Okay, now we move on to yet more gear. Last time we covered Dragonblight and its related instances, this week we move over to Grizzly Hills and Drak'Tharon Keep, and from there Zul'Drak and Gundrak will be our focus as you level through the zones. By the time you're done in Gundrak you should easily be level 77, have access to Lava Burst, and be ready to go exploring in Sholozar, Icecrown and Storm Peaks.
Being about half-way through Grizzly Hills on my shaman and already nearly level 75 (I did both starting zones) you could even skip one of these zones if you wanted to. If that's the case, don't skip Zul'Drak, as the zone has some weapon rewards that are simply extraordinary.
As is always the case, we're probably going to skip most green quest rewards unless they're exceptional, as it's not like you won't get piles of the stuff questing.
First up, let us talk blue quest rewards. From the quest Ursoc, the Bear God which both Alliance and Horde get access to, there's the Greaves of Sanctified Dissolution. That's a lot of attack power. 169 AP between the Agility and the straight bonus. And the amount of crit you'll get from the combined agi and crit rating is nothing to sneer at either. These are straight up physical DPS legs, although with no Int on them you'll take a hit to your mana pool when Maelstrom procs.
Next up is the quest Hour of the Worg which brings back fond memories of running through Silverpine Forest with rare spawn elites just popping up and wrecking your face. Good times. As you relive many a Shadowfang Keep run, why not pick up the Keen Razorfang Spaulders for your enhancement set?
Finally, if you're Horde, you can pick up the Handguards of Deluded Might by completing the Conquest Pit questline. They're nice gloves.
Having covered the quest blues, let's take a look at quests that lead you into Drak'Tharon Keep. The quest Cleansing Drak'Tharon gets you Shoulders of the Seducer for your primarily restoration needs. Playing some Head Games on a boss inside the Keep and some folks outside will net you Accursed Wristguards, also aimed at restoration. I don't know why they're cursed, or if they come with free Frogurt. Finally, if you go on a Search and Rescue mission inside the Keep, you will have a choice between a nice ring for restoration or a physical DPS ring. Choose wisely.
And now, for the instance itself: what awaits you inside its dark and stony corridors? Lots of trolls, living and dead, and some other weird stuff too.
There's actually a good assortment of drops for the shaman inside Drak'Tharon. The end-boss drops Tharon'ja's Aegis, a good elemental shield (and not terrible for a resto shaman looking for some more crit for proc-based effects) as well as the Helmet of Living Flesh, a very solid enhancement hat. Novos the Summoner, who you have to kill for a quest anyway, drops the Crystal Pendant of Warding and Summoner's Stone Gavel. The Gavel is a little fast but could still prove serviceable, while the Pendant is a nice restoration neck. The Staff of the Great Beast would be awesome for elemental shamans if not for that massive whack of spirit on it, but while it's certainly better for other classes than for shamans, if it happens to be better than what you have then it's an upgrade. Elementals will have to console themselves with the Infection Resistant Legguards, I suppose.
Heroic drops are relatively good here for shamans. There's the Limb Regeneration Bracers, the Incisor Fragment, King Dred's Helm, the Necromantic Wristguards and the Temple Crystal Fragment for casters who don't have a better shield.
This instance leads almost directly to Zul'Drak, lore and story-wise, but I won't spoil how. However, once you get through with it, you'll be aimed directly at the terraced city, so we'll cover that zone next.
Zul'Drak is a spectactularly creepy zone. Crawling with undead, the real horror of Zul'Drak, to my mind, is the theological implication of their desperation and the depths they sink to in attempting to ward off the Lich King: I'm not going to spoil it for you, I'll just say pay close attention to the quests you get. As a shaman this is some heavy stuff to digest.
However, if you're just in it for the loot, you'll get plenty of that as well.
From the quest The Storm King's Vengeance which is crazy fun once you figure it out, we have the Bracers of Vengeful Flight. Pretty solid for enhancement, with over 108 AP. Caster shamans can get a nice set of pants by killing Malas the Corrupter, the Ceremonial Pike Leggings. They seem more designed for resto than elemental, admittedly.
Finally, the quest Convocation at Zol'Heb will net you the Chestguard of Rampaging Fury. Again we see a lot of attack power here.
The quest Betrayal which follows up, thematically, from your Drak'Tharon Keep run has two potential rewards for shamans. The Choker of Betrayal has a good array of options for a caster shaman and a socket allowing you to customize it for either elemental or restoration as you choose. Meanwhile, the Choker of the Betrayer is physical DPS.
The Ampitheatre of Anguish questline has a lot of interest to a shaman. The final quest, the Champion of Anguish, has three rewards for you to consider. Enhancement Shamans will most likely just get this and go home. Elemental may get this staff, but the ostensibly healing mace available has crit and MP5, making it attractive to both caster specs. At any rate it's a heck of a fun questline with good rewards.
Once you're done running around Zul'Drak, it's time to go into Gundrak. There are several quests that send you in to consider before we move on to the drops inside.
For Posterity will have you collecting tablets, rewarding you with either a physical DPS ring or a caster DPS ring. Gal'darah must pay sends you in to whack the leader of Gundrak and gives you a nice enhancement belt for your trouble. Finally, One of a Kind gets you some caster boots. Better for elemental, but usable as restoration. Now, what about what drops inside?
The instance is full of levers that need to be thrown and trolls that need to be killed. Caster shamans will make sure that the Arcane Focal Signet finds a good home, of course. The Hauberk of Totemic Mastery will make restoration sit up and take notice. The Frozen Scepter of Necromancy is, sad to say, not as good as the healing mace from the Ampitheatre quests, but if you're enhancement and need an off-spec healing weapon it's better than nothing. Consider letting the enchanter have the shard, though. Enhancement will find the Cannibal's Legguards to be a delicious item, I'm sure.
When you come back later on Heroic, the following drops are of interest: Fist of the Deity and Helmet of the Shine.
That should get you through those zones with an idea of what to aim for. Next week, we'll be trying to get through at least Sholozar and Storm Peaks, possibly Icecrown as well. There's two instances in Storm Peaks so that may be overly ambitious.