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Here's everything you need to know about playing an Elemental Shaman in PvE, in Cataclysm. This list will not include things such as "Best in Slot" lists or such, just gameplay, for the simple reason that each new content release typically provides for a complete change in BiS lists. Those will be linked in the general Shaman sticky threads if you're desperate.
This FAQ will include all the information you need on the following subjects;
1. Talents *Updated*
- Why does Earthquake suck? Hint: It doesn't.
- Spells, when and why to cast each of them
- Mana Management 101
- Damage Mitigation
5. Useful Addons
Currently, I do not have specifics for gemming (particularly metagems, the rest follows the same stat priority I have listed) or enchanting. Some things have been a bit up in the air, giving it another patch to let things "settle" before adding them to the FAQ. For instance; chaotic shadowspirit metagems SHOULD have 2 blue gems as the requirement, but still currently show "more blue than red", a fix for that SHOULD be in the next patch.
Jan 20th edit: I'll be adding this section on gemming/reforging/enchanting shortly after the 4.0.6 patch. I'm waiting on the metagem changes to go live before I finalize it and post.
The base spec for Elemental looks something like This (click).
The one point in Reverberation is needed to advance to the higher tiers, but could be placed in either Elemental Warding or Convection instead, depending on your choices. Everything else is essentially mandatory; speccing differently will result in poorer performance. Yes, you need both Earthquake and Ancestral Swiftness. In theory, you could run with two Elemental PvE specs, with and without Earthquake, for when you do or don't need AoE, but it's one talent point, and you honestly don't have truly amazing alternatives.
Your options for the floating points are basically;
- Reverberation 2/2, for easier Shock twisting and, critically for some fights, a shorter interrupt CD.
- Convection, if you're having mana issues. This should be less true as you gear up, and likely entirely unnecessary with 4.0.6's changes.
- Totemic Reach, the extra radius on buff totems is nice, as is the small range boost to Searing Totem.
- Elemental Warding/Ancestral Resolve/Spark of Life. These are all survivability talents, if you think you need it.
I recommend finishing out Reverberation 2/2 and getting Totemic Reach 2/2, unless you desperately need survivability for some reason.
Acuity: Nothing bad about this, it's a straight DPS increase.
Convection: In Wrath, mana was an issue. It's a bit more of a problem in Cataclysm, but as you gear up, you'll likely find you don't need this talent. This should be even more true once 4.0.6 launches, as the changes to our Mastery should negate any lingering mana issues some of us might be having.
Concussion: This one's a pretty simple and easy choice.
Call of Flame: We're using Searing Totem more now, and Lava Burst more often due to Lava Surge procs. This was a required talent in Wrath, and it's even better now.
Elemental Warding: Good for survivability, both PvP and PvE. If you're dying, please read the "Damage Mitigation" section under Gameplay before speccing into this.
Reverberation: With us needing both Flame and Earth Shock, sometimes at similar times, reducing the gap is useful. If you can time these perfectly so Fulmination never hits 9 stacks in the same 6 second window that you need to prevent Flame Shock from falling off, you can skip this, until then, take it. There's honestly nothing else you could take as a DPS boost if you spec out of this, regardless, you're speccing into utility or mitigation. It also bears mentioning that this drops your Wind Shear cooldown to 5 seconds, too, and that has a fair number of uses in certain fights.
Elemental Precision: You want this for both purposes; having Spirit as a Hit stat greatly improves your gearing choices and flexibility.
Rolling Thunder: The mana regen means you can fire Lightning Bolts without noticeably losing mana. The Lightning Shield charges are for Fulmination, our biggest hitting spell. One of our most critical talents.
Elemental Focus: The mana reduction is like cake. And Elemental Oath, which this leads to, is like having pie on top of your cake.
Elemental Reach: This bumps your main DPS spells up to a 40 yard range, and Searing Totem up to 35 yards. You can make up that discrepancy with Totemic Reach, if you want to.
Elemental Oath: It's good for you. It's amazing when you add in the raid boost.
Lava Flows: For PvE, you're taking this for the damage; Lava Burst should always be a crit. For PvP, the same applies, but people might actually dispel Flame Shock to avoid the auto-crit, meaning you now get to whip off some lightning bolts in rapid fire for their trouble.
Fulmination: This hits like an absolute truck, but since Rolling Thunder procs are somewhat random, it can charge up a bit erratically. Still, an excellent pick, it's one of our new abilities and a core of our DPS system.
Elemental Mastery: One of the best DPS cooldowns in the game, for any class.
Earth's Grasp: Great for PvP. Almost never useful in PvE.
Totemic Wrath: Totem of Wrath is gone. Now all your Fire totems do what it used to. This makes Searing Totem our main DPS choice. Flametongue Totem is rendered useless, since the 6% spellpower it grants is overwritten by the 10% from this talent.
Feedback: It's an amazing cooldown. Now it cools down faster. This is good. It also scales nicely with Haste; more bolts, faster cooldown.
Lava Surge: More Lava Bursts is a good thing, but the combination of this and Fulmination means we're now on a priority queue, not a hard rotation.
Earthquake: Our new end-tier AoE. Despite the complaints you might see on forums, it does solid AoE damage. Your other option if you didn't spec into this would be running into melee to drop Magma Totem.
Elemental Weapons: Boost the passive spellpower for your Flametongue by 40%. You're taking this mostly to get to the next tier.
Focused Strikes: Melee-only. skip.
Improved Shields Boosts lightning shield, which boosts Fulmination. This is a goodness. And you need 5 points in this tier anyway.
Ancestral Swiftness This would likely be worth it even if the 5 points in Enhancement were wasted. Gets you out of danger faster, gets you back to DPS faster. Ghost Wolf is useable everywhere now, so this talent is pretty much a no-brainer for every Shaman spec.
Totemic Reach This is useful primarily for the range extension to Searing Totem, which brings it up to 40 yards like the rest of your spells. In general, you could get by without it, but it's nice utility, and one of the few final options for your talents that actually helps with regards to DPS.
Why does Earthquake suck? Hint: It doesn't.
I've been driven to add this to the guide here since criticism of the spell is SO prevalent, and in almost every case, the complaints are entirely baseless; people blaming their own gameplay errors on the spell, or people who are just spouting factually incorrect information. Here's a rundown of the common complaints, and why they're wrong;
- It costs too much mana! Not really. 60% of base mana for a medium-high damage 8s channeled AoE with a mild CC component is right on the money. Rain of Fire is 57%, slightly better damage, no CC component. Blizzard is 74%, less damage (yes, even considering Frost Specialization), but better CC.
- The damage sucks! Compared to what? Some classes have better AoE, yes, but you'll be pretty comfortably high on AoE charts just spamming it. If you run into melee and spam Magma, Fire Nova, and CL, you'll maybe do similar damage while you're there, but you're losing damage with the running in and out. And Magma/FN/EQ beats that out anyway at 5+ targets, generally.
- It does Physical damage and doesn't scale with spellpower! Just no. That was a glitch in early Shattering and hasn't been true for months. It does Physical damage, yes, but the idea that Physical damage can't scale with spellpower has simply never been true.
- Our end-of-tree talent isn't useful often enough! This is the one criticism that's actually legit. I agree Earthquake lacks a little oomph for an end-of-tier talent, but I wouldn't want to lose it as a spell; it's a valuable addition to our arsenal.
Intellect: Our main stat. Now provides Spellpower, in addition to small amounts of crit, and mana pool.
Haste: Our good old friend. Still good. More spells cast means faster cooldowns of Elemental Mastery, our Mastery proccing more often, and Flame Shock ticking faster, giving a better chance of Lava Burst coming off cooldown, all in addition to the base benefit of faster cast times.
Mastery: Our best new friend. Lightning overload was an amazing talent. Now you get it on gear instead. In general, point-for point it's not QUITE as good as Haste, but it's fairly close.
Hit Rating: Missing is bad. You need 17% spell hit to hit raid bosses, who are level 88. Any more than 17% is wasted. You can now see your exact percentage in the stats pane, as well as how much you need to hit a target of a certain level. There are no raid hit buffs any more, so you need all of this on gear.
Spirit: Was useless. With Elemental Precision 3/3, this is identical to Hit Rating. This means your Resto gear is also Elemental gear, which is convenient.
Critical Strike Rating: It's not awful. But it's generally our least best stat.
General Priority: Hit/Spirit till cap > Intellect > Haste > Mastery > Crit >>>> Hit/Spirit after cap
Reforgers can be found in any major city, including Dalaran, hanging out with the Enchanters. Guards can also point you to them. Reforging a piece of gear costs the same amount as vendoring it, so it's not free, but it's cheaper than gemming generally is. This lets you move 40% of one stat to another stat. Primary stats, like Intellect and Stamina, can't be reforged, either to or from, though take note that Spirit can.
This is a great advantage for a few reasons. If your hit chance is over 17%, you can Reforge wasted Spirit or Hit Rating to something useful. This means even if you're at the cap, and a hit trinket drops, it's still an upgrade if you can Reforge gear to make room for that hit rating. You can also Reforge the trinket itself in most cases. It also means you can upgrade your less desired stats to something more useful.
As for how to reforge, I'll just blatantly "borrow" what the folks at Elitistjerks have written on it;
Source; http://elitistjerks.com/f79/t110309-...a/#post1813016If you're hit capped, and/or you have excess hit or spirit, do the following:
1. If an item has hit/spirit and crit, reforge hit/spirit to Haste if you have excess hit rating, otherwise reforge crit to Haste
2. If an item has hit/spirit and haste, reforge hit/spirit to Mastery if you have excess hit rating, otherwise leave it alone
3. If an item has hit/spirit and mastery, reforge hit/spirit to Haste if you have excess hit rating, otherwise leave it alone
4. If an item has crit and haste, reforge crit to Mastery
5. If an item has crit and mastery, reforge crit to Haste
6. If an item has haste and mastery, leave it alone!
If you're not hit capped, gem and enchant for it first, then follow the rules above. If you absolutely have to, reforge crit to Spirit to reach the hit cap.
In other words, reforge crit to either haste or mastery whenever possible, depending on the other secondary stat on the item.
Glyphs are now permanently learned, and can be swapped at any point you're not in combat as long as you have Vanishing Powder, which is available at your friendly neighbourhood Inscription vendor. This is a big advantage over the prior system, since we can effectively swap glyphs on a per-fight basis. Be warned, however, most Scribes on most servers are reacting to this by inflating glyph prices into the stratosphere. Stll, once you buy a glyph, you never need to buy it again.
There are also three categories of glyphs, Minor, Major, and Prime. Minor are the ones they always were, relatively negligible effects. Prime are intended to be the biggest and most obvious choices. Major there's a bit more leeway on how to pick. The overall effect, though, is that we now get 6 "good" glyphs as opposed to only 3. I'm not going to list every glyph here, just the ones you'll want to consider as Elemental.
Fire Elemental: Since we're using Fire totems for DPS, this is a legitimate consideration, since Fire Elemental is more damage than Searing Totem would be. However, it is most useful for fights that last 7-8 minutes in length, so you can get two full summons in. If the fight is 5 minutes or less, this isn't a DPS increase.
Flame Shock: This is one of our better glyphs. It doesn't directly add damage, but any GCD spent not refreshing Flame Shock is a GCD you're casting something for damage.
Flametongue Weapon: Not flashy, but it works. Our 4th best glyph, which means it won't get used, usually.
Lava Burst: One of our best spells gets better.
Lightning Bolt: One of our most-cast spells gets better.
Shocking: Saves you brief bit of time at the start of a fight currently, assuming you have full stacks going in.
Recommendation: Flame Shock, Lava Burst, Lightning Bolt.
Chain Lightning: Makes an AoE spell better for AoE, but worse for cleaving, which is bad.d
Elemental Mastery: Your big DPS cooldown is now also a survivability cooldown. In most cases, you'll be popping this for DPS rather than saving it for survivability.
Fire Nova: Honestly, the tank should be gathering mobs, even IF you're using Magma Totem for AoE, rendering this less than necessary for PvE.
Lightning Shield: Even if raid bosses don't target you, AoE can trigger this. This glyph means you never need to recast this, unless you take a 10 minute break or die.
Ghost Wolf: Even more run speed on your run speed boost. Less time running = more time pewpewing.
Healing Stream Totem: If you're dropping Healing Stream, it can be useful. No help to DPS, though.
Thunder: Mostly you'd take this for the mana regen, rather than an AoE you need to be in melee range to use and which requires the spawn to still be up for 30s to get off twice.
Stoneclaw Totem: Provides a shield effect to the totem on yourself, for ~16500 damage. Useful for PvP, and can make an effective tool in PvE for survivability without any real consequences, since we don't need Earth totems for our DPS.
Recommendation: It's pretty open, but for full-on DPS performance, Lightning Shield, Ghost Wolf, Thunder. As Blizz intended, it's pretty open here, so if you want to glyph for survivability, it's not a huge loss. Even those three are debatable; LS is only relevant if you're taking regular damage that triggers LS in the first place, Ghost Wolf isn't used constantly enough to make a big difference (you take Ancestral Swiftness at least as much for the 15% base run speed as instant cast GW), and Thunder is mostly useful for mana regen. For a bit more survivability, I would recommend swapping out first Ghost Wolf, then Thunder, for one of your other options; Stoneclaw is likely the best.
Thunderstorm: Good for mana regen. You probably don't want the knockback. Or at least, your tanks won't. Your choice, really, there's not a lot of choices in the Minor ranks that matter beyond convenience.
Long story short, it's a priority system. You want the most damaging spells cast as soon as possible. If they aren't available, you use the next one down the list. Sims haven't been up to determine exact differences, but the general idea is as follows;
Keep Searing Totem/Fire Elemental Totem up; fire totems give 10% spellpower to the raid.
Keep Flame Shock up.
Lava Burst whenever it's off cooldown. Watch for Lava Surge procs.
Earth Shock to proc Fulmination if you're at 7+ stacks, or if you're moving and need an instant to fill a gap.
Lightning Bolt as filler.
Fulmination hits harder than Lava Burst, if fully charged. The only reason it's lower on the priority is that Lava Surge procs off Flame Shock ticks, meaning you can get back-to-back procs. It's entirely possible you'll hit Lava Burst, fire Earth Shock, and immediately be able to cast Lava Burst again.
Or in point form;
ST > FS > LvB > ES if LS is at 7+ stacks > LB
Stick Elemental Mastery in whenever it's off cooldown and you'll be able to spend the next 15 seconds pew-pewing. If you're going to have to run in 5 seconds, better to save it and pop it when you stop.
Spells: When and Why to cast What
Lightning Bolt: This is our filler spam. If nothing else is available, you cast this. Does decent damage, and procs a lot of good stuff for us; it's by no means a bad spell.
Lava Burst: Our first nuke. Hits hard, since it always crits if Flame Shock is on the target. This should be cast as often as the CD and Flame Shock allows; if FS has less than 3 seconds left, refresh that first.
Flame Shock: Our DoT. With the new DoT refresh mechanics, you can re-cast this during the last tick without clipping; it adds to the duration rather than overwriting. Exactly where that point lies depends on your haste, but it's likely between 2 and 3 seconds. This should never fall off, but also never clip it.
Earth Shock Fire this when you have between 7-9 stacks of Lightning Shield, and doing so won't cause Flame Shock to fall off since they share a CD.
Why not wait till Fulmination stacks to 9? Each additional charge is a linear increase in damage; two shocks with 6 charges each do the same additional Fulmination damage as a single 9 charge shock. This, of course, ignores the actual shock damage. Because of the way it scales up, it's not going to be better damage for the cast time over a Lightning Bolt until about 7 charges. So, any time it's at 7 charges, you can fire Earth Shock. Waiting for an additional 1-2 charges isn't really lost DPS because of the other limiting factors, though.
The other determining factors that need to be considered, and which push you to fire it as soon after 7 charges as they allow, are the shock cooldown and Flame Shock's duration. You need to find times to fire it when Flame Shock still has at least 6 seconds left, and your shock is available. This allows the shock cooldown to be finished in time for you to refresh your Flame Shock without it falling off the target.
The main reason you don't want to hold off until 9 charges is that, unless you fire it immediately, you will often lose Fulmination procs that get wasted because you're already at full charges. The chance of getting stuck into a bad situation where your shock cooldowns interfere with each other or cost you procs is much higher. Firing it earlier isn't a DPS loss as long as it's at 7+ stacks, so try and keep it to 7-8 stacks most of the time. Firing at 9 stacks isn't terrible, as long as it wasn't sitting at 9 stacks.
Thunderstorm: This is a decent AoE, but your most common use for it will be as a mana regen tool. Use it proactively, even if it hits nothing; running out of mana is a bigger DPS loss than using this to sustain your mana. As you get practice, you'll get a feel for how often you really need it, and whether you need the Major Glyph for reduced CD.
Unleash Elements: Much-maligned, this spell fills a critical need; while it does very slightly less damage than Lightning Bolt for the cast time, it's instant-cast, meaning you can use it while moving. If you don't have a shock up, or you run for 2 GCDs, this should be fired as often as you can while moving. It mitigates the DPS loss we suffer for short movement fairly well.
Point of note: Unleash Elements is currently bugged. I am not adjusting the recommendations to account for it, but I am going to mention it. It is intended to boost the next Fire spell that hits. Currently, if you can arrange to have two Fire spells hit near-simultaneously, it will boost both. The only way for us to do this is to hit UE, then hit LvB, and immediately Flame Shock. Waiting a half second too long on the FS will prevent it gaining the benefit. Trying to do this is not going to be terribly helpful, as you need LvB coming off cooldown, as well as Flame Shock with ~3-4 seconds left, or it's a DPS loss from putting off your LvB or clipping/dropping FS. This edit is accurate by my own testing as of 12/21/2010. Again, THIS IS A BUG. Abuse it if you like, but it's not intended, and I'm not adjusting our priorities for it at this point.
Spiritwalker's Grace is the next new spell, our new level 85. It's important to pick and choose when to use this; if you're running for 2-3 seconds, you're better off just using shocks and Unleash Weapon. This is best used for periods of extensive movement, giving you 10 seconds where movement has no effect on your casting ability. Even if the boss fight doesn't have any periods where this is obviously useful, it can still be used to shift your positioning without negatively affecting your DPS, so it's something to get used to using often.
Most of the rest seem fairly self-explanatory, but if other mechanics occur to me, I'll add them to the list.
Mana Management 101
I'm adding this section to try and defray some of the complaints about Earthquake's mana cost, primarily. Yes, Earthquake is costly. Most similar AoEs are similarly expensive. This is where you need to be able to manage your mana. If you note, in the suggested spec and glyphs above, I have included all the tools for mana control that we have;
- Convection reduces our mana costs
- Elemental Focus procs Clearcasting, though you take it for other reasons too.
- Thunderstorm can be glyphed to a 30s cooldown and 4% mana return
- Potions. Don't forget that these exist.
These are your tools, and they're plenty. If you are having mana problems, you are either;
- Undergeared for the content (gear really matters, especially at this stage of Cata, more Intellect means more mana means better efficiency)
- Not specced into Convection (which isn't necessarily required at higher gear levels, even now, but if you aren't speccing it you've got little room to complain about mana costs)
- Not using fully glyphed Thunderstorm on cooldown. Skimping on either casts or glyphs will reduce its effectiveness, which again, you might be able to pull off, but if you're having mana issues, this is how you fix them.
I can pop Earthquake once or twice on every parasite spawn during Magmaw without having to Thunderstorm every single CD, use any potions, etc. My gear at this point is far from stellar; it's still mostly blue. The goals you have to reach for mana control are very achievable, and you shouldn't blame the class or your spells; you have the tools to control your mana use, so use them.
I'm taking a moment to step aside from my usual "all DPS, all the time" attitude, to talk about avoiding damage. In Cataclysm, we're in a new paradigm. Healers have significantly higher mana costs, and raid damage is more "targeted", in that it can be counteracted or avoided to a much larger degree. This is highly relevant to us because, with any DPS class, one of your primary jobs is not to take unnecessary damage, overstressing your healer, pushing him OOM, and wiping the group/raid. In Wrath, if it didn't kill you, you could ignore it. Now, even 10% of your health every 2 seconds is a big freaking deal if you don't get out of it.
As a result, this means that damage reduction is highly undesirable, from a performance perspective. Damage reduction encourages you to consider taking a hit, because you've specced into taking hits. This means the healer is having to heal you for the 90% of the damage or whatever you still took. Don't do this. Ancestral Swiftness is the opposite; it encourages you to avoid damage, by making that avoidance easier and less impactful on your DPS. Yes, taking less damage is always good, but I'm talking about mindset. As they say, if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. In this case, I want our only tool to be running like a panicked little monkey and not taking any damage at all. That way you always run like a panicked little monkey, take minimal damage, and your healer thanks you. In PvP, it's an entirely different story, but in PvE, work out how to not take damage at all, not how to reduce it a little, in general.
Avoiding damage is now an integral part of the DPS game, much more so than it has been in the past, even in TBC or Vanilla, I would say. We used to be relatively immobile, but Ancestral Swiftness and Spiritwalker's Grace has changed that. If you're working on hard modes, speccing into survivability might be something to consider, but if you're reading guides and getting ready for dungeons or regular raids, I strongly encourage you to learn to do without.
These are less unique than they have ever been. Your main thought should be to provide the buffs nobody else is providing; the strength in Totems is now not that they have unique buffs, but that you can fill a lot of missing buffs depending on raid composition.
Here's the buffs each totem won't stack with. Use another totem if someone can provide these buffs, since their buffs likely affect the raid regardless of range, unlike totems, which are 40 yards radius around the totem.
Stoneskin: Devotion Aura (Paladin)
Strength of Earth: Battle Shout (Warrior), Horn of Winter (Death Knight), Roar of Courage (Hunter w/ cat/spirit beast)
Tremor Totem: This doesn't share any buffs, and the new 4.0.6 iteration is a short-term rapid-pulsing fear break for 6 seconds, with a 1 minute CD. Great with bosses that fear, but bear in mind the new CD, and that it's on-use, not set-and-forget. If the enemy fears are more than a minute apart, this is actually a buff. If not, they're likely not deadly anyway.
The 10% spellpower from Totemic Wrath is comparable to Demonic Pact from Warlocks. Use Searing Totem/Fire Elemental for DPS regardless. Magma Totem has occasional use for AoE, if you don't need to run in to drop it. Flametongue totem is 100% entirely useless to us; the 6% spellpower buff is overwritten by the 10% Totemic wrath spellpower buff, so Flametongue is only useful if you don't want your Fire totem to provide you extra DPS. Which should be almost never, though there's occasional uses (like shifting targets on Omnitron so Searing doesn't shoot the shield)
Mana Spring: Blessing of Might (Paladin)
Totem of the Tranquil Mind: Concentration Aura (Paladin)
Healing Stream Totem: Stacks with all other Healing Streams. If you don't need the above, drop this.
Windfury: Improved Icy Talons (Death Knight), Hunting Party (Hunter) This does nothing for you, but if there's more melee than ranged, drop this anyway for a bigger raid DPS boost.
Wrath of Air: Mind Quickening (Shadow Priest), Moonkin Aura (Druid)
Special Note on Fire Totems: Mostly, you'll be using Fire Elemental and Searing Totem. Unlike Enhance, we have no special need to use Searing, and Fire Elemental is better DPS. It should be popped in every boss fight, and twice if the fight is longer than 10 minutes (unlikely). The best times to drop FE are either about 10 seconds into the fight when all your trinkets and such have procced, since it takes a snapshot of your spellpower for its entire 2 minute duration, or on burn phases where the extra DPS is critical, like Magmaw's exposed head. It's also good for AoE, where Searing is not. You absolutely should be using both of these in every boss fight.
This list is by no means comprehensive. These are mostly addons I use or have used, though I do use plenty of addons I don't list, I'm only using this to suggest addons that are immediately useful to raiding Elemental shaman for some reason. I intend to add some alternatives to each at a later date. These are not so much recommendations as highlights; I tend to pick addons based on customizability and a small (or at least controllable) screen real estate. By no means take my selections as gospel.
Powerful, customizable, and the developers keep adding features. This lets you track close to anything you want to about the game around you, and customize how that information is displayed more thoroughly than almost any other addon in the market.
My own personal PowerAura setup is here; Link to main thread. It is by no means the "best" or the only one available, but I like it.
Alternatives: Event Horizon, ForteXorcist
Vuhdo is a unit frames addon. I've been a fan of Grid for ages, but Vuhdo has won me over. These aren't as flashy as something like xPerl, but their intent is to squeeze a ridiculous amount of data into a small form factor. My entire raid frames take up slightly more screen room than the default minimap does, for a 25-man raid. I went with Vuhdo over Grid solely because Vuhdo will show the tooltip of a debuff on the unit it affects, whereas Grid only shows a marker showing the debuff type. For certain fights, telling the difference between two magic debuffs at a glance can be very useful. Vuhdo has tons of options, and will take you a while to get comfortable with, but IMO, it's worth the investment.
Alternatives: Grid, X-perl Unit Frames
Clique is amazing. It's an addon that lets you bind mouse clicks on unit frames. That doesn't sound like much, but you can modify the clicks with the modifier keys (Alt/Ctrl/Shift). That probably still doesn't sound impressive.
It's probably easier to describe how to use it. I can decurse people just by alt-clicking their raid frame. I don't need to target them, I don't need to find out where they're standing. Works the same way for heals, and it also works on target and focus frames. This is more of a convenience for Elementals, but if you ever swap to Restoration, Clique and a decent set of raid frames is amazing. You may have heard people talk about HealBot; that addon is basically Clique's functionality and a built-in set of raid frames. But, Clique and your choice of frames are more customizable, and Clique almost never breaks. It's not a complicated addon, so it's unlikely changes affect it, and the author keeps it maintained, anyway.
Alternatives: Heal Bot, Decursive
This is your one-stop Totem shop, for addons, and carries a bundle of other miscellaneous goodies for Shaman of all types. To be honest, I myself don't use all the functions it can take care of, I primarily use it for the totem trackers, which are solid and flexible. The default package also includes trackers for Reincarnation/ankhs, shields, and weapon buffs, warning systems for expiring abilities and totems, CD timer packages, and just recently, power aura type displays for Fulmination and Lava Surge that are similar enough to Blizzard's packages for other classes that many shaman (myself included) thought they were default, rather than coming from an addon.
I have moved away from Totemtimers, but primarily because I like tweaking my UI to make it "just right". This has meant using more addons and spending a great deal more time playing with them. If you want quick and powerful and reliable, Totemtimers is a great choice.
Alternatives: Coming Soon
Professions take significant investment, both in gold and time, and shouldn't be entered into lightly. Making the "wrong" choice early on could cost you a bundle if you decide to switch at a later date. At this point, I highly recommend taking a loot at what's coming in Cataclysm before making any final decisions, the differences between most professions are relatively small at this point.
The basic breakdown between professions is between the crafting professions, and the gathering professions. If you're looking to optimize your performance, you're going to want to use two crafting professions, to make a long story short. Gathering professions typically offer buffs that are suboptimal to entirely unnecessary, where the crafting professions are all relatively similar. Here's a quick glance at the relevant stat bonuses. I am using Intellect as the baseline, as this is an Elemental FAQ. Some (notably Engineering) are wildly different for other classes or specs. This is in comparison to the ideal option without the profession.
Alchemy: +80 Intellect, from flasks, through Mixology.
Blacksmithing: 2 gem slots which works out to +80 Stat.
Enchanting: 2 ring enchants for +80 Intellect
Engineering: Synapse Springs alone work out to an average of +96 Intellect, 450/12s every 60s.
Inscription: +80 Intellect for shoulder enchants
Jewelcrafting: +81 Intellect from 3 Intellect gems
Leatherworking: +130 Intellect BUT replaces regular bracer enchant (no Intellect enchant)
Tailoring: Assuming the ICD hasn't changed, +580 Int/15s every 45s, replaces regular cloak enchant
Herbalism: +80 Haste (480/20s every 2 min) plus a small heal
Mining: +120 Stamina
Skinning: +80 Crit rating
As you can see, most crafting professions are within a few points of each other, while gathering professions are less valuable. As things stand, for the most part, you can pick any 2 crafting professions and be fine. The one you may want to most avoid is Tailoring, but since it only crafts cloth and we should be wearing mail, most Elemental shaman will skip it regardless.
The one that's surprisingly good as of 4.0.1 is Engineering. With the 4.0.1 patch, tinkers were mostly slightly nerfed but were made separate from Enchants, meaning they're in addition to those regular enchants. As it stands, Engineering leads the pack by a relatively safe margin, and that's without considering the other benefits of the profession. The other one to consider is Leatherworking, since spirit, crit, and haste are all worth less than Intellect, this tradeoff puts it slightly ahead in the math. Jewelcrafting is no longer THE profession, for any class really; it's advantage is only 1 point over most.
Tailoring is a bit odd as of this writing. The proc has been changed to +580 Intellect, not Spellpower, though the tooltip for the embroidery hasn't been updated. Assuming it works the same way the prior rank did, it's a 45s ICD with a chance to proc. meaning it won't quite be at the 33% uptime mark for most. Assuming it were, 580 Intellect for 1/3 the time is ~190 Intellect. Since you're replacing a +50 Intellect cloak enchant, this puts it up there in the top ranks, ~140 Intellect, however, due to it having to proc and not having a 100% proc chance, the uptime likely is lower than 33%; I'm waiting to find some uptime stats for Cata; bear in mind they'll be different than endgame WotLK, since Haste will affect it even if no other changes were made. Also, while Engineering appears to be a lower benefit, it's entirely on-demand, whereas Tailoring relies on a static proc. This means Engineers can guarantee their buff is up when opening, or for burst phases, whereas Tailoring just has to spam and pray.
If you want to optimize, I would go Engineering/Leatherworking/Tailoring, any of the three. That said, I myself am Engineering/Alchemy. Don't neglect the convenience or fun factors to professions when making these decisions, but be aware of what the possible cost to your performance might be.