volcanic burst

It’s been a while since I’ve been writing fully about the state of the elemental shaman, and with the newly announced bits of changes to come in Cataclysm, I figured it would be a good time to take a peek, and share my thoughts on the different subjects.

As expected, I’ll keep the focus on the elemental aspect, as it would otherwise be too much of a write-up – and there are probably (and hopefully) someone out there, who have a greater idea of things in those branches of the shaman class.

Talents & Masteries:
While we didn’t exactly get any view of how the talent-tree is going to fan out, a cool (and much wanted) thing have been revealed, besides the spirit -> hit conversion, which I’ll get into later.

Earthquake! Seemingly, it will be just like the Farseer skill in Warcraft 3, functioning a bit like the Mages’ Blizzard-skill: a (probably) channeled targeted AoE.

On top of that, the Mastery-bonuses have also been revealed to be that of Spell Damage, Spell Crit and Elemental Overload. While the two first is, as expected, quite boring and ordinary, Elemental Overload is just as awesome as you might guess from the name:

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.

It was later clarified that the current Lightning Overload talent would make the benefit of that specific mastery greater, in some way. How and such, will remain to be seen.

New skills:
This is where it gets really interesting so far, as quite a few of the abilities shown will a really nice impact on the Elemental playing style.

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.
Flametongue Weapon – Deals instant Fire damage and buffs the shaman’s next Fire attack by 20%.

Yes, I left out the other weapon imbues, as it wouldn’t make sense for me to write them. Suffice to say, they’re quite nice as well. It should be quite obvious that this is to be spend in coalition with Lava Burst. An increase of 20% damage is simply huge. Question is, if it Unleash Weapon will trigger the GCD, and – in that case – the direct damage done by the unleash, along with the 20% extra from the following Lava Burst, will make up for it.

However, when looking at the Masteries, this skill looks a lot more exciting all of a sudden. Imagine the following: Unleashed Weapon, Lava Burst… and then Elemental Overload. Ouch!

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.

An incredibly amazingly sounding ability, and probably every casters dream since … the dawn of time, is my personal guess. Not only is this spell useful to all of specs, but it removes some of the “turret”-problems that especially Elemental have, by only having a single DoT, and no spamable instant-cast ability. No, shocks doesn’t count here. I’m really looking forward to trying this one out, especially together with the mentioned combination above, finishing off (or starting) with Elemental Mastery.

Of course, as everything, it’s subject to change, but it sounds nice indeed.

Totem of Wrath:
I figured the good old Totem of Wrath deserved a section of its own, as there’s coming some hefty changes to it. As we know, the Spell Power aspect of the totem is shared with Flametongue Totem and Demonology Warlock’s Demonic Pact, where the latter is quite a bit better. The change is then going to be the following, making the effect granted from Elemental Shaman the same:

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.

Quite a nice change indeed, which should give us a further damage increase, let alone more raid viability (however, it’s quite early to talk about that, at this moment).

… and, then there’s the matter of the little bonus, that sneaked into that quote: Totem Toss. Nothing more really needs to be said here, besides that I really hope this will be kept in, one way or the other. And, naturally, that Searing Totem is going to do competitive damage to Magma, even single target.

After a long while of being at the short end of the stick with itemization, it seems it’s finally going to look good again. As I mentioned above, Spirit will now be translated into Hit through a talent, enabling basically every single wearable caster weapon, jewelry and trinket to be useful, as Mp5 is getting removed. On top of that, we will share items with Restoration shamans, even more than now, as most Restoration shaman doesn’t really need the mp5 that some of the pieces provide. While the last part may look a bit bad at the first glance, I sincerely believe this will be a very good change.

Wrapping it up, and looking forward:
Unless the revamped Troll racials are going to be really really awesome, my decision to race-change to Goblin is looking quite set in stone, at this moment. The added mobility, plus the changes above – and the obviously fitting mentality of the Goblins – looks very appealing to me.

The spi… lava must flow!

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