The troops of the Burning Dragoons had already been transferred from the frontlines of Naxxramas to the halls of Ulduar. Dwarrow has already seen plenty of action, but I haven't. From all reports, the fighting there is even more terrible than the Scourge of Kel'thuzad. No wonder—these are the titans, after all... not merely the reanimated dead.
It is why I have been a bit worried about how effective I would be. So, despite my discomfort, I go once again to the Elitist Jerks for advice.
I did not go to them last year because I would have to talk to a troll hunter (a troll!) about my gear. I felt that I would not be able to bear it if she felt any distaste with dealing with an elf. But a few months ago, I felt that I had to go. It was the initial Naxxramas push, and I needed to be ready. So, it was with relief that I find that a nightelf had replaced the troll.
"Ishnu-alah, sister," I greet her. "What happened to the troll named 'Cheeky' that used to sit here?"
"Oh, she retired a long time ago. I have taken up her duties; are you here to be audited?"
I nodded, and began entering my details on a parchment she produced. She stood up with a measuring tape, and begans to inspect me. "My name is Shandara the huntress... please sign your name here... and your realm... yes... I can call up your qualifications and your battlefield experience with that, thank you... yes, yes, yes... it's kinda like magic... now hold still."
As she made her calculations and measurements, I could hear the buzz of conversation around me—other soldiers and fighters having themselves audited, or arguing the finer points of technique, school selection, and gear choices. Some of the discussions were very technical, with people doing equations on boards with chalk or bits of parchment. I felt a bit self-conscious: I was a frequent visitor of the Elitist Jerks forums, but have yet to muster the courage to speak up.
"Alright," Shandara says, giving me several sheets of parchment. "Here are your scores and potential figures; nevertheless, it is still up to you to test yourself on the training dummies. I see you aren't of the Survival School... they're currently the most powerful, but as a marksman, you bring that useful aura. Hmmmm... not the standard marksman training, eh? Still, don't be afraid to test everything... school loyalty should be secondary to viability, ok?"
I felt weighed... I felt measured... and I had been afraid to have been found wanting. But the information she gave me was very useful. It had helped me, for instance, recognize a bow, sticking out of the dead carcass of Patchwerk when we killed him a few weeks ago. A bow that was slightly better for me than the Valkyrjur crossbow.
Today, I need to be weighed, measured and judged again.
My next meeting with Shandara went well. She did not remember me from last time, but I suppose if you've been measuring so many hunters we are all a blur to her. I got my sheaf of parchment, and took a look. What's this? A gear list. I looked at Shandara quizzically.
"Oh, that's a list of equipment you can get from various sources," she said. "A lot of it is available from Dalaran after you've served a long enough tour of duty in Ulduar, but some of them can be found in Ulduar itself. The Explorers League boys have done a great job of cataloguing the stuff that you can, er, appropriate if you ever find some on enemy."
"When does one find time to go on a tour of duty?" I ask, but she was already crying "Next!" and I went away.
Looking closely at the parchment, I note that she listed several options in order of preferrence for each slot, and where they can be found. A small note near the top advised that the order of preferrence is dependent on gear I already have and my current talent build, and that the ranking can change with each gear change.
I reproduce the list below, noting what gear I already have, and ranked (with the current best-in-slot being at the very top).
- Conqueror's Scourgestalker Headpiece — Ulduar-25
- Valorous Scourgestalker Headpiece — Ulduar-10
- Helm of the Furnace Master — Ulduar-25
- Blue Aspect Helm — Eye of Eternity-25
- Mimiron's Flight Goggles — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Helm of the Grave — Naxxramas-25 (picked it up when I killed Sir Zeliek; stored in bank)
- Furious Gladiator's Chain Helm — Season 6
- Valorous Cryptstalker Headpiece — Naxxramas-25 (currently equipped)
- Guise of the Midgard Serpent — Ulduar-10
- Circlet of True Sight — Ulduar-10
Obviously, the first thing I need to do is get that Helm of the Grave out of the bank, and duplicate the magic gems and enchants on it. Strange that before the Ulduar campaign, that helm was actually not as good as the Crypstalker. I did not throw it away because... because...
I'm glad I did not throw it away. I will aim for the Scourgestalker.
- Mantle of Fiery Vengeance — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Shoulders of Misfortune — Ulduar-25
- Ironaya's Discarded Mantle — Ulduar-10
- Valorous Cryptstalker Spaulders — Naxxramas-25 (currently equipped)
- Shoulderpads of the Monolith — Ulduar-25
- Upstanding Spaulders — Obsidian Sanctum-25 Hard
- Iron-studded Mantle — Ulduar-25
- Pauldrons of the Abandoned — Naxxramas-25
- Conqueror's Scourgestalker Spaulders — Ulduar-25
- Valorous Scourgestalker Spaulders — Naxxramas-10
I am a bit confused that the Scourgestalkers are not as good as the Crypstalker on this list, but I guess it's because they have to be paired with another Scourgestalker from another slot for it to be more preferred.
I will aim for the Scourgestalkers.
- Drape of the Faceless General — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Drape of the Deadly Foe — Naxxramas-25
- Winter's Frigid Embrace — Ulduar-10
- Drape of Icy Intent — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Aged Winter Cloak — Naxxramas-25 (currently equipped)
- Shawl of the Shattered Giant — Ulduar-10
- Hammerhead Sharkskin Cloak — Emblem of Valor
- Drape of the Lithe — Ulduar-25
- Cloak of Mastery — Naxxramas-10
- Cloak of Darkening — Naxxramas-10
I would have liked getting the Drape of the Deadly Foe, but I have not seen it yet. But I like the fabric of the Winter's Frigid Embrace—it's sooooo pretty!
- Conqueror's Scourgestalker Tunic — Ulduar-25
- Valorous Scourgestalker Tunic — Ulduar-10
- Chestguard of Insidious Intent — Ulduar-25
- Chestguard of Flagrant Prowess — Obsidian Sanctum-10 Hard
- Embrace of the Gladiator — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Chestguard of the Lasher — Ulduar-10
- Valorous Cryptstalker Tunic — Naxxramas-25 (currently equipped)
- Tunic of Indulgence — Naxxramas-25
- Tunic of the Limber Stalker — Ulduar-10
- Tunic of the Lost Pack — Naxxramas-10
I am going to aim for the Scourgestalkers, but will keep my eyes open for any of the others (they all look nice).
- Gloves of the Steady Hand — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Gloves of Unerring Aim — Emblem of Conquest
- Gloves of the Fiery Behemoth — Ulduar-25
- Gloves of Taut Grip — Ulduar-10
- Gloves of the Blind Stalker — Emblem of Conquest
- Valorous Cryptstalker Handguards — Naxxramas-25 (currently equipped)
- Grotesque Handgrips — Naxxramas-25
- Conqueror's Scourgestalker Handguards — Ulduar-25
- Gloves of Smoldering Touch — Ulduar-10
- Furious Gladiator's Chain Gauntlets — Season 6
Hmmmmmm... another instance when the Scourgestalkers are not the best—I wonder how I will be able to make the two-piece set, then? Still, it seems like the most achievable would be to get the emblem gloves... I just need to have a long enough tour of duty, and I am used to waiting.
- Frost-bound Chain Bracers — Ulduar-25
- Slime Stream Bands — Naxxramas-25 (currently equipped)
- Fluxing Energy Coils — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Bracers of the Smothering Inferno — Ulduar-10
- Mechanist's Bindings — Ulduar-25
- Armguard of the Tower Archer — Emblem of Valor
- Bands of Anxiety — Naxxramas-10
- Arachnoid Gold Band — Naxxramas-25
- Sinner's Bindings — Naxxramas-25
- Furious Gladiator's Wristguards of Triumph — Season 6
The Slime Stream Bands are second in rank? But I have them already! I'm glad, since I do not want to replace it yet. Still, it might change when my other gear changes, so I'll look out for the others if I come by them.
- Belt of the Betrayed — Ulduar-25
- Belt of Dragons — Leatherworking
- Death-warmed Belt — Leatherworking
- Belt of the Ardent Marksman — Emblem of Conquest
- Torn Web Wrapping — Naxxramas-25 (currently equipped)
- Soul-Devouring Cinch — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Relic Hunter's Cord — Ulduar-25
- Waistguard of the Creator — Ulduar-25
- Belt of the Blood Pit — Ulduar-10
- Depraved Linked Belt — Naxxramas-25 (in the bank)
I had been fortunate to have been able to pick up these to gird my loins for battle. Being a leatherworker myself, I hope to learn to make two of the belts on the list, but if the Belt of the Betrayed drops first I'll snap that up.
- Legguards of Cunning Deception — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Conqueror's Scourgestalker Legguards — Ulduar-25
- Saronite Mesh Legguards — Ulduar-25
- Leggings of the Tireless Sentry — Emblem of Conquest
- Valorous Scourgestalker Legguards — Ulduar-10
- Darkcore Leggings — Ulduar-25
- Leggings of Failed Escape — Naxxramas-25 (currently equipped)
- Leggings of the Insatiable — Ulduar-10
- Valorous Cryptstalker Legguards — Naxxramas-25
- Leggings of Colossal Strides — Naxxramas-25
Before the Ulduar campaign, the Leggings of Failed Escape were the best pants that could be had. In fact, at the height of our Naxxramas incursions, it was the only piece of clothing I wore that was not a Cryptstalker. They were very comfortable, too.
Now, I have my eye on the Saronite Mesh Legguards—it's clingy but looks comfy also. Still, looks like the Scourgestalker pants may be one of the two-piece set I may eventually end up with.
- Greaves of Swift Vengeance — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Tempered Mercury Greaves — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Footpads of Silence — Leatherworking
- Boots of Living Scale — Leatherworking
- Boots of the Renewed Flight — Eye of Eternity-25
- Brass-lined Boots — Ulduar-25
- Pack-Ice Striders — 25-man Token (currently equipped)
- Boots of Unsettled Prey — Ulduar-10
- Dawnwalkers — Naxxramas-25
- Flamestalker Boots — Ulduar-25
I haven't exactly worn leather shoes for a while now. I had experienced that sometimes I'd rather have a well-armored pair of boots than something comfy and agile, but I am not averse to wearing leather again. The Pack-Ice Striders, with the Icewalker enchant, had proved to be very dependable.
But one can't have too many shoes.
I'm currently wearing the Strong-Handed and Invincibility rings... about the only other upgrades I can find that are achievable would be the Cindershard, Surge Needle, Draconic Guile, the Metallic Loop of the Sufferer. For neckpieces, the following:
- Pendulum of Infinity — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Favor of the Dragon Queen — Eye of Eternity-25
- Broach of the Wailing Night — Emblem of Conquest
- Pendant of the Dragonsworn — Eye of Eternity-10
- Choker of the Abyss — Ulduar-10
- Seed of Budding Carnage — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Icy Blast Amulet — Naxxramas-25
- Gem of Imprisoned Vassals — Naxxramas-10 (currently equipped)
- Nymph Heart Charm — Ulduar-25
- Fool's Trial — Naxxramas-25
Looks like my best bet would be to aim for the Broach of the Wailing Night. Nobody wants to go back to war with the Blug Dragonflight in the Eye of Eternity so I cannot get the necklace that drops there, while the current "best" pendant has only been hinted at—nobody on our realm has even seen it yet.
Still, one cannot have too many jewelry.
- Darkmoon Card: Greatness — Inscription
- Mjolnir Runestone — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Wrathstone — Ulduar-25
- Mirror of Truth — Emblem of Heroism (currently equipped)
- Fury of the Five Flights — Obsidian Sanctum-25
- Bandit's Insignia — Naxxramas-25
- Darkmoon Card: Death — Inscription
- Loatheb's Shadow — Naxxramas (currently equipped)
- Meteorite Whetstone — WotLK 5-man (somewhere in the bank)
- Incisor Fragment — WotLK 5-man (somewhere in the bank)
Magic trinkets have always been good at enhancing and rounding out my powers, and I am fortunate to have two which seems to measure up pretty well. But, ah... the Darkmoon Cards—it looks so good. It's an impossible dream, however. These cards are hideously expensive. We are not wealthy and I am doing all I could to finance my own expedition into Northrend as it is. I also have Myrrh's education to think about. I think the Wrathstone or the Fury of the Five Flights would be the best I can hope for.
Of the heavy melee weapons, these are the best:
- Lotrafen, Spear of the Damned — Ulduar-25
- Rune Edge — Ulduar-25
- Dreambinder — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Journey's End — Naxxramas-25 (currently equipped)
- Tortured Earth — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Betrayer of Humanity — Naxxramas-25
- Twisted Visage — Ulduar-25
- Dark Edge of Depravity — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Spire of Withering Dreams — Ulduar-10
- Relentless Edge — Ulduar-10
Not bad... although I think I would like to return to having a nice spear or broadsword—nothing like cutting and slashing compared to blunt force k-thunk! impact with a staff. Still, if that staff can be found, I will pick it up.
The recommended light melee weapons are:
- Bladetwister — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Combatant's Bootblade — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Fang of Oblivion — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Malice — Ulduar-25
- Calamity's Grasp — Naxxramas-25 (in the bank)
- Void Sabre — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Daschal's Bite — Ulduar-25
- The Masticator — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Insanity's Grip — Ulduar-25
- Rune-Etched Nightblade — Ulduar-10
I still have that whirlygig contraption somewhere in my vault. It is effective, but I get strange looks when I wear it. The sword Malice looks promising, though. I shall be on the look-out for that one.
Now, for the ranged weaponry:
- Skyforge Crossbow — Ulduar-25 Hard
- Siren's Cry — Ulduar-25
- Giant's Bane — Ulduar-25
- Envoy of Mortality — Naxxramas-25
- Magnetized Projectile Emitter — Ulduar-10 Hard
- Avalanche — Ulduar-10
- Golemheart Longbow — Ulduar-10
- Arrowsong — Naxxramas-25 (currently equipped)
- Rifle of the Platinum Guard — Ulduar-10
- Veranus' Bane — Ulduar-25
*Sigh* The Final Voyage is not even on the list anymore. It will stay in my vault, though, along with my memento from that brave Tauren hunter.
Well, that's the list of gear Shandara gave me to keep an eye out on—if any do drop, the motto is "Beggars can't be choosers". She also scribbled notes on recommended ammo rotations, glyphs, and... what's this? Ah, still the old Ferocity beast recommendation. I guess for the Ulduar campaign, I will have to take either Trim, Kodachi or Navarre... Dwarrow did say the place was brutal. Chilli did very well in Naxxramas, but I guess she had the hometown advantage. She could use a break anyway; we've had to kill her mom in Naxxramas, and I want to give her some space.
I went by the trade channel to pick up some food, drink and other consumables, then headed back to our apartment. As soon as I get there, I will ask how Myrrh's enrollment in the School of Fire went; she's been Frost for as long as I remember.
"Hello Mom!" Myrrh called from the doorway. "How did your audit go? All good?"
"Yes, Myrrh," I answered. "I will be joining the guild on their next incursion into Ulduar on Thursday, so we still have some time before I have to embark. Zorbax will be performing a Ritual of Summoning, so I do not have to make the long boat trip, so I can stay with you until that actual time."
Dwarrow also stepped out to meet us. I acknowledged her with a nod, then continued my talk with Myrrh, "Anyway, tell me about the School of Fire. Were you able to pay the bursar the 1000 gold coins?"
Myrrh and Dwarrow both gave me wide grins. "Mom, have a seat and I'll tell you all about what happened to that bag of gold."
What's going on? Nothing seems to be wrong, as both could hardly contain their mirth. I found myself one of the wooden chairs and sat. Trim and Navarre, meanwhile, went straight to the kitchen, presumably to find some scraps to eat.
"Mom," Myrrh began, "don't get mad... but I kinda, like, didn't enroll in Fire School."
I waited patiently, looking at her... then at Dwarrow. Wait a minute... "What did you do to the one thousand gold pieces, Myrrh? Please... not another dress!"
Dwarrow and Myrrh both laughed aloud. "Look, Mom," Myrrh said. "Just because you spend your gold buying dresses doesn't mean we would. I mean, we would, but we didn't do it this time."
"Myrrh, this is no laughing matter. Where is that bag of gold?" I wanted to be mad, but somehow I cannot help grinning too.
"Mom, Auntie Dw, Auntie Sappy and Mr. Vault and I pooled our resources..." said Myrrh, her voice almost sing-song.
"... coming up with 5000 or so gold pieces..."
"Yes..." I said, uneasily.
"... and since it was Mother's Day today, bought you a card with it!"
I stared incredulously at both Dwarrow and Myrrh, certain both have lost not only their minds but several weeks worth of toil. "Light defend us! What happened to the money?! What happened to the gold? I saved all of that for your education, Myrrh! What card could possibly cost five thousand pieces of gold?! Sister, what is this? Stop giggling! This is serious! Where's that gold?"
I was standing and shaking my fists, but their giggling smiles was making all this seem ridiculous somehow. My cheeks were hurting from trying not to smile, but I was so annoyed.
"Sister," Dwarrow said. "Just take the card we got you; it is the Day of Mothers. Be grateful, as it took us some time to get it."
Myrrh stepped forward with a little red card with a carnation on it. *Sigh* Another one of those stupid human festivals that demand you spend all your time and hard-earned gold... "Oh, for the love of—"
I had opened the envelope and was staring at the Mother's Day "card". "Greatness!" I cried. "But, but..."
Dwarrow let out a melodramatic sigh. "I got tired of your pitiful excuses about your supposed lack of powers," she said. "I admit it is a bit self-serving; I feel the guild will need all the firepower it can get when battling the Titans."
"Now, Myrrh," Dwarrow continued, "can you please fetch Sapsorrow, Mr. Vault and his staff so we can eat?"