Echo and the Missing Charge
December 1, 2016 3 Comments
In the initial 7.1.5 PTR Echo of the Elements was changed to 3 charges.
In the latest build it was reduced to 2 charges, which disappointed a number of people.
Three is Terrific
Two charges of Lava Burst gives you more casts for two reasons:
- Shortens the cooldown from 8 + Cast Time + Reaction Delay to just 8 seconds, usually.
- Lava Surge doesn’t reset the cooldown timer unless you already have 1 charge available.
However, even with two charges the best use is still to mash that Lava Burst button as often as it’s available. Three charges changes this, as it allows players to “bank” one charge for use where needed. That banking ability means than when you run into the “rotation conflicts” that I’ve spoken about previously, like when do you cast Earth Shock over Lava Burst or what do you do if Elemental Blast and Lava Burst come off cooldown at the same time, you can delay Lava Burst without worrying if it was a bad decision. In fact, one of the things we were seeing with initial PTR testing was that the combination of Echo and Elemental Blast sets up an interesting situation where you save your Lava Burst charges to use after casting Elemental Blast, or more accurately for when the stat buff is up. There’s also the possibility that the third charge will let players use procs like Power of the Maelstrom first, rather than just endlessly over-writing buff stacks as it’s not worth paying attention to them at the moment.
There is one downside to a three charge Echo, and that is the fact that for every combat window there will be one extra Lava Burst cast (plus one for every Ascendance use). In raid boss fights it’s not so much of an issue, but when you’re looking at short duration dungeon trash packs, solo world combat, etc it can skew things a little bit. However, to take full advantage of this you’d need to have enough time between combat windows for all 3 charges to fully refresh (3 * 8 = 24 seconds) which I think will make these situations less frequent than you’d normally expect.
There’s also the possibility that the third charge will allow “too many Lava Bursts”, but the main drivers of more casts will be the combination of three other talents: Elemental Fusion (now 5% additional chance for Surge procs, for a total of 15%), Path of Flame (spreads Flame Shock to nearby targets, all of which can proc Surge) and Ancestral Swiftness (even at 6% haste it will still increase the frequency of Surge procs). I would argue that if there are concerns about “too many” casts then switching Elemental Fusion with Storm Elemental would be a good start, as that would mean you can either have 3 charges and a 10% surge proc rate or no charges and a 15-20% proc rate. Similarly, I think it’s probably about time that Lava Surge had the “most recent application” treatment applied to it to avoid a semi-Ascendance state with large dungeon/add groups (which I’ve said since Beta).
Opt In Depth
One of the things that I was looking forward to in Legion was the idea of “opt in depth”, ie: talents I can chose that give me more DPS if I have the skill to manage them properly. That third charge was actually the biggest cause of some hope that Elemental might be interesting to play again.
So in summary, while there may be some downsides to three charges on Echo, the problems behind returning it to two charges could be better solved by changes elsewhere. Even then, if there is a better re-evaluation of the spec on the cards for 7.2 (of course, it may not happen as plans may change) I would argue that half a patch of slightly higher Lava Burst casts in certain situations may just be a downside to live with in the name of making Elemental enjoyable again.
Edit: I’ve made a graph comparing expected cast frequencies here