Saturday, January 9, 2010

Totem Talk: Goodbyes

First off, yes, I'm leaving Totem Talk. It's been a good ride, and no, I'm not quitting the shaman class nor You'll still see me around on Know Your Lore and The Care and Feeding of Warriors for the foreseeable future, and I'll be writing Totem Talks until we have a replacement. The reason I'm leaving Totem Talk is simple: I don't think I'm giving enough coverage to all the different specs and playstyles anymore, and frankly I don't want to have to try and respec every few days to catch up on spec mechanics for roles I don't want to play. For some classes I play, this isn't an issue, but I'm straight up never ever going to like elemental as a spec or a playstyle. I'm not a ranged DPS player, I never was, I never will be. There's a big difference between personal preference and a spec not being good, mind you. I don't dislike elemental, I simply don't like standing in the back and casting as my DPS role.

So I'm out, and we'll have new people come in and cover the class. I'll still be playing my shaman, healing and stormstriking my way through content. I still love the class, and I'm always going to play one as long as I'm playing WoW.

Before I go on to talk about the highlights of my two plus years of covering shamans for (and WoW Insider before that), I do want to say that the Tier 10 bug that causes a seven day lockout just floors me. It's the kind of bug you'd almost expect to see on elemental shaman gear, frankly. If I were an egomaniac (well, more of one) I'd almost think this was done for me as a fitting tribute as I depart. Here's hoping it gets fixed soon.

And now, my favorite Totem Talk moments.
5: Shaman Itemization resists a clever title

Admittedly this was a recent piece, but I don't think the concerns it addresses have really gone out of style. Along with the gear consolidation post, I thought (and still think) it will benefit the shaman class as a whole when elemental and resto don't end up so far apart in terms of what stats they want and how they are designed via talents to go about gathering those stats. This is definitely an aspect of the class' hybridization that should be of interest as the class moves forward into Cataclysm.

I would call the increased variability in enhancement a triumph of making mail gear work for a shaman spec, and it's one of the success stories for Wrath. Now I'm hopeful we'll see a similar success story for elemental in Cataclysm helping revitalize it in similar fashion. Mastery is where I'm pinning my hopes.

4: 3.0.8, The Rise of Shamanism

Setting the stage for the redesigns of patch 3.1 and 3.2 came this talent, aimed at introducing a scaling element to elemental combat. The patch had other changes, of course: the reduction in AoE totem threat, the switch in positions between Static Shock and Mental Quickness, an attempt to improve Healing Way... but it was Shamanism that was the big star of patch 3.0.8 and harbinger for pretty much all that was to come. Frankly, I was thrilled to see it come into the game. Shamanism has been buffed to work with Chain Lightning and to apply more of a bonus to both CL and Lighting Bolt since it was introduced, and I think (along with the Fire Nova changes) this was one of Blizzard's better calls all told.

3: The Elusive Shaman Tank

Picking up the thread of an older post about shaman tanking, I honestly had a surprising amount of fun writing about this topic. Not only did I get to go back in my memory to when I first rolled my orc shaman and ended up tanking lowbie instances on him (SFK was a particular favorite, as was Wailing Caverns) but I got to detail how the changes to the game with the launch of first Burning Crusade (letting Horde have Pallies and Alliance Shammies, thus freeing each class from trying to mirror the other) and Wrath of the Lich King (new talents, new spells, some abilities changed or even mostly abandoned) helped alter and eventual spelled the effective end of shamans as tanks in World of Warcraft.

My one regret in writing about the subject is that I'm afraid I may have sounded too negative or too much like I rejected the players trying it when I rejected the idea. For the record, I think shamans are never going to be progression tanks, but I admire the heck out of the players working to test the class and its limits to the utmost. This is how fun discoveries get made! This is how people learn the tolerances and thresholds of their talents and spells.

Shaman tanking may not be a viable concept, but the players trying to do it anyway make me smile every time. It's the ultimate refusal to accept the prevailing wisdom, and it's awesome.

2: On the edge of change

Wrath dropping was one of the most exciting times to be writing about shamans. We didn't yet have the benefit of hindsight showing us how 2009 would be the year of shaman redesign, we had Hex, Thunderstorm, Maelstrom Weapon, Spirit Wolves, Riptide to look forward to. Everything was new and exciting again. I loved playing my shaman in the Wrath beta and talking about it with you all was just the delicious icing on an already awesome cake.

I also got to complain about losing downranking, but in retrospect my reliance on downranking was probably a sign that I make a better DPS than a healer as a shaman. I tend to take people dying when I'm healing fairly to heart, which may be why I'm a better tank, where that kind of stress actually seems beneficial. I felt like I learned how to do it pretty well, mind you, but I never really felt as comfortable with it as I should have.

1: Sentry Totem

This is the best thing I have ever written, about the best ability any class has every had. It was Sentry Totem, and writing about said totem, that made me love being Totem Talk's writer for these past years. People didn't think I could write a serious column about it, and yet, here we are, and here it is. Watching. Always watching. Until it gets one shot by a stealthed rogue in the flag room, anyway. And while it's not actually in this column, the passage that caused me to write it has always stuck with me: It's also stuck with the totem's description on WoWhead.

I'll miss you most of all, Sentry Totem.

I'm still going to be writing Totem Talk until a new writer is found, of course, but I owed you guys a proper sendoff, and here it is. It's been an amazing experience working on this column with you all. Thank you for reading it.


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