So, it’s come down to this: it’s the end of the expansion, you either have more Emblems of Frost than you know what to do with or not enough to even put a dent in your shopping list, you’re locked to a certain level of progression which either does or does not include ICC/RS hardmodes, and all you want is a gear set that will give you a feeling of accomplishment. Or maybe you’re making the best of this time, gearing out an alt, before (/ominous music) … Azeroth is ripped asunder! Whatever your situation, it’s an interesting place to be, because on one hand you know, without a doubt, that once Cataclysm hits, that there will be some green which replaces your hard-earned Val’anyr or Glowing Twilight Scale. On the other hand, you need some solid motivation to keep you walking through the front door of ICC each week. Enter: the WotLK Resto Shaman Penultimate Shopping List.
After months of abstaining from the discussion of BiS, aside from the one grudging post which I made back in January of this year, and which has had more traffic lately than all the posts I’ve had mentioned on WoW.com (okay, it’s only been 2, so that’s not a hard threshold to meet!), I’ve finally swallowed my own philosophical objections. All those “BiS is a myth” and “BiS only matters during progression” and intense raging disclaimers won’t make an appearance in this post! (heh)
Instead, I’m (hopefully) giving a good number of curious restos precisely what they’ve been trying to Google—the Best in Slot Resto Shaman shopping list. I’m not going to give you the numbers behind the evaluation, because frankly speaking, these items are really only relevant when you’re talking about a set, so the calculated 10 HEP difference between The Pants of Uber and the Pants-of-not-as-much-Uber, doesn’t really matter here. (Visit EJ’s Resto Shaman TTT if you’d like the complete list.) Also, please do assume that I’m referencing the heroic versions of the loot listed; as pure stat upgrades there’s never a time where a normal version will outpace its heroic equivalent.
- Amazingly enough, Val’anyr still comes out on top, even with its decreased stat levels, due to of Protection of Ancient Kings. Because absorbs are by-and-large the best healing you can do in ICC and RS encounters, Val’anyr-equipped healers are still seeing significant contributions from this Ulduar legendary.
- Runners up: [Royal Scepter of Terenas II]*, [Trauma]
Off-Hand: [Bulwark of Smouldering Steel]*
- There’s no debate here; this shield will give you every stat you need and none of that pesky mp5.
- Runner up: [Bastion of Resolve]
Totem: [Totem of the Calming Tides]
- As the debate on Totemspot.com pointed out, because most Shaman find themselves raid healing these days, this Triumph badge item far outpaces the Frost badge option on the basis that the large majority of your heals will be CH, or at least one every 15 seconds, thus netting you a constant 234 spellpower increase.
- Runners up: [Totem of the Surging Sea], [Relentless Gladiator's Totem of the Third Wind]
- Another no-brainer; with no mp5 and no shortage of stats, the t10 helm is leagues beyond any offset piece.
- Runners up: None. Get thee thy t10.
- While at the start of ICC I might have argued that non-tier slots were where you needed to pick up some mp5, in today’s ICC environment, unless you’re doing heroic LK25, that additional regen is largely wasted. So, although you’ll have to fight off all your caster teammates, the throughput to be found on this neck is greater than any alternative.
- Runners up: [Soulcleave Pendant]*, [Choker of Filthy Diamonds]
Shoulder: [Sanctified Frost Witch’s Spaulders]*
- Because all of the alternates to this tier piece have the same SP/Haste/Crit distribution, your best gain will come from using the tier to complete your 4pc t10.
- Runners up: None. T10 or bust. ([Horrific Flesh Epaulets], ONLY IF you’re behind on badges)
Back: [Cloak of Burning Dusk]
- Part of the largest loot table in game for any boss, this cloak is one of many items that you’ll want to set your sights on for Ruby Sanctum.
- Runners up: [Frostbinder’s Shredded Cape], [Aethas' Intensity]
Chest: [Sanctified Frost Witch’s Tunic]*
- As with the tier shoulders, because all of the alternates to this tier piece have the same SP/Haste/Crit distribution, your best gain will come from using the tier to complete your 4pc t10.
- Runners up: None. Pony up and spend those badges. ([Robes of Azure Downfall] ONLY IF you’re behind on badges)
Wrist: [Phaseshifter’s Bracers]
- Although HEP calculations on EJ put Bracers of Fiery Night slightly ahead of these mail ones, you’ll likely have little to no luck convincing the casters in your guild to part with them.
- Runners up: [Bracers of Fiery Night], [Bloodsunder’s Bracers]*
Gloves: [Changeling Gloves]
- The gloves versus pants debate has raged on for almost all of ICC, with HPS values being presented for both sides of the argument. With all other items being the same, the winner in terms of pure stats becomes offset gloves + tier legs.
- Runners up: [Unclean Surgical Gloves]*, [Gloves of False Gesture]s
Waist: [Split Shape Belt]
- Another amazing item from Ruby Sanctum, it’s combination of crit/haste is ideal for a shaman not in need of additional regen (and it should make your cloth-wearing caster friends breathe a sigh of relief because it’ll keep your greedy mits off their Marrowgar belt!)
- Runners up: [Crushing Coldwraith Belt], [Belt of the Blood Nova]*
- As mentioned above, with HEP values of 2 for haste and 1 for crit, the BiS combination becomes offset hands with Sanctified Legs. (The Wowhead comparison; calcs utilized Haste = 2, Crit/SP/MP5 =1, Int = 0.8)
- Runners up: [Leggings of Woven Death], [Rippling Flesh Kilt]
- Another item that you’ll have a hard time wrangling away from your dps casters (or maybe pallies who haven’t surveyed the RS loot table), the slight bit of additional haste and Int has them moving past the RS10 and craftable mail options.
- Runners up: [Boots of Divided Being], [Earthsoul Boots]*
- With the proc on the Ashen Verdict Ring on a 60-sec internal CD, the contribution from this ring is greater than any other item out there so it should definitely be in one of your two rings slots. The other slot becomes a matter of preference and longevity, though technically Rapid Ascent will win out from a pure throughput perspective.
- Runners up: [Ring of Phased Regeneration], [Marrowgar’s Frigid Eye]*
Trinkets: [Glowing Twilight Scale]*
- While Solace was amazing up through ICC hardmodes, now at the tail end of the xpac, I’d have a hard time arguing that the additional mana (which is generally worthless on anything other than RS) makes it more valuable. With the on-use proc from the Twilight Scale equating to anywhere from 6-12% of my healing on some encounters, its throughput is simply unrivaled.
- Runners Up: [Solace of the Fallen]*, [Althor’s Abacus]
What if I can’t get all these pieces?
First, understand that you’re not alone. Hell, in our main runs, Vanquisher 277 tokens are being distributed to third offspecs, but Protector 277s remain as elusive as a Resto Shaman CD. (Oh sorry, was that my beta bitterness creeping through there?) So, if some of the pieces above are out of your reach, there are some great alternatives which will put you right with the pack.
The one thing to keep in mind when you’re upgrading your Resto Shaman’s gear is that you want to go for the biggest overall upgrades first, not just the low-hanging fruit. Meaning, although that Totem of the Surging Sea is only 30 Frost Emblems, you’ll want to pick up your 4pc first because the performance gains are so much greater.
So when you’re deciding between pieces, kitting out your Resto for some fun before Cataclysm is released, keep the following in mind:
- Stats – with a higher average level of gear, you’re going to need less longevity stats (mp5 and Int) and can spend more stat points on throughput (haste and crit).
- Upgrade the big items first – there’s a reason 3 t10 set pieces cost 95 badges, instead of 60—because the item budgets are greater overall, and thus represent a bigger stat gain for the wearer. So head for these pieces first, and hope that your luck holds out during VOA runs.
- Gear to your issues – If you’re having issues with seemingly weak heals, look to spellpower. If your spells aren’t getting there fast enough, look to haste. If you’re running out of mana, look to Int and mp5. And keep in mind that stacking one stat to the exclusion of all others only works when your gear is of sufficient level to back it up (and that means good levels of Int and Crit).
- Don’t gem Regen – Aside from your IED meta, gemming and enchanting for regen isn’t a good idea because the relative gains are comparatively small. The one notable exception to this is Shaman just making their way into raiding who need an overall stat boost, in which case going with a mix of SP/Int and SP/Haste gems with Int trinkets can be quite beneficial.
- Don’t gem crit – Just. Don’t. At all. It makes kittens cry.
So, hopefully the above guidelines and shopping list will prove of use when you make your next foray inside the last major instance of Wrath. But don’t feel bad if RNG strikes you down; take heart in that a gear wipe is mere months away!
(I included (*)s on the list showing the pieces that I use in my haste-heavy gear set to illustrate that, no matter if you’ve been downing content for months, you can still be behind the BiS curve.)