Elemental, Shaman, Theorycraft, WoW

Elemental: Talents

Current for patch 3.3.2.

Today I’m going to take a closer look at elemental talent selection from the point of view of PvE DPS. If you want a simpler guide and a cookie cutter spec, try my basics guide.


Back in TBC, the default off-spec was restoration. There’s still a talent in this tree which is appealing:

Tidal Mastery Rank 5
Increases the critical effect chance of your healing and lightning spells by 5%.

However, it’s a tier 4 resto talent which requires an investment of 20 points to max out. 20 points for 5% crit on two of our spells, compared to 10 points in enhancement for 5% crit on everything, is simply not worth it. We’ll leave this one for the restos.



Enhancement is now the default elemental subspec. In the WotLK beta, it was possibly to hybridise between Enhancement and Elemental to create a dual-wield spellpower powerhouse; thankfully, the developers played around with talent positioning and there’s now no reason for an elemental to go deeper than tier 3 of the talent tree.

Tier 1

Enhancing Totems Rank 3
Increases the effect of your Strength of Earth and Flametongue Totems by 15%.

Unfortunately this doesn’t affect Totem of Wrath, and is of no benefit to the shaman personally. Your raid group may benefit from the extra 23 points of strength and agility on Strength of Earth Totem (making it stronger than Horn of Winter), but you have to pull the points from elsewhere.

Optional/not recommended.

Earth’s Grasp Rank 2
Increases the health of your Stoneclaw Totem by 50% and the radius of your Earthbind Totem by 20%, and reduces the cooldown of both totems by 30%.

While it has a nice synergy with Storm, Earth and Fire, this is still almost useless for PvE, even while soloing. The reduced cooldowns work out to 10.5 seconds on Earthbind and 21 seconds on Stoneclaw.

Not recommended.

Ancestral Knowledge
Rank 5
Increases your intellect by 10%.

This isn’t a great talent, as intellect is not hugely useful for elementals – it’s some mana regen and a tiny smidgen of crit. But it’s also the best option in this tier, and you need to take five points somewhere to reach tier 2.


Tier 2

Guardian Totems Rank 2
Increases the amount of armor increased by your Stoneskin Totem by 20% and reduces the cooldown of your Grounding Totem by 2 sec.

It’s only 230 more armor from Stoneskin Totem and a two second reduction on an ability we almost never use in raids.

Not recommended.

Thundering Strikes Rank 5
Requires melee weapon.
Improves your chance to get a critical strike with all spells and attacks by 5%.

This talent is the main reason for an enhancement offspec, 5 points for 5% extra crit on all our spells and attacks (so long as we’ve got a weapon equipped!).


Improved Ghost Wolf Rank 2
Reduces the cast time of your Ghost Wolf spell by 2 sec.

This makes Ghost Wolf instant cast, but still only usable outdoors. It’s a fun solo/PvP talent with almost no use in present raid content. You’ll probably have some spare points if you didn’t take Convection though, so it’s up to you.

Optional/not recommended.

Improved Shields Rank 3
Increases the damage done by your Lightning Shield orbs by 15%, increases the amount of mana gained from your Water Shield orbs by 15% and increases the amount of healing done by your Earth Shield orbs by 15%.

We don’t need more mana regen, we don’t have Earth Shield and we almost never use Lightning Shield.


Tier 3

Elemental Weapons Rank 3
Increases the damage caused by your Windfury Weapon effect by 40% increases the spell damage on your Flametongue Weapon by 30% and increases the bonus healing on your Earthliving Weapon by 30%.

This is an extra 63 spelldamage from Flametongue Weapon, our usual imbue. Spellpower is our best damage stat.


Shamanistic Focus Rank 1
Reduces the mana cost of your Shock spells by 45%.

A straight mana cost reduction to all our shocks that stacks additively with Convection. It’s not great, but it’s one point and we usually have it to spare. Of all the mana-related talents we get, this is one of the best per-point investments – rather better than Convection!


These are the only enhancement talents you should consider as an elemental shaman.


The Elemental tree provides us with the bulk of our core mechanics and talents, though some are aimed at PvP and others at enhancement (!).

Tier 1

Convection Rank 5
Reduces the mana cost of your Shock, Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Lava Burst, and Wind Shear spells by 10%.

This reduces the mana cost of… well, all our offensive spells except totems. However, the cost reduction is not large and elemental shaman rarely have mana trouble.


Concussion Rank 5
Increases the damage done by your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Thunderstorm, Lava Burst and Shock spells by 5%.

5% more damage for 5 talent points, a very good trade indeed. Call of Flame’s bonus to Lava Burst stacks additively with this talent.


Tier 2

Call of Flame Rank 3
Increases the damage done by your Fire Totems and Fire Nova by 15%, and damage done by your Lava Burst spell by 6%.

6% more damage on Lava Burst in addition to the 5% from Concussion. It also affects your fire damage totems if you’re lucky enough to have the chance to use them, as well as the new Fire Nova spell.


Elemental Warding Rank 3
Reduces all damage taken by 6%.

If you didn’t take any points in Convection, you’ll need to put some here to get further up the tree. But that’s OK because it’s a very decent talent that works on the vast majority of Stuff That Is Likely to Kill You in Boss Fights.


Elemental Devastation Rank 3
Your non-periodic offensive spell crits will increase your chance to get a critical strike with melee attacks by 9% for 10 sec.

This talent is aimed at Enhancement shamans, not elementals. There is no reason for us to so much as glance its way.


Tier 3

Reverberation Rank 5
Reduces the cooldown of your Shock and Wind Shear spells by 1 sec.

Elemental DPS does not depend upon the shock cooldown, and we already have one of the shortest cooldown spell interrupts in the game. Can be useful for PvP, but a waste of points in PvE.


Elemental Focus
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%.

An absolutely core talent for both mana efficiency and overall damage done, thanks to its interaction with Elemental Oath.


Elemental Fury Rank 5
Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Searing, Magma, and Fire Nova Totems and your Fire, Frost, and Nature spells by 100%.

Another core damage talent, this one increases the critical strike damage bonus of our spells by 100% (of the 50% base bonus) for a total damage of 200% before other modifiers. Generously, it even applies to our totems.


Tier 4

Improved Fire Nova Rank 2
Increases the damage done by your Fire Nova by 20% and reduces the cooldown by 4 sec.

This reduces the cooldown on Fire Nova to 6 seconds as well as increasing its damage output. The damage increase stacks additively with Call of Flame for a total of 35% extra damage. This is still less DPS against a single target than Frost Shock, but is a decent boost in situations where serious AoE is required.


Eye of the Storm Rank 3
Reduces the pushback suffered from damaging attacks while casting Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Lava Burst and Hex spells by 70%.

Although spells can suffer a maximum of one second pushback, elemental casts a lot of spells very quickly. Each one can suffer that full one second, impairing our DPS significantly in those encounters where pushback is a factor. If you do not take this talent, your DPS will suffer needlessly on such encounters.


Tier 5

Elemental Reach Rank 2
Increases the range of your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Fire Nova and Lava Burst spells by 6 yards, increases the radius of your Thunderstorm spell by 20%, and increases the range of your Flame Shock by 15 yards.

Increases our Flame Shock range to 40 yards, our Lightning/Lava spells to 36 yards, and the distance we can be from a fire totem in order to cast Fire Nova to 36 yards. Unfortunately it has no effect on Searing/Magma totem range.


Call of Thunder Rank 1
Increases the critical strike chance of your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning and Thunderstorm spells by an additional 5%.

A single talent point for 5% crit on our main damage spells. Kthx.


Unrelenting Storm Rank 3
Regenerate mana equal to 12% of your Intellect every 5 sec, even while casting.

Though we generally don’t have mana issues, it’s still possible for mana to concern us especially in long fights with constant casting and/or high Chain Lightning use. This talent helps offset those situations. We just wish it was spellpower instead.


Tier 6

Elemental Precision Rank 3
Increases your chance to hit with Fire, Frost and Nature spells by 3% and reduces the threat caused by Fire, Frost and Nature spells by 30%.

Hit is our most valuable stat until capped. This helps us get there, and frees up stat points for other things afterwards. The threat reduction is also situationally very useful: even if you are way over the hit cap, you still basically want this talent.


Lightning Mastery Rank 5
Reduces the cast time of your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, and Lava Burst spells by 0.5 sec.

Absolutely fundamental to our DPS, as Binkenstein put it: “The equivalent of 25% haste in 5 easy points.”


Tier 7

Elemental Mastery
Instant 3 min cooldown
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.

This is like a mini personal Bloodlust/Heroism. It’s not super amazing awesome, but it’s a lot better than nothing – particularly with the dramatic cooldown reduction supplied by two pieces of tier 10. Try to use it as often as possible unless there’s a serious burn phase requiring maxx DPS that you need to save it for, and make sure you can stand casting for 15 seconds when you do use it: while the instant cast effect would be useful on the move, the benefits of using it while stationary are much greater.

Generally you should not use this in concert with Bloodlust/Heroism or other haste effects, but rather chain them one after the other.


Storm, Earth and Fire Rank 3
Reduces the cooldown of your Chain Lightning spell by 2.5 sec, your Earthbind Totem also has a 100% chance to root targets for 5 sec when cast and the periodic damage done by your Flame Shock is increased by 60%.

This is a minor boost to our DPS on a single target, but very useful for multiple targets or those who want to use Chain Lightning as often as possible for the slightly increased single target damage. It also turns Earthbind Totem into a sort of shaman version of Frost Nova, which can be very useful in many situations with lots of mobs. You can assign this and Magma Totem to one of your totem bars if you like, though bear in mind the magma damage will help break the roots.


Tier 8

Booming Echoes Rank 2
Reduces the cooldown of your Flame Shock and Frost Shock spells by an additional 2 sec., and increases the direct damage done by your Flame Shock and Frost Shock spells by an additional 20%.

A good boost to a minor part of our damage, but also good for fights involving movement or multiple targets to DoT. The buff to Frost Shock makes it superior damage to Earth Shock and an option for damage-while-moving if you’re close enough and have threat to spare.


Elemental Oath Rank 2
Your non-periodic spell critical strikes grant your party or raid members within 100 yards Elemental Oath, increasing spell critical strike chance by 5%. In addition, while Clearcasting from Elemental Focus is active, you deal 10% more spell damage. Lasts 15 sec.

In addition to being a 100-yard range raid-wide crit buff triggered reliably every time we cast Lava Burst, it also grants our Clearcasting procs from Elemental Focus the ability to increase our damage by 10% as well as reducing our mana usage.


Lightning Overload Rank 3
Gives your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells a 33% chance to cast a second, similar spell on the same target at no additional cost that causes half damage and no threat.

The “similar spells” do deal half base damage and have a half base co-efficient, but they gain the full co-efficient benefit from Shamanism. They will only fire if the target is still in range when your Lightning Bolt/Chain Lightning hits and can benefit from, but do not consume, Clearcasting. They also cause no threat.


Tier 9

Astral Shift Rank 3
When stunned, feared or silenced you shift into the Astral Plane reducing all damage taken by 30% for the duration of the stun, fear or silence effect.

It’s a PvP talent that can be mildly useful in certain PvP situations. You’re unlikely to have many spare points this far up in the tree, though.

Optional/not recommended.

Totem of Wrath
5% of base mana
Instant cast
Fire Totem
Summons a Totem of Wrath with 5 health at the feet of the caster. The totem increases spell power by 280 for all party and raid members, and increases the critical strike chance of all attacks by 3% against all enemies within 40 yards. Lasts 5 min.

Although the talent has only one point, the spell you learn from it has four ranks which must be trained as you level up. This totem is a definining feature of our spec, and spellpower-wise is only potentially beaten by a Demonology Warlock’s Demonic Pact buff. The crit debuff can be provided by rogues or paladins, but ToW’s is passive and AoE, thus hitting all enemies in range without aggroing them or causing any threat. Can also be glyphed for an 84 static spellpower buff which remains for 5 minutes even if you cast a different fire totem afterwards. Does not stack with Flametongue Totem.


Lava Flows Rank 3
Increases the critical strike damage bonus of your Lava Burst spell by an additional 24%, and when your Flame Shock is dispelled your spell casting speed is increased by 30% for 6 sec.

An additive 24% boost to Lava Burst’s critical damage bonus. The Flame Shock part is a PvP idea and (thankfully) doesn’t often trigger in PvE.


Tier 10

Shamanism Rank 5
Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells gain an additional 20% and your Lava Burst gains an additional 25% of your bonus damage effects.

This talent was added in 3.0.8 to help fix elemental’s (at the time) far below standard DPS, and it worked very well. Now buffs Chain Lightning too. A straight additive modifier to the co-efficient of each spell.


Tier 11

Instant 45 sec cooldown
You call down a bolt of lightning, energizing you and damaging nearby enemies within 10 yards. Restores 8% mana to you and deals 1450 to 1656 Nature damage to all nearby enemies, knocking them back 20 yards. This spell is usable while stunned.

Our 51-point talent is a bit underwhelming for PvE DPS. The mana gain can be useful and is able to be increased slightly with a glyph. The knockback can really annoy people if you use it inappropriately (you can remove it with the glyph if you really can’t behave). However it is one of our defining abilities and great for PvP, soloing, and even for using while moving on boss fights. It’s also a lot of fun and can be usefully used to knock mobs into range of a tank or out of range of a squishy.


This concludes our look at the talents available to the PvE elemental shaman. Corrections/comments welcome.

The recommended cookie-cutter is 57/14/0.

If you’re curious, the spec I use is this.

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2 thoughts on “Elemental: Talents

  1. What happened to Ancestral Knowledge? 🙂

    Posted by Nick | November 2, 2009, 7:28 am

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