Enhancement Shaman DPS Rotation, Cooldowns, and Abilities — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1
On this page, you will learn how to optimize the rotation of your Enhancement 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.
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 below to add that into the list.
- Hot Hand
- Totem Mastery
- Searing Assault
- Fury of Air
- Crashing Storm
- Earthen Spike
- AoE with Crash Lightning
- Cast Flametongue if the buff is not active.
- Cast Feral Spirit on cooldown.
- Cast Stormstrike with or without Stormbringer.
- Cast Rockbiter if below 70 Maelstrom and about to reach 2 charges.
- Cast Flametongue if the buff has less than 4.5 seconds remaining.
- Cast Lava Lash if above 40 Maelstrom (50 with Fury of Air taken.
- Cast Rockbiter.
- Cast Flametongue with nothing else available.
The largest portion of your active damage is sourced from your Stormstrike casts, with the frequency increased via your 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 and 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 procs while keeping yourself as close to Global Cooldown locked as possible will make or break your ability to push your damage output.
1.1. Azerite Specific Rotations and Notes
Due to the additional ring available on Season 2 Azerite, there are some extra specific notes that need to be accounted for when using different builds.
1.1.1. Primal Primer
First, I will cover the Primal Primer alterations, when using the recommended talents and traits explained elsewhere in the guide. This means that this priority is very specific, and not very flexible with talent deviations; if you intend to do so then use the checkbox system above, but Primal Primer operates in the following way.
- Cast Crash Lightning if two or more targets are in range and the buff has less than 2 seconds remaining (or is inactive).
- Cast Lava Lash if your target has 10 stacks of Primal Primer.
- Cast Totem Mastery if the buff is down or will expire within the next 3 seconds.
- Cast Sundering if two or more targets are in range.
- Cast Flametongue if the buff is not active.
- Cast Frostbrand if the buff is not active to maintain the Hailstorm effect.
- Cast Feral Spirit if available.
- Cast Stormstrike with a Stormbringer proc.
- Cast Lava Lash if your target has 7 or more stacks of Primal Primer.
- Cast Stormstrike without a Stormbringer proc active.
- Cast Rockbiter.
- Cast Flametongue if less than 4.5 seconds of the buff remains.
- Cast Frostbrand if less than 4.5 seconds of the buff remains.
- Cast Flametongue.
Some additional notes specific to Primal Primer builds should also be taken into account when play it as well, that are more fundamental to the way the playstyle shifts.
- First and foremost, this build is heavily invested in the value of Maelstrom (which differentiates it from every other iteration of the spec). This means that waste is heavily punished, and you are aggressively spending and generating as much as possible. Due to the increased value of Lava Lash inherent in the build, this is much easier than at first glance, because Stormbringer has much lower potential to repeatedly overload your resource bar.
- Hot Hand is a core talent, but does not necessarily need to be played around. The priority list still follows the same rules when Hot Hand triggers, and you should not deviate from this. The only loose rule is that you should aim to consume 10 stacks with it if possible.
- Elemental Spirits does not strictly alter the rotation, but do note that of the 3, a Frost wolf will significantly accelerate the generation of Primal Primer stacks. If this triggers, it means you will be casting Lava Lash much more aggressively. Contrary to this, Fire wolves are the ideal if they trigger, so cross your fingers for them to spawn.
- In AoE situations, Stormstrike does rise back up to being top priority outside of 10 stack Primal Primers due to the cheaper Crash Lightning splash triggers. You can tab target to consume Primal Primer due to it triggering from the Crash Lightning splash effect, as long as your Maelstrom can sustain it, but this can be very resource heavy.
1.1.2. Strength of Earth
First and foremost, while Strength of Earth is a build defining trait, it does not drastically alter the rotation. Instead, it hyper focuses the talent options that you select, which is explained elsewhere in the talent sections of the guide. Some key notes to keep in mind when using this build are given below.
- Strength of Earth strictly requires you to not back to back cast Rockbiter, to avoid wasting the buff. Especially when using Overcharge, you need to be very careful, as this ability does not consume the Strength of Earth effect.
- Be very careful when approaching downtime, especially with regards to Earthen Spike. You need to be very aware of possible downtime and target movement to avoid burning up the duration of this debuff window, and it requires some pre-planning to execute correctly.
- You can more aggressively cast Rockbiter to fish for Landslide without losing any damage on average. You should try to limit this however if it starts to heavily interfere with your rotation, or downtime may prevent you from capitalising on these effects.
- The build is very heavily focused on single-target, and burst priority damage. This breaks down at an increasing rate the more targets you add into the scenario that displace Rockbiter, so be aware that using this talent build relies on you knowing encounters and situations that work well with it.
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:
- Use Battle Potion of Agility before the pull.
- Cast Rockbiter to generate a small surplus of Maelstrom.
- Activate Fury of Air if taken.
- Cast Flametongue.
- Cast Frostbrand with Hailstorm taken.
- Cast Feral Spirit.
- Cast Earthen Spike if taken.
- Cast Stormstrike.
- Cast Ascendance to reset the cooldown on Stormstrike, or if Stormbringer is active if taken.
- Cast Windstrike.
- Continue with single target rotation.
Where you go from here depends largely on whether or not 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 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 due to the increased strength of 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 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 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, which can gain multiple stacks per Crash Lightning cast and significantly boost your sustained AoE package.
Other than this, in regular AoE, 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 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 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 is entirely single target oriented, which is a rare scenario in current content. If you opt into this, you will want to aim toward keeping Rockbiter recharging, but not at the cost of delaying Stormstrike.
Forceful Winds provides the most versatile option that will outperform both other options on the tier. While it does have a random element due to the cyclical nature of the stacks, it contributes not only to damage via the Windfury damage but also to Maelstrom generation at the same time. This also extends to being a stronger choice in cleave and AoE situations due to Crash Lightning casts having the chance to trigger Windfury on each target hit. Bear in mind that there is little you can do to actively game the output of this talent.
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 Forceful Winds due to its limitations currently.
3.4. Tier 4 Talents
Overcharge is intended to replace 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 procs, which require quick reactions to capitalize upon.
Searing Assault requires very little playstyle changes, and serves as a flat bonus to your 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 adds a second buff to the rotation that operates almost identical to 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 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 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 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 alters your 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:
- Fire — Molten Weapon. This increases the value of Fire damage you deal, but it does not make Lava Lash more valuable than Stormstrike currently even with 2 instances.
- Frost — 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 chains alongside potential with high stacks of 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, on the other hand, injects a new cooldown into the spec on a 3-minute cooldown, that has increased 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 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.
Some of Enhancement's personal buffs ( Flametongue and 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 and 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 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 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 to offer you a little bit of damage until you can return to the boss. You should avoid the use of 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, 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:
- Maelstrom management;
- 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 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 on cooldown if it is about to become available. Also make sure to utilise 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 casts and Lightning Bolt / Overcharge will be in reach of this value as it is about to cool down.
During Feral Spirits, Maelstrom will be generated at a significantly increased rate, allowing 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 procs without fear of draining yourself too far. If you are sitting on minimum levels of Maelstrom and Stormstrike is on cooldown, it is best to build up a surplus via Rockbiter for when it does happen, or take the opportunity to refresh Flametongue if it is falling off soon.
4.2. Buff Uptimes & Proc Management
Most prominently, 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 vastly improves your rotational efficiency. To go alongside this, maintaining your 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 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 is vital, and remembering it can happen at any time is an important lesson to learn. Given how much of a factor 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, you also need to be making sure that you do not allow any 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.
- 21 Jan. 2019: Updated for Season 2 with extra Azerite related build notes.
- 10 Dec. 2018: Updated for patch 8.1 with Landslide notes.
- 26 Aug. 2018: Updated to remove references to Landslide rotation changes due to simulation updates.
- 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
- 16 Jul. 2018: Updated for the Battle for Azeroth pre-patch.
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