08 September 2008

Druid items - from Healing to Tanking

Due to various issues we didn't get to run anything major over the weekend. Bummed about that! But I did get a boatload of dailies in, building to my "buy Sali a fast mount" fund. My only question is whether I'll buy a gryphon first or get the mats to build the epic roflcopter.

We did kill the Blades' Edge dragons on Saturday night. It's become a quick way for us to make a good bit of gold and to maybe get some nice drops. And we got very lucky this time around, because a [Depleted Badge] dropped. This can be infused into the [Badge of Tenacity], which is one of the best Druid tank trinkets in the game.

I had moral qualms though for two reasons. First I was playing on Sali so I wasn't tanking at all. And second it's a BoE drop that sells for about 1000-1500g at auction. So I didn't feel right just rolling Need on it. Mattoo quickly said I should Need but I'd already rolled, which I felt good about anyway. He was tanking but he already has a Badge of Tenacity so it was a sell item for him.

Fortunately I won the five-way Greed roll. So I was pretty happy about that!

Gearing up Alamein to tank has been an interesting exercise. For most pieces it's been surprisingly easy, but some parts have been challenging. I began with the WoWWIki druid tanking equipment page, as well as Big Bear Butt Blogger's tank starter gear post. They are great at listing what gear you should look for, but I wanted to talk about some specific challenges. I'll cover four sources of items: drops, reputation, auction house (plus crafting), PvP, and quests.


When I first decided to switch, I assumed I'd have to run regular instances for a lot of drops. This turns out not to be true. Most of the tank gear available in normal instances is just not an improvement over the other pieces you can get. The one thing I did look for -- and got on my first try -- was the [Iron Band of the Unbreakable] from regular Old Hillsbrad. Other than that, the only drop I'd be tempted to farm is [Adamantine Figurine] from Shadow Labyrinth. We had one run in there and it didn't drop. But after running a dozen or so people through their Kara attunement -- back when it mattered -- I don't want to spend more time in Slabs than I have to!

Edit: I forgot about one great drop that I had saved: [Thoriumweave Cloak] from Mech. I'd taken that while on a Mech badge run as healer; we didn't have an enchanter in the group or we probably would have sharded it. That would be worth farming too, since it drops on either normal or heroic.


Every guide will tell you that [Earthwarden] is the best tanking weapon you'll get until T5 at least. (I'm not Exalted with Cenarion Expedition yet so no luck there.) But one source of rep gear that both guides miss is Shattered Sun Offensive. The [Shattered Sun Pendant of Resolve] is a pretty good tank amulet, and if you've been running SSO dailies regularly you're probably exalted with them. The Dragonhide Battlegear also provides a great way to pick up some pieces that can round out your set.

Auction House/Crafting

The Strength of the Clefthoof set is really where you want to start. As a skinner/leatherworker, I had the patterns and most of the materials, so this was a no-brainer. But even if you're not, you can probably get all three pieces for under 500g. That's crazy-cheap for three good pieces of tanking gear. The other key piece (if you can't get Earthwarden yet) is [Braxxis' Staff of Slumber] which usually sells around 50g. The [Stylin' Purple Hat] is pretty good too if you don't have a good helm. Which leads to my next point...

PvP Items

This was a surprising situation. In short - the healing PvP gear turns out to be better than just about anything I could get through other sources. For example, I thought I'd buy the Stylin' Purple Hat, but it's not as good as the [Gladiator's Kodohide Helm] I already had. The same was true for my shoulders. Obviously the Gladiator's Dragonhide gear would be much better, but even the Kodohide gear has a good chunk of stamina, armor, and resilience that makes it work for tanking.

The problem is that I got these pieces for healing -- so they have healing enchants and gems. Mostly it's not a huge deal, but I have the [Bracing Earthstorm Diamond] in the hat - which gives -2% threat! Not good! Fortunately the mass of blue +stamina gems I used has deactivated the meta gem requirements. So I'm still using it for now. But replacing these pieces is my current PvP priority.

There's one item I haven't seen listed in any guide but I think it's worth considering. It's really a Reputation item but it comes from Alterac Valley rep so I'll list it under PvP. That's the [Stormpike Insignia] or the Horde equivalent. It's not really great, but it does grant dodge and if you've run any AV at all you should be able to pick up one rank or another of this. (You can get the first trinket at Friendly and upgrade it with each reputation level along the way.) Consider it as a stopgap measure if you don't have any other helpful trinkets.

Quest Rewards

If you're leveling as feral, this is super-easy. The hard part is when you've leveled as another spec. Basically -- either you have the gear or you don't! I was mostly lucky but lost out in one spot. So the moral is: watch for good offspec gear in quest rewards -- and save it!

For druid tanking, there are three quest reward pieces that you should watch for. The one that I'm kicking myself on is the [Idol of the Wild]. This one really annoys me because there's no good way to replace it. It comes from an early Hellfire Peninsula quest and there's just nothing else to replace it with. I'm using my [Idol of the Raven Goddess] but it's a poor substitute. There are so few idols that it really pays to grab every one that crosses your path.

The second reward is another fairly easy quest item: [Manimal's Cinch]. This belt is also difficult to replace. It's easy to underestimate (and throw away) because it's green, but there's not much to replace it with. This comes from a soloable quest line in Shadowmoon Valley; it's possible that many druids haven't done this yet so check it out. And the third key quest reward is [Umberhowl's Collar]. Again, it's difficult to find better bracers. This quest line requires some group work so it's probably skipped fairly often.

With these easy-to-find items and a quick respec, you'll have the gear and talents to pretty much start tanking heroics. Of course that says nothing about having the skill! That's the part I'm working on now...

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