Elemental, Meta, Opinion, Restoration, Shaman, Theorycraft, WoW

Patch 3.3 for Elemental

So it’s official that patch 3.3 is nearly upon us.  A lot of my day has been spent updating various parts of the site to reflect 3.3’s changes, including the Elemental basics guide and Spreadsheet sections.  Some of the other elemental guides have also been updated – you’ll see “Current to patch 3.3” at the top if they have.  Most of those that haven’t been updated yet (with the exception of the set bonuses guide) don’t really need to be, but I’ll be making a pass of all of them anyway.

Let’s take a gander at the most pertinent changes affecting elemental shamans.

Elemental Mastery

This talent now grants spell haste instead of critical strike chance.  I’ve already looked at the change in some depth so there’s not much to add, other than to summarise:

  • It’s a slight PvE buff
  • Try not to use EM and Heroism/Bloodlust at the same time – they work better when used separately
  • For best results, use as often as possible

Fire Nova

Fire Nova Totem is gone, and in its place is a very interesting new spell mechanic called “Fire Nova“.  The Fire Nova spell radiates out from whichever fire totem you’ve got placed, whether it’s Totem of Wrath or Magma Totem or whatever.  Its radius is 10 yards and its cooldown is 10 seconds, but this can be modified to 3 seconds using a talent and a glyph.  As such the Improved Fire Nova talent has been changed and the spell is now affected by Elemental Reach.

I feel a bit ambivalent towards this change.  PvE elemental shamans simply don’t need any extra AoE.  I mean it’s nice to have some extra, but we didn’t need it.  And to get this extra AoE spell that we didn’t need, we’ve sacrificed the AoE stun that the old Improved Fire Nova talent granted.  For PvP shamans this is a disaster: I think elementals are already weak in PvP and removing one of their few control abilities (which wasn’t even that great in the first place) without rebalancing everything else is a bit of a kick in the armpits for them.  For PvE it’s just a bit of a shame, but not many PvE shamans that I know used it anyway.

The good thing is, a totem which was almost never used (because it was inferior to Magma Totem for AoE DPS) has been changed into a spell which will, at least occasionally, be used.  And the even better thing is that the way the spell works is a technical first for the game – the ability for a player to cast a spell directly and on-demand from any totem of the right element is a big step towards potentially exciting new possibilities for shamans and their totems.

Fire Nova DPS

I’ve had a lot of questions about this, so let me clarify some points:

  • Fire Nova’s coefficient is 21.43%.  This is lower than any of our other damage spells. Its average base damage is 945.  This is higher than most of our spells except Chain Lightning and Lava Burst.  Its effective cast time is one normal global cooldown, the same as with shocks and (effectively) Chain Lightning and Lava Burst.
  • Its damage on a single target is lower than any of our other spells, including Frost Shock.
  • Its damage on three targets is on average lower than that of Chain Lightning but on four or more targets it starts to edge higher than CL.
  • Its area of effect radiates out from whichever Fire-school totem we have currently dropped, but we can cast it whether or not the totem is in our “line of sight”.  We do, however, have to be within 30 yards (36 with Elemental Reach) in order to cast it.
  • Update: Fire Nova crits do proc Elemental Oath and Clearcasting, and the spell itself benefits from both the mana reduction and damage increase of an active Clearcasting effect.  Only one Clearcasting charge is consumed no matter how many targets the spell hits.
  • The threat from the spell is applied to the casting shaman, so watch out!

The upshot of all this is that Fire Nova is not worth using on a single target unless everything else is on cooldown or you don’t have time to cast anything else.  When there are a lot of targets (say, Onyxia whelps), it’s very useful.  On 3 or fewer targets it’s less overall DPS than CL or even LB, and so is only really useful if you have to move.

Elemental Totems

Our Fire (and Earth) buddy has had his cooldown cut in half, to 10 minutes (or 5 with the glyph).  This means that we should be able to use him once per serious boss attempt – and if not, the Glyph means we certainly can.

As to whether the glyph‘s worth using, well – I honestly don’t think so, but then I’m biased.  I’m suspicious of the Fire Buddy’s (mine is called Bill) ability to stay with his targets and not die horribly as well as the fragility and range of the totem to which he is anchored.  But his DPS is pretty great if he does stay alive and interested in killing things.

So using the glyph depends on whether it’ll allow you extra use of your Fire Buddy.  If a fight lasts 5 minutes, there’s no point in using the glyph.  If you’re only pulling that new boss you’re wiping on once every 10 minutes or so, there’s no point in using the glyph.  If there are things in the fight which keep killing your totems (that is so irritating) or targetting things like Fire Elementals for Random Abilities of Doom, it’s probably not worth using the glyph.  But if not – well, it’s certainly worth considering.  Best case scenario, the Fire Buddy does about 1.5k DPS on a single target for 2 minutes (or more on multiple targets), working out as 300 DPS over 10 minutes.  Thus if the glyph allows you to use him an extra time, it’s worth 300 extra DPS.

And if like me you’re always dropping Totem of Wrath and see Bill but once in a blue moon, it’s worth nothing!


The slashing of reincarnation’s cooldown from 60 to 30 minutes is a fantastic change, and very welcome to those of us who used to have improved reincarnation back in TBC.  The talent to improve it further is, however, out of our reach without sacrificing plenty of damages – and, well… you shouldn’t really be needing to reincarnate that much.

Tier 9

The four-piece bonus from tier 9 is changing from an additive 20% damage bonus to Lava Burst’s hit, to a DoT that deals an extra 10% of the damage of the entire spell over 6 seconds.  This is a reduction in its delicious succulence of about 45% or 100 DPS or so.  Nobody likes to be nerfed, but seriously any excuse to get out of tier 9 and into tier 10 faster is good in my book.

Tier 10

I’ve already taken a (somewhat depressing) look at tier 10’s set bonuses and not much has changed since, but I should point out that in general terms tier 10 is going to be a solid upgrade for us – especially with the nerfing of the four-piece tier 9 bonus.  We may have to find some extra hit from off-set pieces but this should be something we welcome, as hit on off-set pieces is generally in abundance and gives us another useful stat to pursue.  The set bonuses remain a bit weird and horribly, horribly situational but I guess we can’t have everything.

Assuming the lower ilevels of each tier, the highest-to-lowest hierarchy of DPS value for each combination of set bonus + stats should be something like this:

  1. 4-piece Tier 10
  2. 2-piece Tier 10 plus 2-piece Tier 9
  3. 4-piece Tier 9
  4. 4-piece Tier 8
  5. 2-piece tier 9 plus 2-piece tier 8

Other items

The picture looks pretty bleak so far in terms of raid loot (at least for 10-mans), but we do finally have some emblem and crafted gear which is going to be great for elementals.  So that’s something.  And it’s possible there are more drops to be discovered which will suit us nicely.  Oh, and Quel’delar is going to be quite nice for us too!

Restoration changes

ShieldsUp! has both its own look at those and links to other resto blogs’ features on them, so I won’t bother saying basically the same things all over again.  There’s nothing really dramatic for restoration (which is in a great place since 3.2) except the possibility of taking the Improved Reincarnation talent.


So for elemental shamans, the changes aren’t staggering but we will notice them.  Nothing has been done about the whole Totem of Wrath vs Demonic Pact vs Fire DPS totems thing which we were hoping to see before Cataclysm (though there was a really interesting series of comments on the issue from Ghostcrawler) and which, after itemisation at least, is still probably the main issue on most elemental’s minds.

For restoration shamans, not much to note but I think we’re pretty happy since patch 3.2 anyway.  And tier 10 kicks some serious ass, dudes.  Freakin’ shoveltusks man.

And I’ve not even looked at druid changes yet, sorry Sihmm 😦



9 thoughts on “Patch 3.3 for Elemental

  1. Excuse me for saying, but wouldn’t the Fire Nova spell be a buff to PvP Shamans? I was under the impression that the “Improved Fire Nova” talent (that gave the totem it’s stun ability) were still there, only it applied to the spell. So basically, we could keep Totem of Wrath down at all times, gaining the 280 sp and 3% crit, rather than having it replaced by a nova totem every 15 seconds.

    Posted by sayis | December 8, 2009, 9:48 pm
    • No need to be excused 😉

      The PTR tooltip of the Improved Fire Nova talent no longer says anything about stuns, just “Increases the damage done by your Fire Nova by 20% and reduces the cooldown by 4 sec.”
      The old tooltip was:
      “Increases the damage done by your Fire Nova Totem by 20%, and your Fire Nova totem has a 100% chance to stun all targets damaged by your Fire Nova Totem for 2 sec.”

      At any rate, the PvP elemental community has been raging about it quite vocally, so I assume they’re not happy. What you describe would be pretty great, but (from the PTR at least – I won’t see the patch until tomorrow as I’m in Europe) it seems the stun from Fire Nova is totally gone. At least for now.

      Posted by Charles | December 8, 2009, 10:02 pm
      • Argh… just logged on, and yeah, I definitely misread the patch notes before. No stun from nova, this is going to be a huge hit in PvP.

        Posted by sayis | December 9, 2009, 5:14 am
  2. any comments on whether the changes to “Enchant Weapon – Black Magic” makes it viable as a weapon enchant over the +63 spell power weapon enchant?

    Posted by Hyjinx | December 9, 2009, 2:51 am
    • Agash just posted on this very issue over at EJ. I’ll quote his last paragraph here:

      “the bottom line is that whilst you might get it to show better than +63SP on target dummy, in a raid situation with all buffs and procs taken into consideration, it will have an effect that is diminished in comparison to the theortical whereas the SP enchant won’t. This is likely tip the balance in favour of the SP enchant as a significant proportion of our DPS will not get any benefit from the BM haste buff for significant portions of the fight.”

      Because the DEP values work out very similar (though you can’t really average out a haste proc due to the effect adding a specific and temporary amount of haste has on a spell casting sequence), Black Magic simply isn’t appealing over Spellpower when you factor in the peculiarities and vagaries of a proc vs a static effect.

      Bottom line: SP is probably better in most situations, and once you reach 1100 haste rating (including your relic buff) there’s no competition.

      Posted by Charles | December 9, 2009, 12:08 pm
  3. Just to note, Fire Nova crits do proc Clearcasting, and the spell itself clearly benefits from both the mana reduction and damage increase of an active Clearcasting effect. Also, only a single Clearcasting charge will be used up no matter how many targets the spell hits.

    Posted by Charles | December 11, 2009, 6:30 pm
  4. Hey, I just stumbled across your site (from your sig on EJ I think) and really appreciate the “Elemental Shaman Guides”; answered a ton of my questions!
    I see you’ve updated “Beginners Guide” for 3.3 and am looking forward to updates to the other guides to (relics/tier). I’m a “causal”, I used to raid but no longer have the time, I just started playing an Elly Shammy. I’m currently stock piling the few Triumph and Frost badges I can get each week and am looking to try to work out where best to spend them (should I get t8? Should I get t9? Which relic to choose? Non-set badge gear vs set?)!

    Posted by aliasundercover | December 13, 2009, 5:43 pm
    • Gosh, I totally missed this comment before. Sorry to have not replied until so late.

      It’s difficult when you’re getting so few badges so slowly to know what you should spend them on. Offhand, my recommendation would be to use your triumph emblems first to get the Totem of Electrifying Winds, and then to get four pieces of tier 9 starting with the shoulders or the gloves depending on whether you need hit or not (ignore the legs, they’re pretty awful). You could even craft the Merlin’s Robe for your chest if you have the spare gold and just use two pieces of tier 9 to save on emblems.

      Save up your frost emblems because there are a lot of great pieces of gear available for EoF, including a belt and gloves as well as tier 10 itself, and you’ll have to decide which you want first. The belt (or gloves) would probably be best to start with due to their high ilevels and the fact that there aren’t any other comparable options for those slots.

      Posted by Charles | December 24, 2009, 1:55 am

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