Friday, June 20, 2008

Frozen Shadoweave

FSW. Frozen Shadoweave. Shadow's Embrace.

The set is both a blessing and a curse for Shadow Priests. The three pieces (shoulders, boots, and robe) are probably the first gear set that SPriests are really going to lust after ... and in many cases they are also the last.

The Good

The set is relatively easy to obtain: just level yourself to 375 in Tailoring. This is, I think, easiest done as you level, but you can also grind it out in an afternoon if you have a few hundred gold to spare. (Hint: make bags and AH them.) The patterns are available from your Shadoweave trainer, Andrion Darkspinner in Shattrath, for a pretty reasonable price.

The Bad

Unless you really like to grind elementals, it's going to cost you about 1500g to make the set:

36gNetherweave Cloth, 234 pcs
28gArcane Dust, 26
275gPrimal Shadow, 13
275gPrimal Fire, 13
760gPrimal Water, 38
80gNetherweb Spider Silk, 8

And that 1500g? That does not include the cost of the 6 gems that you'll need to put in it. But more on that later.

The Ugly

The cooldown for each pair of Shadowcloth is just under 4 days. The set takes a total of 13 pairs of Shadowcloth. Assuming you are devout in your trips to make Shadowcloth, that's 48 days between the time you make your first pair and your last pair.

Want to save yourself some money?

Farm, baby.

At the just-dinged-70 level of gear (roughly +500 Spell Damage and no real +Spell Hit) I was able to grind roughly 8 Primal Water per hour, and about half that for Primal Fire and Primal Shadow. Netherweb Spider Silk ran about 4 or 5 per hour. Don't sweat the cloth or the dust. You will have an abundance of cloth from questing, and the dust is very cheap on the AH.

Don't be fooled by the people that talk about being able to grind more than that -- they probably are much heavier geared than you will be when you need to do this.

If you don't want to spend anything you are looking at roughly 13-18 hours of grinding, on top of saving all of the cloth you get from questing. Sure, that's a far cry from the 7 weeks you are waiting on Shadowcloth cooldowns, but it's still no less than 13 hours of doing nothing but killing the same 4 mobs over, and over, and over.

The reality is that you are probably going to be somewhere in between. Personally, I made it through 6/13 batches of Shadowcloth, or just about 3 weeks. The other 14 pieces I bought on the AH for about 70g each. I farmed my way through roughly half of the other mats, probably spending a total of 500g on motes and primals. (Always check the prices for both before you buy either.)

Gemming Your FSW

You've probably been reading quite a bit on about how your #1 stat is Spell Damage, right? And how if you are putting anything other than red gems in your gear then you are nerfing yourself?

Ignore that advice for now. Come back to it later.

The first thing you need to work on before you start worrying about Spell Damage is Spell Hit. Before you are hit-capped, all the damage in the world doesn't do you any good if you keep missing on spells. There's a boatload of theorycraft involved here, but the short version is this:
  1. Make sure you are maxed out in Shadow Focus.
  2. Get your Spell Hit up to 76.
At the fresh-FSW gear level, your best and easiest bet is going to be to go for the socket bonuses and put in the correct gems, not just red ones. I recommend pairs of Great Dawnstones and Glowing Nightseyes. Yes, there are better ones that you will eventually have access to, but both of those are readily available for a decent price on the AH.

Each pair grants you +8 Spell Hit, +5 Spell Damage, and +6 Stamina. And, oh look, by following the socket colors you got another +9 Spell Hit, for a total of +33 Spell Hit from the set. That's almost half-way to getting hit-capped. Sold! You even still get your +15 Spell Damage, and a little extra HP to keep you alive a fraction of a second longer. It'll cost you between 200g and 250g for all 6 gems, total.

At the gear level you are going to be at when working on your FSW, completing the set should add roughly +100-150 Spell Damage to what you were wearing before. For me, that translated to about +650 Spell Damage, unbuffed. With that, you should be able to sustain roughly 500 DPS on boss mobs, spiking to 600 DPS if you have a good tank and can really go all out and get your rotation down. You're basically ready to take on any Normal-mode dungeon without breaking a sweat. Heroics will be challenging without other gear upgrades.

Oh, and you can start soloing level 68 Elites. It'll take practice and you'll die a few times, but you can do it. How cool is that?

The Curse of FSW

Did I mention that FSW was both a blessing and a curse? Oh yeah, I did. How can a set so be uber and amazing and at the same time a Bad Thing?

You're going to be in that set for a very, very, very long time.

The problem is that we can get the FSW so early in the game. It's T4/T5-equivalent, and yet we can get it within a few weeks of hitting 70. The psychological effect is that SPriests are easily lulled into thinking that continuing to enhance their DPS at that rate will be easy.

The reality is this: if you're not in a raiding guild to where you can get into 25-man dungeons whenever you want, you may never outgrow that set. In fact, many/most T4 and T5 items would actually be a downgrade from that set.

Back to the Upside

Still, FSW is a bucket of awesome.
  • For the next several months you don't even have to think about it when you see a Chest, Shoulder, or Feet drop -- it's just auto-Greed.
  • The HP regen as you do damage is nice. It won't keep you vertical if you start taking serious damage, but it's nice to know that you can soak small amounts of secondary damage. Also, in PvP it's an easy way to keep tabs on people you've DOTted.
  • You have 6 gem slots to mix and match as your other gear gets you closer to, and eventually over, your hit cap.
Oh, and it's not bad looking. If you don't like it, well, that's what Shadowform is for.


Cody Veal said...

I've been reading a few of your blog posts, and I'm rather suprised at the ammount of knowledge you have of the class considering your time spent at 70.

I play a facemelter too, and I'm at around 1k spell damage unbuffed, almost 1.2k with full raid buffs.

There is one problem I have with your advice. I highly disagree with gemming FSW with spell hit. If you can get into kara each week, (not that hard when you have a bit more gear; find some friends to go with you), then you will surpass the hit cap quickly, and begin to think about taking points out of Shadow Focus. (Check tailoring gear below). However, this is the cheap side of me talking, also known as the side that hates doing dalies for the gems.

I havn't replaced FSW, but honestly: tailoring is king when it comes to shadow priests (atleast until t6 equivelent loots, and even after with sunfire). You may want to start saving up for your next gear upgrades. (especially if you are not in a raiding guild).

Spellstrike set is really nice, and adds a buttload of spellhit (+38 spellhit alone). Though this set isn't as durable as FSW in terms of replacement value, the 2 piece set bonus gives a nice boost to spell damage. The next piece is deffinitly Belt of Blasting, with huge stat bonuses. Again, not as durable as FSW, but a solid investment, especially if 25 man raiding seems very distant at the moment.

Also, tailoring gear remain viable even in the sunwell. The Sunfire pieces from SP and the Nimble Thought set from BT can be considered some of the strongest items in the game right now.

Once again, keep up the good work :)

Cody Veal
Dazile @ US-Durotan

P.S. Don't mind my healy gear from time to time. I sometimes act as a personal healer for friends while they do dalies xD.

apanthropesp said...

Thanks, I appreciate the praise.

I am going to follow this post up with an "Upgrading and ading to your FSW" post, I just haven't had a chance to research and write it yet.

I do agree that eventually you are going to replace all your +spellhit gems with +spelldmg ones. However ...

Unless you are a twink (which my blog is obviously not aimed at), your FSW gear is probably going to be your first couple of purples. You might have one or two other purples before your FSW, but that will most likely be more luck than design. While it is technically possible to have already capped your +spellhit before your FSW, it's also extremely unlikely for the average SPriest.

Now that I'm starting to get into Kara and get a feel for how it rates for PUG farming versus other instances and even Heroics, I'm getting a better feel for what kind of gear the average SPriest will be in when they start working Kara. It seems to me that your average Kara raider will be mostly blue with a few purples and maybe one or two greens. For a SPriest, that means they probably won't be hit-capped just yet. Maybe, but unlikely unless they started consciously working on +spellhit before 70, which most won't.

But, and this is where my sight gets hazy as I haven't gotten past theory myself, it seems that by the time an SPriest is done farming Kara (maybe also Gruul), they will be hit-capped and can start making that trade. It's a fine line, I admit.

Is it worth it to re-gem so soon? I think so. Especially since you will almost guaranteed be doing it one gem at a time as you pick up better loot (or can afford to have it made). And the gems we're talking about here (blues, not purples) are wicked cheap to replace.

I'm also trying to compile a gear-based version of my progression chart, to match up to the quest-based one I've been working on. It's significantly more complex, and it's taking much more time to get right.

Cody Veal said...

I by no means meant to disrespect you, or call your advice into question. I was merely stating that of the 76 hit rating needed to be capped, 3/4 of that can come from 3 crafted items that will last you until BT (Spellstrike set and Belt of Blasting), and the other quarter can come from your helm enchant. I agree, to be able to survive in kara, you need to be close to, if not, hitcapped. However, the side that hates farming for gems is talking here. =P

My original post was simply saying that an alternative to gemming for the spell hit would be to run heroics, and farm for the mats to get those items that would be worth a lot more to you in the long run. Believe me, Belt of Blasting and Spellstrike set will last you into T6 instances/ZA.

From somone who has been there and did not gem my FSW (or any other gear for that matter) for +hit, I found the cap hit me very quickly. Just my oppinion of course :)

Once more, great work! ^_^