This mini-blog is the first of a series I have planned that answers a single ‘theorycrafting’ question in each instalment, a different topic in each instalment. If reception of this style post is good, I’ll be writing more in the future.



This week’s 8.0 ‘pre-patch’ launch brought some Maelstrom generation changes for Elemental Shaman. The single target changes are as follows:

As an aside, note that Mastery: Elemental Overload procs generate Maelstrom at a 50% reduced rate. This means Lightning Bolt procs should now generate 4 and Lava Burst procs now generate 5.

Background information

For this first blog, we’ll just stick to Earth Shock and the single target implications of this change. So you may wonder:

“What do these changes mean for how often we cast Earth Shock?”

Let’s take things slowly. First we’ll need to know what talents will impact our Maelstrom generation gameplay (excluding Totem Mastery):

Next we need to cover some terminology in SimulationCraft:

  • Cast interval - this is a measure of the time between casts of a particular ability. For Earth Shock, we can think of this as (roughly) the time it takes to generate enough Maelstrom to cast the spell.
  • Cast execution - the number of times a spell is casted in a fight.

Before the Maelstrom changes

With this question and knowledge, we can find out what the cast interval and cast execution values are currently. The Abilities section of the SimulationCraft report gives us a lot of data, but we’re only interested in the interval and execution. The values before the Maelstrom changes are as follows:

  Cast Interval (sec) Cast Execution (count)
No talents 14.45 20.5
High Voltage 13.84 21.3
Aftershock 10.88 26.6
Aftershock + High Voltage 10.57 27.6

We can see that the cast interval is from ~10.5 to ~14.5 seconds, varying based on the talents selected. The cast execution count also changes talent by talent, ranging from 20.5 casts to 27.6 casts over the course of the fight. (Side note: these are not whole numbers because SimulationCraft works on averages over thousands of fights.)

After the Maelstrom changes

Since we’re using a version of SimulationCraft that does not have the changes included, we’ll have to manually override some spell data. Once we tell SimulationCraft that we want to test it again with the increased Maelstrom generation, we can find the new cast interval and cast execution values:

  Cast Interval (sec) Cast Execution (count)
No talents 11.56 25.6
High Voltage 11.11 26.7
Aftershock 8.96 32.9
Aftershock + High Voltage 8.57 34.2

To make this easier to read, we will measure the difference between the Before and After results.

  Cast Interval difference (sec) Cast Execution difference (count)
No talents -2.89 +5.1
High Voltage -2.73 +5.4
Aftershock -1.92 +6.3
Aftershock + High Voltage -2.0 +6.6
Mean -2.39 +6.08

The cast interval being negative means that after the Maelstrom changes, we cast Earth Shock on average 2.39 seconds (or ~24%) faster. The cast execution count increases in every case, with an average of 6 more Earth Shock casts per fight. If you’d like to learn more, or want to see the data used to make these conclusions, check out the spreadsheet I put together here.

Summary

This was a short look at the effects of Maelstrom generation on the frequency of Earth Shock casts. It’s a simple question, but the methods to find the answer are sometimes not obvious to the inexperienced. I hope this is a digestible first look at the process and way of thinking typical of “theorycrafting”.