are needed. Both are AoE heals fill the same role (heal people grouped together).

They are different spells with different niches. Chain Heal excels when you have a small number of players injured and Healing Rain is more for those big bursts when everyone takes damage. There are enough occasions when you need to heal say more than just the tank that we think healers can stand to have several different strategies to deal with it.

Any chance that the stoneclaw glyph can become baseline or something? I’m mostly fine with the totem utility vs. buff thing, but it seems fairly weird to have this non-scaling bubble as a secondary effect of a totem. If it can’t be baseline, is it being compensated for? Hance isn’t exactly a survivability powerhouse.

We are changing a lot of glyphs. It’s too early to know which ones we are keeping. If this one dies then we might consider putting in the functionality elsewhere<

At this point tho, after getting the current tier hit/spirit cap, I’m pretty much forced to handpick items with no or little crit rating however. Mastery and haste just seem so overwhelmingly better.

That’s not the intent. Hit / spirit can be capped, but if you start viewing haste, crit or mastery as junk compared to another stat, then we need to change something. It’s fine if one stat is slightly better than another. Remember that crit values overall are going to be far lower than the 70%+ that some players can reach in current content. Lava Burst crits, sure, but you cast a lot of spells besides Lava Burst.

Whether it will continue to attack stuff we are not in combat with (especially if it’s range is increased).

This is something we are trying to fix. We already have the totem choosing your target. Next we need to make sure it doesn’t “helpfully” grab additional mobs.


The increase on the damage of Lava Burst is, obviously, great news for elemental players and it’s nice to see a mana cost reduction on Magma Totem given that heavy AoE situations tend to be a severe drain on our mana pools.

The addition of the new restoration totem, Totem of the Tranquil Mind is interesting and adds more utility to the spec in keeping with Blizzard’s aim to spread buffs more widely (and you can think of this like Concentration Aura.)

From the Q&A section, Blizzard clearly believe that the implementation of Earthquake will help a great deal with the movement issues facing elemental players. There’s no mention there of their original idea to allow us to “throw” our totems into the thick of the action rather than having them drop at our feet. I’m hoping this idea will still be pursued before Cataclysm’s release as it would be a huge improvement to how elemental plays.

The issue of neither Water Shield nor Lightning Shield being specifically aimed at the elemental tree was mentioned. I’ve seen numerous suggestions on other forums calling for some kind of “fire shield” to be added, allowing us to benefit from an increase in fire damage for a short period of time. Evidently the developers are at least acknowledging the lack of elemental shield for our tree but whether they choose to tweak the mechanics of a current shield to benefit us more as opposed to designing a new buff entirely has yet to be seen.

The final question, though it isn’t apparent when quoted in such a fashion, refers to the changes to Searing Totem whereby it is more likely to choose a target that you have already applied Flame Shock to. It’s comforting to see that they haven’t finished working on the totem AI yet (and perhaps this also indicates that we will see changes to how we placed these totems.)

There has a been a lot of more generalised Cataclysm news over the past week ranging from clarification of the rewards earned from guild advancement to UI tweaks and crafted items from various professions (including details of the engineering only “cogwheels”.) I’m going to aim to do a couple of blog updates this week to catch up with these changes and I’ll also update the Cataclysm F.A.Q section as I go along. For now, enjoy the shaman changes!

Categories: Cataclysm
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