I’m going to start by saying I am by no means an expert on raid buffs, but this is my attempt to process why exactly elemental shamans don’t scale as well with the myriad of buffs available in 25 man raids. I’m only looking at buffs that benefit caster classes – there are a lot of great melee buffs and debuffs that I don’t even pretend to understand.

Buffs we bring:

Totem of Wrath – +280 spellpower for the raid, and 3% increased critical strike chance on all mobs within 40 yards of the totem.

Wrath of Air – 5% spell haste for the raid.

Elemental Oath – 5% increased spell critical strike chance for raid members within 100 yards for 15 seconds on spell crit by the shaman. Does not stack with Moonkin Aura, so if there’s a critchicken in the raid, this buff – which is a proc – is overwritten by Moonkin Aura.

Heroism / Bloodlust – 30% increase in spell, ranged, and melee attack speeds for 40 seconds. Useable roughly once per fight (as it causes the Exhaustion / Sated debuff that lasts 10 minutes). This buff is available to all specs of shaman.

Mana Spring Totem – The regen benefit of this totem is roughly equivalent to a paladin’s Blessing of Wisdom (although not as good as Improved Blessing of Wisdom), however there is no real DPS benefit to us dropping any other water totem. This buff is also only party-wide still, not raid-wide, so it’s still not fabulous in a raid setting.

Buffs that increase our DPS:

Improved Faerie Fire / Misery -3% increased spell hit chance. This allows us to drop approximately 3% of hit from our gear, which can be replaced with other stats which increase our DPS. This is an indirect benefit, but still a boost.

Earth & Moon / Curse of the Elements / Ebon Plaguebringer – One more reason to love moonkin (and warlocks, and unholy DKs). These debuffs are placed on the target, and increase all spell damage taken by 13%

Improved Moonkin Aura / Swift Retribution – 3% to all haste.

Focus Magic – Not a raid buff per se, but if an Arcane Mage has no other Arcane Mages to swap this buff with, they might give it to an ele shaman. It’s an extra 3% spell critical strike chance.

Power Infusion – Also not a raid buff, but a buff you might get. A discipline priest can give you a 20% increase in cast speed for 15 seconds once ever two minutes or so.

Demonic Pact – A demonology warlock with great than 2800 spellpower offers this buff – which will overwrite Totem of Wrath – but which would enable us to use a different fire totem, and therefore give us both a little more spellpower and the extra DPS of Searing, Magma, or Fire Elemental totem.

Buffs that are far more helpful for other classes:

Arcane Intellect / Fel Intelligence: While more mana is always nice, and it gives a smidgen more crit, this really isn’t a buff to our DPS.

Blessing of Kings / Mark of the Wild – More stamina is good for survivability, and more intellect is good for mana & a negligible amount of crit (see above), but the rest of the stats increased by this buff don’t benefit us (unlike with other caster classes that have talents, abilities or mechanics that convert spirit into spellpower or greater mana regen).

Divine Spirit – Spirit provides a very small boost to health & mana regen, but unlike most other caster classes, it doesn’t convert into anything truly useful for us.

Replenishment – Elemental shamans are pretty mana efficient on our own, but in raids with replenishment, we never have to even think about mana management.  Frequently, we end fights with full mana.

Looking at it closely – it almost seems like the biggest detriments to raid scaling for elemental shamans are the following:

– We bring a lot of good caster buffs, so in theory, we’re already scaled around having those buffs, so some of the best caster buffs don’t boost us the way they boost classes that don’t bring them.

– We have no use at all for spirit. In an effort to streamline gearing, mages and warlocks were given spellpower for spirit, but elemental shamans still don’t benefit from this stat. Hopefully, the changes to spirit coming in Cataclysm will be a true boost for us.

– The individual buffs that can be given to raid members usually aren’t given to us. Mages keep their buffs in the family when they can, and I’m not sure what disc priests usually do with their PIs.

I don’t know what the solution is, but actually seeing where the problems are make it a little less discouraging. For now, I make sure to hug the moonkins, make friends with mages and discipline priests, and keep my eyes open for demo locks that will enable me to drop a DPS fire totem instead of a buff one. I will never top charts in 25 man raids but I love my spec enough to keep playing despite my dismay at never really reaching the big numbers.

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