Ghostcrawler, in a post to the Damage Dealing forums, outlined upcoming changes to Elemental Shamans. It's a pretty substantial talent overhaul for the tree, aimed at streamlining and improving scaling at higher levels of gear. (And boy, is that a good thing.) Unlike the recent post changing how totems work as AoE, this is a much more drastic set of changes all told. In case you can't get it to load at work or what have you, the complete text of the post will be after the jump with commentary by me.
We are making some upcoming changes to the Elemental shaman tree. Our goal was to streamline a few of the utility-based talents while giving shamans a little more damage scaling in later tiers of gear.
1) Unrelenting Storm – reduced from 5 points to 3 points. Bonus is 4/8/12% of your Intellect returned as mana.
Can't complain here: three points gets you more than five used to, up from 10%.
2) Elemental Warding – now reduces all damage (not just Nature, Fire and Frost) taken by 2/4/6%
3) Elemental Shields – this talent has been removed, since its effects were combined with Elemental Warding.
This is a buff. While 3 points used to get you 10% damage reduction from those three schools, it now gives you 6% against everything, be it holy, physical or what have you. While I expect some shamans will miss that 4% damage reduction from, say, fire AoE splash damage, not many will complain about getting some more reduction against daggers. Folding Elemental Shields into Elemental Warding means we save three points, even if you're not thrilled with the reduction in how much damage it reduces.
4) Storm, Earth and Fire – reduced from 5 points to 3 points, but keeps around the same net benefit. In addition to current effects, also increases Wind Shock range. The damage bonus to Flame Shock has increased to 60% at 3 ranks. Storm, Earth and Fire has been moved up the tree as well.
Entirely positive. A buff and nothing but a buff.
5) Shamanism – this is a new 5 point talent in the old Storm, Earth and Fire position. Your Lightning Bolt and Lava Burst gain an additional percentage of your bonus damage. We have not finalized the numbers, but it will probably be something like 10% for Lightning Bolt and 20% for Lava Burst at max ranks.
Once they finalize the numbers we'll know if this is a large buff or a small buff, but it's definitely a buff.
These changes will be available in the next minor content patch, and are in addition to the AE changes mentioned previously.
I'm still not entirely thrilled with having to lose Totem of Wrath in order to do any significant AoE, but these changes are almost indisputably nothing but buffs to the spec. I'm a little surprised to be honest. Here's looking forward to patch 3.0.4 and what it brings to elemental shamans.