Elemental, Shaman, Theorycraft, WoW

Elemental: Relics/Totems

Current for patch 3.3.2.

A quick post today and one of my last in the elemental guides series. This time we’ll look at the options for our relic (“totem”) slot, the shaman equivalent of a wand/ranged weapon.

A tauren illustrating why shamans don't need ranged weapons.

As our relics are all both class- and spec-specific, there’s not really a huge amount of choice for the slot. Thankfully since patch 3.1, all our level 80 totems have been available from emblem vendors so the lack of choice is not really a problem. Let’s take a look at what options we do have at level 80.

Emblems of Heroism

Totem of the Elemental Plane
Equip: Your Lightning Bolt spell has a chance to grant 196 haste rating for 10 sec.

How to get it: It’s purchased with 15 Emblems of Heroism.

Analysis: At first glance this looks a lot like an updated version of our old level 70 favourite, the Skycall Totem. But a bizarre design choice means that it’s actually lower DPS than any of the level 70 elemental DPS relics: it has a 45-second internal cooldown, just like on-proc trinkets. Combined with only a 15% chance to proc it averages at slightly more than one proc per minute (PPM). It’s abysmal. Even in patch 3.0 it wasn’t worth the emblems; now it’s reduced to a freakish sidenote of elemental history. Do not use this relic, period. (I secretly think it was put in the game as a practical joke to play on newbie level 80s.)

Emblems of Valor

Totem of Hex
Equip: Increases spell power of Chain Lightning and Lightning Bolt by 165.

How to get it: As well as being purchasable for 25 Emblems of Valor, this can drop from Patchwerk in 25-man Naxxramas.

Analysis: It’s a solid level 80 version of the old Totem of Ancestral Guidance (apparently, the ancestors guided us to cast a lot of Lightning spells; that’s my kind of ancestor!). The spellpower increase applies to both our Lightning spells and their overload procs, but for some weird reason it isn’t affected by the co-efficient increase from shamanism. It does still provide a solid boost to our most common spells so what the hey. If you’re real short on Emblems of Triumph and overflowing with Emblems of Conquest/Valor, you may as well get this until you can afford Electrifying Wind.

Emblems of Conquest

Thunderfall Totem
Equip: Increases the base damage of your Lava Burst by 215.

How to get it: As well as being purchasable for 19 Emblems of Conquest, this can drop from XT-002 in 25-man Ulduar.

Analysis: You know how the Lava Burst tooltip says, “You hurl molten lava at the target, dealing 1192 to 1518 Fire damage”? Well, this changes it to read “1407 to 1733” damage. It’s simply more clout on your Lava Burst, not spellpower or a coefficient bonus or a flat damage multiplier. Unfortunately, we don’t cast Lava Burst often enough for this to be worthwhile compared to Totem of Hex or Totem of Electrifying Wind; ZAP! rates it as less than half as valuable as Hex.

Emblems of Triumph

Totem of Electrifying Wind
Equip: Each time you cast Lightning Bolt, you have a chance to gain 200 haste rating for 12 sec.

How to get it: It can be bought for 25 Emblems of Triumph.

Analysis: So remember how we laughed when we all realised how horrible Totem of the Elemental Plane was, and how we wished it was more like the Skycall Totem? Well, this one is basically a level 80 version of Skycall Totem: there’s no internal cooldown and the proc chance is 70%. That means that in normal stand-‘n-nuke circumstances, after the first proc it’ll have a 100% up-time. 200 haste all the time is pretty gnarly – it affects all our spells, it’s one of our best damage stats, and it procs off our most commonly cast spell.

Admittedly it’s not quite so awesome in fights where we don’t cast Lightning Bolt so much, but it only needs 50% uptime to be roughly equivalent to Totem of Hex (which is also reduced in value where Lightning Spells are used less) or 25% uptime to be better than Thunderfall Totem. You really want to get this totem. 200 haste is such a massive upgrade compared to anything else available to us that it’s probably worth spending your first 25 Emblems of Triumph on.

Emblems of Frost

Bizuri’s Totem of Shattered Ice
The periodic damage from your Flame Shock spell grants 44 haste rating for 30 sec. Stacks up to 5 times.

How to get it: It can be bought for 30 Emblems of Frost.

Analysis: This is a direct 20 haste upgrade from Totem of Electrifying Wind, with the caveat that it requires at least 15 seconds on a single target for the buff to “wind up”. However, the lack of dependence on Lightning Bolts to get the buff combined with its far longer duration make it a much more “solid” option than the sometimes unreliable Totem of Electrifying Wind – it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll find any situation where Flame Shock is not ticking at least once on something for 30 seconds.

However, it’s still only a 20 haste upgrade (plus some extra reliability) for a whole 30 Emblems of Frost – and there are a lot of things we elementals want to purchase with Emblems of Frost which are far bigger upgrades over previous tiers than this totem. That means that you should probably stick with Totem of Electrifying Wind until you have already purchased your tier 10 plus any off-set pieces you want, and make Bizuri’s Totem of Shattered Ice one of your final emblem purchases.

As a side note, this evaluation concerns sustained raid DPS; for quick-dying Chain Lightning-fodder trash packs Totem of Hex is a clear winner if you want to whore damage meters.


Blizzard have made it pretty easy for us with Totem of Electrifying Wind – it’s an easily accessible totem that’s genuinely good for our DPS; the only reason to use anything else is if you haven’t yet got more than 25 Emblems of Triumph or if you’ve finally managed to purchase everything you want for Emblems of Frost and find yourself with enough spare to get Bizuri’s Totem of Shattered Ice.



2 thoughts on “Elemental: Relics/Totems

  1. Do you think that the value of the Thunderfall Totem will increase with the shorter CD of LvB?

    Posted by Tahas | December 4, 2009, 10:10 pm
    • The value does increase with 4t10, but only by an itsy bitsy teeny weeny amount – still well below Hex, Electrifying Wind or the new Shattered Ice totems. The haste ones in particular are so powerful that it would take a situation where you were casting no more than one Lightning Spell per Lava Burst for it to be worth considering.

      Posted by Charles | December 4, 2009, 11:32 pm

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