Quickly: Close your eyes, forget that you have already seen the title and intro to this week's column, and tell me the first thing that comes into your head when I say, "hardest pre-raid gear slot to fill." No, not bracers. What ... dang it. I mean ... come on, guys!
It's trinkets! Trinkets. Didn't you read the title? It's right there.
Though you have two slots free for trinkets, they have always been one of the most notoriously difficult to fill gear slots in the game. And no single gear choice is more subjective than choosing one trinket over another. Instead of choosing between 225 intellect and 255 intellect, you're often picking between a Vengeful Wisp and a Fallen Footman. That's a bit like asking which is better, shrimp tacos or integrity? I don't ... I don't know. Sometimes the only indication that one given trinket is better than another is the item level, and let's be honest, even that isn't often a very reliable indicator. The math can be obtuse and often a bit fuzzy, and even plugging trinkets into a damage-simulating program like Rawr can prove problematic.
And then there's the matter of finding said trinkets. Through each of WoW's three expansions, the relative difficulty of finding two good trinkets has been a frustrating constant. In many cases, you'll find solid endgame-level upgrades for every other slot while still waiting, an increasingly hard-to-ignore urge to kill swelling steadily behind your brow, for Paletress to finally drop the stupid Abyssal Rune, even though this is your 75th consecutive run and you've seen her drop the stupid hunter trinket the last 16 times ...
To compound the issue, there's the undeniable fact that no other single gear upgrade can improve your DPS as dramatically as switching from a crappy trinket to an awesome one. Those two slots are arguably the most important in the game.
That's why Arcane Brilliance is here to help. We understand the struggles mages can face when it comes to both finding good trinkets and then differentiating the good ones from the crap. We've had those same struggles. We love mages, we hate warlocks so much we sometimes can't see straight, and it is in that spirit that we present the Early 2011 Cataclysm Pre-raid Mage Trinket Compendium, Version 4.0.1. This is the best trinket guide you'll find for at least the next 24 hours, and we stand by that statement.
I will be listing these trinkets in what I believe to be the correct order, from least valuable to most valuable. As I stated before, these values are often subjective and sometimes extremely situation-dependent. Your input is not just requested but demanded. Unless you are a warlock, in which case die in a fire.
Talisman of Sinister Order This is one of the few high-quality trinkets you can obtain without waiting on a drop, which is always nice. It's a reward from the Firing Squad quest in Uldum. It packs a hearty helping of intellect in with a 20-second boost to mastery that procs on spellcast. It's a no-brainer DPS trinket but lags behind some of the other pure spellpower procs. Still, it's a fine place to start.
Witching Hourglass The normal version of this isn't terrible, either, but has a pretty low stat budget at item level 308. As we move forward, I won't always be listing the normal versions of these heroic drops. You can pretty much assume that they fall into a similarly ordered hierarchy, only a tier down from the heroic versions. The reason this trinket is at the bottom of the heroic drop list is that its proc is a boost to haste, and though it is indeed a fat chunk of haste, a straight spellpower proc will almost always trump a similarly budgeted haste proc. This one drops from Obsidius in heroic Blackrock Caverns
Sorrowsong A fine trinket in both its heroic and normal versions, this one drops from Siamat in the Lost City of the Tol'vir. It comes standard with a bunch of mastery. The proc is also quite nice, granting a gigantic spellpower boost whenever you're casting against a target that's below 35% health, subject to a 10-second cooldown that doesn't begin until the previous 10-second boost expires, meaning the maximum uptime for this proc is every 20 seconds. That's pretty good uptime, to be sure, but dependent upon constant access to mobs that are under 35% health. In long fights, the proc won't even come into play until late in the fight. The upside is that when it's available, you pretty much know when it'll be up and when it won't. It's situationally dependable.
Tendrils of Burrowing Dark Okay, here's the upside to this trinket: lots of mastery, pretty spectacular straight-up spellpower buff. Downside: You have to run heroic Stonecore to get it. It drops from Ozruk, one of the more wipetastic encounters in the game right now. It's an encounter that is designed to kill you the first time you get there and probably a bunch of times after that. I wouldn't farm for anything in heroic Stonecore right now. I don't care if there's a shrimp taco dipped in liquid integrity in there. Stonecore is the devil's taint.
Good trinket, though.
Anhuur's Hymnal This drops from Anhuur in heroic halls of Origination. It is quite similar to Tendrils of Burrowing Dark in that it has a straight spellpower proc, but where the Tendrils come preloaded with mastery, the Hymnal have the same amount of hit rating. A rock-solid trinket.
Figurine - Jeweled Serpent If your mage isn't a jewelcrafter, avert your eyes. If your mage is a jewelcrafter, give yourself a slow clap, because you have access to a fantastic trinket here. Also, slow claps are just fun. I give myself one whenever I think of it. Getting out of the shower? Slow clap. Successful bowel movement? Slow clap. Made a sandwich? Slow clap. Killed a warlock? Definitely a slow clap. Try it, you'll see.
Anyway, passive intellect and a solid on-use spellpower boost add up to one very raidworthy trinket, and you don't have to farm a heroic waiting for it to drop. The recipe is a world drop quest item, so just keep killing pretty much anything until it drops, then enjoy your new trinket.
Tyrande's Favorite Doll This one is much more difficult to quantify. Just reading the tooltip hurts my brain. I'm putting it here because it's epic, and because just getting it as an extremely rare archaeology relic is worth cheering it about, but its actual value is questionable. It provides a very nice passive intellect increase, and its equip/use bonus not only provides a nice chunk of mana every minute (very valuable to arcane mages) but can actually be a slight DPS boost if you happen to be standing near the boss when you release it. If I had access to it, I'd use this until I found something better, but just know that unless you're an arcane mage who happens to like standing within 15 yards of your target, pretty much anything else on this list is probably going to be a more consistent DPS booster in a raiding environment.
Stump of Time This one is another that you can farm without having to offer up your firstborn child to the random number generator gods while praying for a heroic drop. Just spend enough time doing dailies and participating in the Tol Barad PvP battle, and you'll eventually get to exalted with either Hellscream's reach or Baradin's Wardins, allowing you to purchase this trinket.
Its value is blessedly straightforward: passive hit rating and a spectacular pure spellpower proc. Very, very nice.
Soul Casket Been running countless fruitless heroics with no trinket drops to show for it? There's an exceptional one waiting to be purchased at your friendly neighborhood faction vendor for only 1,650 valor points. By the time you can afford that, you may already have two solid trinkets, but in case you don't, there simply isn't much out there that'll trump this one. It grants you a load of mastery and a pretty amazing straight spellpower proc.
Darkmoon Card: Volcano This is probably the single best mage trinket in the game right now, but it's also extremely expensive. If you have a mat-rich scribe on your payroll or just a buttload of disposable income, this beauty can be yours. It comes with a sizable amount of mastery out of the box, and has a very nice proc that does two things at once: It deals instant fire damage to the target and gives you 1,600 intellect for 12 seconds. That's doubly awesome.
And there you have it. What did I miss? Any good trinkets out there that you'd recommend your fellow mages look out for? Any quibbles with my value order? Demands for my immediate resignation? The comments section below is open to all.
Every week, Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent Cataclysm 101 guide for new mages or our mage Thanksgiving spectacular. Until next week, keep the mage-train a-rollin'.