I won't lie: The past few months have left me fairly disillusioned about playing an enhancement shaman. Nothing in Cataclysm will ever match the absolute horror that was the last patch of Wrath of the Lich King for enhancement. However, our total lack of scaling with secondary stats that aren't mastery, horrific AOE DPS every patch, and our total lack of any form of worthwhile DPS cooldown have all been ingredients in the lukewarm dish that is enhancement. If this was Iron Chef: America, even Alton Brown would be hard pressed to make us sound good.
Thankfully, the 4.3 PTR is up, and with it comes some changes to enhancement shaman that have me excited.
The end of Eye of Purification
The first thing we need to talk about is the Mental Quickness change. There have been a number of attempts to stop enhancement from using spellpower weapons in the past. Flametongue Weapon was nerfed in 3.1, Windfury Weapon was buffed in 4.1, and Stormstrike was buffed in 4.2. None of these changes quite accomplished the goal, though.
For the first time, Blizzard has actually full-on committed to the cause. On the PTR, Mental Quickness now makes our spells act as if 55% (up from 50%) of our attack power is applied as spellpower, but the shaman no longer gains spellpower from any other source. We won't get any spellpower from the 10% spellpower buff anymore, but that's mitigated by the 5% increase from Mental Quickness. We won't get spellpower from our 20 stats to chest or the intellect from Blessing of Kings, but that was a nominal amount of spellpower anyway.
The new Flametongue Weapon
But that's not all! Since enhancement can't benefit from outside sources of spellpower, and Flametongue Weapon is an outside source of spellpower, Flametongue Weapon is also changing this patch! It's going from a 747 spellpower increase to a flat 5% spell damage modifier, which is 7% fully talented. This is actually a very, very good change.
Since Flametongue Weapon started granting spellpower at the start of Wrath, shaman have noticed that it was a problematic spell. Flametongue Weapon was really good at the start of expansions, where the static spellpower buff made up a substantial amount of our spellpower, but really bad at the end of expansions, when it's a significantly smaller portion.
The 5% spell damage change will fix these scaling issues, as 5% more spell damage scales with our gear. What's more, the 5% spell damage is added on to abilities that previously weren't effected by spellpower, meaning Lava Lash is getting a small buff in 4.3. This might actually be the best part of the Mental Quickness change. It also affects the damage from Flametongue Weapon itself, which was previously changed this expansion to scale with our attack power, not spellpower. These changes should help to even out damage lost from losing spellpower weapons and provide a nice DPS increase to people who were using agility weapons in 4.2.
New AOE! Again!
But wait, there's more! This patch didn't just give us damage buffs (including the excellent extra 10% AP we'll be getting from Unleashed Rage) and the removal of spellpower weapons. It's also giving enhancement shaman a workable AOE for the first time in our history as a class. When talented into Improved Lava Lash, hitting a target debuffed with your Flame Shock will spread that Flame Shock to up to five targets within 12 yards. We can then Fire Nova off every one of those Flame Shocks, for AOE damage that might actually be competitive!
Needed PVP changes
The last of the changes to enhancement are mainly PVP-related. First, Maelstrom Weapon will stack through absorb effects. This is a very needed change, and something PVP enhancement shaman have been asking for since the Maelstrom Weapon talent was added. Priests, frost mages, ret paladins with Sacred Shield up, and shaman with Glyphed Stoneclaw Totem were all able to shut down enhancement shaman from generating MSW stacks, as a result significantly lowering their damage and healing output. This change has long been awaited, and I'm glad to see it here.
Lastly, there's Wind Shear. Good old Wind Shear, the spell we knew was too good to last. As much as it stinks to admit it, this change was both coming and needed. It's not that it was too good for us, but that resto shaman were blatantly overpowered with a 6-second ranged interrupt, and there's no denying that. The base cooldown has been increased to 15 seconds, but enhancement shaman can talent it down to 5 by spending two points in Reverberation.
Unfortunately, this stinks. For PVP, enhancement shaman will have to forgo using Focused Insight builds, which means a significant drop in their healing output, a nerf that PVP enhancement shaman really did not need. For PVE, we'll have to take two points out of Elemental Precision. This means we'll lose out on 2% spell damage and about 14 spell hit rating from our chest enchant. In a heroic dungeon or a 10-man raid, Reverberation will probably be worth taking. I'll be skipping it for 25-man raiding and leaving the interrupting to someone else for a change.
All in all, I'm very excited for 4.3. Blizzard's addressed one of our major grievances this patch in fixing our AOE. It's removed spellpower weapons, made some slight changes to help us scale better, and overall buffed our DPS through the 10% attack power buff. We're still waiting and hoping for a few more changes, such as a non-terrible DPS cooldown and 200% spell crits, but patch 4.3 is a very nice start.
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Enhancement every week. We've got enhancement-specific advice on the latest gear and tier gear set bonuses, and we'll help you dig in and learn to level the enhancement way.