Thinking Through Totem Usage

June 27, 2007 at 11:48 am (Game Design, Shaman, Warcraft, World of Warcraft)

I’ heard some complaints with Shaman Totems with reguard to making strange choices. Looking at the totems in each element, I could see that possibility.

Earth Water
  • Stoneskin Totem
  • Earthbind Totem
  • Stoneclaw Totem
  • Strength of Earth Totem
  • Tremor Totem
  • Earth Elemental Totem
  • Disease Cleansing Totem
  • Fire Resistance Totem
  • Healing Stream Totem
  • Mana Spring Totem
  • Mana Tide Totem
  • Poison Cleansing Totem
Air Fire
  • Grace of Air Totem
  • Grounding Totem
  • Nature Resistance Totem
  • Sentry Totem
  • Tranquil Air Totem
  • Windfury Totem
  • Windwall Totem
  • Wrath of Air Totem
  • Flametongue Totem
  • Fire Nova Totem
  • Frost Resistance Totem
  • Magma Totem
  • Searing Totem
  • Totem of Wrath

Lets look at the choices for the 2 soloing playstyles an the 3 grouping styles.

Water is the multipurpose ‘white magic’ totem. Most of the time it’s either regenerating mana or hp, with a dash of disease or poison cleansing. Last the fire resist. I don’t think many will complain about the trade offs here.

In the air totems solo casters will almost always drop Wrath of Air, while melee will go for Grace of Air. In a group situation, casters have the option to switch to Tranquil Air to lower agro for the ranged party members, and melee can choose to drop Windfury to give all the other pincushion makers a chance for an extra attack, provided they don’t already have a temporary buff such as poison or sharpening stones. Of course there are a few situational defensive totems to consider where needed. Grounding Totem seems out of place here as it could be a generally useful totem in groups, but there are already more powerful options available.

Fire totems seem a bit tricky, but the one thing you can say they do well is extra damage with little thread added to the Shaman. First off, Flametongue’s only use is for an enhancement shaman in a group fighting a mob with extremely high armor. Windfury will almost always be a superior alternative. Fire Nova, Magma, and Searing are all useful for the close in Enhancement whether solo or in a group, and good for any solo casters.  Searing is the choice of the grouped caster shaman.  Of course there are other utility totems here that have their uses.

Enhancement also get Totem of Wrath thrown in for good measure. However, in a group this will also increase the threat for casters making a choice between tranquil Air and Wrath of Air difficult. While soloing, the other totems may be just as good. It doesn’t seem like a great 41 point talent to me…

It seems like Earth totems are begging to get reviewed. Four of the totems are situational, leaving two that are more general purpose: Stoneskin, and Strength of earth. Grouped casters find both useless, and in all other solo and group situations they’re ok, but they aren’t that great. Currently, I’d say drop SoE if you’re melee, Stoneskin if you know your going to fight multiple mobs at once, and if you’re a caster in a group just save your mana.

Conclusion:

There are three problems I can see with totem classification

  1. There are few generally useful Earth totems, and there are configurations where there are no good options.
  2. Totem of Wrath is very useful in a raid, but replaces totems that do damage without increasing threat.
  3. Grounding Totem is a general use totem that is buried by other useful Air Totems

So, a group of totems that need more choices and 2 useful totems that are in groups that already have lots of useful totems. What to do… What to do…

Moving Grounding Totem to Earth element is a great fit. It gives casters something really nice defensively to drop in a group as they already have a choice between WoA and Tranq for Air totems, and melee already have a choice between Windfury and Grace of Air. Solo it will still be situational, but those will be at times when Stoneskin and SoE would be useless.

Another suggestion would be to move the elemenal’s Totem of Wrath here which would clearly give them the extra DPS they earned through the 41 point commitment, and still gives them the nice Zero threat DPS from the other fire totems.

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1 Comment

  1. Znodis said,

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