Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New gear in 2.3

Artwork by 02Dazone.comThe upcoming 2.3 patch is a big one, with changes to every class (including some very significant changes for shaman), interface improvements, new daily quests for battlegrounds and 5-man instances, new profession recipes, guild banks, improved levelling speed, new Dustwallow Marsh quests, and of course Zul'Aman, the new 10-man raid instance.

With so many changes, it's hard to pinpoint which is the most exciting. Regardless of your priorities, however, new [Phat Lewtz] is almost certainly up there. In addition to a few tweaks to existing items, there's Arena Season Three, new PvP rewards, new Badge of Justice turn-ins, and, of course, new drops from Zul'Aman. Talk about Christmas in ... November? December? (No ETA has been given for 2.3 yet.) Update: Patch 2.3 is scheduled for release on November 13.

Changes to existing items
Blizzard has made changes to a vast number of pre-Burning Crusade items to make them more desireable as part of their efforts to make levelling new characters easier and more fun. Battleground twinks may want to take a closer look, but none of the changes are particularly interesting for end-game purposes.

Three changes are signficant to a raiding Restoration shaman, however:

  • The two-piece bonus for the [Cataclysm Raiment] (Tier 5) has improved to a 5% reduction in the mana cost of Lesser Healing Wave (currently 3%).
  • The four-piece bonus has changed significantly as well:
    • Pre-2.3: Reduces the casting time of your Healing Wave spell by 0.15 sec. In addition, your critical heals from Healing Wave, Lesser Healing Wave, and Chain Heal reduce the cast time of your next Healing Wave spell by 0.85 sec.
    • Post-2.3: Your critical heals from Healing Wave, Lesser Healing Wave, and Chain Heal reduce the cast time of your next Healing Wave spell by 0.5 sec for 10 sec. This effect cannot occur more than once per minute.
    Needless to say, this greatly reduces the incentive to obtain the new (relatively useless) four-piece bonus.
  • The four-piece bonus for the [Skyshatter Raiment] (Tier 6) will now be a 10% reduction in mana cost for Chain Heal (currently reduced Lesser Healing Wave cost). This is a great change as CH is our most commonly cast spell.

Arena Season Three
Blizzard has stated that Season 3 will not necessarily coincide with the 2.3 patch, but the forum consensus is that it will either start with the patch, or two weeks afterwards. begin one week after patch 2.3 (that means November 20th, if all goes well with the patch on the 13th).

Going from Season Two to Season Three is generally a better upgrade than going from Season One to Season Two, simply because additional itemization points were spent on stats other than Resilience. If gemmed for PvE, they generally fall somewhere between Karazhan/Tier 4 and Tier 5 items in quality. Several important changes have been made regarding Arena gear:
  • All seasons of Arena gear will count towards the two- and four-piece set bonus (e.g., three pieces of Gladiator Ringmail and one piece of Merciless Gladiator Ringmail will activate the four-piece bonus). Items from different sets will not combine, so if you want to double up on the +35 Resistance bonus, you can wear two pieces of Mail and two pieces of Ringmail.
  • The four-piece bonus on the Restoration and Elemental arena sets have changed. The Restoration (Wartide) bonus is now a 1.5 second reduction to your Grounding Totem cooldown and the Elemental (Thunderfist) bonus will be a phenomenal 70% chance to avoid interruption while casting Lightning Bolt.
  • The [Vengeful Gladiator Ringmail Gauntlets] will now have an improved range on Shock spells (similar to Season One and Two Elemental gloves). There will be no change to the Gladiator or Merciless Gladiator Gauntlets, however.
  • A personal rating of 1850 will be required to purchase Season Three weapons and a rating of 2000 will be required to purchase Season Three shoulders. There is no rating requirement for Season Two items.
MMO Champion has posted screenshots of each of the three sets: [Gladiator's Earthshaker] (Enhancement), [Gladiator's Thunderfist] (Elemental), and [Gladiator's Wartide] (Restoration - note that the glove bonus was changed after this screenshot was taken).

PvP Gear
A new set of PvP honor gear (boots, belt, bracers, rings and necklaces - but not cloaks) will arrive with the start of Arena Season Three (screenshots of the boots/belts/bracers are included in the links to the Season Three gear). In addition, all of the Season One Gladiator gear will be available for purchase using honor (a full pricelist of PvP and Season One gear can be found on MMO Champion). Several new trinkets that increase health by 1,750 for 15 seconds will be available for 30,000 honor as well (they share the same cooldown as the trinkets available with Badges of Justice, so you're unlikely to want both). This means a lot of honor grinding for competitive Arena players, but the battleground dailies should provide 400 bonus honor each, slightly reducing the amount of time required to obtain all the new items.

Badge of Justice Turn-ins
As of 2.3, bosses from both Karazhan and Zul'Aman will begin dropping [Badge of Justice] (the same items that currently drop in heroics). It's a good thing, too, since there's a whole slew of new gear available - most of which is on par with (or better than) Tier 5 items!

World of Raids has posted screenshots of the new mail items, along with new totems, new cloaks, new trinkets, and new necklaces. I'd also suggest looking at the leather items as well since they may be superior to the mail versions in some cases.

Overall, this is a great source of gear. Running two or three heroics a day would give you a complete set of upgrades in a month or so, especially if you're also running Zul'Aman and Karazhan on a weekly basis. For avid PvPers, the cloaks are especially good - particularly the healing cloak since there is no equivalent available currently.

Rounding out the list of new gear are the Zul'Aman drops. Like the Badges of Justice items, they're of approximately Tier 5 quality. The only downside to this gear is their rather bizzare appearance. But hey, the stats are definitely pretty, even if your character won't be!

Neither MMO Champion or World of Raids have a nice, combined screenshot, but gsDKP has a listing of Zul'Aman loot with mouse-over tooltips that you can peruse.

All in all, there're plenty of great items out there to keep striving for. These should prove to be a big boost in power to any guild that's still working on the early 25-man content as more gear will almost always make encounters easier. And for the more casual player, these are phenomenal pieces of gear well beyond what would have been available to them prior to 2.3.

Continue on to my review of healing gear for 2.3

No comments: