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Totem Talk: Enhancement shaman guide to Cataclysm reputation gear

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. Do your likes include bladed weapons, the elements, and fights with little to no movement/target switching? So does Josh Myers, new kid on the block and now host of Totem Talk: Enhancement!

From Timbermaw Hold to the Dragonmaw Clan, who you know has always been an important part of the World of Warcraft. When Deathwing smashed the World Pillar, toppled the Stonewrought Dam, and went Death Star on Stormwind's Park District, he made a whole lot of enemies. From angry earth elementals to druidic defenders of those with "wet little noses," the Cataclysm of Azeroth has brought about an assortment of new factions for grinding friendship with.

This is WoW Insider's guide to plotting your enhancement shaman's reputation progression in the most practical manner possible.

Before we get into the actual reputation, we should talk about gearing. This post is written with the goal of getting you the items that will be most useful to you in the shortest amount of time. In order to do that, we need to know what we're looking for in items.

First off, we want hit. Some 1,742 (1,639 if you're a draenei) hit is required to reach the 17 percent spell hit cap, and we're going to get that in any way possible. While enchants, gems, and reforging are all possible ways to get hit rating, we're really looking for it on gear. Hit will be our most prioritized stat, followed closely by expertise. We want to eliminate being dodged by raid bosses by amassing 541 expertise, or 451 if you're a dwarf or orc who's wielding race-appropriate weapons.

After hit/expertise are capped, mastery and agility become our two best stats. Since agility stays constant among equal iLevel gear (for example, all ilvl346 cloaks have 168 agility), what we're really looking at is secondary stats. Mastery blows critical hit/haste rating out of the water, and critical hit is slightly more valuable than haste.

Haste, our delightful best friend from Wrath of the Lich King, comes in a solid last place in the stat-weighing game. Items with hit/expertise are valued above all other combinations. Hit/mastery and expertise/mastery are next on our "important to look for" list, and mastery/crit or mastery/haste become what we use once we're solidly hit-capped. Crit/haste items (which seems to be half of the rare-quality loot at level 85) are only to be equipped in last-ditch circumstances when they're replacing older, significantly lower iLevel loot.

Delving into Deepholm

Bearing this in mind, we start our reputation adventure in the Elemental Plane of Deepholm, with Therazane the Stonemother. Therazane rep is awesome because you can start it while leveling to 85, and completing the Sons of Hodir-esque quest chain that unlocks Therazane reputation puts you solidly into honored to start. At honored, you get access to the Lesser Inscription of Shattered Crystal, a 30 agility / 20 mastery (our two most desired stats) shoulder enchant. You're going to continue on after the quest line with Therazane by wearing their tabard. Do this until you hit revered, which unlocks Terrath's Signet of Balance. Beyond having mastery and hit rating, our favorite combination, this ring has an item level of 346, on par with heroic gear. This will help you in pursuing that dreaded ilvl329 required gear average.

Once you hit revered with Therazane, unequip their tabard. You still want to do their dailies daily, but the only benefit of hitting exalted is the Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal. And though a 20 agility / 5 mastery increase is nice, you can make do with the lesser inscription while you grind more important reputation.

Repping with Ramkahen

Now that you're revered with the Stonemother, you'll be exiting Deepholm and making your way to Uldum to befriend the quadrupedal Ramkahen. If you're leveling through questing at the same time, it should be a breeze to get halfway through honored with the Ramhaken. (Considering we killed her daughter, as Matt Rossi pointed out in his post about warriors and reputation, the brevity with which we get to honored with her is shocking.) I strongly encourage this, as tabard reputation gains are not as fast as they were in Wrath of the Lich King. At honored, you get access to Belt of the Stargazer, an underwhelming crit/haste belt with a blue socket and a +10 critical hit bonus. Unfortunately, I only know of two other blue agility-mail belts at level 85, one from Vortex Pinnacle and one from justice points, so the Belt of the Stargazer is worth grabbing for the item level boost alone. More importantly, at revered you get access to Arcanum of the Ramkahan, a 60 agility / 35 haste rating helm enchant.

Once you have Ramkahan rep at revered (this should take a few dungeons after finishing questing), ditch the tabard. While riding camels is nice, there are no actual practical gear choices for enhancement at exalted with the cat people.

Mounting the defense at Hyjal

Post-Ramkahen, you're going to want to fly north to the sunny slopes of Hyjal to visit with the druidic Guardians of Hyjal. If you're like me and started your 80 to 85 questing in Hyjal, it's time to rejoice -- this will be the first reputation you're actually running to exalted, and the reputation gained from doing nearly every quest in the zone put me right around revered. Revered is a "meh" rep level. You get access to the Acorn of the Daughter Tree, a crit/haste neckpiece that is most useful for increasing your average iLevel.

The real reason for leveling this reputation comes at exalted, when you get the beautifully itemized Treads of Malorne, epic ilvl359 boots with hit rating, mastery, and a yellow gem slot with a 10-agility socket bonus. These boots might be your first epic item of the expansion, but they aren't worth prioritizing over the two enchanting reputations. As soon as you're free of Therazane and Ramkahan, though, go straight for these boots.

Therazane, the sequel

After getting the Treads of Malorne, you're going to backtrack. Despite the availability of dailies for Therazane, the reputation gained from them is so small that it will take you a week or two to hit exalted. If you're planning on starting raiding as soon as possible, you're going to want to retabard Therazane and go for exalted. If you're not too concerned with raiding within the next two weeks and you know you have the willpower to do seven dailies a day (I don't!), take your time doing dailies and skip to the next reputation.

The Earthen Ring

After hitting exalted with the earth elementals, the next step is the Earthen Ring. For an organization of shaman, this faction is actually really lackluster for enhancement, which is why I suggest skipping Vashj'ir entirely in favor of Hyjal. Doing just the Earthen Ring quests in Deepholm before the Therazane chain was available was able to get me to honored, however.

At honored, we get the Mantle of Moss, a shoulderpiece with crit/haste, and a yellow +10 agility bonus. Like most crit/haste ilvl333s, use this in your queuing for heroics set. Revered gets us the Softwind Cape, a haste/hit cape that would be OK if there wasn't a plethora of better agility cloaks available in heroics. (The Deadmines alone has two.) At exalted comes the only real reason to equip the Earthen Ring tabard, the Signet of the Elder Council. A pure DPS epic ring, it has both haste and mastery. The haste will benefit us by being reforged into something better, and the mastery and base agility on the ring will outweigh all the blue rings below it. It's worth getting in the long run, but save it for near the end.

The Montagues and the Capulets

Last, we come to the Wildhammer Clan and Dragonmaw Orcs. An unfortunate group of people, the only thing they have to offer us is the Snarling Helm / Windhome Helm, a crit/haste helm with a meta socket and a yellow gem socket with a 30 agility bonus. Considering both justice points and heroic Blackrock Cavern give us significantly better helms than this letdown, Wildhammer / Dragonmaw should be what you raise once you run out of other factions to make friends with.

The Tol Barad factions

Additionally, the as yet unmentioned but extremely important factions to grind reputation with are Baradin's Wardens / Hellscream's Reach. This reputation is unique because you can't increase reputation with a tabard and they use their own form of currency.

You get six daily quests with these reputations, plus more if your faction holds Tol Barad. Each quest gives between 250 to 350 reputation and one commendation of Tol Barad, which are used to buy the faction rewards. This reputation will be a grind that you have to do every day, and I didn't include it on the previous priority list because it didn't fit with the rest of the tabard-wearing factions. Grind this reputation out and save up your Tol Barad commendations for when you finally hit exalted, as you'll need a massive 125 to grab the Unsolvable Riddle, a mastery-loaded trinket with an agility use.

The high-priority list

Your priority zone choices for leveling for maximum reputation gain from 80 to 85 should be Hyjal, Deepholm, Uldum. Vashj'ir's Earthen Ring affiliations are lackluster, and Twilight Highlands' only benefits are its heightened experience rewards.

Once at 85 and running dungeons, you'll want to run Therazane to Revered > Ramkahan to Revered > Guardians of Hyjal to Exalted > Therazane to Exalted > Earthen Ring to Exalted > Ramkehan to Exalted >>> Dragonmaw / Wildhammer to anything ... all while grinding your Tol Barad dailies. Good luck, and enjoy your friends with benefits!

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk. Whether it's Sarah Nichol's elemental edition, Joe Perez's coverage of restoration or Josh Myers' enhancement edition, WoW Insider's shaman experts have you covered.

Filed under: Shaman, (Shaman) Totem Talk

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