This weekend's round of troll-killing was cut unexpectedly short by PTR server maintenance, so I spent the rest of my time analyzing DPS caster drops in ZA. Each boss in Zul'Aman drops one item and one badge of justice. Killing an animal boss (Nalorakk, Akil'Zon, Jan'Alai, or Halazzi) within the 20-minute sacrifice timer will reward you with an additional bonus loot chest. (The Amani War Bear mount is one of several items that appear to be part of a shared timed-event loot table.) So, what can DPS casters look forward to in Zul'Aman? Put on your robe and your wizard hat, and let's go down the list:
With 217 spell damage on each, all four of the Zul'Aman dps caster weapons fall somewhere between the [Nathrezim Mindblade] from Karazhan and the [Fang of the Leviathan] from SSC. The Merciless Gladiator weapons are still generally better, but if you don't PvP enough to pick one up, it's time to start figuring out which ZA weapon is best for you.
- [Wub's Cursed Hexblade] Jan'alai the dragonhawk drops this dagger, which may be favored by elemental shamans.
- [Amani Punisher] If you're looking to pick up one of these maces, you may have to contend with a tanking pally or two, but solid stats and spell hit make this drop from Akil'zon the eagle boss a decent choice for spooky priests or moonkin.
- [Blade of Twisted Visions] My mage is eying this haste-heavy sword from Zul'jin, the final boss in ZA.
- [Amani Divining Staff] Generally speaking, even when you gem it up this won't put out as much damage as any of the current one-handed weapon + offhand combos, but I know lots of mages who are looking at this as the new +int choice for evocation weapon swaps.
Zul'Aman gear for dps casters features a lot of spell haste, which is more valuable the longer the length of your average spell cast or channel. While you should never wear a crappy piece of gear just because it has spell haste on it, current theorycrafting suggests that in 2.3, haste may be the next thing to stack once you've reached the hit cap. That is, unless you're a shadow priest, since Blizzard loves you guys, but hates itemizing for you.
- [Footpads of Madness] Dropped by Jan'alai the dragonhawk, these are decent for a caster putting together a haste set, and may be especially valuable to non-tailors who don't have access to [Boots of Blasting].
- [Signet of Ancient Magics] This ring can be socketed with a +dmg gem, and like the Mana-Attuned Band is one of the best rings in the game before BT/Hyjal.
- [Mana Attuned Band] Spell haste is pretty worthless for shadow priests, but for the rest of us, it may well be the next best thing to stack after +hit. This ring has both, plus a ton of +dmg, and seems to be part of the timed loot table.
- [Fury of the Ursine] Better than Veteran PvP gear, but not as good as the [Mindstorm Wristbands] off of A'lar. Depending on your class and spec, you may find these a better or worse choice than the [Runed Spell-cuffs], which will be purchasable with 35 Badges of Justice in 2.3.
- [Hex Shrunken Head] Hex Lord Malacrass drops this trinket, which gives 53 damage on equip and has a two minute cooldown on its +dmg use.
- [Hood of Hexing] As with Tier 5, I'd break a Spellstrike set for this hat. It's lacking a meta slot, which makes it pretty similar to the [Cowl of the Grand Engineer] off Void Reaver.
- [Loop of Cursed Bones] An extremely nice BT/Hyjal level necklace for everyone except shadow priests, this will be a must for any +haste set. It drops off Zul'jin.
- [Mantle of Ill Intent] Another heavy-hitting haste item, but without any sockets, I expect most people will stick with their Tier shoulders instead of these.
- [Moon-walkers] Moonkin gear! Yes, you read that right. Note the two red sockets and spell hit bonus — why are moonkin the only ones who get decently itemized socket bonuses? What's that you say? The [Footpads of Madness] are actually slightly better for an oomkin? Oh. Well. At least they're leather, right?
- [Robe of Departed Spirits] Another unsocketed haste-heavy piece of gear. I'm really looking forward to seeing some more number crunching on the relative value of increasing amounts of haste after capping spell hit, but I don't think this will be a huge upgrade, at least for tailors.
- [Shadowcaster's Drape] Like the Loop of Cursed Bones, the cloak spot's an excellent place to stack some haste if you're hit-capped and of a class and spec that benefits from it. In relation to other gear, this appears to be roughly on par with the [Brute Cloak of the Ogre Magi] off of Maulgar, but there just aren't that many good PvE cloaks in game at the moment, so it's a welcome addition.
- [Tiny Voodoo Mask] The Barov Peasant Caller of TBC, this trinket summons three tiny voodoo gnomes, which bite off the kneecaps — I mean, uh, cast little lightning bolts at your enemy. Sadly, the timer on this is too long for it to be used in arenas.
This concludes part two of Girl Meets WoW's three part series on dps caster loot in patch 2.3. You can read part one on Badge of Justice rewards here (soon to be updated with mouseover tooltips and moonkin gear). For the last post in this series, I'll be analyzing the upgrades to level 10-60 dps caster gear in the patch. Check back later this week to read it!