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Totem Talk: How to use addons to perfect enhancement shaman priorities

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. On Saturdays, Josh Myers tackles the hard questions about enhancement. Can we tank? Can we DPS with a two-hander? How does one shoot web? The answer to the first two is "no," and I have no idea about the third.

I love priority systems, and that's the naked truth. I identify as an altaholic, having had seven out of 10 classes level capped by the end of Wrath of the Lich King and the other three all at varying stages of Northrend progression. While leveling up these characters, I almost always have the intent of either tanking or healing (provided I'm on a hybrid). I tell myself that this class will be the "one," the hybrid class I get to level cap where I'll resist the lure of playing DPS and finally have a queue time shorter than twice my age.

It never works out. I'm addicted to DPS. Just last week, I made the mistake of respeccing my blood death knight tank to unholy DPS. Within a day, he went from 83 to 85 ... and started queuing for heroics as DPS. I have an unhealthy fascination with putting the hurt on bosses, and a lot of my draw to playing any DPS spec is mastering its priority system.

Priority systems are awesome. They're the basic building blocks of proper DPS; there is nothing more pivotal or simple for maximizing your DPS as learning to manage your priority correctly. Some classes, like the 3.3.6 marksman hunter, have such mind-numbing priority systems that you wonder how people can bear playing them. Others, like the Wrath of the Lich King feral druid, had such complicated priority systems that good feral druids were as rare as a holographic Charizard card.

Enhancement is normally considered to fall under the "hard" section of priority systems. With one proc based attack, a DoT that needs to be buffed before casting, two melee strikes, a pyromaniac stick that hates attacking your target, and a single-target shock spell for use when everything else is on cooldown, we have a lot to monitor. Luckily for us, addons exist. If you're struggling with perfecting your priority, here are some of the mods you should look for.

OmniCC

OmniCC is a weird addon to me, in that I always forget that I have it. OmniCC has one of the simplest but most necessary uses for any addon in the game: It puts numbers on your hotkeys after they're activated, showing you the cooldown time until they're available again. (Blizzard's default UI makes the abilities shade on cooldown activation and gradually brighten as the ability becomes available.) What's strange to me about this addon is that I tend to forget it exists. It fulfills such a basic function that I think it's part of the basic World of Warcraft UI until I log into the PTR without it enabled and do a double take.

Regardless of my forgetting that a cooldown counter isn't a basic function of the UI, it is one of the addons that I believe is most required for endgame play in World of Warcraft. When you have abilities like Lava Lash that need to be activated as soon as they're off cooldown to achieve maximum DPS, even a second lost by missing the fact that it came off cooldown means lost DPS. World of Warcraft is a game in which split-second decisions matter, and knowing what is going to be available for use in 4 seconds allows for brief planning. Nothing will help your priority more than knowing when your abilities are or will be ready, and OmniCC (or any other cooldown timer) is crucial for this.

However, these addons are a double-edged sword. While they're one of the best ways to get precise information on your abilities, cooldown timers also are an excellent cause of tunneling. Staring at your bars, planning your next ability use, is fine and dandy for damage testing on a test dummy, but it's also a great way to end up dead in a shadow fissure. As a result, I'd encourage the following two addons even more than OmniCC.

TotemTimers

TotemTimers is an amazing addon. I fondly remember using it in The Burning Crusade, when all it did was provide timers for my totems and weapon buffs; I thought those two functions were amazing. Three years later, the developers behind it have added in some excellent functions. TotemTimers offers a convenient way to set up your totem groups, trackers for every elemental shield and weapon imbue, and a Reincarnation cooldown tracker.

Possibly nicer than all of this is the TotemTimers enhancement cooldowns module. This module tracks every ability relevant to enhancement in one lightweight grouping that fades when you are not in combat. It tracks ability cooldowns (including Wind Shear!) for priority use, Searing Totem and Flame Shock durations, Maelstrom Weapon stacks, and Spiritwalker's Grace and Shamanistic Rage cooldowns. Best of all, it's compact and movable, allowing you to place it wherever on your screen is most conducive to your survival. I personally like to position relevant priority information right below my character model, so I always see what I'm standing in.

Power Auras

If there is a single addon in the World of Warcraft that will make you a better player, it is Power Auras. Have you ever used the default Blizzard UI Maelstrom Weapon aura to know when you have a five-stack? Power Auras is where Blizzard got the idea for that function. Power Auras provides an icon on your screen like the Blizzard aura that tells you when something is happening. You can set up auras for when you are missing a buff, for when the boss is debuffed to take more damage, to show when your cooldowns are off cooldown, to show when the enemy druid is Innervating, to show when Searing Totem isn't active, and more. If you can think of something you need to be notified of, Power Auras will let you know in bold, vibrant colors.

One of my main uses for Power Auras is to monitor my cooldowns without looking at my hotbar. Power Auras is amazing because every aura you make is fully customizable and movable, meaning you can array them around your character in whatever way makes it easiest for you to see what you need to see while allowing you to keep your eyes on your environment.

Beyond that, Power auras also includes an "audio aura" section, which uses sound bites in conjunction with the visual auras. For example, you can set it to do a Wilhelm Scream when your Feral Spirits come off cooldown. I know that I'm better at paying attention to sounds than to visuals, so I make full use of this option.

That said, there are a few cons to Power Auras. First, it isn't the most intuitive addon on the block, requiring you to take the time to actually learn how to use it. Second, most other addons come preloaded with the settings you want or with easy enable/disable buttons for the modules you need. With Power Auras, there are no presets. You have to take the time to set up every individual aura yourself, which can be a hassle.

However, there is hope. While the basic Power Auras addon has nothing included, there is an aura compilation for shaman called The Ultimate Shaman Auras by Syronius. This compilation includes priority system auras for both DPS specs, important restoration auras, and a variety of other auras that are useful for general raiding. I highly suggest any shaman who uses Power Auras to consider checking these auras out!

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Enhancement every week. We've got enhancement-specific advice on rep gear, heroic gear, and raiding gear, plus tips on maximizing your utility skills and tactics for raiding Blackwing Descent.

Filed under: Shaman, Add-Ons, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Cataclysm

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