This holiday period has been a mixed one for me. Power-leveling my shaman's inscription was a rousing success, and I put it down to all the mince pies consumed at the time. A delectable roast turkey lunch was followed by opening my Winter's Veil presents. There was snow on the ground, there was an open fire in the hearth. There was a Queen's Speech that should have inspired me to yammer on about how important team spirit and cooperation are to the shaman class.
Instead, I borrowed my mother's laptop to have a poke at pre-raid gear. Then I went to put the laptop away and, after a week of moving house, managed to do something rather nasty to my back. Ouch. Not to worry, there's nothing like a bit of Cataclysm to take your mind off the pain.
In Cataclysm, the process of gearing is much more intuitive than ever before. We no longer have to nab cloth or leather items to fill in the holes in our gearing. Look for as much intellect as possible, spirit or hit as appropriate, and then lean slightly toward all the haste gear you can find, filling in as necessary with mastery items. Don't worry about crit; it happens.
Blizzard has done a good job of allowing players to obtain decent gear through a variety of avenues, and as a result, a lot of the RNG has been removed from the gearing process. I did not make this to be a best-in-slot list, as I prefer to look at items available in terms of practicalities. Finally, you'll note an absence of PvP items from this list. There is a lovely amount of intellect on PvP gear, so in the short term, it can be worth using some PvP items. However, resilience represents a lot of wasted item budget and is not the best choice in the long term.
- Cowl of the Unseen World Drop: High Pristess Azil in The Stonecore (heroic)
- Energized Bio-Optic Killshades Crafting: engineers only
- Helm of the Inward Eye Vendor: 2,200 justice points
- Helm of the Skyborne / Helm of the Brown Lands Rep: Wildhammer / Dragonmaw (honored)
- Lightning Flash Pendant / Yellow Smoke Pendant Rep: Wildhammer / Dragonmaw (exalted)
- Eye of Many Deaths Crafting: jewelcrafting
- Pipefish Cord Drop: Neptulon's Cache, Throne of the Tides (heroic)
- Kuang's Locket of Secrets Drop: world
- Quicksilver Amulet Drop: Karsh Steelbender, Blackrock Caverns (heroic)
- Celadon Pendant Vendor: 1,250 justice points
- Heartbreak Charm Likely to be from the holiday boss in Shadowfang Keep for Love is in the Air
- Burden of Lost Humanity Lord Walden, Shadowfang Keep (heroic)
- Fallen Snow Shoulderguards Grand Vizier Ertan, The Vortex Pinnacle (heroic)
- Seafoam Mantle 2,200 justice points
- Twilight Scale Chestguard Crafted: leatherworking
- Breastplate of the Stilled Heart Drop: Commander Springvale, Shadowfang Keep (heroic)
- Chromis Chestpiece Drop: Commander Ulthok, Throne of the Tides (heroic)
- Vest of the Waking Dream Vendor: 2,200 justice points
- Corruption-Seeking Chestguard / Mindsliced Chestguard Quest: A Villain Unmasked / Traitor's Bait
- Ritssyn's Ruminous Drape Drop: world
- Haunt of Flies Vendor: 1,250 valor points
- Periwinkle Cloak Drop: Lady Naz'jar, Throne of the Tides (heroic)
- Heavenly Breeze Vendor: 1,250 valor points
- Cloak of Ancient Wisdom Rep: Earthen Ring (revered)
- Solar Wind Cloak Drop: Rajh, Halls of Origination (heroic)
- Shackles of the Betrayed Drop: Vanessa Vancleef, Deadmines (heroic)
- Manacles of Pain Drop: Rom'ogg Bonecrusher, Blackrock Caverns (heroic)
- Bracers of the Lost City Quest: Targets of Opportunity
- Old Friend's Gloves Drop: Helix Gearbreaker, The Deadmines (heroic)
- Ionic Gloves Drop: General Husam, Lost City of Tol'vir (heroic)
- Gleaning Gloves Vendor: 1,650 justice points
- Ale Soaked Grips Quest: Narkrall,The Drake-Tamer
- Sash of Prophecy Rep: Ramkahan revered
- Stormleather Sash Crafting: leatherworking
- Belt of the Still Stream Vendor: 2,200 justice points
- Belt of Petrified Tears Drop: Temple Guardian Anhuur, Halls of Origination (heroic)
The leatherworking belt has far and away the most intellect on it, and the crit can be reforged into a more suitable stat, but the Ramkahan rep belt is a strong item due to the large lump of haste and an extra socket. I went for the rep belt rather than spending justice points on this slot.
- Kilt of Trollish Dreams Drop: world
- Wilderness Legguards Rep: Guardians of Hyjal (revered)
- Leggings of Soothing Silence Vendor: 2,200 justice points
- Chaotic Wrappings Drop: Setesh, Halls of Origination (heroic)
- Earthmender's Boots Rep: Earthen Ring (exalted)
- Boots of the Perilous Seas Vendor: 1,650 valor points
- Dark Iron Chain Boots Drop: Forgemaster Throngus, Grim Batol (heroic)
- Ring of the Boy Emperor archaeology
- Band of Secret Names Vendor: 1,250 valor points
- Diamant's Ring of Temperance Rep: Therazane (revered)
- Ring of Warring Elements Crafting: jewelcrafting
- Band of Singing Grass / Band of Lamentations Rep: Wildhammer / Dragonmaw (revered)
- Rose Quartz Band Drop: Slabhide, The Stonecore (heroic)
- Lavishly Jeweled Ring Drop: Admiral Ripsnarl, The Deadmines (heroic)
Like many casters, I favor a one-hander plus shield/off-hand combo instead of a staff. There are fabulous staves available, especially from heroic, so grab them if you're still sporting greens in those slots and opportunity knocks. However, with the introduction of an off-hand enchant (+100 int) that works on all off-hands, not just shields, the combo remains the most viable option. As such, I haven't listed any staves.
- Scepter of Power Drop: Setesh, Halls of Origination (heroic)
- Torturer's Mercy Drop: Rom'ogg Bonecrusher, Blackrock Caverns (heroic)
- Elementium Hammer Crafted: blacksmithing
- Beak of Julak-Doom Drop: Julak-Doom, Twilight Highlands
- Shimmering Morningstar Rep / Vendor: Baradin's Wardens / Hellscream's Reach (revered)
- Biting Wind Drop: Grand Vizier Ertan, The Vortex Pinnacle (heroic)
- Gurgthock's Garish Gorebat Quest: The Crucible of Carnage
- Elementium Stormshield Crafted: blacksmithing
- Zora's Ward Drop: Siamat, Lost City of the Tol'vir (heroic)
- Heartbound Tome Drop: world
- Apple-bent Bough Vendor: 900 justice points
- Divine Companion Crafted: inscription
- Prophet's Scepter Drop: High Priestess Azil, The Stonecore (heroic)
- Skyflight Beacon / Air Raid Beacon Quest: Doing Like a Dunwald / Krazz Works!
Now, trinkets are a somewhat more difficult thing to process and decide on. I have always favored a spellpower/intellect or direct damage proc over a secondary stat proc such as haste. The very best before raids definitely comes down to the Darkmoon Card, the Tol Barad exalted trinket, and the valor points trinket, but the best combination for you is down to your preferences, cash flow, and dedication to the daily heroic. Just remember that mastery and hit can be reforged into haste if needed and that spirit trinkets will most likely always be healer trinkets!
- Darkmoon Card: Volcano Quest: Darkmoon Embers cards
- Soul Casket Vendors: 1,650 valor points
- Stump of Time Rep: Baradin's Wardens / Hellscream's Reach (exalted) plus 125 commendations
- Gale of Shadows Drop: Erudax, Grim Batol (heroic)
- Witching Hourglass Drop: Ascendant Lord Obsidius, Blackrock Caverns (heroic)
- Anhuur's Hymnal Drop: Temple Guardian Anhuur, Halls of Origination (heroic)
- Tendrils of Burrowing Dark Drop: Ozurk, The Stonecore (heroic)
- Figurine - Jeweled Serpent Crafted: jewelcrafting only
- Captured Lightning Drop: Asaad, The Vortex Pinnacle (heroic)
- Book of the Well Sung Song Drop: Vanessa VanCleef, The Deadmines (heroic)
- Book of Dark Prophecies Drop: High Priestess Azil, The Stonecore (heroic)
- Relic of Eonar/Norgannon Vendor: 700 valor points
- Tattooed Eyeball Crafted: inscription
One of the things that strikes me, looking at these lists, is that Blizzard has spread the gear very well. By denying us certain stats in some slots, I feel they have improved the gear puzzle. There isn't always the ideal choice available, but there is always a strong choice.
Remember that stacking haste or spirit to the exclusion of all else will not yield great results. I've purposefully chosen a range of itemizations to allow you to pick and chose items that complement the gear you have already. Putting haste/spirit items in every slot will leave you woefully low on mastery, and possibly intellect too, which is a shame, as mastery and haste are somewhat interdependent. The more you have, the better both are (in very simplistic terms.)
Finally, keep in mind that the heroic hit cap is 6%, which means you do not need to inch toward the 17% raid cap until you're actually signed up and going to a raid. I spend a lot of time reforging gear back and forth in order to make the most out of my gear in both situations, so don't be afraid to reforge on an ad hoc basis! It's a relatively cheap way to get the most out of your gear. Put in green gems if you can't afford rares yet, and don't forget the the cheaper enchants. With so many people leveling professions, enchant scrolls are going for one-tenth of the cost of materials involved in many cases.
Getting the most bang for your buck is key for raids, heroics, and dungeon achievements. Pick a few things to nab from justice points, one or two things to get crafted, and work your way through heroics such as Throne of the Tides and Deadmines until you're able to tackle Stonecore heroic on a regular basis. Just don't forget your rep tabards.
As ever, send me an email if there is something you'd like me to touch on in more detail, or head on over to TotemSpot and join me in conversation there. As ever, a big thanks to the Totem Recall gang for all the hard work they do!
Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Ready to take your elemental shaman up to the new level cap? We'll help you get to level 85 with our guide to leveling an elemental shaman. Once you're there take a refresher with the Cataclysm 101 for elemental shaman.