A Maelstrom of a Problem
November 12, 2015 10 Comments
As you may have seen, there’s a blog post on upcoming Legion changes for Shaman. The big problem I see with this is that Maelstrom generation will be too high, and rotation priorities will end up causing conflicts between strong spells.
Building Up A Storm
Maelstrom is the replacement for Lightning Shield charges. You gain 15 on every Lightning Bolt or Lava Burst cast, and gain 75% of normal Maelstrom generation for each Overload that occurs. This means that without any Overloads it takes 100/15 = 6.67 casts to reach 100 Maelstrom. With a 100% Overload rate this drops down to 3.81 casts.
As a comparison, in Warlords with 50% Multistrike it takes roughly 9.5 casts to max out Lightning Shield. In Legion with the proposed changes it will take around 4.85 casts, almost doubling the frequency of Earth Shock casts. If we then add other things into the mix for Maelstrom generation, like the Maelstrom Totem talent (although this appears more of an AoE talent) it means Earth Shock will be a much higher use of time than Lava Burst, which seems like it will feel very weird.
An example of this problem was Elemental Blast. I enjoyed using it, even if it was slightly sub-optimal in Mists, but with the additional Lightning Shield generation sources in Warlords it felt a bit awkward using it as both Earth Shock and Lava Burst would cause its used to be delayed most of the time.
A Shocking Conflict
A further problem with what I think the rotation will look like is that Earth Shock uses 10 to 100 Maelstrom and deals “massive Nature damage”, whereas Lava Burst causes “strong Fire damage” with a bonus 50% damage if Flame Shock is on the target. This will be similar to the current Warlords rotation, where a “max stack” Earth Shock deals more damage than Lava Burst, which can cause problems during Ascendance when combined with the T18 2pc bonus (chance to not trigger shock CD & refund all LS charges used).
The issue here is that Lava Burst is normally our big damage ability, but with generating Maelstrom off Lava Burst and the massive damaged caused by Earth Shock we will most likely end up delaying Lava Burst in favour of Earth Shock on a frequent basis. The end result of this will be a continuation of the counter-intuitive early use of Earth Shock so that we avoid Lava Surge conflicts and capping.
The Mists model for this was a lot simpler, where only Lightning Bolt (and Chain Lightning) generated Lightning Shield charges, so if you were just short of max charges and had Lava Burst come up you could use Lava Burst first and then Earth.
In Legion we say goodbye to Molten Earth, and instead see the return of Overload. While this is a good change, we simply seem to have Overload back in its old state without any sort of change or update. While there are a few chance based Masteries they are mostly “chance to reset” like Hunting Companion for Survival (grant additional Mongoose Bite charge) or Enhancement’s Enhanced Elements which increases the chance of Windfury/Stormfury procs. Previous chance based masteries, like the old one for Arms Warriors (chance to proc a second melee attack), have virtually all been removed by now, with the only active one that I know of being Combat Rogues (their blog post has yet to be released).
So what’s the problem with this? Leaving aside the Maelstrom generation issue, a variable chance Mastery means that Elemental will have hard 100% caps for all three secondary stats, and while Crit & Haste will likely never get to that point, our Overload chance has traditionally been much higher. Back in Mists when we last has Overload as our Mastery we were approaching 80-90% Overload chances mid way through the expansion, which we could partially get around with reforging, but in Legion I think we’ll be more restricted in our stat availability.
Part of the issue is that Overload is a cool visual part of the Elemental identity, so having frequent procs is a cool thing. The downside is that when you don’t get many procs, it feels really bad. This is especially true when big cooldowns are up like Ascendance, and with the removal of Lava Bursts auto-crit function having low Crit & Overload sequences will further increase that feeling.
What To Do?
- Remove Maelstrom generation from Lava Burst (and don’t generate it off any talent based spells)
- Reduce the Maelstrom generation from Lightning Bolt (10-12 is probably better)
- Remove Maelstrom generation from Overload hits
- Change Overload to a fixed high chance to proc (80-100%) and make the damage a mastery percentage of the original spell
This will slow down Maelstrom generation, giving space for increasing it via talents or adding additional spells like Elemental Blast into the rotation. We could also delay casting Earth Shock when Lava Burst is up, and reduce Earth Shock frequency from once every 8-10 seconds into the 12-15 second range, which will make it a bit more manageable. Lastly, tweaking Overload would reduce/remove the negative effects of having a second variable chance stat on performance.