Ulduar Caster Weapons and Tier Gear: A Primer

Here’s a list of all spellcaster related weapons that drop from Ulduar. Items are sorted in the rough order of progression that raiding groups will be going in. I linked all currently known spellpower weapons and off hands so that your raid group can get a general idea of what item to go for and what items are better off in the hands of other players along with the rough order they will appear in. It seems heroic mode drops slightly more weapons. Loot tables for some of the bosses are still unknown at this time (like Yogg-Saron and Algalon). Read the bottom of the post for a theory of tier gear drops.

Heroic Mode weapons

Weapon Weapon Type Source
Overcharged Fuel Rod OH (Spell hit) Flame Leviathan
Intensity 2H Staff (Spell hit) Ignis the Furnace Master
Scepter of Creation Wand (Spirit) Ignis the Furnace Master
Guiding Star 1H Mace (MP5/Haste) Razorscale
Quartz Crystal Wand Wand (Spell hit) XT-002 Deconstructor (Hard mode)
     
Rapture 2H Staff (Spirit) Iron Council
Ironmender OH (Spirit) Kologarn
Runescribed Blade 1H Sword Auriaya
The Lifebinder 2H Staff (Spirit) Freya
Staff of Endless Winter 2H Staff (Spirit) Hodir (Hard mode)
Scepter of Lost Souls Wand (Haste/Crit) General Vezax

 

Normal Mode Weapons

Weapon Weapon Type Source
Firesoul MH Sword (Spell hit) Flame Leviathan
Plasma Foil 1H Dagger (Spirit) XT-002 Deconstructor
Pulsing Spellshield OH (Shield) XT-002 Deconstructor
Stormtip 1H Dagger (Spirit) The Iron Council
Nurturing Touch Wand (Spirit) Auriaya
Pulse Baton 1H Mace (MP5) Mimiron
Unraveling Reach 2H Staff (Hit) Freya
Icecore Staff 2H Staff (Spirit) Hodir
Ice Layered Barrier OH Shield (MP5/Haste) Hodir (Hard mode)
Pillar of Fortitude 2H Staff General Vezax

Tier gear

All we know right now is that Mimiron drops tier 8 gloves. I’m assuming Yogg-Saron either drops the chest or the helm. I have a sneaking suspicion the other 3 Titans (Freya, Hodir, Thorim) drop the other 3 tier 8 pieces. My theory is unconfirmed, however. But I think it’s a decent assumption that the 4 titans along with the “end” boss of the instance are the ones that drop the tier pieces.

Are You Happy at the Threshold?

Are You Happy at the Threshold?

ha-gao

I’m going to let you guys in on a secret.

I’m not the best Priest in the world.

I’ve failed the ledge boss. I’ve died to the frogger boss. In fact, last Monday I got nailed by two back to back fire walls. The harshest critic anyone can have is themselves. The exasperation I could hear from my guildies that were not being transmitted over vent was nothing compared to the pissedoffedness I was feeling at myself.

More importantly, I am not the best geared Priest out there. I get a lot of observations about this from colleagues and readers.

“Why haven’t you gotten this item yet?”
”Why are you using this instead of that?”
”Have you thought about using that instead of what you have?”

It’s ironic isn’t it? Here I am with a blog where the mission statement is to make readers better players in every aspect possible with whatever advice and experience I can hand out. Yet getting the current best items in the game isn’t that big of a priority for me.

Because I’ve reached the threshold.

The Perfectionist

This is the player who sticks by enchanting and jewelcrafting to maximize their stats as much as possible. In fact, there are guilds who ask all of their guild members to exclusively use these two professions. I’ve noticed that these are the players who juggle a wide variety of variables in their head. An example would be a Paladin who would ask themselves if they want to pick up this helm for an MP5 set or a different helm for a crit set. This type of player isn’t satisfied with just being good enough. They will never be satisfied until they can excel in every area under their role. I’ve got tanks that have threat sets, stamina sets, and damage mitigation sets.

Same concept.

The Slacker

Not quite as worried about their loot. However, they do need to hit a threshold level of gear to be effective. The slackers are generally the healers. At the current level of raiding, there’s a point where your Spirit, your MP5, your spellpower and all those stats become useless. 1250 MP5 will be the same as 1245 MP5. 2500 spellpower is the same as 2490 spellpower. Once I hit the 220 spellpower mark, I started dishing out the passes to other healers who needed to augment themselves more.

There is nothing wrong with either of the two mindsets. I’d even go as far to say that a healthy guild will benefit by having both kinds because the perfectionist will never be satisfied and the slacker won’t raise hell because they’ve reached the threshold.

This reminds me of a discussion I have with my dad. We both like our dim sum. Specifically, we both like our ha gao. He refuses to eat at a cheaper Chinese restaurant if there’s something better nearby. There’s a decent Chinese restaurant on 1st (for the Vancouver guys, there’s a plaza there. It’s on the 2nd floor opposite the T&T). And it’s pretty good. It’s crazy packed. Huge wait list. But I’m happy with the food I get. So’s my aunt because she ends up paying 2 bucks a dish instead of 4 bucks a dish. My dad prefers the slightly more expensive Chinese places which offer the 4 dollar ha gao.

After sampling both, I say to my dad, “Dad, there’s virtually no difference between 2 dollar ha gao and 4 dollar ha gao. They taste the same.”

“No, it tastes better.”

“It’s the same amount of MSG and the shrimp comes from the same ocean.”

“Yeah, but it still tastes better.”

As you can see, some people just have to have the best stuff. Others are okay with the second best.

Ugh, and it’s 1:30 AM and I just made myself hungry. And just so I’m not the only one, I’m taking the rest of you down with me. If I’m hungry, I’m making the rest of you hungry!

xiu-mai

This is called Siu Mai (My spelling’s off, I know)

ha-jeong

This is called ha jeong (Shrimp wrapped in flat rice noodles)

matt-sig

Tier 7 Bonuses: A Guide to What’s Hot and What’s Not

Tier 7 Bonuses: A Guide to What’s Hot and What’s Not

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Updates:: This is another classic example of me not fact checking my stuff. This post sat in my draft queue since early January. Other things came up and I set it aside for the time being. Patches 3.0.8 and 3.0.9 were released and I forgot that some changes were made. Resto Druids 2 piece, Feral Druid 2 piece notes have been changed. Stop’s opinions have been revised. I split the tanking and DPS feral druids accordingly instead of lumping them together. Added another Enhancement Shaman perspective. Sorry! :(

Tier pieces have a history of granting bonuses. Blizzard has an even more illustrious history of giving set bonuses that are really good and some that are really bad. I don’t know everything about every class. Yet, as a member of loot council, I should be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the various set pieces. Like it or not, set bonuses do tend to have an impact on decisions. One of the Resto Shamans in my guild was the first to get the 4 piece (because Archavon was kind and dropped 2 Resto pieces).

To help you understand and decide on your set pieces, I’ve consulted my guild and several other prominent bloggers and players in the community. I don’t know as much as I would like about other classes and it wouldn’t be fair for me to make any assumptions (without asking others about it first).

This post will be broken down into 4 different roles: Tanking, melee DPS, ranged DPS, and healers.

Tanking

Warriors

2 piece: Increases the damage of your Shield Slam by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Shield Wall by 3 seconds. Rating: Moderate

Several of the tanking Warriors I consulted weren’t impressed with the Warrior 4 piece. Prot Warrior blogger Veneretio only had this to say:

"It’s a great bonus if the 4 pieces fall into your lap, but the current non-set itemization is so strong that you’ll be hard pressed to even get the 2 piece. Basically, it’s go for the 7.5 gloves and another set piece (like shoulders or chest).”

Druid

2 piece: Your Rip lasts for an additional 4 seconds, and your Lacerate deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good (for both)

4 piece: Increases the duration of Barkskin by 3 seconds. Tiger’s Fury cooldown reduced by 3 seconds. Rating: Good for tanks

I had to consult Feral Druid Karthis about this one.

His thoughts on the 2 piece:

“While extra damage is always nice, Lacerate doesn’t form a crucial part of a bear tank’s output – Maul and Mangle generally outperform it (although Mangle is close).  Since threat is a non-issue in the existing content, this set bonus is even further trivialized.”

On the 4 piece:

“This unassuming-sounding set bonus is actually fairly significant.  Barkskin reduces damage taken by 20% and usually lasts for 12s.  It is a spell that every tank should be re-casting as soon as it is off cooldown.  Boosting the uptime to 15s only improves an already must-use skill, and further reduces the total incoming damage that must be healed through.”

Paladin

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Hammer of the Righteous by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Divine Shield and Divine Protection by 3 seconds. Rating: Moderate

HoR is good AoE threat. 4 piece is irrelevant to raiding. (Thanks Myze!)

From what I’ve been told, the 2 piece is good. The 4 piece appears to be just average. The situation seems to be similar to the Warrior 4 piece. Divine Protection is probably going to get used more often in the same was Shield Wall would be. Thanks Anna!

Death Knight

2 piece: Increases the critical strike chance of your Plague Strike by 10%. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Icebound Fortitude by 3 seconds. Rating: Good

When Stop speaks, I listen:

2 piece: It’s still not fantastic… at all. Plague Strike is one of our lowest-hitting abilities, and improving its crit chance is not as useful as if they’d increased its crit damage. Basically, the 2-piece bonus is not worth going for.

4 piece: About the tanking gear 4-piece bonus: If you have to have a set bonus, this would be the one to go for. However, I don’t know if I’d pass up other gear just to get it, depending on your playstyle. Icebound Fortitude is basically Barkskin, and with some specs being squishier than others, some use it constantly while some use it like a moderately less effective Shield Wall. If you use IBF every time it’s up, go for this bonus. Otherwise, consider it a nice perk for getting this already-nicely-statted tank gear.

Melee DPS

Warriors

2 piece: Increases the damage of your Slam by 10%. Rating: Good.

4 piece: Your Bleed periodic effects have a chance to make your next ability cost 5 less rage. Rating: Moderate

Not that hot. Most DPS Warriors don’t have as much rage issues from what I’m told. But the Slam bonus is very nice.

Rogues

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Rupture by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Reduces the Energy cost of your Combo moves by 5%. Rating: Ugh

“The two-piece bonus seems pretty useful but I’m unconvinced about the four-piece.” Seri, Snarkcraft

“Just that the two piece is a huge bonus for rogues while the four piece is lackluster considering the amount of energy used to perform the combo moves.” – Cassio

Druids

2 piece: Your Rip lasts for an additional 4 seconds, and your Lacerate deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of Barkskin by 3 seconds. Tiger’s Fury cooldown reduced by 3 seconds. Rating: Not great for DPS kitties

2 piece notes: “This is an important set bonus for a feral cat’s long term sanity.  Kitty DPS is stressful – there are four separate buffs/debuffs that need to be monitored.  By increasing the duration of Rip, a Druid is allowed more wiggle room to keep the other three (Rake, Mangle, Savage Roar) all active, which leads to consistently higher DPS.  “

4 piece notes: “It reduces the Tiger’s Fury cooldown by 3s. While TF is used every 30s, the top theorycrafters say that this new bonus is almost meaningless, clocking in at an extra 0.7% dps. There are much better gear choices that provide a bigger DPS boost than that.” (Karthis’ notes in the comments)

Shamans

2 piece: Your Lightning Shield damage is increased by 10%. Rating: Not so good.

4 piece: Your Flurry effect provides an additional 5% melee haste. Rating: Good

Not the greatest. Most Shamans don’t appear to pick up the Static Shock talent. Water shield is primarily used since they go through mana quickly. The 4 piece is decent as it results in overall faster hits.

On the other hand:

It is actually fairly good, static shock is a must take ability for an enh shammy. When I look at my WWS, lightning shield represents about 6% of my total damage output. Since I am at about 4k DPS right now that means my lightning shield is doing about 240 DPS.

Paladins

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Divine Storm by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Reduces the cooldown of your Judgment of Light, Judgment of Wisdom and Judgment of Justice by 1 second. Rating: Good

An overall net increase in DPS. Your Ret Paladins will love it. From what I’ve been told, Ret Paladins have this in their rotation anyway.

Death Knight

2 piece: Increases the critical strike chance of your Obliterate and Scourge Strike abilities by 5%. Rating: Good.

4 piece: Your Obliterate and Scourge Strike generate an additional 10 Runic Power when used. Rating: Moderate

DPS 2 piece: The only people who won’t benefit from this are dual-wielders. Every two-handed build in common usage uses either Obliterate or Scourge Strike, so for much the same reason as how Heigan’s sigil is great for pretty much every two-hander-using DK, this set piece bonus is fantastic for them. I’m still trying to get a set piece just for this bonus, in fact!

DPS 4 piece: I have no idea what they were thinking with this. I think they would’ve done better to try to rip off another class’s bonus, like, say, warriors? No DK should be having problems generating runic power, two-handed or dual-wield, period. Plus, again, this is useless for dual-wielders – both of the DPS plate set bonuses are geared exclusively towards two-handed weapon users. All that aside – I would never gear for this set bonus specifically.

– Stoppable force.

Ranged DPS

Priests

2 piece: The mana cost of your Mind Blast is reduced by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Shadow Word: Death has an additional 10% chance to critically strike. Rating: Not so good

From my Shadow Priests:

The 2 piece is nice but is purely for mana efficiency on Mind Blast and doesn’t really matter much if you have stacked Spirit and Crit like most Shadow Priests do. The 4 piece isn’t worth it because with itemization there are many pieces that add more DPS than the 10% critical chance to Shadow Word: Death.

Druid

2 piece: Your Insect Swarm deals an additional 10% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Wrath and Starfire spells gain an additional 5% critical strike chance. Rating: Good

Boomkin ones are awesome all the way around. Insect swarm should always be up and 5% extra crit on our two major nukes is flat out gibbering insane. – Llanion, Moooonfire

Shaman

2 piece: Your Lightning Bolt costs 5% less mana. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: The bonus critical strike damage of your Lava Burst is increased by 10%. Rating: Good

I play an Elemental Shaman in my off nights and I absolutely love it. I don’t have a ton of mana problems in the beginning. Fights are short enough that I won’t be taxing my mana pool. The 4 piece set bonus is great for me. Flame Shock guarantees that my next Lava Burst will crit. This means Lava Burst will get an increase of 10% damage no matter what. Normally I’ll do around 8000 damage per Lava Burst. This shoots it up to a little under 9000. Fights like Thaddius or Malygos where your damage gets increased will have Shamans see an extremely noticeable amount (18000 with Sparks)!

Mages

2 piece: You gain 40% more mana when you use a mana gem. In addition, using a mana gem grants you 225 spell power for 15 sec. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: Your offensive spells gain an additional 5% increased critical strike bonus damage. Rating: Good

I consulted one of my Mages on this and he tells me that the 2 piece is nice for the extra mana boost. The 4 piece could potentially equal a 1%-2% overall DPS increase.

Hunters

2 piece: Your pet deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your ranged attack speed is increased by 20% while Aspect of the Viper is active. Rating: Good

2 piece bonus is nice for any spec, but it’s particularly good for MM or SV looking to close the gap in pet damage. The 4 piece bonus is kind of a nice boost to DPS while in regen mode, but nothing earth shattering, looks like. – Lassirra, The Hunters Mark

Warlocks

2 piece: Your Corruption and Immolate periodic effects have a chance to increase the next critical strike chance of your next Shadow Bolt or Incinerate by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Casting Life Tap grants you an additional 300 spirit for 10 seconds. Rating: Good

“2 piece bonus is really good. 4 piece bonus is- OMG WHY DON’T I ALREADY HAVE THIS?”  – nibuca

Note: Nib immediately dashed off and could not be reached for further comment.

Healers

Priests

2 piece: Your Prayer of Mending will jump an additional time. Rating: Good

4 piece: The cost of your Greater Heal is reduced by 5%. Rating: No, not really

Personally, I’d say go consult your WWS on this. Try to get a feel for how often you use Greater Heal and see if you can justify it. I don’t use Greater Heal as often. When you think about it, 5% off of Greater Heal is about 50 mana or so. I don’t use this spell enough to warrant the free payback. But if you do, then it is something for you to consider. Otherwise, go for 2 sets then defer the rest to the other classes (like Warlocks or Paladins). Obviously if the 7.5’s drop and you have nothing else better in the slots (like heroic gear), go ahead and take a stab at it.

Shaman

2 piece: Your Water Shield is 10% stronger (each tick restores 10% more mana). Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the healing done by your Chain Heal and Healing Wave by 5%. Rating: Good

Earthshatter set bonuses for Resto Shaman are awesome! Because they buff Water Shield as well as Chain Heal and Healing Wave, they manage to suit most of the various healing styles that Resto Shaman can perform (Anna, Too Many Annas)

Druid

2 piece: The cost of your Rejuvenation Lifebloom is reduced by 5%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Nourish heals an additional 5% for each of your heal over time effects present on the target. Rating: Good

2 piece is solid. Rejuvenation Lifebloom gets used frequently. With the 4 piece, Nourish becomes even stronger for Resto Druids. At least, this is what Syd tells me. Can’t go wrong here!

Paladin

2 piece: Your Holy Shock gains an additional 10% chance to critically strike. Rating: Good

4 piece: The cost of your Holy Light is reduced by 5%. Rating: Good

"Neither bonus is play-changing in the way that old set bonuses have been (4pcT5, anyone?) but both 2pc and 4pc bonuses are nice boosts to our mana-intensive spells." – Siha, Banana Shoulders

Hopefully this summary will help you in your loot decisions! For the DKP players, maybe it’ll even save you some points for other items instead!

Image courtesy of riyono

Resto Shaman: Best in Slot

Resto Shaman: Best in Slot

hiphop_rap_bling.jpg

 

Lodur here again, this time I’d like to talk a bit about the Restoration Shaman’s Best in Slot items. Syd’s post from the other day got me thinking that it would be good to toss this up for everyone to peruse. For those of you who don’t visit Plusheal often or at all there was a great thread and discussion over there in the shaman section based on the Best in Slot premise. I’d like to thank BeefyBuffalo for starting a great thread there, as well as all the theory crafters who contribute there regularly. This loot selection will most certainly change once Ulduar comes out but this is my best shot at putting it together for the available content. This list also in many places gives alternatives for preference gearing (crit or haste).

Head:

[Valorous Earthshatter Headpiece] (Kel’thuzad-25)

This offers a great set of of stats for us high INT and a good amount of MP5 and Spell Power. It also features Haste over crit as well as having two sockets for gemming.

[Helm of Pilgrimage] (Heigan -25)

This helm has slightly more MP5 then the Earthshatter as well as slightly higher Spell Power, but at the cost of both sockets. In place of haste it features a good chunk of Crit (almost 2%)

Comparable to the two is [Helm of Unleased Energy] (Gothik-25)

Neck:

[Life-Binder’s Locket](Malygos key quest) or  [Chains of Adoration] (several boss in Naxx-25)

The Life Binder’s is a better overall piece but you’ll probably see chains before the locket.

Shoulders:

[Valorous Earthshatter Spaulders](Loatheb-25 or 60x Emblems of Valor) or [Council Chamber Epaulets] (Sartharion-25)

Again it’s a crit vs haste itemization here. I put Valorous higher on the list for two reasons. You can get it for badges which makes it easy to obtain and it puts you closer to the full set bonuses.

Back:

[Pennant Cloak](Sartharion-25), or [Cloak of the Dying](Kel’thudzad-10)

For this I personally prefer the Pennant cloak. Good stats and it has both crit and haste. I know it doesn’t have MP5 but it does have a socket which is very nice.

Chest:

[Tunic of the Artifact Guardian](Malygos-25) or [Valorous Earthshatter Tunic](Four Horsemen-25)

Again the Earthshatter tunic is nice if you’re still working towards your 2 piece or 4 piece bonuses but my honest suggestion would be go after the other slots (legs, gloves, shoulders and helm) and try to grab yourself the Artifact Guardian chest. It’s an awesome chest piece with a goodly amount of crit and a nice chunk of spell power. You lose a socket compared to Valorous but what you gain from this chest piece is just too good to pass up in my opinion.

Wrist:

[Bindings of the Decrepit](Heigan-25) or [Cuffs of the Shadow Ascendant](60 x Emblem of Valor) Identical

Pretty straightforward here, same item, two different ways to get it. Simply best bracers you can get.

Hands:

[Winter Spectacle Gloves](Malygos-25) or [Bountiful Gauntlets](Sartharion-25) or [Valorous Earthshatter Handguards] (Sartharion-25)

These are all good options each has great stats and looks pretty slick too. My personal suggestion again though is if you don’t have your set bonuses or are working towards the 4 piece, go for the Valorous

Waist:

[Sash of the Parlor](cloth from Anub’rekhan-25) or [Girdle of the Gambit](Patchwork-25)

While the cloth belt is viable, I personally prefer the Girdle of the Gambit. Toss a belt buckle on it and march that thing around!

Legs:

[Valorous Earthshatter Legguards] (Thaddius-25) or [Legguards of the Undisdurbed] (Noth-25)

Again both are good, but I personally prefer the Valorous leggings.

Feet:

[Sabatons of Firmament](Sartharion) or [Atonement Greaves](Faerlina -25)

Here I prefer the Atonement Greaves. Slightly better stats and a good dose of haste with a bit more MP5. Again though this selection boils down to preference of Crit or Haste.

Finger:

[Signet of Manifested Pain](Kel’thuzad-25) or [Seized Beauty](Faerlina-25) or [Ring of Decaying Beauty] (Sapphiron-25) or [Wyrmrest Band] (Sartharion-25)

This again is largely a matter of choice, these are just the best options available. Personally I prefer a combination of Decaying Beauty and Wyrmrest Band.

Main Hand:

[Torch of Holy Fire] (Kel’thudzad-25) or [Hammer of the Astral Plane](Kel’thudzad-10) or [Wraith Strike](Maexxna-25)

Yeap that’s right, a spell power fist weapon! It’s really a great 1 hander well worth picking up if you see it drop. Baring the fist weapon dropping, holding out for Kel’s Torch isn’t a bad idea. It gives us a ton of stats we love and well… it looks pretty cool too!.

Off-hand:

[Voice of Reason](Kel’thudzad-25) or [Shield of Assimilation] (Anub’rikhan-25)

My preference here is for the Shield of Assimilation. To me the MP5 on it makes it a bit more enticing for a Resto Sham.

Relic:

[Totem of Forest Growth](15 Emblem of Heroism) or [Totem of the Bay] (30 Venture Coins- Grizzly Hills)

Not a lot of choices at 80, but I think Forest Growth should be the first badge item you buy. It’s a cheap and effective item that will carry you well throughout current content.

Trinkets:

[Illustration of the Dragon Soul] (Sartharion-25) or [Je’Tze’s Bell] (BoE World Drop) or [Soul of the Dead] (Sapphiron-25) or [Mercurial Alchemist Stone] (Crafted) or [Living Ice Crystals] (Malygos-25)

These represent the crème de le crème of trinkets for us in my opinion. Personally I favor The Bell combined with Crystals. The MP5 Combined with another instant heal makes it a beefed up [Vial of the Sunwell] !

Set Bonuses:

Your Tier 7 bonuses for both 2 piece and 4 piece are extremely nice. 2 Piece nets you Water Shield Boost: your Water Shield is 10% stronger. This means that your passive MP5 from water shield, as well as your mana returned per charge consumed is increased. Lets face it, more mana is never a bad thing right? 4 piece allows for Spirit Link Chain Heal which means the healing done by your Chain Heal and Healing Wave is increased by 5%. That’s most definitely a good thing. I mean, when was more healing ever bad? More mana + more healing output = great set bonus.


Final Thoughts:

Keep in mind that your T7 gear is the equivalent of T4 back in Burning Crusade, so if you don’t get everything on your list don’t panic. There will be upgrades coming in the next content patch besides tier loot, of that I am certain. Also remember these represent my opinions, feel free to create your own wish lists or checklist of items you are looking for.

If you have something on your wish list that you want to share, please feel free!

Till next time, Happy Healing.

~Lodur

Image courtesy of dallasvintageshop.com

Best in Slot for Resto Druid

Best in Slot for Resto Druid

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Note:This article is now out-of-date. It does not take into account new items from 3.1 or the 3.1 changes to mana regen or Restoration druid abilities. (edited 3/8/09)

I see the question of what items are actually best-in-slot for one class or another come up time and again on forums and blogs alike. These lists can come in pretty handy. Of course, at the current difficulty of content, you don’t really need your best-in-slot, but without something to strive for, where would we be?

I have worked to keep this list mostly leather, but where there’s a cloth contender I’ve tried to mention it as well. My criteria of judgment are purely the relative stats of the item. The item level serves me as a guide, but is never a consideration in its own right.

Head

Valorous Dreamwalker Headpiece, from Kel’Thuzad 25

This helm, featuring both Spirit and Mp5, is most certainly the best piece in our tier set–it’s a shame, though, that there are other good headpieces as well.

Hood of Rationality, from Malygos 25

If your loot rules allow you to pick up some cloth, here’s a piece to consider.

Headpiece of Reconciliation, from Sartharion 25, 2 Drakes

This should be our best-in-slot, but right now it isn’t. It’s a level 226 item, but the stats don’t match expectations. It could be corrected in the future, but I’m not holding my breath.

Neck

Necklace of the Glittering Chamber, from Malygos 10

Shoulder

Spaulders of Catatonia, from Malygos 25

These shoulders have the best stats, but be careful. If Nourish is in your rotation at all, you will want to keep your 4 pc bonus. If not, have at it with the non-set pieces.

Valorous Dreamwalker Spaulders, from Loatheb 25

This item is well-balanced and very useful for filling out the set bonus. However, it’s clearly inferior to the Spaulders of Catatonia.

Cloak

Cape of the Unworthy Wizard, from Kel’Thuzad 25

There’s no argument here. This cloak is far out ahead of its competitors, a must-have if you can get it.

Chest

Valorous Dreamwalker Robe, from 4 Horsemen 25

I’m a big advocate of wearing leather while I can, and this item is quite good. I also like my set bonuses, even though I don’t get much out of the boost to Nourish.

Blanketing Robes of Snow, from Malygos 25

If your guild gets enough of these to outfit the priests, by all means, add this to your set.

Bracers

Unsullied Cuffs, from Sartharion 2D

These may be cloth, but they are my runaway favorite, much better than our leather options.

Bands of the Great Tree, From Emblems of Valor

These bracers are probably the best in leather, but they are not significantly different from the more easily accessible Swarm Bindings, from Anub’Rekan 25. I wouldn’t spend the emblems for them myself.

Hands

Valorous Dreamwalker Handguards, Sartharion 25

There’s no contest here. This is a nice, balanced item that will help you get your bonuses.

Waist

Unravelling Strands of Sanity, from Malygos 25

I was very lucky to pick up this little beauty on our second Malygos kill. There’s no doubt about it–this belt is by far the best.

Legs

Valorous Dreamwalker Leggings, from Thaddius 25

Once again, the tier piece isn’t strictly ideal in terms of stats, but that has more to do with it being introductory gear than with it being the “wrong” piece to wear. I use these quite happily.

Leggings of Mortal Arrogance from Kel’Thuzad 25.

I like the stat allocation pretty well on these leggings. They’re better for priests than druids, though, and you should by all means let your clothies–maybe even dps–have them first.

Feet

Rainey’s Chewed Boots

Get these boots with your Emblems of Valor and never worry about it again. They are the runaway winner in this category.

Fingers

Lost Jewel, Naxx 25 shared loot

The Spirit makes this item a good bet. I’m personally going for Spirit on both rings, but your budget may vary.

Band of Channeled Magic, Emblems of Valor

This item gets points for spirit and accessibility. A must-have.

Arguably, the real best in slot is the Loop of the Kirin Tor, but I’m never going to have 8,000g for a marginal upgrade.

Trinkets

Je’Tze’s Bell, BoE world drop

I love everything about this item except its price. I saw one last night on Ner’zhul that had bid up to 5,000. I don’t have that much total gold across all my toons. Here’s hoping I get lucky with a trash drop.

Forethought Talisman, Naxx 25 shared loot.

This one packs a huge spellpower punch, and the proc, while lackluster, will give me an extra 3,000 or so effective heals per fight.

As for other trinkets–the Spirit-World Glass is something I really want to pick up for myself just in case changes are made to mana regen. I like the idea of the Illustration of the Dragon Soul and the Majestic Dragon Figurine, though there’s probably a bit of a learning curve to keeping the effect up as much as possible.

Weapon

Torch of Holy Fire, Kel’Thuzad 25

This one is a no-brainer, but good luck getting it. This is a very hot ticket item in almost every guild.

Off Hand

Matriarch’s Spawn, Maexxna.

Idol

Idol of Lush Moss, Emblems of Valor

There’s no real choice here. Lifebloom may be nerfed, but we still need it.

Set Bonuses

Make sure that you get your 2 pc T7.5 set bonus. You will continue to depend on your Lifebloom, particularly if you ever heal tanks. 4 pc T7 gives enough of a bonus to Nourish to make it your most efficient heal on a target who already has all your other hots, i.e., a tank. However, the 4 pc isn’t strictly necessary. You have plenty of mana regen for this level, and a less efficient Nourish won’t hurt at all. Efficiency will only be in play in a harder dungeon (Ulduar) or if the mana regen formula should be changed. If it’s only a factor in Ulduar, you probably won’t hang onto 4pc T7 for long anyway–you’ll be replacing it with T8.

Final Note: Introductory Gear

Remember, no matter how good your T7 gear is, we’re still in the first tier of Wrath content. If you look over the Resto druid items, there are many items with “wasted” stats like crit and haste. Don’t pull your leaves out over it. At this point, there are no real best in slots. Je’Tze’s Bell comes the closest, but even that may be replaced in Ulduar. I’m hoping that when we do start getting some T8 upgrades, the stats actually come closer to ideal.

6 Influential Factors in Loot Council Decisions

6 Influential Factors in Loot Council Decisions

This is a behind the scenes look on the Conquest forums detailing loot factors that are taken into account during loot council disputes. Some readers expressed interest in learning more about the specifics and here they are.

Loot is the single biggest headache involved with raiding. If you are a person that values yourself over the guild, then you want to reassess why you are in this guild, or why you want to join this guild. Ask yourself “do I want gear to raid or do I want to raid for gear?” Hopefully, you are a person who will choose the first option. If all you want is to raid for gear, then Conquest is probably not for you.

Nothing can avoid disagreements over gear. The Loot Council itself has an odd number of members specifically to avoid a deadlock on a piece of gear. Please keep in mind; we will do it as fairly as possible. If you felt you were treated unfairly and made a mistake, place yourself in an officer’s position and look at it from that angle.

If you still feel we error, please get in touch with Mallet and discuss it with him. Unfortunately, we cannot reverse decisions unless the item was erroneously awarded (as in mislooted, which can only be fixed via tickets). But your thoughts will be taken into account for the future.

How to express interest

Say Interested – If the item is a significant upgrade for you in your current spec and role. Best in slot also applies.
Say Pass – If the item is a minor upgrade or you’d like it for an off spec.
Say nothing – If you have zero interest at all in the item.

A countdown will be applied. At the end of it, there will be a dash (-). Interest expressed well after the dash will not be factored into account (unless there was no one interested at all during the countdown).

Note: If you equip a green to ninja gear and attempt to influence the council, you will be gkicked.

The gear reward process

5 members consists of the Loot Council. They each have their own individual personality and are 5 different players. Each council member has 1 vote used to decide who receives an item if there are multiple players interested in an item.

6 Influential factors

Current rank and position: Initiates and Subs will not get loot assigned to them if there are members in the raid with Raider status that has interest. This is to prevent people from joining, getting a few pieces of loot, and then leaving. It is basically a form of DKP. It forces people to have a vested interest in the guild to receive gear. This may be overlooked based on performance, attendance, or the amount of loot already received during that raid. To attain Raider status a person must be a member for a few weeks and attended (or been on vent and available) a minimum of three raids per week.

Attendance: Raid attendance is extremely important. If players aren’t here to raid, they’re not going to be able to contribute. Remember that loot drops will be awarded in order to be as effective as possible. This means there is a higher chance that a player who attends 3-5 times a week will get an item over a player who only shows up once a week.

Effectiveness: Is it effective for the guild as a whole? Will you be able to utilize it and ensure that it does not become useless? We want to ensure that items aren’t going to be wasted by being awarded to alts or off specs unless there is no main interest. Paladins looking to obtain DPS Plate gear aren’t going to get it if they’re in raids to heal. It does not maximize the effectiveness of the item if it is not being used.

Current items: A player still wearing Heroic or Normal Naxx level gear is going to have a higher chance of being awarded an item. Keep in mind that this will not always be the case. In certain situations, while the item in question may be a larger upgrade for a newer player, it could be awarded to a veteran player who has been in there for weeks or months on end trying to get the item.

Equal distribution: Loot will be distributed as equally as possible to the appropriate classes that need them (at least, we’ll attempt to). It is unlikely for players to receive more than one item from a boss. But it is entirely possible for players to receive multiple items in one run. We cannot control what items a boss drops. The last thing we want to do is shard a piece.

Set bonuses: With certain classes, some T7.5 bonuses are just plain awesome to have. If you have an odd number of set pieces (like 1 or 3 set pieces), we want nothing more than to help activate them.

Self improvement and teamwork

The main tanks in the guild are able to talk amongst themselves and figure out who needs upgrades over the other first. They do this purely through communication and cooperation by figuring out their weaknesses and identifying the items that benefit them the most. When tank items drop, they are able to compromise.

I encourage other players to do the same with the other classes or other players wearing similar armor types. As an example, I try to work with the other Priest and clothies to see who can benefit more.

90% of loot drops is handled informally among our members. They all take turns passing and are aware who can benefit items the most. It’s the 10% where loot council has to step in and make a decision. The trend here is that it ends up mostly being trinkets, rings, or weapons.

* Note: Anyone is free to take this post and modify or use accordingly for their own guild. Yes, you have permission. Don’t have to email and ask.

Loot Council and You: One Player’s Take On Loot Council and Casual Raiding

Loot Council and You: One Player’s Take On Loot Council and Casual Raiding

froggy

This is a guest post from @katagirl, Matt’s fellow guildie and a WoW Twitterati

Since this blog has its fair share of priests and druid posters – I thought it was high time for a Paladin to step up and give her two cents. There’s been a lot of discussion about the way the Loot Council structure is set up, and I wanted to share my take on it.

My story

My name is Kata, and I’ve been playing WoW for about two and a half years. I’m currently in Conquest, being known as “Queen Pally” or “hey, you’re on Rez Duty…” depending on the day.

Up until WotLK came out, I was part of a few very casual raiding guilds. It was first come, first serve to raid signups, very relaxed hours and atmospheres and don’t even get me started on Ventrilo during raids on Lurker. You’d need pain meds just to log in. I popped around a bit, even launched my own guild for a while that never got to raiding (that’s another saga completely). When Matticus started pitching Conquest, I chimed in pretty quick with ideas and feedback through Twitter and got a good dialogue going. I transferred in and the rest is history.

Anyways, back to loot distribution. I’ve raided with guilds that both use the standard /roll with a Master Looter, and with some version of DKP/ EPGP. Conquest was my first experience with a Loot Council, and to be honest I was a bit hesitant. I was spending money to transfer servers to put myself at the mercy of leadership that mostly knew each other. There was nothing keeping them from looting everything to each other based on their friendships in times previous.

I transferred and began the arduous grind to 80. The first official week’s raid schedule I sat out on, gearing up and watching all these strangers get boss loot. I’ve now been raiding with Conquest for a full month.

I really don’t write this kind of thing, so forgive me if I tend to wax narrative.

My verdict: Our Loot Council works. I’m in a unique position as a plate-wearing healer to be able to pick up any gear. At the beginning, even cloth pieces were upgrades for me. I had interest on a lot of pieces. There were many times my major +healing upgrade would be passed over for a minor upgrade for a priest/lock/druid. But just as many times as I sat at the end of a boss fight without gear, I was rewarded with major improvements over the first few weeks. Other players occasionally even withdrew their interest if they saw it’d gear me up – and that is impressive.

Not once have I felt that there has been a partiality in the distribution of loots by the loot council. Sometimes it did take longer to distribute loot at the end of a boss fight, but it was almost always accompanied by an explanation of the decision.

One thing I expected with a loot council system would be the likelihood of raid members to complain or protest decisions. From time to time, there’s the occasional light-hearted bickering – but I have yet to experience someone throw a fit because they did not get a piece of gear. As I mentioned before, I’ve seen players pass on upgrades for others. That was always a rarity when I raided with a DKP model. The Loot Council approach seems to shift the focus from a “me, me!” attitude to a “we, together” attitude. And it seems to be working. At last research, warcrafter.net had Conquest listed as one of the top geared progression guilds on our server, and top 500 out of over 40,000 guilds in US/North America. (not to brag, or anything!)

How can the loot council work in your guild?

Matt’s posted some great guidelines that he’s used for setting up our loot council. From where I sit, the most important things are being approachable and working towards a team mentality. I know that any of our officers are willing to hear me out if I have an issue or complaint. My opinions are valued, which then in turn makes me respect my leaders. As I’ve seen in Conquest, when the focus is on the team first and individual second things work out smoothly.

Other curious raiding notes

  • Naxx music is creepy if you’re the first one in the instance and you have your speakers turned up.
  • Toy Trains need to be patched so that they cannot be dropped in an instance.
  • Of all the bosses in Naxx, Matt has the hardest time with the Frogger boss. Ask me how I got my position…

Just because I have this public forum, I thought I ought to thank two amazing Paladins that guided me on my experience – Alyeska and Xonelith, who both popped around various servers with me. Without them – I wouldn’t be raiding today. (again with the fiction-type writing with a dedication… but I couldn’t help myself). And to all the players I’ve had the honor to work with… except the few that drop toy trains in raids. YOU know who you are.

Systemic Looting of Your 25 Naxx Pug

Pickup raids. We can’t live with ‘em and we can’t live without ‘em. For the players that don’t have the scheduling ability to raid with a guild, they have no choice but to raid with 24 other players ranging from the chivalrous to the downright nasty.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a Naxx 25 pug on my alt Shaman which went somewhat smoothly for the most part. Patchwerk and Four Horsemen absolutely stoned the raid and we had to call it later.

Loot System

Here’s how loot was handled and I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.

1 Tier roll for entire night
1 Need/1 Greed for Spider and Plague Wing combined
1 Need/1 Greed for Military and Abomination Wing combined

I felt that it was simple and that it worked. With the amount of loot that drops in Naxx, this was simple, fast, and effective. Players were limited to only one tier piece, period. But having four other roles helped prevent sharding of gear and helped spread the loot around more than if it was just 1 need, 1 greed.

My Elemental Shaman clocked in at ~1900 DPS on Patchwerk. I got some more work to do, it seems.

Handling loot in pugs is a lot more different then handling loot in guilds.

Have you participated in any Heroic raids lately? How has loot been handled?

Stare Decisis in Loot Council

Stare Decisis in Loot Council

Just about a month has gone by in the formation of Conquest. Loot council continues to be an interesting challenge because the council never knows what sort of situation will present itself.

In today’s post, I wanted to talk about an important concept that’s not only valuable in the legal arena but also in an LC guild.

Stare Decisis

This is a legal principles where judges have to follow precedents established in previous decisions. How does this apply to WoW with respect to loot council? Because the decisions we make in how we hand out loot are expected to be binding. I’ll typically follow the principle of Stare Decisis but ultimately, I won’t hesitate to go a different way in decisions of loot for progressive reasons.

Unfortunately, the reality is that virtually no two decisions are going to be the same. You will have similar cases and they’ll be decided similarly. For example, we awarded a tier piece to a Resto Shaman completing his 4 set (because Chain Heal is still whoa). But if I had my 3 piece and a 4th Priest token drop, I wouldn’t award it to me purely because of the bonus (since I don’t use Greater Heal that often to justify it). It literally is a case by case decision. This is bad in that we’re not following a precedent but good in that we’re willing to remain flexible. Remember that this is a loot council not a court of law. Items will drop again.

Decision to Reward vs Decision to Gear

For guilds that have started progressing through different raid instances, realize that you’re going to come across a dilemma and I guarantee you that it will happen. Every member on your loot council is going to ask themselves the following question when an item drops:

Should I award this item to the player who has run all the 10 mans and done all the heroics or should I award this item to the player who dinged recently dinged 80 and hasn’t had the time to get as geared as the other players?

There are two schools of thought on this and let me tell you what goes through my head every time.

Reward: I like to reward players for their efforts. They hit 80 earlier on ahead of the curve. They’ve managed to work their way into pug groups to get themselves geared. Without their efforts, the guild would not be where it is right now. Their contribution is important and I want to recognize that.

Minimum standard:  The other perspective is to gear up the weaker geared player since that player hasn’t had as much time to get where they should be at. Especially for progression kills, there’s a minimum standard that every player regardless of class has to meet. To make life easier on your raid group, the weaker players have to be brought up to speed.

The past 2 weeks have been a lot of fun for all of us (I hope). Everyone has either reached the minimum benchmarks that have been set in terms of performance (2000 DPS on Patchwerk) or have exceeded it (5000+ DPS on Patchwerk). Now that the minimum standard has been reached, I can further lean towards rewarding players that can use items off of the second level bosses such as Kel’Thuzad and Malygos.

Mind you, I’m still just one person on Loot Council.

Mixed messages?

Following a decision that was made earlier for loot is good, especially when deciding on subsequent items. But don’t chain yourself to it or lock yourself.  Keep your loot council flexible because they have to adapt.

Don’t hesitate to acknowledge mistakes.

Don’t commit.

Don’t promise.

Don’t over deliver.

Don’t bind yourself.

So like Amava says, consistency does matter.

There was a case last week where a tanking neck dropped. Both of our tanks expressed interest. We were at a dead lock. The tanks wore the same neck and they could’ve equally benefited from it. We were taking too long. I gave the instruction to roll it.

I realized later on in the evening after the raid was done that it was a bad idea. Upon further reflection, I doubt I’ll give that order again. The exact reasons that crossed my mind were the same ones that Amava listed. This would’ve been the only time (not counting our first unofficial raid) that rolls were used to decide loot. Our current tiebreaker is an officer who is not a part of the loot council and does not wish to take part in decisions. That’s a temporary fix that I need to address. My options are to elevate another player to the loot council (a DPS cloth wearer, perhaps) or set it so that in the event of a tie, my choice wins (Overlord Matticus, hmm). 9 times out of 10, we do reach a consensus. But things like tier tokens always take a bit longer since they’re useful for so many players.

By the way Amava, yes I do read your blog when I can. I read it so that you can keep me honest. Keep doing what you’re doing. I won’t punish you for speaking out or voicing disapproval.

Some more food for thought for players looking and still deciding upon their loot systems.

Spotlight: Loot Council, a New Upgrade Comparison Tool

Spotlight: Loot Council, a New Upgrade Comparison Tool

loot-council-banner

If you’ve ever been in the hot seat during a loot decision like I have, you already know that it’s important to assess the relative value of the upgrade for all interested players before you weigh in on who should be awarded the item. What if there were a tool that you could use to research upgrades for all your guild members and compare them to each other? That would be pretty cool, right?

My friend Bonkers of Vek’nilash has just developed such a tool. It’s name is–not surprisingly–Loot Council, and it will help any WoW player investigate the gear from a certain dungeon and decide when to pass, and when to bid for an item.

How to Use Loot Council

Once you get to http://loot-council.appspot.com/, you’ll find that you have a form to fill out. To get the most out of Bonkers’ fantastic creation, put in the names of two or more characters of the same class and spec in your guild, separated by commas. To test out the LC tool, I used the names of Conquest’s three resto druids. Then, select a ranking type (Wowhead is working best at the moment) and a dungeon. I put in Naxxramas Heroic. Some Naxxramas normal stuff may still show up–I think Bonkers is working on that.

What you will get is a list of all the items in Naxx that might be of interest to a resto druid and a summary of the comparative upgrade for each player. As with all generic rankings like Wowhead, it can’t tell how important spirit or intellect is to a particular player. However, I find Loot Council’s suggestions to be helpful, especially when I know that I personally want an item. What it helps me see is whether someone else on my team would benefit from getting it first.

Sample Entry

Here’s what you will see when you scroll down to the items that you’re interested in. Even though I’d like to have this item, it looks like a pass to Burningpaw is in order the first time it drops.
loot-council-example

Why Use the Loot Council Tool?

Either for Loot Council members deciding how to award prizes or for individuals deciding whether to pass on an item or spend dkp, the issue of fairness is very important. I always urge people to research their gear, and this tool lets you do that–and, at the same time, research your friends’ gear. Raiding isn’t just about loot–or, in any case, it shouldn’t be. It’s also about friendships, and sharing is one of the things that helps build those bonds. I think it’s no coincidence that the opening page of the Loot Council tool features Oliver and Otto, Bonkers’ two cats–or, I should say, two greedy little piggies who happen to look like cats, and who also happen to be best friends. Oh, if only WoW raiders could be like that. No matter how much we want the loot, we’ve got to learn to share our kibble.