About the Author
This guide is written by Wordup, an Enhancement theorycrafter who works closely with other moderators within the Shaman discord Earthshrine and other melee communities. You can find him on Twitter & Youtube.
Check out all our Shadowlands Launch Opinion articles by our Class Writers and members of the community! Click on any of the colored specs below to see what articles we’ve released so far.
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Enhancement Shaman Class and Talent Changes
While everyone has got a taste of the new Shadowlands updates for Enhancement’s gameplay, Beta never stopped moving on and there are a good amount of things that have changed in the past few months. For those that are preparing to transition from pre-patch then, expect to see some changes to go alongside losing Azerite, and adding Covenants and other Shadowlands systems into the mix.
I want to preface right at the beginning, that I am partial to the changes that happened in Shadowlands and I think it produces a much more promising gameplay style that merged old and new creating more room for us to excel – but none of those changes matter in the long run if the numbers aren’t there to back it up.
Notable Changes in Beta
Since the last article back in June, quite a lot has changed when it comes to Enhancement and the landscape is even different from what we see in the pre-patch. While the list is long, I’ll just cover the ones that have actually made a strong impact to our gameplay coming with the launch relative to the pre-patch version, and things relevant to Shadowlands systems.
- All 4 different Covenants received numerical alterations bringing them closer together.
- Primordial Wave was made instant cast baseline.
- Fae Transfusion was converted to a meteor effect more single target oriented ability, and generates 3 stacks of Maelstrom Weapon over the channel.
- Windfury Weapon Imbue recieved a significant buff.
- Feral Spirit had a base damage buff to the damage each wolf deals.
- Healing Surge had its Enhancement specific limitations removed significantly increasing its healing potential.
- Maelstrom Weapon spenders have been buffed.
- Talent Tree saw some buffs and readjustments to underperforming options.
Enhancement Shaman Level Up Perks
On the path to 60 you’ll gain a new passive effect every 2 levels:
- Chain Lightning (Level 52) – It’s hard to put into words just how much of an impact this makes to the gameplay loop for Enhancement without having played it yourself. The cooldown reduction this provides for Crash Lightning smooths out the AoE gameplay loop when playing with Hailstorm to such a degree it changes a slightly disjointed cycle into a smooth, tight rotation that revolves around Frost Shock cooldown perfectly.
- Astral Shift (Level 54) – while this isn’t massively high impact and I’d much prefer a lower cooldown, extra time on our defensive tool is still better than nothing given we’ve spent the last 4 years struggling with survival.
- Hex (Level 56) – feels a lot like a throwaway passive to me and you’re unlikely to really notice it outside of PvP situations. Could see some extremely niche uses when paired with the Crippling Hex Conduit.
- Windfury Totem (Level 58) – effectively doubles the value of your Windfury Totem which is one of the new selling points of having an Enhancement Shaman in your melee group. While this has gone through many changes and still remains a bit of a black box for its intended inner working, anything that upsells our value to a raid outside of purely the damage we bring on our own is valuable.
Gameplay Changes between Pre-patch and Shadowlands
Since the last article back in June there have been some gameplay shifts, some present on live in the pre-patch and more to come in the Beta. We’ve seen repeat increases to Maelstrom Weapon throughout the Beta and while they aren’t the peak aspect of the rotation, they are now cemented as important to make use of and actually care about where they slot into the rotation. Windfury being buffed also helps supporting talents (and new Shadowlands effects) significantly, compared to the extremely weak contribution it makes on live. The Feral Spirit isn’t exactly earthshattering, but it does bring our wolves up out of the gutter and make them worth the cast, compared to the pre-patch situation where they barely register.
Talent changes are mostly consigned to numerical adjustments. Hailstorm spent most of the Beta with a target on its back and it finally happened, but it’s still entirely relevant in its intended niche – that being Cleave & AoE. An effort was made with Ice Strike and Fire Nova to make them picks, but the problem outlined before still remains – numbers may cover up the issue but they have fundamental mechanical problems that means they have to be overpowered to draw people into playing them, which they absolutely aren’t right now. Forceful Winds unsurprisingly was hit to go along with the Windfury to stop it returning to being a default pick, and an extension to the Lashing Flames duration actually opens it up for niche cleave situations to roll it on multiple targets. Lastly, Elemental Blast got buffs on top of the mentioned Maelstrom Weapon and now is a sizeable portion of damage, but it has stiff competition on the tree and is the hardest to pull off.
Impact of Battle for Azeroth Systems Going Away
Enhancement’s relationship with Azerite and Essences isn’t one that really ever created any massive gameplay changes. Most of the traits we took were aiming to get stat procs and didn’t drastically alter our gameplay.
- Azerite – Things like Natural Harmony were nice, they aren’t the kind of thing that you really notice going away in gameplay. The one thing that will be missed is Roiling Storm that was a nice bastion of consistency we sometimes lacked, but given how much our rotation has changed it’s probably not going to feel too bad to most.
- Essences – Blood of the Enemy will be missed due to its use as a burst AoE tool to pair with Sundering and the new Ascendance on cast damage, but other than that Essences were overwhelmingly picked for flat damage delivery or stats again, and won’t be changing our gameplay in a meaningful way when they go away.
The amount of times Windfury Totem has changed over the course of Beta is frankly impressive. There were a lot of hidden modifiers and bugs related to it, and it’s still not entirely clear what the intended goal of it is. The biggest change is the previous “bug” of it working on the entire raid has been fixed, and it is firmly locked to just your party. Being brought up to a 20% chance to trigger in Shadowlands is nice, but it has a hidden internal cooldown to prevent repeat procs and slightly impacts faster attacking specs more at high Haste. The extra attacks do however all have a chance to proc on-hit effects that regular auto attacks do, making it have variable gains depending on the specs you pair it with. It’s absolutely the weakest “group buff” of the raid composition options you have though by a significant margin, and isn’t going to change a great deal. It does affect us though, and extra swings are nice given that all of our important procs are flat chance rather than RPPM.
Enhancement Shaman Covenants
The hallmark feature of the expansion, these have been changed around quite a lot over the past few months and the abilities themselves have become increasingly less impactful for Enhancement gameplay. While they add a bit of flavour and have their own defined strengths, a lot of it is just different flavours of the same thing. They also each come with a unique Potency Conduit that affects the ability itself, and a Signature ability that all members of the Covenant have access to regardless of class.
- Vesper Totem – This is basically just an extra AoE burst tool that also comes with an extra little bit of controllable off-healing when you commit to casting healing spells without any cost to the damage benefits. There’s very little depth to the ability outside of potentially priming it a bit early for windows to save a global, and it does require you to place it properly (though you can move it off the GCD on a short cooldown). The main benefit is that since the rotation can sometimes get very hectic, this slots in without much fuss and will always be useful in any different encounter type, and flexibility is a big selling point. While this took a big hit to its output over the course of the Beta, I still find it a solid ability that fits into the kit with the least hassle.
Elysian Dirge Conduit – This attempts to shore up one of Vesper’s biggest weaknesses which is single target, but unfortunately this has been nerfed to such a degree that it doesn’t really achieve that anymore. This is a pretty weak conduit, and is inflexible enough that it’s not really valuable enough to consider. It is however simply suffering from a tuning problem, and the design intent is one I think is the best for the ability.
Summon Steward – This grants you a Phial of Serenity which is effectively an extra Healthstone per fight, with the added benefit of also cleansing you of certain debuffs (though what this works on has been increasingly curtailed over the course of Beta in particular with Bleed effects in Castle Nathria). With our self healing being less accessible now but our survival still being weak, this is a flexible choice that is often undervalued and while it’s not very flashy, it’s always useful.
- Primordial Wave – Personally this is still my least favourite of the four options. The lack of flexibility, the higher difficulty to use and the lack of good synergy despite all this makes it feel like it doesn’t belong in the Enhancement gameplay loop. While some of the concerns of usability were addressed relative to the original implementation by making it instant, Maelstrom Weapon spenders still aren’t that big of a punch to centre around this especially now that the effect doesn’t replicate the Stormkeeper buff. It also is the only one of the four that provides no off-healing, and while that’s not ultimately the selling point of the ability, it’s another mark against it. There’s simply no compelling reason to pick this ability over others right now for the extra effort it needs, and no builds or talents that it strongly enables (that includes Fire Nova even though on paper it looks like a good match).
Tumbling Waves Conduit – If there’s one thing Enhancement doesn’t need more of, it’s RNG. After 4 years of being centered around it, we’ve seen a nice decrease in variance leading into Shadowlands though it’s still present between both Stormbringer and Maelstrom Weapon. This conduit takes that and dials it all the way up, making it an all or nothing reset on a 45 second cooldown, and even then the payoff isn’t that great either due to the investment to even make use of the buff.
Fleshcraft – While on paper more survival tools for Enhancement is appealing, the opportunity cost for a GCD heavy spec vs. the potential rewards for this is really off. Timing the shield to absorb actual danger periods when there’s often so much rot damage in a raid isn’t going to be consistent, and having to plant yourself to channel it will only lead to heartbreak. I like the intent, but the implementation doesn’t mesh well with a fragile melee spec.
- Fae Transfusion – This went from a long cooldown 4 target AoE nuke as of the last article, to a single target meteor which, while it has defined itself more against the other AoE options has made it extremely specific in its use cases. It’s one of the strongest single abilities you can cast and it even now comes with the advantage of generating Maelstrom Weapon when cast, but the biggest problem that plagued it then still does now: it’s a channel. Given that Enhancement has a busy rotation, finding room for it without wasting ability uses isn’t easy, and moreover as a fragile melee spec finding time to safely channel this adds an extra wrinkle to our issues that rarely pays off. The saving grace of Night Fae is the soulbinds, but the ability itself is just not a selling point right now. The burst support healing it provides as well is okay, but other easier to use and more flexible options do just as well.
Essential Extraction Conduit – While this does provide quite a large amount of cooldown reduction, it does also come with the problem of increasing the amount of time you need to spend channelling the ability and displacing other important buttons. This being changed from its prior incarnation (reduced channel time + increased damage) was an enormous downgrade for this conduit, and it’s a shame they went this way as it leans into the part of Fae Transfusion that makes it so unpleasant to play with as Enhancement.
Soulshape – As said in the June article, the obvious overlap between this and Ghost Wolf is pretty clear and that does hurt how big of a deal the ability is to us specifically given that’s our primary movement tool. The main selling point is the (since improved) blink which is useful, and definitely has some applications in some encounters but the long cooldown and the downsides of shapeshifting we already know too well didn’t make this too enticing then, and not much has changed since.
- Chain Harvest – There’s really not a whole lot to say about this, it’s a really simple super-charged mix of Chain Lightning and Chain Heal bundled into one button on a long cooldown. The biggest problem this had throughout the early Beta cycle was almost entirely numerical which has since been changed (though it’s fluctuated a lot!) and now it does its job – it’s a big AoE nuke button that does a bit of off-healing for free. It’s hard to misplay and it’s simply a good fire and forget ability to add to our growing AoE toolkit, and all of the components scale directly with Maelstrom Weapon‘s effects which is important.
Lavish Harvest Conduit – Extremely dull conduit but it’s just a simple increase. More Critical Strike for an ability that gains cooldown reduction when it does so, alongside a bit more damage/healing. Not a showstopper at the current numbers though given the long cooldown.
Door of Shadows – Enhancement already has access to a lot of movement tools to the extent where we often don’t talent into extra options. One thing we don’t have though is a targetted instant displacement which this provides, though a cast time is not the kind of thing you usually want to pair with that. This has grown on me over the course of the beta and I can see it getting some use on certain encounters alongside increasing our uptime in some of the larger arenas/dungeons, but it’s not a big selling point.
Choosing a Covenant
Right now the top to bottom difference in even extreme cases usually washes out at most at 2% in single target between best and worst, but AoE has a more defined leaning toward certain abilities with gaps of up to 6% in sustained situations. That means your preferred choice isn’t going to be catastrophic to your performance if you want to pick it, but it might be slightly worse in some specific scenarios. Where the expansion to launch today, both Kyrian and Venthyr are generally the best packages available for us.
Enhancement Shaman Soulbinds and Conduits
With the current state of Enhancement Covenants right now both Kyrian and Venthyr are about as close to parity as you’re going to get. The flexibility and good Soulbind options both provide are the big selling points, and while there are some good soulbinds elsewhere, that both of these Covenants provide the most rounded package it’s hard to separate them. Given that our Conduit choices are quite weak, and our abilities aren’t particularly high impact, the defining feature tends to be what passive options we gain access to within the tree. Below are the two big Soulbinds we’re looking at, and also come with the advantage of the first to unlock.
Pelagos is a topic of contention across classes due to the strength of the tree pushing the strength of Kyrian all on its own. This is because it grants both two throughput traits and two Potency traits, but for Enhancement that benefit is really not that huge, the traits are just good enough to warrant the pick. This is however getting increasingly close to parity with Kleia, who also comes with useful utility largely for free so this could change later down the line, but Mikanikos is unlikely to show up because of a generally weaker, less flexible tree. Traits to look at are:
- Combat Meditation – Mastery increase every time you cast Vesper Totem that can be extended slightly by collecting orbs that spawn around you when the buff is active.
- Let Go of the Past – effectively a free 3% Versatility at all times. This will be constantly refreshed due to Enhancement’s cooldown cycling gameplay.
Pelagos is just a simple, low complexity option that grants increases without any loopholes. Just playing normally will generate the benefits. It doesn’t come with any real benefits for utility, but that it also opens up two Endurance slots too allowing us to dodge Finesse entirely is a nice extra bonus. The path we’ll likely be taking will look like this:
Nadija the Mistblade is generally the winning option for Venthyr, and while both Theotar and Draven have interesting choices they aren’t going to be winning out. It has solid opening traits, and even better has some flexibility in options at the bottom that allow us to dodge a second Potency slot but specialize depending on content type, so is the best pick. Damage increase traits worth mentioning are:
- Thrill Seeker – gives a burst of 20% Haste every 40 stacks of this ability, gaining 4 stacks on enemy kills. This has obvious advantages if there are extra targets present, but even at its base it’s providing a brief burst of damage at a minimum of every 80 seconds.
- Dauntless Duelist – for single target situations this is excellent, providing not only a strong damage bump but also some free damage reduction mixed in. The value of this does fall off when extra targets are added however.
- Exacting Preparation – is more unusual and depends on consumables used. A fully buffed suite of consumables however does make this a compelling option when we’re trying to avoid Potency and due to us using Lightless Force this has AoE applications as well.
That Dauntless Duelist and Exacting Preparation has flexibility for different encounter types that we can swap freely between without needing to spend Conduit energy, which is really appealing. Generally the path we’ll take down the tree will look like this:
When it comes to Conduits for Enhancement, really there isn’t a lot to write home about. Most of them are highly specialized and even then don’t do a lot to excel in any given situation so won’t really be the thing that defines how you build your character regardless of Covenant. There are some options that scale up really well, but until we reach the point where we hit those marks (and more importantly know how realistic that is on live servers), it’s up in the air.
Unlike a lot of specs, Potency Conduits for Enhancement are generally really quite bad. The majority of Soulbinds tend to actually outdo taking a second Potency choice, which is alarming to say the least. Some options do scale extremely well with extra levels, but given we still don’t know exactly how realistic levelling them is right now, it’s not encouraging.
- Magma Fist – This is a purely single target option that has some benefits when paired with other Lava Lash enhancing options like Hot Hand and Primal Lava Actuators, but due to the AoE rotation not including the ability it has very specific uses.
- Unruly Winds – Arguably the one good Potency option we have, as it actually contributes to both Single Target, AoE and Maelstrom Weapon generation. It also has good pairings with Forceful Winds and Doom Winds for a really rounded option given that we tend to use these in most scenarios.
- Focused Lightning – This starts out extremely weak at Rank 1, and with our low value of Maelstrom Weapon spenders in all situations. It does however scale with rank levels incredibly well and ends up being a valid pick, but until we know how realistic it is to get conduits level this remains a big question mark.
- Chilled to the Core – Another really strange option that, were Maelstrom Weapon a bigger contributor to our damage would be good but really doesn’t do much to our rotation in either situations. It does scale up with extra hits via Hailstorm, but Chain Lightning is used as an enabler – not a finisher in AoE situations. This is another case of if tuning shifts even slightly toward these spenders this could grown into a great option, but right now it’s not a big impact.
While they aren’t super impactful, you will almost always end up with at least one Potency slot in your Soulbind, on some occasions two. The general recommendation for your pick is Unruly Winds whenever possible (especially when paired with Doom Winds). After this, depending on situation you’ll be picking Magma Fist for single target, but for AoE there’s really not a compelling option outside of higher ranks of Focused Lightning.
For Covenant Conduits, Elysian Dirge, Tumbling Waves (if you feel like gambling) and Essential Extraction all come in as a single target replacement for Magma Fist but don’t present any tangible AoE gains. Lavish Harvest is generally pretty weak and not really worth the pick in any situation right now compared to what could be taken instead.
Given that survival is a hot topic for Enhancement, these should be useful, but they have their own drawbacks and the lack of choice isn’t exactly great either.
- Refreshing Waters – Due to the recent removal of the suppression on Healing Surge, this actually does a really high amount of healing especially when paired with Maelstrom Weapon. That makes this a pretty appealing choice if your Soulbind tree has room for it as a self healing option, given we mostly use the ability for that.
- Vital Accretion – An extra defensive cooldown option is something we’ve been desperately asking for since Legion launched, and while this has a lot of drawbacks, it’s better than nothing. Earth Elemental may have a 5 minute cooldown, but a full minute of extra max health that we can also layer with other defensive options is really nice, unfortunately given that our Elemental has a habit of getting itself killed and the buff is lost when this happens, it’s not as reliable as I’d like.
- Astral Protection – This is a dud in every sense of the word. Reincarnation has a massive cooldown and this doesn’t make much of a dent to let us use it consistently each pull. The after effect of a free Astral Shift is nice, but if you need to Ankh then something has already gone very wrong and it’s not like you need damage reduction after the fact for anything other than a bit of safety when picking yourself up.
Frankly Enhancement Finesse Conduits are really, really low impact. There’s so little to say that’s positive about them that it often feels a bit like grasping at straws to sell them. I’ll do my best though!
- Crippling Hex – Hex isn’t exactly something we want to be standing still to hardcast, but for PvP this actually has reasonably useful implications. It’s completely useless for raids however, and for Mythic+ it can at least do something, but it’s not really interesting or powerful and kind of feels like it’s just there because it’s a spell all specs share.
- Spiritual Resonance – Given that we only get Bloodlust and aren’t really strapped for mobility, this is really quite useless. Again for PvP this does have implications because of Shamanism, but for any PvE situation this is going to go completely unnoticed.
- Thunderous Paws – This is the only noticeable Conduit of the bunch and even then, it’s not going to change much. It will likely shave off a small amount of time needed to stay in Ghost Wolf by a tiny amount, but not to a measurable degree.
- Totemic Surge – The scaling on this is good, but the question often is do you really need a few seconds off the cooldown of any of these totems given that Static Charge existed and saw almost no use in BfA? I don’t see this changing anything unless there is an extremely specific fight timing that shows up to make use of extra Tremor Totems.
Enhancement Shaman Legendaries
While there are a lot of options available, there are some clearly strong options that offer both good performance and mechanical depth, alongside some real duds that aren’t even worth considering at the moment. Right now one of the issues is we have a lot of options that are very single target oriented, alongside one other option overshadowing others to quite a large degree which conveniently is also one that has AoE components, that being Doom Winds.
- Doom Winds:
Right now it’s really hard to say anything bad about this legendary. Bringing back a spiritual successor to the artifact ability Doom Winds which was a fan favourite is great, even if it’s slightly unusual to be tied to dropping a totem. This deals really competitive single target damage in a burst window, and is by far our strongest AoE option due to Windfury proccing on any target hit by the initial cast of Crash Lightning and Sundering and immediately stacking Forceful Winds up. That it can be held, and downtime in M+ even helps it by letting the cooldown time out just makes this a great design and super flexible.
- Primal Lava Actuators:
This is a really cool idea and it has a lot of single target potential because we have a good number of Lava Lash effects (such as Hot Hand and Magma Fist. It does however suffer a lot from downtime because of the talents it relies on, and is very much the sustained single target option because we aren’t really able to fit in extra Flame Shocks in AoE situations. It seems almost like it’s going in two directions, and is missing a hook (such as a DoT spread) to really bring it online, but for single target it does a lot to smooth things out.
- Legacy of the Frost Witch:
One of my favourite designs mechanically, and does a lot to really incentivize making use of your Maelstrom Weapon efficiently. It also adds an element of pool/burst window gameplay by combining it with Earthen Spike for a quick cycle of high impact spells. Unfortunately, this got hit really hard over the course of the Beta and while mechanically it is intact, the damage increase values is just a little too low for it to keep up compared to other options we have. It would take very little however to bring it back to the forefront, though it is again a very single target oriented option because of our fairly locked in AoE rotation.
- Witch Doctor’s Wolf Bones:
Feral Spirit recently got a really big buff to the damage the wolves themselves actually deal, and while they still aren’t a showstopper they’re more relevant than they were. The cooldown reduction this grants is massive, and when paired with Elemental Spirits can easily bring it down to a 30 second cooldown consistently given uptime. For single target, this is a really great option but as is the story with many of our legendaries, lots of the benefits it gives don’t scale up at all for AoE as we don’t have a way to convert all that extra Maelstrom Weapon it generates.
- Deeply Rooted Elements:
A re-imagining of Smoldering Heart from Legion which was another fan favourite, except this time it’s even more RNG. I’m not a big fan of adding even more gambling to an RNG based spec, but the payoff here is even bigger than it was then due to the on cast benefit added to Ascendance that fires when this triggers. That gives it explosive AoE potential, but the actual Ascendance uptime is not as powerful as it once was due to us having less of a focus on Stormstrike in Shadowlands.
- Elemental Equilibrium:
While this is an Elemental legendary, it is functional for Enhancement. Before this was reworked, it was a solid choice for us and even had some unusual builds surrounding Elemental Blast and Hailstorm but the changes went in the other direction and breaks a lot of the strengths the build was aiming to make use of. This is a really average choice now, but at the very least it does have applications in both single target and AoE at roughly the same rate.
- Ancestral Reminder:
Brings back the Legion Uncertain Reminder legendary, but with the much more enticing options on offer now this really isn’t a big sell. There’s just too little time spent with Bloodlust active that it’s too niche. I can see a world where in Mythic+ with very well timed pulls, or specific encounter requirements improves the value of this, but what you sacrifice to fit this in when you can only take one kills it. Might show up for fun with speed kills though if that’s your thing.
- Chains of Devastation:
Mechanically interesting from a utility standpoint, unfortunately the way that our spell scaling works relies a lot on Maelstrom Weapon which will never be generated fast enough to support the instant casts you can cycle. It does up our off-healing a lot and just for that it remains something at the back of mind, but it’s a similar story of having to sacrifice very impactful mechanical options (some of which even generate more Maelstrom Weapon for more powerful off-healing anyway) to really warrant it, alongside being almost exclusively AoE in its offensive benefits.
- Deeptremor Stone:
This one almost seems a bit like a throwaway that just exists to fill up the budget. Between the really long cooldown on Earth Elemental and that it has a death wish whenever engaged in combat where targets can be taunted, actually making use of this effectively is rarely reliable or impactful.
Choosing a Legendary
Because of the limited access to Soul Ash especially early on it can be a daunting task to pick, but unless something massive changes Doom Winds is probably going to be useful in some facet because it’s the one tangible AoE option. After making at base though, your other choices are probably going to depend on preferred single target build, or waiting for any possible changes before investing more resources in.
Gameplay and Build Changes in Shadowlands
With the massively reduced amount of secondary stats the rotation slows down a lot for us as we have always been Haste stackers. This does lead to a little more downtime just by virtue of the longer global cooldown, and it also makes mistakes more punishing if you mis-manage your cooldown balance, but generally speaking we still play very similar to what you’re already experiencing in pre-patch. Important thing to note is the Maelstrom Weapon damage buff interaction with Stormkeeper was removed, which has basically killed the value of the talent compared to pre-patch.
In AoE however, you’ll quickly notice that the Hailstorm cycle becomes much tighter due to the cooldown reduction granted by Chain Lightning. I would say that the single target rotation is still one or two steps away from being perfect to play with, but it has definitely come a long way since early Alpha; while the AoE rotation was already perfect and it still remains that way. It’s also of note that all of the legendaries we consider using have distinct rotational impact that increases the availability of buttons to press, so what downtime you feel at the start will be chipped away at when you gain access to a Legendary item.
When it comes to builds, we are firmly leaning toward one single target option, and one AoE option. While effort was made to try and bring up some talents, those that aren’t taken require more effort for worse rewards which is a recipe for disaster. For single target there is definitely some fluctuation depending on your legendaries, but those are fairly intuitive – talents that interact with the legendary effect you are using tend to be worth the pick in their given damage profiles, but we don’t make any drastic shifts based on the covenant we pick, especially not when using the two strongest picks in Kyrian and Venthyr. The builds have mostly consolidated into:
A few notes here that also include Legendary synergies that warrant you switching up your choices when using them:
There’s a lot less to say in the ways of diversity for AoE builds, because even despite nerfs to Hailstorm it still reigns supreme as a consistent, tight cycle. Ascendance wins out now just due to the on cast damage and low impact of alternatives, and the rest of the tree are basically picking the options that actually provide AoE damage vs. far more single target choices.
Note on Downtime
One thing that has been brought up a lot by players is that downtime is up in Shadowlands comapred to BfA. While this is definitely true, a lot of this is also coming from a place of inexperience. Practice reduces this by a very appreciable degree as does gear and many of the new Shadowlands Legendary options, so don’t panic. It could still do with a bit of smoothing over with some small mechanical changes that would be fairly easy to implement, but a little slowdown to the pace has happened every expansion for Enhancement when our Haste resets back down. It’s likely this will go down significantly as gear increases, and even adds room for us to scale into those empty Global Cooldowns so might even benefit us.
Note on AoE Caps
While a lot of classes saw their entire toolkit AoE capped, we kept a lot of different caps that come in at different target amounts:
With all of those considered there is actually a lot of room for us to spike at different target amounts, alongside still gaining the benefits of Crash Lightning once a second target enters into the mix just like in BfA. We’ve generally come out fairly well from these changes because of our previously quite slim AoE options compared to our now quite diverse tools.
Concluding Thoughts on Enhancement in Shadowlands
Much like many of the issues that happened in both Legion and BfA, Enhancement’s situation when it comes to both Raids and Mythic+ is going to be defined by its damage tuning. The toolkit we have is leaps and bounds better than what we’ve had previously, with a lot of options to switch up our damage delivery methods depending on the type of encounter or what is needed most, however without numbers to back that up it’s mostly window dressing. It really doesn’t take a lot however for things to shift in our favour, and that gameplay is so much improved from the slot machine that BfA especially devolved into granting more control into the players hands, I have hopes that it can land well.
There’s definitely room for improvement here though, some talents remain in a state of limbo with no chance of seeing play, and some mechanics are just one step away from reaching that sweet spot. The downtime some players are experiencing too generated through a very punishing single target rotation could easily be alleviated with some quite small fixes to smooth this out (like 2 charges on Shocks!) but the road from Alpha to now has been a largely positive one heading in the right direction with a lot of distinct improvements. Would still be nice though to see Maelstrom Weapon take more of a centre stage given the number of Conduit/Legendary hooks attached to it from a personal standpoint, though the incremental changes have slowly been moving us there.
Unfortunately, the elephant in the room is that survival is still an enormous problem. Enhancement went from being one of the sturdiest melee choices at the end of Warlords to being one of the most fragile in Legion, and since then we’ve somehow managed to get worse. Shadowlands has once again managed to hit that while other specs are seeing increases, and that sets a very worrying precedent for how realistic playing the spec is in high intensity encounters, higher keys with one shot mechanics, and is absolutely devastating to PvP survival.
Very flexible and diverse damage profiles, strong Legendary and Talent diversity for different scenarios, and a much improved AoE toolkit relative to previous expansions. Also not strictly dictated on choices with new systems based on power, with actual choices available based on preferrence. Also comes with so many small but useful tools to accentuate Mythic+ design.
Survival issues aren’t going away, and to compound that we are still very reliant on high uptime (though slightly less so than previously). Very weak Conduit choices and fairly one note Covenant selections. Self healing is also down and the utility situation is largely the same for Raids as Windfury Totem won’t be breaking the bank, so how desirable the spec is lives or dies on its numbers or the state of competing melee specs.