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Elemental Shaman DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.1)

Last updated on Dec 01, 2016 at 09:56 by Furty 91 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Elemental Shaman core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Legion 7.1. 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 Author

This guide has been written by Furty who raids in Serenity, one of the top World of Warcraft guilds. He plays most classes at the highest level. You can follow him on Twitter and watch him play on Twitch.

This guide has been reviewed and approved by Nàsty, one of the top parsing Elemental Shamans.

1. Rotation

The rotation of an Elemental Shaman revolves around the following priority list.

1.1. Single Target Rotation

  1. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock if it is absent and the target will live for at least 6 seconds. Refresh at 9 seconds or less with 20 Maelstrom and Elemental Focus Icon Elemental Focus if possible, unless the target will die shortly after.
  2. Cast Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental if it is off cooldown. Always pair your elemental with Haste buffs (e.g. Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust, Elemental Mastery Icon Elemental Mastery) if possible, but do not sacrifice an extra usage by delaying your elemental.
  3. Cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock if Maelstrom is 92 or greater.
  4. Cast Ascendance Icon Ascendance (if talented) if it is off cooldown.
  5. Cast Elemental Mastery Icon Elemental Mastery on cooldown where appropriate.
  6. Cast Icefury Icon Icefury (if talented) and priority damage is necessary, predictable movement is incoming, and/or Maelstrom is less than 76.
  7. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst whenever available and Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock is applied to the target.
  8. Frost Shock Icon Frost Shock if Icefury Icon Icefury buff is active.
  9.  Icon Stormkeeper whenever available if you are not about to use Ascendance Icon Ascendance.
  10. Maintain Totem Mastery Icon Totem Mastery buff.
  11. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt as a filler on a single target.

If you choose Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast as your Tier 4 talent, you should use it on cooldown as often as possible (below Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock in priority).

The Elemental rotation is mostly fixated on casting Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst as much as possible. Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock can be used flexibly as a Maelstrom dump. While Elemental does have some reactive components, it is overall a very predictable specialization, allowing you to easily plan your Maelstrom generation and cooldown dumps well in advance.

1.2. Multiple Target Rotation

If Lightning Rod Icon Lightning Rod is being used, every cast of Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning should be used on a target not yet affected by the Lightning Rod debuff, or the target with the lowest duration on their debuff. This will allow you to fully realize the effectiveness of this talent and maximize your damage output.

Once  Icon Static Overload has been unlocked, Maelstrom generation can be very spiky depending on your RNG, so beware Maelstrom capping by accident.

1.2.1. 2 Targets

  1. Cast Liquid Magma Totem Icon Liquid Magma Totem (if talented).
  2. Apply and maintain Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock on both targets.
  3. Follow the single target priority, however, replace any filler casts of Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt with Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning if it will hit both targets.
  4. Replace Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock with Earthquake Icon Earthquake during periods of significant Haste increases (e.g. Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust) if you can guarantee the targets will not move for the entire duration.

1.2.2. 3 Targets

  1. Cast Liquid Magma Totem Icon Liquid Magma Totem (if talented).
  2. Apply and maintain Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock on all targets.
  3. Only cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst when Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge is available.
  4. Cast Earthquake Icon Earthquake at 50+ Maelstrom (multiple instances of this spell overlap) if the targets will remain in the zone for its duration.

1.2.3. 4 Targets

  1. Cast Liquid Magma Totem Icon Liquid Magma Totem (if talented).
  2. Spend all Maelstrom on Earthquake Icon Earthquake.
  3. Cast Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning to generate Maelstrom.

For more information on your opening sequence, please refer to our dedicated section.

2. Important Notes

2.1. Stormkeeper

 Icon Stormkeeper is your Artifact cooldown. It has a 1.5-second cast time, causes your next 3 Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt OR Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning casts to deal 200% increased damage, and makes them instant cast spells. It also affects Lava Beam Icon Lava Beam. This ability is used more or less on cooldown as it does not greatly affect the rotation. You can save it for up to 30 seconds to deal increased cleave or priority target damage if the fight requires it, and it can also be useful to sit on the cooldown for a few seconds if you know you will need to move, as the instant cast spells aid greatly in mobility. You should not delay it if it will cost you overall usages of the spell in the encounter, however.

2.2. Lava Burst and Flame Shock

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

You should only cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst when Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock is active on the target, or the target will live for less than 6 seconds. Flame Shock ticks every 2 seconds without accounting for Haste, meaning that you have to take advantage of Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge within one global cooldown to avoid potentially wasting a new Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge proc from the next Flame Shock tick. By the same token, casting Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst immediately as it comes off cooldown is also imperative so that Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge is not wasted while Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst is off cooldown.

Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock's duration is based off of Maelstrom. While it technically costs no Maelstrom to cast, you will spend up to 20 Maelstrom applying it if it is available. Flame Shock lasts 15 seconds when you have 0 Maelstrom, and 30 seconds when you have 20 Maelstrom. For every additional point of Maelstrom you have above 0 your Flame Shock will be extended by 5%, up to a maximum of 100% extension at 20 Maelstrom.

Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock benefits from Pandemic, meaning that you can refresh it any time that it has less than 30% of its original maximum duration remaining and the remaining duration will be added to the new debuff. Therefore, if you apply a Flame Shock with the maximum value of 20 Maelstrom (30-second duration), you will be able to refresh it without wasting any duration when it has 9 seconds or less remaining, and it will be extended by 30 seconds. For example, if your Flame Shock had 6 seconds left, and you refreshed it with a 20 Maelstrom Flame Shock, your new Flame Shock would last 36 seconds.

2.3. Primal Elementalist vs. Icefury

While both of these talents have merit, Primal Elementalist Icon Primal Elementalist pulls noticeably ahead on fights where single target is of the highest important, and you can get full effectiveness out of your elemental. It also plays to the strengths of Elemental, significantly bolstering your burst damage and allowing you to apply a ton of pressure during its active duration. Icefury Icon Icefury, however, allows you to apply a lot more instant pressure every 30 seconds, offering you another potent Maelstrom spender to help burst down high priority targets.

In most situations, Primal Elementalist Icon Primal Elementalist is going to give you more bang for your buck. Overall, the damage differential is noticeable enough that it is worth the trade off. There are some encounters, however, where the Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental does not get full effectiveness. In situations where you need to burst down short-lived adds as fast as possible, such as in Hellfire Assault, it is more effective to use Icefury Icon Icefury, as it offers a very effective Maelstrom dump every 30 seconds and will help deal increased priority target damage.

3. Core Concepts

Elemental Shaman is a very straightforward specialization, however, it offers a dizzying amount of flexibility. Understanding the fundamentals so that you can confidently make the correct choices in a variety of situations is the key to success. There are 3 major concepts that form the essential trinity of optimizing for success:

  1. Maelstrom management;
  2. cooldown usage;
  3. movement management.

Managing movement is a fundamental skill shared by all the caster classes in World of Warcraft, and is of critical importance to conquering your spec. Elemental in particular does not have many tools at its disposal to handle heavy movement, so achieving a level of comfort with dealing damage on the move will heavily bolster your damage output.

3.1. Maelstrom Management

Managing your Maelstrom as Elemental is not as critical as it is for Enhancement, as your Maelstrom generation is quite slow and predictable. There are not many ways to spend Maelstrom in creative ways that will affect your overall output, however, there are a variety of ways to use your Maelstrom to significantly improve your damage on adds, alongside your short term burst.

You should aim to dump your Maelstrom via Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock during damage procs, such as trinkets. You should also plan your Maelstrom dumps in accordance with the spawns of important adds, such as Doomfire Spirits on Archimonde, so you can instantly apply pressure where it counts. You will generate a significantly higher amount of Maelstrom when cleaving with Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning, allowing you to deal a lot more single target damage with Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock. While Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock scales linearly with Maelstrom, meaning you can spend it at any point without penalty, it is more efficient to spend at higher levels of Maelstrom for increased burst damage or to take better advantage of procs.

3.2. Cooldown Usage

Setting up for your cooldowns is very important, as they are responsible for a large percentage of your damage output and have lengthy recharge times. You should usually have Ascendance Icon Ascendance and Elemental Mastery Icon Elemental Mastery talented. Aside from the opener, you should do the following before entering a cooldown phase:

  • ensure Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock will last at least 20 seconds;
  • check boss timers to ensure you will not have to move much for at least 20 seconds;
  • clear your Maelstrom with Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock.

Whenever possible, it is more efficient to spend your time in Ascendance Icon Ascendance casting Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst instead of Lava Beam Icon Lava Beam, so try to use Ascendance for single target damage wherever possible. It is also best to overlap Elemental Mastery Icon Elemental Mastery and Ascendance whenever possible, though if you could get an extra usage of Elemental Mastery Icon Elemental Mastery by using it on cooldown then that is preferable. You should continue to dump Maelstrom on Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock if you Maelstrom cap even while Ascendance is active.

3.3. Movement Management

While it is difficult to describe the best ways to position and move during a dungeon or raid encounter, it is essential to your success as an Elemental Shaman. If your movement is not urgent, try to take steps every time you cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock or reapply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock. Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge procs also present good opportunities to take stutter steps. Fights that favor Icefury Icon Icefury also allow great opportunities to move while casting Frost Shock Icon Frost Shock. Finally, always try to position yourself in a location central to fight movement. For example, if the boss is being moved in a circle, try to stay on the inside of the kite path to ensure minimal movement.

3.3.1. Quiet Movement

Many players will unconsciously move during fights, despite it being unnecessary. For example, sometimes the boss or adds will be moved by the tank a couple yards, and though you are still in range to cast, you subconsciously mirror that movement, costing you global cooldowns. Consciously work to "quiet" your movement, and reduce unnecessary movement to a minimum. The best way to see this in action is to take a video of your raid, then watch yourself play. Most players will be surprised by the amount of wasted movement they commit. When you are forced to move, make use of the tips above, and make your path as direct and decisive as possible.

4. Opening Sequence

4.1. Ascendance Opener

  1. Cast Totem Mastery Icon Totem Mastery 4 seconds from the pull (if talented).
  2. Cast Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental 3 seconds from the pull.
  3. Use Potion of Prolonged Power Icon Potion of Prolonged Power.
  4. Pre-cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt at 2s from the pull.
  5. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock.
  6. Use Elemental Mastery Icon Elemental Mastery (if talented).
  7. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  8. Activate and racial abilities or on use trinkets.
  9. Activate Ascendance Icon Ascendance.
  10. Spam Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  11. Use Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock when you Maelstrom cap.

4.2. Lightning Rod Opener

  1. Cast Totem Mastery Icon Totem Mastery 4 seconds from the pull (if talented).
  2. Cast Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental 3 seconds from the pull.
  3. Use Potion of Prolonged Power Icon Potion of Prolonged Power.
  4. Pre-cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt at 2s from the pull.
  5. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock.
  6. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  7. Cast  Icon Stormkeeper.
  8. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt 3 times.
  9. Activate Elemental Mastery Icon Elemental Mastery and proceed with normal priority.

5. ChangeLog

  • 01 Dec. 2016: Split guide into single & multi target sections for clarity. Added two separate opening sequences for different Tier 7 talents.
  • 25 Oct. 2016: Updated Stormkeeper section to note that it now has a 1.5-second cast and affected spells are now instant in Patch 7.1.
  • 29 Aug. 2016: Updated for Legion's launch.
  • 18 Jul. 2016: Updated for the Legion pre-patch.
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