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.
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.
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.
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!