Last night, Oporotheca returned to 25-man raiding from the holiday season, and for the first time we down Heroic Patchwerk. He dropped a number of items, but of most importance to me was this:
This is most likely the strongest +hit off-hand in the game for moonkin, and to my incredible surprise, none of the four mages in the raid wanted it. It was all mine!
So let's take a look at why this limb that looks like the arm of a Forsaken is good for us, and also why the mages possibly passed on it.
Most casters new to Naxx end up with the [Flameheart Spell Scapel] and [Ward of the Violet Citadel] for a main hand/off-hand combination. The Ward of the Violet Citadel is so strong that there's really nothing else worth taking in 10-man Naxx if you're a dps caster unless you end up hit capped via other pieces gear and no longer need the hit on Ward, and the Flameheart is solid.
I got the [Sulfur Stave] really early in our 10-man progression, so early I didn't have the rep for the [Flameheart Spell Scapel] yet, and the Flameheart/Ward combo was not significantly better for me than the Sulfur Stave according to Rawr, so the Ward became the last emblem item I was interested in. As time passed I decided that I would only buy the Ward if I got an epic main hand to go with it. Otherwise the minor dps increase wouldn't be worth the cost of 25 emblems. Besides, I reasoned, the [Surplus Limb] might drop once we got to Heroic Patchwerk and that would provide a bigger dps increase.
Now what's so special about this limb vs. the Ward?
When comparing the two, the Surplus Limb has the following:
-6 hit rating
+41 haste rating
-25 crit rating
+6 spell power
The difference between the stam and int, or even the hit and spell power, aren't that much. The real key is looking at the haste vs. crit.
When selecting gear the generally accepted desirability of stats is hit > spell power > haste > crit (according to the guys at Elitist Jerks). Hit and spell power are desirable for obvious reasons, but haste vs. crit is less obvious, especially for those of us who didn't raid Sunwell where haste really came into its own.
Crit provides mana back, extra damage, and all these good things, after all. Why go with haste?
Haste makes all that happen faster. A moonkin's goal should be to end each fight with her mana bar as close to empty as possible without actually going empty at any point in the fight. If mana is not an issue (and only if), haste becomes desireable.
Eventually, enough haste reaches a breaking point where we can cast one more spell during an Eclipse, or one more spell before we have to reposition ourselves during a boss fight. My Starfires are almost 2.5 second casts now, and 0.5 of that is coming from haste.
Also from an item budgeting standpoint, Blizzard gives us more oomph per point of haste than point of crit, so 40 haste will translate into more dps than 40 crit, enough that losing the 6 hit and 25 crit from the Ward is more than offset by the 41 haste and 6 spell power from the Surplus Limb.
Granted, anyone who already has [Ward of the Violet Citadel] is in a very good position, and the Surplus Limb should be passed to someone who needs it (this is likely why the mages in my guild passed), but if all the casters already have the Ward, this is still a reasonably good upgrade.
And for me, at this time, this is quite frankly the best off-hand I could have. I am quite the happy moonkin!
I'd value both over my freedom
11 hours ago