Shaman 6.1

Just a quick overview of all of the Shaman changes going live this week.

Talents

  • Ancestral Guidance is now triggered by all damage and healing and multistrikes instead of just direct damage and healing.
  • Storm Elemental damage and healing increased by 30%
    This will likely make Storm Elemental the default talent choice for Enhancement, and closer to competitive for Elemental and Restoration.  Liquid Magma should continue to have situational value for Enhancement.
  • Echo of the Elements now gives affected abilities a second charge instead of being a proc that causes those abilities to not incur a cooldown.  Spirit Link Totem has been added to the affected abilities.
    This is an interesting change that will cause the talent to notably change Enhancement’s priority when taken.  Because of that, It may take some time for its true value to be made known in sims, but it has a much more pleasing feel and higher skill cap than the previous version.  It will shift our damage breakdown toward Stormstrike, Lava Lash and Fire Nova as the previous version did, but do so in a way that allows skill and planning to have an impact.  The addition of Spirit Link for Restoration gives it the potential for a lot of situational value.
  • Frozen Power will no longer trigger Elemental’s mastery.
    This will be a slight buff to the talent for Elemental when cast on targets you haven’t damaged.

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Consolidated Shaman 6.0 Patch Notes

Here’s a consolidated list of announced changes for all Shaman specs in Warlords, preceded by a direct quote from the Shaman section of the official notes.

 

Shaman has received a variety of changes, most of which are specialization-specific.

For Elemental and Enhancement, we had a few problems to solve. Enhancement suffers from having their damage split among so many damage sources that none of it feels impressive. We changed the damage of several abilities to try to reorganize their damage into fewer, more impactful abilities, while keeping the net total the same. For a long time Elemental Shaman were one of the specs most impacted by movement, at a time where other casters were increasingly able to cast while moving.

For Warlords of Draenor, we’re pulling back on the ability for many casters to deal damage while moving, and that includes Elemental. They will still have some ability to deal damage while moving, through Shocks, Unleash Weapon, and instant Lava Bursts. For Chain Lightning, we wanted to reduce the impact of Haste soft capping, and so changed Shamanism to increase damage instead of reduce cast time. Additionally, we simplified Wind Shear by removing its impact on threat, which no longer matters.

Restoration Shaman had the most passive and smart healing of any healer, and so received some reductions in that area, along with buffs elsewhere to keep them competitive. One particular change is to Mana Tide Totem, which we made less effective for other players, but still just as effective for the Shaman. We like that Shaman could help other healers out on mana, but it was just too strong, significantly impacting how those other healers gear themselves.

Ability Removals

  • Ancestral Awakening has been removed.
  • Feral Spirit no longer has the Spirit Bite ability.
  • Flametongue Weapon is no longer available to Restoration Shaman.
  • Frostbrand Weapon is now available only to Enhancement Shaman.
  • Greater Healing Wave has been renamed to Healing Wave.
  • Healing Tide Totem is now available only to Restoration Shaman.
  • Healing Wave has been removed.
  • Lava Burst now replaces Primal Strike for Elemental and Restoration Shaman.
  • Magma Totem is now available only to Enhancement Shaman.
  • Rockbiter Weapon has been removed.
  • Static Shock has been removed.
    • Stormstrike and Stormblast now deal 30% more damage when Lightning Shield is active.
  • Stormlash Totem has been removed.
  • Searing Flames has been removed.
    • Flametongue Weapon damage has been increased by 40%, and Lava Lash damage has been increased to 280% weapon damage (up from 140%) to compensate.
  • Water Shield is now available only to Restoration Shaman and replaces Lightning Shield.

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More on Healthy Gameplay

A few days having passed since the Dev Watercooler: Building Healthy Gameplay blog was posted, there has been a great deal of feedback and opinions shared between many people on the subject.  My previous post on the subject covered many concerns players have, and hopefully a few who read it were put at ease.  There are other thoughts and concerns that I’ve read or heard about since then, and other concerns players have had in the past on various healing related topics that are likely to be affected by this change.  In case you don’t want to read everything in my last post, here’s the CliffsNotes version:

“Reinventing Healer Gameplay” TL;DR version:

  • Early Cataclysm “sucked” for a lot of people because the content was tuned to be difficult.  How healing worked had very little to do with the difficulty, it was merely the first thing people felt to be different.  Since then, and increasingly so going forward, there will be content with a difficulty level that suits your tastes regardless of what changes happen with healing.
  • Mana regeneration had very low base values in Cataclysm.  Most of it came from gear.  In Warlords, base mana regeneration will be much higher, meaning you won’t feel as mana-limited at low gear levels.
  • Class design comes before content design.  Content challenges you based on what you’re capable of doing.  If you can’t cast instant heals or heal on the move, content won’t expect you to do it.
  • Healing done out-scaling health pools like it does right now causes a lot of damage in raid content to be instantly lethal, or else groups won’t be challenged by it.  The increase to player health in Warlords will make damage taken a lot less binary.  Instant death sucks and feels cheap!  It will happen less going forward.
  • Healers often feel like they are being nerfed when they level in an expansion.  This is because player health needs to “catch up” to healing done due to healing always out-scaling health at level cap.  Right now, this is necessary.  If it didn’t happen, we’d eventually get to a point where HoTs and ground heals are full healing players every tick.  The changes in Warlords will allow the transition into new expansions to be a lot smoother.

“Being nerfed while leveling sucks”

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Reinventing Healer Gameplay

UPDATE: More explanations and impacts of the changes in my follow-up here.

The healing blog that went up today was, for me, a huge breath of fresh air.  There have been a lot of very vocal people who compare it to Cataclysm and instantly dislike it, however.  I have some things to say that will, hopefully, ease a few people’s minds about the coming changes.

“Cataclysm Sucked”

It’s pretty safe to say that a lot of these changes look like they are going to be very similar to the way healing felt in Cataclysm.  While some absolutely loved it, there probably isn’t a single era in the game’s history that received as much negative feedback from healers as this one.  Like everything in WoW’s design, though, nothing can be seen in a vacuum because one change to one thing will affect a lot of different areas of the game.

Early Cataclysm wasn’t a fun experience for a lot of healers, and fun is the most important thing.  The reality is, though, that “Cataclysm sucked” because it was hard.  Compared to everything in Mists and Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm launch content was extremely difficult.  It actually had almost nothing to do with how healing worked.  It was all just simply over-tuned for the average player.

Cataclysm also had the problem of base mana regeneration being very low, and scaling up far too quickly.  With higher base mana regeneration, this won’t be a problem.

I reiterate: Cataclysm healing sucked because it was hard.  This has very little to do with the healing style they aimed for.

Blizzard learned a lot of lessons from Tier 11 in Cataclysm.  There will never be an era that sees all content be that difficult ever again.  There have already been statements suggesting LFR will be easier at WoD launch than it has been for most of MoP.  There will be ways to progress your character at your own pace and at a difficulty level that is appropriate to you.  You’re not going to have to worry about a Cataclysm-like difficulty level ever again, unless you actively seek it.  The changes that are happening to healing won’t change this.

“People Will Die Before I Can Heal Them”

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