Totem Talk: Taking another look at Legion’s Enhancement talents
Deleting a character is never fun, not even when it’s a test realm character and it’s the only way to keep doing things like visiting class order halls. But here we are, a patch dropped, and I did what I had to do. Now I’m back to level… well, 100, which didn’t mean quite as much as it could have when you take into account the fact that I was not actually all that leveled in the alpha test to begin with.
Look, I am saving storyline stuff.
However, with all of these changes assailing Enhancement, it seems like a fine time to look at the talent tree for the class as it stands now. The last time I did so was back when Enhancement wasn’t even in the alpha, and I’ve made several partial references since then, but the layout has changed significantly by now. And yes, I’ve lost at least one talent I really liked along the way. But no kvetching about that — let’s start working our way through the talent trees that are here now.
At this point, Tier 1 is full of ways to screw with your basic rotation. Hot Hand gives you an extra proc to deal with that feels a bit more familiar to anyone who likes chasing Lava Lash procs on live, Boulderfist turns Rockbiter into a power powerful builder while adding in some charge management, and Windsong just adds another set of attacks to cycle through as you build up for your bigger attacks. Sort of. It’s more of a damage cooldown than anything at this point, although it synergizes decently with Stormlash.
While I was very much on board with Windsong in its earlier version, the addition of Hot Hand and Boulderfist makes the first tier seem a lot more competitive in terms of tweaking your playstyle, and I’m not nearly as fond of it any longer. At the end of the day, Boulderfist might actually be my favorite of the bunch, inheriting some of the fun management that ran through Echo of the Elements and its stacking charges. There will be times when you don’t need to use the attack much and can bank up charges; at other times you’ll need the resource building. Getting to swap between them is useful, and the fact that it generates a nice spike of Maelstrom doesn’t hurt matters.
We’ve lost Gust of Wind and I am very unhappy about that. Gust of Wind is not a great ability, but it was fun, a sort of mini-Roll effect that didn’t care too much about height. It felt very Shaman-like, at that. I recognize that it’s also not nearly competitive with our other choices on this level band, but let me mourn a little bit.
Our current lineup is Feral Lunge, a charging gap-closer in Ghost Wolf form, Wind Rush Totem, which boosts the whole party’s speed, and Rainfall, which is… similar to some of our old effects, but not quite the same. Part of me is baffled that it’s not just a straight-up totem, as the same core effect could be conveyed with a totem with no real loss to functionality or flavor, but here we are.
As it stands, these are all going to be very situational talents. Wind Rush Totem is great for times when the whole raid or party needs to move as one, but it’s going to be superfluous otherwise, while Feral Lunge is only useful if you’re going to be popping into Ghost Wolf during opportune moments. (Ideal for fights where you have to move a lot, in other words.) I think that Rainfall is kind of setting itself up as an ideal “default” here — it’s not a damage boost, but neither are its contemporaries, and there are few times when having a healing field up that you can extend by hurting things is going to be a disadvantage. Bit more utility, in other words.
Lightning Surge Totem is a time-delayed stun, Earthgrab Totem is the same old rooting fun it’s always been, and Voodoo Totem is still my favorite because Voodoo Totem. It has the added advantage of keeping enemies in a lockdown field, which is useful. I think it’s going to serve as the best default pick out of the three, although the other two have use for PvP scenarios; none of these talents are terribly exciting, but they’re a lot better than the current lineup Enhancement has, so I’ll take the shift.
Sundering is a straight-line knockback that seems to persist through revisions because Blizzard really wants it available to Enhancement despite not having a particular function that drives it to Enhancement. By contrast, Lightning Shield is a nice throwback to older playstyles and Ancestral Swiftness is just a straight-up passive buff to your already notable attack speed. It’s up to you if an increased rate of lightning damage is worth the tradeoff in speed; I’m a bit doubtful that Lightning Shield can quite hold up in a proper DPS parsing race, but if you’re down at Normal or below it’s probably not something worth getting hung up about either.
Overcharge turns Lightning Bolt into a big resource spender that can serve as a finishing move or a strong opener, offering you a different big punch. Landslide makes Rockbiter even more powerful. Tempest gives you two charges for your existing big spender, Stormstrike, allowing you to bust out some pretty nasty paired hits with it when fortune favors you. All three of these talents are good, and none of them jump out as being strongly situational except insofar as they’re going to appeal to different playstyles.
For my money, Tempest and Rockbiter are kind of the winners here, not because they’re outright better but because they suit my preferences with regards to grappling cooldowns. (I find I have no shortage of things to do even without adding Lightning Bolt into regular rotation.) Tempest does synergize nicely with Rainfall, if that’s the route you want to take.
Hailstorm turns your Frostbrand into another weapon enhancer, allowing it to trigger Stormlash. Empowered Stormlash makes the aforementioned Stormlash spread further and hit harder. And Crashing Storm… leaves an electrical storm behind when you use your AoE ability, making for a talent with strictly situational utility. Then again, I’d argue all of these are pretty situational and a trifle lackluster; Empowered Stormlash feels like the winner simply because it makes our big party-enhancing ability a bit better at enhancing the party. It’s not a wide margin.
I feel like this tier in particular has been chipped away until it reached its current state of being somewhat ambivalent. It’s not bad, but it’s not half as compelling as its earlier incarnations.
Fury of Air is a potent little AoE that is situational (what with the fact that it’s an AoE) but still worth consideration. Earthen Spike is a damage buffing ability on a short cooldown that sort of demands some cooldowns ready to take advantage of it. And Ascendance is… well, it’s Ascendance, same as it ever was, but with a three minute cooldown and 15s uptime on the exchange, having finally had its cooldowns brought into a place where it’s kind of useful.
For per-hit damage, Earthen Spike still looks to be winning at a glance — it has drawbacks, but a 10% boost to your main damage sources for 30s per minute (or, if you’d prefer, a flat 5% damage boost) is pretty meaty despite that. It’s no longer the unambiguous constant winner, though, and there’s something to be said now for situations where Fury of Air or Ascendance might be more worthwhile. So that’s to the tier’s credit.
Overall, we’ve lost a fair chunk of talents already and had several move… but with only a couple of exceptions, the talents we’ve lost have been the boring sort that didn’t really add much to the game in the first place. We’re still in a good place, and the choices we get to make now certainly shape our playstyle handily. Not that I miss Gust of Wind any less, sadly.
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