Patch 7.3 Elemental Shaman changes raise Mastery cap, buff Earthquake

As PTR testing for Patch 7.3 continues, focus has turned to a few class changes. This includes some tweaks to Elemental Shaman play, especially Mastery and AoE abilities. These changes seem aimed at smoothing out the effect of Mastery so it’s less about proccing abilities and more about damage, while also making Earthquake worth using as a Maelstrom spender.

Originally Posted by Sigma (Official Post)

Next PTR will have a small set of Elemental changes meant to focus on a couple specific problems.

Mastery capping
• Elemental Overload does 85% of base damage (from 75%) and proc rate reduced 17%
• Totem Mastery-Storm Totem bonus 5% (from 10%)
• Elemental Blast gives 2000 stats at level 110 (from 2400)
• All damage abilities increased 3%

Some of the power of mastery is shifted from proc rate into damage. The nerfs to Totem Mastery and Elemental Blast don’t require talent rebalancing, since they are minor and those are talents are already generally favored. The slight total DPS loss from those changes is counteracted in the baseline spec. With both talents, the mastery cap (with all these changes) would increase from 10400 rating to 15067.

Chain Lightning dominating Earthquake
Chain Lightning is so strong that Earthquake is often not attractive to cast. There are also secondary issues such as the importance of Lightning Rod procs and resource overflow in AoE.

• Chain Lightning damage reduced 12% and generates 4 Maelstrom (from 6)
• Earthquake damage increased 29%
• Earth Shock damage increased 13%

Damage is shifted from Chain Lightning into Earthquake, and Earthquake is further increased to account for generating less Maelstrom (which helps the overflow issues, including on Static Overload procs). The Earth Shock buff helps stave off the potential for Earthquake to get too close to it again, and a buff to Earth Shock was pretty reasonable generally.

Again, the goal is to address these issues in a relatively contained way. 7.3 is generally light on class changes, but we wanted to try to get at these known problems. As always, open to feedback on any complications that these look like they might introduce.

The goal here is to make Mastery a bit less easy to cap, make it more of a DPS boost that benefits different talent choices (although the expectation seems to be that you’ll still take Totem Mastery and Elemental Blast) and get players to use Earthquake over Chain Lightning.

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I’m not at all sure that reducing Chain Lightning’s Maelstrom is going to help with that. Earthquake is a Maelstrom spender: making it generate less Maelstrom means you’ll cast it more, at least in my opinion, since you’ll need more Maelstrom even if you want to cast Earthquake.

Of course, that’s assuming that Earthquake will actually be strong enough to make it attractive to cast over Chain Lightning, and some players have their doubts. Gistwiki’s points were taken up by Sigma in a reply that addresses but doesn’t necessarily counter them.

Originally Posted by Sigma (Official Post)

Thanks. To the various comments here and above:

–If Elemental Blast is actually behind after the small nerf, it should be relatively easy to correct by buffing its own damage. That said, the current set bonus pushes Primal Elementalist (and that sort of thing is generally acceptable for a tier), which means it’s unsurprising if it’s slightly ahead on its row for right now.

–We agree Earthquake should be more of a “finisher” out of the two, and this set of changes is trying to go in that direction. It should at least be used consistently in its intended role. It sounds a little odd that changing one spell’s damage 45% relative to the other (plus the Maelstrom change) doesn’t at all change the number of targets at which you’d use Earthquake, but we’re happy to keep looking at any more detailed discussion of why that would be the case.

–The Maelstrom change would be a pacing change, but I think there are some advantages if we keep it and instead put value into buffing Earthquake (further than this if needed). It helps the above discussion of Earthquake actually being worth enough to stand out. The current version where, on average, each Chain Lightning pays for more than one Earthquake is a pretty weird builder/spender relationship–and is part of the answer to your question of why Earthquake isn’t stronger. Also, Maelstrom overflow is a significant issue currently. In your example of Static Overload, it currently overflows in literally every case (on 5 targets). Pulling back on that and giving Earthquake much higher value cuts down on resource waste while making it more valuable when you spend it.

If the main problem is that the Earthquake buff here isn’t enough to accomplish the goals as described, that’s something we can review further (and of course welcome any further input on that question).

Reading this, I think Sigma is answering in good faith and the changes are indeed intended to make Earthquake more attractive. But I think Giswiki is right that Earthquake isn’t quite there yet — it’s gone from ‘never worth casting’ to ‘worth casting at x number of targets.’ It needs to be at ‘almost always better to cast.’ Still, considering that I’ve not played Elemental this expansion, I could be utterly off base and these changes will push Earthquake ahead of Chain Lightning despite my misgivings.

Right now, if you’re an Elemental Shaman, the thing to do is get on the PTR and help test out these changes, so you can supply Blizzard with  more data. It’s your spec and you can help make it better in patch 7.3.

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