Each week, Arcane Brilliance commandeers a cannon atop one of the towers in Wintergrasp and launches flaming balls of explosive Mage content down upon the unsuspecting masses below. Deadly, deadly Mage content. You may not know this, but Arcane Brilliance gets a tenacity buff whether it's outnumbered or not. Suck on that, Warlocks!
Patch 3.0.8, and all of its unabashed Arcane Mage love, is just around the proverbial corner. If you missed Arcane Brilliance's coverage of the changes, you can find it here, still preserved in its original state. We have other business to attend to this week, though. Last week, we finally rounded out our series of leveling guides by going from level 70 all the way to 80. Now comes the age-old problem: what to do once you've hit the cap?
As it has ever been, hitting the current level cap--much like graduating from high school or college--only serves to show us how far behind the curve we really are. We go from the top of one ladder to the very bottom of another. No self-respecting raid-leader is going to invite a Mage to Naxxramas who is still sporting the mismatched greens and blue quest-rewards he had on when he dinged 80 somewhere in the middle of Zul'Drak. The good news in Wrath of the Lich King, however, is that the power gap now isn't as difficult to bridge as it has been in previous incarnations of the end-game.
After the break, we'll go over some of the changes and list a selection of pre-Naxx gear and where to find it.
By way of organization, we're going to take this slot-by-slot, starting at the top and moving down. In order to stick somewhere in the rough vicinity of the 1,000 words this column is supposed to consist of (but somehow never does), we won't be indulging in too much commentary about each piece, and the list won't include every single option out there. The main idea here is simply to give those of you who need to fill a specific slot a few ideas about where to go and what to do.
Hat of Wintry Doom - Ah, Tailoring. You no longer have to be a Tailor to gain access to the best gear the profession has to offer, and you will see a lot of Tailoring goods in this list. Obtaining them is simply a matter of gathering some mats and finding a willing Tailor, or just searching the auction house. This particular item is quite simply the only pre-raid piece that isn't afflicted with something stupid like spirit and has a meta-gem slot. It's the best option before you walk into Naxx.
Titanium Spellshock Necklace - This is a crafted item, made by Jewelcrafters.
Choker of Betrayal - The easiest item to obtain for the slot, this comes at the end of a quest chain in Zul'Drak, and the thing that makes it attractive is that big, fat red gem slot.
Emeline's Locket - Obtainable from another quest chain in Icecrown, this neck-piece swaps the Choker's haste rating for hit rating. If your hit isn't capped yet, this is the better option.
Necklace of Taldaram - You'd never guess, but this drops from Prince Teldaram in Ahn'kahet: The Old Kingdom, at a rate of 19%. Shake him down until it drops, and then good luck out-rolling the 18 other classes out there that like these same stats. Isn't stat consolidation fun?
Dark Runic Mantle - The single best part about this beauty (the best pre-Naxx shoulder item out there) is that it's a BoE world drop. It drops from the mobs in Halls of Stone, and for a world drop, it shows up with a fair amount of frequency. Your best bet here, aside from running Halls of Stone over and over until it drops or you die in your computer chair, face-down in a puddle of your own filth, is just to keep an eye on the auction house. It shows up there pretty often, and usually goes for a reasonable amount. I just checked my own server's Horde-side auction house and found two of them listed for a 50 gold buyout each. For the value, that's a steal, guys.
Deathchill Cloak - Okay, this has a few requirements: One, you have to be a Tailor. Two, you have to have achieved the Loremaster of Northrend achievement. And three, you have to gather a whole bunch of pricey mats. It's a good cloak, to be sure, but don't lose hope, there are plenty of other viable alternatives...
Edit: Well, crap. As a couple of you have pointed out, this is a huge error on my part. You have to be a Tailor to make this, but you absolutely do not have to be a Tailor to equip this. I'm never trusting anything I say ever again.
Shroud of Dedicated Research - Only requires honored with the Kirin Tor, which takes about two seconds to get to for a Mage.
Dark Soldier Cape - This is available at Honored with the Knights of the Ebon Blade.
Polished Protodrake Cloak - A reward from one of the coolest quests in the game, Post-partum Aggression, in Sholazar Basin. Charging mammoth-back into battle against a drake with Hemet Nesingwary riding shotgun is now something I can check-off my list of life-goals. Now if I can just get a quest that involves beating Arthas at a heated game of twister...
Ancient Dragon Spirit Cape - If you prefer instance drops, this little number drops from the chest that spawns after you defeat Eregos in heroic Oculus, at a rate of 14%.
Ebonweave Robe - There are two epic Tailoring robes that you can easily wear into Naxx and feel good about yourself--the Spellweave Robe being the other--but unless you don't need the hit rating, this is the best choice. Gather some mats and go get yourself a dress you can feel pretty in.
Water-Drenched Robe - Drops from Ichoron in heroic Violet Hold, and has those sexy, sexy gem slots.
Black Duskweave Wristwraps - These are a relatively cheap-to-craft Tailoring item. You can pair them with the leggings for the extra spellpower from the set bonus, but hopefully, you'll be able to get a better pair of pants.
Azure Cloth Bindings - Go to heroic Violet Hold. Kill Cyanigosa. Pray. At a 20% drop rate, you actually may not have to pray too hard. Which is probably good, since I think we all know you're a dirty, dirty heathen.
Ebonweave Gloves - Again, Tailors can craft these once the admittedly pricey mats are gathered or purchased, and if you don't need the hit rating, the Spellweave version is a fine alternative.
Gloves of Glistening Runes - These beauties drop at an 18% rate from Keristrasza in heroic Nexus, so gather four non-cloth-wearing friends and get going.
Sash of the Wizened Wyrm - This requires honored with The Wyrmrest Accord, which isn't terribly difficult to achieve. It provides a delicious amount of hit rating, so go get it.
Girdle of Bane - This drops from King Ymiron in heroic Utgarde Pinnacle. The rate is a reasonable 20%.
Black Duskweave Leggings - Again, these are cheap to make, and when coupled with the aforementioned bracers, the set bonus makes them sort of worthwhile. Still, there are better alternatives.
Sorrowgrave's Breeches - Another heroic Utgarde Pinnacle drop, these come from Svala Sorrowgrave at a rate of 20%.
Woven Bracae Leggings - Downing Loken in heroic Halls of Lightning gives you a 16% shot at these. They're pretty spiffy-looking, too. Almost makes you want to hike up your robes so you can actually see them.
Sandals of Crimson Fury - You'll need to hit exalted with the Wyrmrest Accord to purchase these, but they're well worth it. These are, bar-none, the best pre-Naxx Mage footgear in the game.
Cleric's Linen Shoes - If reputation grinds aren't your thing, and you don't mind wearing a pair of shoes with "Cleric" in the name, then a trip to heroic Nexus might net you these, which drop from Kolurg and Stoutbeard at a rate of about 20%.
There are a lot of options here, so I'll just list them.
Titanium Spellshock Ring - Jewelcrafting.
Ring of Northern Tears - Jewelcrafting.
Signet of the Kirin Tor - If you have 8500 gold to burn (less if you have Kirin Tor rep), you can buy this in Dalaran, no questions asked. I wouldn't advise it, but nothing's stopping you.
Signet of Hopeful Light - Exalted with the Argent Crusade.
Ring of Temerity - Quest reward in The Oculus. (normal, and obtainable as early as level 77!)
Band of Guile - 9% drop in heroic Culling of Stratholme.
Annhylde's Ring - 17% drop in heroic Utgarde Keep.
Forge Ember - This has a whole bunch of crit, and the spellpower proc seems to happen with a fair amount of frequency. It drops 19% of the time from Sjonnir in heroic Halls of Stone.
Mark of the War Prisoner - Another drop from Cyanigosa in heroic Violet Hold, the drop rate on this trinket and all of its lovely hit rating is 20%.
Figurine - Twilight Serpent - Jewelcrafters will make this for you, and the mats are surprisingly affordable. Plus: sockets!
Edit: Yes, once again I am a moron. As several of you have already noticed, this trinket is Bind-on-Pickup, so you while you could have a Jewelcrafter make one for you, you would then be very sad when you learned that only that Jewelcrafter could equip it. So either you are a Jewelcrafter yourself, or this item is not an option for you.
Staff of Draconic Combat - This is an 11% drop from Eregos in heroic Oculus. No hit rating, and loads of spirit, but otherwise dead sexy.
There are other stave options. Most of them heroic instance drops, but to be perfectly honest, your best bet for pre-Naxx gear lies with a certain awesome 1H weapon and your choice of good off-hands.
Flameheart Spell Scalpel - This, without question, is the reason every Mage should start gaining rep with the Kirin Tor the very second they can. Revered shouldn't take very long to get to, and once you get there, you have the single best pre-raid Mage weapon in the game. Now you just need something nice to pair it with...
We have a few good options here, most of them instance drops.
Bonecaster's Endgame - Quest reward from Icecrown.
Telestra's Journal - 20% drop from heroic Nexus.
Seal of Valgarde - 20% drop in normal Utgarde Pinnacle.
Temple Crystal Fragment - 21% drop from heroic Drak'Tharon Keep.
Tome of Salramm - 23% drop from normal Culling of Stratholme.
Wand of Blinding Light - Yes, I am fully aware that this is a green. The stats are better than a lot of blues, though, especially the hit rating and the spellpower. It comes from a quest in Dragonblight that you can complete as early as level 74. Raise your hand if you disenchanted it. Just so you know, my hand is raised, too. There aren't any better quest rewards for the wand slot, which is just silly. There are better options, but as easy as this is to obtain, it deserves a mention.
Ancient Measuring Rod - 21% drop from Loken in normal Halls of Lightning.
Wand of the San'layn - 21% drop from Prince Keleseth in heroic Utgarde Keep.
Rod of the Fallen Monarch - This beauty drops at an 18% rate from Anub'arak in heroic Azjol-Nerub.
Hopefully, this will have provided you with enough option and enough different gear-sources that no matter your play-style, you'll be able to find enough good equipment to make ready for when your guild invites you into Naxx. Good luck, and godspeed, my fellow Mages.
Every week Arcane Brilliance teleports you inside the wonderful world of Mages and then hurls a Fireball in your face. Check out our recent two-part look at reputation rewards in WotLK, or our guide to leveling builds to get you through Northrend. Until next week, keep the Mage-train a-rollin'.