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Elemental Shaman DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities (Legion 7.1.5)

Last updated on Jan 09, 2017 at 19:38 by Furty 120 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 7.1.5. 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 and Reviewers

This guide has been written by Furty, who has an illustrious history in the World of Warcraft raiding scene and race for World First. He has been a member of guilds such as Serenity, Midwinter, and many more, and is currently raiding in Myst. He plays most classes at the highest level. You can follow him on Twitter and watch him play on Twitch.

This guide has been written in collaboration with the team at Storm Earth and Lava, a group of Elemental theorycrafters that includes top players and prominent theorycrafters such as Stormy from Consequence, Sadozai from Wizards IRL, Gistwiki from Indestructible, and Booze from Entropy (world #5 guild).

1. Rotation

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

1.1. Single Target Rotation - Icefury Build

  1. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock if:
    • It is absent
    • It will expire in 9 seconds or less, your Maelstrom is 20 or higher, and you have a stack of Elemental Focus Icon Elemental Focus.
  2. Cast Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental if it is off cooldown. Always pair your elemental with Haste buffs (e.g. Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust) if possible, but do not sacrifice an extra usage by delaying your elemental.
  3. Cast Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast whenever available.
  4. Cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock if Maelstrom is 92 or greater.
  5. Cast Icefury Icon Icefury when available if:
    • You are below 76 Maelstrom
    • You will be able to use all 4 Frost Shock Icon Frost Shocks before they expire.
  6. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst when Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge is active, or if you have 2 charges of Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  7. Cast Frost Shock Icon Frost Shock if your Maelstrom is 20 or higher and you have a stack of Icefury Icon Icefury.
  8. Cast  Icon Stormkeeper whenever available.
  9. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  10. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt as a filler on a single target.

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

1.2. Single Target Rotation - Ascendance Build

  1. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock if:
    • It is absent
    • It will expire in 9 seconds or less, your Maelstrom is 20 or higher, and you have a stack of Elemental Focus Icon Elemental Focus.
  2. Cast Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental if it is off cooldown. Always pair your elemental with Haste buffs (e.g. Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust) if possible, but do not sacrifice an extra usage by delaying your elemental.
  3. Cast Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast whenever available.
  4. Cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock if Maelstrom is 92 or greater.
  5. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst when Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge is active, or if you have 2 charges of Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  6. Cast Ascendance Icon Ascendance when available, providing you will not have to move during its duration.
  7. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt if  Icon Power of the Maelstrom is active and Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst has fewer than 2 charges available.
  8. Cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock if Maelstrom is 86 or greater and Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge is not available.
  9. Cast  Icon Stormkeeper if you will be able to use all 3 charges of  Icon Power of the Maelstrom.
  10. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  11. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt as a filler on a single target.

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

1.3. Single Target Rotation - Lightning Rod Build

  1. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock if:
    • It is absent
    • It will expire in 9 seconds or less, your Maelstrom is 20 or higher, and you have a stack of Elemental Focus Icon Elemental Focus.
  2. Cast Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental if it is off cooldown. Always pair your elemental with Haste buffs (e.g. Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust) if possible, but do not sacrifice an extra usage by delaying your elemental.
  3. Cast Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast (if talented) whenever available.
  4. Cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock if Maelstrom is 92 or greater.
  5. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst whenever available.
  6. Cast Liquid Magma Totem Icon Liquid Magma Totem whenever available.
  7. Cast  Icon Stormkeeper whenever available.
  8. Maintain the Totem Mastery Icon Totem Mastery buff.
  9. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt as a filler on a single target.

1.4. 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.

1.4.1. 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.

1.4.2. 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. If you have BOTH The Deceiver's Blood Pact Icon The Deceiver's Blood Pact and Echoes of the Great Sundering Icon Echoes of the Great Sundering, you should instead spend Maelstrom on Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock.

1.4.3. 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.

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.

Always try to re-apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock with an Elemental Focus Icon Elemental Focus buff if possible.

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

You should avoid casting Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst above 88 Maelstrom and Icefury Icon Icefury aove 76 Maelstrom. These limits are the maximum Maelstrom you can have before casting those spells to not overcap Maelstrom without an overload proc (Mastery). It is likely these spells will overload at raid levels of gear, therefore, if you cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst at 88 Maelstrom or Icefury Icon Icefury at 76 Maelstrom it is likely you will overcap Maelstrom and waste valuable resources. In practice, it is safer to cast these spells at lower Maelstrom than their limits to avoid wasting your overload procs. The key to success is managing all of your separate procs without overcapping Maelstrom.

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. If you have Ascendance Icon Ascendance talented, it is important you do the following before activating it:

You should re-cast Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast when it comes off of cooldown inside of Ascendance Icon Ascendance. Do not Maelstrom dump with Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock while Ascendance Icon Ascendance is active.

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 important to use Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental when you will gain the maximum benefit from it. It is recommended to use this in conjunction with your Potion of Prolonged Power Icon Potion of Prolonged Power and Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust — even if it means holding the spell for a while. You should never sacrifice an extra usage of this cooldown by holding it too long, however, so pay careful attention to the length of the current encounter.

It can be beneficial to save  Icon Stormkeeper for add spawns to increase your Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning output. You should delay  Icon Stormkeeper no longer than 25 seconds after it comes off of cooldown, regardless of cleave opportunities, as the extra usages will be more valuable.

Never delay Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast unless you are Maelstrom capped, in which case you should cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock.

You should also endeavour to buff your instant spells with Elemental Focus Icon Elemental Focus when available. Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock refreshes should always be buffed.

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. Icefury Icon Icefury allows 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. Icefury Opener

  1. Cast Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental 3 seconds from the pull.
  2. Use Potion of Prolonged Power Icon Potion of Prolonged Power.
  3. Pre-cast Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast at 2s from the pull.
  4. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  5. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock.
  6. Activate and racial abilities or on use trinkets.
  7. Proceed with normal priority.

4.2. Ascendance Opener

  1. Cast Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental 3 seconds from the pull.
  2. Use Potion of Prolonged Power Icon Potion of Prolonged Power.
  3. Pre-cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt at 2s from the pull.
  4. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock.
  5. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  6. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.
  7. Cast Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast.
  8. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock again.
  9. Activate and racial abilities or on use trinkets.
  10. Activate Ascendance Icon Ascendance and spam Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst. Re-cast Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast when it comes off of cooldown. Do not cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock when you Maelstrom cap.
  11. Use Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock when Ascendance Icon Ascendance ends.
  12. Proceed with normal priority.

5. ChangeLog

  • 09 Jan. 2017: Fully updated rotation page for Patch 7.1.5.
  • 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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