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Totem Talk: Enhance me

Rich Maloy
July 31, 2010

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Axes, maces, lightning, Windfury, and wolves. It can mean only one thing: enhancement. Rich Maloy lives it and loves it. His main spec is enhance. His off-spec is enhance. He blogs about the life and times of enhance and leads the guild Big Crits (Week 8 now out!) as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

Two weeks ago a fellow enhancement shaman contacted me on Twitter asking how to improve his damage output. He was kind enough to let me use his email as the topic for the weekly enhancement shaman column here on Because he was brave (crazy?) enough to face the public scrutiny that comes from being in the spotlight here, show him the high level of respect our fellow enhancement brother deserves. Here's his email:

I just switched to enhance for raiding a couple of weeks ago and I still feel like my DPS is lower than what it could be. I'm using Shock and Awe and still depending more or less on the priority frame, which I hope to ween off of soon. I'm still not 100% sure if I have the priorities set up correctly at this point. They are set at:
  • SR
  • MT
  • LS
  • MW5 LB
  • SS
  • ES if SS
  • FS
  • LL
  • FN
I also use Wolves every time they are up and also Fire Elemental when off CD. With just my buffs at the heroic dummy I seem to be maxing out around 6-6.5k. Again, seems a little low to me. If you would like to look at my armory, the name is Alyssian on Durotan. We use WoL, too, and my guild is Chi Cerca Trova.

PS - Any tips for helping me get off of the SAA priority window? I'm mainly concerned with keeping the shock rotation going, I think I can handle the rest.


My first impression from two weeks ago, before looking at rotations, before checking out the logs, was simple: gear. Luckily he had two good weapons with the heroic versions of Black Bruise and Keleseth's Seducer, the same weapons I'm using on Stoney. Weapons are the two most important pieces of gear for any melee class -- they are the largest single source of our damage.

With weapons set, I was looking for other upgrades for Alyssian. Thankfully, enhancement scales well with gear, so the damage will increase as the gear gets better. But what to upgrade first? That's easy: two-piece tier 10. The two-piece set bonus on our T10 gear grants an additional 12% damage for 15 seconds when we use Shamanistic Rage, which means we can use it every 60 seconds. The generic use of "additional damage" means it applies to everything -- magical and physical -- and it scales. First on the shopping list: two pieces of tier 10 gear.

Next up on the Emblem of Frost wish-list: Herkuml War Token. Not many specs are fortunate enough to have one of their BiS trinkets be available through a vendor. This is a must-have for every enhancement shaman short of heroic Halion's Sharpened Twilight Scale, and even then it might be best to keep the war token and replace Tiny Abomination in a Jar. Then, with good trinkets you can then finish out the four-piece T10.

Lastly, I recommended replacing his totem with Bizuri's Totem of Shattered Ice. Once you're farming ICC on a regular basis and sucking in as many Emblems of Frost each week as is humanly possible, you should be well on your way to four-piece tier 10 and then have a few extra emblems to spend on a totem.

According to the armory, in the two weeks since our first email Alyssian has seen some very nice upgrades including the sanctified chest and shoulders, the Herkuml War Token, and was even been lucky enough to win Tiny Abom in a Jar. He's up to three pieces of T10 and well on his way to looking good in his enhance gear.

The gems look good as he's way over the hit cap, just over the expertise cap, using the Nightmare Tear to activate the meta gem, and then going flat-out for haste on everything else.


My advice on the rotation was always lead off with Flame Shock as you're running in, but make SS_0 your highest priority. In the world of enhancement DPS simulations using EnhSim, SS_0 means use Stormstrike if there are 0 Stormstrike debuffs up on the boss. The SS debuff is important for everyone but would be key for a player with lower AP.

Once you have the two-piece tier 10 bonus, you'll activate SR all the time, except of course when you're timing it with Heroism. Because the tier bonus only lasts 15 seconds and then is on cooldown for 45 seconds it is possible to completely miss using them together entirely. Just find out from your raid leader when he wants Heroism and time your usage accordingly.

I ran a sim using the rotation outlined above with the current gear from the armory as of July 30th, and came up with 10,331 DPS on a single target fight. For all sims I used a 7 minute fight, 0% variation, a 250-350ms reaction time, and did simulate mana.

After a few iterations, combinations, incantations, and intonations, I came up with a rotation that looked good for you and topped out at 10,493 DPS. It looks like this: (updated 8/1 with full spell explanations for the enhancement alphabet soup)

  • SW - Spirit Wolves (Feral Spirit in your spellbook)
  • SR - Shamanistic Rage
  • SS_0 - Stormtrike if there is no Stormstrike debuff on current target
  • MW5_LB - cast Lightning Bolt with 5 procs of Maelstrom Weapon
  • FS - Flame Shock
  • FE - Fire Elemental Totem
  • MT - Magma Totem
  • LS - Lightning Shield
  • ES - Earth Shock
  • SS - Stormstrike (regardless of debuff status)
  • FN - Fire Nova
  • LL - Lava Lash
But this priority rotation means changing out your Glyph of Stormstrike for a Glyph of Flame Shock. The glyph of FS is definitely the third glyph of choice at this point in the expansion. Though I do swap out a Glyph of Fire Elemental Totem for heroic Halion. I also expect I'll use the fire ele glyph for heroic Lich King as well.

Weening off Shock & Awe

Lastly, how to ween yourself off Shock and Awe? The best thing I can suggest is practice. The program itself is amazing. Everything an enhancement shaman needs, it has. Except for reaction time. That is, the biggest problem with the SAA priority frame is that it doesn't teach you to anticipate your next cast. To learn this anticipation there are two things you can do. First, take off the training wheels. There is no "weening" off SAA. You either have the training wheels on, or you have them off. Take them off. Second, practice. From your email we know you're no stranger to a target dummy so be sure to get out to one and just put in the time practicing your rotation.

A good UI helps. Be sure to check out Mat McCurley's UI column for ideas, and hit up my Power Auras Classic post for some ways thoughts on adding in timers for shields and Maelstrom Weapon procs.


Alyssian, it looks like you're well on your way to improving your gear and learning the ways of enhancement. I'm happy your guild gave you the opportunity to switch over to enhancement, and thank you for reaching out. Readers, do you have any positive advice to share with him?

May all your hits be crits!

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether it's Matt Sampson's elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Rich Maloy's enhancement edition,'s shaman experts have you covered.

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