Elemental 201: Ability Management

Hello Class. Today we’re going to look at some of the more advanced & finicky details of the Elemental Rotation, or in other words, Looking Into The Future.

Essentially, making sure you know what is coming up is one of the most important things to do when trying to improve your damage output. This means that you can do things like cast Earth Shock early, or delay it, when you know what is coming up. For example. if I see that my Lava Burst cooldown will be up in a second or so after my next Lightning Bolt cast finishes, and I have my yellow eight lightning shield charges warning up, I’ll cast Earth Shock next rather than another Lightning Bolt in order to get that Lava Burst out earlier.

This is why bar systems like EventHorizon or Gnosis are useful. They allow you to see what is coming up, rather than what you have to react to now. Using Power Auras and other popup indicators are useful, but if you don’t have some sort of indicator that allows you to make split second decisions about what to cast next then every Lava Burst cast will be a surprise reaction, as opposed to a more informed choice for when you don’t get a Lava Surge proc. One of the reasons I like EventHorizon is that it allows me to put some extra time bars in, so in addition to the 0 point (ie: now) I also have a pair of lines, one at 2 seconds and the other at 5. This gives me a good indicator for managing my shock casts, as well as a better visualisation of how my other cooldowns are going.

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4.1 AoE Changes

Or “How I Learned To Start Worrying And Not Love The AoE”.

To begin, here’s a post I recently made over at EJ.

So, after last nights Heroic Maloriak attempts, I have come to the following conclusions about Elemental AoE damage.

1. Earthquake is virtually useless, and probably only be used for specific heroic encounters via a secondary spec
2. Fire Nova is fairly useless too.
3. Tab spamming Flame Shock to get more Fire Nova bursts out doesn’t make much of a difference.

I compared tab FS with FN spam, single target + CL with FN spam, and my usual single target + CL rotation on the Dark Phase, and there was virtually no difference in damage output, making allowances for things that happened in each attempt (~2.8m for the first, with two dark and nearly going OOM plus aboms, ~1.5m with one dark and aboms, ~1.25m for one dark without aboms respectively).

In short, I’m going to continue not using FN, and I’m going to have a second ele spec for the odd occasions I actually need Earthquake (which is virtually never). If I use both, my AoE rotation will be 7 abilities with differing cooldowns (3, 4, two on a shared 6, 8, 10) vs a much more manageable 5 (3, two on a shared 6, 8). I’m not sure how complicated other caster AoE is, but surely it can’t be as complex as this with such little gain over single target damage.

Expanding on this, I’ve loaded up the three attempts in RaidBot’s CompareBot to have a look at things. Unsurprisingly, damage output for Fire Nova and Earthquake is surprisingly low, less than 1000 dps over the whole encounter. In fact, across all attempts that night, Fire Nova did less damage than the direct damage explosion from Living Bomb (on Vile Swills), and Earthquake was much, much less.

At this stage, the AoE changes for Shaman appear to be worthless.

Doing some basic math, and getting these values unbuffed, Magma does 456 dps per target, Fire Nova 521 assuming you get it off every 4 seconds, and Earthquake does 869. The problem is that the overall value doesn’t get up past 15k dps until you get to 5 FS targets/5 AoE targets, 3 & 6 or 2 & 7. Sure we can still use CL, LB and LvB between Novas, but it then becomes an awkward mishmash of rotation types and cooldowns get pushed back (never mind the fact that having to run in to drop Magma goes against every ranged AoE mechanic except for Demo Locks). In addition, the scaling of each ability is mostly restricted to Int and Crit, with EQ getting some small benefit from Haste. Still, Magma gets an extra 8 dps per 100 Int, Fire Nova 17, and Earthquake a paltry 6. It’s a plausible statement to say that I could do more damage single target than I can with a double flame shock/fire nova AoE setup on 7 targets.

Generally speaking, any AoE damage is good AoE damage, but in terms of output and efficiency, I’d say that Elemental is better sticking to single target damage with some on-CD Chain Lightning use.

The only way forward, to be perfectly honest, is going to be the removal of Magma Totem. Enhancement don’t use it, thanks to their Searing Totem interactions, and the action of running in, dropping a totem, and then running out again is counter productive (a big reason why Fire Nova was de-coupled from totems). Once it is gone, improvements can be made to the rest of the AoE rotation. These are my suggestions

  1. Restrict Fire Nova to the current target affected by Flame Shock. This means no more having to worry about multi-dot AoE situations
  2. Add a new AoE rotation filler, be it a modified CL, a Forked Lightning ability, or some other channelled ability with no cooldown. Otherwise we end up in the situation of having to run our single target rotation in amongst the multi-target rotation, and that’s already complicated enough on it’s own.

Once these play style changes are made, then a damage adjustment can be made, so that a multi-target rotation results in better damage output just like the other casters.