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Although I always like being surprised when something shiny falls out of that boss we just killed, I decided that knowing what I need and where it drops was more important than the – oh so slim – possibility of shiny surprises.

This is obviously not a definitive list of MUST HAVE elemental shaman pieces, and I try to give other options for every slot.  You will notice that a lot of these pieces have spirit, and absolutely none of them have hit.  This is because I want to be able to heal changing out as few pieces as possible because dear god, I am sick of carrying 2 – 3 full sets of gear around with me everywhere.

NOTE: I am only comparing items that are iLvL 346. Sometimes, there might be a comparable lower-level drop, or epic crafted. I am also skipping the trinket slots for now – the nightmare of finding good trinkets may merit its own post.

Head – Cowl of the Unseen World

High Priestess Azil – Heroic Stonecore

This is not a spirit piece, but is full of nommy haste and mastery, and has both a meta and a yellow gem slot with a haste bonus. Even I have to reforge something to hit cap, I prefer this to the spirit/crit helm available from Justice Points, and these are the only two caster shaman options of iLvl 346 currently available.

Neck – Quicksilver Amulet

Karsh Steelbender – Heroic Blackrock Caverns

This is a spirit / haste neck. There are actually lots of valid choices for this slot with any combination of stats, including a lovely – but very pricey – crafted neck.

Shoulders – Fallen Snow Shoulderguards

Grand Vizier Ertan – Heroic Vortex Pinnacle

One of three choices for this slot. This one is crit / haste with no spirit, the one from H-SFK is spirit and mastery, so also a very valid choice.  The Seafoam Mantle, purchased with Justice Points, is also spirit and mastery, and just fine if you want another piece that’s not up to RNG.

Back – Solar Wind Cloak

Rajh – Heroic Halls of Origination

Be aware, the healer might shank you if you roll on this, because with spirit and haste, it’s also one of the best healing cloaks around.  There are a couple other good cloak choices, including the cloak available once you’re revered with the Earthen Ring, but that one does not have spirit or hit, so you’ll have to make sure you have an adequate amount on your gear, or reforge some of the crit to spirit or hit.

Chest – Breastplate of the Stilled Heart

Commander Springvale – Heroic Shadowfang Keep

This is the only caster mail chest available with haste on it. The two other options are spirit / mastery from Throne of the Tides, and spirit / crit from Justice points.

Wrists –  Shackles of the Betrayed

Vanessa VanCleef – Heroic Deadmines

There are only two bracers available at this iLvl – these with have spirit and haste, and the ones from H-BRC that are spirit and crit, which in my opinion, are a poor consolation prize if you cannot get a group that can make it all the way through the epic raid-length heroic that is Deadmines.

Hands – Old Friend’s Gloves

Helix Gearbreaker – Heroic Deadmines

These spirit / haste gloves drop from a much earlier boss than the bracers, so the chances are better your group will make it this far. The gloves from H-LC are spirit / crit, and the ones from justice points are crit / mastery.

Waist – Sash of Prophecy

Ramkahen Revered Reputation – Cost: ~33 gold

There is a drop belt in H-HoO, and a belt from Justice Points, but making nice with the RamenNoodleKitties gets you the lovely haste belt.

Legs – Leggings of Soothing Silence

2,200 Justice Points

OR

Legs – Wilderness Legguards

Guardians of Hyjal Revered Reputation – Cost: ~76 gold

The differences between these two pairs of pants is minute – the quantity of haste and spirit – which differs by only 20 – is swapped on them. If you love haste, and you have the JP, buy those. If you’re worried about hit capping more than haste, and you have the rep, buy those. They’re both damn good pants.

Feet – Dark Iron Chain Boots

Forgemaster Throngus – Heroic Grim Batol

Hope you like Grim Batol. These spirit / mastery boots are the only mail caster boots around. Yes, I know Earthen Ring Exalted has epic boots – epic spirit /crit boots. I’ll pass.

Fingers – SO MANY GOOD CHOICES

Seriously. Rings are full of choices. Pick just about any 2 secondary stats you feel like you’re lacking, and there’s a ring choice for you.

Weapon – Scepter of Power

Setesh – Heroic Halls of Origination

OR

Weapon – Biting Wind

Grand Vizier Ertan – Heroic Vortex Pinnacle

The mace nets you spirit / haste, the dagger, crit / haste. Be aware that people are already saying the mace is the best healer weapon pre-raid, so your healer might flip if you roll against them for it. DO NOT BE A STAFF SHAMAN. We had enough of that bullshit in Wrath.

Shield – Zora’s Ward

Siamat – Heroic Lost City of the Tol’Vir

The lack of spirit on this makes it less of a healing shield, which means you’re less likely to have competition for it, and both haste and mastery are lovely to have. That said, Shield of the Mists is fairly inexpensive at 950 Justice Points, and either will do fine until you can get the Elementium Stormshield crafted.

Relic – Captured Lightning

Asaad – Heroic Vortex Pinnacle

Unless you have access to a generous scribe (or are one yourself) for the Tattooed Eyeball, this is a pretty sweet spirit / haste relic.

 

 

I know I’ve said this before, but I think it bears repeating – I’m pretty much a Wrath-baby. So, I don’t really know what it was like gearing up to do heroics and raids in BC or even in Vanilla. What I do know is that in WotLK, we had downed our first wing in Naxxramus before we’d spent two weeks at level 80.

Both of my shaman are level 85 now, and already I am frustrated with the realities of gearing for heroics. You are not allowed to queue for heroic dungeons until you have a minimum average item level of 329. Both of my shaman are stuck at 326, which sounds like it’s not a big deal, right?

I’ve spent hours (literally, hours) on WoWhead looking for upgrades. The sad reality is, there just aren’t that many ACTUAL upgrades to be had. Item level upgrades? Are still scarce.  Access to pieces with an item level higher than 333 (the standard for non-heroic level 85 dungeon drops) is extremely limited.  But trading any piece I’m wearing that currently has either haste or mastery for a piece that has neither is not a functional upgrade at this point.

The only upside to this I can see is that you are not required to have an average EQUIPPED item level of 329 in order to queue for heroics. So the healing trinkets I’ve been lucky enough to hoover up on Krikket count towards my minimum, even though it’d be a DPS downgrade to put them on.

I see this problem as being multi-faceted. Getting to 85 was a quick process, leveling professions seems to be a much slower one, so I’m not seeing the crafted gear I would need to do heroics even available for purchase. Justice points are capped at a handful per day until you have access to heroics. Rep grinding is slow since the tabards only work in three instances prior to heroics.

But I think the biggest problem, at least for the elemental shaman, is Blizzard’s attitude in regards to “secondary stats”:

We want your choice of secondary start to mix up your playstyle, if only a little. Unlike primary stats, we want those secondary stats (i.e. crit, haste & mastery) to be a choice. If one is far better or far worse than the others, then we haven’t delivered on our design intent. Since some of our players have become such great rules lawyers, I am hesitant to mention a magic number at which point the ratios become unacceptable to us. Let’s just say you shouldn’t often be in a situation where you pass on an item in a later tier of content and keep an item from an earlier tier solely because of the stat allocation.

Due to the way that elemental shaman talents & abilities are structured, crit rating – at least at these lower gear levels – is so far inferior to both haste and mastery, I don’t want it. From talents we get 3% crit. From Elemental Oath, we get 5% crit. We have a glyph option that provides a flat 2% crit.  We get crit from the Intellect that we’re trying to stack into the stratosphere.

Alix has slightly more crit on her gear right now than Krikket does, and with a crit rating of a paltry 312, she sitting at over 17% crit. Her haste rating is over 1400, and that only gives her about 11% haste. Is it just me, or has Blizzard failed to deliver on their design intent on this one?

It’s hard to get excited about grinding up rep to buy what are – in my opinion – poorly itemized pieces for my spec (I’m looking at you, Epic Boots of Fail from the Earthen Ring).  And I don’t want to spend the next several weeks running Grim Batol, Halls of Origination, and Lost City of Tol’Vir hoping for a trash drop blue which seems to be the only appropriately itemized mail hat from pre-heroics.

Yes, I get that heroics are challenging, and that I don’t want to blindly flail around in them under-prepared. But I don’t think I’ll perform any better in the amazing crafted iLvL  339 resilience / spirit boots than I will in the iLvL 272 boots I’m currently wearing.

I am currently the lucky owner of one Battered Hilt. I know I should be super-excited about this, but I’m just flummoxed over what to actually do with the thing.

Krikket current is using Abracadver as her weapon.  As much as I whine about the injustice of being a staff-shaman, it really is a decent weapon for an elemental shaman. It makes staying hitcapped simple. If I were to dump it so I could use the Battered Hilt quest reward weapon, I would need to go back to my Ulduar shield (since I don’t see myself getting either a Bastion of Purity or a Bulwark of Smouldering Steel anytime soon), and I would likely have to either downgrade some armor pieces, or regem pretty much everything I own for hit. Which makes it – at this point – not so much an upgrade.

Norrah, on the other hand? Well, she could use her Quel’Delar now. It would be quite the sexy upgrade for her, actually. It is a pretty excellent holy paladin weapon, and the best I’m likely to get my hands on for a very long time. Someday she might get a Lich King weapon, but I just don’t see that happening anytime soon either.

But I feel guilty as hell using something this shiny on an alt, you know? I know it’s irrational, but there it is. I feel like Norrah isn’t important enough to deserve this weapon, despite the fact that, at this moment in time and for the forseeable future, it’s far far better for her than for my main.

Help convince me it’s ok to let her have it.

You have a new character that’s about to hit 80, and you know that the gear grind is coming. Maybe you’re thinking about switching raiding mains. Maybe you just want an alt that can fill in when needed. Maybe you just want to have another decently geared character who can jump in a PuG now and then.

Sure, you can search for “BiS pre-raid gear for <insert class and spec>” and maybe find a few hits that are actually current. But I think it’s so much more interesting to do it yourself.  The tool I use for gear-planning is Wowhead’s Profiler.

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MY TRINKET IS MINE!

ETA: Just checked WoL for the one fight we did after I got this – almost a 36% uptime on a fight where I spent over 10% of it with the vomit debuff. Not too shabby. Not too shabby at all. Can’t wait to see what I can do with my second piece of 10.5 and after the Massive Regem Project is completed.

I am not a math-y person, really. My theorycrafting is passable, but to get deep into the numbers kind of make my brain ache, and that’s not super-fun for me.  Still, I spent some quality time in WoWhead the other day in an attempt to figure out what elemental shaman BiS really looks like (not allowing for any heroic mode gear – no ToGC-25, no ICC-10H, no ICC-25H), and to also do it without stealing cloth gear.

My current BiS look like this: Krikket BiS.

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From the patch notes for 3.3.3:

  • Flame Shock: The damage-over-time component of this ability can now produce critical strikes and is affected by spell haste.
  • Talents
    • Elemental Combat
      • Elemental Oath: This ability is now always on as a passive aura.

    This means a couple of things:

    – The glyph of Flame Shock is no longer mandatory. In fact, it’s a DPS loss when compared with Glyph of Lava or Glyph of Flametongue Weapon. Since my poking around in information posted by people who know stuff basically said they’re comparable, I went with the extra 2% crit from the Flametongue Weapon glyph. Combine that with the 5% passive, always up, crit from Elemental Oath? I’m sitting at over 42% crit.

    – I have to cast Flame Shock a lot more often. Which actually means that (a) I might do SLIGHTLY better on movement intensive fight due to the ticks being hasted, but (b) I might do slightly worse on stand still and burn fights because I’m missing a lightning bolt every time I need to refresh it.

    Right now, I’m still wearing 2 piece T9, which says it increases Flame Shock’s duration by 9 seconds – which may actually mean 9 seconds still, or it may mean 3 ticks, in much the same way they’re adjusting 4pc T10. Not sure exactly. My Flame Shock cooldown also seems to be shorter than I remember – tooltip is telling me four seconds, but … I thought all shocks were 6, untalented. I need to poke around more.

    Basically, the elemental “rotation” has become something I’m going to have to watch more carefully to be sure that Flame Shock never falls off, that I’m always refreshing it right after I use Elemental Mastery, and that I’m using Elemental Mastery almost on cooldown (which is affected by my 2pc T10 bonus). I’m pretty excited overall, although I expect I’m going to be stumble-y for a couple of days while I get use to the way it feels.

    Overall? I think I got buffed. Which is ironic, because I just resigned myself to being FailShaman until Cataclysm.

    I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad at the state of my ICC-25 normal potential upgrade list. It’s short. Very short. Granted, I still need to buy three pieces of T-10 and my totem from Frost badges, but the upgrades that drop? Aren’t exactly mutitudinous (oh god, that’s so not a word).

    High priority upgrades:

    Dislodged Foriegn Object from Rotface. I feel like this was created for elemental shamans (every other caster DPS is bound to disagree, but I DON’T CARE!). Haste on equip, spellpower on proc. ❤  Also, it’s time to retire the Abyssal Rune.

    Protector’s Mark of Sanctification as soon as I have my second tier piece and am eligible to bid on them again.

    Frostbinder’s Shredded Cape from Dreamwalker. There isn’t a Frost badge cape that isn’t lousy with either spirit or MP5, so my cloak is … lacking.

    Medium priority upgrades:

    Ring of Rapid Ascent from Gunship. No spirit, no MP5, no hit. Win.

    Amulet of the Silent Eulogy from Gunship. This is a hit neck, but it’s hit / haste (and haste still trumps crit), and I am currently wearing a hit neck.

    Bloodsunder’s Bracers from Rotface. These are not only nicer than my Bejeweled Wizard’s Bracers, they’re actually mail. With the right stats. Be still my heart.

    Low priority upgrades:

    Bulwark of Smouldering Steel from Marrowgar, otherwise known as the shield that doesn’t exist. Seriously, I wanted this hardcore, but now that I’m using a staff, and planning my upgrades around having the 100 plus hit on said staff, this will definitely be of more benefit to other raid members.

    Royal Scepter of Terenas II from LK. Again, I’d love this weapon to go with that shield up there, but let’s be realistic. Everyone is going to want one who can use it. This mace is love for DPS casters and healers alike. And unless I have both pieces, I’ll be unlikely to use either, so would feel weird taking it from anyone who could use it immediately.

    Phylactery of the Nameless Lich from Sindragosa. I’m not saying this isn’t an amazing trinket for any DPS caster with at least one DoT in their rotation. But it’s far more amazing for specs that prioritize crit over haste, and specs that have more than one DoT. I wouldn’t refuse it, but I just can’t get that excited over it.

    And that’s it. In the entire instance. I’m really not interested in Nibelung, even though theorycraft tells me I should be. Its lack of secondary stats would leave me with far far too much to make up in other places before I actually saw an increase in DPS.

    This list also makes me sad when people say things like “It’s ok, your DPS will improve with gear.” because although that’s undoubtably true, most of my potential upgrades need to wait for the long, slow grind of Frost badges (over 250 in total from this moment right here), and I do feel pretty strongly about not taking something that would benefit someone else more.

    I’m going to start by saying I am by no means an expert on raid buffs, but this is my attempt to process why exactly elemental shamans don’t scale as well with the myriad of buffs available in 25 man raids. I’m only looking at buffs that benefit caster classes – there are a lot of great melee buffs and debuffs that I don’t even pretend to understand.

    Buffs we bring:

    Totem of Wrath – +280 spellpower for the raid, and 3% increased critical strike chance on all mobs within 40 yards of the totem.

    Wrath of Air – 5% spell haste for the raid.

    Elemental Oath – 5% increased spell critical strike chance for raid members within 100 yards for 15 seconds on spell crit by the shaman. Does not stack with Moonkin Aura, so if there’s a critchicken in the raid, this buff – which is a proc – is overwritten by Moonkin Aura.

    Heroism / Bloodlust – 30% increase in spell, ranged, and melee attack speeds for 40 seconds. Useable roughly once per fight (as it causes the Exhaustion / Sated debuff that lasts 10 minutes). This buff is available to all specs of shaman.

    Mana Spring Totem – The regen benefit of this totem is roughly equivalent to a paladin’s Blessing of Wisdom (although not as good as Improved Blessing of Wisdom), however there is no real DPS benefit to us dropping any other water totem. This buff is also only party-wide still, not raid-wide, so it’s still not fabulous in a raid setting.

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    The only thing I miss about being a full-time (shaman) healer is not having to do the hit rating juggle. I remember building my first elemental set, and using the crafted dress of exceptional sluttiness – um, I mean, the Ebonweave Robe because mail spellpower gear with hit on seemed to be a fiction. I wore a SPIRIT neck piece because it had hit (bad shaman, no cookie!). My Naxx-ready DPS gear was … embarrassing to say the least.

    Then came badge-bought tier gear, and more hit than you could shake a stick at. At one point, I was rocking approximately 400 hit rating (which would be great if it wasn’t almost double what I needed at the time).  My magic number is 263. No more, no less. I used to keep a set with approximately 342 hit as well, in case there was no shadow priest or boomkin, but now that my SO is a full-time shadow priest, it’s rarely an issue.

    Well, last night, I became a staff-shaman (sadpanda for me – but yay for Ori on the offchance that Marrowgar ever gives up the shield), and I’m back up to 399 hit rating. Now, I’m already wearing a healer ring, and no hit rating trinkets. I do have a hit rating necklace, but I have nothing better to switch it out to. I’ll be dropping 60 points of hit prior to my next raid night due to the non-set gloves from Frost Badges being full of awesome.  But it’s going to be a long time before I’m anywhere close to 263 again.

    I cannot drop points in Elemental Precision unless I want to become a shaman of the tanking variety – and I totally just gave up my shield, so no. I could downgrade my neck, pay the nice guys in ICC 200 gold to get a healer ring with a useless proc, or I could live with the excess of a (now) useless stat. I’m leaning towards living with it – yes, I know being more than 5% over my effective hit cap is ridiculous, but any sidegrades will be temporary at best (once I hit 4 piece T10, I’ll be low on hit again), and downgrades do not benefit me or the raid.

    Knowing that far down the road, I’m going to need accessories with hit rating again, do I continue to bid on things like Amulet of the Silent Eulogy or leave them for folks who will use all of the stats right now and hope it drops again when I actually do need it? Do I spend badges or gold on pieces with no hit rating that really aren’t all that much better to drop some of my excess hit? Do I ignore it until it works itself out?

    Incidentally? I still have three downgrade pieces in my bank with hit rating on them, just in case.

    I wish hit worked more like other stats in that MOAR is always better.

    Who I Am:

    CURRENTLY PLAYING

    Kimorah
    Holy/Shadow Priest

    Alliance Raiding Main

    ACTIVE ALTS

    Krikket - Level 88
    Elemental Shaman [A]

    Kayci - Level 85
    Holy Paladin [A]

    Koralyne - Level 85
    Unholy/Blood Deathknight [A]

    All Classes to 90 Progress
    February 2017
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