Ah, the sweet smell of wipes. How I have missed them. My guild stepped back into 25-mans this week, and I am so glad to be back. Every time I take a break from regular raiding, I need a week or so to truly get on top of my game. The muscle memory needs time to return, and I have to learn the steps to the new dances in a way that makes sense to me. Figuring out a good time to use Spiritwalker's Grace, the best time to unleash my fire elemental ... These are the sorts of details I love figuring out for myself, and the satisfaction of returning to 25-man raiding has been great stress relief after a hellish week.
The return to raiding has also confronted me with the state of elemental DPS in general. I am aware that the gap between myself and the front-runners is down to personal error (a lot of the time) and someone has to be in the middle of the pack. In fact, the middle of the pack is a mighty fine place to be. Those State of DPS numbers only show results for the top 40 and top 200 parses, and being in the middle of the pack isn't what is alarming. What often raises eyebrows with these sorts of comparisons is the difference between the top few specs and the middle of the pack, not the placing on the scale, so I can understand why some players are upset. It isn't being middle of the pack; it's the magnitude of distance between yourself and the front-runners. Personally, I'm not too worried. I need to sort out my own mistakes first, and it's important not to forget that things change.
So, is patch 4.0.6 going to ease the pressure a little? A very small amount. The change that has made me smile most so far is the fix for the graphic bug that hid Elementium Stormshield when it was in the resting position. I'm glad to see Quality Assurance Goblins got it right on that one.
This cut, it burns
I want to focus on some positive things for now, and not only has our meta gem requirement been rendered practically irrelevant (three red gems will be the requirement for the Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond), but an even better meta gem will be added in patch 4.0.6. The Burning Shadowspirit Diamond offers 54 intellect alongside the 3% increased critical damage, but the cut is a rare BoE world drop, so don't expect to see it for some time (and pay through the nose when it does show up). Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond will be our second choice, in that case. Say goodbye to Ember Shadowspirit Diamond when patch day rolls around if you've been using it in the interim (and get some red gems ready to socket, if you're sporting a complement of purple gems to activate your current meta gem).
Some bad news to go with the good! The off-hand enchant, used both for shields and normal caster off-hands, now only applies 40 intellect to your off-hand weapon. This is a real shame for those of us who love our shields, but the motivation behind it is to make all those staffs viable again. A staff may bring slightly less bonus spellpower when compared to a combo, but it will bring large helpings of secondary stats.
A new bracer enchant has been added, and as a result of that, the profession bonus of Leatherworking will now be in the same range as most other crafting professions -- although like the Burning Shadowspirit Diamond, Enchant Bracer - Mighty Intellect is costly in terms of materials and is a rare world BoE.
The new alchemy trinket, Vibrant Alchemist Stone, is absolutely excellent for elemental shaman. The passive bonuses, boosted by a red socket with an intellect socket bonus, put this trinket on an approximate level with 359 raid drop trinkets such as Bell of Enraging Resonance and Heart of Ignacious. Speaking of the Bell, that particular trinket will now proc from any direct damage spells, increase it's worth as a possible elemental trinket.
Not-so-buffed spells (yet)
While some elemental shaman have no doubt been rocking the meters on particular fights, elemental DPS has been decent but underwhelming. Famous for our turret style of play, the very fun high-movement fights in the new raids can put a damper on our output. Not only that, any activity that breaks into our Lightning Bolt time severely cuts down on total mana regen. Certainly not an impossible situation, but as a result, I was initially ecstatic to see the follow two buffs:
Spiritwalker's Grace is set to get a 15-second duration. This spell is fantastic when you know the right moment to use it, but make sure you have it keybound, as clicking it will cancel any cast already in progress. While I'd prefer to see a reduction on the cooldown, an increase in duration is only a good thing.
Tremor Totem is being completely redesigned. Having to pre-cast it, you are now able to drop this totem when charmed, feared or slept. The bad news is that it will only last for 6 seconds and will have a 1-minute cooldown. Shadowfang Keep trash suddenly gets a lot more interesting! I like this change because I like actively doing something to counter an ability. I do feel that the cooldown is a hair too long, but that is a minor quibble. I am expecting a lot of other shaman to dislike this change, but it makes sense in the new Cataclysm philosophy.
Hex is due to be squished in PvP with a PvP-only duration of 8 seconds. The related glyph will reduce the cooldown by 10 seconds instead of 15. Not a huge change for PvE shaman, but the new PvP duration of Hex brings the spell in line with some other crowd control abilities.
Purge, sadly, will now only remove one effect instead of two. If you need to remove a stacking debuff, you'll have to waste more cooldowns to do so now. It rounds off a rather disappointing set of patch notes for elemental, especially if you've been feeling particularly vulnerable in battlegrounds over the last month.
I suppose the applicable phrase here is "steady as she goes." While there is nothing to get excited about, it's time to sit up and pay attention. This patch indicates that Blizzard is ready to look at our DPS but perhaps hasn't figured the best way to go about it yet (or whoever wrote those patch notes simply dropped the ball when it comes to clarity). Most elemental shaman I know would like to see an overhaul of Searing Totem and Fire Elemental Totem, in order to make them less delicate and more tractable. I do not feel that a complete redesign of these totems will be implemented in this particular patch, and we will have to make do with the "buff" to SWG. Blizzard definitely wants to keep us on our toes, in every sense of the phrase.
As ever, if you have any specific questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment!
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Ready to take your elemental shaman up to the new level cap? We'll help you get to level 85 with our guide to leveling an elemental shaman.At 85 already? Check out the elemental shaman 101, or peruse the pre-raid gearing guide.