Thursday, October 2, 2014

Seven Commandments for the Everyday Shaman

Dost thou wish to ascend into the mighty ranks of shaman? Dost thou wish to be the sultan of swinging wind, a mighty wielder of lightning, and/or a commander of the tides?  To acquire this wisdom, thou must first learn and abide the following commandments:

If thou dost not know when to Lust, thy shalt never be a Hero.
- Translation: If you're not sure when to hit your Bloodlust or Heroism button, ask. If you're someone who is prone to hitting said button at awkward times by accident, move the button elsewhere. Nothing is more sad, or aggravating when certain mechanics are involved, than to experience a raid-wide cooldown being used incorrectly.

This also goes for you mages with your wibbly wobbly timey wimey...stuff, you hunters and your hysterical dogs, and those of you who decide that playing your bongo drums on trash is a good idea, so you all best be paying attention.

Thou shalt use Stormlash Totem as oft as possible, except for when thy shaman brother or sister hast used it first.
- Translation: Stormlash Totem is a rather potent raid cooldown that is often ignored by unpracticed shaman, or is commonly overlapped, causing waste. (Don't worry, Stormlash will be a thing of the past come patch 6.0!) Watch your buffs!

Thou shalt not override a thy brethren's Earth Shield.
- Translation: This is one thing that drives me absolutely nuts in LFRs - some other restoration shaman comes toddling along, overriding the Earth Shield on whichever tank you have it on. Don't be that guy! If you see a tank with an Earth Shield on already, put it on the other tank. More than two resto shaman in the raid and Earth Shields are already covered? Toss it on that noob taking damage over there! (Thankfully, another thing of the past come patch 6.0)

Thou shalt not use Thunderstorm inappropriately.
- Translation: Dude, seriously. You probably know who you are, but really. Don't be that guy/gal who runs up into the middle of a pack of mobs that a tank is dealing with and Thunderstorm them all over Diablo's creation. Nothing will tick off your tank and melee dps faster. I get it, it's an AoE ability. If you want to use it as such, glyph it.

It's completely acceptable to Thunderstorm people off of the side of cliffs in PvP though. Fair game, boomchickens! Or any druid really, now that Typhoon is accessible by all four specs.

If it spinnith, thou shalt not winnith.
- Translation: This mostly applies to my enhancement brothers and sisters, but can also apply to the unaware restoration/elemental shaman as well: If something, be it a weapon or mob, is the hell away. Just, run.

All circles on the ground are not created equal.
- Translation: If it's blue and wet (or green and leafy/gold and sparkly), stand in it! Almost anything else, apply the logic of the previous commandment.

If thou uses thine healing abilities while thine raid is healthy, ye shall perish.
- Translation: This applies to both the healing and damage dealing shaman of the world. One of the larger rookie moves I see made by many a shaman is a) to use Healing Tide Totem on cooldown, regardless of raid health b) macro Ancestral Guidance into Ascendance (there are rare times when this can be useful, but as a general rule it often ends up being a complete waste of AG)  or c) completely forget that any of these abilities exist.

Repeat after me:
+ Healing Tide Totem is not a rotational ability.
+ Healing Tide Totem is for raid-wide healing. Drop it a second before raid-wide damage goes out if the raid isn't completely stabilized, or drop it immediately after raid wide damage goes out to stabilize/heal the raid.
+ Ancestral Guidance is not a rotational ability.
+ Ancestral Guidance is for raid-wide healing. Pop it a second before raid-wide damage goes out if the raid isn't completely stabilized, or pop it immediately after raid wide damage goes out to stabilize/heal the raid. Best when used when you're able to use AoE abilities or paired with Ascendance, if raid strategy allows (highest burst healing yield), however should not be used exclusively when those situations arise, as the raid may not need that healing at that moment.
+ Healing Stream Totem is friend. He's just a little guy, but he likes to help heal people often. Call on him often, especially when there are people he can help heal. This goes especially for restoration shaman, but he should not be forgotten by enhancement or elemental shaman.
+ Mana Tide Totem is healer friend. MTT should be used early and often, but not on the pull early. Unless your tank(s) was awful and pulled while the healer(s) had little to no mana. (Soon to be a thing of the past, come 6.0)
+ When in doubt of knowing exactly when to pop your healing cooldowns, ask! Bug your raid leader or bug your healers. Go in with a plan, come out with loot!

Go forth and be awesome, so sayeth the Saz.

Writer's Note: While this article has been written as a comedy piece, there is a good bit of truthrage behind these words. As a veteran shaman, raider, as a well seasoned raid leader, all of the above are things that I notice on a regular basis. The commandments listed above are the things that truly drive me bonkers. I hope that I've not only provided you all with bit of a laugh, but also with some helpful insight on how to better improve your shamanistic skills. /salute

Writer's Note 2: I'm fully aware that I probably slaughtered the usage of Early Modern English. Linguist/literary folks, I apologize. Mostly. Kind of. I might only be marginally sorry.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WoD Alpha: Keybind Interface

When it arrives, Warlords of Draenor will come packed with several quality of life changes. Some of these changes will go unnoticed by many (especially addon using) players, but some of them will certainly make things a bit easier for everyone else. What change am I talking about this time around? The keybind interface. Here are some previews.

(Click images to enlarge)

As you can see, the layout is much more clearly defined than it is on the live servers. No more scrolling through a massive list trying to figure out where to configure that one bar. Everything is beautifully labeled and easily accessible. For those who prefer to use the standard UI bars, or those of us who are on a rare occasion forced to use the standard UI bars instead of our favorite mods, this is a most welcome change.

Friday, June 20, 2014

WoD Alpha: Toy Box and Mounts Interface

Hoarders, rejoice! For the time of the Toy Box is nearly upon us. For those of you who are interested in getting a sneak peak at what the interface will look like, have a screenshot of it!

As you can see, our Toy Box will have a pretty snazzy search and filtering system, one that's nearly identical to what we have currently for our non-combat pets. Finding your favorite item should be pretty easy once this system is in place. I know that I'm definitely looking forward to this feature, as my shaman has been crying about inventory space since Wrath of the Lich King.

One thing to note about the toybox: it currently doesn't automatically add the items into the toy spellbook. You'll have to click on the item (current new Beta interface will actually indicate this), and it'll be placed in your spellbook, thus being removed from your inventory.

It appears that our mount page will get a similar treatment as far as sorting is concerned (hooray!), though it doesn't seem like all of the sorting functions are implemented at this time. My assumption/hope is that they'll break it down further into achievements, instance drops, crafted, and vendors as well.

Edit: Looks like they have a bit more filtering added in now!

I'm really looking forward to both of these quality of life implementations, small as they may seem. Personally I don't think they can get here soon enough!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

WoD Alpha: New Ghost Wolf and Feral Spirit Models

Those of you who happen to follow me on Twitter and Facebook may already know that I'm one of the lucky ones who have managed to snag an invite onto the Warlords of Draenor alpha test servers. Over the next few weeks I hope to write about my thoughts on the changes to Enhancement and shamans in general. For now though, I shall answer one of our most pressing questions: With all of the new model revamps coming in WoD, will we get a new wolf form?

The answer is apparently: Yes!

As you can see in the above images, we're most definitely getting an updated version for our ghost wolf forms. Both are rather transparent, much along the lines of our current unglyphed wolf form on live, and are nearly invisible when seen against light backgrounds, such as snow. Unlike the Glyph of the Spectral Wolf on live, the spectral version of our wolf is the same size as our unglyphed version.

But what about our Feral Spirits? Well, we're definitelly getting new versions of those too!

New Feral Spirits

As you can see, they're much larger than our ghost wolf forms. Currently on live servers, if we have Glyph of the Spectral Wolf activated, we're roughly the same size as our puppy pals. Since both glyphed and unglyphed versions of our ghost wolf are the same size, our new wolves will always seem large in comparison.

How about raptors? Well, at this moment in time our Spirit Raptors (if you use Glyph of Spirit Raptors) do not have new models. Perhaps we'll see those in future builds, but I have my doubts on those being terribly high on the priority list right now.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Behind the Avatar Podcast

Last weekend yet another brave soul allowed me to babble on about Warcraft related topics on their podcast. This time around it was the lovely Leeta from Behind the Avatar. Leeta got personal with me, digging into the hows and whys of my WoW experience. Of course rambling and ridiculous stories were told, and as usual, I manage to lose my ability to words now and again.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Training Dummies Podcast

This past week I once again had the pleasure of joining Rob and Hend on The Training Dummies podcast. The last time I was a part of their show, we spoke about soloing and all that fun jazz. This time around they had me ramble excessively about Enhancement Shaman and I ended up using very technical terms such as "thingies." If you missed the live show and would like to hear me yammer on for over two hours, have a link!

The Training Dummies ep 63

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Updates - I Live, I Promise

Hello everyone!

As some of you may have noticed, I haven't been posting a whole lot over the past few months. This has partially been due to a certain lack of get up and go on my part where writing about World of Warcraft is concerned, while on the other hand I have been ridiculously busy with raiding, pet battling, alting, and of course general real life things.

The intent of this post is to touch base with you guys.

The Blog
I'm slowly trying to update everything here on World of Saz so that it's current with the 5.4 changes. Several of the older guides have already been brought up to date, though the "Need to Know" guide(s) have yet to be touched (correction: now updated!). I hope to have this squared away within the next few days from when this post is written. I'm also working on reorganizing links/pages in attempts to clean this place up some.

The Game
- Raiding: I am raiding once again. I'm back up to three nights a week with the new team, however I'm only on an 8 hour raid schedule. Even with limited hours, we're doing work. Loving it so far.
- Twitterland Raiding: TLR is still going strong. I've been hosting a Flex run every Saturday, which has been going pretty well. We're also currently working our way through the t14 achievements.
- Soloing: I'm still soloing from time to time, and videos of my antics can be found over on my Youtube page. Current challenges are Proving Grounds (ugh, FPS loss is killing me in this patch), tier 11, and Heroic Lich King 25. The latter two goals are slightly more gear dependent than what they were previously, thanks to some talent tweaks in 5.4. I still have hopes to tackle it all within the month though.
- Stuff: I'm addicted to pet battling/leveling. My collection is getting a bit crazy. Not a super huge fan of the Timeless Isle, but quality time is coming since I need a ton of pets from there yet. Rare farming is my bane.

As of late, I've been uploading a ton of videos over on my Youtube page. Unfortunately I've been heavy on the boss kill and solo videos, but super light on the guides. There's still a ton of Enhancement content going up though, with a side of Resto and Elemental mixed in. Assuming that I ever get around to recording myself again (re: gain the metaphorical balls), I'd very much like to get more guide material up. We'll see, though I make no promises.

As always, I'm highly active both in game and on Twitter. I'm also pretty easy to reached through either the comments on this blog or through the email I have listed here in the Contact tab. While I may not be the quickest at getting guides or general shaman content out these days, I'm still always up for answering any and all questions related to shaman. Please don't hesitate to pick my brain! Also, if people pester me enough I may just get around to posting more.

I hope you're all doing well and I hope to get more content out to you soon!
~ Saz

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reforging with ReforgeLite (Addon)

One of the more common questions I see is focused on reforging. How do I reforge? What should I reforge into? Do I use the guess and test method until I meet my caps, or do I need to learn how to do napkin math? Fret not, as there are several resources out there that can help you figure out how to reforge. Beware though, some are definitely better than others.

Reforging Resources

Ask Mr. Robot - This site has grown in popularity over the years and has improved greatly since it first launched. It's an alright place to start if you're an absolute beginner, but I find that that the reforging presets are often limited and/or are straight up incorrect. Sure, you can adjust some of the presets, but I personally find it rather cumbersome to do so. The site by default also has a habit of landing you under your hit/expertise caps. While I understand their rational behind doing this, as a dual-wielding class that already sees far too many parries for my liking in both soloing and in raiding situations, the last thing I want to do is undershoot my caps.

WoW Reforge - This was my personal favorite reforging resource for the longest time. Far more accurate than AMR and even ReforgeLite, WoW Reforge was an excellent and rather easy to use site. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to support the item upgrade system, hence the use of past tense. If you're not using your Valor Points to upgrade gear, this site can still be of great use. As I said, it's a pretty easy site to use overall, allowing you to to easily adjust the stat weights to your liking and while it doesn't automatically account for hit/expertise racial bonuses, those numbers are very easily adjusted and adding in multiple caps it's a snap. With everything this site has to offer, I'm very bummed that it doesn't support the upgrade system, to say the least.

ReforgeLite - My current go-to source for reforging. Unlike the previous two links, this addon allows you to make reforging changes right in game and it's fairly accurate to boot. This addon automatically takes into consideration hit/expertise racials and even automatically determines the hit/expertise required for your level (super handy for those Herald of the Titans twinks!). The biggest downside to this addon would be the fact that it is limited to two caps only. So if you're say, a Windwalker Monk who wants to hit your hit/expertise caps first, then set a haste threshold and have everything else dumped into crit or mastery once you've hit that threshold. You unfortunately won't be able to that with ReforgeLite. You'll be restricted to just getting your hit/expertise caps and will need to manually adjust for how much haste/other stats you'd like. Outside of that downfall though, this addon provides a very quick and easy way to reforge any character. Presets are readily available, and while they may not always optimal for your current gearing scheme (they are usually incorrect for Enhancement), they are ridiculously easy to readjust for your needs.

ReforgeLite - The Quick and Dirty Guide
(Click on the images to enlarge)

When you have ReforgeLite installed, you'll see the an extra window pop up whenever you visit your local Reforging Agent (shown on the right). At first it may look scary and confusing, but fret not! It's actually rather easy to use.

The red circle indicates where the preset drop down menu button is located. Clicking on that button will pop down said menu and show you all of the available presets. Click on the one that most resembles what you're aiming for (in this case, Enhancement) and the addon will automatically give you presets for hit/expertise caps as well as a secondary statistic priority order.

If the secondary stat order isn't to your liking, as it often isn't for me, you may use the little up and down arrow buttons that are located to the left of the stats to adjust their priority. Click on these arrows to adjust as needed.

Here's how I view stat priority for Enhancement: Hit/Expertise cap (7.5% for each respectively), always first and foremost.

Level 80 (Twink):  Mastery > Haste > Crit

Leveling 85-90: Mastery > Haste = Crit

Fresh 90/Heroic 5 Geared: Crit (until ~20%) > Mastery = Haste
Tier 14 Geared: Mastery = Haste > Crit (Assuming ~20%)
Tier 15 Geared: Haste > Mastery > Crit Haste overtakes Mastery once you gain 2 RPPM trinkets + your legendary meta gem, actual change over threshold before these items may vary depending on gear; haste and mastery are pretty equal without RPPM items.
Tier 16 Geared: Mastery > Haste > Crit Due to the large amount of cleave/AoE encounters in Siege of Orgrimmar and Mastery's high burst potential, Mastery is often favored. Haste is king for single target situations when one has a certain gear set up (including the Assurance of Consequence trinket) and when specced into Primal Elementalist, however reforging on a per-fight basis often becomes too problematic and costly for such a small difference between the Mastery and Haste-heavy builds.

Challenge Modes: Mastery > Haste > Crit (I have 20% crit after reforges when scaled down; depending on your gear, you may need to tweak some things)

PvP: Hit/Expertise to 3% | Mastery > Haste > Crit (As suggested by Vanguards over on AJ)

Soloing Burst: Mastery > Haste > Crit Depending on situation. With certain set ups Haste may be greater than Mastery, though I personally prefer to stick to high mastery builds.
Soloing Survivability (Echo Healing): Mastery > Haste > Crit

Keep in mind that roughly 20% crit is needed for a decent Flurry uptime, which is what makes haste worth its salt for us. Without proper Flurry uptime, haste is pretty much poop. Once you hit that 20% threshold, mastery and haste over take crit, though crit is still a pretty decent stat!

Once you've settled on your reforging priority, you'll want to hit the 'Calculate' button, as indicated in the red circle in the image above. Keep in mind that on certain machines this may cause your screen/game to freeze momentarily (it does on mine). Give it a few seconds while it crunches all of your numbers and everything should be fine relatively quickly.

When the addon is done calculating, you can scroll down a bit and see which stats will be traded for what. As you can see in the image above, I'll be taking on a slight loss in mastery with this reforge, but I'll gain crit, haste, and expertise in the process.

If you are satisfied with what you see, you'll want to hit 'Show' next, again indicated in the red circle in the image above. This will pop up another box, which is overlapped on my reforge box and my character sheet in this image (it can be scooted around to where ever for your liking). This Output box will show you which items will be reforged (indicated by the lack of a check mark) and how each piece will be reforged. If you do not want an item to be reforged, say if it's trading mastery for haste and you don't want it to, simply toss a check mark in the box and it will skip over making that change. This window will also give you an idea as to how much your reforge will cost, as indicated at the bottom of the box next to the Reforge button.

To get things moving, simply hit the 'Reforge' button! The addon will automatically start feeding the items that are to be reforged through the reforger. That's right, this part of the process is all automated!


After a few seconds, the addon is finished with its job. As you can see on my character sheet, my alt shaman is now at her proper hit and expertise caps while having excess stats filtered off into haste.

When I first started using ReforgeLite I was super skeptical of it, as I tend to be with most things. If you find this addon to be confusing at first glance, you're not alone. I too found it overwhelming the first couple of times I tried to use it. However, over the past year or so I've absolutely fallen in love with ReforgeLite. While it may not necessarily always give you the most absolutely perfect, bleeding edge, completely optimum reforge for your current gear set up (you'd need to run simulations for that sort of a thing), it'll definitely put you solidly in the ballpark of good enough.

Install, enjoy, and I hope this post has helped you out with your reforging endeavors!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pandaria Totem Post!

Whether you love them or hate them, totems are an intricate part of the shaman toolkit. Once upon a time they were simple buff sticks, usually tossed onto the ground and promptly forgotten about. In Mists of Pandaria that mindset has been changed greatly. Our raid buffs have since been moved from our totems over to passive auras: Grace of Air and Burning Wrath being granted by all shaman, while Elemental Oath is only granted by Elemental shaman and Unleashed Rage is granted only by Enhancement shaman.

All of the following questions and comments are commonly stated by those who are either just returning or really can't wrap their minds around the new system. I'll admit, when the new system was first introduced I thought it was clumsy and inefficient as well. I flailed around, took forever to memorize which totems did what; it was awful. However, once I acquainted myself with how the system actually worked, I fell in love. Let's go over some commonly asked questions.

Can I drop all four totems at once?
No. All totems, with the exception of Searing Totem, are now considered cooldowns. Each totem requires a GCD (global cooldown) to cast, making it impossible to drop more than one of a particular school at a time. You may have 4 different totems out at once (one of each school), but it will take you 4 GCDs to do so.

What happened to my totem bar?!
Due to how the new system works, the totem bar in the UI was no longer necessary. While it was a space saver, it's function simply no longer worked.

If you're looking for something with a similar feel, TotemTimers can provide that for you. I love this addon not for its potential space-saving capabilities though - I keep all necessary totems on my bars at all times - but for its tracking of both totem duration and remaining cooldown timers.

Can I set up a macro that will allow me to drop more than one totem at a time?
No. Again, every totem in our arsenal has its own GCD, which makes it impossible to drop more than one at a time. You could in theory use alt modifying macros to help save bar space, but you'll need an efficient way to track your totem cooldowns.

So what are totems good for now? 
Plenty of things! Many of our totems have very niche uses now, but several can save your skin if used right. You just need to know how to apply what when.

How do I use totems? 
Very carefully and one at a time. Sarcasm aside, we'll get into the individual uses of each totem momentarily.

This new system is awful!
Not a question, but let's tackle it anyways! The new system is certainly not a style that fits everyone. It's by no means perfect, but it's really not as awful as you may initially think. It's not as condensed as the old system, and to combat that you'll need to get a bit creative with your UI. A terrible inconvenience, I know.

How am I supposed to deal with all of these totems?
Personally I use Bartender. Due to this addon I'm able to keep all of my totems on my bars where they're easily accessible. I arrange things with how they make sense to me, have Searing Totem keybound (you may easily set character-specific keybinds through Bartender), and then track things through TotemTimers so I don't always need to glance down at my buttons to gauge how much longer it'll be until a certain totem is off of cooldown. You'll simply need to play with your own UI until you've found space for everything, which can be a bit tricky if you prefer to run with the standard UI.

Alternatively, you can pull out the totem drop boxes from your spell book, though trying to access a specific totem in a pinch can be rather clumsy.

We could honestly go on all day with totem Q&A. Instead of doing that though, let's dig into the details on which totems we have and how to use them most effectively.

Fire Elemental Totem
Duration: 1 minute, reduced if Glyph of Fire Elemental is used, reduced with Assurance of Consequence
Cooldown: 5 minutes, 3 minutes via Glyph of Fire Elemental
Purpose: For Elemental and Enhancement, this is a major DPS cooldown totem. Big Red will grant Searing Flames for Enhancement, which makes this guy actually viable for us to use as a DPS cooldown.

If you choose the Primal Elementalist talent, your standard Fire Elemental will become a better, more potent version of itself. For Elemental and Enhancement shaman, this means that Big Red will hit harder and will gain a control bar. He will also gain an ability called Empower. If the shaman chooses to use Empower, Big Red will focus on the shaman and increase the own shaman's damage by 5% and healing by 10%. Empower isn't something that should be used by Enhancement or Elemental shamans as it would be a DPS loss to do so, though the increase to healing is rather potent for Restoration shaman, especially when paired with Healing Tide Totem or Ascendance.

Advanced Play: Macros

/cast Fire Elemental Totem
/cast Empower

This macro will take two clicks to properly use, as both casting FET and Empower takes an individual GCD. However, this makes it much easier for Restoration shaman to activate Empower without having to go to the pet's toolbar.

/cast (choose a spell to put here)
/cast [pet:primal fire elemental] Fire Blast

When an Enhancement or Elemental shaman chooses the Primal Elementalist talent, their elementals gain additional, controllable abilities. Since using Super Rocky is considered to be a DPS increase, you'll want to turn off his taunt for all non-soloing situations so that he's not taunting off of the tanks (generally not supposed to happen with at-level bosses, but he will taunt all little adds and get himself killed). Super Rocky's taunt is called Angered Earth, which is located in the same spot as Big Red's Fire Blast. If you toggle Angered Earth off, you also toggle Fire Blast off.

Since Fire Blast is a large part of Big Red's damage, you'll want to macro this ability into a few of your own abilities so that you're not clicking Fire Blast on your pet's bar. Fire Blast is available every 6 seconds. Elemental Shaman may just tie Fire Blast in with their Lightning Bolt and/or Lava Burst, while Enhancement may want to tie this spell into their shocks, Stormstrike, and Lava Lash just to ensure they're using Fire Blast as often as possible.

Patch 5.4 Edit: Neither version of the Earth Elemental should taunt off of someone who has a tank specialization activated. Micro-managing our Earth Elementals *should* be a thing of the past now and there should no longer be a need to macro your Fire Elemental's Fire Blast into your other abilities.

Magma Totem
Duration: 1 minute
Cooldown: None
Purpose: Used in AoE situations where there's 5 or more mobs. Biggest downside about this totem for Enhancement is the fact that Magma Totem does not grant Searing Flames. Great for large trash packs or in large, well grouped add situations on boss fights where your Fire Elemental isn't available.

Searing Totem
Duration: 1 minute
Cooldown: None
Purpose: Main, single target DPS totem. Used whenever Fire Elemental Totem isn't available for Enhancement and Elemental. May also be used by Restoration shaman who can spare the mana to drop it and would like to help deal some minor damage. Grants Searing Flames for Enhancement, which is critical for their damage output.

Advanced Play: Macros
/cast [nopet:Primal Fire Elemental] Searing Totem

If you use the above macro, you should in theory never again accidentally drop a Searing Totem while Big Red is out. Keep in mind, this macro will only work if you're specced into Primal Elementalist.

Earthbind Totem
Duration: 20 seconds
Cooldown: 30 seconds
Purpose: Slows enemies within 10 yards by 50%.

Earthgrab Totem (Talent, replaces Earthbind)
Duration: 20 seconds
Cooldown: 30 seconds
Purpose: Will first attempt to roost an enemy within 10 yards. If the root is successful, it'll hold the enemy for 5 seconds. Once the root is broken, it will slow the enemies by 50%.

Earth Elemental Totem
Duration: 1 minute
Cooldown: 5 minutes, reduced with Assurance of Consequence
Purpose: For soloing, Rocky can be used as an emergency tank in most situations. In at-level raiding situations, he may me used as a DPS cooldown. While no where near as powerful as the Fire Elemental Totem, Earth Elemental Totem is still an increase in damage to use. He will taunt bosses in 5 man dungeons, so beware of using him in those situations.

If you choose the Primal Elementalist talent, your standard Earth Elemental will become a better, more potent version of itself. For Elemental and Enhancement shaman, this means that Rocky will hit harder and will gain a control bar. He will also gain an ability called Reinforce. If the shaman chooses to use Reinforce, Rocky will focus on the shaman and reduce the shaman's damage taken by 20% and increasing their healing output by 10%. Reinforce isn't something that should be used by Enhancement or Elemental shamans for the duration of the totem, as it would be a DPS loss to do so. You could however temporarily use Reinforce to reduce damage taken; simply use a cancelaura macro (listed below) to allow Rocky to continue on swinging at things. The increase to healing though is rather potent for Restoration shaman, especially when paired with Healing Tide Totem or Ascendance.

The Primal Earth Elemental has a taunt that you need to be aware of called Angered Earth. This is an ability that you may toggle off so that Rocky won't taunt, making him viable to use as a damage cooldown in PvE situations. However, if you toggle off Angered Earth for Rocky, this will also toggle off Big Red's (Primal Fire Elemental) ability Fire Blast. See the Fire Elemental Section for more on this.

Patch 5.4 Edit: Neither version of the Earth Elemental should taunt off of someone who has a tank specialization activated. Micro-managing our Earth Elementals *should* be a thing of the past now. Just be aware of any suspicious taunting behaviors in dungeons to be on the safe side.

Advanced Play: Macros

/cast Earth Elemental Totem
/cast Reinforce

This macro will take two clicks to properly use, as both casting EET and Reinforce takes an indvidual GCD. However, this makes it much easier for Restoration shaman to activate Reinforce without having to go to the pet's toolbar.

/cancelaura Reinforce

For you DPS types who don't need Reinforce to be channeled on you constantly, this macro will be your friend. You cannot toggle Reinforce off through the pet bar, so without this macro you'd have to click off the buff. Clicking off a buff can often be risky business, especially with procs doing their proccing thing, so play it safe with a cancel aura macro!

Stone Bulwark Totem (Talent)
Duration: 30 seconds
Cooldown: 1 minute
Purpose: Places a nice shield on the casting shaman that will absorb a certain amount of damage. Will refresh itself every 5 seconds until the duration of the totem ends. Great for situations with lower, but consistent damage.

Tremor Totem
Duration: 6 seconds
Cooldown: 1 minute
Purpose: This totem will break fear, charm, or sleep effects from all party members within 30 yards. May be used if dispels are not available, or in lieu of in the rare event that mass cleanse of fear/charm/sleep is needed.

Capacitor Totem
Duration: 6 seconds
Cooldown: 45 seconds
Purpose: Stuns all enemies (assuming they can be affected by stuns) within 8 yards of the totem for 5 seconds. 5 second detonation time, unless Glyph of Capacitor Totem is used, which brings the detonate time down to 3 seconds.

Grounding Totem
Duration: 15 seconds
Cooldown: 25 seconds
Purpose: It will absorb 1 harmful spell that was meant for a nearby party member, and be destroyed in the process. If Glyph of Grounding Totem is used, it will instead reflect the spell back at the caster and will still be destroyed in the process. Using the glyph for this totem will extend its cooldown by 35 seconds.

Stormlash Totem
Duration: 10 seconds
Cooldown: 5 minutes
Purpose: Causes the offensive attacks and spells of the raid to deal additional nature damage; a rather large raid-wide damage cooldown. Multiple Stormlash Totems do NOT stack, so if you have more than one shaman within a raid you'll need to work out a drop rotation to prevent overlapping.

Spirit Link Totem (Resto Only)
Duration: 6 seconds
Cooldown: 3 minutes
Purpose: Redistributes health of all party members with in the totem so that all players end up with the same health percentage. Also reduces damage taken by party members within the totem's radius by 10%.

Windwalk Totem (Talent)
Duration: 6 seconds
Cooldown: 1 minute
Purpose: Grants immunity to movement-impairing effects. Can remove all roots and snares. Has some niche uses in PvE.

Healing Stream Totem
Duration: 15 seconds
Cooldown: 30 seconds
Purpose: Creates passive, single target smart healing. Will always try to heal the player within range who has the lowest health. Should prefer player targets over pet targets. This totem should be used liberally when there's damage taken by all three specializations, though Restoration shaman especially should be using this totem as often as possible.

If Glyph of Health Stream Totem is used, the person who receives a heal from that shaman's HST will receive a 10% reduction in Fire, Frost, and Nature damage for 6 seconds. Can be useful in some situations.

Patch 5.4 edit: If you choose the talent Rushing Streams, your Healing Stream Totem will heal two targets (instead of just one) per pulse and will do an increased 15% healing done per tick. This talent is great for more static healing, while many raiding/soloing DPS shaman may still prefer Ancestral Guidance for stronger burst healing.

Mana Tide Totem (Resto Only)
Duration: 16 seconds
Cooldown: 3 minutes
Purpose: Returns mana to both the shaman and nearby party/raid members. The return is based on the casting shaman's own amount of spirit, multiplied by 200% (excluding short-duration spirit boosts, such as trinkets).

Healing Tide Totem
Duration: 11 seconds
Cooldown: 3 minutes
Purpose: A rather potent AoE healing cooldown, especially for Restoration shaman. This was a talent prior to patch 5.4, but is now baseline for all shaman. Rejoice! More raid healing utility for all specializations.

There are several things that can change up our totem's behaviors. We already touched upon how Reinforce and Empower can help increase the healing throughput of Healing Tide Totem (it'll increase ALL healing throughput, but since we're talking about totems here...), but it's important to remember that Empower/Reinforce will also increase the healing done by Healing Stream Totem.

Of course several totems have glyphs that may change their behavior, which have already been noted. Likewise we have a tier of talents that slightly changes how we can interact with our talents.

Tier 3 (Level 45) Talents
Call of the Elements
Cooldown: 3 minutes
Purpose: It resets all totems that have a base cooldown of 3 minutes or less. Meaning, even if you glyph Fire Elemental Totem to get the 3 minute duration version of that totem, FET's cooldown will NOT be affected by this talent. This talent is great for back to back use on any utility totem in tight situations though.

Totems that fall under the 3 minute or less category are:  Capacitor Totem, Earthbind Totem /Earthgrab Totem, Grounding Totem, Healing Stream Totem, Stone Bulwark Totem, Tremor Totem, and Windwalk Totem.

Overall this one is my preference for general use as Enhancement. I like having the option of being able to provide a little more healing or having some extra general utility right on hand if I've already used said totem (back to back Stone Bulwarks anyone?). Probably forgotten about more often than it should be, but it's still nice to have in a pinch.

Totemic Persistence
Cooldown: None (Passive)
Purpose: This talent will allow you to summon a second totem of the same type. For example, if you have your Earth Elemental out and suddenly need a Tremor Totem, you may use your Tremor Totem without causing your Earth Elemental to despawn. If you're Restoration and have Healing Tide Totem out, you may use Mana Tide Totem simultaneously without issue. Likewise with the Air Totems. This talent will not allow you to have more than one fire totem out at the same time, however.

Totemic Persistence has become a personal favorite of mine, especially with soloing and in the rare event when I'm filling a healing role.

Totemic Projection
Cooldown: 10 seconds
Purpose: Moves your totems from one place to another place. Click the spell once, you gain a little targeting circle. Click the spell again, your totems will magically move to the spot you chose.

This one is often a must-have for a lot of Restoration shaman, especially on high movement fights where the tank/melee region may need a Spirit Link Totem, but you can't run into melee to drop it. Also very handy for Elemental shaman who wish to get a magma totem into melee range without having to run into melee themselves. Great for high movement fights in general, especially ones in rather large areas. Haven't found too many uses for it as Enhancement though, save for Capacitor Totem placements.

As you can see, this tier of talents is heavily based on both situation and personal playstyle. These talents often end up being very niche and are often overlooked, but they do have their uses and seem to have better general usage in tier 15 than they did in tier 14. Have yet to find a fight to use this talent effectively for tier 16 as Enhancement; the other two talents seem to be preferable for now. Still can be rather useful on some fights as Restoration or possibly even Elemental though.

There are many addons that may help aid you in the totem juggle. As previously suggested, something like Bartender or Dominos may help aid you in the quest to find room for each and every totem.

For communication, addons such as TellMeWhen and WeakAuras may be programmed to alert you as to when someone has placed a Stormlash Totem and when said totem ends, imperative information since you don't want to overlap Stormlash and waste it.

Alternatively, RSA will put an alert in raid chat (or elsewhere, if you tell it to) stating that you have placed a Stormlash Totem and will again state when said totem has faded. Also works for other raid wide cooldowns, such as Spirit Link, Healing Tide, Mana Tide, etc. This text alert can be handy for many players, and may be redirected into alternative chat channels if a raid finds them to be too distracting.

I hope that this post has helped to sort a few of you out. As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. Remember, if you miss the cozy glow of having all four totems down at once, Glyph of Totemic Encirclement is there for you!