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Cataclysm Enters Beta, Patch 3.3.5 Goes Live and an Update to the Shaman Round Table Event.

July 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Cataclysm

Yesterday came the news that Cataclysm was entering it’s closed beta phase of testing. In addition to this, the NDA has also been lifted so people are free to talk, post and blog about the information that has previously been leaked or becomes available in the future. You can read the official press release here. Furthermore, due to the lifting of the NDA, the official beta forums are now public so for any information hungry individuals, you can trawl through them here.

As a quick reminder for anyone still in the dark, you opt in for the Cataclysm beta through the battle net home page. This doesn’t guarantee you beta access of course, but it is the system they’re using to handle requests.

Patch 3.3.5 and Real ID

Patch 3.3.5 finally hit the EU servers yesterday which also meant the Ruby Sanctum went live. Sadly for the EU guilds out there, due to highly extended down time the “race” for world first kills was heavily bias in favour of the US players.

I’ve already have a couple of people ask if I’m going to be writing strategy guides for this instance. The sad and simple fact at the moment is that my guild haven’t been raiding. We have two raids pencilled in for early next week and I’m crossing everything that these will be Ruby Sanctum raids. While I will be forming some kind of tactics in advance for our own raids, I’d never publish these without having first hand experience of how they work in practice. In summary, I’ll try and get something sorted out but I’m very dependent on other people.

In addition to the Ruby Sanctum, Blizzard’s new Real ID system was implemented. I’d had the pleasure of using this throughout Starcraft II’s closed beta and I did like it there. However I was playing there with my boyfriend and a couple of close, real life friends. The problem is the awkwardness of being asked for your Real ID from someone that you’re not comfortable with. Many players may keep some alt characters unguilded for a reason. For people who play the auction house a great deal, you can risk losing the anonymity of your bank characters. This can be a huge issue for those aggressive economy players (of which I consider myself.) A couple of friends on my server know which bank alts I play as but as a rule, I don’t like any connection between my bank alts and my main characters to be formed and indeed, I go to great lengths to ensure they can’t be tracked.

For close friends, it’s a great idea without doubt. I can now chat to a couple of real life friends that play on other servers. Furthermore I can keep in touch with those same friends when they’re in Starcraft II. Never the less, there is a certain weirdness about trying to politely decline giving out your personal details to people you consider more acquaintances than friends.

The Shaman Round Table Event

I’ve mentioned this in a previous update but there has been some progression with this event since then. Several new names have been confirmed to the list of participants and I’m hoping to contribute myself though, at present, my availability is looking a little bit suspect. (My weekends are precious to me as they’re the only time I get to spent time with my boyfriend.)

The contributors have been asked to both promote the event and try and get some feedback from our readers as to what kind of topics you’d like to see discussed there. As such, if anyone reading this has any specific contributions to make regarding potential subject areas, leave a comment at the bottom of this update and I’ll ensure that the suggestions reach the people in charge.

Blog Updates

Finally, as I’m sure you’re all now aware, I’m back into the swing of blogging. I’ve finally got everything I need to blog running on my ipad which means I’m no longer tied to the desktop PC. (A huge boon with the current summer temperatures we’re enjoying in Denmark.) I’ve got a few articles in the pipeline (including that long promised guide to the feat of strength; Insane in the Membrane) but once again, I’m asking that if anyone has any specific topics they would like to see discussed here, they let me know. These topics don’t have to be restricted to elemental shaman areas so throw your suggestions out there and I’ll do my best to oblige. I am trying to finish off all the boss guides for Icecrown Citadel, including the additional of the heroic guides but they can be quite lengthy to produce so bear with me please.

Categories: Cataclysm, Patch 3.3.5

Patch 3.3.3 Post Launch Summary

March 24, 2010 19 comments

Patch 3.3.3 is now live on all realms and as such, so are the elemental changes. I’ve spent some time testing on the dummies this morning but I want to postpone drawing any solid conclusions until I get to raid tonight.

I have spotted at least one undocumented change however and although merely graphical, it’s very welcomed for many elemental shamans I suspect.

For those who chose to go the route of crafting the Lightning-Infused Leggings, the model of these has now been changed to be identical to the Sanctified Frost Witch’s Kilt. No more look like a druid for you!

My initial thoughts are that the changes should put us in a strong DPS position in raids. I’ve been pulling between 7k and 8.3k on the dummy this morning. The latter using heroism and obviously, there are some RNG factors. That’s a definite increase from when I lasted did any extensive dummy testing and didn’t include food buffs or flasks (for reference, I was using the Glyph of Lava).

As a final reminder for any raiding elemental shamans out there who are still unsure of the changes or how they effect you:-

  • Flame Shock’s damage over time component can now crit by default.
  • To account for the above, the glyph of flame shock was changed to give an increased critical strike damage bonus by 60%
  • Glyph of flame shock is no longer worth using. Replace it with either glyph of flametongue or glyph of lava
  • The four set tier ten bonus is now very good. If you have avoided it until now, get it as soon as possible
  • Haste is now affecting your Flame Shock ticks
  • Be aware that the above means you will be Flame Shocking more and your rotation may feel slightly different than pre-patch

Have fun raiding and I’d be happy to hear all your thoughts on the elemental changes today.

Categories: Patch 3.3.3

Patch 3.3.3 And Elemental Changes

March 13, 2010 18 comments

You can read my full guide to elemental shaman glyphs here.

Most people will be aware by now, either through this blog or other resources, that there are more changes afoot for elemental shaman’s in patch 3.3.3. This is the patch currently being tested on the PTR and while we still have no absolute confirmation on when this will hit the live servers, it shouldn’t be too long now.

I’ve delayed rounding up these changes and how they effect us until everything seemed stabilised and there was little chance of alterations to the current changes. While the changes themselves are simple enough, the way they interact with our set bonuses make things slightly more complex. In addition, they require a change of glyphs.

The changes are, as follows:-

  • The damage over time component of Flame Shock can now produce critical strikes and are also affected by spell haste
  • Elemental oath is now a passive aura
  • Glyph of flame shock now increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Flame Shock’s periodic damage by 60%
  • Elemental shaman tier 10, four set bonus now causes your Lava Burst to add at least two additional periodic damage ticks before expiring
  • Elemental shaman tier 8, two set bonus now increases the periodic damage done by your Flame Shock by 20%

Flame Shock

Prior to this patch, flame shock has always had a default duration of 18 seconds. Some of our tier set bonuses have extended this duration in the past, but it’s default duration has always been 18 seconds.

Patch 3.3.3 brings two very significant changes to our primary shock spell. Firstly, the damage over time component can now produce critical strikes by default. How does this effect us? Currently, of the three “best” elemental shaman major glyphs, one is the glyph of flame shock. At present, this glyph allows the damage over time portion of flame shock to be critical strikes. So simply put, we gain a major glyph slot since we no longer need to use the flame shock glyph. Due to this, the glyph has been redesigned and I’ll come to this later.

Secondly, our flame shocks are now affected by our haste. The haste values of our character will dictate how fast the “ticks” of flame shock are. What does this do to the duration? It shortens it. Obviously, we all have varying levels of haste so flame shock should no longer be thought of as having a fixed duration, rather a fixed number of ticks. By default, this means flame shock has a default, six tick duration.

Previously, most of our tier set bonuses have focussed on lengthening the duration of our flame shock. It’s easy to see why that should result in a DPS increase – the longer the duration, the less we refresh and the more global cooldowns we can spend on lava burst or lightning bolt. After 3.3.3 goes live (and ignoring such set bonuses for the time), flame shock will need to be cast more often. Fear not, the DPS increase from hasted ticks outweighs the DPS loss from fewer lightning bolts cast. In short, yes, this change is a DPS increase.

Elemental Tier 10 Set Bonus

This change created quite a headache initially for the theory crafters. Our current tier 10, four set bonus does the following:-

  • Your lava burst spell increases the duration of your flame shock on the target by 6 seconds

The new bonus reads as follows:-

  • Your lava burst spell adds at least two additional periodic damage ticks to your flame shock

Thanks in part to some confirming comments by Blizzard but mostly due to the work of a couple of amazing theory crafters over at Elitist Jerks (including the lovely Charles over at http://wowhats.wordpress.com), they concluded what the bonus actually does is this:-

  • Your lava burst spell will add however many ticks give an extra flame shock duration closest to 6 seconds

However (and this is where it starts to get slightly more complex), our flame shock ticks are now affected by our personal haste levels so how many extra ticks you receive will be dependent upon your haste. At this point, I’ll refer you to the post over at Elitist Jerks that shows the maths on this for varying levels of haste.

The good news is, our four set bonus will only get stronger with higher levels of haste as the faster our flame shock ticks, the more additional ticks can be gained in the 6 second extended duration. Our current four set bonus is worth around 200 dps. After patch 3.3.3, this value will increase to between 250 and 350 dps (again, this is gear, or rather haste, dependent).

Glyph of Flame Shock

As mentioned, this glyph has been redesigned as it’s effect was negated by flame shock’s now innate chance to produce critical strike effects out of it’s damage over time ticks. After patch 3.3.3 goes live, the flame shock glyph will read as follows:-

  • Glyph of Flame Shock now increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Flame Shock’s periodic damage by 60%

It sounds quite good in theory. Our flame shock ticks faster as it is now affected by haste, it produces critical strikes by default so increased critical strike damage sounds quite tempting. Charles was kind enough to run this glyph through his fabulous Zap! spreadsheet and the results are really disappointing. Of our major glyph choices, their DPS values stand as follows:-

  • Glyph of Lightning Bolt – 260 DPS
  • Glyph of Totem of Wrath – 170 DPS
  • Glyph of Flame Shock – 80 DPS

As the figures show, the newly designed glyph of flame shock is worth just 80 DPS. There has always been a debate about the worth of the glyph of totem of wrath versus the glyph of lava so he ran both this glyph and another new contender through Zap! also.

  • Glyph of Lava – 120 DPS
  • Glyph of Flametongue Weapon – 120 DPS

The conclusion? When patch 3.3.3 hits the live servers you need to be removing your glyph of flame shock and replacing it with either glyph of lava or glyph of flametongue weapon.

Elemental DPS Rotation

In essence, our rotation (or priority casting list if you prefer), doesn’t change. Flame shock is still required on a target to receive a guaranteed critical strike from our lava burst. Flame shock will tick faster and no longer has a fixed duration so you will be casting it more frequently. It’s exact duration depends upon your own personal level of haste so we’re moving further away from a “fixed rotation” and more accurately playing with a priority casting list.

There are a few things to note. Firstly, the haste that affects our flame shock is that at the time of casting. Our ticks will not speed up or slow down as our haste changes. For example, if you cast your flame shock under the effect of elemental mastery, if will tick based on your haste at that time. Your ticks would not then slow down when mastery fades. This behaviour extends to the tier 10, four set bonus. When our flame shock receives additional ticks due to our lava burst being cast, these ticks will continue to occur dependent upon our haste when the flame shock was first applied.

Does this effect our rotation? Honestly, no one is sure yet. Clipping DoTs generally results in a loss of DPS. We have an exception to this in regards to lava burst where clipping our flame shock is better than risking lava burst hitting without flame shock on the target. Lava burst is our highest priority spell in our rotation and should be cast as soon as it’s off of it’s cooldown. If this means clipping a flame shock to ensure a critical strike, so be it. The DPS loss from losing that critical strike is greater than the loss caused by clipping the shock.

Should you refresh a flame shock early if you know a loss of haste is incoming? (For example, heroism is reaching it’s close but your flame shock still has a reasonable amount of ticks left.) At this time all I can say is “maybe”. Hopefully a more definitive answer to this will appear when more people have had a chance to play with the new changes.

During periods of movement, you will still be better casting a Frost Shock than clipping a Flame Shock excessively early.

Summary

The changes have been pretty complex from a theory crafting standpoint and kudos should go out to the individuals who spend so much time running the calculations for the less mathematically inclined members of the community. On that note, please be aware that Charles has updated Zap! with the 3.3.3 changes so be sure to go and grab the new version of his must have spreadsheet here

Charles over at Planet of the Hats is infinitely better at the maths than I can ever hope to be, so I’d urge anyone looking for a more in depth, mathematical analysis of the changes to skip over to him. (After all, he’s the nice-but-slightly-older-brother of elemental bloggers)

For the benefit of the people who just want the raw facts, I’ll try to break it down as simply as I can:-

  • When patch 3.3.3 hits, remove your glyph of flame shock. Replace it with either glyph of lava or glyph of flametongue weapon
  • Flame shock now being affected by haste is a DPS increase, despite the need to cast it more frequently
  • Our DPS “rotation” remains the same, you open with flame shock, follow with lava burst and fill with lightning bolts and chain lightnings
  • The duration of our flame shock is no longer a fixed time but rather a fixed number of ticks. As these ticks are affected by our personal levels of haste at the time of casting (and these can vary during a fight), the “time” our flame shock remains on a target will also vary. If you don’t use one, a DoT timer will be essential
  • It’s better to clip a flame shock than to cast a lava burst with a risk of it hitting an unshocked target
  • Our tier 10 four set bonus has got better and it will continue to scale based on our levels of haste. If you have avoided it in the past due to it’s initially questionable value, stop doing so. You really want this bonus
Categories: Patch 3.3.3

New Patch 3.3.3 Build on the PTR and More on Mastery in Cataclysm

March 9, 2010 1 comment

It’s been a week of considerable news on the WoW front, culminating with a new PTR build being released yesterday and a blue post delving a little deeper into one of the new stat mechanisms being released in Cataclysm; Mastery.

The lovely people over at MMO Champion have also been busy ferreting their way through the game files added for the up coming Ruby Sanctum raid instance and a little more information is now known about that. Obviously, at this stage, anything is subject to change.

Mastery in Cataclysm

Last week saw a blue post clarifying some of the stat changes going live with Cataclysm. These included the removal of spell power (with damage now being derived directly from our intellect), the removal of MP5, spirit being relegated primarily to a healer stat (the exception being elemental shamans and balance druids who will have a spirit to hit conversion talent, thus addressing the fact there is such a cross over between these DPS specs and their healing counterparts). You can read my full round up of the stat changes expected in Cataclysm here

With so many stats being trimmed away (some would perhaps argue, simplified?) it’s refreshing to see talk of a new gear concept being added; Mastery. Blizzard are wanting to move away slightly from the cookie cutter raiding builds that have dominated the high end PvE scene thus far. Talents which purely add an increase in damage or healing (and yet are deemed as compulsory precisely due to these increases) will be removed. Instead, every talent you spec into will carry a passive increase to our core attributes such as damage or healing. This passive gain is the mastery system.

For elemental shamans, you can expect to see the likes of Concussion and Call of Flame gone and instead, the bonuses to spell damage added passively to other talents.

With the removal of necessary damage boosting talents, they seem to be opening up the playing field to allow us to take more utility talents which will thus result in a greater variation of talent specs seen at a raiding level of PvE. You’ll still see talents that increase the damage of key abilities, but they’ll also effect the spell in other ways. An example given was cast time reduction.

Mastery itself will provided bonuses to the specific tree you are delving into. For every point spent, you gain three passive bonuses. The first will be an increase in healing or damage depending upon the spec. The second, will directly boost a core stat found commonly on our gear. This could be haste or critical strike chance for example. The third, will provide an effect entirely unique to the tree in question. Examples of this in action were given for the two healing priest specs; holy and discipline.

For each talent point a holy priest spends in the holy tree, they will also gain:-

  • Healing – Healing improved by a certain percentage
  • Meditation – Improves the mana regen derived from spirit whilst in combat.
  • Radiance – Adds a heal over time spell to direct heals such as flash heal. Mastery on gear would directly increase this bonus

For discipline priests, the same bonuses to healing and meditation would be received but their tree specific bonus, the one which mastery would then increase, would improve the amount of damage their shields can sustain.

A note worthy point for the dual spec players out there is that the mastery bonus on gear will update when you switch spec to effect your new, class specific bonus. In addition to the news last week that elemental shamans (and balance druids) would receive spirit to hit conversion talents, thus allowing them to still share gear with their healing counterparts, it seems the days of carrying full sets of gear for each spec are probably numbered. In short, when elemental speced, the spirit on our items will be converted to spell hit. When restoration speced, that spirit will effect our in combat mana regeneration. In the same way, the mastery on our gear will effect our elemental bonus whilst DPSing but be converted to our restoration bonus whilst healing.

Finally, the changes to mastery will not be retroactively added to level 80 gear, though we can expect to see it start making an appearance on certain quest reward items or dungeon drop items when the stat changes go live. Presumably, this will be in the Cataclysm content patch that will hit the servers prior to the release of the expansion. (As a reminder, the content patch for Wrath of the Lich King – patch 3.0 – went live on the 14th of October 2008 as the expansion then hit on the 14th of November).

For the full source of these changes, check out the blue post made by Eyonix here.

Patch 3.3.3

To clarify, this is the patch currently being tested on the PTR. This patch certainly won’t be going live this week though they have started releasing the files to the client via the background downloader.

The new version of the patch that was pushed to PTR yesterday didn’t include any further changes for elemental changes. So our current changes still stand as follows:-

Flame Shock

The damage-over-time component of this ability can now produce critical strikes and is affected by spell haste.

Elemental Oath

This ability is now always on as a passive aura

Glyph of Flame Shock

Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Flame Shock periodic damage by 60%.

Shaman T10 Elemental Four Piece Bonus

Your Lava Burst spell causes your Flame Shock effect on the target to deal at least two additional periodic damage ticks before expiring. (Old – Your Lava Burst spell increases the duration of your Flame Shock effect on the target by 6 sec.)

Shaman T8 Elemental Two Piece Bonus

Increases periodic damage done by your Flame Shock ability by 20%. (Old – The periodic damage dealt by your Flame Shock can now be critical strikes.)

For the pet collectors and enthusiasts out there however, the Lil’ XT vanity pet finally got it’s model added to the files. MMO Champion are speculating that this will be the next micro-transaction pet to grace the Blizzard Pet Store and I think it’s safe to assume that they’re correct on this. (The similarity to the Lil’ KT pet would certainly suggest this at least)

Image courtesy of MMO Champion

Whether you agree or not with this new move by Blizzard themselves towards selling in game items for cold hard cash, it has to be said it’s a brilliant business move. It wasn’t long ago also that there was mention of adding out of game auction house access, presumably via mobile devices such as the iphone or ipod touch (much like their current armoury or authenticator software). It was also stated that this would probably be a premium service. With recent announcements regarding the WoW TCG changing to in house development, I also wonder how this will effect the availability of the codes for in game fluff items. Before, there were sites specialising in the sale of these codes, alternatively, there was always ebay for those people determined to get the item without wanting to play the game. Will we see the item codes available directly from Blizzard I wonder?

Not to leave out the mount collectors, both the Celestial Steed and the X-53 Touring Rocket had their spell files appear and these confirmed both these mounts as having 310% speed. Obviously, there’s still nothing know on where either of these mounts come from, though most of the speculation points to the Ruby Sanctum being the source of the horse.

Both images are courtesy of MMO Champion

Finally, this leads quite neatly onto the final part of this article, the currently known information on the Ruby Sanctum. If you’re not a fan of spoilers, stop reading!

The Ruby Sanctum

The Ruby Sanctum is scheduled for patch 3.3.5. Remember, it’s currently patch 3.3.3 in testing on the PTR. Due to a number of game files related to the Ruby Sanctum making it to the PTR, we had some information put forward from blue posters.

The official description was as follows:-

A powerful war party of the Black Dragonflight, led by the fearsome Twilight dragon, Halion, have launched an assault upon the Ruby Sanctum beneath Wyrmrest Temple. By destroying the sanctum, the Black Dragonflight look to crush those that would stand in the way of their master’s reemergence into Azeroth and to ultimately shatter the Wyrmrest Accord – the sacred bond that unites the dragonflights.

The battle that is to come will surely deal a crippling blow to the Red Dragonflight, however, it is up to you to stop this unprecedented offensive and defend the Ruby Sanctum. First you must face the assault of Halion’s servants, Saviana Ragefire, Baltharus the Warborn, and General Zarithrian, before squaring off against Halion the Twilight Destroyer, a new and deadly force in this realm.

The Ruby Sanctum will feature 10- and 25-player content, Heroic difficulties and all-new rewards! Stay tuned for more information as we get closer to its release.

A little more information was then offered by another blue poster.

  • There is one main “boss” and three sub-bosses or lieutenants (much like Obsidian Sanctum’s format)
  • The main boss is called Halion (The Twilight Destroyer)
  • The lieutenants are Baltharus (The Warborn), Saviana Ragefire and General Zarithrian
  • Each lieutenant will drop an Emblem of Frost
  • Activation of the hard mode is unconfirmed, though it won’t be a +1, +2, +3 mechanism as utilised for Sartharian
  • Some items will be on par with Lich King drops (think in the same way as Onyxia drops were on par with Trial of the Crusader
  • While the patch is intended to provide additional raid content while we await the expansion. It’s also the start of the lore leading to Cataclysm

The models for the bosses were amongst the files that made it to the PTR, though they aren’t official.

Once again, the images are courtesy of MMO Champion

It was confirmed in one of the blue posts that trinkets would be dropping in the instance (Sarth flash backs!). Lets hope the drop rate is slightly more reasonable than the Illustration of the Dragon Soul was during it’s domination.

As for the celestial steed mount, who knows. Judging purely on the models of the bosses, I can’t understand where the logic would lie in such a mount dropping in the Ruby Sanctum (nothing there looks at all celestial!). Undoubtedly however, judging by the model and the 310% speed modifier, this mount is unlikely to be a common sight.

I’ll do a more in depth look at the patch 3.3.3 changes for the elemental shamans out there as soon as we have a date for it going live (just to ensure no changes are made at the last moment, though I really don’t expect there will be.

Categories: Cataclysm, Patch 3.3.3

New PTR Build Brings Elemental Set Changes

March 3, 2010 Leave a comment

As predicted after the initial round of PTR changes that allowed the damage portion of our Flame Shock ability to be both critical strikes and affected by haste, we’ve seen changes announced today to the Elemental Shaman tier ten set bonuses.

The latest PTR build now contains the following Elemental Shaman changes:-

Flame Shock

  • The damage-over-time component of this ability can now produce critical strikes and is affected by spell haste.

Elemental Oath

  • This ability is now always on as a passive aura

Glyph of Flame Shock

  • Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Flame Shock periodic damage by 60%.

Shaman T10 Elemental Four Piece Bonus

  • Your Lava Burst spell causes your Flame Shock effect on the target to deal at least two additional periodic damage ticks before expiring. (Old – Your Lava Burst spell increases the duration of your Flame Shock effect on the target by 6 sec.)

Shaman T8 Elemental Two Piece Bonus

  • Increases periodic damage done by your Flame Shock ability by 20%. (Old – The periodic damage dealt by your Flame Shock can now be critical strikes.)

  • Lastly, and very unrelated to the Elemental Shaman set bonus alteration, the following model was found in the PTR files

    Image courtesy of MMO Champion

    There’s obviously no word on where this mount comes from but I’m saying in advance, I need one! (Naturally, all the strict ten man readers out there know it’s going to be a reward that we can never have just because Blizzard enjoy doing that to us)

Categories: Patch 3.3.3

Zap! Updated to Account for PTR Changes

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

As most readers probably know, the current PTR (testing patch 3.3.3) brings with it yet more Elemental Shaman changes. As a recap for people, the current changes stand as follows:-

  • Elemental Oath: This ability is now always on as a passive aura.
  • Flame Shock: The damage over time component of this ability can now produce critical strikes and is affected by spell haste.
  • Glyph of Flame Shock: Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Flame Shock periodic damage by 60%

Sadly, still not changes to Totem of Wrath, though it was touched upon by Ghostcrawler after members of the community pressed the issue of a Warlock’s Demonic Pact still being so very superior to our totem at higher gear levels. Ghostcrawler did indeed confirm that the most obvious solution would be to alter Totem of Wrath to a similar mechanic as Demonic Pact (presumably therefore scaling with our gear and offering a % of the Elemental Shaman’s spell power to the raid). You can read the source of that here

Finally, Charles over at Planet of the Hats has released a new version of the Zap! spreadsheet to incorporate the current 3.3.3 Elemental changes. For anyone who is unaware of the amazing work Charles does for the community, his spreadsheet is amazing for raiding Elemental Shaman’s and without doubt, the best way to optimise your DPS. Go and download it!

Categories: Patch 3.3.3

Patch 3.3.3 – More Elemental Buffs

February 20, 2010 1 comment

It’s been an interesting week on the WoW front. The heroic modes were released signalling the commencement of the real PvE progression race. It was mentioned some time ago that Icecrown Citadel wouldn’t be the final content release of the Wrath of the Lich Kind Expansion, but during this week broke the news of the incoming Ruby Sanctum raid instance.

Not a whole lot is known about this yet as it will not be part of patch 3.3.3 which has just hit the PTRs. The location is confirmed as underneath Wyrmrest Temple and the encounter is said to be similar to the original Obsidian Sanctum instance (one boss and a couple of “guardians”), however it will not include a “+1, +2, +3″ type mechanism as Sartharian did. Some of the loot will be on a par with the Lich King drops. There are also some tasty looking trinkets which also bring back a slight feeling of déjà vu. Lastly and perhaps most excitingly, is the suggestion that the Ruby Sanctum lore will begin the ball rolling towards the story that will ultimately lead us to Cataclysm. You can read the full source here

(Image courtesy of MMO-Champion)

Moving swiftly on, while the Ruby Sanctum isn’t part of patch 3.3.3, the PTR is now up and the initial patch notes! revealed. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this patch but of primary interest is undoubtedly the latest elemental changes. These read as follows:-

Flame Shock

  • The damage-over-time component of this ability can now produce critical strikes and is affected by spell haste.

Elemental Oath

  • This ability is now always on as a passive aura

Firstly, I’d like to point out that I haven’t had a chance to test these changes yet and with the PTR only just going up, the information out there is still scarce so what follows are my initial thoughts on these changes. Flame shock’s DoT component being able to critically strike a target makes one of the “must have” elemental glyphs redundant. This does mean, potentially, elemental shamans are free to use both the Glyph of Lava and the Glyph of Totem of Wrath as opposed to choosing between the two. However, I have also read that Ghostcrawler responded to a question regarding the newly redundant glyph with the following reply:-

“The current (for us) Glyph of Flame Shock does something like let Flame Shock crit at 230% damage. We’ll try to get a new patch note up soon. Whatever it ends up as will probably be some relatively simple damage buff to replace the old crit buff. “

(Click here for the source)

Flame shock being affected by haste is not a change I necessarily predicted. The four set bonus extends the duration of our flame shock however we now have faster ticks which could result in the need to refresh more often (unless Flame Shock’s duration remains the same and it purely ticks faster (and more times) in which case the DPS increase appears sizeable.)

As soon as more testing results begin to appear (or I can get onto the PTR myself to take a look at these), I’ll be updating with further thoughts. While buffs are always good and this will undoubtedly be a buff, the extent is difficult to say at the moment.

Categories: Patch 3.3.3

Shaman Tier 10 Four Set Bonus Redesigned – Patch 3.3.2

February 2, 2010 2 comments

From the time when the graphics for the shaman tier ten set were first released, it was hard to not be impressed with visuals of the set. The set looks amazing and after the ridiculously long wait by the shaman community for a glimpse at our final tier set of the expansion, we were hopeful overall.

The Old

This was before the set bonuses were released however. These were:-

Two set – Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells reduce the remaining cooldown on your Elemental Mastery Talent by 2 seconds

Four set – The cooldown on your Lava Burst ability is reduced by 1.5 seconds

The two set bonus isn’t bad. Our elemental mastery talent is a core ability without doubt. My main complaint with this is that there are perhaps occasions where you would want to hold off using the ability slightly for a better DPS effect. In these situations, the two set bonus is meaningless to us. If you wanted to delay it’s use for “blow all cooldowns” phase, it’s redundant. On fights that are too short for us to gain real benefit from the cooldown reduction it is, again, pointless. This makes the bonus situational as opposed to static.

As it stands now, the best option is to use elemental mastery as soon as it is off cooldown. Assuming you’re doing so, the set bonus is worth around the one hundred DPS mark at best.

The four set bonus on the other hand, is pretty diabolical. The cooldown on lava burst is 8 seconds. With the four set tier ten bonus, it is at 6.5 seconds. The duration of our flame shock is 18 seconds. Using lava burst when flame shock is not on the target makes no sense. The basic maths shows that this bonus doesn’t allow us to squeeze in one more lava burst per flame shock. Infact, it encourages us to clip our flame shocks (and basic DoT management of any class will dictate that this is generally a bad thing to do). This equated to a four set bonus worth around 60 DPS. Yes, 60 DPS. When you consider shamans were already lagging behind in the DPS stakes, a four set bonus so poorly designed as this merely amplifies the problem.

With such a pathetically small bonus to be had from equipping four pierces of tier armour, many elemental shamans declared that they simply wouldn’t bother and that the benefit from the higher stats received from seeking out absolute best in slot items would be stronger than the four set bonus.

The New

Blizzard announced before Christmas that they would be investigating this four set bonus and if necessary, redesigning it.

Finally with the release of patch 3.3.2, we have that redesign:-

Successful Lava Burst casts now increase the duration of Flame Shock on the target by 6 seconds.

It’s certainly not earth shatteringly new. A similar idea was used for the two set bonus in the shaman tier 9. The value of this set bonus is quite obvious. As I’ve mentioned in the spell rotation section, flame shock has a (very) small initial damage component, followed by a reasonable DoT component. It’s presence is needed to guarantee that our lava bursts will be critical strikes. Our lava burst hits extending the duration of flame shock means we have to cast the shock less often. This allows that global cooldown to be better spent on a higher damage nuke. When you consider that we cast flame shock approximately once every 18 seconds (give or take, most shamans find themselves having to “clip” their shocks), it should save us one global cooldown every 18 seconds.

It doesn’t address the issue of clipping the flame shock itself sadly. We will probably still find ourselves needing to refresh the shock before the odd incoming lava burst to ensure we don’t lose our critical strike guarantee. Another down side is that it’s value on AoE pulls is minimal. The adds will probably die far too quickly for this bonus to really take effect.

On a tank and spank fight, this new bonus equates to around 150-200 DPS. This is a huge improvement over our former tier ten set bonus and certainly more in line with our previous ones.

In movement fights, we need to alter our play somewhat. There is no longer any value in using flame shock just because we have little else to use. Indeed, this could cause us a loss of DPS. As I mentioned in my rotation section however, we do have (often forgotten) other shocks. Frost shock has a higher initial hit than flame shock anyway, making it quite ideal to now weave into a rotation during movement sections of a fight. (Do remember that it also has a higher threat value, so be sure it’s safe to do this before shocking.)

In addition to the tweaking of the shamanism talent, patch 3.3.2 is looking quite exciting for the raiding elementals out there.

Categories: Patch 3.3.2

Patch 3.3.2 – Elemental Changes

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

For the raiders out there, this is arguably the patch we have all been waiting for since Icecrown Citadel finally went live on the 9th of December. Patch 3.3.2 unlocks the final wing of the raid instance including none other than the Lich King himself.

Of equal interest for the elemental shamans out there was (finally) the admittance from Blizzard that our DPS wasn’t quite upto par. Quite why it has taken them until this stage to either realise or act upon this is baffling. Never the less, here is the change to shamanism:-

Shamanism: This talent now provides 4/8/12/16/20% extra spell damage to Lightning Bolt/Chain Lightning, up from 3/6/9/12/15%, and 5/10/15/20/25% to Lava Burst, up from 4/8/12/16/20%.

Needless to say, since it’s appearance back in patch 3.0.8, shamanism has been the core end game talent for the elemental shamans and it’s obvious to see why the developers chose to boost our DPS through the alteration of this talent.

How Does Shamanism Work?

First things first. This is not an increase to the base damage of any of our spells. These remain unchanged.

Shamanism effects our spell coefficients. (A coefficient at it’s most basic level is a multiplier). The coefficient dictates how much our bonus spell power will effect the base damage of the spell we’re casting. In this case, shamanism has been increased at it’s highest level talent point by 5%.

The result is that an additional 5% of your spell power will be added to each cast of the effected spells. Therefore, your lightning bolts, chain lightnings and lava burst will gain an additional 5% of your bonus spell power.

Due to this and the fact the boost is to our spell coefficients, this change will be felt more at the higher levels of gear (i.e. the shamans will the higher levels of spell power will get the biggest gain in raw dps).

Charles, over at Planet of the Hats (http://wowhats.wordpress.com) used his amazing Zap! spreadsheet to run some analysis on the raw DPS increase we can expect from this change. Zap is currently estimating a 4-5% DPS increase without the use of offensive fire totems (good news for those of us who are still using Totem of Wrath!). As mentioned, because this change is effecting the coefficient, the 5% increase applies to a shaman running best in slot gear and therefore benefiting most from this tweak.

While some voices from the community are claiming this still isn’t enough, it’s a sizeable increase to our output and will hopefully make us competitive on the metres again. Happy nuking people!

Categories: Patch 3.3.2
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