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Spiritual Guidance: Top 10 trinkets for the pre-raiding shadow priest

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests.

All armor is pretty much the same. That may have always been the case, when it comes down to it, but it seems especially noticable in Cataclysm. Each armor slot has the same "stat budget," with the only differences between pieces of equipment at the same item level being the secondary stats that piece contains. Thanks to reforging, finding the right piece of armor isn't a big deal -- we can just find something close to what we need and modify it until it meets our specifications.

Our two trinket slots are special, though. Trinkets don't carry around the same intellect and stamina that all other equipped pieces of armor do. It's notoriously difficult to rank which trinket is best, because they all have special "on-use" or "proc" effects that vary from piece to piece.

Of course, it's those differences that make trinkets so compelling. The right trinket can make a huge impact in your DPS. For those of you who have yet to raid, there are 10 solid DPS caster trinket options -- six ilevel 346 rares and four ilevel 359 epics -- that you can choose from if you have the patience (or gold). Most have a huge spellpower proc. Some offer haste. One special little trinket offers intellect. We'll break them all down in this week's quest to answer the question, "What trinket is right for me?"

How exactly do you calculate which trinket is best?

Last week, we took on the issue of a non-BiS shadow priest's stat weightings. For the purposes of this article, we'll be using the assumption that haste is equal to hit in terms of DPS potential, while critical strike and mastery are similar but slightly less in value. Intellect is always a shadow priest's best stat; spellpower is always a shadow priest's second best stat.

The trinkets below are listed in terms of which provide the greatest positive impact on the average pre-raid shadow priest's DPS.

10. Anhuur's Hymnal

Anhuur's Hymnal drops off of Temple Guardian Anhuur in the Halls of Origination. He's the first boss in the instance. You know, the one that sings? And he drops a hymnal. How cute.

If you're building a raiding set for your shadow priest, you may be familiar with this trinket already -- both the regular and heroic versions offer gobs of valuable hit. Of course, hit isn't the right stat for everyone, and if you're focused on heroics right now, Anhuur's Hymnal is a waste.

Anhuur's Hymnal offers a pretty standard spellpower proc: 1,710 spellpower lasting 10 seconds. It seems to have a 10% chance to proc, with a 45-second internal cooldown. All combined, Anhuur's Hymnal averages out to be worth the DPS equivalent of 347 pseudo-intellect.

9. Soul Casket

The Soul Casket is a pretty big draw. The reasons are obvious: It's an epic (ilevel 359) trinket that you can buy with 1,650 valor points. If you've been running heroics without winning a solid trinket, it's just a quick purchase away. And it's an epic trinket -- how bad could it be, right?

Well, think about this: Soul Casket offers 321 points of mastery on equip, which isn't exactly a shadow priest's best stat. The bonus to Soul Casket is an on-use proc: 1,926 spellpower for 20 seconds (with a 2-minute cooldown). That's something of a mixed blessing -- on-use effects are easy to forget, and they give you one more aspect of your DPS rotation to actively manage. If you're on top of managing the proc, though, you can time it for when you need it most -- when adds show up, for example, or when a boss like Foe Reaper 5000 enters their enrage phase. On-use procs are also great to overlap with other procs like Hurricane or your Shadowfiend -- they lead to a very satisfying multiplicative effect that results in a massive boost to your DPS. Its overall value is approximately 353 pseudo-intellect.

Overall, Soul Casket is a solid trinket, but there are better options that don't eat up valuable valor points. I strongly suggest skipping this one.

8. Tendrils of Burrowing Dark

The Tendrils of Burrowing Dark drops off Ozruk in the Stonecore, if you're lucky enough to have a tank smart enough to beat the encounter. The heroic version of the trinket offers 285 mastery on equip, with a 1,710 spellpower for 15 seconds proc. Based on in-game data, the internal cooldown seems to be 60 seconds with a 10% or so chance to proc.

At first glance, it looks like a toned-down version of the Soul Casket. In practice, however, the Tendrils' shorter internal cooldown puts this trinket slightly ahead of its epic competition. It's worth about 356 pseudo-intellect ... possibly more or less, depending on how strong your RNG luck is.

7. Gale of Shadows

The Gale of Shadows, an ilevel 346 trinket, drops off Erudax, the final boss of Grim Batol. It's a trinket specifically for classes with damage over time (or heal over time) spells, since its proc is dependent on periodic spells. The proc is both powerful and reliable -- it quickly builds to a steady 340 spellpower buff that lasts the duration of your fight. That 340 spellpower combines with the standard 285 points of haste you get on equip to give you the DPS equivalent of 369 intellect.

Would you rather your trinket provide you with a constant, strong level of DPS, or would you rather your trinkets offer periodic, harder to predict periods of extraordinary (but fleeting!) DPS? If the answer is the former, then Gale of Shadows is right for you.

6. Sorrowsong

The Sorrowsong trinket, which drops off of Siamat in Lost City of the Tol'vir (in both heroic and regular), is one of the more intriguing trinket choices available in Cataclysm. The base stat is mastery -- the heroic version offers 285 points' worth. (The regular version offers 252.) The buffs to mastery that came with patch 4.0.6 make that aspect more attractive, but the compelling reason to grab this trinket lies in the unique spellpower proc.

Whenever you successfully attack an enemy below 35% health with the heroic version of Sorrowsong equipped, you're guaranteed a 1,710 spellpower proc. Note that isn't a chance at a proc, it's a guaranteed proc -- each and every time, so long as it's been at least 10 seconds since your last Sorrowsong proc has expired. Simple math suggests you'll enjoy that spellpower benefit for at least 17.5% of the fight.

Of course, that's just the minimum -- each and every add you have to attack during a fight suggests a higher value for Sorrowsong in that fight. Fights like Commander Springvale and Erudax offer two fresh adds at regular intervals to refresh Sorrowsong; fights like Corborus and High Priestess Azil (both in Stonecore) feature many more adds that can be utilized to "game" the trinket.

Sorrowsong's minimum value to you is 324 pseudo-intellect and is what you should expect to see on a lengthy boss fight without adds like Altairus. Its maximum value, however, is much much higher. On a fight like Admiral Ripsnarl when you're constantly facing adds, Sorrowsong can outshine even the best trinket on this page.

5. Stump of Time

Let's be honest -- getting to that high new 1,742-point hit cap can be difficult without a trinket like Stump of Time. Bought off the Tol Barad quartermaster (at exalted), it offers 321 points of hit. It offers 1,962 spellpower for 15 seconds as a proc; the internal cooldown seems to be about 75 seconds with a 10% chance to proc.

Getting the point where you can buy Stump of Time requires a lot of work and time spent doing dailies in Tol Barad; it costs 125 Tol Barad commendations. Once you put in that work, though, you can buy a solid, epic-quality raiding trinket that offers a whopping 399 points of pseudo-intellect.

4. Witching Hour

Dropping off of Ascendant Lord Obsidius in Blackrock Caverns, the Witching Hour trinket is the absolute best you'll find in a Cataclysm heroic. The reason should be clear: Its primary stat is intellect -- 285 points' worth. The trinket's proc is darn good, too: 1,710 points of haste, lasting 15 seconds. It appears to have the same 75-second cooldown that Stump of Time has.

These two benefits combine to value Witching Hour at 405 points of intellect, the best of all the ilevel 346 options. Simply put, if you don't have this trinket yet, go get it.

3. Vibrant Alchemist Stone

If you're not an alchemist, keep moving -- this trinket is a special item limited to that profession. If you are an alchemist, though, and you haven't made the epic Vibrant Alchemist Stone ... why the hell not? It's fantastic.

Why? Well, for starters, it offers 351 points of intellect at all times, provided you toss a Brilliant Inferno Ruby in the red gemming socket. That alone is enough to make it competitive with some of the other trinkets in this list. In addition to that intellect, though, you get 194 bonus points of haste. That combines to create a trinket valued at 429 points of pseudo-intellect.

The Vibrant Alchemist Stone offers a benefit beyond the standard DPS boost -- it increases the effect of mana and health potions by 40%. I don't know an awful lot of shadow priests who use mana pots right now, considering their cost. Still, it's a nice bonus, even if you never wind up using it.

2. Jeweled Serpent

The Jeweled Serpent is a special profession-only benefit for jewelcrafters. To be able to make it, you need to first find the broken Figurine - Jeweled Serpent world drop. Don't let that discourage you, though -- the drop rate is strong, provided you're already jewelcrafting 475. Once you find the world drop, you're only a couple hundred gold worth of materials away from a tremendous trinket.

Like the Witching Hourglass, it offers 285 points of intellect. It's bonus proc is on-use spellpower: 1,425 spellpower lasting for 20 seconds. That's much longer than most spellpower procs, but note that you can only use it once every 2 minutes. Like the Soul Casket proc, it's great for overlapping with other procs or for combining with your Shadowfiend. Overall, its value is 463 pseudo-intellect, provided you always remember to use it the moment it comes off cooldown. (Admittedly, that's no easy task, especially in fast-paced heroics.)

1. Darkmoon Card: Volcano

I may be a little biased here: My banker alt is a scribe, and I've made hundreds of thousands of gold crafting and selling Darkmoon decks. But there's a reason why Darkmoon decks are such great sellers -- it's because they're great trinkets. The DPS caster Darkmoon trinket, Volcano, is no different.

The trinket has, really, three DPS benefits. The first is the on-equip mastery bonus -- you get 321 points of it to help your DPS at all times throughout a fight. The main proc is where this trinket really shines, though, with 1,600 points of intellect for 12 seconds, with a 45-second internal cooldown. That's a massive benefit, especially when you can combine it with your Shadowfiend -- after all, more intellect means more mana return. And if that wasn't enough, whenever Volcano procs, you hit your target for a bonus 4,000 points or so of damage.

The first two components of the trinket add up to 527 points of pseudo-intellect. I'm not quite sure how to convert the 4,000-point damage bonus hit into intellect, so count it as gravy -- a nice little bonus on an already superior trinket.

My shadow priest has Volcano equipped. It's an expensive trinket, to be sure; right now, it costs 14,000 gold on my server. If that's too rich for your blood, wait it out -- the price comes down with each Darkmoon faire. The value of the trinket is so strong and so far beyond the alternatives that you'll probably be holding on to it well into the next major patch. If you can afford it, get it. Now.

Are you more interested in watching health bars go down than watching them bounce back up? Think it's neat to dissolve into a ball of pure shadow every few minutes? Hunger for the tangy flesh of gnomes? The darker, shadowy side of Spiritual Guidance has you covered (occasionally through the use of puppets).

Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance

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