Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bashes With Wolves: Changes Afoot

Bashes With Wolves is a semi-regular feature that takes a look at the duel-wielding badassery that is the enhancement shaman: news, tips, reviews and more. Is there something you'd like covered? Feel free to drop me a note. Elements guide you!

Blizzard continues to share more information on the changes we'll see come Warlords, and though much of it has been general in scope, last Thursday's release was particularly interesting. Quite a while back in another Bashes With Wolves, I took a look at the enhancement shaman toolkit and pondered over what abilities could be cut or combined in response to a tweet by (now former) Lead Systems Designer Greg Street. When reading through Thursday's blog I couldn't help but wonder how this will affect the feel of enhancement shamanism, specifically as it relates to button bloat.

Before I go on, I must qualify that I've considered my enhancement shaman as a main since the Burning Crusade. I've followed the changes between then and now with hungry eagerness. I've been there since the necessary-but-evil requirement to drop three or four totems---one by one---because they provided important buffs, to dropping sets of four totems at once, to the incarnation we have now which sees us dropping most of our totems situationally. I noted in the post linked above that, as the state of enhancement currently stands, we could in theory use more than thirty unique abilities during the course of a boss fight.

And I love that fact.

Maybe I'm weird that way, but being able to toss out a Chain Heal or Healing Rain, Earthgrab or Capacitor Totem, and properly use Stormlash Totem is something I thoroughly enjoy. And from the tone of the last Dev Watercooler, it seems like perhaps much of this kind of class utility---including enhancement's---will be removed or greatly simplified. As Ghostcrawler said in the tweet, there will be tears, and I'm almost sure I'll count myself among those shedding them.

But it's ok; I'm not mad and whatever happens, I'll get over it quickly.

While I made a handful of suggestions about how I thought enhancement shamanism could be simplified without gutting it too much (though I didn't touch on my pre-pot>Blood Fury>Elemental Mastery>Feral Spirit>Stormstrike>Ascendance>Stormblast>Fire Elemental Totem>Stormlash Totem burst macro), there are some tools I'd really, really like to keep.

Let us keep some healing utility

I really like being the player who can help out our healers when in a tough spot. Whether it's dropping a raid-wide healing totem, popping Ancestral Guidance, or simply tossing out a Maelstrom Weapon x5 Chain Heal or Healing Rain, I like having that choice---even at the cost of my own DPS. But based on comments in the Water Cooler, I have to assume that at least some of these options will be going away for enhancement. I just hope they don't strip all of it from the toolkit.

Let us keep some CC utility

I'm not so much referring to Hex here as I am Earthgrab and Capacitor totems, and even Frost Shock to an extent. Again, this appeals to my desire to be a jack-of-all trades as an enhancement shaman, so deep down I know that some of it will likely land on the chopping block---if it hasn't already. Still, I hope enhancement will get to see more than just Hex on our toolbars come Warlords. 

Let us keep most of our totems

We already know they'll be removing Stormlash. To me, that makes some sense. As a mini-Bloodlust/Heroism, it's normally used in burst combos like the one I've listed above, and often only once throughout the course of a boss fight. Still, there's not a totem enhancement shaman currently have that I don't use with regularity---save for Grounding Totem, but I swear I'd even use that often if I PvP'd. As I've pointed out in the past, I believe there are several cases where the effect of two totems can be rolled into one, but I really like having options. To me, it's what being a shaman has always been about. 

In closing

On Blizzard's side of the coin, I understand the desire as well as the need for more simplicity, as it can be quite daunting to new and veteran players alike. My familiarity and love for the enhancement spec was developed over several years of play. So I'm a bit biased. Still, I just can't shake the feeling that if the enhancement shaman toolkit is stripped too much, we'll be dueling simultaneously with feelings of boredom and helplessness. And that, surely, is not what being an enhancement shaman is all about.

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