Thursday, October 15, 2009

Shaman: Totems and Relics and Patch Notes, Oh My!

Taking a recent look at the patch notes gives you the impression that some pretty nice updates are coming for shaman everywhere. So, let's start off the bat with some of the things that shaman can expect in 3.3.
Default Equipment: Starting weapons are now more uniform. Rogues now start with a pair of daggers equipped. All other classes except shamans start with a 2-handed weapon equipped and the required skill already known. Shamans start with a 1-handed weapon and a shield, as they benefit more from the shield than they would from a 2-handed weapon.
Not much of a change here, but shamans now get a 1-handed weapon and a shield. I guess this one is for those players that really, really struggle with levels 1-5. Still, it seems like an appropriate change.
Orc and troll shamans now have their own unique totem art.
A cosmetic change, but definitely a fun one. As you may already know, dwarves will be the new shaman race for the Alliance, and we got a sneak peek at these totems even though they won't be in the game for quite some time. As the saying goes, pictures speak louder than words. (Or video, if you prefer.)




Fun, yes?
Fire Nova Totem: This totem has been replaced with a new spell, Fire Nova, which is available at the same ranks as the old Fire Nova Totem. Existing characters will automatically learn this new spell in place of the totem. With a Fire Totem active, shamans will be able to use Fire Nova (fire magic) to emit the same area-of-effect damage as the old Fire Nova Totem from the active Fire Totem, not consuming the totem in the process. Fire Nova will activate a 1.5-second global cooldown when used and has a 10-second spell cooldown. The caster must be within 30 yards of the totem to use this ability, but does not need to be within line of sight of the totem.
Improved Fire Nova Totem: Renamed Improved Fire Nova. This talent now provides an additional 10/20% damage to the spell and reduces the cooldown by 2/4 seconds.
Glyph of Fire Nova Totem: Renamed Glyph of Fire Nova. This glyph now reduces the cooldown of Fire Nova by 3 seconds.
This will allow elemental and enhancement shaman to use this AoE effect as a spell with a 10 second cooldown and a 1.5 second global cooldown, removing the totem itself from all of our totem bars. The end result will allow us to actually use this talent rather than substituting it for the more powerful and beneficial Magma Totem, Flametongue Totem or Totem of Wrath.
Reincarnation: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 60 minutes down to 50 minutes (Improved Reincarnation will continue to lower the cooldown by 10/20 minutes).
When fully talented, that's a free self-resurrect every 30 minutes. With plans to reduce the cooldown on the warlock's soulstone ability to 15 minutes, this means quicker wipe recoveries all around. Updated: Ghostcrawler has stated that they are considering lowering the cooldown from 60 minutes to 30, talented to 15.

We've also been fortunate to get a sneak peak at some of the latest T10 set bonuses:
  • 2 Pieces (Enhancement): When you activate your Shamanistic Rage ability you also deal 12% additional damage for 15 second.
  • 4 Pieces (Enhancement): Each time the beneficial effect of your Maelstrom Weapon talent reaches 5 charges, you have a 15% chance to gain 20% attack power for 10 second.
  • 2 Pieces (Elemental): Your Lightning Bolt spell reduces the remaining cooldown on your Elemental Mastery talent by 1 second.
  • 4 Pieces (Elemental): (Updated) The cooldown on your Lava Burst ability is reduced by 1.5 seconds.
  • 2 Pieces (Heal): Your Riptide spell grants 20% spell haste for your next spellcast.
  • 4 Pieces (Heal): Your Chain Heal critical strikes cause the target to heal for 25% of the healed amount.
For Enhancement, we see some really nice damage increases when Shamanistic Rage pops and a good reason to wait until Maelstrom Weapon to hit 5 charges. The changes to Shamanistic Rage are probably the most interesting since the cooldown was reduced with the last patch, so you'll have more incentive other than damage reduction and mana replenishment to pop this every chance you get.

With Elemental we get a nice little cooldown on Elemental Mastery. Each lightning bolt you toss will take it down another second, which will provide significantly faster recovery time. (On a side note, I'm not specced Elemental... how many lightning bolts does one throw in 3 minutes?) Lava Burst gets reduced down to 6.5 seconds from 8, and you should be able to throw hot liquid magma a bit more often. Say it with me... Mag. Ma.

And last, but certainly not least, Resto gets some nice buffs to Riptide and Chain Heal. The 20% haste is a nice buff, especially since I usually use this mana expensive talent to provide a quick HoT in those "Oh, #^$!" moments. I've been trying to figure precisely what happens with the Chain Heal, but it sounds like an extra 25% healing done to any target that crits. Nice buffs all around, if you asked me.

We also got a look at some of the new T10 relics available:
Elemental - Your Earth Shock, Flame Shock, and Frost Shock spells grant 73 critical strike haste rating for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times. (Edited)
Enhancement - Your Stormstrike ability grant 146 attack power rating for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.
Restoration - Your Riptide spell grants 85 spell power for 15 sec. Stacks up to 3 times.
It's not entirely clear to me if the Elemental relic will be better for either Enhancement or Elemental, but it seems that the 219 crit rating is a significant buff and may grant more DPS than 438 AP on face value. Both have a 15 second duration, and I'm not quite if it will constantly replenish like Maelstrom Weapon. (Maybe I should get on the PTR and test it out, huh? =D) Of course, 255 SP is good any day of the week for your healer. It will be interesting what comes out of the PTR testing and simulations. I'm sure the guys at Elitist Jerks are already on it.

Now there's lots of other changes not specific to the shaman class that are covered, particularly for low-level characters to make the race to level much easier. In addition to Icecrown and its multiple 5-man dungeons and some really fun daily and heroic quests, there's lots of changes to other classes and some well-needed bug fixes. Feel free to check out all of the patch notes yourself for the latest official updates.

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