I don't know about you, but the first thing I'm going to do when patch 2.4 goes live AND when Smith Hauthaa becomes available (added for clarity) will be to spend my hard-earned badges on some new shiny loot. I've been wearing my Frozen Shadoweave Robe since forever (no luck with Magtheridon for my T4 - *cry*), and frozen or not, the dress is smelling a little ... musty.
Gearing up, as we know, is serious business and I'll walk through my Warlock loot decisions here with you. We also know that the new 2.4 badge loot is pretty expensive, and with a finite amount of badges, players need to make some hard buying decisions - which is the fun part really. Personally, I evaluate each item based on the following criteria:
- Incremental upgrade vs existing gear, keeping set bonuses in mind: Duh.
- Future progression: Will I be replacing this piece one week from now with drops, PvP gear or other loot?
- Cost: Can I get two cheaper pieces to get a greater upgrade than a single expensive piece? The cost of enchanting and gemming the new pieces should also be taken into account.
- Last but not least, looks! How will the new piece fit in with the rest of my wardrobe?
Now let's look at the shiny purples!
Eliminating the non-cloth, melee and healing gear, warlocks really have only eight pieces to consider: two robes, two pairs of pants, a dagger, gloves, boots and a ring. Starting with the most expensive, we have:
Scryer's Blade of Focus - 150 badges(!)
A straightforward DPS dagger, with an impressive 247 spell damage, on par with the Vengeful Gladiator's Spellbade. For single-handed weapons, its spell damage is only second to Tempest of Chaos, which drops from Archimonde.
The dagger packs a healthy 42 Stamina, but lacks the spell hit and resilience of the Arena weapon. It also lacks spell crit. However if you are hit-capped (at 76 with Suppression, or 202 for non-affliction spells) or do not need the crit, this weapon is the most easily-obtainable upgrade for some crazy spell damage.
The strictly better Arena spellblade, for both PvP and PvE, unfortunately requires a rating of 1850 (1800 when Season 4 hits); this automatically puts it out of reach of many players.
Is it worth it?
Yes, for PvE Affliction warlocks who are hit-capped, but the lack of resilience and crit counts this out as a serious PvP weapon despite having the highest Stamina bonus in its class. There are other weapons of comparable caliber to consider, although they might be relatively harder to get:
- Vengeful Gladiator's Spellbade (requires personal Arena rating of 1850)
- Merciless Gladiator's Spellblade
- Wub's Cursed Hexblade (from dragonhawk boss - this is arguably a Mage weapon, considering the MP5 on it)
- Blade of Twisted Visions (from Zul'jin)
Merciless Gladiator's Spellblade offers the easiest upgrade route from this lot - if you haven't already got it - unless your guild is consistently running Zul'Aman or 25-man raids.
Shroud of the Lore'nial, Tormented Demonsoul Robes - 100 badges each
The big decision here is really between spell hit and spell crit. Other than hit and crit, both robes are literally copies of one another, with the Shroud (left) packing an additional 33 Spirit. While Spirit is not a stat that warlocks usually gear for, it is important to note that if you're running with a Priest with Improved Divine Spirit, 10% of your Spirit becomes added spell damage.
As a general rule for all warlock specs, spell hit contributes more DPS than spell crit, before you hit the cap. If you're not capped out yet, the Shroud is the better investment. For locks with no spell hit issues, the demonsoul robe will be the natural choice. Personally I'll get the Shroud to replace my dated frozen shadoweave.
These robes compare favorably with tier 5 gear, with Robe of the Corrupter just edging them out with three yellow gem slots and set bonus.
Are they worth it?
Considering that most other comparable chest pieces are only available through raids, these badge robes really open up high-end PvE performance to more casual players. The PvP chest pieces can't really be included in this assessment as they sacrifice spell hit, and substantial raw damage for more PvP-oriented stats like Resilience, Armor and Stamina.
If you are currently working on SSC content, these robes are worthwhile investments that will serve you well in PvE for a long time to come, unless you're confident of scoring Vestments of the Sea-Witch from Lady Vashj. The chest piece also contributes to how evil your toon looks, and thankfully, the new skins do not disappoint here, even if they are just recolored versions of the same design.
Legwraps of Sweltering Flame, Corrupted Soulcloth Pantaloons - 100 badges each
Like the robes described above, the spell hit version of these pants also comes with Spirit. These pants are definitely comparable to tier 5. In fact I'd argue that they are marginally better because of an additional blue gem socket.
For many DPS casters with the Spellstrike set, switching out from Spellstrike Pants to say, the Legwraps, would mean:
Gain 25 Stamina, 28 Intellect, 30 Spirit, 3 spell hit, 16 spell damage
Lose 26 spell crit, red socket, set bonus
If the loss in spell crit can be made up elsewhere, these pants will be very compelling reasons to the break the "glass cannon" set, due to the massive upgrades in survivability stats.
Are they worth it?
These pants compare more favorably to their tier 5 counterparts than the badge robes above. They are solid investments on their own, and have few equivalents outside of tiered gear. However, if you're still wearing the spellstrike set and not having survivability problems yet, I'll suggest holding off this upgrade till you can replace Spellstrike Hood as well. The sheer DPS numbers and set bonus of the spellstrike set are hard to beat, especially if you can't replace the spell crit or hit lost.
Enslaved Doomguard Soulgrips - 75 badges
Patch 2.3 introduced a pair of gloves costing 60 badges in November last year. For 15 badges more with the Soulgrips, we get:
Gain 12 Stamina, 5 Intellect, 5 spell crit, 6 spell damage, yellow socket
Lose red and blue sockets, 2 spell damage socket bonus
Not an entirely convincing upgrade for 15 badges really, when we are losing an entire gem slot.
Is it worth it?
Given its cost, I'll give an emphatic "no" here. Studious Wraps may be the better investment for the badge-challenged. Both badge gloves are better in DPS stats than the underwhelming tier 5 gloves, unless you need the latter for the 4-piece set bonus. Interestingly, the Arena gloves could be a decent entry in this slot, even for PvE.
Boots of Incantations - 75 badges
These boots are strictly better than Frozen Shadoweave Boots if you're not hit-capped. For a trade-off of 10 shadow spell damage and a blue gem slot, you gain substantial upgrades in spell hit, Stamina, Intellect and Spirit.
Is it worth it?
Yes, but only if you want the spell hit and added survivability on this. Players working on SSC content may be pleased to know that there are several boot drops in this instance:
- Boots of the Shifting Nightmare (from Hydross)
- Boots of Blasting (random pattern drop from SSC mobs)
Fused Nethergon Band - 60 badges
This is the "cheapest" of the badge loot for DPS casters in patch 2.4, and what a ring! It has the highest spell hit for a ring in the game currently and is great for "replacing" spell hit lost from other slots. Other level 70 rings with spell hit on them include:
- Mana Attuned Band (from completing the timed event in Zul'Aman)
- Loop of Forged Power (crafted from design drop from Sunwell Plateau)
- Ring of Captured Storms (from Najentus in BT)
Yes, if you want to invest in spell hit. That said, the other stats on it are very respectable. Rings are also items that are only replaced or upgraded once in a blue moon, so this 60-badge investment would probably remain useful for a while.
In terms of quality, these items are really closer to tier 5 than tier 6. While they have good survivability stats, they are far more tailored for PvE than PvP. If you're epic-ed out in tier 4, Zul'Aman and some pieces of SSC gear already, these items will not dramatically increase your DPS. They will, however, help you survive nastier raid encounters as you progress, where random environmental damage is the norm.
For my Warlock, I'll be looking forward to new robes and ring!