I'm sure many of you thought that shaman were not getting much attention in patch 4.0.6 -- I know I was among those who thought we dodged a bullet. The absence of any shaman notes on the first official patch notes list would have seemed to reinforce this. Late last night, however, community manager Zarhym posted a list of shaman changes that are making their way into the latest PTR build by this evening.
Since this is still the PTR, these changes may or may not actually make it to the live game. Still, it is interesting to note exactly the type of things that Blizzard is looking at and the steps it is taking to try and balance the game. Cataclysm really did reshape the world -- not just the aesthetics but the mechanics for pretty much everyone and almost everything. With that big of an upheaval, it is expected that there is going to be a period of balancing relatively early in the expansion's cycle, and at just barely a month in, we're already starting to see some significant changes.
Some fairly significant changes there, especially for restoration shaman. There have been recent concerns over shaman healing numbers and whether or not they are too low. It would seem that the developers are indeed looking at that and have responded by increasing the effectiveness of Chain Heal by 10%. This gives Chain Heal a little loving early on, and it was honestly needed. While it will remain a situational spell, the buff will be a welcome one.
Cleansing Waters' having a chance to proc off of each effect it removed allowed for multiple free heals; I can see why this would be something the developers wanted to curb for both PvE and PvP. This is more of a fix than a change.
Hex getting a shorter duration in PvP makes a lot of sense and seems to be in line with all the other PvP changes. Tremor Totem being altered to be used during a fear, charm or sleep effect is a good thing for us. Even with a 1-minute cooldown, this will be useful in those moments in both PvP and PvE when you need to break the CC and get out of Dodge.
The change to Deep Healing is an interesting one. Moving from 2.5% to 3% seems like a small jump, but as your mastery grows, that .5% for each point will really add up.
Greater Healing Wave is getting some much-needed attention here. This was supposed to be our big, expensive heal used for those situations in which a target was about to receive (or already did receive) a large chunk of damage. The idea was that this would be perfect for tank healing on fights like Magmaw, when the tank will have a large health deficit to cover in a short period of time. The problem was that Greater Healing Wave was healing for only a bit more than Healing Surge, and at that point, the faster heal was a better choice for the mana cost. The increased cost of 10% is not that bad, but the 20% buff is very good.
The change to Mana Tide Totem is something that had to honestly be expected. As it stands right now, a restoration shaman in a group of healers with on-use spirit trinkets like Core of Ripeness could effectively remove the mana accountability aspects of healing. It's a tactic people have been employing since they could get their hands on the trinket, and I'm surprised it took this long to look at balancing. The change makes the percentage a flat value based on your pure spirit without acknowledging any temporary buffs you have at the time. This means that not only will trinkets like the core and Tear of Blood be ignored by Mana Tide, the weapon enchant Heartsong will not impact it, either. While an additional 50% spirit is nice, only time and use of the spell will see if it's enough to keep our mana regeneration at competitive levels. While I agree that we shouldn't be breaking the mana consumption model, I'm hoping that the change doesn't kill our mana regen too much.
Elemental shaman also got some attention, as Earthquake is having its damage increased by around 10%. I've been playing around with elemental a lot, and I can see this being very nice in certain fights in which an area of effect is necessary.
Enhancement got a couple changes as well this time around. Flametongue Weapon damage now scales with attack power for our melee-minded shaman, which is considerably better than scaling with spellpower. Also, Mental Quickness will no longer have an effect on Purge.
That's it for this round of shaman changes on the PTR. Whether these are all good or bad remains to be seen until we can get our hands on it and take a look at their practical effect. It also remains to be seen if these changes will make it to live or be altered further before implementation. Right now, any effect this has on us is pure speculation, and only time will tell. Check back at WoW Insider often, as we will be keeping you up to date on all upcoming changes as we get them.
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