Cover art of Elemental Shaman
HC Guides

Elemental Shaman

    Hardcore viability

    Early game, the Elemental specialization is a bit harder to pull off compared to Enhancement. From levels 20 to 40, your bread-and-butter spell, Lightning Bolt, has a long 3 second cast time. Shamans also lack CC outside of slows, and our only movement spell, Ghost Wolf, has a long 3 second cast time when untalented.

    Trying to stack intelligence will also put us in more cloth gear than normal, which is dangerous for Hardcore as we will still need to melee some of the time, especially early game.

    Once we hit level 40 however, Elemental takes off. Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning will have a 2 sec and 1.5 sec cast time, respectively. Our crit rate will be huge, spell crits will absolutely chunk mobs, and our gear options become much easier with Mail becoming available.

    Best races

    Horde Horde

    Shamans are a class unique to the Horde, and can be played as Orcs, Trolls, and Tauren.

    For Elemental Shamans, Trolls are the winners with Berserking giving you more haste when casting and Beast Slaying adds a lot of value while leveling as you will spend a lot of time killing beasts.

    Tauren are still the safest pick due to War Stomp. The extra base stamina doesn't hurt either.

    Orcs do not offer anything for spellcasting, only stun resist through Hardiness. Before level 40, we will still be auto-attacking often, so Axe Spec and Blood Fury retain their value.

    Stat analysis


    Pre 40

    Int = Str > Stam > Spirit > Agi

    Post 40

    Int > Stam >> Spirit > Str >> Agi


    Stat Conversion
    Strength 1 Strength = 2 Attack Power = 0.143 DPS
    Agility 1 Agility = 2 Armor + 0.05% Crit
    Intellect 1 Intellect = 15 Mana + 0.017% Spell Crit
    Stamina 1 Stamina = 10 Health
    Spirit 1 Spirit = 0.5 mp5 after 5 sec rule (0.2 mana every 2 sec)

    Elemental Shamans pre-40 will still want to collect all the stats. Before 40, we will still do a significant amount of melee-ing, so taking Strength, Agility, and Stamina will be beneficial.

    After level 40, the amount of time we spend melee attacking drops significantly. Stamina remains important, but Intellect becomes our best stat.

    Comparing Intellect to Spirit is a bit easier. Because of the time we will spend hard casting, especially post-40, Spirit will not be highly valued. Still, it's not worthless as we will still spend some time melee-ing and letting spirit regeneration roll.

    Given how rare Spell Power and Spell Crit is on leveling gear, we don't worry about it until much later. That being said, they are by far our best stats as Elemental. Rank 4 and higher Lightning Bolt gains 0.857 damage for each 1 spell power, or 1.17 spell power gives 1 damage per cast.

    If you find a green "of Nature's Wrath" piece, t's likely you'll use it until 60.


    Elemental Shamans will focus much more heavily on Lightning Bolt damage, and as such will play around getting as many LB casts as possible.

    Elemental Mastery - the final talent in the Elemental Tree, this is one of the greatest talents in the entire game, especially in Vanilla WoW. When activated, it guarantees that your next damaging spell will crit, as well as makes it cost no mana. Elemental Shamans have a very special relationship with this spell and the mechanics of Vanilla. Because of spell batching, we can cast 2 spells and have both come under the effect of Elemental Mastery.

    First, activate Elemental Mastery and then cast Chain Lightning. As soon as it finishes, cast Earth Shock / Frost Shock. Both spells will hit the target at the same time, and both spells will crit and cost no mana. Abuse this every 3 minutes to obliterate a target.

    In general, Elemental Mastery is best used with Chain Lightning, because of its high damage, high mana cost, and the fact that all cleaved hits will crit.

    Pre-40, we will still play very similar to the hybrid melee/spell caster style of Enhancement. Just because we are putting talent points in Ele doesn't mean we can't melee!

    Post-40, when we have 5/5 Lightning Mastery and a 2 second cast time on Lightning Bolt, we spend much more time casting and much less time whacking with sticks.

    Before level 40:

    1. Pull with 1-2 Lightning Bolts
    2. Flame Shock
    3. Searing Totem
    4. Earth Shock / Frost Shock
    5. Re-apply Lightning Shield

    After level 40:

    1. Pull with 3-4 Lightning Bolts
    2. Earthbind / Frost Shock - run a bit during the global cooldown.
    3. 1-2 Lightning Bolts
    4. Earth Shock / Frost Shock if the mob will die quickly
    5. Flame Shock if the mob will live longer

    Although very simple, there is a lot of nuance as to when to cast our spells, when to hold them and just auto-attack, and when to use our totems, in order to maximize our efficiency.

    One approach is to have a "burst" rotation and a "conserve" rotation. When you have more mana, use Lightning Bolt, Shocks, and even Chain Lightning to kill the mob quickly. When you have less mana, use Searing Totem and Flame Shock to steadily kill mobs, giving more time for your spirit regen to run.

    Cleave Rotation

    1. Pull mobs with Ghost Wolf, or Rank 1 Lightning Bolt
    2. Stoneclaw Totem
    3. Fire Nova Totem
    4. Chain Lightning
    5. Magma Totem
    6. Earth Shock / Frost Shock
    7. Re-apply Lightning Shield
    8. Chain Lightning off cooldown.

    It is possible for Elemental Shamans to cleave down 2-3 mobs, but doing so is very mana-intense. You will need the talent Improved Fire Totems to make it work, as the reduced charge time on [Fire Nova] will make it cast in conjunction with the Chain Lightning cast. Talent builds are discussed more below.

    We need to put down Stoneclaw before your Fire Nova Totems, because the mobs will kill your Fire Totems otherwise. Stoneclaw also keeps the mobs occupied while you cast Chain Lightning. When you pull, it can help to not have Lightning Shield active, as the extra threat will keep the mob on you and not on Stoneclaw.

    Talent builds

    Elemental Shaman Talents until level 40

    This will be the talent build up to level 40, with flexibility to move 5 points to take Call of Flame and/or Imp Fire Totems. This will depend on how much we are using Searing Totem, and if we wish to utilize the cleave rotation discussed above.

    Note that we don't have to put points into Enhancement for Imp Ghost Wolf. If you wish, you can continue in the Elemental Tree and get talents like Call of Thunder much sooner, but for hardcore Imp Ghost Wolf is recommended.

    Levels 10-20

    4/5 Convection - the first tier of the Ele tree is a choice between 10% mana redux or 5% damage. Take whichever you prefer - this guide recommends taking the mana reduction. 5% damage isn't all that much, especially in the early game, while 10% mana is decently noticeable, especially before we have much gear to deepen our mana pool. But either choice is fine. We put 4 points in now, because we will divert to the Enh tree for a moment.

    5/5 Shield Specialization - at level 13, we make a quick foray into the Enhance tree. Our Enh first tier talent choice is between Shield Spec and Ancestral Knowledge. With speccing into Elemental, the mana becomes much more attractive. However, Shield Spec is still the better choice: a 5% increase to our mana pool is really not worth the 5 talent points required. In the early game, when we don't have much Int, it's barely worth one spell. Shield Spec gives us more survivability if using a shield. Even if you use a staff, you will want to switch to a shield when in danger, and this talent helps in those emergency situations.

    2/2 Imp Ghost Wolf - reduces the cast time of ghost wolf to 1 second. This is a mandatory talent as ghost wolf is not only your travel speed skill, but one of your best escape tools in hardcore. If you are a Tauren, War Stomp stuns the enemy long enough for you to cast Ghost Wolf when talented. You will learn Ghost Wolf at level 20, so place these 2 talent points at levels 19 and 20.

    Levels 20-32

    5/5 Convection - We venture back into the Elemental tree and finish up Convention (or Concussion).

    2/2 Earth's Grasp - increases the range of Earthbind and the health of Stoneclaw Totems. As these are two of our most important spells in Hardcore, this talent is absolutely mandatory.

    3/3 Elemental Warding - reduces magic damage taken by 10% for the Fire, Frost, and Nature schools. A very valuable talent, as most incoming spell damage belong to these schools.

    Flexible: 3/3 Call of Flame - increases the damage of our fire Totems. 15% is not a game breaking amount, but fire totems can be a large portion of our damage, especially in dungeons. Move points from Elemental Warding for this talent.

    1/1 Elemental Focus - gives a 10% charge on cast to get a free mana cast. Great value for a single point, try to use the proc on mana-heavy spells, like Chain Lightning or Frost Shock.

    5/5 Call of Thunder - 6% crit strike chance on Lightning Spells. Mandatory talent for Ele.

    Level 32-39

    3/3 Eye of the Storm - this is an amazing talent for HC. Upon being crit, you get no push back on casting for 6 seconds. Use this window to cast more Lightning Bolts or a big Healing Wave.

    1/5 Concussion - or Convection, if you took this earlier. We place this point to progress the tree, and will take more in it later as well.

    Flexible: 2/2 Imp Fire Totems - this talent can be taken to buff Fire Nova and Magma Totems. These aoe totems are mostly used in dungeons, but can be very effective if talented and used correctly, which is discussed more in the Rotation section.

    This talent is more effective when paired with Call of Flame.

    2/2 Storm Reach - increases the range of our Lightning Spells. Mandatory talent for obvious reasons.

    1/1 Elemental Fury - increases crit strike damage by 100%. The tooltip can be a bit misleading - it increases Spell Critical Damage bonus from the baseline of 50% to 100% bonus damage. (50% increased by 100% is 100%).

    Level 40

    Elemental Shaman Talents Level 40

    At 40, we have the option to Respec to move the 7 points we previously put into Enh back into the Ele tree. The reason for this is that the 2 end-tree talents, Lightning Mastery and Elemental Mastery, completely change our play style as Elemental Shamans.

    However! Doing so means dropping Imp Ghost Wolf, our best escape spell for hardcore. Ghost Wolf has a whopping 3 second cast time when untalented! Dropping the talent is a risk, so judge how much you value imp ghost wolf and make your choice.

    Sub-Specs on the way 60

    Enhance Elemental Devastation

    This build focuses on hybridizing our damage with weapon swings. Elemental Devastation is a weak talent when speccing Enhance because of our low spell crit rate, but as Ele, with an 6% increased spell crit chance on Lightning Spells, the 2 sec cast time on Lightning Bolt, and the guaranteed crit from EM, Elemental Devastation becomes much more valuable.

    Note that we had to move 3 points around the Ele tree for this build specifically. Plan ahead when you respec at 40 if you will want to do this build.

    5/5 Shield Specialization - once again we come to shield spec vs mana. Now that we're a fully-realized, late-game Ele Sham, mana is much more attractive. However, given that we are looking to melee with this build, we still look to take the shield spec talent. With the option to use 2-handers, it's really a toss-up as to which is better.

    2/2 Imp Ghost Wolf - ol' reliable.

    5/5 Thundering Strikes - 5% crit, this stacks with our base crit rate and the 9% from Elemental Devastation, for a total crit rate of 19%!

    1/1 Two-Handed Axes and Maces - enables a lot of melee dps, worth the one point even if you are using sword and board.

    2/2 Enhancing Totems - extra Strength and Agility for you and your party! These 2 points are flexible and can go into either Guardian Totems or 2/3 Imp Lightning Shield. Note that Lightning Shield scales with spell power, so the talent could have extra weight if you have some spell power.

    5/5 Flurry - is unfortunate that this is the last talent, but even with only 1 point it's a great DPS increase, especially if you are using 2-handers.

    Ghost Wolf Resto Talents

    This build gets us our Imp Ghost Wolf back, and then immediately goes into the resto tree for enhanced self and group heals.

    5/5 Shield Spec - the age old debate. This time, without the option for 2-hand axes and maces, shields are looking better. Of course, you may be using a staff, so use your judgment (the mana talent is bad).

    2/2 Imp Ghost Wolf - our handy dandy

    5/5 Imp Healing Wave - 0.5 seconds off the cast time on Healing Wave. While we will mainly use Lesser Healing Wave when in danger, this talent makes Healing Wave much more viable to cast. Judging when to cast a big Healing Wave on yourself will smooth out your run and keep you out of danger spots, plus the reduced cast time will enable your dungeon healing.

    5/5 Tidal Focus - a flexible talent, as Ele we will generally have much less armor (because we will be wearing more cloth, and maybe a staff), reducing the value of Ancestral Healing. Elemental in vanilla also lacks the Ele-focused totems of TBC, reducing the value of Totemic Focus. That being said, feel free to take whatever talents here that work for you.

    Flexible: 5/5 Totemic Focus - if you are running the Fire Totem Aoe build, then this talent is 100% mandatory.

    3/3 Nature's Guidance - oh Blizzard… why must you be this way. 3% spell hit is one of the best talents available.

    Sub Full Resto Talents

    While you might think putting more points into the resto tree is to further enable our healing, in fact this build is much more offense focused, due to getting 3% hit earlier and a further 5% crit to Lightning Bolt / Chain Lightning.

    Imp Healing Wave + Tidal Focus or Totemic Focus - the same reasons as above.

    3/3 Nature's Guidance - skipping the Enhance talents allows us to get this critical talent much earlier.

    1/1 Totemic Mastery - extends the range of your Totems to 30 yards, an increase of 10 yards.

    5/5 Tidal Mastery - the real reason we like this build. This talent gives us an additional 5% crit chance to our Lightning spells, making the total increased crit chance from talents an incredible 11%!

    Tanky Enhance Talents

    This build grabs all the Enhance talents that enable our survivability. It combines the AoE Fire Totems build with the increased dodge, block, and armor talents. This build excels at burst and conserve killing mobs to keep your up-time rolling. Still, this will be a very mana-hungry build.

    This build also works well without the Fire Totems build, as increased survivability is always beneficial in hardcore.

    3/3 Call of Flame + 2/2 Imp Fire Totems - this combination allows us to cleave down 3 mobs at a time.

    5/5 [Shield Spec] - No mana talent! If we are trying to tank multiple mobs while cleaving, we will want the added block chance.

    2/2 Imp Ghost Wolf - Shamans and Ghost Wolf are like peas and carrots.

    2/2 Guardian Totems - the added damage reduction and the reduced cooldown on Grounding Totem are both great benefits.

    1/3 Imp Lightning Shield - filler point, place it anywhere except the mana talent.

    5/5 Anticipation - 5% dodge chance, this is a huge boost to our personal survivability.

    3/5 Toughness - a percentage increase to our armor, this is even more valuable when using a shield.

    Which sub-spec is the best?

    This is really going to depend on your personal preference, as the different builds really change the focus of your gameplay.

    The safest build will be the Ghost Wolf Resto. It gives us back our friendly, neighborhood Imp Ghost Wolf, as well as the increase to healing.

    Sub Full Resto is also very effective. Having earlier access to 3% hit cannot be understated, and the further increase to our crit chance is extremely helpful for killing mobs quickly.


    Herbalism + Alchemy (recommended)

    For Elemental Shamans in Hardcore mode, Alchemy is undoubtedly the most suitable option. The significant advantages provided by customizable stat boosts, as well as Health and Mana potions, are essential. Elemental Shamans have various escape abilities at their disposal, but they all require mana; running out of mana and being unable to cast Stoneclaw or Ghost Wolf is a situation best avoided.

    Engineering + Mining

    Engineering is an invaluable profession for all classes, including Elemental Shamans.

    Items like Iron Grenades grant a much-needed disable option (since Elemental Shamans only have access to slows). Additional escape mechanisms such as the Target Dummy help with survivability. Extra damage from explosives like Dense Dynamite can be used in gaps in the rotation, which Elemental Shamans frequently encounter.

    Although Engineering demands more effort compared to the immediate benefits offered by Alchemy, it can be equally or even more advantageous during your Hardcore adventure.


    Surprisingly, Tailoring is a somewhat viable option for Hardcore Elemental Shamans. The obvious benefit lies in the availability of bags, but more importantly, gear with increased Intelligence is incredibly helpful for those looking to heal dungeons – a role Elemental Shamans should definitely consider. If you plan on playing as an Elemental Shaman, the Bloodvine Set offers a powerful endgame gear set. Tailoring is more desirable than Leatherworking for Elemental Shamans, as Leatherworking lacks recipes featuring Intelligence and Spell Power like Tailoring does.

    Weapon progression

    As Elemental, it's easy to disregard weapons as merely stat sticks. But, do recall that we will spend the first 40 levels of our journey hybrid damage-dealing.

    We will still seek the highest DPS weapons, regardless of weapon speed, with stats as secondary.

    After 40, as we move more towards a pure-spell caster, our weapon does become more of a stat stick. Having a 1-hand and a shield remains a priority simply for the armor and block chance it affords.

    One-Handed Weapons

    Req Lvl 1H Weapon DPS Source Details
    2 Cudgel 2.78 Vendor
    10 Jagged Dagger 6.00 Quest Durotar - Skull Rock
    10 Skorn's Hammer 6.48 Quest Mulgore - The Demon Scarred Cloak
    14 Hammer of Orgrimmar 9.14 Dungeon Quest RFC - Hidden Enemies
    18 Harpy Skinner 9.64 Quest Barrens - Serena Bloodfeather
    24 Callous Axe 15.00 Vendor Ott in Hillsbrad
    29 Daring Dirk 17.50 Vendor Vharr in STV
    33 Bleeding Crescent 18.13 Quest 1k Needles - Parts of the Swarm
    38 Black Water Hammer 22.22 Quest Arathi - Deep Sea Salvage


    Req Lvl Weapon DPS Source Details
    3 Walking Stick 4.2 Vendor
    11 Quarter Staff 9.44 Vendor
    13 Cauldron Stirrer 10.16 Quest Barrens - Apothecary Zamah
    20 Crescent Staff 20.34 Dungeon Quest WC - Leaders of the Fang
    32 Big Stick 25.67 Vendor STV
    44 Nimboya's Mystical Staff 35.65 Quest STV - Saving Yenniku
    44 Spellshifter Rod 35.74 Dungeon Quest ZF - Tiara of the Deep
    53 Wildstaff 45 Dungeon Quest ST - Da Voodoo


    Req Lvl Shield Armor Source Details
    5 Dull Heater Shield 161 Vendor
    9 Charging Buckler 135 Quest Durotar - Need for a Cure
    14 Welding Shield 345 Quest Barrens - Samophlange
    18 Bear Buckler 461 Vendor Grazlix in Ratchet
    25 Ward of the Vale 528 Quest Barrens - Isha Awok
    26 Arctic Buckler 642 Dungeon Quest BFD - Blackfathom Villainy
    30 Deadskull Shield 611 Quest Hillsbrad - Battle of Hillsbrad
    31 Marbled Buckler 775 Dungeon Quest RFK - A Vengeful Fate
    35 Grom'gol Buckler 695 Quest STV - Defense of Grom'gol
    36 Studded Ring Shield 711 Quest Desolace - Gizelton Caravan
    37 Vile Protector 1051 Dungeon Quest SM - Compendium of the Fallen
    37 Forcestone Buckler 1051 Dungeon Quest SM - Compendium of the Fallen
    41 Earthclasp Barrier 1257 Quest Feralas - Battle Plans
    42 Collection Plate 1380 Quest STV - Cracking Maury's Foot
    46 Optomatic Deflector 1578 Quest Tanaris - Rescue OOX-17/TN
    49 Shizzle's Drizzle Blocker 1691 Quest Un'Goro - Shizzle's Flyer
    57 Milli's Shield 2106 Dungeon Quest DM - Shards of the Felvine

    Hardcore Shaman Leveling Guide

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