Elemental, Opinion, Shaman, Theorycraft, WoW

4t10 and Flame Shock

Update, Jan 12th: the bonus has been provisionally changed again.  Eyonix announced the following:

The Shaman Tier 10 bonus has been redesigned and will no longer reduces the cooldown of Lava Burst or enables Lava Burst to be guaranteed to critical strike without Flame Shock present. Instead successful Lava Burst casts now increase the duration of Flame Shock on the target by 6 seconds.

Please note this is still a work in progress and we may end up with a different or modified bonus before the patch goes live.

This makes the following post irrelevant and means I need to do some more analysis!  However you can see my preliminary thoughts in this post.

Eyonix announced the planned tweak for elemental 4-piece tier 10 yesterday: the bonus will remain unchanged, except that it’ll also cause Lava Burst to crit regardless of whether Flame Shock is on the target.

The reason for this change is because theorycrafters determined a big problem with the present bonus to be the risk of Flame Shock falling off a target while Lava Burst is casting, a risk which would be caused by latency and similar technical issues rather than player skill.  The solution was awkward and unpopular: to recast Flame Shock early, clipping its DoT, and thus slightly lowering the DPS of the set bonus.

This change fixes that problem.  Everything else about 4t10 remains the same, except that it’s now going to be ridiculously overpowered in a PvP environment.  Because of that, I would be very surprised if it remains as it is!

Should we still use Flame Shock with 4t10?

Absolutely yes.  Without a doubt.  Flame Shock‘s damage-per-cast-time is waaay higher than Lightning Bolt‘s, and in some cases is even higher than Lava Burst‘s!  Even unglyphed, Flame Shock‘s DPCT is higher than LB’s.  And that means we’ll cast it whether we have the glyph or not, which means that the glyph remains better for our DPS than the other choices – which means nothing will change.

In fact, even if Flame Shock is only going to tick on a target 3 times, it’s still worth casting it!  For example, in my gear:

FS hit: 2807 for 1.06 seconds casting

FS DoT: 1455 every 3 seconds, which is 8730 damage over 18s

LB hit (including Overload): 9191 for 1.41 seconds casting

In this example, LB‘s DPCT is 6518 and FS‘s is 10,883!  And if only 3 ticks of Flame Shock actually go off, then it’s still 6766 DPCT which is still higher than LB.

Furthermore, Flame Shock will still be a great spell to cast while moving, except we’ll have more reason to use Frost Shock when Flame Shock is still ticking (only while moving, though) as we will never have to worry about FS expiring mid-LvB cast.

What it will mean, if the change goes live, is that we can open with Lava Burst instead of Flame Shock – if we want to.  Often we won’t because we’ll be moving into position anyway, and as our Tier 10 totem stacks on FS ticks we’ll want to get those ticks started ASAP.

What’s the DPS value of this change?

This doesn’t significantly affect the damage value of the set bonus.  All the previously discussed issues regarding its “fragility” and “situationality” remain.  According to SimulationCraft, at best it’ll still be around a hundred DPS in a stand-n-nuke situation with best-in-slot gear.  I’ll need to change the way I calculate it in the spreadsheet, though!


We won’t see the change implemented until the next minor content patch, so I guess it’s far from final.  Which is just as well because it’s going to be insanely desirable for elemental PvPers.  And remember it was PvP that caused the change to 4t9’s bonus, turning it into a DoT instead of up-front damage.

Now, I read through 10 pages of the thread, and there wasn’t a single positive comment.  Many people simply didn’t understand the reason for the change as they weren’t aware of the FS clipping problem.  Those who did (I particularly recommend reading Ikestorm and Strawberry’s posts, as they’re very smart, reasonable and well-informed folks) tended to express mild satisfaction that the “bug” is being fixed but great dissatisfaction with the poor design of the set bonus in the first place.

My opinion?  It’s good they’re paying attention to what’s being said in the elemental community: this was a needed change.  But the resulting set bonus is still very weak in PvE and has suddenly become insane for PvP.  It doesn’t seem very well thought out, does it?  And the way the change was announced wasn’t very good either: “this is what we’re doing” rather than “what if we did this?”; no openness to discussion or feedback.  I’d be very surprised if it remained as it is.

I thought you had work to do

I am trying, but I couldn’t really ignore this could I 😦  I blame Blizzard for posting changes while I’m trying to work.



22 thoughts on “4t10 and Flame Shock

  1. Dunno why they just didn’t make it so the bonus also makes lava burst refresh flame shock. Solves the same problem and doesn’t make it overpowered for pvp.

    Posted by Ankhimedes | January 10, 2010, 1:47 am
    • That a really good idea. Only having to cast Flame Shock once sounds good to me.

      Gonna be ages before I get tier 10 tho. 😦

      Posted by Rich | January 10, 2010, 12:49 pm
    • Making LvB refresh Flame Shock would lead to a similar situation Blizz have had to deal with recently with Unholy DKs. (As I understand it, it may be wrong): Glyph of Scourge Strike used to have a 25% change to apply diseases on hit, and as such many Unholy DKs suddenly were only using Blood Strike and Unholy Strike. Blizz changed the glyph to extend the duration of diseases by 3 seconds, for a maximum of 9 seconds, so that Unholy DKs would need to use diseases again.

      A similar glyph to this is the starfire glyph, which extends moonfire’s duration by 3 seconds up to a maximum of 9 seconds.

      The reason they have set up these glyphs in this way is to make sure that the playstyle doesn’t get too boring: Personally on my shaman I enjoy having to make split decisions on whether to recast FS or whether I might just be able to squeeze a LvB off before it finishes. I would probably end up bored if my entire rotation consisted of 3111112111112111112.

      So rather than have LvB refresh FS, a better solution would probably be to give it a limited extension of flame shock’s duration, but if you consider that LvB is on a relatively long cd, it would be difficult to justify a small extension because it would be difficult to feel the difference, and it would be probably overpowered to extend it by a long duration.

      Posted by Tran | January 10, 2010, 5:08 pm
      • Easy solution here is to have LvB extend FS’s duration by the amount needed to make it match a 6.5 second LvB rotation, thus avoiding any dot-clipping issues and also PvP imbalance.

        Posted by masanbol | January 10, 2010, 7:32 pm
      • I think, from the devs’ point of view, that the trouble with suggestions like those is that it would essentially constitute reusing the 2t9 set bonus but with a slightly different label. Cue complaints that 2t9 is better than 4t10, omg they have to reuse old bonuses, etc.

        I like the idea of making Lava Burst instant cast – it’d reduce the effective cooldown by LvB’s cast time and increase its frequency by roughly the same amount as the present bonus does, as well as eliminate the problem of FS’s DoT falling off mid-cast. And it’d seriously improve our options in movement fights.

        But I suppose that’d also be OP for PvP. Freakin’ lava burst 😦

        Posted by Charles | January 11, 2010, 3:06 pm
      • Yeah, from a Game Design point of view (so that module IS useful, yay!), generally what I think Blizz are going for are Convexities.

        What these are are short term choices for the long term goal: So for our purposes the choices are to clip FS or wait before refreshing and letting LvB sit off cooldown for a second, and the goal is to maximise dps.

        Now, if you simply have LvB extend FS’s duration to bring it in line with a set rotation, you suddenly take out the choice, and you’ll always have the perfect chance to refresh FS (In an ideal situation). While this is going to happen to an extent with the change that Blizz has implemented, they still manage to keep FS in the mix due to its value as the highest DPSC spell, so still have some choice to decide whether to prioritise LvB or FS, thus maintaining the convexity.

        On such a specific level its not a great way of explaining it, but I gave it my best shot 😦

        Posted by Tran | January 11, 2010, 5:20 pm
  2. Saw this change posted on MMO-Champion this morning, and I was like “Huh”. My knee-jerk reaction is that it would reward bad play, ie “LvB fell off…OH NOEZ…O WAIT NVM 4PC T10 LOLOL”. That, combined with PVP implications, has me thinking that this bonus will change yet again.

    T8 was spot on in terms of damage bonus and implementation: The bonuses affected spells that weren’t staples of PVP, and (in a similar vein) weren’t “bursty” damage.

    I’m also anticipating T10 4 piece take 3 in the near future. 😛

    Posted by Kazgrel | January 11, 2010, 8:38 pm
  3. Glad to know I’m not the only one browsing the forums and theorycrafting while I should be working. I can’t use the holiday break as an excuse anymore for my dip in productivity. What shall I do?

    I noticed the responses as well that people who didn’t understand were like OH NOES RELIC IS USELESS NOW THAT WE DON’T NEED FLAME SHOCK!

    What I do agree with from many comments however is that for our final set in this xpac we have not received a very significant bonus to our dps to help us catch up with other classes. My guild currently takes me to raids for my utility and we only run 2-3 shamans ever in our raid (1 of each type). The viability of our class depends on our totems and our caster/melee buff. Seeing a significant boost to our damage from our t10 sets would’ve been a nice gesture from the dev team to the viability of our class. I was hoping that the dev team would’ve taken the clipped rotation issue with the four piece bonus more seriously and rethought the issue rather than do a temporary fix that will probably change when people cry about the effects of this in arenas.

    But hey don’t get me wrong, I like being one of 2 members of the raid with mail caster auto-loot (the other being a resto shaman), however many of the current items with higher DEP are cloth so there goes that.


    Posted by Snowface | January 12, 2010, 4:57 pm
  4. Just wanted to note that the bonus has been changed again (provisionally). I won’t blog on this just yet but in the meanwhile the article above now links to my post on the topic at EJ (which could be totally and utterly wrong, but such is the nature of provisional “first-impressions” analysis).

    Posted by Charles | January 12, 2010, 8:58 pm
  5. Question,
    I understand teh value of keeping flameshock ticking. But is it not more worthwhile to have the glyph of lava over glyph of flameshock. Seems like it could be close… I mean going with glyph of ToW, Lightning Bolt, and Lava. This way you still get the not crit damage from flameshock and the intitial hit, but your Lavaburst which is your main priority gets the bonus.


    Posted by Gubjub | January 20, 2010, 5:10 pm
    • You ask a very good question! But in this case the numbers – both from sims and from combat log data – very conclusively and unambiguously put Glyph of Flame Shock waaaay ahead of Glyph of Lava: Flame Shock is ticking on at least one target nearly all the time no matter what, whereas at absolute most you’re casting LvB once per nine seconds (and in practice less). The only glyph worth considering swapping out is Glyph of ToW, and even then Glyph of Lava is probably behind it in most circumstances.

      Posted by Charles | January 20, 2010, 5:53 pm
      • Okay, i’ll buy that… (I’ll probably beat up a target dummy just to see the numbers myself) but does that remain true when lavaburst is cast every 7 seconds when you have the t10 4 set?

        Posted by Gubjub | January 20, 2010, 6:43 pm
  6. How do you figure LvB will be cast every 7 seconds? The T10 4-piece has been changed to increasing the duration of Flame Shock by 6 seconds – it no longer reduces the cooldown.

    You’ll still be casting LvB every 8 seconds, and you’ll be casting Flame Shock less (letting its DoT tick for longer), so the 4-piece will increase the number of LBs/CLs/LvBs you do before refreshing FS again, but it doesn’t increase the frequency of casting LvB.

    Posted by Shkarn | January 20, 2010, 7:19 pm
  7. Thanks! I read it wrong adn thought it was reversed… In my head it was the laburst cooldown thing remaining as the final tweak… so… anyhow, that blows for pve I think. Hardly an upgrade at all, as we’ll be keeping Flameshock up anyway, you only gain the freedom to cast shock later instead of recasting early to guarantee lavaburst autocrit

    Pardon me for saying so, but I call bullshit!

    Posted by Gubjub | January 20, 2010, 7:46 pm
    • It’ll actually be a significant buff when movement is at a minimum. Casting a LB instead of a FS is a significantly big damage gain, which is what you’ll be able to do. It may not seem like much initially, but think of how frequently you currently cast FS. Sure, you still keep the buff up, but the direct damage portion of FS pales in comparison to the damage a LB does.

      Posted by Shkarn | January 20, 2010, 8:45 pm
  8. I’m concerned. Will that cause a flameshock tick that is about to go off, to not happen when the 6 seconds get added? Or will the total time be added too and the current ticks be unneffected?

    Not sure if this is clear or not

    Posted by Gubjub | January 20, 2010, 9:35 pm
    • The assumption is that it’ll get treated the way Corruption and SW:P can get rolled, except not indefinitely. Essentially the current ticks are unaffected – it just adds to the time and doesn’t reset the timer.

      Posted by Shkarn | January 20, 2010, 10:17 pm
  9. I recently came across how other classes handle rolling dots.

    From what I can tell, they are popping the Nevermelting Ice Crystal just before the pull and swapping to their normal trinkets in order to maintain the buff and keep that boosted intial dot going as long as possible.

    With our potential upcoming 4pc T10 change, what are your thoughts on this? Would you recommend we farm the trinket for the increased crit chance (20%? Don’t quote me.) on our flame shock dot, or should we get something like the Talisman of Resurgence for the additional 599sp?

    Given my current gear, the following scenarios open up:
    Option 1 – Nevermelting Ice Crystal
    3,776sp with ~50% crit
    Option 2- Talisman of Resurgence
    4,375sp with ~30% crit

    Would you have any other suggestions? Would this make the Glyph of Totem of Wrath even more desirable?

    Posted by Maker | January 26, 2010, 5:43 pm
    • As Flame Shock’s DoT constitutes such a small portion of our DPS (~7%), I’d be very surprised if it was worth it. We’d probably sacrifice at least 2-300 DPS from not using a superior trinket like Eye or Reign and the benefit to Flame Shock would only be … unngh, now you’ve made me want to test it.

      OK, 20% extra crit on FS’s DoT iiisss… about 60 extra DPS. Which, incidentally, is the same sort of DPS boost you gain from using an on-use trinket like Talisman as you cast Flame Shock (and isn’t quite so subject to the whims of RNG). So no, I don’t think it’s worth it!

      However, having said that: Talisman of Resurgence is actually a rather worse trinket for us than Nevermelting Ice Crystal, so if you’re using Nevermelting anyway you may as well try to superpower a Flame Shock cast with it.

      Posted by Charles | January 27, 2010, 1:25 am
      • Thank you. I wound up doing some quick napkin math after I had posted and suspected you’d give me a similar answer.

        While the trinket is rubbish overall, many locks and spriests have been popping the use pre-pull and swapping back to their trinkets of choice so that the dot can maintain the inflated crit rating even though their personal crit is gone after a few casts.

        While we won’t be able to keep flame shock going indefinitely, it will be a good boost for the few fights where we can keep it going as long as possible.

        Posted by Maker | January 27, 2010, 1:13 pm


  1. Pingback: Elemental 3.3.2: Tier 10, Shamanism and Bizuri’s « Planet of the Hats - January 28, 2010

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