My Torso, My Precious Torso
Chestplates for the young and eligible elemental shaman, you say? Happy to oblige. There is of course the trusty Seer's Mail Armor, available for purchase at level 70 from the friendly vendors in Thrallmar and Honor Hold. Low in spell damage, but it will do the job until you can get a better drop, and you're almost certain to be honored with the appropriate faction by the time you get to 70. From there, you can begin running instances for items like the Worldfire Chestguard from Arcatraz or the Tidefury Chestpiece, also from Arcatraz off of Harbinger Skyriss. There's also the Vest of Living Lightning, which, despite the fact that it drops off of Mennu in Slave Pens, might be good enough to avoid the Seer's Mail altogether. The stats are very comparable for PvE, since the Vest doesn't have PvP stats like resilience taking up item budget. If you have the honor and don't want to wait for Season 4, there's the Gladiator's Mail Armor available for purchase in Org and Stormwind. On June 24th, the purchase will become the Merciless Gladiator's Mail Armor for the same honor cost, as far as we know. Tier 4 is still better for pure PvE DPS than the Merciless... but not by much. The Merciless has a lot of spell crit on it.
If you're a leatherworker, there's the not at all cheap to craft Netherstrike Breastplate. Holy nethers, Batman. Still, it's an astonishingly good chestplate, easily as good as anything you'll get in Kara if not beyond, and all the mats are easily gathered before you set a foot in the instance.
For those of us more interested in channeling healing magic than in frying fools with lightning and fury, there's the Gladiator's Ringmail Armor for another couple of weeks. Then, with the shift to Merciless Gladiator's Ringmail, we have a dilemma. I can't say that it's inferior in pure healing stats to anything else you'll be able to get before Karazhan, which of course makes sense as its iLevel is significantly higher. If you really like battlegrounds (or at least can stand them), saving honor for the various Merciless gear might be in your best interest. Of course, right out of the box you can pick up Seer's Ringmail Chestguard, but that piece is hampered by its itemization since it has a lower item budget than the purples. If you're looking for a crafted blue to get you started, there's the Earthpeace Breastplate. Unfortunately lacking in stats, it does have a nice dose of healing and mana regen for the aspiring restoration shaman. If you absolutely must have the stats, there's the Void Slayer's Tunic from a reasonable Netherstorm questline or the Harness of the Deep Currents from Murmur. I preferred the Tunic to the Harness, your mileage may as always vary.
For enhancement, our PvP options are solid, and getting even more solid in a few weeks. You can buy the Seer's Linked Armor as soon as you ding 70, then grind honor for the Gladiator's Linked Armor until Season 4, when you will be able to get the Merciless Gladiator's Linked Armor. Still, there's a lot of wasted itemization on these items, with stam and resilience (necessary for melee in PvP) taking up budget that could be spent on pure DPS stats.
Two options from a five man come from Magisters' Terrace. First up is the non-heroic drop, Hauberk of the War-Bringer. I've seen and heard a lot of discussion about this chestplate and whether or not its sockets make it superior to Kael's heroic drop, the Tunic of the Ranger Lord. In my eyes, that depends on what gems you're going to put in there. Either way, despite their hunterish itemization, these are two solid enhancement chestplates available in a five man, meaning that you could have one before you ever set foot in Kara. (Although if you're running heroic MgT, you've probably at least been to Kara.) Also, while you're at Kael, since there was no way to mention these boots when I originally did the boot article, take a look for the Sunrage Treads. Yes, they're leather. Yes, I'll be mentioning them again in the leather/cloth post. Look now anyway.
Blacksmithing shamans can make themselves the Nether Chain Shirt, the first step in the epic chain BP (make sure to check out the upgrades), and leatherworkers can craft the Ebon Netherscale Breastplate. Both are solid enough options for an enhancement shaman, but man, would it have killed Blizz to give us an option with strength on it?
Other options include the Breastplate of Rapid Striking, the Auchenai Tracker's Hauberk, the Golden Dragonstrike Breastplate (almost certain to be replaced as it is a crafted BoP item, if you can make it you can probably make better at 70), the Stormforged Hauberk (ditto), the Laughing Skull Battle-Harness, the Felstalker Breastplate (easy to pick up from the AH), the Shard Encrusted Breastplate from heroic Mana Tombs, the Salvager's Hauberk from Revered with Lower City, the Hauberk of Desolation, and the Beast Lord's Cuirass if you're determined to annoy a hunter.
Getting a leg up, and another leg up
Ah, leg armor. Without you, our naughty bits would be showing.
Enhancement first, just to switch it up: you're going to want to see the PvP options, which have strength (blessed strength, how we love you, don't ever leave us!) on them. Your out of the box option is as always the Seer's Linked Leggings. You're 70, you need some pants, here you go. Then get grinding for honor and either spend it immediately on the Gladiator's Linked Leggings or wait a couple of weeks and get the superior Merciless Gladiator option, which also look incredible. The choice is yours, as Captain Planet would say. He had a really bad haircut.
Two epic options (although one of these is only really an option because it's BoE) are the Wyrmscale Greaves and the Scaled Greaves of the Marksman. Neither are really what I'd call 'Shaman itemized' really, with that whacking great hit of int on the Wyrmscales and the Marksman legs screaming hunter, but with three sockets a piece, you can work on them to try and suit your needs. I'm so dissatisfied with the mail options for legs that I'm going to mention two heroic drops that are leather here, the Forestwalker Kilt and the Midnight Legguards. Since the Forestwalkers are feral legs, try and go with a plate wearing tank for that particular heroic Mana-Tombs, as they have all the stats your enhancement shaman is going to want. (The post covering leather gear will go more into detail, as there are many crafted pieces that will suit enhancement in leather.)
If you want to stick to mail, other enhancement options are the Scales of the Beast, which while not great are easily obtainable via the AH, the Scaled Greaves of Patience which can be socketed with strength gems and become very enduring legs for you (I totally disregarded the dodge bonus and just threw strength gems in mine, anyway), the Mag'hari Huntsman's Leggings for Horde only (it's an awesome quest even if you don't want the legs, and the neck is nice), the Sunfury Legguards from Aldor/Scryer questlines in Shadowmoon Valley, the Barbaric Legstraps (hotpants of death!) from heroic Black Stalker, Greaves of Desolation off of the biggest bird in the birdcage instance we call Sethekk Halls, and the Emerald Scale Greaves from heroic Old Hillsbrad. Considering they drop off of the same boss as the Scaled Greaves of Patience, but on heroic mode, I'd frankly expect them to be better than they are.
Healing gear, you say? Well, there's not a lot of mail healing legs to choose from at this level. Your usual PvP options are the Seer's Ringmail Legguards, buyable right out of the box at 70 (honored with Cenarion Expedition is not a huge hurdle) and the honor buyable Gladiator/Merciless Gladiator in two weeks. Then there's the Oceansong Kilt, which I wore for a long time on my resto shaman, because... well, because that's it for healing mail before Karazhan, really. If you're worried about MP/5 you're probably going to wear some PvP legs or one of the elemental legs coming up with a spellthread kit on them, because there's none on these.
For your furious elemental needs, may I direct you first to our PvP selection? Available via reputation, honor and honor in two weeks, these can certainly serve you in PvE despite their stamina and resilience itemization.
For pure style as well as good stats, there's the Molten Earth Kilt. Man, I love all the kilts in game. With reasonably high damage/heal and good MP/5, these can actually serve you as healing or DPS legs depending on how you spellthread them. If you'd rather go for spell crit over MP/5, as I'm given to understand some elemental shamans do, there's the Tidefury Kilt for you. Slightly less damage, but with a nice dose of spell crit to compensate. Drops off of that jerk Murmur, who is ugly and a jerk and no matter why I'm there to kill him, he won't drop what I want.
With three gem sockets, the Netherfury Leggings can be customized for more spell crit, spell damage, or MP/5 depending on what you want. Haramad's Linked Chain Pantaloons, while awesomely named, are only so/so legs but available from a quest you'll probably do on the way to 70, so if you're resto or enhancement at the time you may want to pick these up for starter legs for a later respec. Likewise, you may want to pick up the Area 52 Defender's Pants from a Netherstorm questline, and even if you don't, you may want to check out those leather legs you could snap up for an enhancement set. Finally, heroic Underbog will provide you with the Stormsong Kilt, which is really solid.
While there are more options from world PvP we could discuss, and of course I know I've missed others, this is a good general overview that completes the main slots for a shaman for three specs. Next week, we'll discuss rings, trinkets, necklaces and weapons, and our final week will be cloth and leather options for shamans of all three specs. We're almost done! And please, since I admit that I can't play all three specs at 70 to their fullest (at present I raid elemental horde side and enhancement alliance, when I'm not needed to tank) do make sure to mention as many suitable leather and cloth drops as you can think of in the next two weeks so that the roundup will be as complete as possible.