Ahn'Qiraj was a dramatic change for vanilla raiders, largely because it didn't take place anywhere with a primarily red- and/or flame-based color scheme. Instead, raiders were treated to a sandy desert and a mysterious temple with unending underground tunnels and the oddest scenery in game at that point. Treated, that is, after an incredibly long quest line and a world event that required everyone, raiders and non-raiders alike, to band together and open the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj.
It's no wonder then that tier 2.5 is just as odd as the raid zone it originates from. Each set wasn't exactly a major upgrade from tier 2 but had a set name and set bonuses -- not enough of a difference to call it a full tier, but enough that it warranted the -.5 suffix to delineate it as something worth obtaining. These sets aren't iconic so much as ... odd. Rather than representing a class, they all carried the same spiny, insect theme that persevered throughout Ahn'Qiraj -- less "beautiful" and more "Power Rangers meets Mothra."
That said, if you're looking for the strangest getup you can possibly stick your character in, tier 2.5 ought to be right up your alley. There's also a host of other unique weapons and armor to be had as well, so let's get to the extermination, shall we?
Tier 2.5 sets
Tier 2.5 marked the first appearance of tokens applicable to multiple classes that could be traded in for armor. Tokens were implemented in part to address a common concern that raiders had all throughout MC, BWL, and even Onyxia's Lair: wasted loot drops. With tokens, the same item could apply to multiple classes, meaning it was far less likely that loot was going to be wasted and far more likely that everyone was going to get geared at a steady pace.
It was an excellent idea in theory, but 2.5's implementation was ... a mess, to put it lightly. Let's see if we can break it down sensibly here.
Tier 2.5 Boots and Shoulders Requires neutral reputation with the Brood of Nozdormu
- Qiraji Bindings of Command Used by hunters, priests, rogues and warriors
- Qiraji Bindings of Dominance Used by druids, mages, paladins, shaman and warlocks
- Vek'nilash's Circlet Used by mages, priests, warlocks and warriors
- Vek'lor's Diadem Used by druids, hunters, paladins, rogues, and shaman
- Ouro's Intact Hide Used by mages, priests, rogues and warriors
- Skin of the Great Sandworm Used by druids, hunters, paladins, shaman and warlocks
- Husk of the Old God Used by druids, mages, priests and warlocks
- Carapace of the Old God Used by hunters, paladins, rogues, shaman and warriors
To keep things relatively simple, I'm going to link the items in each tier set. Mousing over the item name will show you the requirements for that particular piece of gear. Thank you, Wowhead.
- Druid Genesis Boots / Genesis Helm / Genesis Shoulderpads / Genesis Trousers / Genesis Vest
- Hunter Striker's Diadem / Striker's Footguards / Strikers Hauberk / Striker's Leggings / Striker's Pauldrons
- Mage Enigma Boots / Enigma Circlet / Enigma Leggings / Enigma Robes / Enigma Shoulderpads
- Paladin Avenger's Breastplate / Avenger's Crown / Avenger's Greaves / Avenger's Legguards / Avenger's Pauldrons
- Priest Footwraps of the Oracle / Mantle of the Oracle / Tiara of the Oracle / Trousers of the Oracle / Vestments of the Oracle
- Rogue Deathdealer's Boots / Deathdealer's Helm / Deathdealer's Spaulders / Deathdealer's Leggings / Deathdealer's Vest
- Shaman Stormcaller's Diadem / Stormcaller's Footguards / Stormcaller's Hauberk / Stormcaller's Leggings / Stormcaller's Pauldrons
- Warlock Doomcaller's Circlet / Doomcaller's Footwraps / Doomcaller's Mantle / Doomcaller's Robes / Doomcaller's Trousers
- Warrior Conqueror's Breastplate / Conqueror's Crown / Conqueror's Greaves / Conqueror's Legguards / Conqueror's Spaulders
- Death knight No tier for you. Let's be honest -- you're a little relieved, aren't you?
One Imperial Qiraji Armament and three Elementum Ingots will get you one of the following:
- Blessed Qiraji Bulwark A shield that looks like a jeweled beetle. It's pretty awesome, and I've never seen anything else like it in game.
- Blessed Qiraji War Axe A one-handed axe with a unique spiny model.
- Blessed Qiraji Pugio A dagger that looks like a bug's claw.
- Blessed Qiraji Musket A gun with striping that is vaguely reminiscent of a bee or wasp.
- Blessed Qiraji Acolyte Staff This staff is mostly purple, topped with four prongs and a red crystal.
- Blessed Qiraji Augur Staff A spiny staff that is a deep burgundy with an orange crystal.
- Blessed Qiraji War Hammer A one-handed mace with a design reminiscent of blocks of stone mortared together into something you can use to smash someone's face in.
Skeram must be defeated in order to open up the rest of the zone. He will occasionally split into three versions of himself. Two are fakes, and one is the real deal. In addition, he will cast True Fulfullment on a random player, Mind Controlling them and increasing their damage by 300%. This can and will kill you. Mind-Controlled players also grow in size, making them easy to see -- and easy to stun or fear, which absolutely must be done before your former teammate kills you off in the name of the Prophet.
The adds aren't a huge issue for a small group of people to handle; simply pull them all together and AOE them down. You can pretty much ignore his other attacks, but make sure you CC the Mind-Controlled player if Skeram casts True Fulfillment. Other than the Mind Control, Skeram is killed fairly easily.
Tier drops The Prophet Skeram isn't important enough to be carrying tier tokens around.
Other items of interest The Staff of the Qiraji Prophets is a fairly unique-looking staff reminiscent of a scorpion's pincer. The Hammer of Ji'zhi is a massive black-and-red-spined, two-handed mace. Plate wearers may like the purple and teal Breastplate of Annihilation; the model vaguely resembles a bug's carapace.
In addition, The Prophet Skeram (as well as every other boss in the zone) will drop a Qiraji Lord's Insignia that can be turned in for 500 reputation with the Brood of Nozdormu and 250 reputation with the Cenarion Circle. Don't forget to loot these insignias; they will help you gain reputation super-fast.
Princess Yauj, Lord Kri and Vem
The bug trio of Yauj, Kri and Vem are found at the bottom of the first leg of the descent into the Temple. These guys don't drop tier tokens, but they do have a couple of fun items. What makes this trio unique is that their loot table changes according to which bug is killed last. Each bug has its own set of annoying attacks.
Princess Yauj Casts an AOE fear every 20 seconds, as well as casting a heal on either herself or one of the other bugs. This heal can and should be interrupted, or you're in for a much longer fight than you'd expect. Killing Yauj will cause her to spawn Yauj Broodlings that can be AOEed down.
Lord Kri He will cast a Toxic Volley that ticks for a whopping 500 damage, but the effect can stack up to 20 times. When he dies, he leaves behind a poison cloud that you should definitely avoid standing in at all costs.
Vem He will randomly charge and knock players across the room. Combined with Princess Yauj's fears, this means that melee in particular will have an entertaining time running around the room trying to get to a mob to hit before being feared or launched. If either Yauj or Kri are still alive when Vem dies, they will enrage, increasing their attack speed and damage.
These guys have loot that is specific to each bug, but the bug-specific loot isn't really eye-catching. The shared loot table does include a few interesting items, however.
Shared loot of interest Shared loot includes the Robes of the Trimvirate, a look-alike for the rare epic BOE world drop, the Robes of Insight. These robes are one of the scantier options for Azeroth's casters to wear. All three also have a chance to drop Guise of the Devourer, a blue, purple and yellow helm that looks like the face of a bug. Or a Power Ranger.
Sartura is accompanied by three guard adds. She and her guards will all dart quickly around the room and all four mobs will charge around, knocking people back high in the air. They also have a whirlwind ability that used to be deadly; these days, it tickles. Knock them over, and you'll be presented with a few interesting items.
Tier drops Battleguard Sartura does not drop tier tokens.
Other items of interest The Silithid Claw is a main-hand fist weapon with a model that looks like a stinger -- it's cool! Sartura also drops Robes of the Battleguard, an orange version of the Robes of the Trimvirate.
We aren't done with the bugs yet! Continue on to page 2 for more bugs, twins that have very little interest in gum, and the Old God C'thun.