Hats, glorious hats
If you're going for your four set bonus, then I recommend dropping either the gloves or the helm. As both the token and the off-set helm are likely only to be available from Ragnaros, this decision is a moot point until you've picked up the shoulder token. The off-set head, with meta and Reckless Ametrine
brings marginally more stamina, approximately 30 crit, 80 spirit, and 3 intellect over the tier helm. The tier helm, combined with the crafted gloves, brings 50 more haste. (That includes a Brilliant Inferno Ruby
.) As you can see, the offset helm provides more reforge fodder, so the optimal choice is to take the Crown of Flame. It's also easier to get the four-piece bonus this way, as you will only need to acquire one token.
Hot shoulders with mustard
Almost the exact same choice, stat-wise, as the helms presented us with. You can pick a haste/crit combo, or a haste/spirit combo. As ever, I favor a combination with spirit for extra reforging flexibility. If you will be pursuing a token, this is the one to get.
Cor, look at those chest stats
The Tier 12 chest is a tasty mastery/haste combo, and in my opinion should be one of your first valor point purchases. However, if your character is sporting a purple chest already but is lacking in other areas (for example, the ring or the relic), it can be better to chose something else first. Gatekeeper's Embrace is also very well itemized for us, so if tier bonuses are not a priority for you it will do just fine. It also functions well as a double duty item for a resto offspec.
Cold cloaks with custard
The two capes that are available from Avengers of Hyjal reputation are good upgrades for almost anyone. Personally I'd plum for the Rippling Flamewrath, but if you often switch specs, the Flowing Flamewrath Cape is more usable for resto. The cloak from Sinestra is still damn fantastic, but will remain less accessible than these delightful rep cloaks.
Mastery versus haste once again! The valor point bracers are a marginal upgrade over the heroic Chaos Beast Bracers, and are well itemized for elemental shaman. If the Lava Line Wristbands still haven't dropped by the time you have finished purchasing tier gear, rings, and relics, then the Bracers of Misting Ash are an extremely sensible purchase.
As with the helm, the T12 gloves are some what weak when compared to the offset pieces. The resto equivalents for both slots are crit/spirit based, and thus not really a useful source of alternatives. While I recommend recommended taking the gloves as opposed to the helm, it might be worth getting the leatherworking gloves until you've picked up the shoulders and have the valor points for the volcanic gloves. Ideally, the volcanic gloves will be picked up via Baradin Hold -- it's always nice to save some of those points.
That's right, just the one mail belt is known about so far. It's relatively easy to obtain even if you're not raiding. That crit can be reforged into spirit or mastery as necessary.
Yup. I'm going to be saving up for those pants. Or that skirt. There goes my goal of wearing practical trousers for this tier! I like the idea of kilts, but the models that Blizzard use have a tendency to make us look like cloth wearers. This should be your second Tier 12 purchase after the chest piece, as presumably both the legs and gloves will have a chance to drop from the new Baradin Hold boss. Avoid the off-set legs if you already have T11, although they will still be an upgrade for any shaman still sporting 5-man gear.
If you want the best, and don't already have your hands on the boots from Sinestra, then this Tier is going to cost you. Not only can we get great gloves crafted, the best boots are also crafted (not counting the heroic Treads of Implicit Obedience). The Fiery Treads are a good stop gap once you've unlocked the vendor via the Mount Hyjal dailies, but they simply don't compare to the Footwraps of Quenched Fire.
You might have noticed that I still tend to lean towards haste-based items, but rings are an excellent place to tip back in the other direction. The Avengers of Hyjal rings will take a while to get, and are unique equipped. They're heroic quality, and both choices are good for elemental. You can't really go wrong with a smattering of reforgeable hit, haste, and a lovely socket, but it's worth trying out the mastery/spirit ring as well. The other rings tend to be mastery-based, so pick as your capabilities allow. The Spirit Fragment Band is a lower ilevel than the other rings, and so has a slightly smaller stat budget, but it's a great item while you're on the way to raid drops or valor points.
Doesn't that Variable Pulse Lightning Capacitor look tasty? This tribute to The Lightning Capacitor
from Karazhan will call to any elemental shaman. Is it better than Darkmoon Card: Volcano
? I think we need more data to truly get an idea of the value of this trinket, but it seems like the VPLC and Necromantic Focus will be our best-in-slot trinkets for this tier. The Rune of Zeth/Mark of the Firelord is as good as the Vibrant Alchemist Stone, and with a little reforging, is only a little behind Theralion's Mirror. However neither the Mark nor the Quintessence are a match for T11 heroic trinkets or DMC: Volcano. The Moonwell Chalice is better than many 5-man trinkets, but not worth pursing if you already have Darkmoon Card: Volcano or any raid drops. Notice the distinct lack of haste on these trinkets. I'm so glad that there are haste/spirit options available for other slots.
Plumed Sigil of Aviana and Soulflame Vial are beautifully itemized. Which one suits your gear set up best will depend on what you've had crafted, and what drops you've been lucky with. The Soulflame Vial is easily the best, pure-DPS wise. Relic of Elune's Light is an okay stop gap, but certainly not essential. Either of the valor point relics will make a good third purchase after the two-piece set bonus has been achieved.
That Flowform Choker is excellently itemized for DPS, as well has having a gem socket. As Majordomo Staghelm is the penultimate boss of the tier, it may be a while before you get your mitts on it. In the meantime, the Heartstone of Rhyolith is excellent drop, although it is near identical to the valor point necklace (both are mastery/spirit combos). The Nightweaver's Amulet is a handy replacement for the Wildhammer Necklace in the event of valor point slowness and lack of drops (or opportunity). I advise leaving the Amulet of Burning Brilliance to the mages and warlocks.
Yes, Dragonwrath is missing from this list. There is no doubt that the eventual staff is our best in slot, but getting hold of this legendary may elude many of us due to the way the questlines work. Good luck! As for the rest, did you see that caster axe? Did you? I call dibs. Delicious mastery, a side order of spirit, and it's an AXE. Suck on that, mages and warlocks, with your fancy-pants caster swords! If only I knew where it dropped. In the meantime you can splash out on the AH (or hope for a raid trash drop) for Chelley's latest special. This BOE dagger can be upgraded to a heroic version, and comes with around 300 extra spellpower and 20 intellect over the otherwise excellent crafted hammer. The crafted dagger is not really worth it. The best in slot, excluding Dragonwrath, is of course the mace that drops from Ragnaros.
Off-hands and shields
Ward of the Red Widow is a straight upgrade for those of us who are still using the Elementium Stormshield, and is a marginal upgrade for anyone using the heroic version of Kingdom's Heart
. Globe of Moonlight, from vendors that need to be unlocked via Mount Hyjal dailies, has a massive 201 intellect on but isn't really worth getting if you already have the Elementium Stormshield and would prefer not to drop the haste for the mastery gain. The Ward of the Red Widow drops from the first boss, and Molten Scream is only really worth the upgrade if you get the heroic version. The Goblet of Anger is pretty decent, but honestly I want the new shield. To go with my axe.
A final word
There you have it -- at least 2 crafted items, 3 rep items, 2-4 items from valor points and a couple of items from vendors unlocked by Mount Hyjal dailies. Prestige items like weapons, shoulders, helms and trinkets still need actual boss kills to obtain, but there are decent items available for every slot except perhaps the waist. On the other hand (or hoof), those non-raid items will take consistent dilligence to obtain with any speed.
In terms of valor points purchased, the recommended order is chest, then legs, then relic. Subsequent purchases will depend on what has already dropped in the raids you've attended, but will include necklace, ring, and bracers. Get the leatherworking boots crafted, and grind that Avengers of Hyjal rep for the wonderful rings and belt. The enchants for these items are the same as last tier, focusing on intellect, spellpower, haste and mastery.
Be sure to get your hands on the new Glyph of Unleashed Lightning
as soon as your guild scribe learns it, and try to source a blacksmith and leatherworker for the other craftables. With patch 4.2 I am confident that elemental shaman will move a couple of rungs up the DPS ladder as our DPS becomes more robust! Any thoughts, feel free to send me an email
, or give me a poke on twitter @mentalshaman
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, dig into pre-raid gear and DPS trinkets, and find the addons that'll help your performance shine.