Elemental Shaman Talent Build 54/17/0

31 12 2008

I’ll go about the business of explaining the build first, then my rationale and observations for Ele Shammy 101

 

PVE / DPS optimization build

 

Elemental Talents:

 

Tier 1

 

Convection 5/5

Reduces the mana cost of your Shock, Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, and Lava Burst spells by 10%.

 

A no-brainer level 1 talent. This is about mana conservation and longevity with almost all of your offensive spells represented.

 

Concussion 5/5

Increases the damage done by your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Lava Burst and Shock spells by 5%.

 

Another no-brainer. The list above encompasses nearly all offensive spells that you’ll use, so 5% more is very valuable.

 

Tier 2

 

Call of Flame 1/3

Increases the damage done by your Fire Totems by 5%, and damage done by your Lava Burst spell by 2%.

 

The only reason I even put a point in this is that one needs to go somewhere here in the lower tiers to move up to the 5th level eventually. 2% on Lava Burst works out to ~120 more damage on a 6000pt crit, one per 8 seconds, or about 15 DPS. The totem effect is nearly useless as the only fire totem that you’ll be using is Totem of Wrath anyhow… but it’s a necessary sacrifice. There are a few other spots on the talent tree where you could spend this point instead, but none are very effective, even compared to this.

 

Tier 3

 

Elemental Focus 1/1

After landing a critical strike with a Fire, Frost, or Nature damage spell, you enter a Clearcasting state. The Clearcasting state reduces the mana cost of your next 2 damage or healing spells by 40%.

 

Yes, please. This is an essential point to spend as it goes a long ways toward making your mana last and last. Also, cool sound effects let you know when you crit.

 

Elemental Fury 5/5

Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Searing, Magma, and Fire Nova Totems and your Fire, Frost, and Nature spells by 100%.

 

Yet more essential talents that represent the core of Elemental DPS. Double your critical strike damage on what is a critical-intensive class and spec.

 

Tier 4

 

Eye of the Storm 3/3

Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Lava Burst and Hex spells by 70%.

 

Remember back in Burning Crusade when it was frustrating to cast in close quarters due to pushback issues? Make sure that you get those spells off with this. While possible to forego, I tend to think more in terms of sustained dps and take this.

 

Tier 5

 

Storm Reach 2/2

Increases the range of your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells by 6 yards, and increases the radius of your Thunderstorm spell by 20%.

 

Max range? Yes, please. Important for fights like Anub’Rekhan and the last Gundrak Boss where you can outrange their debuff..

 

Call of Thunder 1/1

Increases the critical strike chance of your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning and Thunderstorm spells by an additional 5%.

 

For 1 point, all of your spammy DPS spells get a 5% critical strike increase. So what if Lava Blast isn’t included, it’s 100% crit anyhow as long as Flame Shock is ticking.

 

Unrelenting Storm 5/5

Regenerate mana equal to 10% of your Intellect every 5 sec, even while casting.

 

WotLK gear is getting pretty good about mana return, but this is nothing to sneeze at. Basically, with the level of intellect that you should be raiding with, you’re looking at a minimum of 75-85 MP5 gain that isn’t dependant on your shields being up. OOM Shammy is bad DPS Shammy.

 

Tier 6

 

Elemental Precision 3/3

Increases your chance to hit with Fire, Frost, and Nature spells by 3% and reduces the threat caused by Fire, Frost, and Nature spells by 30%.

 

Absolute raiding must-have. Plus hit is very lacking (outside of trinkets) until well into your gearing, and the 3% gain afforded by this goes a long ways. Additionally, the threat reduction is a boon for your spiky, crit-laden damage to help ensure that you don’t pull aggro early in a fight when the tank is still trying to establish their threat.

 

Lightning Mastery 5/5

Reduces the cast time of your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, and Lava Burst spells by 0.5 sec.

 

It sucks that this is so deep into the talent tree. However, this is half a second off your casting time on ¾ of your damage rotation… and the other ¼ is an instant cast.

 

Tier 7

 

Elemental Mastery 1/1

 When activated, this spell gives your next Fire, Frost, or Nature damage spell a 100% critical strike chance and reduces the mana cost by 100%

 

Free spell, 100% critical chance, every 3 minutes. For one point.

 

Tier 8

 

Elemental Oath 2/2

Your spell critical strikes grant your party or raid members within 100 yards Elemental Oath, increasing spell critical strike chance by 5%. Lasts 15 seconds.

 

The negative here is that it’s overwritten by Moonkin Aura. The positives are legion, though. This is very effective for soloing when you want to generate chain crit burst damage. It shines in 5-mans where your group composition isn’t always going to have that Moonkin. As you progress to 10-mans and 25 mans, where the likelihood of a Moonkin goes up, it loses its luster… but it’s still worth the two point investment for all of the times when that space chicken isn’t around. Given the frequency at which an Elemental Shaman should crit, it’s essentially an “always on” 5% crit buff.

 

Lightning Overload 5/5

Gives your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells a 20% chance to cast a second, similar spell on the same target at no additional cost that causes half damage and no threat

 

Basically, free, no-threat DPS. It’s a big point sink at 5 but well worth it for the added DPS.

 

Tier 9

 

Totem of Wrath 1/1

Summons a Totem of Wrath with 5 health at the feet of the caster. The totem increases the damage done by spells and effects by 280 for all party and raid members, and increases the critical strike chance of spells and effects by 3% against all enemies within 40 yards. Lasts 5 min.

 

Possibly the single best thing that you can take, talent-wise. For raiding, it’s incredible, especially in light of the fact that the spellpower changes mean that this will impact healers (280 spellpower = 526 + healing under the old mechanics). Also, note that the 3% increased critical strike chance affects all attacks, spell or physical, against the mob. This is why there’s not much point in delving into fire totem-related talents, because there’s not a better fire totem.

 

Lava Flows 3/3

Increases the range of your Flame Shock by 5 yards, and increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Lava Burst spell by an additional 24%.

 

As you’re leveling, this talent is unimportant until 75 when you actually get Lava Burst. Once you do, it’s incredible. The added Flame Shock range means you can stay at a distance and cast still; the real nugget is the critical strike bonus, since Lava Burst is a guaranteed crit every cooldown. This talent is a major damage booster and should not be avoided.

 

Tier 10

 

Storm, Earth and Fire 5/5

Reduces the cooldown of your Chain Lightning spell by 2.5 sec, your Earth Shock’s range is increased by 5 yards and the periodic damage done by your Flame Shock is increased by 50%.

 

The Earth Shock range is nice for those times that you need interrupts, since you’ll actually be in range when standing at a distance. The cooldown reduction on Chain Lightning is great as it allows it to be worked into a more regular roration, and it’s your only multi-target ranged DPS. Add to that that your Flame Shock is ticking at a 50% greater amount of damage, and you get a bundle of joy here.

 

Tier 11

 

Thunderstorm 1/1

You call down a bolt of lightning, energizing you and damaging nearby enemies within 10 yards. Restores 5% mana to you and deals 566 to 644 Nature damage to all nearby enemies, knocking them back 20 yards

 

There’s debatable good to this, but for one point I’d recommend it. Tanks may hate you for it if you’re careless, as the knockback can really mess up their jobs. If you learn to use it with precision, though, you can actually use that effect to throw a mob back to the tank, which is great fun when it works. It’s also handy as a sort of “EMP” for Shammies, to cut down walls of lesser trash that may congregate around you (The Culling of Stratholme comes to mind). Beyond that, don’t overlook the mana return. As a free spell (no mana cost), you can use this every 45 seconds to restore a sizable chunk of mana. In a fight like Lothaeb, where you’re chain casting as fast as the cooldowns go, this is a fantastic spell to supplement your waning mana reserve but still deal DPS. If you PvP, it’s a beautiful annoyance as well.

 

Enhancement Talents:

 

Tier 1

 

Ancestral Knowledge 5/5

Increases your intellect by 10%

 

If you can come up with a good reason not to take this in favor of something else, you’re a genius beyond your years. Intellect affects not only the mana pool as a whole, but the critical strike chance and regeneration rates (both passive and through Unrelenting Storm). At raiding levels, this is 1500 mana or more.

 

Tier 2

 

Thundering Strikes 5/5

Improves your chance to get a critical strike with all spells and attacks by 5%

 

This is a talent that sees a real boon from the new unification of melee and spell crits. In the Elemental tree, you have to go all the way to Call of Thunder in the 5th tier for this (though it’s only one point, in fairness). Double your fun and max out this talent.

 

Improved Shields 3/3

Increases the damage done by your Lightning Shield orbs by 15%, increases the amount of mana gained from your Water Shield orbs by 15% and increases the amount of healing done by your Earth Shield orbs by 15%

 

This is all about Water Shield. If you haven’t seen the recurring mana conservation theme here already, this talent is just another example. If there is one talent that can be taken out of this build and the points allocated elsewhere, though, this is likely it. Whether or not you do is completely reliant on the state of your mana regeneration, and whether it would allow you to divest yourself of these points.

 

Tier 3

 

Elemental Weapons 3/3

Increases the damage caused by your Windfury Weapon effect by 40% increases the spell damage on your Flametongue Weapon by 30% and increases the bonus healing on your Earthliving Weapon by 30%

 

This is purely for Flametongue Weapon… but then, you’re talking about a 30% spellpower increase on the already substantial bonus. That’s too good to pass up.

 

Shamanistic Focus 1/1

Reduces the mana cost of your Shock spells by 45%

 

This saves you more than 250 mana per cast. Considering that you’ll be casting Flame Shock about every 8 seconds, you can restate this talent as “gain 150 MP5 if you’re using Flame Shock in a regular rotation”. Well, since you put it that way…..

 

 

So there you have the basic build. Now, as to what *didn’t* get included, but that you can make a case for in a PVE build; note that I’m assuming that those 3 “improved shields” points may be in play for this, as I really don’t see much room for movement in the rest of the build.

 

Elemental Tree:

 

Call of Flame
Increases the damage done by your Fire Totems by 5%, and damage done by your Lava Burst spell by 2%.(3 ranks)

 

We’ve been here before. In the current build, this is 1/3. It could be moved to 3/3 easily to increase the damage output of your biggest hammer in Lava Burst. The more I look at this, the more I find myself moving in favor of transferring 2 points from Improved Shields and into here for a little more “Pow!”. Just to reiterate, though – leave the points in Improved Shields if you’re continually pushing the limits of your mana. 4% more damage on a spell that you cast every 9 seconds is not worth it if you’re finding yourself unable to cast regularly because you’re OOM.

 

Elemental Warding

Reduces damage taken from Fire, Frost and Nature effects by 4% (3 ranks)

 

I’d buy into this if Shadow damage got included. As it is, I think it’s a bit too specific to warrant merit, though your mileage may vary. It’s really just a splash damage mitigator.

 

Reverberation

Reduces the cooldown of your Shock spells by 0.2 sec (5 ranks)

 

I’m not a big fan of points here. Flame shock already has a shorter cooldown than Lava Burst (which works just fine in a damage rotation), and (unless you’re interrupting via Earthshock), I haven’t had too much call so far to cast shock spells faster than their cooldowns.

 

Elemental Shields

Reduces all physical damage taken by 2% (3 ranks)

 

I could buy into this for splash survivability. Realistically, though, you shouldn’t be taking much physical damage in a group / raid environment if roles are handled properly. May have some use for soloing elites and such when out by yourself.

 

Astral Shift

When stunned, feared or silenced you shift into the Astral Plane reducing all damage taken by 10% for the duration of the stun, fear or silence effect (3 ranks)

 

Kind of a pvp thing, though may be useful if you have a habit of being stunned while standing in fire or something.

 

Enhancement Tree:

 

Enhancing Totems

Increases the effect of your Strength of Earth and Flametongue Totems by 5% (3 ranks)

 

There was a time when this would be a clear favorite for Raid support. The caveat here is Death Knights; that Horn thingy that they’re always blowing on is a similar, but better buff. In the absence of a regular Death Knight (try making that happen these days), this would be viable.

 

Earth’s Grasp

Increases the health of your Stoneclaw Totem by 25% and the radius of your Earthbind Totem by 10% (2 ranks)

 

Probably only has viability for fights like Gluth. It’d be a nice luxury there, but probably not worth the points due to PVE limitations.

 

Guardian Totems

Increases the amount of armor increased by your Stoneskin Totem 10% and reduces the cooldown of your Grounding Totem by 1 sec (2 ranks)

 

Yet another overwritten buff, this time it’s Paladins and their Devotion Aura. If you invest in it, and aren’t dropping SoE, this is a worthwhile Raid contributor as most Pallies would rather use something-other-than-Devotion. Grounding Totem bonus also useful in spots, and very much so in PvP.

 

Improved Ghost Wolf

Reduces the cast time of your Ghost Wolf spell by 1 sec (2 ranks)

 

2/2 is instant cast Ghost Wolf. More of a convenience in most cases, great for PvP.

 

Restoration tree

 

Improved Healing Wave

Reduces the casting time of your Healing Wave spell by 0.1 sec (5 ranks)

 

You’re probably not going to need it. Though you’ll be doing some supplemental healing, Chain Heal and Lesser Healing Wave are used far more often due to the group healing and fast casting nature (respectively)

 

Totemic Focus

Reduces the Mana cost of your totems by 5% (5 ranks)

 

Moderate use here. The issue I have is, totems are frequently laid down before the pull; if you’re smart about it and place them far enough before the pull, your natural mana regeneration should recover the cost of the totems anyways. The benefits just don’t outweigh the 3-points that could be better spent elsewhere to me.

 

Stuff that has absolutely no worth to me in an Elemental / Enhancement build:

 

Elemental Devestation – because I’m not melee.

 

Improved Fire Nova Totem – because Totem of Wrath is all the fire totem I’ll use.

 

Anticipation, and every tier 4 or higher Enhancement talent – again, I don’t melee.

 

  In summary, the focus of this build is primarily on the Shaman’s ability to deal and maintain spell damage, with a secondary (albeit minor) focus into party and raid support through totems. This build is more of a true DPS build than the popular Ele / Resto hybrids; I personally feel that too much DPS is sacrificed in order to make one of those builds viable in a multiclass role.

 

  From my own standpoint, I play primarily as a Restoration Shaman; I use this build when the Raid has enough healers and needs the DPS / support utility from an Elemental build, and for soloing. I have found that most of the same gear that I’m using for Resto translates well into Elemental, especially in terms of mana regeneration. I’m light on spell hit and critical strike by nature; I’ve noticed, though, that much of the Restoration gear (such as the T7 shoulders and gloves that I’m currently using) is coming with critical strike rating which helps to make it more suitable to dual-speccing.

 

  Spell hit is a trickier issue. Nearly all caster mail (short of the T7 Elemental-specific pieces) is devoid of the stat. The easiest solution to the problem is through trinkets; Wyrmrest Temple has a level 80 quest to return to the Bronze Dragonflight quest area which will reward the Rune of Infinite Power (+55 hit rating / Spellpower +202 for 20 sec / 2 min CD). Violet Hold (heroic) can produce the Mark of the War Prisoner (+73 hit rating / Spellpower +346 for 20 sec / 2 min CD) as well. Combined, they should provide sufficient spellhit for raiding (though you’ll still be well below cap, it will be a lot less noticeable). One further easy addition can be used via rings with the Voodoo Signet from a Gundrak quest, though the 24 spell hit may be less favorable than a ring with critical strike rating instead.

 

  Finally, to make the most of your trinkets and the Elemental Mastery talent, I’d recommend making a macro for your Chain Lightning button. The one I use looks like this:

 

/cast Elemental Mastery

/use mark of the war prisoner

/use rune of infinite power

/cast chain lightning

 

(substitute your trinkets, if different,  for either of the above if they have an on-use effect)

 

  Essentially, for anyone newer to macros, what it means is this: if your Elemental Mastery cooldown is up, it will fire it for Chain Lightning. This is the best spell to use it on for three reasons: firstly, while Lava Burst is your highest damage spell, it should always crit anyways, provided that you are maintaining your Flame Shock. Secondly, the 100% critical effect will extend to all three targets of the spell. Finally, Chain Lightning is a pretty expensive spell in terms of mana, and a free one is worth a lot of endurance. After the macro checks to see if it can use Elemental Mastery, it will look to see if either of your trinkets are available, starting with the strongest. By tying this to a spell that is a part of your regular rotation, you ensure that you get the maximum uptime for your spellpower bonuses. After all, how many times do you have a fight where you think afterwards, “I should have popped my trinkets for more DPS”? The downside is that they get used in a somewhat pell-mell manner and don’t get saved for “need” situations. You can circumvent this, though, by placing the regular Chain Lightning spell right next to it in the bar, and using the less-super version when you’re trying to save up your special surprise for a specific time.

 

  Lastly, there is the issue of spell rotation. It varies with haste rating, but more or less will be something like this: Flame Shock, Chain Lightning, Lightning Bolt, Lightning Bolt, Lava Burst. The really important factor in this is that Flame Shock follow directly after Lava Burst so that you get the maximum tick from it (unless glyphed to avoid consumption of the effect). If you find that the given rotation is not long enough for your Lava Burst cooldown to come up (as it’s essentially Flame Shock followed by enough filler to bridge the gap until Lava Burst is available again), try to fit a second Chain Lightning in if your mana allows. This may need to be spaced out differently to accommodate the cooldown, such as Chain – Flame Shock – Lightning Bolt – Chain – Lightning Bolt – Lava Burst. Experiment as needed to find your most efficient rotation.

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