This post is piggy backing off the current status of our ‘third choice glyphs’. This post is a rant, and it is not always going to be logical. While I love the changed that 3.3.3 is bringing to my life, the changes to our third glyph slot feels somewhat irrelevant. While many other classes glyph and re-glyph to suit a certain play style, we get away with picking our 3 main glyphs and not changing our playstyle in any noticeable manner. Elemental, as much as I love it, is one of the most cookie cutter play styles and specs there is.
Glyphs as PTR v2
I am not totally familiar with the glyphs of other classes at this time, but most class/spec combos will have a set of 2 glyphs that are perceived as must have if you want to do good dps. For Elemental Shamans, this is Lightning Bolt and Totem of Wrath (as of 3.3.3.) The DPS/healing throughput increase from these two glyphs often far outweighs any others available to a player, making them somewhat mandatory.
This is somewhat at odds with the original point of Glyphs – which was things that would allow players to customise a character to a greater extent. If they are just there to improve on the spec, then what is the point, why not build the effect of the Glyph into the talent tree?
Question though. Why did you decide upon using Glyphs instead of Talents? This feels more like squeezing “mandatory” Glyphs down their throats.
Glyphs are typically less “mandatory” than talents. If the glyph proves to be a bad idea for someone, say it doesn’t improve damage or healing or it does but in a frustrating way because your rotation is painful, then players can just not use that glyph. If they want to swap glyphs from day to day or even fight to fight, they can do that. Changing the talents is a bigger deal and harder to avoid.
So at this point we can view Glyphs as a test bed for future Talents, I think. Already we’ve seen many ‘glyphed’ things eventually become part of the base mechanics of a spell or talent tree. I can understand why the design team does this, but it somewhat sucks the fun out of having this additional customisation in the first place. Couple this ‘testing ground for changes philosophy’ with the following;
Glyphs are always going to feel mandatory for dps classes in PvE. Whichever glyphs are proven to be the highest dps increase will be the mandatory ones. That will only cease to be true if there is somehow so much variation in the trees that say some Fire mages use Scorch and glyph it, while others go with Living Bomb or Pyro or something and glyph those. But even within those sub-builds, certain glyphs would always be the right choice.
Choices With No Consequences
As the title of this post suggested, I am now calling our third glyph choice irrelevant. This may be the curse of the three way hybrid, but where a holy priest or paladin can glyph and spec differently, and as a result excel in a different healing situation, the Elemental glyph choice is a passive improvement. I’m not sure I am explaining this too well, but let me try and use Restoration Shamans as a contrast here.
Not only are there are a myriad of somewhat viable specs for Resto, but they have a choice of 3 glyphs for that third slot that will somewhat empower their preferred healing style/niche. I know a lot of resto shamans moan, but I think they are one of the better designed and most fun classes/specs in the game at the moment. Or that might just be healers in general, I don’t know. This is, admittedly, because healing needs to be fun. I could envisage, as a pure healer, having two different resto specs and glyphs so that I can switch back and forth depending on the fight or healing niche.
Can I imagine that for Elemental? Not really. I imagine it is somewhat harder to balance different possible elemental specs. I’d love to see a return of Resto as the viable ‘second’ tree, for example. I am someone who does carry around stacks of glyphs in case I decide one would be more beneficial for a given fight, but I am a lazy elemental shaman and don’t bother using thunderstorm Glyph for trash.
Objects May Be Closer Than They Appear
While different encounters boost the value of a certain Glyph more than other glyphs, there is no implication or change to the way an Elemental Shaman will DPS inherent in the use of a different Glyph. A stand and nuke fight ‘boosts’ Flametongue Glyph, but it doesn’t change how we DPS. A high movement, multiple add fight requiring a lot of initial burst damage but less sustained DPS will logically favour Glyph of Lava. Yet that doesn’t mean a different spell priority is likely to be used for the most part.
What we know about 3.3.3 so far indicates that the gap between Flametongue and Lava is very tiny, and likely to be cancelled out by movement or lag. Even further, it shows that Flame Shock plays catch up at high levels of gear. While this is great, because it means we can go by personal preference, it doesn’t truly give us any flexibility or increase our capacity to do something different. That is partly a limitation of the PVE DPSer, I must admit. There are not many niches left in the DPS world these days, what with various classes bringing utility, burst dps, sustained dps, all in one.
I am well aware that I sound somewhat whiny, but if Glyphs are now PTR mk2 for Elemental Shamans, it somewhat takes the fun out of them. That is, if Glyphs are meant to be fun and interesting. I suspect that is a pertinent question: are there fun glyphs out there? What would make a glyph fun, as opposed to just mandatory for PVE.
What Would I Change?
I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps I would introduce a Glyph of Chain Lightning that did the following:
- Decrease multi-target Damage/Jumps
- Decrease Mana Cost
- Increase Cooldown
- Increase Single Target Scaling.
However I am not a game designer, and couldn’t begin to model how to balance such a Glyph. I am sure such a think would be extreme difficult to balance against existing Glyphs, so that we have a viable choice in Glyphs and could pick something else to suit another fight better. I am, overall, happy with the changes to Elemental as it has made us much more competative. Having a choice of different glyphs that we can change to suit our gear and SOMEWHAT to suit the fight is a step up from ToW/FS/LB or bust. I’m just feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the Glyph system for Elemental over all.