Current for patch 3.3.3.
Today’s post is a quick look at the relative value of our tier set bonuses, as well as some notes on the sets themselves.
Tier 7: Earthshatter Garb
Tier 7 is the most accessible of the item sets – tokens drop in Naxxramas and Obsidian Sanctum, and you can purchase the ilevel 200 gloves and chestpiece and ilevel 213 shoulders and kilt from emblems. Unfortunately doing this will leave you looking a little bit mismatched.
Stats: The stats on this item set are very disappointing. Only the helm and chest have haste rating, there’s not much of the hit rating that an entry-level raiding shaman is likely to crave, and the gloves even have utterly worthless MP5 on them. Socket bonuses are also lackluster, and not worth getting.
Two-piece: “Your Lightning Bolt costs 5% less mana.”
Lightning Bolt is already a very cheap spell; this set bonus allows you to cast 5% more of them before going out of mana. It’s possible in certain situations that this can save a GCD spent on Thunderstorm or whatever, but in reality this set bonus is next to worthless and provides no extra DPS.
Four-piece: “The bonus critical strike damage of your Lava Burst is increased by 10%.”
This takes the crit bonus for Lava Burst from 122.08% to 127.53%. In tier 7 stats this is an increase of about 20 DPS. It’s not enough to offset the stat gains of choosing off-set gear that’s better itemised, but is a better-than-nothing bonus if you end up stuck with four pieces of the set.
Conclusion: The combination of rubbish set bonuses and poor individual stats mean that tier 7 is by and large not worthwhile for serious elemental DPS. But if for any reason you do shoot for four pieces of tier 7, avoid the gloves as they’re the worst-itemised part of the set, and there are many other options even at Naxx ilevel.
Tier 8: Worldbreaker Garb
Two pieces of tier 8 are purchasable from the Conquest quartermaster, the chest and the head. If you want any more, you have to go into Ulduar or get lucky from Emalon in VoA.
Stats: It’s a much better set than Tier 7, but still the helm and legs don’t have haste and you’ll probably find yourself swamped in hit rating if you managed to get hitcapped with tier 7 gear. The socket bonuses are a lot better – there are some spellpower ones that might be worth picking up.
Two-piece: “Increases periodic damage done by your Flame Shock ability by 20%.”
This bonus has been changed a few times as previous incarnations have been rolled into our base toolkit; this latest version is only about 60 bonus DPS.
Four-piece: “Your critical strikes from Lightning Bolt cause the target to take nature damage equal to 8% of the Lightning Bolt’s damage over 4 sec.”
I love this set bonus. It’s basically Ignite for Lightning Bolts, and it slightly increases the value of crit. Another fun set bonus and worth an exciting ~200 DPS. Blizzard liked it so much that they’re changing 4t9 to do the same thing, only for Lava Burst.
Conclusion: Tier 8 is a great looking set with much better bonuses than tier 7. Unfortunately it’s unlikely you’ll pick up many pieces, because if you’re raiding Ulduar successfully you’re probably raiding Trial of the Crusader or Icecrown Citadel even more successfully, and if you’re not then you’re limited to only two emblem-purchased pieces. If you need to choose an off-piece to keep the four-piece bonus, go for the helm or the legs: the resto tier 8 helm is pretty much perfectly itemised for elemental, and there are some nice leg options from Malygos-25 and Trial-25.
Tier 9: Thrall’s/Nobundo’s Regalia
After tier 8’s amazingness (yes, that’s a word), you might be forgiven for having high expectations of this item set. Unfortunately, that would leave you disappointed. Not only is it visually unexciting – at least for the Alliance – but the set bonuses are a bit… boring. On the plus side, the ilevel 232 version is very easy to get as all pieces can be purchased from Triumph Emblem vendors.
Stats: On the positive side, only one piece doesn’t have haste – the legs. Unfortunately the higher ilevel versions of this set are overflowing with hit rating in quite ridiculous amounts, but at least you can potentially take advantage of this by getting rid of other pieces of hit gear.
Two-piece: “Increases the duration of your Flame Shock spell by 9 sec.”
This increases Flame Shock’s duration by 50%, making the spell’s DPSC pretty insane and giving us an extra cycle before we have to recast it. This adds up to about a 90 DPS value. However, anytime you’re recasting Flame Shock more often due to movement or Flame Shock doesn’t last its full duration, you’re not getting any benefit. This is not worth breaking tier 8’s 4-piece bonus for, if you have it – you’d need at least another 100 DPS worth of stats from two pieces of tier.
Four-piece: “Your Lava Burst spell causes your target to burn for an additonal 10% of your spell’s damage over 6 sec.”
Similar in style to the four-piece tier 8 bonus, but effectively causes your Lava Burst to do 10% more damage. This can be worth well over 120 DPS and makes Glyph of Lava slightly more attractive (though unless you have over 4k raidbuffed spellpower, it’s still not worth taking over Glyph of Totem of Wrath). With the accompanying stat increases from the higher ilevel set pieces, this is a big enough bonus to break the combination of superior 2- and 4-piece tier 8 bonuses.
Conclusion: Tier 9 is accessible enough that we can’t really complain about its inferior bonuses and looks – but rather than going for the full 5 pieces you’d be better off with 4 pieces and the Leather Legs from Anub’arak-25 if you’re a 25-man raider or a crafted Merlin’s Robe for your chest slot if you’re a 10-man raider.
Tier 10: Frost Witch’s Regalia
As with tier 9, the entire tier 10 item set can be purchased for emblems of frost; however, you can then upgrade your ilevel 251 set pieces to ilevel 264 versions using tokens that drop in 25-man normal or 10-man heroic Icecrown Citadel, and if you raid 25-man heroic, you can upgrade those to ilevel 277.
Stats: The helm, chest and shoulders have all got that delicious combination of haste, crit and spellpower which we love so much, which also means that the set has a lot less hit rating than tiers 8 or 9 had. The legs and gloves do have hit rating, but on both items this is paired with critical strike rating instead of haste rating – a combination of stats which is rather off-putting to many elemental shamans. However it may prove just as well, since haste is beginning to shed a smidgen of its value by 4t10 gear levels.
Two-piece: “Your Lightning Bolt and Chain Lightning spells reduce the remaining cooldown on your Elemental Mastery talent by 2 sec.”
This is a nice idea, but in practice it doesn’t work out as that much of a DPS increase due to its situational nature: in any fight where we’re casting Lightning spells less – movement, AoE, etc – the bonus is being limited, and the timing of Elemental Mastery’s cooldown will not always be convenient for maxx DPS. However in a best case scenario it can be worth about 100 DPS, and it scales pretty nicely as we gear up towards ~150 DPS – which is not bad at all. They key thing is to use EM as early and as often as possible.
Four-piece: “Your successful Lava Burst casts increase the duration of your Flame Shock on the target by 6 seconds.”
The third revision to this particular bonus is definitely the best: it’s worth in the region of 300+ DPS. It can allow Flame Shocks of nearly 40 seconds in some situations, though we often have to clip the last tick to avoid it falling off during a Lava Burst cast. It also scales insanely with gear to the point of being worth as much as 600 DPS at best-in-slot levels – on single targets, natch.
Conclusion: For prolonged single target encounters, tier 10’s bonuses are very nice, and the sheer ilevel difference makes it a definite boost over tier 9. You’ll want to swap out either the gloves or the legs for a better optimised item to keep the 4-piece bonus with maximum stats, though.
Tier 9 and 10, presently the easiest to obtain sets, both have solid bonuses and an interesting assortment of stats to juggle. Tier 10’s bonuses can take some getting used to but the reward for mastering it is high. Tier 7 is pretty much McWeaksauce and there’s no reason to waste emblems or time on it.
Generally speaking, assuming an average ilevel value for each tier, the highest to lowest order of awesome accounting for stats and bonuses is:
- 4-piece Tier 10
- 2-piece Tier 10 combined with 2-piece Tier 9
- 4-piece Tier 9
- 4-piece Tier 8
- 2-piece Tier 8 combined with 2-piece Tier 9
- Anything else.