Here’s my statline upon entering Northrend:
Attack Power: 1955
Crit Chance: 28.46%
Expertise: 8 (2%)
Hit Rating: 109
Pre-3.0, before Agility was converted to give Shamans 1 AP per point of Agility (and Strength was changed from 1 Str = 2 AP to a 1:1 ratio), I was sitting at a healthy 1630 AP and 33% Crit for Tier 5 and early Tier 6 raiding. Although the Agility change offered us substantially more AP, it also came at a loss to crit, with a new conversion ratio similar to the ratios used for Hunters and Rogues.
Since I’m writing about my stats from about two weeks ago, I’d have to make an educated guess and put the Armor Penetration numbers somewhere around 450-500, with a bit more now that I’ve replaced two pieces of level 70 epic gear with WotLK blues. Crit and hit rating have suffered immeasurably from level 70 to 74, because of the dipping conversion rates at each level, but more on that later.
Taking the Shaman Out for A Test Drive
The first thing I did upon arriving at Vengeance Landing was grab the round of quests available to me and head off to the Undead-Human frontline about two hundred yards south of the town.
Riding past the Horde cannoneers and their Undead Blood Elf commander, I started to carve through mobs in a path toward human NPCs I had been instructed to assassinate.
Having been on extended hiatus, I initially forgot to summon my Spirit Wolves, but perhaps that was a result of not needing them. With Maelstrom Weapon, five-stack procs were plentiful, and it was easy to pull four or five mobs at a time, drop a Stoneclaw/Magma Totem combo and toss Chain Lightnings en route to easy kills.
Like all Enhancement Shamans newly arrived in Northrend, I found the biggest challenge was not burning through my comparatively shallow mana pool in a few short seconds.
With the changes to the spec, and a new Attack Power bonus based off of Intellect, by level 80 most players are expected to favor “Hunter mail” and roll with a higher ratio of Intellect on their gear.
But any Shaman worth his or her salt in The Burning Crusade ran with rogue leather in most slots, with a piece of mail here and there. It was the only way to be competitive in raid DPS, thanks to poor mail itemization.
Later, while questing north of the Great Lift-esque Taunka elevator that carries players above the shoreline, I found myself at a Vyrkul camp east of Utgarde Keep, staring at a level 70 elite and three mobs surrounding him.
I pulled each mob carefully with max-range Lightning Bolts and was surprised to see the entire group didn’t aggro on each bolt. A minute or so later, it was just me and the named elite.
With Strength of Earth, Windfury, Healing Stream and Searing Totem down, I pulled the mounted elite and hit Feral Spirit, siccing the dogs on him before I ran in for my first Stormstrike. Maelstrom procs stacked quickly with white attacks and a Lava Lash to follow up, and I tossed my second Lightning Bolt, following it up with an Earth Shock.
The elite was dead, and I was at more than 90% health.
While probably not the best gauge of Enhancement performance (Blizzard intended the quest to be 2-manned), it was still illustrative of the buffed PvE state of the spec. Most of the surrounding Vyrkul had been three-shotted, with nothing but mana issues along the way.
Later, I’ll post some notes on DPS numbers and aggro management in the entry-level instances (Windshock is amazing), where we can go more in-depth on the group dynamic.