With 2.3 on the horizon and most of the WoW playing population eagerly waiting for the new content and various fixes that come along with each patch, there remain a group of stalwart players that are once again dreading it. Of course – I’m referring to the venerable Shaman.
At one time, the Shaman class was an unmistakable hurricane force in world PvP. Feared by all, this versatile hybrid could burst melee like a warrior, kite like a hunter, and nuke and heal in ways that made druids prowl away in shame. They were *monsters* a horde only superclass and long did the alliance dramakin sing to the devs begging for them to be nerfed.
Somewhere around WoW 2.0 – that wish was granted. Worse, like a spurned ex-girlfriend the devs seemed to find new and entertaining ways to include at least one or two new nerfs in each successive patch. Still stinging from a botched (read ignored) review several patches ago and a string of setbacks that whittled away the classes best tools, Shaman seem to truly have a bitch worth scratching. Today, the Shaman is the least played class in the game and the few remaining stalwarts are hugging their totems and raising a QQ that would make a ret-pally blush.
Tenebreon from the Maelstrom server summed things up pretty well in the official class forums:
This started as a reply to Wylde’s thoughtful, mature post about his take on the state of shamans. He touched briefly and gently on one point, the destruction of enhancement PvP that took place in the transition from old world to new world. The original post is HERE:
My reply follows:
I’m not going to be as nice. You touched on one point that I really want to ram down Blizzard’s throat, so here goes.
To start, yes, I’m posting on my warlock. Yes, he is my new main, at least as far as PvP is concerned. My shaman is a Legionnaire with over 60 days /played, had a TUF before getting it was trivialized, and was, for a very long time, the most enjoyable class I’d ever played.
The implementation of TBC and patch 2.0 destroyed a unique, highly enjoyable, viable play style: enhancement PvP. This is unique in the history of WoW, with the possible exception of the demise of the reckoning bomb, “HIT ME IN THE JIMMIES! AGAIN! AGAIN!” paladin. (And even in that case, the spec remained viable, just changed in play style.)
Many- and by many, I mean tens of thousands- of us rolled shamans expressly because we enjoyed this play style. In fact, I would venture to say that the majority of PvP-minded shamans came to the class with this in mind. Most of the most recognizable names in the history of the class arose from this play style and spec. (Quick word association game: I say “Pre-2.0 PvP shaman video,” you say: _____. If you didn’t say “Unbreakable,” try again.)
To shamelessly quote myself, enhancement shamans were, in the eyes of the alliance, the over-powered boogiemen of the battlegrounds, fearsome killing machines that shot lightning from our eyes and fireballs from our arses. And we loved it.
Okay, so that last bit was from Braveheart. But you get the picture. However, come 2.0, that was gone with nary a goodbye.
Why doesn’t it work anymore? There are a lot of reasons:
1) Enhancement PvP was a burst-based spec, through and through. Snare a clothie, pop the bubble, run in, and flatten them. Lather, rinse, repeat; with WF, SS, and ES, it was *typical* for us to be able to kill cloth in one to two swings.
~nostalgic grin~ There was this one time with a shadow priest in AB… Sorry, I digress.
Our burst, though, did not scale with player HP totals. You can’t WTFPwn even a shieldless mage in blues now. Add in resilience and the staggering life totals from arena gear and the situation gets even worse. A single player *cannot* burst down another player unless there is a substantial gear or spec difference; this is the reason for defensive abilities like CloS, TBW, Blazing Speed / Dragon’s Breath, etc on classes that never needed them previously.
Enhancement shamans never received that defense mechanism, never received any mechanism to deal with being kited or CCed, and by consequence fell far behind the curve.
2) Other classes received talents and abilities to deal with their weaknesses in PvP, while enhancement did not. I touched on this above, but it’s a significant problem. Shamans received no form of CC (even weak CC a la repentance), no way to close the gap, and no way to cope with being focus fired. Given that our targets could weather our burst without issue, even in the chaos of BG PvP, this is a crippling problem.
3) Finally, the nature of “real” PvP changed drastically. As a class / spec with limited closing mechanisms, no CC, and very limited survivability, we extraordinarily dependent on being able to get the first shot in on an unaware or distracted target and swing the fight in our favor from the outset.
That simply doesn’t work in the arena. A decent team will know where you are, and also know that if you are so much as slowed, your contribution to the match will be quite effectively and suddenly ended. This makes for a rather nasty combination with the proliferation of defensive and escape mechanisms granted other classes in 2.0; there is no class in the game at this point that cannot render an enhancement shaman ineffectual, bar only (perhaps) a holy priest.
Maybe these things sound familiar. They’ve all been QQed about before, at great length and many times since TBC beta began. Hundreds if not thousands of posts have been made asking for solutions to one or more of these problems.
“Please give shamans CC, we’re the only class without!”
“Please give shamans anti-CC, we’re getting murdered out here!”
“Please give shamans a way to deal with getting focus fired, we’re so squishy!”
I’m sure all three of these topics are represented within the first three pages of both the US and EU forums, so I won’t belabor the point here.
I’ll just return to my original point:
Blizzard destroyed a unique play style in their treatment of enhancement shamans in 2.0 and TBC. Thousands of players were effected by this set of decisions, and, for many, it was enough to drive them from the class or from the game entirely. Those who remained in the game had, in some cases, *hundreds* of hours of time devoted to their characters invalidated, all without a by-your-leave.
I, for one, am still pissed. Does 2.3 contain buffs to enhancement shamans? Yes. Do those buffs address any of the crippling problems outlined above and make it such that the class spec is once again usable for what so many of us rolled it for? NO. Enhancement PvP is still dead. The closest proxy?
Ret paladin. How’s that for delicious irony?
Edit: No, I’m not requesting or recommending a return to the days of 1-2 shotting people; several repliers have gotten that impression. The point is that now that we can no longer do that, we need talents and abilities that will allow us to actually survive a sustained DPS fight. Other burst classes received exactly that sort of buff; enhancement did not.
So what do you think? The official class forums are filled with angry Shaman claiming that unless the class is fixed – and fixed soon – they will either abandon their toons or abandon the game altogether. With no real visible relief in sight are Shaman justified in abandoning the class? Are they in the same boats Druids used to be? So gimped into their hybrid role that they can’t do anything effectively? Has the class truly not kept up with the rest of the game – or are Shaman simply pining for their bygone glory days?
Only time will tell – but with nothing positive being reported from the test realm and with a fairly hard date for 2.3 burned into the collective consciousness of the playing public – patch day may be another dark day indeed for one of WoW’s most recognizable and revered classes.