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Shaman > WoWMay 21, 2015 5:00 pm CT

Totem Talk: Enhancement changes for the better

Enhancement changes

You probably have noticed by now that I have some critical things to say about Enhancement as it stands now. That comes from a place of love, though.  I don’t criticize because I hate Enhancement, I criticize because I love the hell out of it despite some occasionally tone-deaf decisions made about where the spec should be.  We’ve lost a lot of the things that made our spec so resonant.

Of course, we’ve also lost a whole lot of things that I do not miss in any way, shape, or form.  So today, as patch 6.2 continues to not really change a whole lot of anything about Enhancement, I want to celebrate that, the abilities and goofy ideas and general bits of weirdness that have been pruned out of Enhancement over time.  Sure, sometimes those Enhancement changes have come along with detrimental effects, but I’m still very happy that I will never again have to deal with…

Fighting over Spellpower weapons

Back when dual wielding was still a new thing for Shaman, we were in an interesting place.  A fair chunk of our damage still did come from spells, and we generally needed to juggle a whole lot of stats.  We also really wanted a nice slow main-hand weapon to make those Windfury procs really sing.  This all marvelously combined on spellpower weapons, one-handed stat sticks intended for casters that ironically provided us with all of the spell stats we could ever ask for.

The up side, of course, was that these weapons could work well in a role that they were never intended to be used for.  The down side is that it meant fighting with dedicated casters, including frequently making life harder for healing characters — since Shaman couldn’t and still can’t use swords, they’re locked out of some of the ideal DPS caster weapons from back in the day.

These days, of course, it’s a moot point, and Enhancement no longer wants anything so much as sweet, sweet Agility and physical stats.  Being able to get the spellpower we need from physical stats is a definite kludge, but it’s one that works to ensure that Enhancement is taking the weapons that would make sense for Enhancement.

Still want my totems back in general, though.

The Grace of Air/Windfury fight

I’m willing to bet most of the people reading this remember Windfury Weapon when it wasn’t just an inherent feature of Enhancement.  Some of you may or may not remember that we used to have a totem to spread that effect around, too.  And it was kind of problematic in TBC, because you personally got nothing out of Windfury Totem at the time, but every other melee character got all the benefits of Windfury when normally they wouldn’t have had anything.

True, tanks didn’t particularly care.  But if your party had an Arms Warrior in it, that Windfury totem was everything.  Which meant that you had to hamstring yourself in a group in order to provide the most group benefit, which just plain grated.

Changing Windfury to a flat haste buff did mean that you could no longer give other classes all the power of a Windfury crit in the midst of combat, which was sad, but it also meant that we got something out of it and had a reason to just drop Strength of Earth and Windfury every time.  And then both of them went the way of the dinosaur, so that might not have been the best possible example, but still.

Removing weapon imbues

Yes, it’s consolidation in Warlords that was actually super helpful for Enhancement!

There was, to be fair, a time when having all of the different options about what to put on your weapons was super useful.  That time, however, was back in TBC again.  As soon as dual specs were a thing, there was pretty much never a situation wherein Enhancement was going to be swapping out Windfury on the main hand and Flametongue on the right, and all those spells really did was take up space while never being useful.

Sure, in theory you could toss Earthliving onto your weapons.  You could also just take the few seconds to swap specs if you’re going to be healing.  And if you were swapping that onto both of your weapons … well, I don’t want to judge you for how you play, but I think you might not know what game you’re playing.

The biggest argument against this course of action was that it made Unleash Elements feel kind of weird.  But that’s a problem that should be addressed with Unleash, which was itself a button added to make the weapon enhancements more interesting and sort of failed at that.  If there are choices that only have the one right answer, it’s best to cut them out.

I'm probably not going to miss Garrisons.

Physical totems

I will be honest and say that I do kind of miss our relic slot.  But having those four little bits hanging around all the time?  They were great for class lore, but they didn’t even serve the purpose of hunter ammunition.  At least ammo had a thematic purpose. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say that pretty much all of the physical reagents for Shaman spells were kind of silly, but totems galled me the most.  They just sat there.  They didn’t do anything worthwhile.  At least the fish parts I used to breathe underwater were kind of cute.

Stat weirdness

At one point in the game, playing a Shaman meant caring about three of the primary stats a lot.  You really wanted as much Agility, Strength, and Intellect as you could get.  Yes, Mental Dexterity was a thing, and it was a rather ham-handed attempt to make an Enhancement player stuck with caster items feel like their entire conception of the spec had not gone crucially wrong at some point along the way.

That’s not even getting into secondary stats in the least.  Yes, being a hybrid is fun, but trying to itemize a hybrid when you need everything is something less than fun.

You can argue quite convincingly that at the moment, because of gear requirements and the slow boiling out of several class elements, the spec gears like a group of melee hunters.  But I am really happy enough to not be juggling half so many stats, even if that means some of the charming weirdness of watching my attack go up from intellect gear is gone.

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