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Posts with tag totems

New Shaman totem interface revealed

This was sketched in outline in the massive Shaman Q&A post that went live a while back, but now we have details on how they plan on redoing the Shaman totem interface for patch 3.2. Remember these are just plans, and things may change as the development of the patch progresses, but this is the current state of things.

Shamans will get a new bar for their totems, above the main action bar, where other class-specific bars go, like Paladin auras or Druid shapeshift forms. You'll have a button for a totem of each element of your choice, a button for Totemic Call (renamed Call of Earth), and a button for a new ability, Call of Fire, that drops all four selected totems at once, in a single GCD (but for the full mana cost).

You'll also be able to set your Call of Fire to summon less than four totems if you like. Call of Fire will be trained at the same level as Totemic Call currently is, 30. At "higher levels" (I'd guess 60 and 70, or so) you get Call of Air and Call of Water, which do exactly the same thing as Call of Fire, but you can load them up with different totems. This gives you three different quick-sets of totems you can drop in one keystroke.

Well, shamans, what do you think? Is it everything you hoped for in a totem interface update?

Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!

Filed under: Shaman, Patches, News items

Ghostcrawler: Totem position will always matter

We've talked about the limits and benefits of totems before, but Shamans have pretty much agreed that, especially since totems are starting to see some shared usage with other classes' spells, they could really use a revamp in terms of base mechanics. The main issue is simply mobility -- totems are designed to be dropped and immobile, and that on its own starts them at a disadvantage when compared to buffs that are placed directly on players. There have been lots of ideas passed around about how to get out from under that limit -- a "relay" totem that could spread buffs around, a mobile totem attached to the Shaman him/herself, or just a kind of totem pet that could be directed by the Shaman as needed.

But Ghostcrawler just plain says no. In response to many issues with the totem mechanic, he chooses to focus on mobility, saying the fact that Shaman totems have limited range and must be placed in certain places is intrinsic to the way the class functions. He admits that totem mechanics are being examined (the main issue the OP has is totem health, and indeed, it may be tough for Shamans to keep both their totems and their mana up), but says that mobility is not a change they're planning for: totems are designed to be strategically placed once, and that's the way they'll stay.

Bad news? Not really -- when I played as a Shaman, and for most of the Shamans I know, the totem mechanic is something to be proud of. Sure it's a pain, but a physical manifestation of the spells and buffs we cast is unique to the class. The only issue will be whether Blizzard makes up for that disadvantage in some other way -- so far, it seems most totem-droppers would say they haven't.

Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Classes, Buffs, Forums

Class Q&A: Shaman questions answered

The first answer post from the class Q&A series is up! 6:30 PM on a Tuesday night is not exactly when I expected this to drop, but I'm not complaining, and neither are most shamans, I expect. 4,400 words from the devs answering the community's questions is always nice. I've summarized the major points below; my summary may seem long, but it is only 20% of the original post.

As of Wrath, the goal is for all three Shaman trees to be viable in end-game raiding, and for Shaman DPS to be not necessarily quite as high as pure classes, but close; the goal is that "no raid worth its salt would turn down" any shaman out of concerns that the class is underpowered.

They do think Shamans are a bit underpowered in PvP, especially smaller Arenas, and view that as a problem. They mention particularly wanting to improve Shaman performance on 2v2s.

Read more →

Filed under: Shaman, News items

Totem Talk: 3.1 shocks and awes Shamans

Don't believe me? Behold! And if for some reason you can't behold the official forums, I'll give you the pertinent details right here, right now. There is no other place you want to be.

  • Chain Lightning – now jumps to 4 targets but does less damage. We wanted to make the distinction between Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning more clear.
  • Storm, Earth and Fire – this talent now increases all damage done by Flame Shock, not just periodic damage.
  • Spirit Weapons – now reduces all threat, not just melee threat.
  • Unleashed Rage – reduced to 2 ranks, now also increases your critical strike chance with melee attacks by 1/2%.
  • Totem streamlining: The Mana Spring and Healing Stream Totems have been combined. The Disease Cleansing and Poison Cleansing Totems have been combined.
  • We are also working on giving Enhancement and Elemental more PvP utility.

Oh my, you might be saying. Perhaps even oh my. And let me just be the first to congratulate you for the ability to speak in italics. Just at first glance the changes to Unleashed Rage and Spirit Weapons are major and, considering the way Enhancement plays now, long overdue.

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Classes, Buffs, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: The Future of Totems?

All apologies for yesterday being, well, totemless. Personal and family obligations and a lack of warning simply swamped me, and as a result Totem Talk is on Friday and Care and Feeding will be Saturday this week only.

Before we get to brass tacks, as it were, I should point out that it was announced that shamans are getting a talent respec for free in 3.0.8, most likely due to the changes we discussed last week.

Yesterday, we covered this very interesting forum thread which basically asks the shaman community to discuss totems in the most open-ended way I've ever seen a blue solicit feedback. Asking people to just discuss any aspect of totems they don't like, or how they would change totems if it was up to them? I can't remember ever seeing this level of feedback asked for from the community.

Now, since I'm a sheep, I figured I'd follow along with this general tendency. I mean, we've discussed totems here before, especially the greatest totem of all time. But rather than merely talk about what we don't like or would change about totems (we'll do that too, of course) I figured we could also cover what's good about totems, especially in these days of raid wide buffs that don't stack.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Buffs, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Forums

GC seeks feedback on totems, warlock spells

Since somewhat before the Wrath beta, we've been seeing a much more interactive Blizzard development team. The level of open communication with and feedback gathering from the community has been raised significantly, and with people like Ghostcrawler giving straight answers as much as he can, I'm feeling a lot better about the lines of communication between developers and players.

At the moment, Ghostcrawler is specifically asking for feedback on the following two issues:

  • Warlocks, which spells do you never use? Please don't clutter up the thread with extraneous issues. I actually think they did a pretty good job with the Spellstone/Firestone change of getting rid of two previously useless spells; I can't think of many obvious candidates off the top of my head. Eye of Kilrogg maybe, but I wouldn't want to lose that. Shadow Ward is used pretty infrequently.
  • Shamans: Totems, totems, totems. Again, please do not talk about extraneous issues in that thread - just talk about totems. They're not going to remove or sideline them, but they are interested in making them "cooler," which is certainly much-needed.

So go on and post your feedback in GC's threads (warlock, shaman). Or feel free to talk about it here, whatever. I do think totems feel clunky, but I can't think of how to fix them exactly - I guess that's why I'm not a game designer.

Filed under: Shaman, Warlock, Forums

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a Shaman

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the twentieth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

Long long ago, human beings all around the world (of Earth, not Warcraft) investigated different ways of describing how the world around them worked. Many different cultures found that the materials they encountered seemed divided into four or five separate elements, each with its own properties: earth, fire, water, and air. Space, "void," or "aether" was often noted as the fifth element, or, as in the case of China, the understanding of these elements looked a lot different but in the end produced a similar sort of system.

In Azeroth, however, these ideas about the elements never got swallowed up by modern science and the periodic table of elements. They turned out to be real forces in the world, each with its own set of elemental spirits, which people could communicate and cooperate with.

Shamans are the masters of this magical task, charged with helping to maintain the balance of nature in a very different way from druids. While druids are focused more on nature as a system of energy, life, and growth, shamans focus more on the spirits of the land, flames, waters and skies as they all interact with one another. They gain great wisdom by learning of the different characteristics of these elements, and in turn bring this wisdom to the people they serve.

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Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, Shaman, Draenei, Lore, Guides, RP, Classes, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Elemental Shaman talent builds for Patch 3.0.2

So you logged in on Tuesday and all your talent points were gone. (Let's hope you noticed this fact before you went out to attack someone or something.) If you're looking at the new Elemental tree and wondering what talents to pick, here's a little help for you from someone who's been speccing and respeccing almost pure Elemental on the beta servers for several months now. (That would be me.)

The first thing you should do is go read what our resident shaman expert, Matt Rossi, says about the overall changes to our class in Echoes of Doom, just to make sure you still want to stay Elemental (Part 1 and Part 2). For my part, I leveled to 70 as Elemental and saw no reason to switch as I worked my way up the new Wrath talent tree. Since we've already been over the new spells, the point of this post is to simply recommend a build for you. So let's get a-buildin'!

Tier 1
Both the PvE and the PvP specs start the same way. Take all 10 talents on the first row of the Elemental tree (Convection and Concussion) and put 5 points in Improved Healing Wave on the Resto tree. This is probably no different than your spec before Echoes of Doom.

Tier 2
PvE and PvP are the same here too. Max out both Call of Flame and Elemental Warding, which will improve both your DPS and your ability to survive. (That's right, elemental shamans are all about FIRE now.) Raiding shamans, on this tier you should also put 3 points into Ancestral Healing so that when you off-heal, your targets can reap this potential armor-increasing benefit.

Tier 3
On the third level, both PvE and PvP should take Elemental Focus and all 5 points in Elemental Fury, which are both talents you probably had before the patch. PvE can take all 5 points in Reverberation, but PvP should save 3 of these points for later.

Tier 4
Both play styles should max out the points in this tier for Eye of the Storm (familiar talent) and the new Improved Fire Nova Totem. Now some of you will say that PvE shouldn't be using Fire Nova totem and I'll partially agree with you. No, you shouldn't be using it in raids or instances. However, you can use it carefully in PvE and questing (which I've done) and it can be extremely useful because of its slowing effect if you get mobbed.

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Guides, Talents

On the edge of change Pt 2: Shamans in patch 3.0.2

If you're like me, you're writing a guide for shamans explaining how the class will change when patch 3.0.2, the Echoes of Doom patch, goes live tomorrow. Hi, I'm doing that too! Right now, in fact. By the time you read this, I will have finished it and the blistering, searing array of changes will have stopped erupting in my poor, addled brain.

One of the interesting effects of Echoes of Doom is what won't be accessible: the long awaited and somewhat controversial shaman CC, Hex, will not be ours until level 80. The new fire-based spell Lava Burst will also not be attainable, which was even listed as a reason for a nerf that didn't happen to our lightning spells. Many of the changes to our class will still be in the future when this Tuesday's patch rolls around.

There's still plenty to comment on, though. Spell coefficients, the unified spell power system, and specific talents and spells aimed at changing how you spec and how shamans feel to play. Earthliving Weapon is just one change, but it's one of my favorites... a useful imbue for resto shamans and anyone forced to emergency heal. There are still concerns (well, okay, I still have a few concerns, I can't speak for everyone) about how things will look as we all level up, but none of that will affect you when patch 3.0.2 hits, since 70 will still be max level and you'll still be in the gear you have now.

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Expansions, Classes, Talents, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Skill Mastery: Improved Fire Nova Totem

I'm having a lot of fun playing an Elemental Shaman in the Wrath beta. As Mike described in Skill Mastery: Thunderstorm, we have some fun new talents to play with and I hope we get to keep most of them. The new talent I'm highlighting today is Improved Fire Nova Totem.

To the right you can see the stats for the Fire Nova Totem at level 71 without taking the Improvement talent. However, 20 points into the Elemental talent tree, you can spec Improved Fire Nova Totem. If you take both talent points, you'll slash the time it takes for the totem to activate and you'll add some handy bonuses to the spell.

First, the timing. The unimproved Fire Nova Totem takes 3 seconds to fire, but for each talent point you put into Improved Fire Nova Totem, it procs one second faster. So, if you spec both points, it will only take one second for the Fire Nova to explode after you drop it. With only a 15 second cooldown on the spell, that means you can use this bad-boy several times during a PvE fight.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem Talk: Totem Consolidation and Totem Expansion

If you read the site (and if you don't read the site you're not reading this now, so I suppose it doesn't matter) then you may have seen yesterday's minimalist beta build notes and the relative storm of comments they created. If not, and if you're terribly opposed to clicking a link, I'll go over the basics. See how much I love you? Well, no, not that way. I'm married.

Anyway, the basic gist of it is simple enough. In buffing the Stoneclaw totem so that it protects other totems (a clearly PvP oriented buff, as totems are rarely targeted by mob AI) a small problem has been quickly discerned by shamans everywhere. We shamans are very, very fast at seeing potential pitfalls. And this one is a relative doozy. In PvP, you will often drop Tremor Totem, as it is the only way for a shaman to prevent being feared or charmed. If you're not dropping that, you'll probably drop Strength of Earth for the boost to strength and agility, popular stats among the physical DPSers. And recently Earthbind was stated to be getting a buff that clears snares and roots.

So far this all looks pretty good, I'm sure. The problem is, these are all earth totems. So if you want to try and shield your precious torso... er, totems... from damage, or keep yourself from being feared all over the battleground or arena, or clear those pesky roots and snares, or buff your friendly face smashers you can't. You can only do one. Which will it be, shamans?

So what, you may say? Other classes have to choose which buffs they can have. Warriors can't provide commanding shout and battle shout at the same time. Paladins don't get ret aura and devo aura at the same time. Having to choose what totems you drop is what seperates shaman players from bots that just thunk down the same totems all the time.

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Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, PvP, Expansions, Buffs, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King, Battlegrounds, Arena

PvE winners and losers in patch 3.0

I'm putting together a class-by-class prediction post on how the changes we'll see in patch 3.0 and beyond will wind up affecting PvE gameplay in Wrath, but it's probably a bit premature to make specific guesses while talents and skills are still being overhauled in the beta. Still, I think a few general trends (at least for 3.0) are pretty clear.

I'm calling it now; Paladins will fare best, but Shamans will be the hardest hit by the upcoming changes, especially with respect to raiding. I think this change is driven in no small part by Blizzard's realization that Sunwell-level raid guilds are hugely dependent on the party-specific buffs like totems and Heroism/Bloodlust that Shamans bring. The problem is that Shamans are still the least-played class, which has left raiding guilds desperate for a high-end population of Shamans that simply does not exist (especially Alliance-side). Making Shaman totems and Heroism/Bloodlust buff the entire raid (but heavily nerfing how often the raid can benefit from the latter) means the days of stacking Shamans (or trying to) are effectively over.

Paladin changes, especially for holy and retribution, are equally driven by Blizzard's experience with Sunwell. With absolutely breathtaking amounts of raid damage occurring, encounters were disproportionately weighted in favor of: a). healers with more raid-healing capacity, like resto Shamans and CoH Priests (something we heard from SK Gaming months ago) and b). DPS who brought raid-wide DPS buffs to kill the boss as fast as possible (e.g. Retribution Paladins on Brutallus and M'uru). Given the new skills I'm seeing on other healing specs, I'll make another prediction; prepare to see that same level of raid damage rear its ugly head in Naxxramas again.

I'll be launching a more extensive prediction post once talents and skills are finalized for Wrath, and then I'd like to do a follow-up post at some point after guilds start conquering level 80 raid content to see whether they were any good.

Filed under: Paladin, Shaman, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Raiding, Classes

More Shaman beta changes on the horizon

Yet more news from the beta: while not as massive as the revamp to the Death Knight from the last patch, shamans have seen a fair amount of change in the most recent beta patch. The relevant changes are highlighted on Nethaera's post, (and our own Alex Ziebart covered the entire patch) and we shall discuss them after, as always, the jump.

No, that jump, down there. Sorry, my bad.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King

Totem tracking for Wrath beta

As promised Blizzard is giving Shamans some love in the next expansion. The Beta patch notes deliver on some of that. Most of what we're seeing at this time is changes to talents, but there's quite a bit of totem news in there. Some totems stand to get buffed, others nerfed and some removed from the game altogether.

As expected totems will be placed in the physical school, rather than magic. To date, one of the major downfalls of totems is that has been if the Shaman is locked out of the Nature school of spells, they are more or less out of luck until the effect wears off. Even when completely silenced it will still be possible for Shamans to drop their totems. This will be handy in both PvE and PvP, but will probably be more influential for PvP Shamans.

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Filed under: Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Classes, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast topic: Like birds of a feather

When I queue up with friends, I expect to play by their side. Whether we're conquesting new objectives, defending our assets, running a flag, or retaking lost towers, two or three people dedicated to working together stand a better chance than one person alone. When I wear the battleground crown, I make sure that whoever I came in with is in my group. I also answer other people's requests to be placed with their friends. Those groups are likely to be fighting side-by-side.

When someone else is not the leader of the battleground, it can be exceptionally difficult to be transferred among groups. This is not like saving a spot at the lunch table for a friend, but it's about winning the game. I've been playing Paladin lately, but I usually play Shaman. As it stands now, only people in my group can receive the benefit of my Auras and Totems. This may be changing in the future, when some of these buffs will affect the entire raid. For now it just makes sense to honor these requests. If the players have a working synergy, the entire team does benefit from placing them together.

How do you handle grouping in the battlegrounds?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tricks, PvP, Breakfast Topics, Battlegrounds

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