Home > Elemental Mastery > Elemental Mastery – What, When and How?

Elemental Mastery – What, When and How?

Elemental Mastery is the thirty one point talent found in the elemental tree. It’s also the tree’s only DPS cooldown. With a hefty three minute by default cooldown, how we use Elemental Mastery can be quite critical. Today, we’re looking at precisely that; the most effective use of this significant elemental talent.

What Does Elemental Mastery Do?

In it’s current live form, it’s tool tip reads as follows:-

  • When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, you gain 15% spell haste for 15 sec. Elemental Mastery shares a cooldown with Nature’s Swiftness.

  • Instant Cast
  • Three Minute Cooldown

We can split this down into two distant effects. Firstly, is the instant cast component of Elemental Mastery. The second is the 15% increase in spell haste for the next fifteen seconds.

When considering the instant cast element, we have two options on “spending” this. Firstly, we can use it on our longest cast spell. Secondly, we can use it with Lava Burst’s guaranteed critical strike to enter a Clearcasting state via Elemental Focus.

If we look at the base cast times of our spells, we have the following:-

  • Lightning Bolt – 2.5 Seconds Cast Time
  • Chain Lightning – 2 Second Cast Time
  • Lava Burst – 2 Second Cast Time

The above detail the untalented cast times of our offensive spells. When taking into account our Lightning Mastery talent, we can shave off 0.5 seconds from each cast time:-

  • Lightning Bolt – 2 Second Cast Time
  • Chain Lightning – 1.5 Second Cast Time
  • Lava Burst – 1.5 Second Cast Time

Obviously these times do not account for individual haste but Lightning Bolt will remain the spell with the longest cast time.

The second choice is to utilise the instant cast component on our most potent offensive spell and the one that is guaranteed to trigger Clearcasting:-

  • Lightning Bolt – Base Damage of 768
  • Lava Burst – Base Damage of 1355
  • Chain Lightning – Base Damage of 1042

In addition to it’s highest base damage, Lava Burst not only scales extremely well (it has an 82.14% spell coefficient with Shamanism and a 92.14% coefficient if you’re using the Glyph of Lava) but it is also a guaranteed critical strike if used correctly (that is to say, when Flame Shock is running on the target.) This guaranteed critical strike is what allows us to enter a Clearcasting state via Elemental Focus

Ensuring our longest casting spell is instant provides the greatest benefit to us in terms of DPS. If mana is an issue and you really need Clearcasting active (particularly if your haste is not yet sufficient to drop Chain Lightning from your rotation), then use Lava Burst.

The second effect is the fifteen percent increased spell haste for fifteen seconds. Haste is the third most important stat for us (I’m counting hit rating as the first) and as such, this in itself is a sizeable increase to our DPS. As we gear up however, haste effects have to be more carefully timed to ensure we gain the maximum potential we can from them.

How Haste Effects Our Spells

Haste has several “caps” that dictate it’s value or benefit to us. The first, and the one with which we’re concerned here, is the GCD (global cooldown) cap. This is the point whereby you have sufficient haste to reduce the global cooldown of a specific spell to one second. At this stage, the global cooldown can’t be reduced any further so additional haste will stop benefiting that spell.

This GCD cap varies between spells depending on how much haste is required to reduce their individual cast time to one second. Obviously, the longer the base cast time of a spell, the more haste will be required to reduce this to one second. Chain Lightning and Lava Burst, for example, need just 50% haste to reduce their 1.5 second cast times to 1 second. Lightning Bolt on the other hand requires 100% haste. For most people, it’s easier to quantify this with actual haste values as opposed to percentages. These are:-

  • 3279 Unbuffed Haste
  • 2785 Haste with Wrath of Air and Raid Buffs (for example, Moonkin Aura)
  • 1994 Haste with Wrath of Air, Raid Buffs and Elemental Mastery
  • 1386 Haste with Wrath of Air, Raid Buffs and Heroism or Bloodlust
  • 778 Haste with Wrath of Air, Raid Buffs, Heroism or Bloodlust and Elemental Mastery

The last figure it particularly important. In a raid situation, were you to trigger both Elemental Mastery and Heroism simultaneously, you would only need 778 haste on your character panel to have hit the GCD cap for Lightning Bolt. If you have higher levels of haste than this, you would be wasting a portion of your cooldowns.

It’s critical to also consider item’s with haste effect procs. The best in slot relic for an elemental shaman is Bizuri’s Totem of Shattered Ice. It’s tool tip reads:-

  • The periodic damage from your Flame Shock spell grants 44 haste rating for 30 seconds. Stacks upto 5 times

Even during periods of high movement there is little excuse for not having a Flame Shock running on a boss. As such, this is a quite static 220 haste increase to most elemental players.

For the majority of the time, the haste levels required to hit the GCD cap for Lightning Bolt are unobtainable (remember that would be 2785 haste with your own Wrath of Air and Moonkin Aura.) When you start considering haste based cooldowns and effects however, it becomes clear that triggering them simultaneously can soon reach less beneficial levels of haste.

The conclusion? To avoid wasting a portion of your haste effects, don’t use them simultaneously as this can result in you hitting the normally unobtainable GCD cap for your Lightning Bolt. (Incidentally, this isn’t limited to Elemental Mastery and Heroism. It also applies to the troll racial and to engineers with Hyperspeed Accelerators on their gloves.)

When to Use Elemental Mastery

Based on the above, using Elemental Mastery and Heroism separately is the ideal option. This proves the most problematic on encounters were you pop Heroism immediately. You are torn between wanting Elemental Mastery on cooldown as fast as possible (so it can both be used again as fast as possible and so that you benefit from the two set tier ten bonus – more on this shortly) and not wanting to waste portions of your haste gains due to hitting the GCD cap for Lightning Bolt.

On such encounters there is a third option, stacking your haste buffs for a few seconds to apply a double hasted Flame Shock.

As of patch 3.3.3, Flame Shock was changed to allow it to benefit from haste. Haste effects how fast our Flame Shock ticks occur but not how many occur. That is to say, with higher haste Flame Shock will tick faster and thus have a shorter duration. Flame Shock is not limited by a global cooldown. Due to this, Flame Shock continues to gain benefit from haste when other spells have reached their GCD caps. The obvious downside to this is the need to refresh the shock more frequently (though rest assured the DPS gained from the hasted ticks far outweigh the necessity to refresh more often.)

The elemental tier ten four set bonus goes a distance to combating the problem. The effect reads:-

  • Your Lava Burst causes your Flame Shock effect on the target to deal at least two additional periodic damage ticks before expiring

This tool tip was, in my opinion, never particularly clear. Thanks to the theory crafting over at Elitist Jerks however, the exact mechanic behind this effect soon became clear. The effect always adds the closest number of additional ticks that can fit in a six second duration. Therefore, the more haste you have, the more ticks can occur in that 6 second interval and the more DPS you gain. Due to this not only does Flame Shock itself continue to benefit from haste but the tier ten four set bonus also scales very nicely with it.

On encounters where Heroism is triggered immediately, I will use Elemental Mastery with a few seconds remaining on Heroism’s duration. This elevates my personal haste to much higher levels than I would normally want. During this brief window, I’ll reapply Flame Shock. This is known as double hasting your Flame Shock.

While doing this does provide a DPS increase, it certainly isn’t huge. As such, you’d never want to deliberately save your Elemental Mastery for this reason. However on those few fights where Heroism is used at the start, this tactic can allow you to receive a DPS gain from the Flame Shock whilst also putting Elemental Mastery on cooldown a few seconds earlier than you would if waiting for Heroism’s duration to expire. Using Elemental Mastery as much as possible will greatly outweigh the DPS gained from double hasting your Flame Shock.

Personally, I use the Power Auras addon to numerically display exactly how many seconds are remaining on Heroism. I’ll generally pop Elemental Mastery at around four seconds remaining and then refresh the Flame Shock. Triggering Elemental Mastery with several seconds remaining on your Heroism reduces the effectiveness of the your cooldown as any additional spells you cast during this window of opportunity will be GCD capped. It can take a little practice to get entirely comfortable with the timing for this but it does allow for a small DPS increase.

There are exceptions to most rules and there are some encounters with a specific “burn” phase where saving Elemental Mastery might be beneficial.

Elemental Mastery and Two Part Tier Ten Bonus

The two piece tier ten bonus directly works to reduce that hefty cooldown on Elemental Mastery. It’s tool tip reads:-

  • Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells reduce the remaining cooldown of your Elemental Mastery talent by two seconds

While this sounds good on paper it is, sadly, a little situational. On encounters with a great deal of movement the benefit of this bonus plummets. Simply put, the more we move the less we cast. In addition, due to the priority system of the elemental rotation, Lava Burst remains our priority. It is our “filler” spells that suffer the most from movement fights and sadly, it’s these spells that work to reduce the cooldown of our Elemental Mastery.

How exactly does this two set bonus work? Every Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning spell we cast takes two seconds off the three minute (180 seconds) cooldown of Elemental Mastery.

The two set bonus is worth around 100 to 150 DPS at it’s best but as stated at the beginning, it suffers terribly on high movement fights.

Combining Additional Cooldowns and Effects

While it’s obvious that you should avoid stacking multiple haste effects, periods of high haste are the perfect time to trigger spell power based cooldowns. At it’s most basic level, haste makes us cast faster. When it comes to potion choice, the Potion of Wild Magic offers both a critical strike increase and a spell power increase. It reads as follows:-

  • Use: Increases critical rating by 200 (9.06% @ L70) and spell power by 200 for 15 seconds
  • One minute cooldown

The best way to increase the effectiveness of this potion is to use it during periods of high haste. This means we’ll be casting more of this buffed offensive spells than we would without haste effects.

For this reason, during encounters where you are triggering Heroism from the start, pre-potting with a Wild Magic Potion will offer you the best DPS increase. (Note that it’s vital that you pre-pot to ensure you trigger the cooldown for potions and allow yourself to use a Potion of Speed later in the fight.)

Elemental Mastery and Chain Lightning

Elemental Mastery’s haste increase can cause problems with the GCD cap of some spells. Chain Lightning, for example, only requires 50% haste to be GCD capped. The general rule of thumb I follow for Chain Lightning use (which you can read about in depth here) is that if Chain Lightning’s cast time is shorter than 1 second, I drop it from my rotation. Obviously this means that during Heroism, I’m primarily spamming Lightning Bolt.

Elemental Mastery doesn’t have the the same potency of haste increase offered by Heroism but depending on your personal level of haste, you may find the need to drop Chain Lightning from your rotation while the Elemental Mastery buff is up. In my case, Chain Lightning’s cast time slips to just under 1 second during the increased haste of Elemental Mastery. As such, I only incorporate Chain Lightning into my single target rotation when I have zero haste effects ticking.

Elemental Mastery in Cataclysm

Elemental Mastery has recently received a quite significant boost in a recent beta build. There, it currently reads as follows:-

  • When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, your Fire, Frost, and Nature damage is increased by 15% and you gain 20% spell haste for 15 sec.

  • Instant Cast
  • Three Minute Cooldown

This results in a 5% increase to the spell haste it rewards (20% up from 15%) in addition to a 15% increase in damage to our fire, frost and nature spells.

In addition, the introduction of the new talent, Feedback, will replace the eventual loss of our tier 10 set bonus. Feedback reads as follows:-

  • Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells reduce the remaining cooldown on your Elemental Mastery talent by 1 sec.
  • Three Ranks Available

At it’s maximum rank, that offers a three second reduction off our Elemental Mastery cooldown (a one second increase from the tier ten two set bonus.)

Summary

The general rules for the use of Elemental Mastery are as follows:-

  • Trigger it as early in a fight as you can. This is to both have it’s cooldown running as fast as possible but also to allow any Lightning Bolts or Chain Lightning spells you cast to work at reducing that cooldown further. (Assuming you are using two piece tier ten.)
  • Avoid using it during Heroism or Bloodlust at over 778 personal haste – you’ll waste part of their effects due to the GCD cap of Lightning Bolt
  • If you use Heroism at the start of an encounter, considering double hasting your Flame Shock for an additional DPS increase
  • Equally if you are using Heroism at the start of the fight, pre-pot with a Wild Magic Potion to take advantage of the high haste
  • Never save Elemental Mastery specifically for periods of Heroism to double haste your Flame Shocks. The loss of DPS from delaying it’s use will greatly outweigh the increased DPS from the hasted Flame Shock

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Categories: Elemental Mastery
  1. Jen
    August 3, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Interesting read!

    I’ve always had EM macro’ed to flame shock as a seperate binding and use it outside of bloodlust, so I have always hasted my flame shocks then cast LB or LvB on cooldown. Is it worth just always activating it before a flame shock or shall I macro it to something else? I’m not so good with remembering spells off the GCD such as pots and cooldowns hence why I macro everything, but I guess I ought to be more intelligent with it.

    I’m finding every bit of dps advice valuable as I have gone elemental for LK heroic, so I need to focus closely on my damage output.

  2. August 3, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Hey Jen,

    Using EM with your Flame Shock macro is definitely an option and if you’re concerned about not using EM off cooldown then it’s probably a very smart option. (Keep in mind on any fights where you do have a “burst” period that really requires all cooldowns popped though, you’ll likely have yours still on cooldown. Though arguably at this stage in ICC these are few and far between.)

    Hasted Flame Shocks are a DPS boost, it isn’t a huge boost but it is there and it’s a reliable boost. If you’re going the route of hasting your first Flame Shock, I would refresh that Flame Shock just before EM drops off towards the end of it’s duration. Generally clipping a DoT isn’t a good thing to do, but the DPS gained from having a newly refresh and hasted Flame Shock would outweigh any lost from clipping the DoT. (Particularly since our four set bonus specifically allows for an extension of the duration anyway.)

    Expending the instant cast portion of EM has become a habit for me in order to trigger Elemental Focus. My Chain Lightning has been at a very frustrating point with EM where it is just barely under the 1 second golden rule – assuming Bizuri’s is up. If I’m using EM right at the start of a fight, (so FS and then EM), my haste isn’t usually upto the point where you’d drop Chain Lightning, so generally I’m getting off one CL before Bizuri’s is fully stacked and CL hits 0.98 seconds cast (0.98!) ;) The fact Lava Burst is a critical strike allows me to ramp up the DPS straight away and also have Elemental Focus up for those following casts.

    On the subject of missing things coming off cooldown; Power Auras is great for that since it will provide you with a visual trigger alerting you to an item (or skill) being usable. I have these set for Hyperspeed Accelerators, potions and Elemental Mastery. I then have an additional set showing the exact duration remaining on the same buff effects (and there is one for Heroism here also.) This allows me to much more accurately time those Flame Shocks to ensure they become hasted at the last possible second. It also ensures I don’t waste too much time with both EM and Heroism up (if you cast EM too early with too long remaining on your Heroism, you’re just going to have a longer period where you have too much haste.)

  3. Jen
    August 3, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    It’s all well and good if I use EM right at the beginning, as FS is the first thing I will cast, however if I want to save it or use it later in the fight, I have to clip flame shock. Are you saying that this is worth it if you clip it but you get a fully hasted flame shock? It sort of sounds more and more a better idea as take Putricide for example. On the phase transition on heroic, both the green and orange slimes spawn. We all stack on the green and nuke it to death as quick as possible. Since I need FS up for a meaty LvB crit, it would be more beneficial to have a hasted one. However on the other hand we get to the transition so quickly that EM is rarely ready to be used if I used it at the start. I’m struggling to work out what would be better. For the fights’ sake I should save it, but to do more dps overall I should really use it at the beginning.

    I think i’ll always use it with FS as I can’t think of an occasion it wouldn’t be beneficial. Would you agree?

  4. Jen
    August 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    I just had a look at my spreadsheet actually (ZAP) and it said I would gain almost 100 dps by activating EM AFTER FS/LvB and before LB. I wonder if this is because you get more ‘use’ out of EM through LB spam afterwards.

  1. August 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm

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