Monday, May 6, 2013

Bashes with Wolves: 5.3 brings the powah

Come Patch 5.3, enhancement's getting enhanced, baby. Aww yeah.

There's rarely anything wrong with enhancement shaman, right? If you love playing one like I do, you know exactly what I mean. Leading up to a major content patch, we head over to the official notes and scroll down to the Class Changes section. Mage...keep scrolling...Priest...Rogue...keep scrolling...Warlock. Hmm. Guess shammy's are fine! Maybe I just want to believe they're fine, but it really doesn't seem like our class is often rocked by huge changes in the midst of expansions. Sure, we've gone from using four GCDs to drop totems to dropping four totems at once to now dropping them one at a time situationally -- but other than that, our rotation has been largely unchanged since Wrath of the Lich King.

That said, the DPS charts over at World of Logs don't show enhancement shaman near the top. It's not that we can't DPS. We can, and do quite well. It's just that there are several other classes that do exceptionally well. And that's fine. We bring enough of our own utility to the game to earn a spot on the team. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when I saw that in 5.3, we get buffed! Nothing huge, but significant enough so that we should see a small boost to our average DPS. Let's take a look.

Boundless Wolves
Our Spirit Wolves will be immune to roots and snares. No more badly-timed uses of this signature enhancement cooldown. Your wolves were born to run free!

I Buff You, Stormstrike and Lava Lash
Both Stormstrike and Lava Lash are having their damage increased. Stormstrike will deal 450% weapon damage, up from 375%, and Lava Lash now does 300% weapon damage, up from 250%. Nice, right?

Brain Runs Faster
Perhaps someone will get that joke, but Mental Quickness will convert 65% of our attack power into spell power, up from 55%. Well all-friggin-right. Most of our abilities will benefit from this change. Quite awesome, overall.

And Then, a Curious Change

Lightning bolt can now be cast while moving. Huh. Needless to say, there are some movement-heavy fights in this expansion, especially for melee players. At first, I sort of glossed over this change and failed to see any significance, but having had some time to reflect, I've decided that it'll be fun as heck to keep my DPS rolling just a bit when on the run, especially when my Flame/Earth Shock is on cooldown. Since it's only Lightning Bolt, and not Chain Lightning or even a heal, Spiritwalker's Grace will still be the go-to in movement-heavy situations for elemental and restoration shaman. But we don't talk about those specs around here.

Because of the change to Lightning Bolt, Glyph of Unleashed Lightning becomes useless, and thus will be removed from the game. Glyph of Lightning Shield, which causes Lightning Shield to reduce the amount of damage taken by 10% for 6 seconds after Lightning Shield is triggered, will be added in its place. No big deal, right? Wrong. Enhancers choosing this glyph will take reduced damage quite often throughout an encounter. It's a miniscule reduction for sure, but over time adds up and should be regularly considered for a Major Glyph slot. While I normally roll with Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem, Glyph of Flame Shock, and Glyph of Healing Storm, it's a clear frontrunner if you're not concerning yourself with tossing up insta-heals or HOTing yourself to help out your raid's healers. A combo of Fire Elemental, Flame Shock and Lightning Shield sounds sexy to me.

All in all, this patch will bring a nice little boost for enhancement shaman across the board. No nerfs, no weird changes, just a bit of a damage increase and the ability cast Lightning Bolt while moving. I'm anxious to see how the changes play out on live servers.

Read the official notes here, and til next time, keep bashing!

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