Weapons are not as abundant for shadow priests as armor is.
Firstly, we are limited by our weapons proficiencies of one-handed maces, daggers and staves. And actually, when you talk about raiding, you can pretty much rule out staves too. You will find nice stats on staves, but the combination of one-hand
weapon and off-hand will usually provide more spell damage.
So we have only maces and daggers to play with. In 5-man instances, even in heroic mode (with the exception of magister's terrace, which we'll get on to in a minute), the best you can hope for is a 120-ish spell damage dagger. Nothing to be sniffed at, but a very poor option over all. I currently sport the starlight dagger. This is my biggest single opportunity for raising my spell damage and must be my priority, even over and above replacing my lowly uncommon trinket.
But that's easier said than done. Before patch 2.4, someone in my position had four realistic options:
- eternium runed blade — a crafted weapon with expensive materials and underwhelming stats; if you know a blacksmith with a pattern it's worth a modest investment, but don't bust the bank on it
- pvp daggers/maces — the battleground weapons are good, the arena weapons are better; this is one time I have no defence against pvp — if you do it, go get your weapon already
- gavel of unearthed secrets — this is a nice weapon and one of the few dps caster maces out there, but it requires exalted reputation with lower city; if you can stomach the rep grind this is a nice weapon to have going in to Karazhan, but you're just as likely to get this next weapon sooner
- nathrezim mindblade — at 203 spell damage, this is a very nice weapon, but you have to kill Prince to get it; not something you can pick up easily when you ding 70
So you see, unless you PVP, there were no easy options for a good weapon until patch 2.4. Now we have some more options, since the patch introduced weapon badge rewards and a new 5-man instance.
First the instance. The first boss of magister's terrace, Selin Fireheart, drops this dagger on heroic: jaded crystal dagger. A very nice upgrade to anything you can get in the other heroics and it's probably easier to get hold of than the eternium runed blade, the gavel of unearthed secrets or a pvp dagger. So we have made progress.
But it gets considerably better. The last boss, Kael'thas himself, drops the cudgel of consecration. This is on par with the mindblade, but to get this far in heroic magister's is a difficult process and the prospect of repeated runs brings me out in hives. Each to his own.
Now the badge reward. It's not a welfare epic in the true sense of the word, but it is something even the most casual of players can work towards. Introducing the ungodly scryer's blade of focus...
These weapons are intended to be comparable to tier 6 loot, which explains why the only things you'll find of similar juciness drop in 25-man raids. The price is an epic 150 badges of justice, which may sound like a lot until you start to think how many badges you would get on your grind to lower city exalted or from all those kara runs waiting for the mindblade to drop.
I'm not sure how long it will take me to collect so many badges, or if it will be worth it in the long run. After all, it's not like I'm running tier 6 content, and I am in desperate need of other, less costly badge loot. But as I said before, it's the biggest single improvement I could make to my character, and I have many more options for armor than weapons. I am on 39 badges at the moment. We'll see how long I hold out...