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.)
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
Chain lightning is one of the most spec defining spells for an elemental shaman. Graphically, it’s quite entrancing and I suspect there are few shaman players that can say they weren’t slightly excitable the first time they got to utilise this spell, be that in a dungeon or a raid. The idea of the spell, it’s concept, is also quite intoxicating. One nuke, upto three targets. That is every caster’s dream; theoretically.
There is always confusion as to whether or not one should use chain lightning however. For the new level 80 shaman, they can find themselves running out of mana fast and not necessarily gaining much in return.
Today, we take a look at the maths behind chain lightning and when and how we should be utilising this into our rotations.
The Facts About Chain Lightning
Taking a look at it’s tooltip first:-
- Hurls a lightning bolt at the enemy, dealing 973 to 1111 nature damage and then jumping to additional nearby enemies. Each jump reduces the damage by 30%. Affects 3 total targets.
That gives us an average initial damage of 1042. The following jumps at base damage level would be 729 and 510. It’s additional base statistics are as follows:-
- 2 second cast time
- 6 second cooldown
- 26% of base mana
There is a major glyph option for chain lightning. The tooltip for this is:-
- Your Chain Lightning strikes 1 additional target.
However, the same 30% reduction applies to the glyph resulting in the last hit being only 34% of it’s original hit’s damage or around 357 damage (assuming base stats again.) Basically, it isn’t worth using.
The initial, striking point worth mentioning is the mana cost of chain lightning; 26% of base mana. Lightning bolt, by comparison, costs 10% base mana. This is particularly important when we start to think of the situational uses for chain lightning. Secondly, it’s base cast time is 2 seconds. Again, if we compare this with lightning bolt, we find that chain lightning will cast 0.5 seconds faster.
Chain Lightning in an AoE Situation
An elemental shaman’s arsenal of AoE abilities isn’t huge. We lack the constant, channelled area of effect spells of the other casters. In terms of totems, we have our magma totem. In terms of AoE spells, we have chain lightning, thunderstorm and more recently, fire nova. The great thing about chain lightning is it’s ability to be woven into our single target rotation. It isn’t a choice between providing single target DPS or area of effect damage, we can do both.
Assuming that a multi-mob pull isn’t employing any form of crowd control (and for this expansion, it’s been generally safe to assume this), then using chain lightning in situations where more than one mob is in range of the chains makes complete sense. We drop a magma totem in range of the mobs (and then hope the pull stays in range either by good tanking or because they don’t have any annoying abilities that make them move around none stop,) perhaps use thunderstorm while running back out of the melee range required by our totem and commence a single target rotation, with the exception of using chain lightning and more recently, fire nova.
Obviously, in such a situation, using chain lightning as frequently as possible is the way forwards. Whilst ever there is more than one mob, your DPS is going to be higher by utilising it as soon as the cool down is up.
Chain Lightning as Part of a Single Target Rotation
Whilst using chain lightning in an AoE situation is obvious, whether to use it (or when), in a single target rotation becomes more complex. When looking at the base damage of our three main rotational “nukes” we have the following:-
- Lava Burst – Base Damage of 1355
- Lightning Bolt – Base Damage of 768
- Chain Lightning – Base Damage of 1042
When you purely look at the base damage, chain lightning looks very good in comparison with lightning bolt. The base damage, however, doesn’t tell us how well (or otherwise) a spell scales with our own spell damage. To ascertain the scaling requires looking at the spell coefficients. Spell coefficients are calculated by dividing the base cast time by 3.5 and then multiplying the result by 100% to receive a percentage. For reference, you can find the shaman spell coefficients here. The best scaling spell in our arsenal is lava burst and aside from this, it’s a guaranteed critical strike when used correctly. That is to say, when flame shock is running on the target. Though chain lightning has a higher base damage, lightning bolt has a higher coefficient. In addition, glyph of lightning bolt is a must have glyph for any elemental shaman, increasing the damage dealt by lightning bolt by 4%.
Moving away from the base damage and coefficients, if we refer back to the mana cost of each spell, chain lightning is a very hefty 26% base mana. When we compare this with lightning bolt’s 10% base mana cost, it becomes glaringly obvious how expensive our beloved AoE spell is; 260% more expensive to be precise.
So what does this mean in practical terms? On longer boss fights, the use of chain lightning can be a huge drain on your mana. We can counter this by using thunderstorm every cooldown and refreshing our water shield as often as possible but keep in mind these are global cooldowns that could, potentially, be spent on a lightning bolt. While the ideal situation is to end any boss fight on zero mana, it is not ideal to run out of mana before the end. Regardless of your DPS before hand, you won’t be contributing any if you’re unable to cast by the latter stages of the fight. We could use a mana potion but with chain potting being a thing of the past that mana potion could equally be replaced with a wild magic potion during heroism or a potion of speed outside of this time.
The heavy mana cost of chain lightning can be slightly offset by utilising it only when clearcasting is up. Elemental focus is the talent that triggers a clearcasting state for an elemental shaman, the tooltip reads:-
- After landing a non-periodic critical strike with a fire, frost, or nature damage spell, you enter a clearcasting state. The clearcasting state reduces the mana cost of your next 2 damage or healing spells by 40%.
The beauty of elemental focus for us comes from lava burst. When lava burst is cast on a target with flame shock (which it always should be), it’s a guaranteed critical strike so naturally, it triggers our clearcasting state. To take advantage of this with chain lightning and reduce that heavy mana cost, chain lightning needs to be cast after we enter our clearcasting state. To be clear, that means lava burst needs to have hit our target. Should you cast chain lightning directly after lava burst, travelling time will not have been taken into account and clearcasting won’t be up when you begin your chain lightning cast.
Simply put, if you wish (or need) to reduce the mana cost of chain lightning by exploiting a clearcasting state, then cast one lightning bolt after lava burst and then fire off chain lightning.
Chain Lightning and Haste
Chain lighting, as mentioned earlier, has a relatively short cast time of just 2 seconds. The fact it casts faster than lightning bolt is one of it’s great appeals. Taking into account our lightning mastery talent, the effective cast time is 1.5 seconds. 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 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.
It’s worth noting here that I’m not implying there is a point at which haste is of no value to elemental shamans’. Different spells require different levels of haste to GCD cap them. For chain lightning, however, this is a relatively small amount. With an effective cast time of 1.5 seconds, chain lightning only needs 50% haste before hitting the GCD cap. That equates to 1640 haste on charcter sheet. Whilst this seems an enormous amount, consider for a moment how many bufs we received in a raid environment that affect our haste rating. Our own wrath of air totem provides a 5% haste buff. Moonkin aura (or it’s equivalent) provides an additional 3%. Engineers have their hyperspeed accelerators and troll shaman have their own racial. When you then take into account our own elemental mastery and furthermore, heroism, it’s easy to begin to see how we can start to hit the GCD cap for chain lighting.
So, in practical terms, what does this mean? Quite simple, once the casting time of your chain lightning drops below 1 second, it is a DPS loss to use it in your single target rotation. This becomes slightly problematic in that our personal haste will vary so much during the course of one boss encounter.
To highlight this I’ll try to elaborate on how a typical boss encounter will work for me, or rather, for my rotation.
On a boss fight where we open with heroism, I will pre-pot with a wild magic potion. Using a speed potion during heroism would be too much haste when accounting for my personal level of raid buffed haste. During heroism, my chain lightning casts will be around 0.8 seconds. At this point, utilising chain lightning would be a DPS loss and lightning bolt spam outside of lava burst is the way to go. As I reach the end of heroism’s duration, I’ll pop elemental mastery before refreshing flame shock (known as double hasting your flame shocks. During elemental mastery, my haste will still be too high for chain lightning’s cast time to be above one second, so lightning bolt spam is still the way forward. After elemental mastery I will use my hyperspeed accelerators which places the cast time for my chain lightning exactly at one second. Personally at this point, I will weave chain lightning into my rotation. Once I’ve blown all these cooldowns, my rotation incorporates chain lightning. I have decent mana regeneration and the highest DPS gain from chain lightning comes from using it every single cool down. Theory crafting has shown this to net around a 100 dps gain. Utilising it in this manner is the most mana intensive option. If you only cast it when clearcasting has proc’d then you’re looking at a gain of around 50 DPS but with less mana consumption.
As soon as my potion cooldown is up, I’ll use a speed potion so again, chain lightning is removed from my rotation.
Obviously, the specifics of this depend upon individual gear. I’m restricted to ten man gear so I’m far from boasting the very best gear out there.
Monitoring your haste levels at any given point in the fight may sound daunting, but there are multiple addons that will do this for you in a clear and concise fashion if you don’t enjoy watching the cast time via your casting bar. I personally use SLDT which constantly gives me a read out of my current level of haste. It also becomes second nature to know at which points in a fight your haste is too high to employ a chain lightning inclusive rotation to good effect.
Utilising chain lightning in a situation where you have multiple targets in range is obvious. It will always be a DPS increase to do so.
In regards to a single target rotation, the answer becomes more confusing and dependent upon multiple factors. Aside from personal mana regeneration, the length of the encounter and your personal haste, you also have to consider what works best for you as an individual. Many players find a lightning bolt spam easier than weaving in chain lightning every cooldown. Under those conditions, you’re likely to have a higher personal DPS by focussing on what you can do well than fumbling a slightly more complex rotation.
However, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a huge believer in exploiting target dummies for perfecting your rotation prior to entering a raid environment. They allow you to train your muscle memory and thus focus your attention more on the actual raid. There is a theory in psychology that your attention should be considered like a spot light with a limited and fixed area of effect. If you know your rotation by heart, then it becomes much easier to focus that spot light of attention on the actual fight in hand and ensuring you react correctly to any external stimuli (such as not standing in fire for example.) When learning a new encounter. Yoru personal DPS will always be lower as the encounter is demanding more of your attention. The more accustomed you become to what is happening around you, the more you can focus on putting out the maximun DPS possible.
Imagine then if you try to use a slightly new rotation whilst also learning a new encounter. The margin for error is huge, your attention is only so great and your performance will suffer. Therefore, always practice any rotation changes, no matter how small, on a dummy before attempting to carry them out in a raid environment.
Note:- There’s also a theory that if the remaining health % of the boss is lower than your % of mana remaining, you should always be using chain lightning off of cool down. This certainly was the “rule” that Simcraft followed.
One thing to keep in mind with regards to elemental DPS is that your rotation will alter depending upon your gear. This is primarily related to the levels of haste that your character has but in addition, what tier items you are wearing (or rather, what set bonus you are boasting) will effect your rotation. (For example, the newly revamped tier 10 bonus will cause the duration of your flame shock to be extended through the use of lava burst)
At the most basic level we have four spells to consider:-
This is our instant cast fire based shock spell. It has a relatively small initial hit with an 18 seconds (by default) damage over time duration. Due to the fact the spell is instant cast, it has a very high damage per cast time. All this aside, our main reason for using this spell (and indeed, opening our rotations with this shock), is due to it’s interaction with lava burst.
Flame shock is affected by our personal levels of haste. Although the number of ticks per cast remains the same, the speed at which these ticks occur depends on your haste at the moment of casting. That is to say, the higher your haste, the faster the ticks. This results in the need to refresh flame shock quite often, although the tier ten elemental set bonus is designed to prevent this by allowing our lava burst hits to extend the duration of our flame shock. It will always extend the flame shock’s duration by the number of ticks that will occur in a five second period.
Due to the above, it is possible to exploit haste based cooldowns in such a way as to “double haste” your flame shock. This works by timing your haste effects to over lap each other slightly and, during that time of very high haste, refreshing your flame shock. The most commonly used example of this is with heroism and elemental mastery. With a few seconds remaining of heroism, elemental mastery is cast. Flame shock is then refreshed during this window of high haste.
Generally, you should aim to avoid clipping your flame shocks as much as possible (although this isn’t always possible). That said, on a fight where you know there is a movement portion to the encounter, it can be worth refreshing your flame shock before you move back into a “stand and nuke” scenario again. Flame shock does share a cool down with our other shock spells and this can be worth remembering, particularly on fights where you may be required to slow.
This our fast cast, hard hitting nuke. It has the benefit of being a guarenteed crit if flame shock is present on our target at the time it hits. This spell has an 8 second cool down (by default). This spell should be the second thing you cast in your rotation. From then on, this spell is your highest priority nuke assuming flame shock is present on your target and thus, guarenteeing it’s crit.
This is our “filler spell”. That is to say, when everything else is on cool down, this is what you’re going to be spamming. Needless to say, this nuke has no cool down.
This is the spell that tends to cause the most confusion. When do I use it? Where do I “fit” it in?
At lower gear levels, the answer is quite simple; don’t bother unless there are multiple targets in a pull. This is purely because of it’s heavy mana cost and at poorer levels of gear, you may find you’re running out of mana very quickly if you’re regularly using chain lightning in your rotation.
Equally at the higher gear levels (or rather, at the higher haste levels) and once your chain lightning cast time is under 1 second (the GCD cap), again, it becomes less worthwhile and lightning bolt spam will probably net a higher DPS (assuming there is a single target naturally.) When your mana can sustain incorporating chain lightning however, and when your haste isn’t such that your cast time will be under the GCD cap, it is worth using.
In terms of it’s priority in the rotation, there are two options. The first is to cast it every cooldown while maintaining lava burst’s strict priority. This is the highest DPS option but also the most mana intensive. The second option is to only cast it while our clearcasting state is up. As lava burst triggers this you need to cast chain lightning as the second spell afterlava burst to ensure the mana reduction is applied. Why the second spell? You need to account for the travelling time of lava burst. If you cast chain lightning straight after, lava burst would not have had chance to actually hit and thus trigger clearcasting.
Unless you are really stacking haste, your chain lightning probably won’t dip below the GCD with the exception of when using haste cooldowns (pots, elemental mastery, hyperspeed accelerators, heroism / bloodlust and so on).
To read my more in-depth analysis of chain lightning and it’s utilisation, check out this article.
Note:- There’s also a theory that if the remaining health % of the boss is lower than your % of mana remaining, you should always be using chain lightning off of cool down. This is the current rule that Simcraft follows.
The issue with chain lightning is one of the reasons that to declare a fixed elemental DPS rotation is quite difficult. My personal recommendation is that at lower levels of gear (when your mana pool is less likely to be able to support the heavy cost of chain lightning), don’t use it unless you have multiple targets. Once your gear is sufficient to incorporate it into your rotation, do so regardless of the number of targets but consider dropping it during heroism or when you blow haste based cooldowns (again, unless there are multiple targets present).
This is the newest member of our DPS arsenal and is mentioned in the fire totems section. This spell basically causes our active fire totem to do a wave of AoE damage. On single target encounters and most boss fights, this is not worth using. The damage it will cause to one target is pretty negligible. When you start having multiple targets present, it’s damage can be quite huge, particularly if you can combine it with your magma totem. For speeding up trash clearings, this is very useful and when coupled with magma totem’s AoE damage and our chain lightning, the damage we can do on large pulls is pretty respectable.
The Basic Rotation
It’s better to think of the elemental rotation as more of a priority system. Lava burst is the highest priority spell in our arsenal and as such has the highest priority. That said, lava burst should only be cast when flame shock is on the target to ensure it is a guaranteed critical strike. The result being that lava burst is normally the second spell you cast when opening on a boss. It should then be cast as soon as it is off cooldown.
Our priority after lava burst can either be a woven combination of chain lightning and lightning bolt or pure lightning bolt spam. The primary advantage of chain lightning is it’s shorter cast time. This can be particularly useful when lava burst is due off it’s cooldown but without enough time to cast a lightning bolt.
A key point worth mentioning is to always ensure that you’re casting. While lava burst always has priority in our rotation, waiting for it to come off cooldown rather than delay it’s cast slightly is never beneficial.
In summary, my opening rotation on a boss looks like this:-
- Flame shock
- Lava burst (every cooldown)
- Chain lightning (every cooldown except during high haste periods)
- Lightning Bolt
How to DPS When Moving
I touched on this a little above in regards to flame shock. The fact is that nearly all encounters in WoW these days require a lot of movement. The stand and nuke fights (for example, Patchwerk in Naxxramas) are becoming few and far between). High movement fights aren’t great for elemental shamans. Depending on the extent of the movement involved, we can end up repositioning totems also. So, here’s at least an idea of what to do when you have to move:-
1/ Use other shocks. It’s quite easy, infact, to forget that we have any shock spells aside from flame shock. If your flame shock has a long duration left, consider hitting your target with a frost shock. (Be aware, frost shock has a higher threat generation than our flame shock so ensure that threat is no problem before you consider using this).
2/ If the encounter is lengthy and you know that you will need to re-drop your totems, consider doing this. It will save you a global cool down later in the fight when you’re perhaps in a position to be nuke spamming again.
3/ Refresh your water shield stacks.
4/ Consider using thunderstorm to top your mana off.
5/ When you know the end of a movement phase is coming to a close, refresh your flame shock since it will allow you to get straight back into your nuking rotation faster once in position.
Throughout movement phases (and depending on their type), keep in mind that lava burst and lightning bolt are quite fast casting spells. If you can use them, do so.