Monday, January 30, 2012

Ask Saz - Enhancement Questions

Over the past week or so I've been asking the fine folks on Twitter for any and all enhancement shaman related questions. This idea came about partially because over the past few weeks I've been getting a several questions in game from a fellow shaman who were 85 and trying enhancement for the very first time (most were usually either restoration or elemental previously). So here is a general Q&A containing the questions I've received thus far. If you have a question that is not listed here, please feel free to either leave a comment or to toss me a tweet on Twitter @serenitysaz.

Q: Why enhancement instead of elemental?
A: Personal play style choice. I prefer the aggressive up-in-your-face chaos that is enhancement. Some folks prefer standing in the back and slinging chunks of lava at things. Elemental does have several advantages while leveling up and when you're first putting together gear sets at 85, such as being able to heal yourself more efficiently when you're soloing and sharing gear for say a restoration offspec (faster queues). I personally am a melee lover at heart though. Yes, I have bothered to build up a restoration gear set as offspec, and yes it was a touch more difficult to do as enhancement since none of my gear pieces can be used as cross-over pieces. However, I personally love the enhancement play style, hence why I don't roll as elemental.

Q: What totems should I be using?
A: The standard set up for solo play is Strength of Earth, Winfury, Healing Stream, and Searing Totem. You may need to adjust your earth and air totems for 5 mans or raids, depending on which buffs are already present and/or missing, but for the most part those four totems do the trick. To read up on which totems are similar to which buffs, please visit my totem guide.

Q: How should I execute my opener? My Searing Totem doesn't always attack my target, should I wait to drop my totems?
A: No, because your other totems will still buff your opening attacks. I personally like to run in, hit Unleash Elements, drop my totems, Stormstrike, Lava Lash, Flame Shock, then redrop my totems. Sometimes my Searing Totem will focus on my target because I had already attacked with UE, sometimes it will figure out it needs to attack my target when I hit Stormstrike, sometimes it sits there like a dodo bird. This example here is of course a very rough opener, since I did not include how I open up with wolves or pre-potting. Each fight is a little different, so my best advice is to know how each of your spells work together and how each pull will affect your opener.

Q: How do I level up as enhancement? Which rotations/glyphs should I be using?
A: I will be getting more in depth with this question as I work on my Enhanced Leveling series. Currently I'm leveling up a second enhancement shaman, Sazza, and I will be writing more on this topic as I get her up. The process may be a bit slow, but I'll get through everything eventually. I promise! If you need some serious specific help right now on your enhancement alt though, please feel free to pester me.

Q: AoE - How do I make the BIG numbers?
A: Optimizing our AoE can sometimes be tricky, especially in scenarios where mobs die quickly. The most important thing about AoE is timing our spells correctly. We're not like some classes that can simply spam one button, but we rely heavily on an AoE "rotation" that can take 3-4 GCDs to pump out the big numbers. Let's do a few scenarios to help get the idea of proper AoE down.

Yor'sahj the Unsleeping - The black ooze has been consumed by the boss and adds are about to come out. Lava Lash is an ability that has a 10 second cooldown, and the adds will be out in 6. What do you do? I personally switch from using my Searing Totem over to my Magma Totem (or perhaps even my Fire Elemental if I know it's going to be a double add phase) and only Stormstrike + refresh Flame Shock on my shock cooldown. I do not hit Lava Lash until at least half of the adds are surrounding the boss, I do not bother with Earth Shock until the add phase is over. So, as soon as those adds are out, as I said, I hit Lava Lash, Unleash Elements, and then Fire Nova. I continue to use Stormstrike on CD on the boss as well as continuously refresh Flame Shock on the boss.
Tip: Remember, any Flame Shocks that you spread to the adds will take the duration timer of the parent Flame Shock; if your Flame Shock that you spread has 3 seconds left on it, all of the duplicate Flame Shocks will likewise only have 3 seconds and counting left on their timers. Keep those timers as high as you can to prevent accidentally missing out on a Fire Nova! Chain Lightning is highly recommended to weave into your "AoE rotation" during this phase. Also remember to switch back to your Searing Totem as the add phase is ending.

Madness of Deathwing - Your team has just downed the big tentacle arm and switched back to the wing tentacle. Ol' DW is about to hemorrhage, which means big AoE time. There's 6 seconds left on the timer before he spews bloody blobs all over the place...what do you do? In this scenario I do not switch totems, but leave Mr. Derp Totem (aka Searing) to do his spitting fireballs thing at Deathwing's arm. I also do NOT use my shocks or Lava Lash if I know that the adds will be arriving soon. I instead simply Stormstrike and swing at the arm until the adds have spawned, run over to them, Flame Shock one as the add tank is rounding them up and dragging them over to the arm, and Lava Lash + Fire Nova ASAP. I then continue to Nova and Chain Lightning as much and as quickly as possible, for these adds usually die quickly.

Tip: If you manage to set up your AoE quickly and efficiently, your numbers will really shine on this encounter thanks to Spellweave. Unfortunately if you're unable to get your AoE out in a quick manor you may see your numbers plummet below those of other AoE classes. Be alert, be aware of your timers, and be aggressive.

Clear as mud? Good.

Q: What are some advanced tips and tricks for using totems?
A: My best advice is to be aware of the capability of the totems in your arsenal and any available glyphs that my enhance your totems.

- Knowing that using a glyph for Healing Stream totem can up your resistances to Frost, Fire, and Nature damage can help reduce healing needed in both your raid and you in soloing environments.

- Stoneskin Totem will give anyone within its aura range extra armor. This is useful for when you're soloing against a beasty that likes to use melee swings instead of magic damage. It'll help those dragon cleaves smart just a little bit less.

- Stoneclaw Totem can be useful for you healthwise so long as you have it glyphed. Sadly the shield that this totem/glyph combo places on you doesn't scale with gear, but in some situations an extra 16k or so absorb isn't anything to sneeze at. I definitely recommend it for certain fights when soloing, as well as for certain hardmodes (think Heroic Morchok and his stomps).

- Earth/Fire Elementals are sadly two totems that don't always get a ton of love from us enhancement shaman. They are however useful to use on a rare occasion. Big red (the fire guy) can do some heavy AoE damage and Rocky will make fun of everyone but a boss, effectively taunting any adds off of you. If you find yourself in an add heavy situation where you need to take some heat off of yourself or your healers (think Yor'sahj), it might be handy to pop these guys in order to buy a few seconds of time, as these dudes will attempt to take all the hate.

- Grounding Totem can be sometimes useful, as more often than not it will eat a spell for its user...though it does only take one hit for the team before dying and has a semi-longish cooldown (25 seconds). You can in some situations even glyph Grounding Totem to spell reflect (beware, it ups the CD on the totem to 35 seconds) and use it effectively, but generally there are better glyphs for an enhancer in soloing and raiding situations to use.

Tip: Be flexible with your totems. I personally keep several situational totems on my bars for those "just in case" moments. Things such as my elementals, Tremor Totem, and Stoneclaw Totem are all easily accessible even though they're not bound into any pre-made totem set up. Ingrain the uses of your arsenal of tools into your mind, and you shall do well with totem-twisting your way to victory in whatever you do.

I hope that this Q&A has helped to clear a few things up for those of you who may be a bit new to the world of enhancement. Until next time my fellow axe slingers, keep on swinging.

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