Talents selected, check. Levels crunched, check. Spells acquired, check. DPS still low.
Can’t hit that raid boss? Below unfold the mysteries of mastering your elemental side and becoming an asset, and not another liability to your group or raid.
If you are consistently seeing your lightning bolts winging past the mob’s ear, you are likely missing this fundamental building block of spell damage mastery. The hit cap eliminates the chance that your spells will miss (unless you’re terribly unlucky and the boss has specific immunities against your form of magic–d’oh). Eyonix was kind enough to supply the spell casting community with the base of information they needed to determine how much spell hit they needed on the main forums, but finding that post — let me tell you — takes some digging.
Personally, I like my information easy to find with a little slap of respectable information that makes it plausible so that is what is provided here. If you’d like information from more respectable (read well-known sources) please feel free to check out ElitistJerks, or even WoWWiki on the subject.
The following should provide the information on how much spell hit you need depending on your race and expected raid buffs. Any hit rating over your cap is absolutely wasted, so if you raid with a shadow priest or boomkin 100% of the time, DO NOT garner 446 spell hit…. buy another pretty gem, ya?
1% Spell Hit = ~26.23 Hit Rating
Max Spell Hit Required
Horde: 446 Hit Rating or 17%
Alliance: 420 Hit Rating or 16% (Due to that nifty racial ability)
With Elemental Precision (talent)
Horde: 368 Hit Rating or 14%
Alliance: 342 Hit Rating or 13%
With Improved Faerie Fire / Misery (Boomkin/Shadow Priest buff)*
Horde: 289 Hit Rating or 11%
Alliance: 263 Hit Rating or 10%
*Assumes Elemental Precision (talent)
After Hit Rating, spellpower is the best bang for your buck in terms of raw dps output. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with spellpower; however, do not overlook Crit & Haste
Only affects two spells in your rotation: Lightning Bolt and Flame Shock. If you have the Glyph of Flame Shock, the initial burst and every tick has a chance to crit. While crit is not necessary for Elemental Oath uptime (at L80), it does provide a nice bit of extra damage. New shamans should aim for 20% crit before beginning to stack haste. 25-30% would be a comfortable long-term goal for crit.
Haste is fundamental to tightening a shamans’ rotation into a well-run lightning flinging machine. I’ll be discussing rotation in depth in just a moment, but just for continuity we’re going to take a quick look at haste. Overall, your goal is to increase the number of lightning bolts you can cast in between Lava Burst. With absolutely no haste, you will be able to manage 4 — if you can get your haste up to 625 (511 with a boomkin), you will be able to get in 5. 1 extra lightning bolt in the same amount of time. Haste DRAMATICALLY loses its value after 625 (511 if you have a pocket boomer) in current content, because its just not possible to squeeze in another lightning bolt.
Bah. Intellect is the only stat that may positively affect you as it is required to some extent to have a mana pool. However, intellect provided on gear should always be sufficient. mp5 is not needed as Elemental Shamans tend to be absolute mana regenerating whores on their own through talents, and spirit provides no significant value whatsoever. You may will end up with some of these stats as you gear, but do not seek them out.
Before we start, I will just throw out there that the shaman rotation is flexible within limits. The most two important spells in your repertoire are Flame Shock & Lava Burst. Together, they create a synergy that guarantees your Lava Burst will crit, thus ensuring you are providing yourself AND your raid Elemental Oath at all times.
In a perfect world your rotation would look like this: See Update for 3.2.2
Flame Shock — Lava Burst — Lightning Bolt x 4 — Lava Burst — Lightning Bolt x 3 (repeat)
And with improved haste (that’s 625/511):
Flame Shock — Lava Burst — Lightning Bolt x 5 — Lava Burst — Lightning Bolt x 4 (repeat)
However, WoW, like real life, just ain’t that nice. You will not go from zero haste to 600+haste. You will need to FILL-IN! Even at zero haste, there will often be a gap between lightning bolt #4 and your next Lava Burst availability. Oh, what to do.
Well this is where you have some free will. You can choose to cast chain lightning. Chain lightning is faster, hits multiple targets (if available), and costs more mana than lightning bolt. Depending on the situation, it may be superior to lightning bolt (i.e. if there are multiple targets) so you may want to cast it every time it is available. Additionally, because of its faster cast time, if it does manage to clip Lava Burst, it will clip it less than lightning bolt, meaning you don’t have to stand around with your thumb up your arse because lightning bolt would WAY overclip Lava Burst.
OR, you may want to stand around with your thumb up your arse because you’re running low on mana. Or you may even wanna cast Thunderstorm — or drink a pot — or run from the fire that you know is going to pop up. Really, the only awesomely important decision you need to make on your rotation is what to do while you wait for lava burst to become available again.
On that note: in heavy movement fights, your dps will become worse than the healer throwing a Shadow Word: Pain on the boss in between spam heals. If you have limited time to stand and cast spells, make sure that you keep up Flame Shock and cast Lava Burst when it is available. These spells bring good personal dps for the time and are GREAT raid buffs. Just because the fight requires you to suck, doesn’t mean you can’t assist your raid in maximizing their dps.
After all, you are a utility class :)