Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Cataclysm Shaman

As I’ve gone through the different class previews, I’ve moved from the classes I know very well like my Paladin and Hunter to the ones I know less well like my Druid and Warrior. In my final look at the preview, I’m going to tackle a class I essentially know nothing about, the Shaman. If I start talking out of my hat, please excuse and offer kind corrections.
The Shaman would have been the next class I would have leveled, but I abandoned the project because I wanted to wait for Cataclysm and have a new class to see the new lowbie content with.
Primal Strike (available at level 3): Primal Strike is a new weapon-based attack that every shaman will learn very early in the game.
Healing Wave (level 4): While the shaman already has an ability called Healing Wave, we're adding another spell to the class's direct-healing arsenal and giving it a familiar name. The current Healing Wave will be renamed Greater Healing Wave, and the intent is for the 'new" Healing Wave to be the shaman's go-to heal.
Shaman are getting two new spells at the early part of the game, but one is just a rework of an existing spell. Both should help early leveling, but with my baby shaman in full heirloom gear (shoulders, chest, both trinkets, and weapon) he should blast through the early levels. In all likelihood I’ll make him a Goblin to see the new starting area and change him to a Tauren once he gets closer to the endgame. It’s my intention to change every one of my toons (Paladin, Hunter, Warrior, and Druid) to Tauren as well. They’ll be my herd.
Unleash Weapon (level 81): Unleashes the power of your weapon enchants for additional effects (see below). A dual-wielding Enhancement shaman will activate the effects of both of their weapon enchants.
This sounds very cool and has applications for each type of Shaman. It will be a nice reward for that first ‘ding’ in Cataclysm.
Healing Rain (level 83): An area-effect heal-over-time (HoT) spell that calls down rain in a selected area, healing all players within it. There is no limit to the number of players who can potentially be affected; however, there are diminishing returns when healing a large number of targets, much like the diminishing returns associated with AoE damage spells.
This the single best name for a new spell I’ve seen so far. I say that because one of the artists I listen to, Michael W. Smith, had a hit song called Healing Rain. It was very cool. The only HoT Shamans have right now is Riptide, so I imagine this would be a nice addition for them. What I don’t see is anything to address their mana. Stark, our resident Resto Shaman, was constantly OOM in our fights.
Spiritwalker's Grace (level 85): When this self-targeted buff is active, your spells are no longer interrupted by movement and possibly even by your own attacks. This will give shaman of all three specs another way to heal or do damage when it's necessary to move in both PvE and PvP.
This and the other movement spells I’ve seen in the previews seems to hint at PVE being very frenetic in Cataclysm with constant movement almost a necessity. I have to wonder what the design will be for Holy Paladins if large amounts of movement will be required in PVE and PVP>
We plan to add Earthquake as a deep Elemental talent for targeted and persistent AoE.
This is one of the coolest sounding spells I’ve heard about in the previews. It’s one the last spells from Warcarft 3 to be ported over to WoW.
Elemental Overload: Your direct-damage spells have a chance to proc a less powerful 'bonus" version of the spell. This will work much like the current Lightning Overload talent, but would also apply to Lava Burst.
Nature Damage: This will provide a passive bonus to the Nature damage dealt by the Enhancement shaman.
Deep Healing: Your direct heals will do more healing when the target's health is lower. This will scale to damage (e.g. someone at 29% health would receive more healing than someone at 30%) rather than have arbitrary break points.

Deep Healing should synergize well with Ardent Defender, and Guardian Spirit. Elemental Overload is similar to a mechanic that Elemental Shaman have already that is something akin to Wild Quiver. Nature Damage is nice but kind of boring, but I guess the design is to take the boring talents out and make them boring Masteries. It is just when you see some of the very creative and fun sounding Masteries you kind of /boggle at the boring ones.
Overall the Shaman preview sounds very exciting. I wonder if full time Shaman mains see it that way or if they see holes and concerns that someone less familiar with the class might miss.
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