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


http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/2956383

Shaman

  • 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.

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.

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.

Wind Shear, or Why Do I Have To Interrupt Everything?


Interrupts. You know, those things that stop bad spellcasts. Apparently they’re important on a number of fights (Omnitron, Heroic Atramedes, Maloriak, Halfus, Council, Cho’gall from what I can remember) and on all bar Council I’ve been assigned the job of interrupting those spells. Previously you’d have interrupt rotations with the Rogues or Mages to make sure that every cast was interrupted, but now you get any Elemental or Enhancement assigned to the job.

The reasons that Shaman get the short stick on interrupts is because of the short cooldown and the fact that there will be no resource issues. These two reason make Wind Shear “superior” to Counterspell and Kick/Pummel respectively. However, on any fight with critical interrupts not having enough resources available to use your interrupt is Very Bad, even if your DPS suffers from doing so (hint: ranged interrupts require cancelling your existing cast to use your interrupt, which is also a DPS loss). Likewise, having a long cooldown (ie: 24 seconds) does not make it impossible for you to interrupt either. It just means that you either need to have a rotation team set up to handle it, or it’s a long enough gap between casts that one mage can handle things on their own.

The downside of Wind Shear is that it has a 25 yard range. This means that if you’re an Elemental, like me, you’ll be running more or taking special steps to make sure that you’re in range for your interrupt to work (why we can’t have an extra 15 yards on this spell too I have no idea), which is an issue on anything with much movement. This is the reason why Elementals shouldn’t be the sole interrupter on some fights.

So, a quick run down of the fights I’ve seen so far (3/13 HM).

Omnitrom: Frequent interrupts are needed, which makes Shaman ideal for this.
Atramedes (Heroic): The Obnoxious Fiends can be locked out, which means that you want your long lockout interrupts used. In other words: Wind Shear = Bad.
Maloriak: Both Release Abberations and Arcane Storm are on long cooldowns, which mean that anyone can and should be part of the interrupt team, especially the latter. Just make sure of your range Elementals, especially on the Green Phase. Watch positioning on Blue so you don’t crowd the Melee.
Nefarian: The shorter cooldown on Blast Nova from the Chromatic Prototypes means that Shaman should be able to interrupt all of them.

Halfus: Shadow Nova has a medium cooldown, but there’s no reason why any interrupt setup couldn’t manage it.
Ascendant Council: There’s not really any restriction on interrupts here either.
Cho’gall: The big adds can and should be interrupted by everyone, although the high frequency and no lockout means that Shaman are usually better.

So that’s 2 fights where Shaman should be your interrupters, 1 where they shouldn’t, and 4 where it makes no difference. Once you’ve convinced your raid team that there isn’t any special reason why you’re assigned the interrupt job all the time, the biggest task is making them all re-learn how to interrupt.

Lava Surge, Part Two


In the middle of the comments on a post of Lava Burst by Charles (aka Zamir) over at Planet of the Hats, there’s a little gem by Santux. It reads as follows:

What do you think about a Lock and Load type treatment with Lava Surge? *Flame shock ticks have a 30% chance to make your next Lava Burst not trigger its cooldown* Would definately solve the problem of the 8 second window having meaningless Surge procs.

Read more of this post

A Preliminary Post on Lava Surge


Been working a bit tonight on updating my Lava Surge spreadsheet that I posted on EJ a few weeks back.

I need to write up some stuff to do with it, but here’s a graph of the DPS gain. It’s important to know I made a few assumptions on the math, and they are listed in order of “priority”.

  1. If a surge proc occurs within a single LB casts time of the cooldown resetting anyway, it is “wasted”
  2. If a proc occurs you are able to take advantage of it straight away
  3. Procs will occur exactly 10%, 20%, and 30% of the time

Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.