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!