Last updated: December 11, 2016 at 16:32 pm
Or: how to have a not-so-mathy look at secondaries
This post won’t contain actual elemental spellpower numbers, so if you’re looking for those you’ll be disappointed. Please understand that what I’m about to show is how one can approach secondary stats and ones own spec. Every time I’m writing about losing or gaining value, I mean a relative change. It does NOT mean that this stat is or will be worthless/op. Everything that’s explained here has to be considered as a starting point. At the end of this post you might be able to find this starting point for yourself and your spec. Theorycrafting is all about answering questions.
Now back to Elemental Shamans. Before 7.1.5 the go-to talent combination was TM/AS/PE/EM/LR. Since .5 hit the PTR there are some drastic changes to that and what previously was considered a good secondary distribution (Crit >> Haste > Vers >>> Mastery) suddenly became a bad one. Or at least for the Asc build (Mastery > Crit >> Haste >= Vers). But…why?
To answer that we have to have a look at what each secondary stat exactly provides. So we have to know our Spellbook, Talents and Artifact traits. (Disclaimer: Racials have a role in this as well, but they would increase the numbers count I’m willing to put into this article AND they generally don’t matter as much as you think – but you’re looking at the butt of your char all the time…take one you enjoy looking at)
- Crits hit for 250% instead of 200%.
- Our summons (Elementals) can crit, but deal “only” 200%.
- The next two spells deal 10% (25% with T19-4) increased damage after a critical strike (EF).
- LvB does always crit.
- During Ascendance LvBs damage is increased by crit.
- Increases the number of casts we’re able to do during a fight.
- Increases the chance to finish a cast in case of unplanned movement.
- Increased number of casts results in more chance based procs like LR, Lava Surge and SO.
- Elementals profit from haste too.
- Additional chance to deal 75% (with trait 84.375%) extra damage with our builders (LB, CL, LvB, Talent: EB, Talent: IF maincast).
- Can crit independently.
- Adds another 75% Maelstrom of that cast.
- EB can create a second buff if its independent buff roll results in a different buff from the main cast.
- CL has 1/5 the normal chance on hit.
- Increases damage of everything.
What exactly does that show us? Having a closer look at the secondary stats and their effects lets us get a better impression.
So….is Crit important to us?
From this list we can take that Crit is devalued by the importance of LvB for our overall dps. The more we depend on LvB to deal damage the less Crit we want. At the same time guaranteed crits enable EF, which helps with overall damage. By how much? Well, welcome to theorycrafting. On another note, our Elementals only crit for 200% which reduces the value of crit for those CDs by a bit but double damage is still powerful.
Is Haste important to us?
This is a tricky one. Not only does Haste provide a solid damage increase but also the soft gain of “finishing the cast before sudden movement”. As one can see some spells like LB+LR profit directly from the count of LB casts. The buff time doesn’t scale with Haste, therefore the more LB one is able to cast the higher the uptime of that buff and the more LB hit a target during its uptime.
LvB is a somewhat special child in this matter. Its cast time is reduced by Haste but its cooldown isn’t. Therefore it doesn’t scale with Haste as well as it would otherwise. Lava Surge adds a bit of a Haste interaction again but that’s connected to its chance of 10% (15% with the Elemental Fusion talent) on FS tick to reset LvB CD. So the more LvB we use the more Haste drops from its base value.
In general, if your spec values a certain ability highly which sits on a CD and this CD has no Haste interaction (reduced CD or more damage with higher haste) chances are that this CD devalues haste for you. For example, Fire Elemental casts faster with higher Haste which means that the Fire Elemental CD scales with Haste.
Elemental Shamans have some other abilities that don’t benefit from Haste as much as one could hope. EB and IF don’t gain additional usages during a fight with more Haste. So even though the cast time scales with Haste, their CD doesn’t. Therefore these spells reduce the value of Haste by a bit too. To be fair, the buffs that EB provides scale with Haste. With more Haste you’re able to fit more casts into that 10 sec time window. Does this make EB scale better with Haste than with a Haste reduced CD and a Haste reduced buff timer? Wanna figure it out? Welcome to theorycrafting.
Is Mastery important to us?
As you probably know Mastery affects everything we do outside of our Elementals and Maelstrom spenders. Which leaves us with LB, CL, LvBm (hah Lava Beam for all those who forgot about that spell), LvB, Talent: EB, Talent: IF maincast. Those casts have a chance to deal additional 84.375% base damage which can crit independently. In addition to adding damage it adds another 75% of the generated MS on mastery proc.
Outside of that it’s noteworthy that EB is able to trigger two unique buffs if its overload buff roll selects a different buff than the base cast. That additional buff is as strong as the original one. Getting two 2.4k secondary stat buffs is huge. We can see that mastery increases the damage of our “filler” casts and at the same time reduces the count of them (higher MS generation results in fewer LB casts until ES is ready). Therefore mastery benefits not only a portion of our casts but reduces the amount of those casts at the same time. Fire Elemental doesn’t benefit from this at all. Weird? Welcome to Elemental.
Is Versatility important to us?
Contrary to all three other secondaries versatility is plain and simple for elemental shamans. A flat out damage multiplier for everything we do. So do we want that? Yes. Is it the best? Go grab pencil and paper and start doing math and/or make your computer work itself through many many SimulationCraft sessions.
As you may have noticed by now the strength of secondaries for elemental shamans does vary depending on the damage distribution we’re specing into via talents. A heavy LvB build with more than 30% of the damage coming from that single cast assures that crit takes a heavy hit and mastery rises. PE on the other hand supports haste and crit to further enhance that strong cooldown. Seeing a talent reshuffle, enabling the decision between “not so many more LvB” (EF), a stronger FE (PE) or a buff/nuke CD (EB) works better for us than the previously “not so many more LvB” (EF), stronger FE (PE) and IF. Now all three talents work with cleave and priority target damage (IF is pure single target). Even though the most important changes to talents were the buffs to EB and IF to make them competitive with the other talents in their respective rows. LR in comparison to Asc and IF is pretty weak but gains momentum when adds join the fight or there is a period of AoE.
Additionally LvB got an insane buff. That 25% isn’t just a damage increase in general, but because the other contenders (FE, LB, ES, etc) weren’t buffed accordingly, a LvB combination could become good. Add the already described buffs to EB and IF and you can start to see why secondary distribution changes with talent combination.
I hope this overview enabled you to have a look at talents and talent combinations from a bit of a different perspective. Thanks for reading and stay healthy.