Playing Elementalist is not complicated, but you can gain a substantial amount of DPS if you monitor your abilities instead of relegating them into a one-size-fits-all macro. This guide will attempt to spark more interest into the Elementalist playstyle.
Elementalist uses a pet and priority system in order to deal damage. Its AoE capabilities are poor, while its single-target is viable, but not competitive. The damage aspect comes from trying to maximize 'Cycles', where one element buffs another. In this case, Earth > Air > Water > Fire > Earth.
TL;DR: Ctl+F to go to 'Priority'
The build: http://www.rifthead.com/stc/zcNbivltfsqikrqrddzvxxbh
61 Elementalist, 15 Necromancer, 0 Pyromancer
Due to the way the gifts are set up (+4% pet damage, +0.5% caster damage), any points outside of Elementalist or Necromancer will result in a pet that does a good deal less damage. Given that the pet should account for roughly 40-55% of your DPS, these talent points are non-negotiable. Common goodies like Harbinger's +10% spellpower and +8% runspeed or Pyromancer's Burning Fury are simply out of reach. The talent Epidemic from Necromancer is simply too essential to this spec.
Prismatic Armor – Out of Elementalist's three armors, this one yields the highest DPS, giving damaging attacks a 20% chance to reduce your GCD to 1 second, as well as passively increasing your personal damage by 15%. It also increases your magic resistance by 100, working out to around an astounding 2% reduction in elemental damage taken! Intense!
Elemental Armor – This armor, available at 44 points, is used by Elementalist hybrids, and delievers slightly less DPS than Prismatic Armor, in the range of around 500 DPS or so. Elemental Armor only increases your elemental damage by 15% (so if you want to cast Plague Bolt for some inane reason, you need to use Prismatic Armor for that damage buff!). It also increases your charge gain, which is the only reason why Prismatic Armor doesn't totally outshine it. Elemental Armor is able to go about 2 minutes longer than Prismatic Armor without needing to regain mana. Finally, Elemental Armor increases armor by 706, working out to an amazing 1% reduction in physical damage taken! Amazing!
Stone Armor – This armor is useless and shouldn't even be on your bar. It increases your armor by 594, which is negligible, and reduces the damage your pet takes by 5%. It does serve its purpose while in the very low-levels, where a fledgling mage might be more reliant on her pet, but its simply not noticeable.
Synergize – This buff goes on the pet, turning it into a charge battery. It's important to note that this charge gain is unaffected by Elemental Armor, so each attack by the pet (auto-attacks included) will give the mage 3 charge. The Fire Elemental and Skeletal Zealot pets make best use of this due to their auto-attacks that can't be interrupted.
Fire Elemental – This melee pet should be your primary pet in single-target situations. It has a charge, a strong auto-attack and two DoTs that may as well be passive. Note that while the Fire Elemental is near-immortal, some mechanics can still kill it, so it may be prudent to learn when to set the pet to Follow.
Air Elemental – This is a ranged pet whose DPS is far worse than the Fire Elemental in single-target. The only times this pet should be used are 1) When you have fewer than 51 points in the soul, 2) when mechanics prevent melee, 3) when you have four or more enemies within 7 meters for an extended period of time for Ball Lightning to hit.
Earth Elemental – This is your 'tank' pet, used for keeping enemies from punching you in the face. It works off a series of 'forced taunts', so you must be careful while pulling multiple mobs. The earth elemental has almost no AoE abilities, outside of Earthquake on a 20 second cooldown which hits 4 targets. If you're soloing using the Earth Elemental, make gratuitous use of the pet attack command, either through macro or hotkeyed.
Water Elemental – This pet holds all your crowd-control tools, a snare, purge and silence, which can be set to automatic use on cooldown, or you can drag them to your hotbar for more controlled use. Its DPS is very low, marked by the fact that it does not cast on every GCD, leaving it with moments were its just standing there doing nothing. If your guild is having trouble with purging a buff, you could use this pet, but be prepared for the enormous DPS loss. Generally, this pet is not used outside of PvP.
Burning Ground – This is the only AoE spell that you have, outside of your Flame Elemental's passive cleave and your Air Elemental's Lightning Ball. Don't expect to do any significant DPS via AoE. It hits up to 8 targets 5 times, and is cast and forget so you can continue to use single-target moves while its down. It has an 8 second cooldown.
Crystalline Missile – Earth - Your 'spam' spell. While it doesn't do much damage on its own, it buffs your pets' damage by 10% on cast, plus it is made instant when Epidemic procs.
Elemental Burst - Mixed - This spell's damage seems low on parses, but only because each element is seen as its own spell. This spell hits moderately hard, but its primary purpose is to trigger all four cycles at the same time. It has a 15 second cooldown.
Icy Carapace – Water - This is a very, very weak DoT by itself, but it explodes when hit by an air spell. The explosion hits about as hard as Flame Bolt, so it's best practice to trigger the spell right when the timer hits 0. It has a 10 second cooldown and an 8 second duration.
Ignite – Fire – This attack has a strong initial hit, followed by a much weaker DoT. However, thanks to the talent Ashen Armor, this spell increases the critical strike chance of your pet by an amazing 30%, making it essential that this spell be kept up.
Lightning Strike – Air – This would be a very powerful spell, but the 2.5 second cast time means that despite the high damage, it is a DPS loss to cast, plus it is a casttime for an otherwise very mobile spec. This spell is best left for Harbingers who can make the spell instant-cast, or Stormcallers who don't know any better. It has a 10 second cooldown.
Prismatic Volley – Mixed – This is a four second channel on a 30 second cooldown, and your highest DPS spell (though Crystalline Missiles will parse higher due to extended use). It is imperative that you use this spell on cooldown and only after Elemental Burst has been cast. As both spells are mixed, Prismatic Volley's overall damage will be increased by 40% thanks to the cycle buffs. For example with my gear, the total damage of Prismatic Volley without Elemental Burst is 20640 non-crit, and 27940 with Elemental Burst non-crit. While this is only 35% (I'm not really certain where the other 5% went...) its still worth it.
Stormbolt – Air/Water – This is an instant cast spell on a 6 second cooldown that deals less damage, even taking into consideration the two elements, than Flame Bolt or Crystalline Missile. Its only purpose is to trigger Icy Carapace as late as possible, as only then will the two spells be worth the DPS increase.
Volcanic Eruption – Earth/Fire – This is a channel, similar to Prismatic Volley, is a high DPS spell that should be cast as often as possible on cooldown. However, this channel should be delayed if Ignite needs to be refreshed. Like Crystalline Missiles, this spell increases your pets outgoing damage. Its 20 second cooldown means it cannot line up with Elemental Burst like Prismatic Volley does, and this spell should take a backseat to those.
Flame Bolt – Fire – The staple of Pyromancer, Flame Bolt hits hard and has an 8 second cooldown. Use this as often as possible.
Fast Summon – Makes your next pet summon instant-cast on a 2 minute cooldown. Don't waste this as hard summoning a pet takes 8 seconds and is a horrible DPS loss.
Intensify Elements – Don't misread this buff. This is actually a pet buff that doubles its outgoing damage. Your personal damage will only be improved by 50%, and only elemental spells (though that's all you should be using anyways). It lasts 15 seconds and has a 2 minute cooldown.
Rushing Elements – This buff reduces your GCD down to 1 second for 15 seconds on a minute cooldown. It's actually redundant with Prismatic Armor, but can see use with Elemental Armor.
Reclaim Elements – You sacrifice your pet, desummoning it and restoring 50% of your max health, while also boosting your damage by 50% and giving your attacks a bit of extra fire damage. This is a buff that sounds very powerful on paper, but I'm not too keen on it in practice. While your personal damage goes up, you lose your pet and must resummon it. This means that your Fast Summon spell has to be used immediately, and thus you can't save it for emergencies. You cannot macro Reclaim Elements to your summon elemental spell, either, as accidentally pressing it twice will not only burn your Fast Summon spell, but it will then desummon your pet and make you hard cast a new one.
Raging Elements – Increases your pets' damage by 30%. This is a charge consumer with a duration that equals its cooldown, so it must always be cast when its available.
Bone Frenzy – This is a trap. It is identical in practice to Raging Elements, but weaker in all forms. Do not use this. It does not stack with Raging Elements and will only consume charge and provide weaker damage output.
Elemental Forces – This applies additional damage to your next five spells. It has no cooldown, but costs 60 charge. It is the only way for Elementalist to dump charge outside of Raging Elements, and its higher charge cost means it can be macro'd to Raging Elements. Elemental Forces does not benefit from the cycle buffs, so there's no optimal time to use it. The spell is only roughly 2.5% of your overall DPS, so if you find yourself overwhelmed, not paying attention to your charge won't hurt you. Elementalist is the least complicated Mage soul as far as charge is concerned.
Ice Shield - A weak absorption shield; it will give you an additional 3.5k HP at level 60 on a 30 second cooldown. Very useful if you're undergeared, as Elementalists innately take 5% less damage than other mages.
Icy Gale – A knockback and snare, used mainly for PvP and open world for getting the bad guys off you. The knockback is about 10 meters, and the snare is 30%.
Sever Bonds – An ability similar to Break Free that removes all CC from you and your pet. However, you are not left immune like you are with Break Free.
Quicken Elements – Your pet heal, which restores 15% of your pet's maximum health once every second. This spell procs healing essences and trinkets, such as the Hailstone Tideshard, giving your pet that additional boost to survivability. Amazing if you want to solo some lower-level instances.
Controlling a pet is not something that's for everyone. Most would just treat the pet as a mobile DoT and call it a day, however, there are some situations that you may run into that require you to use your pet in a more imaginative manner.
-Use the Follow command to call your pet to your side. This is used mainly for getting your pet out of trouble (or unstuck if it's doing something goofy).
-Use the Stay command to position your pet. There aren't many uses to this, but you could set the pet as a sort of sentry to pick up wandering adds.
-Use the attack command to send your pet towards your target. You can use this command to have your pet round up multiple mobs by having it run towards, then choosing another target the moment the add gains aggro.
#show Elemental Burst
cast Raging Elements
cast Elemental Burst
cast Flame Bolt
cast Icy Carapace
cast Crystalline Missiles
cast Elemental Forces
This is your spam macro. Thanks to cooldowns, these spells can be grouped together, though it is good to have Crystalline Missiles and Icy Carapace as separate keybinds as well. Ignite is for when you have to look away from the target or are on the run and Epidemic hasn't proc'd. Raging Elements is above Elemental Forces because it's more important, and the last then you want is to go from 49 to 60+ charge and miss that buff.
#show Reclaim Elements
cast Reclaim Elements
cast Fast Summon
This is just to remove keybinds. I actually don't use this because I need Fast Summon separate, anyways.
Using the Cycle system, you want to ensure that your Prismatic Volley has as many cycles available as possible. This is only possible by using Elemental Burst beforehand. Volcanic Eruption doesn't have that benefit due to cooldown conflicts, but you will oftentimes have cast Ignite or Crystalline Missiles prior to that spell. Its DPS is high enough that you don't need to worry too much about having Cycle of Water or Fire active. Keep the Ashen Armor buff active (Ignite once every 16 seconds) and keep Velocity active (Crystalline Missiles or Volcanic Eruption at least every 10 seconds). Use Stormbolt only on Icy Carapace at the last moment.
-Prismatic Volley and Elemental Burst must be used on cooldown.
-Volcanic Eruption and Flame Bolt should be used as close to cooldown as possible, but delayed for refreshing buffs and the first two spells.
-Icy Carapace is a DPS increase to Crystalline Missiles, but not to the previous spells, so cast it only when its available.
(If starting with full charge; delay charge consumption until charge is available)
[Raging Elements] Ignite > Volcanic Eruption > [Elemental Forces] Elemental Burst > Prismatic Volley > [Rushing Elements] Icy Carapace > Flame Bolt > Crystalline Missiles > Stormbolt
After this point, everything will get off sync, and so you must just follow your priority system. Keep in mind movement as well. Having to move during Prismatic Volley is devastating, so that is the only time when you should delay casting that spell. If that is the case, cast Ignite, then Stormbolt to get the most cycles up.
I do apologize, this was the first guide I'd ever written. Please, let me know if there's anything wrong or missing. I really would like more players to take a look at this spec and play it, to bring out its full potential. My gear is nowhere near the best, and I'd even forgotten to equip my crystal during testing (though I suppose that doesn't actually change any priorities). I was able to maintain around 12.9k DPS, though, with 4070 spellpower and 165 crit power, albeit that's having taken advantage of the splash for the Fire Elemental. I'd expect the pure single-target to be about 900 less.