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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The Value of Damage

When comparing the value of damage dealers in raiding, it is obviously the damage they deal that people look at first.  It’s not difficult to find comparison tools and sites that aggregate data and give you the ability to compare on a fight by fight basis or overall, or a stack rank of how each spec simulates on a single target using SimulationCraft.  These tools can be useful and valuable, but there’s a lot more to a real class balance comparison than what these tools show you.  I’m going to make a few statements you may or may not agree with, but I’ll explain my reasoning.

1. Single target damage is more valuable than area damage.

There are a few reasons I say this.  Every raid encounter ever to exist has a single-target damage requirement.  Whether it’s the most purely single target fight like Ultraxion or a very AoE-heavy fight like Mythic Imperator Mar’gok, single target damage is vital to success.  During Imperator, one of the most AoE-heavy encounters ever, single-target damage is still what results in a kill.  Finishing phase 3 (which is the most challenging part of the encounter) before mines leave you with no room to deal with other abilities relies heavily on the raid’s ability to damage the boss – not damaging the dozens of adds that spawn throughout the phase.

Killing them is important, people will start dying and healers will be drained of mana if they are left up too long, but damage dealt to them should be compared to utility like using a healing cooldown rather than compared to boss damage.

Needless to say to anyone who progressed on Mythic Imperator, Enhancement Shaman were almost always at the top of DPS charts by a pretty wide margin, and many guilds used Enhancement Shaman to take care of all the small adds almost entirely on their own.  The reason for this is efficiency.  No spec in the game can kill them more efficiently (with minimal loss to primary targets) than Enhancement, and it even results in a sizeable damage increase to the boss for the Shaman.  And that’s the point.  Enhancement’s contribution to the fight is not truly represented by the AoE damage they did – it’s represented by the raid’s boss damage gained due to utilizing that efficient AoE.  Single target damage is the real reason Enhancement was so valuable on that fight.  This is nearly always true when there are significant AoE components to encounters.

2. Not all area damage is created equally.

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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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