Elemental 6.2 Patch Update


Important!

I’m still refining a few things, mostly around profile generation for SimCraft. I’ll try to keep all the profiles included in a post here as well as putting some more “guide” type stuff, but there may be a few issues to iron out. I’ll get to that once I finish doing 6.2 update stuff.

IRC: We have a Shaman IRC on irc.coldfront.net called #earthshrine

Guides: I have two guide locations at the moment.

My Personal Wowhead guide is the one I’d recommend in most cases, as I’m aiming to put as much detail in there as possible.

Talents

  • L60: Elemental Mastery only beats out Echo of the Elements if your legendary ring use is every 2 minutes and delays do not result in losing a use of EM. Otherwise, go with whichever L60 talent you prefer (I’m sticking with Echo).
  • L90: Unleashed Fury is still slightly better than Primal Elementalist on Patchwerk results, but when you go to Heavy Movement sims they’re practically equal.
  • L100: Elemental Fusion wins hands down if you have Core of the Primal Elements (the class trinket from Archimonde). More on that later.

Stats

Multistrike is still first, with Haste & Crit roughly second equal (depending on your talents one will be slightly better than the other). Versatility is fourth, and Mastery is a distant fifth, with a value of 60% of Multistrike or less. For items, in most cases Multistrike wins over Item Level, unless the Multistrike item has Mastery and the higher item has Crit/Haste. Example stat weights will be updated over the weekend.

Trinkets

Core of the Primal Elements extends your Flame Shock by large amounts. This should be your primary single target & multidot trinket. You’ll want to have a Normal version of this over any Heroic trinkets (possibly Mythic too, need to reconfirm this). When recasting Flame Shock, if you have 2 Elemental Fusion charges and the Unleash Flame buff up you can recast it up to 78% of the base duration, or 100% if you’re using Unleashed Fury. This is to make sure that you have a fully buffed dot up at all times. The damage math works like this: 1.00 * (1 + 1.50) * (1 + 0.4) * (1 + 0.4 * 2) =  630% of the base damage with a Normal trinket. Mythic will have up to 756%

Remaining trinkets Unblinking Gaze > Prophecy of Fear > Iron Reaver Piston. Generally, Heroic HFC trinkets will beat Mythic BRF foundry trinkets.

Set Bonuses

Transition from T17: wait until you can get T18 2pc before dropping T17 4pc. Same with T18 4pc/T17 2pc.

T18 2pc: Don’t change your rotation priorities. ES20 trumps everything, but if you use ES15 & it procs just before Lava Burst comes off cooldown, cast Lava Burst and then go back to Earth Shock.

T18 4pc: Don’t change your rotation priorities here either. You’ll naturally maintain a high buff uptime, and there’s no point in trying to “game” this.

Gear Stuff

If you need to work out what items are best for you, try this handy item spreadsheet for both Elemental & Enhancement (produced in conjunction with wordup)

Boss Notes for Hellfire Citadel

I’m slowly making my own, but for a full list check out Gistwiki’s 6.2 FAQ

Feedback Part 3: Mobile DPS


In this edition of the Feedback Post I’m going to talk about Mobile DPS for Elemental Shaman, and how this ties back into ongoing problems with the spec. Some things briefly mentioned here will be elaborated in other posts, as both the Rotation & Talent posts I plan on making later on are heavily interconnected with this post.

Molten Earth: Doing the job for us

As I mentioned in my initial post on Mastery, Molten Earth deals a large part of our mobile damage. Combine that with Searing Totem and over 50% is passive damage, which means that a) we can’t do much to improve mobile DPS, and b) not much can be changed while both of these still exist.

100% Player Input

If we’re to return to a state where what we do matters both Searing Totem & Molten Earth need to be removed, so if you’re running and not doing anything you have zero DPS output. On the flip side of that is that you can also have more impact on the results. Having a slider of 0-100% vs 50-100% may seem a bit of a backward step but it means more control for the player.

Dual Functions

There’s also the problem of odd ability interaction & behaviour. The biggest two of these are Primal Storm Elemental & Unleash Flame.

Primal Storm Elemental has a small movement speed aura, which normally would be fairly useful except for one small fact: the elemental guardian doesn’t move with you, it just stands in one place. Having a movement buff that doesn’t move is odd, and most likely the unintended result of the fact that the Storm Elemental is tied to its totem rather than the player, as you would see with Water Elementals for Frost or other player pets.

Unleash Flame, on the other hand, is primarily a movement ability for Elemental, a “something extra” to do while waiting for procs or shock cooldowns. It even has a perk to give you a speed boost for 4 seconds. The only catch is that it effectively prevents you from taking the Unleashed Fury talent if there is any movement, or you sacrifice a movement ability in the name of more DPS. Normally for a mostly stationary fight it’s not an issue, but you only need to make up a few hundred DPS via better movement to offset that difference.

For some actual numbers on that Unleashed Fury has a gain of less than 1% of overall DPS over Primal Elementalist. Adding one extra Lightning Bolt per minute, or buffing 1 Lava Burst cast with Unleash Flame results in ~1% more DPS each. That’s a fairly fine line to run, and assumes that your Unleashed Fury uptime is nearly 66%.

Moving Forward

As I mentioned, removing both Searing Totem & Molten Earth should happen so that more of a players damage is a direct result of them pressing buttons, not something that just happens automatically. To fill the gap two things could happen:

Either add a new low damage spam-able spell or change Earth Shock to not trigger its own cooldown
Remove Lava Surge, so that it’s not possible to throw out a hard hitting spell while moving (more on this in the Rotation post)

#1 is very important, so that there’s no time where a player can say “I have nothing to cast”, or at least can say that without going through a complicated decision tree of minimal impacts (Do I use Thunderstorm? Drop Healing Stream Totem? Recast Searing Totem that I dropped 20 seconds ago?). Everything needs to feel important, relatively clear, and not overly taxing (executing a complicated rotation while moving generally means you either mess up the rotation or take extra damage).

There’s also the elephant in the corner with Spiritwalker’s Grace. This is a useful cooldown, but is a crutch for Elemental Mobile DPS. This will probably need to be removed for Elemental as well, in order to properly balance DPS both with & without it. Another alternative here is to make it into a “stance” type ability, with some sort of DPS cost to have it up. One option could be that it only works with Lightning Bolt & has a -50% cast speed penalty, making movement an active choice while bringing back some of the mobile LB that many people enjoyed in Mists of Pandaria.

In the end it doesn’t really matter how the mobile rotation is changed, as long as players aren’t faced with gaps where they can’t use any DPS abilities, and that all of the damage is a direct result of actions they take rather than being hooked in via secondary functions.

Feedback Part 2: Themes


In Part 1: Molten Earth I wrote about how Molten Earth works mechanically, and the flaws with how it was designed. In this post I’ll look at the idea behind why it was added, and how that can be effective while also making for good gameplay.

Needs More Earth

“Another reason is that we feel like we’ve failed on fulfilling one aspect of the Elemental fantasy: the elements. Fire (check). Air (check, lightning falls under this). Water (that’s more of Resto’s thing). And Earth. Where was the Earth? Ele shamans were feeling too much like the “Fire+Lightning Wizard”, and not enough of the “Master of the Elements”. That led us to including Earthquake, and adding Molten Earth.” – Celestalon

This quote on the Warlords of Draenor Beta Class forum (via Wowhead’s Blue Tracker as the Beta forums were removed) explains why Earthquake was kept, and why Molten Earth was created.

The first question to ask here is whether Elemental needs to use all the elements all the time. Looking at each element on a theme basis we have the following:

  • Air: agility, lightning, speed
  • Earth: strength, toughness
  • Fire: burning, heat
  • Water: cold, healing

It’s pretty obvious that Water doesn’t really lend itself much to the Elemental damage playstyle, although we do have a few healing spells so that’s somewhat covered. Similarly, Air & Fire are covered nicely by all the Fire & Lightning based spells.

Earth is a little harder to fit in. It’s possible to argue that Earth is already represented well enough in the rotation without needing extra stuff like Molten Earth, as you can’t really have Lightning without somewhere to ground it, so it’s really a combination of Air + Earth (and Lightning is all Nature damage too). The same thing can be said about Lava, being a combination of Earth + Fire, as Lava is really just molten rock. In fact, the only spell in the Elemental rotation that doesn’t have some connection to Earth is Flame Shock, as everything else is Lava, Lightning, or actually Earth related.

Design Around The Theme

If we want additional Earth related spells, we’d first need to consider a few problems, the first being the same issue that resulted in Earthquake getting a new animation: spell effect clutter. Usually earth based attacks happen via the ground, be they spike projection or wave type attacks (for the latter, think the Sundering ultimate for Thrall in Heroes of the Storm). Adding something like these in could increase ground effect clutter, making it hard for people to see bad stuff on the ground.

However, if we look for spell ideas from other sources, it’s possible that Earth could fill more of a utility role rather than being direct damage. Using the strength & toughness traits of the element could result in defensive abilities similar to Ice Block (but stone instead of ice, obviously). Other options would be looking at abilities that Thrall has, like the molten hand used during the Nagrand cinematic. Many people have commented previously about how various spells used by Thrall should make their way into the Shaman spell book, and it’s not a bad idea.

Theme vs Gameplay

One important thing to remember when talking about themes and spell ideas is to remember that they have to be usable, not overpowered, and most importantly: fun. This was why the 6.1 change for Enhanced Chain Lightning was so important. Interrupting multiple casts & multistrikes of Chain Lightning to spend the ~2.5 seconds to cast Earthquake felt off, as CL was fun whereas EQ wasn’t, especially if you had to micromanage the eCL charges. Now, with a fixed buff & instant cast mechanic, using Earthquake is more engaging to use as it’s an easier decision to make and doesn’t interrupt the flow of the multi-target rotation.

Making sure that abilities are both fun and also fit into the theme can be a hard task at times. There should be a time when if something is fun but doesn’t fit the theme completely, or where a themed ability isn’t fun, that the theme should be revisited. In that original quote from Celestalon, they envision that Elemental is a “Master of the Elements”, and thus why more Earth based abilities should be included. To me, Shaman are masters of the elements in general, so each specialization should have a more specific area. Restoration is primarily water based, while Enhancement seems to be more of the Air (speed) & Earth type, leaving Elemental to be Air (lightning) & Fire.

The design process should never be Theme leads to Design leads to Gameplay, but an iterative feedback loop where the gameplay results feed back into the overall theme design.

PS: General reminder again that I created a Patreon campaign last week. Getting some more people on that would be helpful & appreciated.