Like the movie sneak peek that’s intentionally ambiguous so as to convince you to line up for midnight release, a burst of information appeared last week on WoW news sites in conjunction with the Cataclysm Friends and Family alpha testing. While the majority of information centered around scenery, models and professions, we also did get a taste of talent trees and new abilities. And I’d be lying if I said I could sit coolly on the sidelines and wait for all information to be finalized before jumping in the fray.
Ever a sucker for speculation, the first things I dove into upon the influx of Cataclysm information were the “updated” talent trees. Aside from the absolutely obvious—that talent trees are definitely not the final development pass (god, I hope they’re not)—I came away with a couple potential specs and some observations about the direction of talents in general.
My first initial take, upon playing around with my whole *5* extra talent points is that enhancement still holds a number of enticing talents for the resto shaman, while the first tiers of elemental remain of little benefit. While the first tiers of Enhance will purportedly increase our max mana by 15% and buff Resto’s shields by 15% as well, the first layers of Elemental hold comparatively less for us beyond Elemental Warding. In fact, the mana cost reductions that might be of benefit to Resto (in terms of shocks) which appear in the starting tiers of Elemental can also be realized on the 3rd tier of the Enhancement tree.
Where I found the distinction between the two dps shaman trees got interesting were the heretofore unreachable 4th and 5th tiers. While Enhance provides a seemingly huge benefit to Restos in the form of Ancestral Swiftness, which could help ensure that mobility doesn’t remain a hindrance to our healing potential, Elemental on the other hand, offers some amazing burst and sustainability potential in the form of Elemental Mastery and Unrelenting Storm, the former which would serve as a personal bloodlust, and the latter which would contribute upwards of 170 mp5 for any of today’s decently geared raiding resto shaman. (Resto+Enhance sub and Resto+ Elem sub)
Now, although things may change significantly in the weeks before Beta and the months before release, the one thing that I discovered while playing around with talent points is, provided that the talent trees remain structured in the same way (eg: 10 points of talents each for tiers 1, 2 and 3) I think it’s going to be fairly hard to free up points for a sub tree beyond a 21-point threshold. Although Blizzard may be trimming some more of the fat out of our Resto talents,my preliminary assessment is that it looks like the trend of investing over 51 points to get all relevant mainspec talents will continue.
Secondarily, when looking at the Resto tree, I also noted the inclusion of two new talents—Ancestral Resolve and Focused Insight. The inclusion of Ancestral Resolve so deep in the Resto tree leads me to two things, namely: that Blizzard thinks that Resto Shaman missing out on the Elemental talent “Elemental Warding” was significant enough that they needed to remedy the issue, and secondarily, that it will likely be an important talent when learning new content. (Keep in mind Enhance typically goes into the Elem tree with their extra points, meaning all specs would have access to direct damage reduction). However, if Blizzard resolutely sticks to their plan that players will not be at threat of death when sitting at HP < 100%, then this talent may not be as crucial as I’m inclined to believe, since the 10% shouldn’t be an issue in the larger scheme of things.
So, unless there’s compelling enough reason to take Ancestral Resolve, in terms of incoming raid damage or a spot opens up in the resto tree (like hey, scrapping Nature’s Guardian, which only 5-10% of shamans take, according to Armory data mining) I think it’s unlikely that I’ll pick up this talent. And with the offerings that were posted about new Enchanting recipes, specifically those for boots, I think I’m going to be more inclined to pursue an Enhance sub spec to pick up Ancestral Swiftness and free up my toes for + Mastery or Int.
Lastly, with the changes we know are on the horizon for Healing Wave, I think Cataclysm will be the time that I join the camp of Healing Way devotees. Although restos could skip out on this talent in WotLK and get away with it, I have the feeling that if it remains a buff to all Healing Wave spells (Lesser, Normal, and Greater) then it will be a required 3/3 talent.
Thanks to a couple data miners, and MMO-Champion’s growing Cataclysm database, we also have a preliminary look at several of the new shaman abilities/talents, resto and otherwise:
- Healing Rain: Calls forth healing rains to blanket the area targeted by the Shaman, restoring 1827 to 2173 health to allies in the area every 2.0 sec for 10 sec.
- Gift of the Water Spirit: Regenerates 5% of your total health and mana every 1.0 sec.
- Bind Elemental: Binds the target hostile elemental for up to 50 sec. The bound unit is unable to move, attack or cast spells. Any damage caused will release the target. Only one target can be bound at a time.
- Primal Strike: An instant weapon strike that causes 11 additional damage.
- Unleash Weapon: Focuses the elemental force imbued in the Shaman’s weaponry, with the concentrated effects depending on the enchantment unleashed.
- Purge (Revised): Purges the enemy target, removing 3 beneficial magic effects.
Now while the numbers are still being finalized, and from what I hear Chain Heal is one of the many “broken” spells on the alpha servers, Healing Rain’s power is already pretty impressive. At the moment, its closest equivalent is Druid’s Tranquility, which heals for a base of 3035 per 2 sec for 8 sec. And although the comparison is a level 80 spell versus a level 83 one, an on-demand or constant mini-tranquility is a downright amazing concept (and sure to garner a swift nerf if it’s even perceived as OP).
And Finally …
Goblin totems are out! Although I’m not too psyched about adding another unattractive femme to my growing arsenal of orcs, trolls, and undead (and the obligatory cutesy b-elf), I don’t think I’ll be able to resist either rolling a new goblin shaman or making the switch on Vixsyn. And while the modeled goblin totems seem to be decidedly different from one of the sketches released a while back, I still think they’re very impressively detailed, albeit slightly large in scale. In addition, the preliminary look at one of the Goblin racials—1% spell/melee haste—would suggest them as one of the better PVE classes, at least horde side. In comparison, Troll’s Berserking racial (when used on CD) grants a constant 1.1% haste; so it becomes a question of supplemental racials (rocket boots anyone?) and your preference of burst versus constant, that would determine the choice between the two on horde side. For alliance shaman, I’m sorry to say that at least in their current iteration, the dwarf racials aren’t going to offer much benefit from a PVE standpoint. But, given that Blizz did say that they might be reworking the racials to bring them a bit more in line with eachother, anything is possible.
All I can say at this point is … WTB Blizzard friend, PST!