Elemental Shaman DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (WoW MoP 5.4)

79 comments
Elemental Shaman Art Image
General Information

On this page, we list your Elemental Shaman core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft MoP 5.4. We also explain when to use your various cooldowns. Then, we go deeper and present all the subtleties that you will need to know if you want to excel at playing an Elemental Shaman.

The other pages of our Elemental Shaman guide can be accessed from the table of contents on the right.

About Our Reviewer

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Leeds, one of the best Elemental Shamans in the world, who raids in Method. You can watch his stream on Twitch.

1. Single Target Rotation↑top

In the case of a single target, the rotation of an Elemental Shaman is a priority checklist:

  1. Keep Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock up on the target. Refresh when there are 3 seconds or less left.
  2. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst on cooldown
    • watch out for its cooldown being reset by procs of Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge.
  3. Cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock when you have 6 or 7 charges of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield.
  4. Keep Searing Totem Icon Searing Totem up.
  5. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt as a filler.

If you chose Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast as your Tier 6 talent, then using it on cooldown becomes your priority number 3, after keeping Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock up and using Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst. You do want to delay it at certain points, for example to have it ready right when you enter Ascendance Icon Ascendance (this will increase burst damage).

If you chose Unleashed Fury Icon Unleashed Fury as your Tier 6 talent, then Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements becomes part of your rotation and is your main priority, after keeping Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock up on the target.

See our Opening Sequence for instructions on what to cast when the fight starts.

2. Multiple Target Rotation↑top

If the enemies are spread out, simply maintain your Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock on as many of them as possible while performing your single-target rotation on one of them.

If the enemies are in the same area, proceed as follows.

Note that if targets will live at least 1 minute and are tanked at the same spot it is worth using Magma Totem Icon Magma Totem. That said, it is currently not the case in any encounter in Siege of Orgrimmar.

3. Shield and Weapon Imbue↑top

Use Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield and Flametongue Weapon Icon Flametongue Weapon.

Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield lasts for 1 hour and damage does not cause it to drop. Thanks to your Rolling Thunder Icon Rolling Thunder passive ability, Lightning Shield is an integral part of your Elemental Shaman play style.

4. Cooldown Usage↑top

As an Elemental Shaman, you have 6 main cooldowns:

  • Ascendance Icon Ascendance is your Mists of Pandaria ability. This ability causes your Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst to no longer have a cooldown and your Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning to become Lava Beam Icon Lava Beam, a more powerful AoE ability. Ascendance has a 3-minute cooldown and should be used whenever it is available. You can also save it to line it up with periods during which you deal increased damage.
  • Fire Elemental Totem Icon Fire Elemental Totem and Earth Elemental Totem Icon Earth Elemental Totem are important DPS cooldowns (especially the former, which is by far the most powerful), they should be used whenever your Elementals will be able to attack the boss for 1 minute without being interrupted (unless you are using Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem Icon Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem). These two totems are mutually exclusive, as using one causes a 1-minute cooldown on the other. So, use Fire Elemental Totem Icon Fire Elemental Totem with higher priority and use Earth Elemental Totem Icon Earth Elemental Totem when your Fire Elemental Totem is on cooldown.
  • Spiritwalker's Grace Icon Spiritwalker's Grace can be used to cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst when you are on the move.
  • Thunderstorm Icon Thunderstorm is both
    • an AoE DPS cooldown, which you should always use when you have 6 or more enemies to attack and;
    • a mana management tool, which you should use on cooldown if you are having mana issues (most likely from spamming Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning).
  • Stormlash Totem Icon Stormlash Totem is a raid-wide DPS cooldown that causes every players within 40 yards of the totem to deal additional Nature damage for 10 seconds. Use it when the raid will deal increased damage (while Heroism Icon Heroism / Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust / Time Warp Icon Time Warp is active, for example). You can also use it to push past an important encounter phase.

Your elementals benefit from your Spell Power, so it is beneficial to summon them during times when your Spell Power is increased (Enchant Weapon - Jade Spirit Icon Enchant Weapon - Jade Spirit proc, for example).

In addition, your talents grant you a number of other DPS and healing cooldowns, as we explain in our talent cooldown section.

5. Optional Read: Mastering Your Elemental Shaman↑top

The advice provided above will enable you to play your Elemental Shaman very efficiently. The only real optimisations are regarding the use of Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements in conjunction with Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst and Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock, and regarding the management of your charges of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield. We detail them below. Other than that, you might be interested in the various mechanics your class have.

5.1. Using Unleash Elements

Normally, using Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements for Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock or Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst does not increase your damage enough that it will make up for the global cooldown you used to cast Unleash Elements.

However, there is a trick to make both Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock and Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst benefit from the Unleash Flame Icon Unleash Flame buff that Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements gives you. Simply cast Lava Burst immediately followed by Flame Shock, while Unleash Flame is active. Both spells will land on the target at the same time and both spells will benefit from Unleash Flame.

The only time when you should use this trick is when you want to refresh Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock and Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst happens to be off cooldown. In every other situation, it is not worth delaying your cast of Lava Burst or refreshing Flame Shock early just for using the trick.

5.2. Fulmination and Charges of Lightning Shield

When you deal damage with Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning, you have a 60% chance to generate an additional charge of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield, thanks to Rolling Thunder Icon Rolling Thunder. Damage done by Mastery: Elemental Overload Icon Mastery: Elemental Overload (your mastery) also has the same chance to proc Rolling Thunder Icon Rolling Thunder. Your charges of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield will not drop when you take damage.

Note that each of the jumps of Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning has a chance to generate an additional charge of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield. This means that in a multiple-target situation, you will generate charges of Lightning Shield much faster than in a single-target situation. Depending on the number of enemies, you may find yourself in a situation where you generate these charges faster than you can spend them (but there is nothing you can do about the wasted charges).

Using Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock when you have 1 or more charges of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield consumes the extra charges and deals Fulmination Icon Fulmination damage proportional to the number of charges consumed.

Ideally, you should always use Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock when you have 7 charges of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield. Unfortunately, things are not so easy. There is a slight delay between the moment you finish casting Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt and the moment a new charge of Lightning Shield is being granted to you. This means that when you receive your 7th charge of Lightning Shield, you will have already started casting something, most likely another Lightning Bolt. As you can see, this runs the risk that this new cast will generate a wasted charge of Lightning Shield (since you cannot have more than 7). Therefore, to avoid wasting charges, we advise you to try and cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock at 5 or 6 charges of Lightning Shield (remember that Lightning Bolt can generate two charges, due to Mastery: Elemental Overload Icon Mastery: Elemental Overload, your mastery).

You also need to keep an eye open for Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock, which you need to refresh right before its last tick (when its remaining duration is below 3 seconds). Since you need to sometimes save the spell shock cooldown for Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock, this means that you will sometimes have constraints on your timing for casting Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock. Approximately 8 seconds before Flame Shock expires, you have two courses of action, depending on your number of charges of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield.

  1. If you have 6 or 7 charges of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield, cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock and refresh Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock as soon as the shock spell cooldown finishes.
  2. If you have 5 or less charges of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield, do not cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock and refresh Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock as soon as possible (ideally, right after the duration hits the 3-second mark). When the shock spell cooldown finishes, you will have enough charges of Lightning Shield to use Earth Shock.

Note that you should always prioritise casting Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst over consuming your charges of Lightning Shield Icon Lightning Shield with Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock, even if you have 7 charges. Indeed, Lava Burst does not generate extra charges of Lightning Shield, so you will never run the risk of wasting a charge of Lightning Shield when you cast Lava Burst.

5.3. Lava Burst and Flame Shock

The reason why Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock should always be up on your target is because:

  • each tick has a chance to proc Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge, which resets the cooldown of Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst;
  • your Lava Burst deals 50% more damage, if Flame Shock is on the target.

Conversely, you should only cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst when Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock is up on your target.

Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock ticks every 3 seconds, which means that you have 3 seconds (or less, depending on your haste) to make use of a proc of Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge before running the risk to see it wasted by a new proc of Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge. To prevent wasting procs of Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge, you should always cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst as soon as its cooldown is reset.

The reason why you want to refresh Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock with 3 seconds remaining or less is because if you refresh the spell with one tick remaining, this tick will simply be added to the new duration (and will therefore not be wasted).

5.4. Opening Sequence

  1. 2-3 seconds before the pull, prepot and drop Fire Elemental Totem Icon Fire Elemental Totem.
  2. 1-2 seconds before the pull, start casting Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt or Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast (if talented).
  3. Cast Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements at the pull. This will proc your meta-gem and buff Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst/Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock.
  4. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst immediately followed by Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock (they will both benefit from the Unleash Flame Icon Unleash Flame buff).
  5. Cast Ascendance Icon Ascendance.

Heroism Icon Heroism/Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust and Stormlash Totem Icon Stormlash Totem can also be part of this opening sequence, depending on how your raid wants to use them. If you are supposed to cast the first Stormlash of the fight, then you should do so right before casting Ascendance Icon Ascendance. The same applies to Bloodlust/Heroism.

5.5. Mana Management

As we will see in this section, you have many talents and abilities to ensure that you will never go out of mana.

You have several passive mana management tools:

  • Rolling Thunder Icon Rolling Thunder, a passive ability that causes each hit with Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning to have a chance to restore 2% of your mana (for Chain Lightning, each target struck counts as a hit);
  • Elemental Focus Icon Elemental Focus, a passive ability that causes critical strikes with non-periodic spells to reduces the mana cost of your next 2 spells by 25%.

In addition to this, you have Thunderstorm Icon Thunderstorm, which you can use to restore 15% of your mana every 45 seconds (35 with Glyph of Thunder Icon Glyph of Thunder). Thunderstorm will mostly be useful when you are faced with the high mana cost of spamming Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning.

Finally, you have Shamanistic Rage Icon Shamanistic Rage, which causes your offensive spells to cost no mana for 15 seconds (in addition to also reducing damage by 30%).

5.6. Additional Cooldowns

5.6.1. Defensive Cooldowns

Shamanistic Rage Icon Shamanistic Rage reduces all damage taken by 30% for 15 seconds. With Glyph of Shamanistic Rage Icon Glyph of Shamanistic Rage, it also removes all dispellable debuffs from you. It has a 1-minute cooldown.

Healing Tide Totem Icon Healing Tide Totem is a powerful healing cooldown, especially in 25-man raids, where it will target the 12 most injured players.

5.6.2. Tier 1 Talents

Your Tier 1 of talents gives you access to 2 additional defensive cooldowns that are mutually exclusive: Stone Bulwark Totem Icon Stone Bulwark Totem and Astral Shift Icon Astral Shift. Simply use them whenever needed, following the guidelines we gave in the talents page.

5.6.3. Tier 4 Talents

Ancestral Swiftness Icon Ancestral Swiftness gives you an instant-cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning every minute. The best way to use it is to make a macro (see our Ancestral Swiftness macro).

Elemental Mastery Icon Elemental Mastery greatly increases your damage throughput for 20 seconds, so you should use it on cooldown or keep it for times when you deal increased damage.

5.6.4. Tier 5 Talents

Ancestral Guidance Icon Ancestral Guidance is a powerful healing cooldown that you should use in times of high raid-wide damage during which you also deal a large amount of damage.

5.6.5. Tier 6 Talent: Primal Elementalist

If you chose Primal Elementalist Icon Primal Elementalist as your Tier 6 talent, you can get your Earth Elemental Totem Icon Earth Elemental Totem and your Fire Elemental Totem Icon Fire Elemental Totem to respectively channel Reinforce Icon Reinforce and Empower Icon Empower on you. While they are channeling, your Elementals are not doing any damage.

Reinforce Icon Reinforce reduces the damage you take by 20%. As your Earth Elemental does not do much damage, you should never hesitate to let it channel Reinforce if you are taking damage.

Empower Icon Empower increases the damage you do by 5%. Your Fire Elemental does a significant amount of damage and, in the general case, increasing your damage by 5% does not make up for the damage your Fire Elemental is not doing while channeling. If you are in a situation where 5% of your damage represents a larger amount than the damage your Fire Elemental deals, then it is beneficial to let your Elemental channel Empower.

Both channels also increase the healing you do by 10%, but this will rarely affect your decision as to whether you should let your Elemental channel.

6. Changelog↑top

  • 04 Feb. 2014: Added an opening sequence and a mention of Unleashed Fury in the single-target rotation. Thanks to Tickle from Totemspot.
  • 10 Sep. 2013: Patch 5.4: nothing to change.
  • 20 May 2013: Patch 5.3 update: Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt can now be cast while moving. The Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst change has no impact on playstyle.
  • 22 Apr. 2013: Improved single-target and AoE rotations following review from Leeds.
  • 29 Mar. 2013: Added Shamanistic Rage Icon Shamanistic Rage to the Mana Management section.
  • 09 Mar. 2013: Patch 5.2 update.
    • Updated Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst and Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock explanations to account for the fact that Lava Burst is always a critical strike and that it deals 50% more damage when Flame Shock is active on the target.
    • Removed tip for Unleash Elements Icon Unleash Elements, Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst, and Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock.
    • Improved explanations for using your Elemental Totems.
    • Improved explanations for when to use Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock.