The elders spoke of a day when great, sweeping changes would come to us Shamans. A day when our command of the elements would become unsurpassed and we would harness power like never seen on Azeroth (kind of like Retadins). Today, my friends, is not that day. In fact, today may well be any other day for Shamans because Patch 3.0.3 is about as underwhelming as it gets with regards to changes to the class.
Let's see... we have a Lava Burst damage increase, which means jack to us because we only train for the spell at Level 75. Speaking of which, Storm Reach was renamed to Elemental Reach because it now affects... Lava Burst. Also in the Elemental tree, Improved Fire Nova totem was reworked to increase the damage done by Fire Nova Totem by 20% instead of a quicker detonation and now stuns opponents caught in the blast for 2 seconds instead of ensnaring them.
While I'm all for more damage and I'm a big fan of stuns, I don't understand why the detonation component was removed at all. Having a 5 second blast delay makes this 5-health totem difficult to use in PvP. And unless they changed it recently -- I'll admit to not having used this in an instance since Patch 3.0.2 -- this totem generates extremely high threat. I don't think I can count the number of times I've dropped this totem and not had it go off because it got aggro from one of the many AoE-ready mobs. It's pretty simple: a faster detonating Fire Nova Totem is a better totem.
Enhancement didn't get much love, either, as Maelstrom Weapon was revised to no longer grant 100% chance to reduce the cast time of certain spells. Rank 5 is now just better than Rank 4, which is better than Rank 3, so on and so forth. Static Shock will now only proc off melee attacks and abilities, as opposed to any damaging ability. It makes more sense, but it's pretty much a nerf. Speaking of nerfs, Windfury Totem was revised to no longer grant ranged haste because it resulted in too much Hunter DPS. Not quite a Shaman nerf, but it's a nerf just the same.
Some bugs or issues were ironed out, such as higher ranks of Windfury Weapon being fixed to grant the proper attack power values and Flurry fixed to grant the proper number of swing charges when triggered. Stormstrike debuffs are now also specific to the Shaman, so other Shamans will no longer consume the charges.
Thunderstorm was buffed to grant back 8% of total mana, up from 5%. Not too much of a buff, but at this point, we'll take anything we can get. Restoration got some love, too, with Riptide's base healing values buffed significantly for Ranks 3 and 4, and periodic healing buffed across all ranks. Tidal Waves now affects the next 2 Healing or Lesser Healing Waves, up from 1 and also procs off Riptide, which should see the spell actually find a great place in our healing rotations. This is a refreshing change of pace from spam-casting Chain Heal, although Riptide complements and encourages it. Tidal Mastery also now correctly increases the crit chance of Earth Shield.
Overall, Patch 3.0.3 was neither harsh nor kind to Shamans, which I hope isn't an indication that Blizzard thinks the class is perfectly fine as it is. On the other hand, being under the spotlight isn't always a good thing...