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Resto Druid Weapon Choices in Dragon Soul

December 3, 2011
by

A new raid tier means that it’s once again time to revisit one of my favorite questions: which weapon should my druid be hoping for in the Dragon Soul encounter?

As you may recall, I’ve looked into this question over each of Cataclysm’s raid tiers thus far.  In the past, a one-handed weapon paired with an off-hand frill generally narrowly beat a staff in just about all instances.  (There were a few exceptions, particularly Sho’ravon from Ragnaros, which had the benefit of being a higher iLevel.)  When I last revisited this issue during Firelands, I wondered whether the addition of epic gems with this most recent patch would change the relative balance Blizzard achieved in 4.2 by changing weapon stats and lowering the amount of Intellect on the off-hand enchant we use.

I ended up doing the math for this post several times because I found myself confused about Blizzard’s choice of socket placement on the items in this tier.  When I did the math the first time around, I found that staves and one-hand weapons were nearly equal in Dragon Soul, with the staff from Deathwing being slightly ahead.  And then I realized I had missed something.  Both of the available off-hand frills from Dragon Soul have a red socket with a +10 Intellect bonus.

So, were it not for this additional 60 Intellect on off-hands (that’s 50 from a Brilliant Queen’s Garnet, and 10 from the socket bonus), Blizzard would have managed to make both weapon choices relatively equal this tier – as I found from my accidental math.  Instead, we are once again in a place where one-hand weapons are superior.  The table below doesn’t include all of the available weapons for this tier, and is only showing weapons available from the normal (i.e. not Raid Finder or heroic) level of raiding difficulty.  The table assumes that all red sockets are filled with a Brilliant Queen’s Garnet, and all off-hands are enchanted with Superior Intellect.  The list, while not comprehensive, is intended to give you a general sense of the progression from regular raid gear to Deathwing gear:

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

Rank Weapon and iLevel Spellpower from Int Spellpower Total
1 Maw of the Dragonlord, iLv 403 and Dragonfire Orb, iLv 397 668 2945 3613
2 Ti’tahk, the Steps of Time, iLv 403 601 2946 3547
3 Vageries of Time, iLv 397
and Dragonfire Orb, iLv 397
701 2783 3484
4 Visage of the Destroyer, iLv 397 615 2786 3401

Other Considerations

Dragon Soul brings us a handful of oddly-itemized weapons with a strange mix of possible procs.  Because of this, it’s difficult to rank weapons by Intellect (and thus, throughput potential) alone.  A list of all available off-hands (iLv 384 and above) can be found here, and a list of all weapons (iLv 384 and above) useable by druids is here*.

* Note that Rahrak is not a healer weapon – the proc is based upon damaging spells.  Unfortunately, I was unable to exclude this weapon using WoWhead’s filters.

We just don’t have a lot of off-hand choices this tier.  Of the two available from the Dragon Soul, I would prefer the Dragonfire Orb (haste/mastery) over the Ledger of Revolting Rituals (spirit/haste – drops from Ultraxion), but the problem is that the Orb is a BoP zone drop.  That means we have no chance of seeing it an auction house and just have to keep our fingers crossed.  As mentioned above, both off-hands have red sockets, so there will be no Intellect difference between them.

Which brings us to weapons.  Let’s get the easy choices out of the way first.  The Scalpel of Unrelenting Agony, which drops from Yor’sahj, is the only 397 weapon available to us that doesn’t have a red socket.  You don’t want this dagger; it’s really only acceptable as a temporary upgrade from a 378 weapon.  This was another one of those confusing things to find as I was researching for this article – I have no idea why this weapon is lacking a gem socket.

A much better choice for a pre-Deathwing weapon is the Vagaries of Time.  This is a drop from Morchok with crit and haste, which is less ideal for us but the additional Intellect we gain from a red socket is too much to pass up.  Grab this weapon, reforge the crit to mastery, and head for Deathwing.

From Deathwing, we see weapons with unusual procs for every role.  On the staff, Ti’tahk, the Steps of Time, we have a proc that grants us a nice chunk of haste for 10 seconds, and gives that same haste buff to 3 nearby allies.  This is likely to be a highly coveted item for plenty of DPS casters out there, so healers may not get the first shot at it.  Early reports seem to think it has a 45 second internal cooldown, and I’ve yet to see anything about whether it can proc from HoTs.  Despite all this, it is still a significant Intellect upgrade from a 397/397 one-hand combination and would be worth picking up if your raid composition allows it.  I expect the proc to be particularly helpful in a 10 man setting.

Finally, Deathwing also drops the Maw of the Dragonlord, which has a proc reminiscent of the paladin’s Light of Dawn ability: “Your healing spells have a chance to trigger Cleansing Fire, healing all nearby friendly targets in front of you for 5280 to 7920.”  The heal itself is small, we don’t know how many allies it can hit, and unlike Light of Dawn we have no way to know when the weapon will proc so we can’t position ourselves in an ideal place in advance.  On the other hand, it seems that the majority of the fights in Dragon Soul require the raid to stack for healing for significant periods of each encounter, and a proc like this could end up being quite useful in those situations.  Again, no information on whether it procs from HoTs so far, but PTR reports showed that this mace has only a 15 second internal cooldown.  That, combined with the significant Intellect increase we would get from using Maw + the Orb means this is likely to be our BiS weapon.

TL;DR?

Of the new gear available in Dragon Soul, one-hand weapons paired with an off-hand are once again better for us than a staff.  Our weapon choices are limited in Dragon Soul, and the final Deathwing encounter drops two weapons we can use, each with a unique proc.

Happy hunting, druids!

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