A recent article on the lost art of crowd control got me thinking about all the cool tools a Shaman is equipped with, and the specialized jobs we can perform using these tools.
Sure, it's easy enough to faceroll Lightning Bolts or Chain Heals, but any player worth their salt not only performs their primary role well, but is always ready to bring something extra to an encounter.
For years Shaman have bemoaned the lack of a crowd control ability, and the arrival of Hex at level 80 happened right as we entered the age of "AoE everything in sight." Still, there are definitely situations where we need to get our froggy-style on.
In heroic trash pulls, Hex can be used to temporarily incapacitate a mob as the tank rushes in to establish threat. Certainly the frog will break due to AoE, but the first few seconds of a pull are usually the most critical, where he/she can take a ton of damage all at once. Disabling even one mob for a second or two can mean the difference between a controlled pull and a wipe.
Still, not all trash is AoE fodder - in Ulduar, some pulls still benefit greatly from CC, and I would expect to see this trend continue as we start knocking on Arthas' door in Icecrown Citadel. While Hex cannot be chain-cast like Polymorph (boo cooldown), it can at least be used to tie-up a second-target while the first gets burned-down.
This is where I channel Big Red Kitty, who frequently championed the skill of kiting: a job which involves aggro'ing a mob and having it purposely run towards you while you keep it at distance. Frost Shock with it's threat component and Earthbind Totem is a perfect combo for this job, something I've used many times in Naxx's Gluth encounter.
Elemental Shaman also gain a very useful tool with a specially-talented Earthbind totem, which applies a Druid-style root to those within range. In the Eye of Eternity, it becomes very easy to root a Power Spark exactly where it needs to drop using this root (and has the benefit of being instant-cast, as opposed to a Druid's 1.5 second root).
In Ulduar on the way to the Crazy Cat Lady, there are pairs of big nasty mobs which also send sparks back and forth, which need to be destroyed before reaching the other. A rooting Earthbind is perfect for this job.
Wind Shear recently got a redesign, and it no longer shares a global cooldown with either Flame or Earth Shock. This was both a buff and a nerf, since we lost one of our two interrupts. Still, having Wind Shear on it's own cooldown means it's easier for a DPS shaman to maintain their rotation while still interrupting. This skill can and should be used almost everywhere: against healers in trash packs, whirlwinding Runeshapers, Kel'Thuzad's frost bolts, chain-lightning Dwarves in Ulduar, etc.
Shaman also make great debuffers thanks to Purge, provide AoE Fear Wards with Tremor Totem, supply raid-wide steroids with Bloodlust/Heroism, can save the day with backup heals, and even provide an emergency tank while the Druid battle-rez's your tank.
We have a lot of great tricks up our sleeves, so don't be a faceroller, do your job! :)