Archive for January, 2009

The Pimp My Mage posts have been edited after initial publication to take into account the changes to spirit from Molten Armour introduced in patch 3.1.  Spirit isn’t totally useless anymore!  It still sucks compared to crit rating, but just because something comes with spirit is no longer a reason to ditch it for something better.

So, we’ve looked at crafted gear in Part One, this time it’s the turn of Faction Reputation gear.  There are a number of factions available in Wrath of the Lich King, some more useful to us than others.  Let’s look at each in turn:

spell_arcane_blastThe Kirin Tor.
The Kirin Tor are a faction of Mages created to oversee and control the use of magic in Azeroth.  Their capital is the city of Dalaran, currently floating high in the air over Crystalsong Forest.  Not surprisingly, they cater very well to the offensive spellcasters amongst us since they’re all..  well..  you know..  Mages.  And since we’re Mages too, we begin the game at Friendly reputation level with them.  The lesser classes start at neutral.

Muauhahahahahaaa!

Sorry.  Anyway, as you’d expect they have some very nice stuff that they’re prepared to sell to people they like, and here it is.

Honoured
The Shroud of Dedicated Research.  Not bad, but you’ll probably have better at level 80.  You can get this at level 78, however, and it will do just fine if you lack the cash for a Deathchill Cloak by the time you hit level 80 and nothing better has dropped from a dungeon.
Revered
Flameheart Spell Scalpel. Hands down, no questions asked the very best weapon you can get from anywhere prior to doing heroics or Naxxrammas.  All you need is to be Revered with the Kirin Tor, be level 80 and have 74 gold.  There is absolutely no excuse for not having this weapon.  It has stamina, intellect, hit, crit and a bucketload of spellpower.  Get it.  Treasure it.  Call it Charmaine and sleep with it if you must.  All together now…
“This is my Flameheart Spell Scalpel.  There are many like it, but this one is mine…”
Arcanum of Burning Mysteries.  This is the upgrade for our old Burning Crusade Sha’tar rep head enchant.  It swaps hit for crit, and has more delicious, crunchy, chewy spellpower.  Feast on it, my pretties!
Exalted
Robes of Crackling Flame.  Er… well..  they’re not terrible, I guess.  Lots of intellect, lots of stamina, lots of haste, lots of spellpower and lots of mana per 5.  Er… mana per 5?  What we have here, friends and neighbours, is Blizzard copping out of putting in some proper epic caster robes, putting in some healer gear instead and hoping no-one notices.  If by some chance you’re Exalted with the Kirin Tor and not yet managed to scrape together the cash for an Ebonweave Robe or been lucky in Heroic Violet Hold (more on that later), then you may as well spend the 40g required to get these.  They’re really not terrible, just a bit of a wasted opportunity.  On the bright side, they are pretty.

Also note that if you’re a jewelcrafter and wondering where to get the recipe for Runed Scarlet Rubies, look no further, Kirin Tor exalted is where it’s at.  The Kirin Tor quartermaster is located at the top of the steps in the Violet Citadel, in Dalaran.

inv_misc_head_dragon_01The Wyrmrest Accord
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for thou art crunchy and go well with ketchup!  On the other hand if you want some spanky new caster gear, you’ll be wanting to get cuddly with Alexstrasza, Chromie, Ysera, Nalice and Co.  The Wyrmrest Accord are the council of the dragons, currently at war with the rogue Blue Dragonflight who are laying siege to Wyrmrest Temple in the Dragonblight.  Led by Queen Alexstrasza The Life Binder of the Red Dragongflight, you have a number of goodies to look forward to if you manage to impress the dragons.

Honoured
Sash of the Wizened Wyrm.  This is actually pretty nice.  The usual intellect and stamina and a respectable chunk of hit rating and spellpower.  Only requires honoured and level 78.
Revered
Ancestral Sinew Wristguards.  There are really aimed more at the priests and possibly warlocks amongst us (Warlocks!  Boo!  Hiss!) due to a quarter of the item budget going on spirit and that pesky blue socket.  However, they do have a large chunk of spellpower on them and if you don’t care about the socket bonus you can stick a 19 spellpower gem in there for a total of 69 spellpower, which is pretty good.  Not bad, and we’re not exactly tripping over bracer upgrades out there, worth a look if you’ve been unlucky with drops.
Exalted
Sandals of Crimson Fury.  Don’t be disappointed with the lack of hit and crit.  Ignore the socket bonus, stick a red +19 spellpower gem in there and these give you 96 spellpower and 1.56% haste at level 80.    You won’t get better outside of a raid.  Joy!  Rapture!
But of course, the real reason you want to grind Exalted with the Accord is for the Reins of the Red Drake.  It’s a dragon.  You can fly around on it.  It’s RED!  Red ones go faster.  Fact.*

You may have trouble finding Cielstrasza, the Wyrmrest Quartermaster.  You may realise that he’s situated on the top floor of the Temple, but still be unable to see him.  Here’s how you find him.  Stand on the circular dias with your back to Alexstrasza the Dragon Queen.  On your left is a massive Red Dragon, ignore him.  On your right, you’re either going to see Cielstrasza or a large Drakonid Temple Defender.  If you see the Temple Defender, look up his arse.  That’s where you’ll find Cielstrasza.

No, really.  This is not a joke.

inv_jewelry_talisman_08The Argent Crusade
Tirion Fordring is cool.  He’s a raging holy engine of righteous fury, and he’s going to kick the Lich King’s bony arse.  In fact he already has, twice.  Therefore by association, the Argent Crusade is cool, too.  Highlord Fordring formed the Crusade from the remnants of the Order of the Silver Hand and the Argent Dawn after the Battle of Light’s Hope Chapel, which is another reason (if you needed one) to do the Deathknight starting quests, since this is where it happens.  But enough fanboy banter, what’s in it for us?

Not a lot, actually.

Well there’s the the Purifying Torch at Revered, but it’s SO not for mages with zero intellect and comes with mana per 5 to add insult to injury.  At Exalted there’s a Ring which is okay, the Signet of Hopeful Light.  But seriously, if you’re grinding Argent Crusade reputation purely to get this ring you need to be thrown to the warlocks and used as a Felhunter chew toy.  On the other hand, if you’re grinding to Exalted to get the Brilliant Spellthread pattern and managed to get there without getting a better ring from jewelcrafters or dungeon drops, by all means go ahead and get it. And then shard it the second a proper Frostfire Mage ring lands at your feet.  Shame on you!

inv_sword_61Knights of the Ebon Blade
Short history of the Ebon Blade:
Deathknights: Oh Arthas, you are so gothic and cool, we want to be in your gang and listen to The Smiths records.
Lich King: Sheesh, emo much?  Black eyeliner is so nineties.  And for the record, I’m NOT Arthas, Nerzhul is in here with me too, thanks very much.  Pfft..  fanboys.
Deathknights: Oh noes, you betrayed us.  Waaaah!  Boo hoo!
Lich King: Cry some more, noobs.

Actually, we don’t need a long version when the short version is so good.  They’re equally short on the goods when it comes to Mage gear, but that’s pretty much what you’d expect from a bunch of emo posers who think the only thing that goes well with black is more black, preferably lit by candles propped on the top of fake human skulls.   At Revered we have the mostly useless Sterile Flesh Handling Gloves.  At exalted there is the Belt of Dark Mending, which is actually rather nice, if inferior to certain dungeon drops for our purposes.  In fact, there’s not much reason for a Frostfire Mage to bother with Ebon Blade rep gear at all, if it wasn’t for the fact that you get to meet the second coolest npc in the game after Tirion “I’ll whup your ass” Fordring.  Yes, I’m talking about none other than the ridiculously evil Darkrider Arly.

arly12

Get on with it!

In case you’re not convinced, here’s her reaction to her associate, Argent Crusader Olakin, being carried away and torn limb from limb by a Necrodrake.

arly21

I rest my case.  Moving on swiftly, we have…

inv_fishingpole_03The Kalu’ak
A neutral tribe of Tuskarr with quest hubs all over southern Northrend.  It’s relatively easy to get Exalted status with these guys if you’re after the awesome Mastercraft Kalu’ak Fishing Pole, but for pure mage gear you can quite happily stop at Honoured and level 74 with the Turtle Minders’ Robe.  It’s cheap, it’s cheerful, it’s very good for the level it becomes available and it’ll do just fine until you can upgrade to something better from dungeon drops or tailored gear.  Sadly, that’s the only real Mage gear they provide.

inv_misc_head_murloc_01The Oracles and the Frenzyheart Tribe
You’ll come across these guys in Sholozar Basin at around level 76/77.  They’re a bit like the Scryers and the Aldor in that gaining rep with one makes you hated by the other.  They’re unlike the Scryers and the Aldor in that these guys actually have a bit of personality.  I’m an Oracles kind of mage myself, they’re just so…  sweet.  Who doesn’t have a smile on their face while doing their Oracle dailies in the company of Lafoo while he stomps around chasing bugs and saying: “Nice tree!  Make comfy home!” or “You have pie? Someone gave us pie year ago. Really yummy.” The Frenzyheart, while being a bunch of assholes, do have their own charm too in a “we’re a bunch of assholes” kind of way.  Whichever faction you go for is entirely up to you, neither are essential for any gear upgrade.
Revered
Muddied Crimson Gloves from the Frenzyheart Tribe.  From the Oracles we have the Fishy Cinch and the Shinygem Rod.  The belt and gloves are mediocre.  The wand isn’t bad at all.
Exalted
Frenzyheart Insignia of Fury which isn’t bad at all.  As well as the base haste on the trinket the proc will give 91 crit rating, stacking up to five times, although to maintain the proc you have to keep killing stuff.  And it’s not unique so you can equip two.  Of dubious value in raids if you’re relying on the proc, it’ll pretty much only be of any use on chain pulled trash mobs, but a nice trinket nonetheless.
Meanwhile the Oracles reward us at Exalted with the Oracle Talisman of Absolution which is slightly more useful to us because it comes with crit instead of haste, but again has a proc that is not really of much use in raids unless you’re dealing with mass aoe trash pulls and struggling to not go out of mana.

Alliance Vanguard and Horde Expedition
The reputation requirements for these factions can be confusing to the unwary, so here’s the deal, quoted directly from Wowhead:

Half of the reputation gains from the Alliance Vanguard’s four sub-factions count towards this the Alliance Vanguard’s reputation. Therefore, you must have two of the four sub-factions at Exalted in order to be exalted with the Alliance Vanguard, or the equivalent amount of reputation spread across all four

So that means that while you may very well be Exalted with the Valiance Expedition by the time you leave Dragonblight, that’s not the same thing as being Exalted with the Alliance Vanguard as a whole.  You’ll also need to be Exalted with at least one of the other three subfactions, which are Explorer’s League, Silver Covenant and Frostborn for the Alliance.  The Horde equivalents are The Hand of Vengeance, The Sunreavers, The Taunka and The Warsong Offensive.

There are various daily quests, mostly in Icecrown, that you can do to raise Vanguard/Expedition rep, but by far the easiest way to do it is to run instances without wearing a tabard. All rep gained in level 80 instances is automatically Vanguard/Expedition rep if you have no champions’ tabard equipped.  However, you’ll probably not want to bother since the rewards are pretty lacklustre.  On the other hand, if you’re an engineer you’ll most certainly want to get to Exalted, since this is where you get the schematics for the Mekgineers’ Chopper or Mechano-Hog.  For the rest of us, here’s what you can expect:
Alliance
Revered
Gnomish Magician’s Quill.  It’s okay.  You’ll probably have something better from quest rewards by the time you can use it, however.
Orb of the Eastern Kingdoms.  A decent offhand.
Horde
Revered
Charged Wand of the Cleft
Darkspear Orb
Both essentially the same unexciting items as the alliance versions.

And that covers the reputation gear.  Some solid stuff in there to prepare you for your first steps into 10 man raiding, some not-so-good stuff too, but almost all of it easily obtainable either before level 80 or as soon as you ding the magic number.  The majority of your gear, however, is either likely to be quested, crafted, or obtained from dungeon drops.  And dungeon drops are what we’re going to look at in part three.  See you there!

*Not actually a fact.

Pimp My Mage

Posted: 16 January, 2009 in Guides, Mage
Tags: , , , , ,
The Pimp My Mage posts have been edited after initial publication to take into account the changes to spirit from Molten Armour introduced in patch 3.1.  Spirit isn’t totally useless anymore!  It still sucks compared to crit rating, but just because something comes with spirit is no longer a reason to ditch it for something better.
pimp

Yo, yo, yo wassup homies?

My exciteable and diminutive colleague over at Gnomeageddon posts a regular article where he explores the terms people use to find his site on Google and other search engines.  There are some pretty bizarre results!  Far and away the most popular search term that brings people is one word:

Frostfire.

It shouldn’t come as any real surprise of course.  The few posts I’ve made about Frostfire theorycrafting and gear choices (or lack of it) have attracted more views than any other, and while this really isn’t a gear list/theorycrafting blog, it doesn’t hurt to do new stuff every now and then, so here it is, the Frostfire Mage pre-Naxx gearing up guide!

Before we leap straight into instances with all guns blazing, there’s a surprising amount of very sweet gear available before you even approach an instance, some of which you can comfortably acquire well before you even hit level 80.  Let’s take a look at your options, bearing in mind that as a Frostfire Mage you will be primarily concerned with the following stats only: Stamina, intellect, hit, crit and spellpower.

jewelJewelcrafting
Jewelcrafters get access to epic quality gems that only they can use, for our purposes we’re talking about the Runed Dragon’s Eye, which grants a massive +32 spellpower.  Jewelcrafters can equip up to 3 of these for +96 spellpower.  It’s a prismatic gem so it fits in any slot.  There are also some very nice Bind on Equip jewellery items that they can make for us.  Such as:
Titianium Spellshock Necklace
Titanium Spellshock Ring

spannerEngineering
Wrath is quite a departure for Engineers in that there is now a lot of stuff they can make that is Bind on Equip and doesn’t require engineering to use.  This means that they can now actually make a decent profit from engineering, instead of simply having lots of cool stuff that only they can use.  What is still engineering-only, however, are the pieces of head armour that they can use.  We’re looking here at the Visage Liquification Goggles which are very nice indeed!  Stamina, Intellect, a metagem socket, a yellow gem socket, 73 crit and 87 spellpower?  It’s all good!  There’s also a nice rare trinket, the Noise Machine, which gives 63 spellpower and a chance to proc a damage shield when you take melee damage.  Not bad.

scrollInscription
Aside from the obvious benefits of being able to inscribe your own glyphs, what makes Inscription so special are the shoulder enchants available at skill level 400.  For us, we have the Master’s Inscription of the Storm which gives 61 spellpower and 15 crit.

blacksmithBlacksmithing
Seriously?  Well why not?  My priest was a Blacksmith Revered with the Thorium Brotherhood once, but that’s another story.  What makes Blacksmithing useful to Frostfire mages?  Well not a lot, really, as you’d expect.  However they do get two things that make the skill very attractive to the min/maxers out there.  Socketed Bracers and Gloves.  These are prismatic sockets, can be added to an item even if it already has sockets, and assuming we’re going to add runed scarlet rubies, gives us another 38 spellpower.

leather1Leatherworking
Another strange choice.  Leatherworker Leg armour enhancements aren’t really aimed at spellcasters, that’s where Tailoring comes in.  However Leatherworkers do get some very nice bracer enchants only available to them.  The only one we’re interested in is Fur Lining – Spell Power for +67 spellpower on bracers.

trade_alchemyAlchemy
What made alchemy so attractive to casters in the Burning Crusade were the Alchemists’ Stones, and this continues into Wrath of the Lich King, with one slight drawback.  The currently available Mercurial Alchemist Stone is a level 75 blue and while it’s nice, there are better trinkets available at level 80.  It’s not worth abandoning Alchemy over, of course, as there are certain to be new level 80 and epic Stone recipes in future patches.
Edit: As Siobhann points out in the comments below, and as I really should have noticed myself, Alchemists get increased benefits from consuming Flasks and Elixirs they can create themselves.  Duration is doubled, and usually, effect is increased too.  As an example, Flask of the Frostwyrm gives 125 spellpower for an hour.  An Alchemist who can create this Flask will get 50% more spellpower for TWO hours.  Not bad at all.  Note that you must, of course, have trained Mixology to get this effect.

enchantEnchanting
With the exception of a +19 spellpower enchant on each of your rings, there’s nothing that an enchanter gets that’s exclusive to the enchanter themself.  It is of course, massively convenient to able to enchant your own gear.  Levelling enchanting is ridiculously expensive, however.  Obscenely expensive, in fact.  Unless you have five or six thousand gold and nothing to do with it, I wouldn’t recommend switching to enchanting purely for another +38 spellpower.

tailor1Tailoring.
Traditionally tailoring has always been one of the professions of choice associated with mages.  Combined with Enchanting it can significantly reduce the costs of learning both professions.  You simply disenchant whatever you craft to level up both skills at the same time, improve your gear and sell the surplus on the Auction House for a profit.  There were, however, very few pieces of tailored gear that were actually any good.  Certainly while levelling you were almost always better off with quest rewards or Auction House blues.  There were of course one or two notable exceptions, the Robe of Power, for example.  But we’re not really interested in level 30 gear here, we want to know if tailoring is going to be of any benefit to you at level 80?

In short, yes.  Prior to Wrath of the Lich King, crafted gear was almost always inferior to raid drops at the same level requirement in some way.  Some vital stat was missing, or some other stat didn’t compare favourably with an equivalent dungeon drop.  This is quite definitely no longer the case.  Tailored gear in Wrath of the Lich King has every stat we could possibly want, and lots of it.  Let’s look at some of it.

Embroidery
These are things only available to tailors, which cause gear to become soulbound to us when it’s applied.  There are two types of cloak embroidery and two of leg armour embroidery.  Lightweave Embroidery “enchants” your cloak, giving it a random chance to gain a 250 spellpower buff any time you cast a spell.
Darkglow Embroidery “enchants” your cloak giving it a random chance to restore 300 mana whenever you cast a spell.

Clearly the Lightweave Embroidery is superior for our purposes, but is it better than any other cloak enchant?  Hell YES!  TYhe old version of Lightweave prior to patch 3.1 was a bit crappy, but this new version is the best dps caster cloak enchant you can get, bar none.  It’s also stupidly cheap for a tailor.  It will cost you no more than 1 piece of Moonshroud Cloth and a single Eternium Thread.  Compare that with the Enchant Cloak Greater Speed which set you back 24 Infinite Dust and 12 Greater Cosmic Essences.  I don’t know about your Auction House, but on mine that’s well over 350g.

The “cheaper not better” theme extends to leg armour enhancements.  We have two choices, Azure Spellthread with 35 spellpower and 20 stamina or Shining Spellthread with 35 spellpower and 12 spirit.  Since the spirit now gives us some crit if used with Molten Armour, Shining Spellthread is slightly better for dps, and Azure is better for survivability.  Note that these “blue” enhancements are effectively the same as the level 70 epic spellthreads available prior to Wrath shipping.  The epic level 80 versions are correspondingly better still, and the advantage for tailors is that while these spellthreads are expensive for other professions, the soulbound versions we can craft for ourselves cost next to nothing and have exactly the same effect.  Let’s compare what we get.

Tailors:
Master’s Spellthread: 1x Azure Spellthread and 5x Crystallised Life.  Gives 50 Spellpower and 30 stamina
Sanctified Spellthread: 1x Shining Spellthread and 5xCrystallised Fire.  Gives 50 spellpower and 20 spirit.

Non-Tailors:
Sapphire Spellthread.  First, find a tailor who’s Exalted with the Kirin Tor so that they can learn the pattern.  Then provide her with 8 Eternal Fire, 1 Frozen Orb, 3 Eternium Thread and 1 Iceweb Spider Silk, as well as a pot of cash for her trouble.  You get exactly the same as Master’s Spellthread, above.
Brilliant Spellthread.  Now find a tailor who’s Exalted with the Argent Crusade.  Provide them with 8 Eternal Life, 1 Frozen Orb, 3 Eternium Thread, 1 Iceweb Spider Silk and a pot of cash.  Get the same as Sanctified Spellthread, above.

Prior to patch 3.1  I was a little disappointed with the tailoring enhancements, truth be told.  If you were shopping around for a profession purely for the enhancements it brings, tailoring didn’t offer anything special.  You could get everything tailoring offered without having to be a tailor, it would just have cost you more.  There was nothing available to a tailor like the blacksmiths’ extra item sockets, or the jaw-droppingly sweet extra spellpower gems that Jewelcrafters enjoy, or the shoulder enchants available to Scribes.   After 3.1 however the change to Lightweave Embroidery changed all that.  Of course if you want to gear up for Naxxramas before you hit level 80 and without ever stepping foot in an instance then tailored gear is the way ahead.  However, and this is a fairly big however, all of this gear is Bind on Equip.  You can buy it from friends or the Auction House, you do NOT need to be a tailor to get it.

Speciality Tailoring
There are three types of speciality tailoring choices and they’re all broadly equivalent to the Burning Crusade Mooncloth, Spellcloth and Frozen Shadoweave tailoring choices.  The difference in Wrath is that choosing one speciality doesn’t lock you out of creating the gear available to the others.  You simply get twice the amount of cloth applicable to your profession when you create it.

Moonshroud Tailoring
Moonshroud Cloth is stupidly easy to make, requiring only 1 eternal life and 1 bolt of imbued frostweave cloth.  It’s made at the Emerald Dragonshrine which means it’s possible to start making Moonweave cloth before you even start levelling up in Northrend.  I know that’s what I did on Aluriel, my priest, anyway.  The gear made with Moonshroud is good, but not really aimed at Frostfire Mages.  It comes stacked with Stamina, Intellect, Spirit and heaps of raw spellpower.  In other words, it’s a priests’ wet dream, and it sells very, VERY well on the Auction House.  We have two items, the Moonshroud Robe and the Moonshroud Gloves.  For a Frostfire Mage, it’s actually not at all bad but with no haste, hit or direct crit rating there’s always going to be a better alternative.

Spellweave Tailoring
Spellweave is also easy to make, if a little more costly than Moonweave, requiring 1 eternal fire and 1 bolt of imbued frostweave cloth.  It’s made at the Nexus in Coldarra, so it’s also quite possible to start making it almost as soon as you get off the boat at Valiance Keep.  Spellweave is the Wrath sucessor to Spellfire tailoring in Burning Crusade.  It does, however have a big fat problem.  It has precisely zero stamina on it which means that you are going to go down faster than a two dollar whore on just about every fight that has the slightest bit of environmental AoE damage.  Mages are used to being squishy but we have to at least give our healers something to work with!  It is, however, very very good for dps.  There are two pieces, the Robe and the Gloves.

Ebonweave Tailoring
Oh my.  Oh yes.  Oh yes indeed!  Now THIS is what we’re talking about.  Like the Moonshroud and Spellweave items, Ebonweave comes in Robe and Glove flavour.  Unlike the Moonshroud and Spellweave it’s all good stuff and loaded with everything a FrostFire mage needs: Intellect, Stamina, Hit and Spellpower.  Absolutely nothing is wasted.  If it came with Crit Rating as well it’d be perfect, but with stuff this good it’s churlish to complain. These two pieces alone give you 119 Hit Rating or 4.53% at level 80.   They’re easily as good as anything that drops in 10 man Naxxrammas or Heroic Dungeons.   There is, however, one small problem.  In order to make Ebonweave Cloth, you need to be able to get into the pit under Icecrown Citadel.  Yes, the place where The Lich King lives.  That pretty much means you need to be level 77 or higher and have a flying mount.

However!!  As of patch 3.0.8 things are changing, my fellow tailors.  Spellweave will be made at the Azure Dragonshrine in Dragonblight, and Ebonweave will be made at the Black Dragonshrine, also in Dragonblight.  This makes it much easier for you to start collecting cloth in order to have your gear ready for level 80.

Finally, to round off the list of epic crafted gear that tailors can provide, we have two rather tasty cloaks.  These are the Deathchill Cloak and the Wispcloak and I’m sure you’ll agree that they’re very nice indeed.  The Wispcloak is rather obviously aimed at healers with the 20 mana per 5 on it, but the Deathchill Cloak is made of pure win and covered in Awesome Sauce.  Let’s look at the stats:
43 Crit (0.94% at lvl 80)
53 Haste (1.62% at lvl 80)
59 Spellpower
All of which is just perfect.

But not just any old tailor can make these beauties.  Once you reach the appropriate level in tailoring (435 to be precise) you are presented with two “quests” by your tailoring trainer.  In order to be taught the Wispcloak pattern you have to earn the Northrend Dungeonmaster Achievement, and in order to be taught the Deathchill pattern you have to earn the Northrend Loremaster achievement.  So in other words, you’re likely to have been level 80 for some time before you can make these two patterns.  However, the cloaks themselves are bind on Equip, so there’s no reason why you can’t either buy them, or gather the resources needed and get another tailor (like me) to make them for you.  The mats required are:

Wispcloak: 5xBolt of Imbued Frostweave, 6xEternal Life, 4xEternal Water, 1 Siren’s Tear and 1 Frozen Orb
Deathchill Cloak: 5xBolt of Imbued Frostweave, 6xEternal Fire, 4xEternal Shadow, 1 Siren’s Tear and 1 Frozen Orb

Non-Epic Tailored Gear.
There is some very good tailored gear that can made relatively cheaply that isn’t epic and will be very suitable for a Frostfire Mage.  Probably the best item around is the Hat of Wintry Doom.  Even if it wasn’t any good it would get a mention purely for the name.  Luckily, it IS very good.  It comes with a metagem and a red gem socket, so it’s already doing well.  Add to that some lovely stamina and intellect as well as 44 Hit Rating and 53 spellpower and it’s hard to see how it could be any better.  Well..  ok, it could use some crit but I’m quibbling over details again.  You can have this for the princely sum of 1 Ebonweave, 6 Imbued Frostweave, 4 Iceweb Spider Silk and 1 Eternium Thread.  Go on, treat yourself.

Next, the Deep Frozen Cord.  With the usual stamina and intellect and no item budget wasted on junk stats, this comes with a very welcome 36 Crit and 61 Spellpower.  Yours for 1 Spellweave Cloth, 4 Imbued Frostweave, 4 Iceweb Spider Silk and 1 Eternium Thread.

The Silky Iceshard Boots have no intellect on them, but they do have a buttload of stamina, crit, haste and spellpower.  Worth a look if a decent dungeon drop eludes you.

And that pretty much covers all the available professions.  I think Blizzard did a pretty decent job of balancing them and not making any one profession a must-have for any one class.  There are obviously some professions that certain classes are going to get more out of than others, there aren’t going to be many Warrior Tailors, for example, but if a warrior does take up tailoring at least they can take advantage of Swordguard Embroidery!

Coming up in part two – what dungeon drops to be on the lookout for!

paladin

Anyone tried getting a group for a normal, non-heroic instance at level 80 lately?

Not easy is it?

Some explantion is probably due to explain where this is relevant.  Galadan hit 80 before Christmas, and was pretty much still wearing his 100 Badge Holy Paladin Legs and Chest from level 70.  Now these are still decent pieces of gear at level 80, but they’re no longer anything even remotely special.  Worse, he was still wearing his plate healing shoulders from Karazahn, which is frankly embarassing.

So as a fresh level 80 Holy Paladin you immediately jump into the non heroic instances to gear up for the Heroics and the Naxxramas raids, right?  Er..  not really, no.  Well, ideally you would, but no-one is running normal versions of the instances!  Seriously, with around 1400 spellpower buffed, Galadan jumped right into healing heroics, mostly with guild groups.  The problem here is that Galadan is physically incapable of healing some of those heroic instances due to two reasons:

1. Gear.
2. He’s a Paladin.

Ok, some explanation of those points is in order.  In a 5 man group, Galadan had around 14,500 health.  The last boss in Heroic Gun’drak essentially one-shots him if he gets charged and impaled, so Galadan cannot heal heroic Gun’drak.  He’s not the only boss who pretty much has a “You must have this much health to enter” requirement, but he’s the most brutal.

Secondly, Holy Paladins have no Area of Effect heals.  Shut up, Beacon of Light is not an AoE heal.  It’s a two-target heal, and it’s great, but it’s not AoE.  So on those exceptionally rare occasions where everyone in the group takes damage at once, Holy Paladins have a very tough time.  Oh sorry, did I say “exceptionally rare”?  I meant every damn boss fight in the game!

Yeah, so I’m exaggerating, but not by much.  The combination of those two factors makes it really hard for a fresh level 80 Holy Paladin to get along.  There is some great Healing Plate gear in the normal-mode level 80 dungeons, but no-one’s bothering to run them because the loot in heroics is so much better, and with any other healer but a paladin you can comfortably do them, so everyone expects to be able to do nothing but heroics.

Note, I’m not saying that you can’t do certain instances with a Paladin healer, because that would be rubbish.  There are some exceptionally talented holy pallies out there, and the quality of the group as a whole can be the major factor.  If your dps and tank won’t move out of Sjonnir The Iron Shaper’s lightning rings, your healers’ class isn’t going to make any difference to the outcome – you’re wiping anyway.  What I am saying is that unless your paladin has already has the great gear and unless your group has a good tank and smart dps, it’s going to be much harder for your Holy Paladin to keep everyone alive.  Let’s see what your average healadin has in their arsenal…

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Flash of Light.  Previously known as “Flash of Doesn’t Heal For Enough”.  This is a great spell.  A 1.5 second cast but at level 80 in a dungeon, this is pretty much as close to a 1-second cast as you’re ever going to get.  Depending on your gear levels, this is going to pump out at least 2000 health per second or better, and it’s going to crit a LOT if you’re smart about it.  More on that later.

Holy Light.  Previously known as “Holy Heals For Far Too Much”.  Our second heal, and it’s a big one.  Typically heals for 8k or more, with a base casting time of 2.5 seconds.  However it’s never going to take that long to cast if you use your Judgements wisely.

Holy Shock.  Our first instant cast “oh crap!” button.  It’s on a 6 second cooldown which isn’t bad.  Where it becomes awesome is with the talent Infusion of Light, which causes Holy Shock crits to give our next Holy Light a 1 sec reduction on casting time and our next Flash of Light a 1.5 second reduction.  Yes, that means an instant Flash of Light and a 1.5 second Holy Light.

All seems a bit random though, doesn’t it?  Indeed it does, but you can tip the odds in your favour with:

Divine Favour.  This Holy talent is also instant cast and makes our next healing spell an automatic crit.  You can use this to great advantage by guaranteeing a crit on your next Holy Shock, which makes your next Flash of Light an instant cast, and if Sacred Shield is also up, that Flash of Light is about 75% going to be a crit as well.  Note the heavy use of the phrase instant cast here.  Yes, Paladins can heal on the move.  Alternatively, you can use it as another “Oh crap!” button for when your Lay on Hands is on cooldown and you need a BIG heal on the tank right now!

Light’s Grace. This talent gives you a 0.5 second reduction in casting time on your next Holy Light for 15 seconds after casting a Holy Light.

Sacred Shield You put this on your Main Tank and keep it there.  This spell means that not only is your Flash of Light the most mana efficient heal in the game, it’s going to crit like a mofo too.  Damage mitigation and bonus crits?  Yes please!

Beacon of Light.  Or Bacon of Light, as Ghostcrawler christened it.  This spell is a band aid.  It does not give Paladins the AoE healing that we’ve been begging for and every other healing class has, but without it we would simply not be able to heal anything other than the Main Tank in a raid.  Without this spell, we would never be able to find a spot as a healer in a 5 man.  Ever.  So I’m not about to criticise it too much.  You cast it on your Tank, and then whenever your dps (or you) take a hit, you ignore the tank and heal the dps, and through the magic of Beacon of Light, the Tank gets the same heal as the dps.

Next we have Judgements of the Pure and Enlightened Judgements also Holy Talents.  One gives you a 15% casting speed increase after you Judge a target, the other extends the range of your Judgements to 40 yards and increases their chance to hit by 4%.

And finally we have the Glyph of Holy Light which gives 10% of the amount healed by your Holy Light to anyone within 5 yards of the heal target.

So, taking ALL of the above into consideration, no, we may still be the only healing class to not have any Area of Effect heals, but despite that we’re still pretty capable group and raid healers.  Let’s look at the anatomy of a Boss fight in a 5 man to see how it all hangs together.

1.  Beacon of Light and Sacred Shield on the tank.
2. Throw up your Seal of choice.
3. Tank engages boss, Judge Light on the boss so melee can trickle heal themselves with their melee hits.  Gain 15% spell haste from Judgements of the Pure.
4.  Tank takes a big hit, cast Holy Light, your next Holy Light, taking into account Light’s Grace, Judgements of the Pure and your haste from gear is now almost a 1 second cast.
5.  Boss does AoE, tank and dps health starts dropping.  1 sec Holy Light on the dps with the lowest health, which also heals the tank for the same amount.  Spam 1 second Flashes of Light on remaining dps, also healing the tank for the same amount too.
6.  You have to move to avoid some AoE, pop Divine Favour to make your next Holy Shock 100% crit, zap a dps with it for a 4k+ heal, which makes your next Flash of Light also instant cast, top your selfoff for another 4k instant heal.  Thanks to Beacon of Light, all these heals also hit the tank.
7.  Kill boss, pick up loot.

Easy?  Hell no.  I’d argue that a Holy Paladin in a 5 man has to work harder and faster than any other healing class to get the same result, especially given how much group damage Blizzard are keen to toss about in their boss and trash encounters.  There are certain instances that are hard for any class to heal, not just paladins, it’s just harder for us.  Whole group took damage at once?  For every other healer you fix that with one button press.  Not for us, not by a long shot.  We do on the other hand have the fastest and most efficient single target heals in the game, and unlike most other healers, we have more armour than the USS Missouri, so we can take a beating if stuff goes wrong without getting instantly gibbed.

Am I glad I levelled a Holy Paladin as my second level 80?  Yes, on the whole I am.  I wish in retrospect I’d levelled Aluriel (priest) or Shinano (druid) first, but now that Galadan’s starting to gear up from those tough heroics and I’m becoming better at playing him, it’s infinitely more rewarding.

And we do look good in pink. :)

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