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Starym

Enhancement Shaman in the Shadowlands: Class Recommendations and Spec Highlights

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Update: the Enhancement pre-patch guide is ready and you can check it out here:
Enhancement Shaman Shadowlands Guide

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 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.
 

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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 Lava Lash, the cooldown of Stormstrike Stormstrike has been slightly reduced, and the cooldown of Crash Lightning Crash Lightning has been slightly increased.

Stormbringer Stormbringer no longer grants a free cast of Stormstrike Stormstrike, and instead just resets the cooldown and increases the damage of your next Stormstrike Stormstrike when it triggers.

Maelstrom Weapon 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 Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning Chain Lightning, Chain Heal Chain Heal or Healing Surge 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 Feral Spirit now generates one stack of Maelstrom Weapon Maelstrom Weapon on cast, and an additional 5 over the next 15 seconds.
 

Newly added Baseline Spells and Passives

Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt has reverted to a cast time spell, and both Chain Lightning Chain Lightning and Chain Heal Chain Heal have been added to the spec, both tied to the Maelstrom Weapon Maelstrom Weapon system.

Healing Stream Totem Healing Stream Totem returns as a short cooldown support tool for some quick healing.

Windfury Weapon Windfury Weapon and Flametongue Weapon Flametongue Weapon have both been converted to weapon imbues instead of passives.

Lightning Shield 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 Maelstrom Weapon.

Windfury Totem 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 Frost Shock and Flame Shock Flame Shock both return, sharing a 6-second cooldown affected by Haste. This replaces Rockbiter Rockbiter, which has been removed.

At level 52, successful Chain Lightning Chain Lightning hits will reduce the cooldown of Crash Lightning 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%).
 

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Covenants

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 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 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 Summon Steward - variable CD

Summon Steward will grant you 3 charges of Phial of Serenity Phial of Serenity, which is a separate consumable (no longer shares with Healthstone Healthstone or Spiritual Healing Potion 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 Primordial Wave - 45 sec CD, 1.5sec cast

Deals Shadow damage to your target, appliesFlame Shock Flame Shock to them and causes your next Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt cast to hit all targets affected by Flame Shock Flame Shock. 1.5 second cast time, can be reduced by Maelstrom Weapon 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 Chain Lightning, which has a knock on effect of not reducing the cooldown of Crash Lightning Crash Lightning. The twofold Maelstrom Weapon 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 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 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 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: Flicker 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 Ghost Wolf (and even moreso if using Spirit Wolf 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.

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Venthyr Ability: Chain Harvest 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 Maelstrom Weapon.

Right now this is the hardest to quantify, because there are a number of bugs relating to this ability and Maelstrom Weapon 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 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 Hailstorm. This does however have the most likely chance of competing with Vesper Totem Vesper Totem.

Venthyr Signature: Door of Shadows 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 Vesper Totem and Chain Harvest 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 Fae Transfusion having some niche uses. Primordial Wave 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.
 

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Talent Changes

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.

Talents Removed:

New Talents, and Existing Changes:

Lashing Flames Lashing Flames - with the reintroduction of Flame Shock 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 Lava Lash constantly anyway.

Elemental Blast 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 Elemental Equilibrium, and has potential down the line despite being disruptive.

Stormflurry 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 Stormstrike a lot and this is just some free goodies on top with each cast.

Hot Hand Hot Hand - this received a big rework to now be a proc window for 8 seconds that reduces Lava Lash 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 Ascendance’s one-two cycle, and also has some strong legendary synergies.

Ice Strike 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 Elemental Assault - Similar to Stormflurry 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 Maelstrom Weapon consistency to boot!

Hailstorm 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 Maelstrom Weapon feel like a resource you have to manage correctly.

Fire Nova Fire Nova - do not be fooled by the name, this is not the same spell you remember. Without any spread mechanics for Flame Shock 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 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 Maelstrom Weapon to make instant, and does have some unusual scaling with latent stacks that buff the amplified Lightning Bolt 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 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 Ascendance - still on the GCD, but recently has had a big AoE pulse attached to the cast. With the reduced impact of Stormstrike 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:

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Legendary Effects

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 Legacy of the Frost Witch - this legendary is similar to Hailstorm Hailstorm in that I would consider it a “capstone” to the spec. This is incredibly powerful at giving value to Maelstrom Weapon 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 Witch Doctor's Wolf Bones - right now this provides a significant bump to Maelstrom Weapon Maelstrom Weapon generation both from the passive and the additional cooldown use. Unfortunately, Feral Spirit Feral Spirit is not a strong cooldown, so the value of this even with Elemental Spirits Elemental Spirits considered can struggle. This is a versatile choice though - especially in Mythic+ - and settles as a good all rounder.

Primal Lava Actuators Primal Lava Actuators - another “capstone” style effect that builds into the Flame Shock Flame Shock and Fire oriented abilities on the tree. Unfortunately again, Legacy of the Frost Witch 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 Fire Nova’s weaknesses, it has fallen away as the Beta has gone on.

Doom Winds Doom Winds - this is probably the legendary that is the most at the behest of the tuning of the spec. Right now, Windfury Weapon 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 Forceful Winds considered. If these things are re-tuned however, this has a lot of potential.

Elemental Equilibrium Elemental Equilibrium - while this is an Elemental legendary, it does work for Enhancement and we can easily trigger all three effects via Flametongue Weapon Flametongue Weapon/Lava Lash Lava Lash, Frost Shock Frost Shock/Ice Strike Ice Strike and Crash Lightning Crash Lightning/Lightning Bolt Lightning Bolt. All 3 of these effects can be combined into an Elemental Blast Elemental Blast cast, meaning this has solid potential with a build focused on that. Otherwise, it provides a great boost to Hailstorm Hailstorm value in AoE.

Deeply Rooted Elements 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 Ancestral Reminder - simple rerun of the Legion legendary, short fights push this hard, as do fights that have a big weight toward your Bloodlust Bloodlust window. This is one of those edge case options that has a place, but not a big winner.

Deeptremor Stone Deeptremor Stone - Earth Elemental 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 Chains of Devastation - because we rely on Maelstrom Weapon 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.
 

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Concluding Thoughts

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 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 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 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 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 Stormstrike oriented gameplay style. Combining that with new toys like Hailstorm 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 Crash Lightning -> Stormstrike Stormstrike -> Chain Lightning Chain Lightning -> Frost Shock 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.
 

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Other Spec Highlights:

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You know it would really be a shame to see fire nova go to waste it’s way to clunky to use as is I really hope they fix it I would really love to play a shaman in end game and be competitive trying to spread flameshock then use fire nova just feels horrible make lava lash spread flame shock then up the damage of fire nova boom problem solved

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4 hours ago, STINKFIST87 said:

You know it would really be a shame to see fire nova go to waste it’s way to clunky to use as is I really hope they fix it I would really love to play a shaman in end game and be competitive trying to spread flameshock then use fire nova just feels horrible make lava lash spread flame shock then up the damage of fire nova boom problem solved

There's absolutely no way that will happen especially with them allowing us to combo off Chain Lightning and Crash Lightning together. Our AoE at that point would be ludicrous to the point where they would nerf Flame Nova to the ground. But I 100% understand the feeling of activating a flame nova off of 4 targets, just so satisfying!

Really looking forward to maining My Enh shaman this expac. Despite the fact that I main it every expac lol

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10 hours ago, Rhondis said:

There's absolutely no way that will happen especially with them allowing us to combo off Chain Lightning and Crash Lightning together. Our AoE at that point would be ludicrous to the point where they would nerf Flame Nova to the ground. But I 100% understand the feeling of activating a flame nova off of 4 targets, just so satisfying!

Really looking forward to maining My Enh shaman this expac. Despite the fact that I main it every expac lol

 

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I kinda get what you’re saying but to be honest there’s a way to make that work because using casting spells for aoe is just tooo elemental and blah at this point there’s really no separation in or aoe from the ranged spec to melee the whole point for the rework is to make us viable and competitive in high -end content and and being stuck in situations where you are forced to hardcast a spell as melee is just kinda crappy feeling

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5 hours ago, STINKFIST87 said:

because using casting spells for aoe is just tooo elemental

What? Our class itself is about casting elemental spells? I don't get your point here. 

 

5 hours ago, STINKFIST87 said:

aoe from the ranged spec to melee the whole point for the rework is to make us viable and competitive in high -end content and and being stuck in situations where you are forced to hardcast a spell as melee is just kinda crappy feeling

What do you mean hard cast? You should never have to do so with this BFA/WoD infused variation? They also give you multiple tools to build up maelstrom stacks just so you don't have to hard cast. Especially with us getting Flame shock and Frost shock back, lightning bolt which now deals damage without speccing a talent for it, and chain lighting for AoE from afar. If anything this iteration is far more range friendly than the BfA version. And I would like to argue that our new kit, talents, and AoE rotation will most definitely make us more viable as the expansion goes on. Especially when we start stacking haste/mastery to reduce cooldowns of the shock spells and increase the frequency of the stormbringer passive.

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      And as the old concept art looks much more similar to the Primus, more "brotherly", it seems quite possible that transformation will actually come, either before we fight the Jailer in the last raid (either at the end of the penultimate patch or just before the final raid of the expansion), or even during the final encounter as he takes the Arbiter's key. We already know the Eternal Ones are basically a family, as they keep referring to the Jailer as "brother", so a closer family resemblance would fit the story.
      Even if you don't buy into the visual similarities between the new Primus and original Jailer, the theory still stands, with or without the specific look of the final form, so let's see how it plays out!

      This is all very speculative, of course, but that piece of concept art has been bugging a lot of players for a lot of time, and it just never sat right that a pretty good/great design like that was just scrapped in favor of the bald perpetually angry fellow we've been seeing so far. Whichever the case may be, we'll have to wait quite a bit longer to see if the Jailer gets any new form, but it does seem exceedingly likely that he'll manage to get all the keys and empower himself, at which point we'll have to defeat him.
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