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Still playing Elemental in BFA

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I started out playing as a Druid and mained one through to Draenor, but then started to realize Shaman is the class I love the most. All 3 specs are great. Elemental is a laid-back caster that is slow to wind up but produces spiky and violent damage bursts, Enhancement is a bruiser empowered by the elements, and Restoration is a great raid healer with a chill playstyle. I played Shaman by far the most throughout Legion, all 3 specs. So that is the class I have been playing in BFA beta and it has been almost all in Elemental spec. Have heard a lot of negative feedback from other players, but I'm encouraged so far with some reservations.

The first couple patches of Legion, playing Elemental felt horrible. The wind-up time on damage was very long and it made open world content a nightmare. Playing a Shaman out in the world meant going Enhancement and using Elemental loot spec. If you played Elemental, you were spending 2-3 times as long doing the same things. From mob to mob you could literally get the same damage out of Restoration, if not more because Flame Shock didn't need maelstrom power to do high damage. Enhancement was at a huge advantage - it carries damage from mob to mob extremely well and once wound up is like a wrecking ball.

Compared to that experience, in BFA leveling, things seem to be more in order. Elemental and Enhancement are achieving about the same kill speed, with Restoration lagging a little bit behind. But the simple fact that Elemental feels viable at all in open-world content is already an improvement over the state of the class in Legion. It is currently a specialist class that works great in certain situations, but struggles producing competitive damage otherwise and has to make it up with utility. In BFA I have no problem playing Elemental as my primary spec and I don't miss Enhancement. Between the survivability buffs, the decent state of tuning and the improved Earth Elemental, it’s been a good experience.

There are a few valid and competitive options for talents. I like Elemental Blast and Totem Mastery for steady and solid sustained damage. The secondary stat proc from EB is very strong in the early going as a fresh 120 going into Heroics/Mythics, and the passive effects from Totem Mastery are super valuable for sustain. There are no downsides to this build and it works well with all thother talents. Especially if there is AOE involved this build is flexible and powerful. But there's also good synergy between Echo of the Elements, with its superior Maelstrom generation, Aftershock, and Icefury. Together, this build can provide impressive if unpredictable burst (similar to the "gambler" build on live) for single target encounters. L100 talents are a bit of a mess and I find myself taking Stormkeeper as a default, but Unlimited Power is clearly valuable for sustained damage.

The Flame Shock changes take away both skill cap and DPS potential. On the one hand, it is nice that it does not cost anything to cast at full power, but I very much preferred being able to use it as a spender with EF charges. It provided some sustained multi-target pressure damage while you waited for your cooldowns. In beta you have almost no spread DPS, no matter what talents you take. Granted that hasn’t historically been an Elemental strong suit, but at least with proper play, you had half a chance in Legion. The change to Earth Shock being fixed to 60 maelstrom also further reduces the skill cap, but also the potential for a skilled player to shine. Doing good damage boils down to little more than using your most powerful spells as often as you can and keeping Flame Shock up, which is going to be fine for the majority of players but some of us enjoyed gaming on the subtleties. Fortunately, Restoration still seems to have a good amount of that subtlety going on..

The one issue I do have with the new talent choices is the amount of anti-synergy between some of the talents. If you take one, it can easily make some of the other choices flat-out wrong. For example, Storm Elemental's power depends on spamming lightning spells. That's a horrible take with Echo or Ascendance. I can only imagine that they envisioned a new, highly lightning-focused build - I'm messing around with a "lightning spam" build that almost lets you take the fire spells off your bar, if you’re OK with having absolutely no idea how much damage you will put out because it’s all totally random. Anyway, there are definitely issues with talents being mutually exclusive.

Other issues: Bloodlust being on the GCD means the caster sacrifices personal damage for the raid’s benefit. However small a sacrifice, it doesn’t feel good and it’s really not necessary. The only benefit is that it’s harder to fat-finger it by mistake. I guarantee every raid is going to ask the Resto Shaman to press the button so the Mages don’t lose DPS.

And for god’s sake, give us back Gust of Wind. That spell was all kinds of useful. If you're going to design encounters around needing to quickly react and move, we need a way to handle that.


Potential best Elemental builds in BFA:

Ascendance/fire build: Elemental Blast - Totem Mastery - Spirit Wolf - Liquid Magma Totem OR High Voltage - Nature's Guardian - Primal Elementalist - Ascendance

Icefury build: Elemental Blast - Totem Mastery - Liquid Magma Totem OR High Voltage - Icefury - Unlimited Power

Cleave build: Elemental Blast - Totem Mastery - Liquid Magma Totem - Primal Elementalist - Stormkeeper

Lightning only potential build: Elemental Blast - Totem Mastery - Storm Elemental - Primal Elementalist - Unlimited Power

Edited by Tarazet
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im also in this kind of delymma. I love playing Elemantal. but i feel like its week. and i have tried to do hc anotorus with elemental and enhancement. and it was easy to tell wich was strongest... so im just rly rly hoping on elemental to be strong in bfa

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