Monday, October 29, 2007

2.3 Shaman Changes - Updated

A new patch build was released for the PTR over the weekend, so I figured this would be a good time to expand upon and update my original posting.

Blizzard's 2.3.0 Patch Notes remains the official version of changes, but MMO Champion has a lot of additional information about the upcoming patch, including screenshots.

All* items that currently have an Equip or Use bonus of "Increases healing done by spells and effects by up to <X>" will have bonus spell damage added equal to one third of the current healing bonus. This includes gems and enchants, but not temporary buffs or items that currently grant both spell damage and healing already. For example, the bonus for [Living Dragonscale Helm] will soon read "Equip: Increases healing done by up to 81 and damage done by up to 27 for all magical spells and effects." The nominal reason for this change is to give pure healers better soloing capability and with most healers sporting 1300-1400 +healing in pre-Kara blues, this means an extra 400-500 spell damage. You're probably better off switching to more DPS-oriented gear if you're doing any significant amounts of grinding, but at least now you won't have to collect two sets of gear.
* A few green "of the <whatever>" items won't receive this bonus due to a maximum of four bonuses allowed on a single item.

Despite the developers' stated intent, the greatest effect of this change will actually be to PvP. Healers won't be packing quite as much spell damage as our DPS compatriots, but it will be enough to supplement our healing role with occasional burst damage and give us a better chance to win a one-on-one encounter with a DPS class. The change may also nudge a few players towards a more hybrid spec to take advantage of the bonus spell damage, but with so many strong talents deep in the Restoration tree, I don't foresee many shaman making the switch. However, Elemental shaman (especially 3X/0/3X hybrids) may want to consider wearing a few pieces of "Resto" gear to increase their emergency healing ability with only a slight loss to their overall spell damage total.

Mana Spring Totem will now provide 20 mana every 2 seconds at max rank, rather than 12. This is the equivalent of 50 mana/5 (62.5 with the Restorative Totems talent).

Water Shield will no longer cost mana to cast and will provide 200 mana per globe. In addition, unused globes will grant their mana at the end of the shield's duration of one minute. This is the equivalent of 50 mana/5, with even higher rates for fights where you're taking damage. There does not appear to be any interest in changing Lightning Shield, but they are considering making changes to Earth Shield.

Cure Disease and Cure Poison have been increased to 40 yards range.

Frost Shock will no longer be effected by diminishing returns in PvP.

The base casting time for Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning are both reduced by 0.5 seconds, but are paired with a corresponding reduction of the Lightning Mastery talent's effect (netting the same casting time). In addition, Lightning Overload has been changed to a 4% chance of casting per talent point. The LO spell only causes half damage, but generates no threat. The reduced casting time is a boon for Restoration shaman (especially with the addition of spell damage to healing gear), but it's an overall nerf to Elemental shaman DPS because of the reduced coefficient for bonus spell damage (from 86% to 71% for LB, and from 71% to 57% for CL). Even with the improvement to LO, Elemental shaman will see about a 5-10% reduction in DPS.

Elemental Focus "clearcasting" has been changed from a 60% reduction in cost of your next damage spell to a 40% reduction in cost of your next two spells. This will result in a little extra mana longevity for Elemental shaman, assuming your crit is below 50% (graph created by Binkenstein).

Two-handed Axes and Maces will no longer require a talent and will be trainable by all shaman.

The Enhancement tree gets some much-needed love in 2.3: Spirit Weapons will now reduce the threat of all melee attacks, including Stormstrike and Windfury attacks, by 30% (was 15%); Shamanistic Rage will reduce damage taken by 30% during its effect; and Mental Quickness will now provide 10/20/30% of your Attack Power as bonus spell damage and healing. In addition, a new talent has been added in place of Two-Handed Weapons: Shamanstic Focus. This talent will reduce the mana cost of your next Shock spell by 60% after landing a melee critical hit.

A wide variety of new gear will be available in 2.3. I've written a brief overview of the new gear along with a review of new healing gear, but among the biggest changes are:

  • Zul'Aman drops and new Badges of Justice turn-ins, all of approximately Tier Five quality.
  • New versions of PvP honor gear. Season One arena gear can be purchased with honor.
  • All seasons of arena gear will count towards the two- and four-piece set bonus.
  • New set bonuses for Restoration Cataclysm (Tier Five) and Skyshatter (Tier Six) sets as well as the Restoration and Elemental arena sets.

Stay tuned for a discussion on the new gear in 2.3 and I'll continue to update this post as more information becomes available.

For discussion of 2.3's effects on other classes, check out:

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