We continue our early look at class and specialization design with the Shaman. In these blogs, we’ll be exploring class identity, discussing Legion’s new designs, and presenting core combat abilities for each specialization—laying out the foundation upon which talents and Artifacts will build further. With that in mind, let’s delve into what it means to be a Shaman in World of Warcraft.
For millennia, since the primitive tribal cultures of Azeroth and Draenor, the natural elements of the physical universe have been celebrated, feared, and even worshipped. Mystics sought communion with the earth, air, fire, and water, and learned to tap into their raw power. In time, these spiritual guides came to understand that nature’s elemental forces aren’t wholly benevolent, but have, in fact, been locked in an unending conflict of chaos and primal fury that once consumed the physical realm. So began the calling of the Shaman, to bring balance to these volatile energies, leveraging their intensity to mend wounds . . . or inflict them.
The use of totems is integral to the Shaman archetype, and we’re addressing some persistent issues with their mechanics. For a long time there have been significant constraints associated with totems, like the fact that they can only be dropped at the Shaman’s feet, or that they only have 5 health, or that no more than one of the same elemental type can be active at one time. While these constraints were intended to ensure that totems felt unique, they ultimately drove us to creating strange tools to allow the Shaman to bypass such constraints, such as Totemic Projection or Totemic Persistence. In Legion, we’re eliminating this awkwardness and simply removing the constraints.
Totems of the same nature type can now be summoned together, allowing you to have Healing Stream Totem and Healing Tide Totem up at the same time. Elementals are no longer tied to totems, but are guardians that follow and assist you. Totems’ maximum health will always equal a percentage of your maximum health. In addition, totems that need to be placed at a specific location will be directly placed using a targeting reticle. If you want to place Earthgrab Totem in the middle of a big pack of nasty orcs, you can do that without having to run into that nastiness or use a separate spell to throw the totem there. In general, totem mechanics are concentrated around temporary effects (either beneficial or hostile) in a localized area, as opposed to “maintenance buff” cooldowns you need to make sure are up at all times.
Finally, we’re bringing needed clarity to Shaman resources, particularly to move away from disguising a couple key resources as buffs. Lightning Shield charges for Elemental Shaman, Maelstrom Weapon charges for Enhancement Shaman, and Mana have all been replaced for Elemental and Enhancement with a new resource: Maelstrom. Mana is a fitting Restoration Shaman resource and will remain for that spec.
Intense communion with fire, earth, air, and water isn’t exclusive to the elemental shaman. In many ways, enhancement shaman similarly bond with nature and leverage its power on the battlefield. What distinguishes them in their training—and in their connection with the elements—is their combat methodology. These shaman favor empowering their physical attacks with elemental energies and facing their adversaries up close. They don’t shy from the frontlines, wielding magically augmented weapons, potent elemental attacks, and totems that shape the tide of battle.
"These shaman favor empowering their physical attacks with elemental energies and facing their adversaries up close"
The identity of the Enhancement Shaman is cool, but we don’t feel that the mechanics do well to establish that. We want this spec to be more than a melee-range Elemental Shaman, while having a distinct “Battle Mage” feel. Enhancement’s niche focuses on dishing out devastating spells and punishing strikes at melee range to destroy their enemy. Rather than leaving you with a multitude of buttons, many of which are inconsequential, we’re emphasizing empowering your weapons and allies in the fray. Enhancement Shaman become increasingly deadly as they build their power through Maelstrom generation. They must be careful not to let it overflow, while maintaining enough to utilize their most dominant attacks at critical moments.
To give you an idea of the Enhancement Shaman in action, here’s a basic look at their core combat abilities:
- 10 yd range, Instant
- Assault your target with earthen power, dealing moderate Nature damage, and generating 15 Maelstrom.
- 10 yd range, Instant, 12 sec cooldown
- Scorch your target with fiery power, dealing moderate Fire damage, and enhancing your weapons.
- Each of your weapon attacks cause up to minor additional Fire damage, based on weapon speed. Lasts 16 sec.
- Each of your main-hand attacks has a 7% chance of triggering three extra attacks, dealing minor Physical damage.
- Lava Lash
- 30 Maelstrom, Melee Range, Instant
- Charge your off-hand weapon with lava and strike your target, dealing strong Fire damage.
- 60 Maelstrom, Melee Range, Instant, 16 sec cooldown
- Energize your weapons with lightning and deliver a massive blow to your target, dealing heavy Physical damage.
- Maelstrom Weapon
- When you deal damage with a melee weapon, you generate 5 Maelstrom.
- Each of your attacks has a 2% chance to cause Stormbringer, resetting the cooldown on Stormstrike, and causing your next Stormstrike to cost 50% less Maelstrom and to trigger no cooldown.
- Mastery: Enhanced Elements
- Increases the chance for Stormbringer and Windfury to trigger by 5% (with Mastery from typical gear), and increases all Fire and Nature damage done by 40% (with Mastery from typical gear).
Additionally, to provide a glimpse at how some talents may build upon this, here’s one example of an Enhancement-specific talent:
- 60 Maelstrom, Instant, 20 sec cooldown
- Shatter a line of earth before you, causing strong Physical damage and knocking enemies to the side.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this early preview of our approach to class and specialization design in World of Warcraft: Legion. We’ll continue our review tomorrow with a look at Warriors, Monks, and Druids.
Return to the overview for the full class preview series.
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