Feedback: Shamans

In this thread, we’ll be testing and talking about Shamans in The War Within. Look here for posts from the development team as adjustments and bugfixes are made throughout the testing period.

Please note that off-topic or inappropriate posts will be strictly removed.

The War Within Beta

All classes’ Hero Talent trees are available for testing. Please keep in mind that this is a Beta environment:

  • There may be UI elements on the talent panel that are placeholder, including things like talent icons, text, or final UI art.
  • Some talents may not be functioning yet, or may be marked as not yet implemented (NYI).
  • Some new spell visuals and audio may still be a work in progress.
  • There are some talents that are not fully tuned yet. This is expected, and we will implement tuning adjustments throughout testing.

The combat design team has two big areas of focus at this time:

  • Finish work on changes to talents, especially wherever Hero Talents still need adjustments.
  • Fix bugs that are blocking testing of new talents.

Working from Feedback

Alpha feedback thus far has been of great benefit to us.

Now that we are entering Beta, our focus on Hero Talent trees is shifting away from reworks and design changes and towards tuning and refining. We want to thank you so much for all the forum posts, videos, and discussions all over the internet. Your feedback and impressions have been invaluable for bringing their identities to life and making them fit into what you love about the classes you play.

We are looking forward to hearing from more of you as you get a chance to try Hero Talents for yourself. We are specifically interested in feedback or impressions on these topics:

  • Hero Talents that you feel are “required” for your spec in a type of content, such as raiding or Mythic+, or that push you towards picking a specific tree. This could be due to damage profile, utility, defensives, or something else.
  • Hero Talent trees that you feel are either too strong or too weak in power level compared to other options.
  • Hero Talents whose functionality is confusing, unclear, or difficult to track during gameplay.
  • Hero Talent choice nodes that you feel could offer more meaningful choices.

Again, Thank You

Feedback throughout the Alpha test was highly impactful on our design of the game, and we look forward to refining every class with you in the Beta. Thank you!

The World of Warcraft Combat Design Team

6 Likes

I would like to take a moment to discuss a few points pertaining to shaman development in the TWW alpha and how it fits with the design philosophy as stated by Blizzard.

First, I want to highlight a portion of Tier Set Bonus Reveal post that was shared earlier today. Near the very top of the post, when discussing the types of feedback that is most impactful, it says…

“Likely degenerate or unintended impacts on rotations, including:

  • Using single target abilities in AOE or vice versa
  • Being flooded with resources faster than they can be spent
  • Being encouraged to use core abilities repetitively, or not at all”

The current tier set bonus for Elemental Shaman in Dragonflight season 4 (and 3) breaks literally every single one of these rules. Lava burst, a purely single target ability, is used almost exclusively in every situation, no matter the target count. Our resource (maelstrom) is so worthless that it is oftentimes more important to ignore it entirely and continue casting lava burst. Most of our core spells such as lightning bolt, chain lightning, and even our spenders such as earthquake and elemental blast are irrelevant to our damage and are the lowest priority in the rotation in favor of just pressing a single button as often as possible (lava burst).

So why am I talking about Dragonflight Tier set design in regards to TWW alpha/beta? Because the Farseer hero talent tree is designed to mimic this tier set as much as possible and promote the same degenerate gameplay loop. So if these discussion points are undesirable when designing a Tier Set bonus, why are they perfectly fine to exist as the core mechanic for an entire specialization?

Going into TWW alpha cycle, Shaman felt like it was already an expansion behind most other classes, having received very few, if any, updates throughout the Dragonflight patch cycle. Now, coming out of the alpha period of TWW, Shaman somehow seems two expansions behind, as other classes like Mage and Warlock have received multiple iterations of their base kits and talent trees throughout both Dragonflight and the limited TWW testing period. Previously, the Hunter class was in a similar situation as us, but they had at least been receiving communication from the development team that… “changes were coming but slightly delayed”. Shaman have received no such communication, and with the announcement of major hunter changes coming in next week’s beta build, we are left as the odd ones out, having received almost 0 changes throughout alpha with 0 feedback from the development team.

Is the team happy with the current Shaman implementation? Do they feel like they nailed everything absolutely perfectly first try and no additional changes are needed? As things are right now, we’ve not had even a single bug fix, and the Stormbringer talent “Conductive Energy” is still not implemented, despite being made available nearly a month ago.

The overall lack of communication towards Shaman while other classes are receiving 4, 5, 6+ major updates every week with paragraphs of feedback and communication makes me feel like I am doing something wrong as a player for having picked the Shaman class.

111 Likes

Please provide an update on intention with the Shaman class as a whole. Feels bad seeing other classes get multiple iterations / passes while Shaman get left behind.

The class needs a look at its defensives. Versatility is currently saving us in group content, but one 90 second CD, one 5 minute CD that is mostly unplayable on trash in m+, and a reincarnation as our defensives leaves us with little option on our survivability.

The current ele. shaman tree heavily favors lava/fire focus with lightning builds only having one viable capstone that’s relevant on the spec tree and as we (potentially) move away from fire as the favored play style, our capstones aren’t going to be relevant.

We have a lower aoe target cap than most dps specs with a bit of a ramp up requirement into our rotation. Trying to compete with other classes that have higher (or uncapped) target count caps and / or that have a lower wind up makes the class feel sub-optimal to other range / range casters.

60 Likes

As usual blizzard, not a single shaman change or mention or anything. its been 14 years now.

So how about the community tries and helps again (probably ignore that as well)

Restoration;
Change spirit link from a totem to a instant cast the same as in warcraft 3, give it to all players within 40 yards, last 12 seconds, shares hp and has a 10% DR. 3min cd.
Change ancestral vigor so every heal provides a 10% max hp buff besides on healing rain, so every bounce of chain heal and every tick of riptide refreshes the buff.
Buff acid rain to do meaningful damage

Elemental;
change sky fury totem to give a chance for all spell casters to double cast within 40 yards of the totem, works the same as windfury
Remove AOE damage cap, no need for it as earthquake and earth shock dont do anywhere near good enough damage as a spender should and it is annoying to press them when you have high amount of haste

Enhancement;
change windfury totem to be 40 yards and effect the entire raid so all melee classes get it instead of a 4 man rogue stack in the same party.

Class trees;
remove all 2 point nodes - considering shaman has the HIGHEST number of 2 point nodes now. take them away because its beyond a joke.

Hero talents:
considering both elemental and enhancement have basically no hero talents for fire, either more changes need to be made in the hero talents to effect more abilities or there needs to be considerable changes to these spec trees to compensate for this.

27 Likes

How about realizing the talent node for Windfury is completely missing in the Beta for Enhancement. So can’t even play Enhancement with missing windfury weapon imbuement. How do you miss that from Alpha to Beta??

12 Likes

I would like to share some ideas on how to lean into shaman class fantasy as we move forward. I refuse to believe my class will not see any sort of iteration until launch.

I will describe myself as a shaman fanatic. I started playing this class in TBC and although I love my mage who is now my alt, I always find myself coming back to shaman because I truly enjoy the class fantasy.

This will be focused on elemental shaman since that is what speaks to me the most and is the spec I play the most.

a. Our elemental summons are really underused. In several of the raids in Dragonflight, we saw several elemental summons even one that was a boss. They had different abilities and sometimes cast these abilities on primalists to augment their powers. I would love to see some of the models and abilities experimented with. As it stands, elemental does not have any meaningful cooldowns perhaps you can create an option to allow us to lean into elemental summons or follow the path to ascendance with a new visual of course as petitioned in the previous alpha thread. I would also love for our mastery to scale with our elemental summons in a more direct way.

b. Lava burst usage creates division amongst us. Some players love the spam while others like myself like the wotlk / cataclysm version which hits like a truck but less frequently accessible. Perhaps we can find a way to allow both playstyle options? An idea I had was to allow a primordial surge like effect during our fire elemental summon.

c. Breath of Razageth. I keep going back to the incarnate’s fight and the hard hitting lighting breath she did throughout the fight and I can’t help but want something similar to replace that second stormkeeper charge we have as a capstone in our spec tree. I really expected to see incorporating the fantasy of the incarnates into our class. Shaman lack in earth theme magic augments. I am sure Iridikron can help us pull in that theme as well.

The purpose of this post is just to challenge the class developers to get creative and take risks. Shaman class fantasy is limitless and yet it is the least explored. If you hate all my ideas, that is okay. Show me how it done. The current state of shaman on beta is certainly not it.

21 Likes

Small wish, searing axe was a very cool ability in plunder storm and would fit very well as an enhancement shaman ability. I think it’d be really cool if it was implemented in some way (possibly as some kind of aoe cd perhaps)

5 Likes

404: Shaman not found.

I apologize in advance for this very, very long post.

As a long time WoW player that has mained shaman for the majority of my time, I have played through the many versions of resto (and sometimes ele) shaman. In all that time, I have seen very minimal iteration with the class, and even fewer amounts of communication regarding the goals and direction for the specs I play. With the announcement of Dragonflight and the stated design philosophy of more evergreen class design, I became optimistic that this would be the time shaman would receive innovation and iteration. I was hopeful that this design direction would open up playstyle choice and the integration of past, well received, spells and tier set bonuses. Unfortunately, throughout the Dragonflight Alpha and Beta, the shaman trees were changed very little.

During the course of the live version of Dragonflight, Blizzard started with the concept of reworks to classes and specs, and these reworks showed that the developers were finally in-tune with the playerbase, by providing detailed information regarding talent changes as well as making changes based on player feedback. This instilled a new hope that shaman would see some attention eventually, and that my voice (among many others) would be heard at last. There was a quick moment of excitement when shaman got a few talent tweaks in 10.0.7. This did positively affect the class and spec I played most, and it was great. Sadly, this would be short-lived as the same pain points reemerged, with the biggest pain points (in my opinion) being class/spec identity, lack of talent options and choice, and button bloat.

Beginning with class and spec identity, I am at a loss as to what makes each shaman spec unique when compared to other class specs within the same role. Often times, the utility a shaman would bring is brought by another class, and the other class’ version is far superior than the shaman version. A good example here would be druid’s Stampeding Roar and shaman’s Windrush Totem. Stampeding roar can be talented to have a shorter cooldown, has a base faster speed boost, and does not rely on positioning of a totem. Conflicts like these become compounded when class raid buffs are applied. Using druid again as an example, if a boss fight favored using run speed abilities, and there is a choice between shaman or druid, druid would always be the right choice. In this example, not only is their speed buff better than shaman, they also bring a necessary 3% buff to versatility.

Looking at broader utility, shaman used to be the only class that brought Bloodlust/Heroism to the group. The change to open this spell up to other classes was a good change, and I firmly believe that to still be true. Where this becomes a problem is when other classes are given the same ability, but also bring additional tools that shaman don’t have. An example here are mages. Mages cast Time Warp and bring Arcane Intellect. Additionally, mages have many personal defensives on top of an immunity. When considering a ranged DPS spot, if the choice was between a mage or an ele shaman, mages would win out every time. Ele shamans may have Bloodlust, but that is where the utility ends. Unfortunately, these are only a few examples regarding the lack of shaman identity, and sadly, there are more I could name.

Moving on to the next topic, I do feel that shaman suffers from a lack of talent options and choice. Being a class that offers a melee DPS spec, a ranged DPS spec, and a healer spec, I can understand the difficulty in creating a class tree that provides attractive options for all of those roles. In fact, the druid tree experiences this issue as well because of all the different roles a druid can play. With that in mind, druid has seen a lot of iteration and updates to their class tree to help provide clarity in the choices and the intentions behind them. Conversely, the shaman class tree has seen very little class tree adjustment in the same time frame. These lack of changes have caused me to almost never change the layout of my class tree because the other options are either not captivating enough to switch to, or require too much investment for the trade in points and/or lost abilities. To help illustrate my point, let’s look at the class tree through the lens of my setup for resto shaman.

When picking my points, I feel almost required to pick up every point on the left side of the tree. The only talent I actively avoid is Mana Spring. I avoid Mana Spring because the talent is very weak, and feels out of place near the very bottom of the tree (where more powerful spells/utility are found in other classes). Moving on to the middle of the tree, I only focus on talents that give me defense and affect my totem abilities. I never pick the middle capstone talent because there has never been a time where either totem can shine and provide meaningful impact. Additionally, even if I wanted to take one of these talents, I wouldn’t because of the overwhelming button bloat shaman has as a baseline. Finishing with the right side of the tree, chain lightning is chosen mostly because of the pathway to Brimming with Life and Nature’s Fury. The talents below those choices are more quality of life and feel better to take since all other choices feel weak or are so unimpactful, I could pick any random talent and not notice a difference.

My last issue with the class tree is regarding the capstone talents themselves. As far as a capstone talent goes, they should feel powerful, but none of these feel worthy of their placement. Starting from left to right, Nature’s Swiftness is not a powerful, nor class defining spell. I don’t feel uniquely shaman or powerful with it talented. This spell is something I use on CD with no thought regarding its useage. I use it mostly to give me a free chain heal cast and then do it again 1 minute later. Interestingly, resto druid’s have a spell with the same exact name, an additional talent to lower its cooldown, and is at the top of their spec tree. Based on the placement of this spell in both trees and the near exact nature of what the spell does, it feels like shaman have to invest way more to get something druid’s have to invest so little for. The spell serves the same purpose in both trees, and is not a powerful, class defining spell in either.

Next on the capstone list is the talent choice of Stoneskin Totem and Tranquil Air Totem. As capstone spells, there is an expectation that these effects feel powerful, and yet, neither of them are. There could be an argument made for Stoneskin Totem because of the damage reduction, but this reduction is so minimal, requires constant upkeep, and no way to feel/show that it had any impact at all. Even with using logs, there is no definitive way to determine how much it was able to contribute to the increased chance of survival. Compare it to Tranquil Air Totem and I don’t know if this totem has ever been picked…ever. Outside of PVP uses (which I believe it’s not useful there, either), it has zero benefit to a PVE focused player. As far as capstones go, these can be removed and I would never notice them gone.

As for the last capstone talent, Totemic Reach and it’s upgrade talent, this capstone can be considered somewhat capstone worthy. It does have uses (mainly for resto shaman) and can directly impact throughput. My only issue with this capstone is something I have mentioned before, button bloat. There are just too many buttons!

Up next on my agenda are my feelings of lack of playstyle choice and options. For this section, I am going to focus on resto shaman as that is my main spec for WoW. The resto shaman tree is a bit of a chaotic mess that is akin to a college student that “hasn’t yet found themself”. From my perspective, shaman appears to be struggling with deciding which playstyles to support. From what I can see, it looks like there are two playstyle choice paths. One path is focused more on strengthening Riptide and spread/cleave healing with Primordial Wave/Healing Wave, and the other path focused on upgrading Chain Heal and tight group healing. Sadly, neither one of these playstyles have a cohesive path in our tree. With Chain Heal and Riptide talents spreadout through the tree, it feels very disjointed to try and build either playstyle without spending way too much on spells that feel useless for either spell or just feel too filler they aren’t noticed.

Another issue that is presented in the spec tree revolves around the actual choices themselves and what they bring to the spec. Right now, I don’t see a point in ever choosing Primal Tide Core, Wellspring, Downpour and Earthliving Weapon. The technical issues with these spells are many, but my top reasons are focused around how the spells feel weak for the investment, sometimes add more button bloat, and/or don’t have any spec gameplay loops that feel like they belong. Wellspring is an example of a spell that felt good to use, but had no spec gameplay loop, and was just another spell added to a stuffed hotbar. When looking at Downpour, Downpour just feels like a burstier Healing Rain, but with none of Healing Rain’s benefits, and just another spell to add to button bloat. Primal Tide Core is a passive choice, which I appreciate, but powerwise, can’t compete with High Tide due to how focused on Chain Heal we are. Earthliving, on the other hand, requires way too many points for it’s power gain. ELW would do better if we spot healed more, but with the over abundance of chain heal casts, and how bursty healing is in Dragonflight, there is little to no true value here. As a side note, while we do cast a lot of chain heals, I am still very much a chain heal enjoyer and am happy it has returned to prominence in our toolkit.

When looking at available spell choice options, I am disheartened at the spell selection that is available to us. My biggest frustration centers around a spell that I have never enjoyed using since its inception, and how forced I feel to use it now. The spell in question is Primordial Wave. Through all of Dragonflight, almost every tier set has highly encouraged the use of Primordial Wave because the sets were very focused on Riptide. Even in the chain heal setup, Primordial Wave is taken because it requires less points to be able to pick up the bottom chain heal talents and still get a third capstone. Even if you don’t use the spell effectively, you still want to press it because it is just an extra charge of Riptide on a longer cooldown, with an additional button to add to the bloat. Seeing as I have not then, and still don’t like this spell now, I would prefer there be a way to path around it while still being able to get the chain heal talents and 3 capstones, or by providing an attractive alternative choice that I would find more enjoyable. Ideally, this choice would be Chain Harvest and the upgrading talents to allow it to work similiarly like it did in Shadowlands with legendaries. This would make me, and at least one other person, very happy.

And finally, we get to button bloat. The term says it all. The button bloat in the game as a whole has steadily increased, with resto shamans feeling some of the worst of it. With so many options available in both our class and spec tree that can take up keybind space, I just don’t have enough fingers and the brain power to use them all. Between the class and the spec tree, there is just too much. I desperately feel that a reduction is needed for both my accessibility but also reducing cognitive load. As I have seen with other classes recently, shaman can benefit greatly from the merging of multiple talents that affect the same spell, or by removing talents and adding their effects to the base spell themselves. A few examples from my point of view are:

Class Tree Talents

Totemic Projection
Totemic Projection is a spell that should just be baseline for most totems. Similiar to how Vesper Totem worked, during the duration of the totem, you should be able to click the same totem button to reposition the totem. This would help remove friction for when a tank pulls away from Spirit Link Totem, or Earthen Wall Totem needs reposition because of a random boss mechanic. The talent itself can even remain in the tree, and just “upgrade” the totems it effects.

Earth Shield
This is more of an issue with the amount of buttons required to press per minute, but when Elemental Orbit is talented, it would be a great QoL to have Earth Shield also applied to the shaman if Earth Shield was cast on a friendly player. Many times throughout Dragonflight there have been raid fights that used Earth Shield charges very quickly, and having to reapply it to myself and my target becomes too much when trying to heal with my other spells.

Spec Tree Talents

Stormkeeper
For resto shaman, this is a spell that I would like to see made passive, similiar to how the ele tier set worked. Every x amount of time, lightning bolt or chain lightning are instant cast, and deal more damage. I think this would be a good way to reduce button bloat, but also provide a little more damage that resto can use when able.

Unleash Life
Unleash Life has never been a satisfying spell for me to use, and I actively avoid taking it as much as possible (both because I don’t like what it does, and because it contributes to button bloat). When I do feel compelled to take the spell, I mainly use it to buff Chain Heal during high tide, and no other thought is put in to the use. Rarely do I use it for anything else, and if I were to, I just wish that power was baked in to the base spell itself. This is a spell that I would like to throw away and either provide talents to upgrade the spells it would affect, or just add the upgrades to the base spell. The focus of this spell in the Farseer hero spec has turned me off from ever wanting to try Farseer at this time.

Downpour
As a spell on its own, I like what Downpour does. As a spell in practicality, it feels very close to Healing Rain, and doesn’t get any of the benefits Healing Rain does. I would like to see this talent made passive, and allow Healing Rain to upgrade to Downpour, with all of the same upgrades that Healing Rain gets. For Acid Rain, it could do all its damage upfront rather than over time. Also, since this spell becomes another active button, it also can contribute to button bloat.

Ascendance
In my opinion, Ascendance and Ancestral Guidance are very similiar. Ancestral Guidance spreads healing to a limited amount of targets (with a healing cap) where as Ascendance does the same, but for an unlimited amount of targets (with no healing cap). I would like to see the spells merged, and lower the cooldown (and power) so that shaman still has a strong, short healing CD, but not the need for 2 spells that do almost the same thing.

Conclusion
If you have made it this far, I appreciate the time you have taken to read through my thoughts and opinions. I have to be honest and mention that as a shaman player, it does feel like our class feedback goes ignored, and there is no open line of communication regarding design direction. I hope that it is still early enough in the Beta that changes to shaman can still be realized, and that I can have something to add to the excitement for TWW. I see all the exciting, and positive changes to the other classes and specs, and I want to be able to feel the same way about my own.

Special Request
Please, please, please update shaman spell animations. Ascendance is still using a model from Cataclysm, despite much cooler elemental forms being added to the game since then. Wellspring can also use a glow up, to make it more noticeable and visually exciting. There are others that could use it, too, but these two are the most important for me right now.

48 Likes

FARSEER ELEMENTAL

Suggestion 1: Primordial Capacity - Removed and replace with Latent Wisdom.
Reason 1: Latent Wisdom is too generic to be considered a quality choice node
Reason 2: An extra 25 to Maelstrom Capacity does not provide any improvement in gameplay considering Swelling Maelstrom exists on the tree.

Suggestion 2: Ancient Fellowship and Heed My Call should be the choice node pair.
Reason 1: Better choice dynamic. Longer duration for consistency, or proc chance for potential greater dps.

Suggestion 3: Routine Communication should be on a node on it’s own, plays well into the theme and offers a better gameplay loop in proccing ancestor’s during normal spell casting.

Conclusion:

  1. Latent Wisdom replaces Primordial Capacity
  2. Heed My Call and Ancient Fellowship become the 2 choice nodes.
  3. Routine Communication becomes a node on it’s own.

Would make Farseer play a lot better and actually have proper synergy within itself.

8 Likes

New ascendance model please. It feels updated

21 Likes

Hey there gang - Rusah, myself and Surge have put together some targeted feedback for Shaman - if you don’t know us we’ve been doing a lot of the theorycraft work on Enhancement for a long time at this point. I want to personally apologise for hijacking the thread with this, cos there’s 3 long back to back posts. A lot of this is Enhancement related, but some of it is universal.

Since it’s Beta now and the Alpha thread was deleted very briefly after this went up, going to start by reposting our spec tree notes.

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Enhancement launched in Dragonflight in an extremely strong state in terms of design and engagement - much of the design goals intended for the talent tree system were highlighted to great effect with our specialization tree. Overall, we strongly feel that Dragonflight was a slam dunk for Enhancement in terms of performance, gameplay, community recognition and most of all being incredibly fun to play. Unfortunately, looking ahead at The War Within we are seeing an unprecedented increase in choice, flexibility and fantasy which leaves our more rigid structure looking outdated, alongside some dated animations to boot.

Now is the perfect time to perform some critical updates that are necessary to address these core issues, and time is of the essence due to Shaman updates appearing much later in this alpha cycle. We’d like to see updates to the Enhancement tree in a sensible, but simple way by reusing existing talents and interactions in new exciting ways. We feel that it is best to get the bulk of the updates handled in one fell swoop rather than slower, per-patch iterative bandaids that result in an overall costlier and worse experience for players.

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Between improving combat variety, reducing the excessive talent point “tax” and increasing build flexibility, there’s a lot of specific ideas we have and to put it as broadly as possible, here’s a list of things we’re going to discuss in more detail:

  • Move critical combat pacing talents like Elemental Assault and Ashen Catalyst to be available sooner.
  • Reduce the amount of 2 points nodes in the tree
    • Split “dual function” talents into equal 1 pointers
    • Rebalance 2 point pathing nodes into 1 pointers
  • Add follow-up / combat flow customizing talents to the following nodes:
    • Doom Winds, Sundering / Lashing Flames, Witch Doctor’s Ancestry
  • Improve Specialization specific survivability
    • Feral Lunge baseline
    • Refreshing Waters & Focusing Insight
    • Addition of competitive defensive option
  • Windfury Totem Quality of Life Improvement
    • Only spec taxed a talent point to bring group utility
    • Bring the Totemic hero tree “baselining” effect directly to Windfury Weapon
  • Spec tree impact on Hero talents

‎ ‎

First, we need to discuss some “lessons learned”, or design issues we witnessed throughout the expansion and during the TWW alpha. Currently, Enhancement is designed to exist in a point of enforced tension via point constraints, and that’s left us in a place where we often spend a lot for very little. If this were adjusted down, there would be much more room to expand on specific parts of the toolkit with new takes on old effects, and really double down on some of our core fantasy.

Notably, the current level 70 Dragonflight experience masks some critical issues that are present in both TWW hero trees and the traditional leveling experience as we had a recent opportunity to witness with the Mists of Pandaria Remix event. These aren’t issues that are so bad that the spec is fundamentally flawed, and could mostly be alleviated with some adjustments to our existing talent tree structure to futureproof our gameplay, which we’ll outline below:

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Improvements to Elemental Assault in patch 10.2 and the introduction of Ice Strike and Swirling Maelstrom added something largely missing from the Shadowlands formula - predictable resource generation. As much of our generation relies on a complicated set of interactions that result in heavy momentum based gameplay, introducing more “floor” generation greatly improves the entire experience without compromising how the spec works. The issue here is that it’s become such a pivotal part of the flow for all builds that both being granted below the 20 line and costing 2 talent points results in spending precious final points on gameplay flow talents instead of cool capstones and heavily restricts build flexibility. Elemental Assault currently also comes way too late to help the leveling experience. Leveling in MoP remix without Elemental Assault generally feels frustrating with a hotbar full of abilities but nothing available to press since we simply don’t have the stats to support Maelstrom Weapon generation without a full talent tree

Basically, now that there is a small amount of predictability injected into our otherwise heavily randomized resource generation it should become a pivotal facet of the Enhancement Shaman kit. We would like to see Elemental Assault move above the 20 talent point line, only cost 1 point but lose its Stormstrike amplification effect as a reasonable compromise.

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The issue of Elemental Assault costing 2 (very expensive!) talent points leads into another critical issue, that being the sheer amount of 2-point nodes. These are largely pathing and gating nodes that stretch our builds thin and more specifically, cause compatibility issues with the new Hero Talent Trees.

Several 2 point nodes have a dual functionality - using Static Accumulation as an example, for each talent point you’re essentially getting two half talents at once. Each point grants 10% chance to refund Maelstrom Weapon and passive Maelstrom Weapon generation while Ascendance is active. Nearly all of our 2 pointers designed in this fashion could simply be split by their functionality into separate talents. For example, Legacy of the Frost Witch could be 2 talents, one for the Stormstrike reset effect (ideally just a Stormbringer proc!) and the other a physical/frost damage increase. If you spend 1 point on each talent (for 2 total) you result in the same value as before, but expand build flexibility for free. Builds that don’t focus on Stormstrike may still want access to a frost damage increase and can add it in while avoiding something they don’t care for

Talents that we feel could be split in this fashion include Static Accumulation, Legacy of the Frost Witch, Elemental Assault and Witch Doctor’s Ancestry (with Witch Doctor becoming a choice node instead). That we spend so many points on 2 point nodes below the 20 line (6 points total!) on every build permutation greatly restricts our ability to truly customize your combat flow. Really, we really just want the ability to choose which “dual effect” on these talents we want without being mandated to take both for 2 points.

Our remaining 2 point nodes include Hot Hand (which is probably fine staying 2 points, but can be addressed by moving it) Improved Maelstrom Weapon and Molten Assault. These talents are prohibitively large “tax” to talent point pathing and restrict builds far too much considering how vital they are for the spec to operate.

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An “Island” talent is one that we’ve identified as a one point talent that has no follow up talents or direct modifications that is expected to justify its worth on its own. Two key talents that fit this description are Doom Winds and Sundering, which both exist in a strong fantasy space but have come up short from their potential. Addressing this with interesting follow-up talents rather than simply buffing them keeps them from becoming too strong for a single point investment, while letting them fill out the space left behind from reducing mandatory point taxes on the tree, as discussed in the previous section.

Alongside these two, both Witch Doctor’s Ancestry and Lashing Flames could stand to have alternative choices due to their overwhelming influence on the flow of combat when taken. Witch Doctor’s Ancestry is an excellent talent, but demands a heavy GCD investment and an increase to complexity in moment to moment decision making. Lashing Flames on the other hand is a remarkably high skill AoE delivery tool that often turns players away from certain builds or interacting with the talent entirely. Both of these talents would benefit greatly from choice nodes that provide a way for players to more flexibly choose where the complexity in their gameplay lies.

Finally, with talents moving around and less 2-pointers cluttering the tree there’s some open space to add additional talents to the post-20 section of the tree that ought to serve as a thematic and mechanical bridge between Primordial Wave and the “storm” portion of the talent tree.

The Enhancement tree contains 4 utility nodes within it, 3 of which are basically never taken due to a lack of competitive strength to actual performance with the last being Windfury Totem (which will be discussed second).

Starting with Feral Lunge, while it was popular in Legion and still effective in PvP, it simply has no justifiable way of competing against performance talents outside of remarkably specific scenarios (Mythic Raszageth). While we’re trying to avoid “whataboutisms”, this is very much the same situation as Flying Serpent Kick for Windwalker - it stands to be baselined as it’s just wasting space. Adding on to that is Focused Insight and Refreshing Waters which could be desirable talents in the class tree, but are laughably out of place in our spec tree. Spending a talent point on either of these options has some very minor merit during leveling but would simply find a better home in the class tree.

As far as defensive utility in the tree goes, if much of our talent point economy problems were eased then there would certainly be room or even desire to pick up a defensive talent if it was actually good enough to consider taking - but our existing options simply don’t fit the bill. We would even encourage condensing an important 2 point node (like something in the Improved/Raging Maelstrom Weapon area) and gating it behind a mandatory (desirable) defensive node to result in a similar 2 point cost. This could mirror the design made for the Havoc/Feral trees and a possible area to focus on that has seen little support could be Lightning Shield.

This is the final talent point that really concerns us. There isn’t a single other specialization in the game that is taxed a talent point to bring damage related raid or party utility. As a result, Enhancement just has one talent point less than any other DPS, and we’re often not even the biggest recipient of its value in a party! If Windfury Totem was so iconic to bring back in Shadowlands and keep it around for another 2 expansions AND make an entire hero tree around it then it just simply shouldn’t cost a specialization talent point anymore.

We’d really love to see the effect that Surging Totem in the Totemic Hero Tree has by tying the Windfury Totem aura to Windfury Weapon just rolled baseline into Windfury Weapon. It was definitely identified as a large quality of life improvement for the Totemic Hero Tree and we feel that point in particular is a critical failure point in the cost requirements when building around it.

The new talent system attempted to set a paradigm for each of its class and specialization trees - that each tree would allow for flexibility with choice but still introduced some expected “paths” that resulted in a satisfying level of tension and trade-offs. Enhancement embodies this design better than most but it hasn’t gone without notice that the strict adherence to this pattern is going to result in a leash instead of wings in The War Within. Each specialization that has been reworked during Dragonflight and TWW alpha so far has seen an unprecedented level of choice, flexibility and fantasy.

Dragonflight’s greatest success for Enhancement was creating an environment that was more of a framework, enabling different themes to focus around which element or playstyle suited you the most. No other spec managed to achieve harmony in builds like we did, and even that is extremely thematic in itself and we’d love to see that stay - ideally in tandem with hero talents to support that goal. The vast majority of key feedback provided here are not brand new talents or overhauls, just a restructuring and a few on-brand callbacks to solidify that. As a small visual aid we have a sample tree (ignoring what the icons relate to) as to the kind of structure we’re looking for in future:

https://i.imgur.com/Ury1ggk.jpg
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When announced, the Shaman class tree was met with equal parts confusion and excitement - confusion in that its format didn’t match other classes along with excitement for what looked like an exclusively utility-first approach that seemed to match the intended design goals for Dragonflight. This closely mirrors our specialization trees with tighter and more directed pathing along with real tradeoffs and opportunity costs awaiting your choices. However, as the DF beta continued on and into launch much of this excitement faded away due to a lack of iteration leading to lackluster choices and areas of the tree. Over time this has turned into dread and resentment for our class tree as an entire expansion’s worth of retrospection has shown it to be shallow, weak and unimpactful.

Much like the spec tree, there’s some key points we’ll be going into below. The core thrust of the feedback is as follows:

  • Lack of choice - while the tree feels open, nothing that we pick up really matters
  • Defensive design - currently we feel at odds with the game systems and lack the tools to deal with very commonly asked questions in encounters
  • Tree Power & Point Economy - we have an extreme lack of power both in terms of throughput and meaningful tools. This links back to the choice issue - there’s no friction or excitement to be found on the tree.
  • Totems - they take up an overwhelming amount of the tree without being exciting, if they’re going to take up that much space lean into it and make them impactful.
  • Sub 20/Capstone Area - the area of the tree that’s intended to hold the most powerful tools currently houses some of the least impactful talents on the tree.

For a talent tree with very few performance nodes in it, the claim of a lack of choice is bold - if there’s so much freedom then how can there be so little choice? The problem here is that wide swathes of the class tree are full of filler, and is typically (depending on the DPS or Restoration perspective) completely irrelevant to your chosen role. We’ll go into more detail about which nodes apply here, but the reality is it is most of them. Simply as a thought experiment, a DPS Shaman could limit themselves to 8-10 points in the class tree and it wouldn’t impact their play experience in the slightest. When the tree is lacking useful, interesting or even just situationally powerful utility, there’s no friction pushing you to make meaningful choices - the only reason you actually take 31 points is because the game requires you to in order to save your loadout.

Having a class tree filled with these kinds of irrelevant nodes is technically the Swiss Army Knife it looks like - sure, it has a blade or two that you’re always going to need, but the rest is just 20 toothpicks. You might get food stuck in your teeth once in a while and it’s great to have one but you can live without it, you certainly don’t need 20, and it would be really nice to have a can opener or a corkscrew right now instead.

For many expansions now the stated design goal for Shamans is to be heavy on self healing with some party supportive healing. This partially worked in the past but is now a severe weakness without much payoff since the introduction of Mythic+. With the introduction of infinite scaling systems the primary concern Shamans have to deal with is actually surviving incoming damage without relying on party members. It doesn’t matter how much we’re able to heal if we are not able to reliably live through damage patterns other classes have the tools to handle.

Evidence of this is shown on various M+ aggregation ranking sites and noting a pattern of DPS Shaman exclusion in top level keys. The official Blizzard Mythic Dungeon International is another source - the inclusion of Elemental and especially Enhancement Shamans is exceptionally low - never seeing widespread adoption in any season. This isn’t for a lack of offensive utility as Shamans do have a variety of tools to control enemy packs, instead historically resting on that same lack of survivability. This is a stark departure from our MoP/WoD days where the class had a lot of passive and active defensive tools along with a suite of self healing (at a cost).

To top it all off, mid-Dragonflight reworks that resulted in re-scaling healing against player health pools in an attempt to curb off-healing potential hit DPS shamans harder than everyone else. While every other hybrid healer shares their primary healing spells with their healing counterpart, Shamans do not and were left out of compensatory buffs to those baseline effects. Enhancement can at least rely on Maelstrom Weapon to get a burst of healing (at the cost of an incredibly high amount of damage relative to other hybrids), Elemental Shamans are not so lucky, being left to spam weak Healing Surges.

As a result, this design of lower active/passive defense paired with mostly active self-healing potential is simply outdated. In the current landscape this feels like an overwhelming power creep with Shamans left out, leaving us in a bad place. Barring a sweeping, universal redesign to endgame systems, as it stands Shaman will always have the looming threat of being pushed out of competitive group content due to this achilles heel.

Overall, Shaman class talents can be described as “thematic, but weak, too specific or non-applicable”. The weak talents can be further lumped into 2 categories, those that are inefficient for point cost in relation to other specializations, and talent designs that were never very effective to begin with.

This is where the bulk of the comparisons to other specializations in this feedback will be made and just like in our Enhancement feedback we dislike making “whataboutisms” but the disparity is far too blatant to not bring up here. Nearly every single one of our stat based or passive defensive / offensive talents can be directly compared to a talent node in another class tree that is simply better or more point efficient. To note, these are obviously not 1:1 situations and some classes have a reason for their node economy, but the frequency of these comparisons is alarming. Using a few of our nodes as specific examples:

CD based Healing utility

  • Healing Stream
    • 451% sp baseline to allies, talentable to up to 810%, 30s CD
      • Slow trickle healing, no guarantee it even heals the caster, no DPS kickback
  • Emerald Blossom (Evoker)
    • 450% sp baseline to 3 allies, talentable up to 1000% sp, 30s CD
      • Burst healing, 400% sp self heal, can talent into Living Flame DPS increase

Passive Crit %

  • Nature’s Fury
    • 2% critical strike chance to Nature abilities only (2 points)
  • Keen Eyesight (Hunter)
    • 2% critical strike chance (2 points)
  • Lycara’s Teachings (Feral Druid)
    • 3% critical strike chance (2 points)
  • Holy Aegis (Paladin)
    • 2% critical strike chance and 2% armor (2 points)

Passive Defensives

  • Elemental Warding
    • 3% magic damage reduction (2 points)
  • Thick Hide (Druid)
    • 4% all damage reduction (1 point)
  • Illidari Knowledge (Demon Hunter)
    • 5% magic damage reduction (1 point)

These examples just go on and on - the more you look at other class trees in the game, it’s deflating that the Shaman tree tends to contain weaker, less efficient and more restrictive versions of talents that other classes have.

On the other side of our weak talents are those that have suffered from their design falling out of favor, or never really hitting the mark to begin with. Some of these include Spirit Wolf (which ought to reverse its buff patterns - giving high defense up front tapering off into high speed over time), Chain Heal (for DPS shaman this doesn’t provide impactful off-healing relative to some hybrid specs passive healing without significant GCD/resource investment) and the vast majority of totem nodes in the talent tree.

Very few people have problems with the fantasy or theming of totems in general, us included; instead, we have issues with the viability of the totems available to us. By default, Totems are nearly always a weaker delivery system than just simple targeted spell casts as they often have delays, health pools and (at least in the past) have commonly run into mechanical or very old game-technical limitations. To compensate for an unwieldy cast type, Totems should provide impactful and interesting moments when cast, especially given the amount of talent nodes in the tree dedicated to them. Roughly 25% of the talent tree is made up of totems or totem related passives along with 50% (!) of the points below the 20 point line.

Some of our totems are fine and require no real changes - like Capacitor/Wind Rush (despite being weaker versions of other class stuns or AoE sprints) while other totems remain situational but strong when used such as Tremor/Poison Cleansing. These aren’t really problematic due to the variety, but they could really do with some dual functionality and flexibility to make them more enticing without relying on the encounter team enabling them. The remaining totems are far too situational or weak - Healing Stream, Earthgrab, Stoneskin and worst of all, Tranquil Air. These totems are rarely taken and even rarer still used as they provide effects that barely justify the GCD cost. To cap it off there’s 7 talent nodes spanning 10 total points related to lightly supporting totems. These include effects like a radius increase, duration increase, CDR, and a cooldown reset. In case it comes up too, with the current design of Totemic, Surging Totem does little to nothing to make these any more desirable than they currently are.

This is where this feedback diverges a bit - Restoration Shamans may actually care about some of these totem passives due to Cloudburst/Healing Stream Totem being a core tool - but that begs the question that if Restoration is the only one with such a focus, why is this a shared design space? The Restoration spec tree contains 6 unique cooldown based totems each with viable use cases that actually have powerful and impactful effects while Elemental has 1 (Liquid Magma) with Enhancement containing zero (Windfury Totem only interacts with the radius increase). Considering this disparity, why is so much of the tree dedicated to supporting something two specs care little for rather than shared themes such as Shields, Weapon Imbues and Shocks?

What hurts the most is that there are some interesting utility totems, they’re just on the PvP tree. Static Field and Grounding Totem would both see consistent raid and dungeon usage if placed in the PvE class tree instead. The lowest possible hanging fruit includes replacing Tranquil Air with Static Field and giving Stoneskin meaningful power as a capstone talent rather than the niche space it exists in.

Unlike many hybrid role spec trees (aside from Druids), several sections of our class tree are functionally limited to one spec only. Examples include Maelstrom Weapon and Flurry which are never useful for Ele/Restoration, the Spiritwalker’s Grace to Nature’s Swiftness section never being useful to Enhancement and the Totemic Recall related talents also never being useful for Enhancement. Talents like this really ought to be baselined for those specs or broaden their impact to other specs. Nature’s Swiftness, for example, could instead grant 5 (or more) stacks of Maelstrom Weapon which Restoration and Elemental would benefit from while making the ability at least useful to Enhancement. Spiritwalker’s Grace could also increase melee attack range while active or grant periodic maelstrom weapon stack generation for its duration. The Maelstrom Weapon and Flurry nodes really ought to be Enhancement baseline due to their conflict with Resto/Ele gameplay goals.

Our sub-20 and capstone nodes are extremely underwhelming and need a lot of work. As mentioned before, totem related talents represent 50% of the total points below the 20 line that Enhancement and Elemental are not enticed by. The capstones themselves are especially uninspiring when compared to powerful effects granted to other classes in their trees. Totemic Recall is incredibly situational (and using it more often doesn’t help that), Stoneskin/Tranquil Air totems are exceedingly weak and Nature’s Swiftness does nothing for Enhancement. Simply put, there’s absolutely nothing on the bottom row that we’re excited about picking up.

It’s not uncommon to see DPS talent builds that put 2 or less points below the 20 line with a majority of points landing in pathing nodes, mandatory utility or defensive abilities generally granted to other specializations baseline. The entire bottom section of the tree needs a comprehensive and major overhaul - with the Totem specific effects lumped together to make the point cost seem more reasonable. We want to have a reason to get to the bottom of the tree where “the good stuff” is, but right now, we can’t find that there, nor can we really find it elsewhere on the tree either.

With how bloated and yet at the same time empty as our class tree is, it is reasonable to ask what alternatives could replace the weaker sections of the tree. Some possible thematic areas left unexplored include focusing on abilities that all specializations actively utilize, notably Elemental Shields, Weapon Imbues, Shocks, Bloodlust/Heroism or previous expansion raid abilities like Stormlash.

While we believe that the active and passive defensive ability of Shamans should increase, we do also recognize the fantasy and theming around retaining self healing potential. Powerful self-healing survivability tools ought to exist below the 20 line as the opportunity cost to take utility options elsewhere, tacked on to our existing abilities. This could come in the form of adding more powerful shield related talents, tacking defensive effects onto casting shocks, granting more powerful access to new hybrid weapon imbue types. There’s even opportunities to merge many of these effects together with older concepts like Static Shock causing shock casts to discharge your current active shields with some kind of benefit. Finally, considering how often we’re cited as a class that historically brought supportive effects, it would be nice to have tools outside of Ancestral Guidance/Wind Rush that meaningfully benefit our group.

While DPS and Restoration Shamans each utilize the Shaman class tree in different ways, all can agree that the tree feels restrictive, lacking in choice and is generally a hollow experience to navigate. It’s very telling that while DPS Shamans complain about not having enough things to put points into, Restoration usually has issues with having to give up major tools to remain functional. If the tree is going to remain utility focused with a very light impact on direct DPS or healing performance, then make that utility matter instead of bloating the tree. Utilize parts of the class that are barely represented here, and make us care about this half of our character’s tree. As it stands right now from an Enhancement perspective, the class tree is a chore to fill out when setting up a build rather than a key part of my loadout, and that’s just not very exciting for a core system.

To tack onto this, we also would love to see updates to many of the aging Shaman visuals. Dragonflight introduced an incredible amount of great art and special effects that we’d like to see re-purposed in The War Within - most people would agree that some of our spell, particle and audio effects are sorely due for modernizing. Enhancement in particular engages in a complicated dance of abilities and effects that have little visual fidelity. Several of our abilities like Ice Strike, Frost Shock and Doom Winds have little to no spell effects whatsoever while Doom Winds manages to go complete stealth mode while also having no audio cues. For a specific example, take Ascendance, a dated model from Bastion of Twilight that feels old and out of place. Dragonflight introduced Dathea, Ascended which is much more striking, modern and appropriate without removing your own character from the field:

https://i.imgur.com/QMwFlMo.jpg

There were hundreds, if not thousands of new elemental themed abilities and effects from the Primalists that could be drawn from for reuse. Much of this expansion stung for Shamans from a thematic perspective - raids, dragons and wyrms all based on the elements and very little Shaman tie-ins felt like a lot like missed opportunities. Much like many resources being pulled from Cataclysm for Mists of Pandaria updates, we’d love it if Dragonflight assets were pulled forward and re-used for all Shamans.

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And last, but certainly not least then I’ll get out of your hair I promise:

As I’m sure you and anyone who plays Enhancement is aware, Dragonflight created a split in builds between the “Elementalist” loadout (focusing on spells and element weaving) and “Storm” (focusing on Stormstrike and lightning finishers). Right now, one of the hero trees in question heavily leans into one of these archetypes, while the other has a partial leaning but some clear cut issues fitting into it. If the intended goal is to split builds down the middle in this way (which I think is for the best, personally), it would be nice to know that going forward to formulate ongoing feedback about their design and tuning. If they’re supposed to equally support the entire tree, then there are significantly larger and more complex issues at play here that I’ll avoid going into so as to not get bogged down.

Overall tree design is good. Very focused on Maelstrom Weapon generation/expenditure, addition is impactful and suits the goals (and even elevates in some places) that Storm plays for. A few key points I picked up on while playing this a lot:

  • Lack of choice nodes - minimum on every other hero tree is 3, with a maximum of 5, while Stormbringer only has 2. Definitely space to add more.
  • Lack of UI support - with no way of telling how close you are to your next Tempest or Awakening Storms trigger, it’s really difficult to keep track of where you are in your current cycle naturally without using external tools.
  • Tempest waste - since the activator for both the keystone and capstone can come from the same spells, there being no redundancy can feel terrible when a double proc happens out of your control. This leads to wasting a Tempest and considering there’s so much weighted into these casts, it would be nice to have it either auto-fire or bank charges if possible. This (partially) extends to Arc Discharge stacks too which can cause decision paralysis.
  • Arc Discharge / Storm Swell - choice node with a double failure condition (picked the wrong talent, didn’t meet the target requirements) feels redundant. Could easily be merged or allow for a choice between which one you want to favor more, as this leads to bad feelings one way or another. Need to be very careful about Arc Discharge activation in single target as well, so I understand the design choice.
  • Tempest Frequency - this is really good, but it feels extremely bad to get started initially on pull/first pack. This is a mix of slow momentum as we get started paired with the buff being temporary - it would be nice to have a node that gives burst activation on combat entry or make the buff permanent so we can carry it between packs/during boss RP.
  • Shocking Grasp - always-on slows that are also somewhat unreliable almost always feel bad, and having no way to turn this off while playing Stormbringer is a potential headache that could easily be avoided with a choice node here.
  • Nature’s Protection / Surging Currents - Nature’s Protection uptime is sporadic, and may potentially lead to holding momentum to use the defensive. Not terrible, but extra duration might be worthwhile. Surging Currents is largely redundant considering Maelstrom Weapon exists, unless it could supercede the spend process to avoid using resource on healing (which would be nice).

Tying in with the initial point, this tree feels like it has a lot less direction. Instead of focusing on one mechanic it’s tried to include all of them to varying degrees of success. Since Elementalist (and by extension that portion of the tree) has very little representation, this tree being flawed leads to a potentially catastrophic problem for our talent tree, and it’s pretty crucial to get this fixed. An abridged version of the most pressing problems I felt while playing are:

  • Totem cooldown/duration - it’s far too low and gets in the way of a very momentum heavy spec. We can often have 2, 3 or 4 very high priority abilities coming up at the same time due to the number of procs we need to react to. Adding yet another into the mix via Surging Totem that gets all of its value through constant pressing feels like one too much, and the rotation crumbles. This didn’t reduce ability maintenance by replacing windfury totem, it increased it.
  • Totemic Rebound - cool idea, but could really stand to go the same way as Elemental Assault by adding in Lava Lash and Ice Strike to not cause so much build friction. This is likely to confuse players as to what’s important to press, and gets in the way of the cool part of this talent which is us empowering our totem directly. This conflicts too heavily with Lively Totems and Reactivity, which are both fine as talents.
  • Imbuement Mastery / Supportive Imbuements - these are incredibly weak and seem to exist solely for fantasy purposes. Flametongue does a miniscule portion of our damage and this is highly unlikely to compete on the choice node in any situation, and the Windfury node only causes build confusion by signposting things that go against other portions of the tree. These could really stand to be more interesting.
  • High talent point requirement - this has been slightly alleviated over Alpha but it’s still an issue - lots of active talents are mentioned by name (Windfury Totem, Hailstorm/Fire Nova, Sundering, Elemental Blast, Ascendance) that we have no realistic way of fitting together into one build. This is a major source of the tree feeling like it’s spreading itself much too thin instead of picking one portion of the tree to care about.
  • Surging Totem damage type - this being Physical when it’s a core component of the tree’s damage delivery is a potential problem when we have the Feral Spirit/Elemental Spirits split. This may end up being a sim problem that players won’t be able to solve for themselves and also lead to huge talent ramifications depending on which one wins out, alongside dissuading us from Mastery (alongside Haste which doesn’t impact the totem itself).
  • Earth Mote - this has a mandatory requirement for an active talent to use on top of the rest of the tree. Elemental Blast giving cooldown reduction will almost definitely lead to overflow if it stays at 2 charges considering our current playstyle it’s trying to target.
  • Utility/Defense nodes - Swift Recall is basically useless, there’s not much else to say here. Wind Barrier could stand to be much more frequent at its current number, or much more powerful if it’s to be an active defense tool.
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Upping the post here by our gigschad shamans here (wordup, rusah and surge). Great post amazing feedback. Now only left to the devs to make the changes.

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Enhancement Shaman Feedback-

Major issues-
*Button/Rotation Bloat
*Too much setup for damage
*Enhancement tree is too ALL or nothing and has too many REQUIRED talents giving too little choice/variety
*Windfury Totem- Lackluster buff, bad group buff, and terrible “raid” buff.
*Class tree bottom half is all super niche or flat out useless talents
*Lack of Defensives/Healing requires a massive hit to DPS

Button/Rotation Bloat- Elemental spec you’re looking at 10-12 keybinds just for the dps rotations and that doesn’t include any healing, utility, CC, interrupts,etc. Some of this has to deal with damage setup.

Too much damage setup- Say we want to AOE, we can’t just push a button and do good aoe damage. No, instead we need to perform multiple setups. First you need to flame shock, then you need to spread it with lava lash, but if you’re going to lava lash you’ll want to have crash lightning out there first, of course once you have Flame shock spread then you want to primordial wave and lightning bolt, but you don’t want to waste any maelstrom you already stacked so better chain lightning first. Oh now that you’ve used a spender hailstorm is up and you’ll want to frost shock but first you need to use ice strike. Almost none of our abilities are self contained and it contributes heavily to the bloat. Having some synergy is good, but when it’s your entire rotation it just makes it feels constricting. The hero talents aren’t making this any better.

Enhancement Tree is All or Nothing- Basically depending on your main ability you choose(stormstrike VS Lava Lash) you’re forced into a bunch of talents. Why are you forced? Those abilities are awful without ALL the accompanying talents. Example being as elemental(Lava Lash) you’ll NEVER take stormstrike talents because stormstrike is terrible without a bunch of other talents and thus you’ll never use stormstrike. This leads to the class tree being 2 essential paths with very little deviation because dabbling in the opposing sides talents is a waste of talent points. The 3 middle maelstrom talents are used in every single build because without them the spec does not work well, making them required. Then of course Feral Spirit and it’s sub talents are required due to it’s damage buffs. You might have 1-2 talent points that are an actual choice.

Just a few specific issues. Why is refreshing waters/focused insight in our spec tree? If it wasn’t in such an awful position where you’re forced to take it no one would take it. Focused insight having a mana reduction is just mind boggling because mana is never an issue, the issue is our heals are awful without 6+ stacks of maelstrom. Stormflurry on the elemental side makes no sense. Primordial wave and Ascendance should be swapped places since that makes actual sense.

Windfury totem- It’s buff is mediocre at best and only good, not great, when you completely stack a group with melee. Often you personally lose DPS by picking it. Melee damage is simply too little of melee’s damage profile now. Most melee might get a <2% increase in damage, which when compared to other raid wide damage buffs or debuffs is really bad. On top of just being bad it also has massive drawbacks of being party only, being a static totem, and having a very small range making it bad on mobile fights or fights where you need to be spread. Forcing people into totemic to make it at least mobile and raid wide is crap IMO, you shouldn’t be forced into a hero spec to make your raid buff work.

Class Tree- This needed reworked in DF ALPHA, it’s honestly a dumpster fire. You tried to include caster dps, healer, and melee dps talents in it and the result is at least 1/3rd of the tree being completely useless to any of the specs. The instant cast/cast while moving talents are all but useless for enhancement. The totem talents are just the absolute worst because we barely use totems and the ones we use don’t really need any of those talents. It makes them super niche and there are more than a few of them making it a real waste of talent nodes. The capstones are just horrid. Tranquil air? Never used by enhancement because we don’t really cast. Stoneskin? SUPER niche, most AOE isn’t physical and tanks generally don’t have a problem with physical damage making it fairly useless(waste of a GCD). Nature’s Swiftness? Again, useless to enhancement. Totemic recall? Well back to totem talents being pretty useless, this one has some niche utility in being able to cast windrush twice, but as a capstone that’s definitely very very weak. Also move thundershock to the thunderstorm node and make it a choice node so enhancement doesn’t have to waste 1 talent point and lose lasso just so we don’t bounce enemies away out of dps range.

Lack of defensives- well that’s pretty much it, we have 1 defensive. The ankh isn’t a defensive and more often than not using it you’re just going to instantly die to any unavoidable AOE pulse or the puddle your corpse is sitting in. The new hero talents(10% damage reduction/6% shield) do not fix this issue. They give us slightly, emphasis on slightly, more overall survivability but they can’t really be used on demand for big attacks that need lots of mitigation. We need some real defensives. Our healing requires us to use maelstrom to make it actually heal for anything and that HEAVILY punishes our DPS where other classes lose a GCD.

New Hero Talent trees:

Stormbringer- Incredibly lackluster. SO many lightning abilities you could have brought in and instead you went with tempest and a bunch of uninteresting passive stat buffs. I mean how about an actual hard hitting lightning storm so we some on demand AOE? Or a lightning orb like mages frost orb. Heck how about doing something with our Lightning shield so it’s not useless in group/raid content. Tempest simply isn’t a fun button to press, in fact it’s almost entirely unnoticeable. It doesn’t add anything to the rotation really and the fact that it’s stuck behind either 40 maelstrom or RNG means there will be times when you’d love to use it, but can’t. Further, since it has a cast time, that means at a minimum it’s stuck behind 35 maelstrom and best practice means it’s behind 50. You can potentially miss procs of tempest while waiting to get maelstrom, that doesn’t feel good. In my short stint of testing single target it did not feel good, hopefully it feels a bit better in AOE but I’ll wait for servers to be stable to do that.Surging currents, no enhancement will take this since instant cast and mana are not issues we have so it solves nothing.

Seriously, the fact that the majority of these talents are passive stat buffs instead of cool new abilities or effects is just so uninspired and boring. Even the capstone being a passive, even if it’s decent, is incredibly lame. You’ve got spellslinger mages that can have 8 blizzards up at once and we get “You get can get a relatively weak AOE, for the amount of maelstrom it takes to gain it’s use, and you can proc it sometimes too”. A fair few shamans will say it’s alright because they want to play storm build and at least supports that, but compared to some other hero trees it’s laughably bad.

Totemic- This has an identity crisis and desperately needs a rework. Currently as it sits ~ 1/3rd of the talents will be useless depending on which spec build you go with and it relies heavily on having certain talents that aren’t picked with certain builds or never picked at all. Elemental build doesn’t use stormstrike often or more likely at all making those talents worthless and storm build doesn’t pickup enough lava lash talents to make much use of the totemic lava lash talents. Storm also doesn’t have enough spare talent points, without severely impacting overall dps/gameplay, to pickup hailstorm/fire nova making those totemic talents useless. That also means that you can end up only making real use of 1 or the 3 parts of the totemic capstone, that means it’s a pretty bad talent, also why is there not a frost option?! Given the choice of totemic capstone or one more talent in the spec tree I’d probably take the spec tree.

The totemic imbuement talents, only storm build really makes use of Windfury weapon so it’s okayish for them. For elemental though could quadruple the windfury imbuement talent and it would still be tears in the sea. Flametongue is really only used to buff lava lash, it’s damage is negligible at best on both builds so this talent does essentially nothing and will 100% never be picked.

The positive for totemic is it at least it has 2 interesting talents(totemic rebound, lively totem) that can at least impact rotation, the cons are it’s a complete in-cohesive mess.

18 Likes

Howdy! I have been playing shaman since since they were horde only and have seen them change wildly over the course of wow.

I was wondering, that if we shaman will be getting a significant rework sometime soon. The elemental tree and its hero talents seem to need help. I made some lv80 character and took to beating on dummies and i have a few questions. Which could be resolved… if we are getting some dev love. You should see the running jokes in the shaman discord.

First, Tempest not benefiting from haste, whether a bug or design. Feels disruptive. It did not seem to hit that hard for a full 2 second cast. While in a phase where you have Blood Lust and then your spell recieve no benefit from it seems wrong.

Having Tempest replace Lightning bolt, to me, dimishes the Surge of power and Power of the Maelstrom Talents. Both increase the overloads of Lightning Bolt, but tempest cannot overload. I was thinking of maybe having Surge of Power have its own effect for Tempest ot maybe have mountains will fall effect it.

Now, i come to Elemental Equilibrium, an intesting talent but on that is in the path of the Lightning build. It require that we do nature, frost, and fire dmg with a 10 second window. I think it should be moved somewhere else on the tree. As it either forces us to take Icefury/Frost shock, or Elemental Blast to trigger it. Whike these are fine talents in their own right, earth shock is more friendly to movement intense encounters.

Another thing is that the fire build will lose a lot of power when the set bonuses are rendered obsolete. For my fellow shaman who enjoy that olay style, maybe enable that sort of play somewhere on the tree. Ideally, the aoe fuctionality. And provide more ways of spreading flame shock. To better enable that game play.

It would be very appreciated to at least know that we are heard and that something is in the works. I know that the wow development team is very busy.

Thank you

21 Likes

Copying this over from the Alpha forums…

After doing some play testing in dungeons on the alpha I would like to provide my thoughts on the current implementation of the Stormbringer hero tree from the perspective of an elemental shaman.

Tempest

“Every 400 Maelstrom spent replaces your next Lightning Bolt with Tempest”.
“Tempest deals xx,xxx Nature damage to your target, and xx,xxx Nature damage to other enemy targets within 8 yards of your target.”

I like what Tempest as a spell does by offering a reasonably strong package of Single Target and AoE damage in a single cast.

Currently, Tempest is locked at a 2-second cast time with no haste scaling. This feels completely out of place and really ruins the flow of playing the class. I have to imagine this is not intended, considering a later hero talent even offers a stacking haste buff, but I do want to point this out.

400 maelstrom feels like a bit much. Lowering this to 300 maelstrom feels much more reasonable and fits nicely with both the base maelstrom cost of 60 for Earth Shock and Earthquake as well as their reduced cost of 50 through the Eye of the Storm talent.

Having Tempest replace Lightning Bolt creates a number of awkward overlaps and uncomfortable choices when combined with other talents in both the hero tree and the base elemental tree. Currently, tempest removes your ability to cast Lightning Bolt but does not gain any of the benefits of Lightning Bolt itself. This means that if you attempt to properly line up your cooldowns and resources to maximize the damage potential of a Stormkeeper+Lightning Bolt combo, and you end up forcing a Tempest proc, you could potentially ruin your damage output.

Unlimited Power

“Spending Maelstrom grants you 3% haste for 15 seconds, stacking. Gaining a new stack does not refresh the duration.”

The idea behind this is nice but the current iteration is bad. The current implementation of this talent works similar to the talent “Starlord” for Blance druids where the buffs stack but all expire at the same time. This type of ability promote the use of a cancel aura macro to remove the buff before spending additional resources to avoid losing uptime. This sort of gameplay is incredibly degenerate and should never be encouraged. This buff needs to be reworked to function like Iron Fur for Guardian druids, where each buff has its own duration.

Tempest(2?)

“Increases the critical strike chance of your Nature damage spells by 10% and the critical strike damage of your nature spells by 5%.”

Fine. A nice simple talent that can be used to easily tune the overall strength of the tree. Should probably have a new name, though.

Shocking Grasp

“Your Nature damage critical strikes reduce the target’s movement speed by 50% for 3 seconds.”

This is honestly a really bad effect to always have on. While there are many times when having a strong slow like this could be useful, there are also times when having a slow effect is actively harmful. And if I had to choose between always having it or never having it, I would pick never having it every time. This should either be part of a choice node or redesigned into something new.

Supercharge

“Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning Elemental Overloads have a 50% chance to cause an additional Elemental Overload”.

I like that this brings more value to the mastery stat for the lightning side of Elemental. In previous iterations, mastery was very much a wasted stat. Having said that, providing more power through an additional layer of RNG is less than desirable when elemental is already full of RNG effects.

Storm Swell/Arc Discharge

Stormwell: “When Tempest only strikes a single target, gain 30 maelstrom.”

I heavily dislike the idea Tempest providing direct maelstrom. Later on the tree we gain access to an RNG method of gaining tempest. Making use of tempest at the wrong time could potentially see you over-cap on maelstrom very easily.

I also don’t think limiting the targets to just 1 is going to be effective. There are VERY few fights in either dungeons, delves or raids that are truly single target. If there are any additional adds in the vicinity and you just happen to clip one, that’s it, you’ve wasted your Storm Swell benefits.

I would much rather see this talent provide a % increase to maelstrom generation for a set amount of time as well as removing the 1 target cap.

Arc Discharge: “When Tempest strikes more than one target, your next 3 Chain lightning spells are instant cast and deal 75% increased damage”

Possibly my favorite talent in the entire tree. This feels great in aoe and is very fun to use. However, much like with Storm Swell, the target restriction feels awkward. Feeling the need to NOT cast Tempest on a single target because adds will be spawning in a few seconds feels really bad. I don’t see the need for there to be a limiting factor on obtaining the buff.

The buff provided by Arc Discharge also doesn’t stack with Stormkeeper. If you activate Arc Discharge by casting Tempest but also get the Stormkeeper buff provided by the Rolling Thunder talent (something you have no control over) casting chain lightning will consume both buffs, wasting one.

Rolling Thunder

“Gain one stack of Stormkeeper every 50 seconds”

Taken from our 10.1 tier set, this talent is a VERY hot topic among elemental shaman. As things are right now, there is no way to track this effect without the use of external resources such as Weakauras. The dependency on Weakauras has been a growing topic within WoW and a lot of steps have been taken by the development team to reduce the need for stacking Weakauras. Rolling Thunder seems to work in opposition of this by forcing the player into using weakauras to make any use of this talent. Please, give this a buff that can be monitored by the player so we can see the entire 50-second cycle for this ability.

Voltaic Surge

“Crash Lightning, Chain Lightning, and Earthquake damage increased by 15%”

Similar to Tempest(2) this is fine.

Conductive Energy

“Lightning Rod targets now also take 20% of the damage that Tempest deals, and Tempest also the applies Lightning Rod effect.”

This talent is not yet implemented so we can’t test exactly how this works but in theory this looks fine enough. It will be interesting to see if this will apply the Lightning Rod effect without needing to talent into Lightning rod specifically.

Nature’s Protection/Surging Currents

Nature’s Protection: “Targets struck by your Tempest deal 10% less damage to you for 6 seconds.”
Surging Currents: “After using Tempest, your next Chain Heal, or Healing Surge will be instant cast and consume no Mana.

This is, honestly, very bad. Tempest is a core part of our damage rotation and not something that is always available when incoming damage is most dangerous. Tying a defensive buff to our offensive abilities encourages the player to sit on their hands and not cast their spells while waiting for the boss to do something dangerous.

Awakening Storms
“Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning have a chance to strike your target for x,xxx Nature damage. Every 3 times this occurs, your next Lightning Bolt is replaced by Tempest.”

This is the previously mentioned RNG mechanic behind getting the Tempest buff. Much like with Rolling Thunder there is currently no mechanic available to the player to track this buff. This also has the potential to “over cap” on your tempest spell. For example, if you find yourself in a situation where you want to hold your tempest cast for some amount of time, maybe you need the defensive buff to survive a big hit, or you want to hold so you can hit either 1 or more than 1 target to make use of Storm Swell/Arc DIscharge, you run the risk of RNG casting your way into another Tempest from Awakening Storms, effectively wasting 1 cast of Tempest.

Tempest deserves to stand on its own

Tempest is honestly a really cool ability and it deserves to stand on its own without being tied to Lightning Bolt. Lightning bolt has too many synergies within the core rotation to be replaceable. Tempest needs to be a separate button from Lightning Bolt.

With the current acquisition system for Tempest, it really needs to have 2 charges to avoid over-capping and to ease the need on delaying your Tempest cast in an attempt to maximize the numerous restrictions tied to its buffs.

Too much of a good thing

Stormbringer as a Hero Tree is all about celebrating Shamans ties to lightning, but much like with the Farseer tree, it makes me sad to see how we are actively moving away from what made elemental shaman appealing to so many. Shamans should be the masters of multiple elements, not forced into one exclusive tree. In doing so we are neglecting so much of what made many players love the class in the first place. With all of the benefits to Lightning Bolt in the Stormbringer tree, its possible we get to the position of forgoing spells like flame shock and lava burst all together and just devolve into exclusively casting Lightning Bolt for our single target rotation.

Overall, I think Stormbringer needs a substantial amount of work, with access to the Tempest Spell in particular being the highest priority.

17 Likes

Copying this over from the Alpha forums…

Here is my feedback on the Farseer hero tree from the perspective of an elemental shaman

Call of the Ancestors

“Primordial Wave calls an Ancestor to your side for 6 seconds. Whenever you cast a healing or damaging pell, the Ancestor will cast a similar spell.”

Primordial Wave is a really poor choice for a mandatory talent for a hero tree. Its location in our talent tree means that by taking that point the rest of our build is largely already decided for us. It leaves very little room for choice.it also only has synergy with a lava burst spam playstyle and neglects more than half of our kit.

The Ancestors themselves are possibly the worst “summon” companions of any hero tree I have played. Compared to the Horsemen for Rider of the Apocolypse Death Knight or the demons for Diablosit Warlock, our Ancestors are unbelievably weak and inefficient. Only lasting 6 seconds and requiring us to take action to get any value out of them means they will be useless in any situation where the player is incapacitated by enemy mechanics. Our Ancestors should instead have a set order of spells they cast on each summon, regardless of how the player acts so they can always have value. Something along the lines of…

Summon Ancestor → Ancestor casts flame shock on a target that ideally doesn’t already have flame shock → Ancestor casts lava burst on the primary target of player → Ancestor casts lava burst on the primary target of player → Ancestor casts elemental blast on the primary target of the player. This elemental blast leaves an earthquake under the target.

A set cast sequence eliminates the frustration of summoning an Ancestor only to be pushed out of range by a boss mechanic, or stunned by an enemy in pvp, leaving you to watch the entire value of your hero tree amount to absolutely nothing.

There is also an issue right now with having multiple Ancestors out at once. When 1 expires, the remaining Ancestors will shift their position around to fill in the gap, and during this time they don’t cast their spells properly.

At the very least, the value of the Ancestors in aoe needs to be addressed, as currently their Chain Lighting only hits 2 targets in total (their primary target and 1 nearby target).

Latent Wisdom / Ancient Fellowship

“Latent Wisdom: Your Ancestors’ spells are 20% more powerful.”
“Ancient Fellowship: Ancestors have a 15% chance to call another Ancestor when they expire.”

Gaining additional Ancestors feels far too powerful an option to give up so I don’t see Latent Wisdom ever being a competitive option. Overall the Farseer hero tree is full of ways to RNG your way into an Ancestor army and I would much rather see Ancestors appear LESS frequently but be more impactful when they do. As things stand now, Farseer is just several additional layers of RNG on top of a class that is already overflowing with RNG.

Heed my Call / Routine Communication
“Heed my Call: Ancestors last an additional 2 seconds”
“Routine Communication: Lava Burst casts have a 8% chance to call an Ancestor”

Much like the previous talent options, the increased potential to summon additional Ancestors will almost certainly be the correct pick in almost all situations.

Elemental Reverb

“Lava Burst gains an additional charge and deals 5% increased damage”

Farseer is very clearly trying to tie itself into the “exclusively press Lava Burst” playstyle that we’ve had in patches 10.3 and 10.4 and I feel like thats a mistake. “Farseer” as a theme has no inherent ties to lava magic, so why is that exclusive playstyle being forced into the hero tree? Stormbringer at least has the excuse of being very clearly a lightning-themed talent option. Make use of the entire shaman kit and offer a talent to promote casting other spells instead of doubling down (or tripling down) on lava burst.

Offering from Beyond

“When an Ancestor is called, they reduce the cooldown of Fire Elemtnal and Storm Elemental by 10 seconds.”

If the intention for Farseer is to summon Ancestors very frequently, then I actually like this talent. Our elementals have been neglected for a long time now and seeing some talent synergy is welcome, even if I would prefer a different direction with Ancestors.

Primordial Capacity

“Increase your maximum Maelstrom by 25.”

This feels a little unnecessary. The fire build that will be used with Farseer already takes the talent Swelling Maelstrom which increases our maximum Maelstrom by 50. Having an additional 25 on top of that is fine but feels like an unnecessary addition and a waste of a hero talent. Our fire builds lack synergy with half of our talent tree so we can’t even move the talent point out of Swelling Maelstrom into something else because nothing else has any value.

Spiritwalkers’s Momentum

“Using spells with a cast time increases the duration of Spiritwalker’s Grace and Spiritwalker’s Aegis by 1 second, up to a maximum of 4 seconds”

I quite like this. Spiritwalkers grace is a very cool spell and any additional benefits it could offer is always welcome.

Natural Harmony / Earthen Communion

“Natural Harmony: Reduces the cooldown of Nature’s Guardian by 10 seconds and cases it to heal for an addtional 5% of your maximum health”
“Earthen Communion: Earth Shield has an additional 3 charges and heals you for 25% more.”

These two might be the absolute worst defensive options of any Hero tree I’ve seen, and this is for a class with already some of the worst defensive options in the game. The defensive powercreep in WoW has reached absurd levels and these talents being our options is incredibly sad.

Maelstrom Supremacy

“Increase the damage of Earth Shock, Elemental Blast, and Earthquake by 8% and the healing of Healing Surge by 8%”.

Just a basic tuning knob. Should be fine but should maybe include chain lightning.

Final Calling

“When an Ancestor expires, they cast Elemental Blast on a nearby enemy”

If this worked as intended it could be fine but it currently fires off at any target nearby, living or dead.

Ancestral Swiftness

“Your next healing or damaging spell is instant, costs no mana, and deals 10% more damage and healing.

If you know Nature’s Swiftness, it is replaced by Ancestral Swiftness and causes Ancestral Swiftness to call an Ancestor to your side.”

This is an incredibly disappointing capstone. Why does the final tree in the Farseer hero talent require a capstone talent in the base Shaman talent tree to gain maximum benefit? If we don’t force our way into taking Natures swiftness, we miss out on an additional Ancestor to summon. We should not be able to make ourselves weaker by not taking a talent entirely removed from the elemental tree.

To be quite honest, Farseer seems terrible. Forcing a playstyle that lacks aoe, stacking multiple layers of RNG on top of one of the most RNG dependent classes, offering no improvements to the most lacking areas, such as flame shock management, and pushing the need to take multiple specific talents has Farseer in an awful state.

20 Likes

Hi everyone,

with Beta live and the access to testing being broader now, I’d like to share some thoughts about Elemental Shaman throughout Dragonflight and into The War Within Beta. These thoughts are mostly a consensus among the community and many of the issues and ideas that I will bring up have been thought about, discussed and iterated on by many of the top Elemental Shaman players and theorycrafters on the Earthshrine Discord.
I will first go into some thoughts about theme and class fantasy, link those Elements to gameplay related issues, and add ideas and critique on the design choices around the current iteration of Elemental Shaman. I will also show how these issues run the risk of being compounded through the current design of the Hero Talents available to Elemental Shaman. Last but not least, I will present some ideas for improvements that have been floating among the community for quite a while.
Without further ado, here we go!

1. Theme and class fantasy

Visually and in terms of theme, Elemental Shaman is one of the coolest speccs in the game. It has a long history and is deeply rooted in the lore through characters like Thrall. The spell animations have pretty much always been on point, and it feels really good to hurl molten rocks at your opponents or have Chain Lightning overload into a group of mobs. That being said, throughout Dragonflight, the specc has felt less and less about being attuned to all the elements. Where once it really felt like we were commanding Storm, Earth and Fire, we are now forced to pick sides. Generally, Elemental Shamans in Dragonflight have either played a mostly pure fire build, or a pure lightning build, depending on the tier set bonus of the respective season. Being a lightning based caster is generally pretty cool and is an appealing fantasy. But it’s not what Elemental Shaman at it’s core is exclusively about in my mind. Finding a way to incorporate all Elements into the way Elemental Shaman plays, both in terms of visuals and design/gameplay and making the elements sing together would go a long way fort he specialization.

2. Design issues and Gameplay implications

DISCLAIMER: I would like to get the obvious thing out of the way: Elemental Shaman is the only DPS specc without a raid buff, or mandatory utility. I do not see the need to argue this point, really. This simply needs to change.

2.1 The specialization talent-tree

The specialization tree for Elemental Shaman suffers from some fairly fundamental issues that have been pointed out repeatedly by the community, but I feel this is a good place and time to re-iterate:

  • A split tree: Similiar to the Enhancement tree, the Elemental tree is split into two Elements, Fire and Lightning. This is the result of having the talents than lean towards lightning on the left side of the tree, while the talents leaning towards fire are on the
    right side. There are basically no horizontal connections in the tree, and ist layout forces us down one path very early on. This comes with a number of issues. First, it basically invalidates one half of the tree every season. Season 2 and 3 in Dragonflight have shown this. In Season 2 we went all-in on Lightning, leaving out talents like Lava Surge and Echo of the Elements. These talents are generally considered staples of the specc to a point where they could well be baseline part of the kit. In Season 3 and 4, we are turning it around by 180 degrees and putting all our egg in the fire basket. This leaves out basically every single Lightning-related talent and makes spells like Lightning Bolt, our iconic filler spell, persona non-grata in our rotation. To make this clear: Currently, one of the biggest goals in our single target rotation is to avoid getting into a situation where we have to press Lightning Bolt as much as possible. This split talent tree is also splitting the player base. While the season 2 build and playstyle was appreciated especially among higher level players, others felt like it was overly punishing and cumbersome to execute. Similiarly the Season 3 and Season 4 set bonus is often considered fun in the beginning but becomes overly monotonous over time. Finding a way to incorporate a healthy balance between the elements in terms of gameplay is one of the keys to making the specc and the playerbase feel less fractured.

    This issue will also directly transfer into hero talents: Currently, Stormbringer will push us 100% towards lightning builds, where the focus of Farseer towards Primordial Wave and Lavaburst will likely invalidate builds that are not purely based on fire talents.

  • Unhealthy talent interactions: When Dragonflight re-introduced talent trees, several earlier tier set and legendary effects were added across all classes and speccs. Some of these led to compounding effects on different levels, and have steadily been adressed. Unfortunately, Elemental Shaman is still suffering from these compunding effects, specifically when it comes to Lava Burst accessibility. Access to this spell beyond the regular cooldown and gaining a 2nd charge via Echo of the Elements was for the longest time restricted to Lava Surge. This made Lavaburst an exciting button to press and Lava Surge an exciting procc to happen. It also made Ascendance a hype cooldown, because we got to spam this button that we usually could not press as much as we would have liked. Dragonflight changed this by adding a combination of talents that gives us basically unlimited access to Lavaburst. In addition to the ones mentioned above, we now have Windspeaker’s Lava Resurence, Deeply Rooted Elements/Ascendance, and Primordial Surge. The two most glaring issues with this are that it creates a toxic feedback loop with talents like Rolling Magma, where casting Lavaburst leads to being able to cast even more Lavaburst, which in turn enables even more Lavaburst. Currently this goes as far as ignoring our resource management: Season 3 and 4 Elemental Shaman is incentivized to regularly overcap on Maelstrom if it means keeping the Lavaburst loop going. The other issue is that it keeps Lavaburst from hitting for meaningful damage. Where this spell once was a hard hitting, exciting button, the sheer number of Lavaburst casts we have now, means that each individual hit is basically a wet noodle.

  • AoE vs. Single Target: While Elemental Shaman currently has strong Single Target damage while excelling at 6 or less targets, this is exclusively due to the current tier set. It was similiar in Season 2, where the tier set was colloquially known as „The Bandaid“, because it resolved the issues we had in Season 1, if only for the duration of Season 2. It doesn’t change the fact that Elemental Shaman baseline still suffers from the same issue that so many speccs have since then had resolved for them: We still need to decide
    between Single-Target and AoE in our talent build. This is clearly outdated design and should be resolved for Elemental Shaman as it has been resolved for so many other speccs over the course of Dragonflight.

  • Builders and spenders: Elemental Shaman, at it’s core is a builder/spender specc. Unfortunately, the talent tree offers far more interactions and buffs to builders than it does to spenders. Some examples: The only talent that exclusively buffs our spenders is Mountains Will Fall by enabling them to overload. Talents like Master of the Elements and Electrified Shocks are not exclusive to spenders. On the other side, builders like Lightning Bolt and Lavaburst not only get talents that buff their damage, quite a few talents are actually working in a way that buffs our builder spells after we pressed a spender. Windspeaker’s Lava Resurgence is one such example, while Surge of Power is probably the clearest example of this: It gives our next builder spell an additional effect after we pressed a spender. In season 2 we used this talent to prop up Lightning Bolt tot he top of our damage breakdown. In Season 3 and 4 mythic+, we are using these interactions to get more cooldown reduction on our Fire Elemental, and gain access to more Lavabursts. While it is generally interesting to have your fillers do something beyond mediocre damage and building up to your next big hit, our spenders aren’t big hits anymore. Building up to an Elemental Blast just isn’t as exciting when the spell isn’t tuned to a point where it feels impactful and something to work towards. Instead, pressing our spenders now often times feels like a means to give power to the spells that actually matter, which ironically are our filler spells. It should also be mentioned that as long as Earthshock and Elemental Blast are tuned with the same %-increases and decreases, Earth Shock will never be the better choice because it cannot keep up numerically and hasno interactions that Elemental Blast would not offer aswell. Looking at Hero Talents, the earlier theme continues: Stormbringer will likely bring back the focus on buffing our Lightning Bolts to the maximum. This is problematic because Lightning Bold in particular will be periodically replaced by Tempest, which does not interact with with most of the talents that Lightning Bolt is improved by! Farseer will encounter the same issue in a different flavour: With its focus on Primordial Wave and Lavaburst, we will prioritize Lavaburst due to talent interactions I explained above, once again reducing our gameplay to spamming a filler spell and possibly ignoring spenders in a lot of situations in order to gain Primordial Wave CDR and access to more Lavabursts to increase the uptime of our ancestors.

  • Talents, their power and cost: In addition to the talent interactions I already outlined, Elemental Shaman also suffers from quite a few talents that feel like they don’t belong in their spot for very different reasons. I want to start with a group of talents that feel out of place in what they do. Specifically the third row of the specc tree offers a number of utility points that feel underwhelming at best. The general design direction of the talent tress has been to build power into the specc trees and putting utility into the class trees. While the Shaman class tree generally succeeds with this from the perspective of Elemental Shaman by offering a broad, if in parts noticeably undertuned utility talents, the specc tree has a number of talents that just do not provide the kind of power/throughput you would expect from a specc tree. Giving us 3% more knockdown chance on Earthquake, easier access to self healing or bigger healing crits doesn’t do anything fort he gameplay loop of Elemental Shaman. It is made worse by the fact that the entire row is filled with talents like these. So we do not even get the choice of maybe shifting some power into utility or trading straight throughput for more uptime. Instead our only choice is which of these underwhelming and frankly for the most part useless talents we take. Having to path through at least two of these talent nodes to access something like more Maelstrom generation and availability (two points that individually feel not worth a talent point each), feels especially bad. There are also throughput talents that are simply underwhelming. Primal Elementalist has not seen play the entire expansion, due to Elementals generally being underwhelming and not offering the defensive power of hardened skin anymore. Skybreaker’s Fiery Demise is a Capstone that only saw play in mythic plus in Season 1 and only because it was the only way of salvaging our lackluster AoE capabilities. The Capstone offering a 2nd Stormkeeper charge is straight up useless because it offers you exactly one additional Stormkeeper charge over the course of afight, since you will press the spell on cooldown. Ascendance is maybe the biggest offender because it just does not hold a candle to Deeply Rooted Elements on a numerical level. Even if we invest 2(!) talent points to make it a 2 minute cooldown, even average DRE proccs outperform it in terms of uptime.
    The theme continues with regards to talent cost. After the reworks that have happened, Elemental Shaman is not only among the speccs with the highest number of 2-point talents, it is also by far the specc with the highest number of talent points located in the third gate. This is primarily due to the insane number of 2-point talents in the lower part of the tree. Talents like Searing Flames, Elemental Equilibrium, Echoes of the Great Sundering and Echo Chamber are all 2-pointers that would realistically just offer their full power for one talent point if they were designed today. This is also true above the third gate with talents like Master of the Elements, Eye of the Storm and Power of the Maelstrom.

2.2 Gameplay:
Elemental Shaman in Dragonflight has shown some clear weaknesses and points of frustration when it comes to gameplay loops. Next to the degenerate gameplay style around Lavaburst I outlined above, there are five aspects I would like to highlight in particular:

  • Flameshock Management:
    Flameshock is maybe the most outdated DoT in the game in how it works for Elemental Shaman. Being capped at maximum of six fort he issues that stemmed from another specc, Elemental Shaman also has no way of spreading Flameshock that is reliable and not cumbersome. Liquid Magma Totem is unreliable at best, and does not guarantee Flameshocks on only unaffected targets. Surge of Power has very limited range and forces us to use two GCDs for a maximum of two additional Flameshocks, and DRE is random. Enhancement Shaman hast he option to spread and refresh Flameshock every time they press one of their core rotational abilities in Elementalist build. Having a playstyle that is reliant on maintaining a DoT on multiple targets that is annyoing at best and frustrating at worst to manage just feels like outdated design.
  • Resource-Management: Maelstrom is generally a fine rescource. The problem is that it is available in abundance and the spells it is consumed by are significantly undertuned. Currently, Elemental Shamans play around Lavaburst availability and Primordial Wave CDR as a resource. Not around Maelstrom. If we have 150 Maelstrom and get a DRE procc, we spam Lavaburst. If we are capped on Maelstrom and get a Lavasurge procc, we press Lavaburst instead. The amount of wasted Maelstrom in logs currently is insane. This was different in Season 2, where we actually played around Maelstrom numbers and the additional generation our tierset offered to a high degree, because playing it correctly enabled us to pull spell sequences that felt rewarding, although thatlast part is contentious withing the community. One way or another, skill expression throgh resource management is currently non-existant for Elemental Shaman, because Maelstrom is abundant, and spenders just do not hit hard enough and are not something we play around fort he most part. Farseer adding additional maximum Maelstrom, and Stormkeeper introducing the possibility of additional Maelstrom generation is therefore pretty uninteresting right out of the gate.
  • RNG: Elemental Shaman has different layers of RNG. Some of these, like our mastery, do not feel intrusive and are instead something we mostly don’t think about but may have impact on optimizing our gameplay without feeling mandatory. The same goes for Lava Surge. Others, like DRE, completely warp our talent builds and playstyle around themselves. Having or not having a DRE procc at certain times can have rotational impacts that last until several GCDs after the effect itself has ended. Both Hero Talent trees introduce additional layers of RNG to a specc that has already at times felt like a slot machine to the point where the first thing you would check on lower performing pulls wasn’t your rotational execution, but your Ascendance uptime, simply because you regularly got unlucky in a way that wou were not able to influence and not able to play around.
  • Cooldowns: Elemental Shaman does not have a relevant cooldown. Our Fire and Storm Elementals do not offer the power of gameplay interactions that would be necessary to play around them in any relevant fashion, and even if DRE didn’t exist, Ascendance is still thoroughly underwhelming in terms of power and the point investment neccessary to make it do something in the first place. While having a constistent, non-bursty damage profile isn’t in itself bad, the talent options that are apparently supposed to offer us short spikes in damage, like Primal Elementalist and Oath of the Farseer/Further Beyond.
  • Defensives: An almost broken record, not least with the defensive creep that has taken a hold in the game, Elemental Shaman’s defensive toolkit is very underwhelming. While adding additional defensive abilities tot he game is generally not something that is looked at positively at the moment, Elemental Shaman lost a significant defensive tool in Hardened Skin with the start of Dragonflight, and is now left with defensive options that are unimpressive both in terms of quality and quantity. While Astral Shift is a fine defensive that is well tuned, the rest of the kit leaves much to be desired. The additional maximum HP that Earth Elemental offers is being rendered significantly weaker by the ability’s 5 minute cooldown. The fact that we do not receive the additional amount in healing, unlike spells such as Desperate Prayer, adds to the impression of an overall weak cooldown. Ancestral Defense offers some passive tankiness, but 2% avoidance just make a relevant difference, especially compared to classes like Warlock or DPS-Paladin, which not only have more but also significantly stronger passive defensives. Unfortunately, the Hero Talents both continue the trend of offering bad defensive options to a specc that is lacking in that department. Reducing the dooldown of Nature’s Guardian and upping the healing is not only noticeably weaker than the defensive options in the Hero talents of other classes, it is also just about irrelevant in the current state of the game, because a lot of damage will just one-shot players if they aren’t either topped off, or have some form of Damage Reduction. With regards to Enhancing Earthshield for Farseer or easier access to self-healing for Stormbringer, I want to reitarate a fairly old sentiment within the community: We are a DPS specc. We do not want to regularly use GCDs to heal ourselves, or refresh Earth Shield. They are weak option and it feels terrible to use them. Lastly, Nature’s Protection will likely have decent uptime, but does not allow us to control it in any way other than holding Tempest, which really cannot be the solution, since it blocks access to Lightning Bolt during that time.

3. What to do?
With all this in mind, the community has obviously discussed possible directions for changes. While with all things, there is not perfect consensus, the following points are fort he most part not very controversial:

  • Limit access to Lavaburst: This can likely only be achieved through significant talent revamps. The interaction of talents like Rolling Magma and DRE in combination with the almost constant availability of Lavaburst creates an unhealthy gameplay loop that erases skill expression and introduces a high dependence on getting good proccs. It also prevents Lavaburst from being an actual hard hitter. Limiting Lavaburst access beyond Echo of the Elements and Lavasurge to talents like Windspeaker’s Lava Resurgence would enable Lavaburst to return to being the exciting button it used to be.
  • Similiary, add skill expression to resoucrce management: Right now spenders do not feel interesting to press because they are available just about all the time with the amount of Maelstrom we can generate, they do not hit particularly hard, and they offer no rewards or impact gameplay in any way beyond the mediocre damage numbers they produce. Stormbringer’s Tempest ability being gated behind spending a certain amound of Maelstrom is generally a cool idea, but the way it is right now, there is no form of skill expression in resource generation and the way we spend it, which makes this interaction signficantly less interesting.
  • Introduce options to manage and spread Flameshock more efficiently. This could be done via a talent that makes Lavburst spread Flameshock or give the same interaction to spells like Earthshock, which currently does not see play outside of m+, where it’s not chosen because it would perform better than Elemental Blast, but because it once again offers more access to Lavaburst.
  • Rework our specc tree. There is, frankly, no way around this. Almost all of the problems I have outlined stem from one issue with the specc tree or another. Bridging the gap between the two sides of the tree and the playstyles that are connected to them, adressing gameplay issues that stem from talent interactions or lack thereof, and making sure that our talent tree is balanced in terms of individual talent power and talent cost, all have the potential of being realized through a rework. This is also important because the Hero Talents for Elemental Shaman are both impacted negatively by the state of the specc tree!

I want to end this post by expressing my appreciation for the way the WoW-Team has staken in feedback and is clearly listening to the player base. Being an Elemental Shaman in Dragonflight has not been easy. And I would be lying if I said that there isn’t a significant amount of frustration over the lack of communication with the Ele community and adjustments towards the specc. But the way the development for The War Within has been going is unprecedented in its volume of communication and willingness to listen. As such, I hope this is a good time to once again raise the issues we as a community have identified and remain hopeful that Elemental Shaman will receive the attention and the changes that this iconic specialization and its players deserve.

18 Likes

This is coming from the elemental perspective: While there is some great discussion in here, I do not think a single word of any of this is being read. They have said in the past that beta is for numerical adjustments and not class reworks. I believe shaman and hunters (?) are the only remaining classes that never received a significant rework in alpha and I do not see them adjusting much beyond changing a few numbers. It is essentially season 4 shaman + hero talents. I do enjoy a few aspects of the hero trees but in both cases the ramp up time for actually doing damage is way too high in a m+ environment. For storm hero talents, the damage in dungeons is going to be super inconsistent from what I can tell from what beta testing I did. it seems that you can pump occasionally but a lot of time you are fishing for procs or buffs to start doing real damage. In low keys you are going to watch the mobs all die while you try and set up procs and/or buffs to do actual damage. The farseer tree is going to require setup to start doing any kind of real damage as it does now, making the spec pretty awful in low keys when mobs die quickly.

The only positive that I see currently is the set bonus is not bad. It doesn’t change your gameplay much but it is not a bad bonus.

I would try enhancement but the button bloat on that spec is pretty abysmal currently.

3 Likes