Shaman 9.2 Tier Set Bonuses – Guide Writer First Impressions

Shaman 9.2 Tier Set Bonuses - Guide Writer First Impressions

Tier Set bonuses have hit the PTR as part of the Shadowlands 9.2 Eternity’s End content patch. Although currently untestable due to PTR realms being unavailable, our Shaman Guide Writers have provided their initial impressions on these tier bonuses, offering insight into the implementation, relative strength, and even some valuable feedback.

We’ve datamined Tier Set bonuses for all 36 specializations in the 9.2 Eternity’s End PTR. Check out all the bonuses and armor models below.

9.2 Tier Set Bonuses for All Specializations9.2 Mythic Tier Set Models

Our Guide Writers have provided initial first impressions on the 9.2 Tier Set bonuses. Check out all of our released opinion articles below.

First Impressions of the 9.2 Tier Set Bonuses

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First Impressions of the 9.2 Set Bonuses

Our Shaman Writers, Wordup (Enhancement) and Niseko (Restoration), as well as Naesam our Guest Elemental Shaman Writer have dissected the newly datamined tier set bonuses to give a deeper first look as to how these bonuses will likely affect their specs in Shadowlands 9.2 Eternity’s End.

Elemental Shaman Writer First Impressions

The Elemental Shaman tier set puts a lot of emphasis on our baseline cooldown Fire Elemental. By reducing the cooldown and increasing the duration of the elemental, this synergizes very well with Seeds of Rampant Growth (the Night Fae legendary) and could potentially allow for 100% uptime on Fire Elemental. This shouldn’t be particularly impactful to the rotation aside from the additional Lava Surge procs. However, it is likely we’ll start using Lava Burst during Storm Elemental now as well. This also may open the door to legendaries and talents we haven’t used much in the recent past, such as Ascendance and Deeply Rooted Elements (no promises).

While we don’t have exact numbers to share, this tier set does seem to be quite powerful on single target. If I had to estimate, I’d place it between a 10% and 20% DPS increase. This becomes a little more complicated (and awkward) on AoE, as we typically play Storm Elemental for AoE and casting Lava Burst during that may not be worth it. Granted, it would only take 3-4 Lava Bursts to get a second Eye of the Storm use which will likely be quite good if the AoE lasts long enough.

There are a few noteworthy issues with this set bonus as it stands. For example, Storm Elemental emphasizes Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning; casting Lava Burst, especially on AoE, is going to feel weird and may not even be worth it. Personally, I’d like to see the bonus change when talented into Storm Elemental to be tied to Lightning abilities or maelstrom spenders. Another major issue with this set is that we can only have 1 elemental out at a time while using Primal Elementalist. This generally wouldn’t be an issue, but Earth Elemental provides non-trivial defensives between Harden Skin and Vital Accretion. In order to use these, you’d have to dismiss your Fire Elemental or Storm Elemental. This has the potential to cause a very large damage loss. Additionally, as a spec, Elemental is already very consistent and generally lacks burst damage. I would personally like to see this set bonus changed to enhance Fire Elemental/Storm Elemental rather than extend it if it’s going to be focused around that cooldown. This would allow Elemental to have a more noteworthy burst window while also reducing the impact of the Earth Elemental issue.

Elemental Shaman Guide

Enhancement Shaman Writer First Impressions

Assumed Mechanics

There’s quite a lot of things to unpack without testing here, so a lot of the analysis will be based on a few assumptions. Any of these can (and probably will) change after we test it live, but simulations were built with some in mind based off past implementations of similar mechanics:

First of all the 2-piece. Based on how it reads, this will summon one single wolf per proc with a 15% chance per Maelstrom Weapon spender at the full 5 stacks. It won’t however trigger the Feral Spirit passive generation buff as it isn’t technically casting the spell, but this could change and we’ll only know after testing. It should however still gain the bonuses of Elemental Spirits (similar to Vision of Perfection from BfA). Second, the 4-piece is assumed to work with any active wolf whether it’s spawned by casting Feral Spirit or a wolf triggered from the 2-piece itself.

With this in mind, let’s look at the bonuses at face value in a few steps, and since they both directly synergize with each other in a very strong way I’ll mostly be talking about them as a pair rather than individually.

How Much Does this Affect Feral Spirit Uptime?

The obvious question is does this mean we’re flooded with hundreds of Wolves all the time. The answer based off the above assumptions is, it goes up, and the volume of wolves in a given instance does too, but it’s not going to make them permanent pets. When forcing all wolves of a given type to spawn as one element (in this case Lightning’s Crackling Surge), you can see the relative time spent over 1 million sim iterations with each number of wolves active (note as well, this doesn’t necessarily assume any GCDs were spent effectively during these overlaps):

This shows that the lion’s share of time is spent with 2 wolves active, with a bit of time either side up to 4 with some very rare cases of getting to 5, and going above that is a one in a thousand (or more) chance to even see, let alone make use of. The overall uptime of having at least one wolf up sits around 75-79%~ give or take. This does however rise in AoE situations due to Crash Lightning casts and triggers generating Maelstrom Weapon, flooding resources further.

Small Note on Guardian Limit:

Currently it has been observed though that having more than 6 “totems” (which each Feral Spirit wolf counts as) causes it to either fizzle on spawn or despawn your oldest active option. Given we already have Windfury Totem active at all times, and in some cases have Earth Elemental active for survival, this is a niche concern to be aware of but still relevant given that limitation, and is also a much bigger concern in AoE situations. Hopefully, this will be addressed before we have 9.2 in our hands.

Synergy with New Double Legendary system

It’s very clear when looking at the current state of Shaman legendaries that the only real viable option for us is Night Fae, unless something changes over the course of the PTR. This not only provides the strongest active legendary bonus and combination by far, but also has the added gain of having direct synergy both with this bonus and our current strongest option Witch Doctor’s Wolf Bones, while all 3 other choices are secondary effects with little to no synergy with our toolkit or the bonus. These factors all balloon into a lock in to one covenant.

Other potential synergies (Legacy of the Frost Witch and Deeply Rooted Elements as examples) have effects that can capitalize on this, but the core system gains such a large amount by doubling (or even tripling) down on a focus around Wolf uptime that losing access to Witch Doctor’s Wolf Bones is too much of a hit to consider sadly. We will however still possibly be able to make use of Doom Winds with a potential flip to Elemental Spirits and just praying for Lightning Wolf spawns during AoE situations/Mythic+

Gameplay & Talent Impacts

The most immediate thing is that this bonus will focus us even more into the sustained single-target demographic damage profile. While Seeds of Rampant Growth will branch us out into actually having a cooldown, the entire package will still deal relatively low burst, but potentially very high sustained damage with an extreme hunger for uptime on a target as lost attacks have a recursive loop of lost procs and resources.

After being modelled in Simcraft, the other important note is that the bonus overflows us with an extreme amount of resources. Stormbringer and Maelstrom Weapon overflow is drastically increased and the number of GCDs we have available to actually use these effects isn’t enough to keep up. That means from what we can see when using these bonuses, we switch from being a more calculated spec juggling cooldowns with a little downtime here and there to a hard GCD locked playstyle with unavoidable waste. We’ll be shifting away from trying to optimize the number of presses to wasting the least amount of valuable resources as possible, including Frost Shock almost entirely leaving the rotation and Flame Shock uptime no longer being primary concern, and more of a fill-as-necessary.

When it comes to talents then the implications of being heavily GCD locked leads us to finding that it seems likely that a shift away from Hot Hand and toward Stormflurry may happen solely because it’s off-GCD damage, and there’s no room to use Hot Hand procs during Feral Spirit‘s Stormbringer proc flood. This doesn’t however extend to Forceful Winds, as Elemental Blast is just displacing a Maelstrom Weapon spender (Lightning Bolt) we’d be prioritizing regardless to trigger the 2-piece. Elemental Spirits (assuming it works with the 2-piece) as well is locked in and any other option is effectively dead, and the ideal wolves to spawn switches from Fire/Frost to Lightning/Frost (as each wolf spawn effectively sustains the button you want to be pressing itself via the Stormbringer procs it generates). Lastly, the feedback loop of Elemental Assault here is now even stronger and I don’t see any room to switch off this in the current iteration of the spec, so don’t expect to be swapping away from that.

Other, smaller things of note is that Sundering remains the best option despite still being on the GCD (Crashing Storm still can’t contribute nearly enough), and that our stats are extremely weighted toward Haste in most observable situations. Mastery drops a solid amount lower back to it’s 9.0 level unless you neglect it entirely, largely due to the significantly higher contribution from Stormstrike casts.

Rough Gains

These are extreme estimates based on first implementation in SimC so be very wary with this, but are ran with domination shards removed and double legendaries active:

We’re looking at around 4-4.5%~ regardless of talent build here, with a significant uptick in Wolf uptime. This one is more binary though, and is just free damage amps via Elemental Spirits and a bit of raw damage from wolves that trigger.

This can swing from anywhere between 6 and 9% depending on talents, and massively favours certain options due to the enabler of Stormbringer proc generation and GCD filling.

Enhancement Shaman Guide

Restoration Shaman Writer First Impressions

On the surface, Heal the Soul (2-Set) is quite simple: casting Chain Heal on a person with Riptide will buff the whole spell by ~30% from the increased crit chance. That does mean that you’ll want to always cast Chain Heal on a Riptide person as now if you’re not doing that, you’re losing potential throughput, which restricts your target options by a lot. This set bonus should bring Chain Heal back to the forefront as its currently one of the lesser used spells, and along with it (potentially) the talent High Tide.

There’s quite a few synergies as its basically anything that Chain Heal already interacts with. Examples:

Overall this set seems fine, while its just a straight buff to a spell it nonetheless makes you change around your gameplay a little by encouraging Chain Heal usage. The dependency on only being able to cast it on specific targets is not great, but easy to deal with and might make you strategically place Riptide in a way that you have access to your Chain Heal for multiple groupings of people.

Not a massive throughput gain unless synergies, the Chain Heal button and external mana are abused, but also not on the weak side. That said since you have to cast Chain Heal the set is prone to be weaker for very spread encounters.

Heal the Soul (4-Set) has an inherent synergy with the 2-Set which means they have to be looked at in combination. Every cast of Chain Heal reduces the cooldown of Spirit Link Totem by 0 to 8 seconds, depending on how many hits are critical strikes. Simply reducing a mitigation CDs cooldown duration inherently doesn’t lead to a lot of gameplay impact or anything exciting really. If your raid leader starts to assign your Spirit Link Totem to events that are less than 3 minutes apart, that is when you’ll feel it the most as you’re forced to look for opportunities to cast Chain Heal enough times. But if Spirit Link Totem isn’t assigned (new boss, less structured raid or m+) and cast rather freely you might get an opportunity every now and then to use it early, but most of the time it’ll likely have no impact at all.

Looking at the high amount of crit we’re going to have next season, combined with the 2-Set crit bonus (assuming the Chain Heal is consistently casted on Riptide targets), each cast of Chain Heal will reduce Spirit Link Totem by 5 to 6 seconds on average – or in other words it would take around 12 2-Set buffed casts of Chain Heal to reduce Spirit Link Totem by a full minute. That number can be influenced by luck (less/more crits), targeting issues (all Riptide targets are positioned awkwardly), mana issues (Chain Heal is expensive) and there simply being nothing to heal.

The 4-Set bonus has synergies with anything that provides crit, so depending on covenant or legendaries you might see some difference in reductions but its too many small things to list out, with most of them not being too impactful.

It’s hard to tell how much reduction you’ll see though, as we’re currently not using Chain Heal a lot and we had no preview of the new raid yet, but judging by old logs (which had a differently tuned and cheaper Chain Heal), you often see 5 to 6 casts of Chain Heal a minute, which means that the Spirit Link Totem cooldown with 4-Set should usually be around the 2 minute mark instead of 3 minutes.

Overall I’m not a fan of the 4-Set bonus and would’ve rather have seen something else. While it can be useful and may sometimes save a pull in m+ while also letting you use Spirit Link Totem more frequently in raids, most of the time it won’t add anything of value – and a situational tier set bonus does not feel great. Realistically this bonus may only see usage on a couple of fights per tier in actual gameplay, as they tend to space heavy raid damage out.

Restoration Shaman Guide

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