Happy or Sad?
While Enhancement has had a bit of a bad time of it over the years with a few bright spots here or there (and it's probably got a bit boring reading doom and gloom reports each patch), this time I can pretty comfortably say that what's on the horizon for 9.2 looks universally positive. Lots of the nastier problems with the spec are improving, and some holes in choices/talents & damage profiles are being plugged up. On top of that it's not just "borrowed power" systems being addressed but the baseline toolkit - something above and beyond
what I was expecting to see before the next expansion.
There's quite a lot to break down because Enhancement as a spec while not necessarily difficult to play, does have a lot of moving parts and things that link together, so I'll break it down into a few different sections related to 9.2 changes.
Because there's a lot going on, I'll be splitting it up between Baseline & Shadowlands Systems sections
These are changes that are going to be there the moment you load into patch 9.2, and directly interact with the core abilities of the class/spec regardless of all the Shadowlands systems
The clearest and most important part of our toolkit that is altered here is our AoE, specifically the options on the Level 35 row
. Previously, we have become increasingly locked into Elemental Assault
being a very niche Cleave/AoE option, and Fire Nova
being a dead talent. However, following the ability to set Fire Nova
up and a huge
buff to Hailstorm
we are now provided with options that lean into either single-target, sustained cleave, or burst AoE depending on the situation and what other talents you select alongside each.
The impact of Flame Shock
spread on its own (alongside the innate Lava Lash
reset it's currently
doing) is effectively free AoE either by application followed by spread, or various Covenant effects that can apply it on their own and then capitalize on it. It also raises the value of Lashing Flames
on the Level 15 row
to a legitimate contender in cleave now that we don't have to juggle two individual tab-target debuffs. We've also now finally got a strong reason to consider the Primal Lava Actuators
Legendary, as previously the higher GCD investment to use this coupled with the Flame Shock
juggling pushed it far out of the realm of being playable.
The Feral Spirit
change is in response to an issue the new 2-piece
bonus caused, where we would cap out on guardian slots in the totem row and Wolves/Totems/Elementals would despawn wasting some value, so is a very important (but quite niche) bugfix. Ice Strike
's notes are long term bugs that now make them behave as expected (for real this time), which is a nice change to add in.
These are changes that are coming to things directly tied to Shadowlands systems specifically (those being Legendaries, Covenants and Conduits) so are likely less permanent going forward but are very relevant to Patch 9.2.
Throughout Shadowlands we've had a serious issue with the value of our Conduits being extremely frontloaded, and pretty weak. These buffs have smoothed out the gains so increasing their item level is more valuable, and also made them drastically more impactful. The most important of these is Focused Lightning
which now moves to being a lock-in Conduit, alleviating one of our other core issues (to some extent) by making Maelstrom Weapon
spenders more punchy - especially when paired with Venthyr
.Chilled to the Core
is the Conduit that spent the entire expansion in a bit of a hole but when everything is considered, it is now an option if playing Hailstorm
thanks to this and the 2/4-piece
below that lets it slot in even with Witch Doctor's Wolf Bones
for mixed damage profiles in some cases. That we also have to cast less Flame Shock
s now due to the Lava Lash
reset on Flame Shock
, it even sees value without now there's room to press it. Unruly Winds
is now even more of a lock-in with Doom Winds
, and Magma Fist
with Hot Hand
, so we've finally reached a point where all of our Spec Conduits are worth using.
The entire package of these changes makes it a much more interesting question of whether a third potency is worth taking (but not necessarily dominant) in each of your Soulbinds depending on which build you play, or what your goal is - which is incredibly healthy.
Legendary is a smaller change but does mean we have a lower opportunity cost when using the second charge of the pulse - instead of burning Maelstrom Weapon
it's replaced by a Healing Stream Totem
cast followed by 2 Earth Shield
casts - but this still costs globals, so is mostly quality of life. The Venthyr
change is extremely strong and opens it up as a premiere AoE Covenant choice that we'll discuss below, drastically reducing the cooldown of Chain Harvest
and having some very surprising synergies with other options. This paired with the baseline changes has opened up a lot of options we previously didn't have that allow us to alter our damage profile more directly without throwing away what we're good at - which is the current situation on live
As a small extra note there was a listed change to Windfury Totem
in the early patch datamining that should be touched on:
While this looks like a nerf on paper
due to the old tooltip, this is how it has always worked throughout Shadowlands - the game tooltip just didn't tell you. Every judgement of how good the totem is for Dual-wield specs from 9.1 upward (thanks to other bugs that were fixed from 9.0) remains the same outside of new effects certain classes are gaining access to in 9.2, so no need to panic!
Tier Set Bonuses
Patch 9.2 also brings us set bonuses which are directly linked to some parts of our toolkit meaning it's important to cover them in the current context (though this is also covered in other broader places on Wowhead currently - the original Set Bonus write-up
is still mostly correct sans some small details). Due to it being an important factor in some sections further down, I'll go through them both quickly here: