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Totem Talk: Elemental candy like goodness

Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets. He's also the shaman behind TotemSpot and is looking forward to the release of Civilization V.

So, hands up: Who saw this coming? No, I don't mean the fact that Lightning Shield is now our preferred shield, but rather the Unrelenting Storm vanishing act, the mana restore when casting Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning and the introduction of Earth Shock into the rotation. Yes, that's right. Earth Shock. Seems a bit odd for us elementals to be stealing abilities from enhancement rather than the other way around. Also, some of you may be wondering why I'm on fire in the screenshot above. Well, that happens to be the new animation for the Unleash Elements Flametongue Weapon proc.

Before we begin, there has already been feedback on the forums about some internal beta changes that haven't been pushed out to the external beta yet (software in development goes alpha, internal beta, external beta, internal live and then external live), so I will be breaking down the notes and updating them with what we know as I go. I'll post a modified list of the changes at the end, too.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: Shields, totems and buffs, oh my!

Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets. He's also the shaman behind TotemSpot and is currently leveling a mage alt ... sshh, don't tell anyone!

Welcome to another post on Cataclysm beta information for the best spec of all: elemental. There have been one or two changes in the latest patch, along with things being fixed (Unleash Elements, for example). This means we can start doing some testing, play with the mechanics and get a better feel for how elemental is looking. First, patch notes!

Elemental
  • Magma Totem now costs 18% of base mana, down from 27%.
  • Lava Burst damage has been increased by 25%.
Restoration
  • Totem of Tranquil Mind *New* - Summons a Totem of Tranquil Mind with 5 health at the feet of the caster for 5 min, causing party or raid members within 30 yards to lose 0% less casting or channeling time when damaged. (Value NYI, Concentration Aura)

As you can see, the patch notes are fairly small and are mostly balancing tweaks. The additional 25 percent damage on Lava Burst only applies to the base damage, so instead of dealing 1,441 damage (on average) it now hits for 1,801. This extra damage will be multiplied by talents as well, so that becomes 460 extra damage before considering the critical strike multiplier, which brings it up to 1,022. In other words, that 25 percent base damage increase turns out to be a 6.4 percent increase in overall damage, assuming an average critical of 16,000 before the change.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Cataclysm

Totem Talk: Elemental scaling in Cataclysm


Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets. He's the shaman behind TotemSpot and has decided to return to something he's really good at: math.

This time around, I thought I'd cover a question of increasing frequency: how will elemental scaling work in Cataclysm? After the rollercoaster ride of changes through Wrath of the Lich King, most shaman are a little worried about how things are looking. Since we're still in the early days of the beta, and since we can't get to level 85 yet, it's a bit difficult to do any in-game testing or experimentation.

However, that's never stopped me before. Rather than building a complex model on things we don't yet know the mechanics for, what we can do is look at how Lightning Bolt is going to work. Since LB comprises 70-80 percent of our damage, it's a useful measure of how damage increases with spellpower and critical/haste rating. So for some baselines, we're going to assume all the raid buffs are present, that the spells can't miss or resist, and that we've got 2.2k intellect, 15 percent haste, and 25 percent critical strike chance. I'm also going to assume a 5 percent mastery value, for when the mastery bonuses come into effect.

We then need to split things up into how they affect the spell. First we look at spellpower bonuses, damage bonuses based on passive talents, buffs and debuffs, which all need to be handled separately. Then we top everything off with critical damage multipliers, factor in Elemental Overload, and top it all off with haste.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Cataclysm

Totem Talk: Elemental spells in Cataclysm

Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets. He's the shaman behind TotemSpot, the new shaman community site/forum/wiki and might have been a hunter if only hunter pets hadn't sucked when WoW was launched.

Hello again, fellow elemental shaman. All you nonelemental types can stand at the back of the room and keep quiet. I've already rambled on about talents, twice even, but so far haven't touched on the new abilities yet. There are a few goodies for all the specs.

Before we begin, a brief word from our sponsor. No, wait, sorry, I mean Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer).

We're fine with totem health given how easy totems are to replace. We also think it's fine to have to (sometimes) choose between a buff totem and a non-buff totem given how many different things a shaman can do.

However, we are going to increase buff totem range (and possibly other totem range) and we have figured out a way to make Searing Totem attack your target, instead of a random and probably inappropriate target.

The increase of buff range will be a godsend. Hopefully they increase it to the standard 100-yard range of all other auras, preventing the classic "the raid just moved and now I have to redrop totems a few times to make sure everyone is covered" problem. The other side of that is with the additional instant-cast spell in Unleash Elements, and the casting-while-moving ability that is Spiritwalker's Grace, there will be less running time during which to recast totems.

The Searing Totem change is also very, very nice, not to mention something that we have been asking the development team for for a while. The question remains whether the totem range increase will be applied to Searing Totem as well, to avoid the "I can be 36 yards away from the target for everything but my DPS totem" problem.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Cataclysm

Ghostcrawler on the future of totems

Earlier this week, Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) responded to some posts regarding totems. There have been some doom-and-gloom comments and, unfortunately, very few positive ones. (Nice to see Strawberry get a mention in one of GC's replies.) Since I'm now the elemental shaman columnist here, I thought I'd weigh in with my own thoughts on the matter.

Quote:
Why does a DK not have to choose between horn of winter and desecration?

Because that is pretty much all the DK gets.

The shaman on the other hand gets to choose among Strength of Earth Totem, Windfury Totem, Wrath of Air Totem, Flametongue Totem, Tremor Totem, Healing Stream Totem, resistance Totems and Earthbind Totem, which doesn't even count Bloodlust / Heroism, and things like Unleashed Rage or Elemental Oath. If your buff was as competitive as theirs and you had so much versatility, we fear we'd see raids with many, many shaman in them. As it is, there's still a good chance for 3 shaman in a 25-player raid, while the DKs might get 2 slots if they're lucky.

You should get a slot because you are a good player, not because your buff rules.

From what GC is saying here, we can see that because we have multiple potential choices in buffs via totems, these buffs won't be quite as good as the ones provided from other classes. The problem with that is that even in a min-max raid environment, the shaman selects totems based on what other buffs are provided, rather than being brought along to specifically provide totem buffs. It's also worth noting that most of the differences between the buffs a shaman provides and those from other classes boil down to either range, activation or both. As it stands at the moment, you will make sure you have one shaman for Wrath of Air and an enhancement shaman for talented Strength of Earth. That will cover the only shaman-specific buffs you require for the average raid. In fact, you are more likely to stack paladins in a raid than shaman, to get three blessings on everyone (Sanc, Kings, Might or Wisdom, although enhancement shaman and retribution paladin would like to have all four), compared to having one shaman dropping Wrath of Air, Totem of Wrath/Flametongue and possibly Mana Spring, with a second doing Windfury and Strength of Earth, which will cover all of the "primary" raid buffs.

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Filed under: Shaman, Blizzard, Cataclysm

Totem Talk: Elemental changes, part two


Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets.

Hello again, dear readers. It's time for me to waffle on again about elemental shaman. A few weeks ago, we saw the talent tree revamp down to seven tiers, and there have been a number of changes in the builds since then. Some of the changes are small, but there's one or two in there that I think you'll like, if you haven't heard about them already.

I've also spent a little time on the beta, and aside from being totally unfamiliar with the UI, I'm enjoying it. Earthquake is fun to use, although I do wish that the cooldown didn't exist. As you can see from the image above, the current animation isn't quite finished yet, but looks promising.

But before we get started, I'd like to let you in on a little project I've been working on lately: TotemSpot. TotemSpot is our new Shaman Community Site that's been set up by a few shaman bloggers, and we're currently in beta (everything is there, but there are a few layout issues and changes we are working on). There is a forum, a blog/news front page, and a Wiki as well. Pop on over and have a look.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: Back to basics

Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets. He'd also like to point out that Time Warp is just another excuse to bring mages vending machines to raids.

Since I'm still the new guy here, I figure that it's best to start at the beginning, for it's a very good place to start (and I'm not intentionally putting song lyrics into my posts, it just happens). Given that Cataclysm is still in beta testing, I'm not going to talk about talents, rotations or even the new spells here.

"But Binks," you say, "how can you have an article about basics if you don't include any of those topics?" You can, I say, if you talk about the essential basic you have to get right in your playstyle. This is the thing that turns an average-geared player into a fairly competitive one, makes the top-end raiders great, and without which the guy languishing at the bottom of the DPS table will never get to the top no matter how many best-in-slot items he has.

What I'm talking about is skill. This doesn't just mean the ability to mash buttons faster or harder, or the bonus of having really low latency (trust me, a good ping for me is in the 300ms range), but rather being situationally aware, knowing when to move, how far to move and what to do while moving. It means thinking a few steps ahead so that when the next event occurs, you're already in position and ready for it.

Some players will never master the basics. Others don't even have to try because they're naturals. For the rest of us (and yes, I mean myself as well), it requires a bit of experimentation, some trial and error and most important of all, guides!

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: Elemental shaman notes from the Twitter developer chat


Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets. He'd also like you to go and vote in a poll he is running. Go on, you know you want to.

As you may be aware, last Saturday there was another developer chat on Twitter. If you're anything like me, you would have searched through it for the elemental-specific questions and ignored the rest. (OK, so I did look at the druid ones as well, just to keep up with what's happening for my alt.)

Q: What class are you currently most happy with how the talents are currently set up? Is there one you feel needs more work?

A. They all need more work!

Obviously, this means that nothing is finished or finalized yet, so any serious analysis would be premature (not that some of us won't be doing it anyway). It also means that this is a good opportunity for a bit of feedback.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Cataclysm Beta: Elementary, my dear shaman


Welcome to another article by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets. This post is in part a tribute to Murphy, because as soon as you write a "this is what they might do" post for the end of the week, the talent revamp drops on your doorstep.

Before I get started, I'd like to point out a few things. First off, I have this little blog on the side where I'll be writing small mathy bits, other ramblings and talking about Operation TotemSpot, the concept site that has sprung up as a result of the shaman roundtable podcast that was recorded recently. Speaking of that, Raidwarning now has the podcast up, so you can listen to Joe, Rich and myself talking about our chosen specs.

So, how about those apples talent trees, eh? I'm sure you've seen them by now (and if not, go click the link!). Obviously there are a bunch of changes, and I completely missed half of them. I also wrote that last week in preparation for my first WoW.com article, but for once, the Blizzard "Soon"(TM) is sooner rather than later.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

Totem Talk: The elemental talent tree revamp

Welcome to the first-ever article on WoW.com by elemental shaman specialist Matt Sampson, otherwise known as Binkenstein. By day, he's a geek; by night, he's also a geek, but with spreadsheets.

So unless you live under a rock somewhere or are completely obsessed by all the Real ID drama recently (huzzah for the final outcome!), you've heard that the talent trees and mastery system are being completely revamped. (Would you like to know more?) What will the changes for our beloved elemental spec be? (Or in a topic-based-on-a-song version, Should I Stay or Should I Go?) Looking at the current Cataclysm preview/beta information, there are 26 talents and over 11 tiers, comprising 76 talent points. If we assume that there will be two or three talents per level, we're looking at 13 to 19 talents overall, with at least 31 points. Exactly how the secondary tree stuff will work is a guess at this stage.

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Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Cataclysm