Elemental, Shaman, Theorycraft, WoW

Elemental: Buffs & Debuffs

Current for patch 3.3.

A very nice man came over today and replaced my cable modem, so I’m free to have a look at Wyndfury’s question/suggestion:

Would you be able to list out the complementary(sp) spells that Elemental Shamans should look for in a raid/group? For example, I know that the warlocks need to be casting certain spells and it is nice to have a BOOMKIN in the raid, etc, etc.

This set me wondering which buffs and debuffs were worth most to elementals, so I did a quick pass in ZAP! with my own stats to find out.  I used two methods: Firstly, if I start off unbuffed, how much DPS is it worth to add a particular buff/debuff?  Secondly, if I start out fully buffed, how much DPS does it cost me to lose a particular buff/debuff?  I judged the second method to be most valuable, so it forms the basis for the rankings below.

It’s also important to realise that stats are synergistic, which means that changing one will affect how much the others are worth.  That means that the specifics of my analysis are unique to my own circumstances.  The general picture and ranking of buffs, however, will be more or less accurate for all elemental shamans – and it’s pretty easy to check out yourself!

You can find the spreadsheet in which I collated and sorted my results here.  A description of each buff/debuff and how to get it, as well as its rough DPS value, follows below.


There are just four debuffs that affect Elemental DPS.

Curse of the Elements / Ebon Plaguebringer / Earth and Moon

Effect: Increases magical damage taken by 13%
Provided by: Warlocks (any spec), Unholy Death Knights, Balance Druids
Getting it: The warlock has to specifically cast Curse of the Elements on every target.  I mention this because I have, in fact, grouped with Warlocks who do not know this and it is very upsetting.  Death knights will see the debuff come up on any disease of theirs which afflicts the target, which for Unholy means pretty much as soon as they start doing damage.  Similarly Moonkins will supply the buff during their normal single-target damage rotation.
DPS Value: Highest.  This debuff has the single biggest beneficial effect on our DPS of any buff/debuff in the game, by a large margin – it’s worth twice as much as the next most valuable effect.
Ranked: 1st

Improved Scorch / Winter’s Chill / Improved Shadow Bolt

Effect: Increases critical strike chance taken by 5%
Provided by: Fire/Frost Mages, Destruction Warlocks
Getting it: Fire mages (or arcane mages subspecced into the fire tree) have to cast Scorch to cause this effect, which is not a normal part of their spell rotations and thus costs them a bit of personal DPS to use.  Destruction-subspecced warlocks and Frost Mages suffer no such penalty as Shadowbolt/Frostbolt are part of their normal repertoires.
DPS Value: High.  It’s worth about 3.5% extra damage.
Ranked: 5th

Totem of Wrath / Heart of the Crusader / Master Poisoner

Effect: Increases critical strike chance taken by 3%
Provided by: Elemental Shamans, Retribution Paladins, Assassination Rogues
Getting it: Totem of Wrath will apply the debuff passively to every target within range of the totem.  Ret paladins have to judge, which doesn’t cost them DPS but only hits one target.  Rogues, if you somehow find one raiding with an Assassination spec, will be poisoning pretty much everything as part of their normal DPS routine.
DPS Value: Medium.  Worth about 2% extra damage.
Ranked: 10th

Misery / Improved Faerie Fire

Effect: Increases chance for the target to be hit by spells by 3%
Provided by: Balance Druids and Shadow Priests
Getting it: Shadowpriests will apply this as part of their normal “rotation”.  Moonkins will have to cast the spell specifically on every target, but it lasts for five minutes and benefits them personally to use – provided they specced for it.  You can’t rely on it being present in AoE, but most “adds” in boss encounters are lower level than the bosses themselves.
DPS Value: Medium.  This debuff allows you to gear for 79 less hit rating, which in theory means more of other beneficial stats like haste or crit.  And if you’re not hit-capped, it brings you that much closer to being so.  In theory it’s worth about 3% total DPS, but in practice the benefit is smaller (as you will not get 3% extra DPS from 79 item budget points).
Ranked: 6th (but see note above)


There are quite a lot of buffs that have an effect on our damage, though some of those effects are pretty small.  Here they all are, organised by what exactly they buff.


Arcane Intellect

Effect: Increases intellect by 60
Provided by: Mages
Getting it: Mages should to cast this (or its group equivalents, Arcane Brilliance/Dalaran Brilliance) before the fight begins.  It costs them a reagent to do so.
DPS Value: Very low.
60 intellect is worth about 17 crit rating or 0.36% crit, and a smidgen of mana regeneration.
Ranked: 15th

Blessing of Kings

Effect: Increases all primary stats by 10%
Provided by: Paladins, Leatherworkers (8%)
Getting it: Paladins can bless this, but they can each have only have one blessing active at a time.  Again it is cast before a fight and costs a reagent in its group form.
DPS Value: Very low.  The only benefit it gives our DPS is providing more intellect, and although it provides a very respectable amount (more than Arcane Intellect), intellect is still a very poor stat for us.  It has obvious benefits for survivability though.
Ranked: 14th

Mark of the Wild

Effect: Increases all primary stats by 51, resistances by 75 and armor by 1050
Provided by: Druids, Leatherworkers (37/54/750)
Getting it: Druids cast this pre-combat at the cost of a reagent.  They have to use two talent points to get the full effect of the spell, but most druids will have this anyway.
DPS Value: Lowest.  The only value to our DPS is from the intellect, and it’s the smallest of the three intellect buffs.  The stamina, armor and resistances can, however, be extremely valuable for survival.
Ranked: 16th and last


Heroic Presence

: Increases hit chance by 1%
Provided by: Draenei of any class in your party
Getting it: If you’re a Draenei or are within 30 yards of one that is in your party, you’ll have this buff.
DPS Value: Low.  See the notes for Misery, above.  It frees up 26 hit rating for other stats.
Ranked: 13th as a 1% DPS increase, though in practice its benefit is lower


Elemental Oath / Moonkin Aura

Effect: Increases crit chance by 5%
Provided by: Elemental Shamans or Moonkins
Getting it: If you’re in a raid with a Moonkin and are within 45 yards of them, you’ll get this buff.  Elemental shamans supply the same buff for 15 seconds every time they get a spell crit (which they should be doing every 9 or 10 seconds anyway thanks to Lava Burst!), but the range is 100 yards.
DPS Value: High.  It’s worth about 3.5% extra damage.
Ranked: Joint 4th with Improved Scorch

Focus Magic

Effect: Increases crit chance by 3%.  When you crit, you increase the casting mage’s chance to crit by 3% for 10 seconds.
Provided by: Arcane Mages
Getting it: You need to buddy up real close to a Mage with an Arcane spec or subspec for this, as they can only cast it on one player.  While you’re a good choice for the mage – your regular crits keep supplying the mage with the bonus effect – we actually benefit from the crit less than most casters, so it’s unlikely we’ll have this buff; it’s simply better for the raid if other casters have it.
DPS Value: Medium. It’s worth about 2% extra damage.
Ranked: Joint 10th with the ToW debuff.


Wrath of Air Totem

Effect: Increases spell haste by 5%
Provided by: Shamans
Getting it: Elemental and Restoration Shamans will use this totem unless there’s a good reason not to, but they have to drop it (using a GCD) once every five minutes or whenever the fight moves out of range of their last totem drop position.  Enhancement Shamans are more likely to use Windfury totem instead.  As with most totems, its range is 30 yards.
DPS Value: Very high.  5% haste is basically 5% more damage.  It’s the third most beneficial buff to elemental DPS, and we can supply it ourselves.
Ranked: 3rd

Improved Moonkin Form / Swift Retribution

Effect: Increases spell, ranged and melee haste by 3%
Provided by: Balance Druids and Retribution Paladins
Getting it: Any balance druid in Moonkin Form within 45 yards, or any retribution paladin within 40 yards will supply this buff passively without having to cast any special spells, provided they’re properly specced – and they should be.
DPS Value: Medium to High.  It’s worth about 3% extra DPS.
Ranked: Joint 7th with Ferocious Inspiration.


Totem of Wrath / Demonic Pact

Effect: Increases spellpower by 280 (ToW) or by 10% of the casting Warlock’s spellpower (DP)

Provided by: Elemental Shamans or Demonology Warlocks

Getting it: Elemental Shamans have to drop their Totem of Wrath to supply this buff to everyone within a 40 yard radius, which prevents them from using Searing, Magma or Fire Elemental totems to DPS with.  However, the value of this buff is worth it even for the Elemental him or herself – it’s the second best caster DPS buff there is, and is highly valued even by hybrid melee/caster specs.  Demonic Pact is a superior buff once the Warlock gets more than 2840 spellpower, but as it only triggers when their pets crit it’s not so reliable despite its longer range (100 yards).

DPS Value: High – second best after Curse of the Elements, in fact.  It’s also worth noting that if someone else is supplying the Totem of Wrath effects, we can use Fire DPS totems for another 10% extra DPS – making these buffs extra super valuable if someone else supplies them for us.

Ranked: 2nd

Flask of the Frost Wyrm

Effect: Increases spellpower by 125
Provided by: Consumable created by alchemists
Getting it: Purchase them off the Auction House, create them yourself if you’re an alchemist, or befriend a generous alchemical person.
DPS Value: Medium to High.  Somewhere in the region of 3% extra DPS, though the figure will vary.
Ranked: 9th in my gear.

Well Fed – Spellpower

Effect: Increases spellpower by 46 (and stamina by 40)
Provided by: Fish Feasts, Firecracker Salmon or Tender Shoveltusk Steaks – all cooked by player cooks
Getting it: Most raiders will have a couple of cooks who’ll set out Fish Feasts before a fight.  Just click on the feast to partake of it, and after 10 seconds you’ll receive the effect.  If there’s no feast, you can eat a Firecracker Salmon or Shoveltusk Steak to provide the same Spellpower and Stamina buff.
DPS Value: Medium to Low.  In my gear it’s worth just over 1% extra damage.
Ranked: 12th

Damage done

Arcane Empowerment / Ferocious Inspiration / Sanctified Retribution

Effect: Increases all damage dealt by 3%
Provided by: Arcane Mages, Beast Mastery Hunters and Retribution Paladins
Getting it: Ret paladins will passively supply this buff to anyone within aura radius (40 yards); BM hunters have to wait for their pet to get a critical strike on a target (any target) and Arcane Mages have to themselves get a critical strike with one of their arcane spells to trigger their buff, but the range of the buff provided by both is 100 yards.
DPS Value: Medium to High.  It’s 3% extra damage!
Ranked: Joint 7th

Overall rankings of buffs and debuffs

So here’s all the above buffs and debuffs arranged from most benefit to least benefit, according to the DPS they’re worth when fully buffed.  Italics indicate debuffs.  Buffs/debuffs with the same colour are in the same value ballpark.

  1. Curse of the Elements (13% dmg)
  2. Totem of Wrath (buff) (280 SP)
  3. Wrath of Air (5% haste)
  4. Elemental Oath (5% crit)
  5. Improved Scorch (5% crit)
  6. Misery (3% hit)
  7. Ferocious Inspiration (3% dmg)
  8. Imp. Moonkin Form (3% haste)
  9. Flask of the Frost Wyrm (no mixology) (125 SP)
  10. Focus Magic (3% crit)
  11. Totem of Wrath (debuff) (3% crit)
  12. Well Fed (Spellpower) (46 SP)
  13. Heroic Presence (1% hit)
  14. Blessing of Kings (10% stats)
  15. Arcane Intellect (60 int)
  16. Mark of the Wild (51 stats)

Mana restores

Mana restores are tricky to assign a value to, as it depends on the length of the fight, what spells you’re casting and whatnot.  However some are clearly worth more than others.  Here’s are the normal mana restoring effects available to raiders and how much mana they’re worth:

  • Replenishment: Scales with mana pool, worth about 250 mp5 in high end gear.  Clearly the best mana restore available, but it’s only active during phases when damage is being dealt.
  • Blessing of Wisdom, Judgement of Wisdom and Water Shield are all worth around 100mp5 each.
  • The Convection talent is worth about 20mp5 per talent point if you’re constantly casting, for a total of 100mp5.
  • Thunderstorm, which also scales with mana pool, can be worth as much as 220mp5 if you use it every 45 seconds.  Every 90 seconds and it’s worth half that.


7 thoughts on “Elemental: Buffs & Debuffs

  1. Awesome post!

    I’m so happy that someone has published a list like this. I love the detail and descriptions provided for each buff/debuff.

    Keep up the good work!
    Biss – Stormrage

    Posted by Biss | December 1, 2009, 4:59 am
  2. Very nice to see this type of information for once. For those of us that run mostly 10-Mans, it’s a good way to maxamize caster dps. I am very surprised to see that the crit buff/debuffs affect our overall damage so much, seeing as we scale so poorly with crit.

    A few things of note:

    Moonkin also provide the Magic Damage Taken debuff in the form of ‘Earth and Moon.’ They must also spec into Improved Faerie Fire (some don’t) in order to gain the hit benefit.

    For the crit debuff, it’ll normally be Affliction or Demonology warlocks that supply it (should be seeing more of both next patch). Destruction ‘locks almost never use shadow bolt, and as such don’t spec into the talent. Arcane mages no longer tend to spec deep into fire for improved scorch, so the specs you’ll see supplying it will normally be Fire, Frost-Fire, and Frost (once again back on the raiding scene in 3.3). Fire and Frost also bring Focus Magic, another tasty tidbit.

    -Talius of Lightninghoof

    Posted by Talius | December 1, 2009, 7:01 am
    • Ugh, I don’t know how I forgot Earth & Moon. As regards specs, I’ve made it a bit clearer that some things (like FM) just require subspecs rather than a full talent tree. I still don’t understand why some Moonkins would pass up Imp. Faerie Fire’s 3% extra crit, but I’ve noted that they have to spec into it. Thanks for the proofreading 😉

      As for the crit buffs, one of the reasons crit is less valuable for us is because we get so much of it from raid buffs & debuffs. The other thing to note is that crit rating converts to crit percentage at a lower rate than haste rating does, so while the DEP for a point of crit rating is dramatically lower than for a point of haste rating, the DEP for a percent of crit is a bit closer. Still not as good – 5% crit is worth about 3.5% DPS while 5% haste is worth 5% DPS – but it’s far from terrible.

      Posted by Charles | December 1, 2009, 12:13 pm
  3. Destruction Warlocks do not cover Improved Shadow Bolt (ISB) crit debuff on a target. It’s a Destruction talent, but Destruction warlocks fill out the Fire talents.

    Demonology and Affliction Warlocks will carry the ISB talent and can handle the scorch debuff.

    Posted by emolate | January 25, 2010, 4:16 pm
    • Yeah, I already changed the description to indicate this, but I suppose I should change the title too. I just feel that saying “Affliction or Demonology Warlocks” implies that it’s an aff/demo talent, which it isn’t. Hmmz.

      Posted by Charles | January 25, 2010, 4:43 pm
  4. Would it be possible to also add into each listing what effects of buffs/debuffs stack and don’t stack?

    Posted by Kaimana | February 3, 2010, 10:27 pm
  5. It’s been so long since I’ve played a rogue and recently remembered Tricks of the Trade. If you can convince a rogue to not put it on another melee after the initial pull, it might work out. So far I haven’t had much luck in that aspect.

    Posted by Maker | March 10, 2010, 4:02 pm

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