Enhancement: The New Manbearpig
With the changes to certain game mechanics in patch 3.0.2, Enhancement Shaman have become what could be considered one of the truest hybrids in the game. The changes have emphasised a synergy between melee damage and spell damage that is truly amazing.
Evolving Mechanics: Unifying Hybrid Damage
First off, the changes of some old stats into unified stats, namely spell power, crit, hit and haste, are groundbreakingly incredible. The change to spell power means that now the one stat will affect both offensive spells and healing spells, which menas that gear with differing numbers affecting the two is a thing of the past. This also means that no longer will gear be healer specific, since the spell power will also be viable for damage dealers. While there may still be gear that will be better overall for specific healers, it basically means that more classes will be able to use a wider variety of gear. While this may create the inevitable loot drama, ultimately it will mean a lot less gear will be wasted as well.
The changes to crit, hit and haste are even more important in my opinion. Before, melee classes would focus on melee hit ratings while caster classes would focus on spell hit ratings (and crit and haste). Now, there is a single stat for each that affects spells and melee attacks. While this is good for pure casting and the pure melee classes, it is even better for classes that use both melee and spells, specifically, Paladins, Shaman and Druids come to mind. So now, spells that were viable before the patch, are going to be even better. For Enhance Shaman this applies specifically to Shocks, Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning.
Maelstramifications: The New Enhance-Hotness
The changes that were made to the Enhancement tree have gone even further to make Enhancement even more of a hybrid spec. While before, shocks were included in dps rotations, lighting spells rarely would be. The casting times were so long that the loss in dps wasn’t worth the spells. Now, with the Maelstrom Weapon talent, having an instant cast Chain Lightning or Lightning Bolt spell is completely viable, and the crit that spells now receive from the unified stat will make them do even more damage. Lava Lash, another deep Enhancement talent is also has a spell damage component. And with this new talent, many Shaman are now considering using Flametongue Weapon on their offhand weapon for the increased damage component to Lava Lash. I haven’t looked into the theorycrafting behind it yet, but I plan to shortly. There is likely going to be a certain point where spell power will increase the damage done to make it more viable than having Windfury Weapon on the offhand. Must go theorycraftumbobulatification. Don’t worry, that word could have gone on much longer. In its current state its only partially-fikklized.
Shifting Paradigms: Hybrid Style
Hybrid can mean a lot of things in WoW. It can mean a class that can fill two differing roles, which would include Warriors and Priests. It can mean a class that can fill two or more of the three primary roles in the game (tanking, healing and dps), which would include Druids, Paladins, Shaman, Warriors and Priests. In the concept that I’m looking at it from, I’m considering a hybrid a spec in a class that uses both melee and spells as their main sources of damage output. This definition, which is admittedly, much more limited in scope, restricts the defination mainly to Shaman and Paladins. A more accurate description would be a hybrid damage spec. Ret Paladins, generally use hard hitting two handed weapons and their seals and judgement abilities. Enhance Shaman use hard hitting, dual wielded, one-hand weapons and their shocks and lightening spells. This concept isn’t a revolutionary change from the original ideas behind these two specs, since both have always used spells and melee damage to dish it out. It’s more of an evolutionary change where the original concepts have been elaborated on and expanded, buffed by the new unified stats and broadened with new spells and abilities that allow for more variety and tons more fun. I’ve been having so much fun playing the Shaman with the changes. Even though he’s terribly geared at the moment, the changes have given so much more depth to his spec that its probably the most fun I’ve had with any class or spec in the game. And as any regular reader knows, I can haz alts.
The Future is Bright: 70 to 80
Getting the Shaman to 80 is my first priority when Wrath hits. While he may be harder to level than some of my other toons that have had plenty of time at 70 to amass the epics, the reset will bring upgrades and its not like I have any gear that will last until level 80 anyways. As much fun as I’m having right now, I’m looking forward to getting to play the spec at level 80. The 10 extra talent poitns and additional spells is going to make it even more interesting to play than it already is. While I haven’t truly experienced many of the problems that were discussed to no end on the forums through BC and even before, I’m looking at the future for Enhancement Shaman and it looks bright. Each day the excitement builds as Wrath is drawing ever closer and I can’t wait to get out there and get the new Manbearpig to Northrend.
May the Horde be with you