With Shadowlands coming up quite soon, and Elemental having received a few noteworthy changes since the previous State of Elemental article here, it is time to revisit the spec! This article, written by Gistwiki, will go over the details of what has changed and what to expect going into the Shadowlands expansion.
About the Author
This guide is written by Gistwiki, one of the mods of the shaman discord Earthshrine and one of the minds behind the Elemental Shaman website Storm, Earth, & Lava. Feel free to bug me through Discord in Earthshrine or Twitter if you have any questions!
Check out all our Shadowlands Launch Opinion articles by our Class Writers and members of the community! Click on any of the colored specs below to see what articles we’ve released so far.
These guides were meant to give you a preview of what’s to come in the expansion, but don’t worry — our full Shadowlands Class Guides will be updated soon!
What has changed for Elemental Shaman?
From the pre-patch to Shadowlands launch, the only noteworthy change for Elemental Shaman is that the much-dreaded Lava Surge nerf will finally make its way onto live servers, dropping the baseline proc rate from 15% to 10%. This will of course make things feel a bit slower relative to live, but just how much slower will be overshadowed by the relative loss of secondary stats that the leveling process always brings at the beginning of an expansion.
On the Conduit front, Earth and Sky was reworked into Pyroclastic Shock and fills the same niche (dedicated single-target conduit) in a slightly different manner. This was necessary as the previous conduit worked off of Fulmination, which was an old resource Blizzard had tested moving us back to and then decided against.
For Legendaries, while there were tuning changes, the only change of true substance for Elemental-specific legendaries was to Elemental Equilibrium. This legendary was reworked from an expanded Master of the Elements, to a buff that you can gain once every 30 seconds by casting one spell from each of the spell schools that Elemental has access to (Fire, Frost, and Nature.) Echoing Shock & Elemental Blast count as all 3 spell schools at once for this legendary.
Elemental Shaman Leveling Perks
As we level through Shadowlands Elemental receives a few perks to enhance a few of our existing abilities.
- Level 52: Elemental Fury – The new Rank 2 of this passive now also grants our heals the 250% bonus on critical strikes that our damaging spells already receive now.
- Level 54: Astral Shift – This boosts the duration of Astral Shift from 8 seconds to 12, which is a nice bump to how it can be used in certain scenarios.
- Level 56: Hex – Dropping 10 seconds off the cooldown of Hex isn’t a great PvE perk unless your CC is broken early, but it should help a small amount in PvP.
- Level 58: Fire Elemental Totem – Doubling the length of Flame Shocks cast while your Fire Elemental is active helps ease the pain of the base duration of Flame Shock being cut from 24 seconds to 18 seconds in the pre-patch.
Vesper Totem, like most of our covenant abilities, is a standalone spell that has little-no interaction with the rest of our rotation. In practice you’ll fire and forget it most of the time, only considering it again if you need to reposition it (which can be done while the totem is out.) The only time you may hold it is for specific instances of AoE that’re coming up shortly after it becomes available. This covenant ability is currently relatively strong on single-target, and no slouch on AoE either which makes it a strong contender for M+ Elemental.
Elysian Dirge is the conduit for this spell and is a simple damage increase to the totem, hitting the target closest to the totem for more damage. The damage provided by this conduit is worth it in more or less all settings, though more on that in the conduit section below!
Summon Steward is the signature ability that all Kyrian receive regardless of their class. The biggest draw for this cute little guy is Phial of Serenity, which is essentially a second healing potion that has a separate cooldown. It does also normally remove bleeds, but Blizzard appears to have given this the Tremor Totem treatment and made sure that it won’t work for most of the important bleeds in Castle Nathria. He also provides nice little quality of life bumps like a talent change, a vendor, or just cheering you and your friends on!
Fae Transfusion is a standalone spell that does not interact with the rest of our rotation. The best use of this ability in general is to use it simply on cooldown, though due to the fact that it splits the damage it deals between all of the targets that it hits it becomes very weak when multiple targets are introduced.
Essential Extraction is a simple reduction in the cooldown of the covenant ability, allowing you to use it more frequently. This conduit is absolutely worth it for single target, though declines in value for AoE. More on that though in the conduit section.
Soulshape is the signature ability that all Night Fae receive. This is a nice tool for Elemental, as the blinks it provides fills the gap left in our toolkit by Gust of Winds departure at the end of the Legion expansion quite nicely! The movement speed increase is less useful, as it’s only marginally faster than Ghost Wolf unless you have Spirit Wolf talented, in which case Ghost Wolf is faster after a few seconds of movement.
Primordial Wave is currently the only covenant ability that has a meaningful interaction with our rotation, and as such it should come as no surprise that this is the most satisfying covenant ability currently. This spell places Flame Shock on the target of the initial spellcast, and then casts Lava Burst at 80% strength on every target with Flame Shock on it when we next cast Lava Burst. This ability is currently the strongest single-target covenant ability, and scales well with multiple targets up until you get past 3-4 targets and begin to purely AoE at which point it’s still useful but less so.
Tumbling Waves is in essence the Aftershock talent, but for our covenant ability. Not consuming the cooldown when you cast the spell is quite useful and ramps up the damage of the covenant ability further when multiple targets are available as it means more Flame Shocks & more duplicated Lava Bursts!
Fleshcraft is a nice proactive defensive cooldown that we can combine with any of our other myriad options for small damage reduction to soak decent amounts of incoming damage. This will double-dip with the Endurance conduit Vital Accretion for even more giant shield shenanigans.
Chain Harvest is a standalone spell that does not interact with the rest of our rotation. For single target, the best use of this ability is to use it only when you would otherwise be casting a Lightning Bolt and for AoE you want to use it on cooldown. It’s a fairly strong AoE ability, and makes a strong case for use in M+
Lavish Harvest increases the critical strike chance of the covenant ability by 10%. This is important, as the cooldown of Chain Harvest is reduced by 5 seconds for every bounce that crits! This is quite the powerful conduit for AoE, but one of the weakest potency conduit options we have available to us for single target.
Door of Shadows is the signature ability that all Venthyr receive. Like Soulshape this ability helps us move from point to point quickly, something Elemental has traditionally struggled with. That much said, the only positive this has over Soulshape is that it has a shorter cooldown and the potential to have charges depending on your soulbind choice.
Selecting a Covenant for Elemental Shaman
When everything is accounted for, if you were to choose your covenant today I would suggest Necrolord for raiding and Kyrian for M+. In a single target scenario, which tends to be the most important type of damage for raiding Necrolord takes the cake without any questions asked. For situations where we can funnel damage from multiple targets into a single target via Flame Shock multi-dotting, which has been our raid niche for most of BfA, Necrolord is also the top option. For M+, the balanced approach that Kyrian provides to our damage will likely make it the best choice for Elemental Shaman in that content pending further tuning.
So far as alternatives go, neither Kyrian nor Night Fae are far behind (within 1-2% based on current sims that include the entire package) for single target though Venthyr is much farther behind (~4-5% total dps on a single target based on those same sims.)
For AoE/M+ Venthyr’s strength on AoE for Elemental should keep it competitive in M+ settings, especially on Fortified weeks, and Necrolord can say the same in any scenario that favors single target or situations where multiple separated targets are active. Night Fae however, is noticeably behind the other covenants in M+ for Elemental at the moment.
Best Soulbinds for Elemental Shaman
Assuming you go with Necrolord as your primary covenant you’ll want to pick Emeni. Emeni doesn’t have any strong options when it comes to mixing things up and we will almost always follow the below soulbind path for this covenant currently:
Assuming you go with Kyrian as your primary covenant you’ll want to pick Pelagos. Elemental prefers taking both potency conduits with Pelagos, so most of the path is set. However, whether or you pick the second endurance conduit or the finesse conduit is your choice depending on the content you’re doing and what it requires:
Elemental Shaman Conduits
Descriptions for exactly what each of the Potency Conduits do is further below, but first here’s an easy 3-step process if follow if you’re wondering which Potency conduits you should use in general based on current tuning:
- Always use Call of Flame
- If you’re not Venthyr use your Covenant-Specific conduits Elysian Dirge, Essential Extraction, & Tumbling Waves for all situations
- If you are Venthyr, use Pyroclastic Shock for situations that don’t have significant AoE & Lavish Harvest for situations with significant AoE.
- Elysian Dirge – A strong damage bonus for our Vesper Totem which favors single-target though adds the same total amount of damage in all content per use.
- Essential Extraction – A nice simple bonus, reducing the cooldown of Fae Transfusion. This bonus also favors single target, though is stronger than all but one of our other potency conduits for AoE
- Tumbling Waves – Getting multiple Primordial Waves for the price of one is always quite nice, and the additional Flame Shocks provided by the resets only make it better until you get to a very high number of targets.
- Lavish Harvest – Lowering the cooldown upon a crit for Chain Harvest is quite nice for AoE, but this conduit only just barely above 0 dps for single-target.
General Potency Conduits
- Call of Flame – Extending the duration of Fire Elemental or Storm Elemental is a strong, stable damage bonus in all types of content. Add to this that current tuning makes this our most powerful conduit numerically is icing on the cake.
- High Voltage – This is a single-target conduit that’s struggling to find a niche at the moment. The builds that would, at a glance, benefit it the most (Storm Elemental based builds) are already swimming in Maelstrom and this conduit ironically means that you’ll be casting Lightning Bolt less. This means that the conduit fights against itself to an extent, which will likely leave it weak unless tuning targets it specifically.
- Pyroclastic Shock – Extending Flame Shock is nice in a world where it only lasts for 18 seconds, and current tuning makes this the second strongest of the general potency conduits for single target currently!
- Shake the Foundations – This is a 0 dps for anything outside of AoE. However, even in M+ this is likely to see little-no use as this conduit comes with the frustrating feature of consuming Stormkeeper charges when it procs which feels very awkward currently and is personally a deal-breaker for the conduit.
- Vital Accretion – This is the best all-around Endurance Conduit for us, and provides an additional defensive cooldown to keep Elemental alive in dangerous situations.
- Refreshing Waters – Staying alive while you take bursts of damage is usually more important than healing it up afterwards, but on the rare occasion that it is important (or the not nearly as rare occasion where you have the opportunity to use two Endurance conduits) it’s a fine choice.
- Astral Protection – Unless we run into another scenario akin to Uu’nat, where Reincarnation is extremely useful for one individual to die at very specific times without expending a battle res this conduit will likely go unused across the board as it’ll have difficulty comparing with the other two.
- Thunderous Paws – A mobility boost upon entering Ghost Wolf is fairly nice, and Elemental rarely says no to a boost to our limited mobility
- Spiritual Resonance – While it won’t always be useful to have Spiritwalker’s Grace at the beginning of Heroism, there will be occasions where it is. This is especially true as we get higher ranks of this conduit and it eventually grows to nearly half the length of Heroism.
- Totemic Surge – A reduction in the cooldown to Tremor Totem is fairly niche, as you’re not frequently put into scenarios where you need a fear dispel all that often. A reduction in the cooldowns of Earthbind Totem & Capacitor Totem however, are quite nice in a few situations.
- Crippling Hex – Reduces the cooldown of Hex. Which sadly has little-no use in practical PvE situations currently
Legendaries for Elemental Shaman
General Shaman Legendary Powers
- Ancestral Reminder – A nice little bump to Heroism uptime, but like the legion legendary that inspired it that isn’t enough to make it worth using.
- Chains of Devastation – An interesting legendary that may warrant consideration if a style of play similar to the Battle Shaman builds that were used in Battle of/for Dazar’alor or Azshara’s Eternal Palace become popular, but is a dps loss normally.
- Deeptremor Stone – This legendary actually does a surprising amount of damage, but not enough to make it worth using regardless of the number of targets.
- Deeply Rooted Elements – This effect grants a nice damage bonus, but it’s not good enough compared to the alternatives. If we get the opportunity to use multiple legendaries together later on in the expansion, this could synergize quite well with some of our other options!
Elemental Shaman Specific Legendary Powers
- Elemental Equilibrium – A nice bonus that is fairly thematic for Elemental, but is too weak to find a niche where it could be used.
- Windspeaker’s Lava Resurgence – This is our most powerful single-target legendary at the moment, driven primarily by the relative strength of Lava Burst and the relatively low number of Lava Surge procs we’ll have this expansion in comparison to BFA
- Echoes of Great Sundering – The free (beyond the GCD used to cast it) Earthquakes we get from this legendary make it a legendary that provides close to the best of both worlds. It’s one of our best single-target legendaries, and our best AoE legendary.
- Skybreaker’s Fiery Demise – This legendary has a few niches where it’s very powerful. Namely on council-style fights and on fights where you want to place Flame Shocks onto many targets to funnel damage into a single target. Otherwise it’s ok, but not amazing. We do however expect it to scale fairly well with gear, so it may climb the ranks of legendaries as the expansion moves on.
Picking a Legendary
- In raids, single-target damage is almost always the most important damage type and as such you’ll want to focus first on the most powerful single target legendary – Windspeaker’s Lava Resurgence – followed by picking up at least a rank 1 version of Skybreaker’s Fiery Demise for those fights where it’s powerful.
- In M+, having a spread of damage for all situations is usually more important and so my suggestion is to start with Echoes of Great Sundering for that legendary that’s always strong regardless of the damage profile you want to focus on. Later it’ll likely be worth picking up Windspeaker’s Lava Resurgence & Skybreaker’s Fiery Demise for those situations they shine in.
Elemental hasn’t changed terribly much from BfA to Shadowlands, with most of the toolkit feeling just as it did in BfA. We have some new toys to play with in the Covenants, Conduits, Soulbinds, and Legendaries we’ll receive in the coming weeks but the core of Elemental is the same as always.
So far as the ever-present question of viability is concerned, not too much has changed from past tiers or expansions at this point. Most of how powerful or viable we are will be up to tuning, mostly single-target tuning. If Shadowlands follows the pattern that has been established since Cataclysm then we’ll be tuned to have relatively low single-target dps for the first tier. This will mean that you likely won’t see Elemental in the World First race, but outside of that race we’ll still be a viable option.
Our strengths and weaknesses are largely the same as they were in BfA. We have powerful general sustained AoE, strong options for burst AoE, the ability to dps while moving quite well, and can funnel damage from multiple targets into a single target very well (though this last one is a bit weaker than it was in BfA due to the loss of Lava Shock.) We lack mobility that gets us from point A to point B quickly, are relatively squishy, and traditionally are tuned towards the weaker end of the dps spectrum in the first tier of an expansion.
All in all though, if you enjoyed Elemental in Legion and BfA then you’re likely going to enjoy the spec just as much in Shadowlands!