Home > Uncategorized > Elemental Glyphs Post Patch 3.3

Elemental Glyphs Post Patch 3.3

Patch 3.3.3 brought some lovely elemental changes with it but also changed one of our previously “must have” glyphs. I’ve had a lot of questions and comments asking about the strength of the new contenders for that coveted third major glyph spot so rather than leave people to sift through the comments, I’ll attempt to summarise a little more here.

Why Do We Have to Change Glyphs?

Amongst the elemental changes that arrived with the patch, flame shock, the shock spell used in the elemental rotation, was altered allowing the damage over time component to produce critical strikes by default.

Prior to this patch, we used glyph of flame shock to force those DoT ticks to crit and thus, increasing our personal DPS. When Blizzard changed flame shock’s mechanics to crit by default, they also changed the now useless glyph of flame shock. The tooltip now reads:-

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

From the tooltip alone, it sounds quite good. However we had always had a third glyph hovering on the outskirts of the three recommended elemental glyphs; glyph of lava.

Before patch 3.3 went live, there was quite a debate about the value of glyph of lava versus glyph of totem of wrath. Due to the changes to glyph of flame shock, it became necessary to evaluate it’s new DPS value versus other glyphs. The first obvious glyph to compare it to, was the previously mentioned glyph of lava. A new contender also appeared however, glyph of flametongue weapon, previously a favourite amongst levelling elemental shamans also looked more appealing.

So What Glyphs Should I Be Using?

Firstly, glyph of lightning bolt is still by far our best glyph. Lightning bolt is our primary filler spell and there are no situations where this glyph shouldn’t be used. Our second best glyph is totem of wrath. This glyph gives us an increase in spell damage so effects all our spells across the board.

There are three contenders for the third major spot. These are as follows:-

Glyph of flame shock

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

Glyph of lava

  • Your Lava Burst spell gains an additional 10% of your spellpower.

Glyph of flametongue weapon

  • Increases spell critical strike chance by 2% while Flametongue Weapon is active.

The first avenue in identifying the strongest of the glyphs was to utilise a spreadsheet such as Zap! Charles over at Planet of the Hats (and Zap’s creator) did exactly this and got the following DPS values:-

  • 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

How Do I Choose Between Glyph of Flametongue and Glyph of Lava?!

If you’re looking for a definitive answer, you’re going to be hard pressed to find one. The actual values of these glyphs vary from player to player depending upon their gear.

As you start to reach best in slot levels of gear, (boasting very high levels of haste and spell power), crit becomes more valuable to us. Glyph of flametongue provides a 2% critical strike chance increase across all our spells. This does not affect lava burst because when used correctly (that is to say, cast when flame shock is already present on the target), it produces a guaranteed critical strike. At the exact opposite of this we have glyph of lava which boosts our lava burst but doesn’t influence our other spells.

Taking the above into account, the value of each glyph varies depending upon the encounter mechanics, your gear and to some extent, your raid setup. Let’s look at these now.

Encounter Influences

In a fight with multiple targets where you’re utilising chain lightning, a higher percentage of your damage will be coming from your chains. In this case, a 2% critical strike increase will benefit you more than an increase to your lava burst.

In a fight with a great deal of movement where you struggle to maintain a high DPS uptime, then you’ll cast fewer and fewer filler spells. Your priority spell will still be your lava burst so the chances are that a greater percentage of your damage will come from this source. In this case, it would be better to use glyph of lava burst and increase the damage on these hits.

If an encounter requires a period of sudden, high burst damage, glyph of lava will deliver this. Critical strike chance still has an elemental of randomness. Where as a solid boost to your hardest hitting nuke is more reliable and a static DPS increase.

Your Raid Setup

Do you use a demonology warlock? If so, his demonic pact will offer more spell power to your raid than your totem of wrath. In this situation, you should switch and use fire DPS totems. Both your Searing Totem and your Magma Totem utilise your critical strike rating at the time you drop them. In this situation, having a higher level of crit for yourself (via glyph of flametongue totem) will produce a higher level of crit on your totems.

Do you use a boomkin? If so, then the haste aura provided should be taken into account when looking at your own levels of haste. As mentioned earlier, the higher your own haste, the more valuable crit becomes. In addition to this, you should consider your own cooldowns. Are you an engineer? Do you have the haste effect on gloves and do you remember to always use it when it comes off cooldown? Are you a troll? If so you have your racial to consider also. If you’re managing high levels of haste throughout an encounter, then the value of glyph of flametongue will become higher. Why? quite simply because haste effects your lightning bolts and now your flame shocks too. It has very little effect on your lava burst. As such, a higher percentage of your damage will be coming from flame shock and lightning bolts.

Technical Factors

High latency or low FPS both affect your DPS enormously. Due to the fact lava burst is our highest priority spell, it’s likely that your filler spells suffer more from these problems. As such, glyph of lava is probably a better choice.

On the note of lag, if you haven’t yet read Charles’ amazing in depth look at how lag can impact your DPS, go and read this as you may find it very eye opening!

Any Other Options?

There is another glyph option for the third spot though it’s highly circumstantial and not an option available to all of us. If you do have the luxury of raiding with a demonology warlock and are therefore free to use DPS totems, glyphing your fire elemental can be a smart move on some encounters. This glyph reduces the cooldown of your fire elemental totem to five minutes. On some longer fights, this allows you to pop your fiery buddy twice in the course of the fight. An excellent example of this is the Lich King encounter where the use of a fire elemental can drastically increase your damage output. Remember to remove this on fights where you can’t utilise him twice however as it’s a wasted glyph slot to just leave it sat there.


As I mentioned, if you’re looking for an easy, clear cut answer on which third major glyph to use, there isn’t one. I’d encourage you to use Zap! to find out exactly what each glyph is worth to you based on your individual gear levels. From there, consider what encounters you’re working on and how these dictate what you’re casting and where your damage is coming from.

At present, I’m carrying around stacks of both of these glyphs and switching from fight to fight.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Blublub
    March 26, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    One more factor to consider I think: if you have the Reign of the Dead trinket it’s probably best to go with the Flametongue glyph.

    In round numbers let’s say you pump out 50 spells in one minute, and each Reign proc hits for 2400. The 2% crit from the glyph gives you an extra proc per minute. That comes out to 40 dps extra, just from the trinket/glyph combo.

    Of course that’s not super-accurate, but when you’re talking about the glyph normally being worth 120dps, it’s significant.

    • March 26, 2010 at 4:06 pm

      I had *never* considered that at all and considering I got the reign a couple of weeks ago and have been squealing over it every since, I should have.

      Thank you for that πŸ™‚

    • March 26, 2010 at 5:22 pm

      I think your numbers are a bit optimistic. Reign procs are a function of spell crits and the internal cooldown of 2 seconds. We can model the time between motes as:

      internal cooldown + average cast time / average crit chance
      (remembering that periodic crits don’t count)

      Average cast time is a bit complicated, but we can simply it to something like 1 FS, 3 LvBs and filler LBs. With say, 50% haste, let’s say that’d be about 21 LBs. Add up the cast times:
      21*1.33+4*1 = 31.93
      Divide by total spells cast, including the 33% lighting overload chance:
      31.93/(21*1.33+4) = 1

      So we have 1.00 spells per second potentially able to trigger a mote.

      Let’s say we have 50% crit chance – so LB has 55% and LvB 100%. Our average spell crits per rotation would be:
      21*1.33*0.55+3*1+1*0.5 = 18.86
      Divide this by the total number of spells (that we already worked out above):
      18.86/(21*1.33+4) = 0.59071
      This is our average crit chance. So we can plug all these values into the formula we started with and get:

      2 + 1/0.59071 = 3.69s between motes = 11.07 seconds per proc = 5.42 procs per minute. Times that by the damage per proc which we’ll call 2400 (it’s probably a bit higher than that) and divide it by 60 gives 217 DPS.

      Now add 2% more crit into the equation:
      21*1.33*0.57+3*1+1*0.52 = 19.44
      19.44/(21*1.33+4) = 0.6088
      2 + 1/0.6088 = 3.64s between motes = 10.92s between procs = 5.49 procs per minute = 220 DPS.

      In other words, adding 2% crit chance to a single RotD is about a 3 DPS increase – not insignificant, but not world-changing either πŸ™‚

  2. March 26, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Thanks for that Charles, I’m going to start saving all your maths somewhere πŸ˜‰


  3. Maker
    March 26, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I think people might want to consider keeping an umbrella around. Charles seems to rain on people’s parades with his math. Let us be ignorantly happy. 😦

    • March 26, 2010 at 7:18 pm

      Hahahahaha πŸ˜€

  4. March 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Yep hats off to you Charles πŸ™‚ Sorry I broke my golden rule: don’t drink and comment. I will double-check that in the morning but it looks roughly right.

    Actually I believe the average proc with the Heroic RotD and 50% crit is well over 3k, plus don’t forget with the glyph/trinket combo you have to factor in both the extra chance to proc as well as the extra damage from proc crits.

    I’d say the real delta is closer to 6dps than 3dps but you’re right, it’s not earth-shattering.

    Since I’m in a guild with a full time demo lock and combat rogue the Totem of Wrath is redundant a lot of the time. I was thinking I’ll probably stick with the Fire Elemental glyph from now on.

    I’m new to full-time elemental after being resto for a long time, and I’ll have to do my math on whether the fire ele is worthwhile on some of the single-target bosses. But as you say, the fire ele is _golden_ on Arthas.

  5. March 26, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    “Heroic RotD…. full time demo lock”

    I’m jealous 😦

  6. March 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I don’t want to come across as the know-all smashing people about the heads with a math-brick. Remember that until Bink quit I was actually more clueless than most people about the maths behind elemental TC, and it’s only since then that I’ve really made the effort to grasp it. So I’m not some sort of evil genius here to rain on parades so much as someone who’s found a new toy and is happy to play with it in public sometimes πŸ˜‰

    @Blublub: the 2400 figure I just took from your comment, and you’re right that I didn’t adjust it for the higher crit chance. The true figure for proc damage is the average damage listed on the trinket multiplied by any damage buffs (CoE etc), multiplied by crit chance and crit modifier. In ZAP!, going from 50 -> 52% crit takes Reign DPS from 252 -> 258 (normal) or from 283 -> 290 (heroic). Which is 6-7 DPS – your revised figure was spot on!

    These days I try to avoid just pulling answers from the spreadsheet in an effort to keep myself honest and force myself to actually work through the maths “live” – so that other people get a chance to engage and spot mistakes – rather than just being bludgeoned over the head with “well the spreadsheet says so nyah nyah!”. I always hope that in the process both others and myself might actually learn something.

  7. March 28, 2010 at 12:11 am

    I can’t speak for everyone but I think there are a lot of people within the community who are very grateful to you for the time you put into the “maths” side, Charles; myself very much included πŸ˜‰

    Furthermore, you manage to convey a great deal of it in a way that some of us *ahem* less maths inclined people can understand – which is something that doesn’t always happen in the realm of the EJ forums.

    So yes, as far as I’m concerned, I’m always very happy and thankful for your mathematical inputs (and the posts you make on your own blog naturally! :D)

  8. Fingal
    March 30, 2010 at 11:03 pm


    Great site, thanks a lot for all the clear, concise info.

    Question for you – I raid with a demo lock and a boomkin, so I don’t drop ToW. Should I still glyph for it and just drop it, get the buff and then lay down searing/magma?

    Or is it better to go Flametongue / Lava / LB.


    • April 3, 2010 at 12:19 pm


      Apology for the delay in replying. I’m glad you enjoyed the site. It’s better to use the totem of wrath glyph regardless of your raid setup. It’s an annoyingly clumsy mechanic in my opinion, but it’s still your strongest glyph option.

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