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Totem Talk: Shock and Awe

Rich Maloy is currently working on a real life augmented reality app that will dynamically generate and display his most important priority to accomplish at that moment, as well as cooldowns remaining on important events such as birthdays and anniversaries. Friends and family invited to the private alpha test said the software, known as RichAndAwe, kept getting stuck at "buy more Guinness." Rich reports this is working as intended.

Of all the add-ons in all the mod sites in all the world there's one that stands out among the best for playing enhancement: ShockAndAwe. This mod developed by Pericles has a slew of features to keep enhancers on top of their game. While there are other ways to track information and max out damage output, ShockAndAwe is one mod that makes a big difference for beginners and experienced alike.

We'll cover most of the features here, two of which stand out among the rest: Timer bars and Priority frame. But first we'll start with the options.

Options

Type /saa config to bring up the options, or call the WoW in-game menu (default keybind: Esc), select Interface then click the AddOns tab.

  • Frame options - set bar width and bar scale
  • Timer bars - display a depleting bar for any number of spells and talents. See the section below for more information
  • Bar colours - color for any of the timer bars
  • Priority frame - handle exceptions and conditional situations for the enhance spell rotation/selection. See below for more
  • Set priorities - the meat of the application is here, where the shaman's priorities are set. See below for more
  • Warning options - notifies of missing imbues, when to purge, when to refresh shields, and others
  • Media options - set the look of timer bars and messages
  • Uptime frame - tracks uptime on Elemental Devastation, Flurry, and Unleashed Rage
  • Stats frame - shows a counter for Windfury

Timer bars

There are 13 different bars that can be displayed on screen. The key is to choose a select few that will give the greatest benefit without cluttering up the screen.

Maelstrom bar is a must-have; this bar alone makes SAA worth the installation. Be sure to check the boxes at the bottom for the Maelstrom Sound 5, which will ding upon the 5th proc of Maelstrom Weapon and will continue to ding at a specified interval. The audio cue is a big help to getting the most out of enhance!

There is another option for Maelstrom Flash which will blink the Maelstrom bar upon 5 stacks. I tried this and found it to detrimental to my game-play; I much prefer the solid color bar and the audio cue.

Other viable bar options include:
  • Feral Spirit bar - the duration remaining for wolves while active, then shows the cooldown remaining after they've been used.
  • Shield Bar - this bar changes colors with the active shield, shows how much time is left on it, and displays the number of charges remaining. When no shield is active this turns red.
  • Magma Totem Bar - depletes a bar as your Magma Totem runs down. For magnificent magma management enable this bar.
  • FS Dot Bar - wondering how long since you last cast FS? Enable this bar and it starts an 18 second timer that counts down until the last tick.

There are other bars available but I'd consider there to be information that can be integrated elsewhere in the UI.

  • Stormstrike Bar - displays the time remaining on SS's cooldown
  • Shock Bar - because shocks all share a common 6 second cooldown this bar shows just that: the 6 second cooldown
  • Shear Bar - displays the time remaining until Wind Shear is available again
  • Fire Nova - shows when the Fire Nova spell will be available again
  • Windfury Bar - with an internal 3 second cooldown on WF this bar will activate upon a Windfury hit and then counts down from three.
  • Global Cooldown Bar - displays the global cooldown.
  • Lava Lash - displays the time remaining on LL's cooldown

We interrupt this ShockAndAwe user guide/review to bring you news about a simple and effective add-on that will show the cooldown for all spells and is compatible with most all bar mods -- at least all that I've tested: OmniCC. Install it and never need those "other" bars again. We not return you to your regularly scheduled Totem Talk.

Setting priorities

The second killer feature of SAA is the highly configurable Priority Frame. It features built-in options for all the crazy enhancement spells and spell conditionals, including such things as "Lava Lash if no QE" (referring to the Totem of Quaking Earth) or "Feral Spirit on Boss" (which will only make SW a priority if you are targeting a boss).

By setting the spell rotation priority (details below) this frame will show the next spell to cast. It takes into account all spell cooldowns and even some conditionals such as if you're targeting a boss, if a certain buff is active, or if a debuff is applied. The priority frame, shown at left, is why most enhancement shamans consider SAA an essential add-on for the spec.

One thing to note, while the player is on global cooldown (GCD) the frame will be blank. Only when the GCD clears does the next spell in the priority queue pop up. Let's set those priorities now.

Priority groups

Here is where all the long hours we spent theorycrafting, running sims, and generally mucking about off-line with gear, sims, spreadsheets, and more sims to absolutely perfect our spell prioritization. Or where we copy down the suggestions of the Enhancement 102 article. Either one works.

Each box displays a drop down menu with all of the enhancement spells and a few conditional items. Here I set my priority as SW, MT, LS, MW5_LB, ES_SS, SS, FS, LL (oops, looks like I missed LL!), and FN. This section is completely customizable and multiple groups can be created for different situations. The total number of priorities per grouping is 16 spells/conditionals. I know we have an extensive rotation but I can't imagine needing 16 spots. Nonetheless, they are there for the taking should you need 16 priorities.

A word of caution: be very mindful of what you put at the top. Notice I don't have Fire Elemental Totem listed here but I do have Feral Spirit. If I wanted to hold my wolves until one minute into a boss fight, to time with Heroism/Bloodlust for example, then the SAA priority frame would continually show SW as the spell to cast using this grouping.

Therefore, if you are going to use the priority frame I highly recommend keeping SW and FE off the mod's list. You know when you'll need them and don't need a mod telling you.

Priority frame options

Here is where the Priority Frame can be enabled or disabled (as shown below) as well as other options adjusted. Combo points displays MW procs as combo points. Wind Shear adds this spell as the highest priority if threat goes above the threshold set on the slider below. Everything here is rather self-explanatory.

Stoney's suggestions

Personally, I love the bars and hate the priority frame. I track Maelstrom Weapon and know to when to use it thanks to SAA's audio and visual signals. The shield bar turning red when no shield is active is another killer feature, and seeing how much time is left with my wolves is a big plus. I also love the reminders for weapon imbues, purging, and interrupts (all in Warning Options).

However the priority frame is too much for me. I find the mental lag from recognizing an icon to pressing the button actually slows me down as I go through my spells. Or worse, I'll stare at it wondering "why are you telling me to Fire Nova?!?" as I go through my rotation anyway. With SAA and OmniCC I have everything I need for a well balanced shaman diet of mad DPS without the priority frame.

But remember, I have three years of non-stop enhancement shamanism under my belt. If you don't have your priorities memorized or are not 100% comfortable then SAA and its priority frame are a must-have!

What options do you use in SAA? Do you use something other than this mod? What did I miss that you can share with your enhancement brethren?

May all your hits be crits!

Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

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