Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

The relative craziness of the holidays (no pun intended) comes to an end tonight at midnight, with the closing of another calendar year. Lack of posting activity has been due to a flurry of usual year-end activity, and I look forward to getting some more in-game time and blogging time during the next few weeks. (WTB Naxx10)

May 2009 bring you phat loots and downed bosses, and a buff to Elemental Shaman DPS. ;)

Happy New Year Everyone!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Walk softly and...

...carry a big epic mace!

While I'm still not 100% sold on staying Elemental, the Titansteel Guardian still makes a decent mainhand for an eventual alternate Resto spec, so I scrounged up the mats and had a guildie craft it. Woot! Spellpower has gone up into the 1500 range, which is nice - feels closer to where I should be, but I really need to work on that hit cap.

A Bit About Hit
Looks like Draenei Elemental Shaman need 342 hit rating to not "miss" a level 83 boss. We do have a few Shadow Priests in the guild, so with their lovely Misery talent I can knock almost 80 rating off that number, down to 265 or so. Currently I'm sitting at a miserable 150-ish.

In Other News
Did my first two heroics yesterday: Utgarde Keep and Violet Hold Pretty fun stuff - came away with a few blue upgrades, even though they were cloth and leather. Also ran a bunch of non-roic regular 80 instances and was able to pull ~1300 dps, so the numbers are improving somewhat. Still not fantastic, but keeping in mind that I can instantly flip over to offhealing when things go sideways, I'm liking the flexibility.

Oh, and did I mention the awesomeness of Hex yet?


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reputation Rewards: Shaman

With 80 right around the corner, I've turned some of my attention to getting ready for Naxx and endgame in general. As many of us know, hitting the level cap is far from the "end" of the game - a newborn 80 is a very different character than one who's well into raiding.

One of the first steps to preparing for Naxx is to make sure you're wearing a healthy amount of high quality "blue" gear. Some of this Item Level 187+ gear can be purchased from various Nothrend faction quartermasters after certain reputation levels have been earned.

Matthew Rossi over at WowInsider wrote a nice breakdown of rep gear for Shaman, but it's in paragraph form and was hard for me to scan, so here's the list in tabular form, complete with Wowhead rollovers:

Northrend Reputation Rewards: Shaman

Regardless of whether or not I decide to stay Elemental or go back to Enhancement, the two reps I'm already interested in are:
  • Sons of Hodir for the shoulder enchants
  • Wrymrest Accord for the dragon mount

From there, I have some decisions to make, spec-wise. Hopefully 3.04 will be released soon and Elemental will get their much needed buffs, but from what I've been reading it's not looking good. :( Some math is showing equally-geared Elemental Shamans doing 2/3's the DPS of a Mage or Hunter. That's 66%. Ouch. Give me 80% or 90% and I'll close the gap by working extra hard at gearing up, but c'mon Blizzard... 66%?


Monday, December 8, 2008

Elemental Macros In Depth

As mentioned in my prior post, my main pew-pew buttons are macros which are bound to the 2-3-4 keys, making DPS a muscle memory and cooldown-watching exercise rather than a frantic click-fest.

Bumwaller and D-Form posted some comments/questions after the last post, so I'll attempt to answer here by posting the actual macros and breaking them down line-by-line.

Lightning Bolt w/Trinket Pops
#showtooltip Lightning Bolt
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/use 13
/use 14
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/cast Lightning Bolt

The first line (showtooltip) forces the macro to display the spell/ability/item you specify - making it "look right" on your toolbar. Otherwise it just picks the first item in the macro (slot 13 in this case, your first trinket slot). Sound_EnableSFX 0 turns off your sound in anticipation of "that item is not ready yet" audio, which gets annoying after a while.

Use 13 and 14 are your two trinket slots, and if the first one is on cooldown it'll attempt to use the next slot. UIErrorsFrame:Clear() will remove the potential "item is not ready yet" from the display. So after re-enabling sound effects with Sound_EnableSFX 1, we can finally actually cast the spell: Lightning Bolt.

Since the only thing that triggers the global cooldown is the spell itself, the macro becomes "spammable," meaning you can press it over and over again (after waiting on the cast time of LB, of course).

Flame Shock + Lava Bursts
/castsequence reset=14/target Flame Shock, Lava Burst, Lava Burst

In this macro, I'm not using showtooltip specifically because I want to watch Lava Burst's cooldown in my action bar. Instead, I use a castsequence to cast Flame Shock, then Lava Burst, then I'll do some other stuff until the second Lava Burst becomes available. (I use this glyph to extend Flame Shock's duration so it covers two Lava Burst cooldowns.)

The reset number tells the macro to reset the sequence after that amount of idle time has elapsed. (The /target right after it also resets the macro when I switch targets.) Now back to the timer: every time you press the macro, the timer starts over. The reason I'm using 14:

Lets look at the timeline of this macro (assuming zero latency and no haste):

at 0 seconds: Flame Shock instant-cast (18 sec duration w/glyph)
at 1.5 seconds: first Lava Burst
at 9.5 second: Lava Burst

After the 2nd LvB, a 3rd would be available at 17.5, but that's cutting it too close to the end of FS's 18 second duration, which you always want up on the target. Working one global cooldown backwards from 17.5, we're at 15 seconds which is the ideal time to re-apply FS. My macro is listed at 14 because I want to give myself some wiggle room - and if I cast it a smidge too early it's not a big deal since the guaranteed LvB is more important than a tick or two of FS.

You may be asking yourself: "but if 14 is idle-time-since-last-keypress, wouldn't the macro wait too long to reset to Flame Shock after the 2nd LvB?" Luckily, the macro seems to respect the "castsequence" part and will reset back to FS after the last LvB. :)

I chose not to use a trinket here since I generally open with a Lightning Bolt (either for a long-range solo pull or to let the tank get a bit of aggro before unloading). Also didn't use Elemental Mastery since having Flame Shock on the target already causes Lava Burst to crit - and I'd rather save Mastery for the relatively expensive Chain Lightning.

Chain Lightning + Lightning Bolts
#showtooltip Chain Lightning
/console Sound_EnableSFX 0
/cast Elemental Mastery
/script UIErrorsFrame:Clear()
/console Sound_EnableSFX 1
/castsequence reset=6 Chain Lightning, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Bolt

In this macro, I'm doing some of the futzing with the sound effects and UI errors around the casting of Elemental Mastery, which takes the mana sting out of Chain Lightning. The two Lightning Bolts after it (when added to the CL) comes to a total casting time of 5.5 seconds for the whole sequence. The reset of 6 matches the cooldown of CL, so if I only use this macro once or twice on a pull, CL will be available again after the cooldown.

I'm not using reset=target here since the reset has everything to do with CL's cooldown, as opposed to the FS+LvBs macro where I always want to apply FS first on new targets.

Macros Aren't Everything
Due to the dynamic nature of many fights/encounters, sequences can easily get out-of-sync, so be prepared to fire off these abilities manually by using other available action bar slots!

Haste Changes Everything
There's a certain amount of haste that will undoubtedly have an effect on Elemental rotations, but until I actually get a bunch of haste gear I'm not really sure how things will get affected. My priorities as I head to level 80 raiding are some balance of spell damage, crit and hit. For the moment, haste just helps me deal with a small amount of latency/server lag.

What's with the Propeller Hat?
I have no idea. I just think they're funny.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Elemental FTW

Exelus hit 77 tonight, and finally got his wings back!

Elemental has continued to be a lot of fun, especially after a respec (thanks Aaron J) and a slight modification to my soloing DPS rotation. Here are my current key bindings:

2) Lightning Bolt
3) Flame Shock > Lava Burst > Lava Burst
4) Chain Lightning > Lightning Bolt > Lightning Bolt > Lightning Bolt

All are macros which include things like Elemental Mastery and automatic trinket pops. Keys 3 & 4 have resets that match the respective cooldowns of Lava Burst and Chain Lightning. Taking down a mob looks like:

2, 2 - two sequential Lightning Bolts (flight time ftw)
3, 3 - Flame Shock then a Lava Burst crit
4, 4 - Chain Lightning, Lightning Bolt
5 - Earth Shock finisher (if needed)

The mob is usually dead by the fourth or fifth key press. :) And of course, Thunderstorm is available if I need to push back multiple mobs and/or get a spell off.

Sidenote: anyone else notice that quest reward armor matches much better than the clown gear we got in TBC? Aesthetics FTW.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gone (Ele)Mental

I may have gone insane. Exelus went Elemental last night. This (somewhat) calculated move happened for a few reasons:
  • Level 75 brings Lava Burst, unfortunately not part of the Enhancement rotation
  • Incoming Elemental buffs are making the spec more and more attractive
  • My old level 70 Enhancement epics are being slowly replaced by quest gear anyway
  • An eventual Elemental/Resto dual spec is likely to have more synergy than Enhancement/Resto, both in playstyle and gear
  • If Exelus has ranged DPS and heals covered by dual-spec'ing, then my DK can cover melee DPS and tanking - all bases covered by two toons!
So after a quick visit to the trainer in Exodar, I found myself staring at the talent screen, totally clueless. :)

Talent Selection
Here was my initial talent selection at 75, which is very likely to change. Sure insta-cast Ghost Wolf is nice, but maybe not at the expense of other pew-pew talents in Elemental. Also I didn't notice too much in the way of mana issues, so I will likely let go of Shamanistic Focus - and I'm not sure if Elemental Weapons is worth it at this point. TBD. I do like Thundering Strikes still though, since Elemental seems to be such a crit-heavy build.

Probably tonight I will re-do it all so I can get Thunderstorm - seems like a very nice talent for soloing multi-mob encounters (and PvP?) after the loss of my favorite two emergency buttons.

DPS Rotation
After some trolling at Elitist Jerks it seems that the Elemental rotation is more of a priority system:
  1. Keep Flame Shock ticking (the glyph is mandatory for Elemental)
  2. Lava Burst when it's up
  3. Chain Lightning when it's up
  4. Lightning Bolt spam to fill time
Here's how I distilled that down to two macros, bound to my "2" and "3" keys:

2) /castsequence reset=6 Flame Shock, Lava Burst, Lava Burst
3) /castsequence Chain Lightning, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Bolt

These spells are all bound to other keys as well, but these macros let me mostly alternate between just two keys which reset themselves upon Flame Shock and Chain Lightning cooldowns.

When soloing, I tend to open combat with a regular LB since it has "flight time," then immediately hit 2 twice, then 3 a few times and close with an Earth Shock kill shot ("4" key). In groups, it's similar (usually without Earth Shock), but I keep more of an eye on cooldowns and the overall situation (offhealing, interrupts, etc).

General Impressions
After killing a few hapless mobs in Dragonblight to get my rotation down, I went off to UK and then OK with some guildies and had a great time. It was kinda weird to stand in the back, but there are some advantages - better view of the overall battle, etc.

My gear is pretty lame at the moment, mustering just over 900 spell damage, but I still managed to stay roughly on-par with other DPS while spot-offhealing. Mana didn't seem to be too much of an issue, which was a nice suprise.

I will likely contine this experiment for a while... the 4k Lava Burst crits are sweet, and it's fun to try something new. :)