With Cataclysm apparently dropping on Tuesday, June 28th, it’s time to start planning what gear you’re going for. Further updated after week 1!
Ultimately, there are 6 ways that you’ll get tank gear in Cataclysm:
- Purchased once you have sufficient Marks of the World Tree
- Crafted Gear
- Valor points
- Drops from raid bosses
- BoE drops from raid instance trash
- Avengers of Hyjal reputation gear
The first thing you should do is complete the Thrall quest chain for Patch 4.2 that starts on the Warchief’s Command Board in Orgrimmar, which leads you to a great tank cloak – Mantle of Patience – at the end of the quest chain. Best tank epic you’ll see for such little work!
After that, you’ll be ready to start grinding new dailies to accumulate our Marks of the World Tree to unlock the relevant tank pieces. You’ll likely want to start doing this right away on patch day, as there are a few pieces of interest. Tanks who are still gearing up will likely be interested in most of the gear, especially the Lylagar Horn Ring and Ricket’s Gun Show wrists, as well as the Moonwell Phial trinket. Wowhead.com has a nice summary of how you progress through the Mark of the World Tree dailies. Tanks who are already well geared into heroic tier 11 content won’t likely find most of these pieces useful though, as arguably the Magmaw and Valiona heroic t11 tank trinkets, the Halfus heroic tank bracers, and the avoidance/mastery heroic tank rings from Conclave are superior (ilvl 372, versus these ilvl 365 drops). If you weren’t already killing heroic Al’akir, though, the Mantle of Patience for the lead-in quest is definitely worth it.
Similarly, it will take a few weeks to get access to the ilvl 365 crafted gear, although notably the recipes for both Mirrored Boots and Eternal Elementium Handguards drop from Firelands trash (or on your local AH!), and are created with Living Ember that drop 1 per Firelands raid boss (and they’re not BoP, similar to Primordial Saronite from Wrath’s Icecrown Citadel, so expect to see them on AH in the coming weeks, although likely at a very high price). Fortunately, unlike with Primordial Saronite, the drops that casters will want for the legendary quest chain are Eternal Ember, so you can get a crack at your Living Ember without competing against people buying them up for the legendary. Given the great itemization and limited alternatives, the Mirrored Boots in particular will be high on the list of any tank looked for crafted gear in the coming weeks.
Your next option for tank gear is from valor points. This time around we’ve got some very well-itemized valor point pieces, including the Stoneheart Necklace neck, Deflecting Brimstone Band, as well as Deathclutch Figurine for your relic slot (or Deflecting Star for the warrior gun slot). The latter options aren’t thrilling given their lack of mastery (although the relic with reforging to mastery still provides comparable combat table coverage with a higher avoidance base), but alternatives are limited and the overall ilvl and associated stamina still makes them pretty desirable at ilvl 378 relative to the ilvl 359 alternatives from tier 11. Notably, your valor points also buy you some wonderfully itemized tier pieces, including your Immolation Handguards and Immolation Legguards, although I will likely buy the libram first, and give myself at least a week or two to see if the legs or gloves drop from Occu’thar, the new Baradin Hold raid boss in Tol Barad.
In terms of drops, progression in Firelands basically allows you to choose amongst 5 initial bosses to work on: Beth’tilac, Lord Rhyolith, Alysrazor, or Shannox, and Baleroc. Once all of these are down, you can open the Molten Span bridge and have access to Majordomo Staghelm and ultimately Ragnaros himself. Early on, your favorite tank gear boss will be Beth’tilac, who drops the Carapace of Imbibed Flame chest, Spidersilk Spindle trinket, as well as the Mandible of Beth’tilac 1H tank weapon for paladins and warriors. In turn, Shannox has a decent waist (Uncrushable Belt of Fury) and the DK tank’s 2H weapon Skullstealer Greataxe (good luck rolling against your competing 2H weapon dps’ers). Shannox also has Legplates of Frenzied Devotion, but given the itemization on the tier 12 (and the overall desirability of the 4pc t12 bonus), some tanks will choose to pass on these legs. The options from Lord Rhyolith are more limited, including only Fireskin Gauntlets that are inferior to t12 for survival, and Cracked Obsidian Stompers that are at best just fillers until you get the crafted boots. The fourth of the initial Firelands bosses, Alysrazor, is a little more appealing, with some Spaulders of Recurring Flame, a nice upgrade to what are probably i359 shoulders from tier 11 unless you were killing heroic Nefarian or Cho’gall, that will be competitive until you get a chance for tier 12 shoulders for a 4pc set bonus. Alysrazor also offers another leg option, Lavaworm Legplates, although tanks will be rolling against plate dps wearers for them. Finally, there’s Baleroc, who provides the tank shield Shard of Torment, along with the spectacular Helm of Blazing Glory (tanks going for 4pc will likely end out using this or Ragnaros’ Pauldrons of Roaring Flame as their off piece).
Once you’re through the initial 5 bosses, though, the end of the Firelands tier finishes with a surprising whimper for tanks, not a bang; Majordomo Staghelm does drop the great Bracers of the Fiery Path, but that’s it (aside from a probable tier token, unconfirmed). In addition, Ragnaros himself is not very exciting for tanks either; aside from a probable tier token for head or shoulders (neither of which are spectacular anyway, except to complete a 4pc set bonus), Ragnaros only drops the mediocre Pauldrons of Roaring Flame (which may be valuable by ilvl alone), and Sulfuras, The Extinguished Hand for the DK tanks.
In the meantime, you’ll be grinding the Avengers of Hyjal from kills inside Firelands – trash farming is viable as well, although your rep slows down after Honored – and the reputation does include a few nice pieces, including your highest ilvl cloak option (Durable Flamewrath Greatcloak, although many will prefer to stick with the more survival-itemized Mantle of Patience), and a decent waist (Girdle of the Indomitable Flame) you might use instead of the one from Shannox. At higher rep levels, you’ll see a decent non-stamina survival trinket (Stay of Execution) and one of the only i391 rings of the tier, Adamantine Signet of the Avengers.
There are a number of Bind-on-Equip raid trash drops in Firelands as well, although most are not terribly competitive and have other options that are better itemized; you might use them as filler, but probably won’t want to spend a ton on them. The most notable exception is probably Scales of Life, a modest but decent upgrade from the i372 trinkets in tier 11 (and a quality upgrade from i359 gear for tanks who weren’t farming heroic Magmaw and Valiona/Theralion). Also notable is Firebound Gorget, simply for its “crapton-o’-mastery” value.
So by the time we’re clearing through Firelands regular and getting ready for heroics, I’m hoping the gearset will look something like this:
Head: Helm of Blazing Glory – drop from Baleroc
Neck: Stoneheart Necklace – 1,250 valor points (or maybe Firebound Gorget as a BoE for aggressive mastery-stackers)
Shoulders: Spaulders of Recurring Flame – drop from Alysrazor until I get Immolation Shoulders
Back: Durable Flamewrath Greatcloak – Avengers of Hyjal rep (Friendly)
Chest: Carapace of Imbibed Flame until I get Immolation Chestguard for my 4pc set
Wrist: Bracers of the Fiery Path – drop from Majordomo Staghelm (skipping Bracers of Regal Force for valor points since I have my Bracers of Impossible Strength from H Halfus)
Gloves: Immolation Handguards – 1,650 valor points or drop from Occu’thar in Baradin Hold
Waist: Uncrushable Belt of Fury – drop from Shannox, or possibly Girdle of the Indomitable Flame from Avengers of Hyjal rep
Legs: Immolation Legguards – 2,200 valor points or another drop from Occu’thar in Baradin Hold
Feet: Mirrored Boots – crafted when available on the server, and probably just using my Molten Tantrum Boots or Massacre Treads until then
Finger 1: Deflecting Brimstone Band for 1,250 valor points, ultimately replaced by Adamantine Signet of the Avengers
Finger 2: Theck’s Emberseal (BoE trash drop), as ultimately it’s the only ilvl391 ring option after the rep ring (upgraded with a Crystallized Firestone)
1H Weapon: Mandible of Beth’tilac – drop from Beth’tilac
Shield: Shard of Torment (although some tanks may stick with Akmin-Kura, Dominion’s Shield from H Nefarian if they can get one)
Libram: Deathclutch Figurine
Trinket 1: Spidersilk Spindle – drop from Beth’tilac
Trinket 2: Scales of Life – BoE trash drop, also swapping in Stay of Execution from Avengers of Hyjal rep where desirable
I hope that’s helpful! Good luck to you in Firelands!