Archive | December, 2010

Upcoming Ret Changes: A New Hope

Early this morning, Ghostcrawler published a blog post about intended class changes in an upcoming content patch. Instead of giving definite numbers and values, he outlined the philosophies behind a lot of the design decisions they made, which I think is a lot more useful than simple numbers and values. Let’s take a look at what he has said regarding Ret.

In terms of PvE in general (boldface added for emphasis):

We’re happy with damage overall. We have very few traditional tank and spank fights (even Argaloth likes to parry melee) so it’s hard to get consistent numbers without very large data sets. Still, we see Survival hunters and Unholy DKs on top of a lot of single target fights. Arcane, Marksman, and Beastmaster damage is too low. Retribution, Shadow, and Fire and Frost mage damage might be too low, but we’re still watching them.

Some in the Ret community, myself included until fairly recently, mistakenly believed that with all of the changes to our rotation, our DPS would be competitive only with tank damage. Early simcraft data showed Ret to be near the worst off, save for every Rogue spec, but it has become clear that this is no longer the case. I have seen rogues tearing up heroics, and have seen parses where they rank in the top 3 of damage done among whom I consider to be equally-skilled players.

I have also seen my own damage and DPS to be chart-topping among melee-friendly groups… not to toot my own horn or anything. Granted, I have only put a few attempts on the first two bosses in Blackwing Descent, but from that and from the numerous heroics I’ve run, I think I can make that claim with a fair amount of confidence.

We’re not in a terrible place DPS-wise; where the Ret spec truly fails is its execution. I think this post by Bravehearth in the Paladin forums sums up my feelings quite nicely:

DPS isn’t the issue for most people, it’s all the damned RNG. Building up 3 holy power so we can hit our big signature move…oh wait, art of war procced, better hit Exorcism first because it hits harder. Alright SWEET I can now hit my signature move..no wait, Inquisition is about to fall off, better hit that. Oh awesome, a hand of light proc, I can FINALLY hit templar’s verdict again…oh damn, the boss just went under 20% so i better hit hammer of wrath first because it hits harder. Oh, now I can hit Templar’s Verdict…but wait, Zeoltry is off cooldown! This will be awesome! Crusader Strike…Templa….no wait, art of war proc, gotta hit that first…oh another art of war proc…oh hammer of wrath is off cooldown…HAND OF LIGHT PROC…wow I can hit templar’s verdict twice in a row…crusader strike…Oops, better refresh my inquisition lololol.

It’s just frustrating to play. There’s just no rythem to it. It is by far the most convoluted dps “rotation” in the game currently.   (source)

There has to be a distinction between complication and convolution, as I feel our rotation is too far off the deep end as it is.

On the topic of Mastery:

Mastery is a new stat for us, and there are a few specs that don’t value it enough. In some cases (e.g. Combat rogues), the design for mastery is fine and we just need to buff the effects to make it more desirable. In others, we don’t think it’s possible to buff mastery enough in its current form. For example, the Retribution mastery, Hand of Light, is fun, but it doesn’t contribute enough damage. To make it contribute enough damage, the proc would need a very high chance, which then can cause paladins to devalue other sources of Holy Power. Instead, we are redesigning Retribution mastery to add a percentage of the damage of Templar’s Verdict, Crusader Strike, and Divine Storm as Holy damage (which also plays better with Inqusition). Because Hand of Light is fun, however, we are going to change Divine Purpose as a chance to proc Hand of Light instead of a chance for extra Holy Power (which will also remove a little of the randomness from the rotation).

If you’re like me, you just breathed a very audible sigh… a good one.

To put it kindly, Hand of Light really gummed up the works, and I’ll be glad to see Divine Purpose and Hand of Light rolled into one talent.

Putting their proposal of our new Mastery into perspective, let’s look at one of the most simple versions of Mastery out there: the flat percentage increase.

Let’s imagine they made the Ret Mastery a “increases your X damage by Y% for each point of Mastery.”

If X were “Holy,” then it would just be like a perma-Inquisition. In practice, this would only buff Exorcism, Holy Wrath, and Consecration, the latter two of which are on “long” cooldowns, the former being spammable but costly. If we stacked Mastery in this situation, we’d see bursts of high DPS centered around hard-hitting Exorcisms; a high priority on Inquisition and Art of War procs with little emphasis on the actual generation of Holy Power.

If X were “physical,” then we would be gearing for Haste and Mastery over all else, trying to get that most sacred 3.0s CS cooldown and pretty much removing Inquisition from our bars.

What the proposed scheme does is roll both of these concepts into one.

  • By basing the amount of damage contributed to our DPS by Mastery on our physical damage spells (TV, CS and DS), they create an emphasis on Strength and Haste (in reducing the cooldown of CS/DS and increasing TV output as a result).
  • By making that additional damage Holy, they create an emphasis for keeping Inquisition rolling throughout an encounter, as I assume that damage would be modified by it.

Let’s hope this solution pans out; as I’m sure many other specs can agree, it just plain sucks having a Mastery that clashes with the rest of your rotation.

Finally, on our single CC (Repentence):

Censure will no longer break Repentance.

Why this wasn’t the case before I don’t understand, but it’s a very welcome change indeed.

Pride and Progression

Imagine, if you will, a guild. A group of people united in the common interest of slaying internet dragons. This guild consist of three groups of people: tanks, DPS, and healers.

Meet Bella. She’s a healer, a paladin healer in fact. She’s had quite the time adjusting to the game changes, but she’s managed to hold her own. Bella feels ready and capable of facing any challenge that the game might throw at her. However, what Bella doesn’t know is that there is one challenge she isn’t ready for, a challenge that comes from…

The Healer Core.

You see, Bella has this philosophy about healing. In our 5-man runs, she disapproves of DPS or tanks actively healing themselves or others, or any excess use of cooldowns. This seems like an asinine philosophy at first, and the rest of the healers are diametrically opposed to it, but there is some logic to it.

She likes a challenge. She likes to know that the healing the party is receiving is coming from her, and she likes to gauge how well she is doing as a healer  on her ability to keep the party up through thick and thin, by herself.

The logic I was referring to is this: if DPS or tanks are healing, or when the aforementioned are hitting cooldowns to mitigate relatively minor amounts of damage, she no longer has a comparative standard with which to judge herself. The intent, then, is that she is seeking to improve her performance, whether it be a higher throughput of heals or increased mana efficiency or what have you. Truthfully, none of us can say that is an ignoble goal.

Now, before everyone gets up in arms about how irresponsible it is to put all of that pressure on one person’s shoulders, relax. She takes up the mantle willingly and, if I may say so, quite well. If, for whatever reason, she simply cannot do the healing all by herself, she voluntarily leaves the group and lets us find another healer, though this has yet to happen in my experience.

Where her attitude becomes an issue is with paladin tanks. From what I know (and paladin tanks, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), once the tank establishes a proper threat lead from the DPS, it is considered ‘good form’ to start using the HP you generate to heal yourself via WoG.

Bella gripes about this practice. She feels it’s violating her healing philosophy, and she won’t be able to properly measure her performance if the tank is healing themselves.

So the question becomes: is this a legitimate complaint? Let’s look at an example.

General Husam in heroic: Lost City of the Tol’vir.

Last night, a few guildies and I got together and decided to queue a random heroic. Anafielle, frequent guest poster over at Righteous Defense and our guild’s dedicated offtank, was leading the charge as our meat shield. We queued into Lost City and were on the big guy pictured above, the first boss of the instance. We reached the 30% mark when our healer (not Bella) died. Rather than call it a wipe, we continued onward. I started using my HP on WoG heals, and Ana chained cooldowns and also healed herself using WoG. We downed the boss moments later with the rest of the party alive and well.

Could we have recovered if the healer had died even earlier? Probably. It didn’t seem like the boss was hitting all that hard; all we had to do was to avoid the shockwaves and bombs and we were golden.

Could we have done that encounter without the healer altogether? Maybe. I’m not a healer so I really can’t say that with any certainty, but Ana was doing so well sub-30% that I was using WoG on our DPS as well.

Tying this into Bella’s argument, depending on the encounter, a paladin tank can keep themselves alive for a considerable amount of time without receiving a single heal from the healer. If the tank is taking incredible amounts of damage, it is inconsiderate of her attitude towards self-healing, but it benefits the whole party by keeping the encounter going that much longer.

In the end it becomes a decision between pride and progression; an easy choice, if you ask me.

So what can our troubled pally healer do? My advice to her would be to treat the WoG heals the tank is throwing on themselves as a passive buff or proc, or even a mini-cooldown. Rather than having the tank get out of a very good practice, she needs to re-evaluate her position and, if nothing else, take one for the team.

What do you think? Do you agree with some or all of her viewpoint, and why?

Getting Raid Ready at 85

So now you’ve got some respectable gear and you want to deck it out, huh?

GEMMING

Strength in every socket, using Bold and Perfect Bold Carnelians, and Bold Inferno Rubies.

With the raised Haste soft cap (3978 rating to get our CS/DS cooldowns to 3.0 seconds, by my calculations), it’s going to be quite difficult to get a stable rotation by stacking Haste. Also, according to the stat weights I highlighted in a previous post, Strength is worth WAY more than any other stat besides weapon DPS and weapon speed, so we’re back to stacking our old friend.

For our meta… well, it’s tough. The obvious choice stat-wise is Chaotic Shadowspirit Diamond, but the current implementation requires more blue gems in our equipped gear than red, which would just kill our DPS. I’ve heard that the original intention was to have more people gemming for Hit, which is a blue gem, thus activating the meta, but that’s not the case on the live servers. Until they sort this out, whether it be by reverting the requirements to the “at least 2 blue gems” like its Wrath counterpart or some other way, I’d steer clear of this meta.

A good alternative would be the Destructive Shadowspirit Diamond; same bonus to crit, easy gem requirements, and maybe an Eye for an Eye-like DPS increase from the spell reflect (doubtful, but we can hope).

ENCHANTING

In most slots, I’ll give the BiS enchant first, followed by the cheaper version.

Head: Arcanum of the Dragonmaw
Shoulders: Greater Inscription of Jagged Stone / Lesser Inscription of Jagged Stone
Chest: Peerless Stats / Powerful Stats
Cloak: Greater Critical Strike / Critical Strike
Wrist: Greater Critical Strike / Critical Strike (Greater Expertise/Precision if below caps)
Hands: Mighty Strength / Exceptional Strength
Waist: Ebonsteel Belt Buckle
Legs: Dragonscale Leg Armor / Scorched Leg Armor
Feet: Precision / Haste if above hit cap
Weapon: Landslide / Avalanche

PROFESSIONS

Alchemy: Adds 80 Strength to the 300 you get from our flask alone, as well as doubles its duration.

Blacksmithing: Two extra sockets (bracers and gloves) in which you can add two +40 Strength gems, resulting in 80 additional Strength.

Enchanting: Enchant both rings with Strength, resulting in an additional 80 Strength.

Engineering: Harder to quantify, you gain access to Reinforced Bio-Optic Killshades for a raid-level helm, Tazik Shocker to gloves, and movement helpers like Nitro Boosts and Flexweave Underlay. Considered fairly weak in terms of a raiding profession.

Inscription: Lionsmane Inscription to shoulders, an 80 Strength upgrade from the exalted Therazane inscription.

Jewelcrafting: Allows three JC gems, Bold Chimera’s Eyes, to replace normal +40 Strength gems, resulting in an 81 Strength increase.

Leatherworking: Draconic Embossment – Strength, which gives an additional 130 Strength in place of 65 Crit.

Tailoring: Swordguard Embroidery (Rank 2) provides a chance at 1000 AP for 15 seconds.

Mining, Herbalism, and Skinning are not generally considered raiding professions. However, of the three bonuses (Toughness, Lifeblood, and Master of Anatomy), Skinning edges out the rest thanks to stat weights (Crit > Haste >>> Stam).

CONSUMABLES

Flask: Flask of Titanic Strength – Finally, a flask that scales with Kings!

Food: Beer-Basted Crocolisk / Seafood Magnifique Feast – The two should be equivalent, so if your raid is throwing down feasts, save your own food and chow down with your friends.

Potion: Golemblood Potion – I’m terrible with potions, but I intend to stock up on these and perhaps macro them into my Avenging Wrath. If you don’t use it with wings, you should really use it with Bloodlust/Heroism/Time Warp.

Stats and Caps: Magic Numbers

My week-long binge of leveling and grinding has come to a close. I hit 85, geared up in normals, and have been running heroics, both in PuGs and with guildies, all to start the gear grind for raids once more.

I have laughed, I have cried, I have cringed, I have cried, and I have gotten some gear. But mostly I’ve cried. The first time out, these new-fangled dungeons are quite difficult, and their heroic counterparts are even more so. Thankfully though, that’ll make any gear you’re able to snag that much sweeter.

I have previously covered a little pre-heroic gear grind list (parts one and two), and those will work well for a little while. However, there are two things I think I could’ve done better:

1. Leave Exalted rep items out. The highest you can get with a reputation before running heroics is Revered, not by any magical construct or restriction, but because by the time you’re rolling through the normal level 85 dungeons, which do in fact give reputation on kills (if you’re wearing a tabard, that is), you’re almost ready for heroics.

These grinds are long, too, meaning you’d have to do a lot of dailies and run a lot of 85 normals to get rep items before you stroll into your first heroic. So do yourself a favor and don’t sweat grinding the Exalted rep items up before taking the plunge.

2. Prioritize which gear to grab based on our current stat weights. I had actually found our stat priorities a little before I started working on those posts, but I just wasn’t sure if they were accurate. Though I’m sure Redcape is a stand-up guy, especially since he maintains a Ret DPS Spreadsheet for all of us to use, the numbers he gave just baffled me. However, those same numbers are still there, so without further ado, I give you our stat weights, courtesy of Redcape over at EJ:

Weapon Speed: 110265
Weapon DPS: 727
Strength: 207
Hit rating: 155
Exp rating: 113
Crit rating: 80
Haste rating: 79
Mastery rating: 41

Attack Power: 94
Agility: 68

Let’s take this in for a second.

- Slow weapon speed, high weapon DPS… we’ve always ascribed to these rules.

- Strength is worth more point-for-point in terms of DPS than Hit or Expertise… huh. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to hit our caps, which are

Hit cap: 8%, or 961 rating
Expertise cap (soft): 26, or 781 rating (480 with the SoT glyph)

It just means that Strength is again our once and future king, which means gemming will be Bolds in every socket, just like Wrath pre-4.0.1, ignoring socket bonuses except to activate our meta.

- Mastery is worth less point-for-point than Agility… you read that correctly. Until they do something about our Mastery, I’d avoid gearing for it.

Ok, that’s enough numbers.

PRE-RAID BiS (barring BoE epics)

Rather than go through each slot and give you some options, I’ve assembled a gearset of drops from heroics and from grinding reputations (because you will be wearing a tabard, right?)

So, here you are: Pre-raid BiS list

In this set, Hit is over the cap by 13 points, and Expertise is over the soft cap if you include our SoT glyph (which you should), so we’re good there.

What’s that? You say you have loads and loads of gold to spend? Well then, big spender, let’s take a look at some of those BoE epics:

Drape of Inimitable Fate, Corefire Legplates, and Woe Breeder’s Boots.

I filtered out items with static Mastery, so there could be more, but these are the real nice ones. The first two are world BoE drops and the boots are bought with Valor points (akin to the Wristbands of the Sentinel Huntress of yore).

Pick your poison, compensate for missing Hit/Exp with other heroic items at your discretion. I, however, am too poor to even afford looking at these for too long.

Gearing for the Cata Endgame, Part Two

After re-examining yesterday’s post on the first part of this ‘gearing up’ guide, I’ve decided that we’re going to have to sell our souls both to blacksmiths and alchemists. If your paladin is one or both of those professions, you really lucked out in the craftable department, but if not….

Well, let’s just say that I’m going to need to take a page from Tom Riddle’s book and split my soul in two so I can give half of it to the smithy and half to the transmute master.

"Peekaboo!"

Note: All images used in this post are from the site,

http://kimjongillookingatthings.tumblr.com/

If you have any idea who this guy is, I think you’ll find the site quite hilarious.

WAIST

Krazzworks Climbing Belt / Skyfallen Plate Belt – Oh happy days, more quest rewards that are almost identical. Other than the 27 point difference in Mastery values, the choice here is between Hit and Haste. Pick these up from Parting Packages in the Twilight Highlands and Twilight Skies in Azshara, respectively.

Belt of the Forgemaster – You’d think we were back in the Pit of Saron with a name like that. Dropping in normal Grim Batol, I’d say this is about the same level as the Bloodied Pyrium Belt (133 Crit vs. 11 Strength & 7 Haste), so take your pick here. I’d recommend the former, but that’s just me.

Belt of the Ferocious Wolf – I just love iLvl 359 items available from rep grinds. Sure, those grinds will take a while (seeing as we have so many of them!), but there’s nothing that says “I’m committed to being as well equipped as I can be” like grinding out reps for pre-raid items. This belt, with it’s socket, edges out the belt made from blacksmiths, the Elementium Girdle of Pain, so don’t bother dropping extra coin, suck it up, and grind that Guardians of Hyjal rep. You’ll be glad you did.

LEGGINGS

Greaves of Gallantry – The Justice Point leggings, these are the best you can get pre-heroics. They cost a staggering 2,220 JPs though, so spend wisely.

Like I said in the Comments section of my previous post, I’ll be sitting down and assembling a specific set of gear that I want to get using my recommendations, and with that assessment will come my choice of which JP rewards I’ll be buying, so check back soon for that!

Lava-Melted Legplates / Legguards of Samophlangination – That was a doozy to type out. More similar quest rewards, it’s your choice between Hit & Expertise and Crit & Haste. Acquired from A Fiery Reunion in the Twilight Highlands and Smoot’s Samophlange in Azshara.

Offline Greaves – These leggings are a good runner-up to the JP legs shown above. Grab these from the quest Penetrating Their Defenses in Halls of Origination.

"Yes, yes, Antigen is right. There aren't a lot of footwear options for Rets!"

BOOTS

Waywatcher’s Boots – Yet another reason to level in Hyjal first. These are… *knocks on wood*… the best pre-raid boots you can get. And you only need Guardians of Hyjal at Revered! Oh happy day!

Treads of Terror – The only other option I’m giving you. Seriously, there isn’t much in the shoe department at your local JC Cataclysm. Grab these after completing Skullcrusher the Mountain in the Twilight Highlands.

CLOAK

You thought I forgot cloaks in my first post, didn’t you? Well, well… I did. Whatevs.

Shroud of the Dead / Geordan’s Cloak – Very similar cloaks obtained in two fairly different ways. What? No, they’re not quest rewards! STOP TRYING TO DISCERN A PATTERN HERE! Anyway, get these from being Honored with Ramkahen and as a drop in the Lost City of the Tol’vir, respectively.

Cloak of the Red Flight – Here’s your stinkin’ quest reward. Pick up this lesser model after finishing Battle of Life and Death in the Twilight Highlands.

RINGS

There are so many very similar rings out there, I’ll just leave those ones up to you to decide which to pursue. One that I do recommend above all others, however, is Gorsik’s Band of Shattering from being Revered with Therazane. Note that Therazane dispenses our shoulder enchants this expansion, so that’ll be a handy tabard to keep in your bags.

TRINKETS

Rather than make any attempt to clarify which is “best,” I’ll just list a few of the really great trinkets and we can decide on “best” later.

Darkmoon Card: Hurricane – Much like the Nobles Deck, the Hurricane Deck will give us an amazing trinket when turned in to the Darkmoon Faire. Since the trinket itself is BoE, expect this to be expensive. If you’re a scribe, start churning out those “of the Winds” cards!

Impatience of Youth – Another great, get this in Tol Barad from being Exalted with Hellscream’s Reach. 1605 Strength on a two-minute cooldown? Yes, please.

Figurine – King of Boars – For all us jewelcrafters, here’s a great starter trinket! The amount of Volatile Earth need is a bit staggering, but I have no idea how quickly those can be gathered, so I’m still going to recommend making this.

Heart of Solace / Mark of Khardros / Right Eye of Rajh – All great normal dungeon drops, these hail from the Lost City of the Tol’vir, Grim Batol, and Halls of Origination, respectively.

Harrison’s Insignia of Panache – The only quest reward trinket I find worth mentioning. We’ll see if Mastery gets better for Ret in the future, but for now at least the static Strength is nice.

"General, cut a socket into this and make it a relic!"

RELIC

Now that everyone that can use relics will be sharing them, there should be a wider variety of them to choose from, so let’s check it out!

Notched Jawbone – Made by scribes, this is sadly the best you can do pre-heroics. It’s BoE, at least, so anyone can get it; make sure that you do.

Blackblood Freedom Standard – … because this is your alternative. Get it from the quest Insurrection in the Twilight Highlands.

Man, I guess there really isn’t a greater variety of relics in Cata, though that really doesn’t surprise me.

That concludes my recommendations. Next, I’ll be combing through these posts and assembling my personal wish-list of individual pieces I plan on grabbing.

Gearing for the Cata Endgame, Part One

With the release of Cataclysm a mere 5 days away, it’s time to start thinking of gearing up for heroics and raids on your way to 85. So what items should you be on the lookout for, what reps should you grind, and what normal dungeons should you run? Let’s take a look.

Note: Some of these quest / rep rewards are faction-specific, and by habit I am looking at the Horde equivalents. If you’re Alliance; first of all, you smell, but secondly, you can find the Alliance equivalent by clicking the item link and doing a couple seconds of snooping. Snoop away, my Alliance counterparts!

Also note: I ignored most PvP gear in this compilation, as Resilience is wasted in PvE content. Some items I recommend have Resilience on them; I recommended these because they are comparable, if not superior, to similar iLvl gear despite the Resilience.

Get some gear on, Tom.

WEAPON

Oversized Oblique Ogre Obliterator – You have to love the alliteration. This sword is obtained from the Twilight Highlands quest, The Crucible of Carnage: The Twilight Terror! (which is basically the Cata equivalent of the Ring of Blood and Ampitheater of Anguish quests). It’s a bit on the quick side, with a 3.3s weapon speed, but the Strength, Crit, and Haste are all respectable stats. If nothing else, this blade will do nicely.

Forged Elementium Mindcrusher – If you have a blacksmithing buddy (or are one yourself) and they have the pattern to make this baby, AND provided that you have the mats for it (5 Hardened Elementium Bars, 6 Truegold, and 3 Chaos Orbs), I’d go for it. With 36 more Strength, 63 more DPS, 32 more Crit, and a nice amount of Expertise, this seems to be a decent placeholder. Sure, the weapon speed is even faster than the Obliterator, at 2.6s, but with the weapon stats as high as they are, it’s hard to say no.

Note: the Chaos Orbs you need for this weapon are dropped in Cata heroics, so unless you have friends in high places and are a bit tardy to the party for leveling to 85, I’d skip over this one as it’s likely to be very expensive to craft.

Blade of the Fearless – Ah, the best of the best in pre-heroic two-handed weapons. As a matter of fact, you won’t see a better weapon until the purples start trickling into your pockets. This beauty (though not in any aesthetic sense) is obtained from reaching Revered with Hellscream’s Reach, the Horde faction in Tol Barad. I’m unsure as to how long that rep grind will take, but I intend to start it as soon as I can, and I recommend you do the same.

Zin’rokh, Destroyer of Worlds – Ok, are you freaking out yet? An iLvl 359 (which I believe is the iLvl of the first tier of Cata raids) that you get from Archaeology that is BIND ON FREAKIN’ ACCOUNT! It is my strong, heart-felt recommendation that you level up your Archaeology while getting to 85 and grinding reps so that you have a chance of getting this guy.*

HELM

Reinforced Bio-Optic Killshades – These engineer-only goggles will be a great placeholder for the first tier of Cata raids. Again, this crafted helm will be a bit expensive (just look at that list of reagents!), but if you can afford to drop the coin, I’d say go for it. Depending on how difficult the orb will be to get, I’ll probably be making this one myself. Just toss a couple Fractured, Precise, Quick, or Rigid Cogwheels in there, whichever stat you could use more of, and you’re set.

Helm of Verdant Explosion – This helm, a quest reward for Breach in the Defenses in Twilight Highlands, is a decent starter helm for how easy it is to obtain. If you can’t get any of my other recommendations, default to this one.

Bloodied Pyrium Helm – Another craftable… it looks like some of our favorite blacksmiths will be busy! Other than the glaring wasted itemization of Resilience on it, this piece looks pretty solid.

Helm of Easeful Death – The first item in our list to be purchasable with Justice Points. If you were a good little Ret, you would have saved up 4,000 of the points at level 80. Unfortunately, this helm costs a staggering 2,200 JPs, so choose wisely.

NECKLACE

Necklace of the Dead City – This necklace is a decent starter, obtained from the quest, The Fall of Neferset City, in Uldum. Again, if nothing else, this’ll do, pig. This’ll do.

Seedling Pod – Unfortunately necklaces aren’t modeled on your character, otherwise this neck-piece would be quite interesting. A drop from normal Halls of Origination, it has a healthy dose of Hit to help meet that cap (more on the Hit and Expertise caps later).

Gift of Nadun – Another BiS pre-raid item, you can pick up this necklace after getting Exalted with Ramkahen in Uldum. Second reputation to grind to exalted: check.

SHOULDERS

Shredder-Salvage Spaulders / Gatecrasher Shoulderguards – Both are quest reward shoulderplates from the Twilight Highlands with identical primary stats, but the secondary stats are what set them apart. Shoot for whichever item has more of the stat you need on it. The quests to get these are Mo’Better Shredder and Call in the Artillery, respectively.

Redsteel Shoulders – You know, I was debating between these and Bloodied Pyrium Shoulders, and I just couldn’t justify throwing away all that Haste for Resilience. Both of these are craftable by blacksmiths, so if you disagree and want to do some PvP while leveling or at 85, find that smithy.

Pauldrons of the High Requiem – Another item purchasable with Justice Points, 1,650 of them to be precise. Combine a nice red socket with good amounts of Hit and Expertise and you get some pretty nice pieces of metal.

Tom Cruise's reaction to Zin'rokh, Destroyer of Worlds.

CHEST

Elementium Deathplate – OMG WTF ORLY?! An absolutely sick BiS pre-raid chestpiece, it is yet another craftable from blacksmiths. It has the same mats as the Forged Elementium Mindcrusher, meaning it will be just as expensive.

Still want a craftable chestpiece but can’t afford the Cadillac of craftables that is the Deathplate? Go with the blue-light special that is the Redsteel Breastplate instead.

Edit: it was brought to my attention that Chaos Orbs will be BoP, meaning if you want this chestpiece you’ll have to find a smith with the orbs already in his or her possession, which dramatically increases the cost, both because the smith can charge what they want for the orbs and because you can’t farm for the orbs yourself. If you’re a blacksmith, however, and get the orbs, I’d still recommend making this piece, but if not I’d say stick with the Redsteel instead.

Skyshredder Battleplate / Breastplate of the Risen Land – Another near-identical combo, the difference between these two is the presence of Haste versus Crit, respectively. Also respectively, these chest protectors come from the quest Krazz Works! in the Twilight Highlands and normal Halls of Origination.

Breastplate of Raging Fury – Buy this one for 2,200 JPs. The two sockets are very nice, and the stats aren’t bad, either. No Deathplate, for sure, but it’s not too bad.

BRACERS

Awestruck Bracers / Bracers of Gleaming Shards – And again another pairing of similar quest rewards. The choice here is between Hit & Haste versus Crit & Expertise. Obtainable from the quests Unfamiliar Waters in Orgrimmar and A Little on the Side in the Twilight Highlands, respectively.

Alpha Bracers – A drop in normal Halls of Origination, these puppies have a socket, and some decent stats to boot! Hit ‘Need’ if you’re dungeon hopping and come across them.

Bloodied Pyrium Bracers – More blacksmithing goodies. More Resilience, but lots of Strength, so it’s a fair toss up. Even with that Resilience, though, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better bracers before Cata heroics.

GLOVES

Gauntlets of Rattling Bones – Pick these up when you hit Revered with the Dragonmaw Clan, the Horde faction in the Twilight Highlands. This might be my third rep to grind, but it really depends on how much rep you get just questing and leveling in the zone. If I’m nowhere near Revered, I may just save that rep for later. Although they are really nice… decisions, decisions!

Edit: It appears that the Dragonmaw Clan gives us our head enchant, Arcanum of the Dragonmaw, as well as some  nice gloves, so this rep will be one of our top priorities to grind.*

Heartblood Gauntlets / Klem’s Rusted Gauntlets – Yet another pair of similar quest rewards, pick between Crit & Haste and Expertise & Mastery. Obtainable from the quests Dangerous Compassion and Distract Them for Me, both in the Twilight Highlands.

Hematite Plate Gloves – Though a bit lower in iLvl (and therefore, stat budget), these gloves are a nice start. Found in The Stonecore on normal.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for part 2!

* Thanks to Dulkan for a number of corrections and additions!