The most significant gameplay change that supersedes all, is that Maelstrom
as a resource is gone, and is being replaced by Maelstrom Weapon
. The core directives of the spec have shifted away from using Stormbringer
to enable Stormstrike
spam, and has instead moved to more intricate cooldown juggling. This is done via various cooldowns, all of which have their cooldown times reduced by Haste:
Due to these all having different cooldowns, the primary goal is to make sure to keep the lower cooldown options active despite lower upfront damage, and to use the longer ones to offset downtime. This doesn't stop downtime happening, however, and the primary mix up to this is Maelstrom Weapon
, which has a 20% chance to generate a stack on any melee hit up to a maximum of 10 stacks. Each stack reduces the cast time of either Lightning Bolt
or Chain Lightning
for damage; which you are using depends on target count. At 5 stacks this makes a cast instant, allowing you to effectively bank 2 uses to fill when needed. Note, unlike older iterations, we never
hard cast these below 5 stacks when in melee, since they reset our swing timer.
The pre-patch will not grant access to our most important AoE passive component for Chain Lightning
, and losing that cooldown reduction will slow AoE enough to hurt the flow, but it does become a very tight cycle come Shadowlands proper. We do, however, get Chain Lightning
casts feeding damage into Crash Lightning
, so there is more of a flow to get used to on AoE that will prime you for Shadowlands release. We also have a strong amount of rotational synergy with our Legendaries, and not having access to those has a more visceral feel than just lower numbers. Some talents don't come into their own without access to the Legendaries' mechanical effects, so bear that in mind.
As mentioned above, in Shadowlands, there is a significantly higher cost to utilizing our self-healing tools. Instead of only 20 Maelstrom
that can be generated instantly, it costs a full 5 stacks of Maelstrom Weapon
to use. While we can use this on Chain Heal
to assist the group with the heal slightly more punchy than before due to the stacks increasing the healing done, using these tools impacts your DPS to a significantly higher degree than before. However, it does still trigger expenditure rewards such as Hailstorm
's effect. In many cases, it's going to be preferable to defer to Healing Stream Totem
as a low impact quick heal due to it having no cost.