Wow Shamans: Weapon skill resets

Posted: 20th July 2013 by admin in World of Wracraft
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Many players would probably say totems were the biggest aggravation of the vanilla shaman experience, and perhaps they’re right. After all, totems were not exactly fire-and-forget. They had to be placed one at a time on the GCD. Buff totems lasted one minute and only affected your party, not the whole raid. They were expensive to cast. Unlike paladin blessings, they could be destroyed by damage and frequently were. Utility totems such as Earthbind negated buff totems like Strength of Earth, which then had to be replaced once the utility totem ran its course. No UI element showed you how many totems you had placed or of which element. You had to eyeball them (or your buffs), which was not easy during a frantic fight.

Despite these aggravations, however, many shamans loved and still love the totem concept, their correspondence to the elements, the memorable class quests that earned you different totem types — Blizzard did a lot of things right in this regard. Totems have evolved to become far more user friendly, but their essential design is unchanged. You put them on the ground. They don’t move. They can be killed. But if you stay near them they help you win.

The biggest aggravation of vanilla shamans, at least in my opinion, was tied to a single talent: Two-Handed Axes and Maces. At its heart, the talent was a good idea: Enhancement shamans, if they chose, could spec for the ability to use two-handed melee weapons. It was a flavorful and popular talent. A shaman using the Windfury buff and the slow-swinging (which meant harder-hitting) Arcanite Reaper could tear up enemies in both dungeons and battlegrounds. Even Resto shamans (and in vanilla, every raiding shaman was a Resto shaman) liked to let loose with a Reaper now and then.

So what was the problem? Well, vanilla WoW had weapon skills, a numerical value that represented a character’s ability to wield a weapon. To be able to use a weapon effectively, you needed to level up the skill by swinging the weapon. When you reset your talents, your character lost the Two-Handed Axes and Two-Handed Maces skills. When you relearned the talent, the game treated the skills as if you had just acquired them from a trainer. They were once again level 1 skills.

Take a moment to let that sink in. Every time you respec’d, you had to relevel both skills from 1 to 300. Even if you planned to keep the Two-Handed talent, even if you just wanted to tweak a point or two in the Enhancement tree, your skills would reset.

Imagine you’re a fresh level 60 shaman who has leveled as Enhancement with maxed-out axe and mace skills. You want to try your hand at healing some endgame dungeons, so you switch specs. Then you want to knock out some quests, so you switch back. Everything seems fine until you attack a level 60 mob. You miss, over and over again, and your chat log fills up with messages like “Your skill in Two-Handed Axes has increased to 2.”

No other class had a talent like this, so no other class faced this problem. Blizzard wasn’t able to fix it until deep into vanilla, when patch 1.11 allowed your character to retain the leveled skills. Of course, weapon skills were later removed from the game entirely in Cataclysm. 

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