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Totem Talk: Dragonblight and Azjol-Nerub

Okay, I admit it: my experiment with 2h exnhancement lasted until I got a fist weapon I liked. My threat was too bursty, my DPS too low and I really missed being able to play with Lava Lash. I'm currently running slow/slow with Windfury Weapon on both, but once I have tine to sit down and really look at the numbers I may switch to Flametongue on the offhand for the benefit to Maelstrom Weapon procs like Chain Lightning.

Since I myself am finally done with Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra, I thought this week would be a good one to look at the gear you can get while questing in Dragonblight or running one of its two instances, Azjol-Nerub or Ahn'katet. As is usually the case for this column, we won't be going over every green item that drops... you'll stumble across those in your leveling push and there's a lot of them... but we'll do our best to cover drops for all three specs both in the instances and through general questing.

Dragonblight has some of the best lore-related quests in the game. Since I'm focusing my leveling efforts on my alliance warrior and horde shaman, I may have missed some quests from either faction but I've made my best effort to be comprehensive. Please feel free to mention anything I didn't catch in the comments.


General Quest Rewards
It's fair to say that one of the reasons I ended up in Dragonblight was that there are several quest blues available that really benefit an enhancement shaman. Not that my intent was to leave healer/caster shamans out, but the blue drops in this zone seem to heavily favor physical DPS mail, most likely due to its being shared with hunters. There are caster drops, however. For example: First off is the Horde-specific quest Do Unto Others, which unlike its Alliance counterpart (My Old Enemy) rewards us with a variety of blue items. The mail wrists available through this quest are the caster oriented Wristguards of the Remorseful. With the critical strike rating and lack of MP5, they're more likely aimed at Elemental Combat than Restoration.

Enhancement shamans will be looking at the Treads of the Valiant Struggle, with a large dose of stamina as well as agility and AP. Similarly, both Alliance and Horde can pick up the Links of RIghteous Persecution. I'm not sure what's up with the name on that belt, but the stats are solid enough.

There are good mail options for both caster and physical DPS in Dragonblight for leg armor, in both Alliance and Horde flavors. Horde get the Warchiefls Leggings of Valor and the Warchiefls Leggings of Foresight, while King Varian hands out Wrynn's Leggings of Foresight and Valor. In the process, this awesome, can be used by anyone who likes crit trinket can also be obtained. That heal ability is pretty useful while leveling.

I wanted to cover some trinkets that, while not being blue, are still pretty solid. First up is the Thunder Capacitor, which all elemental shamans should be looking at. It's available from a quest that also rewards a solid melee trinket: in both trinket's case I think they're well worth looking at for a leveling shaman. The Thunder Capacitor in particular is not only superior to the Karazhan drop many elemental shamans used, it can be used with it and a proc on one of the trinkets will stack the buff of the other.

Alliance shamans can also complete this quest and pick up a solid haste rating trinket with both equip and on-use haste. As far as I know it's pure haste, works for both melee and spells.

I admit that I was a bit disappointed in the paucity of mail drops in the instances. Sure, there are cloth and leather alternatives, but I never really like recommending them especially with all the work Blizz has gone through trying to make mail more appealing. Still, if you do all that work and then don't put much mail in the instances, there's not much shamans can do but pick up whatever drops. I've done runs where I was the only one who could even wear leather aside from the paladin or warrior tank who didn't want it. (And one run with three DK's and a mage, to be fair, where we were just throwing the DPS cloth at that mage like it had been soiled by elder gods.)

Azjol-Nerub

I actually like Azjol-Nerub quite a lot as an instance: it's short and has good variety in its encounters, and the Hadronox fight is one of my favorites (it can be a little buggy, though, apologies but that's the best word to describe it) - some of the drops of interest to shamans are not mail, unfortunately, but that's what happens sometimes.

I was a little sad to note that almost no caster weapons seem to drop here, and not much in the way of melee that I found particularly impressive.

Off of Anub'arak himself comes the Wing Cover Girdle, a very solid elemental belt, and one that a proc-dependent restoration shaman might not mind either. The Life-Staff of the Web Lair is not terribly well itemized for a shaman with all that spirit instead of MP5, but if it's better than what you have then it's an upgrade. Simple, I know, but sometimes these things need to be said. The Charmed Silken Cord is cloth, and has less crit and more int than the mail belt that drops off of Anub'arak (the same boss it drops from, in fact) but it, too, is pretty well itemized for a shaman. Hadronox drops these leather caster shoulders, which again aren't optimal for a shaman but I mention them purely on the notion that they might be an upgrade for your offset.

Since I mentioned those, I should mention these cracking-good leather boots which are certainly worth looking at for enhancement. Agi, crit strike, and AP, there's really nothing there I don't like. I'm not saying fight with the rogues and ferals for them, but if they're getting sharded please speak up, they're pretty nice.

Admittedly, while you're leveling up you won't be running these instances on heroic, but we might as well cover their heroic drops now. The Custodian's Chestpiece is pretty dang hot for a melee DPSer with that expertise, even if it is leather. The Facade Shield of Glyphs is a restoration-friendly shield with that MP5. Elemental shamans will be interested in the Ring of the Traitor King. And the Hollowed Mandible Legplates are actual physical DPS mail if you just can't bring yourself to wear leather.


Ahn'katet

A slightly longer instance than its counterpart, Ahn'katet is a fun ride through varying fights that play with the mechanic we're used to from BC raiding. Without spoiling anything, the last fight plays with phasing tech in a manner I wasn't expecting.

Restoration shamans in particular will be excited by the Cloak of the Darkcaster. It has every stat a resto shaman wants and nothing like spirit to bog us down. And if for whatever reason your resto shaman isn't using a shield, there's a solid offhand with MP5 (yay) and spirit (boo) here as well.

Elder Nadox drops these leather gloves. You will be fighting the caster druids for them, because they are perfectly itemized for an elemental shaman. Don't worry, enhancement shamans, you'll get to irritate the leather wearers again as well when you try and grab this belt. It's loaded with agility, haste and AP, and the haste party only continues when the Slasher's Amulet drops.

Finally our enhancement shaman, bloody from fighting with other classes over a belt and a necklace, gets to fight with them some more for a ring. I think we can all agree it's a pretty hot ring for any melee/physical DPS'er.

Heroic drops in this instance include Fiery Obelisk Handguards, Brood Plague Helmet, the Necklace of Talderam, and the Staff of Sinister Claws for casters (all seem more oriented towards elemental than restortaion to my eyes, but the mail helmet has sockets including a meta making it fairly customiize friendly) and the Gauntlets of the Plundering Geist for enhancement.

Next week we'll probably cover the Grizzly Hills and Zul'Drak, including Drak'Tharon and Gundrak.

Filed under: Shaman, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Expansions, Leveling, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Wrath of the Lich King

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