Patch 3.3.3 And Elemental Changes
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%
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.
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