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Totem Talk: Hasteybaby

Rich Maloy

Axes, maces, lightning, Windfury, and wolves. It can mean only one thing: enhancement. Rich Maloy lives it and loves it. His main spec is enhance. His off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance at Big Hit Box, pens the enhance side of Totem Talk and leads the guild Big Crits (Week 2 now out, Week 3 coming!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

Haste. It's the killer stat for enhancement shamans in end-game raiding. In the beginning of the expansion, the killer stat seemed to be attack power, and it continued to maintain dominance through Ulduar. Around ToC (i245) level of gearing, we could choose between AP stacking and haste stacking. Personally I tended toward AP stacking until midway through ToGC, when I ran some sims and realized haste will be the killer stat for Stoneybaby going forward. Why is that? Let's take a look at haste and how it affects our damage output.

For starters, let's use the ICC equivalent of Patchwerk (at least for melee), Deathbringer Saurfang. This is a fight where we get to stand in one place and only focus on our rotation while the ranged go crazy with picking up, slowing, DPSing and evading angry blood beasts. While the healers frantically watch the marks, the paladins call out the bubble rotation and the tanks scream at the ranged about Saurfang's ever-increasing blood power.

As melee, it's rather relaxing, really. Focus on the rotation, watch cleave-type attacks on the beasts if you have such a thing (which we don't), and slow mobs if you can (which we can, though it can be redundant depending on your raid composition).

On a recent relaxing heroic Saurfang kill, my damage lined up like this:

Spell/Attack % Damage
Melee 37.2%
Windfury 13.8%
Flametongue 9.6%
Lightning Bolt 9.6%
Lightning Shield 5.3%
Flame Shock 5.3%
Stormstrike 4.7%
Fire Nova 3.7%
Lava Lash 3.2%
Earth Shock 3.1%
Necrotic Touch (1) 2.5%
Manifest Anger (2) 1.8%

(1) from Black Bruise
(2) from Tiny Abom in a Jar -- who doesn't want a tiny abom in a jar? I have two on my desk right now. I picked 'em up from
Grifta; you got a problem with that?

Looking at that table, haste impacts 61.7% of my damage, with white attacks being the biggest piece of that, followed by Lightning Bolt (via MW5 procs), Lightning Shield, Flame Shock and two item procs. Theoretically, more haste means more likely to get a proc right after the cooldown, but I'm not including Windfury and Flametongue imbues because of their hidden internal cooldowns.

One could argue that AP affects everything on that list via Mental Dexterity. One would, of course, be correct, but end-game stats are about scaling, and the deeper we get into content this expansion, the better haste scales versus any other stat. As our weapons improve, going from the 156.6 DPS Angry Dread to the 250.6 DPS heroic Black Bruise, it becomes imperative that we stack haste to maximize white damage; bigger hits more often are good. The side effects of such haste stacking more than make up for the things it does not affect.

More haste means more Maelstrom Weapon procs, resulting in more Lightning Bolt damage and more Static Shock procs. In fact, I was really shocked (ahem) by how high Lightning Shield climbed in my damage output. I suppose I spend too much time looking at survivability in logs these days and missed its ascent to the middle from the absolute bottom -- yes, even below Lava Lash and even from when I had two-piece tier 9. Before raid tonight, I'll be taking that one gratuitous point out of Improved Stormstrike and moving it into 2/3 Improved Shields.

But I digress: Haste also affects Flame Shock. Stacking haste means getting your shock rotation to a simple FS-ES cycle. You may clip that last tick of Flame Shock by reapplying, but the times when that happens are enough to justify losing that one tick versus the loss of the DoT.

Once your weapons get up to an i245 level and you're hit- and expertise-capped, start stacking haste above all others. Quick King's Amber is your friend; socket bonuses are not. Socket bonuses are only there to confuse and distract you, to sap you mentally and trick you into a bad gem choice. They're kind of like the rogues of gearing choices: dirty, sneaky, dishonest, lurking the shadows waiting to trip you up. Sorry, where was I? Ah yes, haste.

Look for Potions of Speed and use them during Heroism/Bloodlust. In fact, this article started out about how I've yet to see a melee haste cap in practice including using speed pots and Berserking. I've read some scuttlebutt about Potions of Speed bringing troll enhance shamans to the melee haste cap during Hero/BL and thus being wasted. I've yet to encounter that, but I'm still looking into it; I'll keep you posted. So look for every way to stack haste and get more from your weapons and procs. Procs are what makes enhance great!

We have three big takeaways from today: stack haste (if you're not already); FS-ES shock rotation (if you're not already); and Guinness is good; and if LS is high on your damage output, invest in Improved Shields.

May all your hits be crits!

StormstrikeShow your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk, whether reading Mike Sacco's Elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of Restoration or Rich Maloy's Enhancement edition, we have you covered.

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