In my long time in WoW I've never bothered playing a Shaman until now. He's level 30 and I remember a time when Shamans could lay down all of their totems (1 from each type anyway) at the same time. Now they share a cooldown, and they don't seem to last as long as they used to. Is there now no way around placing them one at a time? And is there no talent or skill that allows them to last longer. I'd imagine it'd be a pain in the ass to keep refreshing them during a raid boss or something.
that spell used to be there because totems gave long term buffs (spell haste, mana regen etc) and you generally wanted them all down, all the time. not totems proved short term, powerful cooldowns (fire elemental, healing tide) and so you very rarely want the put them all down at once. you have far fewer totems now. the only totem that is repeatedly dropped is healing stream for resto (every 30 seconds) and searing for ele/enhance (every minute?)
i dont play a shaman but i think in MoP they changed totems from being long term buffs that you want down all the time and all at once, to more shortterm buffs, so you would want to use them more situationally isntead of all at once.
Totems work very differently than they have in the past. No longer are there buff totems that you place and forget. Totems now all have a meaning and purpose.
Look through the list of totems. You will see they all have CDs (with the exception of searing and magma totems). None of them provide passive abilities any more. You no longer need to drop 4 at a time and instead you need to know how and when to use each totem. Some totems provide healing or dps increases and others utility or survivability.
Also what do you mean by they share a cooldown? If you mean you can't drop 2 of the same class of totem, they have always been like that. If you mean that when you drop one totem you can't drop another til that one is done, that is false. You can still have one of each type of totem out but very rarely will you have all 4 types active at once since a lot of them are situational. The only ones that share a CD are the Fire and Earth elementals (you can not have both out at the same time, but once one expires you can drop the other).
The only ones need constant refreshing in a boss fight are: Searing totem for dps (refresh every minute) or healing stream for healing every 30 sec. Everything else drop when there is a need for it.