How To Improve As Enhancement Shaman — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1
On this page, you will find out how you can improve at playing Enhancement Shaman in World of Warcraft — Battle for Azeroth (BfA) 8.1. We list the common mistakes that you should try to avoid and the small details that can greatly improve your performance.
1. Optimizing your Global Cooldowns
The first and foremost mistake that many Enhancement players make is not adjusting their rotation to minimize empty Global Cooldowns as much as possible. The rotation can, in bad situations due to RNG, cause you to have nothing available to use; however, this can be mitigated with more foresight when juggling your rotational tools. As a melee specialization, you have no movement hindrances either that will prevent you from being able to cast abilities.
To go alongside this, you come primed small number of mid-to-long range spells to fill any gaps in which you are too far from your target, so you should always have a plan for the next few button presses ahead. Try to plan for situations that pull you out of range so you can fill downtime with either Rockbiter or Flametongue with 20-yard ranges, or in emergencies Lightning Bolt with a 40-yard range. Also, try to liberally use Ghost Wolf when pulled out of range if you can get back in quickly, to readjust around positional shifts quickly and re-engage into melee range.
2. Correctly Managing Maelstrom
The above is also intertwined with your Maelstrom management. You will be throttled at some points based on your resource availability, but making sure to balance your generating or free casts alongside your spenders to make sure you can raise your actions per minute as high as possible will usually generate a large gain, in particular in Battle for Azeroth with the increased resource flow.
While waste is also something that ideally should be avoided, some situations, especially when combined with some talents, make it an inevitability. In situations in which you are flooded (such as during Feral Spirit or Lightning Shield procs), you should be aggressively spending with Lava Lash as much as is possible to create room to generate. However, during this period, Stormbringer procs will make waste unavoidable so do not worry if chains cause you to cap.
2.1. Optimizing Stormbringer & Stormstrike
Stormstrike, in particular with Stormbringer, remains the highest priority ability in your kit. This should always be taking priority, and you should be able to react swiftly to proc triggers as they show up in the rotation. You should also make sure if Stormstrike is about to come off cooldown that you have enough Maelstrom available to instantly use it, and restart the cycle. This remains true even in AoE, as Stormstrike casts will trigger your Crash Lightning effect if the buff is active.
2.2. Weaving Rockbiter Correctly
Rockbiter serves as a primary filler due to it having no cost, and is also your only form of active Maelstrom generation. Due to it having charges, this gives you room to juggle it during high generation periods or Stormbringer chains. When this is not done correctly, downtime in the rotation will start to appear when you become starved and over commit to generation to catch up, and this is one of the key symptoms of Maelstrom waste via not keeping it recharging which translates to reduced Lava Lash opportunities.
2.3. Playing Primal Primer Correctly
Contrary to the other builds, this deviates from the rules set out above. If you have Primal Primer present on your gear, your rotation will strongly be dictated by the flow of Primal Primer stacks and your Maelstrom level. The overriding rule is to avoid sitting at 10 stacks for too long, and use free Stormstrike casts generated via Stormbringer to quickly generate stacks after consuming them. This is a much more resource management oriented style, and requires more aggressive generation to sustain it.
2.4. Playing Strength of Earth Correctly
As above, this slightly alters the way you navigate your ability cooldowns to play effectively. You should make sure that you are not in a situation where you have no other ability to use after casting Rockbiter to make sure that the Strength of Earth effect is not wasted. This also amplifies the natural value of each Rockbiter cast, and due to using Boulderfist will be dictated by the quick recharge speed of the ability.
3. Flametongue Uptime
Flametongue is the only core buff ability that remains for Enhancement in Battle for Azeroth, and is a main aspect of the rotation. It serves as a free cast to fill up empty Global Cooldowns even while the buff is already active, and lasts for 16 seconds. This buff should have as close to 100% uptime as possible, as there should frequently be gaps in the rotation to fill in between high priority Maelstrom spending casts. At a 20 yard range as well, it should also serve as a filler during downtime.
4. Correctly Using Crash Lightning & Sundering
Crash Lightning, despite being the primary AoE tool for Enhancement, is also a solid cleave boost even at 2 targets. Making sure to activate the buff whenever a second target enters into range, and re-activate it as late as possible before the target dies will not only provide you with some cleave, but grant a good chunk of free single target damage while active.
Contrary to this, Crash Lightning should only ever be used in single target if you have Crashing Storm selected, due to its base damage being so low without it. During 3+ AoE situations, this enters into the rotation on cooldown (beneath Stormstrike) due to the scaling boost to your Stormstrike casts, and increased occurrence to Stormbringer and Windfury procs, so should be capitalized on as frequently as possible despite the relatively low damage Crash contributes on its own.
Sundering, on the other hand, serves as a powerful single target filler spell, but should never be wasted on a single target if there is the chance that additional targets will join the fray within the duration of its cooldown. It provides the highest burst AoE we have access to, and as such should be saved for AoE situations whenever possible.
5. Correct Cooldown Management
As with all classes misusing cooldowns can often have a lasting impact on your overall damage, and should be used ideally.
5.1. Feral Spirit
Using Feral Spirit on cooldown is generally ideal due to it creating a Maelstrom bubble that allows for free casts and setting the ball rolling for your resource cycle. Saving it for high damage periods can be useful but the overall damage gain is relatively low. When combined with the Elemental Spirits talent, however, this becomes an extremely high bump to your burst damage and will create a pocket of burst that, if required for certain pulls in Mythic+ or phases in an encounter, should be saved for if it will not waste a use.
Ascendance, much like Feral Spirit, should ideally be used on cooldown. This creates an incredibly high spike in single target burst both via effectively removing Maelstrom starvation by allowing for extremely cheap Windstrike casts, and reducing RNG impact by allowing it to be cast more frequently. Outside of Stormbringer casts, this ability creates a cycle of Windstrike — Filler — Windstrike, and should be played as such while active.
5.3. Earthen Spike
Of the three level 100 talents, Earthen Spike is the easiest to play around. This should ideally be used on cooldown, and on the priority target during cleave/AoE if taken. Make sure not to cast it on a target about to die or as downtime is about to occur, however, as the debuff will be wasted.
6. Knowing How to Sim Yourself
It is extremely difficult to accurately optimize your character without first using Raidbots to sim your own character to identify a static start point. This will allow you to quickly identify the ideal gear choices you have available to equip, and due to the variables of different gear interacting with each other (and the War/Titanforging system causing unpredictability) should be the go-to tool to decide what you use.
On top of this, simming is now very easy with no need to understand SimulationCraft APLs or installation yourself. All you will need is the in-game SimulationCraft AddOn, and the Raidbots website. Below you can find a video on how to sim your own character using the website.
- 21 Jan. 2019: Updated for Season 2 notes, with specific notes regarding different build playstyles.
- 10 Dec. 2018: This page has been reviewed for Patch 8.1 and no changes are necessary.
- 13 Aug. 2018: Updated for Battle for Azeroth launch.
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