Our friend Sadozai (<Wizards IRL> – Jubei’Thos OCE) has kindly offered to answer some questions we had for him regarding his placement in the Mythic Dungeon Invitational (MDI) tournament, and elemental’s performance in Mythic+ dungeons. He is one of the best elemental shamans in the world, in both Mythic raiding (8/9M) and Mythic+ dungeons (third highest Mythic+ score in 7.2.5; the only elemental shaman to qualify for the MDI).
General Mythic+ questions
Q: What are elemental’s main strengths and weaknesses in Mythic+?
In a nutshell: exceptional on trash, underwhelming on bosses.
Elemental has some of the best trash damage in the game, especially when it comes to sustained damage, most other specs with exceptional AoE are comparatively cool-down dependent whereas Ele has strong AoE cooldowns in Stormkeeper & Liquid Magma Totem but also still does incredibly good damage outside of them. Additionally, through Lightning Rod you get some absolutely exceptional priority target burst with very little overall damage loss.
Elemental also has very good control & utility on trash through Lightning Surge Totem (probably the best AoE stun in the game), the shortest CD interrupt in the game (Wind Shear), Earthquake knockdowns, Thunderstorm knockbacks, and Earthbind Totem as an AoE slow. Ancestral Guidance is also exceptionally powerful in countering near unhealable group damage on trash and in the right situation is the most powerful healing cooldown in the game by a big margin. As a whole Elemental probably has the best and most complete tool-kit for dealing with trash.
The big problem for Elemental is basically that it has really poor single-target; heavy movement fights like Wrath of Azshara being especially bad. This wasn’t really improved significantly in 7.3 either since the Mastery: Elemental Overload re-work & buffs to spenders were mostly a buff to an Aftershock focused set-up which isn’t worth using in Mythic+ due to the significant loss in trash DPS. Additionally, Elemental’s lack of self-absorbs or passive damage reduction can make surviving certain bosses incredibly difficult at very high levels. Unless the boss ability is mitigated by armour (e.g. General Xakal‘s Wicked Slam) then often you have to resort to using tanking trinkets or depend on externals to survive.
The survivability problem also feeds back into the low single target DPS issue because the lack of self-healing & the issue of surviving unavoidable ‘1-shot’ mechanics means that you will often have to sacrifice DPS for the extra survivability by wearing Roots of Shaladrassil along with non-DPS trinkets.
Q: What talents do you use? Do you change them based on dungeon/affix?
Liquid Magma Totem is sort of the default choice but Echo of the Elements is definitely a strong option; especially if you don’t have Soul of the Farseer. I only really play Echo of the Elements in Upper Karazhan since 7.2.5.
I occasionally swap to Gust of Wind if either I need it to dodge something (e.g. Skovald’s Felblaze Rush) or for the Eye of Azshara skip (described in detail below) but in general Ancestral Guidance is the no-contest stronger option just because of how powerful it can be if used right and Gust of Wind generally doesn’t actually give you anything for most dungeons.
I don’t really think that for Elemental affixes are too important in terms talent selection just because some talents are so much better than others in overall terms that you can’t justify not playing them, i.e Ascendance is never worth playing because it’s so weak compared with Lightning Rod on trash and a relatively minor increase on bosses in the few dungeons where you don’t have cleave/adds on the bosses.
Q: What legendaries do you use?
I predominately use Sephuz’s Secret and Prydaz, Xavaric’s Magnum Opus or Sephuz’s Secret and Al’Akir’s Acrimony for trash depending on the size of the packs & how dangerous they are. Sephuz is almost mandatory to do competitive damage on trash in Mythic+.
The second legendary generally isn’t that important but generally I use Al’Akirs for damage normally unless the pull is especially large (and so Chain Lightning does less of your overall damage), or there is a non-trivial risk of dying, in which case I’ll opt to use Prydaz.
I also still alternate between T20 4pc and T19 4pc, generally for smaller packs of 2-3 I’ll wear T20 if I have Fire Elemental off CD and so I can use Flame Shock multi-dot and then otherwise I’ll wear T19 on all other trash. Whether this is worth doing for you will depend on the relative item levels of your 2 tier sets.
As for bosses, you basically always first consider what you need to do to guarantee that you won’t die. Generally, this is something you’ll plan out beforehand by calculating how much big unavoidable hits will deal and then that’ll determine whether you’ll be using Prydaz, whether to use a tanking trinket (Reliquary of the Damned being probably the best for this purpose) or even a stamina flask as a last resort. If mana or sustained healing throughput is a big concern then Roots of Shaladrassil is a strong option as well, the combination of Roots, Prydaz with some well timed off healing can easily allow you to contribute 200k-300k HPS on a boss.
Ignoring survivability concerns then the mainstay legendaries are Smoldering Heart and Soul of the Farseer. If I’m already playing Echo of the Elements then Eye of the Twisting Nether replaces Soul. Sephuz is also incredibly strong on any boss with interruptible casts (e.g. Ivanyr, Harbaron or Warlord Parjesh).
Q: What dungeons does elemental perform best/worst in?
Upper Karazhan is no contest the worst dungeon for Elemental. Elemental’s utility is basically not useful at all outside of interrupts for Shade of Medivh and the lack of AoE and larger amount of single-target means there isn’t really a place where elemental shines outside of perhaps the chess event.
The best dungeon is probably Black Rook Hold. Pretty much every part of this dungeon is made easier by an elemental shaman. Elemental is phenomenally good in throughput terms because of the sheer amount of sustain AoE, because of the need for priority damage on trash for killing Risen Archers quickly. Earthquake, Lightning Surge Totem and Ancestral Guidance are both phenomenal in preventing and healing random damage throughout the dungeon. As an added bonus you also absolutely delete Lord Kur’talos Ravencrest thanks to Liquid Magma Totem double-dipping on percentage modifier buff from Legacy of the Ravencrest (it can deal upward of 90 million damage per cast).
Other good dungeons for Elemental are Maw of Souls, Darkheart Thicket & Arcway. In general Elemental is good when trash is an important part of the dungeon and bad when it’s not.
Q: What other classes or specs does elemental synergise well with?
Elemental has really strong utility for trash so you get a lot of freedom in terms of what will work since the single biggest limitation on what represents a viable comp for dungeons is basically trash utility; interrupts, stuns, slows, knockbacks etc.
Pretty much the only things that you’d really want for high M+ that Elemental doesn’t bring are battle resses and a rogue. So, in an ideal world you’d want a rogue and at least 2 battle resses for the non-rogues. In general terms, classes that can provide really high single target are also going to work better with Ele in dungeons just because they help cover one of Elemental’s big weaknesses.
Q: Are there any cool tricks for elemental in Mythic+?
There’s nothing too crazy, a couple of mechanics are dodgeable using Gust of Wind (probably the most notable one is Skovald’s Felblaze Rush) and there’s the boat skip for Eye of Azshara, where you can Gust of Wind up into Deepbeard’s room avoiding the cave and the double giants for a pretty big time-save. You can see how in this screenshot:
I’m not sure if this counts as much of a trick but Ancestral Guidance combined with a 5+ target pull can allow you to do some pretty insane healing. I’ve personally finished pulls in dungeons at over 2m HPS (healing per second) and it can allow you do some otherwise pretty impossible pulls, like doing double scorpions (Emberhusk Dominator) before Dargrul in Neltharion Lair’s at a +17 or higher. In the right situation it’s the most powerful healing CD in the game.
Mythic Dungeon Invitational (MDI) questions
Q: What is your team composition for the MDI? Adding onto earlier questions, how does elemental synergise with the specs in your team?
We qualified playing elemental/rogue/hunter/guardian/discipline. For the MDI though our healer will be predominantly playing holy paladin and I’ll rotate between warlock and elemental shaman.
In terms of how elemental has worked in our team composition so far, basically they bring what I don’t. Rogue & hunter bring relatively high single target which is further complemented by the disc priest damage. Additionally, the rest of the team brings the utility which Ele lacks, notably sap, shroud & battle resses.
Q: Does your team struggle with any dungeon in particular?
Not particularly, I think we’ve had a pretty bad track record in a few dungeons but I think we don’t struggle with any particular dungeon since the DPS comp is really balanced and has every tool we need for basically every dungeon.
Q: Does your team struggle with any affixes?
Necrotic. Having a bear tank and no druid healer or warrior makes it difficult to get resets on bosses and long trash pulls are significantly more difficult.
Q: What dungeons will you bring your shaman for the tournament? What dungeons will you use a different class for?
It really depends on the affixes. The only dungeons where I will always play a given class are Upper Karazhan and The Arcway (always warlock), and Black Rook Hold (always shaman).
In general, for tyrannical keys or keys with explosive I’ll favour playing warlock since single target is probably going to be more important and because Affliction does really broken damage with explosive. Whereas for fortified keys then shaman will be the default pick.
Many thanks for your in-depth responses. Best of luck in the MDI!
You can catch Sadozai and Team Ook in the APAC group stage, live on Twitch at the times listed below:
- PDT: Saturday, September 16 at 9:00PM (21:00)
- EDT Sunday, September 17 at 12:00AM (00:00)
- CEST: Sunday, September 17 at 6:00AM (06:00)
- AEST: Sunday, September 17 at 2:00PM (14:00)