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I went Enhancement (And I Like It!) Rant.

January 27, 2010

So, unbeknownst to most people, I have a Troll Shaman alt named Swordemon. The keen reader of this blog will notice that, in fact, there is no Troll Shaman in our header picture; This is because I was basically sick of playing Resto (his previous spec) and didn’t think he was worthy of being in the header; The lack of any decent instant heals, damage preventing measures and other such things was really cramping my style/my ability to have fun in 5 mans.

So, I decided to try Enhancement today, after having a bit of an interest in it after some reading. And let me tell you something…

Enhancement. Is. AWESOME.

Sup brah.

Enhancement, in a nutshell, is a class that centers around class mechanics from other classes. That is to say, Maelstrom Weapon is similar to Omen of Clarity for Ferals; Flametongue Weapon, Windfury Weapon, and Lightning Shield + Static Shock is similar to the immense amounts of passive damage that Retadins and Rogues benefit from; The immense amount of buffs Shammys bring make them comparable to Pallys. And while Enhancement is a bit of an amalgam of different classes, it manages to stay unique and very fun.

However, the outsider looking at the Enhancement tree is probably making an O face at how bad some of the talents sound, aside from the obviously awesome Feral Spirit. Take, for instance, Maelstrom Weapon. Insta-Lightning Bolts are nice, but how often does it refresh? Does it have an ICD? Whats the PPM rate? And what about this Stormstrike thing? A shitty version of Mutilate? And Lava Lash? Ew, I’m going Ele instead.

Nothing in the tooltip of MW mentions that MW (the abbreviation of Maelstrom Weapon, for our less acronym-attuned readers) can reach 5 stacks in 3 seconds (or less, or more), or that Stormstrike’s increased nature damage debuff is key to doing good Enhancement DPS, or that Lava Lash is, in fact, shitty and is only used when everything else is on cooldown.

A common misconception of most classes is that your abilities gained through talents (Mortal Strike, Mutilate, all those other good talents) should be the majority of your DPS. Enhancement Shaman are unique in that your talented abilities don’t contribute immensely to your DPS (though the Stormstrike debuff is pretty hawt), but are all pieces of your overall DPS which may consist of 10 or so abilities, such as Windfury procs, Flametongue hits, Lightning Shield charges, Fire Nova, Magma Totem, Spirit Wolves, Stormstrike, Lava Lash, Fire Elemental, Lightning Bolt, melee hits… Yeah, the list gets pretty large.

And thats not to say all Enhancement damage is passive; unlike playing Ret, playing Enhancement feels very busy, to the point where you will often be hitting an ability every GCD, which lends to a frantic and fun playstyle that manages to not be too chaotic. A good natural Troll Enhancement (Shaman) will be shooting off insta-Lightning Bolts as soon as MW5 comes up (thats cool-kid talk for Maelstrom Weapon having 5 charges), as well as keeping Lightning Shield charges up, the Stormstrike debuff, Earth Shock, Fire Nova, Magma Totem and Lava Lash off CD, as well as possibly throwing out some instant Healing Waves via MW5 if need be.

One complaint I do have is that, as a semi-geared Enhancer, Shamanistic Rage, the cooldown version of Aspect of the Viper, simply doesn’t give back as much mana as I’d like it to unless I have a BoM. And I know thats a gear issue (lowish AP, but still enough to top meters) but it still sucks, even with 1/2 Imp. Stormstrike.


So why aren’t more people playing Enhancement? I think its because Enhancement has a sort of weird image. I mean, Retadins/DKs/Warriors get to hit stuff really hard with really big maces/sword/axes, and Rogues get to sneak around and shit, and Druids get HoTs/Wrath, and Warlocks get DoTs, and Enhancement gets… Well, you get to wear skirts and hit stuff with maces/axes/fist weapons while dropping totems. Hell, when I think Shaman, I either think Chain Heal or a guy flinging lightning at people’s faces. Most people see an Enhancement Shaman and they kinda stifle a giggle as they walk around with their T10 skirt.

Seriously, the T10 legs are called Frost Witch’s War-Kilt. Like, what the fuck Blizz.

Another (minor) complaint I have is that the Enhancement Shaman community really likes to make acronyms out of everything. Heres a list of the Enhancer abilities, in order of most important to least.

  • SR
  • SW
  • FE
  • MW5_LB/CL
  • LS
  • MT
  • FS
  • ES_SS
  • SS
  • ES
  • LL
  • FN

Yeah, I had a minor brain meltdown as well when I first saw these. I’ll clarify:

  • SR – Shamanistic Rage.
  • SW – Spirit Wolves.
  • FE – Fire Elemental.
  • MW5_LB/CL – Maelstrom Weapon x5 + Lightning Bolt/Chain Lightning.
  • LS – Lightning Shield.
  • MT – Magma Totem.
  • FS – Flame Shock.
  • ES_SS – Earth Shock w/Stormstrike debuff up.
  • SS – Stormstrike.
  • ES – Earth Shock.
  • LL – Lava Lash.
  • FN – Fire Nova.

Yup, thats a whole lot of shit to keep track of. Endgame Enhancement, when I actually have the fucking mana to drop Magma Totem and a few Fire Novas without worrying about going OOM, is gonna be fun. 😀

So, in conclusion, Enhancement borrows a lot from other, more established classes, but manages to be more fun than the sum of its parts. Or, at least, in my opinion. If you like playing Feral, Rogues, Retadins, or preferably all 3, give Enhancement a try. You won’t regret it. Or, if you do, send hatemail to crawa[at]comcast[dot]net. Happy Windfury crits!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2010 6:08 PM

    Enhancement has come a long way since vanilla wow when enhance shaman basically had windfury, stormstrike and the then aggro generating earthshock as dps moves. I remember someone telling a resto shaman trying out enhancement for an MC raid, “White damage is not dps.”

  2. January 28, 2010 2:37 AM

    My only problem with Enhancement atm is the very tight GCD use and the devastating affect on DPS when you don’t optimise your choices. Addons like Shock and Awe help (I haven’t tried the Enhance addon for Faceroller though I hear it’s just as solid), but with almost every GCD in use it’s almost a nightmare to reach your full potential. Admittedly I’m floating at the same point each night we raid (ie. with equally geared raiders I’m below the pure DPS classes, but at the top of the hybrids), but I fear that Blizzard have gone a bit overboard with Enhance.

    Honestly, look at that list again, that’s 12 CD’s (8 of which are in constant use) with positional changes based on procs. I like the feeling of actually doing *something*, but this borders on ridiculous – not to mention further optimisation that requires checking your priorities after you upgrade every piece (our AEPs are effectively useless, thus there’s no set “best” rotation, just a rough pattern).

    Blargh, sorry to vent, but I’ve been pent up about my Shammy and keep eyeing my DK like it was some sort of permanent holiday (5-6 CD rotations that remain relatively static? sounds like paradise to me ><).

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