Thursday, February 28, 2008

Latest shaman "buff" stretches definition of the word "buff"

Today's PTR update included a number of changes for enhancement shaman, via MMO Champion (my comments in italics after each item):

  1. The global cooldown on casting totems has been reduced. It is now 1 second instead of 1.5

    About time. A flat-out buff to all shaman that they've been agitating for for months.

  2. Flametongue Weapon now reduces the effectiveness of healing spells on your target by 50%. Lasts 5 seconds and refresh every hits.

    They'll give Mortal Strike to anyone these days...

  3. Toughness now Increases your armor value from items by 2/4/6/8/10% and reduces the duration of movement impairing effects on you by -10/20/30/40/50%.

    Toughness was an armor-granting talent that no one ever took, as it was a complete waste of points. This change makes it a must-have for PvP.

  4. Shamanistic rage now let you regenerate mana equal to 30% of your attack power instead of 15. Duration reduced to 15 seconds. (Was 30 seconds)

    Nerf. Blizz had recently made SR undispellable on the PTRs, which was a great buff. Now they've made it last half as long to compensate (even though it stil regens the same mana). Was that really a win, overall? It's a PvE nerf, and a nerf against classes with no offensive dispels.
So if 2.4 goes live as is, all shaman get a buff to their totems (#1), while enhancement shaman get a small nerf to their 41-point talent (#4). #2 and #3 may appear on the surface to be large buffs (Paladins over at Teh Cesspool seem to be frothing at the mouth for their own MS), they are actually only small buffs in disguise.

Why? Because in order to get either of them, we have to give up something we already have.

In the case of the Flametongue MS effect, we have to give up the massive added damage of the Windfury weapon imbue on our offhand. So instead of a flat-out buff, we've instead been given a choice: healing reduction debuff, or a noticable chunk of your damage. Pick one.

It's similar with the Toughness talent. Since no one used to take it, we'll now all have to sacrifice 5 points from our current builds in order to pick it up. Since Toughness is further down the tree, this means we either have to drop some of the strong talents late in the enhance tree, or the best talents we can reach by putting our extra 17-20 points in another tree. We dip into elemental or restoration specifically to grab talents on the 3rd tiers of those trees, which just became a lot harder to get in combination with the new snare reduction talent. This would be mostly mitigated by reducing the number of points needed to get the full effect of toughness down to 3 (as was done with a lot of feral 5 point talents when 2.0 was being tested). As it stands, it's too much of a sacrifice for me to really consider this much of a buff.

It's nice that they're giving us more options, but I hope they don't expect us to herald this as the massive buff that shaman really need.

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