Elemental Discussions - 7.2.5

#1 - April 1, 2017, 3:53 p.m.
Blizzard Post
Edit 4/17 - Added T20 discussion. Seismic Storm bug fixed, thank you Blizzard!

As we head into 7.2.5, we'd like to share some thoughts on the spec as it has played out after 7.1.5 and into 7.2.

RNG Elements of Gameplay

I invite you to read Bloodmallet's post, https://www.stormearthandlava.com/rngsus/, and look at the math he has done to determine the high amount of damage swings getting lucky combination of procs can afford us.

  • A fully proc'd Lightning Bolt adds 30x base damage
  • A fully proc'd Earthquake utilizing Seismic Storm adds 37.5x base damage
  • A fully proc'd Chain Lightning on 5 targets adds 75x base damage
    These high levels of damage multipliers present problematic gameplay as we rely on a combination of procs to produce a solid level of damage output. Coupled with the fact that the base damage of our abilities are naturally tuned lower due to Elemental Fury, going through a long dry period is a significant hamper to DPS.

    Static Overload

    Static Overload is an ability that we believe is at the core of the problems with the spec. While the proc is extremely satisfying on a visceral level and is extremely powerful, having periods where Static Overload doesn't proc produces an extremely negative effect on DPS.

    Especially in a raid like Nighthold, with most bosses having some sort of periodical burst AOE, not getting a Static Overload proc has hugely negative effect on your damage. For example, on Chronomatic Anomaly, the adds pop up at set times which gives us the opportunity to plan Stormkeeper usage around when the adds will spawn. However, getting a Static Overload proc or two during the add spawn determines if you are 1st on the meters or 7th. Especially after the raid has gear, we are left to praying for Static Overload to proc in three Stormkeeper GCDs or else the adds are dead and we are low on the damage meter.

    We enjoy the interesting gameplay of planning Stormkeeper usage and spamming LB/CL to proc a Lightning Rod on the boss before a period of AOE, however Static Overload is simply too strong and has too much of a say in our place in the damage hierarchy.

    Solution - Decrease the damage of Static Overload, but allow it to proc more.

    Seismic Storm

    Having our new gold trait be a proc is fine, however it is experiencing the same pitfall that we have seen with Static Overload. Seismic Storm is a very powerful proc with a very small chance to actually proc. This falls under the same problems we see with Static Overload as when the raid gets geared, we are left praying for a Seismic Storm proc in the first few seconds to determine our position in the damage hierarchy for the encounter.

    Also, investing tens of millions of AP into a 5% proc doesn't seem to make sense on a time invested level. Increasing the proc rate of Seismic Storm increases the perceived value in terms of an Artifact Power and Time perspective.

    Solution - Decrease the damage and increase the proc rate

    AOE Niche

    This was a problem with the spec in WoD and has continued throughout Legion. While Legion brought some great QoL improvements in terms of Shock cooldowns, it seems that the design philosophy behind the spec has not changed. While Stormkeeper allows us to bring some very good burst AOE when RNG elements line up, having an AOE niche does not make the spec an effective part of progression. Doing high ST to that priority add or high sustain to the boss is more important than bursting down low HP adds that do nothing to help the overall boss die faster or the raid survive. We have seen our damage suffer on fights like Trilliax and Krosus, where we just don't bring enough sustain to be viable for progression.

    While we have the ability to burst down packs of adds, our single target damage has continued to suffer. At levels of high gear, some classes that severely outclass us on Single Target are also outclassing us on AOE.

    We would love to see a little Single Target bump that brings us up to mediocre Single Target. There are a few ways to make small changes that could give us a little bump:

  • Buff Earth Shock
  • Buff Volcanic Inferno
  • Allow Lava Burst to overload a 3rd time based on Critical rating
  • Buff Power of the Maelstrom proc rate
  • Forum Avatar
    Community Manager
    #317 - June 2, 2017, 12:59 a.m.
    Blizzard Post
    Hey guys.

    So, part of the reason we haven't had much to share about Elemental is that we don't think there's anything fundamentally wrong with the spec. Most of the changes you've seen to other specs in 7.2.5 thus far have been focused around addressing core mechanical issues. We've only recently begun the process of making changes intended to bring each spec's performance more in line with the others.

    The bulk of the feedback we're seeing (in this thread and others) is that Elemental is fun to play, it just doesn't deal enough damage in certain situations. That's the sort of situation that we'll solve through what we generally refer to as "tuning" - e.g, adjusting things like how much damage a spell does, the chance for an effect to activate, and so on. Based on the feedback, those sound like the sort of changes we'd consider for Elemental.

    Note that how we define a "mechanical change" vs "tuning" can be a bit blurry, which makes it difficult for us to communicate things like this sometimes. Suffice it to say that changes intended to alter the way you play your class are generally considered mechanical, while changes that simply adjust how effective your class is in certain situations are generally considered tuning. That's still not a perfect explanation but hopefully it helps.

    Moreover, tuning isn't a process that's ever really "complete." We constantly monitor class performance and make adjustments where we think they'll help, and fully expect to continue that in the weeks after Patch 7.2.5 releases. Additionally, it's important to remember that the effectiveness of your spec is measured comparatively to other specs; in other words, tuning down an overpowered spec is an indirect buff to everyone else. Sometimes - and I'm not saying this is the case for Elemental, because I'm honestly not certain off the top of my head - we'll decide that it's better to bring an outlier down than it is to buff everyone else.

    Anyway, the core of what I'm trying to get across here is that Elemental is definitely on our radar as a spec to pay close attention to as we continue class tuning for 7.2.5. We'll be keeping an eye on Elemental's performance as we continue the tuning process.
    Forum Avatar
    Community Manager
    #326 - June 2, 2017, 1:15 a.m.
    Blizzard Post
    06/01/2017 06:05 PMPosted by Chandy
    However do you not think earthshock damage relative to our other spells and substituting earthquake in single target are possible design flaws?

    I can't speak to it personally (I just finished leveling my Shaman a couple weeks ago and I mostly stick to Enhance or Resto) but these are the sorts of things we'd generally look to address via tuning.
    Forum Avatar
    Game Designer
    #453 - June 6, 2017, 8:07 p.m.
    Blizzard Post
    Sorry for the confusion on this. The intended set of changes was:
    1) Earth Shock buffed (didn't make into build, still planned)
    2) Earthquake no longer scales with haste, but buffed to compensate.

    Earthquake was double-dipping haste, because its damage per cast scales with haste and Maelstrom generation also scales with haste. That's not necessarily something that always needs an immediate fix, but when it encroaches so heavily on Earth Shock (let alone occasionally surpassing it), that's more of a problem. Trying to pull the two spells apart numerically could have delayed the problem a bit, but even the fact that they're close enough for this is to be an ongoing question is a red flag.

    The size of the compensatory buff to Earthquake is open to adjustment if needed, and rigorous feedback on what's a reasonable amount of haste currently used on an "average" Earthquake can help there. It's inevitable that an Earthquake stacked with e.g. Bloodlust and Whispers in the Dark will go down in damage, but an unbuffed one should be able to come up slightly.