5.2 and the Shaman Class. Are We the Real Thunder Kings?

ThunderQueenAs many are surely aware already, some data mined changes for patch 5.2 have shown up on MMO-Champion.  A new raid zone and numerous changes are coming for all classes, including a long sought-after buff for Elemental Shamans.  Most of the features of the patch are not yet known, but the new raid zone will be very large with 13 bosses, two new world bosses, and the continuation of Wrathion’s legendary quest line.

Flame Shock duration increased to 30 seconds baseline
Increased duration is a buff for both Enhancement and Elemental, as the extended duration comes at no cost to the initial damage of the spell.  This will slightly change the Enhancement priority system and slightly buff our sustained AoE damage while freeing up a glyph slot for Elemental.

Glyph of Flame Shock now heals you for 50% of damage dealt
This could amount to a meaningful amount of healing in AoE situations for Enhancement, but will likely be insignificant for Elemental.  The glyph no longer provides its old effects.

Stormlash Totem area of effect increased from 30 to 40 yards
Stormlash is already 40 yard duration, it was hotfixed into the game and is currently live.

Ancestral Swiftness melee attack speed increased to 10%
Ancestral Swiftness talent will be slightly more attractive to Enhancement.  It was already strong for Elemental and Restoration.  It now provides 5% spell haste and 10% melee haste instead of a flat 5% to both.  Enough to make it competitive?  Maybe.

Conductivity no longer requires the target of your spells to be within the healing rain, but continues to require the recipient of its heal to be within it
Makes this talent a little more usable.  I suspect it won’t be enough to make it a desirable talent choice, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Elemental Blast now has a chance to provide Agility
A necessary change to make Elemental Blast attractive to Enhancement.  I do feel it will remain unwieldy and difficult to maximize and will continue to perform more poorly in practice, even if it’s competitive in theory and simulates high.  I doubt this is enough to convince many people to use the talent.

Elemental Mastery cooldown reduced to 60 seconds
This is a substantial buff to an already-competitive talent and is likely to make Elemental Mastery the go-to choice for both Enhancement and Elemental for single target situations.  AoE situations will surely continue to favor Echo for both specs.  While a cooldown cut in half will immediately make you think it’s twice as good, it won’t be.  It doesn’t provide much benefit on its own as Enhancement, so a 20% hasted 2nd Ascendance and part of the duration of your 2nd Fire Elemental over a 6 minute fight is what you’re ultimately getting out of it.

Stone Bulwark Totem absorb increased by 25%
A substantial buff to what I view as a poorly performing talent, making it much more attractive, especially alongside the Totemic Restoration or Call of the Elements talents.

Unleashed Fury bonus to Lightning Bolt reduced from 30 to 20%, but provides a 10% boost to Lava Burst damage
This is a nerf to Enhancement’s benefit from this talent, as it is substantially better than the other two options for most situations.  This should cause the level 90 talents to be on a much more even playing field for both DPS specs, though Enhancement’s 4 piece bonus should keep Unleashed Fury our strongest talent until we graduate from that set.  Will need updated sims and adjusted profiles to know for sure.

Shamanistic Rage is now available to Elemental
A much needed and long overdue buff to Elemental survival.  This will also allow the Shamanistic Rage glyph to be of use to them.

Glyph of Purge now causes a 6 second cooldown
A significant nerf to a glyph that is generally deemed required for Shaman PvP.  Now you have a choice… but at a cost.

Primal Earth Elemental and Primal Fire Elemental now deal 20% more damage.
This is a buff that should bring the Primal Elementalist talent in line with the other options for damage dealers.  They were occasionally useful for Elemental and Enhancement, but they should be competitive options much more often now.  This buff may tilt the scales and make it your only real choice on the tier once Unleashed Fury isn’t propped up by set bonuses anymore, though.  Will need updated sims and adjusted profiles to know for sure.

Overall, these changes are very positive for the Shaman DPS specs.  Elemental is gaining a very powerful defensive cooldown with a powerful glyph attached to it, more freedom with glyphs and talents, and the overall talent changes should yield a slight DPS buff.  Enhancement isn’t gaining as much as Elemental as we had a lot more freedom with glyphs to begin with, but our talent selections (specifically level 60 and 90 talents) should be more meaningful instead of being obvious choices.  What we’re losing is the ability to clean all the buffs off a target in a couple global cooldowns, but sometimes nerfs to powerful abilities are necessary to make room for positive changes for the class as a whole.

Updates will be added as they become known.

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