Friday, October 30, 2009

5 Awesome Uses for Thunderstorm

Yes, this is in fact an Elemental Shaman's blog and I'm pleased to finally bring some content specifically tailored to this niche spec. The problem is that I don't want to just regurgitate all the baseline mechanics of the spec because, well, that stuff is posted everywhere. I will instead be bringing quirks, tips and tricks that you may not have learned by simply researching a spell rotation or stat priority.

The highlight of the first entry in the spirit of the Elemental Shaman revolves around the gimmicky (and often glyphed into mediocrity) PBAoE spell, Thunderstorm.

Any raiding Elemental will know that the spell is typically used as a mana regeneration mechanic, cast out in the middle of nowhere where the knockback won't confuse and irritate the raid or glyphed to remove the knockback altogether. The knockback, of which thunderstorm boasts the farthest pushing in the game, does have it's uses. And though most of them take place on the PvP side of the game it can be a very useful utility in PvE as well - if you know how to use it.

So here are the first 5 awesome uses for thunderstorm in both PvP and PvE venues...

1. Auriaya

The Crazy Cat Lady as she's called to hard mode raiders, Auriaya starts out with a host of feline sentinels that will usually be DPSed down very quickly at the start of the fight. Shortly after, however, she'll raise another cat called the Feral Defender. This cat has nine lives, so killing it the first eight times won't be the end of it.

The real pain the Defender brings is twofold. Firstly, it randomly resets aggro every few seconds so it can't be tanked reliably. This tends to force groups to clump up to prevent the cat from bouncing all over the place. Secondly, it will leave a void zone that does significant damage over time to anyone standing in it on the place it was killed so it's preferable to move the Defender out of the raid group just before it dies. However, coupled with it's rapid aggro resets this doesn't always go as planned.

Try watching the Defender's health and once it drops below 10% thunderstorm it away. Often enough residual DoTs and ranged DPS is enough to kill the cat as it's traveling through the air. This isn't a foolproof strategy, as often the void zone can be left where the cat was before the knockback instead of where the corpse actually falls if it was killed in mid air, but in addition to other methods of controlling the Defender's positioning a well timed thunderstorm can mean the difference between a well placed void zone and a raid group forced to scatter.

2. Deconstructor

Have you ever been asked to handle the Deconstructor's adds during a heart phase? If not, then you should volunteer!

When the Deconstructor shows his heart at 75%, 50% and 25% health repair bots that heal the boss and bomb bots that explode need to be handle before reaching the boss. It's well known that blowing up a bomb bot near a group of repair bots is a fast an efficient way to handle adds, but often you'll need to stall for time.

Using a combination of earthbind totem and thunderstorm knockbacks can help significantly in putting more distance between the adds and the Deconstructor.

3. Defending the Flag in Warsong Gulch

Everyone is familiar with the lumber mill in Arathi Basin. This place is the Elemental Shaman's claim to PvP fame - especially since we're at such a horrible disadvantage the rest of the time we PvP.

It's also commonly known that the flag spawn point in Eye of the Storm is another thunderstorm hot spot, but there's a great place for thunderstorm high jinks in Warsong Gulch too.

In each faction's base there are three levels: the ground floor, balcony and rooftop. Generally speaking when your team picks up the enemy flag they'll take it back to your base and wait for the opportunity to capture it. Most teams will keep the flag on the ground floor for a quick capture but this is quite dangerous as the ground floor is quickly accessible to enemy players approaching the base on mounts.

If you can get the flag carrier to bring the flag up to the rooftop you can single-handedly fend off multiple attackers at one time for an extended period with properly placed thunderstorms.

Position yourself near the roof entrance and watch for approaching players. The occasional rogue may be able to slip past you but the vast majority of enemies will be seen coming from a mile away. Once they pass onto the roof make sure you're positioned so that they are between you and the ground floor and knock em right outta there!

Be wary of groups of players and time your thunderstorm to knock off all but one of the attackers if possible. You and the flag carrier can then mop that last attacker up and thunderstorm should be back off cooldown by the time those you sent to the mat can get back up to the roof.

4. Survival

What's the number one rule of DPS?

Don't die.

Granted, most DPSers don't enjoy the ability to heal like Elemental Shaman, but aside from healing thunderstorm is one of our tricks for getting out of a tight spot. The best example of this is the Faction Champions in the coliseum raid instance.

If you find yourself running from a host of mobs and there's no way out, drop a thunderstorm and give yourself some much needed breathing room.

5. Aggro Ping-Pong

I don't generally recommend specifically going out for this as it may irritate your tank if done excessively but you can easily "bat" a mob you've pulled aggro on back to the tank so he can more easily pick it back up.

Once the spell's been cast make sure to wind shock to lower your aggro and make the mob that much easier for the tank to pick back up.

As always, however, you should always pay attention to your threat. Set up an audio warning in your threat meter to alert you that you may be pulling aggro as a preventative measure. This is a great trick, but if you ever have to use it it may mean that you should pay more attention to your threat.

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