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Spiritual Guidance: Gearing up a shadow priest in Patch 4.2

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Every Wednesday, shadow priesting expert Fox Van Allen rains sheer purple destruction down on all who oppose him (and even those who don't, provided they drop shiny purple epics on the way down).

To some, patch 4.2 represented a great new opportunity to explore new content, including an "interesting" new quest chain involving "World-Shaman" Thrall and a new daily questing hub/zone, the Molten Front. To others, it was a chance to make money hand over fist on the auction house. To us shadow priests hoping to be the best we can be in the new Firelands raid, however, patch 4.2 means grinding.

Hyjal dailies. Firelands trash. ZA/ZG runs. Sweet, familiar, awful grinding.

For the most intrepid of grinders, your pain-inducing effort has finally borne fruit -- some of us already have the valor points saved up to buy an item at our faction's vendor in Stormwind or Orgrimmar. But what exactly should we be buying? Is the Molten Front grind worth it? And where exactly do you find the best pieces of equipment for your patch 4.2 shadow priest?


Priority 1: Assembling your T12

In terms of boosting your DPS, there are few pieces of gear better suited to your goals than shadow priest Regalia of the Cleansing Flame tier. Like the previous tier, there are five pieces available, three of which you can buy with valor points:
The other two pieces of Regalia of the Cleansing Flame are only available to Firelands raiders. The Hood of the Cleansing Flame can be purchased with a Helm of the Fiery Conqueror token that drops off of Ragnaros; the Shoulderwraps of the Cleansing Flame can be purchased with a Mantle of the Fiery Conqueror token that drops off Majordomo Staghelm.

Overall, your tier 12 set is pretty well itemized; only the leggings lack haste. Since both the Leggings and the Gloves are likely to drop off Occu'thar, the new boss in Baradin Hold, it's probably smartest to save up your valor points to get the Vestment of the Cleansing Flame first.

Of course, tier pieces aren't your only options for filling your chest, legs, hands, head, and shoulder slots. For example, there are the mastery-plus-haste Robes of Smoldering Devastation from Beth'tilac and the crit-plus-haste Fingers of Incineration from Ragnaros.

On Dragonwrath and those "lesser" weapons

Let's face facts for a minute. Some of you will be getting the drool-worthy patch 4.2 DPS caster legendary Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest. Most of you probably won't.

It's not that shadow priests aren't a terrific candidate for the legendary -- it's loaded with haste, our favorite stat, and the staff's damage-duplicating proc benefits us just as much as any other DPS caster. It's that assembling the Dragonwrath is a team effort, and some raiding teams simply won't be able to get past the first major quest hurdle for quite some time. And even when that first Dragonwrath is crafted, well ... some shadow priests will need to wait in line behind their fellow guildies.

Long story short -- don't give up an opportunity to upgrade your weapon, even if you expect to grab the legendary in the future. Spend some time plotting your first i365 or i378 epic weapon upgrade. After all, there's no way in knowing how long you'll have to wait for Dragonwrath.
  • If you're not planning on spending a lot of time raiding in this next tier, then you should take a long, hard look the i365 BOE Lightforged Elementium Hammer. Granted, it contains mastery and spirit, which may not be the ideal combination of stats you're looking for. (Reforge to haste!) But still, the Hammer will be craftable by blacksmiths once they get past the Firelands daily quest gating, making it quite accessible even to casual players. The mats look expensive -- eight Truegold, 30 Volatile Water, and five Chaos Orbs -- but even so, I have no reason to doubt this will be a popular seller on the auction house in patch 4.2.
  • Alternatively, those with a blacksmithing friend could plead for a one-handed i365 Masterwork Elementium Spellblade instead. It contains crit and hit, though, which arguably makes it less attractive an option than the Hammer above. The plans for the Spellblade are gated behind Firelands dailies as well, so don't expect too see the auction house flooded with these just yet.
  • What's that, you say? You're an auction house high roller and want a better BOE option? Or, perhaps, you have the patience to farm a trash BOE epic from the Firelands? If that's the case, there are two options: the i378 Spire of Scarlet Pain (a two-handed staff) and the i378 Chelley's Sterilized Scalpel (a one-handed dagger). Unfortunately, neither is well-itemized. If you've already got a heroic off-hand from the last tier (or like to heal as your off-spec), you should prefer the Scalpel; if you've been unlucky with off-hands and don't heal, the hit-containing Spire kills two birds with one stone.
  • Of course, you have a number of options once you start downing bosses in the Firelands. Shannox, Beth'tilac, and Ragnaros all drop staves (the Smoldering Censer of Purity, the Funeral Pyre, and Sho'ravon, Greatstaff of Annihilation respectively). Rag's staff is a i384; the other two are i378s. The Smoldering Censer is the only of the three with haste; thankfully, it's also the staff that should prove easiest for shadow priests to obtain via raiding.
  • What's the best weapon for shadow priests in patch 4.2 (aside from Dragonwrath)? There's little question about it: Ko'gun, Hammer of the Firelord. It's a one-handed i384 mace that drops off Ragnaros with both haste and spirit. The i397 heroic version is even better, of course.

Necks

Both the Amulet of Burning Brilliance and Firemind Pendant are available at a cost of 1,250 valor points; the latter is better itemized for shadow priests. The best neck piece available, however, is the Flowform Choker. Containing mastery, haste, and a luscious red gem socket, the i384 Choker is a drop from Majordomo Staghelm in Firelands.

Cloaks

If you haven't done the new Thrall quest chain already (it starts with The Call of the World-Shaman in either Orgrimmar or Stormwind), do it. Your reward is the Mantle of Desire, a nicely itemized i365. If you're raiding, you've probably already earned the superior Rippling Flamewrath Drape -- it requires nothing more than 250 gold and a friendly reputation with the Avengers of Hyjal faction. You don't need to be a hardcore raider to grind to friendly; a couple of trash runs will put you there.

Bracers

When Cataclysm launched, the bracer slot was one of the hardest to fill. Not so in patch 4.2 -- all your bracer options have gone bind-on-equip. At a cost of 1,250 VP, you can grind your way to the spirit-plus-haste Firesoul Wristguards ... or you may be able to work out a deal through trade chat. (As of yesterday, they were going for about 20,000 gold on my server.) Another option are the crit-plus-haste Wristwraps of Arrogant Doom, which drop off Majordomo Staghelm. They're BOE as well; keep an eye on the auction house.

Belts

The easiest way for a raiding shadow priest to get a new waist item is to grind his way to honored with Avengers of Hyjal. At that point, the i378 crit-plus-haste Embereye Belt is available for a mere 300 gold. A slightly better choice: the perfectly itemized haste-plus-mastery i384 Majordomo's Chain of Office. In case you can't guess, that particular item drops from Majordomo Staghelm.

Boots

It appears that the best-in-slot boots for shadow priests in 4.2, the haste-plus-spirt Endless Dream Walkers, will come from the tailoring profession. Don't get too excited, though -- the materials required to throw these together are not easy to come by: 8 Dreamcloth, 4 Living Embers, and of course, the pattern required to make them.

The Coalwalker Sandals that drop from Shannox are not perfectly itemized, but they do provide a much easier-to-obtain alternative to the mat-heavy Endless Dream Walkers. Your third boot option, the Boots of the Black Flame, come from a tailor and require the same amount of materials to make as the Endless Dream Walkers. Considering the amount of gold, farming, and time required to make a pair of i378 cloth boots, and considering that they're not as well itemized as the Endless Dream Walkers, I'd avoid having these made.

Rings

Your ring slots are easy to fill as well, provided you bash your head up against the Firelands bosses enough times. The Quicksilver Signet of the Avengers and Infernal Signet of the Avengers are superb choices for your finger. Both are i391 (yes, heroic quality!) and require little more than exalted reputation with the Avengers of Hyjal and some gold.

Off-hands

Your best bet for your off-hand slot is the i378 spirit-plus-haste Goblet of Anger that drops off Shannox; the less attractive i378 hit-plus-crit Molten Scream drops off Baleroc. Those who grind their way to accessing vendors in the Molten Front will be rewarded with the i365 Globe of Moonlight, which isn't bad at all considering that you don't need to raid to get it.

Wands

There are a pair of i378 wands purchasable with valor points -- 700 VP buys your choice of the Scorchvine Wand or Trail of Embers. Alternatively, you can try to save your valor points by scoring the crit-plus-mastery Stinger of the Flaming Scorpion off Majordomo Staghelm. My favorite of the lot is the haste-plus-hit Trail of Embers, but don't spend VP on the wand until you've already bought your tier 12.

Trinkets: A recap

A few weeks ago, we talked about the new-for-4.2 shadow priest trinkets in this space. Though a little bit of debate raged on in the comment sections as to whether or not mastery was truly a shadow priest's top stat (certainly debatable), there are some key takeaways that I'll republish here that hold true regardless of the stat weighting debate:
  • Necromantic Focus, a drop off of Baleroc in the Firelands, is definitely one of your best-in-slot trinkets. It comes with a giant chunk of intellect and a reliably constant mastery proc. It was practically made for shadow priests, specifically.
  • Variable Lightning Pulse Capacitor, with intellect and a somewhat unique damage proc, looks like a solid contender for best-in-slot depending on how it actually theorycrafts in a real, in-game situation. (I'm not comfortable making any definitive statements whether this trinket is "best" until I can test it out live.) The Capacitor drops from Ragnaros.
  • Your best-in-slot trinkets from patch 4.1, Darkmoon Card: Volcano and heroic Theralion's Mirror, remain quite strong options for the new patch 4.2 tier.
  • The Moonwell Chalice trinket available from the new Hyjal dailies and the Avengers of Hyjal reputation reward Rune of Zeth trinkets are lousy choices, lagging behind a number of trinkets that have been in the game since Cataclysm's launch. The Avengers of Hyjal reputation reward Fiery Quintessence, however, makes a good choice for a shadow priest with a healing off-spec (or one who has little interest in raiding).
Like in patch 4.1, it appears that most secondary shadow priest stats are, at the very least, competitive with each other. This means that even a "lousy" drop with poor itemization isn't the end of the world -- simply reforge away the least desirable stat (crit, usually) and make do the best you can.

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.

Filed under: Priest, (Priest) Spiritual Guidance, Cataclysm

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