While I've outlined my criteria for judging the armor sets, we've spiced things up with a reader poll to see which armor you guys like and from the results thus far it looks like the Horde have gained a good edge in the voting. Is it a result of faction-bias? Are the armor sets really that much better for the Horde? Hit the jump to find out!
We'll take a look at the Alliance version first, as we've done in the past few days. This time we're looking at a leather armor set identical to the Druid set, albeit with different coloration. The dark blue coloration with bronze highlights is pretty elegant and gives off a different vibe than previous Rogue sets. Though the bladed shoulders are reminiscent of past tier armor, the rest gives off a more tailored look. The pockets on the shoulders are utility belt-ish, and while we're on that track, the mask gives off a Batman vibe. Or crow-man. Either way, I think it works.
The Horde set is decidedly more rough around the edges and gives off more of a 'brawler' feel, lending itself better to a Combat spec, as opposed to the Assassination and Subtlety vibe of the Alliance set. The large stitching gives it a more leather feel than the Alliance one, which looks like cloth. One beef I've got with this set are the brightly glowing shoulders. Why would a Rogue, a master of stealth, announce his presence with sun lamps?
Verdict: The Horde set looks great, no question, but the Alliance set feels more Rogue-ish. The Alliance slips past this one.
Round 2: Faction
There isn't much going for the Alliance set here other than the blue and gold coloration. Because it lacks the kilt or skirt of the Druid version, there isn't enough Elvish filigree to 'theme' the armor. The Horde Rogue set is rust-colored with charcoal, which also echoes the red and black hues of the Horde, but in addition to that, Horde symbol design elements are scattered throughout the armor set. The cool thing is that the Alliance version evokes a more 'civilized' feel as opposed to the more primal tone of the Horde version, which works for both armor sets.
Verdict: By virtue of a few more Horde symbols, the Horde take this round.
Round 3: Overall Look
I know more than a few of you aren't fans of the corseted look, but I really, really like it. Yes, it looks phenomenally better on female characters, but it works well for male toons, too. And some armor really are tied together in that manner. It's different, it looks unlike any armor we've seen in the game so far, actually. On the other hand, as cool as the Horde armor is, there's nothing particularly memorable about it. It gets points for raised leg armor, but otherwise it isn't distinctive. At least Tier 8 had that bald man helm to make it stand out.
Verdict: I'm scoring this one for the Alliance simply because it carries a distinctive style as opposed to the generic cool-and-spiky assemblage of the Horde.
Winner: Alliance 2-1
Round 1: Class
If anybody looked at the Alliance armor, they'd be hard-pressed to say what class it actually represents. For one thing, it lacks any of the signature elements - pardon the pun - of a Shaman tier set. None of the colors evoke shamanism, and the teal doesn't even feel natural. On the other hand, it is an alien race wearing this set, so the teal just might be fitting. The only thing this set has going for it is the kilt, which for many players is a very shamanistic thing.
Its counterpart blatantly rips off from the awesome Cataclysm armor sets, using a similar helm style and utilizing molten earth elements on the shoulders and gloves, replacing what would be chitin on the Hunter armor. It distinguishes itself from the Hunter armor more than mere coloration, which is great. The only downside to this set? Pants. I'm sure Enhancement Shaman would enjoy it, but watch the caster Shamans groan.
Verdict: Horde scorch the Alliance on this front.
Round 2: Faction
Sure, there are those signature lion heads on the Alliance tier shoulders, but even they look off with this set. Their colors don't even match the entire armor. Removing the symbols might even do this particular set some good. On the flip side, we've got the Horde Shaman armor which has one Horde symbol-like thing on the chest. That's it. For those of you who'd like to argue that it looks very Horde-like, I encourage you to imagine this set on a Draenei. It would look awesome and not Horde-exclusive at all. Never mind that there's just too much indigo on this set for it to evoke red bloodthirst.
Verdict: Symbols notwithstanding, both sets are faction fail.
Round 3: Overall Look
Fine, some of you guys seem to like the boat shoulders. I don't. The Shredder helmet seems alright, though, but that's about it. Overall, the combination of teal, orange, and lavender trims is just awful. It looks like, as one commenter put it, "a jar of jelly beans." I consume copious amounts of Jelly Belly, but I don't want it on my armor set. Contrast this with the Cataclym redux of the Horde Tier 9. Even though the indigo isn't very Horde-like, it adds a great contrasting color to the set that brings out the molten lava. The only thing that would make this set perfect would be a kilt... and don't rule that out just yet. The files are only data-mined, which means there could be a kilt version out there somewhere.
Verdict: Horde shocks the Alliance version big time!
Winner: Horde 2-0-1
BATTLE RESULTS THURSDAY: 5 Horde vs. 5 Alliance
By my reckoning, the Horde have won three match-ups - Death Knight, Hunter, and now the Shaman sets - while the Alliance have scored three of their own with the Druid, Paladin, and Rogue sets. Both factions score even by tying on the Mage and Priest sets, bringing the total tally to 5 points apiece. Of course, our polls indicate a totally different trend, and we'll recap everything this weekend when you've all had a chance to give your call. Tomorrow we conclude Mighty Battle when the Warlock and Warrior sets clash head to head! Stay tuned and don't forget to vote!
Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!