I've said it before and I'll say it again: Gearing in Cataclysm is boring. It's not that there aren't best-in-slot pieces -- there absolutely are -- it's just that reforging makes getting those best-in-slot pieces a lot less important. After all, if you need more haste or more hit, you can always reforge other stats until you have as much as you want. Simple.
There's one slot that's absolutely compelling, though, and that's the trinket slot. Trinket bonuses are so specific that it's often impossible to tell what's an upgrade and what isn't without a calculator or spreadsheet. And while those new i378 boots are almost guaranteed to be better than that i359 pair you currently have equipped, the same can't be said for the new trinkets.
So, which of the new patch 4.2 trinkets make the cut ... if any? Is the Darkmoon Card: Volcano still king? And further, what the heck are our new stat weightings in patch 4.2 going to be so we can figure these answers out?
An early look at 4.2 stat weightings
Patch 4.2 will be bringing some notable changes to shadow priest abilities -- our DOTs are being nerfed by 12% while most of our other spells are being buffed 12%. It only stands to reason that stat weightings will be changing because of this.
To determine exactly what stats are changing (and by how much), we need to go back to our old standby for calculating stat weights, Simulationcraft. We'll calculate these stats assuming a best-in-slot, non-heroic geared, four-piece tier 11 shadow priest on a Patchwerk (stand-and-DPS type) fight:
This is an interesting result: haste moved from being our best stat to being our next-to-worst stat. (If you instead simulate a "helter skelter" fight with movement, crit actually moves ahead of haste.)
The change makes some logical sense. After all, Mind Blast benefits more from mastery than DOT spells (up to three times as much with three Shadow Orbs), and is less dependent on haste due to its long cooldown. The coming 12% buff to Mind Blast (and 12% nerf to DOTs) acts to increase the relative value of the mastery stat, while diminishing the relative value of haste.
Should you upgrade your trinkets?
To be sure, there are a lot of compelling epic trinket options coming in patch 4.2 from both raids and the new Hyjal dailies. To know whether any of these are an upgrade over what you have now, you need to recalculate the pseudo-intellect of your existing 4.1-era trinket. Thankfully, you don't have to break out the calculator -- I did the work for you.
Theralion's Mirror (heroic): 520
Darkmoon Card: Volcano: 498
Bell of Enraging Resonance (heroic): 481
Jeweled Serpent: 470
Theralion's Mirror (regular): 460
Vibrant Alchemist's Stone: 426
(NOTE: For a list comparing the best pre-raiding trinkets in the game as of patch 4.1, check out my Top 10 trinkets for the pre-raiding shadow priest article.)
As you can see, our current best-in-slot pieces still hold up well in 4.2. This is probably to be expected -- both contain mastery. But how well do they hold up when compared to the new-for-4.2 trinkets?
The Moonwell Chalice
The Moonwell Chalice, obtained by grinding your way through the new-for-4.2 Hyjal dailies, may very well prove the easiest new trinket for most shadow priests to acquire. To get it, you'll need to unlock vendor Ayla Shadowstorm by completing the Filling the Moonwell quest, and then pay her 122g 28s 20c.
Its item level is 365, suggesting it will be weaker than the trinkets you can obtain by raiding The Firelands, and the math backs this suggestion up. The trinket provides a static 340 intellect along with an on-use proc of 1,700 mastery for 20 seconds (with a 2 minute cooldown). Combined, the overall value of this trinket is 453 pseudo-intellect -- better than many trinkets that launched with Cataclysm, but certainly no better than our current patch 4.1 best-in-slots.
The Firelands raid boss drops
With each new raid patch comes new raid bosses, and patch 4.2 is no different. There appear to be two compelling trinkets available from bosses for shadow priests, the Variable Pulse Lightning Capacitor and Necromantic Focus.
Variable Pulse Lightning Capacitor This lengthily named DPS caster trinket comes with a static 406 intellect, which suggests its going to be a strong option for shadow priests. It comes with a very interesting and unique proc, too: "You gain an Electrical Charge each time you cause a damaging spell critical strike, granting a chance to fire a Lightning Bolt for 985 to 1,266 damage per Electrical Charge accumulated. You cannot have more than 10 Electrical Charges and cannot gain one more often than once every 2.5 sec."
That is rather difficult to model without learning more specifics, so we have to head to the PTR to test it out. Early reports suggest shadow priests can expect one of these charges to build about once every 3 seconds or so. Further, we can expect that the lightning bolt will almost always proc before the trinket gets a chance to build that "lost" eleventh charge. Those assumptions value the proc at about 375 DPS. Simulationcraft says that an extra 105 points of intellect will increase DPS by roughly 375 points, so the total pseudo-intellect value of the Variable Pulse Lightning Capacitor is about 511.
Necromantic Focus This trinket appears to be very similar to the Gale of Shadows trinket that drops off of Erudax in Grim Batol. As our DOTs roll, this trinket will build stacks of the Soul Fragment buff up to a maximum of ten (420 mastery). When combined with the static 383 points of intellect, this trinket will be worth approximately 551 pseudo-intellect -- the first we've looked at that's indisputably better than your current best-in-slots.
New, from the Avengers of Hyjal!
Like the Ashen Verdict of Patch 3.3, Patch 4.2 will bring a new raid instance faction, the Avengers of Hyjal. Presumably, players will grind their way into good standing with the these folks by smacking around bosses in The Firelands. (Blizzard has suggested grinding rep via trash mobs will not be an option.)
Once you get to "Revered" status with them, you'll be able to obtain two new i378 epic trinkets, Fiery Quintessence and Rune of Zeth. But is either worth the trouble?
Rune of Zeth This trinket, with 383 crit and a nice on-use intellect proc, appears to be aimed squarely at us, DPS casters. When you do the math, though, the trinket comes up short. The 1,277 intellect for 15 seconds proc (with 1 minute cooldown) is approximately equivalent to a steady bonus of 319 intellect; the 383 crit you get on equip is valued at about 145 intellect. You can boost this ever so slightly via reforging, but overall, you're looking at a pseduo-intellect value of 465 for the trinket, well below many of the trinkets that have been in the game since Cataclysm launched.
Fiery Quintessence With 383 spirit, this trinket appears to be custom made for healers. It does have a terrific 1,149 intellect for 25 seconds proc (with 90 second cooldown), however, making it very much worth investigating. So long as you can make use of the 383 spirit (via the Twisted Faith talent), the trinket winds up being excellent for shadow priests, with a pseduo-intellect value of 503. (Reforging out of the spirit here drops the pseduo-intellect value of the trinket by about 12 points.)
Putting together the shopping list
If you've put in the effort to grab your current best-in-slot trinkets, you're actually in surprisingly good shape. Heroic Theralion's Mirror holds up spectacularly well -- it's going to continue being a best-in-slot piece until you start running heroic Firelands content. Darkmoon Card: Volcano holds up well too, though better trinkets do exist.
Ultimately, the best-in-slot trinkets for shadow priests in patch 4.2 will be the heroic versions of Necromantic Focus and Variable Pulse Lightning Capacitor (currently worth approximately 625 and 577 pseduo-intellect respectively). Until you get to that point, the regular versions of each (or heroic Theralion's Mirror) are your best bets. Happy raiding!
Are you more interested in watching health bars go down than watching them bounce back up? We've got more for shadow priests, from Shadow Priest 101 to a list of every monster worth mind controlling and strategies for raiding Blackwing Descent.