I always find the time after the holidays to be particularly busy, and this year was no exception. Amid the wrapping paper, holiday parties, relatives, and festivities, (and work … we consultants don’t get long holiday breaks) FH has been pushing through normal modes and trying our hand at a few hard ones to boot. But, aside from the delights of progression raiding, there are two things I enjoy most about this point in a new expansion. First, is that every boss holds possibility, a potential new item to fuss over and play with. And second, is that a “Best in Slot” gear list is still a long ways off. So, if you’re hoping that I’m going to hand you a shopping list of ranked items for your journeys into BWD, Four Winds, and Bastion, I’m sorry to disappoint. But, if you’d like to hear some great news about your gearing efforts, do read on.
**NOTE: As of Patch 4.0.6 this Mana Tide “supercharging” will not be applicable. That’s what I get for dedicating half a post to it. Darn it.**
It may seem strange to start thinking about a Tier 11 gearset by defining what trinkets you want to pick up, but when it comes to these specialty items, there are two which currently are performing leagues above the competition. I’m talking about Dream Owl and Core of Ripeness (the former is a JC-only option, the latter comes from Valor Points). If there is no other item that you purchase from Valor points, please buy the Core of Ripeness. Oh yes, it’s a game-breaker; let me explain why.
Back in WotLK, Resto Shamans’ Mana Tide totem restored a percent of your total Mana Pool with every pulse. But during beta, to keep MT in line with other regen sources, it was changed to increase your Spirit by a flat percentage. When 200% was determined to be too lackluster, Blizzard changed MT’s proc to be +350% Spirit for the total duration of the effect. This means that every time you drop MT, your Spirit increases by a factor of 4.5 = [1 (baseline) + 3.5 (buff)]. This means that any Spirit-based procs you have at the time of the drop are also multiplied by 4.5, including … you guessed it … on-use Spirit trinkets. That +1425 Spirit you get when you activate Dream Owl, turns into +6,413 Spirit. That +1926 Spirit you get from Core of Ripeness turns into +8,667 Spirit.
To give you an idea of just how much a gain this amounts to, I tested a variety of proc + MT effects in my current set, the data from which is below. (At the time of testing, I had no buffs of any sort, no totems, and was sitting at 4997 Int and 1808 Spirit).
|Spirit||OOC||IC||IC-2||For 16 Sec||Net gain|
|CoR + MT||16803||21037||11104||4442||35533||28365|
|CoR + DO + MT||23215||28618||14894||5958||47661||40493|
As you can see, the gain from Mana Tide nearly quadruples when the totem is used in conjunction with Core of Ripeness (CoR) and Dream Owl (DO). In contrast, if you were to activate these trinkets independently you would gain the following regen:
- Core of Ripeness – +1926 Spirit for 20 sec (2min CD)
- = (1926 x 20) / 120 seconds= 321 Spirit (constant)
- During MT = 321 x 4.5 = 1444.5 Spirit
- Dream Owl – +1425 Spirit for 20 sec (2min CD)
- = (1425 x 20) / 120 seconds = 237.5 Spirit (constant)
- During MT = 238 x 4.5 = 1069 Spirit
If you were to extend these calculations over an entire fight, you would see that you actually benefit more from saving these trinkets to use in conjunction with MT (effectively using them on a 3 min CD, instead of their 2 min CD) than you would benefit if you used them independently. So, for Resto Shamans, capitalizing on this situation simply means macroing in /use 13 and /use 14 in with your MT and watching the mana pour in. For other healers, timing might be a bit more tricky given that you will need to rely on the shaman announcing the MT drop in chat or over vent. In the end, if you can coordinate it properly, the trinket + MT combination will be a godsend for your entire healing team.
Juggling Your Other Gear
Over the years, and more so lately, Blizzard has received a lot of flak for their “homogenization” of gear and of stats. But the one area where I think you’ll be surprised to discover the benefits of the normalization of gear is when you set out to build your Tier 11 gear set, where reduced options and stat normalization actually make selecting the “right” gear a whole lot easier. Combine this standardization with the options provided by reforging, and the gearing picture actually looks a lot brighter.
So, what this means to you—the Resto Shaman pushing through content—is that any piece you pick up will be able to be worked into multiple gearsets. And yes, I do mean the plural there—I do think you’ll want to form multiple gearsets depending on the characteristics of the fight at hand. To give you some idea of the flexibility that can be found in Resto Shamans’ available options, I pulled all potential Resto items (all mail, all ilvl359) into a spreadsheet and set about trying to make a variety of sets—one favoring each secondary stat and one which found a middle ground between all of them. (The examples below exclude trinkets).
(The spreadsheet showing all the items can be found here.) So, despite a seemingly limited number of options (about 2-3 per slot), you can create gear sets which prioritize just about any secondary stat. So the question becomes, which one should you aim for first and which pieces work best in all the sets?
Based on what I’ve seen thus far in normal modes, and the handful of hard modes we’ve put in attempts on, flexibility is going to be key.
So, I’ll be following some basic rules as I pick up upgrades:
- Int is still a primary focus, so items with less potential Int than their counterparts are not desirable.
- 4 piece is going to be very helpful in maintaining a mana pool that can last through hard modes, so I’ll not be using offset pieces instead of tier.
- I’ll likely be sticking to my preceding post about haste and keeping enough to get past the 916 haste threshold, as a minimum value. I can get ~200 haste from enchants and gemming, so anything that’s necessary past that point, I can reforge for.
- Whereas in normal modes I was aiming for Crit after that haste threshold, I’m going to be modifying my approach and picking up more Mastery for hard modes on the premise that raid damage is going to be more prevalent and there will be plenty of occasions where I’ll be picking up very low HP targets. (Man, we confirmed this last night on HM Tron Council.)
- I don’t want to sacrifice Spirit for Crit and Haste, because Crit is a reduced means of mp5, so I’ll be limiting the number of non-Spirit pieces that I include.
- I’ll be sticking with CoR and Dream Owl as trinkets—the mana gain is amazing (as I, hopefully, demonstrated above).
So, in terms of what Items I’ll be aiming for in my “starter” Tier 11 set, I’ll be trying my luck at picking up the following pieces:
- Chest - Tunic of the Raging Elements
- Cloak – Shadow of Dread
- Feet – Earthmender’s Boots
- Gloves – Handwraps of the Raging Elements
- Helm – Helm of the Nether Scion
- Legs – Legwraps of the Raging Elements
- MH – Twilight’s Hammer
- Neck – Yellow Smoke Pendant
- OH – Kingdom’s Heart
- Relic – Relic of Eonar
- Ring – Signet of the Fifth Circle
- Ring – Twined Band of Flowers
- Shoulder – Mantle of the Raging Elements
- Waist – Waistguard of Hatred
- Wrist – Chaos Beast Bracers
(A CharDev fully enchanted and gemmed set can be found here. Note: bracer Int embossment is missing.) Now, there’s one major thing to note about this list—I’m not trying to max out any one particular stat because, again, I’m interested in flexibility. When you look at the options with the various sets I created, and evaluate their “swing potential” for each independent stat, (noting that you cannot have max values for each stat at the same time), you come up with the following stat values prior to enchants, gemming, and socket bonuses:
What the above table should, hopefully, reinforce is that whatever set you have or whatever one you end up with, it will have significant potential to adjust to your needs. So instead of looking at the above list and thinking “Vixsin’s getting those items so I should too!”, instead understand that you can make the gear you have work in the way you need it to. And if, in the end, Mastery ends up on top and Haste isn’t as valuable, then a couple small tweaks are all it will take to make your oh-so-undesirable set into something near Best in Slot.
So … that’s it? One piddly list and some tables?
Yep. When it comes to gear at this point in the game, it’s about half math and half reasoning. There are some things that we can identify with certainty—haste thresholds, the comparative benefits of crit versus mastery, talent builds—but other qualities will remain slightly nebulous for well into the new year. So, if you’re looking for solid HEP values or throughput rankings, you simply won’t find reliable ones this early in the expansion. But, I do think there are a great number of discussions going on in the variety of threads being created on the WoW foums, on MMO-Champ, and on assorted other sites and blogs across the interwebs that are helping to flesh things out a bit more. (Particular credit goes to Jynus, who in my mind, provided a pretty solid argument for a better valuing of Mastery in hard mode encounters recently on MMO-Champ).
As those of you who have been reading LiG5 since the days of ICC release might know, I’m really not a fan of Best in Slot lists, for the reason that they tend to isolate individual items instead of talking about the larger picture. And while this might be a viable approach when one stat clearly trumps all other options (read: haste in ICC), I think what the Resto Shaman community is slowly starting to acknowledge is that diversity of stats might be a little more applicable in the current raiding environment. Yes, there are still some options out there which will excel above everything else, but in the end, what matters is your ability to adapt your gear set to the needs and characteristics of your raid.
So, if I leave you with one thing from this behemoth of a post from one of theTerminal Verbosity crew, it’s this—don’t be afraid to get things “wrong” right now. When we’re 6/7/8 months past release, I’ll likely be hitting you over the head with numbers about why I’m right and everything else is wrong. But right now, in this dawn of the expansion, you have the chance to find out for yourself just how powerful a Resto Shaman you can be. Take that chance and run with it.