Player Spotlight: Elbroiblo
Hello everyone! Welcome to the final RaiderIO Player Spotlight of Season 3 and the nineteenth consecutive Spotlight of my series. My name is Samantha aka Vitaminpee and with this series, I am aiming to highlight the amazing players of World of Warcraft regardless of their chosen class, spec, language, and/or region. I hope to bring you valuable information and help you learn more about your favorite top players or discover new ones who you may not know.
Can you believe there’s an Enhancement Shaman at over 3.6k RaiderIO score? This week, I interviewed Elbroiblo, who currently holds the #1 world rank for Enhancement Shamans. Furthermore, Elbroiblo also sits as the #3 overall Shaman in the world, holding a spot amongst all Elemental Shamans within nearly 40 world ranks. So if Enhancement Shaman has been viewed as a terrible class nearly all expansion, how does Elbro do it? Do we have it all wrong? In this interview, Elbro will educate you in-depth on the benefits and drawbacks to running an Enhancement Shaman in Mythic+ so that you may decide for yourself.
“Enhancement is relatively hard to play in Mythic+. This is not intended to boost my ego, but this fact just contributes to the state of Enhancement being rare in Mythic+ and why some people can be frustrated by them.”
VitaminP: Hi Elbroiblo! Can you please tell us a little more about yourself?
Elbroiblo: My name is Felix. I recently turned 24 and I’m currently living in Bayreuth, Germany. I’m in my last university semester on a master’s study path to be a Physics and Mathematics teacher. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, but I’m not sure yet if I will pursue a Master’s degree since I only need a federal degree to teach. I’ve been playing WoW since Wrath of the Lich King. Since Warlords of Draenor, Enhancement Shaman has been my true love and, so far, I’ve only swapped to Elemental in some particular cases (i.e. The Queen’s Court encounter in The Eternal Palace on Mythic). Before Season 2, I only played Mythic+ very casually, but I started to push some higher keys with guildmates in the middle of that season. A few weeks into Season 3, I was invited into my current group as a substitute. It first started as a meme: “Enhancement Shaman (considered to be one of the worst specs in Mythic+) starts pushing noticeably”. Things ended up working quite well, so I was allowed to stay in the team and we reached our first milestone of 3k RaiderIO score. During our first push as a team, some people noticed me on RaiderIO and eventually convinced me to start streaming. Overall, we had a great time pushing together despite some challenges and roster turnover. When we lost our original Rogue, our Guild-leader stepped in and our healer, Shuhaloh, transferred to Blackhand, so we were finally rolling as a full guild group. I’d like to thank my teammates Clappuccino, Shuhaloh, Sheyna, and Seliandrá for a great atmosphere and allowing me to play this rare and definitely non-meta spec.
VitaminP: As you pointed out, Enhancement Shaman is one of the rarest classes seen in high Mythic+ this expansion. Can you please tell us what utility and benefits Enhancement brings to a group? Why might a person choose to play Enhancement Shaman instead of Elemental Shaman?
Elbroiblo: In my opinion, Enhancement is a really powerful spec for high Mythic+ in terms of pure damage. In most keys, I am the top overall DPS in my group by a small margin. What’s really great about Enhancement damage is that the base single-target damage is already strong, but in cleave situations, your single-target focus damage gets amplified even more. Enhancement is (after maybe Subtlety Rogue or Unholy Death-Knight) the spec that gains the most focus-target damage boost from cleaving additional units. This yields a “clean” damage distribution, since the damage meter doesn’t get distorted with pad damage on low-priority targets. I’m not saying that all cleave damage is padding, but there are some mobs in dungeons that just aren’t dangerous to anyone and combat is only over when every mob is dead. Therefore, a lesser amount of focus damage can outvalue a larger amount of AoE damage. To make use of Enhancement’s focus damage gain with multiple units, my teammates try to feed me additional targets as often as possible. It’s already become sort of a meme for us to shout-out the arrival of more cleave targets. Some perfect examples of Enhancement’s damage gain from cleaving additional targets are the Gorak Tul, The Heartsbane Triad, and Raal the Gluttonous in Waycrest Manor, where I dominate on boss damage since the fights alone yield multiple cleave targets. In short, Enhancement’s job is to focus down specific targets, especially the high HP mobs. However, this priority-target damage comes at the cost of big AoE burst damage at which Elemental spec excels.
Enhancement Shaman damage comes with a small ramp-up period where you need to put up weapon buffs and generate some Maelstrom. Your real damage output all revolves around Stormstrike. Stormstrike’s cooldown can reset via procs which makes the spec very RNG dependent. If the stars align and RNGesus is with you, your DPS can reach insane numbers. The linked clip shows an example of nice procs.
Besides Blood of the Enemy, you only have 1 “big boi” AoE button with Sundering that deals massive damage to targets in a small line in front of you. My favoured lvl 100 talent, Elemental Spirits, brings even more RNG into the spec, since you spawn two wolves which can be fire, frost, or storm type. These wolves can amplify your damage in various ways that are more or less useful in different situations.
Overall, Enhancement’s damage is proc-based and very sustained, especially in cleave situations with an RNG-dependent burst window every 1.5 min due to Elemental Spirits + Blood of the Enemy. What I also want to say at this point is that Enhancement is relatively hard to play in Mythic+. This is not intended to boost my ego, but this fact just contributes to the state of Enhancement being rare in Mythic+ and why some people can be frustrated by them. First of all, Enhancement has to keep a very big eye on positioning. Most melee specs have 360° cleave damage, but this is not the case for Enhancement. Your constant cleave ability Crash Lightning is a small cone in front of you. It’s the same for the active ability and for the passive damage which gets triggered by Stormstrike and Lava Lash. This means that you constantly have to watch out where you are facing and positioned. Doing this while playing mechanics and keeping track of your buffs and abilities can be quite overwhelming, but it’s very important to perform cleanly as Enhancement. The same goes for Sundering, which is a narrow frontal line that can be tricky to aim in a way that hits all enemies. This also means that you lose a lot of DPS compared to a Rogue if your tank doesn’t manage to stack up the mobs properly. Secondly, Enhancement has many buffs to keep track off: Flametongue, Frostbrand, Crash Lightning and Ancestral Resonance are the most important ones. The first three are activated via your abilities. Maintaining your Crash Lightning buff always has the highest priority, but it’s often up to you if you let Flametongue and Frostbrand run out or even refresh it earlier in some situations. I don’t want to go into too many details here, but I wanted to mention that you often have to consider using your cooldowns instantly or wait for buff-procs while, in the same way, your ability-priority is quite complicated and gets very affected by pack-size and buff-procs. It can be so difficult to quickly decide on the next ability that I’ll make small frequent mistakes in my rotation.
Concerning utility, Enhancement is a bit behind Elemental. The base Shaman kit contains a 12-sec-cd long range interrupt, Tremor Totem (useful in some keys like Atal’Dazar or Kings’ Rest but never really needed), and Purge is nice to have, but it’s more for Alliance than Horde since Blood Elf is a dominant Horde race and can compensate for missing interrupts with Arcane Torrent. Shamans have Hex which is a hard CC that’s helpful sometimes, but it still triggers combat when in aggro range, so it’s not useable for skips. We have Stun Totem which is a 3 second AoE stun, but the 2 sec delay upon placing this totem can sometimes be tricky to use. Cleanse Spirit is a decurse which is nice for Waycrest Manor and very helpful for Siege of Boralus if you don’t have a Druid in your group. Earthbind Totem can also provide a 50% slow. Bloodlust, Resurrection, and Ankh are tools available to all Shaman specs. This is a relatively big kit and all of these abilities find at least some application, but besides Anhk and Tremor Totem, none of this is unique and other specs offer similar utilities as well.
Both Shaman specs have Astral Shift as a mediocre damage reduction cooldown. Other stuff like Wind Rush Totem or Earth Shield don’t really have big uses since Earth Shield is too weak imo and Wind Rush Totem is a talent that is usually replaced by Nature’s Guardian. The standard Earth Elemental (mine’s named Herbert) can barely hold aggro and dies very quickly, but it can soak some hits (i.e. the Spectral Berserkers in Kings’ Rest). The empowered version of this (which Elemental usually has with its standard talent choices) does a way better job. Elemental also has Ancestral Guidance to put out high HPS when blasting in DPS and Earthquake’s knockdown is often nice to disrupt enemies. Last but not least, Elemental is a ranged spec, which is usually better to play for some dungeon mechanics. Overall, Elemental offers a bit more utility than Enhancement.
In terms of healing, Enhancement offers a strong emergency off-heal with Healing Surge, which Enhancement can turn into an instant-cast spell for the mere cost of 20 Maelstrom. We can easily spare this Maelstrom in cleave situations and it only hurts our single-target damage a little bit. Because we can make our Healing Surge instant-cast, we can potentially save ourselves or a teammate from dying or help top them off before big damage comes in. Also, Sundering can be used to disrupt enemies without adding towards diminishing returns, since it’s an incap-effect. In a standard group setup consisting of Protection Warrior, Restoration Druid, Outlaw Rogue, and Havoc Demon Hunter, we don’t have any slow effects, so Enhancement can cover this with ~60% slow uptime via Frostbrand and Earthbind Totem if needed, which can be helpful for kiting.
So is Elemental stronger than Enhancement? In the utility department, definitely yes. But in regards to damage? I think it’s hard to say and it depends on what you want or need. Elemental brings massive AoE burst damage, while Enhancement damage is more focused and sustained. In higher keys, sustained damage shows its value and I’d say Enhancement is stronger than Elemental in terms of pure overall damage. But it’s always hard to compare damage numbers since there are so many variations between key level, setup, and different pulls which affect things heavily and numbers themselves don’t always reflect everything that’s important. It’s more a question of what you want, what your group needs, and what key it is because both specs have their strengths and weaknesses. Do you want to blast down huge trash pulls like in Freehold? An Elemental Shaman can help you with that! Do you need specific mobs to die fast without losing overall damage? Enhancement will do the job! Either way, I think both specs are perfectly viable to play in high keys and it’s probably impossible to tell which one is generally better since Mythic+ is very versatile and there are just too many aspects to keep in mind. Right now, there are way more Elemental players than Enhancement and they generally perform better than Enhancement players. While this can indicate that Elemental is a bit stronger for high keys since the need of good utility rises with key level, it doesn’t have to. I am hopeful that Season 4 can shift the odds a bit and maybe we will see some more people pushing as Enhancement!
VitaminP: What weaknesses do Enhancement Shamans have in Mythic+ and how does your team compensate for any shortcomings?
Elbroiblo: Enhancement is more of a Glass-Cannon compared to other melee specs like Demon Hunter, Outlaw Rogue, and Fury Warrior. Astral Shift is the only real defensive ability a Shaman has to offer. At the same time, Enhancement doesn’t have any strong spec-included passive healing abilities. Using Healing Surge can often help the group, but sacrificing DPS to do so usually isn’t recommended, so you only do it when you have to. Earth Shield brings more passive HPS, but it’s not much and it only heals after you take damage and has an internal cooldown. While this isn’t that big of a problem, our Druid does have to spend some more globals healing me in comparison to the Demon Hunter or the Rogue. In the case of big predictable hits, it’s usually fine since I can stack damage reduction via Spirit Wolf talent or use Astral Shift. Additionally, I can call for an Ironbark external from Shuhalo or a Rallying Cry from Clappucino and I also have a bit more than 20k extra health with 2x Ancient Ankh Talisman traits. What hurts more is sustained incoming damage like from the 3rd and 4th boss in Temple of Sethraliss or getting the Axe debuff from the Council of Tribes boss in Kings’ Rest, but that boss ability is way too over-tuned anyway. Kings’ Rest +23 is also the only key we’ve played where keeping me alive wasn’t possible anymore. In our Tol Dagor +24 I even had a bit less of a struggle to survive than the Rogue on the last boss. So because Enhancement’s overall survivability is a weakness and you require more healing in sustained-damage situations, you need to prepare a bit for incoming hits and make use of defensive traits, but you’ll manage just fine if you are also careful to stay out of avoidable damage. Other than this, Enhancement doesn’t have any weaknesses per sé, it’s just that you don’t offer as much big utility and mob control that Rogues and Demon Hunters bring into the group. Rogue is definitely an irreplaceable class for high keys and Demon Hunter almost is too, so you are a 3rd slot interchangeable DPS class, but that’s the same for basically every other spec too.
VitaminP: How are Enhancement Shamans looking in Patch 8.3? How much of an impact do you think the patch changes will have on the spec? From what you know so far about the new seasonal affix Awakened, do you think Enhancement Shaman’s damage will be strong for the new season?
Elbroiblo: There are no changes to Enhancement coming with Patch 8.3. Having to replace at least one of your Diver’s Folly weapons hurts a bit for burst damage, but other specs will suffer the same fate as well. I didn’t really try out too much on the PTR so far, since most evenings that I wanted to, it was unplayable due to terrible latency. Regardless, I expect Enhancement to perform quite well with the new seasonal affix, since you can profit from cleave targets on at least 2 of the 4 lieutenants, making most final bosses a 2-target fight or simply burst them down with cooldowns in any case. Having a low-cooldown ranged interrupt such as Wind Shear is also useful for the spider-lieutenant and our Tremor Totem definitely helps for the one with a fear.
VitaminP: What are your go-to talents, Azerite traits, and essences for Enhancement Shaman in high Mythic+? What changes might you make to your build for different dungeons or affixes and why?
My standard talents:
The DPS talents for an Enhancement Shaman don’t really have an alternative. The currently strongest single-target and cleave build always contains Lightning Shield, Forceful Winds, and Hailstorm. Crashing Storm and Fury of Air can surpass Sundering under certain conditions in longer patchwerk fights, but they can’t beat the burst usage of Sundering in Mythic+ which lines up very well with Blood of the Enemy and gets buffed by fire wolves from the Elemental Spirits talent. I use Elemental Spirits in every key. A single usage of Elemental Spirits can already be stronger than Ascendance in cleave situations. The bigger the pull, the more the Elemental Spirits talent pull ahead of Ascendance. This is because Sundering gets buffed by 20% with each fire wolf and Stormstrike and Windfury get buffed by 35% with each storm wolf. The short cooldown on Windstrike during Ascendance is not too impactful in cleave since you get more procs viá Crash Lightning anyway. So if it can be better than or equal to Ascendence in comparing a single use, Elemental Spirits pulls ahead even more considering that it has half the cooldown length of Ascendance. For single-target, Ascendance is more reliable, especially during Bloodlust. However, Elemental Spirits are only a little bit behind in single-target Patchwerk simulations if you are running Blood of the Enemy as a major essence because the cooldowns synergize better. Not every boss fight is pure single-target in Mythic+, so I’d recommend that you only use Ascendance if you know you will struggle on boss DPS. The 2 utility talents you can chose aren’t too impactful. I usually have Spirit Wolf just for the increased movement speed and to stack some defense against specific boss abilities (i.e. Tol Dagor first and last boss and the first boss in Temple of Sethraliss) or in emergency situations. I mostly don’t care to switch to Earth Shield because its healing is not very impactful. I do admit that I should take it more oftens in keys where I really don’t need the damage reduction of Spirit Wolf just to support more off-healing on the tank or myself, especially during a Bursting week. Nature’s Guardian is a decent contribution to healing if short periods of burst damage are coming in or you fail to avoid a mechanic. It can’t prevent a one-shot though and it isn’t really helpful to counter consistent damage. The alternative talents offer a bit of mobility for you or your team which we never needed so far, although Feral Lunge can prevent one-shots from the Quaking Leap on the last boss in Kings’ Rest.
My Azerite traits are more straightforward. Roiling Storm gives you one free proc every 20 seconds and boosts your empowered Stormstrike damage a bit. It’s not worth to stack it, but it’s the strongest 1-point trait. Natural Harmony is the strongest trait to stack since it yields a massive amount of passive stats which scale really well with Enhancement Shaman. You either get this trait 3x or 2x and one Thunderaan’s Fury. There is currently no Azerite gear item on which you can select both traits simultaneously. However, it seems that two of the new raid Azerite items will give us this possibility, which is a big gain for Enhancement in patch 8.3. The first choice is probably stronger in overall damage, but the 2nd gives you a very potent proc (yay, more RNG!) and yields more focus target damage, which I prefer. Ancestral Resonance is a trait you want to have at least once. What you take in the 6th slots aren’t too important, but I find that a 2nd Ancestral Resonance is most fitting for Mythic+. This boosts your Sundering damage in a big way since you often hold it a bit to align it with a proc.
For essences, Blood of the Enemy is the absolute best essence for the major slot. It’s the king in cleave situations since it lines up perfectly with Wolves and is solid for single-target damage too. Other viable essence are Essence of the Focusing Iris for overall damage and Condensed Life Force for boss damage. However, both Iris and Condensed Life-Force are weaker than Blood of the Enemy. The best minor essences are Blood of the Enemy (if you didn’t take it as your major), Iris, and Conflict and Strife. Purification Protocol is a very strong alternative for Conflict and Strife in dungeons with big pulls and/or downtime between packs and especially if you don’t have Conflict and Strife at rank 3. Right now though, I only use Purification Protocol for Atal’Dazar.
VitaminP: With the 4th essence slot unlocking in 8.3, people will now have a 3rd minor trait. What 4th trait(s) do you think looks strong in Patch 8.3 to add to your current build and why? Do you think this will make a big difference for Enhancement Shaman’s strength in Mythic+?
Elbroiblo: Enhancement scales very well with every secondary stat, so you almost always want Blood of the Enemy, Essence of the Focusing Iris, and Conflict and Strife in your slots. That way, you mostly had to go without Purification Protocol this season, which deals massive damage in big pulls and offers some passive healing (which Enhancement usually doesn’t have much of without it). The 4th slot could be perfect to resolve this little frustration and then you can have access to the AoE proc without having to regret giving up on versatility. This will ultimately help Enhancement to scale better into larger pulls. However, the new essence gives Corruption resistance. Therefore, it could possibly be a must-pick to give access to more Corruption gear.
VitaminP: Do you have any funny clips or stories to share from Mythic+ this season? Maybe this one?
Elbroiblo: One thing that was really annoying for me this season and amusing for others was that my wolves can get hit by targeted abilities. That’s quite cool in lower keys since they just soak some random hits that would otherwise hit a player, but in higher keys, this is quite annoying since they possibly die from 1 hit (i.e. the Crippling Bite from doggos in Freehold). If my wolves die, the buffs I get from them are gone too. Sometimes the doggos also swap to another target for no reason. This is especially annoying on the first boss of Temple of Sethraliss, since they hit the Lightning Shield once and die. In the clip above, you can see a nice opening dps which got scuffed by this issue since the wolves die at half of their duration remaining.
- There’s an annoying bug on the 2nd boss in Shrine of the Storm that happens quite frequently: invisible tornadoes. And a pepega Ankh by me…
- A weird Ring of Peace knocking mobs through the walls in Tol Dagor
- Underrot Space Program
- And finally from our PTR testing, everything working as intended kappa.
VitaminP: If you could ask Blizzard for a few reasonable changes to the Enhancement Shaman class in order to be more viable (yet not overpowered) in Mythic+, what changes would you like to see?
Elbroiblo: Since the only real problem of Enhancement is the afore-mentioned survivability, it would be cool to get more access towards self-healing via talents. Something like a passive amount of 10% leech or so if Earth Shield is up would be cool to see in my opinion. Another nice idea would be more unique totems, for example a Totem of Concealment. Blizzard put one into a scenario… the one where you rescue Bane, if I remember correctly. So why not give it to the players as well if it’s in the game somewhere already? While I wouldn’t complain if Blizzard buffed Enhancement Shaman, I don’t think it’s necessary. The problem isn’t that Enhancement is particularly weak— rather that Rogue and Demon Hunter are just insanely strong.
VitaminP: If for some reason Enhancement Shaman DPS gets too nerfed before or during Season 4, what other classes might you be willing to play and why? Do you have any alts prepared if this happens or will you always stick to playing Enhancement Shaman regardless of the “meta”?
Elbroiblo: Well since Enhancement isn’t meta right now, I’ll probably stick to it anyway. It just feels nice to play and it’s the spec I enjoy the most. I’m a tryhard in wow, so I usually don’t play “alts”, but rather “other mains”. This expansion isn’t very alt-friendly, so I don’t have enough time to invest to play another character on a high level. Therefore, I don’t play one at all right now. If I were to swap away from Enhancement for whatever reason, my preferred alternatives would be either Shadow Priest (which I loved to play during Legion) or Fury Warrior. All three of these specs are very fast-paced, which is what I like.
VitaminP: Lastly, what advice do you have for aspiring Enhancement Shamans in high Mythic+?
Elbroiblo: Generally speaking, and probably quite obvious to most readers, Mythic+ is all about planning, communication and experience. You want to plan beforehand which packs you want to pull and how (i.e. how do we fill the count efficiently? Do we pull 3 packs at once? Do we CC 1 mob before pull?). During the run you constantly have to communicate with your mates (ideally vocally) about interrupts, stuns, pulls, cooldowns etc. (e.g., Who controls which mob? Who needs assistance on something? Are we ready to go big?).
Of course having experience with your group somewhat automates things. The less things you want to call, the more your interface needs to tell you. Mine isn’t a good example though, LUL. For example, Nnogga’s WeakAura to keep track of your group’s interrupts is very common or similar ones for tracking other group cooldowns. Something I really recommend is a macro to mark a target and set your focus to it in combination with a focus kick macro. Get a personal mark for each group member to see who is responsible for what. Markers make communication easier overall. On your personal side, you also need to track important buffs or debuffs. For example, I use these weakauras together with the addon OmniCC. Setting up your interface is something completely personal though, so just find out what works for you.
There aren’t many cool things you can do as a Shaman, like Blade Dance parry this or that ability, but Ghost Wolves make you immune to the Soul Thorns ability of the Soulbound Goliath in Waycrest Manor or the Rat Traps in Freehold. Spirit Walk dispels all slow effects from you. This usually removes the complete debuff even if it has more effects than just the slow. So you can clean yourself of Choking Brine or Mind Rend in Shrine of the Storm.
I enjoy playing Enhancement very much and if you do too, just stick to it. For most keys, a meta setup definitely makes the run easier, but it’s doable without. We reached 3.1k RaiderIO score when our Demon Hunter was still playing his Retribution Paladin. The need for a Rogue rises quickly with key level, and of course Demon Hunter is insanely powerful too. I don’t want to deny any of this. But speaking from our group’s perspective, we didn’t reach our limit in pushing keys because of me playing non-meta or anything; we simply messed up too many runs.
About the Author
Vitaminpee mains a Brewmaster and loves to do competitive Mythic+. She is the Social Media Manager for Big Dumb Gaming and is attending Graduate School to pursue her Masters of Business Administration. She is a partnered Twitch streamer and Discord Partner who plays all tanks at max level and loves pushing keys with her friends on both the NA and EU regions. Feel free to message her via Twitter for any business-related inquiries.