Thursday, October 10, 2013

Updates - I Live, I Promise

Hello everyone!

As some of you may have noticed, I haven't been posting a whole lot over the past few months. This has partially been due to a certain lack of get up and go on my part where writing about World of Warcraft is concerned, while on the other hand I have been ridiculously busy with raiding, pet battling, alting, and of course general real life things.

The intent of this post is to touch base with you guys.

The Blog
I'm slowly trying to update everything here on World of Saz so that it's current with the 5.4 changes. Several of the older guides have already been brought up to date, though the "Need to Know" guide(s) have yet to be touched (correction: now updated!). I hope to have this squared away within the next few days from when this post is written. I'm also working on reorganizing links/pages in attempts to clean this place up some.

The Game
- Raiding: I am raiding once again. I'm back up to three nights a week with the new team, however I'm only on an 8 hour raid schedule. Even with limited hours, we're doing work. Loving it so far.
- Twitterland Raiding: TLR is still going strong. I've been hosting a Flex run every Saturday, which has been going pretty well. We're also currently working our way through the t14 achievements.
- Soloing: I'm still soloing from time to time, and videos of my antics can be found over on my Youtube page. Current challenges are Proving Grounds (ugh, FPS loss is killing me in this patch), tier 11, and Heroic Lich King 25. The latter two goals are slightly more gear dependent than what they were previously, thanks to some talent tweaks in 5.4. I still have hopes to tackle it all within the month though.
- Stuff: I'm addicted to pet battling/leveling. My collection is getting a bit crazy. Not a super huge fan of the Timeless Isle, but quality time is coming since I need a ton of pets from there yet. Rare farming is my bane.

As of late, I've been uploading a ton of videos over on my Youtube page. Unfortunately I've been heavy on the boss kill and solo videos, but super light on the guides. There's still a ton of Enhancement content going up though, with a side of Resto and Elemental mixed in. Assuming that I ever get around to recording myself again (re: gain the metaphorical balls), I'd very much like to get more guide material up. We'll see, though I make no promises.

As always, I'm highly active both in game and on Twitter. I'm also pretty easy to reached through either the comments on this blog or through the email I have listed here in the Contact tab. While I may not be the quickest at getting guides or general shaman content out these days, I'm still always up for answering any and all questions related to shaman. Please don't hesitate to pick my brain! Also, if people pester me enough I may just get around to posting more.

I hope you're all doing well and I hope to get more content out to you soon!
~ Saz

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reforging with ReforgeLite (Addon)

One of the more common questions I see is focused on reforging. How do I reforge? What should I reforge into? Do I use the guess and test method until I meet my caps, or do I need to learn how to do napkin math? Fret not, as there are several resources out there that can help you figure out how to reforge. Beware though, some are definitely better than others.

Reforging Resources

Ask Mr. Robot - This site has grown in popularity over the years and has improved greatly since it first launched. It's an alright place to start if you're an absolute beginner, but I find that that the reforging presets are often limited and/or are straight up incorrect. Sure, you can adjust some of the presets, but I personally find it rather cumbersome to do so. The site by default also has a habit of landing you under your hit/expertise caps. While I understand their rational behind doing this, as a dual-wielding class that already sees far too many parries for my liking in both soloing and in raiding situations, the last thing I want to do is undershoot my caps.

WoW Reforge - This was my personal favorite reforging resource for the longest time. Far more accurate than AMR and even ReforgeLite, WoW Reforge was an excellent and rather easy to use site. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to support the item upgrade system, hence the use of past tense. If you're not using your Valor Points to upgrade gear, this site can still be of great use. As I said, it's a pretty easy site to use overall, allowing you to to easily adjust the stat weights to your liking and while it doesn't automatically account for hit/expertise racial bonuses, those numbers are very easily adjusted and adding in multiple caps it's a snap. With everything this site has to offer, I'm very bummed that it doesn't support the upgrade system, to say the least.

ReforgeLite - My current go-to source for reforging. Unlike the previous two links, this addon allows you to make reforging changes right in game and it's fairly accurate to boot. This addon automatically takes into consideration hit/expertise racials and even automatically determines the hit/expertise required for your level (super handy for those Herald of the Titans twinks!). The biggest downside to this addon would be the fact that it is limited to two caps only. So if you're say, a Windwalker Monk who wants to hit your hit/expertise caps first, then set a haste threshold and have everything else dumped into crit or mastery once you've hit that threshold. You unfortunately won't be able to that with ReforgeLite. You'll be restricted to just getting your hit/expertise caps and will need to manually adjust for how much haste/other stats you'd like. Outside of that downfall though, this addon provides a very quick and easy way to reforge any character. Presets are readily available, and while they may not always optimal for your current gearing scheme (they are usually incorrect for Enhancement), they are ridiculously easy to readjust for your needs.

ReforgeLite - The Quick and Dirty Guide
(Click on the images to enlarge)

When you have ReforgeLite installed, you'll see the an extra window pop up whenever you visit your local Reforging Agent (shown on the right). At first it may look scary and confusing, but fret not! It's actually rather easy to use.

The red circle indicates where the preset drop down menu button is located. Clicking on that button will pop down said menu and show you all of the available presets. Click on the one that most resembles what you're aiming for (in this case, Enhancement) and the addon will automatically give you presets for hit/expertise caps as well as a secondary statistic priority order.

If the secondary stat order isn't to your liking, as it often isn't for me, you may use the little up and down arrow buttons that are located to the left of the stats to adjust their priority. Click on these arrows to adjust as needed.

Here's how I view stat priority for Enhancement: Hit/Expertise cap (7.5% for each respectively), always first and foremost.

Level 80 (Twink):  Mastery > Haste > Crit

Leveling 85-90: Mastery > Haste = Crit

Fresh 90/Heroic 5 Geared: Crit (until ~20%) > Mastery = Haste
Tier 14 Geared: Mastery = Haste > Crit (Assuming ~20%)
Tier 15 Geared: Haste > Mastery > Crit Haste overtakes Mastery once you gain 2 RPPM trinkets + your legendary meta gem, actual change over threshold before these items may vary depending on gear; haste and mastery are pretty equal without RPPM items.
Tier 16 Geared: Mastery > Haste > Crit Due to the large amount of cleave/AoE encounters in Siege of Orgrimmar and Mastery's high burst potential, Mastery is often favored. Haste is king for single target situations when one has a certain gear set up (including the Assurance of Consequence trinket) and when specced into Primal Elementalist, however reforging on a per-fight basis often becomes too problematic and costly for such a small difference between the Mastery and Haste-heavy builds.

Challenge Modes: Mastery > Haste > Crit (I have 20% crit after reforges when scaled down; depending on your gear, you may need to tweak some things)

PvP: Hit/Expertise to 3% | Mastery > Haste > Crit (As suggested by Vanguards over on AJ)

Soloing Burst: Mastery > Haste > Crit Depending on situation. With certain set ups Haste may be greater than Mastery, though I personally prefer to stick to high mastery builds.
Soloing Survivability (Echo Healing): Mastery > Haste > Crit

Keep in mind that roughly 20% crit is needed for a decent Flurry uptime, which is what makes haste worth its salt for us. Without proper Flurry uptime, haste is pretty much poop. Once you hit that 20% threshold, mastery and haste over take crit, though crit is still a pretty decent stat!

Once you've settled on your reforging priority, you'll want to hit the 'Calculate' button, as indicated in the red circle in the image above. Keep in mind that on certain machines this may cause your screen/game to freeze momentarily (it does on mine). Give it a few seconds while it crunches all of your numbers and everything should be fine relatively quickly.

When the addon is done calculating, you can scroll down a bit and see which stats will be traded for what. As you can see in the image above, I'll be taking on a slight loss in mastery with this reforge, but I'll gain crit, haste, and expertise in the process.

If you are satisfied with what you see, you'll want to hit 'Show' next, again indicated in the red circle in the image above. This will pop up another box, which is overlapped on my reforge box and my character sheet in this image (it can be scooted around to where ever for your liking). This Output box will show you which items will be reforged (indicated by the lack of a check mark) and how each piece will be reforged. If you do not want an item to be reforged, say if it's trading mastery for haste and you don't want it to, simply toss a check mark in the box and it will skip over making that change. This window will also give you an idea as to how much your reforge will cost, as indicated at the bottom of the box next to the Reforge button.

To get things moving, simply hit the 'Reforge' button! The addon will automatically start feeding the items that are to be reforged through the reforger. That's right, this part of the process is all automated!


After a few seconds, the addon is finished with its job. As you can see on my character sheet, my alt shaman is now at her proper hit and expertise caps while having excess stats filtered off into haste.

When I first started using ReforgeLite I was super skeptical of it, as I tend to be with most things. If you find this addon to be confusing at first glance, you're not alone. I too found it overwhelming the first couple of times I tried to use it. However, over the past year or so I've absolutely fallen in love with ReforgeLite. While it may not necessarily always give you the most absolutely perfect, bleeding edge, completely optimum reforge for your current gear set up (you'd need to run simulations for that sort of a thing), it'll definitely put you solidly in the ballpark of good enough.

Install, enjoy, and I hope this post has helped you out with your reforging endeavors!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pandaria Totem Post!

Whether you love them or hate them, totems are an intricate part of the shaman toolkit. Once upon a time they were simple buff sticks, usually tossed onto the ground and promptly forgotten about. In Mists of Pandaria that mindset has been changed greatly. Our raid buffs have since been moved from our totems over to passive auras: Grace of Air and Burning Wrath being granted by all shaman, while Elemental Oath is only granted by Elemental shaman and Unleashed Rage is granted only by Enhancement shaman.

All of the following questions and comments are commonly stated by those who are either just returning or really can't wrap their minds around the new system. I'll admit, when the new system was first introduced I thought it was clumsy and inefficient as well. I flailed around, took forever to memorize which totems did what; it was awful. However, once I acquainted myself with how the system actually worked, I fell in love. Let's go over some commonly asked questions.

Can I drop all four totems at once?
No. All totems, with the exception of Searing Totem, are now considered cooldowns. Each totem requires a GCD (global cooldown) to cast, making it impossible to drop more than one of a particular school at a time. You may have 4 different totems out at once (one of each school), but it will take you 4 GCDs to do so.

What happened to my totem bar?!
Due to how the new system works, the totem bar in the UI was no longer necessary. While it was a space saver, it's function simply no longer worked.

If you're looking for something with a similar feel, TotemTimers can provide that for you. I love this addon not for its potential space-saving capabilities though - I keep all necessary totems on my bars at all times - but for its tracking of both totem duration and remaining cooldown timers.

Can I set up a macro that will allow me to drop more than one totem at a time?
No. Again, every totem in our arsenal has its own GCD, which makes it impossible to drop more than one at a time. You could in theory use alt modifying macros to help save bar space, but you'll need an efficient way to track your totem cooldowns.

So what are totems good for now? 
Plenty of things! Many of our totems have very niche uses now, but several can save your skin if used right. You just need to know how to apply what when.

How do I use totems? 
Very carefully and one at a time. Sarcasm aside, we'll get into the individual uses of each totem momentarily.

This new system is awful!
Not a question, but let's tackle it anyways! The new system is certainly not a style that fits everyone. It's by no means perfect, but it's really not as awful as you may initially think. It's not as condensed as the old system, and to combat that you'll need to get a bit creative with your UI. A terrible inconvenience, I know.

How am I supposed to deal with all of these totems?
Personally I use Bartender. Due to this addon I'm able to keep all of my totems on my bars where they're easily accessible. I arrange things with how they make sense to me, have Searing Totem keybound (you may easily set character-specific keybinds through Bartender), and then track things through TotemTimers so I don't always need to glance down at my buttons to gauge how much longer it'll be until a certain totem is off of cooldown. You'll simply need to play with your own UI until you've found space for everything, which can be a bit tricky if you prefer to run with the standard UI.

Alternatively, you can pull out the totem drop boxes from your spell book, though trying to access a specific totem in a pinch can be rather clumsy.

We could honestly go on all day with totem Q&A. Instead of doing that though, let's dig into the details on which totems we have and how to use them most effectively.

Fire Elemental Totem
Duration: 1 minute, reduced if Glyph of Fire Elemental is used, reduced with Assurance of Consequence
Cooldown: 5 minutes, 3 minutes via Glyph of Fire Elemental
Purpose: For Elemental and Enhancement, this is a major DPS cooldown totem. Big Red will grant Searing Flames for Enhancement, which makes this guy actually viable for us to use as a DPS cooldown.

If you choose the Primal Elementalist talent, your standard Fire Elemental will become a better, more potent version of itself. For Elemental and Enhancement shaman, this means that Big Red will hit harder and will gain a control bar. He will also gain an ability called Empower. If the shaman chooses to use Empower, Big Red will focus on the shaman and increase the own shaman's damage by 5% and healing by 10%. Empower isn't something that should be used by Enhancement or Elemental shamans as it would be a DPS loss to do so, though the increase to healing is rather potent for Restoration shaman, especially when paired with Healing Tide Totem or Ascendance.

Advanced Play: Macros

/cast Fire Elemental Totem
/cast Empower

This macro will take two clicks to properly use, as both casting FET and Empower takes an individual GCD. However, this makes it much easier for Restoration shaman to activate Empower without having to go to the pet's toolbar.

/cast (choose a spell to put here)
/cast [pet:primal fire elemental] Fire Blast

When an Enhancement or Elemental shaman chooses the Primal Elementalist talent, their elementals gain additional, controllable abilities. Since using Super Rocky is considered to be a DPS increase, you'll want to turn off his taunt for all non-soloing situations so that he's not taunting off of the tanks (generally not supposed to happen with at-level bosses, but he will taunt all little adds and get himself killed). Super Rocky's taunt is called Angered Earth, which is located in the same spot as Big Red's Fire Blast. If you toggle Angered Earth off, you also toggle Fire Blast off.

Since Fire Blast is a large part of Big Red's damage, you'll want to macro this ability into a few of your own abilities so that you're not clicking Fire Blast on your pet's bar. Fire Blast is available every 6 seconds. Elemental Shaman may just tie Fire Blast in with their Lightning Bolt and/or Lava Burst, while Enhancement may want to tie this spell into their shocks, Stormstrike, and Lava Lash just to ensure they're using Fire Blast as often as possible.

Patch 5.4 Edit: Neither version of the Earth Elemental should taunt off of someone who has a tank specialization activated. Micro-managing our Earth Elementals *should* be a thing of the past now and there should no longer be a need to macro your Fire Elemental's Fire Blast into your other abilities.

Magma Totem
Duration: 1 minute
Cooldown: None
Purpose: Used in AoE situations where there's 5 or more mobs. Biggest downside about this totem for Enhancement is the fact that Magma Totem does not grant Searing Flames. Great for large trash packs or in large, well grouped add situations on boss fights where your Fire Elemental isn't available.

Searing Totem
Duration: 1 minute
Cooldown: None
Purpose: Main, single target DPS totem. Used whenever Fire Elemental Totem isn't available for Enhancement and Elemental. May also be used by Restoration shaman who can spare the mana to drop it and would like to help deal some minor damage. Grants Searing Flames for Enhancement, which is critical for their damage output.

Advanced Play: Macros
/cast [nopet:Primal Fire Elemental] Searing Totem

If you use the above macro, you should in theory never again accidentally drop a Searing Totem while Big Red is out. Keep in mind, this macro will only work if you're specced into Primal Elementalist.

Earthbind Totem
Duration: 20 seconds
Cooldown: 30 seconds
Purpose: Slows enemies within 10 yards by 50%.

Earthgrab Totem (Talent, replaces Earthbind)
Duration: 20 seconds
Cooldown: 30 seconds
Purpose: Will first attempt to roost an enemy within 10 yards. If the root is successful, it'll hold the enemy for 5 seconds. Once the root is broken, it will slow the enemies by 50%.

Earth Elemental Totem
Duration: 1 minute
Cooldown: 5 minutes, reduced with Assurance of Consequence
Purpose: For soloing, Rocky can be used as an emergency tank in most situations. In at-level raiding situations, he may me used as a DPS cooldown. While no where near as powerful as the Fire Elemental Totem, Earth Elemental Totem is still an increase in damage to use. He will taunt bosses in 5 man dungeons, so beware of using him in those situations.

If you choose the Primal Elementalist talent, your standard Earth Elemental will become a better, more potent version of itself. For Elemental and Enhancement shaman, this means that Rocky will hit harder and will gain a control bar. He will also gain an ability called Reinforce. If the shaman chooses to use Reinforce, Rocky will focus on the shaman and reduce the shaman's damage taken by 20% and increasing their healing output by 10%. Reinforce isn't something that should be used by Enhancement or Elemental shamans for the duration of the totem, as it would be a DPS loss to do so. You could however temporarily use Reinforce to reduce damage taken; simply use a cancelaura macro (listed below) to allow Rocky to continue on swinging at things. The increase to healing though is rather potent for Restoration shaman, especially when paired with Healing Tide Totem or Ascendance.

The Primal Earth Elemental has a taunt that you need to be aware of called Angered Earth. This is an ability that you may toggle off so that Rocky won't taunt, making him viable to use as a damage cooldown in PvE situations. However, if you toggle off Angered Earth for Rocky, this will also toggle off Big Red's (Primal Fire Elemental) ability Fire Blast. See the Fire Elemental Section for more on this.

Patch 5.4 Edit: Neither version of the Earth Elemental should taunt off of someone who has a tank specialization activated. Micro-managing our Earth Elementals *should* be a thing of the past now. Just be aware of any suspicious taunting behaviors in dungeons to be on the safe side.

Advanced Play: Macros

/cast Earth Elemental Totem
/cast Reinforce

This macro will take two clicks to properly use, as both casting EET and Reinforce takes an indvidual GCD. However, this makes it much easier for Restoration shaman to activate Reinforce without having to go to the pet's toolbar.

/cancelaura Reinforce

For you DPS types who don't need Reinforce to be channeled on you constantly, this macro will be your friend. You cannot toggle Reinforce off through the pet bar, so without this macro you'd have to click off the buff. Clicking off a buff can often be risky business, especially with procs doing their proccing thing, so play it safe with a cancel aura macro!

Stone Bulwark Totem (Talent)
Duration: 30 seconds
Cooldown: 1 minute
Purpose: Places a nice shield on the casting shaman that will absorb a certain amount of damage. Will refresh itself every 5 seconds until the duration of the totem ends. Great for situations with lower, but consistent damage.

Tremor Totem
Duration: 6 seconds
Cooldown: 1 minute
Purpose: This totem will break fear, charm, or sleep effects from all party members within 30 yards. May be used if dispels are not available, or in lieu of in the rare event that mass cleanse of fear/charm/sleep is needed.

Capacitor Totem
Duration: 6 seconds
Cooldown: 45 seconds
Purpose: Stuns all enemies (assuming they can be affected by stuns) within 8 yards of the totem for 5 seconds. 5 second detonation time, unless Glyph of Capacitor Totem is used, which brings the detonate time down to 3 seconds.

Grounding Totem
Duration: 15 seconds
Cooldown: 25 seconds
Purpose: It will absorb 1 harmful spell that was meant for a nearby party member, and be destroyed in the process. If Glyph of Grounding Totem is used, it will instead reflect the spell back at the caster and will still be destroyed in the process. Using the glyph for this totem will extend its cooldown by 35 seconds.

Stormlash Totem
Duration: 10 seconds
Cooldown: 5 minutes
Purpose: Causes the offensive attacks and spells of the raid to deal additional nature damage; a rather large raid-wide damage cooldown. Multiple Stormlash Totems do NOT stack, so if you have more than one shaman within a raid you'll need to work out a drop rotation to prevent overlapping.

Spirit Link Totem (Resto Only)
Duration: 6 seconds
Cooldown: 3 minutes
Purpose: Redistributes health of all party members with in the totem so that all players end up with the same health percentage. Also reduces damage taken by party members within the totem's radius by 10%.

Windwalk Totem (Talent)
Duration: 6 seconds
Cooldown: 1 minute
Purpose: Grants immunity to movement-impairing effects. Can remove all roots and snares. Has some niche uses in PvE.

Healing Stream Totem
Duration: 15 seconds
Cooldown: 30 seconds
Purpose: Creates passive, single target smart healing. Will always try to heal the player within range who has the lowest health. Should prefer player targets over pet targets. This totem should be used liberally when there's damage taken by all three specializations, though Restoration shaman especially should be using this totem as often as possible.

If Glyph of Health Stream Totem is used, the person who receives a heal from that shaman's HST will receive a 10% reduction in Fire, Frost, and Nature damage for 6 seconds. Can be useful in some situations.

Patch 5.4 edit: If you choose the talent Rushing Streams, your Healing Stream Totem will heal two targets (instead of just one) per pulse and will do an increased 15% healing done per tick. This talent is great for more static healing, while many raiding/soloing DPS shaman may still prefer Ancestral Guidance for stronger burst healing.

Mana Tide Totem (Resto Only)
Duration: 16 seconds
Cooldown: 3 minutes
Purpose: Returns mana to both the shaman and nearby party/raid members. The return is based on the casting shaman's own amount of spirit, multiplied by 200% (excluding short-duration spirit boosts, such as trinkets).

Healing Tide Totem
Duration: 11 seconds
Cooldown: 3 minutes
Purpose: A rather potent AoE healing cooldown, especially for Restoration shaman. This was a talent prior to patch 5.4, but is now baseline for all shaman. Rejoice! More raid healing utility for all specializations.

There are several things that can change up our totem's behaviors. We already touched upon how Reinforce and Empower can help increase the healing throughput of Healing Tide Totem (it'll increase ALL healing throughput, but since we're talking about totems here...), but it's important to remember that Empower/Reinforce will also increase the healing done by Healing Stream Totem.

Of course several totems have glyphs that may change their behavior, which have already been noted. Likewise we have a tier of talents that slightly changes how we can interact with our talents.

Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents
Call of the Elements
Cooldown: 3 minutes
Purpose: It resets all totems that have a base cooldown of 3 minutes or less. Meaning, even if you glyph Fire Elemental Totem to get the 3 minute duration version of that totem, FET's cooldown will NOT be affected by this talent. This talent is great for back to back use on any utility totem in tight situations though.

Totems that fall under the 3 minute or less category are:  Capacitor Totem, Earthbind Totem /Earthgrab Totem, Grounding Totem, Healing Stream Totem, Stone Bulwark Totem, Tremor Totem, and Windwalk Totem.

Overall this one is my preference for general use as Enhancement. I like having the option of being able to provide a little more healing or having some extra general utility right on hand if I've already used said totem (back to back Stone Bulwarks anyone?). Probably forgotten about more often than it should be, but it's still nice to have in a pinch.

Totemic Persistence
Cooldown: None (Passive)
Purpose: This talent will allow you to summon a second totem of the same type. For example, if you have your Earth Elemental out and suddenly need a Tremor Totem, you may use your Tremor Totem without causing your Earth Elemental to despawn. If you're Restoration and have Healing Tide Totem out, you may use Mana Tide Totem simultaneously without issue. Likewise with the Air Totems. This talent will not allow you to have more than one fire totem out at the same time, however.

Totemic Persistence has become a personal favorite of mine, especially with soloing and in the rare event when I'm filling a healing role.

Totemic Projection
Cooldown: 10 seconds
Purpose: Moves your totems from one place to another place. Click the spell once, you gain a little targeting circle. Click the spell again, your totems will magically move to the spot you chose.

This one is often a must-have for a lot of Restoration shaman, especially on high movement fights where the tank/melee region may need a Spirit Link Totem, but you can't run into melee to drop it. Also very handy for Elemental shaman who wish to get a magma totem into melee range without having to run into melee themselves. Great for high movement fights in general, especially ones in rather large areas. Haven't found too many uses for it as Enhancement though, save for Capacitor Totem placements.

As you can see, this tier of talents is heavily based on both situation and personal playstyle. These talents often end up being very niche and are often overlooked, but they do have their uses and seem to have better general usage in tier 15 than they did in tier 14. Have yet to find a fight to use this talent effectively for tier 16 as Enhancement; the other two talents seem to be preferable for now. Still can be rather useful on some fights as Restoration or possibly even Elemental though.

There are many addons that may help aid you in the totem juggle. As previously suggested, something like Bartender or Dominos may help aid you in the quest to find room for each and every totem.

For communication, addons such as TellMeWhen and WeakAuras may be programmed to alert you as to when someone has placed a Stormlash Totem and when said totem ends, imperative information since you don't want to overlap Stormlash and waste it.

Alternatively, RSA will put an alert in raid chat (or elsewhere, if you tell it to) stating that you have placed a Stormlash Totem and will again state when said totem has faded. Also works for other raid wide cooldowns, such as Spirit Link, Healing Tide, Mana Tide, etc. This text alert can be handy for many players, and may be redirected into alternative chat channels if a raid finds them to be too distracting.

I hope that this post has helped to sort a few of you out. As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. Remember, if you miss the cozy glow of having all four totems down at once, Glyph of Totemic Encirclement is there for you!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Enhancement Trinkets for Tier 15

What's up ladies and gents? It seems like lately I've been tackling some rather broad subject matter, trying to cover all the general basis so that you all have some sort of a launching pad for getting into the awesome specialization that is enhancement. This time around though I'd like to dive into a more specific topic that seems to crop up often on my search terms list: 5.2 trinkets.

The Throne of Thunder raid patch presented us with a good number of new trinkets to play around with. Some of these trinkets have turned out to be pretty awesome, some of them have worked out to be flops. Let's take a look at what has become available to us and the individual pros and cons of each.

Renataki's Soul Charm - Dropped by Jin'rokh the Breaker, the first encounter in Throne of Thunder.

Pros: One of the stronger RPPM trinkets available to us. Drops off of an easily accessible boss.

Cons: Has a base stat of expertise. If you find yourself at an awkward gearing stage where you're way over the expertise cap, this situation could devalue Renataki's a bit.

Bad Juju - Dropped by the Council of Elders, the third encounter in Throne of Thunder.

Pros: Another very strong RPPM trinket. Council of Elders is a fairly accessible encounter to most on normal mode, though the LFR version of this trinket is pretty decent as well. It has a mastery base, which of course is pretty fantastic all around. It even procs adorable little gnomes that shoot lightning!

Cons: The biggest problem with this trinket isn't general raid performance, but with the fact that it does proc little "guardians". If you're a soloist going through content where bosses have a chance to mind control, this trinket can pose an issue for you. This is the only real con I can think of, and it has no bearing on current tier content.

Talisman of Bloodlust - Dropped by Primordius, the eighth encounter in Throne of Thunder.

Pros: Has a base stat of Agility with a chance to proc haste. Said haste proc has a chance to stack up to 5 times; RPPM based trinket. A decent contender if you have an obscene excess of expertise that renders Renataki's Soul Charm less than ideal for you.

Cons: Based on various user reports on this trinket, unless you have the heroic version the chances of you seeing ToB stack past 3 is rather slim. I personally haven't had the chance to play around with this trinket, as it hasn't dropped for me, to confirm that this is low-proc situation is also a trend for us enhancement types.

Rune of Re-Origination - Dropped by Lei Shen, the final encounter (on normal mode at least) in Throne of Thunder.

Pros: Yet another Agility based RPPM trinket. Unfortunately that's about where the pros end for us.

Cons: Essentially, this trinket works thusly:

"- Increase your highest secondary stat by 200% of the sum of your two lowest secondary stats. For example: you have 3500 mastery, 5000 crit, 7000 haste. Rune procs, and you get [-3500 mastery, -5000 crit, +17000 haste]. Same logic as before, just double the size of the buff to your highest stat."

The bonus proc of RoRO isn't the issue, the fact that it essentially zeroes two of our secondary stats is where the problem resides. Enhancement has a very strong synergy with how secondary stats work for us. Crit feeds into our Flurry procs, which enables haste to be beneficial to us. Mastery naturally boosts the damaging throughput of nearly all of our abilities. Haste makes us hit faster, burst harder, and works to increase the uptime of our RPPM trinkets. A healthy balance of these stats makes for the best damage output potential for our spec.

Now, the best case scenario for this trinket would probably be to force a mastery proc, which you'd do by stacking mastery (which most enhancement shaman who have two RPPM trinkets are NOT doing; we're moving towards being a bit more haste heavy to encourage even more procs from our trinkets/weapon enchants). If you were to do this, you'd be reducing your Flurry uptime and diminishing the chance of your other RPPM trinket, should you have one, to proc. Both of these scenarios are less than ideal. If you were to try and force a crit or haste proc, you'd also see less than ideal circumstances, as both of these stats can and do eventually suffer from diminishing returns. Needless to say, most people have seen DPS losses when replacing even tier 14 trinkets with this item regardless of how their stats add up.

Vicious Talisman of the Shado-Pan Assault - Sold by Ao Pye in Townlong Steppes and Teng of the Flying Daggers at the Isle of Thunder for 1750 Valor Points.

Pros: Easily obtainable and still a somewhat decent item despite its cons. Like most trinkets, has a tendency to proc at the beginning of an encounter, thus could help lead to higher opening burst. Hit based, though this is really only a pro point for those shaman who are just starting out.

Cons: Not an RPPM based trinket. Most enhancement shaman going into or are already raiding Throne of Thunder tend to be suffering from an excess of hit. This trinket also has a rather lengthy ICD (internal cooldown) of 105 seconds.

Now that we've gone through the pros and cons of each trinket, let's look at how they stack up.

The graph found above has been put together by a fellow called Purge, who is by far much more clever than I when it comes to this theorycrafting/simulation running business. You may find the original post of his findings on his site here.

Unfortunately the LFR versions of these trinkets are not found within this list, but by the data presented we can see that both Renataki's Soul Charm and Bad Juju are strong contenders for Best in Slot, so much so that even the normal mode versions are superior to the heroic versions of Talisman of Bloodlust and most certainly Runes of Re-Origination. If I were to wager a guess (and that is all this is folks, a ballpark guess), I'd say that the LFR versions of Renataki and Juju are probably at least on par with the heroic versions of Bottle of Infinite Stars and Terror in the Mists, two rather strong trinkets in their own right from tier 14.

Also missing from the graph above are the Thunderforged and upgraded versions of each trinket. For those you'll have need to run your own simulations to see how one version of a trinket stacks up against another for you.

Overall we have some interesting options available to us. While ultimately Renataki's and Juju may be clear winners for enhancement, the VP purchased trinket Vicious Talisman and the normal mode (or heroic, if you're one so lucky to be progressed that far) version of the Talisman of Bloodlust are viable standbys for the unlucky or for those who may have ridiculous amounts of expertise that they just can't shake.

Hopefully this post has been a help to those of you who are baffled by our trinket choices. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments. May the Voodoo Gnomes be with you!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Patch 5.3 Primer for Enhancement

Patch 5.3 is upon us! With this patch we will see several buffs to our damage and a couple of quality of life changes to boot. While these changes may not address things such as the long ramp up time for our AoE damage, they should bring our overall damage up enough to make us more competitive with other classes/specs in Throne of Thunder.

Lightning Bolt can now be cast while moving.
The effects of the Glyph of Unleashed Lightning (a glyph that has been revamped; we'll get to that) has been baked into the shaman toolkit, minus the increase in Lightning Bolt's cast time. What does this mean to Enhance? Not a whole lot really. This will be handy in those situations where we're on the move and may not have a full Maelstrom stack available. For high movement encounters, this change may yield a minor DPS increase for us.

* Glyph of Lightning Shield (previously Glyph of Unleashed Lightning) will reduce damage taken by 10% for 6 seconds after Lightning Shield is triggered. 
At first glance it seems like this glyph could potentially become a "must have" item for both PvP and progression raiding alike. However as it stands now, it is not triggered by Static Shock, which means that in order to receive the damage reduction effects, we must receive some sort of damage (spell, melee, or ranged attack, according to Lightning Shield's tooltip) before we receive the 10% damage reduction. This pretty much means that Glyph of Lightning Shield is reactive, versus proactive.

Bottom line, unless you're receiving some sort of semi-consistent direct damage, this glyph may not be worth a slot. Of course this glyph can have its uses, but it'll be very dependent upon the situations you find yourself in. Personally, I think I'll love this one for soloing.

* Feral Spirit: The summoned Spirit Wolves are now immune to movement impairing (root and snare) effects.
This change seems to be more of a quality of life change for PvP, though there are some situations in PvE where roots/snares occur. Though we may get stuck to the floor, our pups will still be able to chase down whatever it is that we're attacking, keeping up the damage pressure and giving us some passive healing in the process.

*Lava Lash now deals 300% weapon damage, up from 250%.
Single target damage buff? I'll take it!

*Stormstrike now deals 450% weapon damage, up from 375%.
Another nice buff to our single target damage. No complaints here.

*Mental Quickness now coverts 65% of the shaman's attack power to spell power, up from 55%.
This is a little buff that will effect a number of different aspects of both our damage and utility toolkits. Without going into heavy details, this change should slightly boost our AoE damage output, increase shock damage just a touch, and will also bring up healing throughput just a smidge.

That about covers it, barring any hotfixes. Now get on out there, swing those weapons, and enjoy the buffs!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Enhanced Macro Mania!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter/Facebook may recall my geekery over discovering some new ways in which I could macro a few spells together. You may have also recalled that I had promised a post on it. While I meant to make good on that promise, life/laziness managed to get in the way, yada yada. Anyways, here's that said post! Finally /cheer!

I am by nature not a huge macro person. For the longest time my macro stash only consisted of Ventrilo information macros and weird /say macros. Once I discovered how well my Synapse Springs lined up with Feral Spirits, I made a cheap macro to put those two abilities together. For the longest time, that is to say until a month ago, that is all I had. That is, until last month when I had the noob revelation about exactly how many of enhancement's cooldown abilities are actually off the global cooldown. Ladies and gents, this somewhat opened up the flood gates on my tiny stream of macro knowledge.

For my macros I have omitted the #showtooltip line, since I have the habit of using an icon of my choosing anyways and rarely have tooltips themselves showing. Please feel free to add #showtooltip to the beginning of your macros if you're not an oddball such as myself.

~Feral Spirit Macro~

/use 10
/use Blood Fury       
/cast Feral Spirit

Things to be aware of:
1) The '/use 10' portion activates your Synapse Springs on your gloves, 1 min cd.
2) Blood Fury is an Orc racial, omit if you are not an Orc. 2 min cd.
3) Two of the three potential abilities in this particular macro are on a 2 min cd, minus Synapse Springs. Not using your Springs as soon as they come off cooldown will slightly desynchronize the tooltip cooldown timer, as it will only show the cd time of your Springs, not your Lifeblood/Blood Fury/Feral Spirits.



/cast Lifeblood
/use Blood Fury
/cast Feral Spirit

Things to be aware of:
1) Blood Fury is an Orc racial, omit if you are not an Orc. 2 min cd.
2) All three abilities are on a 2 min cd. Hooray for less tracking!


Engineering Herbalists

/use 10
/cast Lifeblood
/use Blood Fury
/cast Feral Spirit

Things to be aware of:
1) The '/use 10' portion activates your Synapse Springs on your gloves, 1 min cd.
2) Blood Fury is an Orc racial, omit if you are not an Orc. 2 min cd.
3) Everything in this particular macro is on a 2 min cd, minus Synapse Springs. Not using your Springs as soon as they come off cooldown will slightly desynchronize the tooltip cooldown timer, as it will only show the cd time of your Springs, not your Lifeblood/Blood Fury/Feral Spirits.

*Please keep in mind that it may be slightly more beneficial to hold off on Lifeblood and to use it when Ascendance is up for even more burst there.

~Ascendance Macro~

/cast Elemental Mastery
/cast Berserking
/cast Ascendance
/cast Fire Elemental Totem

Things to be aware of:
1) Elemental Mastery is up every 1.5 minutes. Assuming that you're able to use it on cooldown, it should line up perfectly with everything else in the list (which have 3 minute cds) every other use of this macro.
2) Berserking is a Troll racial, omit if you are not a Troll.
3) Your Fire Elemental Totem will only line up with Berserking/Ascendance the second time you go to use it if it's glyphed. Our Fire Elemental is generally a 5 minute cooldown, though with the Glyph of Fire Elemental we can bring that cd down to 3 minutes. The glyph is only recommended for those specced into Primal Elementalist.

Ascendance Alternative

/cast Ascendance
/cast Berserking
/cast Elemental Mastery
/cast Fire Elemental Totem

Alternatively, if you'd like to use this macro for openers (as I tend to do) but are not always specced into Elemental Mastery, you can list Elemental Mastery after Ascendance so that the tooltip timer will still show the cd of Ascendance. Just be sure you have some sort of tracking that will alert you as to when Elemental Mastery comes off of cooldown so that you may gain its benefit.

Alternatively alternatively, you may use the original macro, but place this in the first line of the macro: #showtooltip whateverspellyouwanthere

~The 'I Win' Macro~

/cast Bloodlust
/cast Berserking
/cast Blood Fury
/cast Lifeblood
/cast Elemental Mastery
/cast Ascendance
/cast Fire Elemental Totem

Things to be aware of:
1) If you're Alliance, the first line of this macro should say /cast Heroism
2) If you're a Troll, omit /cast Blood Fury. If you're an Orc, omit /cast Berserking. If you're neither of those races, omit both of those lines!
3) /cast Lifeblood is for Herbalists only. If you're not an herbalizor, remove that line!

The 'I Win' macro is my new BFF when it comes to soloing, especially since many soloing situations for enhancement tend to be a race to kill the thing before it kills you. This macro may also be used as an opener in those raiding situations where you're popping Hero/Lust right off the bat and you'd like to set yourself up for some mad burst (why wouldn't you?!).

For my openers: I tend to prepot (using a potion before entering combat), use my Feral Spirits macro, then either use my Ascendance Macro (depending on raid opener situations) or my 'I Win' macro (depending on what I'm doing). Stormlash Totem is dropped just as I hit the boss.

In the event you have on-use trinkets, place them in the spots in these macros where Synapse Springs would be IF, and only IF, the on-use is stronger than the buff that Synapse Springs provide. Synapse Springs will trigger a short cd on your on-use trinkets and vise versa, hence the need to potential macro things a bit differently. If your Springs still provide the superior buff, use your trinkets as they become available and/or in conjunction with other CDs that line up with them, assuming that your Springs don't also line up with said abilities. Place '/use 13' into your macro for the top on-use trinket, '/use 14' is for the bottom trinket.

Please keep in mind that the macros mentioned here are not perfect for all situations. You will need to use these macros intelligently and be somewhat flexible with them. These are meant to be aids in helping you to maximize your burst damage, however they may not always be applicable depending on the encounter you're facing.

Also be aware that if you have quick, twitchy fingers as I do, you may sometimes find that only half of the spells in these macros actually go off. The easiest solution? Hold the button down momentarily. It doesn't need to be some 5 second long press of the button, but actually click/press/however you activate your macro button long enough for the program to register everything you're asking of it in your macro. Quick taps just don't cut it!

There you have it, all of the nuggets of insight I gained a month ago! I swear, I feel like I should have thought of these things an expansion or two ago. Just goes to show, even an old ghost wolf can learn new tricks sometimes.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Enhancement Shaman - Need To Know 5.2

For those of you who are actively playing or paying attention to World of Warcraft, you're probably aware by now that patch 5.2 has thundered its way into Azeroth. With its arrival, a few new changes have come into play for nearly every class and specialization. Enhancement shaman is no exception.

Please note that if you've been using my old Need To Know post, the information found in there is still relevant for a fresh level 90. The purpose of this particular post is to expand upon the new talent tweaks and how they may interact with gear from Throne of Thunder.. If you're a fresh level 90 and/or just returning from the spirit realm (aka if you haven't played your shaman since Cataclysm) I highly suggest going back and reading my Need To Know post linked in this paragraph.

Talent Tweaks
As has been noted in the 5.2 Changes for Shaman post, several talent tweaks have been made. With these adjustments in mind, the following is more or less how we should think about our talent choices.

Tier 4
Elemental Mastery - Best used in burst situations and becomes more valuable during fights where our damage uptime may be a bit low (numerous target switches that cause downtime; controlled dps situations such as Titan Gas phase on LFR/Reg Will of the Emperor, or the no add lull on H-Will of the Emperor)

Ancestral Swiftness - Best for static (Patchwerk) fights. The higher uptime on a boss, the more this talent shines. Used mostly with haste builds, which will become more widely used once one acquires the legendary meta gem, along with trinkets from Throne of Thunder.

Echo of the Elements - Still the best talent choice for those who are leveling, as it can proc extra healing. Also a very solid choice for soloing in my personal opinion, again due to the chance for extra "free" healing. For competitive raiding, this talent is best when paired with mastery stacking and will shine more during AoE/cleave encounters.

Tier 6
Unleashed Fury - This talent received a slight nerf in this patch to help bring it more in line with our other two talent choices, but the nerf bat wasn't too harsh. For those of you who are still fresh level 90s/sporting t14 gear, this will still be your best overall talent choice. With this particular talent, it seems that mastery will still be your favored secondary stat.

Primal Elementalist - PE received a pretty decent buff in this patch to help it compete with Unleashed Fury. Our elementals now provide some fairly substantial burst (they did a good bit before as well, but now it's really solid), enough to the point where they'll make up for the lack of damage during their down times. This talent is my personal favorite for soloing, but unfortunately may not be the best choice for general raiding purposes until you have acquired your Capacitive Primal Diamond, plus have gotten your mits on Talisman of Bloodlust and Bad Juju. This talent *could* be useful on controlled burst fights even with current gear, however. This is of course assuming that phases of whichever encounter you're tackling line up properly with the CDs of your totems.

Elemental Blast - Like Primal Elementalist, Elemental Blast has received some love to help make it a more enticing talent to take as Enhancement. In addition to proccing extra secondary stats, EB will also proc Agility for us. Pretty neat, eh? As it stands right now though, EB is still a touch behind the other two talent choices. It's viable for use, don't get me wrong, but it is still slightly behind. Couple this minor negative with the fact that it still has a cast time (which can be negated if you have a Maelstrom Weapon stack of x5, but if you don't you'll be hardcasting), that you'll have yet another button in your already button-heavy arsenal, AND you'll have another minor CD to watch (12 seconds, so not all that different from our other rotational CDs like Lava Lash and Stormstrike), EB still remains to be a less than desirable talent for most shaman. Essentially it complicates an already somewhat hectic rotation for no actual DPS gain over the other two talents. However, if you're a diehard fan of this talent for whatever reason, you still may choose to spec into EB and not have the fear of severely gimping yourself on the meters.

Talent Choices, Secondary Stats, and You
One of the more common questions I see coming from fellow Enhancement shaman is thus:

I'm ilvl 461. How should I gem/reforge? How do I spec?

The common answer is often "Well, you're going to have to sim it." This answer is unfortunately both completely true, but can also be rather frustrating to someone who isn't familiar with either theorycrafting or the program Simulation Craft itself. The fact of the matter is, two Enhancement shaman may both have an ilvl of 461, but they could very well have a large variation in stats. One may be really heavy in Critical Strike, while the other could be Mastery heavy. A third shaman may very well have a balance of all three non-mandatory secondary stats, but is starving for things such as Hit and Expertise. Early on in the gearing process, Critical Strike can actually outweigh Mastery and Haste, because of how the synergy between the different stats works out. As you gain more gear though, Crit tends to depreciate in value, making way for the power houses that are Mastery and Haste.

Bottom line, if you're looking to min/max your shaman to the greatest extent, you will need to learn how to run Simulation Craft, aka SimC. Luckily for you, Poneria did up a post on WoW Insider about Simulation Craft. Don't balk at the fact that it's actually a warlock post; there is a ton of excellent information and links in that post to help get you started with SimC. It's a definite must-read for those who wish to push themselves a bit further.

For those of you wishing to merely get by without having to dip your toes into the wacky world of theorycrafting, there is are a few rules of thumb that you can follow to make yourself at least competitive in regards in how to gem, reforge, and spec your Enhancement shaman.

Gems: You can stick with whatever gems you had in your level 85 gear. Most leveling gear is socketless, so you don't need to worry about this much.

Reforging: Not necessarily something you need to worry about much. You want at least some hit and expertise to make life a bit easier for you; more mastery while leveling is quite handy.

Speccing: As far as the DPS talents are concerned, Echo of the Elements (for those wonderful double Healing Surge procs) and once you hit 90, Unleashed Fury will be your best bets. All other talents are more based on preference and situation.

Fresh Level 90s
Gems: Delicate (pure Agility gems) in red sockets, Adept (orange gems, Agility/Mastery gems) in yellow sockets, Deft (purple gems, Agility/Hit gems) for purple sockets.

Reforging: You must first shoot for your Hit/Expertise caps, if possible. If you need to, you can help supplement this with Hit and Expertise enchants. For secondaries, it'll be, as I said, a bit of a toss up depending on what stats your particular gear setup actually has. I personally went Mastery > Crit > Haste on my second shaman while I was working on getting the rest of her heroic 5 man set.

Speccing: For those of you heading into those 5 mans, Echo and UF will still be great choices, since you'll more than likely be putting priority on Mastery, plus the extra chance at AoE procs from Echo (Fire Nova can proc echos) will help out nicely for all of those trash packs.

Tier 14
Gems: As with the fresh level 90s, you'll still be going for straight Agility gems, Agility/Mastery gems, and Agility/Hit gems.

Reforging: Once I started getting a decent base of crit and stopped starving for so much Hit/Expertise on my second shaman (meaning, I was starting to get purples) my priority changed over to Mastery>=Haste>Crit. You'll want to have a healthy balance of Mastery and Haste, as they're both excellent stats to have. I tend to go a bit heavier into Mastery for this particular tier though, especially with often still being specced into Echo+UF.

Speccing: With the new changes, speccing for raiding becomes rather situational. For your level 60 choice, see the Talent Tweaks section earlier on in this post. For the most part though, Unleashed Fury will be your level 90 talent of choice.

Tier 15
This is were things start to get nice and murky as far as secondary stats are concerned. Until you get your hands on the new RPPM* trinkets (Talisman of Bloodlust, Bad Juju, Renataki's Soul Charm, and Rune of Re-Origination are specifically being considered for BiS lists, see this thread for more info), you'll be speccing and reforging just as you had for tier 14. However, the game changes some once you get said RPPM and your legendary meta. Suddenly, with these items, Haste becomes a pretty big thing.

Gems: For those in LFR/Normal mode t15 gear with RPPM trinkets, you'll be most likely going with pure Agility gems, Agility/HASTE gems, and Agility/Mastery gems. If you do not have the RPPM trinkets, the t14 scheme will still be more ideal.

**Note: There is a slight possibility that we may even gemming straight Haste with the new trinkets + legendary meta gem + BiS Heroic Throne of Thunder gear. Theorycrafters are still working out the details on this, as the RPPM trinkets are still being tweaked, but the future possibility is there. **

Reforging: Again, once you get your RPPM trinkets, Haste will take a priority over Mastery. It'll more than likely be a reforge priority of Hit/Expertise | Haste > Mastery > Crit.

Speccing: This follows suit with t14 until you get, you guessed it, the RPPM trinkets. Once you do, your level 90 talent of choice will often be Primal Elementalist. There may be certain situations where UF may still be better, but with all of the Haste procs and stacking going on, PE becomes a delicious source of damage. The level 60 talent choices will be very encounter-based still, so please refer to the Talent Tweaks section of this post for more information.


Please keep in mind that this is an extremely rough and broad guide. Your stat change over points may slightly differ depending on which trinkets you have, which set bonuses you manage to activate, and of course may depend a bit on whether or not you have acquired your legendary meta.

Also keep in mind that each of the three level 90 talents have a slightly different rotation priority. To find out more about that, I highly suggest you read up on the Ability/Rotation section of the Enhancement Guide over on Totemspot.

If you're looking for a Throne of Thunder shopping list, you'll want to keep your eyes on the Enhancement Best in Slot List for Tier 15 thread, which can also be found over on Totemspot. Keep in mind that the list is subject to change, as the TC guys are still working on simming out all of the possibilities, plus Blizzard is still tweaking trinket procs and the like.


The long and short of this post is thus: 5.2 has moved us away from what was nearly a cut-and-dry spec set up as far as our DPS talent choices were concerned, and dumped us into the realm of situational choice. Everything - your gemming scheme, spec choices, and reforges - is dependent upon your particular gear set up and raid encounter situation. From a min/maxer's stand point, this kind of makes things both chaotic and interesting. From the view point of someone more casual, this simply means you have a bit more leeway in choosing how to play.

The difference between talents is rather small now, so you very well could simply choose a combination of talents that you like the feel of and still be rather competitive. If you're not trying to eek out every last drop of damage from your character, you have plenty of room to experiment with. Personally I've been playing around with a high-burst build on my main shaman for soloing situations (it's pretty damn awesome, I'll tell you what!). Would I use my current build in a current raiding situation? Hell no, since I know I don't have an optimal gear set up to make my EM/PE + Haste stacking as competitive in damage as say, being a tad more Mastery heavy and rocking AS (or whatever talent depending on encounter)/UF. Since I'm not raiding for the moment though, it's very fun to toy around with. Sometimes experimenting to see how far your gear can take you in certain scenarios is a very fun thing to do, or perhaps I'm too much of an Enhancement/soloing nerd for my own good.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns about this topic or anything else shaman related, please don't be shy!

*For those of you who are confused as to what RPPM means, it stands for Real Procs Per Minute. This is essentially the internal system that's in place that determines how certain trinkets and enchants proc. If you want to read up on some of the nitty gritty details of this system, you should check out this series of blue posts.

Friday, March 8, 2013

5.2 Changes for Shaman

Hello everyone and welcome to a new patch! For those of you who were wondering, enhancement hasn't changed a whole lot with the implementation of 5.2. There have been several tweaks made to both our spec and the class overall though, so we're going to take a dive into those changes in this post. Now, if you're looking for a complete list of patch notes complete with spell links/tooltips, I suggest heading on over to Wowhead.

Chain Lightning will now deal the same damage to subsequent targets as it does to the first.
- Stronger AoE for elemental shamans and better cleaves for enhancement? I'll take it!

Lava Beam's damage now increases with jumps. Each jump increases the damage by 10%.
- Lava Beam is Chain Lightning for elemental shaman in their Ascendance form. Stronger AoE for them? I approve.

Shamanistic Rage is now available to Elemental Shamans as well as Enhancement Shamans.
- Giving another survivability tool to our elemental brothers and sisters is a good thing. I know when I was specced elemental on my second shaman, I was always looking for this cooldown! Glad to see both DPS specs with this ability now.

Flame Shock's duration has been increased by 25%.
- In 5.1 we needed to use Glyph of Flame Shock in order to extend FS's duration by 25% at the cost of some initial damage. With this glyph being reworked (see Glyphs below) Blizz has decided to make the extended duration a permanent thing. An excellent change, in my opinion.

Lava Burst base damage has been reduced by 33% but now always deals a critical strike. When cast on targets affected by Flame Shock, it now deals 50% more damage.
- Another tweak aimed at our elemental brothers and sisters. It's nice to see Lava Burst always crit now, and perhaps the increase in damage will help bring their over all damage up a bit. Not completely sure on the math on that one though, so be sure to check on the theorycrafting work done by Binkenstein and friends over on Totem Spot.

When summoned, the Stone Bulwark Totem has health equal to 10% of the casting Shaman's health.
- This was mainly a PvP buff to make it so that players couldn't simply 1-shot our shielding totem.

The talent Nature's Guardian now preserves the player's health percentage when its maximum health boosting effect expires.
- This talent increases your health pool. Originally when this was implemented, if you were at say, 97% health when the buff expired, your health percentage would drop. Now when the buff from this talent expires, your health will remain at the example health of 97%.

Stone Bulwark Totem now absorbs 25% more damage.
- More absorbs mean less damage taken! This is a decent little buff from both PvE and PvP perspectives.

The talent Totemic Restoration now has an additional effect. Any totems that have been destroyed or replaced behave as if the totem had been active for at least 1 second.
- You got me. I'm assuming that this is an adjustment or fix for some sort of unintended behavior from replacing totems too quickly (fat fingering something and instantly replacing it with another totem of another school perhaps, not resetting the original totem as intended?), but as to what that is specifically, I'm unsure.

Elemental Mastery now has a 90-second cooldown (was 2 minutes).
- This change actually makes Elemental Mastery attractive to enhancement in certain situations. By lowering the cooldown to 90 seconds, we can line up every other EM usage with Ascendance, creating some delicious burst situations.

Ancestral Swiftness now increases spell haste by 5% and melee haste by 10% (was 5%/5%).
- This buff makes Ancestral Swiftness viable for use in more static situations. The theorycrafters are still working on the numbers, but this may be the talent of choice for this tier with certain t15 trinkets + the legendary meta gem. More on this later in the 5.2 enhancement Need To Know guide.

Conductivity no longer requires that the target be within the area of effect of Healing Rain.
- To my understanding this means that if you heal someone outside of the Healing Rain, those IN the Healing Rain gain the healing effect. Say for example, you're taking on Feng in Mogu'shan Vaults. Ranged are stacked up in the middle, you place Healing Rain on the ranged. You directly heal the tank, which is over on the side with the boss. Those within your rain get 30% of the direct heal you just landed on the tank. This adjustment was made to make this talent a bit more appealing and slightly less situation bound.

Conductivity now shares 30% (was 20%) of the healing received from Healing Wave, Greater Healing Wave, or Healing Surge
- A buff to help make this particular talent choice a bit more appealing.

Ancestral Guidance now copies 60% (was 40%) of the amount healed.
- While this buff to the healing portion of AG can be applied towards elemental and enhancement shaman, this is mainly geared towards restoration to make this talent choice more appealing to them. For the most part, us elementals and enhancers don't tend to heal while we pop AG, unless we're soloing and near death.

Unleashed Fury Flametongue now increases Lightning Bolt damage by 20% (was 30%), and Lava Burst damage by 10%.
- This tweak is a buff for elemental shaman to make this talent more appealing to them, and a minor nerf for us enhancement shaman, bringing it slightly more in line with the other two talent choices for this tier.

Primal Earth Elemental and Primal Fire Elemental now deal 20% more damage.
- The buff for the primal versions of our elementals (via the Primal Elementalist talent) is meant to make this talent more attractive for us DPS-type shaman.

Elemental Blast now has a chance to increase the caster's Agility for Enhancement Shamans.
- This change is a buff is intended to be a buff/addition geared towards enhancement shaman. The verdict is still out as to whether or not this change is enough to make this particular talent appealing (so far it looks like the other two talents pull a good bit ahead of this one), but it's a step in the direction of talent balance.

Glyph of Purge now adds a 6 second cooldown to Purge.
- A change geared towards PvP balance.

Glyph of Flame Shock has been redesigned. This glyph now causes the Shaman to heal for 50% of the damage dealt by Flame Shock.
- Originally this glyph extended the duration of FS by 25% at the cost of Flame Shocks' initial damage. The made the 25% extended duration baseline, and reworked this glyph so that FS will heal us for 50% of the damage it deals. Over all this is a fairly piddly heal, as Flame Shock doesn't tend to do a whole lot of damage single target. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you don't have anything better to put in a glyph spot for a certain fight, an extra little bit of healing is never a bad thing!

Elemental Specific
Elemental Focus now increases the Shaman's spell damage by 15% (was 10%).
Shamanism now increases the damage of Lightning Bolt by 70% (was 50%).
- Two buffs to help bring elemental's overall damage up a bit.

Enhancement Specific
Mental Quickness now lowers the cost of shocks by 90% (still lowers the cost of other “beneficial, instant, damaging and totem spells” by 75%).
- Not completely sure why this change happen, as we don't tend to have many mana issues at max level. There it is though, and I won't complain any. 

Edit: According to the 5.2 Class Review done by Blizz, this change was geared towards helping out enhancement shaman in PvP scenarios. Apparently with low melee uptime, enhancers were finding themselves OOM. I still won't complain any, as this change can likewise help in certain solo situations!

Spirit Walk now has a 1-minute cooldown (was 2 minutes).
- More mobility is never a bad thing, especially as a melee class. This change is super handy for those movement heavy fights.

As I said a bit ago, most of these changes are really more minor tweaks. A few are quality of life changes, some are simply balancing our talents so that we may choose talents based on either preference or situation, instead of simply choosing a particular talent because "it's always the best one." Naturally, changing certain talents in and out can change your playstyle to a certain degree, but more on that later. Go forth and enjoy the new content!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Podcast Guesting and Updates!

For those of you who may have missed my tweets or Facebook post, on March 1st I had the pleasure of being a guest on The Training Dummies podcast. On the show we spoke about soloing and they allowed me to geek a bit about alts and enhancement shaman as well! I highly recommend giving the show a listen, as these fellas put out some pretty good content.

The Training Dummies - Episode 33

If you've been waiting with bated breath (it's torturous I'm sure, as 5.2 launched only yesterday) for an updated enhancement guide, fear not! I am currently working on a post that covers the 5.2 changes for shamans in general, and I shall be following that up with a tweaked enhancement guide for this new patch.

Also in the plans is to get out a few more soloing video guides, as well as potentially a walk through on how to enhance your way through the new raid LFR style, once that becomes available. Videos are always on my maybe pile though, as those buggers tend to be time consuming as all get out.

So yes, good things coming soon. Until then, enjoy the podcast!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Prepping for Herald of the Titans

So, you've seen this nifty title around town, Herald of the Titans. You've looked it up, sort of, and have found out that in order to acquire this this title you must have a level 80 character. Beyond this little tidbit of information, you're finding yourself in need of a little help. This article is here to lend you a hand.

Edit: This achievement was temporarily bugged to where a group of 90s could gain this FoS/Title. DPSing down the boss before it could register the gear and levels of the group can be considered an EXPLOIT, as it is not intended for level 90s to be able to achieve this Feat of Strength. It should be known that using/attempting to use an exploit is a bannable offense according to the Terms of Service that Blizzard has in place, thus isn't something you should be attempting. This bug has also been hotfixed, so stop trying to find a way to circumvent the system that's in place.

The Herald of the Titans is a title acquired by a team of level 80 characters, all in gear of item level 226 or less, taking down this star guy called Algalon. Algalon is remembered as one of those bosses that straight up resonated with all players, both lore-wise and with his encounter. His is an epic fight to experience. Originally Algalon's encounter had a 1 hour time limit in which you could make attempts on taking him down attached to it, but this is no longer the case.

Herald of the Titans has been moved to a Feat of Strength. It is still obtainable however, and the title is account-wide. For a short while after the account-wide titles became a thing, it was thought that this was one title that would forever remain character bound. It turned out though that this was just a bug. Once you achieve the Herald of the Titans FoS, you unlock this nifty title for all of the characters on your account!

Locking Your Character at 80
Freezing your character's XP gain is fairly simplistic. If you're Alliance, you'll want to visit Behsten, who is located in the Stormwind Keep. For Horde, you'll want to speak to Slahtz, who is located in the Valley of Honor. Both of these fellas are stealthed level 19 rogues, though you shouldn't have much issue tracking them down if you click on the provided links.

If you wish to continue on leveling your character after you receive your title, you simply talk to these guys again to turn your XP gain back on. The cost to either toggle the XP gain on or off should only be about 10g.

In order for the group to qualify for the achievement, everyone must be sporting gear of an item leveling of 226 or lower in all slots, with an exception for weapons, which may be item level 232. Crafted gear, BoEs, and Justice Point gear can all fill gaps quite nicely, and in some cases turn out to be best-in-slot items.

Best-in-slot gear is not required for the achievement, but the more 226 gear you can get on your character, the better. Shoot for making your character sport at least all epic items prior to attempting this encounter.

For this Feat of Strength it is preferred that all participating characters to be gemmed with the epic quality Wrath of the Lich King gems. For *most* classes, folks will want to gem their primary stat (Agility/Intellect/Strength) with the exception of possibly tanks and/or healers, who may prefer a mix of their primary and preferred secondary.

Like gemming, it is preferred that all participants have their characters enchanted with the best enchants available to them. It is understandable if a character is on a server that a player may not have a dedicated enchanter to provide materials/enchants for the Herald character (assuming that the Herald toon isn't an enchanter his or herself), however all participants should at least have some sort of enchant on every piece of their gear. Keep in mind that these days many enchants can and will scale. Here is a very useful spreadsheet detailing which enchants scale and in what ways to help you determine what may be best for your level 80.

Professions, while not 100% required, can be a huge help in both gearing and optimizing your Herald character. Like at max level, crafting professions (Tailoring, Enchanting, Jewel Crafting, Leatherworking, Black Smithing, Engineering, and possibly Inscription) are generally preferred over gathering professions (Herbalism, Skinning, Mining). Again, not something that is absolutely needed, though if you have the resources available to you to level up your Herald character's professions to the Cataclysm level, it can help out immensely.

Cataclysm foods are permitted for the Herald of the Titans achievement. It is advised that you stock up on some Cataclysm foods in your primary stat for personal use in the event that a feast is not able to be provided.

Again, for this achievement Cataclysm consumables (in this case, flasks) are permitted. Since group cauldrons are no longer a thing, it is advised that you come prepared with a few flasks in your primary stat.

Likewise you may use Cataclysm potions for this event. While a full stack of a potion of your choice (for DPS this would be a potion that provides your primary stat, for healers this may be a mana return potion, and for tanks this may be either a healing potion, an armor increase potion, or an Agility/Strength potion for increased DPS) probably won't all be needed, it is advised that you have several of these potions on hand. For those of you familiar with double potting, that will not be necessary for this encounter, as the time from entering combat and the time that Algalon actually engages is nearly the full duration of the initial pre-pot. Save your potions for the burn phase!

For a Herald character, reforging can be a bit tricky. If you are aware of the exact number you need for your hit and/or expertise caps, using a site such as WoW Reforge can come in pretty handy. In the event that you're not completely aware of what your caps are, an addon called ReforgeLite can help you out greatly. If you need any help with figuring out how this addon works, you can refer to my ReforgeLite post.

Before you begin reforging, it is advised that you research which secondary stats your class/spec prefers. For most level 80 classes, Mastery tends to be the most powerful stat available regardless of the level 90 preference of said class/spec. However, for DPS specs it is incredibly important that you must first reach your hit and/or expertise caps before you begin to stack Mastery or any other secondary stat. Tanks, it is likewise advisable to look into how important it is to reach your hit/expertise caps for both threat generation and resource regeneration. Reforging no longer exists, but leaving this section in for now. You never know when Blizz may change their other mind!

Spell priorities and rotations for most classes can be gleaned from their level 100 counterparts, and guides on these spell priorities/rotation may be found on various blogs and/or sites such as Icy-Veins. Naturally, as a level 80 you will not have all of the nifty spells that a level 100 does, but you should have most of the meat and potato spells for your spec. Make minor adjustments as needed.

The Gearing Process
There are several ways to begin the gearing up process, many of which may need to be employed depending on how lucky you are with drops.

1) Crafting - There are several pieces out there that may be crafted for a Herald character. However, these recipes are often subject to droprates, so if you personally or your guildmates do not have the recipe, it may be a bugger to find the right pattern. For 226 specific gear, there are belts and boots available for crafting. If you're in dire need of a chest and glove filler, 200 gear is likewise available for crafting, provided you have the recipes.

2) Wrath 5 Mans - Queuing up for heroic Wrath of the Lich King 5 mans is not necessarily the most efficient way to go about things, unless you have a ready-made group of five. The option is there, however, to have a level 100 solo these instances for you. While most of the heroic-mode 5 mans either sport gear that is rather low in item level (200 or so) or too high (the ICC heroics sport 232 gear), they can provide some decent fillers. Here are some instances that you'll want to focus on to get your filler gear:

Heroic ICC 5 Mans: While most of the gear in these heroics cannot be used for Herald of the Titans, what can be used are the weapon drops. Remember, weapons of ilvl 232 may be used! These heroics will provide that.

Normal ICC 5 Mans: The gear that drops in the normal version of these dungeons drop 219 gear, which is perfectly acceptable. Easily chain farmed if you have the time available to you.

Heroic ToC 5: This instance will provide you with 219 gear on heroic. Heroic ToC should be soloable by most classes/specs at level 100.

Regular ToC 5: Soloable by level 100 characters, ToC regular provides ilvl 200 gear. While not the most optimal, this instance provides Heralds characters with an easily obtained/farmable trinket. Most of these trinkets were desirable up into even Icecrown Citadel if a raider at that time was unlucky.

3) Cataclysm Dungeons
Justice Points can be used to purchase a variety of gear from the vendors found in Dalaran. Some of these purchasable items are BoE, so they can be bought by another character who has excess JP laying around. However, many of the items are BoP and will require farming on your Herald toon.

There are two Cataclysm dungeons that are available to level 80s: Throne of the Tides and Blackrock Caverns. Queuing up for these randomly, at least one per day for your daily boost in JP gain, is pretty much the best way to farm for your needed Justice Points.

Given the fact that you'll be farming these two Cataclysm dungeons over and over again, chances are you'll end up with two different sets of gear; one for farming, one for Herald of the Titans. It is perfectly okay to wear items that are above the 226 requirement while you are farming for your Herald gear. As a matter of a fact it's encouraged to have a higher item level set, especially if you're having a friend solo instances for you, as it greatly increases your chance of survival in some situations. If you're running with a gear group through Ulduar, wearing higher gear generally yields higher damage output, which naturally speeds up the farming runs a bit.

4) Ulduar
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, farming Ulduar for gear is another option. There are a few things to remember though:

- Ulduar 10 provides 219 gear from normal modes; 226 gear from hardmodes and Algalon
- Ulduar 25 provides 226 gear from normal modes; 239 gear from hardmodes and Algalon, which is not usable for Herald of the Titans
- Be sure to not save yourself to Algalon the week you plan on attempting the achievement. Remember, the lockouts have changed. If you kill Algalon on 25 man difficulty, you will also be locked out of Algalon 10 for the week.
- Be mindful of possible lockout issues if you were to participate in a partial run through Ulduar. While lockout issues should not occur if you were to say, kill 3 bosses and someone else cleared everything besides Algalon himself, it is possible that funky things could occur. Just play it safe during the week you plan on attempting the achievement.

If you happen to have either a second account with a max level character on it, you could very well solo a good  chunk of Ulduar for gear as well, with your Herald toon in tow. If this option isn't available to you, if you happen to have a friend who is generous with their time and is a capable soloist, they could potentially run you through the instance as you try to keep yourself alive. Again, a few things to remember before you attempt duoing this with a friend or yourself:

- Ulduar 10 should be soloable by any type of level 100 character.

- Ulduar 25 likewise should be soloable by any level 100 class/spec. Yogg can be problematic for some classes, but with some finagling just about any class can counter his tentacles.

5) Other Raids
If you really need gear with a quickness, do not forget to run Naxxramas 10 (ilvl 200) or 25 (ilvl 213), Malygos 10 (ilvl 213) or 25 (ilvl 226), Obsidian Sanctum 10 (ilvl 200/213 with bonus drakes) or 25 (ilvl 213/226 with bonus drakes), and Onyxia 10 (ilvl 232 weapons).

The tier 7 set bonuses are often decent and can/should be used if you're unable to get yourself a 2 and/or 4 set tier 8 bonus.

Naxx 10: Should be fully soloable by any level 100 class/spec
Naxx 25: Should be fully soloable by any level 100 class/spec
Malygos 10/25: Both versions of this instance should be easily soloable by any level 100 class/spec
Obsidian Sanctum 10/25: Both versions of this instance should be easily soloable by any level 100 class/spec
Onyxia 10: Easily soloable by all classes/specs over level 90.

6) BoEs
Remember to check the auction house if you've already tapped all of your raiding resources, because BoEs drop from Naxx, OS, EoE (Malygos), and even Ulduar itself. These BoEs can certainly fill in a space in a pinch, and generally only go for a few hundred gold at most these days.

7) Extra Sources of Justice Points
Edit: With making this guide, I completely forgot about the conversion of Honor Points to Justice Point. If you had leveled via PvP, you may trade your extra HP for JP at the Honor vendor in your faction's main city. Below is a quote from one of our commenters, Evlyxx, advising us on how to gain even more HP to trade over for JP:

However, 1 vital source of Justice Points is missing from the guide, the PVP quests in Venture Bay, which give 200 honor per day that can be converted into Justice Points every other day. Not a lot by level 90 standards but the return per minute is huge as the biggest unforseen problem I and my friends encountered was getting Justice Points as the Wrath dungeons didn't reward any.

The Fight
Alright, so you've got the gear and it's all dazzled up, you've got your required raiding consumables, and you're ready to get down to business. As it is with current end-game raiding, it's wise to look at the fight ahead of time. Here's the original Tankspot guide on how to tackle this encounter.

Looks a bit complex, eh? Try not to fret too much, as the encounter is actually much easier, thanks to our little friend called Mastery. That's right, because of this one little (and rather potent) stat addition, overall DPS *should* be higher than it was when Algalon was current content, healing throughput *should* be a bit stronger, and tanking likewise *should* be a bit smoother. I strongly accentuate the word should simply because often Herald toons are not sitting in full BiS 226 gear, nor at Herald toons generally a class someone plays as a main. Despite everything, Mastery as a whole tends to help make up the differences of both skill and lack of BiS gear.

While yes, the fight is much easier with a group of twinks and semi-twinks, do not allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of "this is easy" however. For most groups, it will take several pulls before everyone is acclimated to how the encounter feels on their particular character. If everyone has prepared correctly though, the learning process and achievement gain should be fairly painless.

I hope that this post has helped a few of you out! As always, if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to ask. I wish you all luck with your gearing. Now go have yourself some fun!