Shamans, including Thrall himself, have taken on a key role in battling the machinations of Death Wing in the Cataclysm Expansion. Perhaps because of the favor of the Gods of Azeroth, they have seen relatively few changes in their play style.
Small Cataclysm Shaman Changes Still Change the Game
The changes brought about by Azeroth's Cataclysm affected the way a number of classes play the game. The way each talent tree fulfills their role in the group has not changed much. Blizzard added new totems, removed some items from the talent tree and added one new large heal for restoration shamans.
Changes that Affect All Shamans
Cleansing totem went the way of Disco. Shamans could drop the totem which would remove diseases and poisons of any party or raid member within range. Replacing the cleansing totem is the single target spell cleanse spirit. Cleanse spirit cannot remove disease. Shamans can no longer remove poisons.
Tranquil totem, which all specializations have access to, reduces the damage of all party members by five percent. Because it is a water totem, it will only replace the mana stream totem under special circumstances. Totems that provide increase resistance to damage types no longer occupy the slots in a shaman's spell book.
Spirit grace, an ability available to all shamans will give them the ability to cast while moving. Like Lightning Shield and Water shield, this buff gets cast on the player.
New Shaman Races
The most interesting Cataclysm shaman change is the inclusion of Goblin shamans. The naturalistic and spiritualistic ways of the shaman are combined with goblin engineering feats in new and unusual ways. The goblin shaman totems do not keep the standard Horde tribal theme used by trolls and orcs. They totems look like a jack hammer jury rigged out of junkyard parts.
Dwarfs who practice the ways of shamanism have recently joined the Alliance. The new dwarfs love drinking and fighting as much as any other stereotypical dwarf in WoW, but they understand the spirit behind these actions.
Elemental Shaman Talent Tree Changes
Elemental shamans received earthquake, a new area effect spell that has the chance to knock down targets. Perhaps the most important change that will eliminate the need for two sets of gear is that elemental shamans now have a talent that causes spirit to add to the character's hit rating.
Rolling thunder allows the element shaman to regain mana from each lightning bolt and chain lightning spell cast. Each time the spell hits, there is a 60% chance that he will gain a 60% charge on an active lightning shield. When he hits 4 or more charges, the fulminating talent converts the shields into extra damage on the earth shock spell. Lightning shield glyph now gives the character a 100% chance of gaining extra lightning shield charges each time lightning bolt and chain lightning hits the target.
The Shaman Restoration Talent Tree
Restoration shamans can no longer convert riptide into an instant heal. The spell now heals the target over time. World of Warcraft's developers changed the name of lesser healing wave to healing surge. The changes to the abilities for all classes cause the spell to scale with level.
The mastery ability, deep healing, causes a shaman to heal a higher percentage of hit points to targets that are low on health. When a character reaches a certain point, it gives the shaman a chance to get off an extremely effective quick heal. Greater Healing wave, a new large hit point healing spell, allows the shaman to do an emergency heal.
Shamans received an ability called healing rain. This area of effect spell can affect a limited number of targets, but it increases the shaman's AoE spells. Healing rain does not replace the healing stream totem, which still exists in-game.
Cataclysm Shaman healers find their task slightly easier than healers of other classes because of the shaman's innate mana regeneration abilities, but they still must watch how they use their mana.
The New Shaman Enhancement Talent Tree Abilities
The enhancement tree has seen changes to the weapon buffs and how they operate. Windfury weapon now adds additional haste, Earthliving weapon adds healing power, and flametongue weapon does more or less what it did before. Earthliving weapon is still primarily used by healers while the DPS caster uses flametongue weapon. Enhancement shamans now use windfury weapon more frequently than flametongue weapon.
Enhancement shamans focus more on weapon damage then spell damage. Hit and haste become important for increasing the damage per second rating of casters. Enhancement shamans receive a mastery ability that provides a bonus amount of damage to the spells they cast.
New abilities, such as primal strike is a weapon based talent all shamans earn at level 3. Developers said they included this spell to make leveling as an enhancement shaman more viable. Players have perceived enhancement trees as the primary talent tree for levelling shamans over the Elemental tree.