Clearly, I had underestimaged your desire to see orcs, taurens and trolls back alongside this column. Well, far be it from me to stand in your way. Readers Chris Bell and Adam Brien both sent me good pictures of their orc shamans (this week we meet Adam's shaman) as did Claire Jones, whose tauren shaman will be featured after the cut just because I have a soft spot for tauren shamans. (Vishypants, you are remembered.) Now, don't take this to mean you'll never see a draenei screenshot here again, cause even if you don't like them I do. But if readers keep sending in those screenshots I guarantee some of them will make it to this column.
Heck, it saves me having to remember to take a screenshot, after all.
There are 21 pieces of mail that drop in Heroic Ulduar. You know, I've never actually gotten used to the 'heroic' vs 'normal' for 25 man and 10 man instances. Shouldn't 5 mans go up to 10 mans in heroic mode, then? I know this is a silly thing to get hung up on, but I'm an odd person. Anyway, in order to make things easier for me this week, we're going in alphabetical order instead of my usual random hopping about.
Amice of the Stone Watch - Taken as resto shoulders (the MP5 makes them preferable for a healing role) these are remarkably close to the Conqueror's shoulders. It comes down to your preferences and needs: do you need crit or haste? Would you prefer slightly more int or stamina? If you already have your four piece set bonuses, these shoulders are as good as tier, and certainly worth considering for any healing shaman. And they're graphically the same as Worldbreaker if that's important to you. This is an Auriaya drop.
Belt of the Betrayed - Wow. This is a heck of a nice belt for enhancement. Last week, we compared an Ulduar 10 belt to a Naxx 25 belt. This week, we throw this belt into the mix and it dominates. That's to be expected, of course, but it's nice to find a piece of gear that's an unambiguous upgrade. This one drops in the Cache of Storms after you slap Thorim around a bit.
Belt of the Fallen Wyrm - from Razorscale 25, this is a solid belt for resto shamans (although as a resto shaman I'd prefer the Blue Belt of Chaos, a crafted belt) but it is quite possibly the best possible belt for an elemental shaman and I wouldn't bid on it over one of them.
Bindings of Winter Gale - speaking of best in slot for elemental shaman, these hard mode Hodir bracers are extremely well itemized (as you would expect for an iLevel 239 drop) and will probably be one of many bones of contention between elemental shamans and holy paladins, who often look for the same stats. As you can expect, I'm on the side of the elemental shamans. Heck, these are pretty solid for restoration, since crit and haste are pretty sweet for that spec as well (faster casts and Ancestral Awakening procs) but I'd definitely pass to the elementals. I'm not passing to paladins. You guys can outbid me on DKP if you really want these.
Boots of the Forgotten Depths - since there's not really a lot of options for caster boots in 25 man Ulduar, you may see elemental shamans who never picked up Eruption Scarred Boots picking these up, but they're definitely better for resto. These drop from General Vezax, whose name I always spell wrong. Since he's a loathsome, abhorrent monstrosity and a servitor to a being of unfathomable evil and madness, he probably doesn't care if I get his name right or not.
Brass-lined Boots - if you're okay on hit these are really solid boots for enhancement. The haste helps with getting Maelstrom Weapon stacked to five, which allows you to put out more instant cast lightning bolts, while the ArP helps you melee attacks hit harder by bypassing armor. It really comes down to your other gearing options: these are comparable to the Boots of the Renewed Flight, which are the same iLevel so it makes sense that they'd be close. If you'd rather have the crit, the Malygos boots are better, but if you want to up your Maelstrom stacks these boots from XT - 002 are the way to go.
Chestguard of Insidious Intent - in comparison to our Tier chest, enhancement shamans can see these are really very close. I think it's fair to say that the Chestguard of Insidious Intent will cost you some DPS and give you some survivability in return, with 32 stamina over the tier. You lose 68 critical strike rating, about 17 attack power and 6 hit rating in exchange for the stamina and ArP. Since Yogg-Saron himself drops this chestplate, it's probably worth considering more for when your guild starts doing hard modes and you need to up your health pool, as I really do think overall you'll lose some DPS wearing it over tier, solid as it is. (I don't think you'd lose much DPS wearing it, mind you, and 300 health might be worth it for hard modes.)
Chestguard of the Fallen God - another Yogg-Saron drop (the name didn't give that away at all), this is a very hard call for elemental compared to tier. It's got 75 more crit and 9 more spell power, but one less socket, no hit and slightly less haste. If you don't need hit, you might well be better off with this one, but it's very close. For resto, the lack of hit and the presence of crit, haste and spellpower aplenty makes this a reasonable option: you'd lose 30 MP5 and get more crit, a boatload of haste and more spellpower. I'd almost take that 68 haste rating over 30 MP5, but I'm sure there are those out there who would tell you I'm crazy for suggesting it.
Frost-bound Chain Bracers - a Hodir drop, pretty solid for enhancement. Sorry, sometimes I can't really think of much else to say. I'd take them over the Slime Stream Bands even without a gem socket, they're just generally better.
Gloves of the Fiery Behemoth - Flame Leviathan drops these solid enhancement gloves, with haste for Maelstrom procs, ArP, Attack power and solid stats all around. These are probably better for enhancement shamans than hunters, our main competition for DPS mail, but I don't know enough about hunter mechanics to say for sure.
Greaves of Swift Vengeance - at iLevel 239, these are an Iron Council hard mode drop. They haven't dropped for us yet, so they may come from Steelbreaker killed last (we haven't tried that yet) or I may just have not seen them. Either way, they're very solid boots especially if you need hit or want more customization options, which is to be expected for a heroic hard mode drop. I'd give them the edge over the Brass-lined Boots and Boots of the Renewed Flight, but to be honest they're not as overwhelmingly better as I might expect for items 13 ilevels higher. It's possible I'm swayed overmuch by the sockets here.
Okay, that's 11 items down and 10 to go. Next week, we'll finish up with Ulduar mail.