It's crazy for me to think that it's been nearly four weeks since the first patch notes detailing class changes went up on the PTR. Three Saturdays back, I devoted the first post to tier 13 so as to benefit both specs of DPS shaman. Two weeks ago, it was enhancement changes. And, in my most recent post, elemental changes got pushed to the back burner after the elemental tier 12 set bonus got nerfed hard on the PTR.
So, nearly a calendar month after PTR notes first went up, it's high time to discuss some of the awesome (and not-so-awesome) changes in store for elemental shaman in patch 4.3.
While it's not an actual bonus to DPS in any way, shape, or form, I think one of the major highlights of patch 4.3 has got to be the change to Lightning Bolt's graphic. Rather than a blue Wrath that looked nothing like a bolt of lightning, the freshly updated LB actually looks like a bolt. Of lightning! It's not quite as lightning-bolty (if that's a grammatically correct word) as Chain Lightning, but it's a welcome and nice change for a spell that does somewhere around 33% of our damage.
All about AOE
In some of the happiest news of the PTR, Elemental's AOE has been totally revamped, hopefully for the last time. Gone is the awkward need to use Fire Nova or tabbing Flame Shocks to multiple targets. Elemental Fury now totally removes the cooldown from Chain Lightning, allowing you to spam it to your heart's content. Or until the mobs die.
What's best about this change is that it actually works out to be a mana-neutral way to AOE. While the high cost of Chain Lightning is still present, each jump of Chain Lightning has a chance to proc Clearcasting. (Do note, however, that Elemental Overload procs cannot proc Clearcasting.) With every jump having a chance to proc Clearcasting, you'll have a significant uptime on 40% mana reduction on subsequent Chain Lightning casts ... as well as a nice 10% damage buff on each of them.
There's more to it, though. Each Chain Lightning jump and their Elemental Overload procs also have the chance to proc Rolling Thunder. On just three jumps on the PTR, Rolling Thunder was a large part of what kept my Chain Lightning spam mana-neutral, though it did require Mana Spring Totem to be most effective. If you Glyph your Chain Lightning, it would be even better on your mana pool. On cleave fights with three to five adds, Elemental AOE is most likely going to be very competitive.
Winning with Wind Shear
One of the other big changes coming in 4.3 is the inevitable nerf to Wind Shear, which will have its cooldown increased to 15 seconds. You can talent this down to 5 seconds by spending two points in Reverberation, which will also decrease the cooldown on your shocks by 2 seconds.
This change hits elemental the least hard out of any shaman spec, mainly because Reverberation is a talent in the elemental tree. This makes it much easier for ele shaman to get than enhancement, as elemental shaman currently have floater points (generally in Elemental Warding) they can choose to instead invest in Reverberation. This also offers a mild quality-of-life change for elemental, as 2 seconds less on your shock cooldowns gives you 2 more seconds to get a Fulmination off before you have to worry about Flame Shock being on cooldown when it falls off the target.
The last change for elemental on the PTR is the change to Flametongue Weapon. Rather than granting a static amount of spellpower, when your weapon is imbued with Flametongue Weapon, you will now deal 5% more spell damage, which is an important distinction. For one, Earthquake deals physical damage but has a spellpower coefficient, and as a result, it will not benefit from Flametongue Weapon post patch. This change was largely done due to the Mental Quickness change for enhancement shaman but also was needed to address scaling issues with elemental shaman.
Scaling and you
For those of us who remember Wrath of the Lich King, "scaling" was a scary word for enhancement shaman. At the beginning of Wrath, elemental was in a fine place, due both to Lava Burst critting every 8 seconds and the fact that Flametongue Weapon account for nearly one-third or one-quarter of a raiding elemental shaman's spellpower. As ele shaman progressed through Wrath, their DPS fell behind the curve, as FTW kept making up a smaller and smaller portion of their overall spellpower.
The downside? It's a slight nerf to newly 85 elemental shaman in Cataclysm. It's looking to be about a 3% damage nerf when you're in full BIS Firelands gear, which means people in lower levels of gear will see a larger nerf. On the plus side, it's a 3% damage nerf in full BIS Firelands gear, which also means it will be an even smaller nerf as you gear in tier 13 gear. There's even the possibility that in full Dragon Soul gear, it will actually be a small buff over the Flametongue Weapon we have now on live. Only time, and lots of Simulationcraft, will tell.
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Elemental. Let's get down to business with a heart-to-heart on fixing the fire elemental problem, and then join us for a discussion of best practices for elemental shaman.