Finally Blizzard have posted their oft-promised details on the stat and system changes coming to us in Cataclysm. WoW.com have a load of columns going up for every class, so I expect some Shaman analysis soon, and Flow has posted some thoughts. In the meantime, here are my idle thoughts. The interesting stat changes for Enhancement Shamans are:
- Stamina: We'll have a lot more stamina than before, which could mean better survivability, but they Blizz might just tweak the raid damage up a notch.
- Intellect: No more intellect on our mail gear any more.
- Mastery: New stat which does some talent-dependent things, which may or may not lead to a whole bunchload of theorycrafting.
- Armor: Plate will offer a bit more armor than mail, but not a whole lot.
- Resilience: Only affects things done by players, thus a pure PvP stat.
- Agility: Will appear on gear rather than AP and likely give 2 Attack Power per point.
- Hit Rating, Expertise, Critical Strike rating: Still there on gear.
- Armor Penetration: Gone from gear and frankly good riddance.
- Attack Power: Gone from gear although still working away there in the background for us.
Much of this is what we knew from Blizzcon anyway, but there were some interesting changes announced.
Haste: "Haste will become more attractive for melee classes by allowing them to recover resources such as energy and runes more quickly. Our intention is for Haste to let you 'do stuff' more often". It was also later confirmed that "The change to haste for melee dps is 'in addition to its current affect'". Haste is a good stat for us currently and unless it affects mana regeneration for Enhancement Shamans (Spirit will affect regen for Restos), the new "do stuff more often" feature is somewhat superfluous, because we are mana and cooldown limited, not resource limited. It is good to see that the existing effect of haste will remain.
Blizzard say of combat ratings that "All ratings will be much harder to 'cap out' at maximum gear levels. Ratings will be steeper in Cataclysm, and creatures in later tiers of content will be harder to hit or crit, similar to how level-83 mobs are harder to hit or crit than level-80 mobs".
Thinking about this, it strikes me that we will be persuing ever-increasing levels of hit, crit and expertise rating just to stay at the same level for each new raid tier. Maybe in the introductory Tier 11 raids you need 600 hit rating to cap your spell hit, but when they add Tier 12 you will now need 700 hit rating to always hit with spells (against T12 bosses). This does mean all that extra hit on gear will be useful, but it also means no more capping hit and expertise somewhere in the first two raid tiers, then balancing gear to free up more gem slots & stats for Agility for subsequent tiers. It's effectively having to recap hit & expertise for every single new tier of raiding, which I predict will become somewhat tiresome.
Agility to AP
Going full circle (for hunters at least) Agility will equal 2 Attack power and we will be looking at Agility on our gear and going for upgrades in the Agility level, considering the other stats as well, but no more "Agility or AP" considerations. Unfortunately stacking Agility will not mean massive crit percentages, Blizz say "Agility may provide less Crit than it currently does". For may read will provide less Crit.
Blizzard say "we are going to give players a way to replace stats on gear as part of the existing profession system. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll be able to convert one stat to 50% of another stat". This has potential to alleviate the need to recap hit & expertise, if you can just go reforge your current gear to get more and drop some Agility for hit rating. Sadly glass cannons need not apply as "some conversions (like converting Stamina to Strength) won’t be permitted". There might also be some limitations to watch out for in that you can only reforge once.
The lol patch
Much like the lol patch before Wrath, these gear and stat changes will hit us before Cataclysm is out. Blizzard say "for the most part, the gear you have will still be good for you, though there will be exceptions, such as warriors using leather and mail armor", so leather users beware. They will most likely also nerf raid bosses in the pre-Cataclysm patch, so it will be difficult to see how the new stats play out until we are level 85.
For our specific play style Blizzard say:
If you are a melee DPS class, druid tank, or hunter, expect to see:
* A lot more Stamina. Bear-form Stamina scaling will be lowered as a result.
* Strength if you wear plate. Agility if you wear mail or leather.
* Existing Attack Power becomes Agility and Stamina. Armor Penetration becomes Haste or Crit.
* No Intellect on melee gear. Hunters won’t need Intellect since they will no longer use mana. Shaman and Retribution paladins will get mana and spell damage in other ways.
Other than the expected, what is interesting is they say "Shaman and Retribution paladins will get mana and spell damage in other ways" but then do not provide any particular information about how. Blizzard later point out that "Retribution paladins are already working this way on live realms, given that they rely on mana. You're just cooldown limited". I've speculated about how Enhancement Shamans with no Intellect might work in the past anyway, so I won't do that again, but I am very eager to find out more. As several commenters have said, it is nice to have a big mana pool and decent spell power to throw out some heals from time to time.
Mastery "is a new stat that will allow players to become better at whatever makes their chosen talent tree cool or unique. It's directly tied to talents, so what you gain from improving this stat is entirely dependent upon your class and the talent specialization you choose". Unfortunately no more information is forthcoming, but I can see Mastery being a source of much headache. For example, if Enhancement Mastery improved critical strike damage, crit change and overall damage, then getting 1 extra point will change your DPS in many different ways all at once. While this is a good thing, if you were pondering whether to take 1 point of extra Agility instead, you might have some head-scratching to do.
Enhancement Shamans are already used to the "simulate it" mind set, where an increase in one stat can ripple through all our randomness-based damage in such a way you really have to run a sim to see the result. But if Mastery is also going to involve several aspects working together to produce an overall DPS change when you increase in Mastery, other classes may need to turn to a sim as well.
Overall much of this is what we knew before. Although the news on Haste and Combat Ratings is interesting, I am really waiting for the information about how Enhancement mana provision & regen is going to change. Oh, and can we stop calling our armor "Hunter Mail" yet please? ;)