I love being melee. I love being up in the middle of the fray right on the boss' heel, breathing in the fumes of battle and mashing my abilities as fast as global cooldowns will allow. But the cost of being in the heart of the action are cleaves. And whirlwinds. And tail swipes, dragon breaths, shock vortexes, running around the room chasing ads, and oh yeah, dodging cleaves. Did I mention whirlwinds yet?
Granted, there's not as much hate on melee in Wrath as there was in The Burning Crusade, but our DPS is still limited by time on target. We are after all, melee. Yet the great thing about enhance is when we're not in melee range, we can still lob some spells and drop some fire bombs all while running around dodging those whirlwinds.
It was Sindragosa's Permeating Chill that first got me thinking about maximizing my damage output while I'm not doing melee attacks. Also, her Blistering Cold got me wondering about ways to keep damage on boss even while running in the complete opposite direction. What follows are some of my simple strategies for maximizing time on target and keeping the damage pumping even while running around.
Maximum hit box range
There are two bosses in this expansion with a nasty anti-melee ability that can actually be avoided entirely by being at max hit box range: the Whirl from Icehowl in Trial of the Crusader and Sindragosa's Tail Smash in ICC. Sindy's is easy to avoid as long as you're not right up under her, there's about a 5-yard range where you can be in melee distance but out-range it. Icehowl is a bit trickier because the range to stay within striking distance but avoid the whirl is very fine. I keep backing out until I'm just out of melee distance, then take one step forward. For pretty much any other boss, except Lord Marrowgar, staying at max hit box range will leave you the most amount of time to run out, run around or run to adds.
Heads up positioning
This goes beyond "don't stand in front of the boss or in fire" and a little deeper to "I need to be here for X so when that happens, I'm ready for Y next." One of my favorite fights is heroic Professor Putricide, and my favorite aspect of that fight is the knockback from the green oozes. Proper positioning with this fight can mean the difference between two to three players dying to an ooze explosion in a lonely corner or the half the raid taking a small bit of damage. It can also mean the difference between running the full length of the room after an explosion in the wrong direction or a free ride back to the professor from the right position.
The only other fights I could think of for strategic positioning were Lich King in phase 2 and Halion in the twilight realm. Both of those fights require you to be heads up so when something happens (lich poo or lazer cutterz), you've minimized its impact and maximized your output. What other fights require strategic positioning that I've missed?
There has been much debate on the theorycrafting forums regarding the benefits of run speed enchants such as Tuskarr's Vitality and Cat's Swiftness. There's no simple calculation on the break-even point; I've seen some pretty tremendous formulae go through the Elitist Jerk's enhancement shaman forums. I chose Tuskarr's Vitality not because I've run sims and calculated my break-even, but rather simply because I want to get out of fire/frost/goo/poo just a split second faster. In fact, we offered free Tuskarr's enchants to the guild as we were working on the Lich King for the first time. Aside from getting out of Defiles, Tuskarr's helps increase your time on target -- but in truth, on most boss fights, it's wasted. Use at your discretion (though personally, I prefer it).
Magma Totem and Fire Nova
Ah, the warm glow of a fire totem. So calming and tranquil as it crackles beside the boss, slightly charring his ankles. It's a lovely si -- BOOOOOM! Heh. Love me some novas. Keep a Magma Totem down all the time and trigger that bomb as you're running around. Tick tick BOOM! On Sindy's Blistering Cold, I always refresh the totem as I'm getting pulled in and pop off a nova as I'm running out. Every little bit helps. Ever had a soul-crushing 1% wipe? You know what I'm talking about. If you could have popped off a few extra novas, it might have been a kill.
The ele wannabe
When I'm stuck at range for one reason or another, such as helping with bone spiked hunters on Marrowgar, waiting for Permeating Chill to wear off on Sindy (yes, her again) or just being lazy on Blood Prince Council, I go through my wannabe ele rotation: Shock, MWLB, CL, Shock, FN, LS. Get the shock out there first, then use any remaining Maelstrom Weapon charges on a Lightning Bolt, followed by the shorter cast time Chain Lightning, then finally another shock. If I'm still stuck outside melee range, I'll follow up with a BOOM and finally refresh my shield. It passes the time, and I'll do about the same damage as an elemental shaman, anyway.
The turn-around jump shock
Shocks are the no-brainer when wanting to damage at range, but what you really need to learn is the turn-around jump-shock. If you're feeling pro while bravely running from harm's way, you can try out this tactic. Actually, it's probably best to practice on a target dummy first because while the explanation is simple, you must do all three steps in quick succession or you may end up not getting the shock off (or worse, running back into trouble).
As you're running away, execute these moves using quick mouse turns and keybinds: jump, half-turn back to target, shock, half-turn back to your original direction. I flick my mouse right, then back left, as the proper execution doesn't require a full 180-degree turn. It's also easier to approximate two half-turns than it is to estimate a full 360. The turns plus the shock can all be done before hitting the ground, and you'll just keep on trucking in the same direction without interruption. Technically I guess that makes it a "jump turn-around shock" and not a "turn-around jump shock," but I don't want to have a semantic argument; I just want the damage. This maneuver with Frost Shock in PvP is a must-have enhancement move for kiting if you find yourself in a tight situation and need to put some distance between you and a filthy rogue or a pally angry that her bubble-hearth is down.
That's all I've got for you today, good people. Be sure to send in any shaman questions you have for the Totem Recall shaman roundtable. We're recording the enhancement section Sunday, July 11!
What are your favorite tips and tricks for keeping damage up while running around ducking under whirlwinds?
May all your hits be crits!
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether it's Matt Sampson's (forthcoming) elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Rich Maloy's enhancement edition, we have you covered.