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Spiritual Guidance: The shadow priest's patch 4.1 gear shopping list


Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Each Wednesday, the priestly Fox Van Allen takes on all topics shadow. If you'd like to see Spiritual Guidance in person, send your request along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to TICKETS, "Spiritual Guidance," CBS Television City, 7800 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles, California 90036.

Sept. 26, 1986, marks a dark day in television history. It's the date the CBS game show Press Your Luck disappeared from the airwaves. To the uninitiated, this fact has absolutely nothing to do with shadow priests.

But you're not the uninitiated -- you're Spiritual Guidance readers. You know all about the sheer face-melting prowess of the "Whammy." In 1986, it was unharnessed. Wild. It'd steal money and the occasional trip to Curaçao. In 2011, that power has been combined, distilled, and ... placed into a bag -- specifically, the Lost Bag of Whammies.

Were the last two paragraphs a sloppy attempt to justify using a YouTube clip of Press Your Luck as my contractually required 580-pixel length header image? Yes. But that doesn't change the fact that the Lost Bag of Whammies is a kickass epic shadow priest off-hand. It's brand new for patch 4.1, and it's found in the new five-man heroic version of Zul'Gurub.

If you don't have a lot of ilevel 359 gear from raiding (or from the auction house, or from reputation rewards), patch 4.1 is a godsend. A ton of great gear drops for shadow priests are about to be added to the game, winnable by anyone with the skill to take on the new heroics. There are some things you won't find in the new heroics, and some things not worth grabbing though, so it's a good idea to get your shopping list ready now.

Just 'cause it's purple doesn't mean it's good

The If you haven't seen it, it's new to you 5-mans of Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub are brimming with all sorts of terrific epics for almost every gear slot imaginable. But don't be confused by that purple-colored text -- these new pieces of weapons and armor carry a lower item level than epics currently in the game (353 vs. 359).

For those of you who spent a fortune gearing up in the early days of Cataclysm, this is actually good news. Those Breeches of Mended Nightmare you bought for your legs are still worth wearing (unless you have your tier, natch). That Cord of the Raven Queen you picked up after weeks of running dungeons with the Guardians of Hyjal tabard is still a solid pick to help keep your Breeches from sliding off your body. If you've got a full set of epics now, you're set. There's no need to grind new gear until patch 4.2 comes along.

The cream of the Zul'Aman (and Zul'Gurub) crop

With so many shadow priests already having some of the easier-to-come-by epics, there are a bunch of drops in Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub that few players will have interest in. Still, there are a handful of slots that are difficult to fill, even for raiders. New heads, shoulders, wrists, weapons, off-hands, and wands -- these are going to be the most highly sought-after items of the new instances.

Head The head slot can be challenging to fill for shadow priests, since there's no epic head piece you can get as a reputation reward or from valor points. Once patch 4.1 goes live, however, shadow priests will have a pair of new options. A run through Zul'Aman will give you the opportunity to pick up the hit- and crit-heavy Collar of Bones; a run through Zul'Gurub will give you a chance to pick up the spirit- and haste-laden The Hexer's Headdress. Obviously, the latter will work the best for shadow priests, as it can be used for a healing off-spec as well.

Shoulders Finding a solid pair of epic shoulders on the live server is no easy task -- I've been raiding for months, and I'm still carrying around a blue-quality set. Filling this slot should get a bit easier in patch 4.1 -- with haste and crit, the Claw-Fringe Mantle will be great for healing and shadow priests alike. Jan'alai's Spaulders, which contain hit instead of spirit, make a good substitute should you be fortunate enough to see them drop out of Zul'Aman.

Wrists With so few options currently available for us, having new wrist items implemented into the game is a welcome change. The best wrists will still come from raiding, of course, but for those still gearing up for raids (or just unlucky in their in-raid rolls), some new options are coming. Since they don't have hit or spirit, the Wristwraps of Madness are a great choice for shadow priests at or near the hit cap. For everyone else, there's the spirit- and mastery-containing Wristwraps of Departed Spirits.

Weapons Few pieces of gear have an impact on your spellcasting prowess that a solid weapon does. For all you stuck with an item level 333 or 346 blue, the new Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub instances bring a plethora of new options. If you're looking for a one-handed weapon, Zul'Aman has the mastery-containing Amani Scepter of Rites and the crit-plus-haste Voodoo Hexblade. If the thought of finding an off-hand to go with your new weapon fills you with dread, worry not -- Zul'Gurub has a terrific two-handed staff, Legacy of Arlokk.

Off-hand We already discussed the presence of the Lost Bag of Whammies, so I really don't have to repeat myself here -- it's clearly a great off-hand option to replace a blue-quality piece that you're still using.

Wands Wait -- let me guess. You're still using that wand from heroic Grim Batol, right? If you've been playing your shadow priest for any length of time, you probably don't need me or anyone else to tell you that Cataclysm wands are hard to come by. Good news, though -- patch 4.1 brings two new options. In Zul'Gurub, you'll find the crit/haste Touch of Discord; if you need more hit, seek out the (off-spec unfriendly) Zulian Voodoo Stick instead.

Epics for the lazy at heart

Okay, so ... maybe this shadow priest isn't your main. (Heresy!) And maybe, after grinding your way to exalted with every faction under the sun with your other characters, you just don't have the will to do it again. Good news -- the new Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub was made with you in mind.

See, when it comes to chests, legs, feet, and the like, there are plenty of ilevel 359 options currently available. Some of these are more accessible than others -- the ilevel 359 Belt of the Depths capable of being made by tailors, for example, is frequently available on the auction house for 2,000g or less. And, of course, there are a massive number of epics available for purchase with valor points in Stormwind and Orgrimmar. Still, if you have numerous alts, you just can't be expected to buy each one of them the best gear, even with valor points -- grinding those takes time.

It's good news, then, that the new Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub instances have plenty of ilevel 353 epics for those "common" slots as well. From the Hakkari Loa Drape for your back, to the Hexing Robes for your chest, to the Leggings of Ancient Magicks -- you'll find everything you'll need to completely outfit your shadow priest in ilevel 353 epics. Well, almost everything.

What you won't find in patch 4.1

It's worth noting that patch 4.1 doesn't bring with it any new trinket choices for shadow priests. While you're out of luck in that sense, the best-in-slot Darkmoon Card: Volcano has been rapidly dropping in price -- if you haven't been able to afford it in the past, it may now be worth a second look. A limited few servers have the trinket available as cheap as 7,000g, and prices will only be going down from here. (Smart shoppers will wait until May 1 to pick up their DC:V, as trinket prices fall when the new Darkmoon Faire brings in a fresh supply.) If you're not quite ready for raiding, check out my past coverage of the 10 best trinkets for the pre-raiding shadow priest. Each and every one of those top choices will hold up in 4.1.

Are you more interested in watching health bars go down than watching them bounce back up? We've got more for shadow priests, from Shadow Priest 101 to a list of every monster worth mind controlling and strategies for raiding Blackwing Descent.

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