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Totem Talk: Ulduar non-set mail, part 3

Matthew Rossi

Totem Talk is our weekly look at all things shaman. Matthew Rossi would like to remind any readers with screenshots of their Horde shamans to email them to and not put them in the comments, where he is likely to forget they exist. In addition to being extremely hairy, he is somewhat ponderous in his recall.

The past couple of weeks have been exciting with Q&A's to analyze and PTR changes to consider. It's been easy for me to forget that I left our round-up of mail drops in Uldar half-way through the 25 man items. One of the things I forgot to gripe about as much as I really should have last time we discussed Ulduar mail is the complete and utter lack of mail boots for elemental shamans in the instance. As of the last time I checked, there are three pairs of boots in Ulduar 25: two enhancement, (yes yes, I suppose hunters might use them too) and one mostly suited to restoration shamans. And I covered all three pairs of boots last time anyway.

Let's get right to the heart of it, shall we?

Ulduar 25 cont.

Darkcore Leggings
- Why are these great for an enhancement shaman? Well, besides the nice spread of stats and the two sockets (I'd prefer red for agi or exp gems, but you can socket them any way you like after all) you'll notice that they have hit, haste (maelstrom weapon gooooo) and attack power, and no armor penetration on them. So none of their item budget has been spent on a stat that will only increase our weapon damage and not our shocks or instant cast lightning bolts when Maelstrom Weapon procs. In other words, every stat these legs give you is a stat that will boost all of your damage and not just some of it. Plus, they're BoE, so even if they never drop for you there's always a chance a pair will be on the AH for a hideous, hideous high price that will make you gasp in shock. General Vezax drops these.

Helm of the Furnace Master
- Again, we're talking an enhancement hat (in the interesting medieval gas mask stylings of hunter T8, no less) with no armor pen, but crit, haste and attack power in addition to the meta gem and other socket and solid stats. It's comparable to the Blue Aspect Helm from Malygos so if you have that hat, this wouldn't really be much of an upgrade, slightly more crit and agi, less int and AP, more stam, it's really a case of two effectively identical items in terms of your DPS. Amazingly, Ignis drops these.

Iron-studded Mantle - Alas, we're back to the armor pen mail. Still, if you're an enhancement shaman and you're not rocking your tier shoulders yet (say, because Yogg-Saron doesn't know what protector shoulders look like and just drops vanquisher week in, week out, not that I know what that feels like or anything) these are a decent option. You'd gain more in terms of raw stats and attack power and hit going to these from Tier 7, but you'd lose crit and expertise. Since both expertise and armor pen only affect your white damage (spells use neither) it's kind of up to you to know whether or not you have enough expertise without the Tier, but for me these are only a meh upgrade. These drop from any of the Iron Council bosses.

Leggings of the Stoneweaver - Kologarn drops these resto legs, BoE and solidly itemized: if you're a resto shaman you may want to spend DKP or roll need or whatever your raids do when these drop. They lack haste and a socket but in all other ways outperform Tier 7 and match up well with Tier 8 for resto shamans. These drop from the chest after you bash Kologarn down to size.

Leggings of the Tortured Earth
- And speaking of resto shaman legs, here's another set. They're in the same ballpark as the Stoneweaver legs, and in the terms of comparison it comes down to whether you feel you need the crit or the haste more. I'm a bit of a crit junkie myself, but I'm not denying the power of haste for a shaman healer trying to get his LHW cast times down with haste and Tidal Waves. I think the incoming talent changes will make haste even more valuable since Tidal Waves will provide crit and not effective haste to lesser healing wave. Both sets of legs are good, they're just itemized for different healing strategies. These drop from trash mobs throughout Ulduar.

Pauldrons of the Combatant - And we come to a set of resto shaman shoulders. Like the Amice of the Stoic Watch (their elemental cousins) they share a skin with Shaman T8.These shoulders are interesting because they have two gem sockets, more stamina than int (still a lot of int, it's just interesting to note that stamina is their highest stat) and in general seem better itemized than their Tier cousins. This is understandable as these drop from Thorim's hard mode.

Quartz-Studded Harness - A lot of shamans prefer this as their one non-set piece (a role the Leggings of the Tortured Earth or Pauldrons of the Combatant are also strong contenders for) due to its solid itemization and heavy dose of haste. Since this piece drops from XT - 002 it's reasonably soon into the instance and can be held onto for when you have a full tier set and can pick and choose as you wish.

Runeshaper's Gloves - A solid set of elemental gloves (while they'll certainly work for a resto shaman with all that crit and haste, the lack of MP5, which elemental has no desire for, seems to aim them at elemental) from any of the Iron Council bosses. While crit's not as big a deal for elemental as it once was, there's not really a lot of options of elemental shamans anymore - these are the only elemental gloves I currently know of in Ulduar 25.

Saronite Mesh Legguards - These excellent leggings drop off of Razorscale, but while they're very good, I would actually rate the Darkcore as a superior set because they have no Armor Pen on them. They're pretty equivalent otherwise, with the Saronite Mesh having crit that the Darkcore lack but I think most elemental shamans would rather have the hit and haste than ArP. Your individual mileage may, as always, vary. I personally wouldn't kick either pair of legs to the curb.

Shoulders of Misfortune - Enhancement shoulders, I would prefer these to the Iron-studded Mantle even though they're a trash drop. Crit and haste instead of ArP, you lose out on hit but get a red socket to play with. I can't stress enough how much I like seeing Maelstrom Weapon proc. These can help you to do that with that dose of haste.

Steamworker's Goggles - Resto hat from Flame Leviathan, making them fairly easy to get even if you just PuG the place. Itemized similarly to the Pauldrons of the Combatant with higher stam than int, but with crit instead of haste. A very solid healing hat all told. (Since I love crit on my healing gear I'd love to get a set of these.)

Wristguards of the Firetender - Resto bracers from Ignis. Pretty much the only non-hard mode wrist drop for caster shamans in Ulduar 25. An upgrade from the Emblem of Valor bracers, although not nearly as impressive as I'd like them to be all told.

I think it's fair to say that Ulduar 25 needs more elemental gear. Enhancement's pretty well covered due to its sharing gear with hunters and most of the caster gear in Ulduar seems geared towards resto, at least unless they nerf Replenishment so badly that DPS casters need to start stacking MP5. I'm starting to wonder if the complaints I hear from my guild's elemental shamans are because there's simply not a lot of gear really well designed for them.

Check out more strategies, tips and leveling guides for Shamans in Matthew Rossi's weekly class column: Totem Talk.

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