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Totem Talk: Post-patch enhancement shaman still waiting for buffs

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shamans. Rich Maloy lives and breathes enhancement: his main spec is enhance, his off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance and leads the guild Big Crits (Season 2 Ep 06 now out!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

We're now two full weeks into patch 4.0.1 with our new and improved enhancement spec. Improved? Actually, no. Our DPS is only marginally improved over the previous incarnation, while our fellow melee brethren were buffed to the teeth. My rough analysis shows the difference between us and top melee DPS, usually warrior and death knight, has widened significantly since the patch.

I'm going to preface all of this analysis by saying that I am not the top enhancement shaman, by far. I play well, I study my class, I optimize my spec, gems, forging, gear and rotations. I don't die to stupid stuff -- well, at least not often! In other words, I try to push my damage without sacrificing myself. Be forewarned that some of these numbers I'm embarrassed to post in such a public manner, and while I'm hardly the benchmark for DPS, I can at least provide a baseline of what your average progression raider's numbers look like.

On average across eight of 12 hard-mode fights in ICC (excluding the gimmick fights Gunship, VDW and BQL, and excluding H-LK because we're just now working on him), the top melee DPS was doing 50 percent more damage than me pre-patch and 64 percent more post-patch. I could narrow that gap down to about 15 percent on a standstill fight such as Deathbringer Saurfang, but on high-movement fights such as Sindy, the top melee would do as much as 80 percent more damage than me overall.

As much as it pains me to say this, as a raid leader I have to ask the question: Am I dead weight in raids right now? Will level 85 with Unleash Elements bring better output?

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: A feast of enhancement macros

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. Rich Maloy lives and breathes enhancement; his main spec is enhance, and his off spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance and leads the guild Big Crits (Season 2 Ep 05 now out!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

This week, I was hoping to provide a thorough analysis of the new and questionably improved (though most definitely changed) enhancement shaman DPS in patch 4.0.1. Unfortunately, I ended up missing raid on Tuesday and so missed our 11/12 ICC hard mode power clear and have very limited data to analyze.

I know you're right there with me when I say it is quite disconcerting to have gaps in our normal frenzied button mashing activities. The long, lonely periods of two or three global cooldowns where we have nothing to do but hope for that fifth Maelstrom Weapon proc, while idly staring at our keys with the strange feeling that we're doing something wrong. Fret not, young shammy. It is the way of the enhancement right now; we will have periods of non-mashing where we can take a deep breath and enjoy the forthcoming five-stack of searing enabled Lava Lash crit.

In last week's article I alluded to a macro that combines Magma Totem and Fire Nova into one button, and there were some comments about it. I'm a big macro user; in fact, I have all my macro slots filled up on Stoney and my druid, Finn. I think it's about time I divulged the treasure trove of macros I've accumulated over the years.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: Enhancement post-patch theory

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shamans. Rich Maloy lives and breathes enhancement: his main spec is enhance, his off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance and leads the guild Big Crits (Season 2 Ep 04 now out!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

This patch hit me hard, harder than any patch before it, and I know I wasn't the only was one to be drastically affected by it. Other than the usual spate of patch-related addon issues, I was struggling to keep the downloader connected. After turning off all anti-virus, firewall and other sorts of computer safety monitoring programs, I finally got into game on Friday night. Mostly, though, I just lacked time to log in this week. Once in game, I was faced with just as many challenges getting Stoney in order and raid-ready as I was trying to get online. This patch was more disruptive in game than any patch before.

A far an enhancement goes, there's so much that still needs to be tested and refined. The greater enhancement community is working hard at the theorycrafting, but even the simulations are not fully refined for level 80 testing; the latest alpha of EnhSim is tuned to level 85 right now. The decisions I made in game are based on the best available data as well as some things I want to test out for myself. There was a lot to accomplish in-game including, respeccing, retraining, regemming, reforging, readjusting and refining.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: Enhancement's path to victory in patch 4.0.1

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shamans. Rich Maloy lives and breathes enhancement -- his main spec is enhance, his off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance, and leads the guild Big Crits (Season 2 Ep 03 now out!)as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

Are you ready? Charge up your Maelstrom Weapons and dust off your Searing Totems -- Patch 4.0.1 is nearly upon us! Not sure what to do on your enhancement shaman? The quick-hit guide to enhancement in the cataclysmic world is below.

What's not changing

Let's start with some things that are not changing. Slow/slow is the way to go (for your weapons, I mean). Your weapons shouldn't be faster than 2.00 and ideally should be between 2.50 to 2.70 speed. Be wary of any weapon with a speed below 2.00; most likely it's been touched by a rogue and still has some residual poison on it meant to cripple your Windfuries and Flametongues.

We're also staying with the same imbues: Windfury on the main hand and Flametongue on the off hand. With this patch (as with every patch, it seems), there was a little bit of banter about going full spellpower, with fast/fast and a caster weapon main hand along with FT/FT, reforging spirit, and otherwise doing crazy things like looking for the next Torch of Holy Fire. Don't do it. Stay slow/slow, with WF/FT. We're meant to be melee doing primarily melee damage.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: Enhancement shaman changes for patch 4.0.1

Axes, maces, lightning, Windfury and wolves. It can mean only one thing: enhancement. Rich Maloy lives it and loves it. His main spec is enhance. His off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance and leads the guild Big Crits (Season 2, Episode 1 now out!) as enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

I can't wait for the new talent trees to kick in with patch 4.0.1. The game designers truly streamlined talent trees, including Enhancement. They've even gone so far as to make Primal Wisdom, our mana regen talent, into a base ability, and they've taken one point out of Unleashed Rage. This frees up two talent points right away and gave us some very viable specs to use right out of the gate of 4.0.1 for our last hurrah at level 80.

I see two different possibilities for level 80 specs for enhancement: Fire Nova or Improved Shields. First, an Improved Fire Nova spec of 5/31/0. Not only did this talent get moved to the enhancement tree, but it got dropped down deep, out of reach for elemental. The unfortunate part is that come Cataclysm, Fire Nova will require a Magma, Fire Elemental or Flametongue Totem and will not work off our new and improved Searing Totem. To further confound matters, the improved nova is right beside Searing Flames, the Searing Totem special kicker.

The improved novas make a big difference in fights requiring both boss and AoE damage, such as heroic Halion-25. Outside of that fight (or any future fights like it), Improved Fire Nova is a waste; better to put the points in Improved Shields. My main spec at 80 will be 5/31/0. Just moving those points isn't going to push your DPS up significantly, but with the changes to Lightning Shield, making it effectively a 10-minute, non-depletable buff (when glyphed), those two points are well spent there at 80.

Dipping into the elemental tree, after our requisite 31 points in enhancement, three points in Acuity are a must-have, especially as we start to level again. The last two points going into Concussion will pack an extra punch.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: Enhancement beta update

Axes, maces, lightning, Windfury and wolves. It can mean only one thing: enhancement. Rich Maloy lives it and loves it. His main spec is enhance. His off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance, and leads the guild Big Crits (Week 13 now live!)as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

It's been a few weeks since my last beta post. I feel like I'm back in grammar school at good ol' St. Louise de Marillac, "forgive me readers, it's been four weeks since my last beta post. Since then I've been mean to my guild, and I tried to kill my own priest." In game priest, in game! I can't wait to read the letters to the editor about that slip up. Oh well, at least I didn't use the word "casual."

Moving right along to important topics that everyone cares about: beta changes for enhancement shamans! Well, I suppose "everyone" excludes people that are not interested in beta spoilers. Great, two paragraphs in and I've already offended Catholics, priests, and people not interested in beta spoilers. Look on the bright side: at least I didn't use an offensive font this week!

If you are interested in the latest beta changes as they relate to enhancement shamans then please read on. Please note that beyond this point, this post will not further offend your good, wholesome middle Azerothian sensibilities.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Defining Playstyles: Beyond casual vs. hardcore

In a recent Totem Talk post, I made a loot list for enhancement shamans that have access to ICC but are not progression raiders, because they are either alts or they are -- drum roll, please -- casual. That's right: I used the c-word without context. Casual. There, I said it again without context. Excuse me while I duck from the rotten vegetables being thrown in my direction.

The use of that c-word in relation to an Icecrown Citadel loot list sparked a very interesting comment thread. Most comments were well thought-out, added value and furthered the discussion. Some were, to borrow Adam Savage's favorite term, vitriolic, because of my heinous misuse of the term "casual." I said it again without context. I'm just casually throwing around "casuals" here.

Given the reaction that post received, I started doing some research into what exactly "casual" and "hardcore" actually mean. What I found was not surprising at all: They mean completely different things to absolutely everyone. The MMO population of players, across all games, is estimated at over 61 million people. There are as many variations on play time and playstyle as there are players in the game. Do you really think we can divide this many people simply into two groups of just casuals and hardcores?

I think it's time we move beyond the polarizing definitions of casual and hardcore and come up with some definitions of our own.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Totem Talk: Enhancing your gear in only four dungeons

Axes, maces, lightning, Windfury and wolves. It can mean only one thing: enhancement. Rich Maloy lives it and loves it. His main spec is enhance. His off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance, and leads the guild Big Crits (Week 12 now out!)as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

Holy Stormstrikes! I'm going to refrain from using the term casual in a post ever again. Wait, I just used it there. Ah well, rack that promise up with "I'll never drink again" and "I'll never die to cutters again." Lies, all of them, lies.

We all have different definitions of the term and judging by the comments in the last post, others' definition of casual is more severe than mine. I'll get into casual vs. hardcore and the ridiculousness of those classifications in another post. For now, I hear you loud and clear, so let's refrain from diving into that now.

I digress. As I was writing last week's article I had this sneaking suspicion that I already wrote several articles on gearing your non-end game enhancement shaman. In fact I had written articles many moons ago, and they are all on my neglected blog, Big Hit Box. Time for a revisit.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: Gearing your casual or alt enhancement shaman

gearing your enhancement shaman alt
Axes, maces, lightning, Windfury and wolves. It can mean only one thing: enhancement. Rich Maloy lives it and loves it. His main spec is enhance. His off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance and leads the guild Big Crits (Week 12 now out!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

Casual raider? Or not fortunate enough to play a shaman as your main, but instead stuck on another, lesser class? This article is for you. If you need to go out and gear up your shaman from guild alt runs, PUG raids and mucking about in daily dungeons for your two frost emblems, then read on for your gear choices.

From the applications we received over the past few months at Big Crits, it seems that guilds and PUGs alike had a hard time getting past Deathbringer Saurfang -- that is, until the bigger ICC buff hit. Now the breaking point is 6/12 ICC, with kills on Festergut and Rotface being commonplace but little experience beyond that available. Taking into consideration how far casual guilds or alt runs can realistically get into ICC, I've listed the loot in order of progression, from easy to hard.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: Enhanced moves with Halion

enhanced moves with halion
Axes, maces, lightning, Windfury and wolves. It can mean only one thing: enhancement. Rich Maloy lives it and loves it. His main spec is enhance. His off spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance and leads the guild Big Crits (Week 10 now out!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

The last patch of an expansion feels like the last gift of Christmas; you want it to be the most epic and the most incredible gift of them all, the one gift by which you'll remember this time forever. But instead, you're at your in-laws' doing the family gag gift exchange with a price limit of 20 bucks and a penchant for As Seen on TV products. In some ways, Ruby Sanctum is like that; it's not huge, it's not epic, it's not expensive, but it does have some potential. Maybe Ruby Sanctum is the Slap Chop of this expansion. None of this has anything to do with the article today. Except that I'm talking about Halion.

Halion, the Twilight Destroyer. Three phases, good loot and a huge scale-up in difficulty on heroic mode. It's a good fight that requires paying attention throughout the entire 8-minute enrage timer, in which one death can mean a wipe, especially on heroic. There's no 30 percent buff incoming, so you either learn it and beat it, or you don't and fail. For our part, as enhancement shaman, there are a few tricks we have up our sleeves.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk