Home > Patch 3.3.3 > Patch 3.3.3 And Elemental Changes

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%

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.


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
  1. Amber
    March 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you for this article. You summed up everything amazingly in terms a regular player/raider can understand (iam not a math genius like the people over at elitist jerks lol. I am looking foward to your next article.

    • Robert
      April 2, 2010 at 9:00 pm

      This has been probably the best Elemental Shaman article I’ve read since becoming one over a year ago. Nice job, keep it up.

      • April 3, 2010 at 12:11 pm

        I’m really glad you liked it 🙂 Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  2. March 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm


    Thanks for stopping by and I’m really glad the article was of use to you. The blog has been slightly inactive for the past week due to the speed at which I’ve had to level up an alt. Normal service should be resumed within the next few days 🙂

  3. Amber
    March 23, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    NP I have been reading all the other articles now, very informative. I was pretty confused about the changes and you have made in incredibly clear, thank you again! You ar my new favorite person lol


    • March 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm

      Aaaw ❤ Thank you 🙂

      As I said, I've been a bit absent from the blogging for the last week but that should stop soon 🙂

  4. rick
    March 23, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    thanx, this article was a big help. I just ding 80 yesterday on my ele. I was wondering about the whole flame shock glyp when 3.3 droped.

    • March 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm

      I’m glad it helped 🙂 And thank you for the comment 🙂

  5. Canaandra
    March 23, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Sweet and comprehensive article. I have to admit I’ve been a bit disappointed over the overall feelings for ele shammys lately. It’s almost made me want to go enhancement but I’m going to give it a try once again during this patch.
    Your article was awesome. Looking forward to more!

    • March 23, 2010 at 8:05 pm

      Elemental shamans haven’t had a great time. Our spec (and damage output) has been a little lack lustre for a while. There are some fights where we do really well and things aren’t totally dire but over all, I agree with you. While they keep “tweaking” with us through various avenues, nothing so far has bumped us up far enough in my opinion.

      I personally can not wait for tomorrow to see how the changes are “hands on” and in terms of competing with the other DPS in my guild.

      Here’s hoping it makes you want to stick to elemental too!

      I’m really glad you liked the article and thank you for taking the time to comment 🙂

  6. Aveleai - US, Korialstrasz
    March 24, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Hey Zing, just found your blog in time to see your review of the changes. Nice write up. (You can thank Kam over at Flame Shock for the referral =) ) You pretty much confirmed what I was thinking and so I went to test it out last night with a half dozen glyphs and a poor target dummy. While we’re still not the most uber dps class, things are definitely looking up for Ele’s. The last 2 patches have been kind (finally)!

    I can’t link from armory at work, but my name/server is the one shown if anyone wants to see the gear/spec I’m using for this. I figure this is a pretty good baseline for the average player as I’m still working towards 2pc T-10 and am 9/10 in ICC10 on this toon (this is my 3rd ICC raiding toon). Here is what I found last night:

    Parameters: no buffs, food, etc – simply totems. EM (non-T10 2pc) and Tstorm were used in rotation. Heroism was not used. Totems used: SoE, ToW, Mana, WoA. Totems were set back so Fire Nova was not used. Single Boss dummy in IF was used to avoid CL hitting secondary dummies.

    Test time: 3 sets of 3 min. on each glyph to get aver. dps.

    Glyph of Flame Shock: average sustained dps: 5086
    Glyph of Lava: average sustained dps: 5325
    Glyph of Flametongue: average sustained dps: 5445

    Granted, this is based on my personal reaction time, add-ons and a static fight but I would encourage anyone thinking of the glyph choices to give them a test. Flametongue is mighty tasty so far. =) Hope this helps!


    • March 24, 2010 at 7:01 pm


      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment 🙂 I’ve done quite a bit of testing this afternoon and I’ve found my DPS has increased by a fair amount. I was ranging from 7k to around 8.6k with Heroism. For me, glyph of lava was coming out on top most of the time. For those people who have the luxury of using fire DPS totems, I’d definitely be carrying around a fire elemental totem glyphs for the longer fights.

      Going back to the lava burst vs flametongue debate.; I think it’s quite circumstantial. On target dummies where you can stand and nuke, for me it makes sense that glyph of lava is coming out a winner. With nothing going on around you to watch, your rotation should be close to perfect. When we transfer this into a raid situation, while it’s nice to think that we don’t mess up, most of us do once in a while. In addition to that, on fights where you change targets a lot, particularly to low health targets, then I can see that flametongue is going to come out ahead. For newer shamans who are more likely to have errors in their rotation and who may fail to make the most of lava burst, then flametongue is going to be a “safer” more static increase I think.

      I was desperately looking forward to try out the changes first hand tonight but alas, we have a cancelled raid because one of our tanks is away with an out of game emergency soooo, I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how effective the DPS increase is in a raid environment. The closest I’ve come so far was a heroic 5 man earlier and I can say for sure my damage was quite considerably higher than I’ve seen before. I just hope that carries over to the raid and makes us able to compete more there 😉

      Our four set bonus is really good now so you’ll undoubtedly notice a good jump in DPS once you get that also 🙂

      Once again, thanks for stopping by and your comments are greatly appreciated 🙂

  7. May 12, 2010 at 5:21 am

    We still need a minor increase. We should be competitive with Shadow Priests at least but we are about 10% off.

  1. March 18, 2010 at 1:07 am
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