The (Elemental) Cataclysm and You! Part One: Talent Changes


By now you will have heard of the talent preview for Shaman that was released recently. A number of stat buff talents have been modified or completely removed, while a few new ones have been added in.

Note: I wrote this as my example article for the WoW.com Elemental Columnist position. Since I haven’t heard back yet, and the NDA for Cataclysm was lifted, I figure I should roll out this four part blog series anyway. Part Two will follow in a few days, with Three and Four in the next week or so.

Firstly, the most important tree of all: Elemental. We don’t see any changes until Tier 5, and there it’s just moving Elemental Mastery down to fill the space left by Call of Thunder (5% spell crit) which was removed. Tier 6 is where the real changes start.

Elemental Precision has had its threat reduction removed, and in its place there is a Spirit to Spell Hit Rating conversion. As it stands at the moment, a 33/66/100% conversion is probably on the high side, but this will likely be tweaked later. There’s also a rumour that there are changes afoot for Hit, so we’ll have to wait and see what those are before commenting further. We also do not know what the rating to percentage conversion figures for Hit are yet.

Tier 7 sees Elemental Oath dropped down a tier, as well as the replacement for Totem of Wrath, which allows us to have the same spellpower buff that Demonology Warlocks have been sporting for a while.

Due to the changes to Overload, specifically being moved from a stand alone talent for Lightning Bolt & Chain Lightning to the overall Mastery bonus for the tree, the talent for Lightning Overload has been replaced with Acute Overload. This “new” talent increases the damage done by those bonus spells by 7/14/20%, which will increase their damage from 50% of normal spells to between 60% & 70%. This depends on whether the talent increases damage before or after the Overload halving, ie: (X*1.2)*0.5 , or if it is an additive modifier to the Overload reduction in which case we’d see X * (0.5+0.2).

Earthquake finally makes its long awaited appearance as an ability, although it appears to be more of a “AE Control” spell similar to Blizzard rather than a true AE spell, and has a 10 second cooldown. It hasn’t been confirmed whether this is a fire & forget spell, or a channeled cast, as there is conflicting information between the talent preview & blizzard forum posts.

The final new talent of the tree, Lava Surge, raises some interesting questions about whether it’s more of a PvE, PvP, or general talent. It will certainly improve the burst damage of PvP Elementals, but I’m not completely convinced that it will have a place in the PvE world, both due to its affect on a normal rotation, and possibly more favourable talents from the Enhancement tree.

For sub-specs, I’m looking at Enhancement first, as it’s more likely we’ll use that for normal raiding builds. Ancestral Knowledge has changed from a 2% Int bonus to a 3% mana bonus per talent because of the changes to Spellpower & Intellect.

Thundering Strikes has been removed, which means that the 5 points spent on this tier is likely to be spread over Imp Shields, Imp Ghost Wolf, or Enhancing Totems. The last two of those are likely to be changed, as Ghostcrawler has stated there will be no more “buff buffs” via talents to make one buff better than another, and that Enhancing Totems is going to become a “self buff when totems are down” talent. Imp Ghost Wolf, on the other hand, hasn’t been reviewed since Ghost Wolf had been changed to be castable indoors, which I’m sure everyone will be looking forward to (again, a GC comment).

Elemental Weapons remains a useful talent in Tier 3, and the move from Tier 4 to Tier 3 has made Toughness more accessible as well. Another new talent, Ancestral Swiftness, is also accessible on Tier 4.

However, the two talents of most interest reside with the Tier 5 talents.

Dual Wield has been dropped down from Tier 7, and raises the possibility of Dual Wield Elemental builds, although this is assuming that there aren’t any changes made to limit weapon enchants to one per player (meaning no double Flametongue) and that there are one hand or offhand weapons with favourable stats (either Intellect, Crit, Hit, or maybe Haste depending on how that stat works with the Attack Speed/Spell Haste changes). Note: this was written prior to the comments from Ghostcrawler regarding making weapon enchants unique.

The second interesting talent is Searing Flames, which gives Searing Totem a chance to apply a stacking dot to the target, with each charge being the impact damage over 15 seconds. Even though it may not be possible to put 5 points into this talent, it may not be necessary, as there is a 0.164% chance that a charge will not be added at 3 points (One cast every 2 seconds gives 7 casts in 15 seconds. 3 points gives a chance to apply a charge of 60%, or a 40% chance to not apply a charge. 40% to the power of 7, or multiplying 0.4 by itself 7 times, gives 0.164%)

On the Restoration side of things, there is the odd talent or two that could be useful for Elemental, but as most talents deal specifically with healing spells it does not look like Restoration would be a practical sub-spec to use.

Of course, all of this is only accurate until the next round of changes are made, and we haven’t even hit Beta yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of these talents are changed before Cataclysm is released.

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About binkenstein
I'm a geek, living in Christchurch, New Zealand.

9 Responses to The (Elemental) Cataclysm and You! Part One: Talent Changes

  1. Pewter says:

    On DW – Blues have confirmed that the imbues are likely to be made unique (possibly since you wrote this)

    Ghost Wolf had been changed to be castable indoors, which I’m sure everyone will be looking forward to (again, a GC comment).</blockquote

    Fuck yeah.

    • binkenstein says:

      Oh, did I forget to mention that one? Damn. I know I updated it in Part Two. I should have mentioned this was written around the 10th of June, so it’s a little outdated now :p

      • Pewter says:

        Eh, it happens. I find it is best not to leave ‘new articles’ set in stone and do a quick read through before publication if they are a couple of weeks old.

        Question, will ToW still have it’s 3% crit strike chance debuff in Cata, or is it going to become pure spellpower?

        • binkenstein says:

          No, the whole 3% crit debuff category is getting removed.

  2. Charles says:

    Totally awesome that you’ve (re)started a blog, very much looking forward to reading what you’ve got to say. On the WoW.com front, I think last time they recruited a columnist it took them several weeks to go through the process and sort it all out, so yeah.

    • Charles says:

      Two other things to note now that I’ve actually read this:
      - LB overload is presently doing 60% of the damage of the original spell with 3/3 acute overload talented. LvB overloads are only doing around 40%, which I guess is either a bug (likely) or a design decision to prevent too much burst (unlikely?).
      - Earthquake is presently channelled for its full duration and no longer has the 1.5s cast time it had when the talent preview was released. It also makes the screen shake if you’re near it!

      I personally hope Searing Flames is either made more accessible to elemental or is removed as a serious option, because it feels wrong to have to climb that far up enhancement and ditch elemental talents to clutch a few precious points in it. Of course with elemental still in such an early state and more changes due for enhancement that feeling may change even if the talent stays where it is.

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  5. Fyst says:

    Since the last time I looked at the talent tree, Earthquake is now no longer listed as channelled if that’s any indicator. However, my comment is about the mana cost — 86% of base. This seems remarkably to me. A few implications come to mind, but I was wondering what you thought it meant and what else you might infer about the power/use of the spell.

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