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Which Weapon: How Firelands Has Changed the Answer

September 15, 2011
by

*For information regarding weapon choice in the 4.3 Dragon Soul raid, please consult this more recent article.*

At the beginning of this expansion, I wrote two posts explaining how the off-hand enchant for Superior Intellect ensured that a one-hand weapon with an off-hand frill would always make that weapon combination better for resto druids than a staff.  As the expansion goes on and iLevels increase, a bonus of 40 intellect will begin to diminish in just how much effect it has on our gear choices.  Beyond that, Blizzard has attempted to bring Firelands staves into alignment with their one-hand counterparts by adding a red socket with a +10 Intellect bonus to all of the staves that drop in this tier.  Essentially, that means a +50 Intellect bonus on a staff to allow it to complete with the +40 Intellect enchant.

Druids have extremely limited weapon choices in this tier, and so we may be less able to pick and choose than we were in T11.  On both normal and heroic difficulty, there are only five weapons we can choose from (3 staves and 2 one-hands), and there is only one off-hand available without hit rating.  Of those weapons, two of them drop from Ragnaros, two are from zone and/or random boss drops, and one drops from Beth’tilac.  The zone drop, Chelley’s Sterilized Scalpel, is BoE and so might be found on your local Auction House for a fairly astronomical price.  Keep in mind that the two weapons dropped by Ragnaros are iLv 384 (397 on heroic), meaning they will have more intellect and spellpower on them than any of the 378 weapons (391 on heroic) available in the rest of the raid.

With the addition of the gem sockets on staves, our answer is no longer “one-hand is always better.”  Below I’ve included three tables (normal difficulty, heroic difficulty, and a combination of both) showing the total spellpower on all the weapons available to us.  Remember that the amount of intellect on our gear is multiplied by 1.17 to account for our bonuses that grant us additional spellpower for each point of intellect:

1 point of Intellect = 1.17 points of Spellpower
(This includes bonuses from Mark of the WildHeart of the Wild, and our armor specialization.)

Firelands Weapons (normal difficulty)
Rank Weapon and iLevel Spellpower from Int Spellpower Total
1 Sho’ravon, Greatstaff of Annihilation, iLv 384 539 2467 3006
2 Ko’gun, Hammer of the Firelord, iLv 384
and Goblet of Anger, iLv 378
529 2467 2996
3 Chelley’s Sterilized Scalpel, iLv 378
and Goblet of Anger, iLv 378
517 2333 2850
4 Smoldering Censer of Purity, iLv 378 513 2334 2847
4 Funeral Pyre, iLv 378 513 2334 2847
Firelands Weapons (heroic difficulty)
Rank Weapon and iLevel Spellpower from Int Spellpower Total
1 (H)Sho’ravon, Greatstaff of Annihilation, iLv 397 604 2786 3390
2 (H)Ko’gun, Hammer of the Firelord, iLv 397
and (H)Goblet of Anger, iLv 391
590 2783 3373
3 (H)Chelley’s Sterilized Scalpel, iLv 391
and (H)Goblet of Anger, iLv 391
577 2636 3213
4 (H)Smoldering Censer of Purity, iLv 391 573 2633 3206
4 (H)Funeral Pyre, iLv 391 573 2633 3206
Firelands Weapons (combination of normal and heroic difficulty)
Rank Weapon and iLevel Spellpower from Int Spellpower Total
1 (H)Ko’gun, Hammer of the Firelord, iLv 397
and Goblet of Anger, iLv 378
558 2783 3339
2 (H)Chelley’s Sterilized Scalpel, iLv 391
and Goblet of Anger, iLv 378
543 2636 3179
3 Ko’gun, Hammer of the Firelord, iLv 384
and (H)Goblet of Anger, iLv 391
563 2467 3030
4 Chelley’s Sterilized Scalpel, iLv 378
and (H)Goblet of Anger, iLv 391
557 2333 2884

Basically, what we see is that adding the gem sockets and Intellect bonuses has successfully made staves competitive with one-hand weapons this tier.  Comparing a stave to a 1H/OH combination in which all three items have the same iLevel, the one-hand weapon wins out by an extremely narrow margin.  Sho’ravon (the staff from Ragnaros) has so much more spellpower on it than an off-hand paired with Ko’gun (the mace from Ragnaros), merely because no 384/397 off-hands exist.

It will be interesting to see how the addition of epic quality gems in 4.3 may shift this balance once again.  Based on my napkin math (and assuming that Cata epic gems will give a +50 Intellect bonus), this would put staves ahead of the 1H/OH combo … but only just barely.  The balance would largely be maintained.  If, however, 4.3 staves have two gem sockets (which all the staves in ICC did – though this is pretty terrible evidence, since 1H/OH was almost never a competitive choice in Wrath), then this would be enough for staves to become the clearly superior choice.

Why do I have the feeling I’ll be writing this article a fourth time in a few more months …?

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