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WoWApr 2, 2015 8:00 pm CT

Totem Talk: A look at Enhancement talent selections


The talent system has undergone two major revisions since Enhancement was first made into its current form of being a dual-wielding dynamo, and yet here we are, still picking from some talents that none of us would ever want or need.  I’m not trying to be snarky, or at least not more than usual; I just find it ironic that I’ve gone from having to sink points into Shield Specialization to sinking points into a totem talent I’m never going to use.

The more things change, huh?

At any rate, talent selection is not crazy difficult at this point in the game’s lifespan if you’ve played Enhancement before, nor is it terribly possible to screw up completely unless you just don’t choose a talent at all.  Still, who doesn’t want to think more about their talent selections?  I like doing it, so let’s look at ’em until they all get changed, huh?

Level 15

  • Nature’s Guardian: On the one hand, this is mildly useful if I get plastered by a big boss AoE that really hurts me a lot, since then I suddenly have less threat toward the enemy.  On the other hand, it doesn’t really help me much in PvP (that extra health isn’t going to keep me alive all that much longer if I lost so much in the first place) and this is not Final Fantasy XIV, where bosses routinely blast you down to half health or further and the healers need to cap you up in a few seconds.  Not a terrible PvE choice at all.
  • Stone Bulwark Totem: It’s debatable if this is a better choice than the prior one.  On the one hand, this is a straight-up defensive cooldown, which is nice; on the other hand, it’s a fragile cooldown that can be worked around in PvP, and in PvE you shouldn’t be getting hit this much anyway.  The re-application is nice, though.  It’s my preferred talent for soloing, and it’s not going to destroy you if you just leave it on normally.
  • Astral Shift: Actually quite nice for PvP or soloing, a straight damage reduction cooldown without wonky mechanics that makes you hardy for a few seconds.  Useful for weathering burst damage.

Alternately, don't let people hurt you.Level 30

  • Frozen Power: Being able to root your enemies specifically is nice for PvP; it’s up to you whether having a reliable AoE root is better than the targeted root here.
  • Earthgrab Totem: This would be that aforementioned reliable AoE root/snare.  This is going to be more useful for scenarios wherein you’re setting up chokepoints; the former will be more useful for locking down specific individuals.  Choose the one that fits your playstyle.
  • Windwalk Totem: Probably the best of the patch for PvE players, it fits nicely in with the other immunity effects that shaman can play with.  Still not likely to find its way into regular use, though.

Level 45

  • Call of the Elements: Yo dawg, I heard you like cooldowns, so I gave you a cooldown to reset your cooldowns so you can use your cooldowns before the cooldown.  I guess it’s at least some vague utility?
  • Totemic Persistence: Ha ha ha no.
  • Totemic Projection: Listen, level 45 talents.  I hate you.

Level 60

  • Elemental Mastery: Cool, finally some useful stuff coming to the forefront!  Elemental Mastery serves as one of the many cooldowns that Enhancement can juggle as part of our rotation, and unlike most of the others that haste buff is actually kind of meaningful for us.  You probably have enough haste on you anyway to render the 30% buff little more than a “do the same thing you’re doing, only more” button, so it loses some of the impact factor.
  • Ancestral Swiftness: A permanent 5% buff to Haste and attack speed lines up nicely with what Enhancement is already doing.  Having an instant-cast spell on demand is a little less encouraging, since we already have that in the form of Maelstrom Weapon, but you can always use it to chain out additional Lightning Bolts or Chain Lightnings without waiting for charges.  Versatile and highly worthwhile for both PvP and PvE.
  • Echo of the Elements: I like the redesigned form of this talent quite a bit, actually; I suspect it loses to Ancestral Swiftness on a pure numbers game, but those two charges on your three most central abilities mean that you have a lot more flexibility and can keep up a more steady stream of Lava Lash and Stormstrike swings.  Worth noting in the case of the former is that you’ll also be getting random Lava Lash charges added in regularly, meaning that you can pile up the damage quite effectively. A fun talent, if passive.

Look, so the level 60 talents could be flashier, do you want reliable or do you want shaman?  We're trying to have a class feature here, man.

Level 75

  • Rushing Streams: Not great, exactly, but it’s a good way of getting some use out of that water totem that’s otherwise just sitting there.  It’s not my preferred talent in this particular tier, but it does have a nice and reliable effect, so that’s good.
  • Ancestral Guidance: As a damage cooldown, this one is terrible, due largely to the fact that it is not a damage cooldown.  But as a skill to hit when you’re bursting several of your damage cooldowns, it is lovelyFor a short but blissful time, all that damage you’re pouring out is funneling right back into the raid, and there is no way to feel bad about that if, say, you’ve got a room full of Flame Shocked targets bathing in the warm glow of repeated Fire Novas.  The one thing that makes it potentially less appealing than Rushing Streams is just the fact that it’s on a short duration and a moderate cooldown, so you can’t use it constantly, but when it’s on it’s a thing of wonder.
  • Conductivity: Ehhh.  I don’t feel like this is a terrible talent, but you don’t have enough time or space in your rotation as Enhancement to really drop everything and focus on AoE spot-healing.  That’s the asset that the other two talents have, that you really can just keep doing your thing and let the healing happen.  Conductivity doesn’t work that way, and thus it becomes the loser of the bunch.

Level 90

  • Unleashed Fury: Another talent that’s very passive, but considering that Unleash Elements is on a very short cooldown and Lightning Bolt is a reliable part of your core rotation, it’s actually a pretty solid increase.  The multistrike buff is nice for your existing death by a thousand cuts, and being able to trigger it reliably means that you can get in a lot of extra bolts to the face of whatever you’re trying to kill.  My one complaint would probably be that it doesn’t have the wow factor (if you’ll excuse the pun) of the other really good talent on this tree, or even the other not-very-good talent.
  • Primal Elementalist: You know, if I really wanted to play a mail-wearing class with direct control over a pet, I’d play a hunter.  Then I’d get a gun and a pet that actually lasts, too.  The buff to your elementals is nice, although it strongly encourages you to pick up Storm Elemental in the last tier, which may or may not play nice with how you like to run the class.  If you love summoning elementals, this is a solid choice, and it has more utility than any of the other choices when it comes to soloing or PvP scenarios.
  • Elemental Blast: This is a really, really spiffy looking spell.  It’s also a really terrible spell for wedging into Enhancement’s rotation.  The buff that it provides isn’t terribly useful due to its total randomness, it doesn’t play nicely with the other parts of the spec’s focus, and the awkward cooldown on it doesn’t make life any easier.  In terms of visual power it’s easily the coolest talent in the lot here, but it’s just not worth the time and not helpful with a spec that already tries to juggle far too many buttons for far too little individual effect.

It's kind of underwhelming in its choice, but it's a choice, so... it works?  I guess?

Level 100

  • Elemental Fusion: So two uses of Lava Lash buffs your next Shock to the maximum… and Echo of the Elements gives you two Lava Lash charges to play around with.  Huh.  Much like Unleashed Fury, this is a talent with very little visual flare or cool feeling, but it’s quietly effective.  It’s a solid workhorse talent, and it ties in nicely to giving you bigger numbers for what you’d be doing anyway.  Consider strongly if you picked up Echo of the Elements, although with another selection it falls substantially in my estimation.
  • Storm Elemental Totem: Well, this one’s really stated for me, isn’t it?  If you’re using Primal Elementalist, this is an obvious and easy pick.  If you aren’t, again, it just isn’t as appealing.  Now, if you have both Primal Elementalist and Echo of the Elements, this and Fusion can sort of dance around one another, although I tend to favor Elemental Fusion simply because, well, I’m not really a pet person in WoW.  I admit that it’s thoroughly unscientific.
  • Liquid Magma: Break crowd control, kids!  Seriously, though, it’s a very solid AoE damage choice and not a terrible choice for single-target damage either.  The random nature of the ability makes it a little bit worse than it would be otherwise, but you can still get a lot of use out of it for burning big groups down in short order.  Considering how well Enhancement handles that these days anyway, a case could be made that this serves as a marquee talent for the spec.

Ultimately, the two biggest choices you have through talents are the level 60 and level 90 slots; both of those will strongly define what you choose for your level 100 talent and they have the biggest overall impact on your playstyle.  The rest of your talent choices are mostly about utility and fine detail, making most of the talents feel a bit less immediately relevant.  Me, I favor Echo/Unleashed/Fusion; yes, it might not be perfect for numbers or AoE, but it adds in solid reliability and smooths out some of the random jankiness of playing Enhancement, something the spec sorely needs.

Not all of the random jankiness, of course.  Maelstrom Weapon, you tease.

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