Further Elemental Feedback

With the announcement today of the Legion launch date of August 30th it means we’ll probably stop focusing on mechanic stuff soon and go into numbers tuning. Here are some things I think need to be addressed before then.


  1. Elemental pet talents currently don’t offer any sort of bonus over the base ability, mostly because nothing has been revisited after changing the Greater Fire Elementals base action from melee to Fire Blast.
  2. “No Path to Target” when placing totems. Happened to me a lot when fighting Fenrir in his cave location (after the 60% relocation).


Many talent options are situation based rather than choice based. Many talent levels are Single Target vs Cooldown vs Multitarget vs Movement (pick 3 of 4) where the only “additional complexity” available is to add another button into the rotation

  1. Elemental Fusion is better off switching places with the T19 4pc bonus especially as it would resolve the problem where there are effectively only two viable talent options for L75 if you take the Honor talent Control of Lava
  2. Magnitude will likely only be taken in conjunction with Path of Flame otherwise maintaining a necessary number of Flame Shocks will be impractical given Maelstrom costs for both FS & Earthquake (max 20 and 50 respectively).
  3. Lightning Rod is unpredictable in its effects but will also apply to single target damage. The original active version seemed a bit more balanced as controlled AoE damage, but something just feels off about this that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Generally there are multiple options where the choice is not about how you want to play, but rather what the requirements of the upcoming encounter are. The initial impression I had from the Legion announcement was that talent choices would allow players to add additional complexity as they wanted, but the current Elemental talent design falls somewhat short of this goal. A re-arrange of talents could resolve most of this.


  1. Stormkeeper still feels a bit awkward to work into solo content when taking any talent that adds extra abilities (or increases non-Lightning Bolt cast frequencies). Increasing the buff duration to 20 seconds would resolve this, as would reducing the number of charges to 2 rather than 3.
  2. Earthquake Totem has 5hp, has a small threat effect and can be targeted/killed. Doesn’t feel right that something like Blizzard can’t be removed, but Earthquake can.

About binkenstein
I'm a geek, living in Christchurch, New Zealand.

20 Responses to Further Elemental Feedback

  1. Yurot says:

    Didn’t have the time to do some thorough testin on alpha yet, but I mostly agree with your feedback. What I would add/change/disagree with:

    1.) Elemental Fusion feels way too nice for ST fights to be replaced with a mere damage booster. I’d actually keep this as a situational talent (a single tier completely centered around situational talents would actually spice up the talent tree imho).
    2.) Magnitude feels just wrong. I’d replace its effect with a perk I suggested to Blizz some time ago: if CL strikes 3 or more targets, it automatically causes an earthquake with ground-zero in the centroid of the polygon (with an internal CD of 10 seconds). That’d increase AoE damage and allow for more preemptive positioning if necessary.
    3.) Magnitude’s damage effect based on FS should be baked into the Liquid Magma totem to make it a viable and powerful supplement for AoE fights.
    4.)Tier 2 feels completely random and unfinished. Gust of Wind should be baseline, the free slot could be occupied by a modified (read: slightly nerfed) version of the good old stormstrike totem from MoP.
    5.) Not tier-related: reduce the cast times for our spells to 1.5 seconds again. The sole reason why we needed to stack haste (FS ticks from a single DoT with an excessive, shared CD) doesn’t exist in Legion anymore! The haste soft-cap would drop to 20 %, making crit and mastery the most important secondary stats throughout the entire expansion. Granted, it would make AS more situational, but we still have two slots open in the situational tier, so that wouldn’t hurt anybody.
    Hopefully I can do some serious testing today, because even with the current quirks on alpha Elemental doesn’t feel half as clunky as it feels in WoD.😀

    • binkenstein says:

      1. The Focus bonus as a talent could make Focus Weaving a thing (more math would be needed on this)
      5. 1.5 second cast times means the hard haste cap is 50% which is easily attainable (especially with Bloodlust up) and would cause more problems than it would solve.

      • Yurot says:

        If you do not stack haste intentionally (as you do now to cut down on the cast time) and actually avoid it like tzhe plaque when you’re getting close to the 20 percent mark, it should be alright imho. I honestly can’t think of any probs with that right now, but if you know better – I’m always willing to learn a new thing or two.

        • binkenstein says:

          I very much doubt it, especially since during Bloodlust you only need 15.3% haste and 10% of that can come from Ancestral Swiftness.

          • Yurot says:

            I’d rather keep the current version of AS to be honest, it would be very nice to have a chance for an instant-icefury or EB cast every 2 minutes (up from 1.5 minutes, totally would be okay with that) than the plain and boring 10 % haste buff. That would give this talent a bit of a nifty “Oh Sh!t”-button feeling, especially with the loss of SWG.

  2. Courtney Thwaites says:

    Dude thank you for reviewing Legion, it’s good to have an idea of what’s coming.

  3. Itsallabouttheelements says:

    Few things I’d like to ask;

    Bink have you checked Preach’s review on Ele specifically regarding movement? So as it stands, the only way we can be mobile is if we select Icefury (even with the shock cd removal). Would that be accurate?

    And while it’s still early for number crunching, what’s your take on Crit especially if you don’t pick Ascendance?

    Lastly, am I correct in saying that our healing/absorbing is either healing surge or the artefact talent that auto casts healing surge?

    • binkenstein says:

      No. That’s partially because I find Preach’s method of delivery in videos quite irritating, and also because I don’t think he’s capable of objective feedback.

      There are “issues” with dps on the move, which Icefury does help a bit with, but it appears that chain casting Flame Shock is the accepted behaviour the Dev team want (even though it’ll shorten existing DoTs). I need to do some more math on this to demonstrate.

      I have yet to do any work on stat weights. The Ascendance change was to fix a “void” where Crit would have no impact on a major cooldown, but otherwise with both Elemental Fury & Focus I think crit is probably fine.


      • Could you be more specific on his lack of objective feedback? im not a fan of the guy but of the content ive seen joking around and his opinion aside his feed back has been nothing but objective (actually one of the more objective reviewers ive seen and ive sifted through alot) his content seems to be targeted at the layman/casual/new player so this confuses me and this is across serveral classes not just shaman his and now your feed back are the reason im not blindly rerolling to ele atm:/

        • binkenstein says:

          I can’t stand his video style long enough to explain in exact detail why I dislike his videos.

          Tbh I’m currently considering a re-roll myself, so please don’t make me your Last Great Hope for not re-rolling.

          • fair enough no im currently a 12/13M warlock who has had several alts but ive always loved Elemental but never was able to play because its perceived by a large number of people to be “not viable” but ive always had a blast on it when i saw his review it made me combined with my own research i was considering it seriously(but then the demo overhaul went out) now im now torn between both classes:/ the deciding factor for me will be who doesn’t have RNG tied to their resources and has the least overall RNG

  4. Ensar says:

    Another note about Earthquake being a totem. When you’re spam AoEing, you’ll sometimes end up targeting the totem when trying to place the targeting circle for a second Earthquake. It’s annoying to have your casting suddenly interrupted for no good reason.

  5. glendronach says:

    I’m surprised no one has commented about how utterly terrible Stormkeeper is as an ability?
    1. The cast time prevents you actually casting a Lightning Bolt, effectively reducing the DPS potential of the ability by 1 charge. If they implemented your suggestion of reducing the charges to 2, that would be the equivalent of 1 free Lightning Bolt’s worth of damage.

    2. Since they reduced the damage of Lightning Bolt the ability feels incredibly weak, even with 200% extra damage that’s still less that 1 Lava Burst (with Flame Shock on target). Even sans the above complaint about the cast time effectively cutting the damage improvement of Stormkeeper by 1/3, the overall spell power buff is 1080% ([180×2] x 3) over 6seconds worth of casting. Compare that to Shadow Priest’s Void Torrent, which deals 1400%SP over 4seconds, while also pausing Insanity drain for a higher haste bonus upon existing Void Form.

    3. Using current live (WoD) spell power averages as a barometer, Lightning Bolt hits for around 13k damage. Lava Burst with Flame Shock (guaranteed crit) will hit for 46.8k damage. Lightning Bolt with Stormkeeper will hit for around 26k damage. So for a 45second cool down, which is supposed to be exciting and integral to our gameplay, it will only provide an extra 39k damage. Or 26k once you remove the 1/3 damage loss due to the cast time. Stormkeeper literally provides less overall damage increase than one single Lava Burst.

    4. I’d suggest improving the damage bonus of Stormkeeper from 200% to 400%, which (again using live – WoD – spellpower as an approximation) would enable Lightning Bolt to hit for around 52k, making it worth the cooldown and thematic impact a special ability should instil. Because otherwise, unless it hits for more than a Lava Burst, the cool down will never appropriately fit in terms of rotation priority or the thematic feel of the spell.

    • binkenstein says:

      1. As do a lot of other artifact abilities, but on a 1.25 sec base cast the trade off is pretty good. Tbh at the moment I’d rather increase the buff duration to 20 seconds.
      2. Lightning Bolt is the “filler” and making it stronger vs everything else would cause a lot of balance issues.
      3. Don’t use live as a barometer for an alpha ability
      4. See point 2.

      • glendronach says:

        1. The trade off is still worth it but the cast time is still a limiting factor in the abilities overall worth.
        2. Lightning Bolt per se is the filler, Stormkeeper transforms this into almost a separate burst feature every 45seconds. It doesn’t transform our filler permanently it’s just sustained burst. Unless it’s stronger than most abilities it slips down the priority scale, you’ve said yourself you find yourself not using the procs over other spells. Isn’t that horribly lackluster for an end-game Artifact ability, of which many others add very strong abilities to already very strong specs? i.e Subtley Rogue?
        3. I was using it more of an example, i.e if we had this on live, a tiny dps increase, would you be happy?
        4. See 2.

  6. shamtimes says:

    Why do you feel so strongly that PoF and Lava Surges in general need to be nerfed, even to the point of having only one flame shock provide surges all together? I can’t get behind the argument that they make us unbalance in single target fights for a number of reasons.
    a) Historically Elementals are fairly poor at single target fights, even being one of the worst specs against Archimonde. So why is a single target improvement a bad thing in your opinion? Do you really think more Lava Surges will put us above other classes or just make us competitive?
    b) The talent tree provides very few decent single target damage talents. From the number of talents influencing Lava Surges (Ele Fusion and PoF) isn’t it clear that Lava Surges ARE our single target damage improvement? So nerfing their generation is just nerfing our only form of single target damage improvement
    c) Multi-dotting should reward more single target damage. Switching to a ‘most recent’ cast provides no reward. You say ‘most classes’ rely on this gameplay, actually only Warlocks rely on this. And that’s because their damage relies on multi-dotting. And their rewards are much greater, i.e Haunt or Unstable Affliction. Ele does not rely on multi-dot Flame Shock damage, and Lava Bursts are a much lesser reward. Shadow Priests also rely on multi-dotting for damage, in WoD for Mind Spike procs (based on the number, not the most recent), and in Legion multi-dotting Shadow Word: Pain provides lots of damage perks, reliant on the number cast, not just the most recent.
    d) In most boss fights there are multi-target and single target sections. Is it not fair to say that Ele exceeds in the multi part, and slacks in the single part – so being strong in one area makes up for the other? Reducing the number of lava surges significantly, and removing entirely the gameplay factor of multi-dotting for more single target damage, would make us average to poor for both. And arguably since Ele are a fairly burst-less class, are multi-target fight sections the Elementals opportunity for burst, by multi-dotting and firing lots of Lava Surge procs, akin to Ascendance?

    As a separate point FS now also costs Maelstrom, directly taking away from other DPS tools like Earthshock or Icefury, which increases the both the cost of multi-dotting, and thus should provide a reward, and the skill, since different Maelstrom FS have different durations, resulting in more management. PoF, as well as helping Magnitude, also helps balance this increased cost and skill required to maintain multiple Flame Shocks. Your proposed change would see no reward on top of the increased cost and skill.

    Yours seems to be the only voice in the community against PoF and Lava Surges. Everyone else finds both incredibly enjoyable. If the Lava Surge element is so unbalanced, why not suggest reducing the proc chance on multiple targets, instead of being completely fundamental about it and suggesting both the removal of FS interaction with PoF AND completing eliminating the multi-dot gameplay function. Such a fundamental position seems to suggest an ulterior motive aside from balance, i.e a dislike for RNG gameplay mechanics for someone who focuses on mathematical theory crafting…

    • binkenstein says:

      1. Historical patterns mean nothing in terms of Legion balance
      2. Talent choices are a completely separate issue (which I agree on)
      3. Multi-dotting in of itself isn’t an issue. If Surge procs occurred from the last Flame Shock *or* Path of Flame didn’t have an auto-spread mechanic it would probably be okay, but the combination of the two can potentially be imbalanced.
      4. Single Target as a niche is a serious problem as HFC is a prime example of what happens to specs that don’t have it (fall behind/not taken).

      Flame Shock is the most efficient use of Maelstrom over Earth or Frost.
      Magnitude can’t remain balanced for a few manually placed dots if auto-spreads exist, nor can it be balanced without PoF if auto-spreads are required

      I don’t particularly care whether “the community” agrees with me or not, mostly because a large portion of the community just wants to be overpowered or have cool things without considering the impacts (people are still asking for Lightning Bolt to be castable while moving, for example) or without considering the potential ramifications of leaving such mechanisms in place.

      The question is this: if other specs could effectively replicate a powerful cooldown for lengthy durations by creative use of mechanics within a boss fight would this be okay? If it’s possible to stack up half a dozen adds and not intentionally kill them I can see high end guilds using multiple Elemental Shaman to abuse that for Lava Burst spam on the boss.

      • shamtimes says:

        1. I agree, but I don’t think Legion has done an awful lot to change the core mechanics outside of buffing Lightning Bolt through additional procs and CDs. I don’t
        2. –
        3. I see, I mistook your suggestion for removing both, not separate suggestions.
        4. –

        I think the implications of too many Lava Surges comes from multiple changes, i.e no CD on FS, 2 second ticks down from 3, Elemental Fusion talent. Not PoF alone, or multi-dotting alone (this was not considered a problem in WoD without these changes). In comparison, PoF is a QoL talent with Maelstrom efficiency.
        I think as another solution to the Lava Surge deluge currently available on multi targets, is this:
        -Revert FS to 3second ticks
        -Make Elemental Fusion only effect the most recent FS, and return the Lava Surge chance back to 10%. Making it a single target talent / limiting the effectiveness in multi-target fights.

        While I agree the community will be obviously bias I don’t see why exciting abilities need to be removed, but rather just tweaked to limit the potential for exploitation. I also think complaining about abilities that make a class strong, places too much faith in developers to balance the class elsewhere, i.e less lava surges, middle-to-bottom dps, hope for overall buff to compensate, but that never happens, or does in the final patch after months/a year of suffering (i.e Cata, WoD).

        I guess the answer to that question is: Is the difference between Lava Surge frequency and Flame Shock maintenance between Live and Legion strong enough that Elementals would overtake every other DPS (or at least be overly competitive using the ability as a crutch for low skill)? If so then yes, if not then no. Single target dps is a problem for the spec, so I think that gap between Live and Legion would really need to be huge to result in Ele dps being catagorised as exploitative.

  7. shamtimes says:

    Hey, no need for the Twitter outburst. No offence intended, appreciate all the work you put into developing our class🙂

    We just differ on the solution to the Lava Surge problem. I personally think that 10%(15% talented) overall chance for Lava Surge, which I think is a spec defining ability, is equally as extreme as 65% on 6 targets. Similarly I think you may have conflated PoF’s effect on Lava Surge, as opposed to other mechanical elements like the FS tick speed increase, the lack of CD, and Elemental Fusion.

    [Selling my own suggestion again here: Why not make Elemental Fusion effect only the most recent FS, for increased purely single target DPS, and revert FS ticks back to 3s not 2. There you have a decent single target increase, with no effect on multi-targets, as well as reducing overall Lava Surges, without eliminating QoL talents like PoF which are great for levelling and PvP too.]

    I like Lava Surges! As such I think your suggestions go too far, and I’m worried that since you’re such a strong voice in the community your suggestions may be taken at face value (outside of the greater argument for better single target damage as opposed to multi-target ‘gimmicks’, which I shamefully enjoy) and may forget other elements of the community, like myself and others, who prefer interesting (read that as fun if you like) mechanics over a more precise, reliable, single-target rotation. Which isn’t to say either are wrong, or less fun, just different.

    But hey, I agree we have too many Lava Surges in multi-target fights. Let’s leave it at that. I hope when Legion is released there’s a balance between both camps.

    And despite that disagreement I’m alway genuinely interested (and agree 95% with) your next post.

    Thanks for all the hard work.

  8. beez says:

    This is great – have you posted it in the Ele shaman feedback thread for Legion? Sad that you’re considering a re-roll, but is it because of the unresolved issues with Ele or because something else is more appealing?

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