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Michelangelo

Elemental Spells: The Bad

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My last post here discussed some of the current amazing (CHAIN LIGHTNING) and clunky/lackluster (Earthquake, Unleashed Elements) spells at our disposal. After some time-off to tinker and see what Blizzard was going to change in 5.4, and doing some more digging around for some opinions into whatís broken, we can finally take a look at the buttons that infuriate Shaman everywhere. As always, I mainly raid on my Elemental and PvP on the side, so these are PvE views first and foremost.

The Bad

Searing Totem AKA Mosquito Bite Totem
Picking a random fight log from my characterís exploits, I can see that my Searing Totem contributed exactly 5525.0 DPS while up and 3653.7 DPS effectively. This leads me to believe that the entire point of this totem is to make Fire Elemental totem seem cool.

From a practical perspective, letís evaluate. Currently, refreshing our Searing Totem is only in our priority if there is no Fire totem down, slightly above a Lightning Bolt cast. Every one minute, you have to ensure that your practically useless totem is active. That doesnít include time spent recasting it for targets on the move, or when it decides to contribute useless DPS by focusing on worthless targets. What other one-minute abilities are soÖ useless?

My solution for Searing Totem is to give it the Healing Stream Totem treatment. Make it do some real damage and give it a CD. Currently it is a relic of Shaman totems pre-MoP, when you had 1-minute totems and no CDs because they were barely more than footnotes. Overall though, Iíd be happy with any action. Buff it,remove it, let me summon a totem army, I donít care. Just do something.

Flame Shock, Target Switching, Shared Shock CDs, and the Endless Debate
Shaman all over the Internet discuss our Shock spells at great length. Why is there a cooldown on Flame Shock when all other multi-dotters donít have any? Why do Flame Shock, Frost Shock, and Earth Shock still share a cooldown? No matter what forum you enter, someone will ask these questions. Ghostcrawler, who is aware that Flame Shock Crits could become fun, has also stated they are not removing the cooldown currently on Shocks. If not for the advent of multiple target fights that canít be hit by Chain Lightning, Iím sure the questions would die out.

Many fights in the last few raiding tiers have shined brightly for Multi-DoT classes. Council of Elders, Will of the Emperor, and Dark Animus showcase how a DoT class like Warlocks can do good single-target damage and good damage to all mobs at the same time. Elemental can Flame Shock enemies, but with the low damage done and cooldown invoked each time, along with Single-target damage lost, the end result is Elementals being left in the dust. Everyoneís obvious solution: buff Flame Shock and remove the cooldown, but that invokes a PVP problem. Flame Shock can give you an instant Lava Burst. 5+ Flame Shocks rolling and you have a sea of instant, strong hitting casts, giving you permanent burst and making interrupts useless.

Frost Shock is a simpler yet equally annoying problem. A single target slow every 5 seconds seems pretty fair, but the problem comes in a shared CD with Flame Shock. You have to decide between a fast mob with Flame Shock that you can meaningfully damage, or a mob that you can slow but brings your damage down immensely. The argument ďyou can do good damage on a mob with Flame Shock first and Frost Shock second, or without Flame Shock at allĒ overlooks a couple of important points.
  • Most important adds that need to be slowed are also prioritized. First you slow, then you DPS, so you canít Flame Shock first. By the time your other Shock comes off CD, the mob is either dead or has gone too fast.
  • In PvP, slows are removed and dispelled constantly, so Frost Shock needs to be reapplied. Dispel CDs and CDs on snare-breaks do help to mitigate the annoyance of Flame Shock dispels, but damage on a player is just as important as slowing them down. You have to choose between hopefully big damage at the beginning and then chasing them down, or slowing the player and casting while running away.
  • There was an argument that you can do equal damage to a Lava Burst with an Earth Shock, but that ignores the fact that Earth Shock also shares a cooldown. Your only high-damage spell if you just cast Frost Shock is Elemental Blast.


Earth Shock is fine in and of itself. Builds up, hits hard, goes on cooldown while it builds up. A lot of Shaman recently have been wondering if it canít be more interesting. We build up Lightning Shield charges during AoE so quickly and never use them, maybe we can supercharge different spells? Elementalís upcoming 2-pc bonus has this idea by buffing damage on the Earth Shocked target by 10% (latest notes: 4%), but other ideas include making Earthquake or Thunderstorm more powerful.

Potential Shock Solutions:
  1. Remove shared cooldowns but keep each Shock on a 5 second cooldown. This fixes the annoyance of choosing between which Shock to cast and harming your ability to use the others. You could Frost Shock first, then Flame Shock immediately to continue damaging the mob.
    Con: Choosing between Flame Shock and Earth Shock is one of the skillsets of experienced Shaman, and could lead to pretty high immediate burst (FS -> LvB -> EB -> ES, without the usual LB filler before ES). Keeping Flame Shock/Earth Shock on the same cooldown but Frost Shock on a separate cooldown could solve this cleanly.
  2. Remove cooldown on Flame Shock and buff the spell, but make Lava Surge not cause instant casts. This would be a daring solution on the part of Blizzard, and might be more suitable for a Glyph. The problems it addresses: Elemental falls behind on quick target switching and long lasting adds/bosses that are spread out, so a strong DoT makes sense. Flame Shocking multiple targets in PvP is unfair for the uninterruptable burst, so letting the spell proc but still be interruptible seems more reasonable.
    Con: It would buff single-target damage from the constant LvB crits, so I can see Blizzard frowning at the solution, but other classes are able to buff up single-target damage through DoTs already.
  3. Remove all Shock cooldowns. Pros: solves every problem.
    Cons: causes a bunch of new problems. Chain Lightning and Earth Shock spam would equal huge single-target and AoE damage. Flame Shocks on everyone cause high uninterruptable single-target damage. Being able to blanket slows and DoTs and high damage all at the same time is completely unfair. This solution would only be viable if spells were reworked, such as Flame Shock not benefitting Lava Burst, or toning down Earth Shock damage.

There is another potential Shock solution... doing nothing. Perhaps Elemental will always be single-target machines, and perhaps we will always have to deal with choosing between slowing something down or DPS'ing it. Re-read the 5.2 Ghostcrawler interview right here on Totemspot. Shocks may always be that 'skill' part of playing Elemental, otherwise our already simple class might be even simpler.

Crit Rating
We have to give Blizzard credit on this department, they are very aware of the problems with Crit and are trying to alleviate them. Being able to Crit on spells for 250% damage is amazing and leads to some crazy damage. Flame Shock Crits potentially causing Lava Surge sounds like another way to make Crit useful and fun, as long as itís balanced. However, no matter what Blizzard throw at us, Crit will always cause Elemental Shaman grief and they will rise up and request changes. Lava Burst, our strongest spell in the game, doesnít benefit from Crit. Our single-target Burst is to spam Lava Burst, so our strongest window of single-target damage never gains from Crit.

This is a well-documented problem. Lava Burst is awesome because it always Crits, but the problem becomes that any Crit rating becomes useless on it. The 250% Crit damage is partly because the stat is always last in importance behind Haste and Mastery. This doesnít apply to AoE, where Crit is very strong from the added damage, but sacrificing single-target damage for high AoE is rarely beneficial.

Potential Crit Solutions:
  1. Nerf Lava Burst, and make Crit increase Lava Burst damage by an additional amount. We call this the Chaos Bolt treatment, from the Destruction Warlock spell that increases in damage with extra Crit rating. With proper number tuning, this will make Elemental excited to see Crit procs or gear with Crit, without making them overpowered.
    Con: this solution has been thrown at Blizzard many times, but they are extremely hesitant to use it because it makes Lava Burst = Chaos Bolt and they dislike homogenization.
  2. Lava Burst doesnít auto-crit. Again, this would need proper number tuning to keep the same rotation and damage as on live, and might even change the rotation (EB and ES now become priority uno). This solves the extremely easy problem of Lava Burst now benefitting directly from Crit like every other spell.
    Con: Some serious number tuning would be needed from Blizzard, and Elementals might feel weaker and less burst-y than usual (assuming Lava Surge procs).
  3. Flame Shock crits proc Lava Surge. This was thrown around by Ghostcrawler as an idea, and it would make Crit almost necessary for Elemental without proper tuning. Iím not going into detail as this could be done a lot of ways (Crit = proc chance, X + Crit/2 = proc chance) but it would be the solution that feels like almost nothing changes except for gaming Crit procs.
    Con: Lava Burst still wouldnít get any stronger from Crit, so Shaman would still complain and the problem might repeat.

An extra point to consider, assuming Blizzard changes Crit with Elemental somehow in order to make it more appealing, is that our 250% critical damage may disappear. Otherwise the stat could become incredibly powerful, add even more RNG to our output, and completely overpower Haste and Mastery.


That's it for The Bad. Any comments, suggestions, ideas are always welcome to expand our lists. Always remember that ideas must be fully thought out, so calls for flat buffs always get ignored! Next I'll go into What's Missing, made up of random ideas to make Elemental more fun and versatile in the future.

-Mike

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Updated 28-06-2013 at 12:45 AM by Michelangelo

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Comments

  1. Haarne's Avatar
    Unless you're doing 2 million dps, I think you may have misplaced a decimal point when figuring out how much damage searing totem is doing for you as a percentage. Using my own logs, I get searing totem at around 2-3% of my total dps when it is up and roughly 300,000 damage per 1 minute (aka one GCD). That is about the same damage as a lava burst for the same global cooldown. That doesn't necessarily invalidate your argument about it being too weak, but it is about 10 times better than what you're saying.
  2. Michelangelo's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Haarne
    Unless you're doing 2 million dps, I think you may have misplaced a decimal point when figuring out how much damage searing totem is doing for you as a percentage. Using my own logs, I get searing totem at around 2-3% of my total dps when it is up and roughly 300,000 damage per 1 minute (aka one GCD). That is about the same damage as a lava burst for the same global cooldown. That doesn't necessarily invalidate your argument about it being too weak, but it is about 10 times better than what you're saying.
    Fixed, was talking about a different % of damage done.
  3. Knocks's Avatar
    Glyph of Lava Splash: your Fame Shock will no longer proc Lava Surge, but Lava Burst will now spread your Flame Shock to all nearby enemies.
  4. Unregistered's Avatar
    Woah woah woah, I think pushing crit is a big nerf. How is being able to turn crit into a dump stat a bad thing? I like not worrying about crit. You can't just look at crit. You have to see more crit as giving up haste (or mastery). It sounds like you want to FORCE us to take crit to be able to maintain the same DPS we have now, just for the hell of it. So in truth, it turns into a big nerf for shaman who are gearing up, who have high level geear with no crit, or who don't follow the new rules, rather than being an all-around benefit to us. Just no. No crit. Of all the things that could be done with Shaman, making us also need to worry about crit is nowhere on the list.

    And please don't go on and on about how much you love Chain Lightning -- that's just begging for it to be nerfed.

    I also don't understand the complaint about shocks. I do some of the most damage on multi-boss fights because I can maintain multiple flame shocks and spam Lava Burst. It's great DPS. You just have to realize you're keeping up your Flame Shock for Lava Surge procs, not DoT damage. It's like being in Ascendance. For the whole boss fight. Only instead of hard-casting lava burst back to back, your cycling between flame shock and instant LvB's. It's really quite fun. Of course you have to be really good with target management, which takes some getting used to.
  5. Michelangelo's Avatar
    The sentiment for Crit is not to make it mandatory, but to make it at least viable along with Haste and Mastery. Blizzard always tries to balance out stats when they see a class completely dumping one of them, which happens to a lot of Shaman right now having scale factors of 3.3 for Haste and 2.1 for Crit (as an example).
  6. Ike's Avatar
    if we didnt have lvb, we would get so much from crit-we have a bigger crit bonus then other classes. Having lvb scale with crit would making for so much bigger crits on other spells, too. I'd like that : /
  7. Dahku's Avatar
    Mike,

    Great series of post here. What do you think of this "Shock" solution:

    When Earth Shock reaches 7 stacks "lights up", it both ignores and does not cause the Shock CD.

    I think this would be a huge quality of life improvement w/o removing the general shock management game play completely.

    Dahku
  8. Michelangelo's Avatar
    It's a fun idea Dahku but it removes the management of choosing between refreshing Flame Shock or casting a high stack Earth Shock. If Blizzard was okay with that view, it may happen, but I think they like that part of DPS management.
  9. Shaylana's Avatar
    I noticed in your Shock Solutions you missed one that seems to be creeping up in other classes. Do you think there may be potential for a Shared Charge system or something along those lines?

    Savage Defenses
    Angelic Feathers
    Monk Roll

    These are examples of abilities with this kind of ability. If all our shocks had shared charges, and those charges could regenerate, that could make the juggling a little easier. So like, 2 charges with a 10 second cooldown per charge, would mean we could Flame Shock two targets, Flame Shock one and Earth Shock another, Frost Shock one Flame Shock another... for 2 GCDs but an 8 second wait for the next shock. Or just use one every 5 seconds like we do now.

    I just think there's still room to explore other solutions than just the ones we keep seeing.
    Updated 06-09-2013 at 12:10 PM by Shaylana
  10. Yurot's Avatar
    An Idea I had some time ago (and proposed to blizzard as well):

    Make a critical hit from both Searing Totem and a melee attack from the fire elemental proc Lava Surge (with a modifier if necessary, to prevent crit and shamans from becoming OP). That would solve two probs at once: make the small totem viable because of a nice and matching synergy AND increase the value of crit.
  11. iddqd's Avatar
    A solution for the problem with "with removal of Flame Shock CD and having it on 5+ targets, we would get too many insta-Lava Bursts":

    make it like balance druids with 5.4: when they have their dots on more than 1 target, the probability to proc their instant starsurge suffers diminishing returns. Doesn't sound too bad or does it?
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