Thursday, September 20, 2007

Turning to the Dark Side! (Elemental)

Image obtained from WookieepediaRestoration shaman are very strong healers, both for PvE and PvP, so why would you ever think of switching to another talent tree? Besides the usual complaint of grinding as a healer (Restoration shaman can grind effectively since we can take such a beating, it's just slow), it's just a lot of fun. Nothing is more exciting then popping Elemental Mastery (and Nature's Swiftness if you have it) before a Chain Lightning and watching two or three of your opponents drop at once, or seeing that string of numbers pop up above your head with a triple-Windfury crit and having your target's health melt away.

The Elemental and Enhancement trees are very strong in their own right and both bring some significant advantages to a raiding party. I'll extoll their raid-usefulness later, but for now I'd like to give some basic advice for those who'd like to make the switch. I'll concentrate on Elemental in this post, and create a separate one for Enhancement.

The first step to Elemental pwnage is choosing your talents. There are a number of "must have," quintessential talents that every build should have, as well as a number of additional options depending on your play style. (I've ignored Enhancement talents for now and will include Ele/Enh hybrids in a further post.)

  • Essential: Convection (-10% mana cost), Concussion (+5% damage), Elemental Focus (clearcasting), Call of Thunder (+6% crit), Elemental Fury (increased crit damage), Lightning Mastery (reduced casting time)
  • Good (PvE): Elemental Warding (reduced damage from Fire, Frost and Nature), Storm Reach (increased range), Unrelenting Storm (mana regen), Elemental Precision (increased hit chance), Elemental Mastery (mana-free crit every 3 minutes), Lightning Overload (chance for additional spell), Totem of Wrath (increased hit/crit), Nature's Guidance (Resto Tier 3: increased hit), Tidal Mastery (Resto Tier 4: increased crit), Nature's Swiftness (Resto Tier 5: instant-cast spell)
  • Good (PvP): Elemental Warding (reduced damage from Fire, Frost and Nature), Eye of the Storm (pushback resistance on proc), Storm Reach (increased range), Elemental Mastery (mana-free crit every 3 minutes), Lightning Overload (chance for additional spell), Tidal Mastery (Resto Tier 4: increased crit), Nature's Swiftness (Resto Tier 5: instant-cast spell)
  • Mediocre: Call of Flame (increased fire totem damage), Reverberation (reduced shock cooldown), Elemental Shields (reduced chance of being crit)
There are a couple talents that deserve a bit more discussion:
  • Call of Flame: This talent is worthless if you're putting 41 points into the tree for Totem of Wrath (both fire totems). It can be a decent boost to damage output for a 40/0/21 or similar build, however.
  • Eye of the Storm: The pushback resistance is good for PvP, however it does not proc on spell crits. Also, the reduced chance for crit from Elemental Shields is bugged (you don't get credit for something that would have been a crit, but wasn't due to ES), so it makes this talent less useful if you're taking both.
  • Elemental Precision: Largely essential for raiders (both for the hit and reduced threat). The amount of hit rating is capped at 4% for PvP, so a point or two is all that's necessary at most.
  • Elemental Shields: Note that this only affects melee and ranged crits, not spells. Also see the Eye of the Storm above.
  • Lightning Overload: I don't know that it's been confirmed, but the general consensus is that the second lightning bolt causes reduced threat.
  • Nature's Guidance: (Resto, Tier 3) The extra 3% hit is useful for getting to the 16% hit cap for raid bosses. Not a good use of points for PvP spec's.
  • Nature's Swiftness: (Resto, Tier 5) This is often considered a "must have" for PvP since it significantly increased your burst potential. You cannot get both NS and Totem of Wrath, but it's a good trade-off for PvP where totems are less useful in general.
A few sample builds:
  • 41/0/20: The primary raiding build. Some skip Storm Reach in favor of more mana regen, and there's some extra points to play with in Restoration depending on your preferences (I would choose Ancestral Healing since you'll have a very high crit rate, but very occasional healers can easily skip this).
  • 40/0/21: Primarily a PvP build, this forgoes Totem of Wrath in favor of Nature's Swiftness. The 1 second reduction on shock cooldowns is good, although though others might prefer to put those points in Eye of the Storm or Elemental Shields.
  • 30/0/31: Mana Tide is a great talent and this spec tries to get the best of both worlds. It's a decent PvP build (although Mana Tide can be hard to use effectively in PvP), but tends to be underwhelming for PvE since you're lacking key talents at the top of the Elemental and Restoration trees.
There are several good gear guides out there. The best is Skyhoof's Guide to Elemental Shaman Gear for Raiding, with a pre-Kara guide available as well. You can also use Binkenstein's shaman calculators to compare gear. In general, however, the stat choices for Elemental are pretty easy: Load up on +spell damage, crit and hit, with a smattering of Intellect and mana/5 wherever you can. A good guideline when comparing gear is:
1 +spell = 1 crit rating = 1.25 hit rating (until capped) = 0.5 mana/5 = 1.5 Intellect = 2 haste rating.
There are a couple stand-out pieces of gear that are worth mentioning: Edit 11/25: Added "[Chaotic Skyfire Diamond]


Charles Fox said...

This is an excellent and comprehensive post. Good work!

Ry said...

What a pleasant surprise! I was thrilled to discover fellow Scarlet Crusaders had taken to blogging, even if they all seem to be filthy Alliance (I kid, I kid!), but didn't expect a Shammy one to pop up anytime soon! It's always nice to put a personality to the tentacle-fac..err, Draenei I run across in the Aldor bank.

Regarding the post, I would say that for the 41/0/20 talent build you've posted, ancestral healing would prove less than useful in most anything beyond Kara as a raiding spec. While it's been quite a bit since my guild's popped into Gruul's Lair (Yay for DE fests), I couldn't imagine our Elemental Shaman stopping DPS to spot heal when it's a DPS fight. But maybe that's just me as 'raid healer' talking.

Best of luck with your blog and resisting the dark side of our talent tree. ;)

Draezele said...

I was aiming more for the up-and-coming shaman than the experienced raider, but that's an excellent point, Ry! If you have a committed group of raiders with good attendance, the chances of swapping roles is definitely diminished. My guild is a little more casual-friendly, however, so it's not uncommon for our "off specs" to wind up on healing duty. So obviously take these recommendations with a grain of salt and with an eye for your own particular situation.

As for Alliance, well, I blame the friend who introduced me to the game. He wanted to play a druid and was unwilling to play a "cow." :)

Raag said...

Your PvP spec suggested is terrible, please don't try to educate others on how to play when you have no clue.

Anonymous said...

Any pointers on what would be a good talent spec Raag?

Yeah I didn't think so.. ignore the trolls, this is a great guide.

Dionysia said...

hey man, you made me glad to find your site, it is just plain amazing, i actually have no clue how i stumbled upon it. the resto explanation/gear guide/formulas you pack out are just great. i only have 1 thing to add. your pvp spec might actually want to look like the following:
taking all the talents that will reduce damage income, while dropping that fire nova totem pretty frequently for those pesky ms warr/rogues, it's a decent 2k-ish crit that can get you out of spots sometimes, and ancestral healing helping with them too. i find focused casting to be of great utility, it procs often and you can almost be sure you will land that 1.5sec chain lightning on that irritating hunter(sorry, i see your alt is 1), the effect procs a lot with the pet pounding on you. another variant of that build might be skipping call of flame, and imp. nova, for the other obvious, reverberation, depending on your preference. 2 thumbs up man, such a great job you did here :)
you can find me here, but i change specs like twice a day, so ignore some of the gear,


Draezele said...

I'll be the first to admit that I don't PvP as elemental very often and judging by my forum browsing, there are very different arena specs out there. The spec I suggested is basically a PvE spec that allows some BG play as well. It's by no means the perfect PvP spec. :)