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Totem Talk: Elemental shaman notes from the Twitter developer chat


Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets. He'd also like you to go and vote in a poll he is running. Go on, you know you want to.

As you may be aware, last Saturday there was another developer chat on Twitter. If you're anything like me, you would have searched through it for the elemental-specific questions and ignored the rest. (OK, so I did look at the druid ones as well, just to keep up with what's happening for my alt.)

Q: What class are you currently most happy with how the talents are currently set up? Is there one you feel needs more work?

A. They all need more work!

Obviously, this means that nothing is finished or finalized yet, so any serious analysis would be premature (not that some of us won't be doing it anyway). It also means that this is a good opportunity for a bit of feedback.

Q: Are we going to be able to view the Mastery talent previews for Cataclysm soon as we can currently?

A. With the talent tree redesign, all the Masteries need to be re-implemented, and, in some cases, redesigned. This will require at least a couple of weeks before they will be available on beta.

We know that our third mastery is Overload, which most likely will not change from the previewed version. Just to recap, Lightning Overload has been renamed to Overload and now applies to Lava Burst as well. The Overload damage will still be half the damage of a normal spell, and the proc chance will be a base figure plus an additional percentage from the new mastery rating, rather than our previous 20 percent at max rank. Some initial screenshots have shown a 25% proc chance, but it's too early to look at any numbers with Overload yet.

Q. Have some of the old talents been made into new glyphs?

A. Usually when we cut a talent it's because we thought it was a bad talent, but we might bring some talents that were so situational to fit in the new model back as glyphs. We are still designing glyphs. Players shouldn't necessarily assume that any of their current glyphs are going to still be around. Some will, but many are changing.

Q: How much of an impact will the new medium glyphs have on the fun factor of choices in the new 31-point talent trees?

A. We hope it adds a lot. Part of the problem is that if there is, say, a Glyph of Mutilate, you feel like you have to take that as an Assassination rogue over anything else. The Medium glyphs are designed to let you customize your character a little more. They are the glyphs you would take if Mutilate didn't exist. Incidentally, the new tiers are called Prime, Major, and Minor. Majors are the new Mediums. Glyph of Mutilate would be a Prime.

Aside from the passive crit bonuses, the only talents that were removed completely were Booming Echoes and Astral Shift. I don't expect either of these to make an appearance as a glyph, since the Astral Shift-esque talents were removed across the board with the stated intent of not having anything like these present. Booming Echoes, on the other hand, duplicates the function of Reverberation with a passive damage bonus, which seems a bit excessive for a glyph, as they're almost all single-ability change/buff effects rather than two at once. We'll also expect to see Glyph of Totem of Wrath changed or removed, since the flat spellpower buff has been changed to a percentage.

On the Prime/Major/Minor glyph breakdown, most of the glyphs we currently have could go either way. However, I'm thinking that glyphs like Elemental Mastery, Fire Elemental, Shocking, Thunder and the like will stay as major glyphs, whereas Lightning Bolt, Lava, Flametongue, etc. will become prime glyphs. This is because doing things like decreasing cooldowns is nice, but nobody will take them them over a glyph that increases Lightning Bolt damage by four percent.

Q: Are there plans to give more procs to some classes to make the rotations a little more interesting?

A #2. Sure, we want all specializations to have interesting rotations. There is a point though when you can be overwhelmed by the amount of procs going on and the gameplay becomes erratic and not very fun. So it's a constant balance between the two.

Hopefully, this implies that if Lava Surge is really awkward and painful to use, it'll get changed and/or replaced. It will change the normal rotation/priority system most certainly; it's just a question of whether Lava Surge becomes the thing you watch for with tunnel vision and hope like hell you can either use a /stopcast macro on Lightning Bolt to get the next Burst out as quickly as possible, or that it's an "awesome" moment when it procs. Just as an aside, I have put together some comparative analysis between the current version and another, based on a suggestion by Santux on Planet of the Hats where it uses the Lock & Load mechanic of making the next cast not trigger the cooldown.

Q: What is the conversion rate for intellect to spell power for Cataclysm? Will it differ with each class?
A. Each point of intellect grants one point of spell power, excepting the first 10 points. This is vaguely similar to attack power, where each point of strength or agility gives two attack power, excepting the first 10 points.

We realize this slightly reduces the spell power per budget on items, so we also increased the amount of spell power granted by caster weapons, and that increase entirely makes up for the deficit. Those weapons will continue to have spell power as well as intellect, and the amount of spell power will be significantly larger than in 3.3.5.

In short, less spellpower initially, but weapons will have an increased amount of spellpower compared to how things work at the moment. Nothing particularly exciting, but it's worth including in here anyway.

Q. With the new implemented Lava Surge, will Chain Lightning become useful for multiple mobs only?

A. It always has had, and will continue to have, some niche use as a gap-filler against single targets when Lava Burst has around a second left on its cooldown. Lava Surge won't always proc, but it's likely to be more of a multi-target ability, yes.

Again, a fairly straightforward answer.

So, in summary we know the following:
  • Talents aren't all done yet.
  • Tree/Mastery bonuses are coming.
  • Glyphs are being redone, and we're not likely to see any removed talents become glyphs.
  • Rotations will be interesting, fun, but not so complicated that they become "not very fun."
  • Intellect to spellpower conversion is one-to-one, excluding the first 10 points in intellect. Weapons will have proportionally more spellpower.
  • Chain Lightning will still be used as a gap-filler in normal rotations (or not, as you so choose).
Extra Beta News: You may have noticed that Ancestral Swiftness is missing from the Cataclysm beta and the various talent calculator websites that are around. Never fear, for the legendary crab himself has confirmed that it has not been removed!
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether it's Matt Sampson's elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Rich Maloy's enhancement edition, we have you covered.

Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

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