I’m Arthanos/SoiBoi, and I have played shaman to max level every beta it has been available. I leveled a fresh character 1-30 as shaman mostly solo, have engaged in quite a bit of world PvP and battlegrounds, and have completed several dungeons including up to shard level 10 with shaman during the betas. I believe I have played shaman more than anyone else at this point.
The core of shaman is great, however there are a few big issues with its design. I was surprised to find that shaman appears to have the highest potential dps (using dps meter of dummy dps and performance in shard dungeons). This potential isn’t realized however until the level 30 talent which makes the first orb from each totem a guaranteed critical, mixed with the talent which instantly recharges the lightning orb if it crits and the insane critical strike rating you can get when wearing appropriate gear and a level 30 aged crit potion. This potential is very much a “best case scenario” however, as shamans are disproportionately affected by fights with mobile opponents or which require frequent player movement. Additionally, because the generation of a new orb does not occur until the previous strikes a target, shaman’s dps increases the closer they are to a boss and as such, is noticeably reduced when a shaman is required to fight at range. Overall, I think that this design results in these major issues:
- Large disparity between fights: In a perfect situation shaman may have the highest potential, however their output is far more affected by fight mechanics and strategy than other classes. In fights like Sewer and Broken Hall boss 1 shaman dps is competitive, however in fights like boss 2 of those same dungeons, shaman dps is less than half of what it was, falling far behind other dps classes. Similarly, shaman can deal pretty well with melee enemies while soloing, but has a significantly harder time with the floating enemies which frequently retreat.
- Lack of things to do at lower levels or mechanics heavy fights: Shaman is sort of like playing a ranger which can only fire its special arrows. Talents at 20 and 30 add chaining lightning orbs and constant totem management, however, before gaining these talents and in fights where they cannot be as well utilized, there is a lot of down time.
- Change in playstyle at 30: Shaman sustained damage is pretty bad before the aforementioned level 20 and 30 talents (and without crit potions). The talent which makes the first orb per totem automatically crit both greatly increases damage and introduces totem management. It would be much better to offer this talent at an earlier level so that players can get used to it earlier (and have a more interactive rotation).
- Lack of utility: With only 7 possible totems, shamans really don’t have many options for customizing their play, especially since 3 of these totems are basically required to do any sort of meaningful dps (fire, lightning, lava). This leaves only one slot to play with, but I nearly always used the stun totem since (1) stuns are very important in reborn (2) it does good dps with the damage and first orb crit talents. Sacrificing ¼ of your damaging abilities to take hex (or shield when it works) feels very bad. Additionally, shaman is at odds with its own utility, since lightning orbs and lava/frost totems cleave to other enemies and break hex/polymorph. The AoE portion of these really shouldn’t be able to break this.
An additional mechanic: Something which can be used during the down time between orbs and totem management, which can help reduce the disparity between ideal and non-ideal fights. I imagine this could be something which could more reliably hit while at range or moving around. Rough idea - calling forth lightning/earthquakes (point at enemy, hold grip, then pull down to call down a lightning strike/shake to cause tremors).
Alternatively, this could be a defensive ability which when timed properly could be used to avoid certain mechanics and maintain optimal positioning. Rough idea - Astral Shift which makes the shaman immune to damage for a couple seconds.
Utility totem slot: Add a fifth totem slot located on the chest (like warrior’s horn) which is used only for non-dps totems like hex and shield. Add some more utility totems, perhaps with effects similar to some of the bard’s instruments. This way shamans can bring utility without sacrificing ~25% of their dps, and differentiate themselves by what utility they bring to each situation. Rough ideas – Utility totems which boost move speed around them, root enemies for a few seconds, increase defense of nearby allies, etc.
The teleport to totems talent is difficult to aim as the totem hitbox is very small. Because the teleport is bound to grip you cannot take an orb in the hand used to teleport, which makes me sad.
Totems should not “iron man” like the orbs do, as when I just want to re-drop totems they sometimes shoot away.
The orbs on totems (before they are picked up) still block belt totems from falling to the ground.
Totems are still occasionally failing to respawn on the belt after being deployed, which is very frustrating. This is happening much less often than previously, about once every other dungeon.
Shaman tiles appear to be mostly the one which looks like “n”, I had a hard time making tilesets and getting them to proc. (video of runesight potion during normal rotation)
Conflict of interest: I do not intend to play shaman after Reborn launch, so I am not looking to make “my” class the strongest, I want the class to be enjoyable and viable.