Admittedly, it’s been a while since I had to gear out a shaman (since the first days of Wrath’s release, to be precise, all those months ago). So when I received numerous requests to provide a how-to-gear for newly dinged 80’s I was set back on my heels just a bit because the lists that used to sit open on my desk during heroics, Naxx, and Sarth runs, are actually a bit outdated in today’s shiny ICC environment. But with a baby shaman just nearing 60, another alt-gearing is just around the corner for me. So, partly as preparation for my own efforts (which will mostly entail getting Vix’s doppelgänger shored up with some epics in advance of Cata leveling), and partly to help out those gearing new restos (be they re-rolls, new mains, or just-for-fun toons), here are some of the things you can do to better equip your end-game resto shaman.
(For those of you just getting into the Raiding Scene (ToC/ICC), I’d suggest checking out the Raider’s Answer Bag for more advanced discussion of stats and gearing.)
1. Heroics ‘till you’re blue!
Triumph badges are incredibly easy to come by, especially as a healer, and thankfully they can be the source of a whole host of upgrades for your recently-dinged shaman. A few hours (maybe a weekend) in the LFD queue can net you a whole host of badges and possibly some heroic-level upgrades to fill in the gaps:
- T9 Resto Chest (50 badges) / T9 Resto Gloves (30 badges) – While not necessary, 2pc t9 provides a great healing boost in 5- and 10-mans, and the stats on the chest and gloves will help round out your starter set.
- T9 Elemental Shoulders (30 badges) – with haste, crit, and spellpower, you can’t go wrong with these offspec shoulders.
- T9 Elemental Helm (50 badges) – another great Elemental item which you can use to supplement your Resto set, this is also a great alternative if Helm of Spirit Shock refuses to drop in H-FoS.
- Talisman of Resurgence (50 badges) – an amazing trinket for the cost, it should last you until you can pick up Sliver of Pure Ice or Purified Lunar Dust
- Heartmender Circle (35 badges) – yes, it has crit, but for starting shamans the Int, Spellpower and Mp5 are what make this ring worth picking up
- Band of the Invoker (35 badges) – although not ideal, because of the spirit, the stats on this ring make it worth picking up if you’re lacking good alternatives
- Totem of the Calming Tides (25 badges) – I use this totem to this day, because for a raid-healing shaman, there really is no substitute. The caveat to this is, if you’re just starting out, you’d be better served picking up the PVP totem, since 5-mans rarely call for CH.
- Leggings of the Weary Mystic (39 Emblems of Conquest) – Although they’re a downgrade from the t9 gear, I’d strongly suggest picking up these leggings because of the haste, solid mp5, and double sockets.
No doubt, the second easiest way to fill up your toon’s offset pieces is through BGs and the Wintergrasp battles. Despite the fact that the PVP items are laced with resilience and only offer one supplemental stat, they are definitely viable stand-ins. However, it’s important to consider PVP pieces carefully, because although they have a higher ilvl, you’re losing out on longevity stats like mp5 and Int, to the point where oftentimes a 245 item will be better to use than a ilvl264 PVP piece. So, two PVP pieces is about the max I’d recommend for any PVE gearset.
- Wrathful Gladiator’s Band of Dominance (52.2k honor) – although I’d advocate taking the Heartmender’s Circle over this ring with more crit and spellpower, if you have the honor to spare, it isn’t a bad pick-up.
- Wrathful Gladiator’s Cloak of Subjugation (52.2k honor) – With spellpower and haste, this is a very tasty item for starting restos. And while you will likely want to pick up a cloak later with a greater amount of Int and possibly mp5, this will provide a good stand-in in the meantime.
- Wrathful Gladiator’s Pendant of Subjugation (52.2k honor)
- Furious Gladiator’s Totem of the Third Wind (12k honor) – With the large majority of healing that I do in 5’s and 10’s being LHW (especially when I tank heal our ICC Heroic runs with a priest or druid), this totem can be a shaman’s best friend and a greater starter piece.
If you have money to spare, or some alts with crafting professions and mats lying around, crafting some solid supplemental pieces can make your gearing a lot easier and should last you well into ICC. Below are some of the pieces I’d pick up to help my resto along, ranked in terms of longevity:
- Bejeweled Wizard’s Bracers – I wore these until I got Bloodsunder’s Bracers, so in terms of bang for your buck, these are worth the investment. And, because they use Crusader’s Orbs, they shouldn’t be that costly.
- Earthsoul Boots – Although these boots can still set you back 3-6k, the only piece which will replace them are the Heroic Plague Scientist’s Boots off of Festergut 25 Heroic (which I just picked up last night, after 6 months of farming hard modes).
- Leggings of Woven Death – A high-ticket item, I’d only encourage you to spend the G on these if you have tons of money to spare. Otherwise, you can pick up far less expensive options elsewhere.
- Merlin’s Robe – I would strongly recommend picking up the T9 chest over these easily-crafted robes, but because of their good stats and accessibility, I couldn’t leave them off the list. But only buy these if the thought of farming another Heroic makes you violently ill.
Prices on BDF have been dropping steadily over the past several months on most BOE items, to the point where they’re now generally 2-4k apiece. So, while I wouldn’t have advocated picking up any of these items 6 months ago (when they were upwards of 10k) they’re now in that price range where they can be a good value for your nublet 80:
- Belt of the Blood Nova – With 3 potential sockets and all the right stats, I bought and wore this item until I received the Heroic equivalent. It’s a solid investment and hands-down the best BOE (drop) for restos.
- Leggings of Dubious Charms – although equivalent to the T10 legs in terms of stat distribution, these BOE legs can provide a good boost to players who have the gold to burn.
- Je’Tze’s Bell – An amazing starter trinket (which can generally be picked up for a few hundred gold), this can make quite the difference for the starter shaman in terms of spellpower and regen. I picked ones up for both my disc priest and my holy pally, until their trinket luck finally kicked in.
5. Get Into ICC 5-mans
Yes, I know they can get old and boring and repetitive, but the easiest way to gear yourself out for raiding on your Resto Shaman is to pile into Heroic Forge of Souls, Heroic Pit of Saron, and Halls of Reflection (I wouldn’t recommend hitting the Heroic version of HoR until you have a very geared tank friend or are above ~5k GS.). On your shopping list for these instances should be:
- Surgeon’s Needle (PoS Heroic)
- Protector of Frigid Souls (PoS Regular)
- Helm of Spirit Shock (FoS Heroic)
- Arcane Loops of Anger (FoS Heroic)
- Tears of the Vanquished (ToC Normal)
- Ephemeral Snowflake (HoR Heroic)
- Nevermelting Ice Crystal (PoS Heroic)
- Mudslide Boots (PoS Heroic)
- Strip of Remorse (HoR Heroic)
- Blackened Ghoul Skin Leggings (PoS Heroic)
What to Aim For
So now you’re ready to start working your way into the above gear, you have one looming question: what sort of stats should I shoot for? Well, first, take everything that you read on my blog about haste stacking and throw it out the window. Stacking supplementary stats like haste and spellpower is only beneficial if the rest of your gear is up to snuff (ie: is hovering around ilvl245 and above). Until that point, you need to set your sights on longevity and throughput.
For those just getting into their resto shamans my suggestions are almost the polar opposite of the advice I give to top-end players:
- Use Int as a primary stat. Yes, at higher levels of gear Int loses its usefulness, because mana is rarely a concern and throughput is more focused on speed. But as a starting player, Int is your best bet because it boosts everything–your spellpower, your mp5, your crit, and your overall mana pool (which is the determining factor for Replenishment).
- Match sockets when you can. Anyone who has ever asked me for a gear critique is probably raising an eyebrow at this one, but when you’re just starting out and can benefit from every stat out there, ignoring a socket bonus is just bad practice. While on Vix, the 5 spellpower gain from matching a bracer socket is inconsequential (I have 3811 sp unbuffed), on a starting shaman it’s worth the investment. Socketing pure haste is a sure way to go OOM and have nothing to show for it.
- Aim for regen trinkets. Similar to Int, when you start out as a Resto Shaman you will have two main problems—longevity and power. Haste/Crit/throughput trinkets may seem great, but you’ll need everything you can get to keep your mana above 0 in almost every encounter.
But there are also some rules which apply no matter your gear level:
- FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, STOP USING GLYPH OF WATER
SHIELDMASTERY. For the somewhat rational explanation why, please see my Raider’s Answer Bag post.
- Use epic gems. If this is your first toon ever, you have a pass on this one. For anyone else, you have no excuse. Not using epic gems or max-level enchants because “it isn’t good gear” is the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard. Suck it up and commit to doing it right, ffs.
- 100%. WS. Uptime. It’s the primary reason new restos struggle with longevity, and can be fixed in the time it takes to download an addon.
- Work with what you have. Gear is a state of constant flux, but what matters is what you do with what you have. A new chestpiece or belt isn’t going to fix fundamental or philosophical issues. So work on the problems that are within reach and stop thinking that “things will be better when I get [that new item]”.
In terms of the gearset that I’ll be aiming for when my shaman hits 80 and starts getting into the 5- and 10-man scene, this is what I’ll be hoping for: Pre-raid Resto Shaman set.
Investing in T10 items
So at some point along the way, as you work your way into Daily Heroics, VOA, and the raid weekly, you’ll find yourself with enough Frost Emblems to start picking up a piece or two of new, shiny gear. For players with a steady stream of badges, which can only come from doing ICC 10/25 on a weekly basis, tier holds the obvious attraction. But for those who maybe need to shop more selectively, I’d suggest the following purchase order:
- Purified Lunar Dust (60 badges) – Outside of ICC and ToC/ToGC Solaces, this is the most powerful throughput/regen trinket available.
- Frost Witch’s Spaulders (60 badges) – The cheapest t10 piece with all the right stats. Although you’ll get bigger upgrades from the chest and helm, getting 2pc should be a priority, so aim for this purchase first.
- Frost Witch’s Helm/Chest (95 badges ea.) – Depending on which is your worst piece, picking up either the helm or the chest will provide you with a good helping of main and supplemental stats.
- Waistband of Despair (60 badges) – a purchase which should last you all of ICC, maybe only to be replaced by a drop off of Heroic Halion 25.
There’s a reason that the above list is missing two items which a good number of Shaman look to first—Totem of the Surging Sea and Drape of the Violet Tower—because they are purchases that most resto shaman choose to discard once they have viable alternates (more so with the cloak than with the totem). So, forget about the low-hanging fruit, and aim for getting 2pc t10 plus a trinket before you even consider any other options. The quality of life improvement that those 3 items will make is absolutely unparalleled.
Final Notes for the Newly 80
There’s no better way to go back to healing basics than to roll a healing alt and struggle again through the trials of gearing and climbing back up the GS ladder. And having done the climb on 3 healing toons (with a 4th soon enough), there are some standard assumptions that I have when playing my struggling newly-80, sometimes that I need to repeat to myself when I feel like saying “ARGH, why am I having such issues?!”:
- I will need to drink, often and longer than I’m used to
- I will need to use mana pots, frequently
- I will need to drop MT on CD and not a moment after
- I might need to use a regen flask
- I will do very badly when Replenishment isn’t up
- I will need to pay very, very close attention to uptime of whatever crucial buffs I have (for starting resto shaman, please oh please, monitor your WS and ES uptime. No, I don’t mean “monitor” as in “I feel like I have good uptime on WS”, but rather “I downloaded an addon and I review my combat logs to confirm I have good WS uptime”. )
- I will not perform like I have a 6.4k GS. I might get trounced on meters. I will still work my ass off.
All the above being said, I always find healing on newbie 80s incredibly fun and engaging. Yes, the wrong group can make me feel like a complete dud and leave me sputtering the claim “IM THE BESTEST HEALER EVER ON MY MAIN YOU JERKS”, but with the right group it can be an exciting way to shake things up and get back to those days where you actually breathed a sigh of satisfied relief when the final boss died.
So best of luck on your baby shaman. May your Chain Heals be speedy, your crits be plentiful and may Lady RNG smile on you whenever you really-really-really need that upgrade.