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Totem Talk: Choosing an elemental shaman weapon in Dragon Soul

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Totem Talk for elemental, enhancement, and restoration shaman. Josh Myers once only tackled the hard questions about enhancement but has recently expanded his sphere of responsibility to all shaman DPS specs. (And no, two-handed enhancement is still never coming back.)
One of my favorite things about Dragon Soul are the weapons off Deathwing, as proc weapons have a long but tenuous history with WoW players. Some fondly remember the Fireball proc from Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros, while enhancement shaman look back on Onyxia's Empowered Deathbringer and wonder what Blizzard was thinking. Seriously, the lower-ilevel Calamity's Grasp off the end boss from two patches prior was a better choice.

Losing stats in favor of a weapon's proc effect is always a gamble, especially given how incredibly loaded weapons are with stats. Going from a Lightning Rod to a Ti'tahk, the Steps of Time involves giving up a tremendous 300 hit rating and even more haste rating with the hope of the haste proc's paying off in times of great need. Because of this, I was curious about how the weapons in Dragon Soul would stand up when compared to one another, especially since there are multiple non-proc weapons in the instance to compete with the proc ones. So, I took to every elemental shaman's best friend -- Simulation Craft -- and did some simulations with a variety of weapon combinations. The shocking results: Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest is still the best weapon in the game. Surprise?

The method to my madness

For my testing, I started off using previous elemental shaman columnist Matt Sampson's character Askledarea. I chose not to use my own character for a few reasons, foremost being that I had to switch my off spec to restoration this week, and figuring out my reforges/enchants/gems for elemental again would have been a pain. Also, The Artist Formerly Known as Binkenstein's character fulfilled a lot of what I needed in an ele shaman, mainly being in four-piece tier 13 with limited heroic Dragon Soul pieces. I did make an important note to make sure I added in an extra Brilliant Chimera's Eye in all my sims, to make up for the one currently in his Dragonwrath.

For the second point: Static stat weapons don't drop in the Raid Finder, so I chose to focus on normal mode weapons. I did decide to include Raid Finder versions of Ti'tahk, the Steps of Time and Rathrak, the Poisonous Mind. My reasoning is that the four weapons the majority of raiders will have access to are the RF Madness of Deathwing weapons and the regular drops off the first six bosses of Dragon Soul. I included normal Madness of Deathwing drops for comparison, though. I also decided to leave the Vagaries of Time out of the equation, as its stats are not ideal for elemental. That said, it's not awful, and if it's your only option, consider taking it.

The first sim I did was of Askledarea in her current gear, to get a sense of the sort of DPS a tricked-out elemental shaman can do. With her Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest, Askledarea simmed at 43,371 DPS ... And as you'll find out later, this is about 5,000 DPS over any other sims I did tonight. Basically, if you have the chance to work on your DTR quest, you should still consider doing it. This staff will be best in slot this entire expansion.

Simming the stat weapons

Moving right along, the next stop on our journey is the normal Lightning Rod, gemmed with a Brilliant Chimaera's Eye and enchanted with the finest of Power Torrents. This weapon has extremely similar stats to DTR but offers slightly less hit rating and more haste. I reforged the hit into mastery, just like Bink's DTR, which left me slightly under hit cap at 16.92%, or 1631 hit rating. It's arguable that it might better to be slightly under hit cap than waste itemization going over, though, so those were all the changes I made. The verdict? A solid, respectable 37,865 DPS -- nothing extraordinary, but not horrid.

The next weapon up was Visage of the Destroyer, gemmed and enchanted the same way as Lightning Rod. I reforged out of some of its massive spirit and into haste rating. I also reforged the spirit on Lightning Spirit in a Bottle into haste and threw a Veiled Demonseye into his helm (losing 20 intellect, which might not have been my best choice.) At 16.99% hit, Visage of the Destroyer came in at 37,934 DPS ... a whopping 69 DPS above Lightning Rod. Either of these weapons would make a fine weapon for an elemental shaman.

The madness of Blizzard's itemizers

Next up is the Raid Finder version of Ti'tahk, the Steps of Time. Going from Visage to Ti'tahk was a huge drop in secondary stats, dropping Askledarea's below 2,000 haste and putting her approximately 200 hit away from capping. To deal with this, I kept the Veiled Demonseye in her helm and reforged the mastery on her legs into haste rating (freeing up the spirit previously reforged on the legs.) This hit-capped her, and left me free to sim.

The results were not what I expected. Raid Finder Ti'tahk doesn't even put up a fight again the static stat weapons, clocking in at an awful 36,494 DPS, meaning around a 1,500 DPS loss. Thankfully, some of this lost DPS can mostly be explained by the drop in ilevel. Switching in the ilevel 403 version next was easy, as there were no stats that needed reforging. The normal mode Ti'tahk almost redeemed its good name, but fell short of passing either Lightning Rod or Visage of the Destroyer at a modest 37,733 DPS. That said, I don't think SimCraft the DPS given to the rest of your raid group with Ti'tahk's AoE haste proc, which might put it slightly ahead of the other two weapons.

A screenshot showing simulation craft
The last weapon to model was Rathrak, the Poisonous Mind. I decided to use the ilevel 397 Dragonfire Orb in my off hand, as I already had hit-capped at 17.02% and I didn't want to mess with the spirit on Timepiece of the Bronze Flight or Ledger of Revolting Rituals, but those are both good options. Using Dragonfire Orb gave me some of the mastery and haste that was lost from unequipping stat weapons, pushing Askledarea back over 2k haste and sitting him at a nice 2,200 mastery.

It simmed at 37,382 DPS -- definitely weaker than Lightning Rod or Visage, but 900 DPS above the equivalent ilevel Ti'tahk. This was good news and left me in high spirits for my last simulation of the night: normal mode Rathrak, the Poisonous Mind. Like Ti'tahk, it required no other reforging or gemming and ended up simming at a beautiful 38,526 DPS, making it far and above the best possible weapon choice in normal Dragon Soul for an elemental shaman. This likely has to do with the off-hand weapon softening the blow of losing stats combined with the main-hand providing a nice proc, and it definitely makes this an exciting weapon to look forward to, especially since it will perform even better on multi-target fights like Madness of Deathwing or Yor'sajh the Unsleeping.

The important thing to remember in all of this is that these simulations were all done with Askledarea's gear, not with yours. People running without four-piece tier 13 won't have the same sort of EP value on mastery that she does, and Lightning Rod would probably pull ahead of Visage of the Destroyer. It's also important to note that with all my sims I didn't play around with secondary stats other than hit, and that it's very possible I wasn't running optimal configurations for the weapons. With that in mind, the best thing you can do is to learn how to use Simulation Craft yourself and work on simming your own gear.

Show your totemic mastery by reading Totem Talk: Elemental. Let's get down to business with a heart-to-heart on fixing the fire elemental problem, and then join us for a discussion of best practices for elemental shaman.

Filed under: Shaman, Raiding, (Shaman) Totem Talk, Cataclysm

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