Archive for the ‘PvE Talents’ Category

The idea of shaman tanking in Cataclysm doesn’t seem to be popular at MMO-Champion, or on the official boards.

But some people are asking: Why the hell is Blizzard giving us taunts and threat-generating abilities in some of our revamped skills and talents?

Here’s the tooltip for Rockbiter Weapon:

Imbue the Shaman’s weapon with the fury of the earth, increasing all threat generation by 30% and reducing damage taken by 5%. Lasts 30 minutes.
( Unleash Weapon : Unleashing this enchantment forces the target enemy to attack you for 5 sec. )

Aside from the fact that few people are going to be doing any serious content with Rockbiter as their weapon imbue, why bother giving a DPS spec a threat-generating ability?

Some point to nebulous rumors about a return to mandatory crowd control and kiting in heroic dungeons, and they argue that with the re-balanced Stamina pools, Shamans might be viable tanks or off-tanks. But that line of thinking got shot down pretty quickly:
“Shaman are not tanks. They are balancing out health pools between dps and healers and casters with *plate dps*, but not tanks’ health pools. Tanks will still have a higher health pool and more tools to mitigate damage than plate dps will.”

Of course, with re-adjusted health pools, forging, gems and careful use of talents, some players are guaranteed to try Shaman tanking, out of boredom if anything else. I tried it a few times myself, including a short-lived and hilarious – but semi-successful – stint as an off-tank on a Karazhan run a few years ago.

But one thing’s for sure – Shaman players don’t want to be tanks, and they’d rather have Blizzard’s designers use development time to fine-tune Enhancement as a DPS spec, rather than make a half-hearted stab at situational tank viability.


In this week’s Totem Talk, Rich Malloy points out using Shock and Awe’s priority system as a guide for our DPS rotation “is a net DPS loss for experienced Enhancement players.”

I’ll take it one step further and point out it’s a net loss for everybody.

Shaman priority system

Windfury: The ultimate priority.

We’ve had quite a few posts on this subject, and I’ve repeated it like a mantra — there is no DPS rotation. While the guys over at Elitist Jerks take math to the extremes (bless their hearts) and tweak on down to the fraction level, it’s been established since early in the expansion that the beautiful new synergy between melee and casting gave us a unique system that couldn’t be simplified in terms of macros or “rotations.”

Simply put, you can’t be lazy when playing this spec, and macros are only going to hurt your DPS contribution to your raid. While that’s fine for heroics and older tiers, DPS spots for current tiers are almost always competitive, especially at the 10-man level. In a 25-man there are always a few spots for people to get “carried” through content…but do you really want to be that guy?

For my own set-up, I use Shock-and-Awe for one thing: to flash a small bar bright red and give me an audio cue when Maelstrom Weapon reaches five stacks.

That’s really all the help I need for rotation-specific, real time information. I stick to the standard priority system otherwise, and DBM takes care of my other split-second information needs. Everything else is purely cosmetic, and my personal preference has always been a clean UI — I find clutter only increases my chances of missing something critical and letting the raid down.

If Enhancement players were the type of people who are bothered by having to do extra work, we wouldn’t have rolled Shamans. After all, easy as it is to forget, it wasn’t until a few months ago that we had to set up each individual totem on every pull. Hunters, Warlocks and Mages don’t have to do that, and they can open up as soon as the threat numbers look favorable.

Maybe we’re spoiled by the revamped totem system. Or maybe — and this is my suspicion — the awesomeness of the Enhancement spec in Wrath has lured in players who might otherwise have specced Elemental or Resto, or rolled a different class altogether.

But I try to look at it this way — the more control over DPS abilities we have, the bigger the upside if we work hard. And that’s a wonderful problem to have.

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman rotations

After two in-depth posts on talent spec options for Enhancement Shamans in Patch 3.3, it’s time to take a look at rotations.

Six days into Patch 3.3, I’ve had the chance to run a wide-ranging number of encounters, giving me an opportunity to test Fire Nova — the most significant change for Enhancement — in circumstances you simply can’t replicate with a target dummy. Forays into the Frozen Halls, Icecrown Citadel, Trial of the Crusader, Ulduar and OS 3D have given better insight into the situational value of Fire Nova and its priority in an Enhancement rotation.

With talents and current high-end gear, Fire Nova can crit for 5k or more on each target it hits. The spell really shines because we can stack it with any fire totem we want — including Magma Totem — while simultaneously using our melee attacks. The result is a dramatic improvement in DPS on fights involving lots of adds, as well as a solid boost to single-target DPS.

Of course, calling an Enhancement Shaman’s ability range a “rotation” is a bit misleading, because ever since Patch 3.0, we’ve had a priority system. Patch 3.3 doesn’t change that — the first priority in any situation is using a Maelstrom Weapon five-stack.

Enhancement Shaman Rotations in Patch 3.3 (World of Warcraft)

This rotation's kinda trippy.

An Enhancement Shaman’s second priority also remains the same with Stormstrike. With its built-in debuff and Glyph of Stormstrike, not only does the attack do decent damage on its own, it also makes our Earth Shocks, Lightning Bolts and Lightning Shield hit harder.

From there, things get a bit tricky. On a single-target fight, Earth Shock is usually a better bet than Fire Nova. Against one target, it simply hits harder.

But on boss fights with adds, or AoE pulls, Fire Nova surpasses Earth Shock and should be used first.

On boss fights, I like to use Lava Lash early as well — the 400 AP proc from Totem of Quaking Earth almost always activates on the First Lava lash. The high proc rate makes it possible to achieve near-100% uptime, which is well worth at least one global cooldown every 18 seconds, the duration of the buff.

Of course, Fire Nova doesn’t work without an active fire totem in play, so re-dropping Magma, Searing or Flametongue should always be a priority after Maelstrom Weapon five-stacks and Stormstrike.

Unsurprisingly, the TL;DR version is this: We don’t have a rotation. If you’re an Enhancement Shaman and you’re using a rotation, you’re doing it wrong and gimping your own DPS in the process. I’ve seen posts from some players who claim they use sequence macros, and I just don’t see how that’s possible given the range of options available to us and the varying effectiveness of those options.

In Patch 3.3 more than ever, the best Enhancement Shaman “rotation” involves paying attention and selecting the most effective ability for each encounter and each moment. Some people see that as too much “work.” If you’re one of those people, perhaps you might be interested in a Hunter or Warlock alt?

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

More than just Gear(Score): An interview with Gear Score’s developer

(Note: This post deals with talent points. For a detailed post on Patch 3.3 rotations for Enhancement, go here.)

Patch 3.3 saw one major change for Enhancement Shamans — the reworking of Fire Nova Totem into an AoE spell.

The new Fire Nova requires an active Fire Totem to cast, and it has a 10-second cooldown, which can be reduced to six seconds with talents, and three seconds with the Glyph of Fire Nova.

Investing two talent points in Improved Fire Nova not only reduces the spell’s cooldown, it also increases its damage by 20%, stacking with a 15% increase from Call of Flame — for a total of 35% more damage.


What does all this mean? With the above-mentioned talents, plus Elemental Fury (a staple in any correctly-specced Enhancement Shaman’s talent tree), Enhancement Shaman can now stack Magma Totem (an immobile, weak AoE), with Fire Nova — a more powerful, mobile AoE.

The result is a dramatic improvement in single-target and AoE DPS, putting Enhancement back in line with the pure classes in terms of damage potential. Not only does it give the spec more utility, it’s also satisfying to literally burn down AoE packs with Magma ticks for 2k and Fire Nova crits for 5k — all at the same time, while we continue to melee and rake Chain Lightning across the mobs.

Is talenting — and glyphing — into Fire Nova worth it in Patch 3.3? And is the spell worth including in an Enhancement player’s DPS rotation?

The short answer to both questions is yes.

The long answer requires a disclaimer — always run simulations and tests on target dummies to find out for yourself how spells and talents benefit your own toon. The information in this post is based on simulations, target dummy tests and Recount analysis for a Trial of the Crusader/Grand Crusader-geared Enhancement Shaman with an in-game GearScore of 5127. Some readers of this blog will have higher GearScores, and some will have lower — as always, the best way to find out if a spell or talent is good for YOUR toon is to run the aforementioned tests by inputting your own statistics.

Enhancement: Patch 3.3 Maximum DPS Spec

18/53/0: This spec provides maximum DPS for Enhancement Shamans in Patch 3.3.

18/53/0: This spec provides maximum DPS for Enhancement Shamans in Patch 3.3.

This spec uses every talent point for damage increases, and spares nothing for luxuries like Improved Ghost Wolf. Since Icecrown Citadel is an indoor raid instance, the decision to drop auto-cast Ghost Wolf from a raiding spec is much easier to justify. You might miss it, but that’s what dual specs are for. This spec maxes out talents effecting Static Shock and Fire spells without sacrificing DPS potential elsewhere. For well-geared, raiding Enhancement Shaman, this is the way to go. (Note: This spec assumes your character is at beneficial Haste levels, or your raid is receiving additional Haste from Improved Icy Talons. Simulations will determine whether it’s more beneficial to your personal DPS to keep three points in Static Shock, or to move them over to Improved Windfury Totem.)

Enhancement: WotLK Classic Spec

Use this if you’re still rocking relevant set bonuses from old tier sets, but only temporarily — current gear is easier than ever to get, and any boost to abilities like Static Shock will undoubtedly be eclipsed by the DPS potential of Fire Nova.

Enhancement Shaman WotLK Classic (pre-Patch 3.3) Spec

WotLK Classic Spec: A pre-3.3 spec used by Enhancement Shamans.

Enhancement: Patch 3.3 Ghost Wolf Spec

If you absolutely must have your insta-cast Ghost Wolf, and your off-spec is not Enhancement, your best bet is to steal two points from Improved Shields. You’ll lose some DPS, but it won’t be catastrophic. If you raid in a guild of bleeding-edge min-maxers, this isn’t the spec for you.

Enhancement Shaman Patch 3.3: Ghost Wolf/Fire Nova Spec

The preferred choice of casuals and Warsong Gulch enthusiasts. Maybe.

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman rotations

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

More than just Gear(Score): An interview with Gear Score’s developer

More math. – Elitist Jerks

Should Enhancement Shaman respect to fully take advantage of Fire Nova in Patch 3.3? Lots of people on the official forums are asking this question, and if the ongoing discussion is any indication, quite a few players are still haven’t found an answer that satisfies them.

The main change is Fire Nova, our new insta-cast AoE spell. Fire Nova is no longer a totem, but casting it requires an active Fire totem on the ground. So for Enhancement Shamans, the biggest appeal will be stacking Magma Totem with the Fire Nova spell, which will in effect let us stack one stationary, weak AoE with a more mobile and more-powerful AoE.

Enhancement Shaman Talent Builds in 3.3: Is it worth speccing into Improved Fire Nova?

To get Improved Fire Nova, you'll have to steal two talent points from one of your existing abilities.

Having tested out the new Fire Nova spell in Icecrown Citadel tonight, I found it didn’t put nearly as much of a strain on my mana pool as it did in five-mans (thanks to raid buffs), and it contributed a significant portion of my DPS, often swapping with Flametongue Attack to take the third- or fourth-place among my top-DPS abilities.

The question, for Enhancement Shaman who want to respec in Patch 3.3, is this — is it worth dropping two talent points from other abilities in order to get Improved Fire Nova?

The good news for players who are leaning this way is that while Improved Fire Nova is on the Elemental tree’s fourth tier, you don’t have to waste any valuable talent points to get to that tier if you’re specced correctly in the first place. With five points in Concussion, three in Elemental Devastation, three in Call of Flame, and five in Elemental Fury, you’ll already have the 15 talent points in that tree needed to reach Improved Fire Nova.

For players who decide to spend two talent points to get Improved Fire Nova, finding those extra points is going to be painful. Improved Stormstrike is a necessity, because at 907 mana, Fire Nova will drain in excess of 9k mana per minute if you’re using it on every cooldown. Although that lines up perfectly with Shamanistic Rage, raid situations often lead to significant time off-target — we’ve all been in situations where we’ve had to run away from an AoE cast as soon as we’ve activated Shamanistic Rage. One minute without mana is an eternity in a raid, especially for a spec that uses mana for every one of its active attacks.

Talents like Mental Quickness, Static Shock and Mental Dexterity are too crucial to shave off talent points from, and almost everything else is non-negotiable. If you’ve got two points in Improved Windfury (and not many Enhancement Shamans do), that’s probably the best spot to steal two talent points.

If not, you’re really only left with one option — take the two talent points from Improved Shields.

As to whether the talented damage bonus to Fire Nova equals — or surpasses — the damage bonuses to Lightning Shield, that’s a question I can’t answer right now.. A definitive answer would ultimately include simulations, which are based on an individual player’s statistics. And any real analysis would take into account the reduced cooldown from Glyph of Fire Nova, its impact on DPS, and whether the glyph alone justifies removing another glyph.

Others are taking that route, but I’m going to hold off at least until I can reserve some time with raid buffs and a target dummy in Orgrimmar. Fire Nova looks like the more attractive option, but I have to see the pure numbers in a single-target situation, over a sustained fight. Failing that, I’m sure it won’t be long before the mathematicians over at Elitist Jerks work the percentages out.

The main thread on Fire Nova/Enhancement over at EJ is already 11 pages long, but can be summed up by one comment: “More math.”

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

Fall of the Lich King Trailer: So how easy will it be to kill Arthas?