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Totem Talk: Enhancement's path to victory in patch 4.0.1

Rich Maloy

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shamans. Rich Maloy lives and breathes enhancement -- 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 (Season 2 Ep 03 now out!)as the enhancement shaman Stoneybaby.

Are you ready? Charge up your Maelstrom Weapons and dust off your Searing Totems -- Patch 4.0.1 is nearly upon us! Not sure what to do on your enhancement shaman? The quick-hit guide to enhancement in the cataclysmic world is below.

What's not changing

Let's start with some things that are not changing. Slow/slow is the way to go (for your weapons, I mean). Your weapons shouldn't be faster than 2.00 and ideally should be between 2.50 to 2.70 speed. Be wary of any weapon with a speed below 2.00; most likely it's been touched by a rogue and still has some residual poison on it meant to cripple your Windfuries and Flametongues.

We're also staying with the same imbues: Windfury on the main hand and Flametongue on the off hand. With this patch (as with every patch, it seems), there was a little bit of banter about going full spellpower, with fast/fast and a caster weapon main hand along with FT/FT, reforging spirit, and otherwise doing crazy things like looking for the next Torch of Holy Fire. Don't do it. Stay slow/slow, with WF/FT. We're meant to be melee doing primarily melee damage.

What is changing

A good place to start talking about what is changing would be my primer from a few weeks ago covering the hit and expertise caps. Hit your two caps and then stop; additional hit is no longer as desirable. Previously, with lower spell hit caps, the additional hit provided additional melee chance to hit, but now, because we'll need so much hit, any additional hit on top of that already high number is of marginal benefit. We'll be better off investing in agility once we hit both of our caps.

Just a reminder: If you're a draenei, you need 420 hit. If you're anything other than a space goat, you need 446 hit. I do so miss my space goat. The expertise cap remains unchanged at 80, meaning you need 140 expertise rating, or 26 expertise, in your character sheet.

Gemming and reforging

Before worrying about gems, first go hit your local thaumaturgist to reforge your gear. Your first priority should be getting to spell hit and expertise caps. The oversimplified advice is to reforge haste and crit into hit and expertise.

Remember, there are two simple rules to keep in mind for reforging:

  • If a stat is already on the item, you can't reforge anything else into it.
  • You can only reforge one stat.
Reforge until you hit your caps, then move on to gems and start stacking agility; this is the new "killer stat" for enhancement shaman going into the patch and into the start of Cata. Attack power is being removed from gear entirely; it is now supplied solely by agility for enhancement shaman. And since our AP increases our spellpower, we should stack agility in order to increase our crit, AP and SP. It's a win-win-win.

Pro tip: Buy your gems now, today, right now, as you're reading this article. Take a minute and pick them up; I'll wait here.

Welcome back. Good thing you got those gems now, because after that patch drops, you'll be paying double or triple pre-patch prices just to get back to raid-ready status.

Here are the go-to gems by slot:
Once you've hit your caps, gem everything agility unless you still need your meta bonus or you're trying to get a big socket bonus.


We're still dropping Strength of Earth and Windfury Totems for earth and wind, with our water totem being conditional based on the raid or group composition. Personally, I always use Healing Stream unless for some strange reason we don't have Blessing of Wisdom from a paladin, a resto shaman, shadow priest or a ret paladin. The big change for this expansion is our fire totem; we're now dropping Searing Totem because of the new talents.

A hint from Mazuli on the Elitist Jerks Enhancement 4.0.1 thread about testing your rotations on the target dummy is to make sure you're in combat first, and then drop your Searing Totem. For whatever reason, our angry little fire totem doesn't hate target dummies, so to properly test your DPS enter combat first, then drop ST and go about your business.


My top three prime glyph choices are Feral Spirit, Lava Lash and Windfury Weapon, with Stormstrike being a close fourth. I'll have to do some testing to see if SS will edge out WF. As for major glyphs, I'm definitely picking up Lightning Shield, and you should, too. I'll keep Hex, Shammy Rage, Totemic Recall and Ghost Wolf handy, depending on the situation. But the good news is, once you learn them, you can just keep reusing them without having to keep a stack in the bank.

Spell priority

Our spell priority rotation is somewhat more streamlined and simplified, and in a huge turn of events, Lava Lash pulls ahead as one of our top sources of damage. Another big change for us is that we now have two stack-dependent abilities to unleash. Maelstrom Weapon (MW), which you already know and love, is joined in the combo-point category by Searing Flames. Improved Lava Lash (LL) will do increased damage for every lick of Searing Flames on your target. However, given the aggressiveness of Searing Totem (ST) and the cooldown of LL, we're better off using LL on every cooldown, rather than waiting for a five-stack. More on rotations below.

Elam over at Shaman on Ramen did some sim testing of rotations using EnhSim's alpha. If you're not subscribed to Elam's blog, head over there now and check it out. He's found his way back to the shamanistic ways after a brief stint as a hunter after patch 3.3.

But I digress; in his post he found the top priority was MW5, SW, FS, ST, SS, LL, ES, SR (with two-piece tier 10). He also concluded that the priority system is a lot less important than it is currently, meaning you can mash buttons a bit more out of order, without worrying about a super-strict priority, and not sacrifice a lot of DPS.

For me, first I'm going to be sure I use MW5_LB as soon as it's up. Next, I'm going to keep focused on keeping a Searing Totem down 100 percent of the time because the increase to Lava Lash is so significant. After those two abilities, I'll keep SS, LL and FS high on my priority list. Continue to use your wolves on every cooldown, work in ES as needed and use Shamanistic Rage (SR) when you need an extra kick.

May all your hits be crits!

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

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