So, and I know its still within the first 24 hours of the Alpha having gone live, but I wanted to give my feedback on the Shaman Class. Specifically, exclusively, I want to give my feedback on Enhancement as a spec in its current iteration.
My background with Enhancement: fluff and nostalgia mostly
To start I want to go into my background of Enhancement Shaman just a little bit, kind of seems like right of passage hehe. To help keep this post well organized and not take up too much space I am utilizing collapsible fields. So if you are not interested in the fluff you don’t have to wade through a whole bunch of it to get to the other stuff
I didn’t start WoW playing Shaman, I actually started as a Paladin and honestly would probably still be playing as a Paladin if not for the fact that Vulpera and Kul’Tiran’s, my two favorite new Races, can not be Paladins. I seriously love both these races to death and am so happy they are a part of the game now.
With that said I started the game as a Paladin but near the end of Vanilla I dipped my toes into Shaman and immediately fell in love! I would be lying if I did not say that those big ol’ Windfury procs were the most enjoyable experience I had ever had in WoW! Seal of Command had nothing on my Windfury! Seeing three numbers pop up in quick succession, the cool wind effect, the sound, it was AMAZING and satisfied every fiber of my being!
So when I found out that Draenei could be Shaman in TBC I was beyond ecstatic! All of my friends were Alliance mains and the only time I ever got to play on my Shaman is when no one else was on. I really enjoy playing this game with friends and still do to this day with mostly the same group from back then.
I would also like to state that I was beyond thrilled that Shaman would get a talent for Dual Wielding! In my younger, teenage, days I thought Dual Wielding was the coolest thing in the world because… well… hardly any games at the time seemed to do it with the Exception of Diablo II and before I came to WoW Ever Quest also did it on select classes. There was just something so… well… awesome about “Dual Wielding” when I was younger and I am not really sure how to explain it haha.
So, mained an Enhancement Shaman through 90% of TBC and even played on a hard core progression raid team all the way into Black Temple! While Enhancement was certainly not the top of the charts by any standard I was the only Enhancement Shaman in our raid, everyone else was Elemental, and our Raid Leader loved him some Windfury Totem haha.
TBC was easily one of the most enjoyable experiences for me and I hold some of my absolute fondest memories of WoW from TBC!
Near the end of Black Temple I ended up deciding to take a break from the server first progression scene and in that time I decided to explore some other classes and make a few alts. I re-fell in love with Paladin at the end of TBC and started getting into Tanking and Healing as they were always in high demand. I messed around with Elemental Shaman again during Naxx and Ulduar but other than that and occasionally seeing what had changed I kind of stopped playing Shaman all together. Especially when WoD hit, really did not like what happened to Shaman in WoD but since then I had been a purely Paladin main.
Fast forward to BFA and the Allied Races! I thought I was going to stay a Paladin main for good. I loved the class and how it played in all three specs! Holy was a blast to DPS and Heal at the same time, Prot Paladins just felt natural to me, and Retribution was a solid DPS spec (Though I seriously missed Divine Tempest from Legion. Bring it back please)
Everything was fine until it was announced Vulpera would be a playable race! I LOVE Vulpera! They are awesome! I love their models so much, they are just so well made! I love their lore, reminds me a lot of the Tauren and their roots, and I was convinced that they would be able to be Sunwalkers like the Tauren.
Boy… I sure was wrong.
So that left me in a position of needing to find a new main class to play. While I feel like I am a Paladin to the core I found myself loving the Vulpera race so much that I gave up my favorite Class, the one I had been maining for YEARS, just to play one.
Reviewing their Class options I was reminded of my love for Shaman and decided to try it out, along with Hunter and Warrior, before making a choice on what Class I wanted to play. Needless to say, I fell in love with Shaman all over again! I don’t know exactly what changed since WoD but I really had a blast with BFA’s Enhancement Shaman and thus decided that it would be my main!
So at this point you might be saying “Er, well gee Byucknah, if that is the case then why are you a Hunter and not a Shaman?”
Because after getting 120 and getting some gear (almost 460) I quickly realized that Enhancement Shaman had some SERIOUS PROBLEMS that gear did not and was not going to fix at all!
The most glaring issue, and one you will see brought up often in the Shaman Forums, was their survivability (which I will be touching on in my feedback post proper) followed by their performance in a PvP setting. It KILLED it for me. I absolutely loved my Shaman but as I was nearing 460 the realization that things were not going to improve hit me hard.
So, since then, I have switched to a Hunter though shortly after that all my friends have returned to the Alliance once again so I switched over to a Kul’Tirian Fury Warrior (450 ilvl) instead and while I enjoy it, its a seriously great melee spec, I still long to enjoy my Shaman but can not get past its flaws.
So now with Shadowlands upon us, with the Alpha test starting and having the absolute pleasure and honor of being in the first wave, I feel like this is Enhancement’s best chance to get some serious love!
With the fluff background stuff out of the way let me get into the feedback I want to provide from my experience so far. As of typing this my Orc Shaman, Stormstruck-The Maw, is currently level 52 and 10% in and I have some very VERY strong opinions of the current state of Enhancement right now as well as some feedback on what I would personally like to see.
What I Like!
So there are some things that I really like seeing back again! Totems are a welcome sight honestly, ESPECIALLY Healing Stream totem! Oh my goodness do I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE healing stream totem! It’s healing is actually surprisingly strong and makes doing things solo feel so much more bearable! (Spoilers, Enhancement Shamans are still super squishy. More on that in a bit)
I also absolutely love seeing Windfury Totem making a comeback and that its not a weapon buff like the OG Windfury totems of TBC were, which means it wont conflict with Rogue Poisons, Sharpening/Weight Stones, etc. as well as (and the testing hasn’t been done yet) being a regular buff that also affects the Shaman meaning you can benefit from both Windfury Weapon AND Windfury Totem! Very cool to see that come back and as good as it is.
Shocks were such an iconic part of being an Enhancement Shaman to the point there were entire jokes built around Frostshock~ There is just something so iconic about the spell that its cool to see it back for its flavor and its effect, even if it is only Flame and Frost Shock returning.
The removal of Maelstrom as a resource *(Which just felt like a rage bar tacked on top of Mana) is also a nice change. Truth be told, it did bring a bit of “order” to the Enhancement Shaman rotation in the idea of Builders and Spenders but it didn’t feel unique or interesting. I honestly had no love of the resource, though I will admit I also didn’t flat out hate it.
Chain Heal and Chain Lightning
These are just Iconic spells in general and its cool to see that they have been returned to the Enhancement Shaman arsenal, and just having a bigger selection of tools is nice in general especially with the return of Maelstrom Weapon… or at least I would say that, buuuuuuuut…
What I don’t like…
So, as I stated I mained a Shaman in TBC and actually experienced Maelstrom Weapon back when it was first introduced. This ability… it has not aged well… at all.
You would think that it would be exciting, building Maelstrom Weapon charges to unleash a strong attack that normally has a casting time! Heck, back in the day I thought that was super cool and it felt great too! However, going from BFA’s setup to what its like in the Shadowlands Alpha leaves me wanting.
To start, this is how it works for anyone who does not know.
When you deal damage with a melee weapon, you have a chance to gain Maelstrom Weapon. Each stack of Maelstrom Weapon reduces the casting time of your next damage or healing spell by 20%
So, this ability stacks a total of 5 times and reduces the casting time of your next damaging or healing spell by 20% per stack and the stacks are consumed upon use of a damaging or healing casting time spell.
You may also notice how I have highlighted the first part, this is important. It only has a chance of proccing a charge from a melee weapon attack. Shocks can’t proc a charge and Rockbiter can not proc a charge. This means the only way to get charges are Stormstrike, Lava Lash, and Auto Attacks and Windfury Attacks and its completely random.
It also specifically mentions that it only affects Damaging or Healing spells, which means if you were eyeballing that “Stormkeeper” talent
Charge yourself with lightning, causing your next 2 Lightning Bolts or Chain Lightnings to deal 150% more damage and be instant cast.
You are out of luck, it will not reduce the cast time of any spell that is not a direct damage or direct healing spell. This includes Hex as well, and casting in Melee has its own problems to begin with.
So, you might be saying “Okay, its not perfect, its random, it only affects a very limited number of spells, that is fine! I am sure the damage is pretty good though!”
Well, that is the thing… Its not. Stormstrike does double the damage of Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, or Elemental Blast and your other instant cast abilities do comparable damage in addition to being talentable to do even more such as having a high chance of doubling Stormstrike’s damage.
Truth be told, they hit like limp noodles.
Then there is the healing factor. With Maelstrom as a resource you could pump out several consecutive instant cast heals in a row. With Maelstrom Weapon you get the one before having to generate Maelstrom Weapon again, and to top it off the power of our heals have not gone up in Shadowlands! Its roughly the same healing output but now you can’t even get as many off AND it still costs mana.
While Maelstrom as a Resource was uninspired feeling it created a feeling of order to your abilities and gave you something to build and use in several ways. I find myself, in the Alpha, with Maelstrom Weapon hoarding charges for if/when I need to heal because it does not feel valuable to spend on any of the damaging casting time spells. I feel my cooldowns are better spent on my other abilities. It honestly feels like a downgrade in so many ways to Maelstrom as a resource.
Its like Holy Power if you had no control over how to generate it AND if your spenders did the same damage or less than your builders output.
Also, while I know that someone will want to mention “Elemental Blast” for the secondary stat buff, it has a 12 second cooldown, gives you a random buff out of Crit, Haste, Mastery, and said buff is as strong as half a ring while ALSO doing less damage than Stormstrike and comparable damage to the other abilities.
Agian, Maelstrom Weapon does not feel rewarding as a builder/spender. It feels like going from an uninspired rage system to a worse uninspired and very random Holy Power system in its current state.
What I would like to see change
If the plan is to keep Maelstrom Weapon then I think the best way to improve it is if each stack also increased the damage and healing output of said spells per stack as well as being expanded to all cast time spells with a base cast time of less than 5-8 seconds so you could combo it with Stormkeeper or even use it as utility with Hex. Maybe even re-tool Elemental Blast to synergize with Maelstrom Weapon better.
When I build those Maelstrom Weapon stacks it should feel rewarding to use them on a spell. Simply reducing the cast time when the base spells are nothing impressive doesn’t make it feel good.
I really like HOW Windfury Totem functions, that its a flat buff now instead of a short duration weapon buff that gets re-applied. I like that it lasts for a full two minutes, that is a good duration. Windfury Totem is 80% good in my books.
What I do NOT like is its area of effect. To put it this way, Healing Stream Totem and Searing Totem both have a 40 yard range for their effects, Tremor Totem has a 30 yard range. Good, hefty, ranges.
Windfury Totem has a 12 yard range and because its no longer pulsing short duration buffs the moment you leave that range your buff is gone until you come back.
Now, a short range on a totem wasn’t as big of a deal in Vanilla and TBC because most encounters (from trash to bosses) were tank and spank. Modern WoW bosses on the other hand are far more active and involve far more movement! That 12 yards becomes very small very quickly leading to plenty of GCD’s being used to replace that totem because of how powerful it is for the group.
What I would like to see change
I don’t think it needs something absurd like a 30 or 40 yard range but I think it would be a lot nicer if the range could be bumped up slightly to make up for the modern World of Warcraft encounters having much higher mobility than older WoW encounters. There are far more ground effects, far more boss movement, that 12 yards become really small really fast. Please consider making the range of that totem just a bit bigger.
Now, this isn’t something new to Shadowlands and as far as I can tell nothing has change. However, I honestly am not a huge fan of Tremor Totem in its modern day iteration. Its duration is incredibly low, clocking in at 10 seconds, with a full 1 minute cooldown. It can not be cast while affected by any of those things either AND it is on the GCD which means you need to know exactly when that fear, charm, or sleep is coming paired with the quick, often instant, cast times of those effects and… well, I honestly just don’t like it and I feel like Shadowlands is an opportunity to make it better.
What I would like to see change
Honestly, the two things I would like to see change with Tremor Totem would be to take it off of the GCD and to make it castable while feared, charmed, or asleep.
I don’t think it should go back to its old school, 2 minute long, no cooldown, pulsing version. I just think that it could be made a bit more user friendly. My experience in BFA has been that a lot of those effects come so fast that you can easily find yourself GCD locked or honestly just caught off guard.
Number of Returning Totems/Empty Totem Bar
Another thing I am kind of bummed about is just how few totems are actually returning in Shadowlands. Where is my Strength of Earth or Stoneskin? Where is my Flametongue alternative to Searing Totem? What about Grace of Air to Windfury? How about Healing Stream vs Cleansing Totems?
I am honestly surprised just how few Totems are actually returning. When I first logged in and saw the Totem Bar I got excited! I mean, not too excited because I quickly found out its currently broken but still pretty excited! Then I discovered that there really aren’t any totems to put on there aside from Windfury. Searing and Healing Stream only last 15 seconds with 30 second CD’s and Windfury is the only 2 minute buff totem we have.
What I would like to see change
Bring back some more totems! Let me use the totem bar again, let me make different totem sets for different situations, let me place them all at once and let me recall/cancel them all at once by bringing back Totemic Recall!
Totems felt at their best, for me, when they all lasted around the same time and could be placed in groups via the Totem Bar or just get rid of the totem bar entirely. There is no reason to have it if we only have a single buff totem and the other totems are all super small duration totems.
Enhancement Shaman Survivability
So I have made mention to this in a few other sections of this thread but I feel it deserves its own section. Enhancement Shaman survivability feels really, really, REALLY bad compared to every other melee class in the game.
As I said in my introduction fluff post it was bad enough that I ended up switching to Fury Warrior. A class that does not have an on demand anytime heal and instead has to fight to heal just because Enhancement Shaman is miles behind every other Melee class when it comes to their survivability.
I honestly do not know what would “fix” it either, though the above suggested fix for Maelstrom Weapon would probably help it honestly just feels like Enhancement takes far too much damage.
To put it this way, out of all the classes I have played and do play Enhancement Shaman is the only one I find myself frequently having to rely on long cooldown abilities like Earth Elemental to survive just open world content at times because of the damage intake.
For wearing the second strongest armor type in the game it feels really bad just how frail I feel on my Shaman in both PvP and PvE. PvE group content isn’t too bad, having a healer helps and a lot of damage can be avoided, but solo PvE and PvP content is really rough.
Again, I do not know what would “fix” this or even know where to start with fixing this but I wanted to state my frustration. Out of every class I have played in BFA, and now from the looks of Shadowlands after messing around on another class on the Alpha, Enhancement Shaman are just very frail and squishy feeling and our recovery does not compensate all that well.
So, I have kind of covered what I like and what I don’t like but there is one more thing I really, REALLY, want to talk about that is very important to me and this honestly feels like the best, possibly only, chance I will get to bring up my personal desire to see this happen. I saved it for the end, best for last and all that, but it truly is something that is very important to me. Not because its game breaking, not because its a feature that I hate, but because I just would really enjoy it and because of how important this one is to me I am not going to collapse it like the others…
Two-Handed vs. Dual Wield
I know. I know this was only ever really a “thing” in Vanilla, that from TBC and onward it was not the intended way to play, however people still found ways to make it work all the way through MoP and only stopped when Stormstrike was changed to instead require having One-Handed weapons equipped.
However, I honestly feel it has a strong class fantasy to it that I never appreciated in my youth and one that I honestly long to see again. I won’t lie, I won’t sugar coat it, I certainly have nostalgia backing me up on this one however its something I would really like to see become a reality and I know I am not alone in this as its often brought up on the Shaman Class Forums.
Weapon Choice, for me, is one of the most enjoyable choices to make. I played a Frost DK in Mists of Pandaria for a while and can say that I LOVED having that choice of using a big Two-Handed weapon over Dual-Wielding. Yeah, once choice was always going to be slightly better than the other but it didn’t matter to me, it felt cool!
The different look between my fellow frost DK’s, the ever so slightly difference in rotation priority between Frost Strike or Obliterate depending on what you used, it was cool and I still think its cool.
The same with Single Minded Fury vs Titans Grip. I have always been a fan of the fantasy of wielding two MASSIVE Two-Handers, ever since playing Barbarian back in my D2 days. It just screamed brutal power to me and just added that little something to my character. Even now, hearing that Single Minded Fury could very likely return, I am very happy to see choice returning for those who want it. Its very important and helps make that class feel just that bit more unique to you. That you made it that much more your own knowing others took a different path.
Please, please, please… Please consider allowing Shaman the same opportunity and give some legitimacy to the idea of a Two-Handed Shaman. I know that Ion stated in the Slootbag Interview that it would be much more difficult than re-implementing Single Minded Fury or even Dual Wield vs Two-Handers for Frost DK’s and Monk’s. I know it would take some extra work, that there are hurdles to jump in terms of how weapon buffs would work, where would Lava Lash fit in, etc. however I truly believe its worth the time to give that option.
I don’t want to pretend I know what goes into itemization, I really don’t, so I don’t know just how much work goes into it but I do know that there was weapons in the game that can be either Strength or Agility or even Intellect based entirely upon who is wielding them and what spec they are. I don’t want to undermine the work that goes into making that possible, but couldn’t something like that be done with Two-Handed Axes and Maces? I know a lot of people mention itemization but I honestly feel like it could be done.
I know its extra work, and from the interview obviously not something that was ever planned, but its something I would truly love to see happen and I know there have been plenty of threads, tweets, and comments on the very topic.
Please consider letting Enhancement Shaman have the option of wielding Two-Handed weapons once more. Thank you for taking the time to read my post, I hope that my feedback can be of some value and I thank the team for all their hard work on the Shadowlands Expansion, especially during these hard times. From what I have experienced so far, Shadowlands has so much potential and looks like it is shaping up into being something truly spectacular.
Thank you for the opportunity to play test this Alpha and provide feedback on it as well as make my desires heard.
Edit: Fixed some typos