Elemental Shaman DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5

Last updated on Apr 15, 2019 at 08:00 by Stormy 48 comments

On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Elemental Shaman in both single-target and multiple-target situations. We also have advanced sections about cooldowns, procs, etc. in order to minmax your DPS. All our content is updated for World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1.5.

1. Single-Target Rotation for Elemental Shaman

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

  • Elemental Blast
  • Totem Mastery
  • Master of the Elements
  • Storm Elemental
  • Liquid Magma Totem
  • Surge of Power
  • Icefury
  • Stormkeeper
  • Ascendance
  1. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock if any of the following are true.
    • It is absent.
    • It will expire in 6 seconds or less.
  2. Cast Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental (or Storm Elemental Icon Storm Elemental if talented) if it is off cooldown. Always pair your elemental with Haste buffs (e.g. Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Heroism Icon Heroism) if possible, but do not sacrifice an extra usage by delaying your elemental.
  3. Cast Earth Elemental Icon Earth Elemental if it is off cooldown and you either are not using Primal Elementalist Icon Primal Elementalist or your Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental is not currently active. You cannot have 2 Primal Elementals active at the same time.
  4. Cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock if you have 90 or more Maelstrom. If you are using Surge of Power Icon Surge of Power or Master of the Elements Icon Master of the Elements, read the paragraphs below.
  5. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst whenever available.
  6. Cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock if Maelstrom is 60 or greater and Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge is not available.
  7. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt as a filler on a single target.
  8. Cast Frost Shock Icon Frost Shock as a filler while moving.

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

Note that if you are using Primal Elementalist Icon Primal Elementalist without Storm Elemental Icon Storm Elemental, you can cast Meteor Icon Meteor whenever you want, as you can only cast it once per Elemental. Since its damage is not split, you ideally want to hold onto it if multiple targets are going to be present.

2. Multiple Target Rotation for Elemental Shaman

2.1. 2 Targets

The 2 targets priority list is the same as the single-target with the following changes.

  1. Apply and maintain Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock on both targets.
  2. Cast Earthquake Icon Earthquake at 60+ Maelstrom (multiple instances of this spell overlap) if the targets will remain in the zone for its duration.

2.2. 3+ Targets

  • Elemental Blast
  • Totem Mastery
  • Storm Elemental
  • Liquid Magma Totem
  • Stormkeeper
  1. Maintain Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock on 3* (read below) targets.
  2. Spend all Maelstrom on Earthquake Icon Earthquake. If possible, buff them with Master of the Elements Icon Master of the Elements
  3. Cast Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning to generate Maelstrom.

* If you are fighting exactly 4 targets, it is technically superior to maintain Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock on all 4 of them, if they will live for at least 80% of the spell's duration and you have no priority target. This should be a very niche situation, and is not easy to execute because most Elemental players are not used to tracking 4 different dots. You have been warned!

2.3. Master of the Elements

If you are using the talent Master of the Elements Icon Master of the Elements it becomes very important to try to use the buff on the most appropriate spell for the situation, usually Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock. From best to worst, you want to use Master of the Elements Icon Master of the Elements on:

  1. Earthquake Icon Earthquake if it will hit 2+ targets
  2. Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt empowered by Stormkeeper Icon Stormkeeper
  3. Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock
  4. Frost Shock Icon Frost Shock empowered by Icefury Icon Icefury
  5. Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt
  6. Icefury Icon Icefury
  7. Frost Shock Icon Frost Shock

2.4. Surge of Power

In most scenarios, especially in a raid, there are two main uses for Surge of Power Icon Surge of Power. Either you use it on Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst in order to get a full additional use of Storm Elemental Icon Storm Elemental (the regular Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental is not worth it), or, if the fight will not last long enough, you use it on Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt for additional Mastery: Elemental Overload Icon Mastery: Elemental Overload procs.

In addition, against exactly 2 targets within 8 yards of each other, you want to use Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock to empower your Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock to hit both targets, but only if Flame Shock is not already present on both or is within the pandemic window.

Finally, if you are using Stormkeeper Icon Stormkeeper as well, you will generally want to pool Maelstrom before casting it, so that both Stormkeeper-empowered Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolts become also empowered by Surge of Power Icon Surge of Power.

Here is an example:

  1. Pool Maelstrom until you have 96
  2. Cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock
  3. Cast Stormkeeper Icon Stormkeeper
  4. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt
  5. Cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst
  6. Cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock
  7. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt

3. Cooldown Usage for Elemental Shaman

Before using each of your cooldowns, you should take special care to consider several factors. Our offensive cooldowns have lengthy recharge times, but when correctly utilized, can be responsible for a large percentage of our damage output. You should always take into account:

  • Your raid's Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Heroism Icon Heroism/Time Warp Icon Time Warp usage.
  • The mechanics of the current boss, including intermissions and abilities that necessitate movement.
  • The spawn timers of any adds that might be present, as we may want to use or delay certain cooldowns with respect to cleave and AoE.

3.1. Ascendance

There are a few things to consider before each Ascendance Icon Ascendance usage.

  • Ensure Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock will last for the duration of Ascendance.
  • Ensure no boss mechanics will interfere, such as intermissions, boss movement, or mechanics that will force you to move.
  • Try to begin with as little Maelstrom as possible.
  • Clear Lava Surge Icon Lava Surge if active, and any remaining Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst charges.
  • If using this talent, cast Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast immediately before activating Ascendance.

It is always worth it to recast Elemental Blast Icon Elemental Blast during your Ascendance Icon Ascendance. Do not let yourself Maelstrom cap either; be sure to cast Earth Shock Icon Earth Shock when or before you reach 90 Maelstrom.

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. Even if there is intermittent cleave on an encounter, try to use Ascendance during single-target portions of the fight.

3.2. Fire Elemental

Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental has a long cooldown, and its usage should be considered carefully. The best time to use this cooldown is always during periods of increased Haste or damage, and therefore we typically will pair it with the Bloodlust Icon Bloodlust/Heroism Icon Heroism/Time Warp Icon Time Warp usage. That said, we never want to lose a potential usage of Fire Elemental by delaying it for maximum efficacy. For example, on an encounter that lasts 3 minutes, you would use Fire Elemental immediately on the pull and once again as soon as it is off cooldown, regardless of when Bloodlust/Heroism/Time Warp is used.

3.3. Stormkeeper

Stormkeeper Icon Stormkeeper is used more or less on cooldown on pure single target encounters, provided it does not interfere with more important rotational abilities, such as Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst.

On multiple-target fights, or fights with intermittent cleave and AoE, it can be a good idea to delay your Stormkeeper Icon Stormkeeper until you are able to Chain Lightning Icon Chain Lightning the adds.

4. Managing Movement for Elemental Shaman

Elemental is notoriously hampered by encounters with very high movement, as much of our burst damage as well as multiple-target damage is only effective if we are able to stand still for the duration. While Icefury Icon Icefury can mitigate this weakness to a certain extent, correctly playing around movement remains forefront to success for Elemental Shamans. Always make an effort to pro-actively position yourself to reduce potential movement from mechanics. Keep careful track of boss timers and mechanics, as they can spell disaster for your damage if you are targeted during a damage dump.

5. Academic Information for Elemental Shaman

5.1. Maelstrom Management

You should avoid casting Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst above 90 Maelstrom and Icefury Icon Icefury above 75 Maelstrom. These limits are the maximum Maelstrom you can have before casting those spells to not overcap Maelstrom without an Mastery: Elemental Overload Icon Mastery: Elemental Overload proc. It is likely these spells will overload at raid levels of gear, therefore, if you cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst at 90 Maelstrom or Icefury Icon Icefury at 75 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.

5.2. 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 will always critically hit if Flame Shock is on the target. This is very important due to your Elemental Fury Icon Elemental Fury passive.

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 proc from the next Flame Shock tick. By the same token, casting Lava Burst immediately as it comes off cooldown is also imperative so that Lava Surge is not wasted while Lava Burst is off cooldown.

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 you are be able to refresh Flame Shocks without wasting any duration when it has 7 seconds or less remaining, and it will be extended by 24 seconds. For example, if your Flame Shock has 7 seconds left and you refresh it your new Flame Shock would last 31 seconds.

6. Opening Sequence for Elemental Shaman

6.1. Generic Opener

Note that, because of the new changes, this is a work in progress.

  1. Cast Stormkeeper Icon Stormkeeper 4.5 seconds before the pull.
  2. Cast Totem Mastery Icon Totem Mastery 3 seconds before the pull.
  3. Use Battle Potion of Intellect Icon Battle Potion of Intellect.
  4. Pre-cast Lava Burst Icon Lava Burst 1.5 seconds from the pull.
  5. Apply Flame Shock Icon Flame Shock.
  6. Cast Fire Elemental Icon Fire Elemental/Storm Elemental Icon Storm Elemental.
  7. Cast Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt.
  8. Cast Icefury Icon Icefury, if talented.
  9. Proceed with normal priority.

7. Changelog

  • 15 Apr. 2019: This page has been reviewed and no changes are necessary for the release of the Crucible of Storms raid.
  • 05 Mar. 2019: Updated generic raid opener. Adjusted priority list to make better use of the MotE buff.
  • 31 Jan. 2019: Updated generic raid opener.
  • 18 Dec. 2018: Updated Master of the Elements priority. Added note about Meteor usage.
  • 10 Dec. 2018: Updated priority lists for 8.1. Added paragraphs on advanced uses of Master of the Elements and Surge of Power.
  • 02 Sep. 2018: Updated generic opener.
  • 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 28 Jul. 2018: Added explanation for legendary boots/shoulders usage on 4-6 targets.
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