Now that patch 8.0 is live (class changes can be found here), I’ve managed to test out the classes I’ve decided to play in Battle for Azeroth (Bfa). And I think for the first time since The Wrath of the Lich King, I won’t be leveling a Shaman first, going into an expansion. In this post, I’ll be sharing with you the reasons why.
But keep in mind that the classes are balanced for level 120, so things that may seem weak or overpowered now, may not be at 120.
A step backward in design
Elemental has taken a step backward. With the unexplained removal of Gust of Wind and Flame Shock back on a 6-second cooldown, the spec no longer has the flexibility to deal with two important situations. Target switching and escapes. In Legion, Flame Shock had no cooldown, so it wasn’t as much of a problem. Part of the problem also lies with Lava Burst, Elemental Overload and to a lesser extent, High Voltage.
With Lava Burst having a guaranteed critical strike when Flame Shock is on the target, it’s damage is going to be balanced around that. So a non-crit Lava Burst is pretty weak. There’s also the fact that most spells are balanced around Elemental Overload, so the raw damage from Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Lava Burst, Elemental Blast and Icefury are much low but are compensated through Elemental Overload (which is based on a %). This is where Elementals have issues with damage ramp up and target switching. Now that Path of Flame is gone, which was a talent in Legion where Lava Bursts spreads Flame Shock near your target, there’s no other way to spread it. Other classes with DoT spells aren’t tied to cooldowns either, except Unstable Affliction (off the top of my head). It doesn’t make sense.
Gust of Wind was one of the best spells a Shaman has had in the entirety of its existence. It offered an escape to dodge mechanics in PvE scenarios, but in PvP, it was put to a lot of use. It wasn’t particularly overpowered at all, considering it was a talent, which meant you had to choose it over others in the same row. With this gone and Flame Shock back on cooldown, you definitely feel like you’ve been robbed of some spells that improved the quality of life as an Elemental Shaman.
Some talents should be baseline
Now that the Stormkeeper talent is a weaker version of the artifact weapon Stormkeeper, you can really feel less of an ‘oomph’ with the spec. Elemental Shamans are known for burst AoE and have had it for the entirety of Legion. It’s also competing with Unlimited Power and Ascendance.
Elemental Blast should be baseline by now because it just changes up your rotation a bit. Although until its damage is increased, it doesn’t feel great to use when it only hits for around 15% more damage than Lightning Bolt. Currently, the passive talents seem to be performing better in general. For example Exposed Elements, Totem Mastery, High Voltage, Primal Elementalist and Unlimited Power. With this setup, you’re essentially stuck with the baseline kit. I’m not entirely sure if Azerite traits will change this much, but it’s visibly not the most exciting spec to play, even after the recent buffs to Maelstrom generation. It’s just not fun after what we had in Legion.
While Enhancement doesn’t have as many issues as Elemental, the biggest problem I’ve seen from playing Enhancement is that there is frequent over capping with Maelstrom. And because of that, it makes certain talents less effective. Stormbringer tends to proc quite often, which actually, is fine. I like Stormbringer. But either a maximum of 100 Maelstrom is too low or Stormbringer reducing the Stormstrike cost to 0 is the problem. There are many times I cast Stormstrike after Stormstrike close to or at 100 Maelstrom, and it makes dumping it difficult. This wastes Maelstrom.
Talents such as Hot Hand and suffer because it either makes Lava Lash free of charge at mercy of RNG. Boulderfist isn’t that good, and Lightning Shield is currently too good to pass up. Plus as you’ve already heard, it gives you that ‘Thor feel’.
There are also talents like Boulderfist and Searing Assault which should be removed because they are incredibly dull talents. Feral Lunge should be baseline and would help with mobility. Forceful Winds could be as well, though I have the view that all of the base artifact abilities should be baseline for every spec (Stormkeeper, Dimensional Rifts, Doom Winds, Apocalypse etc.)
Both specs aren’t as polished as others
It’s evident that both specs aren’t as fluid as other specs, much like Shadow Priests seem to be. While Blizzard have mentioned there will be changes in patch 8.1, it looks like Ul’dir won’t be a popular raid for dps Shamans, especially if they have weaker utility than other classes (this is probably only an issue in Mythic raiding, high Mythic+ and high rank PvP). For Normal and Heroic, it should be fine.
What do you think of Elemental and Enhancement Shamans right now?