The PTR patch notes were released a few days ago, and while there is only one spec-specific tweak for melee Shaman, it looks like all three specs will see some significant changes:
* A customizable totem bar will now be available for shamans allowing the storing of 4 different totems. These totems can be placed on the ground at once in one global cooldown for the combined mana cost of all 4 totems.
* All Shocks now have a default range of 25 yards, up from 20 yards.
* Base health increased by approximately 7% to correct for shamans having lower health than other classes.
* Chain Heal: Jump distance increased to 10 yards. In addition, the amount of healing now decreases by 40% as it jumps to each new target, instead of 50%.
* Ghost Wolf: Can now be learned at level 16. While in this form, snaring effects may not bring the shaman below base normal run speed.
+ Shamanistic Rage: Cooldown is now 1 minute, down from 2 minutes. Successful melee attacks now have a chance to generate mana equal to 15% of the shaman’s attack power, down from 30%.
+ Ancestral Healing: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 3/7/10% instead of increasing the target’s armor.
+ Cure Poison and Cure Disease: Combined into a single spell, Cure Toxins.
+ Earth Shield: Dispel effects will now remove charges of Earth Shield rather than the entire aura.
+ Healing Way: Redesigned. Rather than providing a chance of increasing Healing Wave spells on a friendly target, this talent now innately increases the effectiveness of the shaman’s Healing Wave by 8/16/25%.
+ Mana Tide Totem: Totem health now equal to 10% of the shaman’s health.
+ Nature’s Guardian: Redesigned. Now has a fixed 100% proc rate, has a 30-second internal cooldown and increases the shaman’s maximum health by 3/6/9/12/15% for 10 seconds.
+ Nature’s Swiftness: Cooldown is now 2 minutes, down from 3 minutes.
+ Tidal Waves: No longer reduces the cast time of Lesser Healing Wave by 30%. It instead now provides +25% critical strike chance to Lesser Healing Wave, along with the previous 30% cast time benefit to Healing Wave.
+ Improved Water Shield: This talent now has a 10/20/30% chance to be triggered by Chain Heal, and the charges of Water Shield are no longer consumed by this talent.
The immediate reaction among the player base has been generally positive, although the consensus remains that the singular change to the Enhancement tree will not have a major impact on PvP viability — while the spec will get a measure of increased survivability with the change to Shamanistic Rage, ultimately it’s just another cooldown-dependent ability in a spec already at the mercy of global cooldowns and RNG.
Resto is the beneficiary of the biggest overhaul out of the three specs and will remain the most viable in an arena setting. It remains to be seen whether the changes will put Resto on par with Paladins, Druids and Priests as the preeminent PvP healing classes, and questions about the impact won’t be completely answered until the patch goes live.
In the meantime, we’ll revisit the PTR notes this week for a more in-depth look at the new tweaks, and what they might mean for both PvP and PvE raid settings.