Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Double Post Upon Request: The Elemental Shaman

Damn, still don't get used to the double post, it's only because someone posed a lengthy and thought out question, and I don't wanna program SAS at the moment so I spent some time drudging through an old post I was gonna post originally, and filling it out, so without further ado...

This is going to be a rather lengthy and wordy post, so I am going to leave the math out of it. Mostly because at my current job (and I don't really blog from home, too much other stuff to do) I can't see EJ, look at wowarmory, or run simulation stuff to figure out stat values. If you are interested in any of that, head over there, learn to love Binkenstein and his spreadsheet -- man is a freakin' genious and props on that. All his work makes sense to me when he's done, but until then I have no idea how he goes about figuring some things.

I got asked to write a blog about the one thing I actually know something about... pressing D (for me, that casts lightning bolt). But B-Rab, it can't be is simple as that can it? Well, no, but it's pretty darn close.

Overall, an elemental shaman is decently easy to play. The rotation is fairly simple depending on where you are with some stat values. There are some things to keep in mine though throughout this post:

Spec - There is the general cookie cutter spec of 57/14/0. This spec does have some room to play with. Since elemental shaman rarely have mana issues, and this includes even on hard mode General Vezax where we don't regenerate mana, you can move these points from convection (which reduced your mana cost by 2%/talent point, up to 10%) where ever you see fit. I prefer to spec 55/16/0, and move 2 points from convection into imp. ghost wolf. Why, is it useful? Not really, but I like to travel around in it a lot rather than mounting up. Plus, there are occasions when dungeons and raids are outside and it can help with mobility. Mostly though, its for shits and giggles. Since it turns out that each point in convection is actually worth an estimated 12 mp5 (if you want math, its on EJ), I prefer to go with 3 points in Unrelenting Storm and 3 points in Elemental Warding which is nice for Ulduar. 6% less inc. damage is always plus when we have one of the lower health pools, which leaves you with the same 55/16/0 build.

Get hit capped -- This can mean a lot of different things. You need a total of 17% hit rating to be capped. We gain 3% from talents which means you need to get to 14% (If you are silly and are alliance and are/or raiding with a squid, you can cut that down to 13%). Finally, if you are in a regular raid group and can depend on a an imp FF from a boomkin or you raid with a Spriest, you get another 3%. This means horde would need 11% (289 hit) or an alliance would need 10% (which I think is like 263 hit? I was just working backwards without an ability to grab actual values).

Pre-Ulduar gear is going to make getting hit capped a lot more difficult. While you are first starting out, run h vh over and over and over and over and over....well you get the point, run it 'till you the that hit trinket. It's a good start towards that cap and a decent on use for a blue that you can tie to elemental mastery. In Naxx10/25, there just aren't that many items with hit on them save for the bit on tier. Grab a dying curse asap. If you are still gearing up for getting into a Naxx 10/25 even, don't be afraid to nub it up just a tad -- save your emblems and buy the cloth belt. If you fill it with a +hit gem, thats 53 hit right there which sets you on your way. If you are still lacking quite a bit, you can even consider the off-hand with hit. Yes, you will look like a scrub shaman, but just blow 'em away with the deeps. Normally, our best hit gear will come from cloth items -- if you are in a guild that lets you roll on them, kudos to you, I get them after every mage/spriest/lock gets them, which means neva, cause we don't farm old content too often and by the time that opportunity comes around better stuff has come along (think Maly's chest and legs with all that luscious hit...). Ok, I'm sure we all understand the value of being hitcapped, and it gets easier to get there as gear improves, so enough about that.

After you are hit capped, the best stat for you to go after is spellpower. You will generally gem for it over everything else ignoring most socket bonuses (there are exceptions, but they are few, like the amount of people able to still read this wall of text). Your stats importance will always go SP > Haste > Crit (This is due to haste effecting all spells -- it lowers your gcd for flame shock -- where crit for most people will only effect the initial hit of flame shock and your lightning bolts/chain lightning. With the T8 2/4pc bonuses, even though they are both related to crit, haste is still a more desirable stat.). The only meta is the Chaotic Skyflare Diamond (21crit, 3% crit dmg)-- don't use anything else -- fill two random pieces with a couple Glowing Twilight Opals (9sp, 12stam) to activate it (get socket bonuses out of your gear that are the best for these). Don't worry about other purple gems, spirit doesn't help us, we don't need mp5, and bosses don't have resistences that you can use spell penetration to get through. The stam is always nice.

There are pretty much a certain set of major glyphs to use, while only 1 minor is as important:

  1. Glyph of Lightning Bolt - cause 4% more damage on approximately 65% of you damage is balling
  2. Glyph of Flame Shock - You don't want to be casting flame shock after after Lava Burst consumes it, plus it extends it so you can fit 2 lava bursts inside of the flameshock dot portion.
  3. Glyph of Totem of Wraith - There is math done here to prove that this is superior to the Glyph of Lava until you reach around 2500 spellpower unbuffed This means no totems, no buffs, no flametoungue, no flasks, nothin. This is achievable with the current gear out, but this glyph probably wont be used until T9 if those set bonuses remain the same.

Minor Glyphs: The only minor glyph I feel is somewhat necessary is the Glyph of Water Shield, the extra orb will save you the worry of refreshing it as often (you know, cause when it falls off thats the first thing we worry about as elemental shaman with our mana problems). I just generally refresh it when I am running around. Even that isn't a very big deal. The others are just about your personal flavoring -- personally I'm all about the Jesus ability to water walk for free, and I like to not worry about hearths so I have astrall recall. If you like to PVP the ghost wolf glyph might be more suited for you. The minor to remove the knockback on thunderstorm would also be ok if you like to see big number in Naxx without pissing off too many people when you macro thunderstorm to yell, "Thunder****!!!" If you PVP a lot though I wouldn't recommend keeping it in there since the knockback and be both fun and useful -- eventually people will learn not to be near the cliff at LM (also great for seperating a healer and his dps in arenas like the sewers...

Quick set bonuses: T7 2/4pc - 0/~30dps T8 2/4pc - ~70/120-140dps increase

You can quickly see that when you are moving from Naxx25 -> Ulduar you can quickly break set bonuses, sometimes without even forming the new t8 set bonus.

The Rotation: Flame Shock (FS), Chain Lightning (CL) Lava Burst (LvB) -- There are really two spots to be at in this rotation if you have at least some of the crafted epics since haste is quite abundant on most of our gear. The current premier rotation would be when you are above 520 haste or so. What you are looking for is a sub-1.6s lightning bolt (lb) cast. With this amount of haste you can fit 5 lb's in between lava bursts which means your rotation should be as follows: FS-LvB-LBx5-LvB-LBx4 and then repeat. You open with the FS-LvB to get elemental oath proc'd asap to grant everyone that 5% crit, and also to proc clear casting for yourself which increases the damage of the next 2 spells by 10%.

If you are sub 500 haste, your rotation will depend on how far below that your haste is. If you are around 400 or higher and can keep it up, your rotation will generally be: FS-LvB-CL-LBx4-LvB-LBx4 and then repeat. The chain lightning would just save you those few tenths of a second you weren't shaving off with haste and could possibly run you over your LvB CD but shouldn't. If you are below that, many people will do a FS-LvB-CL-LBx3-CL-LvB-LvBx3-CL or something similar, or even just cast CL whenever it's off CD. If you get a few crafted pieces though, even as nearly fresh 80 you should hopefully be past this mark.

On trash, you just want to throw out some CL and twiddle your thumbs -- if you get brave you can run in and drop a magma, depends on how ambitious your feeling. Remember -- you're here to buff, not actually dps... just kidding, you can dps too, pretty well actually.

Ok, so that's specs, gemming, glyphs, stats, and rotations. I'm going to work on an ideal gear set using just OS/maly/naxx10, just T7 (including 10/25), and possibly one for someone without raiding. That's a pretty big goal at the moment though, since all weekend I will be back in my old stomping grounds for a golf tournament (I'm not good, I go for the drinking and fun).


  1. Yay! So I have the correct glyphs, at least. I'm aiming for the trinket. I'm using the correct rotation (my haste is a little over 400, IIR). I have the correct meta and two of the correct purple gems to activate it - the rest of my gems are hit gems (I'm sporting that headpiece from Ulduar 10, I think FL? Can't remember exactly, it might drop from XT instead.) I also have the Ulduar 25 elemental totem, but I read (from Binkenstein, I think) that the Totem of Hex is actually better, so that's the one that's equipped.

    Yeah, the hit cap for squid shamans with a raiding spriest or boomkin (I raid with both) is 263, same as on my squid spriest. I think my number is 257ish or something on my shaman, but I'll make sure. Of course, now that I think about it, having only 257ish hit when I'm trying to dps against the heroic test dummy is probably not a good idea, considering no Misery or Faerie Fire is being applied. Doh! I have actually made two sets of gear - one is a "with spriest or boomkin" gear set and the other is a "without" set, so I'll try putzing around with the "without" set tonight to see if my dps improves.

    Thank you thank you thank you for the very insightful post - I'm not being as noobish as I thought (going for the correct stats, anyway). I'll have to check my spec, but I'm pretty sure I directly copied the top raiding elemental shaman's spec from my server. I'll check to see if it matches what you linked. I do have the correct glyphs, at least.

    I'm sure this will help a ton - thank you again for the post, and I'll try out this stuff tonight and see what I can do to improve my scrubby dps. To be honest, after half a heroics run with my new elemental set/rotation, I was disgusted with the 1200 dps number and switched immediately back to enhancement. Perhaps I should have continued with the elemental - after all, I did level as elemental from 62ish to about 75ish, and I thought it was great fun.

  2. Glad to hear you have things right, elemental can be a real blast, plus you don't die to those pesky whirlwinds as often! It might just have to do with getting used to the rotation and playing. Maybe even bindings would help since there are so few keys to hit. I don't know what you use for things like that, but my LB is D, my CL is A, FS shift-D, and LvB is shift-A which covers the mainstay of the rotation besides cooldowns and such. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your stats and whats going on, lol, or if u gave me a server time i could roll an alliance (yuck) and check him out if i can find my way to a main city -- the only alliance i ever started was a dk to harass a friend from college

  3. Whoo, k, I've poked at my spec a little (moved only a couple of points from Elemental Warding to max out Eye of the Storm, and then moved two points from Convection to Imp. Ghost Wolf.) My 13% hit set has the following pieces of gear:

    Helm of Veiled Energies (Uld 10), Necklace of Taldaram (bah, a blue! from H OK), Spaulders of Incoherence (Naxx 25), Disguise of the Kumiho (EoV reward), Pigmented Clan Binds (EoV reward,I think), the EoH cloth hit belt (sadface), Atonement Greaves (Naxx 25?), Signet of Hopeful Light (Exalted with Argent Crusade), Timeworn Silken Band (H CoS), Pendulum of Telluric Currents (can't remember where I got this -it's a blue 200 ivl haste trinket with a proc to deal extra shadow damage on casting harmful spells), Sundial of the Exiled (EoH trinket), Titansteel Spellblade, the EoH hit offhand (hangs head at being a scrubby shaman), and the Totem of Hex. Oh, and the T7.5 chest, legs, and gloves.


    1544 spellpower (1908 with Totem of Wrath)
    348 hit rating (13.27%)
    403 haste
    353 mana regen (with water shield)


    Ooh! I'm pleased to say that after a full minute of dpsing the heroic test dummy, my dps is at 2097 with only 5000 mana down (I'll probably tinker with the mana regen talents, then, put some points back into Elemental Warding or something). That's with the Totem of Wrath up, no food or flask buffs, just my water shield and the totem.


    2551 dps with Totem of Wrath and Air down, a spellpower food buff on, and my Flametongue Wespon on (forgot last round).


    I'm not sure what the heck I was doing wrong before - my dps seems to be much higher now.

    Thank you so much, again, for the help! My Wow-Heroes page is here and my Armory page is here, but of course those are way outdated (Armory still says I have enh/resto).

    Feel free to come play on my server with the squid faces. :-) I can in turn roll a priest or something on your server - I'm not too terribad at priesting, after all.