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4.2: Return to Fotm…er Form; oh, and T12!

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Some potentially sexy buffs are coming elemental shaman’s way:

May 10 4.2 PTR notes:

– Lava Flows now grants a 30/60/90% haste buff when a Flame Shock effect is dispelled, up from 10/20/30%.

– Thunderstorm now reduces the movement speed of players it knocks back by 40% for 5 seconds.

– Unleash Elements is now in the Nature school, and thus can no longer be used if a shaman’s Nature school has been locked out.

– The 4-piece Elemental shaman PvP set bonus (Gladiator’s Thunderfist set) has been redesigned. It now causes Lightning Shield to generate an extra charge, rather than consuming one, when it is triggered by receiving damage, up to a maximum of 3 (9 with the Rolling Thunder talent).

– Lightning Shield and Water Shield can no longer be dispelled.

– Glyph of Unleashed Lightning (new Prime glyph) allows Lightning Bolt to be cast while moving.

The main concern amongst the pvp community now is our mana (in)efficiency, which may or may not be resolved by the Unleashed Lightning glyph, since it will allow us to cast more lightning bolts. There’s also the manner of a defensive cd; yes, we can glyph EM, but what other class would have to use their dps cooldown in order to reduce damage they are taking? Only idea I can scrape off the top of my head at the moment would be to re-introduce Astral Shift, but have it be an ele-only defensive cd of some flavor.

As OP as some of these changes look on paper…well, they’re needed. Ele is extremely vulnerable in pvp due to the fact that 90% of our damage occurs when we plant our feet and turret spells into enemies…which happens for all of 1 second tops against half decent pvpers. Any time my friends and I encounter an ele shaman, I’m yelling at them to simply tunnel the shaman, which results in said shaman being dead fairly quickly.

Amongst the raiding community, there seems to be a large amount of “meh” regarding these changes, namely the new glyph. I’m honestly surprised at the lack of enthusiasm about a solution to one of our biggest weaknesses (damage while moving). Oh, boo hoo, we have to debate over which glyph to swap at this point…and on that note, who’s to say they don’t simply make our current LB glyph do exactly what this new one does, then bake in the 4% damage increase by default, or if we’re incredibly lucky, they bake it in as a 5-6% increase. I don’t expect this to happen, but all of this is on PTR, and things there are subject to change, such as the new legendary staff, as shown here.

Needless to say, I’m hoping these changes make it through PTR intact (at the very least) and to live. Speaking of PTR, our T12 has made it’s debut, and I’ll go ahead and say we are 12 for 12 in terms of having reasonably decent looking tier sets:

Shaman T12 on males

Shaman T12 on females

Preview video courtesy of MMO-Champion:

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4.0.6 Elemental Shaman cliff notes

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Tremor Totem: Basically becomes a 6 second aoe fear ward on a 1 min CD.
Purge: Effectively cut in half.
Spiritwalker’s Grace: 50% duration increase, from 10 to 15 seconds
Lava Burst: 10% damage increase
Earthquake: 10% damage increase on top of benefitting from Clearcasting
Rolling Thunder: Charges are now generated by Lightning Overload procced LBs and CLs.
Hex: PVP duration down to 8 seconds, glyph reduces CD by 10 seconds instead of 15

Several pvp-oriented nerfs that were more aimed at our other specs, but still hurt nonetheless. The buffs we’re getting are fairly nice, but my main concern at this point is mobile dps. I find myself moving around quite a bit on most of these encounters, and being the turret casters that we are, it hurts dps fairly bad.

From a pvp perspective, the most annoying thing I run into is going OOM…and that’s without doing any off healing or using earthquake (which is borderline useless, but I like it for knocking people down in smoke bombs). Couple of arena games I was in last night had me hitting lava burst or LB keys and nothing happened…looked up and was like “wtf, I’m OOM”. I thought I read somewhere that Blizzard didn’t care to have caster DPS worrying about going OOM and that it’s more for healers to worry with.

It’s ok, though, because I’ll be able to see my Elementium Stormshield on my back and I’ll no longer look like I’m the ball sack of my mount whenever I use my Volcanic Stone Drake. O.o

Fire totems: Oh how I love (to hate) thee. Initial raiding impressions

January 10, 2011 Leave a comment

The dust from the holiday shenanigans has settled down, playoff football is upon us, and many guilds such as mine are now kicking off raiding in Cataclysm. I’ve been splitting raiding time between resto and elemental, which doesn’t bother me whatsoever; If my switching to resto for a day means we start a raid on time, then I’m all for it, because I hate wasting time.

I actually find playing resto fun and enjoyable currently. It’s as if shaman have tools for healing any and all situations right now. The new “healing model” for Cataclysm has taken little adjusting to on my end, since my playstyle when healing already fit the framework Blizzard had planned for Cata healing. As far back as BC, I would always load up on MP5 (now spirit) on as many items as possible, for I am always afraid of going OOM. I preferred to gear for long fights, such as heroic LK during WotLK (a fight that could take upwards of 15 minutes for a kill). The resto shaman mastery, Deep Healing, works nicely in my opinion. It’s basically a form of crit that isn’t a chance; it’s somewhat more reliable, although I don’t know how exactly the game determines how much benefit your heals get on a target (something I may research on a slow work day, heh). I won’t advocate stacking mastery, mind you, but if you get some here and there on your gear, it’s not the end of the universe; worst case, you can reforge some mastery into haste/crit/spirit.

From an elemental standpoint, it hasn’t been too bad. In our 25 man runs, when I’ve been dps, I’m usually in the middle of the pack, leaning toward the top. In most cases, I’m within 10-15% of the top dps, which I find acceptable, since part of that can be attributed to level of play, aka me slacking. In non-gimmick fights, I’ve been averaging 15-16k. I suspect this number will go up in weeks to come due to not only acquiring gear, but better dps uptime due to knowing the mechanics of the fights.

One thing as elemental that’s been both a blessing and curse is our fire totems. It is a blessing that we are no longer relegated to having to be a “Totem of Wrath bot”, as I’ve seen it called (albeit with more suggestive language, heh). Now that we can consistently use dps totems instead of a buff totem, it’s pretty sweet…when the totems aren’t retarded. Searing Totem makes me want to strangle kittens at times. On many occasions when there is a target switch (aka one trash mob dead, on to the next one that’s right beside it), the totem won’t acquire the second target. I quickly learned to recall/redrop ST on the Omitron fight, because it’s insistence on hitting a shielded target caused us to wipe.

Then there’s our beloved Fire Elemental Totem. It’s a massive dps increase when compared to Searing Totem, but it would need to be since it’s a 5/10 minute cooldown (depending on whether it’s glyphed or not). FE, though, like it’s searing kin, has a mind of it’s own at times and will attack whatever it fancies, regardless of what mob has my flame shock on it. It also has a leash back in the event a mob gets too far away; this isn’t a big deal for searing totem, since it can simply be placed again. Not the case for FE, since it has a cooldown. FE also has a tendency to get insta-gibbed due to raid damage/mechanics, such as what happened to mine during Twin Dragons attempts in Bastion last night. I’m not sure what exactly gibbed it; there’s a pretty good possibility I plunked it down in a bad spot, or at a bad time, or both.

There’s an ongoing discussion of the fire totem matter in this Totemspot thread. There are a couple of ideas posted there that I find interesting, such as letting Unleash Flame, a spell seldom used as elemental, refresh or extend our flame shock’s DoT duration. A simple yet radical idea floating about is letting elemental shaman use the elemental totems (earth and fire) as permanent pets. The way I envision it, searing totem could be scrapped, thus relegating us to using Flametongue for the spell damage increase, then having the elemental function as a mobile searing totem. One downside is that it would lose it’s aoe DPS, but that spell could work akin to a mage’s blast wave, only without any knockback/daze (if they still have that). Otherwise the elemental turrets flame bolts at our target. The earth ele could simply function as a “tank” pet, which is pretty much what it does now.

Keep in mind the ideas posted here are 1. most likely not original, and 2. purely wishlisting, if you want to call it that. I’m not wishing for these things; if they are added, great, if not, no big deal. I honestly would never expect to have either of our elementals as permanent pets, even for just the elemental spec, since we would be treading dangerously toward being a warlock or hunter. I don’t see any harm in generating ideas, be they practical or ridiculous; any kind of idea could provide fuel for the proverbial fire that is the Blizzard think tank that conjures up the changes that DO take place.

Overall, I’m satisfied with my shaman experience in Cata, but that isn’t to say that it is perfect and is in need of no improvement. I’m seeing things, such as issues mentioned here, that could use some attention, but they aren’t game breaking issues at this point.

Happy Holidays :)

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

May be another 2 weeks or so before I get back around to posting, being that the Christmas and New Year’s holidays are upon us now. That said, it’s a dreadfully slow day at work, so I thought I’d drop some more observations and thoughts here.

I haven’t done much of anything in terms of raiding since my last post here. That said, based on experiences in heroics, I’m looking forward to raiding, whether it’s as elemental or resto (and now that most of our healing core is at 85 and farming heroics with the rest of us, I’ll most likely be back to my old elemental self).

Elemental DPS seems like it will be fine, least to me. One thing I have started to notice as my gear has improved, though, is that Lava Burst isn’t the “burst” that it used to be. Lightning Bolt crits are now hitting almost as hard as my LvB crits, but I think there’s several factors in play; for one, LB will be getting the majority of Clearcasting charges, which on top of cooldowns amplify it a lot. Also, we have to remember that in most cases LvB is guaranteed to be a crit, whereas LB may crit 20-25% of the time. To think “omg LvB barely crits harder than LB so it sucks” would be ridiculous, since LvB gives us the benefit of consistently having CC charges up. This is especially critical since mana usage has gone up significantly; I have had some points where I ran OOM. That brings me to another point…

What meta gem should we be using? Well, once I crafted my engineering goggles, I immediately dropped a chaotic shadowspirit in the meta slot, and gemmed accordingly. Int/spirit or int/hit (depending on how the gem market was at the time) gems in red, blue sockets with mastery/hit, and yellows with just haste. However, after getting pretty much all the gemmable gear I would need going into raiding (barring BoE epics I’m 1-2 items away from being BiS pre-raiding), I swapped my meta to the Int/+2% mana meta, and went back to our old way of gemming: Int in red, int/spi in blue, int/haste in yellow. I do not have conclusive evidence that my DPS has increased, but going by seat-of-the-pants feel, it seems like I’m doing more dps now. Added benefits include a mana pool that increased by almost 8k…this may not seem like a big deal, but I noticed I went from having mana trouble in long fights to cruising through fights retaining most all of my mana barring occasions I had to use Earthquake (which is going to destroy the mana pool no matter what, heh). The meta swap also lets my eng goggles double dip, and by that I mean that I get to use them in my resto set now.

On the resto front, I’ve been throughly enjoying the challenge that we call the new healing model. Hopefully healing won’t return to where it was in late WotLK, where (for heroics at least) I could basically /afk my way through heroics, or if I was feeling really risky I would queue as a healer and instead be in full elemental gear/spec and would DPS…and if I REALLY wanted to be snarky, I would ask the group why the healer was top dps, heh. I only pulled that snarky card if someone in the group was being a douche, though. Now, for the new healing model, I find that I’m mostly using Riptide and Healing Wave, since they are by far the most mana efficient of our spells. Greater Healing Wave comes into play if someone’s trickling down low on health, and combined with our mastery, it provides a considerable chunk of health restored in most cases; nowhere near the levels of throughput we had in WotLK, but we’re not supposed to have such throughput. Healing Surge has taken the place of Chain Heal as our “Oh S***” button, namely when a DPS’s health spikes down, or if the tank starts to take a dive on HP. As for CH…it’s nowhere near the super power it once was. This is probably the biggest change I’ve had to cope with, because like many shaman I had engrained in my brain that “when in doubt, chain heal”. This doesn’t work well anymore, because in a couple of cases I had that thought occur to me, cast a CH, then someone would die. However…couple CH with our new Healing Rain and we’re capable of some absurd amounts of multi-target healing. Again, it’s nothing like what we had before where a CH would basically heal up 3-4 people virtually all their HP, but it’s still a potent combination. HR allows us to smooth out damage done on a group of folks (such as the melee + tank clump on most all boss fights) while healing other targets…it’s a shaman form of Beacon of Light, I suppose.

I also got back into my PVP groove, starting with Tol Barad…and for once I’m going to say “What the fuck, Blizz?” TB is perhaps the biggest PVP blunder they’ve ever introduced in this game, even more so than the countless revamps of AV (should’ve left it alone IMO). For those who have not tried TB, there are 3 bases and 3 towers. The attacking team has to capture all 3 bases in order to win; they can destroy the 3 towers to buy themselves more time if needed. The defending team technically does not have to hold a single base; so long as one of the 3 bases is in the grey and the time expires, the defense wins. This relegates TB to being nothing more than zerg vs. zerg, with the defense being heavily favored. The simplest solution to this would be to require that 2 of the 3 bases be held to win, whether the O or D is holding them. This gives the D more reason to try and defend the towers, and would discourage both sides from running around with one giant zerg. Couple the TB blunder with the MMR/conquest point bugs that cropped up and you have a lot of aggravated PVPers. On top of that, random BG queues are still pretty awful, and it doesn’t help that more often than not I end up in a group that’s…well, bad, to put it nicely. One positive note, though: You can get all of your conquest points for a week by winning 5 arena matches, which when you have next to no rating is pretty easy to accomplish. This is a big saving grace for us Horde here in the US, since we often have to wait 15-20 minutes to get into a random BG. Granted, it’s gonna take about 4 months to get all of my vicious pvp gear at this rate, but it took about that long in BC for my warrior to get full S2 gear, so it’s not that big a deal. Oh, and that time can be reduced simply by increasing one’s rating, whether it’s in arena or in rated BGs.

Also, after juggling several options for a second profession after dropping Leatherworking (since it would cost me a small fortune to buy all the mats I would’ve needed to level it), I opted for Alchemy and became a Potion Master. This has paid off nicely because I can now sell Truegold cooldowns or Living Elements cooldowns. I was aided in this endeavor by my druid alt, who has herbalism and inscription. Put it simply, a tauren druid cannot be beaten when it comes to herbing, period. The tauren Cultivation racial makes the cast time for herb gathering half a second, which has allowed me to snipe herbs from others charging the same herb node as I on many occasions. If I’m not thrilled with Engineering come next content patch, I may very well drop it in favor of picking up herbing on my shaman so that I’m never stuck without a way to level professions unless I bust out an alt. Besides, herbalism now provides a haste CD that maths out to be an average of 80 haste, so it’s pretty baller when compared to mining and skinning. Mining gets on my nerves at this point because everyone, their brother, and their mother is out mining ore. Were I playing in morning times like some of my friends, it probably wouldn’t be so bad, but I’m generally having to play during prime time, so that’s out of the question. Oh, and leveling alchemy from 1-525 cost me about 1/10th the amount it took to get Engineering from 450-525…so for any up and coming raiders undecided on what professions to pick up to help them with raiding, you can always count on herbalism and alchemy to be of solid use, no matter what class/spec you play. Oh, and it can make you some gold, too…that’s always a plus.

Well, it’s approaching the hour I get to leave the office, so happy holidays to those who have read this far, and those who don’t even know this blog exists. 😛

4.0.1 First Impressions

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

So the process of shaking off the rust is ongoing, and so far it’s going quite well. First order of the day was to sort my UI out, which after loading my addons I commonly use (I had wiped WoW off my PC completely, so all of this was from scratch) it created a mess on my screen. I don’t run a whole lot of UI mods; biggest 2 I’ve stuck with over the years are X-Perl unit frames and CTmod.

After tinkering with UI mods for what seemed an eternity, I went over my spec. This is what I have so far: http://wowtal.com/#k=lGLRZt1.a6q.shaman. At 85 it will resemble this: http://wowtal.com/#k=l1klEQBw.a6q.shaman.

I view the spec as a balance between pve and pvp; I can adjust my playstyle around changing glyphs rather than changing specs. That is one thing I love about the whole new glyph/talent setup. Sadly, the one thing I miss desperately is Ancestral Swiftness; can’t wait to get to 83 so that I have that maxed out once again. PVPing without it makes me feel naked. Another equally-as-big loss for pvp was Ancestral Shift; this is doubly noticable due to the ungodly dps increase amongst most everyone with the 4.0 patch.

Anywho, back to my talent set up. I’m sure it’s bound to garner some strange looks, namely due to having Earth’s Grasp and (eventually) Totemic Reach. As of now, I’m having zero mana problems so long as I’m not spamming Earthquake. Earth’s Grasp is a more pvp-oriented talent, but I’m pretty certain I will encounter times when having a root/snare effect will come in handy in pve situations. I could opt to toss the points in Totemic Reach elsewhere, but I figure the extra range for a tremor totem pulse or earthbind snare could come in handy. Ancestral Resolve is looking mighty fine, as well as Reverberation…and if mana is a problem at 85, I can pick up Convection. To think we didn’t have much in choice with the new talent system, heh; I see each of these as viable options with the last 2 points. There are other combinations available, too, that would require the loss of Earth’s Grasp, but they are still options nonetheless. I would be hard pressed to choose such options, but I’m not the be-all-end-all of elemental shaman, either.

After dialing in my spec, I remembered that reforging is available now, so off I went to Org. I happened to have gathered that the hit requirements for raiding are substantially higher since I last played (from 289 to 446). Sounds daunting, but with the new spirit to hit mechanic of Elemental Precision, it’s practically a joke to get to the hit cap. Afterwards, after looking at what my Mastery is (Elemental Overload) I decided to reforge any crit rating I could spare into mastery after having reached the hit cap. Later I found that the head and shoulder enchants that featured MP5 were now spirit, so I swapped out to acquire those enchants, then I swapped my leg enchant to drop stam in favor of spirit. For a moment it almost felt sacreligious loading up my gear with spirit, being that it has been a nigh-worthless stat on shaman gear for all of 5 years, but it’s a really REALLY nice change. For those of us shaman who decide to utilize a resto spec as our second spec, we can easily get away with using some (if not all) of our elemental gear for resto; while not “ideal”, it would work sufficiently enough, I believe.

Afterwards, I spent some time at the target dummies and quickly realized I needed some manner of alert to when Fulmination and Lava Surge would occur. Fortunately, I was able to ninja some Power Auras settings from the fine folks at Totemspot to assist with that. A quick romp through a heroic showcased how ridiculous DPS has gotten with the patch, with bosses dying in the 12-13 second range consistently. Later, after winning Wintergrasp I stepped into my first raid in since logging back in, and I was actually nervous because I had no idea how much dps I would do being that I was still getting the hang of the new changes. Not only that, but a couple of friends and former guildies were in the group, so I didn’t want to faceplant in front of all of them, heh. On we proceeded to Toravon, and after making mincemeat out of him, I had one of my friends whisper me damage meters (since I was too dumb to remember to load Recount).

1. Kazgrel 13.7k

…wut? The best I had ever done on that fight pre-4.0 was 10-10.5k, and I think I had a flask on for those times whereas last night I did not. While most people will see the 13.7k and think “Hey, that’s pretty damn good”, I actually felt like I have some serious room for improvement in terms of adapting to Lava Surge procs and Fulmination. It’s exciting yet scary at the same time.

One thing that’s been made ridiculous with 4.0: The T10 4 piece bonus, aka Never-ending Flame Shock. So long as I’m on the spot picking up Lava Surge procs, my Flame SHock dot will pretty much never fall off of a target, much like how shadow priests keep their Shadow Word Pain refreshed constantly with Mind Flay (which could be changed with 4.0 now for all I know; I am not a priest expert). I almost wish the bonus would go in as a talent, or maybe (preferrably) a glyph, perhaps replacing the current Flame Shock glyph.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the changes. I’m satisfied with my shaman being my only toon at this point. Hopefully we won’t run into scaling issues come level 85 like we did when we first hit 80; I don’t think we will.

Initial Tier 10 Stats

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

The initial stats for Tier 10 sets are out now, and looking at the stats for the Elemental set…not too bad. It’s awful crit heavy, though, similar to Tier 8, only the set bonus this time isn’t as “omgwtfwtbasapplox”.

Comparison of ilvl 245 T9 base stats (found here) vs ilvl 261 T10 (found here; had to do the following math myself…adding is hard, right?):

Spell Power: T9 629, T10 767. Nice gain here. 3k spell power completely unbuffed will easily be attainable.
Crit: T9 213, T10 396. Almost double the crit rating, which is the lesser of our dps stats…a gain is a gain, but still.
Haste: T9 292, T10 256. Boo for haste loss, but the stupid huge amount of crit gain *should* offset that.
Hit: T9 239, T10 164. Looks like the whining about the ungodly amounts of hit on the previous 2 tiers has been noted. I don’t see this being a big deal, though. The rep ring from Ashen Verdict will have hit, and it should be easily accessible for anyone that will assemble 5/5 T10.

If I could reallocate stats on the T10 set, I would opt to swap the crit on the gloves for haste. This would make T10 a stat gain to every dps stat we have. It’s PTR, so changes can happen, but even if my idea falls on deaf ears (which I expect it will, honestly), I won’t lose any sleep over it.