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Totem Talk: 3.1 Shaman Gear Part 2

Matthew Rossi

So it's been a heady week for us all. I was wrong about the patch dropping this week, and have since respecced my shaman resto in order to begin tackling Ulduar - 10 as a healer. Things I have learned healing in Ulduar - 10?

  • I am not geared enough to heal in Ulduar yet.
  • Razorscale likes to hit me with fireballs. Perhaps someone told him about my not being geared enough.
  • Ignis likes to put me in his slag pot. See Razorscale.
  • XT - 002 makes me the Gravity Bomb constantly.
Overall it's been an interesting couple of days. Since I've been running the instance on two different toons and on two different levels (10 and 25 man) the whole thing seems to blur together in my head, but so far I'm enjoying Ulduar. XT - 002's voice alone was worth the price of admission. Sadly the instance has been very unstable (on Norgannon at least) so the four bosses in the entrance zone (the Colossal Forge, according to the teleporter) are the only ones I've gotten to see personally. I did get to float around for three hours with Chain Heal casting endlessly at one point, that was interesting in an extremely boring way.

Last week we talked about 10 and 25 man tier gear in Ulduar. This week, we'll try and cover as much of everything else as we can. There's a lot to cover (and more all the time) so we'll just have to do the best we can, starting with the new Emblem of Conquest gear.

Emblem of Conquest rewards exist for both caster and physical DPS shamans. (Technically I'm pretty sure that hunters will be looking at the AP mail along with enhancement shamans.) The caster mail that exists all has MP5 on it, making it slightly more suited to a resto shaman, but if you've got the emblems you might well pick up a couple of pieces for your elemental shaman as well if you've been having bad luck.

For enhancement, we have three pieces of emblem mail to consider: the Gloves of Unerring Aim, the Leggings of the Tireless Sentry, and the Belt of the Ardent Marksman.

The Gloves of Unerring Aim are a clear upgrade from Naxxramas - 25 items although it's interesting to see that they have less agility than one might expect. They make it up with high int, a significant increase in AP and overall better stats, though. Clearly the mail emblem gear for enhancement isn't intended to be the be-all of gearing, but it seems fairly certain that it will serve to fill holes due to a lack of luck on drops. Glove and Belt cost is 28, and leggings are 39, meaning that it would take a couple of weeks of full-clearing Ulduar -25 and Emalon which is probably not in the cards for most guilds right now. Still, eventually we'll be through Ulduar and these items will be a couple of weeks worth of emblems per purchase.

As for the aforementioned caster mail, we have the Leggings of the Weary Mystic, the Windchill Binding, and the Gloves of Augury. They all lack hit, and they all have MP5 (the legs and belt also have haste on them, while the belt packs crit instead) making them in general better itemized for restoration than elemental. Since the Spell Leather that you can purchase for emblems is very similar in its gearing (as is even the cloth emblem rewards) your options as a DPS caster seem to be to either hold on to your current gear until properly itemized DPS gear drops or to make do with gear more suited to a healer. I suppose this could be one way of dealing with the reductions to mana regen made for 3.1, but it hardly seems optimal.

For necks, your enhancement shaman will be looking at the Broach of the Wailing Night despite the hit on the Spiked Battleguard Choker. The 65 str just doesn't match up to the agi and AP on the Broach for an enhancement shaman. You're looking at 65 AP on the Spiked vs. 147 AP on the Broach. If you're buying Conquest emblem gear, you're probably fine on hit anyway. For spellcasting shamans, we have the Evoker's Charm (designed for mages, warlocks and other casters who are expected to want spirit in 3.1, and not elemental shamans, who still don't care much about it ) and the Frozen Tear of Elune, which seems pretty solidly aimed at healers. The Frozen Tear looks to be very slightly above the Malygos quest neck Life-Binder's Locket depending on if you're a jewelcrafter (for the better than average gems you can socket into the Life-Binder's) or not: even if you're not a JC you could have a gem in here that better suits your particular style, and at any rate there's so small a difference between these items that if you have the Life-Binder you might as well save your emblems.

In general, it isn't that the emblem of conquest rewards are bad, as they're certainly not. They're obviously designed for the most part to allow one to compensate for bad luck on drop rates or other reasons why you might not see an upgrade for a certain slot for a while (a lot of competition between homogenized specs for a certain upgrade: instead of having to fight with Holy Paladins for the Frozen Tear of Elune, you each just save you emblems and pick it up as you can) - however, I'm still somewhat depressed to see the itemization seem so slanted against elemental shamans here.

I know it's important to gear up your healers (heck, I play resto right now) but seeing the gearing options here isn't giving me a lot of hope that once I take the shammy into Ulduar - 25 he'll have a lot to look forward to. I am glad that you'll be able to get the Breastplate and Crown of the Wayward Protector for 58 emblems if your luck just isn't shaping up, and it's also true that you can pick up the full Deadly Glad sets for emblems of conquest as well, but I still would have liked to see at least three mail caster DPS options in addition to the healer mail. For right now I expect most elemental shamans in Ulduar - 25 will be holding on to their Naxx/Sarth/Maly gear until something drops in Ulduar rather than buying any upgrades via emblems. At best, they'll get two pieces of their T8.

Next week, we'll try and cover what drops in 10 and 25 man, starting with weapons.

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