Archive for the ‘Theorycrafting’ Category

In this week’s Totem Talk, Rich Malloy points out using Shock and Awe’s priority system as a guide for our DPS rotation “is a net DPS loss for experienced Enhancement players.”

I’ll take it one step further and point out it’s a net loss for everybody.

Shaman priority system

Windfury: The ultimate priority.

We’ve had quite a few posts on this subject, and I’ve repeated it like a mantra — there is no DPS rotation. While the guys over at Elitist Jerks take math to the extremes (bless their hearts) and tweak on down to the fraction level, it’s been established since early in the expansion that the beautiful new synergy between melee and casting gave us a unique system that couldn’t be simplified in terms of macros or “rotations.”

Simply put, you can’t be lazy when playing this spec, and macros are only going to hurt your DPS contribution to your raid. While that’s fine for heroics and older tiers, DPS spots for current tiers are almost always competitive, especially at the 10-man level. In a 25-man there are always a few spots for people to get “carried” through content…but do you really want to be that guy?

For my own set-up, I use Shock-and-Awe for one thing: to flash a small bar bright red and give me an audio cue when Maelstrom Weapon reaches five stacks.

That’s really all the help I need for rotation-specific, real time information. I stick to the standard priority system otherwise, and DBM takes care of my other split-second information needs. Everything else is purely cosmetic, and my personal preference has always been a clean UI — I find clutter only increases my chances of missing something critical and letting the raid down.

If Enhancement players were the type of people who are bothered by having to do extra work, we wouldn’t have rolled Shamans. After all, easy as it is to forget, it wasn’t until a few months ago that we had to set up each individual totem on every pull. Hunters, Warlocks and Mages don’t have to do that, and they can open up as soon as the threat numbers look favorable.

Maybe we’re spoiled by the revamped totem system. Or maybe — and this is my suspicion — the awesomeness of the Enhancement spec in Wrath has lured in players who might otherwise have specced Elemental or Resto, or rolled a different class altogether.

But I try to look at it this way — the more control over DPS abilities we have, the bigger the upside if we work hard. And that’s a wonderful problem to have.

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman rotations

After two in-depth posts on talent spec options for Enhancement Shamans in Patch 3.3, it’s time to take a look at rotations.

Six days into Patch 3.3, I’ve had the chance to run a wide-ranging number of encounters, giving me an opportunity to test Fire Nova — the most significant change for Enhancement — in circumstances you simply can’t replicate with a target dummy. Forays into the Frozen Halls, Icecrown Citadel, Trial of the Crusader, Ulduar and OS 3D have given better insight into the situational value of Fire Nova and its priority in an Enhancement rotation.

With talents and current high-end gear, Fire Nova can crit for 5k or more on each target it hits. The spell really shines because we can stack it with any fire totem we want — including Magma Totem — while simultaneously using our melee attacks. The result is a dramatic improvement in DPS on fights involving lots of adds, as well as a solid boost to single-target DPS.

Of course, calling an Enhancement Shaman’s ability range a “rotation” is a bit misleading, because ever since Patch 3.0, we’ve had a priority system. Patch 3.3 doesn’t change that — the first priority in any situation is using a Maelstrom Weapon five-stack.

Enhancement Shaman Rotations in Patch 3.3 (World of Warcraft)

This rotation's kinda trippy.

An Enhancement Shaman’s second priority also remains the same with Stormstrike. With its built-in debuff and Glyph of Stormstrike, not only does the attack do decent damage on its own, it also makes our Earth Shocks, Lightning Bolts and Lightning Shield hit harder.

From there, things get a bit tricky. On a single-target fight, Earth Shock is usually a better bet than Fire Nova. Against one target, it simply hits harder.

But on boss fights with adds, or AoE pulls, Fire Nova surpasses Earth Shock and should be used first.

On boss fights, I like to use Lava Lash early as well — the 400 AP proc from Totem of Quaking Earth almost always activates on the First Lava lash. The high proc rate makes it possible to achieve near-100% uptime, which is well worth at least one global cooldown every 18 seconds, the duration of the buff.

Of course, Fire Nova doesn’t work without an active fire totem in play, so re-dropping Magma, Searing or Flametongue should always be a priority after Maelstrom Weapon five-stacks and Stormstrike.

Unsurprisingly, the TL;DR version is this: We don’t have a rotation. If you’re an Enhancement Shaman and you’re using a rotation, you’re doing it wrong and gimping your own DPS in the process. I’ve seen posts from some players who claim they use sequence macros, and I just don’t see how that’s possible given the range of options available to us and the varying effectiveness of those options.

In Patch 3.3 more than ever, the best Enhancement Shaman “rotation” involves paying attention and selecting the most effective ability for each encounter and each moment. Some people see that as too much “work.” If you’re one of those people, perhaps you might be interested in a Hunter or Warlock alt?

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

More than just Gear(Score): An interview with Gear Score’s developer

(Note: This post deals with talent points. For a detailed post on Patch 3.3 rotations for Enhancement, go here.)

Patch 3.3 saw one major change for Enhancement Shamans — the reworking of Fire Nova Totem into an AoE spell.

The new Fire Nova requires an active Fire Totem to cast, and it has a 10-second cooldown, which can be reduced to six seconds with talents, and three seconds with the Glyph of Fire Nova.

Investing two talent points in Improved Fire Nova not only reduces the spell’s cooldown, it also increases its damage by 20%, stacking with a 15% increase from Call of Flame — for a total of 35% more damage.

Fir

What does all this mean? With the above-mentioned talents, plus Elemental Fury (a staple in any correctly-specced Enhancement Shaman’s talent tree), Enhancement Shaman can now stack Magma Totem (an immobile, weak AoE), with Fire Nova — a more powerful, mobile AoE.

The result is a dramatic improvement in single-target and AoE DPS, putting Enhancement back in line with the pure classes in terms of damage potential. Not only does it give the spec more utility, it’s also satisfying to literally burn down AoE packs with Magma ticks for 2k and Fire Nova crits for 5k — all at the same time, while we continue to melee and rake Chain Lightning across the mobs.

Is talenting — and glyphing — into Fire Nova worth it in Patch 3.3? And is the spell worth including in an Enhancement player’s DPS rotation?

The short answer to both questions is yes.

The long answer requires a disclaimer — always run simulations and tests on target dummies to find out for yourself how spells and talents benefit your own toon. The information in this post is based on simulations, target dummy tests and Recount analysis for a Trial of the Crusader/Grand Crusader-geared Enhancement Shaman with an in-game GearScore of 5127. Some readers of this blog will have higher GearScores, and some will have lower — as always, the best way to find out if a spell or talent is good for YOUR toon is to run the aforementioned tests by inputting your own statistics.

Enhancement: Patch 3.3 Maximum DPS Spec

18/53/0: This spec provides maximum DPS for Enhancement Shamans in Patch 3.3.

18/53/0: This spec provides maximum DPS for Enhancement Shamans in Patch 3.3.

This spec uses every talent point for damage increases, and spares nothing for luxuries like Improved Ghost Wolf. Since Icecrown Citadel is an indoor raid instance, the decision to drop auto-cast Ghost Wolf from a raiding spec is much easier to justify. You might miss it, but that’s what dual specs are for. This spec maxes out talents effecting Static Shock and Fire spells without sacrificing DPS potential elsewhere. For well-geared, raiding Enhancement Shaman, this is the way to go. (Note: This spec assumes your character is at beneficial Haste levels, or your raid is receiving additional Haste from Improved Icy Talons. Simulations will determine whether it’s more beneficial to your personal DPS to keep three points in Static Shock, or to move them over to Improved Windfury Totem.)

Enhancement: WotLK Classic Spec

Use this if you’re still rocking relevant set bonuses from old tier sets, but only temporarily — current gear is easier than ever to get, and any boost to abilities like Static Shock will undoubtedly be eclipsed by the DPS potential of Fire Nova.

Enhancement Shaman WotLK Classic (pre-Patch 3.3) Spec

WotLK Classic Spec: A pre-3.3 spec used by Enhancement Shamans.

Enhancement: Patch 3.3 Ghost Wolf Spec

If you absolutely must have your insta-cast Ghost Wolf, and your off-spec is not Enhancement, your best bet is to steal two points from Improved Shields. You’ll lose some DPS, but it won’t be catastrophic. If you raid in a guild of bleeding-edge min-maxers, this isn’t the spec for you.

Enhancement Shaman Patch 3.3: Ghost Wolf/Fire Nova Spec

The preferred choice of casuals and Warsong Gulch enthusiasts. Maybe.

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman rotations

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

More than just Gear(Score): An interview with Gear Score’s developer

More math. – Elitist Jerks

Should Enhancement Shaman respect to fully take advantage of Fire Nova in Patch 3.3? Lots of people on the official forums are asking this question, and if the ongoing discussion is any indication, quite a few players are still haven’t found an answer that satisfies them.

The main change is Fire Nova, our new insta-cast AoE spell. Fire Nova is no longer a totem, but casting it requires an active Fire totem on the ground. So for Enhancement Shamans, the biggest appeal will be stacking Magma Totem with the Fire Nova spell, which will in effect let us stack one stationary, weak AoE with a more mobile and more-powerful AoE.

Enhancement Shaman Talent Builds in 3.3: Is it worth speccing into Improved Fire Nova?

To get Improved Fire Nova, you'll have to steal two talent points from one of your existing abilities.

Having tested out the new Fire Nova spell in Icecrown Citadel tonight, I found it didn’t put nearly as much of a strain on my mana pool as it did in five-mans (thanks to raid buffs), and it contributed a significant portion of my DPS, often swapping with Flametongue Attack to take the third- or fourth-place among my top-DPS abilities.

The question, for Enhancement Shaman who want to respec in Patch 3.3, is this — is it worth dropping two talent points from other abilities in order to get Improved Fire Nova?

The good news for players who are leaning this way is that while Improved Fire Nova is on the Elemental tree’s fourth tier, you don’t have to waste any valuable talent points to get to that tier if you’re specced correctly in the first place. With five points in Concussion, three in Elemental Devastation, three in Call of Flame, and five in Elemental Fury, you’ll already have the 15 talent points in that tree needed to reach Improved Fire Nova.

For players who decide to spend two talent points to get Improved Fire Nova, finding those extra points is going to be painful. Improved Stormstrike is a necessity, because at 907 mana, Fire Nova will drain in excess of 9k mana per minute if you’re using it on every cooldown. Although that lines up perfectly with Shamanistic Rage, raid situations often lead to significant time off-target — we’ve all been in situations where we’ve had to run away from an AoE cast as soon as we’ve activated Shamanistic Rage. One minute without mana is an eternity in a raid, especially for a spec that uses mana for every one of its active attacks.

Talents like Mental Quickness, Static Shock and Mental Dexterity are too crucial to shave off talent points from, and almost everything else is non-negotiable. If you’ve got two points in Improved Windfury (and not many Enhancement Shamans do), that’s probably the best spot to steal two talent points.

If not, you’re really only left with one option — take the two talent points from Improved Shields.

As to whether the talented damage bonus to Fire Nova equals — or surpasses — the damage bonuses to Lightning Shield, that’s a question I can’t answer right now.. A definitive answer would ultimately include simulations, which are based on an individual player’s statistics. And any real analysis would take into account the reduced cooldown from Glyph of Fire Nova, its impact on DPS, and whether the glyph alone justifies removing another glyph.

Others are taking that route, but I’m going to hold off at least until I can reserve some time with raid buffs and a target dummy in Orgrimmar. Fire Nova looks like the more attractive option, but I have to see the pure numbers in a single-target situation, over a sustained fight. Failing that, I’m sure it won’t be long before the mathematicians over at Elitist Jerks work the percentages out.

The main thread on Fire Nova/Enhancement over at EJ is already 11 pages long, but can be summed up by one comment: “More math.”

Related posts from Stormstrike:

Patch 3.3: Enhancement Shaman Talent Specs, Now With More Fire Nova

Lord Marrowgar down! The fight, from a melee perspective

The Frozen Halls: Enhancement Shaman Gear

Fall of the Lich King Trailer: So how easy will it be to kill Arthas?

No spec should be so terrified of moving, even one dependent on stationary points on the map where their totems are.- Ghostcrawler

The above quote is in reference to Elemental Shamans, in response to complaints that they must choose between buffing the raid (with Totem of Wrath) or maximizing their own DPS with our hilariously ineffective direct-damage fire totems.

But the quote could just as easily apply to Enhancement Shamans — every Enhancement Shaman worth his or her salt drops Magma Totem like a fanatic on every fight, regardless of whether they’re on a single target or attempting to do AoE.

My personal experience on fights with heavy AoE is that I’m almost always the top single-target damage-dealer, but far behind every other DPS class and spec when it comes to AoE damage. Onyxia’s a great example — my boss damage is first-rate, because I’ve taken the time to do my homework, as Ghostcrawler suggests players do. But my overall position on the charts — and my ability to contribute meaningful damage in AoE situations — is entirely out of my control because of the limits of Magma Totem.

A look at Recount will show that compared to Rogues, Mages and Warlocks,  I’m doing fantastic single-target damage, but I’m several spots behind them on the meters. And the details show why — an ability like Fan of Knives will always be first on their damage breakdown, while mine is always melee damage.

The issue, however, is not position on the damage meters — it’s the fact that one class (Shamans) have been historically unable to contribute real AoE damage, and have fallen behind every other class in the game since Wrath of the Lich King equalized AoE damage across-the-board for every other class.

The solution? In Patch 3.3, Fire Nova Totem has been “replaced” with a new spell called, simply, Fire Nova.

Fire Nova Totem: This totem has been replaced with a new spell, Fire Nova, which is available at the same ranks as the old Fire Nova Totem. Existing characters will automatically learn this new spell in place of the totem. With a Fire Totem active, shamans will be able to use Fire Nova (fire magic) to emit the same area-of-effect damage as the old Fire Nova Totem from the active Fire Totem, not consuming the totem in the process. Fire Nova will activate a 1.5-second global cooldown when used and has a 10-second spell cooldown. The caster must be within 30 yards of the totem to use this ability, but does not need to be within line of sight of the totem.

The relevant question, of course, is: Can Enhancement Shamans take advantage of this change?

The answer seems to be a resounding yes. Over at Myrddin’s Shaman Blog, Slant has taken the time to test the new ability on the PTR as Enhancement Spec, and reports that despite the enormous mana cost, the spell is certainly viable for Enhancement. (The post also features some good information about test talents and the enormous mana cost of using the new Fire Nova spell as Enhancement, so I strongly recommend it to readers who are interested in incorporating it into their Enhancement DPS rotation.)

In the video, Slant’s using the new Fire Nova spell in combination with Flametongue Totem. Being able to drop Flametongue as Enhancement, while still having some form of AoE, is something that will definitely earn us the gratitude of casters.

But what I’m really wondering is whether the new Fire Nova spell will allow us to essentially stack AoE by using it in conjunction with Magma Totem. If it can stack, maybe we’ll have legitimate AoE after all.

It happened like clockwork.

My guild was in its second week trying the 10-man hard modes in Trial of the Grand Crusader, and every time we rushed to the all-important portal switch on Lord Jaraxxus, I was getting my ass handed to me.

Sometimes, it was a combination — the portal AoE would tick, then a Mistress would piledrive me into a Legion Flame, and I’d be dead. Other times, a quick combination of the portal’s AoE tick, along with Jaraxxus’s Fel Lightning, would be enough to two-shot me.

And sometimes, when I was really unlucky, Fel Lightning alone would be enough to send me packing, with combat logs that would read something like this: “Lord Jaraxxus’s Fel Lightning hits you for 21317 Firestorm (1071 Overkill)”

This is one of those weird legacies that has been in the game forever. Nobody currently working on classes can remember why that decision was initially made, so we plan to revert it for 3.2. – Ghostcrawler

Yes, it’s hard mode. Yes, it’s not going to be easy. (And we’ve got him down at this point, so I know it’s possible with some work.)

But the real problem? I’m an Enhancement Shaman with the health pool of a clothie.

Since my first few misadventures in ToGC, I’ve been able to improve that health pool a bit, but I’m still chronically low on hit points. At the time, with a GearScore hovering around 4850, I had about 600 more HP than our Mage, about 1.5k less HP than our regular raiding Hunter, and between 5k and 7k less HP than our resident Ret Paladin and DPS Death Knight.

But, um, wait. Didn’t Blizzard address the issue of low Shaman health pools? Twice?

Yeah. They did. First they wanted us to pour five talent points into Toughness at the expense of essential DPS talents, just so that we could have slightly more health — but still less than every other comparable melee class in the game. And then, in the lead-up to patch 3.2, they finally admitted the ongoing player complaints were right, and pointed to some mysterious, unexplainable game design element of years past which limited Shaman base health pools to about 7% less than every other class in the game.

One-shotted, two-shotted, three-shotted, four...

I say mysterious and unexplainable, because according to Ghostcrawler, not even the developers can remember why our chronically low health pools were put in place.

Now that Blizzard has addressed the issue twice, things are presumably looking rosy for Elemental and Resto Shamans, who do not have to take regular melee splash damage. But we’re up shit’s creek without a paddle, especially when it comes to heroic modes.

Dying to your own mistakes — whether it’s failing to get out of fire on the ground or positioning yourself badly — is part of the game. But it especially sucks when, through no fault of your own, you find yourself regularly one- or two-shotted because you have 5k to 7k less health than the other melee in your raid.

After some trial and error, and after picking the brains of some Enhancement players who have a few week’s more experience in ToGC than I have, it seems the only things we can do are, 1) Use Shamanistic Rage proactively during high incoming-damage phases, 2) Reserving Spirit Wolves for those same phases, and 3) Asking healers to pay extra special attention to us, including hitting us with pre-HoTs to increase survivability.

Despite all that, and despite a markedly improved performance the next time my guild got around to heroic-mode Jaraxxus, I got one-shotted on two attempts before we got the boss down.

Ultimately, this is a design flaw that needs to be addressed, sooner rather than later. We cannot afford to be waltzing into Icecrown Citadel heroic modes with health pools more appropriate to Priests. We don’t have the array of cooldowns Rogues have to minimize — or almost completely eliminate — incoming damage. And when you think about it, we are the only melee class in the game that shares gear with a ranged class. Worse, most of that gear is clearly itemized with Hunters, not us, in mind. (Hello low Stamina budgets and heaping amounts of Armor Penetration!)

What are your experiences in Trial of the Grand Crusader? Got a low HP story to tell? Is your guild thinking of dropping you from its heroic runs because you keel over quicker than a level 73 Priest? I’d love to hear about it. Not because I’m a masochist (although we all are, to some extent, for playing this spec) but because the signal-to-noise ratio on a blog like this doesn’t even approach that of the forums. Maybe if enough of us tell our stories, someone up at Blizzard headquarters might take notice. We can only hope, right?

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary dps?

If I told you the name of my Tauren Shaman, I’d have to kill you. Also, he’s Enhancement.

What is your primary dpsing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)

Mostly raids, with occasional PvP.

What is your favorite dps spell/ability for your class and why?

All of them. I think Blizzard did a brilliant thing by merging key spell and melee DPS stats, which allowed Enhancement Shamans to make the transformation to the first true melee-caster hybrid in the game. Enhancement players with long memories will remember the days when we didn’t even have the intellect or mana regeneration to work Shocks into our regular rotation during raids. Now we’re these axe-swinging, lightning-ripping powerhouses with a nice range of abilities and a priority rotation that makes things more interesting than the Enhancement of old.

But if I was going to pick just one ability, it’d have to be Stormstrike — seeing a massive double-crit, followed by a thundering Windfury proc, and the booming sound of Shock and Awe signalling a Maelstrom five-stack…yeah, that’s satisfying.

What dps spell do you use least for your class and why?

Sentry Totem. Do we still have that? It’s similar to special in-game items like the disco ball and Simian Sphere — good for bringing out once in a while for a laugh, but absolutely useless in every other respect. And Water Shield, because it used to be a staple of raiding until Blizzard gave us so much incentive to use Lightning Shield.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your dps class and why?

We can put some serious single-target hurt on bosses. Now that Death Knights and Hunters have all our buffs, we’re not exactly the ultimate physical damage amplifier anymore, and we have the weakest form of AoE out of any DPS spec. (If you can even consider our totems as AoE.) But we contribute where it counts, and we’ve still got Bloodlust!

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your dps class and why?

We still suffer from what I believe is developer neglect. By this, I mean the fact that our gear is still optimized with Hunters in mind, we are underpowered until we reach certain gear plateaus, and while Blizzard is quick to hot-fix problems with Paladins and Death Knights, we’re used to waiting through entire patches (or expansions) for Blizzard’s development staff to finally admit the community is right, and changes have to be made.

We saw that pattern with weapon itemization, gear itemization, our prior lack of talent-provided Expertise, our prior lack of real mana-regenerating abilities, and our historical problems in PvP with mobility and survivability. The modus operandi is for Enhancement Shamans to politely raise an issue with Blizzard’s developers, then become annoyed and increasingly indignant when no one from the development team responds, or they’re just told flat-out they’re wrong. Thus, Koraa’s infamous explanation that Spectral Transformation (the most glorious ability we’ve never had) was too similar to “an iconic Druid ability” to be implemented in the live game.

Maybe that wouldn’t sting too much if it didn’t come in the wake of buff homogenization, but we’re way past the days when totems were something special, and nowadays there’s even blasphemous talk of giving Bloodlust to another class! I’d gladly go back to the days of Totem Twisting if it meant we got to keep our unique buffs.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best dps assignment for you?

Enhancement Shamans excel at pouring on the boss damage, interrupting casts and dispelling. We’re not going to equal the power of a priest spamming mass dispel, but on fights like Lord Jaraxxus and the Faction Champions, we can clamp down on harmful casts with our interrupts and provide targeted dispells with Purge. The nice thing is, our DPS doesn’t suffer because of it. And like all Shaman specs, we’re indispensable in our ability to make life easier for the raid with spells like Tremor Totem and Cleansing Totem.

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with most and why?

Nowadays, Rogues, and I never thought I’d say that in TBC. While two of our regular raiders have Rogue alts, we don’t have a dedicated Rogue to bring to raids on progression nights. There are so many ways a good Rogue can make life easier for the raid, and you really start to appreciate that when you don’t have one. Ditto for Warlocks — so many of them seem to have re-rolled in WotLK, and on my server we have a serious shortage of good ones.

Buff-wise, my dream raid would be: Retribution Paladin for Improved Blessing of Might and an additional 3% crit. Feral Druid for another 5% melee crit. Boomkin or Elemental Shaman for an extra 5% spell crit. A Rogue and/or a Warrior for their armor-reducing debuffs. Plus all the other usual stuff — Blessing of Kings, Mark of the Wild, etc. And Focus Magic! I’ve convinced a few Mages I run with to give me the buff, and the uptime on the return buff from my frequent spell crits have made them believers. One friend now insists on giving me her Focus Magic when she plays her Mage: “No other specs give me more FM procs than Holy Paladins and Enhancement Shamans.”

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with least and why?

Anyone who faps to the damage meters, regardless of class or spec. (Although many of them happen to be Hunters, Mages and Rogues. Go figure.)

Few things are more ridiculous than that guy who’s always spamming the damage meters in raid chat whenever he happens to be in the top spot. Damage meters are tools best used by raid officers to determine who might need help with their gear or rotations, and the best officers provide that help quietly and discreetly. Egos are fragile things, sure. But it doesn’t help guild morale when fellow raid members are engaged in an e-peen measuring war, and ultimately it hurts the raid when players put their own DPS numbers ahead of the needs of the raid.

That Mage who does 7k DPS might be great for the first 15 seconds of Sarth 3D, but he’s useless if he dies to a Shadow Fissure because he thinks finishing his cast is more important than surviving. Likewise, what good is a Rogue who refuses to help shut down a Faction Champions healer because it’ll have an adverse effect on her personal DPS?

In a recent ToC 25 pug, a few players were fapping furiously to their damage meter numbers, and while others were explaining that they *were* on top of the damage charts, until they died.

A Tauren Warrior in the raid put it in perfect laconic terms: “Fellas, DPS is the amount of damage you do while you’re alive.”

What is your worst habit as a dps?

Getting complacent. On progression fights, when I know we have to do everything right to succeed, I’m focused and alert. But on farm content, I have a bad habit of dying to stupid shit sometimes because I start to go on mental autopilot.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while dpsing?

We’ve already talked about the players who fap furiously to the damage meters. That’s number one right there. Aside from that, I really don’t have much tolerance for nerd ragers and others who take the game too seriously. In my mind, the best raid leaders are the ones who take everything in stride and exert calm, and that’s the way I try to be when I find myself leading raids. But when people blow up on strangers on Ventrilo, or throw fits over minor setbacks, it ruins the fun. We play this game to relax and have fun, right? Right?

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other dps?

We’re more dependent on gear than some of our counterparts, we don’t have any real AoE, and we’re limited by the artificial hybrid DPS cap. Oddly enough, in The Burning Crusade (and early WotLK) I found it much easier to consistently top damage meters despite our poor itemization.

In this patch, it’s a struggle to stay at or near the top, even with all our shiny new toys. While a big part of that is the nature of the fights in Trial of the Crusader, we’re also victims of our own versatility — Blizzard is well aware that we alone benefit so massively from melee AND spell buffs, and it seems they’ve intentionally designed our DPS potential to be reached only with the full diversity of raid buffs. Thus, there’s a drastic difference between the potential an Enhancement Shaman has in a 10-man raid vs a 25-man raid with a full compliment of buffs.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a dps’er?

I gauge success by whether we get a boss down, and whether or not I’m still standing at the end of the fight. One of my favorite moments in WoW was getting Sartharion +3 down, in patch three point oh-something, before Ulduar dropped and we were all rocking Naxx gear. We couldn’t power through it with gear, we had to do it the hard way, and most importantly, my toon was among those still standing when Sartharion keeled over and the achievement flashed on our screens. I hate, hate, hate being dead and unable to help my guildies finish a kill, and my most important evaluation tool is my health bar!

I also use Recount to cycle through the information on my individual spells, so I can track the effectiveness of small tweaks like re-gemming or a new piece of gear.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?

That we’re all chronically underpowered and/or incompetent. I’ve seen more than my fair share of Enhancement Shamans who went the cheap route and enchanted their weapons with 50 AP instead of Berserking, or decided to dual-wield daggers instead of slow weapons. Enhacement players have the benefit of arguably the best, most thoroughly-researched and authoritative spec guide in the game, thanks to the guys at Elitist Jerks and the mathematically gifted Shamans who helped compile the Enhancement Theorycraft wiki. All Enhancement players should make it a priority to read Elitist Jerks.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new dpsers of your class to learn?

Although our rotation is now more complex and based on a priority system, I still think most of the “skill” involved in playing well revolves around gear and stat choices. In that sense, a lot is determined before you even step into a raid. Newer players should realize some of our gear and stat choices may seem counterintuitive based on what they know of other melee specs, and it isn’t always easy to determine when something is an upgrade. On a related note, players who’ve rolled Shamans as alts might find the totem system — as vastly improved as it now is — still takes some getting used to.

What dps class do you feel you understand least?

I don’t know much about Shadow Priests, and the specifics of Druid and Paladin tanking remain mostly a mystery to me.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in dps?

Shock and Awe to give me audio cues for things like Maelstrom five-stacks, Dominos to arrange my UI in a way I’m comfortable with, and DBM to help me stay alive. My favorite macro is tied to Ancestral Spirit: Upon casting it, my Shaman says, “Rezzing ____, every time I use my mana for something other than DPS, kittens cry.”

What stat to stack, and why?

I’m hit capped, expertise capped, and I have more than enough crit, so I’m at the point right now where Attack Power is my first priority, and extra Haste has now become the stat to look for in addition to AP on all potential upgrades. Now if I could just find some Hunter mail that has Haste instead of Armor Penetration, I’d be set…