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Another week, another week. It seems that every week is another week, which I suppose it is. It's all philosophy, of course, which is a topic that I happen to enjoy just about as much as theorycrafting. That is why I also want to start today off with a little bit of both, but in a very light sense.
Now that most players have their mains up to level 85, the next grind is for gear in order to enter raids. Gearing is an essential part of the game; in fact, I'd say that half the battle for downing a boss starts before you even make that first pull. As during every new tier of gear released, everyone and their mother makes a best in slot list. I hate BiS lists.
Best in slot is highly debatable terminology, and there aren't many cases wherein any one particular item actually fits into that category -- even more so now, with the introduction of mastery and reforging. Generally speaking, an item is only going to be the universal best if it falls into one of two categories. Either that particular item is over-itemized in comparison to similar choices -- it's usually trinkets that fall here -- or there simply aren't any other choice at that item level. When you build a gear set, there really is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. That is why I rarely ever refer to things as being BiS, and that is why I am writing a gear guide and not a BiS list.
The other issue I have with BiS lists is that they are highly specific. In many cases, they are only going to work out to be the best if you have all of the items on the list, particularly in respect to hit. That simply isn't always a feasible goal, especially if you run in a 25-man raid and there are multiple items that you have to win over several other people.
Philosophy and theory out of the way, let's get start on that gear list, shall we?
Gearing: The where and how
Cataclysm has been a little bit different than the past two expansions in terms of how a player can choose to get their gear. Early in every expansion, there have usually been a few good reputation rewards for certain classes to pick up but not always anything that spectacular. In many cases, there's always been an equivalent or better item found in heroic dungeons.
That really isn't the case now. Each type of DPS has at least two epic-quality items that they can get from reputations that are not replaceable by heroic dungeon gear. Generally speaking, the gearing level follows as such:
- Honored gear regular level 85 dungeon gear
- Revered gear heroic level 85 dungeon gear
- Exalted gear raid level gear
Aside from that, there are also justice points, which you earn from running heroics. Justice points can be used to buy heroic dungeon level items as well, further reducing the time that you need to spend farming specific dungeons for that one item that simply won't drop.
Last but certainly not least, there is always crafted gear. Unfortunately, balance druids don't have too many created options for their gear, but there are a few out there -- and again, they can be useful for cutting down on the time you have to spend farming heroics.
- Cluster of Stars 2,200 justice points
- Cowl of Rebellion Vanessa VanCleef, heroic Deadmines
- Willowy Crown Ascendant Lord Obsidius, Blackrock Cavern
- Helm of Reorigination Doing it the Hard Way, Halls of Origination
- Yellow Smoke Pendant Dragonmaw / Wildhammer Exalted
- Amulet of Tender Breath Altairus, Vortex Pinnacle
- Celadon Pendant 1,250 justice points
- String of Beaded Bubbles 1,250 justice points
- Eye of Many Deaths Jewelcrafting
- Tauntka's Necklace High Prophet Barim, Lost City of the Tol'Vir
- Mantle of Bestilled Winds Altairus, Vortex Pinnacle
- Mantle of Soft Shadows Anraphet, Halls of Origination
- Somber Shawl 1,650 justice points
- Spaulders of the Endless Plains Dragonmaw / Wildhammer Honored
- Cursed Skardyn Vest General Umbriss, Grim Batol
- Vest of the Curious Visitor Glubtok, heroic Deadmines
- Robes of Forgetfulness 2,200 justice points
- Wrap of the Fallen City The Fall of Neferset City, Uldum
- Azureborne Cloak Drahga Shadowburner, Grim Batol
- Cloak of Ancient Wisdom Earthen Ring revered
- Shadow of Perfect Bliss Asaad, Vortex Pinnacle
- Solar Wind Cloak Rahj, Halls of Origination
- Armbands of Change Corla, Herald of Twilight, heroic Blackrock Caverns
- Oasis Bracers BoE drop, Lost City of the Tol'Vir
- Aessina-Blessed Gloves Guardians of Hyjal revered
- Blessed Hands of Elune 1,650 justice points
- Deep Delving Gloves Slabhide, Stonecore
- Withered Dream Belt Dragonmaw / Wildhammer exalted
- Blazewing's Furious Kilt Blazewing, Hyjal rare spawn
- Leggings of Clutching Roots Earthen Ring revered
- Leggings of Late Blooms 2,200 justice points
- Leggings of the Path Siamat, Lost City of the the Tol'Vir
- Awakening Footfalls Temple Guardian Anhuur, Halls of Origination
- Decapod Slippers Mindbender Ghur'sha, Throne of Tides
- Tarvus' Poison-Scarred Boots Tarvus the Vile, Twlight Highlands
- Signet of High Arcanist Savor BoE random drop
- Ring of the Boy Emperor Archaeology find
- Band of Lamentation Dragonmaw / Wildhammer revered
- Band of Rays Rahj, Halls of Reorigination
- Diamant's Ring of Temperance Therazane revered
- Ring of Frozen Rain Asaad, Vortex Pinnacle
The Ring of the Boy Emperor is perhaps one of the best reason to farm up archaeology as a balance druid. It would be better if it had crit instead of mastery, but as a BoA, epic level item when epics are still rare; there isn't much to complain about. The only downside is that it will be very difficult to get, as there aren't many digs in that area.
- Stump of Time 125 Tol Barad Commendations, Hellscream's Reach / Baradin's Wardens exalted
- Anhuur's Hymnal Temple Guardian Anhuur, Halls of Origination
- Gale of Shadows Erudax, Grim Batol
- Sea Star Ozumat, Throne of Tides
- Witching Hourglass Ascendant Lord Obsidius, Heroic Blackrock Caverns
I would venture to say that most of the theory work that has been done supports using one hit trinket and one non-hit trinket at this point, but I honestly didn't look into that enough to see if it is only because they all use Stump of Time, which is our only good epic level preraid trinket. If you do need hit, though, and can't get Stump of Time yet -- it does require many, many days of grinding -- then Anhuur's or Sea Star are both good choices to go with.
In the non-hit slot, it becomes a little bit of a closer choice between Witching Hourglass and Gale of Shadows. The Witching Hourglass is better than the Gale of Shadows ever so slightly simply because it provides intellect instead of raw spellpower, which is worth more spellpower than normal for balance druids. Either way, both are fantastic options, and I wouldn't really go out of my way to farm for the Witching Hourglass if you already have Gale of Shadows.
- Biting Wind Grand Vizier Ertan, Vortex Pinnacle
- Elementium Spellblade Blacksmithing
- Scepter of Power Setesh, Halls of Origination
- Gurgthock's Garish Gorebat Crucible of Carnage, Twilight Highlands
- Apple-Bent Bough 950 justice points
On a side note, these two staves are the only ones in the game worth using, simply because you cannot get anything of equal item level outside of a raid. Plus, they are BoA, so what's not to love?
Every week, Shifting Perspectives treks across Azeroth in pursuit of druidic truth, beauty and insight. We'll help you level your brand new balance druid, analyze balance racials and abilities, and walk you through PvP as a balance druid.