Likely Elemental Builds from the New Thirty One Point Talent Tree
(Image courtesy of MMO Champion)
On the back of the thirty one point talent tree releases comes my thoughts on how we’re going to be spending our precious points. The skills we now gain upon specialising in the elemental tree are:-
(Image courtesy of wow.com)
Shortly after the release of the trees, I sat down to have a look at our possibilities using the talent calculator found over at MMO Champion. We do appear to have choices available to us, much as Blizzard wanted. You can find the build I refer to throughout this article here.
Tier One Choices
We need to spend five talent points in the first tier to progress to the second tier skills. Here we have the choices between:-
Elemental Devastation clearly has no benefit to us so this talent is obviously redundant to us in our first tier. This makes spending those initial five points very simple. Two go into Convection giving us a 10% mana reductions on our shock spells, chain lightning, lightning bolt, wind shear and lava burst. The remaining three are placed into concussion, increasing the damage done by our lightning bolt, chain lightning, thunderstorm, lava burst and shock spells.
Tier Two Choices
Here we need to spend a minimum of five points again to progress to the tier three talents. Our choices are:-
Call of Flame is boasting a 20% damage increase to our fire totems and a 10% increase to our lava burst spell (with the full two points spent). Even ignoring the benefit to lava burst, come Cataclysm we’re all going to be utilising offensive fire totems. As such, it is easy to see the DPS benefit from this talent and without doubt, two points should be spent there.
Elemental Precision is still awarding it’s 3% increased chance to hit. New for cataclysm is the spirit to hit conversion that accounts for the spirit we’ll be see on our gear. At it’s highest rank, this is a 100% spirit to hit conversion. Hit still remains our most vital stat prior to being hit capped and we’ll be spending three points in this talent.
Tier Three Choices
Our choices from the third tier of our newly designed tree are as follows:-
At this point we have spent 10 points and need 15 to reach tier three.
Reverberation gives us a 2 second cooldown reduction on our wind shear at it’s highest rank. This is pretty high benefit, particularly for those people who focus on ten man raiding where there aren’t going to be a multitude of people available for interrupting. Additionally, it’s too far into the elemental tree for the enhancement shaman’s to duck in and grab it, making it wholly unique to us. Two points go into this talent for me.
Elemental Reach remains unchanged, giving us an extended range on offensive spells in addition to a greater radius on thunderstorm. A greater range is frequently of benefit in raids allowing us to be less restricted by positioning limitations. This said, with the inclusion of Totemic Wrath, unless Blizzard stay true to their promise of allow us to somehow throw our offensive totems into range of a boss (or greatly increase the range on our searing totem), the ability to cast at range becomes less benefit to us. Many elemental players who already use fire DPS totems in a raid environment will know all to well that we’re not restricted by our personal casting range, but rather that of our searing totem. Being able to stand at greater range can be very useful, but not if we then need to move back into range to drop our totem. On encounters where spreading is vital (such as Blood Queen Lana’thel), it’s not uncommon to see elemental shaman’s claiming the closest spots rather than lingering in the back of the room. Why? because running through everyone else to place a searing totem is likely to kill other players at worst and severely impact our personal DPS at best.
Elemental Focus is again unchanged, triggering our clear casting state (and also giving access to the Elemental Oath talent in tier 4). Naturally, you’ll be spending one point in this talent.
This leaves two points to spend before you can progress to the tier four talents. Your choices are from Elemental Reach, or to duck back a tier and take either Improved Fire Nova or Elemental Warding. Since it’s introduction, I’ve been a fan of Improved Fire Nova but we are gaining earthquake as a channelled and persistent area of effect spell. Fire nova is primarily, at present, used for trash clearing. While it’s great fun to be able to contribute highly to this, the focus should always remain on downing boss encounters. (Of course, we don’t know what encounters face us in Cataclysm.) Elemental Warding is always a sound choice purely due to it increasing our survivability (and we won’t do any DPS if we’re dead.) Particularly when learning a new encounter, healing can be stressed and a reduced amount of damage is always a welcomed thing.
Tier Four Choices
The offers from our tier four talents are:-
At this point, we have four points to spend before we can touch on our tier five talents. Unrelenting Storm is questionable at this point. Until we’re experiencing the content, it’s hard to predict whether the additional mana regeneration will be necessary or not. Elemental Oath and Lava Flows remain unchanged and we spend two points and three points respectively in these two talents to gain access to tier five.
Tier Five Choices
We need to spend a minimum of four points at this stage to gain access to the tier six talents and our choices are:-
Here we found our unchanged Storm, Earth and Fire and Elemental Mastery. Clearly there are no changes from our current builds here and we spend three points and one point respectively for these two talents. This leaves our new talent, Totemic Wrath. Frequent visitors to this blog will know how much I’m looking forward to the this talent. Severing the tie between us and totem of wrath is a huge step forward for our mechanics and allows us the freedom to utilise our much loved but frequently neglected offensive fire totems. We complete this tier by spending a final point in Totemic Wrath.
Tier Six Choices
Dropping into tier six we have:-
Shamanism is an obvious choice, boasting a 20% increase to lightning bolt, chain lightning and lava burst based upon on personal spell power. Lava Surge is another new talent for Cataclysm. I’ve spoken at lengths about this talent here before. I really like the concept of it because I think it will encourage more intuitive play. Some people consider the elemental rotation to be quite stale (though I think when you start touching on the correct use of chain lightning, this isn’t such a valid comment), however potentially having our lava burst cooldown reset by the periodic damage of flame shock sounds a step forwards for me. It will hopefully reward the players that pay more attention as opposed to playing in auto pilot mode. The conclusion for me in tier six is that I’ll spend three points in Shamanism and two points in Lava Surge.
With the above recommendations, enough points have been spent to take our final talent:-
Another addition that I’m delighted to see. With elemental shaman’s being the only caster without a channelled area of effect spell, it’s appearance is welcomed and will hopefully make for less clumsy feeling AoE capabilities for us.
At this point, thirty two points have been spent in the elemental tree. This allows us to either back track up the elemental tree and grab talents that weren’t deemed essential but would be nice to have. Alternatively, we’ve spent enough points to venture into either the restoration or enhancement trees.
From the first tier of restoration we have:-
As per Blizzard’s new ethos of the new trees feeling like their intended role from the very start, restoration is very healing based. While Ancestral Resolve and Spark of Life clearly boast survivability increases, they won’t be increasing our DPS abilities in a raid situation. Tidal Focus is obviously not an option for us.
Looking instead to the enhancement tree, we find:-
Elemental Weapons remains an obvious choice, increasing the spell damage on our flametongue weapon by 30% at it’s highest rank. Ancestral Knowledge is another talent we’re already familiar with and increases our maximum mana by 15% at it’s highest rank. At this point we have four points remaining unspent. Ancestral swiftness has been receiving a lot of hype after it was announced ghost wolf would become usable indoors. A reduction in it’s cast time along with an increase in it’s speed are certainly nice. Ghost wolf’s base cast time is two seconds, so spending a full two points in this talent will allow us an instant cast travel form. I have a feeling this will become a staple part of most elemental talent builds and it was certainly one of the talent’s receiving a lot of love from the elemental representatives at the shaman round table.
If those two points are spent in Ancestral Swiftness, this leaves two remaining points (or perhaps three if you spent the minimum in the elemental tree. I personally spent two in Reverberation.) The choices for the remaining points are most likely Improved Fire Nova or Elemental Reach.
As I mentioned, I chose to spend two points in Reverberation as I think it’s value in ten man raiding particularly, could be quite high. For some players, this value isn’t going to be as high and I’d definitely be spending the points in Elemental Reach under those circumstances (though, as mentioned earlier, I think the value of increased casting range is debatable until our fire totems have either equal range or a mechanic to place them at the boss.)
There has been some debate surrounding the value of Lava Surge and some theory crafting certain suggests that it’s potential DPS increase isn’t huge. Zamir over at Planet of the Hats ran some preliminary numbers on this talent through his Zap! spreadsheet and found it was suggesting an increase of around 300 DPS (which is relatively small when we’re talking about 10k DPS overall.) You can read his thoughts on this talent here. In addition to the under whelming DPS gain, there has been concern regarding it’s burst damage potential in a PvP environment. While a reduced cooldown on lava burst provides a lot of burst damage potential, it’s sustainable damage increase isn’t that great. Burst damage naturally has the potential of create a problem in a PvP environment so many have debated whether this talent can possibly go live in it’s current format. I’m in favour of the talent, however, due to it’s concept. How it will perform in live and in a PvE environment can still be debated so perhaps it’s possible that this won’t be such a desirable talent ultimately.
There we have it ladies and gentlemen, there is undoubtedly some room for flexibility in the elemental tree as it stands.