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Cataclysm Compendium

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Cataclysm beta is well and truly under way. The state of the talent trees changes at a rapid rate with the tweaking still very much in progress. Whilst I will aim to keep this compendium up to date, the latest changes will always be published on my front page before the edits are made to this article.

Cataclysm Stat Changes

Most of this information came from Blizzcon 2009 when the Cataclysm expansion was confirmed. In an attempt to simplify the high end game and the challenge of balancing various stats, many are being removed, merged or morphed in some fashion.

For DPS casters, Cataclysm is bringing the following broad changes:-

  • Spell power is being removed
  • We’ll receive a lot more stamina
  • Spirit is being removed for all DPS casters
  • MP5 is being removed entirely
  • Mastery is being introduced

Stamina

The difference in hit points between plate wearers and cloth wearers is being drastically reduced for Cataclysm. For casters, we can expect to see much larger health pools than in the previous expansions.

Spell Power is Being Removed

This drastic change was also announced at Blizzcon 2009 and is still a topic of contention. Never the less, spell power as a stat is mostly being removed from the game. Come Cataclysm’s launch, intellect will be the main source of spell power for DPS casters.

A slight exception was made to this when it was announced that caster DPS weapons will contain spell power as an actual stat. The justification for this is to make them comparable to melee weapons in how attractive they are for the casters.

No More Spirit for DPS Players

While this has never been a stat that has affected shaman (aside from the annoyance of it appearing on otherwise nicely itemised items), spirit has always influenced the in combat mana regeneration of other casters. When Cataclysm goes live, spirit will no longer appear on most caster DPS items and mana regeneration for these classes and specs will be dealt with via a different system.

Spirit will be the primary source of mana regeneration for healers however.

Elemental shaman and balance druids are the exception to the above rules however. Both these class spec combinations will be sharing their gear with their healing counter parts. As such, they will have talents that allow conversion of spirit to hit so as to ensure that the spirit component of their gear is not wasted. In the shaman class review of Cataclysm changes, it was announced that this conversion would be bundled into another, more attractive talent rather than expecting shaman’s to spend points purely on converting spirit to hit.

However, when the newly pruned (thirty one point) talent trees appeared, the spirit to hit conversion was a stand alone entity. Currently it takes the form of Elemental Precision and appears as a tier two elemental talent.

MP5 Removed

For our restoration friends (or our restoration offspecs), MP5 will now be a thing of the past as this stat is being removed from the game entirely. Spirit will now influence the mana regeneration of our restoration tree.

The Introduction of Mastery

Where most stats are being trimmed and pruned away, mastery is a new stat to grace our gear in the expansion. This stat is directly tied to our talent choices and to quote the blue poster simply allows us to “become better at whatever makes their chosen talent tree cool or unique”. We’ve been promised a more thorough explanation of this in the up and coming weeks.

Elemental Shaman and Balance Druid Gear Itemisation Specifics

This is how itemisation of elemental shaman or balance druid gear will work in Cataclysm

  • You will still share gear with restoration druids and restoration shaman
  • Your gear will have spirit on it. It won’t have hit on it.
  • Hit on rings and other such gear will still benefit you
  • You will have a talent that converts spirit to hit. We will adjust talents accordingly so that you will want about as much spirit as say, a warlock wants hit
  • To stop the spirit to hit conversion feeling like a dull but mandatory talent, these conversions will be bundled into another, more interesting talent.
  • Raid buffs will no longer buff spirit, so you shouldn’t find yourself unexpectedly over hit cap because of buffs

New Shaman Spells For Cataclysm

Primal Strike

Primal Strike reads as follows:-

  • An instant weapon strike that causes 10 additional damage.
  • Available at level 3

This is a new weapon based attack designed to make levelling as enhancement more appealing. This is to tackle the complaint that most of the core enhancement talents come very late in the tree and many lower level shaman levelling as such find themselves primarily casting lightning bolt and thus, feeling more like elemental players.

Healing Wave

Healing Wave reads as follows:-

  • Heals a friendly target for 34 to 44.
  • Three second cast time
  • Available at level 7

This is an entirely new healing spell being added to the shaman arsenal. The intention is for this spell to become our core, single target healing spell. Due to this change, our current healing wave will be renamed to greater healing wave. As such, we will have lesser healing wave, healing wave and greater healing wave. The lesser and greater varieties are deemed to be more situational.

Managing mana is going to become much more vital to all healers in Cataclysm. You can expect, therefore, that selecting the correct spell depending upon the situation will be quite critical.

Bind Elemental

Bind Elemental currently reads as follows:-

  • Binds the target hostile elemental for up to 50 sec. The bound unit is unable to move, attack or cast spells. Any damage caused will release the target. Only one target can be bound at a time.

  • 1.5 second cast
  • 30 yard range
  • Costs 9% of base mana

Unleash Elements

Unleash Elements currently reads as follows:-

  • Focuses the elemental force imbued in the Shaman’s weaponry, with the concentrated effects depending on the enchantment unleashed.
  • Available at level 81
  • Instant cast
  • 30 yard range
  • 15 second cooldown
  • Can not be dispelled

“Unleashes the power of your weapon enchants for additional effects.” A dual-wielding enhancement shaman will activate the effects of both their weapon enchants.

A few of the effects under consideration for this spell are as follows:-

  • Flametongue Weapon – Deals instant fire damage and buffs the shaman’s next fire attack by 20%
  • Windfury Weapon – Hurls a spectral version of your weapon at the target, dealing 50% weapon damage and increasing the shaman’s haste for the next 5 swings
  • Earthliving Weapon – Heals the target slightly and buffs the shaman’s next heal by 20%

Healing Rain

Healing Rain currently reads as follows:-

  • Calls forth healing rains to blanket the area targeted by the shaman, restoring 1827 to 2173 health to allies in the area every 2 sec for 10 sec.
  • Available at level 83
  • Two second cast time
  • 30 yard range
  • 10 second duration
  • 10 second cool down
  • This spell is not channelled

An area of effect, heal over time spell that calls down rain, healing all players within the selected area. There is no limit to the number of players that can be effected by this heal but you can expect a diminishing returns mechanic like with many AoEs.

Spiritwalker’s Grace

Spiritwalker’s Grace currently reads as follows:-

  • Calls upon spiritual guidance, permitting movement while casting non-instant Shaman spells. This spell may be cast while casting other spells
  • Available at level 85
  • 10 second duration
  • 2 minute cooldown

When this self-targeted buff is active, your spells are no longer interrupted by movement and possibly even by your own attacks. This will give shaman of all three specs another way to heal or do damage when it’s necessary to move in both PvE and PvP.

Cleansing and Dispel Mechanic Changes

As part of wider changes to the way cleansing works (and which classes and specs can do so), some changes have been made to shamans.

  • Shaman’s will receive cleanse spirit as a baseline ability
  • Cleanse spirit will only remove curses
  • Restoration shamans can choose to take a talent that will improve cleanse spirit so it also removes magic effects
  • Shaman’s will no longer be able to remove poisons.
  • Cleansing totem will be removed
  • All cleanses and dispels will cost more mana than they previously have
  • Attempting to cleanse or dispel a target that isn’t inflicted with a debuff will still result in the mana being spent. At present, the spell will simply not cast and this encourages a spam fest approach to cleansing.

Mana Regeneration

Restoration shaman and other healing classes will need to pay attention to mana more than they’ve had to during Wrath of the Lich King. Spirit will be the restoration shaman’s primary mana-regeneration stat.

The Future of Totem of Wrath

  • Totem of wrath now will replace flametongue totem for all shaman
  • Totem of wrath will buff the group’s spell power by 4%
  • Elemental shaman will gain a talent that allows all fire totems to provide a +10% spell power buff
  • The above talent is Totemic Wrath
  • The above allows the elemental shaman to drop searing, magma or fire elemental totems without losing their spell power buff

  • The 10% spell power buff will be based upon the target’s spell power, not that of the shaman.
  • The above also applies to a warlock’s Demonic Pact
  • The 4% gained from totem of wrath and the 10% gained from an elemental shaman’s talented totems will not stack
  • The above will not stack with a warlock’s demonic pact either
    • Elemental Mastery

      Elemental Mastery received a small but significant revamp. Firstly, Blizzard removed the cooldown it shares with Nature’s Swiftness. The removal of this shared cooldown is irrelevant. We can’t take both talents so we gain nothing from this. On live, Elemental Mastery reads as follows:-

      • When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, you gain 15% spell haste for 15 seconds. Elemental Mastery shares a cooldown with Nature’s Swiftness.

      On beta, the tooltip reads as follows:-

      • When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, your fire, frost, and nature damage is increased by 15% and you gain 20% spell haste for 15 sec.

      The instant cast portion of Elemental Mastery has not changed. The spell haste buff that we gain has been increased from 15% haste to 20% haste. In addition, the damage to our fire, frost or nature damage spells has been increased by 15%. The two factors combined should provide a sizeable DPS increase and the addition of Feedback ensures we’re still able to shave a small amount off the cooldown of Elemental Mastery.

      Shaman Talent Trees

      Early versions of all talent trees were scrapped in favour of drastically reduced, thirty one point trees. These trees visually resemble those of vanilla World of Warcraft.

      Thanks to MMO Champion, current versions of all class trees can be found here.

      As part of the talent tree revamps, all players will choose their specialization at level ten. Each spec within a class gains key skills (known as primary skills) when they choose this path. Two of these skills are talents previously located deep into their tree.

      Elemental Talent Tree Specializations

      The elemental tree primary skills are as follows:-

      • Eye of the Storm
      • Thunderstorm
      • Elemental Fury
        • Eye of the Storm

          The tooltip currently reads:-

          • Reduces the cast time of your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, and Lava Burst spells by 0.5 sec, and the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting those spells by 70%.

          This is a morph between the current, live version of Eye of the Storm (providing push back protection) and Lightning Mastery (providing cast time reduction.) Lightning Mastery was removed from the beta version of our talent trees.

          Thunderstorm

          The current tooltip reads as follows:-

          • You call down a bolt of lightning, energizing you and damaging nearby enemies within 10 yards. Restores 8% mana to you and deals 551 to 629 Nature damage to all nearby enemies, knocking them back 20 yards. This spell is usable while stunned.

            • This is our iconic AoE and mana regeneration spell as on live.

              Elemental Fury

              The current tooltip reads as follows:-

              • Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your searing and magma totems and your fire, frost, and nature spells by 100%.

              As of the latest beta build launched on Friday the 23rd of July, Shamanism has also been removed from our talent tree (replaced with Feedback) and added to the elemental primary skills.

              Restoration Talent Tree Specializations

              The restoration tree primary skills are as follows:-

              Earth Shield

              The current tooltip reads as follows:-

              • Protects the target with an earthen shield, reducing casting or channeling time lost when damaged by 30% and causing attacks to heal the shielded target for 150. This effect can only occur once every few seconds. 9 charges. Lasts 10 min. Earth Shield can only be placed on one target at a time and only one elemental shield can be active on a target at a time.

              Purification

              The current tooltip reads as follows:-

              • Increases the effectiveness of your healing spells by 10%.

              Healing Focus

              The current tooltip reads as follows:-

              • Reduces the cast time of your Healing Wave and Greater Healing Wave spells by 0.5 sec and reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting any shaman healing spell by 70%.

                • Meditation

                  The current tooltip reads as follows:-

                  • Allows 50% of your mana regeneration to continue while casting.

                  New Talents for Elemental

                  Despite the massive revamping of the talent trees, many of our talents remain familiar to elemental players. This section will look at the new talents emerging for Cataclysm or the ones that have been changed.

                  Elemental Precision

                  This is the spirit to hit conversion promised to address the fact that our gear will be itemised with spirit. Though initially it was promised that this talent would be merged with something more interesting, this never materialised. At present, Elemental Precision is as follows:-

                  • Increases your chance to hit with fire, frost and nature spells by 1% and grants you spell hit rating equal to 33% of any spirit gained from items or effects.

                  At it’s maximum rank of level three, this gives a 100% spirit to hit conversion.

                  Totemic Wrath

                  This is the talent that severs the tie between our flagship spell power buff and our totem of wrath. At present, Totemic Wrath reads as follows:-

                  • Causes your fire totems to increase the spell power of party and raid members within 100 yards by 10%

                  This is undoubtedly a huge step forward for the elemental tree and frees up many players to use their offensive fire totems. A number of questions have arisen regarding this talent. The primary one being as to whether we will be forced to clip our searing totem to ensure 100% uptime of the spell power buff. Personally, I would like to see a grace period added to this mechanic, whereby the buff will stay active for a few seconds after the totem expires. This would prevent us from needing to clip our totems.

                  Lava Surge

                  At present, Lava Surge reads as follows:-

                  • Gives your Flame Shock periodic damage ticks a 10% chance to reset the cooldown of your Lava Burst spell.

                  This undoubtedly makes for more intuitive play and precisely due to this, I’m loving this talent. At it’s highest rank (of two points), it provides a 20% chance to reset the lava burst cooldown. Theory crafting suggests, however, that it isn’t a huge increase to our DPS. In addition, there have been some concerns expressed that it will generate the potential for too much burst damage in PvP.

                  Earthquake

                  Our thirty one point talent is the newly created earthquake spell. At present, the tooltip reads as follows:-

                  • You cause the earth at the target location to tremble and break, dealing 240 physical damage every 1 sec to enemies in 8 yard radius, with a 20% chance of knocking down affected targets. Lasts 10 sec.

                  A criticism of the elemental tree has always been the lack of consistent AoE damage. Our area of effect “rotation” feels very clumsy and involves excessive movement to ensure the correct placement of our magma totem. Hopefully, earthquake will go a long way in rectifying this issue.

                  New Talents Within Reach

                  In addition to the new talents specifically for the elemental tree. There are a couple of new talents that can be utilised in elemental specs.

                  Ancestral Swiftness

                  This talent derives from tier two of the enhancement tree. It’s current tooltip reads as follows:

                  • Reduces the cast time of your Ghost Wolf spell by 1 sec and increases movement speed by 7%. This does not stack with other movement speed increasing effects.

                  It was announced that ghost wolf would be usable indoors. At it’s max rank of level two, this talent makes ghost wolf instant cast as well as providing an additional 15% speed. This gives shaman the potential to deal with movement fights much more effectively.

                  While it is a tier two talent, the enhancement tree also houses the Elemental Weapons talent. As this is a “must have” talent for elemental players, dipping into Ancestral Swiftness is very easy for us.

                  Ancestral Resolve

                  This talent resides in the first tier of the restoration tree. It’s current tooltip reads as follows:-

                  • Reduces damage taken while casting spells by 5%.

                  In addition to our own Elemental Warding, Ancestral Resolve gives us additional survivability. Whether this will become a core talent or one purely taken on more damage intensive fights has yet to be seen.

                  Totem Changes

                  Some totems are being changed or removed come the expansion. These are as follows:-

                  • Flametongue totem is being removed
                  • Totem of wrath will replace flametongue totem for all shamans
                  • The newly designed totem of wrath will provide a 4% spell power buff
                  • Elemental shaman can take a talent that allows all their fire totems to also offer a 10% spell power buff. Thus allowing elemental shaman to use DPS totems without losing their flagship spell power buff.

                  • Cleansing totem is being removed from the game as part of wider redesigns of the cleansing and dispel system
                  • Searing totem may become usable at range for elemental shaman
                  • Sentry totem is being removed from the game

                  Armour Specializations

                  Blizzard announced some time ago that they wanted to encourage players to wear the armour suited to their class. This was to combat the issue of, for example, a holy paladin rolling on a mail healing item or an elemental shaman equipping a cloth item. They chose to do this by introducing armour specializations. That is to say, if you’re wearing full mail armour you’ll receive a bonus for doing so.

                  For the mail bonuses, we’re seeing the following:-

                  Mail Specialization

                  • Increases your agility by 5% while wearing only mail armour
                    • Elemental Mail Specialization

                      • Increases your intellect by 5% while wearing only mail armour
                        • Tribal Mail Specialization

                          • Increases your intellect by 5% while wearing only mail armour

                          Masteries

                          Masteries are derived from the mastery bonus on gear. This starts appearing on gear at around level 82.

                          MMO Champion give the following example:-

                          A level 82 player will get 1 Mastery point for each 93 Mastery Rating he has. This mastery point will increase the mastery bonus differently depending on the class, +1 Mastery Point doesn’t necessarily means a +1% increase to the bonus. (e.g. A Beast Mastery hunter with +2 Mastery gets +4% increased pet damage)

                          The elemental mastery reads as follows:-

                          • Grants a 20% chance for Elemental Overload to occur. Elemental Overload causes a Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, or Lava Burst spell you cast to trigger a second, similar spell on the same target at no additional cost that causes 60% of normal damage and no threat. Chance to trigger increased further by mastery rating.

                          Raid Changes

                          The following section is unrelated to shaman specifically but should be of interest to all raiders out there.

                          • As of Cataclysm, twenty five and ten man raids will share the same raid lockout. This means players need to choose whether to participate in a twenty five man raid or it’s ten man equivalent

                          • The difficulty of encounters will be evened out with the aim of making ten man and twenty five man raiding of equal difficulty.
                          • The ten man and twenty five man encounters will now share loot tables. This is to address the issue of players feeling pressured into a particular style of raiding in order to obtain the best possible gear. An example of this can be seen in with the caster trinkets in Wrath. Ruby Sanctum, the end instance, features amazing caster trinkets on the twenty five man loot table. The ten man variant has none. The same could be seen in both Trial of the Crusader and Obsidian Sanctum.

                          • To give players an additional incentive to raid twenty five man content, there will be a higher number of drops from these raids.

                          • Legendary items will be available from the ten person variant of a raid instance in Cataclysm. Again this is to prevent players feeling forced into a specific route of raiding.

                          • There will only be one set of raid achievements for every tier of content. Whether you choose to earn the achievement in a ten man or twenty five man setting is an individual choice.

                          • The highest tier of emblems will be called valour points. These will be obtained from raid instances and daily heroics

                          • There will be a cap placed on the number of valour points that can be earned within one week. It is predicted that those who raid will earn their designated number of emblems without the need to partake in daily heroics. This is to prevent players feeling the need to participate in content that they would rather not, for the sake of additional emblems.

                          • In addition to the capping the speed at which you can earn valour points. There will also be a cap on the number you can hold at any one time

                          • The lower tier of emblems will be known as honour points. These will be obtained from most dungeons.

                          • There will be a cap on how many honour points you can have at one time but no cap on the speed at which you can earn them.

                          • To prevent stockpiling of emblems prior to a new tier of items being released all valour points will be converted to honour points prior to the new tier going live.

                            • New Race Options for the Shaman

                            • Cataclysm is adding a number of new class race options in addition to the two new races launching. (Goblin for the Horde and Worgen for the Alliance.) Sadly for the Alliance shaman, the Worgen will not be available to us. Conversely, the Goblins are available for Horde players. Dwarves become the new available shaman race on the Alliance side.

                            • With new races come new totem models.

                              The Goblin totems look as follows:-

                              The Dwarf totems are as follows:-

                              While the new totem designs, specifically the Goblin totems, sparked cries for all shaman totems to be redesigned, there is no indication that this will happen any time soon. Indeed blue posters recently addressed the question whether any other races would have their models redesigned prior to Cataclysm. While the blue in question stated that there was an interest in doing this at some stage (due to the older races looking dated in comparison with the Worgen and Goblin), this would not happen before Cataclysm’s launch.