The State of Elementals: 4.2

So, 4.2 has hit, and with it more class changes, gear, and shiny objects to drool over.

However, all is not rosy in Elemental land. No doubt you’ve seen the veritable lack of single target changes in the patch notes, and wondered about things like the SimulationCraft T12 Heroic sim results to see us down the end of the pack again. Fortunately though, there’s a bit of light at the end of the tunnel as well as some potential changes around fire totems. Will these changes be enough though?

Looking a bit deeper at the SimulationCraft results, there are a few assumptions going on there, but first, a recap of the numbers.

  • Total DPS: 33042
  • Fire Elemental DPS: 5634
  • Personal DPS: 27191
  • Personal Mobile DPS (ignoring LvB): 19079

Putting two and two together, assuming the Fire Elemental works properly we’ll be doing 24713 DPS while moving, vs 33042 DPS when stationary (or in other words, we’ll be doing roughly 75% of our stationary DPS while mobile) without taking the 4pc Insta-LvB-On-Lava-Surge bonus into account. This is all thanks to that Unleashed Lightning LB-While-Casting glyph. Without it we’d be doing a much lower 8373 (~25%), although this is without taking UE & more frequent ES casts into account. In any case, it looks like the power indicator has swung from grossly underpowered to grossly overpowered for Elemental mobile DPS.

Scaling wise, things look fairly good. The graphs show what we expect, Int>SP>Haste>Mastery>Crit, with a large focus on haste over mastery & crit. However, the stat preferences for Elemental runs a bit contrary to that of Resto (being mostly Mastery>Haste>Crit) and also leaves me wondering why there are so many crit based items for Shaman. It may be that because we scale well with specific stats and poorly with others that has resulted in the general impression that we scale badly overall. It’s likely that if we weren’t restricted to mail for the 5% intellect bonus that we’d be picking up cloth & leather items that are itemised “better” than mail gear. This suggests that a background mechanics change on improving the value of crit while reducing the value of haste may make gearing more interesting and solve those “scaling issues”.

In short, until the fixes we need for Fire Elemental actually come through, Elemental is definitely the bottom-of-the-pack DPS spec that we were back in the Black Temple/Sunwell days, and even when those changes come through our deficiencies in stand-and-deliver encounters will be masked by our new mobility strength. The only silver lining is that you can pull out my old quote from 2.4 where I said “If you’re getting beaten by an Elemental Shaman, you’re doin’ it wrong”


Ghostcrawler posts on 4.2 class balance


  • We previously nerfed Water Shield via hotfix because shaman were gaining too much mana in PvP when attacked (especially by pets to discourage drinking). The 4.2 change is just a more elegant implementation of the same nerf that should keep the same mana per time as they have currently.
  • We recognized Fire Nova had some usability issues so we increased its throughput and added the Flame Shock refresh mechanic to help ease some of the inconvenience. This is a new mechanic and one we are still evaluating.
  • We introduced the Glyph of Unleashed Lightning to help shaman feel less punished by movement in both PvP and PvE. The impact of changes like this are very difficult to model.
  • We nerfed Mana Tide for the same reason we nerfed Innervate — it was just providing too much mana for the group’s healers as a whole. We didn’t want to decrease the benefit to the shaman, so we redesigned / added the talent of Resurgence to help offset the nerf to them personally

Being an Elemental kinda guy, I’m going to ignore the first and last one because they don’t affect me.

It’s good to know that the Fire Nova changes are being monitored. I still think that it’s a bit of an awkward system to manage, and could stand to have things tweaked and limited, because I can see things getting a bit silly with never-ending dots and high numbers of novas going out. The question is really whether we’ll get to any of those extreme points or not, and how long the ramp up time is. Too long, and we’ll be under the curve, but too short and things will be a bit over powered.

Likewise, the introduction of Unleashed Lightning will most likely get reviewed after 4.2 is released. I still believe that it’s going too far, and we’ll turn into running, jumping lightning bolt machines, but we’ll see how it goes. I’m still thinking that a better way to handle the Movement Problem is to rejig the Spirtwalker’s Grace duration/cooldown, or change it so that it has no cooldown/duration but rather a toggle with a damage/healing reduction.

In any case, those words “still evaluating” and “very difficult to model” make me think that there is some hope for improvements after 4.2 is released.