Friday, 28 August 2009

Totem of Electrifying Wind

Since last post, which I apologize for being a considerable amount of time ago, I have not been playing as much as I would have liked. My beloved laptop that has served me well over the past 4 years was finally showing its age and the lacking framerate was taking to great of a toll on my performance (at times I was averaging a mere 6-8fps during raids). I took the hint and made the decision to build a new computer which I had not done before and was rather daunted by the thought of. I am pleased to say it was a success however, and I am now playing on a beastly new machine that makes the game look completely different. Who knew you could see the Mine from the Lumber Mill in AB? Maybe you all did and I have been the one missing out all this time, if so forgive my childlike facination. I am yet to raid with the new setup, but I am excited to see the difference in a 25-man environment.

With my reduced playtime over the last two weeks I have not been regularly collecting Emblem of Triumph tokens (*tisk tisk*, I know...) and, as such, have not been able to purchase any of the token gear. Not that there is exactly a plethora of selection for us, but I am leaving the spiteful comments behind with the last post; I appreciate your feedback on that by the way. Yesterday I was finally fortunate enough to have saved enough to get a hold of the new totem slot item, the Totem of Electrifying Wind. By this point most of the more hardcore readers would have already seen the conclusions/done their own research but I still feel I should post about it because that is what this blog is all about.

From the PTR studies prior to 3.2, it showed the totem to have an extremely high percentage of uptime but for a long period no one confirmed these numbers once the patch was live. Well, now the numbers are all verified and the totem has a proc chance (i.e.: chance to activate) of 70% and an internal cooldown (or 'ICD', time delay after activation before it can activate again) of 6 seconds.

These numbers are very kind to us. Essentially this means it likes proccing and, because the buff lasts 12 seconds but can refresh after only 6, it will refresh itself a good percentage of time. Conclusion? Very high uptime.

I grabbed my new totem after the daily yesterday and took it to do some of my own testing. On pure Lightning Bolt spamming I never lost the buff once it first activated in 3 tests from full mana to OOM. When performing my rotation (i.e.: inclusion of Flame Shock and Lava Bursts), in a stand-and-deliver situation it still had a very high uptime, well over 90% for the vast majority of the testing.

From my own number punching (using my personal stats and such) I found this to be around a 155-165 DPS boost. Haste is unfortunately a difficult stat to come to rock-solid conclusions on, however, because there are certain points where a little extra haste will allow you to complete your rotation and integrate an extra spell cast. Not to make this post about stat comparisons, but basically there is points where haste can outweigh spellpower, although not on a regular basis. This means the benefit will be slightly different for your particular situations, but this is a reasonable ballpark estimate.

So how does this compare to our existing BiS, the Totem of Hex? I am happy to say that we have finally found an upgrade, as Hex only equated to roughly a 95-100 DPS increase. The immense uptime of Electrifying Wind makes it a practically constant buff which I am sure many of you will be thankful for.

I have not had a chance to try it out on high-movement bosses in a raid situation as yet which may be the times where the buff does fall off for short periods but I doubt it will be too much of a factor. I am sure the situations where you have trinket procs and bloodlust/heroism going in conjunction with the totem buff will make you forget about those momentary lapses.

In summary: The Totem of Electrifying Winds is a great little upgrade from our previous best-in-slot; and only takes a few days of raiding and running daily heroics to get your hands on. Enjoy!


Monday, 17 August 2009

Frustrations with the Developers

At what point does community feedback sink in? When is the tipping point where the Blizzard developers go “Okay, I can see the point these guys are making, let’s take a look into it”? I am understanding of limitations of the development team to cater to everyone playing every class at every skill and gear level, but there has to be enough of a movement to prick up some ears at the Blizzard HQ at a certain threshold.

There is a reason I bring this up. Recently there was a post by everyone’s favourite designer, Ghostcrawler, which grazed a nerve for me (the post I refer to can be found here). Now, this was not aimed at elemental shaman by any stretch. It is a general message posted in the Damage Dealing forums as a ‘sign-on-the-wall’ style notice to let everyone know that being annoying and kicking up enough dirt is not going to get Blizzard to succumb.

I took particular aversion to this because I believe that, for the most part, us elemental shaman have done most everything right. Obviously, like every other spec in this game, there are those who act inappropriately and think that they deserve something bestowed on them for whatever reason. Some classes/specs (*cough* mages *cough*) more than others, but it is certainly present to some extent across the board. However, for the most part we have been very cooperative with the manner we have conducted our complaints in. My particular focus fell on this paragraph:

"Here is how the process should ideally work: If you have an issue, bring it up. See if other players agree with you. If they disagree, don't shut them out. Once you've explored the issue a little bit, you've done your job. You don't need to keep starting new topics on the same issue nor bumping those already so long that no reasonable person is going to read them (though I try to)."

There are some genuinely great players that have put forward well constructed, technically sound ideas about changes that can be made to our spec. I will not name these people for the fear of retribution from the ones I will inevitably forget to name, but those who frequent the official forums on a regular basis are familiar with them and their work. These ideas have been presented to the community. They have been agreed upon, as a general consensus. They have been analyzed, debated over, tweaked and finalized until they are a polished suggestion that, if instituted, could genuinely improve our class.

And they are ignored.

Now, this claim may be a bit unfair. I cannot claim that Blizz ‘ignored’ them. The developers may have read them and even given some consideration. However, Blizzard has chosen not to respond to them. Not even acknowledge them for the most part. The latest patch with our grand total of zero spec specific changes proved that pretty boldly.

I am aware that elemental is not the biggest spec around. I am aware that we do not hold a lot of weight in the grand scheme of WoW, simply because our population just isn't there. We are a small, relatively menial class. The “forgotten casters”. But does that really justify us being the hotfix junkies? Because we aren’t popular we can't earn a dynamic change?

Our DPS by comparison is slipping at the cutting-edge levels, our population is declining and there are still no changes in sight. Magma totem is still our viable AoE. Totem of Wrath is still our unique selling point. We are still the only caster with absolutely no scaling ability from our base stats. Our itemization is still laughable.

The shaman forums are a barren land in regards to blue activity. To the developer’s defence, they have stated they will not post in class forums for the most part. That said, even our Damage Dealing forum posts are without blue contributions. It has been 6 months since GC’s posts here and here. This is a thread where GC’s first post commends the quality of the thread; (I quote) “We could use many more posts like this in this forum. Thanks!” and he himself goes on to agree with and list these issues which even back then had been known for a long time. His appreciation? Yes. Actively following up on his points and answering to the community? Still patiently waiting.

Ghostcrawler needs to stop lecturing on how he ‘ideally’ wants us to contribute. Instead, start commending those who are doing the right thing and actively contributing. If not, there hardly seems inclination to do otherwise. The proof is staring right at them and has been for a long time.


Edit: As a follow up, I would like to draw attention to this thread that is currently active in the DD forums. GC has given this thread recognition by posting in it (twice), and in the second post he says "Good data make stronger argument than opinions or anecdotal observation..." when discussing how to make an impact in the community. Funny, coming from a thread that starts with an intellectual gem like this.

Monday, 10 August 2009

3.2 Elemental Shaman Initial (Belated) Impressions

Being an avid follower of a number of WoW blogs I have noticed there exists an unwritten code regarding an ‘initial reaction to the new patch’ post. As this is the first major patch I have been blogging during the release of I am feeling obliged to comply before I go about my rebellious posting ways in the future.

My playtime in this patch release week has been pretty low. As I previously mentioned, I moved into a new place and had to wait for internet to be connected which took the better part of the week. As such I missed out on a lot of the initial release stuff; by the time I first got in on the Thursday it was already old news. I haven’t had a chance to raid the new place yet (apparently the guild cleared the first boss in very little time on the first night, so I will have to wait until Tuesday). I have seen both the regular and heroic 5 man instances, which provides little to talk about as it is rather easy and the mounted combat is really the only notable highlight.

The obvious discussion point is regarding the new totem bars. I have been configurating my personal setup which, for raiding purposes, is pretty easy (Totem of Wrath, Healing, Wrath of Air and no earth totem). I initially removed all my totems from the bars and went to just using the new UI, but realized whilst running heroics how often you go to those other utility totems such as Tremor or Cleansing. Having to reconfigure every time one of these alternate totems is required is a paining process and I have found I am resorting back to having a nearly full bar of totems for easy access in those ‘just in case’ situations. I am not complaining, as I am still enjoying the fact that I can drop my standard three at once thoroughly. I imagine I will learn to take this for granted quite soon as it will make raiding (at least in my prior experiences) a lot smoother. If you are interested, I am open to possible suggestions to totem makeups.

I am also looking forward to getting into the arena as I am sure the feature will be more influential there. I have crafted my anti-gank rogue setup already (Earthbind, Fire Nova and Cleansing all in the one) which, teamed up with the new Ghost Wolf (again, yet to really experiment with) should help avoid the perils of stunlock. I will have to do some reading to work out how to get ‘good’ with these new abilities, or a lot of trial-and-error.

My final comment is regarding itemization. I know we should be used to it, but it is kind of disappointing to not see any items bar the new totem available from the Emblem of Triumph vendor. Hopefully there will be more of a relevant selection with the future vendors, but based on the track record I would guess it is going to be more of the same. The one item we do have, the Totem of Electrifying Winds, is likely to replace the Totem of Hex we have been using for a long time now but this is dependent on what the actual uptime of the proc is. On the PTRs it was having an extremely large uptime but no results are out yet (and I am FAR from having enough emblems for it to test myself on account of missing out on so much of this week) on what actually made it to the release. If anyone gets info send me an email and let me know.


Tuesday, 4 August 2009

3.2 Live Today

As the title says, 3.2 is confirmed to be going live today. You can check out the latest news updates at MMO-Champion. Unfortunately out hopes of more Elemental changes were not realized; we will have to see where we stand in the coming weeks.

In more personal news, this blog just hit 10,000 views a couple of days ago which I am really happy about. Just another chance to thank all of you for taking the time to read this and support me, I really appreciate it and I hope you will keep reading.

I have moved into a new apartment this past weekend and will not have reliable internet until Thursday. As such I will be missing out on seeing the new patch today but I am sure I will make up for lost time this weekend. If I am taking a while to respond to your emails this is why. I will catch up as soon as I can.

Enjoy the patch,

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