Elemental, Meta, Shaman, WoW

Elemental 3.3 recap

Have you ever noticed how whenever life gets busier it gets a lot busier all at once?  I am noticing this right now.  I should be back to a more regular (and more interesting) posting schedule by the end of next week, but for now how about some… RERUNS!!

I blogged a fair bit about changes to elemental that were coming in 3.3 both before and after the patch was released, and I also tried to address some of the questions that folk were asking me about things like haste caps, set bonuses and whatnot.  In fact many of the topics I blogged on are still the subject of questions which I’m being asked on a regular basis, so this is my attempt to put old (but still relevant) information back on the front page (as well as to go another week without posting anything actually new).

Articles are listed by the date in which they appeared.  Be sure to read the descriptions before reading the posts themselves, as they highlight any major changes that have occurred since the posts were made.

PTR: Elemental Tier 10 Set Bonuses

My first look at the tier 10 set bonuses as they were on the Public Test Realms at the time.  A lot has since changed: EM now grants haste instead of crit and the 4t10 effect is back on the drawing board.  Much of the analysis in this post is still relevant, but thankfully the stuff about “using 4t10 in a rotation” can be safely ignored!

First impressions on the new EM

Theorycrafting the change from Elemental Mastery’s crit bonus being changed to haste.  It works out as a small DPS increase, but mostly serves to change the way we think about EM use: use as early and often as possible, and don’t save it for Heroism/Bloodlust.

Patch 3.3 for Elemental

On 3.3’s release day I looked at the various changes elemental shamans were expecting and how they would affect us.  This also lists the hierarchy of stats+setbonuses that will (in theory) give higher DPS, which was an attempt to answer the various “should I get 2t10 or stick with 4t9?” type questions.

Updates & Questions

Unfortunately I decided to answer a lot of questions I was being frequently asked in one post, which I then didn’t link to anywhere else.  So the following week I was again being asked all the same questions 🙂  The post attempts to answer some questions about Fire Nova use, frost emblems, the various tier set bonus changes and whether or not there is a “haste cap” for elemental shamans.  Although the tier 10 4-piece bonus has since changed, it’s still provisional and hence the advice in the post still stands.

2009: Tidal Waves and Lightning

My retrospective of the previous year as both an elemental and a resto shaman.

4t10 and Flame Shock

This was my quick look at the first change they announced to the 4-piece tier 10 bonus.  There’s not much to be said about the second change except that it’s basically the 2t9 bonus rehashed.  I will post about it properly if it looks like it’ll go live, but until then I’m going to be very lazy and link to forum posts I made on the subject.  The most recent one is here.

Carl Sagan and an autotuner

I was going to use this video as the (witty?) header for a new year’s post, but it never seemed quite appropriate.  But now I figure, hey, this seems as good a time as any to watch Carl Sagan sing 😀

Remember folks, if you wish to make a set bonus from scratch, you must first… invent the Universe!



26 thoughts on “Elemental 3.3 recap

  1. My main spec is always going to be resto, but I’m having a really hard time settling for a second spec.

    Elemental seems to be the logical choice. I can use a lot of resto gear for elemental. It often makes sense to have another ranged in 25 man raiding rather than have another melee run around in the fire®. But there’s downsides as well: I think the elemental rotation is fun, but somewhat monotonous. Also: I’m having a really hard time pulling of decent DPS. It’s really really easy to do ok-ish damage. But I find it incredibly hard to shine as elemental.

    Enhancement has hands down the best and most fun rotation I’ve played in a long time. I also do pretty acceptable damage, even if my gear isn’t as good as my elemental set. But often an additional melee isn’t what a raid leader want. And switching flasks all the time is somewhat annoying. And of course its a lot harder for me to get really good enhancement gear, because of course all melee will get the loot first.

    Well I don’t complain to much though. I have three pretty good sets and I like to play them all. It’s also a main reason why I never considered rerolling. Your posts sure help me to keep up with the elemental side of things.

    Posted by drug | January 14, 2010, 3:53 pm
    • I’d love to give enhancement a try, but I hate respeccing and know that I won’t do anywhere near as much DPS as enhancement with my cobbled-together gear. And I still have the same subconscious mentality that melee = bad. And I really do love resto and elemental nearly as much as each other, so to try enhancement I’d have to give one of those up. Combined with the effort it’d take to learn the new playstyle and the UI changes I’d have to make, enhancement is left as a backburner idea for a future alt rather than a genuine consideration for an offspec.

      I had a similar dilemma on my druid, for a while – I wanted to play bear/tree but the logical spec combination was bear/cat. Eventually I gave in and tried feral DPS again and I actually ended up really enjoying it, and I realised I enjoyed healing on my resto shaman way more than on my tree anyway.

      The irony is that although in theory the feral “rotation” is way harder than the elemental one, I find it easier to do excellent DPS on my feral druid than on my elemental shaman. The former is hard to master but very forgiving if you have suboptimal gear and are still learning; the latter is seemingly easy to get the hang of but turns out to be incredibly unforgiving of even the slightest mistake or awkward encounter mechanic. There are also a lot of weird, sometimes counter-intuitive little ins and outs with elemental which just make it a lot more work than it should be… eh, but now I’m rambling.

      Posted by Charles | January 15, 2010, 5:16 pm
  2. If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe … Mr. Anderson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlpyGhABXRA

    Posted by Sinespe | January 14, 2010, 7:30 pm
  3. Hey there – I have followed your posts on various blogs and Elitist Jerks and you seem to know what you’re talking about, without getting too bogged down in number crunching and things of that nature. Though when you do, I just smile and glean what I can from it – lol.

    I’m having an issue with what trinkets to use. I am a re-roll of sorts and I do have access to 25 man raids, but there are a slew of people who are in line for Reign of the Dead and I haven’t had much luck with rolls so far.

    I do have the Spyglass and I’m not sure what my other trinket should be. My options so far are the Illustration, the Abyssal Rune, the Sundial, Darkmoon Card: Illusion and that’s all I have so far. I am using the Rune and the Spyglass right now and I’m between 5-6k on boss fights, fully raid buffed. Not too great, but not too shabby, either.

    Any suggestions for the second trinket? Thanks!

    Posted by Ushapti | January 15, 2010, 12:05 pm
  4. The trinket question is a bit interesting because the mathematical value of Abyssal Rune will jump between slightly weaker than Illustration if you use 60 seconds as it’s “internal cooldown” to factor in proc time after the 45 second “real” internal cooldown, to slightly stronger than Illustration if you use 50 seconds instead. They’re both roughly the same, but there are two other factors to consider.

    1) Abyssal Rune has static haste and a spellpower proc, but you cannot control the proc, and bad RNG would alter its overall value.
    2) Illustration has a ramp-up time and while you can keep it fully stacked by re-dropping Healing Stream if you need to move for an extended period of time, if it drops off, it will need to ramp up again.

    I’ve personally been going back and forth between Illustration, Abyssal Rune, and Eye of the Broodmother for a while now and I just can’t decide which I like better in practice. Mathematically, Illustration probably comes out on top most consistently but the difference between them overall is fairly small. So as long as you’re using either Illustration or Abyssal Rune, you couldn’t go wrong.

    Posted by Shkarn | January 15, 2010, 5:07 pm
    • I think in future I’m going to wait and let you answer all the question-comments I get, Shkarn 🙂 That’s a great analysis of the relative value of each trinket.

      Personally I prefer Eye of the Broodmother even though on paper (and in my own spreadsheet) it’s probably the weakest, because of the combination of always-on and nearly-always-on stats with short ramp-up time. And if I had an Illustration I’d definitely choose it over Abyssal Rune.

      Posted by Charles | January 15, 2010, 5:19 pm
      • Sorry…work is slow the past couple of days! >.>

        Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts between Eye of the Broodmother and Illustration? I remember you mentioning your preference for Eye in an EJ thread, but would you still prefer it if you had an Illustration? The benefit I could see is that it has a shorter ramp-up time, so you’d have it at the maximum stack for longer, but on the other hand, it’s significantly less spell power for more crit, which isn’t the ideal trade-off.

        Posted by Shkarn | January 15, 2010, 5:28 pm
      • Oh, I wasn’t being sarcastic – it’s great to read a good answer that isn’t my own.

        Concerning Eye vs Illustration, it’d be a hard choice if I ever had to make it. I like having Eye instead of Illustration, because of my general preference for the “robustness” of short ramp-ups and static bonuses. And also because currently my second trinket is a “chance on…” proc that can be triggered by the same things that keep Eye etc stacked. So if I do anything merely to stack or keep stacked the buff, I risk setting off that proc at an inopportune time.

        But if I ever actually got Illustration (I won’t), then the clear superiority of 75 SP vs 87 crit would probably force me to switch. And I’m sure I’d learn to manage it.

        Posted by Charles | January 16, 2010, 4:53 pm
  5. Haha, sounds good – just let me know if I step on your toes in your own blog! 🙂

    So my guild got Putricide 10 for the first time today, and for the kill I ended up switching to Abyssal Rune. Having the additional passive haste was great for the adds, and not having to deal with losing trinket stacks during the excruciatingly long stuns throughout the fight was quite nice. The raider in me loves having different trinkets for different situations, but the min-maxer in me hates not having one clear cut winner in all cases!

    And of course the Spyglass didn’t drop this week (4th week in a row of bad luck), so I’m stuck with multiple trinkets for yet another week (unless I get lucky on Rotface 25). >.<

    Posted by Shkarn | January 17, 2010, 2:09 am
    • I’m a big fan of eye of the brood mother style (ramp up trinkets) I feel they really reflect our nonstop casting nature as elemental shamans. At the moment I use one along with scale of the fates for some of that push to use goodness. Using healing stream stomps to push it to its stack cap before pulling essentially causes it to be an always on trinket with usually slightly more oomph than normal static spell power or haste ones.

      I wanted to post something for your consideration, Currently gearing in ICC is less than optimal for elemental as a spec , reading through the vast dirge that is player forums and comments backs me up on this claim , our main issue is “mp5” on mail and spirit on cloth making them both under budget , with the state of our scaling as it is we currently we need neither of these stats on any gear we want , as a result wouldn’t a very simple way to fix our gearing woes and lacklustre scaling in the end game be to have some form of conversion system for this mp5. For example something along the lines of your nature spells damage is modified by your mp5, making the stat not particularly desirable to stack but no-longer useless.
      Any thoughts?

      Obviously this issue corrects itself in cataclysm with the stat combination system and reforging but surely a change to a low tier elemental talent could really make a difference.

      Posted by elye | January 17, 2010, 4:55 pm
  6. Hi,
    first of all my compliments for your blog: enjoyable at reading and useful! Thanks for sharing.
    Then i have a question about hit gear and t10, and please notice i’m well aware it’s one of those questions you can hardly get an exhaustive answer. But it’d be great to hear your impressions or an advice. So i give it a go.
    During t9 and even t8 content’s time i never had a doubt on where or how to collect the hit rate needed to reach the cap, with or without shadopriest/moonkin in raid.
    Lately i’m very puzzled about how to gear up and stay hit-capped. Just an example: upgrading the chest from t9 to t10 (25m content) represent a dramatic hit drop, and considered that i wanted to go for the 2xt10 (chest and helm, probably shoulders) + non set legs and gloves, at least for now, i really don’t know how to compensate without going through massive re-gemming.
    Just to patch up the situation i’ve taken the Shard of the Crystal Heart but it feels really as big waste for a trinket slot.
    What you think? Or am i seeing it all wrong?

    Posted by Jalal | January 20, 2010, 12:37 pm
    • I think we will all face similar dilemmas going from hit-saturated tier 8 & 9 content to early tier 10. At best-in-slot level, tier 10 gear has just enough hit that we can actually reduce the number of gear slots we get hit from – but until then it’s just going to have to be a puzzle, I’m afraid.

      As for me, I’m getting my hit from only four slots at present:

      • The Ashen Verdict ring
      • Tier 10 (previously 9) legs
      • Tier 9 gloves (which I’ll replace with Sister’s Handshrouds when I get 4t10)
      • Trinket (Dying Curse)

      …but that’s as a draenei with misery. In my non-misery gear set, I’m afraid I’ve also had to resort to using Shard of the Crystal Heart temporarily, along with my old Sash of Ancient Power belt from Ulduar. While it’s not as elegant as I’d like, it’s the best combination of hit gear I have access to right now and I know it’s only a temporary solution.

      I’ve always had a hit trinket, btw, but that should change if I ever reach BiS level.

      Posted by Charles | January 21, 2010, 1:37 pm
  7. Hey there – figured I would add another post with some updated findings and questions for you (or whoever else was nice enough to reply last time)

    So I made a few changes and found I had better DPS when using the Abyssal Rune and I was having horrible luck getting a MH, to go with my Bastion of Resolve. But then Nibelung dropped and it’s better than the combo I already have. I was using the Surgeon’s Needle – I rest my case.

    The problem I’m having is that I can’t seem to let go of my 4 piece T9 bonus. I have tried swapping out other pieces and I’m not seeing the same results. From the target dummy to the instance, it’s the same story. It’s just not comparable. I’m really worried that the buildup to a questionable 4 piece bonus is going to cause a glaring effect on my DPS.

    Maybe it’s my rotation. I have been doing the FS, LB and then filling with Lightning Bolts and if there is a brief lag between LB cooldown, I throw in a CL. I tried doing the CL on every cooldown and it didn’t feel right and didn’t show results, when I tried it. Is this way the way to go?

    I’m also fortunate enough to have a Demo warlock on my runs, so I can drop Searing Totem or Magma Totem (but sadly, they won’t attack a training dummy and that may have affected my Recount from practicing).

    Bottom line, I have the gear and an extremely supportive raid group and officer core and I wanna do right by all of them. I’m not a new player and am pretty bright. I see all of the pieces of the puzzle, but they’re not connecting somehow.

    Any advice?

    Posted by Ushapti | January 21, 2010, 5:48 am
    • 4 piece T9 will actually carry you until you get the 2-piece T10, so don’t be surprised about not swapping that out yet. I ended up swapping mine a bit earlier because I had a few options, but it was only to make getting my second piece of T10 more convenient (I ended up losing a bit of dps to make the swap before getting the 2-piece).

      I’ve been helping a few guildies with their dps lately, and the biggest thing I’ve noticed is that they’re just not spamming their buttons fast enough, which could very well be the case for you, too. The other week, I noticed I was a bit slow with casting Flame Shock and the followup Lava Burst, so being able to tighten that up gave me a significant dps increase. Depending on how your action bars are set up, you might be a bit slow on the key presses with your pinky and ring fingers.

      As for target dummies, I’m not sure how accurate this would be now, but it should give you an estimate on the Searing Totem increase – Dr. Boom in Netherstorm. He used to be the go-to guy for dps testing since he had an extraordinarily large health pool and didn’t move to you.

      You could also give Glyph of ToW a shot and see if that gives you a slight boost over Glyph of Lava!

      Posted by Shkarn | January 21, 2010, 8:12 am
      • See, I was using Glyph of ToW and I noticed more of a DPS increase when I went to ToL – but when I get the 2 piece T10 bonus, I may swap back.

        I should give Dr. Boom a whirl, I remember those tests quite well – lol.

        Do you also recommend still using the Fire Elemental towards the end of the fight or sometime sooner/towards the middle? I have been getting better at doing that, too.

        Thanks for everything. 🙂

        Posted by Ushapti | January 21, 2010, 6:29 pm
  8. Since you have the option to, I’d drop the Fire Elemental right before the Bloodlust – get him bigger and red and wailing on things!

    As for glyphing, it’s still one of those strange things – I’ve been playing around with the Glyph of Elemental Mastery lately (since I got 2 T10), and I’ve seen some pretty encouraging results. In its current incarnation, ZAP! rates it extremely low except for when 2 T10 is enabled – after that, both the DEP of ZAP! and the DEP of the 2-piece shoot up and put it within about 15-30 dps of the other options.

    However, ZAP! in its current incarnation handles each glyph independent of the others (except for ToW and Flametongue). From a programming standpoint, that makes sense due to simplicity and avoiding cyclical code, but from a logical standpoint it doesn’t. Essentially, when you use Glyph of EM, the value of Glyph of Lightning Bolt should increase due to having a higher uptime on a significant haste gain.

    With both 2 T10 and Glyph of EM, I can use EM roughly every 75 seconds (and when under bloodlust, I can lust right after EM runs out and then use EM immediately after lust wears off).

    I’ve seen some pretty encouraging results with that combination, but I haven’t been able to get any solid testing time in yet. As for trinkets, I’ve also found better results with Abyssal Rune than IotDS lately. I picked up an addon to track internal cooldowns, and estimated that the Rune procs every 50 seconds on average (within 5 seconds of the icd).

    The glyph thing is probably something you’ll have to play around with yourself, though. The difference would be relatively small, though, in comparison to making sure your rotation is extremely tight and there aren’t any delays with some spells 🙂

    Posted by Shkarn | January 21, 2010, 7:01 pm
    • What rotation are you going for? I do Flame Shock, Lava Burst and then LB until Lava Burst comes up – but sometimes I do a CL to make it a smooth transition, so that I’m not doing anything for that awkward second or two. Does that sound about right?

      I’m also fortunate enough to have a Demo warlock in the raid, so I drop Searing Totem and it acts like another imp of sorts and I definitely drop Magma if I’m going to be really close to the boss, without a lot of movement. Does that sound about right?

      How do you feel about Fire Nova, too?

      Posted by Ushapti | January 21, 2010, 7:13 pm
      • I mostly stick with FS -> LvB -> LB spam, and I use an addon called EventHorizon that helps me keep it nice and tight. I’ll occasionally use CL, but at my haste level, it’s below the GCD, so I try to avoid it. If I use it, it’s just to cover that gap that appears if I need to move and LB gets out of synch with LvB. I think the standard recommendation for CL is to use it once on the cycles where you DON’T need to refresh Flame Shock.

        As for fire totems, I’d say stick with Searing. Magma may give more damage for the totem, but I’d assume you lose too much by needing to re-drop it at the rate you’d have to, not to mention the increased mana cost.

        I wouldn’t recommend Fire Nova against a single target, either. In an aoe situation, definitely, but not against just one.

        Posted by Shkarn | January 21, 2010, 7:51 pm
    • Although ZAP! doesn’t change the DEP value of glyphs when you enable Glyph of EM, it *does* change the final DPS output of the spreadsheet. Remember that DEP is just a guideline, a “good guess” of something’s value – you won’t know its true effect until you actually enable it and compare the final DPS figures. The final output doesn’t just add together individual DEP values, it actually calculates the whole package as a package.

      I really hope to add fire totems, AoE and better movement modelling to the next release of ZAP!, but I can’t promise anything just yet.

      (By the way, using an early draft of the new rotation modeller I’m seeing a 3 DPS difference between GoToW and GoEM at BiS level with the present 4t10 bonus. The difference is in favour of ToW, though.)

      Posted by Charles | January 21, 2010, 8:09 pm
      • Oh, thanks for clarifying that! It looks like I misunderstood how the DEP values and the actual final DPS values tied together on the calculation side.

        So while it does seem like ToW will still win out in the long run, at high end gear levels, Glyph of EM does become competitive/viable even if it’s still not absolute best!

        I’d be curious to see the difference between the three glyphs (ToW, EM, Lava) at various gear levels using the draft of the new rotation modeler!

        Posted by Shkarn | January 21, 2010, 8:17 pm
      • The very narrow difference means that in practice either could work depending on the situation. Hopefully some of the improvements I’m adding will make it possible to test those different situations in the spreadsheet itself. At present GoLvB is 30 DEP behind GoToW at BiS 4t10 level.

        (I did get your PM btw, just haven’t had a chance to think about WoW stuff this week yet.)

        Posted by Charles | January 21, 2010, 8:23 pm
  9. “I think the standard recommendation for CL is to use it once on the cycles where you DON’T need to refresh Flame Shock…”

    So with that said, are you suggesting I do Flame Shock, Lava Burst and then LB spam until Lava Burst comes up again? Then on the next go round, maybe do CL after the Lava Burst, since I don’t have to refresh the Flame Strike?

    [Charles sez: I edited this comment to include your correction and deleted the old one!]

    Posted by Ushapti | January 21, 2010, 8:23 pm
    • For the most part, yeah. If you know you’ll need to refresh FS, then don’t use CL that turn since CL + FS in the same part of the cycle would delay LvB a bit. One thing you could do if mana is an issue, too, is LvB -> LB -> CL just to make sure the CL stays under the Clearcast mana reduction.

      I think the biggest thing you can do for the rotation, though, is find something that’s comfortable. If you’re flinging fingers around this way and that way to get the ideal rotation, you may end up with some very awkward finger movements that end up delaying you a little bit. The moment I was able to recognize that I was having some delay when I switch from pinky to ring and ring to index finger (I have my keybinds set so I have FS on 1, LvB on 2, and LB on 4, where I rest my pinky on 1 and index of 4), I was able to adjust how my hand was resting and speed up the button pressing of 1 and 2. By doing that and finding something a bit less awkward, I was able to get out a couple hundred extra dps. Awkward movements are slow, and slow movements lead to lower dps. Comfortable movements are fast, which in turn leads to dps increases (at least it did for me) 🙂

      (No worries, Charles. I assumed real life kinda…well…happened!)

      Posted by Shkarn | January 21, 2010, 8:35 pm
  10. Just an update on some tweaks I made and what I learned last night!

    I peaked the evening at 5800 DPS and ended overall at 5300 – which was a huge improvement from the late 4000s I ended with the night before. This was mostly spent on Rotface attempts and trash and a few attempts on Blood Princes.

    Here is what I learned: Searing Totem did more for me than Magma Totem, even while being stacked on Rotface. I popped EM on every cooldown and didn’t miss a beat with that. I also used the Fire Ele during Bloodlust and am thinking of changing my boot enchant to greater run speed – since I heard that means less time spent moving and more time casting.

    The DoT from the 4pc T9 was a huge chunk of my damage that is going to be sorely missed and my Val’kyr from Nibelung did about 3% of my overall boss damage (not so much on trash).

    So overall, a good night. My GM noticed the change and told me to keep it up. Let’s hope I can break 6k in the near future!

    Posted by Ushapti | January 22, 2010, 4:57 pm
  11. Oh! Also, CL wasn’t so hot. I did much better DPS when it was just the LB spam in between the Lava Burst and Flame Shocks. Maybe it’s because it was a single target boss. I just remember it being really noticeable, when I took it out of the rotation.

    What is the “expected” DPS for us right now? My officers seemed pleased with my performance and my friends had to remind me that for the class/spec that I am, I did quite well. I was still towards the bottom, of course.

    Obviously, I’m still a work in progress, but how are other ele shammies in ICC doing, DPS wise?

    Posted by Ushapti | January 22, 2010, 5:45 pm

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