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WoWJul 22, 2015 7:00 pm CT

Totem Talk: Elemental hotfixes and Hellfire

Elemental shaman, at least in my experience, have been treated to a feast or famine approach in terms of our DPS output. Either the encounter plays really well with our class mechanics and we excel at putting out the shamanistic hurt, or we kind of find ourselves middling around the DPS pack when the encounter doesn’t. It’s a theme. Yes, I know that encounters are varied and each class has ups and downs on a per encounter basis, but  it is something I feel was exacerbated for Elemental shaman in Warlords of Draenor.

That said, we also tend to be on the receiving end of hotfixes and updates with some frequency that are attempts to bring us back into line with the other DPS classes. While I don’t expect perfect parity in terms of classes, I do at least expect there to be an attempt to keep everyone competitive enough that we just don’t get passed over and left aside for other classes. It has happened in the past so it’s always a legitimate fear. With all that in mind, we just got the latest round of Elemental hotfixes hot off the presses, and Elemental shaman got some lovin’.

Molten Earth

The Updates

The first hotfix of note is to Molten Earth. For those that don’t know, this is our elemental mastery and we receive it as a class specialization. This gives us a chance for our damaging spells to hurl giant pieces of molten earth at whatever we attacked last over a short period of time. You will have noticed this in game as a those awesome giant shards that float up from the ground and hurl themselves at violent speeds at our enemies. On top of doing damage, it also increases the damage of Earthquake by 16% for those rare cases where you actually are using it. Keep that in mind, we’ll circle back to that part a little bit later on. It does a decent amount of damage over the course of a fight, in fact on our last Socrethar kill, it was my second most damaging ability. But with the latest hotfix that damage has been increased by 11%.

This is is actually pretty good as far as buffs go, but not earth shattering, though as with anything percentage based and involving spellpower, the better your gear is and the more punch your packing the better it is. For me, with Molten Earth averaging somewhere between 1.2 and 1.4 million damage on a fight, that’s at least a couple hundred thousand extra damage. You might not think it seems like much, but every little bit of damage counts. Especially when you get down to those very last few percent of boss health.

The second hotfix, and buff, is a change to Ascendance. This is one of the best DPS cooldowns we’ve received over the years, and it has become second nature to use it on every cooldown available on a boss fight. I mean, you are using it at every opportunity aren’t you? When it’s used, we turn into a giant unstoppable avatar of flame and destruction! While in this form, Lava Burst has no cooldown, and our Chain Lightning turns into a really sweet Lava Beam that deals increased damage that further increases for every target beyond the first it hits. It was for the longest time on a 3 minute cooldown, which put it on par with most other DPS cooldowns. Now, however, the cooldown has been reduced down to 2 minutes for Elemental Shaman!

This is absolutely fantastic news, at least for longer fights. Most fights average between 4 and 6 minutes long, so reducing the cooldown should, on any encounter longer than 4 minutes, give us at least one more use out of it if we use it right at the pull and then again on every cooldown. This will, on the whole, average out to more damage output on fights — which is never something I’m going to scoff at.


Old Dog, New Relevance?

So, as is my understanding, Earthquake is one of those spells that unless you’re out in the world soloing large packs of mobs, has largely been either irrelevant or suboptimal when it comes to raiding. Large packs tend to die too fast for it really to sink its teeth in and do anything of use. Recently though, on Xhul’horac, I’ve begun to re-evaluate the spell’s usefulness. The fight has multiple phases, and honestly is an incredibly busy fight, but one of the things that remains consistent is these annoying imps. Wild Pyromaniac continually throw out Fel Orbs that spread fire and just make the day unhappy for everyone. One of the key components of dealing with them is keeping them interrupted so that you keep fires and explosions controllable.

Enter my raid team trying to figure out how best to handle this. Sure players can focus the imps and interrupt as well as deal damage, but there’s a lot of things to pay attention to, things to move away from and a lot of things to deal with in general. I started throwing Earthquake under clusters of imps, because it has a 10% chance of knocking down and interrupting targets. Turns out it works pretty well. So well, in fact, that we started looking at ways to get all the imps closer together consistently so they would be right on top of Earthquake. I then looked at Chain Lightning again. Another spell that has a notorious rep of being not terribly useful most of the time in raid fights, but every time an Enhanced Chain Lightning hits 3 or more targets, it increases the damage of Earthquake by 300%.

We took a Death Knight, parked him on the big add that spawns, had him use Gorefiend’s Grasp to pull all of the imps to him, and then just blasted Chain Lightning and dropped a super charged Earthquake under the pack of fire throwing punks and the results were pretty awesome. Fel Orb interrupts went way up, fire went way down, and the survivability of the raid increased quite a lot. Sure, it’s a niche fight, but it was amazing how much those two little spells helped keep things manageable for my little group. Your mileage may vary, but I thought it worth mentioning as I personally love having spells or abilities that fall out of favor coming back and contributing in a meaningful manner. It’s also worth noting that a well timed Capacitor Totem and Totemic Projection can also be fairly useful in keeping the imps contained and things locked down.

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