Now that the Beta is open, there's all sorts of info pouring out onto the internet. Naturally, I've gotta talk about all the new shaman changes, and offer my heavily-biased opinion of them.
Man, this is a huge post.
First, in case you didn't already know, Totems are no longer considered spells, so you can cast them when silenced. Just wanted to get that out of the way first. Good change.
Oh, and also in case you didn't already know, Totems will now affect the entire raid. FINALLY!
Strength of Earth Totem increases both Strength AND Agility. This is the same as having SoE and GoA out at once. Very nice.
Grace of Air Totem is gone. See Strength of Earth.
Stoneskin Totem now gives a flat Armor bonus instead of a damage-reducer. Not bad, but kinda boring. After all, Paladins, Druids, and Resto Shams already have armor-increasing buffs.
Windwall Totem is gone. Since Stoneskin now affects all physical damage, it makes sense to trash it. And really, who's going to miss it?
Flametongue Totem now does what Wrath of Air Totem does (increases spell damage). This certainly puts it in conflict with Totem of Wrath, not to mention all the other offensive fire totems.
Wrath of Air Totem now increases spell casting speed by 10%. Sweet.
Windfury Totem completely changed. Now increases melee attack speed by 16%. Um, why does melee get 6% more? This also means that Windfury Totem actually does something for US too! I kinda wish they'd change the name though, since it doesn't do the same thing as Windfury Weapon anymore.
Tranquil Air Totem is gone. Good riddance.
Elemental Talent Changes
Elemental Focus now affects healing spells. That's a pretty handy change.
Improved Fire Nova Totem will reduce the movement speed of all affected targets by 75% for 4 seconds, instead of stunning them for 2 seconds. Overall, a pretty good change.
Elemental Shields now reduces all physical damage taken by 6%, instead of reducing your chance to be physically crit by 6%. Interesting change, and it probably adds up to about the same thing in PvP, but now it's useful in PvE too. Nice to have, but still optional in my opinion. Not that every talent NEEDS to be an essential talent.
Elemental Oath has been completely changed, and definitely for the better. Your spell crits cause a 2% reduction in spell mana cost and a 2% increase in spell crit damage for party members for 15 seconds, AND it stacks 3 times. This is proof that Blizzard loves me. This is the Elemental Unleashed Rage I've always hoped for.
Astral Shift now decreases incoming damage by 30% when you're stunned, feared, or silenced. Very cool, and useful in both PvP and PvE (though less so in PvE). Previously, it decreased incoming damage for a few seconds after you've been crit twice in a row, which kinda sucked.
New talent called Paralysis. I'm just going to cut-and paste this.
Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells gains an additional 10% of your bonus spell damage effects, and your Lightning Bolt has a 15% chance to Paralyze the target, reducing their movement, attack and casting speed by 75%. The target regains 15% of their movement, attack and casting speed each second. Lasts 5 sec.
No, THAT is proof that Blizzard loves me. Sniff...it's so beautiful.
Unfortunately, they got rid of Lava Flow, which Increases the amount of spell damage gained while having Flametongue Weapon equipped by 5/10/15%, and increases the damage done by your Flame Shock and Lava Burst by 4/8/12%. That's too bad, because I really liked that talent. Hopefully they'll axe Totem of Wrath and put Lava Flow back in.
Overall some amazing changes, with one exception. However, we're still missing +3% to hit, now that Elemental Oath has been changed and Elemental Precision modified. I'm guessing that we'll just have to get used to it.
UPDATE 8/1/08: They're getting rid of Paralysis too. Sigh. I really like that one.
Enhancement Talent Changes
Enhancing Totems now affects Flametongue Totem too, which is cool. But, it's up to 3 points (it's currently at 2) which is understandable. Remember, Grace of Air is being folded into Strength of Earth, which is why it isn't listed anymore. I'll definitely be grabbing this for my Elemental spec.
Shield Spec is gone! Finally!
Improved Weapon Totems is now just Improved Windfury Totem, which should come as no surprise. It increases the attack speed bonus by 4%, bring WFT up to +20% attack speed.
Improved Shamanistic Rage is gone. And in its place is...
You have a 50/100% chance to remove all movement impairing effects when you transform into a Ghost Wolf, and your Spirit Wolves to have a 50/100% chance to be immune to all stun, snare and movement Impairing effects when summoned.
Not bad. I can definitely see it getting changed though. We still have no idea what these wolves do.
Here's another new one. This replaces a confusing and mostly uninteresting talent that I can't even remember the name of.
When you critically hit with a melee weapon, you reduce the cast time of your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell by 4/8/12/16/20%. Stacks up to 5 times. Lasts 15 seconds.
So, insta-cast nukes from Enhance shammies? Interesting idea.
Restoration Talent Changes
Totemic Focus is now a Tier 1 talent, swapping places with Tidal Focus. THANK YOU BLIZZARD! Any interest in making Tidal Mastery a Tier 1 talent? How about Nature's Swiftness?
Ooooh, Nature's Guidance is gone. Interesting. Now we're down by 6% spell hit and 3% melee hit.
Improved Water Shield is new. Activates a water globe every time you crit with LHW or HW. Cool, but this should really grant more charges too, since it's going to be a hassle recasting it all the time.
Spirit Link is now percentage-based, and won't break after a certain amount of damage is distributed.
You link the friendly target with up to two nearby friendly targets, causing 50% of any damage taken to be distributed to the linked targets. If any target takes a blow greater than 30% of their health, or shared damage would reduce a target's health below 20%, the link is broken. You can only have one link active at a time.
It's a bit confusing, but as far as I can tell, that means you won't have to keep recasting it, which is cool. Although, it seems like that 30% limit would make it worthless for a lot of boss fights. Maybe I'm wrong.
I had ideas for this section, but I've either forgotten them or I've figured out that they're actually pretty bad suggestions. So, my only one:
Lava Flow talent
Put it back in! Please!
All in all, some amazing changes. I can't wait to play it.