In World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, we'll be making lots of changes and additions to class talents and abilities across the board. In this preview, you'll get an early look at some of the changes in store for the shaman class, including a rundown of some of the new spells, abilities, and talents, and an overview of how the new Mastery system will work with the different talent specs.
New Shaman Spells
Primal Strike (available at level 3): Primal Strike is a new weapon-based attack that every shaman will learn very early in the game. Our goal with this ability is to make leveling as Enhancement rather than as Elemental more viable, since many key Enhancement talents become available at fairly high levels.
Healing Wave (level 4): While the shaman already has an ability called Healing Wave, we're adding another spell to the class's direct-healing arsenal and giving it a familiar name. The current Healing Wave will be renamed Greater Healing Wave, and the intent is for the 'new" Healing Wave to be the shaman's go-to heal. Lesser Healing Wave and Greater Healing Wave will be used on a more situational basis.
Unleash Weapon (level 81): Unleashes the power of your weapon enchants for additional effects (see below). A dual-wielding Enhancement shaman will activate the effects of both of their weapon enchants. Instant cast. 30-yard range. 15-second cooldown. Undispellable.
Here are a few examples of effects we're considering for this ability:
- Windfury Weapon – Hurls a spectral version of your weapon at a target, dealing 50% weapon damage and increasing the shaman's Haste for the next five swings.
- Flametongue Weapon – Deals instant Fire damage and buffs the shaman's next Fire attack by 20%.
- Earthliving Weapon – Heals the target slightly and buffs the shaman's next healing spell by 20%.
Healing Rain (level 83): An area-effect heal-over-time (HoT) spell that calls down rain in a selected area, healing all players within it. There is no limit to the number of players who can potentially be affected; however, there are diminishing returns when healing a large number of targets, much like the diminishing returns associated with AoE damage spells. This should give Restoration shaman another healing tool that improves their group-healing and heal-over-time capabilities. 2-second cast time. 30-yard range. 10-second duration. 10-second cooldown.
Spiritwalker's Grace (level 85): When this self-targeted buff is active, your spells are no longer interrupted by movement and possibly even by your own attacks. This will give shaman of all three specs another way to heal or do damage when it’s necessary to move in both PvE and PvP. Instant cast. 10-second duration. 2-minute cooldown.
Changes to Abilities and Mechanics
In addition to adding new spells, we're planning to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics you're familiar with. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we intend for each spec.
Restoration shaman and other healing classes will need to pay attention to mana more than they've had to during Wrath of the Lich King. Spirit will be the Restoration shaman's primary mana-regeneration stat.
We're making changes to which classes and specs are able to dispel magic, diseases, curses, and poison, largely for PvP purposes. Shaman will have Cleanse Spirit as a baseline ability, but it will only remove curses. Restoration shaman will have a talent that will improve Cleanse Spirit so that it also removes magic. Shaman will no longer be able to remove poison.
Cleansing Totem will be removed from the game, as we want dispels to be a decision for players, not something done mindlessly. To that end, all dispels will cost slightly more mana, and you will waste the spell if you cast it when there is nothing to remove. (Currently, the dispel is only cast when there is something to remove, which encourages spamming 'just in case.") We will balance PvE dispelling with this new model in mind.
Totem of Wrath now will replace Flametongue Totem for all shaman, and dropping this totem will buff the group's spell power by 4%. Elemental shaman will have a talent that lets all Fire totems provide +10% spell power, allowing them to drop Searing, Magma, or Fire Elemental Totems without losing their spell-damage buff. The 4% and 10% buffs will be exclusive with each other and with the warlock's Demonic Pact, so you can't benefit from all of them at once. We're also considering letting Elemental drop Searing Totem at range.
We want to free up Enhancement global cooldowns to make the spec more dynamic to play. We're considering, for example, increasing the cooldown of Lava Lash so shaman have time to work other interesting abilities into their rotation.
New Talents and Talent Changes
Elemental Reach will be simplified so shaman have a more consistent spell range.
We plan to add Earthquake as a deep Elemental talent for targeted and persistent AoE.
Spirit Link will likely be worked back into deep Restoration in some form. The idea is that you will be able to link targets together so they share damage. When we had previously tried to implement Spirit Link, it was hard to balance and a little confusing. However, we really liked the concept -- and so did players -- so we are trying to bring it back.
Elemental will have a deep talent that allows Spirit (which will appear on the gear they share with Restoration shaman) to boost their Hit rating.
Ancestral Knowledge will boost mana pool size, not Intellect.
Enhancing Totems will be replaced with Focused Strikes, which will improve the damage of the new spell Primal Strike and Stormstrike.
With the Mastery system, we're also considering removing a number of talents that grant passive bonuses, such as Mental Quickness, Improved Windfury Totem, Mental Dexterity, Call of Thunder, Tidal Mastery, Purification, Nature's Blessing, and others, to allow players more freedom to choose more interesting talents.
Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses
Elemental Overload: Your direct-damage spells have a chance to proc a less powerful 'bonus" version of the spell. This will work much like the current Lightning Overload talent, but would also apply to Lava Burst.
Nature Damage: This will provide a passive bonus to the Nature damage dealt by the Enhancement shaman.
Deep Healing: Your direct heals will do more healing when the target's health is lower. This will scale to damage (e.g. someone at 29% health would receive more healing than someone at 30%) rather than have arbitrary break points.
We hope you enjoyed this preview, and we're looking forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback on these additions and changes. Please keep in mind that this information represents a work in progress and is subject to change as development on Cataclysm continues.
Just to clarify a few things:
Meditation – the amount of mana you regenerate in combat as a function of your Spirit.
Also of note, you only get one set of passive talent tree bonuses: the tree in which you’ve spent the most points. Sub-speccing in another tree will not net you those bonuses in addition.
Last but not least, it's the intention of Primal Strike to let shaman play as an Enhancement at low levels. Currently when leveling in this spec, you end up just using Lightning Bolt a lot so you feel like an Elemental shaman instead. At a higher level, Primal Strike gets replaced by Storm Strike. They share a cooldown so Enhancement just won’t ever use Primal Strike after that, in the same way that Prot warriors don’t use Sunder Armor once they have Devastate or Feral druids don’t use Claw once they get Mangle.
We know there are a lot of additional questions and we'll do our best to answer what we can. Keep in mind, this is merely a preview of things to come.
Q: Will Maelstrom Weapon include Lava Burst?
A: That’s the plan currently.
Q: How can Elemental Overload proc Lava Burst when Lava Burst already hits so hard in PvP?
A: We’re going to change almost every number in Cataclysm to adjust for everything from single ranks of spells to larger health pools to new combat ratings. With much higher health pools, hopefully burst damage will go back to being a tool and not the only way to win matches.
Q: What happens to the Lightning Overload talent?
A: It provides a bonus to Elemental Overload.
Q: Elemental doesn’t want to drop Searing Totem at range. We want to drop Magma Totem.
A: Searing Totem needs to so more single-target damage than Magma. That said, if we’re happy with the ability to occasionally place totems at range there is no reason it couldn’t apply to any totem. Imagine, “After using this spell, the next totem you drop will appear at the feet of your target.”
Q: Will Elemental have to spend talent points just to get the Spirit to hit conversion?
A: It will be bundled with another attractive talent, such as Elemental Precision.
Q: Will Unleash Weapon work with Frostbrand?
A: Yes. We just provided some examples.
Q: Is Healing Rain channeled?
A: No, it's not a channeled spell.
Q: Is Earthquake channeled?
A: Probably, but we’ll see.
Q: Will Unleashed Weapon consume your enchants?
Q: Does the 10% spell power buff from Elemental scale with the shaman or the target’s spell power?
A: It will scale with the target the same as Demonic Pact and other buffs that bring the same benefit.
Q: Are you supporting two-handed weapons for Enhancement?
A: Once you start to get into the dual-wield talents, then Enhancement is a dual-wield tree.
Q: You didn’t address Enhancement survivability or mobility or X and Y!
A: This was just a preview and is not a comprehensive list of every change. Much more will be revealed in beta and much will change during beta.
Q: You didn’t answer the most important shaman question! What about Sentry Totem?
A: The Cataclysm is a time of great upheaval. Deathwing’s return to Azeroth tore a hole in the fabric of the universe that tragically resulted in the ultimate and irrevocable destruction of all Sentry Totems. Level designers are contemplating a shrine for the Sentry Totem near that of Uther the Lightbringer. We know shaman players will greet this news with grief, but as with all class changes we’ll have to get into beta before anything is final.