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Elicas

The Elemental Shaman in PvE & PvP 1.12.1

After @Soyoen's amazing Rogue guide, I'll have to step this up a little I think!

The first thing to have in mind when talking about Elemental is; what bugs does the private server have? All of the recent popular vanilla servers have had bugged Shaman mechanics, usually due to Elemental being seen as only usable in PvP. Because for many people, it 'shouldn't' be Competitive in PvE, bugs with Elemental are usually pushed far down the queue for fixes.

A quick idea of recent bugs;
 
Feenix – Purge will remove two charges of a buff with charges, instead of completely removing it, Grounding Totem's protective buff is removed upon spell completion, rather than on spell impact. Flametongue Totem doesn't work. Fire Totems don't benefit from the Shaman's spellcrit chance.

 

Nostalrius – Fire totems not benefiting from the Shaman's spellcrit chance. Elemental focus having a non blizzlike PPM.


Kronos – Fire totems not benefiting from the Shaman's spellcrit chance.


As you can see, Elemental bugs are par for the course on all current 1.12.1 Vanilla private servers. There are plenty more, but I picked some of the most important.
 
The second thing to bear in mind when comparing Ele Shamans to other classes is, which class you are comparing them to. You are a Hybrid class, so compare your dps and what you bring to the raid versus other hybrid classes who might DPS. A hybrid class is any class whose talent trees allow them to fill more than one raid role.
 
Warriors
Priests
Druids
Shamans
 
Comparing what we bring to a raid compared to what the DPS specs of those classes bring, we have;
 
Wipe Protection – (Reincarnation)
Party Buffs – Totems
Dispelling – (Abolish Poison and Disease)
Off Healing
 
While other Hybrids can bring some of these, none of them can bring all of them in one set of gear and one spec. In relation to the other classes, presuming equal levels of gear, we sit;
 
Much Less DPS than a Fury Warrior.
More DPS to an Arms Warrior, Ret Pally, Spellpower Enhancement Shaman or Shadow Priest.
Much more DPS than a Feral or Balance Druid.
Significantly more than a 2h Enhancement Shaman.

 
The major thing limiting Ele DPS, as with all mana using Hybrids, is mana pool/regen, exasperated by poor scaling/coefficients and a lack of well itemised drops. This leads to there only being two viable builds for a PvE focussed Shaman;
 
1) Gear like an Arcane Power Mage/Warlock, focussing on spell hit, spell damage and spell crit.
2) Gear like a Hybrid caster, focussing on spell hit, spell damage/healing and mp5.

Most people are familiar with concept 1. It's the standard build for PvE, it's the standard leveling build for people going Ele from level 10, as well as being the standard pre-raid BiS way for gathering + spell damage. Concept 2 is usually seen more in PvP, especially with Tier 2, and a focus on burst damage and off healing.

This guide will be based closer to concept 1, with a focus on mana regen later on.

Stats & Race (level 60)


Stamina: 1 Stamina = 10 health.
Strength: 1 Strength = 2 Attack Power.
14 Attack Power = 1 DPS.
Agility: 20 Agility = 1% Critical Strike Chance
Intellect: 1 Intellect = 15 Mana.
 
Depending on what you want to do the most, there are reasonable choices for each race.

Trolls Berserking casting/attack speed bonus make them the best choice for PvE DPS.
Orcs stun racial is seriously OP in PvP. Femorcs are also the best, obviously.
Taurens stomp can be useful in loads of situations, PvE and PvP. The extra health doesn't hurt either when you're first progressing.

Leveling

Leveling can be an interesting issue, just because of the nature of the beast. We can target farm drops at level 60, but it's an inefficient waste of time to do the same at level 30. We're stuck trying to not only make the leveling portion of the game as quick as possible, but build a spec around the drops we do get as well as maximise our uptime and efficiency. My preferred 'leveling rotation', such that it is, is to pull with max rank lightning bolts until the mob reaches us, shock of choice (frost for burst, earth for threat if in a group, fire if the mob has ~30-40% hp remaining and you're going to auto attack for a while) and then auto attack until the mob is dead. Ideally you want to finish a mob with ~80% hp and having regenned up to around ~60% mana. This should allow you to chain pull 3-4 mobs before drinking. An important note, if you play on a PvE server like I do, pull a 5th mob before you eat/drink, even if it means auto attacking slightly more on the last pull. It doesn't matter if you finish the fight with 5% hp and 2% mana if no one can kill you.

The following is my recommended 'pure dps' leveling build, meant for dps, survivability and mana efficiency.

The level 20 build. Reduced cast time on our movement increase, take 2 handed weapons just due to the fact that low level spell damage weapons are few and far between (the dagger + orb combo from SM will last most casters til 50+) and you will get plenty of 2 handed maces/axes dished out while questing that was intended as warrior loot. Windfury and a 2hander as a backup for when the mob reaches you will allow you to maximise your mp5 regen in combat by auto attacking the last ~15% of a mobs hp. I take Shield spec, simply because it allows me to emergency tank a dungeon with Rockbiter and a shield if I'm stuck looking for a tank while leveling up until about level ~45.

The level 30 build. As above, but with 5% better spell damage and 10% better mana efficiency, maximising uptime and minimising downtime.

The level 40 build. As above, but it now has clearcasting (better uptime), 6% spell crit, 4% reduced damage against the most common spell damage types you are likely to come up against and Eye of the Storm. EotS is a useless PvE talent outside of leveling, but leveling 1v1 against mobs you will get crit plenty of times, and the chance to get off a non interruptible heal once or twice per fight can be the difference between life or death and a costly run back to corpse. Maximising efficiency here people.

The level 50 build. As above, but we now have 10% damage reduction, 6yards spell reach, 100% extra critical damage and 1second reduceed cast times.

The following is my recommended 'hybrid' leveling build, meant for dps, mana efficiency and healing, allowing you to fulfil either a dps or healer role in the same gear and spec. This is the spec I more commonly use. My best leveling time with it is 5 days 11 hours /played time 1-60, done over 8 days real time on Kronos 1 PvP realm.

The level 20 build. Maximising our mana pool, reduced cast time on our movement increase spell and taking 2 handed weapons for the same dps reasons as the 'pure dps' leveling build.

The level 30 build. As above, maximising mana efficiency with the 10% better mana efficiency and 0.5 second heal cast time.

The level 40 build. As above, with increased totem radius (letting us cast fewer totems for mana efficiency, less totem repositioning) reduced ankh CD (for World PvP, dungeon wipe protection) and armour on crit for our heals (healing us protecting ourselves from undergeared tanks during leveling) and 4% spell damage increase.

The level 50 build. As above, with 5% reduced totem cost, 3% spell and melee hit chance, 4% spell crit, an extra 1% damage on our spells and clear casting for mana efficiency.

The level 55 build. As above, now with a total of 5% spell healing crit and 9% spell damage crit. The next 5 points to 60 are almost free floating. It makes sense to cap Call of Thunder for a total of 10% offensive spell crit, while grabbing Nature's Swiftness to give you that 'oh shit' cooldown button, useful for instance healing or world PvP nuking. As long as your items are using the 'spelldamage and healing' affix you will be able to heal all end game dungeons, including LBRS and UBRS raids, while having more than enough DPS to solo quest with good mana efficiency.

The level 60 Elemental PvE build 30/0/20 +1. We now need to respec, dropping all the Enhancement talents entirely and restructuring our build around dps. The floating point gives us some very interesting decisions to make;

  • Elemental Mastery: 100% guaranteed crit for 0 mana cost on your next offensive spell. More of a PvP burst talent, but it has potential for better mana efficiency and of course higher dps, especially on short fights.
  • Nature's Swiftness: Makes your next Nature cast with less than 10 second cast time instant cast. Instant cast max rank Chain Lightning for add nuking, instant cast healing on demand, instant cast Lightning Bolt when target swapping. All sorts of applications, most usually used to drop an instant Chain Heal or Healing Wave on the tank/melee group. Remember, in 1.12.1 we have the smart heal on our Chain Heal.
  • Totemic Focus: an extra 5% mana efficiency on our totems. Mana efficiency is the name of the game as a Shaman. You can drop a point from Improved Reincarnation to go 5/5 here.

My personal preference is Nature's Swiftness. The instant cast burst can make all the difference on a fight that is going down to the wire (enrage times etc.), save a tank in an emergency situation (which almost no one will ever thank you for) and can make all the difference between making a 5 man instance run smooth or a headache if the healer is bad/undergeared. Remember you are a Hybrid, that means you don't need to do just one job. Keep your eyes off the dps meters and focus on what is actually going down.

Improved Healing Wave vs Tidal Focus: Generally, you'll only need to cast a single heal as back up, maybe a total of 2-3 heals per fight at most. It will almost always be more important to land the heal fast rather than to have better mana efficiency for those potential one off heals. In a perfect cast scenario, both talents are wasted and you never need to help your healer team out. This really is personal preference.

The Theory of Downranking

Generally, the lack of a curse that reduces nature resistance is regarded as the second biggest issue that Ele shamans have after their mana regen issues.

According to a few Elitistjerks posts from vanilla it seemed to be generally accepted that a Curse of Elements or Shadows removed all boss resistance besides 20 "unpenetrable" resistance.

This means that we're looking at a total of 75 spell penetration that would be required for boss encounters, quite a lot to say the least. Those who have a guild rocking a Thunderfury are lucky and will "only" have to aim for 50 spell penetration. Many of the same Elitistjerks posts tell us that each point of resistance accounts for approximately 0.25% damage reduction and therefore, while many elemental shamans will want to gear up like they would gear any other caster class they should actually be aiming a lot more for spell penetration. As other classes do not have to gear towards spell penetration to such an extent many might think the stat not worth going for as you're "sacrificing too much", this means we should have an easier time picking up upgrades that other classes consider 'trash' tier, considering our spec and our inbuilt hit rating, we can easily sacrifice a little hit for spell pen.

With a whole second taken off your main spell you are obviously going to be facing huge mana problems. This is where the true problem of the elemental spec lies in my opinion, much more than the lack of a curse.

Assuming you only cast Lightning Bolt you will be spending the following amount of mana:

Lightning Bolt Rank 10: 238,5 mana talented

Clearcasting makes every tenth cast free on average.

In 20 seconds you will cast 10 Lightning Bolts but spend the mana equal to 9.

This gives us 9*238,5 = 2146,5 mana spent every 20 seconds

As you can see, here is the real problem with Elemental and what leads to us being classed as 'unviable'.

What can we do to combat this (outside of the unviable perception issue)? The solution to the curse problem was simple: Change our perception on gear stats, and wear more spell penetration. Why shouldn't the solution to this be equally as simple as well? Well, even though it's not something Mages and Warlocks generally do, it is simple: Downranking like a healer.

Let's compare three different ranks of Lightning Bolt spam to see the difference in mana spent:

(base_mana+intellect*15)/((base_mana_cost*mana_reducing_talents*2,5)-mana_regeneration)*5 = time_before_OOM

Rank 10:
(1365+85*15)/((265*0,8*2,5)-162)*5 = 36

Rank 8:
(1365+85*15)/((195*0,8*2,5)-162)*5 = 58

Rank 6:
(1365+85*15)/((135*0,8*2,5)-162)*5 = 122

As you can see going from Rank 10 Lightning Bolt to Rank 8 will almost double your time spent casting and going down to Rank 6 almost triples it.

Downranking is perhaps not normal behaviour for a damaging spell caster but it doesn't have to be as terrible as it sounds. The only damage you're truly losing is the average damage of the base spell and the modifiers on top of that. With that in mind let's see the difference between the average damage of the aforementioned ranks:

(bottom_damage+top_damage)/2*damage_increasing_talents/cast_time = DPS

Rank 10:
(419+468)/2*1,05/2 = ~233

Rank 8:
(282+317)/2*1,05/2 = ~157

Rank 6:
(172+195)/2*1,05/2 = ~96

These are of course rough calculations but they give a good idea of how this would work. Going down to Rank 8 would almost double your time spent casting at the cost of ~75 DPS. Let's see what the difference in damage is between each spell rank.

DPS*time_before_OOM = total_DMG

233*36 = 8388

157*58 = 9106

96*122 = 11712

This is without spell power, which would stay the same through each rank, exponentially increasing the gap between the downranked spells. This does however, create a further level of complexity for each fight. Personally, I keep a pad of paper which the rough time my guild takes per boss for each raid instance, using the above calculations to figure out which rank I can use on each fight. As you and your guild gears up and increases their kill speeds, you simply increase the rank you use on each boss until you are at rank 10.

Enchants & Consumables


Head: ZG Enchant if possible, +100 HP works as well
Shoulders: ZG Enchant +18 Spelldamage
Cloak: I recommend +5 Res
Chest: +100HP
Bracers: +9Stam
Gloves: +30Healing
Legs ZG Enchant: +100HP
Feet: Minor Speed

1h: +30 Spelldamage
Shield: +7 Stam

2h: +30 spelldamage

 

Greater Arcane Elixir if not flasking.
Mageblood Potion.
Demonic/Dark Rune.
Major Mana Potion.
Wizard Oil.
Flask of Distilled Wisdom or Flask of Supreme Power.

Elemental Shaman PvP Guide


Talents/Race


There are only three Races to choose in Vanilla: Orc/Tauren and Troll. As per the PvE guide above, there's options and viability with each one;


Orc: The stun resistance is an amazing passive racial and makes people rage at you when you are lucky in the RNG part of the game. The AP buff is irelivant. Conclusion: Highly recommended, since with a shield and mail armour and stun resistance you become almost Rogue proof, especially when running with a good group.
Tauren: Decent passive racial that boosts your HP, always good (both in PvE and PvP). Great AoE Stun, that gives you a free LHW or CL, and stops people capping bases in AB/AV.
Troll: Racial isn't useless, but not too impressive either. It's much more useful in PvE than in PvP.

I'm using this spec, It is a Hybrid Elemental/Restoration spec grabbing some of the more important things from each tree, I highly recommend:

 

  • Nature's Swiftness (NS) - it's gamebreaking to have it for your Flag Carrier, it often means a second life for yourself or another key player and it often is the only option to stay alive long enough. At the same time it can offer some potentially amazing burst.
  • Elemental Fury - Must have. 100% extra critical damage is truly a no brainer.
  • Lightning Mastery - Reduced cast timers is again a no brainer.
  • Elemental Focus and 3 points points in Convection - While mana regen is less of an issue in PvP (fights don't last as long usually) the more zap you can get from your mana pool the better. OOM = dead if you can't drink.
  • Storm Reach - You simply MUST keep range on people. You don't have too many ways to keep range beyond Earthbind totem kiting (mana intensive and they can easily kill the totem) or Frost Shock and run. The extra 6 yards can make all the difference, especially with the burst we have.
  • Totemic Mastery - Simply amazing for both Tremor and Poison Cleansing Totems. Also helps with mana efficiency, since it will mean you will need to reposition totems less often, and allows for newer players to have some leeway where they initially place totems.
  • Nature's Guidance - Up to 3% spell hit (PvP cap is 4%) which is actually more useful for making sure things like Purge hit the target. I prefer to get the hit from gear and place the 3 extra points in Healing Focus.
  • Eye of the Storm - Great help when casting vs Hunters, Retribution Paladin or Pets, as well as Warriors and Rogues that used their interrupt already or that you are going to 'fakecast'. You can toggle sit when you have  a pet on you, to trigger this talent.
  • Healing Focus - You are a Hybrid. You will be casting heals. This will allow you to cast more regular heals. See the note in Nature's guidance regarding hit and 3 extra points.
  • Earth's Grasp - Great for peeling, as well as very useful in places like WSG when trying to slow a FC group for a mid field engagement.

Stats

Very similar to our PvE stats, get hit capped, maximise spell damage and mana pool, while balancing some spell penetration and stamina. Basic mechanics like dropping totems, dispelling poisons and purging as well as interrupting and peeling should all be doable in starter gear, but you will have mana efficiency issues. For decent damage and survivability you obviously want to get as much gear as possible - Shamans scale really well with high end gear.

In this order, the stats you should aim for:

  • 4% Spellhit
  • Spelldamage/Healing
  • Stamina
  • Intellect
  • Spellcrit
  • Armor
  • Spellpen (yes, get it if possible)
  • MP5 (usually comes for free on some decent items)
     

Enchants & Consumables

 

  • Head ZG Enchant if possible, +100 HP works as well
  • Shoulders ZG Enchant +18 Spelldamage
  • Cloak I recommend +5 Res
  • Chest +100HP
  • Bracers +9Stam
  • Gloves +30Healing
  • Legs ZG Enchant, +100HP
  • Feet Minor Speed
  • 1h +30 Spelldamage
  • Shield +7 Stam

Cheap and really amazing: Iron Grenades, Swiftness Pots, Mana Potions

If you really want to push ranks: Magic Dust, Free Action Potion, Thorium Grenades, Arcane Bombs, Restorative Pot, Flask of Supreme Power

Profession

Engineering is the alpha choice for PvP. Hence why everyone and their granny runs it. Just to name a few things;

  • Net is amazing for Shamans.
  • Reflectors are amazing for every class.
  • Grenades are a must have for many classes, stun that Rogue in revenge!
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Very nice post. I was raiding at TBC as elemental for a while (warlock was the main). 

I have one question though. I read everywhere that in vanilla shaman leveling is best done with a fast 1H weapon (dagger) with flametongue. You suggest 2H I guess with WF? 

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7 hours ago, kikeron said:

Very nice post. I was raiding at TBC as elemental for a while (warlock was the main). 

I have one question though. I read everywhere that in vanilla shaman leveling is best done with a fast 1H weapon (dagger) with flametongue. You suggest 2H I guess with WF? 

It depends on how you play, in simple terms;

There are fewer good dagger upgrades, so with dagger + shield you will be slower to kill stuff, but more survivable.
There are lots of 2 hander drops and quest rewards, with wf you can in theory 1 shot many mobs as soon as they get to you.

If you are playing an Orc with the extra axe weapon skill, a 2h Axe can really improve your kill times while leveling. Generally, as with everything regarding leveling in Vanilla, go with what you get. If you get the spellpower dagger from SM, you're good to go til end game with that dagger, if you get a really solid 2h, you're better off LB until mob reaches you and you can kill it in 1-2 hits.

My preference is 2h with WF, it looks cooler, and when you are lucky stuff wont get off more than a single hit against you. Having a good 2h makes 20-30 quicker as well, which is when Ele is at its weakest, since there is next to no +spell damage gear.

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16 hours ago, kikeron said:

And how it performs at wpvp while leveling?

I have no real idea, I actively avoid worldpvp and generally stick to PvE servers when I have the chance to.

I found it worked fine on Kronos, but the only world PvP I had there was the initial leveling blitz of Stranglethorn where I was part of a roaming group, and then getting ganked while grinding stuff for raids at end game. I can't really advise there, sorry.

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On 29-6-2016 at 9:03 PM, kikeron said:

And how it performs at wpvp while leveling?

 

While the presented hybrid builds certainly are very efficient for leveling, they lack the necessary condensed fire power to quickly take foes out. 2.5 seconds LB with 6 second CD shocks are too slow and make you even more susceptible against interrupt effects, something you already are. You can't play it like Enhancement either because your melee attacks will be too weak. Once you eat a CC you'll be behind with no means to catch up again.

 

If you want a spec that goes well with WPvP then it depends on what you're going for, you can choose between either Elemental or Enhancement. Almost every Shaman goes Enhancement and I agree that it's the more fun and better spec while leveling on a PvP server.

Elemental has the mandatory: EotS, Elemental Fury, Storm Reach, Elemental Focus and Lightning Mastery talents. must have talents. As long as you're not 60 I consider Elemental Mastery a must have as well. Not only for 'on demand' burst when your crit% is still low but also because it makes your most expensive spells completely free.

As elemental you just want to cast LB > CL > Shock and quickly burst your opponent down while preventing getting CC'd. EotS will prove invaluable against melee who train you and hunters.

Enhancement has the mandatory: Improved Ghost Wolf, Flurry, Parry and Storm Strike talents.

As enhancement you just want get in there and nuke them down before they can kill you. Against Rogues / Warriors it's advisable to kite them with Frost Shock while keeping Searing Totem up to wear them down. Enhancement is the most powerful spec around level 40.

 

 

Edited by RipTonight
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On 20/05/2016 at 1:19 PM, Elicas said:

The following is my recommended 'hybrid' leveling build, meant for dps, mana efficiency and healing, allowing you to fulfil either a dps or healer role in the same gear and spec. This is the spec I more commonly use. My best leveling time with it is 5 days 11 hours /played time 1-60, done over 8 days real time on Kronos 1 PvP realm.

The level 20 build. Maximising our mana pool, reduced cast time on our movement increase spell and taking 2 handed weapons for the same dps reasons as the 'pure dps' leveling build.

The level 30 build. As above, maximising mana efficiency with the 10% better mana efficiency and 0.5 second heal cast time.

 

Sorry if I'm asking a stupid question but what is the rationale for having shorter cast time on heals instead of reduced mana cost?

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2 minutes ago, Inkd said:

Sorry if I'm asking a stupid question but what is the rationale for having shorter cast time on heals instead of reduced mana cost?

As a leveling Shaman, you'll mostly be fitted out for DPS, that means the only time you'll need to cast a heal is if you are getting low. Casting a heal 0.5 seconds faster might save your life. Saving ~10-20 mana on a low level heal is unlikely to influence the fight much.

Same thing goes for if you heal a dungeon while leveling.

Lets say you're healing a mid level dungeon and cast Healing Wave rank 5. That's 200 mana and a 3 second cast time for 376-441 healing. That gives an average of 408.5 healing every 3 seconds, or 136.16 healing per second, at a rate of 2.0425 healed per mana spent.

5% mana reduction will change the cost per spell to 190. That gives you the same HPS, but increases your efficiency to 2.15 healed per mana spent, a increase of 0.1075 healing per mana point spent.

With a 0.5 second speed increase, you're firstly more likely to land the heal before your target dies, as well as significantly increasing your HPS.

408.5 healing every 2.5 seconds works out as 163.4 HPS, a 27.24 increase in HPS over the same spell with a 3 second cast time.

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