Monday, March 1, 2010

I was probably wrong...maybe

People over at Elitist Jerks have been doing some testing on the PTR (I won't blame you if you don't wade through that forum post). From their results, it would appear that extending the duration of Flame Shock by 6 seconds does exactly what it says it does. The spell will try and fit as many ticks as it can in those 6 seconds.

On the other hand, I did some testing of my own (with the help of our resident Shadow Priest) on the live server (stupid PTR and not letting me log in). Shadow Priests already have their DoTs affected by haste and have a way of renewing it. But because I'm dumb and forgot exactly what I was looking for, we ended up testing something completely different that had odd results given the PTR testing.

The Shadow Priest 2P T9 "increases the duration of Vampiric Touch by 6 seconds" (incidentally, our 2P T9 does the same for Flame Shock). When he had this set bonus activated, he would only ever get 2 extra matter how much haste he had. We even Blood Lusted, and still only 2 extra ticks. Obviously, this is counter to what is coming out of the PTR.

I think the difference lies in when the 6 seconds are added. With the 2P T9, the 6 seconds is added prior to spell casting. Because of this, it is also affected by the haste value. That is to say, the duration of the spell may be calculated something like this:
([Original Duration] + [2P T9]) * [Spell Haste]

This can happen because the extra 6 seconds are always there.

But now we add 6 seconds after the fact; and indirectly to boot. The equation becomes:
(([Original Duration] + [2P T9]) * [Spell Haste]) + 6 Seconds

This question remains: Is the extension suppose to be 2 ticks or 6 seconds? Since it's still in the PTR, all we can do is wait and see what Blizzard does.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Festina Lente

3.3.3 promises the following change to Flame Shock
Flame Shock: The damage-over-time component of this ability can now produce critical strikes and is affected by spell haste. (Source)
The crit change is trivial since the Current Flame Shock glyph does this for us. Being affected by spell haste is much more interesting (and brain racking). Ok, to be fair it is only brain racking if you have 4P T10.

How does haste affect DoTs?

Taken from the 3.3.0 patch notes (when haste affected DoTs were first introduced):
Shadowform: This talent also now causes Devouring Plague and Vampiric Touch to benefit from haste. Both the period length and the duration of these spells will be reduced by haste.
This means that a Hasted DoT will tick faster, causing it to not last as long. Each tick will still do what it normally does damage wise. This is easy peasy to comprehend; it does what it does, only faster.

Why is this an issue?

Our 4P T10 extends the duration of our Flame Shock by 6 seconds. It is my understanding that in reality this adds two ticks to the duration. (As in, DoTs are actually calculated in ticks and normally a tick happens every three seconds giving the illusion of a timed duration.) Others believe that the actual duration of the FlS is increased by 6 and you'll get as many ticks in as will fit.

If it works the way I think it will, then the amount of time we can sustain a single FlS will be reduced because haste doesn't effect spell cooldowns. This creates contradicting messages; T10 4P says "Hey, you don't have to cast FlS as often." which means maybe we could pump up a FlS and keep it rolling for extra damage. The haste change says, "Hey, you have to cast FlS more often. Oh, and you can't sustain it as long with the T10 4P because that 6 seconds isn't actually 6 seconds and your LvB won't be off CD." Obviously this reduces the impact of pumping up an initial FlS through clever use of potions and trinkets.

If it works the way others think it will, then we get an odd situation where the FlS will linger for a bit at the end without doing damage. For example, if the ticks are counting every 2.5 seconds, then extending the duration by 6 seconds will allow for two more ticks (just like the previous example). But those two ticks will only take 5 seconds to complete and then I have 1 second left on my FlS where it does nothing except enable other things to happen (i.e. LvB to crit and T10 4P to extend it again). Eventually that residual would add up to allow for an extra tick as well. I'm almost hoping this is how it works, but I'm not holding my breath.

So what's the point?

I don't think pumping up a FlS at the beginning of a fight will be as beneficial as before because the pumped up FlS cannot be sustained as long. We will end up with a DPS gain though, since doing the same amount of damage faster is what it literally means to have an increase of DPS. Of course, as with everything, there are more factors to consider. Having to cast FlS again eats up a GCD which could have been spent on LB. Does the extra DPS from a hasted FlS equal out to a loss of a LB (and a loss of a 2 sec reduction to EM)? That I'll leave up to the true theorycrafters. I'll just continue to muse.

*The title is Latin for "Make haste slowly." While not exactly what we need to do in this situation, I like the quote because of it's seemingly paradoxical existence. And it does have Haste in it, so cut me some slack.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Around the dawning of 3.3 I posted a buy order for EoFrost gear. I've also got an overall gearing goal I'm aiming for. It has sifted slightly since I originally posted (and probably needs updated now that the new boss gear is solidly in place), but it's pretty close.

If you were to ask me, I'd tell you I am pretty far along in my gearing (pieces wise. Stupid iLvl 200 Trinkets :(). But I have come to a crossroads. Down one road lays my new belt of choice, Waistband of Despair; down the other road lays my fourth piece of T10, the pants. Both are bought with EoFrost (60 and 95, respectively).

Here's the problem. I am about 50ish points over the hit cap (assuming a Boomkin or SP in the raid). If I buy the belt, I'll "lose" 51 points of Hit and pick up haste (tasty). Here's the breakdown. If I get my 4P T10, I'll lose haste, lose the 2P T9 (I'm not wearing my third piece of T10 yet) but I'll gain the 4P T10 and about 100 crit (meh). Again, here's the breakdown.

And to throw another wrench into the equation: the pants can be obtained through other means, namely VoA (10m for 251, 25m for 264). I am really heavily leaning towards picking up the belt when I can and hoping my pants drop in VoA. Being basically the only Elemental Shaman in my guild, and doing VoA 25m weekly (with the guild) pretty much guarantees I'll get the pants if they drop. This will mean I won't have to spend 95 EoF, or pick up a token to upgrade them.

The VoA argument, coupled with losing extra baggage to pick up things which are beneficial to me makes up my mind. Even though the 4P T10 would be a better "status" symbol, I think the right move in this situation is to get the belt.

Bottom line: Plans are nice and all, but you've got to be able to adapt to the current situation.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Keep Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

The Shaman Tier 10 bonus has been redesigned and will no longer reduce the cooldown of Lava Burst or enable Lava Burst to be guaranteed to critical strike without Flame Shock present. Instead successful Lava Burst casts now increase the duration of Flame Shock on the target by 6 seconds.

Please note this is still a work in progress and we may end up with a different or modified bonus before the patch goes live.


If this goes live, it opens up the ability for Elemental Shamans to roll Flame Shock. If you’re not familiar with the practice of rolling DoTs, it’s not a new concept to the game.

What is DoT rolling?

When a DoT is cast, the properties are set and persist throughout the duration of the DoT. These include things like Spell Power and Crit. Cast time is the only time these properties are looked at. The idea of rolling a DoT is to front load the Spell Power and Crit (through Potions and Trinkets), which will then persist when the DoT is refreshed. Shadow Priests have been doing this for awhile now, and our 4P T10 will give us the ability to do this to.

How does this help?

With the help of Nevermelting Ice Crystal you can add 20% crit to the DoT. But you’re not going to want to actually wear the Nevermelting Ice Crystal. What you can do instead is activate the buff slightly before a pull and switch out to a different trinket before entering combat. You should be able to make a macro for the trinket and equipping a new one. Similarly, you can pop a Potion of Wild Magic for another 200 crit rating / 200 Spell Power and still have access to a Health or Mana potion (in 1 minute).

One more note. The resident Shadow Priest in our guild also has a deal with one of the Rogues to cast the first Tricks of the Trade on him. I’m not sure that this can actually be rolled, but it’s still not a bad idea if you can get a cooperative rogue.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Brothers in Arms

In the last week, the second wing of ICC opened up. Having cleared the first wing on 10 and 25 man, the guild I'm in quickly dispatched the first four bosses and stood in the shadow of the new wing. Many promptly died to Frogger v2.0. Hurrah for slow loading times.

25 man

We tried our hand at 25man first, blindly chose a direction and ended up in front of Rotface. Now, this is the guy with the slimes. He's all about the slimes. We had quite a few wipes on this guy figuring out the slimes and getting everyone on board, but we eventually killed him. I can't stress this enough: He who controls the slimes, controls the fight...or something like that.

Next we wandered over to Festergut. This fight is an interesting one (mainly for healers) because it switches from Tank heal intensive to Raid heal intensive and back again. And man, when I say intensive Tank heals...I mean intensive Tank heals. On 25man, our stumbling block was tank death. You need to pull out every CD you have to keep a tank alive when Festergut has 3 inhales (90% more damage / 90% haste). Our first night on this guy, we spent a good hour, hour and a half wiping because we couldn't keep a tank alive through the 3 inhale phase. Our second night there, we finally kept a tank alive (once) but then we hit the 5min enrage when he was at 10%.

10 man

Our 10man team was the exact opposite. We spent an hour to an hour and a half on Rotface, dying horrible deaths. We switched to three healers and still someone died. This fight is harder on 10man in my opinion. Looking back, I think I know why. It's the ratio of healers to heal targets (at any given time). There should only be three(ish) people taking damage during Rotface: The MT who is getting hit by Rotface, the OT who is kiting the ooze, and the person(s) who is infected. Typical 25man has 6 healers, two for each role. Typical 10man has 2-3 healers, at best one for each role. In 25man if a healer gets infected, they have a back up. In 10man if a healer gets infected, they have to try and still heal effectively while moving the little ooze to merge with the big ooze.

After our spirits were crushed from our (many, many...many) defeats at the hands of Rotface, we trudged over to Festergut. We had a few learning attempts, with each getting better and better. Then we finally got him down (even if we ended up with 4 people alive, a win is a win). For this guy, being a shaman healer was nice. Shamans have the nice flexibility of tank or raid healing. Chain Heal the melee when they're taking the brunt of the damage, Lesser Healing Wave after first and second inhales, Healing Wave after the third. Rinse. Repeat. Our tank still died (poorly timed heals after a big hit), but so did Festergut and we were happy.

Wrap up

All in all the new wing is challenging, much like the first wing was our first week. I believe that we'll be able to get to Professor Putricide this week in both our 10 and 25man raids. (Actually, our other 10man group got a look at him already). Hopefully the second wing becomes like the first wing and we start one shotting bosses.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Emblem of Frost Usage

Deciding what to buy with the EoFrost can be a pain in the butt. When figuring out what is better to get first, it is important to remember your hit cap. I play Horde side and know that I almost always run with a Boomkin who can provide extra hit with his FF, so I sit at around 289 hit rating. If you don't have a regular Boomkin (or Shadow Priest), you should be sitting at around 368.

I started by prioritized upgrading items that do not currently have Hit rating on them so that I am never losing Hit rating in an upgrade. I also looked at what else was added in 3.3 as far as drops go to see if there was anything useful I could get from raiding. Items which were exclusive to badges were placed higher. Then of course was the amount of an upgrade the item is.

So without further ado, here's the order I'll be buying stuff with EoFrost:

1. Frost Witch's Shoulderpads (aka T10 Shoulders) - No matter if you're sporting your T9.5 Shoulders or the crazy odd Heroic Pauldrons of the Glacial Wilds (like me), these shoulders are a step up even at the 251 iLevel. One thing to consider at this point are your set bonuses. If you only have 4 of your T9 and one of them is your shoulders, then you will also be losing your 4P T9 bonus and not gaining your 2P T10 yet.
Cost: 60 badges
Total Badges spent: 60 badges

2. Frost Witch's Helm (aka T10 Helm) - Another clear upgrade from the T9.5 Helm, even at the 251 iLevel. A slight loss of Haste (4 rating) is all you'll see from this upgrade with gains everywhere else. You will break your 4P T9 at this point, but also pick up your 2P T10.
Cost: 95 badges
Total Badges spent: 155 badges

This is where my path diverges. I'm aiming for this set of gear. The Amulet of the Silent Eulogy and the Loop of the Endless Labyrinth are both drops from 25man ICC and contain Hit. Depending on if I have either (or both) of those and my hit is still ok without gemming for it, will determine what I buy next. Basically, if at any point from here I need to gem for Hit...I'll buy the Belt of Omission (Cost: 60 badges) to boost my current hit.

3. Frost Witch's Kilt (aka T10 Pants) - This is the first piece that will come with a Hit rating loss. At only minus 10 hit rating compared to T9.5 Pants though, it is an easily manageable loss (hybrid hit gem negates till other hit items are acquired). Depending on what you already had and what you've replaced, this may break your 2P T9 without gaining 4P T10. If you started with 4P T9 and bought the T10 piece you didn't have first (going 4P T9, 1P T10), then you will be 2P T9, 3P T10 at this point.
Cost: 95 badges
Total Badges spent: 250 badges

4. Frost Witch's Hauberk (aka T10 Chest) - This will round out T10. It is also a large loss of Hit (85 Rating) compared to the T9.5 Chest. If the RNG has been cruel, swapping in the good old Elemental Focus Stone for the transition may be needed.
Cost: 95 badges
Total Badges spent: 345 badges

5. Blizzard Keeper's Mitts* - These are nicely itemized gloves for Elem and the Hit loss over the T10 Gloves can be made up elsewhere. Also, because of how the T10 items are bought you need to spend the same amount of Badges on either of these gloves, but you also need a Token for the T10 to make it equivalent to the Blizzard Keeper's Mitts. That sacrifice has been made on other slots in order to get the 4P T10.
Cost: 95 badges
Total Badges spent: 440 badges

6. Bizuri's Totem of Shattered Ice - You may be asking yourself why this is so low on the list. My answer is that if you have Totem of Electrifying Wind (which if you don't, you can easily get from EoTriumphs) then you only gain 20 haste from this upgrade. There are other trade offs as well, but you should be using Lightning Bolt enough to keep the ToEW proc rolling.
Cost: 30 badges
Total Badges spent: 470 badges

At this point I may purchase Maghia's Misguided Quill to use when the resident Boomkin is not present. This far down the list, there's not much else to buy.

I also originally had Drape of the Violet Tower listed. While it's a good cloak, it is more for healing than DPS. I feel I could do better with Shroud of Displacement, but I'll have to rely on the RNG for that.

And there you have it. A list of the EoFrost purchases, and then some.

*I feel I must explain my choice of omitting the T10 Gloves. The BKM gloves are well itemized for Elemental and the Hit can be made up elsewhere. The goal is 4P T10. There's no good substitute for T10 Helm, so that's one. Shoulders have a good option with Horrific Flesh Epaulets, but they are basically equivalent and depend on a specific drop from Festergut 25man. Chest has the option of Meteor Chaser's Raiment which is also purchasable for 95 badges. This is a harder choice as technically the non-tier would offer 16 Haste and 12 SP (if you gem the extra slot for SP) while losing 24 crit. But it's a Cloth robe and looks horrible imo, and yes I'm vain enough to say that. Lastly we come to the Legs, the other contender for replacement. If you have deep pockets, you can opt for Leggings of Woven Death crafted by a Tailor using 8 Primordial Saronite (Taken over the comparably crafted Lightning-Infused Leggings because of the Haste for Crit trade), or there is the Plaguebringer's Stained Pants which is better because it dumps all the crit for Haste and keeps the Hit. Good luck getting them though since 1. They Drop from Festergut 25man and 2. they are cloth, meaning most likely Mages, Locks, and SPs will have priority (rightly so imo).