Elemental, Opinion, Shaman, Theorycraft, WoW

Elemental: Set bonuses

Current for patch 3.3.3.

Today’s post is a quick look at the relative value of our tier set bonuses, as well as some notes on the sets themselves.

Tier 7: Earthshatter Garb

Blue on blueTier 7 is the most accessible of the item sets – tokens drop in Naxxramas and Obsidian Sanctum, and you can purchase the ilevel 200 gloves and chestpiece and ilevel 213 shoulders and kilt from emblems.  Unfortunately doing this will leave you looking a little bit mismatched.

Stats: The stats on this item set are very disappointing.  Only the helm and chest have haste rating, there’s not much of the hit rating that an entry-level raiding shaman is likely to crave, and the gloves even have utterly worthless MP5 on them.  Socket bonuses are also lackluster, and not worth getting.

Two-piece: “Your Lightning Bolt costs 5% less mana.”

Lightning Bolt is already a very cheap spell; this set bonus allows you to cast 5% more of them before going out of mana.  It’s possible in certain situations that this can save a GCD spent on Thunderstorm or whatever, but in reality this set bonus is next to worthless and provides no extra DPS.

Four-piece: The bonus critical strike damage of your Lava Burst is increased by 10%.”

This takes the crit bonus for Lava Burst from 122.08% to 127.53%.  In tier 7 stats this is an increase of about 20 DPS.  It’s not enough to offset the stat gains of choosing off-set gear that’s better itemised, but is a better-than-nothing bonus if you end up stuck with four pieces of the set.

Conclusion: The combination of rubbish set bonuses and poor individual stats mean that tier 7 is by and large not worthwhile for serious elemental DPS.  But if for any reason you do shoot for four pieces of tier 7, avoid the gloves as they’re the worst-itemised part of the set, and there are many other options even at Naxx ilevel.

Tier 8: Worldbreaker Garb

I still haven't remembered to remove my belt for the screenshot, AND I don't have the ilevel 219 chest :(Two pieces of tier 8 are purchasable from the Conquest quartermaster, the chest and the head.  If you want any more, you have to go into Ulduar or get lucky from Emalon in VoA.

Stats: It’s a much better set than Tier 7, but still the helm and legs don’t have haste and you’ll probably find yourself swamped in hit rating if you managed to get hitcapped with tier 7 gear.  The socket bonuses are a lot better – there are some spellpower ones that might be worth picking up.

Two-piece: “Increases periodic damage done by your Flame Shock ability by 20%.”

This bonus has been changed a few times as previous incarnations have been rolled into our base toolkit; this latest version is only about 60 bonus DPS.

Four-piece: “Your critical strikes from Lightning Bolt cause the target to take nature damage equal to 8% of the Lightning Bolt’s damage over 4 sec.”

I love this set bonus.  It’s basically Ignite for Lightning Bolts, and it slightly increases the value of crit.  Another fun set bonus and worth an exciting ~200 DPS.  Blizzard liked it so much that they’re changing 4t9 to do the same thing, only for Lava Burst.

Conclusion: Tier 8 is a great looking set with much better bonuses than tier 7.  Unfortunately it’s unlikely you’ll pick up many pieces, because if you’re raiding Ulduar successfully you’re probably raiding Trial of the Crusader or Icecrown Citadel even more successfully, and if you’re not then you’re limited to only two emblem-purchased pieces.  If you need to choose an off-piece to keep the four-piece bonus, go for the helm or the legs: the resto tier 8 helm is pretty much perfectly itemised for elemental, and there are some nice leg options from Malygos-25 and Trial-25.

Tier 9: Thrall’s/Nobundo’s Regalia

This is the much worse-looking Alliance version of the set.After tier 8’s amazingness (yes, that’s a word), you might be forgiven for having high expectations of this item set.  Unfortunately, that would leave you disappointed.  Not only is it visually unexciting – at least for the Alliance – but the set bonuses are a bit… boring.  On the plus side, the ilevel 232 version is very easy to get as all pieces can be purchased from Triumph Emblem vendors.

Stats: On the positive side, only one piece doesn’t have haste – the legs.  Unfortunately the higher ilevel versions of this set are overflowing with hit rating in quite ridiculous amounts, but at least you can potentially take advantage of this by getting rid of other pieces of hit gear.

Two-piece: “Increases the duration of your Flame Shock spell by 9 sec.”

This increases Flame Shock’s duration by 50%, making the spell’s DPSC pretty insane and giving us an extra cycle before we have to recast it.  This adds up to about a 90 DPS value.  However, anytime you’re recasting Flame Shock more often due to movement or Flame Shock doesn’t last its full duration, you’re not getting any benefit.  This is not worth breaking tier 8’s 4-piece bonus for, if you have it – you’d need at least another 100 DPS worth of stats from two pieces of tier.

Four-piece: “Your Lava Burst spell causes your target to burn for an additonal 10% of your spell’s damage over 6 sec.”

Similar in style to the four-piece tier 8 bonus, but effectively causes your Lava Burst to do 10% more damage.  This can be worth well over 120 DPS and makes Glyph of Lava slightly more attractive (though unless you have over 4k raidbuffed spellpower, it’s still not worth taking over Glyph of Totem of Wrath).  With the accompanying stat increases from the higher ilevel set pieces, this is a big enough bonus to break the combination of superior 2- and 4-piece tier 8 bonuses.

Conclusion: Tier 9 is accessible enough that we can’t really complain about its inferior bonuses and looks – but rather than going for the full 5 pieces you’d be better off with 4 pieces and the Leather Legs from Anub’arak-25 if you’re a 25-man raider or a crafted Merlin’s Robe for your chest slot if you’re a 10-man raider.

Tier 10: Frost Witch’s Regalia

As with tier 9, the entire tier 10 item set can be purchased for emblems of frost; however, you can then upgrade your ilevel 251 set pieces to ilevel 264 versions using tokens that drop in 25-man normal or 10-man heroic Icecrown Citadel, and if you raid 25-man heroic, you can upgrade those to ilevel 277.

Stats: The helm, chest and shoulders have all got that delicious combination of haste, crit and spellpower which we love so much, which also means that the set has a lot less hit rating than tiers 8 or 9 had.  The legs and gloves do have hit rating, but on both items this is paired with critical strike rating instead of haste rating – a combination of stats which is rather off-putting to many elemental shamans.  However it may prove just as well, since haste is beginning to shed a smidgen of its value by 4t10 gear levels.

Two-piece: “Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells reduce the remaining cooldown on your Elemental Mastery talent by 2 sec.”

This is a nice idea, but in practice it doesn’t work out as that much of a DPS increase due to its situational nature: in any fight where we’re casting Lightning spells less – movement, AoE, etc – the bonus is being limited, and the timing of Elemental Mastery’s cooldown will not always be convenient for maxx DPS.  However in a best case scenario it can be worth about 100 DPS, and it scales pretty nicely as we gear up towards ~150 DPS – which is not bad at all.  They key thing is to use EM as early and as often as possible.

Four-piece: “Your successful Lava Burst casts increase the duration of your Flame Shock on the target by 6 seconds.

The third revision to this particular bonus is definitely the best: it’s worth in the region of 300+ DPS.  It can allow Flame Shocks of nearly 40 seconds in some situations, though we often have to clip the last tick to avoid it falling off during a Lava Burst cast.  It also scales insanely with gear to the point of being worth as much as 600 DPS at best-in-slot levels – on single targets, natch.

Conclusion: For prolonged single target encounters, tier 10’s bonuses are very nice, and the sheer ilevel difference makes it a definite boost over tier 9.  You’ll want to swap out either the gloves or the legs for a better optimised item to keep the 4-piece bonus with maximum stats, though.


Tier 9 and 10, presently the easiest to obtain sets, both have solid bonuses and an interesting assortment of stats to juggle.  Tier 10’s bonuses can take some getting used to but the reward for mastering it is high.  Tier 7 is pretty much McWeaksauce and there’s no reason to waste emblems or time on it.

Generally speaking, assuming an average ilevel value for each tier, the highest to lowest order of awesome accounting for stats and bonuses is:

  1. 4-piece Tier 10
  2. 2-piece Tier 10 combined with 2-piece Tier 9
  3. 4-piece Tier 9
  4. 4-piece Tier 8
  5. 2-piece Tier 8 combined with 2-piece Tier 9
  6. Anything else.
Increases periodic damage done by your Flame Shock ability by 20%


15 thoughts on “Elemental: Set bonuses

  1. Interesting piece, but I just had one question. Can you really put an exact dps increase number on the set bonuses as you did? I always thought set bonuses, or any gear changes’ dps values were too strongly dependent on a raider’s personal situation (other gear, raid buffs, in a hunter’s case spec, etc.) to slap on exact (or almost exact) numbers.

    It’s very possible I’m just thinking too much from a hunter-centric mindset though, I’m just curious. I just always found my napkin math in such cases was vastly inferior to just plugging the gear changes into a spreadsheet which deals with all the variables correctly.

    Posted by Razz | November 2, 2009, 3:10 pm
    • The DPS values are ballpark (as indicated by the ~ or “about” or “well over” prefixes) and calculated in ZAP! using “average” stats for that tier with full raidbuffs. The precise values don’t actually change significantly for variables within that tier’s range of stats, and the relative value of each doesn’t change at all. Quoting numbers gives an idea of equivalency to consider going from, say, 4t8 to 2t9, and there’s a very clear value order of elemental set bonuses which is not changed by buffs/debuffs/stats (with the sole exception of 4t9’s effect on glyph choice, as mentioned).

      Hunters are a lot more complex to figure out DPS for, so it wouldn’t surprise me if your set bonuses were also a lot less clear-cut. Elemental, thankfully, is pretty simple 🙂

      Edit: I also adjusted the numbers slightly to account for “real” situations – for example, 4t8 is actually more valuable on paper than I’ve implied it is, but loses value when proportion of LB casts are reduced, and 2t9 is as valuable on paper as I’ve said but is often negated by fight mechanics. The basic idea is that 4t8 is only beaten for DPS by 4t9+stats, and 2t8/2t9 are both better than 4t7.

      Posted by Charles | November 2, 2009, 3:22 pm
  2. I don’t mind my T9 not having a kilt, since it harkens back to our old Warlord set (although T9 pays homage to both the Warlord set and Earthfury, the latter having a kilt); I do miss the T8 bonuses, though…they were baller.

    Posted by Kazgrel | November 3, 2009, 7:52 pm
  3. T10 Four-piece: “The cooldown on your Lava Burst ability is reduced by 1.5 sec.”

    This will probably if you have the lava burst glyph which will most likely take out the totem of wrath glyph. This ability eventually reduces lightning bolts casts so perhaps glyph of lightning bolt will be take the fall, but I don’t really think so
    The 4-piece interferes with the 2-piece though where you will not gain as much cooldown on elemental mastery.

    Posted by Son of Sunder | January 11, 2010, 1:55 am
    • Of our top 4 DPS glyphs, Totem of Wrath is the only one that does not scale as your gear improves — instead it loses value.

      Posted by Fyst-Llane | January 11, 2010, 1:51 pm
    • @Son: I’ve looked at the T10 bonuses in more detail in several other posts which I’ll link to soon as part of the “guides” series. However, Glyph of Lava won’t be better than Glyph of ToW, even with 4t10, until around 4k total spellpower and then only in theory: in practice, the difference between the two glyphs will still depend more upon fight specifics (movement, AoE, fire totems etc) than personal gear level.

      The 4-piece does indeed interfere with the two piece, but not much – it takes in the region of 5-8 DPS away from the theoretical value of the 2-piece.

      @Fyst: If you think about it, Glyph of Totem of Wrath does indeed scale as our gear improves, because it scales with haste and crit (which, incidentally, Glyph of Lava scales poorly or not at all with). In fact spellpower remains, point-for-point, our best stat forever, no exceptions, no matter what the gear level.

      Posted by Charles | January 11, 2010, 2:35 pm
      • I will grant that my measurement of GoLB involves both the nerfed 4t9 and the fact that I am usually given utility roles that require me to spend GCDs on non-damage spells and move quite a bit.

        I will also admit that the fixed SP value of GoToW does scale, although very slightly, as your haste and crit values improved. What I should have state is that it doesn’t scale to nearly the degree of the other three main DPS glyphs.

        I think it’s important to note that your 4K figure is only for a pure spank fight with no downtime of casting. That figure drops as movement and downtime are introduced into a fight. And I believe that nearly all hardcore elemental shamans are pushing raid-buffed SP values of 3.75K+, which puts them about on the cusp.

        Last, I think while not DPSing, it is trivially easy to make sure you still get in nearly as many LvBs as you would have in a spank fight, whereas the 2t10 suffers considerably as LB plays second fiddle.

        I’d love to hear your thoughts.

        Posted by Fyst-Llane | January 11, 2010, 3:29 pm
      • My thought is that people generally put too much importance on the “break-even” number for Glyph of Lava:Glyph of ToW, but that’s because generally folks seem to want a hard and fast rule they can quote rather than a series of equivocations about circumstances and playstyle and so forth. Hence I usually advise to simply avoid Glyph of Lava unless you really know what you’re doing and why – in which case, the DPS difference between all four of the “Big Four” glyphs is so minor that it really is up to the individual player to decide which to use based on their knowledge of encounters and their own playstyle, and then to maximise the benefit they derive from their choices.

        So yes, I totally agree on the provisional nature of the 4k figure, as I tried to indicate in my previous comment. I also design my spreadsheet so that introducing “movement” (which is unfortunately very basic at present, I’m working on a new dynamic rotation routine but it’ll be weeks before it’s ready) sacrifices LBs but not LvBs to reflect this effect.

        I also agree on the unfortunate situational nature of 2t10, which was my chief criticism of the bonus when it was announced.

        As to the Big Four glyphs and how they respond to different circumstances, Glyph of Flame Shock is very robust because almost nothing will significantly reduce its benefit short of running with almost no crit buffs or refreshing FS constantly because of movement (in which case the player should be swapping to FrS anyway). Glyph of LB is less robust, but is so far ahead of the other glyphs on paper that it takes a 50-60% reduction in LB use (from a “perfect” Patchwerk-esque scenario with full buffs) to put it below Glyphs of Lava/ToW. So the main discussion hinges on ToW and Lava. ToW is in one sense a safe choice because it benefits everything you do, but Lava can be *better* because generally no matter what we do our Lava Burst usage remains nearly constant, and of course GoLvB benefits LvB far more than GoToW.

        (Then of course there’s the debate about swapping to Glyph of Fire Elemental for fights longer than 5 minutes.)

        So at the end of the day, I feel Lava vs ToW is more of a personal choice than a mathematical one. But for the “average” player I think ToW remains the safer bet.

        Posted by Charles | January 11, 2010, 3:47 pm
      • I figured I back up my claims a little more.

        For my character with 4t9 [Merlins Robe with 4t9@245], Rawr lists the GoToW at 14 more DPS than GoL which is half-a-second of missing DPS from a 5m fight. Changing the Shoulders and Gloves to 251 for 2t9 2t10, results in an 18 dps diffence between the glyphs.

        Posted by Fyst-Llane | January 11, 2010, 4:13 pm
  4. I wasn’t sure where the best place to ask this question and how to best word it. In either case, here goes:
    I recently obtained the Dislodged Foreign Object. This has now bumped my haste to 1,232 (inclusive of Bizuri). My question is, “Am I experiencing some sort of diminishing return on haste?” I asked this because I was expecting to see a fairly significant change in my Lightning Bolt cast time. Instead it only went from 1.39 to 1.34. (That is after Bizuri is fully up and running with both Wrath of Air and Improved Moonkin.) Both Lava Burst and Chain Lightning are at 1.01 cast times. Maybe I was expecting too much?

    You mention elsewhere that the haste cap (1.0s) is 1,386 for Lightning Bolt while under the effects of Blood Lust, Wrath of Air, and Improved Moonkin. Am I understanding it correctly that at 1,386 I’d have a 1.3s cast time on Lightning Bolt? Due to the minimal improvement in cast time, am I better off replacing my current 12sp/10haste gems with all 23sp gems? Including socket bonuses, I’d be giving up the following stats: 96sp/60haste/4crit (Yeah, I needed a touch of haste ages ago and haven’t remembered to change out that gem.) for 138sp. (42sp vs 60haste/4crit) I am still waiting on another another 4 upgrades which will add another 40+ haste. That excludes the fact that I have yet to get a weapon with any haste. 😦 Is there any point at which we should just forget about getting more haste and just go for raw sp?

    My current stats per the character doll:
    3,075sp (No Totem/Glyph/Spyglass included)
    1,012haste (Bizuri not running)
    34.10% crit

    I look forward to your comments/advice.

    Thank you very much!

    Posted by Maker | February 24, 2010, 3:49 pm
    • Sorry. I meant to post this under the ZAP thread. Feel free to move this if you can.

      Posted by Maker | February 24, 2010, 5:17 pm
    • Short answer is: There’s no diminishing return on the DPS benefit of haste until levels much higher than you will obtain. Don’t forget that a 0.05 second reduction in LB’s cast time is nearly 4% more Lightning Bolts in any given time period!

      As for socketing, I’d suggest you go with what you feel comfortable with. Spellpower is the safe option that you basically can’t go wrong with, but if you feel you are able to use the haste, then stick with Reckless and your socket bonuses as they will sim out higher than pure SP.

      Remember that you don’t have to gear to what a spreadsheet or sim says is optimal – if you feel you are getting more haste than you can really take advantage of, change your trinket and if necessary your gems until you feel better about it. You’ll do more DPS with a haste level you’re comfy with than with a haste level which looks good on paper but causes you problems in execution.

      But mathematically speaking, you are still safe to take a lot more haste than you have now and still feel a significant benefit 🙂

      (Grats on the DFO, btw)

      Posted by Charles | February 25, 2010, 2:10 am
  5. How good is the tier 9 compared with the itemization on the 251 tier 10 resto gear? I ask because I am a resto shammy that is occasionally asked to DPS in raids. I have 4 piece tier 9 (the 232 stuff) and 4 piece tier 10 (a mix of 251/264). If I was able to still reach hit cap, would the stat gain (keep in mind gemmed 100% for haste) be worth the loss of the Tier 9 set bonuses?

    Posted by Niceas | March 18, 2010, 3:34 pm
    • If you’re still able to reach the hit cap in your resto gear it’s probably more DPS to use your resto gear than your ilevel 232 elemental gear – but if you’re sacrificing lots of SP/haste for hit on rings, trinkets etc then it might not be worth it. Based on the raw ungemmed stats for all 5 pieces of ilevel 232 Elemental tier vs ilevel 251 Resto tier, and taking into account the loss of set bonuses, the resto stuff seems to be coming ahead by about 200 DPS.

      Here’s the wowhead stat comparison:

      Posted by Charles | March 19, 2010, 10:35 am
      • Thanks for the reply. As my elemental set has long lagged behind my resto set, I suspect that even if I’m replacing a few pieces, the overall will still be better. I’ll pick up the 245 +hit trinket and that should keep me at cap.

        Thanks again.

        Posted by Niceas | March 19, 2010, 3:32 pm

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