5.2 Elemental Shaman Concerns(A PvE+PvP Look)

Shaman
First of all, I've played World of Warcraft since its initial release on and off, and have been involved in each expansion quite heavily (excluding Cataclysm).

In Classic and BC I was Restoration. In Wrath and Cata I was Enhancement. And now in Pandaria i'm trying out Elemental for the first time. I've mainly been focused on PvE in the past, but I decided that this expansion I would try and get into PvP as well.

Anyway, I wanted to voice my opinion on where we stand, as well as share some concerns of the shaman community about our class when it comes to both sides of the game. I really love the class, and I hope my words will carry some weight.

CONTENTS:
#1 - Fire Elemental Totem / Earth Elemental Totem
#2 - Totems As A Whole
#3 - Rockbiter Weapon
#4 - Flame Shock / Frost Shock / Earth Shock
#5 - Survivability
#6 - Other Miscellaneous Gripes With The Class

#1 - Fire Elemental Totem / Earth Elemental Totem.

Ever since the introduction of these spells in BC, many of us shaman have been wondering why these are bound to a physical totem. It just doesn't feel right to have a whole totem-tree (Fire/Earth) locked out simply by having one of our elementals summoned. The effects on PvE are minimal, but it's PvP where it seems clunky.

A) Having the Earth Elemental out means we can't use our other helpful spells, such as Tremor Totem or Earthbind/grab Totem.
B) It feels weird that if we move too far from the totem, our so called 'Guardian' will despawn. Tether range was meant to be a thing of the past with the introduction of our revamped short-duration totems.
C) Our Fire Elemental can be a real helpful buddy to have in a pinch, but it's heartbreaking to see the physical totem get 1 or 2 hit by an attack, which kills the elemental, and in-turn makes the whole spell redundant.

None of these mentioned problems are apparent with the Mages Water Elemental, as a very broad example. These issues really feel out dated and the mechanics revolving around the summoned totem-portion to the spell feel really clunky. It especially effects those who choose Primal Elemental as their level 90 talent, making the spell feel wasted.

Suggested Change: Simply change the spells to "Greater Earth Elemental" and "Greater Fire Elemental", there is literally no reason to have them bound to a totem, and will make it a more worthwhile cast.

#2 - Totems As A Whole.

Surely has been a hot topic over the years, and from the countless changes and forum threads on the issue, I thought I would add some food-for-thought.

Totems were obviously introduced with the class due to heavy Role Playing requests from the players of previous Warcraft games. And I love them, they definitely make us unique. However most of our totems suffer from the same problem I mentioned in the summoned Elementals section. The problem is that we literally have several core abilities of our class that can be countered by any other spec, of any other class.

Our Healing Tide / Tremor / Grounding / Earthbind / Earthgrab / Capacitor and even Searing Totem are at the mercy of an auto attack. Now, the first counter-argument to this statement is going to be "Yes, but that forces the opponent to switch, and switch back", and this is true. The problem is that literally EVERYONE can still counter our abilities.

Here is an example: A Druids Entangling Roots or Mass Entangle require a dispell, and only a few classes have a dispell ability. A Shamans Earthgrab only requires an auto attack or weak ranged ability to 'cure' from anyone, and high enough PvPers will easily (and quickly) kill the totem, and return to us within a second.

The 5.1 nerf to not allow us to cast totems while silenced doesn't help this growing problem, although I can see why it was necessary. Just as other classes should be unable to use their abilities when CC'd, neither should we. But this is the EXACT reason why something needs to be done in order to make them feel more than a simple "throw down and pray it goes unnoticed" kind of spell.

Suggested Change: I believe making them un-targetable is the change needed. I think Blizzard has exhausted all other revenues in trying things such as increasing their health, and removing them from auto-target-macro's.

A) In the case of Tremor and Grounding Totem, a dispellable buff should be on the Shaman. Dispelling the buff would destroy the totem, the same way dispelling a Priest would remove Fear Ward. This brings the spells in line with other class abilities, such as a Priests Fear Ward, or a Warriors Spell Reflect.
B) In the case of Earthbind Totem, I believe it should no longer be bound to a totem, and simply be called "Earthbind". It would just drop the effect on the ground beneath us the same way it used to, without the kill-able totem. This brings the spell in line with other classes abilities, such as a Hunters Frost Trap, or a Druids Mass Entangle. (Depending on whether you Glyph for Earthgrab or not)
C) In the case of Capacitor totem, it would still drop the totem, but be un-targetable, and function similar to a Death Knight's 'Remorseless Winter' simply ticking down to the stun.
D) In the case of Searing Totem and Magma Totem I am unsure. Having a un-targetable incoming damage source (no matter how small) seems out of place. I am sure leaving these as kill-able would be fine.

In the end, there is no easy fix to totems. But I feel we are WAY to easily countered as it stands.


#3 - Rockbiter Weapon

One spell that i'm sure goes unnoticed by many a shaman is our never-used weapon imbue. I remember when I first saw this spell pop up in the Cata patch notes, I thought Shaman were finally going to be able to tank. The grim result was a spell that is borderline useless.

The first part of the spell is obviously that we gain more threat, and once unleashed using Unleashed Elements, it taunts the enemy to attack the shaman. The problem with this mechanic is that "Imbue Weapon" is not off the GCD. So in a pinch...whenever the hell a shaman would need to taunt....it would literally take 2 GCD's to get our taunt off, and then another afterwards to re-imbue our prefered enchant. Its no secret that its not used at all, but the interesting part to the imbue is the second half, "Reduces all damage taken by 5%"....

Now Elemental shaman have been SCREAMING out for more ways to play defensively. Obviously Elemental shaman will get a helping hand from Enhance's Shamanistic Rage in 5.2, but I wonder if Blizzard have ever thought of doing something with this imbue?

Suggested Change: If they bumped it to say 10-15% it would give shaman an interesting choice between doing more damage, or taking less damage, either pre-emptively, or re-actively as they see fit.

For example: In an arena game it becomes apparent that the Elemental shaman is being tunneled. We could swap to rockbiter for a while to help out the healer, and then swap back to flametongue when the pressure is off. I think its a genius idea.

#4 - Flame Shock / Frost Shock / Earth Shock

Am I the only one that feels as though having these spells on the same cooldown is another clunky and out-dated mechanic? I think its prehistoric to be honest, and I believe we have moved WELL beyond the fear of applying a DoT and a Snare within 2 GCD's. I would direct your attention towards the Warrior, the Feral Druid, the Mage, the DK and even the Monk. Pretty much every class can apply a DoT and a Snare in 2 Global Cooldowns, and I really don't know why Blizzard is holding us back simply because its 'been that way since Classic'. Make Frost Shock do zero damage, I doubt you'll find a Shaman that cares.

Suggested Change: Remove them from each other's cooldown. ITS OLD MECHANICS, and it's bad enough we have Cooldown-Sharing abilities such as totems.

#5 - Survivability

It's been countless arena seasons of "Focus the Shaman" and now it's nothing but a sick joke. It's obvious we are the weakest class/spec in terms of preventing damage / avoiding damage.

If you look at every other single class, they all have either one, or both of these:

A) Prevent Damage Spell
or
B) Avoid Damage Spell

Here is a list off the top of my head:

Hunter: Deterence (Prevent) / Disengage (Avoid)
Mage: Iceblock (Prevent) / Blink (Avoid)
Monk: Fort Brew (Prevent) Zen Med (Prevent) Diffuse Magic (Prevent) / Roll (Avoid) Purify Brew (Avoid in 5.2) Transcendence (Avoid)
Paladin: Bubble (Prevent) / Freedom (Avoid)
Priest: Disperse (Prevent) Life Swap (Prevent-Kinda) / Life Grip (Avoid-Kinda)
Rogue: Cloak (Prevent) Evasion (Prevent) Vanish (Prevent) / Sprint (Avoid)
Warlock: Sacrifice (Prevent) / Portal or Gateway (Avoid) Demonic Leap (Avoid)
Warrior: Shield Wall (Prevent) Die By The Sword (Prevent) Rallying Cry (Prevent) / Heroic Leap (Avoid)

Let's have a look at what Shaman get.....

Astral Shift: A 40% reduction for 6 seconds (IF YOU SPEC FOR IT). So it's basically a ghetto shield-wall (which lasts 12 seconds).
Windwalk Totem: A 6 Second Freedom Ability (IF YOU SPEC FOR IT). So it's basically a ghetto hand of freedom (which lasts 10 seconds).
Ghost Wolf: A 40% movement speed buff (Which doesn't break Roots or Poly-morphs) in which we cant cast anything without leaving the form.

Now don't get me wrong, I love those abilities, but the problem is that compared to what everyone else gets, we have ZERO resources to force anyone focusing us to attack someone else instead, and borderline USELESS abilities to get away from harm. Even with a lucky Grounding Totem and Astral Shift while ghost wolfing away, it's not going to force the team off of you, at least not anywhere near the same way a Dispersion would for example.

Suggested Change: Shamanistic Rage is a step in the right direction. But I think everyone know's it won't be nearly enough. We need a new mechanic, something to help us out of a really bad situation. Maybe change astral recall? Make it "recall us into the astral plane" granting lesser invisibility and clearing CC. etc etc. Something like that.

#6 - Other Miscellaneous Gripes With The Class

Minor Glyphs: Compared to literally every other class we have both the least Minor Glyphs, and the most un-appealing Minor Glyphs in the game. Warlocks get 15, and we get 8 to choose from....Seems as though Shamans got the short end of the stick on that one. Give us Frost Wolf or Flame Wolf in addition to Spectral Wolf. Maybe a minor glyph to make Ascendance make us take the form of a Mogu or something random/crazy. Make our bloodlust make us smaller instead of bigger. I could think of literally SO many things, yet we have disgusting minor's!

Thunderstorm: It is still buggy. Currently there is some interaction with Warriors and Monks (possibly more) where occasionally they will not get Thunder-stormed away at all.

Earthquake: For a spell that comes with the spec it sure is pretty dull. Currently its not worth casting in our AoE rotation, even glyphed its got extremely limited uses in PvE and PvP. The glyph effect should be within the spell already, and the glyph should make enemies within the earthquake silenced. If they are going to leave it as it is, the cast time needs to be much quicker.

Well thats it, thanks for reading! Feel free to add anything I may have missed, and let's hope we can get a bit of Elemental love in the future! =)
I agree with a lot of these concerns and I hope that Blizzard at least takes the time to read this post.

Most of your suggested changes make sense too. I would love the GCD removed from imbues and have our shocks behave as independent spells.
Yeah definitely. I think if they could turn rockbiter into a defensive imbue it would help out both Ele and Enhance. It would add some defensive playstyle into the mix. I do think either Unleash Elements or the Weapon Imbue should be off the GCD (As it stands if you have not selected 'Unleashed Fury' level 90 talent, it's not currently worth using Unleash Elements in our rotation.)
Completely agree, I just hope that Blizzard will actually take this thread seriously.
Best Ele article I have EVER read. I just started doing arena in MoP and I find that I am almost ALWAYS tunneled. My healer can only get us through it if the other team is total trash. The survivability of Shaman is next to nothing. That is my MAJOR concern going forward. Though 5.2 looks brighter than the past. Best wishes guys.
01/01/2013 08:26 PMPosted by Anksha
Completely agree, I just hope that Blizzard will actually take this thread seriously.
Considering they don't read these forums? I doubt it.

It'd be better off in the PvP/Damage Dealing forums if you want them to possibly skim it.

Edit: To clarify, GC has said on his twitter that they do not frequent the class forums since its mostly for peer discussion. And that they tend to noticed things in the above forums more as long as its well constructed and such.
Wrap, you are one real shaman.
What bothers me the most about the spec is that it too many of our feel designed for fairness or how they fit as far as function goes without much thought for the actual feel of the spec. An example of this is the whole "Elements" kit.

Take a look at Elemental Blast. It's a solid spell. It incorporates all three spell schools into one thing, and so it hits really hard. It interacts with Unleash Flame (which we almost never use) and so Fire spells hit hard with it. But... other than that, the name, and the gaudy animation, there's no clue that there's anything "Elemental" about it whatsoever. There's no slow for frost. There's no burning dot for fire. There's no stun for nature or fire. On the other hand, Frostfire Bolt for Mages applies a slow, and it interacts well with talents improving fire or frost damage -- and that's just with two spell schools.

It's not that I don't like the spells and their functions; I don't like the feel. I've been playing my low level Rogue a lot lately, and I have to say that I feel sneaky and dirty. I'm ported to a world in which I feel like an angel of death bringing death to where it's needed most. Then I recall my days of playing my Druid in low level battlegrounds and in world pvp in days past. I remember how elusive I felt, and how the stealth and the tracking, and the different forms felt distinct. While Wrath does suffer from the bland-damage-of-a-different color problem, overall, the Druid experience feels distinct.

The minor glyphs are just one example of Shaman feel being neglected. With all of the possibilities for "Elements" or "Astral" or "Spiritual" representation, you'd think they'd be jumping at the chance to incorporate more animations and visuals to the Shaman arsenal. Warriors charge with fire. Rogues mimic others' forms. Warlocks are just awesome. Shaman don't really get much at all in cosmetic changes even -- especially for Elemental. Well, unless you count turning into an awkwardly slowed down version of a Hunter pet (while in our speed form). There doesn't seem to be a priority on making the "kit" cool.

That's what made the totem change so hard for me to take. Instead of going to route of figuring a way to make a totem more distinct and awesome, by categorizing them simply as silence-able spells (the same as any other ability), Blizz made them more of cooldowns on sticks instead of connections to the elements or something distinct and Shamanic. There are no positives to totems when compared to other self-cast cooldowns. They're just self-cast cooldowns with external dispel mechanisms and convoluted spell school restrictions. That's not to say that they're not good button pushes; it is to say that they're not distinct.

The Shaman class is in need of a kit revamp. I love that Flame Shock is getting buffed in 5.2, and I like that I'll be gaining new passive self healing with the glyph -- but why the hell is Fire healing me here? Aren't there better ways through the Elements to provide passive healing to a Shaman than Fire? Think these things through.

And just why are the Elementals tied to totems? Is that a counter that is even needed? Do we really need to not be able to wet noodle people with Searing while Fire Elemental is out or should we be unable to slow people while an Earth Elemental fights foes?

Why are Shocks linked? Why does that even make sense? Why doesn't Frozen Power, the unpopular talent, also remove Frost Shock from the shared Shock cooldown? How exactly does calling upon Frost disallow me from calling on Fire?

...

It just feels like the competition and the kit are in opposition, and there is some serious confusion in the identity of the class. It plays well, sure, from a developer stand point. We have roles that we can fulfill like burst and multi-target attacks, and we can AoE slow and root like a Hunter and that sort of thing. But from a personal question, it just doesn't feel like a class or a spec worth being committed to night after night.

I don't want to be told that something is an Elemental Blast. I want to hit the button and feel the need to tell people, "Now THAT is an Elemental Blast." That something is fire, frost, or nature should be obvious. Don't tell it; show it. Make us feel it.

That goes for Totems too. Don't tell us they're totems, or a Ghostly Wolf, or an Astral Shift whatever. It should be obvious. Right now, too many things, like Astral Shift, still feel like functional placeholders.

We're just now reaching the point where the talented version of Unleash Flame will further improve... Flame. Think about that for a second. How did that even make sense before now?

And why is Flametongue still the only spec-identified weapon buff with no procs associated with its primary role? Why isn't it a Windfury or a Earthliving for spells? What the hell is so Flame about it for an Elemental Shaman?

Nothing.

This spec just is a jumble of missed opportunities. It plays well, but it doesn't quite feel awesome. It doesn't wow me. I don't love my Elemental Shaman anymore -- not like I used to. My eye has begun to wander.
01/01/2013 08:26 PMPosted by Anksha
Completely agree, I just hope that Blizzard will actually take this thread seriously.


Yeah mate me too. I hope they realize why we are the 3rd least played class. (Can't seem to find the Wow Insider Graph that showed class popularity, but Rogue is at the bottom at the moment.)

01/01/2013 08:36 PMPosted by ßirt
I just started doing arena in MoP and I find that I am almost ALWAYS tunneled. My healer can only get us through it if the other team is total trash. The survivability of Shaman is next to nothing. That is my MAJOR concern going forward.


Yeah, even from doing a little arena myself, that was pretty much our strat as well. Tunnel the shaman! And along with Warriors and DK's, we're the only class that doesn't have a super CD. Although Warriors and DK's get much better defensive's than us.

@Bosako: The whole weapon imbue / unleash elements / unleash fury thing is VERY clunky. Unleashing flame isnt worth casting, unleashing frostbrand gives a weird pseudo slow, and unleashing rockbiter taunts.....It feels as though they missed out on adding a really intuitive system to our class. I agree that it needs an overhaul.

And yes, the shock-locked-spells are beyond infuriating. Having them separated would remove a painful element to our PvE rotation as well.
One change that I would love to see and has been mentioned, take the shocks off global. Change nothing else but that and see what happens. I have been in several dungeons and was ALWAYS waiting for a flame or earth shock to come off cool down. If that was changed my damage would be closer to other dps classes.

From the first time I thought of playing this game to now it seems as if blizzard does not have anyone in the devs playing shamans full time. That maybe why shamans are so clunky to begin with. :/
I completely agree with the op. And I've been reading several forums saying the same thing. Shamans need an overhaul. As far as pvp I play Enh and I think out of about 50 arenas I'll get focused 49 times. Which means I'm just running around using every cd I have just to stay alive to hopefully maybe somewhat possibly survive the opening burst. In PvE I play Ele and I've noticed that with increased gear levels my dps is slowing falling behind that of....well pretty much most classes. Lightning bolt is clunky. Someone on a different forum mentioned just making Unleashed Lightning a base part of the spell. That's a great idea! Making shocks not share a cooldown makes perfect sense. Especially with the Ele 4t14. You give us an awesome way to improve our rotation but then keep the shocks on a shared cooldown? That's silly. I'm not by any means undergeared and I get passed up by guilds with the same progression I have all the time because it's better to just bring another mage or lock based on the fact that they just pull more dps than shamans. CHANGE! Please!!
Suggested Change: I believe making them un-targetable is the change needed. I think Blizzard has exhausted all other revenues in trying things such as increasing their health, and removing them from auto-target-macro's.


In their current state and what they provide this would be to strong. Making them a non target option would leave them a non essential part of our rotation if this mechanic were to exist. Their effects would have to be lackluster as best.

I think destroying the totem should curse or hex the target in a form of the totem's effects. Make it not so desirable to destroy the totem unless they're prepared to deal with the after effects.

Some examples:

Water Totem: Healing debuff applied to attacker.
Fire Totem: Fire blast for moderate to high damage depending on totem.
Air Totem: Knockback and knockdown for .5 seconds,.
Earth Totem: Cause a fissure to immobilize the target for 2 seconds.

Beside the time taken to switch to the totem and destroy it there isn't any other downside to destroying our totems, I agree. This however would offer a viable solution to totems defense system in their current state.
I love this post alot! and agree on everything. The only issue I find with the weapon imbue change is that you would need to have another keybind setup for that macro, and I don't know about you guys but I'm all out of binds. Damage reduction still doesn't solve the "Train the shaman issue" either.

I believe the fix could be in lightning shield.
1-If lightning shield offered 15% damage reduction that would help (however not solve the "train the shaman issue")
2-If Lightning shield had a activate effect that caused significant damage reflect, something no less than 30% of damage back to attackers. This would create a interesting and unique mechanic for the shaman a sort of if you want to train me you can but at the cost of decent backlash. I Think it would create very interesting game play a sort of do we keep training the shaman or do we swap targets.

Finally Earthquake is definitely the silliest skill for shamans in the game right now, make it work the the warlocks old rain of fire and reduce the cast time.
haha love the idea that destroying totems curses the enemy. sounds like a real shaman
i mainly do pve as an ele shaman, and i must say you guys have some great ideas. we've been slowly destroyed over the years and need built back up again. the only thing keeping us from being the least played class is the simple "concept" of the shaman. i can usually beat many classes in pve even with a lower item level, but it takes skill and high concentration on procs in order to do so. otherwise its almost impossible to beat anyone. we need better defensive abilities, and simple changes such as eliminating the fire and earth elementals from the totem aspect for one example. we could also use an increase in damage somehow.
Have you already posted this in the Damage dealing forum? If not, I'd be happy to quote it there for you so the Designers bother to glance at it.

I believe the fix could be in lightning shield.

2-If Lightning shield had a activate effect that caused significant damage reflect, something no less than 30% of damage back to attackers. This would create a interesting and unique mechanic for the shaman a sort of if you want to train me you can but at the cost of decent backlash. I Think it would create very interesting game play a sort of do we keep training the shaman or do we swap targets.



WOW. This iteration of the idea of Ele's lightning shield as a form of defence is one I havnt seen before and ticks alot of boxes :)

But if we were to hypotheically try and sell this idea to the developers, we should stick to the apparent Ele Shaman Ethos-

* (Still kinda) Glass Cannons
* Traditionally RNG dependant
* Also heavily dependant on support to truly shine

are some assumptions of mine based on long observation.

With that in mind, I would alter your brilliant idea to something like-

Lightning shield has a passive X% (tiny) chance to reflect Y damage (Spell damage? Physical damage? Only yellow attack physical damage? Only White attack physical damage? ALL spells such as fear, sheep, etc?)

This is RNG. This would wouldnt change our "glass cannon" status.

Thats all I currently got, tired and drinking.
By the way, I believe campaigning to get the Shock spells off a shared cool down is flogging a dead horse.

We got our interrupt off the Shock CD (interrupt used to be Earth shock, became Wind shear on a seperate CD) and it was game changing.

But having Fulmi, Frost and Flame on shared CD allows for skill based tactics. Burst, Defence or Set up - the challenge is a quick decision of what the specific situation calls for, and challenge more or less equals fun.
Flame Shock is is just too important to our rotation and because Fulmi/eartshock share a CD it can often makes switching target slower ( and lower our DPS in fights with hard switches ). With the 5.2 buff to LB this might not be such an issue, but i still hate to delay LvB due to FS being on CD with earthshock.

i would love to see Flame Shock spread by LvB (everything in melee range) or separated from earth/frost shock CD.

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