Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2.3 Shaman Changes

I have updated this posting. Please follow the link for the newest version.

The upcoming 2.3 patch looks to be a doozy, with a huge number of changes for every class, including some very significant ones for shaman. Elemental shaman are in a "wait and see" mode to see if the changes will be a boon or a bust, but for restoration and enhancement shaman, the changes look very promising. There will also be changes to levelling speed, modifications to the Alterac Valley battleground, the addition of Season 3 Arena and new PvP gear, and, of course, the brand new Zul'Aman instance! Lots of exciting stuff!

MMO Champion has compiled the various "blue" postings into Unofficial 2.3 Patch Notes The Official 2.3 Patch Notes are now available and I'd like to highlight a couple of the more important changes that will affect our class (and especially Restoration shaman).

Bonus spell damage from +healing gear: Of all the changes in 2.3, this one has received the most buzz so far (with he possible exception of Zul'Aman). In essence, items that currently grant a bonus to healing will have 33% of that bonus added as additional bonus spell damage (Note: This only affects pure healing items, not items that grant spell damage/healing already. It does include enchants and gems, but not temporary buffs and a few green "of the <whatever>" items). For example, a pre-2.3 item that granted +30 healing will now give +30 heal/+10 damage. In effect, for the same itemization points as +15 heal/damage, we get twice the healing for only a loss of 1/3 of the spell damage. Not bad, huh?

The nominal reason for this change is to give pure healers better soloing capability. With even pre-Kara healers sporting 1300-1400 +heal, an extra 400-500 spell damage will definitely help us when grinding. You're probably better off just switching to a more DPS-oriented set of gear, but at least now you won't have to collect two sets of gear.

Where this change will have the greatest effect, however, is in the arena and battlegrounds. As healers, we won't be packing quite as much spell damage as our DPS compatriots, but it will be enough to let us supplement our healing role with the occasional burst damage (though obviously not as much as we would if properly spec'ed for it). Elemental shaman and other DPS hybrids may also want to wear a few pieces of "resto" gear since it will increase their emergency healing with only that 1/3 loss of spell damage bonus. Some hybrid classes such as druids may also consider a talent revamp to take advantage of the new dual benefit of healing gear, although with the number of great talents deep in the Restoration tree, I don't see this happening much with shaman.

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.

Water Shield will no longer cost mana, will provide more mana per globe, and unused globes will provide mana at the end of the shield's duration of 1 minute. Specific numbers haven't been given, but there's hope that this will greatly improve our mana regeneration. Each globe will provide 200 mana, and you will receive the full 200 for each "unused" charge at the end of the shield's duration. This is the equivalent of 50 mana/5 if you're not getting hit, with even higher rates for fights where you're taking damage.

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

Casting time reduced for Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning by 0.5 seconds, but a reduction in effectiveness of the Lightning Mastery Talent (netting the same overall casting time). For Elemental shaman, this is a bit of a nerf as it reduces the effectiveness of +spell damage (from 86% to 71% for LB, and from 71% to 57% for CL). Although Eyonix states that compensatory improvements in Lightning Overload (4/8/12/16/20% chance of procing, though for 1/2 damage) should lead to an overall increase in DPS, theorycrafters are less convinced, citing a 5-7% reduction depending on the mechanism of LO. The reduced casting time is great for PvP restoration shaman, however, especially with the new addition of +spell damage gained with healing gear.

Elemental Focus (Tier 3 Elemental talent) "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 73%).

The Enhancement tree also gets some love: Spirit Weapons will reduce threat by 30% (was 15%), Shamanistic Rage will reduce damage taken by 30% during its effect, and Mental Quickness will provide 10/20/30% of your AP as +spell damage/healing.

Two-handed Axe and Mace skills will no longer require a talent and will be trainable by all shaman.

New gear will also be available in 2.3 from Zul'Aman, Badges of Justice turn-ins, Season 3 arena rewards, and new PvP honor gear (including Season 1 arena items which will now be purchaseable with honor). Among the new items will be relics appropriate for all talent specializations. MMO Champion is putting together a list of new loot. Much of it is equivalent to (or even superior to) tier 5 gear! In addition, Skyhoof has updated his Healing Gear for Raiders post and has highlighted the near gear for easy comparison. As of 10/15, he has not yet updated his Elemental gear list.

Overall, there are a lot of exciting changes coming. Undoubtedly many of these changes will be modified to some extent in the PTR, whether for better or for worse, but even if only half the changes make it in, shaman should benefit overall.

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

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