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Totem Talk: 3.1 Shaman Gear Part 1

I guess I'm gambling that the patch won't be next week. Because there's no way I can cover all the gear available for shamans in 3.1 (both set and otherwise) for three specs in anything like two weeks of this column. In addition to discussing sets for resto, elemental and enhancement there's quite a lot of non-set gear to discuss, rings, trinkets, and so on. We know that Flametongue Weapon will be changed to reassert the superiority of the slow/slow combo for enhancement, for instance, so there's also weapons to discuss. Since I know that's not possible for me to cover in one column and probably not in two, we'll just take it as it goes. This week, we'll discuss the Tier 8 sets from Ulduar 10 and 25, the Valorous and Conqueror's Worldbreaker sets. As is usual for shamans, it comes in Battlegear for Enhancement, Garb for Elemental and Regalia for Restoration. As was the case for Tier 7, the 10 and 25 man sets have the same set bonuses and will work with each other, so if you have two pieces of Tier 8 from 10 man raids and 2 pieces from 25, you'll get both set bonuses.

First up, let's look at the Conqueror's and Valorous Worldbreaker Battlegear.


First off, the two piece set bonus seems aimed at current itemization issues. Combined with the change to Flametongue scaling in 3.1, I don't expect we'll see much of the current debate about caster mainhand/fast offhand vs slow/slow WF/FT for enhancement DPS. But let's look at the complete Conqueror's and Valorous sets piece by piece.
The first thing I notice looking at the set is that it actually has less expertise than the current Valorous Earthshaker, and the Earthshaker has expertise on the chest and shoulders, while the new sets have it on the shoulders and gloves. This means that as you upgrade you can actually gain more expertise by keeping your chestplate for a while and wearing the gloves and shoulders from the new set, and the change to Unleashed Rage means you'll have 9 of the 26 expertise you want anyway (there's currently 10 expertise on the Valorous Earthshaker and the new sets have slightly under 9 on the Conq's and just above 8 expertise on the Valorous) but I do still find it kind of odd to lose expertise between the sets. You'll definitely be wanting to look for expertise on rings, necks and capes in Ulduar, but to be fair there are rings for that purpose in the instance. With those two rings, your set pieces and Unleashed Rage you'll easily be expertise capped in Ulduar.

This comparison shows that you'll actually lose crit, expertise and hit if you go from the 25 man Naxx Battlegear to the Ulduar 10 set, but going from 25 to 25 Naxx to Ulduar is a pretty solid upgrade in every way.

The sets are otherwise conventionally itemized with hit, haste, AP and crit in addition to agility and intellect. Agility of course provides AP and melee crit itself, while intellect provides AP and spell crit. The four piece set bonus is really rather exceptional: "Increases the frequency of Maelstrom Weapon being triggered by your melee weapon attacks by 20%." The set could be lacking in almost every way and that by itself would be enough to make me perk up my ears, but when it's on a solid set of gear you really have to be appreciative. Gem sockets are 1 meta, 3 red, 3 yellow and 1 blue. Since I expect that most enhancement shamans will use either the Relentless Earthsiege or Chaotic Skyflare meta, the sockets are decent enough to meet those requirements and still go for socket bonuses. (I usually go for the Relentless, to get both AP and crit out of one gem, and it won't be hard at all to meet its meta requirements with this particular socket arrangement.)

Let's move on to the Worldbreaker Garb, the Elemental set.
The set bonuses of the Worldbreaker Garb seem aimed at keeping Damage over Time up and doing more damage with it, with Flame Shock DoT's critting on a tick (with the Glyph of Flame Shock, using your Lava Burst after a Flame Shock to proc a crit won't consume the Flame Shock, giving the DoT component more chances to crit with this set bonus) - I don't know if Elemental will consider these bonuses worth trading away the current Earthshatter set bonuses or not. I'm at least interested in seeing how all these new DoT effects work out in terms of damage. The set is itemized with hit, haste, crit and SP (every piece has spell power, which is good as I'd place spell power over crit at this point, it's not like elemental shamans can't proc a crit with Flame Shock/Lava Burst when they really need one, but it's not like crit is suddenly an awful stat) which is what you'd expect. I'd like to see more hit on the garb, myself. Even with full Elemental Precision you're still looking at 367.22 spell hit rating to hit 14% spell hit, I'd like to see more of that on the tier. However, there's significantly more spell hit on the Valorous Worldbreaker Garb than on the Valorous Earthshaker, and the Conquerer's Worldbreaker Garb has even more than that, so you're not going to be losing hit by trading up.

As you can see in this comparison of the 25 man Naxxramas elemental set with the Ulduar 10 and 25 sets, either is an upgrade in pretty much every conceivable way. You'd expect that, of course, it's not a surprise or a revelation. More crit, more hit, more haste, more SP. I mention it mainly because it's much less equivocal than the Enhancement comparisons were. You pretty much don't lose anything save the set bonuses going from the 25 man Naxx to 10 man Ulduar sets, you get more of everything you'd want from the sets.

Finally, we'll discuss the Restoration sets.
Again, a comparison between the Naxx 25, Ulduar 10 and Ulduar 25 sets is pretty clear: while you lose some MP5 going from Naxx 25 to Ulduar 10, you gain significantly in crit, int and spell power and the gains are far more significant going from Naxx 25 to Ulduar 25.

The Resto set bonuses are fairly strong this time around, with the four piece being stronger than I gave it credit for when I first saw it. As many pointed out it would take a great deal of haste to get that much time shaved off of Chain Heal. Now, I'd personally rather have enough haste to shave .1 second off of CH but as pure, up front haste that also works on every other healing spell, but that may be me being greedy, and the set bonus will allow you to cast more Healing Waves if that's your healing style, thanks to Tidal Waves. It's not as if the sets don't have haste on them, and I like the crit for proccing Ancestral Awakening and other resto talents. I use Riptide a lot as my panic heal since it's an instant cast, so having it more often available works for me. I also like seeing a more diverse gem spread on the sockets for the new set, giving more options.
As of the last time I checked both MMO-Champion and Wowhead, we don't know which bosses drop most of the tokens, although we do know that as of now Freya drops the legs and Thorim drops the hat token.

Okay, that's enough about the set pieces. Next week we'll talk about either rings, trinkets, belts, boots and neck pieces with an eye to also covering non-set gear to fill the same slots as your sets, or we'll cover Emblem of Conquest vendor gear.

Filed under: Shaman, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, (Shaman) Totem Talk

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