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Pirate's Day is once again upon us! Blizzard have posted an official preview of the activities for this year, and you can also check out our own guide here. Booty Bay is the place to be today, as the event has gone live and you can grab the achievement and have some fun roleplaying a pirate!
Pirate's Day (source)
Hoist sail and make way for Booty Bay because Pirate’s Day begins September 19!
Bring Your Sea Shanty to Booty Bay
Pirates have taken over the goblin town of Booty Bay and Captain DeMeza is recruiting any scurvy dog she can into her buccaneer ranks. Visit her or her henchmen in the capital cities if the pirate’s life is for you!
Feeling out of place in Booty Bay without a proper costume? Don’t worry. /Dance one little jig with the Dread Captain DeMeza and she’ll be impressed enough to press you into her crew and outfit you properly. If you get attached to your new look, you can do the quest You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat! Succeed, and you’ll get an Emergency Pirate Outfit (or five) for when Pirate’s Day is but a distant memory and your inner pirate is clawing to get out.
What good is a pirate without an avian companion on their shoulder? Captain DeMeza (for the exchange of a few shiny coins) can help you call forth a temporary companion named Petey to take with you wherever you sail.
From time to time the captain will shout for a brave party to take on a terror of the deeps–an elite shark known as Ol’Eary. Make sure you have a hearty crew with you or you could become just so much chum in the waters of the bay.
Join the Beach Party
Once you and your crew have helped the captain handle Ol’Eary, you can celebrate with the crew at a little beach party just south of Booty Bay. Those with the Feat of Strength "Advast Ye, Admiral" can also purchase a toy from Edward Techt–the Jolly Roger to show off their dedication to the cause.
If you’re really feeling generous, you can also purchase a Big Bag of Booty from Captain DeMeza and spread the wealth around to all your pirate pals in a burst of glittery glory.
We're back to Shamans after our deep dive into Elemental, but there's a lot more to cover with Enhancement, as the spec got pretty much a revamp with the playstyle being very different in the Shadowlands. Our guide expert Wordup has really gone into detail in this article with the spec's many changes, from the altered mechanics and playstyle, new baseline spells and passives, the big Covenant decision, talent changes and re-arrangements, crucial legendaries for the spec and more!
Big Enhancement Changes on the Horizon
The big hallmark feature of Shadowlands is Covenants, but Enhancement’s experience with most of them is a case of different flavours of the same thing. We will cover this below, but first and foremost it is important to cover just how much has changed for Enhancement going into the expansion. It could be tentatively called a mixture of a rework and a revert back to Warlords of Draenor gameplay, so there are definitely some elements older or returning players may recognise.
The most crucial takeaway is that it is Enhancement on the surface, but it is also a blend of old and new styles combined. Gameplay is about juggling spell cooldowns and managing procs, alongside making sure to reduce downtime - which in many cases is in your hands to minimise or cause, giving more agency instead of relying on Stormbringer. To put a pin in it very early though, unfortunately one of Enhancement’s longest standing gripes - that being survival - has not really been addressed, and if anything our ease of access to self healing has gone down. That can be a turn off to many, but on the more positive side the core gameplay loops have been drastically improved upon.
Altered Enhancement Shaman Spells and Mechanics
Maelstrom as a resource has been completely removed, and instead the playstyle is now more oriented around juggling a number of different spell and ability cooldowns. These are mostly fueled by Mana, but it is not a resource that needs to be worried about in general gameplay, outside of managing it for utility spells.
A cooldown has also been added to Lava Lash, the cooldown of Stormstrike has been slightly reduced, and the cooldown of Crash Lightning has been slightly increased.
Stormbringer no longer grants a free cast of Stormstrike, and instead just resets the cooldown and increases the damage of your next Stormstrike when it triggers.
Maelstrom Weapon has been reverted back to the original design, with melee attacks having a 20% chance to generate a stack. Each stack reduces the cast time and increases the damage of Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Chain Heal or Healing Surge by 20%. At 5 stacks, they become instant and form the core switch up of the rotation. Up to 10 stacks can be pooled, but only up to 5 are ever spent at once.
Feral Spirit now generates one stack of Maelstrom Weapon on cast, and an additional 5 over the next 15 seconds.
Newly added Baseline Spells and Passives
Lightning Bolt has reverted to a cast time spell, and both Chain Lightning and Chain Heal have been added to the spec, both tied to the Maelstrom Weapon system.
Healing Stream Totem returns as a short cooldown support tool for some quick healing.
Windfury Weapon and Flametongue Weapon have both been converted to weapon imbues instead of passives.
Lightning Shield returns as a baseline ability. Now simply deals splashback damage when attacked in melee, with a 50% chance to generate a stack of Maelstrom Weapon.
Windfury Totem returns, grating a 20% chance for all of your allied party members within 30 yards to generate an additional attack with their auto attacks. This does not affect ranged Hunter specs or pets, and has a 0.5 second internal cooldown.
Frost Shock and Flame Shock both return, sharing a 6-second cooldown affected by Haste. This replaces Rockbiter, which has been removed.
At level 52, successful Chain Lightning hits will reduce the cooldown of Crash Lightning by 1 second per target hit (up to 3), and increase the damage of your next cast by 20% per target (up to 60%).
Each of the 4 covenants all come with a class specific Shaman spell, and a signature tool that is more utility oriented. Here we will take a quick look at what is in store for Enhancement:
Kyrian Ability: Vesper Totem - 1 min CD, instant
Summons a totem at your cursor for 30 seconds. Next 3 damaging abilities pulse Arcane damage to up to 6 nearby enemies, and next 3 healing abilities pulse healing to 6 nearby allies. Can be relocated off the GCD on a 3 second cooldown.
This ability is my personal favourite for two reasons. Firstly, it is extremely non-invasive to the rotation which can sometimes get busy, but those situations are not predictable. It deals solid AoE, and can utilise the Kyrian conduit Elysian Dirge to shore up the single target shortcomings. Placement can be cumbersome, but can be played around with a bit of experience. Secondly, it provides strong off healing, allowing you to bank the free extra 3 charges for healing for situations where you need it after the damage charges are used. This is especially useful in lower player content like Mythic+, because the healing is good no matter the situation or target count.
Kyrian Signature: Summon Steward - variable CD
Summon Steward will grant you 3 charges of Phial of Serenity, which is a separate consumable (no longer shares with Healthstone or Spiritual Healing Potion) that restores 20% max health and removes all Disease, Poison, Curse and Bleed effects on you. This is a one use per combat effect, but is very versatile and has some extremely powerful cases within the upcoming raid, and in some dungeons. Simple on the surface, but a lot better than it may come across.
Necrolord Ability: Primordial Wave - 45 sec CD, 1.5sec cast
Deals Shadow damage to your target, appliesFlame Shock to them and causes your next Lightning Bolt cast to hit all targets affected by Flame Shock. 1.5 second cast time, can be reduced by Maelstrom Weapon.
Conversely, this is my least favourite ability for Enhancement. It takes a significant amount of resources and setup for relatively low payoff, and also displaces important AoE tools in Chain Lightning, which has a knock on effect of not reducing the cooldown of Crash Lightning. The twofold Maelstrom Weapon requirement hurts this too much, and given it has no real AoE and a small boost to cleave, is not going to work. It is also the only one of the 4 that provides no real off healing utility, which I think is a big hit to the value when it comes largely for free with the others.
Necrolord Signature: Fleshcraft - 2 min CD, 4 sec channel
Generates a shield over a 4 second channel for up to 20% of your maximum health. If near an enemy corpse, is increased to 50%.
Necrolord does provide the most survival oriented tool available, and is something that has to be considered when Enhancement has struggled in that sphere for the last two expansions. Unfortunately a mostly GCD locked spec having to find room for a 4 second channel that also limits movement is not very accessible to fix the on demand things the spec needs.
Night Fae Ability: Fae Transfusion - 2min CD, 3sec channel
Deals Nature damage to up to 4 enemies over a 3 second channel - cancels on movement. Can be reactivated within 20 seconds to heal 8 nearby allies for 15% of the total damage done.
Of the four this is probably the most invasive. One thing a GCD locked melee spec does not want to do is commit to a 3 second channel that locks them in place putting them at risk. On top of that, missing out on auto attacks and on-hit effects the spec relies on to generate procs is a significant detriment, so while it is a punchy big AoE button, it comes with a downside. Relative to Vesper Totem it is more frontloaded on demand, but has a lower cap and gets drastically worse in single target - not to mention the healing component scales downward with less enemies present.
Night Fae Signature: Soulshape - 1.5min CD
Teleport 15 yards forward and transform into a vulpin with 50% increased movement speed. You can re-cast the teleport every 4 seconds, and lasts for 12 seconds.
Soulshape will probably see the least impact for Enhancement because of the overlap the ability has with Ghost Wolf (and even moreso if using Spirit Wolf). The blink effect can be useful for displacement and fall damage reduction, but it is giving access to something that the spec mostly already just has.
Venthyr Ability: Chain Harvest - 1.5min CD, 2.5sec cast
Deals Shadow damage to up to 5 enemies, and additionally also heals up to 5 allies. Each target critically struck reduces the cooldown by 5 seconds. 2.5 second cast time, and can be reduced by Maelstrom Weapon.
Right now this is the hardest to quantify, because there are a number of bugs relating to this ability and Maelstrom Weapon in particular which makes the data hard to judge. It has a lot of potential to be a good fire and forget burst tool with some free healing tacked on, but until these are fixed there are some problems. Most importantly, it is displacing a cast of Chain Lightning that is crucial to the AoE core rotation, which spends resources on a mix up in the flow that slows the pace down, alongside it not currently triggering effects such as Hailstorm. This does however have the most likely chance of competing with Vesper Totem.
Venthyr Signature: Door of Shadows - 1min CD, 1.5 sec cast
Teleports you to your cursor within 35 yards after a 1.5 second cast.
While this ability did get a lot of hype early on, the practical applications of a cast time teleport is entirely limited to how the community finds ways to break it - which currently are few and far between. The spec is not desperate for more mobility, especially not one that requires us to stop and predict movement, so this is one that remains to be seen what value it really has.
Covenant Choice Conclusion
Despite all of this though, there is a bit of wiggle room with the choice you make because many of them are effectively achieving the same purpose. While I personally think Vesper Totem and Chain Harvest are most likely to win out because of how easily they slot in (assuming bugs are ironed out), it is not impossible to see Fae Transfusion having some niche uses. Primordial Wave however, I have strong misgivings about and would be surprised if it manages to work out unless the tuning of Enhancement’s damage profile changes significantly.
Due to the spec having a ground up redesign in many cases, obviously the talent tree had to follow suit because the abilities are no longer there. There are a lot of switch ups, and a few new choices available to us. Some have also moved in position, which will be shown at the bottom.
Boulderfist removed. Lightning Shield changed and made baseline. Landslide removed. Totem Mastery removed. Searing Assault removed. Overcharge removed. Fury of Air removed. New Talents, and Existing Changes:
Lashing Flames - with the reintroduction of Flame Shock and the surprising damage it does, this talent is great for single target when the DoT is maintained, and does a lot of work for little effort as you are hitting Lava Lash constantly anyway.
Elemental Blast - this is in a weird place right now. It is an upgrade from our other finishers, but requires a lot of maintenance to pull off. Has some good synergy with one legendary in particular though in Elemental Equilibrium, and has potential down the line despite being disruptive.
Stormflurry - an easy win passive option returning from Legion’s artifact. This is one of those talents that is hard to go wrong with, we hit Stormstrike a lot and this is just some free goodies on top with each cast.
Hot Hand - this received a big rework to now be a proc window for 8 seconds that reduces Lava Lash's cooldown and doubles its damage, triggered by auto attacks on a 5% flat chance instead of the old RPPM. This turns into a short burst window similar to Ascendance’s one-two cycle, and also has some strong legendary synergies.
Ice Strike - stands out at the moment as unfinished. Resetting shocks when they already have such a low cooldown is pretty low impact, and the GCD investment only makes this feel worse. Has niche applications but effort to reward ratio is way off.
Elemental Assault - Similar to Stormflurry, this is just an easy win. Hard to mess up, synergises well with it, and pulls off some excellent single target builds especially with legendaries touched on later. Also ups our Maelstrom Weapon consistency to boot!
Hailstorm - the absolute god tier talent addition of this expansion. This almost single handedly smooths out the AoE rotation and cements us as being able to pool and dump out punchy damage to up to 6 targets. This is what I would call a “capstone” talent that effectively defines how you play the spec, and does a lot to make Maelstrom Weapon feel like a resource you have to manage correctly.
Fire Nova - do not be fooled by the name, this is not the same spell you remember. Without any spread mechanics for Flame Shock, this is cumbersome to use and the payoff is weak. This is gonna need a lot of help to rekindle its glory days sadly.
Stormkeeper - while this is a big hitter for Elemental, in the Enhancement kit it is largely out of place due to the investment cost. This requires 5 Maelstrom Weapon to make instant, and does have some unusual scaling with latent stacks that buff the amplified Lightning Bolt casts. Too often though it almost gets in the way because it does not technically consume stacks, which break some other effects in the process. If tuning makes spenders more valuable however, this has some potential.
Elemental Spirits - while not directly changed, the shift to cooldown locked abilities has had a profound impact on the values of each wolf spawned. This is a pain point right now, and came out of the rework battered and bruised. It is not helped by how poorly the baseline ability is performing either.
Ascendance - still on the GCD, but recently has had a big AoE pulse attached to the cast. With the reduced impact of Stormstrike spam that we have had for two expansions, it remains to be seen where this really lands but it is feeling a lot weaker for a 3 minute cooldown.
The tree now consists of the following tiers:
Level 15 Talents:
Lashing Flames / Forceful Winds / Elemental Blast Level 25 Talents:
Stormflurry / Hot Hand / Ice Strike Level 30 Talents:
Spirit Wolf / Earth Shield / Static Charge Level 35 Talents:
Elemental Assault / Hailstorm / Fire Nova Level 40 Talents:
Nature's Guardian / Feral Lunge / Wind Rush Totem Level 45 Talents:
Crashing Storm / Stormkeeper / Sundering Level 50 Talents:
Elemental Spirits / Earthen Spike / Ascendance
For Enhancement, Legendary effects are a huge deal. In more than one case they round out a build and provide an incentive to play in a certain way, which means in the pre-patch these are going to be missing, and you will feel that. Here we will run down the relevant Shaman specific effects, but the generic legendaries will be left out because they are more of a question mark.
Legacy of the Frost Witch - this legendary is similar to Hailstorm in that I would consider it a “capstone” to the spec. This is incredibly powerful at giving value to Maelstrom Weapon, works well in both single target and AoE due to funneling and consistency, and flattens some of the dry spots in the rotation all in one clean package. It also gives value to pooling for burst, it is so cleanly designed I cannot sing its praises enough.
Witch Doctor's Wolf Bones - right now this provides a significant bump to Maelstrom Weapon generation both from the passive and the additional cooldown use. Unfortunately, Feral Spirit is not a strong cooldown, so the value of this even with Elemental Spirits considered can struggle. This is a versatile choice though - especially in Mythic+ - and settles as a good all rounder.
Primal Lava Actuators - another “capstone” style effect that builds into the Flame Shock and Fire oriented abilities on the tree. Unfortunately again, Legacy of the Frost Witch outshines this in flexibility due to the accompanying build, and since there are no good options for cleave or AoE due to Fire Nova’s weaknesses, it has fallen away as the Beta has gone on.
Doom Winds - this is probably the legendary that is the most at the behest of the tuning of the spec. Right now, Windfury Weapon is a very weak effect, and while this provides an extra cooldown because of this, it is not high impact even with Forceful Winds considered. If these things are re-tuned however, this has a lot of potential.
Elemental Equilibrium - while this is an Elemental legendary, it does work for Enhancement and we can easily trigger all three effects via Flametongue Weapon/Lava Lash, Frost Shock/Ice Strike and Crash Lightning/Lightning Bolt. All 3 of these effects can be combined into an Elemental Blast cast, meaning this has solid potential with a build focused on that. Otherwise, it provides a great boost to Hailstorm value in AoE.
Deeply Rooted Elements - unfortunately this has spent the entire Alpha/Beta cycle bugged for Enhancement and does not work, so cannot be judged.
Ancestral Reminder - simple rerun of the Legion legendary, short fights push this hard, as do fights that have a big weight toward your Bloodlust window. This is one of those edge case options that has a place, but not a big winner.
Deeptremor Stone - Earth Elemental tends to have a bit of a deathwish, and because of that having a legendary relying on it is not great. This is also not helped by how relatively weak the damage is.
Chains of Devastation - because we rely on Maelstrom Weapon to scale up our spells, this is a really bad choice even for switch ups in the spec for utility. It also creates some serious mana issues if you try to capitalise on the effect.
For the pre-patch, I think a lot of people are going to feel a bit of whiplash transitioning from the one-note playstyle of Stormstrike spam in BfA, but with a bit of time will adjust into the more measured and deep cooldown style of Shadowlands. The biggest thing is that it will take some practice for those who have no experience from the Wrath-to-Warlords styles, and there is a slightly different skillset in juggling cooldowns and weaving Maelstrom Weapon spenders. That said, the important thing is there is a lot more room for Enhancement to breathe with the tools it has now, and the direction it is headed seems more healthy than the stagnant BfA situation we had to deal with at launch. One important thing to note is though, the Crash Lightning passive gained at 52 is huge for our AoE rotation, and pre-patch might feel a little off until then.
For Shadowlands itself, we only improve. We are quite reliant on having access to our Covenant tools to up our frontloaded AoE potential, and most importantly Legendaries have a huge impact on exactly how you tailor your gameplay. Right now most the most important of these is Legacy of the Frost Witch Legacy of the Frost Witch which opens up the option for a more robust style that is similar - but more in-depth - than the BfA Stormstrike oriented gameplay style. Combining that with new toys like Hailstorm, I see Enhancement’s damage kit able to flex itself into more spaces than recent iterations, which is a good thing. Alongside this, once we hit 60 our AoE profile really starts rolling due to the Crash Lightning passive gained, with a smooth cycle of Crash Lightning -> Stormstrike -> Chain Lightning -> Frost Shock that synchronises almost perfectly, and is a big game changer. The one and only serious issue that still remains though is survival, as noted at the beginning, but whether that is addressed or has serious impact going forward is too hard to tell.
Other Spec Highlights:
Balance Druid Restoration Druid Beast Mastery Hunter Arcane Mage Outlaw Rogue Elemental Shaman Enhancement Shaman Shadow Priest Protection Warrior
With this week's changes, it's time to take a look at Elemental Shamans, which got quite a bit of work done... and then undone as well! Our elemental expert Stormy takes on the changes that are sticking around for now, Covenant choice, legendaries and more in this Shadowlands and pre-patch spec highlights article.
Exciting Changes for Elemental Shaman in Shadowlands
After Blizzard decided to ditch their attempt at changing Maelstrom to Fulmination, Elemental is back to feeling very familiar. However, Shadowlands brings many changes to the spec, bringing new baseline abilities and some talent changes. Only one of our Covenant abilities interacts with our kit, but it does so in an interesting way. Some of the Legendary Powers we will have access to are also quite powerful.
New Baseline Shaman Spells
The following spells are now baseline for every Shaman specialization:
Chain Heal - Heals the friendly target for (255.5% of Spell power), then jumps to heal the 2 most injured nearby allies. Healing is reduced by 30% with each jump. Flametongue Weapon - Imbue your weapon with the element of Fire for 1 hour, causing each of your attacks to deal additional Fire damage. Frost Shock - Chills the target with frost, causing (45% of Spell power) Frost damage and reducing the target's movement speed by 50% for 6 sec. Healing Stream Totem - Summons a totem at your feet for 15 sec that heals an injured party or raid member within 40 yards for (47% of Spell power) every 2 sec. Lightning Shield - Surround yourself with a shield of lightning for 30 min. Melee attackers have a 100% chance to suffer (3.6% of Attack power) Nature damage and have a 100% chance to generate 5 Maelstrom. Only one Elemental Shield can be active on the Shaman at a time. Primal Strike - An instant weapon strike that causes 34% Physical damage.
Elemental Shaman Talent Changes
Echo of the Elements (Level 15 talent) no longer grants a second charge of Healing Stream Totem for Elemental Shaman. Static Discharge is a new Level 15 talent. It is an active ability with a 30-second cooldown that requires you to have Lightning Shield active. Using Static Discharge will cause some quick zaps of Nature damage to strike enemies over 3 seconds, prioritizing any target that is afflicted with your Flame Shock debuff. Echoing Shock is a new Level 25 talent that blasts a target for significant damage, which makes the Shaman's next targeted healing or damage-dealing spell cast a second time shortly afterward, without costing additional resources. It also works with Earthquake. Call the Thunder and Totem Mastery (Level 25 talents) removed. Elemental Blast has been moved to Level 25 row and now generates 30 Maelstrom (45 if it overloads).
While Fire Elemental is active, Flame Shock generates 3 Maelstrom when it deals damage over time. Icefury-buffed Frost Shocks generate 8 Maelstrom. Flame Shock now lasts 18 seconds (down from 24) Searing Totem has been pruned. Ancestral Guidance is now no longer on the GCD! Spiritwalker's Grace is now available to Elemental Shamans once again! Rejoice! Ascendance now instantly casts a Lava Burst at all enemies affected by Flame Shock, refreshing its duration.
Vesper Totem: Summon a totem at the target location for 30 seconds. Your next 3 damage spells or abilities will cause the totem to radiate (95% of Spell Power) Arcane damage to up to 6 enemies near the totem, and your next 3 healing spells will heal up to 6 allies near the totem for (85% of Spell Power) Health. Casting this ability again while the totem is active will relocate the totem.
(Instant, Costs 10% of Base Mana, 40-yard range, 60-second cooldown)
This is probably the strongest covenant ability for Elemental Shamans. It is versatile and powerful in every situation.
Night Fae Ability
Fae Transfusion: Transfer the life force of up to 4 enemies in the targeted area, dealing (414% of Spell Power) Nature damage to each enemy over 3 seconds. Pressing Fae Transfusion again within 20 seconds will release 15% of all damage from Fae Transfusion, healing up to 8 allies near yourself.
(3-second cast, Costs 7.5% of Base Mana, 40-yard range, 2-minute cooldown)
This is a fairly weird ability. It is unlikely to be sought after unless its numbers are higher than they are right now.
Chain Harvest: Send a wave of anima at the target, which then jumps to additional nearby targets. Deals (345% of Spell Power) Shadow damage to up to 5 enemies, and restores (255.5% of Spell Power) Health to up to 5 allies. For each target critically struck, the cooldown of Chain Harvest is reduced by 5 seconds.
(Instant, Costs 10% of Base Mana, 40-yard range, 1.5-minute cooldown)
While not very interesting, this does give significant damage and healing which can be handy in a variety of situations, especially in dungeons.
Primordial Wave: Blasts your target with a Primordial Wave, dealing (65% of Spell Power + 65% of Attack Power) Shadow damage and apply Flame Shock to an enemy or heal an ally for (65% of Spell Power + 65% of Attack Power). Your next Lava Burst will also hit all targets affected by your Flame Shock.
(1.5-second cast, Costs 10% of Base Mana, 40-yard range, 45-second recharge)
While this is a pretty cool ability that synergizes with our kit, it is fundamentally niche and makes the ability, and therefor the Covenant, unlikely to see play.
While there are other generic Legendary effects, I'm only going to touch on the ones specific to Elemental Shaman (although you can check out the rest of the shaman ones here and generic ones here).
Echoes of Great Sundering (Shoulder/Hands) — When you cast Earth Shock or Elemental Blast, your next Earthquake will deal 250% additional damage.
Should be very strong for dungeons, solo play and encounters containing any kind of regular cleave/AoE.
Elemental Equilibrium (Legs/Feet) — Dealing direct Fire damage increases the damage of your next Frost spell by 30%. Dealing Frost damage increases the damage of your next Nature spell by 25%. Dealing Nature damage increases the damage of your next Fire spell by 20%.
This is very similar to Master of the Elements and might be used withIcefury. It is unlikely to change rotations, the numbers are simply not high enough.
Skybreaker's Fiery Demise (Chest/Finger) — Flame Shock damage over time critical strikes reduce the cooldown of Fire Elemental by 1 second, and Flame Shock has a 30% increased Critical Strike chance.
This is probably going to be the go-to legendary on any fights where you will multidot a lot.
Windspeaker's Lava Resurgence (Back/Feet) — When you cast Earth Shock or Elemental Blast, gain Lava Surge and increase the damage of your next Lava Burst by 30%.
This does not seem particularly powerful, although it does give fairly convenient guaranteed mobility as well as a small burst.
After trying to change quite a lot, Blizzard ended up reverting the majority of their changes, and Elemental is back to being quite similar to what it was in BfA. We gain some things and lose others, overall ending up in a slightly stronger place in my opinion, if you consider that we were losing the BfA specific bonuses anyway. The legendary powers should help complement various playstyles and encounters, and unlocking them all quickly is going to be important. It is still hard to say which Covenant will be best, although Kyrian and Venthyr seem to be the safer bets currently.
Other Spec Highlights:
Balance Druid Restoration Druid Beast Mastery Hunter Arcane Mage Outlaw Rogue Elemental Shaman Enhancement Shaman Shadow Priest Protection Warrior
Rogues arrive on the scene in our Shadowlands and pre-patch highlights overviews, as Outlaw gets some welcome changes and a varied selection of legendaries and Conduits! We've asked our expert guide writer Seliathan tells us all about the gameplay changes to the spec, new abilities and talents, Covenants, legendaries and even some Conduits!
Exciting Changes for Outlaw Rogues in Shadowlands
It is time to take a look at Outlaw Rogue and what it will look and play like in the upcoming expansion (and pre-patch). Overall the Outlaw gameplay is not receiving a whole lot of adjustments, so if you're familiar with the way the spec currently plays you will feel right at home once you start your journey into the Shadowlands.
Roll the Bones no longer uses your Combo Points, and instead has a 45-second cooldown. Its cooldown is reduced like any other ability by both Restless Blades and True Bearing . You will most likely still re-roll bad buffs whenever the ability comes off cooldown again. Kidney Shot and Between the Eyes are separate abilities now. Depending on the situation this can be either an advantage or a disadvantage, since you will no longer have a stun on one of your damaging finishers that might lead to messed up Diminishing Returns for AoE stuns. However, this also means that you no longer provide a regular damage bonus by speccing into Prey on the Weak. Adrenaline Rush is no longer on the global cooldown. Blade Flurry has been changed. It is now a single-use cooldown with a 30-second CD. This CD is reduced by both Restless Blades and True Bearing , allowing for almost 100% uptime on Blade Flurry. New Abilities and Talents
Slice and Dice is making its return as a maintenance finisher, increasing your attack speed by 50%. This will speed up your rotation by generating more energy due to its interaction with Combat Potency . Poisons are back! Outlaw gains access to Wound Poison, Instant Poison, Numbing Poison and Crippling Poison. You are still limited to one lethal and one non-lethal poison each. Shiv is no longer a PvP talent and can instead be used by all rogue specs. When used it will apply a strong 70% movement speed slow. Dreadblades is a new talent that replaces Slice and Dice. It is functionally the same as the artifact-weapon ability from Legion. While it is active, each of your combo point builders generates your maximum amount of combo points, at the cost of 5% of your current HP whenever you use a finisher. 90-second cooldown, 10-second duration.
Kyrian Ability - Echoing Reprimand
Deal Arcane damage to an enemy, extracting their anima to Animacharge a combo point. Damaging finishing moves that consume the same number of combo points as your Animacharge deal damage as if they consume 7 combo points. Costs 30 energy. 45-second cooldown.
After using Echoing Reprimand, your second, third or fourth combo point will be highlighted as the anima-charged combo point. When using a damaging finisher with this exact amount of combo points, it will scale as if it was being used with 7 combo points instead. This scales both the damage and the duration of any effects associated with the increased amount of combo points being used.
While interesting on paper, this ability sadly doesn't mesh very well with the nature of Outlaw's combo point generation. Your combo point builders generate an inconsistent amount of combo points, with procs and buffs changing how many CP you generate whenever you use them. Oftentimes you will skip over the amount of CP required to benefit from Echoing Reprimand, hoping you will eventually hit the required amount of CP.
Necrolord Ability - Serrated Bone Spike
Apply a bone spike in the target, dealing Bleed damage every 3 sec until they die. Deals damage and generates 1 Combo Point per active bone spike. Refunds 1 charge when target dies or is healed to full. Costs 10 Energy. 30-second recharge, 3 maximum charges.
This ability feels very fun to use whenever there are multiple targets, due to its fracturing mechanic. You will always want to target less important targets first, and then get a huge spike of burst on your priority target on your third use. While the ability is fairly simple on single-target, it is currently (subject to change) the strongest covenant ability for Outlaw Rogues.
Unfortunately it is also the one that interacts the least with the Outlaw toolkit, and can become the only button you press on AoE until you run out of charges.
Venthyr Ability - Slaughter
Slaughter the target, causing moderate Physical damage. The targets anima mixes with your lethal poison, coating your weapons for the next 5 minutes. Slaughter Poison deals Shadow Damage over 12 seconds and steals 15% of the healing done to the target. Costs 50 Energy.
This ability can only be used from stealth. While Outlaw gains more frequent uses of Vanish as a dps cooldown, it hits for the the same damage as Ambush. The Slaughter Poison is slightly stronger than your Instant Poison, and the associated Conduit Slaughter Scars greatly improves its potency, but it is still one of the weakest Covenant choices for Outlaw right now.
Night Fae Ability - Sepsis
Infect the targets blood, dealing Nature damage over 10 sec. If the target survives its full duration, they suffer additional damage and you Vanish from sight. Cooldown reduced by 60 sec if Sepsis does not last its full duration. 90-second cooldown.
This covenant ability scales directly with the usefulness of Vanish as a dps cooldown, but Outlaw doesn't benefit much at all from the stealth-only abilities like Ambush. However, there are a few legendaries that can directly boost this Covenant ability's usefulness by providing additional benefits, based on the legendary you use.
There are quite a few legendary effects available in Shadowlands, so we have picked out some of the strongest ones for Outlaw rogues **(power level subject to change).**
Master Assassin's Mark is back and provides a 100% increased crit-chance for 5 seconds after using Vanish. Using this makes the Night Fae ability Sepsis quite a bit more powerful. Guile Charm is making a return, previously known as Bandit's Guile. Each cast of Sinister Strike will gradually increase the amount of damage you deal, capping out at 30%. This can be delayed to line up better with your cooldowns by not using Sinister Strike for a while, and once you received the maximum benefits for a short duration the cycle starts anew. Greenskin's Wickers will greatly boost the effectiveness of your Pistol Shot. This can be combined with talenting into Quick Draw for even more damage dealt by your Pistol Shots. Celerity will randomly grant you Adrenaline Rush for 4 seconds as long as you maintain Slice and Dice . There are plenty more legendaries with different power levels, these are just a few that currently perform strongest for Outlaw. We will keep you updated on the individual strength of each legendary once we get closer to release.
Conduits in Shadowlands
There are many conduits coming in Shadowlands, so this is just a selection of some of them.
Ambidexterity increases your chance to trigger Main Gauche as long as Blade Flurry is active. With the rework to Blade Flurry allowing for almost 100% uptime, this is quite a boost even on single-target. Count the Odds gives your Ambush, Dispatch and Slaughter (if you have chosen Venthyr) a chance to grant a Roll the Bones buff you do not currently have active. Sleight of Hand gives your Roll the Bones a chance to immediately reset your cooldown, allowing you to re-roll your buffs immediately.
Outlaw is shaping up to be in a solid spot for both raiding and Mythic+ content in Shadowlands. The changes to Roll the Bones, Blade Flurry, and the addition of Slice and Dice to the base toolkit have given the spec quite a lot of additional maintenance. Having to maintain all three of these will take some getting used to, and re-rolling Roll the Bones buffs is still going to be of big importance. Coming from BfA, the cooldown on Roll the Bones feels a bit off-putting at first, and having to keep re-rolling into bad buffs feels a bit demoralizing.
Legendaries and Conduits give quite a bit of choice and allow you to customize your gameplay by slightly shifting your rotational and re-rolling priorities. Most Legendaries and Conduits are fairly close in power right now **(subject to change)**, so you might be able to pick and choose the gameplay you prefer the most and still be very much viable in all types of content.
Other Spec Highlights:
Balance Druid Restoration Druid Beast Mastery Hunter Arcane Mage Outlaw Rogue Elemental Shaman Enhancement Shaman Shadow Priest Protection Warrior