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1  Class Discussion / Shaman / Re: Shaman DPS on: January 23, 2018, 04:19:13 pm
Hello everyone.

Approximately one year ago I thought quite a lot about the subject of shaman DPS. It culminated in a post where I laid out my ideas in a hypothetical format, not really bringing any empirical data to the table.

Now I have found myself visiting this train of thought again. I could not see any evidence of my post having the hoped-for effect of prompting other people to test my theories for me. As I am ill equipped to test them myself the "easy way" I instead sought the help of math.

I now bring my theories to this board, where I can see there's more interest for the subject. This time I hope to back my theories up with empirical data and I once again hope that they will lead to some testing in the future.

Shaman DPS

As we all know there are two common DPS specs for shamans: elemental and enhancement. Elemental has few variations available and is mostly confined to 31/0/20. Enhancement has two variations that are recommended above others, 0/31/13+7 and 19/31/0+1.

My initial thoughts on the subject were to simply find the most cited hindrances to the success of either spec and address each of them. The problems I found most significant include (but are not limited to):

Poor gear choices (mostly for enhancement)
The lack of a curse that reduces nature resistance (mostly for elemental)
Mana problems (both)

I will now see if I can indeed address each of these problems and hopefully come close to a conclusion which would resolve them.

Please note that I am not trying to bring forth some magical or revolutionary solutions that will "fix" shaman DPS in any way. I am much rather hoping to bring forth a new way of thinking that will make shaman DPS more viable and less shunned.


The lack of a curse that reduces nature resistance

According to a few Elitistjerks posts from vanilla it seemed to be generally accepted that a Curse of Elements or Shadows removed all boss resistance besides 20 "unpenetrable" resistance.

This means that we're looking at a total of 75 spell penetration that would be required for boss encounters, quite a lot to say the least. Those who have a guild rocking a Thunderfury are lucky and will "only" have to aim for 50 spell penetration.

Many of the same Elitistjerks posts tell us that each point of resistance accounts for approximately 0.25% damage reduction and therefore, while many elemental shamans will want to gear up like they would gear any other caster class they should actually be aiming a lot more for spell penetration.

As other classes do not have to gear towards spell penetration to such an extent many might think the stat not worth going for as you're "sacrificing too much". But before you steer clear of spell penetration let me give you an example:
Ring of Swarming Thought vs Band of Forced Concentration
These items should be quite comparable as something a shaman would carry through AQ vs something a mage or warlock would carry through the same instance. Both provide you with about the same amount of spell damage but here the shaman is "sacrificing" 1% hit for 20 spell penetration.

Using a rough formula I'm going to value the 1% hit vs 20 spell penetration:

(base_damage+spell_damage*spell_dmg_coefficient)*chance_to_hit*(1+crit_chance)*(0,8125+(0,0025*spell_penetration)) = DPS

So if we apply basic theoretical values for a normal caster to the formula:

(100+100*1)*0,85*(1+0,2)*(0,8125+(0,0025*75)) = 204

And then we add an extra chance to hit:

(100+100*1)*0,86*(1+0,2)*(0,8125+(0,0025*75)) = 206,4

We'll see that DPS was increased by (206,4-204)/204*10=1,17%.

Now if we apply the same basic theoretical values for a shaman with no spell penetration (or curse, obviously) to the formula:

(100+100*1)*0,85*(1+0,2)*(0,8125+(0,0025*0)) = 165,75

And then we add an extra chance to hit:

(100+100*1)*0,86*(1+0,2)*(0,8125+(0,0025*0)) = 167,7

We'll see that the 1% hit again resulted in (167,7-165,75)/165,75*100=1,17% DPS increase. But what happens if we exchange that 1% hit for 20 spell penetration?

(100+100*1)*0,85*(1+0,2)*(0,8125+(0,0025*0)) = 165,75

And then we add 20 spell penetration:

(100+100*1)*0,85*(1+0,2)*(0,8125+(0,0025*20)) = 175,95

So now we can calculate that 20 spell penetration resulted in (175,95-165,75)/165,75*100=6,15% DPS increase.

With that said we can return to the problem: The lack of a curse. It's quite obvious that the only thing you can do to combat this is get more spell penetration. Problem solved right?

Maybe. But perhaps the problem wasn't a lack of a curse to begin with.

It could be said that the real problem is the unwillingness of some to sacrifice good items for spell penetration items or perceive doing so as a huge hindrance to the entire success of the spec. I am therefore going to address this "hidden problem" now.

Obviously it doesn't have a solution so to speak. It's a fact that you're going to have to gear towards spell penetration and doing so does require steering from "better" items. What's needed is a way to put the mind at ease over these losses.

Here's my proposed solution to that problem: Think of the amazing talents as a counterweight.

Although mages do come pretty close in regards to additional spell hit, spell crit, increased damage and reduced cost of spells granted by talents no one comes close when it comes to reduced cast time of their main spell and when you think about it -1.0 seconds is pretty absurd.

So there it is. They get a curse, you get an extra -0.5 seconds off of your main spell, almost a fair deal. But only almost because it prompts another problem.

Mana problems

With a whole second taken off your main spell you are obviously going to be facing huge mana problems. This is where the true problem of the elemental spec lies in my opinion, much more than the lack of a curse.

Assuming you only cast Lightning Bolt you will be spending the following amount of mana:

Lightning Bolt Rank 10: 238,5 mana talented

Clearcasting makes every tenth cast free on average.

In 20 seconds you will cast 10 Lightning Bolts but spend the mana equal to 9.

9*238,5 = 2146,5 mana spent every 20 seconds

So here you can see the problem.

What can we do to combat that? Our solution to the curse problem was quite simple: Wear more spell penetration. Why shouldn't the solution to this simple as well? Well, even though it's not something mages and warlocks generally do, it is simple: Downranking.

Let's compare three different ranks of Lightning Bolt spam to see the difference in mana spent:

(base_mana+intellect*15)/((base_mana_cost*mana_reducing_talents*2,5)-mana_regeneration)*5 = time_before_OOM

Rank 10:
(1365+85*15)/((265*0,8*2,5)-162)*5 = 36

Rank 8:
(1365+85*15)/((195*0,8*2,5)-162)*5 = 58

Rank 6:
(1365+85*15)/((135*0,8*2,5)-162)*5 = 122

As you can see going from Rank 10 Lightning Bolt to Rank 8 will almost double your time spent casting and going down to Rank 6 almost triples it.

Downranking is, as I mentioned before, perhaps not a normal maneuver for a damaging spell caster but it doesn't have to be as terrible as it sounds. The only damage you're truly losing is the average damage of the base spell and the modifiers on top of that. With that in mind let's see the difference between the average damage of the aforementioned ranks:

(bottom_damage+top_damage)/2*damage_increasing_talents/cast_time = DPS

Rank 10:
(419+468)/2*1,05/2 = ~233

Rank 8:
(282+317)/2*1,05/2 = ~157

Rank 6:
(172+195)/2*1,05/2 = ~96

These are of course rough calculations but they give a good idea of how this would work. Going down to Rank 8 would almost double your time spent casting at the cost of ~75 DPS. Let's see whether it adds more damage in the end:

DPS*time_before_OOM = total_DMG

233*36 = 8388

157*58 = 9106

96*122 = 11712

And this is without spell power, which would stay the same through each rank.

"But muh deeps" some might say. To you the problem might not truly be wanting to stay effective through the fight while delivering decent DPS and higher overall damage but a need to rival "true" DPSers.

Although short fights will surely see elemental DPS shamans rival other classes you have to realize that it's not very likely you'll warm those top spots on most fights. You are after all also able to offheal and drop supporting totems, so it's a trade-off.

Moving on.


Poor gear choices

For this section it might be best to start by stating my bias: I do not think enhancement in the traditional sense will ever deliver acceptable results in PvE. If it were possible we'd have seen it by now.

Therefore I'm going to approach the problem from a different angle and in the end I'll have reached a personal opinion many may not agree with, but that's life.

Enhancement is usually played in a manner similar to SoC retribution paladins and in that regard gear choices can indeed be poor and limited. But here's a newsflash: SoC retribution paladins do bad in PvE too. Both can do very well in PvP however and based on my considerable time spent playing vanilla I'm of the opinion that it won't go much further than that.

But on to proposing a solution to the gear problem.

As we all know enhancement shamans in the traditional sense will focus on melee related stats and rely on Windfury as well as shocks to deal damage. But let's stop at that last point for a second, shocks.

Using a comment posted in Menethil's raid stats thread on a different forum we can assume that at least ~20% of traditional enhancement shaman DPS is magical. If that is indeed true, and that at a very high tier of gear, then a case can be made that bad melee gear can be replaced by good caster gear, especially at lower levels when the magical damage % would be higher.

So there we are, some traditional enhancement shamans are already slightly better off if that was new information to them, problem partially solved (so to speak) for some.

But I'm not done personally, I want to see if a variation of enhancement will do acceptable damage, justifying a raid spot.

I'm from a server where retribution paladins have had great success as DPSers, but in the form of SoR retribution paladins focusing on spell damage. The added benefit of such a DPSer is that he or she is equipped in spell damage gear and, while still not ideal, can still provide much better offhealing in an oh-shit situation than a melee geared counterpart at least. So while we're on that train of thought let's take a look at the shaman version of SoR: Flametongue Weapon.

Flametongue, with a fitting build, receives the following benefits:

10% of your spell damage

15% increased damage from Elemental Weapons

15% increased damage from Improved Scorch

10% increased damage from Curse of Elements

100% crit damage from Elemental Fury

(Maybe) 10% increased damage from Weapon Mastery

(Maybe) procs Clearcasting

If someone could address these maybes that would be superb.

Now let's look at damage potential with an assumed 1.50 speed weapon, 500 spell damage and 15% spell crit:

(base_FT_dmg+(spell_power*0,1))*1,4/weapon_speed = DPS

(33+(500*0,1))*1,4/1,5 = 77 DPS

It may not sound impressive but to this you'd have to add your normal auto-attack damage, your Shocks and Searing Totem:

Claw of Chromaggus:

42 DPS

Frost Shock:

((bottom_damage+top_damage)/2+(spell_damage*coefficient))*damage_increasing_talents/cast_time = DPS

((486+515)/2+(500*1,5/3,5))*1,05/5 = 150 DPS

Searing Totem:

((40+55)/2+(500*0,1))*1,3/1 = 127 DPS

All rounded up it amounts to 396 DPS but this is of course very very rough. We're missing at least all melee stats, Flurry, spell hit chance and spell crit chance.

This is in my opinion the only chance for enhancement to have a shot in PvE and like I mentioned earlier I hope this prompts testing. Should this build work out to do decent DPS it would have fixed our problem of gear, seeing as mostly spell damage gear would be used. If Flametongue does proc Clearcasting it will also help us with our second problem.

Mana problems

Assuming you only auto attack and cast Frost Shock whenever it's off cooldown and you'll be spending the following amount of mana:

Frost Shock Rank 4: 387 mana talented

Clearcasting makes every tenth cast free on average.

In 50 seconds you will cast 10 Frost Shocks but spend the mana equal to 9.

9*387 = 3483 mana spent every 50 seconds

So while not as bad as our Lightning Bolt issue it could still be significant. Let's be more accurate:

(base_mana+intellect*15)/((base_mana_cost*mana_reducing_talents*2,5)-mana_regeneration)*5 = time_before_OOM

(1365+85*15)/((430*0,8)-162)*5 = 73

If we increase the intellect to a meager 250 which results in a total mana pool of 5115 we're looking at:

(1365+250*15)/((430*0,8)-162)*5 = 141

So that's just over 2 minutes of fighting before going OOM. Here we can again apply downranking to fix the problem as again it would only result in base damage loss.

But then again, if you're testing this spec out you're probably in a guild that finishes most fights in less than two minutes, so it's not a huge issue.



With slightly different attitude and smart downranking the spec might be viable.


A small spec change, with different gear focus and another weapon enchant, deserves more testing.

At the moment nothing of what has been said above has been tested or tried by myself in any way and there exists no proof that I am aware of that makes any of this more than just ideas.

With that all said I thank you for reading this through.

I know this is a old post. but wonder if you tested the flametongue build with spell damage gear. And how that worked out for you.
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