As was widely speculated, Patch 3.3 dropped today. While the most widely-anticipated feature is undoubtedly Icecrown Citadel, only one wing will initially be available — the Lower Spire.

The Lower Spire features four bosses: Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper and the Icecrown Gunship Battle are the first three, culminating in an encounter with Deathbringer Saurfang. Blizzard’s really piling on the drama here — after the phased theatrics of the Wrathgate Questline, in which players were witness to the younger Saurfang’s death, they were also charged with delivering the grim news to The Elder Saurfang, aka High Overlord Saurfang, aka Supreme Commander of the Might of Kalimdor, aka Saurfang the Badass.

Surprisingly, he took it well. Death with honor, glorious battlefield deeds, all that.

But how will he respond once he knows his son has been raised as a Death Knight and forced into the service of the Lich King? Not well, I’d imagine.

Deathbringer Saurfang

Deathbringer Saurfang serves as gatekeeper to Icecrown Citadel's Upper Spire. (Image courtesy of wowwiki)

In the meantime, we’re in for a long wait until the entirety of Icecrown Citadel opens up to raiders — according to WoW Insider, that could be as late as February of 2010.

Luckily, aside from The Lower Spire, there are three new five-man dungeons (collectively known as the Frozen Halls) to kill time in, and on heroic mode they’ll drop iLevel 232 gear. For casuals, that’ll be a godsend. For people like me, halfway between casual and “serious raider,” some of that gear might help fill in the gaps — I’m already chomping at the bit to replace that Valor-badge cloak I’ve been wearing since Naxxramas. My Shaman is currently wearing nine pieces of iLevel 245-gear, and all but the aforementioned cloak are iLevel 232-ToC drops. And I’m not one of those guys who considers myself above rocking gear in a five-man. With all that Armor Penetration on Trial of the Crusader gear, I’ll happily replace some of that raid gear in favor of five-man heroic gear with Haste.

Read on to the next post for a run-down of gear we — Enhancement Shamans — can use from the new five-mans!

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