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Enhancement Shaman DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities in Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.0.1

Last updated Yesterday at 14:47 by Wordup 21 comments

Table of Contents

General Information

On this page, we list your Enhancement Shaman core abilities and how they should be used together (rotation) in World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth 8.0.1. 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 Enhancement Shaman.

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

About Our Author

This guide has been written by Wordup, a frequent theorycrafter involved in a number of class communities. He is also an experienced player who has been in the world top 100 since the days of Sunwell, currently raiding in Echoes. You can also follow him on Twitter.

1. Enhancement Shaman Ability Priority List

Enhancement Shaman plays with a priority list much like many other resource-based classes, but it is much more reactionary based on procs and resource flow. Due to this, learning and practicing the fundamentals is very important, and following the list one to two Global Cooldowns in advance is crucial to maximizing your output.

Given that Enhancement currently has a relatively limited selection of strong talents, this list will show the priority regardless of ideal talents, but it is recommended to follow the choices given in the talent section for ideal performance. Use the checkboxes offered below to allow you to tailor the rotation based on your selections. Similarly, if you are interested in how to increase your AoE damage, check Crash Lightning Icon Crash Lightning below to add that into the list.

  • Hot Hand
  • Landslide
  • Totem Mastery
  • Searing Assault
  • Hailstorm
  • Overcharge
  • Fury of Air
  • Crashing Storm
  • Sundering
  • Earthen Spike
  • Ascendance
  • AoE with Crash Lightning
  1. Cast Flametongue Icon Flametongue if the buff is not active.
  2. Cast Feral Spirit Icon Feral Spirit on cooldown.
  3. Cast Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike with or without Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer.
  4. Cast Rockbiter Icon Rockbiter if below 70 Maelstrom and about to reach 2 charges.
  5. Cast Flametongue Icon Flametongue if the buff has less than 4.5 seconds remaining.
  6. Cast Lava Lash Icon Lava Lash if above 40 Maelstrom (50 with Fury of Air Icon Fury of Air taken.
  7. Cast Rockbiter Icon Rockbiter.
  8. Cast Flametongue Icon Flametongue with nothing else available.

The largest portion of your active damage is sourced from your Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike casts, with the frequency increased via your Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer procs. This can lead to a fluctuating combat style as your usage not only increases through the cooldown reset, but casts following a Stormbringer proc are also free; leading to a volatile Maelstrom state. Due to this, you need to try and keep your resource balanced toward the lower end to avoid waste during extended chains, but still have enough to make sure you can keep Stormstrike on cooldown and fill Global Cooldowns as much as possible with your general build-and-spend gameplay using Rockbiter Icon Rockbiter and Lava Lash Icon Lava Lash.

The more that you play with Enhancement, the more you will adjust to the ebb and flow of Maelstrom as you are generating a lot more passively than actively. Being able to react to your Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer procs while keeping yourself as close to Global Cooldown locked as possible will make or break your ability to push your damage output.

2. Enhancement Shaman Opening Rotation

While the opener is very rarely a high impact point for Enhancement as most of your damage is tied to the sustained output over the course of the fight, a general sequence will look like the following:

  1. Use Battle Potion of Agility Icon Battle Potion of Agility before the pull.
  2. Cast Rockbiter Icon Rockbiter to generate a small surplus of Maelstrom.
  3. Activate Fury of Air Icon Fury of Air if taken.
  4. Cast Flametongue Icon Flametongue.
  5. Cast Frostbrand Icon Frostbrand with Hailstorm Icon Hailstorm taken.
  6. Cast Feral Spirit Icon Feral Spirit.
  7. Cast Earthen Spike Icon Earthen Spike if taken.
  8. Cast Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike.
  9. Cast Ascendance Icon Ascendance to reset the cooldown on Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike, or if Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer is active if taken.
  10. Cast Windstrike Icon Windstrike.
  11. Continue with single target rotation.

Where you go from here depends largely on whether or not Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer activated, but this will grant the largest window to allow for a proc to occur in the opener while setting up your buffs sequentially, and giving enough Maelstrom to sustain yourself throughout your opening burst.

3. Important Notes for Enhancement Shaman

3.1. Crash Lightning Explained

Crash Lightning Icon Crash Lightning is simple on the surface, but has a relatively complex set of mechanics behind it. While this is no longer used in the single target rotation unless taking Crashing Storm Icon Crashing Storm due to the increased strength of Lava Lash Icon Lava Lash in Battle for Azeroth, knowing how to play around it in cleave and AoE situations can optimize your performance significantly.

First of all, the Nature damage proc while the buff is active will trigger in single target as well, so finding opportunities to trigger it in a fight will augment your already powerful single target toolkit further, so always look for chances to trigger from two targets. Second, any hits from the initial strike have a chance to trigger Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer due to them all being counted as a weapon strike, so you should always be trying to hit multiple targets to game this. Finally, these hits all have a chance to cause Windfury Icon Windfury on targets struck, so you should again be trying to force this for additional damage on a priority target. This is even more important when using Forceful Winds Icon Forceful Winds, which can gain multiple stacks per Crash Lightning cast and significantly boost your sustained AoE package.

Other than this, in regular AoE, Crash Lightning Icon Crash Lightning operates in a simple way; it converts your single target tools into splash AoE which should be used often and aggressively. The boost to your Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike damage is also useful, allowing you to funnel the AoE damage you deal into a single priority target, and as such should be used as frequently as possible in multi target situations.

3.2. Optimizing Sundering

While Sundering Icon Sundering is the ideal choice at all times, and still remains a relevant tool even in single target, it does require some playing around. You should always be attempting to maximize the number of targets you hit with each cast, so if at any period during its cooldown additional targets would spawn if considering using it in single target, do not, and save it for those add spawns. This is the largest source of Enhancement AoE currently if played correctly, so making the most out of each cast is crucial to remaining relevant in the AoE landscape.

3.3. Tier 2 Talents

Landslide Icon Landslide serves as a very focused single target option, increasing the value of your rotational active generation tool Rockbiter Icon Rockbiter by granting it a proc that significantly boosts your primary spender, Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike. This increases the requirement to make sure you do not waste charges of Rockbiter in your priority, and also requires you to make sure you never waste procs by overwriting them with repeat casts. This will serve as a significant single target gain, but begins to fall off when additional targets are added.

Forceful Winds Icon Forceful Winds provides a more versatile option that remains competitive with Landslide. While it does have an RNG caveat due to the cyclical nature of the stacks, it contributes not only to damage via the Windfury Icon Windfury damage but also to Maelstrom generation increase at the same time. This also extends to making it a stronger choice in cleave and AoE situations due to your Crash Lightning Icon Crash Lightning casts having the chance to trigger Windfury multiple times across targets hit. Bear in mind that there is little you can do to actively game the output of this talent, but understanding what makes it a strong choice is important to judge whether you should select it or not.

Totem Mastery Icon Totem Mastery, on the other hand, provides an option to buff the player in various aspects for the 2-minute duration, but has much less room to impact your output with effective play. It also comes with the downside of requiring awareness of your totem uptime, and range to make sure they are always active. This can serve as an option that potentially boosts your damage if played pro-actively, but has a much lower ceiling than the two alternatives due to its limitations currently.

3.4. Tier 4 Talents

Overcharge Icon Overcharge is intended to replace Lava Lash Icon Lava Lash as a filler Maelstrom dump for the same cost, but with a cooldown. When using Overcharge, you need to be calculating your Maelstrom expenditure to make sure you have enough banked to use it immediately. This can cause disruption in your rotation if that cooldown lines up with Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer procs, which require quick reactions to capitalize upon.

Searing Assault Icon Searing Assault requires very little playstyle changes, and serves as a flat bonus to your Flametongue Icon Flametongue casts via a short DoT effect. All this does is increase the value of casting it regardless of your buff uptime, but do not require additional rotational caveats to make use of.

Hailstorm Icon Hailstorm adds a second buff to the rotation that operates almost identical to Flametongue Icon Flametongue, aside from requiring Maelstrom to maintain. Making sure that you refresh this as late as possible and keep it active as close to 100% as possible when taken is the core hook of the talent.

3.5. Tier 5 Talents

The Tier 5 talents offer a lot of flexibility in both raid utility and personal mobility. Your decision should not be made based on the opener as Enhancement already have a number of ways to start damage early as the fight begins and get onto a target.

Feral Lunge Icon Feral Lunge will allow you to move around the battlefield in hectic add fights much more efficiently and switch to targets across the map on demand. This is also only on a 0.5-second Global Cooldown, making it a flexible a quick swap tool to engage targets that are far away when aggression is required.

Due to this, Wind Rush Totem Icon Wind Rush Totem should be your go-to in group content as it allows for a large speed increasing zone that can be refreshed as needed. While Wind Rush reads as "within 10 yards", it is actually a 10-yard radius, allowing you to create a large 20-yard diameter zone that can span the breadth of the gap between melee and ranged.

Nature's Guardian Icon Nature's Guardian has very little player requirement, however, and is simply a free boost to sustain in situations where you are frequently dipping below the 35% health threshold.

3.6. Tier 7 Talents

All 3 of these talents have their own caveats to use, due to them being tied to different styles of damage delivery windows. Knowing when and where to make use of each, and adapting your build and playstyle around their timings will provide a large boost to your adaptability and strength as Enhancement in different encounters.

Elemental Spirits Icon Elemental Spirits alters your Feral Spirit Icon Feral Spirit dropping it to a 90-second cooldown, making it more frequently available to start with. It also provides three different effects depending on the wolves that you generate with each cast:

  • FireMolten Weapon Icon Molten Weapon. This increases the value of Fire damage you deal, but it does not make Lava Lash Icon Lava Lash more valuable than Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike currently even with 2 instances.
  • FrostIcy Edge Icon Icy Edge provides a flat damage buff and is also the easiest to capitalise upon, having no direct impact on differing spells, instead affecting them all equally.
  • Lightning — has large swing potential by boosting the impact of Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer chains alongside potential with high stacks of Forceful Winds Icon Forceful Winds. This serves as the highest RNG procs of the 3, as you have little control over the consistency but can have explosive outcomes.

While all of these effects may sound important when reading them, they currently do not drastically alter your playstyle in any observable way, and you should treat them as bonuses that come with the talent that will ideally average out over the course of an encounter. The difficult part of the talent is to optimize its use with the altered cooldown.

Ascendance Icon Ascendance, on the other hand, injects a new cooldown into the spec on a 3-minute cooldown, that has extremely high consistency for a short window — something Enhancement can often be lacking. While 3-minute cooldowns frequently desync from encounter timings, the power of Ascendance should not be ignored. This is coupled with additional range that allows us to hit targets otherwise unavailable due to range or mechanic issues, providing great utility for free.

Earthen Spike Icon Earthen Spike provides the most consistent, although currently weakest option. Your choice on this tier largely comes down to how much maintenance you want to subject yourself to, and if the encounter leans toward needing burst cooldowns or sustained damage windows. Compared to Ascendance and Elemental Spirits, the increased frequency of Earthen Spike also lends very well to encounters that have priority targets spawning more frequently than Ascendance or Feral Spirit is available.

3.7. Pandemic

Some of Enhancement's personal buffs (Flametongue Icon Flametongue and Frostbrand Icon Frostbrand) benefit from the "Pandemic" effect, meaning that they can be refreshed when they have less than 30% of their duration remaining without penalty. The remaining duration will be added to the newly applied buff when under this threshold, allowing for much more flexibility for when you refresh. Ideally, you want to refresh during periods where Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer and Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike are unavailable. You should also consider your current Maelstrom status so you can avoid overcapping resources. Remember that all of these "enhancement" spells have a 20-yard range, so if you are dealing with mechanics that force you just out of melee range, that can be an ideal time to refresh and capitalize on that downtime by making use of the increased range. Pandemic values are currently the following:

3.8. Healing Surge

Healing Surge Icon Healing Surge will consume 20 Maelstrom, if available, to become instant. This can allow for a lot of personal sustain during high damage moments of an encounter to keep yourself ticking over if the healers cannot reach you or are under high stress, and is important to make use of due to the relatively weak Enhancement defensive toolkit. Mechanics will occasionally force you out of range of the boss and put you in dangerous positions, so using this can be very beneficial. Always be aware of this if you have excess Maelstrom and are in danger, as it can save your life.

3.9. Lightning Bolt

Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt costs and generates no Maelstrom, and deals weak damage, but is instant cast with a 40-yard range. If you are ever forced entirely out of melee range, you can lean on Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt to offer you a little bit of damage until you can return to the boss. You should avoid the use of Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt otherwise, as it resets the melee swing timer causing a significant dip in damage by reducing Maelstrom generation for very little damage in return.

Note that if using Overcharge Icon Overcharge, this will not be as easily accessible at all times due to being used on cooldown. This means it will not be available to fill up all globals when out of range due to both the cooldown and Maelstrom cost, so be aware of that. Overcharge does, however, remove the melee swing timer reset, so you should not worry about that when using the talent.

4. Enhancement Shaman Core Concepts

On the surface, Enhancement can appear quite simplistic due to the fire and forget nature of the toolkit. Once you look past this, however, you can see that there is a lot of focus on managing your Global Cooldown and making the most of your Maelstrom resources available in between procs; making it a very reactionary and high paced specialization. Being able to master the flow of all of these at once will form the core of mastering Enhancement, and any mistakes you make in these situations will impact you further down the line as a misstep can cause waste you cannot recoup. There are generally two core aspects to Enhancement that should be grasped first and foremost when trying to optimize your gameplay:

  1. Maelstrom management;
  2. buff uptime & proc management.

4.1. Maelstrom Management

The first and most important thing to grasp is mastering your Maelstrom. Due to how sporadic gains can be, and how less than half of your generation is really in your hands, having a general grasp of how it will flow will help you significantly when predicting what you need, should you need it during a proc string. Due to the drastic differences between periods of high generation versus low generation, it is very easy to underestimate just how vital keeping tabs on this can be.

The most important thing is to aggressively spend as much as possible due to the 100 Maelstrom cap in Battle for Azeroth via Lava Lash Icon Lava Lash to prevent wastage. On the other hand, you should also ideally have a bearing on how close you are to fully draining, as this may prevent you from keeping Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike on cooldown if it is about to become available. Also make sure to utilise Rockbiter Icon Rockbiter frequently to create that comfortable buffer, but do not over-commit to generation too much if it will cost you Global Cooldowns you could spend on high damage spenders.

Try to hover around the 30 Maelstrom mark, as this will always be a good amount to have in a situation where you will need to repeatedly spend with back to back Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike casts and Lightning Bolt Icon Lightning Bolt / Overcharge Icon Overcharge will be in reach of this value as it is about to cool down.

During Feral Spirit Icon Feral Spirits, Maelstrom will be generated at a significantly increased rate, allowing Lava Lash Icon Lava Lash to be used more often with less punishment. Having roughly 20 Maelstrom in reserve is important, allowing you to immediately react to Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer procs without fear of draining yourself too far. If you are sitting on minimum levels of Maelstrom and Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike is on cooldown, it is best to build up a surplus via Rockbiter Icon Rockbiter for when it does happen, or take the opportunity to refresh Flametongue Icon Flametongue if it is falling off soon.

4.2. Buff Uptimes & Proc Management

Most prominently, Flametongue Icon Flametongue provides the most basic buff management aspect of Enhancement — a goal of 95-100% uptime of this effect is the goal. Using Flametongue outside of maintaining the buff serves solely as a filler, but making sure that you fill dead time with this so you are not required to refresh during periods filled with high procs from Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer vastly improves your rotational efficiency. To go alongside this, maintaining your Crash Lightning Icon Crash Lightning effect in AoE to amp up both your single target and AoE damage if there are targets to activate it upon will hugely boost your output. Having to refresh these because they were neglected during a long Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer chain is very detrimental, so learning to track these timers either mentally or with a tracking addon will be a huge increase to your ability to react to procs.

Making use of Stormbringer Icon Stormbringer is vital, and remembering it can happen at any time is an important lesson to learn. Given how much of a factor Stormstrike Icon Stormstrike plays on your output, being able to cast it on cooldown as soon as a reset happens is crucial, meaning that you generally want to have your buffs as primed as possible unless you are forced out of doing so. If using Landslide Icon Landslide, you also need to be making sure that you do not allow any Rockbiter Icon Rockbiter charges to go to waste, as these are all potentially missed opportunities to trigger the damage boost to Stormstrike. On top of this, ideally you should be consuming the buff before re-casting Rockbiter, but due to RNG issues related to Stormbringer this is sometimes unavoidable.

5. ChangeLog

  • 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
  • 16 Jul. 2018: Updated for the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch.
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