Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bashes with Wolves: Enhancement ability purge for the next expansion

I should really make the time to visit Ghostcrawler's Twitter feed more often to read all of his @replies, because that seems to be where many of the juicy bits come from. Even when he's speculating or sharing his own opinion, like when he mentioned removing flying mounts from the game, there's regularly good info that's fun to speculate on. Like a recent reply to a player who felt that new abilities for their class would become too much, i.e. in the next expansion. Ghostcrawler confirmed there will be some changes, and it's likely that "there will be many tears."

Oh boy.

This caused me to take a look at my own enhancement shaman's toolkit...and my word! Perhaps it's because I've been playing the spec as my main since the end of the Burning Crusade, but it hadn't dawned on me that in the course of any given boss fight, an enhancement shaman could use more than 35 unique abilities. I assume it's similar for many classes. I went ahead and listed those abilities as they relate to how I use them, but that bit got a little long so I've left that part out of this post.

In summary, enhancement shaman must use 3 abilities just to prepare themselves to fight. In their opening burst sequence, which does draw on their regular rotation, they're using 6 more abilities. Depending on the situation (single target, multiple targets, healing intensive, etc) their regular rotation will contain the potential for 7 more unique abilities. As it currently stands, their utility toolkit---heals, totems, and unique actions---add another 19 (or more) abilities to the mix. Let's see if we can't whittle that down in preparation for the next expansion.

The Purge

Granted, an enhancement shaman may not use all of their 35+ abilities in fight, but they'll surely use a majority of them. Keeping the next expansion in mind, which is rumored to take us from level 90-100, players can assume there will be a new ability or two for their class. But I'd argue we can't continue to have new abilities without purging or combining some of the old ones. I'd entertain:

Default weapon imbues. Enhancement shaman would no longer actively set weapon imbues; the main-hand weapon will be auto-imbued with Windfury Weapon while the off-hand will be auto-imbued with Flametongue Weapon. To avoid confusion, enhancement shaman would become dual-wield-only. Rockbiter and Frostbrand weapons are removed from the game. The talent Frozen Power now augments a player's Flame Shock to root the enemy in ice for 5 second and slow their movement speed by 30% for an additional 3 seconds.

Frost Shock is removed from the game. The effects of the ability have been rolled up into the talent Frozen Power and now affect the shaman's Flame Shock.

Magma Totem and Searing Totem combine into Searing Magma Totem, now a passive ability. The totem repeatedly attacks an enemy within 25 yards and causes Fire damage to all creatures within 8 yards every 2 seconds. Additionally, the totem is no longer dropped on its own, and is summoned/refreshed each time the shaman applies Flame Shock to a target.

Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning combine into Lightning Chain. The shaman releases a chain of lightning, damaging the enemy target and jumping to additional nearby enemies.

Lightning Shield is no longer actively applied. It's a default buff for enhancement shaman similar to how they currently provide buffs.

Unleash Elements becomes a passive ability. Its affect applies automatically, triggering a 15 second cooldown.

Healing Stream Totem becomes Restoration-only. Shaman are left with movement freeing/restriction totems, Capacitor Totem, Grounding Totem and their large-CD elemental totems.

Bind Elemental and Hex merge to become Elemental Bonds. Binds the hostile target for up to 50 secs. The bound target is unable to move, attack or cast spells. Any damage caused will release the target. Only one target can be bound at a time. Works on humanoids, beasts and elementals.

Purge and Cleanse Spirit combine into Purification. Removes all Curse effects from a friendly target or removes 1 beneficial magic effect from an enemy target.

If we go with what's listed above, it would reduce the number of possible enhancement abilities by more than a third. What's more, it removes several abilities from the shaman's main rotation, potentially freeing up those spots for new abilities in the future. It also prevents some simple user errors, like forgetting to apply Lightning Shield or use the correct weapon imbues.

Do you think the enhancement toolkit can use some trimming? Or if you have a different main class, what changes or cuts would you make?

If  you'd like to see how this could look for Shadow Priests, head over to UnlimitedBlack's blog Power Word: Remix.


  1. I agree that there could be some trimming. I'd do it a bit differently. Please note that I haven't played ENH in a while - currently Resto/ELE (having 3 hunters in your 10-man raid = no AGL mail for you! *laugh*)

    - Take the weapon imbues and LS off the GCD. This would allow a single "buff-me" macro button to be made. Also, remove the durations from them - if Inner Fire is ok without one, so is LS.
    - Remove Stormlash Totem. (Aside: I'm also removing all the other "raid-buff CDs" other than BL, so Skull Banner and the like would also disappear)
    - Remove Magma Totem. No point, really - Magma doesn't really add much for either ENH or ELE.
    - I like your Bind/Hex combination. Lets do that.
    - I'd have to think about your Bolt/Chain and Frost Shock changes. Balance is tough, but I suppose that Warlocks can glyph Conflag to straight-up snare, so maybe that would work for Flameshock as well. Can't spread the snare via Lash though, that'd be OP.

    1. Good call on Magma, and the Frost Shock changes could be tough to balance. I really wanted to make sure I suggested some significant cuts. :)

  2. I'd rather see searing totem removed and it's buff just be rolled into FS ticks (max 1 charge / 3 seconds), and magma totem aoe increase, but with a cooldown - remove fire nova too - magma now pulses AOE, and triggers fire nova for all FS'ed targets. Simplifies enh AOE too - we're the only class that has to do three prep spells for decent aoe (fs, ll, fire nova)