In patch 3.3.3, so sayeth the PTR patch notes, we can look forward to some changes regarding our core Flame Shock spell. Just to recap what those changes are (I’m sure everyone reading is already well familiar with them but hey! bullet points!!):
- Flame Shock’s periodic damage (its “damage over time” component) will now be able to be critical strikes innately (replacing the present function of the Glyph of Flame Shock – essentially we get a “free” glyph slot, just as in patch 3.2.2)
- Flame Shock’s periodic damage will also be affected by the player’s haste
- The Glyph of Flame Shock will change to provide an extra 60% bonus to periodic critical damage
- 2-piece tier 8 will change to increase damage done by Flame Shock ticks by 20%
- 2-piece tier 9 and 4-piece tier 10 will also change to accommodate the new Flame Shock mechanics.
Flame Shock is sort of the key to our whole rotation, so these changes are going to have a pretty big effect. My aim here is to evaluate exactly what the effect will be. Specifically:
How it all works: how haste actually affects the Flame Shock DoT, and how to work it out.
Verdict on the Glyph: Is the new Glyph any good? What does it mean for our 3.3.3 glyph choices?
Set bonus changes: yes, this would be about them set bonus changes then. More specifically, how the changes to tier 9 and 10 will impact the mechanics and DPS values of those sets.
Rotation effect: closing thoughts on how our Flame Shock use will change and what the considerations will be.
How it all works
Nothing complicated here, haste affects Flame Shock’s periodic damage pretty much exactly how you’d expect – it increases the number of ticks that will take place in any given period of time. You still get the same number of DoT ticks per cast, but now they happen faster, leading to a shorter Flame Shock duration.
Also, the haste value used for Flame Shock ticks is set in stone the moment you cast Flame Shock – if your haste value changes afterwards Flame Shock’s DoT will keep using the haste value you had when you cast the spell. This is true even when the DoT is “refreshed” by 4-piece tier 10 (more on that later).
So the formula for time between ticks is:
3 seconds (base tick time, like base cast time for a normal spell) divided by total haste value
Remembering the other key factors for calculating haste:
- We start off at 100% spellcasting speed
- Haste rating is all lumped into one big … lump and then converted to a percentage
- All other %age effects like Wrath of Air, Bloodlust etc. are then applied as separate multipliers
Then if I have 1000 haste rating, Wrath of Air Totem and a Moonkin present, my Flame Shock ticks would look like this:
3 [number of seconds for base tick time] / ( 1 [100% base value, remember!]+ 1000 [total haste rating] / 32.79 [haste rating > percentage conversion rate] / 100 [converting it to a decimal] ) * ( 1 + 0.05 [decimal haste from Wrath of Air] ) * ( 1 + 0.03 [decimal haste from Imp. Moonkin Form] ) = 2.13 seconds
Yeah so that probably looks more complicated than it is. It’s really just base tick time divided by total haste. Most of the sum above is concerned with working out total haste, which in this case is 41%. So it’d be 3 / 1.41. Simple!
Number of ticks
Flame Shock’s total duration is best defined now as number of ticks rather than as a total time. The total time is easy enough to work out – it’d just be e.g. 18 seconds / total haste, just like the tick time calculation – but because we have two set bonuses that affect the number of ticks rather than the total time, it’s better to think of the duration this way:
Number of ticks times by time between each tick
For our example above, that’d be 6 * 2.13 = 12.75 seconds. (Yeah, that looks odd, but I didn’t round the tick timer in the maths. Bear in mind when I do maths stuff I’m just sitting with an open spreadsheet typing the sums into blank cells and having it mindlessly spew forth hyper accurate results that require no work 😀 )
So instead of thinking of Flame Shock as having a base duration of 18 seconds, think of it as having a base duration of 6 ticks.
(The flame is a SHOCK, get it?)
Verdict on the Glyph
The present Flame Shock glyph makes Flame Shock’s DoT able to crit, but in 3.3.3 this function will be “baked in” to the base spell and the current form of the glyph would be pointless. So instead it’s being changed to an extra 60% damage on Flame Shock’s periodic tick crits.
This slots into the crit damage formula as follows:
( base modifier * chaotic skyflare bonus ) * ( elemental fury + new glyph )
This results in a total crit damage figure of 209% pre-glyph (as it is now) or 241.7% with the new glyph.
Not really, sorry 😦 Even with the ticks occurring faster than ever, the table of glyph dominance by DPS value looks like this (values courtesy of ZAP! v1.2.5):
- Glyph of Lightning Bolt: 260 DPS
- Glyph of Totem of Wrath: 170 DPS
- Glyph of Flametongue Weapon / Glyph of Lava: 120 DPS
- Glyph of Flame Shock: 80 DPS
Yes, you read that right – Glyph of Flametongue Weapon is looking like it might make a comeback! At any rate, Glyph of Flame Shock is wallowing at a rather mournful fifth place in the league table, well out of contention for one of those coveted three glyph slots.
Update: it does seem that at very high – that is, best in slot – gear levels, Glyph of Flame Shock may close the gap a little. See this post for more information.
Set bonus changes
2-piece tier 8: Well it’ll no longer give us a free glyph slot, but is anyone still using this what with triumph emblems flowing so freely and all? DPS value of the change is… pretty low, assuming it works how I think (I’ve not tested it). Probably in the region of 80 DPS at ilevel 232 gear levels. Which is not bad, really, as it’s 80 free extra DPS to anyone still using the set.
2-piece tier 9: This is a bit more interesting. It present adds 9 seconds to the Flame Shock DoT, but in 3.3.3 it’ll add 9/totalhaste seconds… it’s simpler just to think of it adding 3 ticks, really. At time of writing the tooltip hasn’t been updated but playtesting has shown 3 ticks being added as expected. So for the example above with 41% haste it’d add 3*2.13 = 6.38 seconds, for a total duration of 19.13 seconds. Astute observers will note that it still increases the length of Flame Shock by 50%. So the set stays about as valuable as it was before, being worth around 100 DPS from saved Flame Shock casts.
4-piece tier 10: This is slightly more confusing. Presently, 4t10 adds precisely 6 seconds to the Flame Shock DoT timer every time we cast Lava Burst. In 3.3.3, it will instead add however many ticks give an extra duration closest to 6 seconds (source). You would work this out by dividing 6 by the tick timer, e.g. for our example above:
6 / 2.13 = 2.82
Then round the result to the nearest integer, which in our case is 3. So 3 ticks would be added for a total of 3 * 2.13 seconds = 6.38 seconds total per LvB.
The DPS value of this set bonus will actually increase quite a bit in 3.3.3 – it’s worth maybe 200 DPS at present, but in 3.3.3 it could be worth anywhere between 250 and 350 DPS. What’s more, the set value really skyrockets with high haste, so it’s pretty future-proof. This is because as haste gets higher and higher, more and more ticks fit into that ~6 second extension, and so the DPET of Flame Shock goes nuts. We can end up getting ridiculous numbers of total ticks even though the DoT duration remains fairly short.
Actually though, without 4t10 the DPET (damage per execute time, aka DPSC, DPCT, etc.) of Flame Shock isn’t affected by this change – it still does exactly as much damage per cast as before. Only now, the damage occurs faster. So that means more DPS! Hooray!
But it also means we have to cast Flame Shock more, which means casting Lightning Bolt slightly less, which means a slight DPS loss. But the gain from hasted DoT ticks is greater than the loss from Lightning casts. So it really does mean more DPS! Hooray!!
So casting Flame Shock more is basically the main effect of this change. However it does bring up two other things to think about:
1. Firstly, the interaction with Lava Burst. Flame Shock’s DoT is necessary for Lava Burst to crit, which constitutes a large portion (~17%) of our damage. The DoT has to be present at the moment Lava Burst finishes casting. This change will make Flame Shock’s timer vary depending on our haste, which will vary during a fight (EM, relic buffs, Heroism, etc).
So in other words, we’ll need to pay very close attention to just how long is left on our Flame Shock timer depending on when we cast it to ensure that it doesn’t fall off when we’re not ready for it!
** Remember that it’s always higher DPS to “clip” the last tick of Flame Shock to make sure that Lava Burst will crit than to miss a critical Lava Burst because Flame Shock fell off mid-cast. **
“Clipping” (using Flame Shock again while the DoT is still on the target) is already something we’re familiar with thanks to the current incarnation of 4t10, but just be aware it may be necessary more often even without 4t10 in patch 3.3.3.
2. Secondly, consider the precise value of temporary haste effects (like EM, Bloodlust etc.) being used on Flame Shock instead of other spells. Is it worth it to make sure your Flame Shock benefits from the extra temporary haste? Nobody’s done any conclusive, serious evaluation of this yet, but it looks like it’ll be a pretty close call – perhaps close enough that it doesn’t really matter. I’d tentatively say that the main issue of using haste effects with Flame Shock casts is that we have to be more aware of the much shorter DoT timer, but we shouldn’t worry too much about the DPS value. In general we should probably aim to maximise our haste effect uptime – that means using them as early and often as possible (sensibly) – rather than to trying to time them specifically for a Flame Shock.
What about just clipping Flame Shock when your haste gets temporarily higher? I dunno, sorry. With 4t10 and a big difference in the two haste values it could well be a good idea to manually refresh Flame Shock before the big haste effect expires, but that’s just a guess based on limited evidence. I think, for example, if there was 1 second left on Elemental Mastery and your Flame Shock that had been cast under normal haste was nearly over anyway, it’d probably be worth more to cast a hasted Flame Shock before the old one expired than cast a Lightning Bolt.
Two other things to note that area already true and should remain that way:
- While moving, it’s better to use Frost Shock than Flame Shock if you have 4t10 and a reasonably long duration Flame Shock already ticking on the target.
- Again with 4t10, the best time to recast Flame Shock in terms of DPET is right before a Lava Burst, as that way you get the maximum number of DoT ticks possible. However this may not always equate to more overall damage so don’t fret about it too much.
So that’s what we have to look forward to.
Why do I feel like this post is a big complicated wordy mess? I think maybe I focus too much on detail at the expense of clarity. Ah well, maybe Zing or pewter will lay it all out in a more easy to understand and concise way!
Also, self-pluggage: there’s a new version of the spreadsheet out which is up to date for patch 3.3.3. Just remember not to use it with 3.3.2.