Enhancement Shaman, a rework
This is a rework for Enhancement Shaman specialization as of Warlords of Draenor. What I intend with this rework is to tweak and refurbish Enhancement’s core toolkit, aiming at empowering the feels of the fantasy of the class. As I feel it, Enhancement Shamans stand as totemic warriors that fight their foes unleashing brutal flurries of strikes with either two one-handed weapons or one two-handed weapon imbued with the very power of the elements.
In this post I will include too an appendix for minor glyphs that I consider wonderful in regards of character customization, regardless of the rework.
Some abilities or concepts of what I will write about are already in-game or coming up in Legion. In any case, I will keep it very simple as it is only the core mechanics involving a number of active and passive abilities. Let’s get started!
In order for this concept to work or make sense, we have to first think of Enhancement as a blank canvas on which to paint. In other words, we will start from scratch. I sincerely prefer it this way because Enhancement feels like it is pretty much cluttered with skills that do not feel meaningful at all.
First off, Maelstrom Weapon as it is in Warlords of Draenor is reworked. Instead of being a resource bar like in Legion, it will now run as an active skill that procs from autoattacks the same way it does in Warlords of Draenor. Using this ability will cause other core abilities to become empowered and imbued with the elements, unleashing additional effects. This concept of Maelstrom Weapon as an ability is heavily influenced by Unleash Elements, which triggered a similar buff. The Maelstrom Weapon blends in Unleash Elements, meaning that the latter is gone as an active ability on its own. Let’s see how the new Maelstrom Weapon would look like:
[Maelstrom Weapon]: Harness the raw power of elements, delivering a wave of elemental energy with your weapon(s). Maelstrom Weapon deals strong weapon damage as Elemental. Using Maelstrom Weapon grants you the buff Maelstrom, which enhances other core skills (explained below). Autoattacks have a chance to grant a charge of Maelstrom Weapon. This ability has 20 yd range and can hold up to 2 charges.
This concept is intended to make Maelstrom Weapon the prime ability that shapes the other core skills. It is also intended to be an ability that is used on a regular basis. Its importance calls for it having a rather unorthodox non-melee range, but taking into account that neither Lightning bolt nor Chain lightning exist in this concept, it should not feel too off to have some ranged capability. The fact that this ability can accumulate charges means that charges can be pooled to a limited extent in case the Shaman needs to deliver burst damage at any particular time.
Now let’s check core abilities. Stormstrike and Lava Lash will continue to be in the toolkit. However, they will be accompanied by a new ability called Frigid Assault, which is somewhat inspired by Frost Lord Malakk (a boss in Throne of Thunder) and would read as the following:
[Frigid Assault]: Besiege an enemy target with an icy strike that causes moderate damage with your weapon (or right hand weapon if dual wielding) and freezes the enemy by 50% for 8 sec. Increases Haste, Critical Strike or Mastery by x for 8 sec. 12 sec CD.
[Empowered Frigid Assault]: Frigid Assault lands a guaranteed critical hit and causes 25% more damage as Frost. In addition, you will leap towards the enemy if you are not in melee range (limit 20 yd) and root them in place with ice for 2 sec.
This ability also takes on Elemental Blast’s buff effect and Frost Shock’s snare debuff. Frigid Assault synergizes greatly with Maelstrom Weapon because of the gap close effect. Its empowered version causes it to gain range, which would allow the Shaman to quickly use it after Maelstrom Weapon to rapidly get in range. This would be especially useful in PvP combat.
Another further newcomer is Boulderfist, which is a level 15 talent in Legion for Enhancement. It will become the fourth element ability standing for Earth. Boulderfist is intended to be a heavy hitter with the ability to cause an Earthquake when empowered (among other effects), causing additional area damage. This is how it would read:
[Boulderfist]: Slam your target with the power of stone, causing heavy damage with your weapon (or both hands if dual wielding). Boulderfist deals 50% extra critical damage.
[Empowered Boulderfist]: Boulderfist now causes 25% more damage as Nature and stuns the target for 1 sec. In addition, causes an Earthquake around the target that deals 30% of the total damage inflicted to the primary target to all other enemies in a 8 yd range over 6 sec, with a 10% chance to knock them down for 1 sec whenever it damages them.
Empowered Boulderfist blends in Earthquake, which in Legion seems to be a totem spell. Another option I had in mind was blending Earthquake into Earth Shock, but shock spells never felt too meaningful or ‘strong’, which is why I eventually went for their removal and go for weapon attacks. It also makes sense that a massive earthen pound caused an Earthquake.
The next skill to talk about is Stormstrike. This ability has been an iconic ability of the specialization for years, and will still be in this rework. However, the overhaul has rendered its additional effect that buffed Nature spells useless. Instead, it will now consume all extra Lightning Shield charges (to be explained later on), reading like this:
[Stormstrike]: Strike an enemy with the power of a raging storm, dealing strong damage with your weapon (or both hands if dual wielding) and consuming all charges of Lightning Shield to unleash a chain lightning that jumps to as many additional targets as charges consumed with increased damage. Chain lightning damage is split unevenly, decreasing on every additional enemy hit.
[Empowered Stormstrike]: Stormstrike now causes 25% more damage as Nature and calls forth a thunderbolt from the sky after a delay of 1 second that deals 75% of the total damage as Nature damage to the primary target.
Stormstrike now has a reworked approach to old Fulmination passive, which used to trigger from Earth Shock casts. Neither of these two abilities are present as such in this concept. This chain lightning effect improves Stormstrike’s utility and cleave capability, blending Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning, which used to be active skills tied to Maelstrom Weapon. It is worth mentioning that it is inspired by Diablo II Amazon’s Lightning Strike skill, which looked pretty awesome back in the day and would look insanely badass on Enhancement.
Finally we get to Lava Lash, which has been Stormstrike’s partner in time. Lava Lash has grown over the years into an attack that can become overpoweringly useful for spreading Flame Shock to burn enemies down with Fire Nova. Neither of these two will be present as active abilities, but rather reworked into Lava Lash and its empowered version, reading as follows:
[Empowered Lava Lash]: Lava Lash now causes 25% more damage as Fire and releases a burst of molten lava around the target, instantly dealing 50% of the total damage as Fire damage to all enemies within 8 yd.
The most notable change is the overwhelming nerf to Fire Nova, which can no longer be the most efficient way to deal area damage being spammable at will every few seconds. Instead, Shamans would need to rotate between Stormstrike (for chain lightnings) and Lava Lash (for spreading burn effects) and Empowered Boulderfist and Empowered Lava Lash to deliver area damage.
Now we have the full core set of active abilities (5 main skills). At first sight it might seem as easily using whatever skill is off cooldown, but the truth is that it takes much more than that to take this to its full potential. Each ability requires not only a solid understanding of what it is good for and when to use it, but also what Empowering effect is the best one to use at each moment. Giving priorities is key. To this rework of the core toolkit of Enhancement we have to add now talents (like Sundering or Fury of Air, which are awesome), totems and cooldowns (like Feral Spirit). These would greatly fill up the action bars with buttons, in case having 5 core offensive abilities is a concern (which it is, according to some users of MMO-Champion).
Now it is time for passive abilities! Since many passive abilities have been baked into active abilities, the amount of passives have been drastically reduced. There are some that are very important to shape the concept. The first one I would like to introduce allows Enhancement Shamans to wield either two-handed weapons in addition to dual wielding, as I introduced at the beginning of this post. The reason why I decided to include this passive has to do with stories I have been told about Enhancement Shamans in the early years of World of Warcraft. Apparently, many used two handed weapons back in the day, and they seemed to like it pretty much. The rates have been contrasted to Monks’, which have a similar passive.
The next passive deals with Windfury. Windfury has always been a destroyer passive that involved to passively deal damage equal to a number of autoattacks on chance. While effective on its purpose, it was just a too passive damage source. I suggest an alternative approach inspired in Hearthstone’s Windfury, which simply allowed minions with this ability to attack twice. Adapted to World of Warcraft, it could result in a more active and dynamic playstyle that differs much from old passive Windfury. Actually, there is a similar passive on the works in Legion called Stormbringer that does the same, but restricted to Stormstrike.
[Windfury (passive)]: Lava Lash, Stormstrike, Boulderfist and Frigid Assault have each a 3% chance to not trigger their cooldown, allowing you to use them once again. This effect cannot proc twice in a row on the same skill.
The idea is that core abilities feel strong and powerful, so having the chance to attack twice doubles the fun. The chance base percentage needs to be low because the reworked Mastery will follow Legion’s design (with Stormbringer), increasing that percentage with Mastery rating. Mastery however has been also tweaked in a few ways, so that it synergizes better with other skills and reinforces the spec’s fantasy:
[Mastery – Enhanced Elements]: Increases all elemental damage by x%, affecting Maelstrom Weapon and Empowered strikes, and increases the chance of triggering Windfury by x%.
As stated, Mastery would work in a similar way it does now. Abilities that would benefit from it are Maelstrom Weapon (Elemental damage), the Empowered versions of Lava Lash (Fire), Boulderfist (Nature), Stormstrike (Nature) and Frigid Assault (Frost); as well as other talents that deal that kind of damage like Sundering (Fire) or Fury of Air (Nature). Needless to say that Enhancement will greatly benefit from Mastery, but also from Haste because of Flurry, a passive that already exists and reduces primary ability cooldowns based on Haste:
[Flurry (passive)]: Haste effects lower the cooldown and global cooldown of your Stormstrike, Lava Lash, Boulderfist and Frigid Assault.
This is intended to smoothen the flow of offensive abilities, reducing dead times during which you cannot use any attack because they are all in cooling down. However, I think this talent could even be unnecessary if testing proves this concept to be smooth enough by itself. It could as well be done by tweaking abilities cooldowns with no need of a passive. In fact, if this should happen there is an alternative version of Flurry that reminds of its old versions affecting attack speed:
[Flurry (passive, v2)]: Delivering a critical hit with any of your abilities has a chance to increase your attack speed by 30% for 4 sec.
This alternative idea is intended to complement autoattacks giving some importance to critical hit chance, which in turn would benefit Lightning Shield charge generation. The passive behind Lightning Shield is Static Shock, which only triggers while Lightning Shield is active. Static Shock interacts with Stormstrike for unleashing Chain Lightnings. Static Shock used to be a passive damage source involving dealing damage equal to one charge of Lightning Shield when using Stormstrike or Lava Lash. It has been reworked so that it blends Static Shock with Chain Lightning only on Stormstrike:
[Static Shock (passive)]: Autoattacks have a chance to grant a charge of Lightning Shield, up to 6. Stormstrike consumes any surplus charges to increase the damage of unleashed Chain Lightnings by 10% per charge and the extra enemies they can chain to.
And last but not least important, there is a passive that could as well be a talent, due to its gameplay-changing potential. This passive/talent brings in the difficulty of a talent like Empowered Seals (Protection/Retribution Paladin talent) and the flavor of Elemental Exposure (Wizard Passive in Diablo III). I think it could make a great addition now that Enhancement has abilities representing each element:
[Elemental Harmony (passive/talent)]: Damaging enemies with Stormstrike (Wind), Lava Lash (Fire), Boulderfist (Earth) and Frigid Assault (Water) causes you to deal 5% more damage for 4-6 sec. Each different damage type applies a stack, stacking up to 4 times.
The duration of the buff is crucial: the shorter it is (4 seconds) the more Flurry v.1 would be needed. Less so if it lasts 6 seconds. Extensive testing might be needed in order to tune this passive/talent well.
And that’s all for passives. Of course, there would be more via talents. Remember this rework only covers the core of the spec and many more abilities and passive are in the air!
As said at the beginning, I would also like to include some ideas for minor glyphs that would enhance character customization:
Addendum – Minor Glyphs:
[Glyph of the Witch Doctor Tiki]: You learn the ability Summon Witch Doctor Tiki. You can interact with the Tiki to receive a blessing… or not! How it works is similar to NPC Bom’bay. Rare drop from Zanzil in Zul’gurub.
[Glyph of Shamanistic Rage (Elemental, Enhancement)]: While Shamanistic Rage is active, you will wear a Tiki mask if Troll, a Hawk mask if Tauren, a Wolf pelt if Orc or Draenei, a Feather headdress if Dwarf and a Barrel cask if Pandaren.
And that’s all! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this! Feel free to send any feedback!