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The lack of wands in Cataclysm

Very recently, a reader by the name of Jasper submitted a question via our tip line: Why can't enchanters make wands beyond level 30? I don't have an answer to that question, beyond "because they make enough money as it is." However, it made me look into the wands available at level 85 and items for the ranged slot in general.

There are no level 85, pre-heroic wands for classes that do not use spirit. There is only one ilevel 333 wand in the game, and it drops in Grim Batol. All other ranged slots have ilevel 333 (or ilevel 346) bind on equip items available. This puts casters at an obvious (though admittedly minor) disadvantage when trying to gear for heroics.

For classes that use relics, scribes are able to craft the following: Each of these items is ilevel 346 -- they're not cheap, but you can acquire them with a chunk of gold or a little time spent solo farming. Picking up one of these relics on the auction house (or having a friend craft one for you) will kick-start you on your way into heroics. They're legitimately good items on par with heroic gear, and they will help your average ilevel along.

For classes able to equip guns and crossbows, engineers can provide the following:
These items are ilevel 333. There is the ilevel 346 Kickback 5000, but that requires a Chaos Orb to craft and isn't nearly as accessible as the 333 items. Still, it is a bind on equip, heroic-quality gun that you could get off of the auction house if you wish to do so. There is no bow option -- but personal preferences aside, if you can use a bow, you can use a gun or a crossbow, so a bow option isn't necessary.

Update: There actually is an ilevel 346 bow crafted by engineers that I managed to miss, despite being a 525 engineer. The Overpowered Chicken Splitter is your friend!

There are zero bind on equip options for wands with an ilevel of 333 or higher. The last BOE wand is the world drop Cyu's Ornate Wand of ilevel 316, but more likely you'll be using the ilevel 318 Beach-Sweeper Wand (Alliance) / Shackle-Shatter Wand (Horde) from one of the earliest quests in Twilight Highlands.

The only ilevel 333 option for wands is the Wand of Untainted Power, a spirit wand that drops from Forgemaster Throngus in Grim Batol. Not only can casters not acquire a BoE wand like every other ranged item, there is only one pre-heroic wand, and it isn't particularly desirable to classes that don't utilize spirit heavily. At least you can reforge spirit -- despite being listed among the primary stats, it is considered a secondary stat. You can dump half of it if you'd like.

Why is there only one wand option prior to heroics? The lack of BoEs aside, the wand drops are just unfortunately placed. The ilevel 346 wands that become accessible in heroics are:
  • Corla's Baton This wand drops from Corla, Herald of Twilight in Blackrock Caverns. The normal version of this wand is not a 333 item. Blackrock Caverns is likely the very first instance you will run stepping into Cataclysm content, so the non-heroic version of the wand is ilevel 308.
  • Cookie's Stirring Rod The normal version of this wand doesn't even drop in post-80 content. The normal version of Deadmines is still for level 15+ players, so the normal version of this wand is a mere ilevel 20.
So of the three wands available with an ilevel of 346, only one of them has an ilevel 333 equivalent. This is an unfortunate gearing gap that could have been bridged with crafted wands. Why aren't there any crafted wands? I'm not sure. Was it intended, or did the problem just not cross the developers' minds? Enchanters haven't made wands since level 30, so the idea may not have ever been brought to the table.

Also, there really is the possibility that the developers believe enchanting is too profitable as it is, and I might even agree with that. Many enchanters have built castles made of gold at the release of this expansion and the last just via disenchanting items and selling dusts and essences at ludicrous prices. Making one trade skill too profitable is a real concern. Would crafted wands have pushed it over the edge? Maybe.

Is the lack of ilevel 333 wands a game-breaking concern? Not at all. Casters can still gear up for heroics fairly quickly if they set their mind to it; they're just at a small disadvantage compared to others. Their wand slot will be dragging down their ilevel, and they will need to make it up elsewhere, but it isn't going to be so damaging that they will be unable to gear up for heroics.

Still, it's an imbalance in gearing/itemization, and one that's easily fixed via crafted wands. Do other instances of itemization gaps exist in Cataclysm? Yes, but this is the most obvious and probably the easiest to fix.

Sorry Jasper, I don't have an answer to your question. I don't know why enchanters don't craft wands anymore -- but they should.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm

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