Back during The Burning Crusade (my first experience with "endgame"), I remember drooling over the Enhancement Tier 4 and hoping that someday, I'd be able to get Exelus outfitted with a full set. However our beloved guild was (and still is) primarily a 10-man guild, so I only had practical access to the first pieces in Karazhan. We never made it all the way through Zul'Aman, and Magtheridon and Gruul's were just out of reach. (Certainly Serpentshire Cavern and Tempest Keep was out of the question.) If only I had L2resto'd in pugs back then, I might have chain-heal-spammed my way to the Enhancement set I wanted?
Fast forward to Wrath of the Lich King, where at each raiding tier I was able to gather them appropriate gear set while collecting off-set/non-set items from raiding and heroic emblems.
[Blizzard] has earned the achievement: Getting it right this time around.
We can now access gear in logical stages: with current raiding level gear just within reach (but still requiring dedication and focus to earn), and previous raiding level gear very easy to get via emblems (great for gearing up offspecs and alts). Kudos, blue.
Now, on to the tasty stuff: the Tier 10 bonuses!
Elemental Tier 10
- 2p: LB and CL reduce Elemental Matery's cooldown by 2 sec. Kinda meh, since EM has a longish 3 minute cooldown, but I'll take it. I have EM macro'd to everything so it's always popping on cooldown.
- 4p: your Lava Burst increases Flame Shock duration on the target by 6 sec. At first glance it may appear that you could indefinitely refresh FS by casting LvBs, but with global cooldowns, flight-time and lag, the real-world use appears to allow casting ~5 LvBs (depending on your haste level) for each application of FS. The 2p Tier 9 bonus allowed us to cast ~3 LvBs, so we can definitely call this a worthwhile upgrade. (UPDATE: apparently this is due to change in 3.3.3, so stay tuned!)
Enhancement Tier 10
- 2p: Shamanistic Rage adds 12% damage for 15 secs. Previously SR would have been used for mana regen or damage mitigation phases, but with this tasty bonus, its hard to imagine not using SR on every single cooldown. Macro that sucka.
- 4p: Maelstrom Weapon x5 has a 15% chance to proc 20% AP for 10 secs. Enhancers are already well-versed in saving their MW stacks to 5, so this is essentially a passive AP proc that scales with gear. Hott.
Restoration Tier 10
- 2p: Riptide grants 20% haste on next spell w/in 10 secs. The Riptide + Healing Wave combo is already common use for applying a massive, Pally-like single target heal (Healing Way and IHW ftw), so another 20% off brings HW to sub-global cooldown speed. Great for 10-man tank healing, where your attention is split between the tanks and the raid.
- 4p: Chain Heal crits leave a 25% HoT over 9 secs. This is like Earthliving Weapon on steroids! Great for the 10-man healer and fantastic for the 25-man raid healer.
So what's next?
I'll admit that with Tier 10 under my belt (literally), I'm starting to think more about the next expansion and how to position my main and alts to tackle the new shattered world. I used WotLK to experiment with the Elemental playstyle, which I've grown to love, but I still miss the dual-fisted pew-pew. I may spend the next few months casually working on my Enhancement gear. :)
In the meantime, I hope to get at least 2-piece Tier 10 for the Resto set for that awesome Riptide bonus. And of course I'd love to get my Elemental set "sanctified" too, which means upgrading your existing Tier 10 using tokens from ICC bosses in 25-man and 10-man hard modes. That may or may not come with time, but I'm OK with that.
I mean, I already have fricken shoveltusks sticking out of mah shoulders!