Friday, February 22, 2008

Enhancement Shaman in 2.4: Where I'm Coming From

Blizzard dev Kalgan announced yesterday on the official wow forums (aka “Teh Cesspool”) that there are major upcoming buffs planned to the Shaman class in 2.4, including some that will make enhancement spec actually competitive in 2v2 arenas.

I plan to comment on them here once they are released, but before I do, I think I should supply some background so you know where I’m coming from.

Duck! Unnecessarily Long Explanation ™ incoming!

Read more!

I rolled a draenei shaman on the day TBC was released, and within 3 months I had leveled him to 70 as enhancement (I had simultaneously been leveling my warrior from 60-70, gearing him for Kara, and getting him his flying mount. Yeah, I play way too much). Upon reaching 70, I did 5-mans as elemental for a while before being marginally geared enough to go on my then-guild’s Kara alt runs, which routinely cleared the whole place in about 5 hours with mostly alts in blues, and a few epic-ed out mains (often my warrior and my girlfriend’s warlock) helping out.

I was tired of elemental. In theory, it was fun enough, but it had the serious drawbacks of:

a) Besides totems, you do nothing but spam lightning bolt in groups

b) Compared to enhancement, I hated it for soloing and pvp because there was no pushback resistance and no root or CC. So you couldn’t cast lightning bolt (your best attack by far) while under attack, and you had no dependable way to prevent yourself from being hit while you stood still casting.

Plus, the Kara alt group desperately needed a healer, so I stepped up and switched to full restoration. It was actually pretty fun, and I stayed that way for many weeks, doing welfare arenas (no resilience or HP=my team sucks no matter how well I play –this was back before Gladiator gear was available for honor) and clearing Kara as a main healer once a week, building up a pretty respectable healing kit in the process. I also managed to pick up quite a few enhancement pieces along the way (including the eminently cool The Decapitator), and my plan was to eventually respec enhancement once Season 3 started and I could pick up a Season 2 weapon and shoulders for enhancement on the cheap. I had been in love with those “molten stone with chains” shoulders since the moment Blizzard previewed them in TBC beta, and I was ecstatic to finally have the coolest-looking piece of gear I had ever seen.

So eventually we stopped clearing Kara, and I respecced enhancement to grind BGs for the newly-available gladiator gear and grind out my Netherwing rep (now riding an Azure dragon, tyvm!) I was having a blast, bursting people down with a Windfury/Fire totem/Stormstrike/Shock combo, and enjoying the brand-new 2.3 buffs that granted enhancement shaman free spell damage and cheaper shocks. These were great improvements that fixed one of the key flaws with enhancement: previously, it was the one spec that locked you out of your other strengths. Your heals were useless, and your shocks and lightning bolts were gimped and too expensive. Meanwhile, elemental and resto complemented each other, as gearing for one also improved the other.

But, once I had geared out my shaman and gotten my drake, I started to lose interest in him. After raiding with my guild for a few months in SSC/TK, I had decided that hardcore raiding in TBC wasn’t for me. So there were few avenues left for me to develop, or even use, the character. So I put him on the back burner, and returned to a character I had been playing on and off for over a year: a Horde rogue on another server. At the time, he was 63. My girlfriend also picked up her priest on the same server, and we leveled together in a frenzy that saw us at 70 in less than 2 weeks. With nothing really happening back on my alliance server*, I fell in love with my rogue and he pretty much became my new main.

My rogue has been 70 for about 5 weeks now, and I’ve been playing him almost exclusively. He’s got a few Karazhan epics, 7 pieces of Gladiator gear, everything else is best-in-slot blues, and he’s been piling up heroic badges. I feel like I’ve had a lot of experience with him, even though I’ve only been playing him for a comparatively short time.

And that’s why I feel qualified to say: as currently implemented, enhancement shaman suck. It is a good soloing build, and it’s also awesome to bring one to a 25 man raid to buff the melee group. But not only is a rogue a better soloer, but he blows the enhance shaman out of the water in PvP, 5-man groups, and 10 man raids, and is just as worth a slot in a 25 man.

I hate to say this. I love my shaman. I find a lot to like about enhancement in any situation. But the bottom line is, rogues are just better melee characters, as it currently stands.

So these buffs better be good, Kalgan.

Actually, scratch that. I'm just going to respec resto either way.

*I had actually come to loathe my alliance guild, especially compared to my current horde guild. But that’s a story for another day.

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