Thunderstorm: Don’t bug me about it

March 12, 2009

Ok, so I dont know about any of you other elemental shamans, but ever since Blizzard gave us Thunderstorm, tanks have been riding me about it and demanding that I dont use it. They get all pissed if their mobs fly away for 4 sec. I have even heard of instances where that move was banned from use during a raid. I am going to explain the pros and cons of Thunderstorm in a PVE setting and why it is NOT necessary to glyph it.


  1. Instantly gives back 8% of your mana at the cost of a global cooldown.
  2. Has a knock back effect of 20 yds to any enemies within 10 yds of you (12 yds speccd)
  3. It hits every mob in range for a little less than a lightningbolt.


  1. Massive instant damage can pull agro.
  2. Tanks dont like the knockback. Wahhhhhh Wahhhh

To the Tanks…

You need to stop complaining about the knockback from Thunderstorm. I play a tank and dont care at all about Thunderstorm. I do care if they do it too early, as in I have no threat, but thats a different argument entirely. First off, we shouldnt pull agro by doing one aoe move when your holding threat off of so many casters doing more damaging and consistent aoe moves. If the shaman waits till the tank has sufficient agro and thunderstorms everything, THEY WILL RUN BACK TO THE TANK!!! Just sit there and be patient.

The Glyph

I was originally thinking about getting this glyph when dual spec comes out, but now that I think about it, Im not sure. The Glyph of Thunderstorm is a minor glyph for PVE elemental shamans only. It increases the mana gained to 10% from 8% at the cost of removing the knockback effect. I originally saw this as an instant benefit, but after some pondering, I dont think so.

First off, the extra mana is nice at first glance, but keep in mind all the classes that can refund mana to the raid, through damage or buffs (pally, shaman, hunter, shadow priest) so mana truly isnt as big of an issue as it once was. 8% is plenty to run off of for 45 sec.

Second, the knockback, when used wisely, can help save lives in a raid:

  • DPS: If a dps pulls agro, you can use Thunderstorm to knock it back towards the tank, thus making it easier to retake agro.
  • Healer: Healers may pull agro from pre-healing before the tank has any agro. Thunderstorming can bounce the mob off the path of the healer and give you agro. Now you can start healing yourself while the tanks reestablish agro and another healer is saved. You superhero you.
  • Tank: If the tank is taking way too much damage very quickly, pop those baddies away giving the healers a chance to catch back up with the heals.
  • Yourself: I have pulled agro on trash (I know, shame on me) and Thunderstorm has saved my life numerous times. If you pull agro, use Thunderstorm to bounce the mob away and start lesser healing yourself. Spam that button until the tank picks it back up or dps finishes killing it while you heal tank it. Feel free to try wind shock, but dont expect a miracle.

Lastly, Thunderstorm can be used as a decent aoe in addition to Magma Totem and Chain Lightning. If you decide to do this, follow these simple rules:

  1. Wait for tanks to have agro, best used as an aoe finisher because dead bodies dont fly away.
  2. If they wont die, know where they will land. It is best to aim them toward a wall. Just make sure blowing them up will not pull an additional group.

I hope this post has helped shamans know how to use Thunderstorm appropriately and effectively. I also hope that any other dps or tanks that have read this understand why we like to use Thunderstorm and that it is useful and that there is a reason not to glyph it and keep the knock back.

Lightningrod, Master of Mechanisms



  1. I’m with you. I’ve never had any complaints. I can only assume there are some stupid elementalists out here who are using Thunderstorm badly.

    The 4-5 seconds that it can buy you can make a significant difference to survivability sometimes.

  2. I have both an 80 Ele Sham and an 80 Feral tank. My shaman was my main up until near the end of BC, I got bored and leveled my druid to 70 and found tanking to be an awesome change from what had become a boring LB spam. Lava Burst and stuff has changed all that for me. I continued leveling my Shaman Ele to 80 and love Thunderstorm. TS has benefits event when away from mobs, the extra mana is great. I like popping it to knock mobs off me and let the tank pick them up. Or better yet, knocking them off the healer!. Typhoon has less benefits.
    Now, as a main tank I *HATE* improper use of Thunderstorm/Typhoon. I’ve never had problems with any Ele sham I’ve run with to date, but boomkins that like to run up and typhoon every mob 20 yards to my right piss me off to no end. I would definitely feel the same way about a Shaman doing something similar. As a druid, AOE tanking is very positional, swipe has a frontal arc, if the mobs aren’t there I’m not building aggro. Thunderstorm & Typhoon make them not there. This is bad. the extra DPS from running up and popping TS/Typhoon is NOT a good excuse, it means you’ve dropped your other DPSing.

    Now An Important Weather Warning:
    I took my shaman to Gnomeregan to round out the old world dungeon achievement. I trucked on through gathering up huge packs and TS’ing them all at once. Good times. WATCH OUT ON THE FINAL TUNNEL. There are bots there that spell reflect. I had about 30 mobs on me, had oath up, clearcasting. Sounds like a recipe for explosive weather goodness right? Wrong. I ate something near 40K back splash from those stupid bots. I was laughing so hard I was in tears.

  3. Wow, just read BobTurkey’s post after I hit submit. He’s got it in a nutshell. There is a right and wrong time to use it. It can buy precious time, save you or a healer. Or it can piss your tank off when you run up and blast hit targets away. I forgive accidental splash. It’s the idiots who consistently knock the pack off me that need better chinstraps on their helmets.

  4. Don’t forget Thunderstorm is truly witty in PvP, especially near big drops.

  5. “since Blizzard gave us Thunderstorm, tanks have been riding me about it and demanding that I dont use it.”

    I only complain when you do it before I have aggro, and/or when you blast two casters in opposite directions. Otherwise, blast away, cause I ❤ your Deeps.

    – Sam

  6. Someone linked me this post in an elemental shaman thread we have on our guild forum, and I really feel I should mention a few things, so here’s the reply post I made there:

    I think he’s an idiot and I’m guessing his tank is a paladin since he doesn’t care about momentarily having mobs pushed away out of range when tanking. Or maybe the groups he play with just have really low DPS.

    Here are the reasons why you really should glyph it:

    1. In AoE situations you do not want to push mobs 20yd away from the AoE. You might be doing damage and having fun seeing mobs fly around, but the net result is that the raid loses DPS since the mobs spend less time inside the AoE areas. Hurricane, rain of fire, blizzard, consecration, death and decay, even your own magma totem and chain lightning suffers from spreading the mobs out.

    2. It makes life harder for the tank. His position is that “but the mobs run right back”, but that’s not the point, it’s not even near being the point.

    It messes up positioning. Mobs are scattered all around and the tank has to spend effort to reposition. As if that wasn’t enough, tanks have no dodge, parry or block when hit from the back, so you’re actually making your tank take more damage.

    Warrior tanks especially have rather prohibitive cooldowns on AoE threat abilities. Having mobs pushed away from thunderclaps and especially shockwave will lose you a lot of threat and quite a lot of damage as well.

    3. The extra mana you get with the glyph might not matter most times, but when you’re forced into doing heavy AoE or healing you’ll want all the mana you can get.

    Glyphed thunderstorm is a very good burst AoE spell for trash and boss adds, and since it also gives mana back it helps keeping your other AoE going (chain lightning and magma spam is very expensive). Without the glyph it’s simply not a usable AoE tool since you’re actually lowering the overall raid DPS, not to mention messing with the tanks’ threat generation.

    The things he mention in favour of having the knockback on the spell are all more or less irrelevant.

    Knocking things towards the tank is irrelevant. All tanks have long range taunts, death grip, warbringer etc. Distance isn’t an issue in getting mobs back for a tank these days.

    Knocking things off yourself isn’t really relevant in PvE either. You’re a heavily armored healing hybrid who can tank almost any non-boss mob until tanks peel them off you. The extra second or two you get from knocking them away is unlikely to save you.

    Knocking things away from the tank to save him is also rather silly. You have fast spammable heals if the tank needs saving.

  7. First off, I don’t appreciate being called an idiot when I’m speaking from personal experience. Secondly, my tank is a warrior so yea.

    Now I believe u should read the post again and think about the ways I use it. “an extra second or two” as u put it can give the tank enough time to taunt.

    I also said not to use it as an aoe unless they are about to die. Maybe u should read things more carefully before u critcise. Let it swirl around in ur head and then make ur opinion, but be respectful.

  8. First of all, sorry for the idiot word, it shouldn’t be in there in the first place and it simply got copy/pasted over here. My first reaction when reading was “this is stupid”, for which I’ll stand, but personal remarks don’t belong in a discussion, so my sincerest apologies about that.

    Not using thunderstorm as an AoE tool will lower your damage output and prevent you from using it as a mana management tool when there are mobs close by. Obviously this is assuming your tanks care, but unless your raid DPS is very low tanks will need every bit of threat they can get, especially on add spawns on bosses where damage dealers are ideally pushing DPS as hard as they can.

    Using it only when mobs are about to die is also a bit awkward, since you first of all can’t use it optimally on every available cooldown, it requires you to stand around in melee range (or running in when mobs get low) and it doesn’t work with the fact that various mobs will go down at different pace and often have different sized health pools.

    Saving yourself from aggro should not be needed. If you pull enough mobs, or mobs powerful enough, to kill you you’re doing something very wrong in the first place

    Now of course your original post merely states “PvE setting”, and if you’re doing 5-mans and other small group content where everyone is on the ball and you set up to use it creatively, then certainly you can find uses for the knockback. In a raid setting however you’re not doing yourself nor the raid any favour by not glyphing it.

  9. I understand your ideas and understand where you are coming from. I still stand by what I say and how you can use Thunderstorm when it is not glyphed. Now it is not the best AOE because of the cooldown, but an ele shaman’s strength is single target, not necessarily AOE packs. We can usually keep up if they are larger groups, not just purely aoe packs because they can live long enough for a rotation and chain lightning can get full effect.

  10. Shaman AoE actually isn’t bad at all these days.
    Magma totem alone will do around 500DPS/mob, and thunderstorm somewhere around 75DPS/mob or more. Of course trash packs and boss adds usually don’t live long enough to measure TS DPS like that, but that only makes it better, a 2,5-5k burst is valuable when you need things to die fast.

    Considering you can keep CL spam going along with your single target cycles on priority targets at the same time, our damage output can really soar in heavy AoE situations.

    Sartharion with 2 or 3 drakes up is a perfect example of where this works very well.

    It’s worth losing the 3% crit debuff on mobs from ToW as long as you have another shaman around who’s willing to toss down a flametongue totem.

  11. Personally, I’ve never had complaints from tanks about Thunderstorm – it’s always been from the DPS QQ’ing. I ended up glyphing it simply because it led to less drama. The advantage of being able to use Tstorm whenever I want without having to worry about the consequences (well, save aggro) is worth losing the knockback to me.

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