Fire elemental mechanics
A few weeks ago, I was on the Raid Warning Totem Recall shaman roundtable podcast. You may have seen me mention it once or thrice in the weeks leading up to it. Representing enhancement was yours truly, along with Juggynaut from Lorehound and everyone's favorite theorycrafter, Rouncer from Elitist Jerks. One topic that came up was the Fire Elemental Totem and how it interacts with Heroism/Bloodlust. My articles from June 19 and June 26 were about cooldown management in ICC, including when to drop a fire elemental. There was some good-natured debate in the comments about the timing of fire elemental. I've not forgotten the questions, and I've not been satisfied with my own answer to the question of when to drop the totem.
After that post, I did some testing with a few guildmates in the Nagrand arena -- followed by recapturing Halaa for the Horde, thank you very much. Unfortunately, after our quick round of tests, the results were inconclusive. Granted, we only tried six times, which took 30 minutes with the Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem. The results were skewed slightly towards a priority of totem then lust, but it wasn't enough to feel we conclusively proved anything.
Enter Rouncer and Juggy. Both confirmed the theorycrafting research to support that ... (drumroll, please) Heroism/Bloodlust does not affect Fire Elemental Totem at all. It absolutely does not impact the elemental after it's out because it's not buffable. Furthermore, because Hero/BL does not increase your attack power, thereby increasing spellpower, it does not impact your elemental if you pop BL before dropping the totem. Therefore, you should drop your fire elemental when it will have the maximum impact on the raid, regardless of when BL is used. The best use of the fire elemental is when it will get full use, the most amount of time on the boss, and damage any adds as well.
What does affect your totem is Maelstrom Power. What's that, you say? It's the four-piece set bonus for tier 10 enhancement gear. Waiting until that effect procs and then dropping your fire elemental can significantly increase your DPS. Since Rouncer suggested it to me, I've been experimenting with it by keeping my character screen open and only putting down my elemental when my AP is above 9,500, and I've seen my AP go over 10k with Maelstrom Power and other buffs.
Latest Cataclysm changes
It was a shocking week for enhancement changes in Cataclysm (no pun intended; we'll leave the shock puns to our elemental brothers and sisters).
Ancestral Knowledge was moved to the elemental tree, making our tier 1 talents that much more palatable. Looking at the new enhancement tree, I suspect we'll fill up all the talents in tier 1, though if you're just now leveling, I highly recommend starting with Primal Strikes.
Elemental Devastation was moved from the elemental tree into the enhancement tree, down to our second tier. This only makes sense, as it's a talent no elemental shaman in his right mind would take.
The big mystery for a few days was the third talent in the second tier, which was just an empty shell with a broken image link and Rank 0/0. That broken talent, and the noticeable absence of Ancestral Swiftness, was a bit disconcerting. Ancestral Swiftness, oh, how we hardly knew ya! You were the love of leveling, raiding and PvPing enhancers everywhere, come unto us from upon high only to tease and leave. Let's have a moment of silence for th --
Wait. What's that, Ghostcrawler? Ancestral Swiftness was not removed! Praise the blues! It's still there, just moved up to tier two. In fact, you can see it on wowtal.com, and that broken talent link was just a placeholder for it in the second tier. Let's all breathe a giant sigh of relief.
Moving right along, Frozen Power has returned, bringing our rooting ability back to PvP. And Improved Lava Lash was reduced from three points to two.
Shamanistic Rage has also seen changes in this build. It now reduces the mana cost of skills, totems and offensive spells by 90% for 15 seconds. However, I'm not concerned about the lack of mana regeneration; I've heard that Primal Wisdom is more than adequate to restore mana on a continuous basis.
I suspect we'll be looking at a spec of 7/34/0 for PvE, provided Totemic Vigor is not needed for specific fights. With Reverberation being moved down to the third tier of elemental, there is absolutely no way we'll dive down far enough to take that while still remaining effective.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have about enhancement, and I'll put together a reader mail bag post in the future. In the meantime, may all your hits be crits!
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether it's Matt Sampson's elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Rich Maloy's enhancement edition, we have you covered.