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Elemental Mastery – What, When and How?

August 2, 2010 5 comments

Elemental Mastery is the thirty one point talent found in the elemental tree. It’s also the tree’s only DPS cooldown. With a hefty three minute by default cooldown, how we use Elemental Mastery can be quite critical. Today, we’re looking at precisely that; the most effective use of this significant elemental talent.

What Does Elemental Mastery Do?

In it’s current live form, it’s tool tip reads as follows:-

  • When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, you gain 15% spell haste for 15 sec. Elemental Mastery shares a cooldown with Nature’s Swiftness.

  • Instant Cast
  • Three Minute Cooldown

We can split this down into two distant effects. Firstly, is the instant cast component of Elemental Mastery. The second is the 15% increase in spell haste for the next fifteen seconds.

When considering the instant cast element, we have two options on “spending” this. Firstly, we can use it on our longest cast spell. Secondly, we can use it with Lava Burst’s guaranteed critical strike to enter a Clearcasting state via Elemental Focus.

If we look at the base cast times of our spells, we have the following:-

  • Lightning Bolt – 2.5 Seconds Cast Time
  • Chain Lightning – 2 Second Cast Time
  • Lava Burst – 2 Second Cast Time

The above detail the untalented cast times of our offensive spells. When taking into account our Lightning Mastery talent, we can shave off 0.5 seconds from each cast time:-

  • Lightning Bolt – 2 Second Cast Time
  • Chain Lightning – 1.5 Second Cast Time
  • Lava Burst – 1.5 Second Cast Time

Obviously these times do not account for individual haste but Lightning Bolt will remain the spell with the longest cast time.

The second choice is to utilise the instant cast component on our most potent offensive spell and the one that is guaranteed to trigger Clearcasting:-

  • Lightning Bolt – Base Damage of 768
  • Lava Burst – Base Damage of 1355
  • Chain Lightning – Base Damage of 1042

In addition to it’s highest base damage, Lava Burst not only scales extremely well (it has an 82.14% spell coefficient with Shamanism and a 92.14% coefficient if you’re using the Glyph of Lava) but it is also a guaranteed critical strike if used correctly (that is to say, when Flame Shock is running on the target.) This guaranteed critical strike is what allows us to enter a Clearcasting state via Elemental Focus

Ensuring our longest casting spell is instant provides the greatest benefit to us in terms of DPS. If mana is an issue and you really need Clearcasting active (particularly if your haste is not yet sufficient to drop Chain Lightning from your rotation), then use Lava Burst.

The second effect is the fifteen percent increased spell haste for fifteen seconds. Haste is the third most important stat for us (I’m counting hit rating as the first) and as such, this in itself is a sizeable increase to our DPS. As we gear up however, haste effects have to be more carefully timed to ensure we gain the maximum potential we can from them.

How Haste Effects Our Spells

Haste has several “caps” that dictate it’s value or benefit to us. The first, and the one with which we’re concerned here, is the GCD (global cooldown) cap. This is the point whereby you have sufficient haste to reduce the global cooldown of a specific spell to one second. At this stage, the global cooldown can’t be reduced any further so additional haste will stop benefiting that spell.

This GCD cap varies between spells depending on how much haste is required to reduce their individual cast time to one second. Obviously, the longer the base cast time of a spell, the more haste will be required to reduce this to one second. Chain Lightning and Lava Burst, for example, need just 50% haste to reduce their 1.5 second cast times to 1 second. Lightning Bolt on the other hand requires 100% haste. For most people, it’s easier to quantify this with actual haste values as opposed to percentages. These are:-

  • 3279 Unbuffed Haste
  • 2785 Haste with Wrath of Air and Raid Buffs (for example, Moonkin Aura)
  • 1994 Haste with Wrath of Air, Raid Buffs and Elemental Mastery
  • 1386 Haste with Wrath of Air, Raid Buffs and Heroism or Bloodlust
  • 778 Haste with Wrath of Air, Raid Buffs, Heroism or Bloodlust and Elemental Mastery

The last figure it particularly important. In a raid situation, were you to trigger both Elemental Mastery and Heroism simultaneously, you would only need 778 haste on your character panel to have hit the GCD cap for Lightning Bolt. If you have higher levels of haste than this, you would be wasting a portion of your cooldowns.

It’s critical to also consider item’s with haste effect procs. The best in slot relic for an elemental shaman is Bizuri’s Totem of Shattered Ice. It’s tool tip reads:-

  • The periodic damage from your Flame Shock spell grants 44 haste rating for 30 seconds. Stacks upto 5 times

Even during periods of high movement there is little excuse for not having a Flame Shock running on a boss. As such, this is a quite static 220 haste increase to most elemental players.

For the majority of the time, the haste levels required to hit the GCD cap for Lightning Bolt are unobtainable (remember that would be 2785 haste with your own Wrath of Air and Moonkin Aura.) When you start considering haste based cooldowns and effects however, it becomes clear that triggering them simultaneously can soon reach less beneficial levels of haste.

The conclusion? To avoid wasting a portion of your haste effects, don’t use them simultaneously as this can result in you hitting the normally unobtainable GCD cap for your Lightning Bolt. (Incidentally, this isn’t limited to Elemental Mastery and Heroism. It also applies to the troll racial and to engineers with Hyperspeed Accelerators on their gloves.)

When to Use Elemental Mastery

Based on the above, using Elemental Mastery and Heroism separately is the ideal option. This proves the most problematic on encounters were you pop Heroism immediately. You are torn between wanting Elemental Mastery on cooldown as fast as possible (so it can both be used again as fast as possible and so that you benefit from the two set tier ten bonus – more on this shortly) and not wanting to waste portions of your haste gains due to hitting the GCD cap for Lightning Bolt.

On such encounters there is a third option, stacking your haste buffs for a few seconds to apply a double hasted Flame Shock.

As of patch 3.3.3, Flame Shock was changed to allow it to benefit from haste. Haste effects how fast our Flame Shock ticks occur but not how many occur. That is to say, with higher haste Flame Shock will tick faster and thus have a shorter duration. Flame Shock is not limited by a global cooldown. Due to this, Flame Shock continues to gain benefit from haste when other spells have reached their GCD caps. The obvious downside to this is the need to refresh the shock more frequently (though rest assured the DPS gained from the hasted ticks far outweigh the necessity to refresh more often.)

The elemental tier ten four set bonus goes a distance to combating the problem. The effect reads:-

  • Your Lava Burst causes your Flame Shock effect on the target to deal at least two additional periodic damage ticks before expiring

This tool tip was, in my opinion, never particularly clear. Thanks to the theory crafting over at Elitist Jerks however, the exact mechanic behind this effect soon became clear. The effect always adds the closest number of additional ticks that can fit in a six second duration. Therefore, the more haste you have, the more ticks can occur in that 6 second interval and the more DPS you gain. Due to this not only does Flame Shock itself continue to benefit from haste but the tier ten four set bonus also scales very nicely with it.

On encounters where Heroism is triggered immediately, I will use Elemental Mastery with a few seconds remaining on Heroism’s duration. This elevates my personal haste to much higher levels than I would normally want. During this brief window, I’ll reapply Flame Shock. This is known as double hasting your Flame Shock.

While doing this does provide a DPS increase, it certainly isn’t huge. As such, you’d never want to deliberately save your Elemental Mastery for this reason. However on those few fights where Heroism is used at the start, this tactic can allow you to receive a DPS gain from the Flame Shock whilst also putting Elemental Mastery on cooldown a few seconds earlier than you would if waiting for Heroism’s duration to expire. Using Elemental Mastery as much as possible will greatly outweigh the DPS gained from double hasting your Flame Shock.

Personally, I use the Power Auras addon to numerically display exactly how many seconds are remaining on Heroism. I’ll generally pop Elemental Mastery at around four seconds remaining and then refresh the Flame Shock. Triggering Elemental Mastery with several seconds remaining on your Heroism reduces the effectiveness of the your cooldown as any additional spells you cast during this window of opportunity will be GCD capped. It can take a little practice to get entirely comfortable with the timing for this but it does allow for a small DPS increase.

There are exceptions to most rules and there are some encounters with a specific “burn” phase where saving Elemental Mastery might be beneficial.

Elemental Mastery and Two Part Tier Ten Bonus

The two piece tier ten bonus directly works to reduce that hefty cooldown on Elemental Mastery. It’s tool tip reads:-

  • Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells reduce the remaining cooldown of your Elemental Mastery talent by two seconds

While this sounds good on paper it is, sadly, a little situational. On encounters with a great deal of movement the benefit of this bonus plummets. Simply put, the more we move the less we cast. In addition, due to the priority system of the elemental rotation, Lava Burst remains our priority. It is our “filler” spells that suffer the most from movement fights and sadly, it’s these spells that work to reduce the cooldown of our Elemental Mastery.

How exactly does this two set bonus work? Every Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning spell we cast takes two seconds off the three minute (180 seconds) cooldown of Elemental Mastery.

The two set bonus is worth around 100 to 150 DPS at it’s best but as stated at the beginning, it suffers terribly on high movement fights.

Combining Additional Cooldowns and Effects

While it’s obvious that you should avoid stacking multiple haste effects, periods of high haste are the perfect time to trigger spell power based cooldowns. At it’s most basic level, haste makes us cast faster. When it comes to potion choice, the Potion of Wild Magic offers both a critical strike increase and a spell power increase. It reads as follows:-

  • Use: Increases critical rating by 200 (9.06% @ L70) and spell power by 200 for 15 seconds
  • One minute cooldown

The best way to increase the effectiveness of this potion is to use it during periods of high haste. This means we’ll be casting more of this buffed offensive spells than we would without haste effects.

For this reason, during encounters where you are triggering Heroism from the start, pre-potting with a Wild Magic Potion will offer you the best DPS increase. (Note that it’s vital that you pre-pot to ensure you trigger the cooldown for potions and allow yourself to use a Potion of Speed later in the fight.)

Elemental Mastery and Chain Lightning

Elemental Mastery’s haste increase can cause problems with the GCD cap of some spells. Chain Lightning, for example, only requires 50% haste to be GCD capped. The general rule of thumb I follow for Chain Lightning use (which you can read about in depth here) is that if Chain Lightning’s cast time is shorter than 1 second, I drop it from my rotation. Obviously this means that during Heroism, I’m primarily spamming Lightning Bolt.

Elemental Mastery doesn’t have the the same potency of haste increase offered by Heroism but depending on your personal level of haste, you may find the need to drop Chain Lightning from your rotation while the Elemental Mastery buff is up. In my case, Chain Lightning’s cast time slips to just under 1 second during the increased haste of Elemental Mastery. As such, I only incorporate Chain Lightning into my single target rotation when I have zero haste effects ticking.

Elemental Mastery in Cataclysm

Elemental Mastery has recently received a quite significant boost in a recent beta build. There, it currently reads as follows:-

  • When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, your Fire, Frost, and Nature damage is increased by 15% and you gain 20% spell haste for 15 sec.

  • Instant Cast
  • Three Minute Cooldown

This results in a 5% increase to the spell haste it rewards (20% up from 15%) in addition to a 15% increase in damage to our fire, frost and nature spells.

In addition, the introduction of the new talent, Feedback, will replace the eventual loss of our tier 10 set bonus. Feedback reads as follows:-

  • Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells reduce the remaining cooldown on your Elemental Mastery talent by 1 sec.
  • Three Ranks Available

At it’s maximum rank, that offers a three second reduction off our Elemental Mastery cooldown (a one second increase from the tier ten two set bonus.)

Summary

The general rules for the use of Elemental Mastery are as follows:-

  • Trigger it as early in a fight as you can. This is to both have it’s cooldown running as fast as possible but also to allow any Lightning Bolts or Chain Lightning spells you cast to work at reducing that cooldown further. (Assuming you are using two piece tier ten.)
  • Avoid using it during Heroism or Bloodlust at over 778 personal haste – you’ll waste part of their effects due to the GCD cap of Lightning Bolt
  • If you use Heroism at the start of an encounter, considering double hasting your Flame Shock for an additional DPS increase
  • Equally if you are using Heroism at the start of the fight, pre-pot with a Wild Magic Potion to take advantage of the high haste
  • Never save Elemental Mastery specifically for periods of Heroism to double haste your Flame Shocks. The loss of DPS from delaying it’s use will greatly outweigh the increased DPS from the hasted Flame Shock

Categories: Elemental Mastery

Elemental Gear – A Look at Best In Slots

July 28, 2010 8 comments

Some time ago, I wrote an article about gearing your elemental shaman to be raid ready from purely auction house obtained items. (You can read that article here.) Since then, I’ve had numerous requests to produce a “best in slot” guide and I’ll admit that I’ve generally avoided the topic.

A “best in slot” list refers to an end product comprising of the best available items in game. There are multiple problems with this concept. Firstly, World of Warcraft’s raiding game is now offering a great deal more choice. Players are presented with the option of focussing on ten man content alone. Throughout the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, ten and twenty five man loot tables have been separate entities; much to the annoyance of those people confined to ten man content to allow their guild to stay ranked. This is changing in Cataclysm (thank goodness) but it does mean that the items available to us vary. On the note of availability, many players also need to be realistic about their guild’s capabilities. Many coveted items for such a list are from heroic versions of twenty five man bosses. With the Icecrown Citadel buff gradually growing in it’s potency, the content has undoubtedly been accessible to more players. That said, some encounters remain very difficult and a portion of the player base will just not see them. You can, naturally, argue that this doesn’t change the “best in slot” list; indeed it doesn’t. However with a need to balance hit there is little point in relying on items from end game content that you have little chance of acquiring. When your spells are being resisted and your DPS directly affected, telling yourself that if you were to loot a specific item from a specific heroic encounter is of little consequence. We need to play in the here and now. Finally and related to the previous points, it is easy to forget that hit rating is our strongest stat until we are capped. Being under hit cap and experiencing resists will impact your DPS far more than any other stat. As such, it is vital to remember that acquiring best in slot gear is the destination at the end of a long and arduous journey. On the path, you may find that another item is far superior to you than one flagged as best in slot. This is frequently the case for high hit rating items.

Considering all of this, I’m not going to produce a definitive best in slot guide. I’m going to discuss your options at each step of your journey to that much desired destination.

Hit Ratings

At the centre of creating your ideal gear set should always be hit rating. It’s imperative that you remain hit capped as slipping under this point will have dire consequences for your DPS. The raid setup your guild utilise is key to calculating your required hit rating. There is zero point in aiming for a “best in slot” gear set that balances it’s hit around having misery or a boomkin’s presence if you raid with neither. Equally draenei aura rewards and additional 1% hit that needs to be accounted for.

I’m going to assume that everyone raids with Elemental Precision as aside from the hit rating increase, it also provides threat reduction. Based on this, hit rating required is shown below:-

  • Draenei with Misery / Boomkin Buff = 10% Hit Required = 263 Hit Rating (on character sheet)
  • Draenei without Misery / Boomkin Buff = 13% Required = 342 Hit Rating (on character sheet)
  • Non-Draenei with Misery / Boomkin Buff = 11% Required = 289 Hit Rating (on character sheet)
  • Non-Draenei without Misery / Boomkin Buff = 14% Required = 368 Hit Rating (on character sheet)

These are the figures you need to balance your gear set around. Being a few points under will impact your DPS but it will be quite negligible. Equally a few points over isn’t catastrophic. Avoid going considerably over hit rating as the stats are just wasted. Equally if you slip too far under, you’ll experience a large amount of resists on your offensive spells and your DPS will suffer.

Ten Man Versus Twenty Five Man Gear

Undoubtedly the largest factor that determines how your best in slot template looks comes down to whether you have access to twenty five man raiding. When Wrath content became available in two different incarnations (ten man and twenty five man), many players chose to focus purely on the smaller raids. Out of this apparent enthusiasm for a smaller raid size came strict ten man guild rankings. This gave the smaller guilds their own forum in which to feel competitive. To qualify, your guild had to forgo most twenty five man content. Indeed to ensure a new guild could not form out of veteran players boasting the crème de la crème of twenty five man gear, restrictions were put in place to limit how many twenty five man kills one guild could accommodate.

There is a vast difference between the gear available to twenty five man raiders in comparison with ten man players. For some item categories, you’re going to find yourself very limited in choice. The prime example of this, for casters, is in regards to trinkets. The lack of good trinkets has been a plague throughout the Wrath expansion. It began with the Illustration of the Dragon Soul back in Obsidian Sanctum. It continued into Ulduar and the Trial of the (Grand) Crusader instances with Flare of the Heavens, Scale of Fates and Reign of the Unliving and it has shown no sign of ceasing it’s torment in Icecrown Citadel and Ruby Sanctum with Dislodged Foreign Object, Phylactery of the Nameless Lich and Charred Twilight Scale.

As an officer in a ten man strict guild, the biggest request I get from members is them asking if we can afford a raid flag so they can pug for their trinkets. Their justification is simple and obvious; “it’s best in slot for me.” My answer is equally simple, “change your best in slot list to account for your guild.”

Four Set Tier Ten Bonus

Due to tier items and set bonuses, a reasonable number of our gear pieces are selected for us. This raises the question as to whether it is better to aim for a set bonus or choose offset pieces.

The entire tier ten set can be purchased with frost emblems. Much like tier nine, however, each piece has potential upgrades which are purchased with emblems dropping in raid content.

The two set bonus for the elemental set is as follows:-

  • Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells reduce the remaining cooldown on your Elemental Mastery talent by 2 sec.

It’s not an amazing set bonus and it suffers under certain circumstances (such as high movement encounters). It’s still worth around 100 DPS however.

The four set bonus for the elemental tier ten set reads as follows:-

Categories: Best in Slot Guide

Lightning Can Strike Twice

July 5, 2010 6 comments

Chain lightning is one of the most spec defining spells for an elemental shaman. Graphically, it’s quite entrancing and I suspect there are few shaman players that can say they weren’t slightly excitable the first time they got to utilise this spell, be that in a dungeon or a raid. The idea of the spell, it’s concept, is also quite intoxicating. One nuke, upto three targets. That is every caster’s dream; theoretically.

There is always confusion as to whether or not one should use chain lightning however. For the new level 80 shaman, they can find themselves running out of mana fast and not necessarily gaining much in return.

Today, we take a look at the maths behind chain lightning and when and how we should be utilising this into our rotations.

The Facts About Chain Lightning

Taking a look at it’s tooltip first:-

  • Hurls a lightning bolt at the enemy, dealing 973 to 1111 nature damage and then jumping to additional nearby enemies. Each jump reduces the damage by 30%. Affects 3 total targets.

That gives us an average initial damage of 1042. The following jumps at base damage level would be 729 and 510. It’s additional base statistics are as follows:-

  • 2 second cast time
  • 6 second cooldown
  • 26% of base mana

There is a major glyph option for chain lightning. The tooltip for this is:-

  • Your Chain Lightning strikes 1 additional target.

However, the same 30% reduction applies to the glyph resulting in the last hit being only 34% of it’s original hit’s damage or around 357 damage (assuming base stats again.) Basically, it isn’t worth using.

The initial, striking point worth mentioning is the mana cost of chain lightning; 26% of base mana. Lightning bolt, by comparison, costs 10% base mana. This is particularly important when we start to think of the situational uses for chain lightning. Secondly, it’s base cast time is 2 seconds. Again, if we compare this with lightning bolt, we find that chain lightning will cast 0.5 seconds faster.

Chain Lightning in an AoE Situation

An elemental shaman’s arsenal of AoE abilities isn’t huge. We lack the constant, channelled area of effect spells of the other casters. In terms of totems, we have our magma totem. In terms of AoE spells, we have chain lightning, thunderstorm and more recently, fire nova. The great thing about chain lightning is it’s ability to be woven into our single target rotation. It isn’t a choice between providing single target DPS or area of effect damage, we can do both.

Assuming that a multi-mob pull isn’t employing any form of crowd control (and for this expansion, it’s been generally safe to assume this), then using chain lightning in situations where more than one mob is in range of the chains makes complete sense. We drop a magma totem in range of the mobs (and then hope the pull stays in range either by good tanking or because they don’t have any annoying abilities that make them move around none stop,) perhaps use thunderstorm while running back out of the melee range required by our totem and commence a single target rotation, with the exception of using chain lightning and more recently, fire nova.

Obviously, in such a situation, using chain lightning as frequently as possible is the way forwards. Whilst ever there is more than one mob, your DPS is going to be higher by utilising it as soon as the cool down is up.

Chain Lightning as Part of a Single Target Rotation

Whilst using chain lightning in an AoE situation is obvious, whether to use it (or when), in a single target rotation becomes more complex. When looking at the base damage of our three main rotational “nukes” we have the following:-

  • Lava Burst – Base Damage of 1355
  • Lightning Bolt – Base Damage of 768
  • Chain Lightning – Base Damage of 1042

When you purely look at the base damage, chain lightning looks very good in comparison with lightning bolt. The base damage, however, doesn’t tell us how well (or otherwise) a spell scales with our own spell damage. To ascertain the scaling requires looking at the spell coefficients. Spell coefficients are calculated by dividing the base cast time by 3.5 and then multiplying the result by 100% to receive a percentage. For reference, you can find the shaman spell coefficients here. The best scaling spell in our arsenal is lava burst and aside from this, it’s a guaranteed critical strike when used correctly. That is to say, when flame shock is running on the target. Though chain lightning has a higher base damage, lightning bolt has a higher coefficient. In addition, glyph of lightning bolt is a must have glyph for any elemental shaman, increasing the damage dealt by lightning bolt by 4%.

Moving away from the base damage and coefficients, if we refer back to the mana cost of each spell, chain lightning is a very hefty 26% base mana. When we compare this with lightning bolt’s 10% base mana cost, it becomes glaringly obvious how expensive our beloved AoE spell is; 260% more expensive to be precise.

So what does this mean in practical terms? On longer boss fights, the use of chain lightning can be a huge drain on your mana. We can counter this by using thunderstorm every cooldown and refreshing our water shield as often as possible but keep in mind these are global cooldowns that could, potentially, be spent on a lightning bolt. While the ideal situation is to end any boss fight on zero mana, it is not ideal to run out of mana before the end. Regardless of your DPS before hand, you won’t be contributing any if you’re unable to cast by the latter stages of the fight. We could use a mana potion but with chain potting being a thing of the past that mana potion could equally be replaced with a wild magic potion during heroism or a potion of speed outside of this time.

The heavy mana cost of chain lightning can be slightly offset by utilising it only when clearcasting is up. Elemental focus is the talent that triggers a clearcasting state for an elemental shaman, the tooltip reads:-

  • After landing a non-periodic critical strike with a fire, frost, or nature damage spell, you enter a clearcasting state. The clearcasting state reduces the mana cost of your next 2 damage or healing spells by 40%.

The beauty of elemental focus for us comes from lava burst. When lava burst is cast on a target with flame shock (which it always should be), it’s a guaranteed critical strike so naturally, it triggers our clearcasting state. To take advantage of this with chain lightning and reduce that heavy mana cost, chain lightning needs to be cast after we enter our clearcasting state. To be clear, that means lava burst needs to have hit our target. Should you cast chain lightning directly after lava burst, travelling time will not have been taken into account and clearcasting won’t be up when you begin your chain lightning cast.

Simply put, if you wish (or need) to reduce the mana cost of chain lightning by exploiting a clearcasting state, then cast one lightning bolt after lava burst and then fire off chain lightning.

Chain Lightning and Haste

Chain lighting, as mentioned earlier, has a relatively short cast time of just 2 seconds. The fact it casts faster than lightning bolt is one of it’s great appeals. Taking into account our lightning mastery talent, the effective cast time is 1.5 seconds. Haste has several “caps” that dictate it’s value or benefit to us. The first, and the one with which we’re concerned here, is the GCD cap. This is the point whereby you have sufficient haste to reduce the global cooldown of a specific spell to one second. At this stage, the global cooldown can’t be reduced any further so additional haste will stop benefiting that spell.

It’s worth noting here that I’m not implying there is a point at which haste is of no value to elemental shamans’. Different spells require different levels of haste to GCD cap them. For chain lightning, however, this is a relatively small amount. With an effective cast time of 1.5 seconds, chain lightning only needs 50% haste before hitting the GCD cap. That equates to 1640 haste on charcter sheet. Whilst this seems an enormous amount, consider for a moment how many bufs we received in a raid environment that affect our haste rating. Our own wrath of air totem provides a 5% haste buff. Moonkin aura (or it’s equivalent) provides an additional 3%. Engineers have their hyperspeed accelerators and troll shaman have their own racial. When you then take into account our own elemental mastery and furthermore, heroism, it’s easy to begin to see how we can start to hit the GCD cap for chain lighting.

So, in practical terms, what does this mean? Quite simple, once the casting time of your chain lightning drops below 1 second, it is a DPS loss to use it in your single target rotation. This becomes slightly problematic in that our personal haste will vary so much during the course of one boss encounter.

To highlight this I’ll try to elaborate on how a typical boss encounter will work for me, or rather, for my rotation.

On a boss fight where we open with heroism, I will pre-pot with a wild magic potion. Using a speed potion during heroism would be too much haste when accounting for my personal level of raid buffed haste. During heroism, my chain lightning casts will be around 0.8 seconds. At this point, utilising chain lightning would be a DPS loss and lightning bolt spam outside of lava burst is the way to go. As I reach the end of heroism’s duration, I’ll pop elemental mastery before refreshing flame shock (known as double hasting your flame shocks. During elemental mastery, my haste will still be too high for chain lightning’s cast time to be above one second, so lightning bolt spam is still the way forward. After elemental mastery I will use my hyperspeed accelerators which places the cast time for my chain lightning exactly at one second. Personally at this point, I will weave chain lightning into my rotation. Once I’ve blown all these cooldowns, my rotation incorporates chain lightning. I have decent mana regeneration and the highest DPS gain from chain lightning comes from using it every single cool down. Theory crafting has shown this to net around a 100 dps gain. Utilising it in this manner is the most mana intensive option. If you only cast it when clearcasting has proc’d then you’re looking at a gain of around 50 DPS but with less mana consumption.

As soon as my potion cooldown is up, I’ll use a speed potion so again, chain lightning is removed from my rotation.

Obviously, the specifics of this depend upon individual gear. I’m restricted to ten man gear so I’m far from boasting the very best gear out there.

Monitoring your haste levels at any given point in the fight may sound daunting, but there are multiple addons that will do this for you in a clear and concise fashion if you don’t enjoy watching the cast time via your casting bar. I personally use SLDT which constantly gives me a read out of my current level of haste. It also becomes second nature to know at which points in a fight your haste is too high to employ a chain lightning inclusive rotation to good effect.

Summary

Utilising chain lightning in a situation where you have multiple targets in range is obvious. It will always be a DPS increase to do so.

In regards to a single target rotation, the answer becomes more confusing and dependent upon multiple factors. Aside from personal mana regeneration, the length of the encounter and your personal haste, you also have to consider what works best for you as an individual. Many players find a lightning bolt spam easier than weaving in chain lightning every cooldown. Under those conditions, you’re likely to have a higher personal DPS by focussing on what you can do well than fumbling a slightly more complex rotation.

However, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge believer in exploiting target dummies for perfecting your rotation prior to entering a raid environment. They allow you to train your muscle memory and thus focus your attention more on the actual raid. There is a theory in psychology that your attention should be considered like a spot light with a limited and fixed area of effect. If you know your rotation by heart, then it becomes much easier to focus that spot light of attention on the actual fight in hand and ensuring you react correctly to any external stimuli (such as not standing in fire for example.) When learning a new encounter. Yoru personal DPS will always be lower as the encounter is demanding more of your attention. The more accustomed you become to what is happening around you, the more you can focus on putting out the maximun DPS possible.

Imagine then if you try to use a slightly new rotation whilst also learning a new encounter. The margin for error is huge, your attention is only so great and your performance will suffer. Therefore, always practice any rotation changes, no matter how small, on a dummy before attempting to carry them out in a raid environment.

Note:- There’s also a theory that if the remaining health % of the boss is lower than your % of mana remaining, you should always be using chain lightning off of cool down. This certainly was the “rule” that Simcraft followed.

Categories: Chain Lightning

Pimp My Shaman

April 20, 2010 3 comments

It took a while (a little under 4 months to be precise), but finally my alt, Zinglet (Scublet..) finally reached level 80 yesterday. Overall, the process of levelling again wasn’t as painful as I had predicted and certainly not as mind numbing as I remember levelling Zing to be. This is probably purely due to the fact that when levelling Zing, I was desperate to change mains where as this time, it’s an alt. Never the less, I did believe levelling the same class again would be more painful that it ultimately was.

At this point in the game, it is incredibly easy to deck out a new level 80 character in style and this is exactly what I had intended to do. She has had multiple BoE epics in her inventory for many, many levels as I’ve diligently checked the auction house multiple times a day for those items I really wanted.

So, want to really pimp your shiny new shaman? Read on 😉

Please note: This is designed as a list of high level, BoE items that you can buy straight from the auction house. I’ll touch on BoP’s in another post.

Jewellery

Starting with the jewellery items, there are some really nice BoE’s around for these slots. Availability of them can vary however and at least one of the following took me a long time to find.

Neck

The Blood Queen’s Crimson Choker drops from, obviously, Blood Queen Lana’thel in 25 man, normal mode Icecrown Citadel. It’s a very good neck and as such, you’re mainly going to be hoping for pick up groups that raid role all BoEs and for someone to then sell it.

The price on this one is going to vary enormously. My server has a distinct lack of decent pugs and as such, the only one I’ve so far seen on the auction house was 22k. More populated servers should (hopefully) find this for a lot cheaper.

If you’re looking for a cheaper BoE altenative, there is the crafted Titanium Spellshock Necklace. Quite conveniently, this has a red socket which in true twink style, you’ll be gemming with a runed cardinal ruby.

Rings

The first obvious choice here is the upgraded Dalaran caster ring.

The price of this is dependent upon your reputation with the Kirin Tor. If you can’t wait and want to buy it straight off, the base ring is 8,500 gold and fully upgraded, you’re looking around 12k. If you don’t need hit however, this ring is unlikely to be replaced until well into Icecrown Citadel.

For the second ring slot you have a couple of options. Firstly is the Ring of the Darkmender, a BoE drop from Lord Jaraxxus in Trial of the Crusader 25 man. Secondly, is the superior Marrowgar’s Frigid Eye. Another BoE drop from Lord Marrowgar in 25 man normal.

The price difference, at least on my server, isn’t huge between the two rings. I opted for the Marrowgar’s Frigid Eye as both my shaman’s now have this (it’s part of Zing’s resto set) and as I can’t do twenty five man raids due to our ten man strict status, having this as a BoE option is lovely.

Once again, there is a much cheaper, crafted caster ring available in the form of the Titanium Spellshock Ring.

Trinkets

There are a couple of Darkmoon Faire trinkets that might be of interest. Firstly, is the caster version of the noble’s deck.

Secondly, is the illusion deck which, ignoring the awful effect, gives a nice, base spell power increase.

Armour

Shoulders

There’s little available in regards to BoE epic shoulders. The Stiffened Corpse Shoulderpads are a BoE drop from Icecrown Citadel, but you do have wasted stats in the form of spirit. That said, they’re a large chunk of spell power with sockets and a decent socket bonus.

I personally didn’t bother with these and will be going straight for t9 emblem shoulders. However, if you’re set on decking out in full BoEs right from the start (or you want to be Icecrown passable at least), these can be considered.

Cloak

There are a couple of options available here also and again, their price bracket varies. Firstly we have the Cloak of Displacement dropping from 25 man trial of the crusader.

The price again will vary hugely from server to server but a few thousand feels about right. The advantage of this cloak is that it has hit rating.

The second option is crafted, this time from tailoring and comes in the form of the Deathchill Cloak.

Chest

By far the best option here is to have the Merlin’s Robe crafted (or buy it from the auction house.) It was our best in slot prior to tier 10, despite being cloth and will comfortably see you into Icecrown.

Bracers

Once again, we look to tailoring to provide these amazing BoE bracers. Again, these were best in slot for elemental shaman’s before Icecrown was released and you’ll still see many using them well into the instance.

Weapon

There are a few options for the main hand slot ranging in price enormously. The first option is to acquire a Battered Hilt from the auction house. Upon completing the quest chain, the shaman reward is the Hammer of Purified Flame. Once again, if you’re looking for an item to see you into Icecrown Citadel, this would be it. The prices on these are still quite high on many servers. They vary on my home server from around 11,000 upto 15,000 gold.

Of the cheaper, crafted varieties we have the Titansteel Guardian and the Titansteel Spellblade. While the mace has higher spell power, the dagger comes with a nice splashing of hit rating which is generally a concern of newly levelled shaman.

Off-hand

Really good BoE off-hands are basically none existent. You can pick up Zom’s Crackling Bulwark very cheaply and while it’s far from amazing, it serves a purpose at this stage.

Belt

Again here we look to an Icecrown BoE drop. The Belt of the Blood Nova. This appears to be a fairly common drop and is certainly seen on the auction house a lot at reasonable prices.

Again, it’s not ideally itemised due to the MP5 but it does have both high spell power and high haste and will see you comfortably into Icecrown when you replace it with our best in slot, Waistband of Despair.

Legs

Fortunately for any newly levelled alt, crafted legs are available from Icecrown Citadel and crafters are quite abundant at this stage. The cloth leggings, Leggings of Woven Death, are better itemised for an elemental shaman than the Lightning-Infused Leggings, but the difference is very slight. Due to my vanity, I opted for the mail leggings as they match the look of the shaman t10. It should be noted that your best in slot set might include the t10 legs (due to their hit) but they will still carry you well into Icecrown Citadel (and all the way if you so wish.)

Boots

Once again, the Icecrown Citadel crafted boots are close to best in slot for many and this includes elemental shaman’s. The Earthsoul Boots are by far your best option here and can only be replaced by a very slight upgrade from Lady Deathwhisper heroic.

Conclusion

So there we have it. If you have gold to burn and want to dress your new shaman up like a barbie doll, this is how. If you want to (almost) walk straight into Icecrown Citadel with your guild then this will put you well on that road. Quite minimal emblem farming can be done to fill in the gaps (I’ll come to these in another post).

Categories: The New Shaman

Elemental Glyphs – Minors

February 27, 2010 2 comments

Where major glyphs tend to boost an aspect of our actual DPS spells, minor glyphs remove reagents and act as more convenience glyphs. As such, you will probably have more flexibility in what you use.

Glyph of Thunderstorm

The tooltip says:-

  • Increases the mana you receive from your Thunderstorm spell by 2%, but it no longer knocks enemies back.

This glyph is rather self explanatory. Our Thunderstorm ability will return 10% mana as opposed to it’s default 8% and the knock back portion of the spell is removed. The value of this glyph depends somewhat on your style of play. If, like me, you tend to use Thunderstorm as an AoE ability then your tanks are likely to insist that you glyph it. During AoE pulls, I will go into melee range to place down a Magma Totem, as I move back out of melee range, I’ll use Thunderstorm and then Fire Nova before commencing with single target DPS and Chain Lightnings.

An un-glyphed Thunderstorm would send the mobs scattering not only annoying your tanks but also running the risk of pulling more mobs and voiding the position on you Magma Totem.

Other Elemental Shaman’s will use this primarily as a mana gain and specifically for it’s knock back ability in some situations. Indeed, there is one particular encounter in Icecrown Citadel, Saurfang, where the knock back component of this spell is extremely useful.

In PvP, the value of this spell lays in it’s ability to knock back your enemies and it increases your survivability enormously.

It’s worth considering your style of PvE play before deciding whether or not to glyph this ability. I raid with it glyphed for all fights with the exception of Saurfang. If you choose not to glyph it, it maybe worth carrying a few copies of this glyph with you.

Recommendation Level – Recommended

Glyph of Water Shield

The tooltip states:-

  • Increases the number of charges on your Water Shield by one.

As the tooltip states, this glyph adds another charge to our Water Shield, increasing it to four charges. On fights with a lot of raid wide damage, you’ll find you have to refresh your Water Shield more than on fights with little. Due to this, you can refresh your Water Shield less frequently, thus freeing up those global cool downs for a DPS cast. While this DPS increase is very minimal, it’s still better than nothing.

This glyph loses it’s value on fights with a lot of movement since the chances are you have little you can do here other than cast the odd Frost Shock, perhaps refresh Flame Shock, reposition totems and reset your Water Shield charges.

Recommendation Level – Recommended

Glyph of Ghost Wolf

The tooltip states:-

  • Your ghost wolf form regenerates an additional 1% of your maximum health every 5 seconds.

As the tooltip states, this glyph provides you with extra health regeneration while in Ghost Wolf form. While it’s a fairly cute concept, Shaman’s are highly restricted on where we can use this in terms of a raid situation. If we could use Ghost Wolf inside, then the value of this would be quite large. Sadly, we can not.

As a PvP glyph and in combination with the Improved Ghost Wolf talent, this is very valuable. It removes the cast time from your Ghost Wolf form, allowing you an escape route, in addition to regenerating your health as you flee.

In addition to PvP, it can also be useful as a levelling glyph.

Recommendation Level – Useful, but not for raiding.

Glyph of Renewed Life

The tooltip states:-

  • Your reincarnation spell no longer requires a reagent.

A very standard format for a minor glyph. This removes the need to carry Ankh reagents around with you. The benefit of this glyph depends on a couple of things. Firstly, how good you are at preparing for a raid (or rather, the probability that you may forget to stock up on reagents) and secondly, whether you can justify the bag space in carrying them around with you. Personally, I always use this glyph. While I am generally good at remembering to stock up on reagents, forgetting to buy Ankhs and feeling the wrath of my guild master when I can’t reincarnate mid fight concerns me. A few of our glyphs remove the requirement for reagents, but reincarnate is the only one I use in a raid environment.

For people new to the Shaman class or who perhaps play their Shaman as an alt and are more likely to forget to buy reagents, I’d highly recommend this glyph.

Recommendation Level – Recommended.

Glyph of Astral Recall

The tooltip states:-

    The cooldown of your Astral Recall spell is reduced by 7.5 minutes.

There’s no hidden value in this glyph, it simply reduces the cool down on Astral Recall. While it’s a nifty idea, with all the alternative modes of transport these days, I don’t feel it’s justify. Hearth stone cool down’s are now 30 minutes. There are Kirin’Tor rings allowing you an additional HS effect. The Argent Tournament allows you to purchase a tabard to travel directly there. Scribes and engineers both have additional means of transport also.

I carry a few of these glyphs around during world events when using Dalaran as a portal hub is valuable and time saving. Aside from that, I feel there are more valuable minor glyphs.

Recommendation Level – Down to personal preference

Glyph of Water Walking

The tooltip states:-

  • Your water walking spell no longer requires a reagent

Another convenience glyph designed to remove the need to carry around reagents. While not depending on remember to buy reagents to be able to cast a spell is always handy, this glyph obviously has no benefit to a raid environment at all. It may be of some use to those levelling in that they can travel across water faster without the worry of remembering reagents but even then, there are arguably better glyphs for levelling.

Recommendation Level –Low

Glyph of Water Breathing

The tooltip states:-

  • Your Water Breathing spell no longer requires a reagent.

Yet another glyph to remove reagent requirements. Again, this has no real value to a raiding Elemental Shaman but maybe of some use to people while levelling up (although in all honesty, most quests that require you to travel under water now provide you with items to breath anyway)

Recommendation Level –Low

Categories: Minor Glyphs

Elemental Glyphs – Majors

February 26, 2010 6 comments

Today, we’re back on topic with a look at the major glyph choices for a raiding elemental shaman. To avoid a mammoth style wall of text crit, this section will focus purely on our major glyph choices.

With a wide variety of glyphs out there, how do you know which to choose? The awesome value of glyphs is that switching them is now simple enough to allow you to carry multiple glyphs and change them to suit the encounter. What follows is a look at the various glyphs and their value to raiding elemental shaman.

Since patch 3.3, the choice between our major glyphs has become more of a grey area. While there are two outstanding winners (Glyph of Lightning Bolt and Glyph of Totem of Wrath), the third slot is up for contention. There are two contenders and both offer a very close DPS increase. Due to this, the choice becomes more circumstantial and based upon your own gear, your raid setup and even the encounter at hand. I’ll review the glyphs below and then detail how to make the choice at the end of this article.

I’m going to start with the essential major glyphs.

Major Glyphs

Glyph of Lightning Bolt

The Glyph of Lightning Bolt tooltip states:-

  • Increases the damage dealt by lightning bolt by 4%.

This is the strongest of our glyphs by far and definitely not one you would switch around. The 4% multiplier is applied to the final damage of our Lightning Bolt. As our filler spell, this is huge upgrade to our primary source of damage. The value of this glyph increases on any fights where you can stand and DPS. It decreases on any fights with a lot of movement (not only due to the fewer number of Lightning Bolts we would cast in comparison to a tank and spank but also due to the elemental rotation being based more on priority than a strict cycle and Lightning Bolt is the lowest priority cast we have.)

According to the Zap! spreadsheet, this glyph is worth around 260 DPS which is far ahead of it’s nearest contenders

Glyph of Totem of Wrath

The Glyph of Totem of Wrath tooltip states:-

  • When you cast Totem of Wrath, you gain 30% of the totem’s bonus spell power for 5 minutes.

Our rank four Totem of Wrath provides a 280 spell power increase to ourselves and all members of the raid. This results in the glyph offering an additional 84 spell power boost to ourselves. As this glyph provides a clear cut increase to our spell power, it effects all our spells and it’s value is easy to see.

According to the Zap! spreadsheet, this glyph is worth around 170 DPS.

Note:- You have to place the totem to gain this additional spell power. For shaman using fire DPS totems, you need to cast Totem of Wrath first and then lay your DPS totems. The buff will then last for five minutes. Ensure if you’re using your Fire Elemental Totem, that you have enough time left on the glyph buff to see you through the duration of the totem.

Recommendation Level – Essential

Glyph of Lava

The Glyph of Lava tooltip states:-

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

Lava Burst is our hardest hitting and highest priority nuke (excluding the Flame Shock we cast first prior to give the guaranteed critical strikes).

According to the Zap! spreadsheet, this is worth around 120 DPS (roughly the same value as Glyph of Flametongue).

Recommendation Level – Highly Recommended / Essential

Glyph of Flametongue Weapon

The Glyph of Flametongue Weapon tooltip states:-

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

Flametongue Weapon is the default elemental weapon imbue so the use of this glyph will give a static 2% critical strike increase. The problem with critical strike rating for elemental shaman is that it doesn’t affect our hardest hitting nuke, Lava Burst. (You can read more about stat priorities here

However, as of patch 3.3 when our Glyph of Flame Shock was altered, this became an equal DPS increase to the above mentioned Glyph of Lava. They’re both worth around 120 DPS according to the Zap! spreadsheet. There is an evaluation of the comparison between these two glyphs at the end of this article.

Recommendation Level – Highly Recommended / Essential

Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem

The Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem tooltip states:-

  • Reduces the cool down of your Fire Elemental Totem by 5 minutes.

Quite recently, the cool down on our Fire Elemental Totem was reduced to ten minutes. Using this glyph therefore, reduces it to a five minute cool down. The duration of our fiery friend is two minutes (assuming he doesn’t die early or accidentally gets recalled *ahem*). Over the course of this two minutes, he will contribute around 1.5k DPS on a single target. Due to his AoEs, which you can read more about here his output increases on multiple targets.

In most cases, the default cool down is already short enough that you can pop your Fire Elemental Totem once per boss fight. On the other hand, fights are generally too short for you to gain benefit of popping the totem twice and that basically costs you the DPS loss of another major glyph. In addition to this, if the elemental dies prematurely, the DPS increase is cut dramatically.

The value of this glyph therefore, comes in longer fights where you can both use the Fire Elemental Totem twice and almost always guarantee it’s survival and contribution for the full duration. An example of this would be the Lich King fight. A totem popped at the start of phase one will expire just before a transition switch (depending upon your DPS). It can then be dropped again once off cool down which should occur around the start of phase three when the boss positioning is relatively static.

It can be worth carrying a few copies of this glyph in your bags and using it for the Lich King encounter (if you’re free to use fire DPS totems naturally), just remember to carry replacement glyphs for the shorter fights or you are pretty much sacrificing a major glyph slot.

Recommendation Level – Circumstantial

Glyph of Flame Shock

The Glyph of Flame Shock tooltip states:-

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

This patch was changed in patch 3.3.3 when flame shock was revamped to be able to crit by default. It went from being one of our strongest glyphs to one of our weakest. While it may look good on paper, it simply doesn’t produce competitive DPS compared to the other major glyph contenders. According to the Zap! spreadsheet, it’s offering an increase of just 80 DPS.

Recommendation Level – Not Recommended

Glyph of Elemental Mastery

The Glyph of Elemental Mastery tooltip states:-

  • Reduces the cooldown of your Elemental Mastery ability by 30 seconds.

While our Elemental Mastery ability is a fair PvE cool down, it’s simply not strong enough to make this glyph valuable.

Recommendation Level – Not Recommended

Glyph of Fire Nova

The Glyph of Fire Nova tooltip states:-

  • Reduces the cooldown of your Fire Nova spell by three seconds.

When combined with the Improved Fire Nova talent, the cool down on your Fire Nova can be reduced to three seconds. Fire Nova is primarily used in conjunction with our Magma Totem and can cause devastating AoE damage. In a pure AoE scenario, the reduced cool down offered by this glyph can result in a DPS increase around the 500 mark. However, on single targets, this glyph is worthless and the smaller the AoE pulls, the less value the glyph has.

In addition, the typical annoyance of using the Magma Totem and Fire Nova combination is that you need the mobs to be tanked statically. As soon as you have to start running around and repositioning totems, the value of this decreases.

If you have an area of trash incorporating multiple large AoE pulls, then this glyph could be fun to switch in for additional DPS. The trash towards Sindragosa could be a good scenario for this glyph, with a gauntlet style room followed by large whelpling pulls before you reach the dragon herself. Perhaps the trash moving towards the Prince Council and then the Blood Queen also.

Remember that this glyph is next to worthless on single target encounters (and thus, most boss encounters) so if you are going to switch in this glyph for AoE pack fun, carry spare copies of your primary DPS glyphs to avoid a wasted major glyph spot.

Recommendation Level – Highly Circumstantial / Not Recommended.

Glyph of Chain Lightning

The Glyph of Chain Lightning tooltip states:-

  • Your chain lightning strikes an additional target

Our Chain Lightning suffers from a 30% damage reduction with each “jump” it makes and by default effects three total targets. Whilst this glyph will enable the chain to make an extra jump, the final target will also suffer an additional 30% reduction making this final hit relatively weak.

The damage reduction component of the ability itself makes this glyph pretty worthless. If you want to glyph for AoE packs, use the Glyph of Fire Nova in addition to a Magma Totem and the DPS increase will be much greater than with this glyph (although this doesn’t suffer with the problems associated with constant mob movement and positioning)

Recommendation Level – Not Recommended.

Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem

The Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem tooltip states:-

  • Your stoneclaw totem also places a damage absorb shield on you, equal to four times the strength of your shield it places on your totems

Our Stoneclaw Totem is quite a useful totem, though doesn’t have a much of a role in a PvE raiding environment and thus, is often overlooked. As well as taunting any mob in it’s vicinity, the stoneclaw totem will place a shield around all your totems, protecting them from damage. This glyph extends this shield to the elemental shaman along with increasing it’s strength, allowing it to absorb 4340 damage over 15 seconds.

While this glyph doesn’t have much place in a raid environment, it is useful in PvP and while levelling as a shaman, thus it deserves a mention. I’m also aware of some elemental shaman’s that use this glyph and the corresponding totem during the faction champions encounter in the Trial of the (Grand) Crusader raid. Personally, I lean towards using either a Tremor Totem or an Earthbind totem but if the shield provided can be the difference between life or death, then there’s certainly a value to be considered.

Recommendation Level -More for PvP / levelling than for PvE raiding.

Glyph of Thunder

The Glyph of Thunder tooltip states:-

  • Reduces the cooldown on Thunderstorm by 10 seconds.

Again, this glyph has it’s place but not particularly in a PvE environment. Most elemental shaman don’t find themselves having such mana problems that a 10 second reduction on Thunderstorm’s cool down is essential. While it is arguably nice, it would mean sacrificing a glyph that actually increases our damage output. If you wanted a pure AoE build, this combined with the Glyph of Fire Nova could be an interesting combination.

On the other hand, in PvP, Thunderstorm is an excellent (and fun) ability in it’s unglyphed state and reducing it’s cool down can be great for survivability.

Recommendation Level – Circumstantial / More of a PvP glyph

Glyph of Water Mastery

The Glyph of Water Mastery tooltip states:-

  • Increases the passive mana regeneration of your Water Shield spell by 30%

Again, mana problems in PvE are not something elemental shaman generally suffer with (and most who do are more likely to find that they are forgetting to refresh their Water Shield charges in highly DPS focussed encounters).

Recommendation Level – Not Recommended

Glyph of Shocking

The Glyph of Shocking tooltip states:-

  • Reduces the global cooldown triggered by your shock spells to one second.

In a PvE situation, our most commonly used shock is Flame Shock. At minimum we refresh this once every 18 seconds (less if you’re using two part tier 9 or four part tier 10). There are occasions where you will find yourself using Frost Shock also in PvE, either because you’re moving or because a target needs slowing (Valkyr’s in the Lich King encounter if no one else is slowing or things are desperate spring to mind.) If you’re moving the reduced cool down is quite void anyway since the chances are you have global cool downs to spare and are using Frost Shock for instant damage without stopping. Therefore, in PvE, it’s quite useless.

In a PvP environment, Frost Shock becomes more valuable but personally, I find Glyph of Thunder and Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem more useful.

Recommendation Level – Not Recommended

Glyph of Hex

The Glyph of Hex tooltip states:-

  • Increases the damage your Hex target can take before the Hex effect is removed by 20%

In a PvE raid situation, there are few places you will find yourself Hexing. The faction champions encounter in Trial of the (Grand) Crusader maybe one, Kel’thuzad in Naxxramas could be another. Either way, if you’re using any form of crowd control, people should not be hitting the target. If they are, the answer is more likely to lay in addressing this problem than in glyphing your Hex skill.

This glyph could have more value in a PvP scenario, but again, it’s my opinion that there are more valuable PvP glyphs out there than this.

Recommendation Level – Not Recommended.

Glyph of Flametongue of 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 element of randomness. Where as a solid boost to your hardest hitting nuke is more reliable and a static DPS increase.

Your Raid Setup

Does your raid have 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 Weapon) will produce a higher level of crit on your totems.

Does your raid boast 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! You can find it here.

Conclusion

In closing, we have two major glyphs that are considered essential:-

  • Glyph of Lightning Bolt
  • Glyph of Totem of Wrath

The third spot is more debatable and you should consider all the above factors before making your choice. Glyphs can be substituted easily during a raid now. As such, my personal advice is to carry a stack of both Glyph of Flametongue Weapon and Glyph of Lava. Assess each encounter individually and make your choice based on that. In addition, I carry a stack of Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem and I use this on two main fights; Lady Deathwhisper Heroic (where I pop my Fire Elemental Totem at the very start and then again in phase two) and the Lich King encounter.

Remember also that utilising the Zap! spreadsheet is an invaluable source of determining an individual glyph’s value to you.

Categories: Major Glyphs

Levelling as Elemental; Zinglet’s Story

February 10, 2010 10 comments

When Zing was created last year, she was done so with the vague notion already in my head that I would be main changing to this shaman. At that point she was destined to be restoration main spec as I was keen to see another side of raiding after player a caster DPS for years. Nearly every guide you will read will offer the same advice for shamans; level as enhancement. This was of no interest to me. Quite simple, melee DPS has never appealed to me. As such, from the very start Zing was levelled as elemental and yes, it was painful.

The character I had levelled before this was a warlock (when I did a reroll from Horde to Alliance prior to the faction change service). That warlock was levelled in a little over a week and was raiding Sunwell ten days after her creation date. With this in mind I started out very enthusiastically. I’m fortunate to have a lot of free time and I had wanted a shaman for such a long time that I envisaged her being eighty in no time at all. I think in the end, Zing took me close to three months to level. My actual play time on her was quite short but I found the whole experience excrutiatingly painful. At the end of the grind, I was happy though. I had my shiny new shaman and as predicted, I ultimately main changed from the warlock. While I’ve played both restoration and elemental as my main specs since then, the latter is currently my main spec as per our guilds’ requirements.

Where is this story going I hear you ask? Let me explain. My guild raid four nights a week usually. Depending on where we are on content (whether it’s on farm or we’re working on something specific), dictates how fast we clear. When we’re clearing fast, a few hours a week are devoted to alt raiding. This is where my problem begins to arise. I no longer enjoy my warlock. I wasn’t enjoying her when I rerolled and nothing has changed. For those few hours a week, I despise raiding. Never the less in such a small guild, we really needed everyone with an alt to be available.

At Christmas I had one of my awesome ideas. They are usually ridiculous but for whatever reason, once they’re implanted in my head, they’re there to stay. (For example, the awesome idea before this one was to start the Insane in the Membrane feat of strength of Zing. This is still ongoing and has cost me crazy amounts of time and gold already.) Here was how my thought process went:-

  • I don’t enjoy alt raids.
  • I don’t enjoy alt raids because I would rather be playing Zing.
  • If I could raid two sets of raid IDs with Zing, I would enjoy them.
  • I can’t raid two sets of raid IDs with Zing, therefore I don’t.
  • I wish I could clone Zing.
  • I can’t clone Zing but I could make a second Zing.

(The pictoral version for clarification)

Ladies and gentleman, please allow me to introduce Zinglet.

Affectionately dubbed Nublet by myself. Unaffectionately dubbed Scrublet by my equally unaffectionate guild master to whom befalls the task of boosting my alts through Scarlet Monestary. (I should mention that usually when the boosts run out at around level 45, so does my enthusiasm for the alt and I have at least one that has been parked outside the entrance to the Cathedral for a few months – there’s no wonder he’s bitter.)

As always, I was insanely enthusiastic about the idea of Zinglet. This enthusiasm soon passed at around level ten. It simply does not matter how many heirlooms I can buy to assist levelling, it’s too slow for my taste.

And what spec is Zinglet? Yes, she’s elemental…..

Zinglet’s story is (hopefully) going to serve as a diary of levelling* as an elemental shaman and the problems and annoyances that face this class spec combination in the long grind to eighty!

* This is assuming she does indeed reach eighty and doesn’t get abandoned to the Bermuda Triangle that is the entrance to Scarlet Monestary Cathedral.