Shamantastic: Cataclysm Talents

I finally found some time to follow through with one of my promises, which is to take a look at the Shaman Cata talents. I know that other blogs have done their own investigation and perhaps they have come to the same conclusion I have for Elemental and Restoration, however I want to share my thoughts on the specs I created and why or why not they may work in the expansion. I also did a tentative Enhancement spec though I’ve never played enhance so I’m batting into pitch black here. To help with the Enhancement discussion will be one of my guildmates, Longwalker!

I have mixed feelings about the change to a lower tier of talents, 31 being the max. On the one hand, it simplifies things a lot and takes out a bunch of talents that, while useful, really only overburden and pull down the other talents in the tree. I always hate building a specialization and spending an hour on the small talents that don’t make or break the spec but refine the smaller points and utilities of the class. Don’t get me wrong, I love utilization and the complexity that the talent trees offered for each class, but from a layman’s point of view, it can get quite confusing. On the other hand, I’m going to miss the complexity that the Lich King and BC talent trees provided. Spending that one hour, despite the physical signs of stress, is always some of the most fun I have when dealing with talents. Call me crazy but I really enjoy figuring out the best way to optimize. In the end, I think that moving towards the smaller talent tree is a good idea for the mass public that usually has to resort to those jerks to help them. This will simplify it enough that leveling will be easier on the new players, as will figuring out a viable and usable raid spec for the raids that have been tailored to them too. It’s a good customer service move, but like with raids before, it’s kind of a kick in the shins for those of us who actually work for what we get. With the growth of WoW comes the death of the difficulty, the experience, and one of the main reasons I play. Why do I play? Well, that might warrant its own post.

Let’s take a look at everyone’s favorite specialization: Elemental. This is the talent layout that I came up with, with 2 extra points unallocated because I was having trouble deciding what was the most beneficial. When I was filling out talents for the specialization I tried to focus strictly on talents that benefit damage and mana efficiency wherever I could. Because of the fact that I’ve never had a shaman at 80, I’m not familiar with some of the abilities or the generic raid rotation/priority for elemental shaman, however I think that I nailed at least the basic talents. The two extra points could go two places in my opinion. The first is that they could go into Reverberation which reduces the cooldown of shock spells 1 second with 2 points in it. This would increase the frequency of shocks that you can dole out, either flame shocks to multiple targets or any other relevant shocks that may be applicable for a raid environment. On the other hand, decreasing the cooldown on shocks will also possibly increase the number of GCDs not spent on casting straight damage like LB, LavaB or CL, which may decrease DPS overall. The second talent I could see it going towards would be Improved Shields which gives a nice little mana regeneration bonus to your shields. I won’t go too into detail here because what is there really to say except that mana regen rocks! The other two elemental talents not filled in are Elemental Warding which decreases damage taken (perhaps good for leveling, but kind of useless when compared to the options above) and Elemental Devastation which seems to exclusively be an Enhancement talent.

I didn’t take the time to examine viable glyphs because I’m not sure how updated it is, and as mentioned before, I’ve got little to no experience with the shaman class at max level, nor the theorycrafting at this point, so I don’t want to make choices that don’t fit. The same is true for Restoration.

Now for the more intense specialization: Restoration! Here are the talents I mapped out for Resto however I spent all of the points which I didn’t really mean to do. There are some talents in the Resto tree that can be useful in some situations, but I wasn’t convinced that they’d be useful enough to keep. For example, Telluric Currents could be an awesome skill for regaining mana, however I’m not convinced that anyone would have time mid-fight to chuck a few lightning bolts to get mana back. Nature’s Guardian is another iffy talent for me that I didn’t choose in this build. It has its uses if you get into a hairy situation, but you shouldn’t be needing to worry about this if you’re in a solid raid group, and you should put the talents somewhere that helps with healing directly or indirectly, in my opinion. It even seems that you could take a Restoration spec in two different ways, one as a tanky healer who can resist a bunch of damage and one that focuses more directly on healing efficiency. I suppose the tanky healer would be best for 5 mans and maybe undergeared dinky 10 mans, and the super healer would be for progression raids. All in all I like the way the tree looks right now though as mentioned previously, I miss the complexity and the myriad of choices that have been available in BC and Lich King. I feel like there’s only one track to take for this tree that will actually fit in a raid environment, and that makes me sad. I suppose in the past there has only ever been one really good spec for each tree, but there was a lot more variety available that allowed you to have your own personalized playstyle with unique skills that didn’t decrease your effectiveness as a healer or any other role.

Since I’m mentally inept at Enhancement right now and physically inept at having enough time to play enhance on my main shammy or any alt for that matter, I’m going to let Longwalker take it away from here!

Hey all! Longwalker here. I’m no theorycrafting expert on Enhancement, but I’ve escaped healing duty enough to raid a bit as a dual-wielding wonder. I enjoy the kit of the shaman and the whole melee-spellcaster feel of the class, and at Shadowscale’s invitation I’d like to talk about an Enhancement spec with the new beta talent tree.

I came up with a decent build focused on single-target raid damage. There really isn’t a lot of room for preference in an Enhancement spec yet, as you’ll see in the build I linked—if you take all of the talents that boost your single-target damage, you don’t have any left over. You might shift a point from Ancestral Swiftness to Improved Shields if you don’t care about move speed, and you might shift up to three points from Elemental Precision into the Fire Totem talents in that tier depending on how much hit rating you have, but that’s it.

The lack of “free” talent points is one of the indications that the devs are going to take another pass at the tree. Hopefully we’ll see some consolidation of “mandatory” talents and more “utility” talents to choose from. Also, Elemental Fury (the Elemental talent that gives +100% spell crit damage) is MIA in this beta build, which has to be some kind of mistake. Another curiosity is that Enhancement lost Dual Wield Specialization, which gave 6% melee hit, and gained Elemental Precision, which gives 3% spell hit. This is actually, in my opinion, preferable to the situation on Live, as it is easy to reach the 8% melee soft cap but difficult to attain 17% spell hit.

One final oddity of the beta talents is the presence of both Primal Wisdom (passive chance to gain mana each melee hit) and Shamanistic Rage (1-minute cooldown that gives you mana on melee hits). On Live, Shamanistic Rage by itself is more than enough to refill your mana bar. Will they be changing the function of Shamanistic Rage? And if melee shamans will always have enough mana, will Blizzard give them another resource to manage, like they did with Ret pallies? I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

That’s all we have for today! Feel free to start and continue discussion in the comments, if you like.

Longwalker has been playing since BC and raids on several toons: a Prot / Fury warrior, a Balance / Resto druid, an Arcane mage, and of course a Resto / Enhance shaman. He eagerly awaits the next WoW expansion and loves talking theorycrafting with anyone, any time. Look for a guest post from Longwalker sometime soon – I have him slotted and look forward to whatever he comes up with! If you’d like a chance to be a guest writer for Pheshamanal, just drop me an email (see the about page!), and if you’d like to send a message to Longwalker, please forward it to that same email address!

Related posts from the WoW Blogosphere:

Pewter from ‘Mental Shaman

On Choices

On the Elemental Tree

Rakhman from Flame Shock

On Enhancement and Leveling

A Talent Tree Preview

Wugan from Flow

A Maybe Not So Relevant Look At Resto

Vixsin from LifeInGroup5

Cata Resto Talent Audit

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