Shamans are getting a “bubble” in Patch 3.1, at the cost of a major glyph slot.
Your Stoneclaw Totem also places a damage absorb shield on you, equal to 4 times the strength of the shield it places on your totems.
At level 80, the shield will absorb 4340 damage before it wears off, and since it’s tied to the totem, it will share the totem’s 30-second cooldown.
Along with the change to Toughness — which will now increase stamina by 10% at the cost of five talent points — the glyph is an attempt by the developers to grant more survability to a spec plagued by a level of squishiness unheard of among melee classes. Death Knights and Warriors have the benefit of plate, much larger health pools and the ability to put themselves in enemy’s faces. Paladins have smaller HP pools than Warriors or Death Knights do, but they have their universally-hated bubbles, quick heals and plate to fall back on. Feral Druids can toss a HoT on themselves and switch to Bear form. And Rogues have a variety of mitigation and escape mechanisms that allow them to deal with every type of damage that can be thrown at them.
By contrast, Enhancement Shamans have the smallest health pools of any melee class, poor damage mitigation with mail armor, severely limited mobility and no mitigation talent outside of 15 seconds of Shamanistic Rage. A lot of other players wonder why we’re not constantly topping ourselves off with Maelstrom five-stacks: 1) Because no one has survived long enough to find out whether Maelstrom five-stacks exist in PvP, and 2) because YOU CANNOT DO THAT WHILE STUNNED.
At the risk of sounding overly pessimistic, these changes are certainly a step in the right direction, but the spec is going to need more to change the perception that it’s nothing more than a free HK in battlegrounds and a paper tiger in arenas.