Enhancement or Elemental

So I’ve been really enjoying my time playing as my Shaman. As I’ve said quite a few times, I most enjoy classes that allow me the freedom of choice in terms of playstyles and the Shaman does just that. My problem now is that I started Enhancement, then switched to Elemental (see my post Trials of a Shaman), and have been considering giving Enhancement another shot.

Coming off of playing a Druid, and before that a Priest and Mage, caster classes just felt more natural to me. Things like casting times and knowing the space from your enemy, understanding stuns/interrupts and roots and movement – it all was coming from a ranged perspective in my head. So when I started with Enhancement, I was a bit off. The last melee class that I played was a Demon Hunter (way OP killing machines, but tons of fun to play), and the last melee I put significant time into was my Frost Death Knight, both bad comparisons I think when it comes to Enhancement Shaman. Given all that, I chose to give Elemental a try.

What I’ve learned is that I believe the key to enjoying Elemental (and maybe also its biggest problem) is down to which spec you choose to play. The two I’ve dabbled in are Icefury and Lightning Rod.

Icefury gives you these great little burst windows to do significant damage to a single target, but has a potentially difficult (and potentially intimidating for new players) priority system that when you’re firing on all cylinders and timing everything just right you feel powerful, but you can also get stuck waiting for procs if you’re being too meticulous instead of just getting damage out. You have the Elemental Artifact ability Stormkeeper (which has a 1 minute cooldown) for some nice supplemental damage, and have to gauge when to use that along with Icefury (level 100 talent, 30 second cooldown). The Icefury build’s main advantage is that its hard hitter, Frost Shock (once you’ve cast an Icefury), is an instant cast ability. Extremely useful for fights that require a ton of movement.

Lightning Rod also relys on a proc (Lightning Rod), but conversely to Icefury, feels a bit sluggish on single targets – its hard hitters Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning both have cast times (except are instant when buffed with Stormkeeper and for maximum effort you want to hold off until Lighting Rod procs). It does however really excel in a group environment.

I was running Neltharion’s Liar and Darkheart Thicket last night with a good PUG group that clearly understood the fight mechanics and knew their roles well, making my job so much easier. Our tank would gather a group and I would throw down a Liquid Magma Totem in the middle of the pack, cast Flame Shock on the main target, cast an Elemental Blast for the buff, then throw down a few Chain Lightnings and regardless of if I got a Lightning Rod proc or not (but hoping I would), I’d hit Stormkeeper then unleash a volley of Chain Lightnings with an Earthquake when it was available and a Lighting Surge Totem if our tank got a little too greedy. It was glorious.

However, when you’re solo questing, this method of mowing down trash is near to impossible because they’re bearing down on you and you’re forced to use a knockback/stun/root if you want to play it safe and it makes leveling as Lightning Rod feel at times slow. Not to mention (or reiterate) that Stormkeeper has a 1 minute cooldown, as opposed to Icefury’s 30 seconds. This is where Icefury pulls ahead in terms of being a more forgiving single target/leveling spec. In my opinion, The Lightning Rod build requires a little more patience, and the Icefury build requires more attention to timing and a clear understanding of your abilities priorities.

So at some point last night I decided, you know what? I want to give Enhancement another shot. Sure Elemental felt great in dungeons, but felt a tad odd in open world questing, especially those numerous encounters that require initiating a conversation and then BAM your enemies on top of you with no set up time, potentially forcing you into a stun/root and retreating to put some distance inbetween you and them. I also really enjoyed the early time I put into Enhancement, and it’s a unique melee style in that it’s got GREAT visuals.

In less than an hour of playing Enhancement again there was clearly something different going on. I was plowing down enemies in the open world significantly faster, made even more amusing by the fact I only had the initial artifact trait in Doomhammer. Maybe that’s just the nature of melee vs ranged. Melee allows you to go in and set up WHILE you’re fighting, ranged you have to stop and setup BEFORE a fight. But it felt good. I forgot how much I enjoyed getting up in my enemies faces and engaging in a DPS race to the death. I also had better gear than the last time I was Enhancement specced so maybe that also helped, but I was hitting hard and fast. Boulderfirst was hitting like a truck, the Doomhammer artifact ability Doomwinds is great for those oh shit moments, and Crash Lighting is just so damn satisfying. Then Stormstrike with a Stormbringer proc -Lightning flying all over the place. I liked it enough that I will probably stick with it for now, but I still know I have Elemental as a good backup spec for dungeons.

I’m not sure where I’m going to take the Shaman from here, and have yet to try my hand at healing a group with Restoration, but for now I am actually enjoying the challenge of deciding which playstyle I want. Or maybe I’m just a horrible fickle WoW player who can’t nail down what style I want to play. I say, with all my options available, I don’t see why I should have to. Actually, to me that’s what I want most of a class – multiple playstyles that all have their own strengths and weaknesses, making the Shaman a real strong frontrunner for one of my favorite classes.

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