With no sign of patch 4.1 going live so far and all the tier 12 raids not coming until patch 4.2, the best place to get gear is still in raid dungeons. Last week, we covered all the DPS gear you could pull from raids -- so this week, we'll cover tank gear.
Note that with tank gear, there is still a pretty healthy debate going on in the DK community over whether mastery or avoidance is the best secondary stat set to get. We've covered this extensively in past columns, so I won't go too much over it again, but suffice it to say that you'll have to examine the boss fights you're doing, your raid makeup, and your own playstyle to see what works for you, although you should strive to fit in four pieces of tier gear in order to get your set bonus. This list will cover primarily raid gear and valor point gear, but reputation rewards and crafted items will be mentioned where they are a viable possibility for the slot.
- The Magma Plated Faceguard is your tier gear option. With hit rating and dodge rating, it's most useful if you need some hit rating to keep up threat. It can also be useful for hitting your four-piece tier set bonus. Don't underestimate the extra time on Icebound Fortitude.
- The Daybreaker Helm, which drops off of Valiona in the Bastion of Twilight, features mastery and parry rating, as well as slightly more strength than your other raid drop options. It's a great place to get some extra parry rating if you need it, balance with a little bit of mastery.
- The Dragon Bone War Helm drops off of Maloriak in Blackwing Descent. It's got the highest mastery rating of the helms, plus some expertise if you're looking to make a run at the dodge soft cap.
- The Ironstar Amulet, which drops off of Atramedes in Blackwing Descent, has both dodge and hit rating, making it great for avoidance and threat.
- The Rage of Ages is primarily a DPS neck, but it does have mastery and hit rating, which are both excellent stats for a tanking death knight. It does "waste" item level on some extra strength, though, and it does drop off of Nefarian, so chances are you'll probably just want to take the Ironstar Amulet and let the DPS fight over this one.
- Magma Plated Shoulderguards are your tier 11 option and, as always, have the upper hand if only for the four-piece bonus. They have dodge and hit rating. You can grab them from a token off of Cho'gall.
- The Heaving Plates of Protection are a trash drop in Bastion of Twilight. They have both parry and mastery rating and a blue gem socket, making them a great all-around gear choice -- pretty lucky for you if you pick them up early in your raiding career. You'll probably have to give them up for tier, but if you're having to take down Cho'gall, these are a great gearing choice.
- The Pauldrons of Edward the Odd are a world drop choice. They're similar to the Heaving Plates of Protection, except with slightly more mastery and less parry rating. If you want to drop the coin, these will give you a decent leg up as you head into raiding territory. Still, again, they'll probably be replaced by tier, so think carefully before you spend.
- The Pauldrons of the Apocalypse drop off of Cho'gall, so if you didn't win your tier 11 token, they're a decent stopgap, with plenty of expertise and parry rating.
- Ironstar's Impenetrable Cover is not only your best avoidance bet, it's also the only ilevel 359 tanking cloak with a heroic equivalent so far. It has equal amounts of parry and dodge, so it won't throw off your avoidance balance levels either.
- The Wrap of the Great Turtle may straight up be your best mastery stacking cloak option, with equal measures of mastery and dodge. It's also relatively easy to get, since it's an exalted reputation buy from the Guardians of Hyjal. It does waste a little item budget on extra strength, but it makes up for it by being the only mastery cloak option at this level with two pure defense secondary stats.
- The Floating Web is one valor point option. If has expertise and mastery, so it may be useful if you feel like you need more expertise; otherwise, spend your valor points on other stuff and just get exalted with Hyjal.
- The Gray Hair Cloak is your other valor point option and is more optimally statted for tanking death knights, with less strength in favor of dodge and expertise. Overall, though, the same argument applies. Just save your valor points and grab the wrap.
- The Magma Plated Chestguard is your tier option. As always, it's probably going to be your option by default due to the set bonus, though it does have more strength than the other options. It also has parry and mastery, making it a decent balance for most gearing styles and the only raiding chestplate with two defensive stats at all.
- Battleplate of the Apocalypse is your raid drop option. It features parry and hit rating. It's a decent stopgap until you get the tier chest or if you need that hit rating, but otherwise, the tier breastplate will probably serve you better.
- Icebone Hauberk is actually the twin of the above battleplate but comes as a world drop instead. If you have a ton of gold to waste, you might pick this up before you start raiding.
- Hardened Elementium Hauberk is your smithed option. It will be inferior to other options almost by definition due to only having one gem slot, but it's a decent starter breastplate if you have a guild blacksmith the extra Chaos Orbs for it.
- The Bracers of Impossible Strength are your only raid drop option. They drop off Halfus Wyrmbreaker in the Bastion of Twilight and feature a nice balance of parry and mastery ratings.
- If Halfus isn't dropping the bracers for you, pick up the Sandguard Bracers, which can be purchased at exalted with the Ramkahen faction and feature dodge and expertise rating.
- Magma Plated Handguards are your tier option and can either be purchased with valor points or dropped in Baradin Hold. Again, they'll probably win out because of the set bonus and because they have two pure defensive secondary stats, namely, mastery and parry rating.
- Gravitational Pull from the Twilight Ascendant Council encounter in Bastion of Twilight have a ton of mastery and some expertise. Again, though, you'll probably get more defensive bang for your buck from the tier gloves, if only because of the set bonus.
- The Thunder Wall Belt, out of the Throne of the Four Winds, comes in 3 flavors, with mastery/parry, mastery/dodge, or parry/dodge. Pick one up according to your gearing strategy and most needed stats, and you'll be gravy.
- The Jumbotron Power Belt has dodge and mastery rating in slightly lower amounts than the Thunder Wall Belt, as it has more strength instead. It may be a good choice if you need some dodge rating and some extra threat.
- The waist is a slot where a crafted item is suprisingly competitive. The Hardened Elementium Girdle has dodge and mastery rating enough to make it competitive with any other option on this list before you get into heroic raids.
- Magma Plated Legguards are your tier option, and again, you can save some valor points if you can get them to drop out of Baradin Hold. Equal amounts of dodge and parry rating make them a great choice for an avoidance stacker, and even mastery stackers shouldn't completely avoid avoidance, so plan to pick these up.
- Thunder Wall Greaves give Magma Plated Legguards a real run for their money. They drop in the Throne of the Four Winds and come in mastery/parry, mastery/dodge, and dodge/parry varieties. They'll have more defensive stats than the tier legs since they have less strength, but remember, you do want the set bonus from the tier stuff.
- Legguards of the Unseeing drop from Atramedes, but since they have parry and expertise, they're going to be inferior for any death knight who doesn't need the expertise. The tier legs have extra strength for more threat, anyway.
- At exalted with your faction's Twilight Highlands reputation, you can grab the Boots of Sullen Rock or the Gryphon Rider's Boots. With parry and mastery, they're an incredibly competitive set of tank boots, although they have no heroic option, of course.
- Molten Tantrum boots drop from Magmaw and feature dodge and mastery. There's more dodge than mastery, so if you're an avoidance stacking death knight who needs to balance out his parry with more dodge, these may work for you.
- Massacre Treads drop from Chimaeron, but with mastery and expertise, they are going to be mostly inferior to the above options.
- Rock Furrow Boots are your valor option, offering dodge and expertise ratings. There are probably better places to spend your valor points, though, unless you specifically need more dodge rating, and even then, you should probably wait for the Molten Tantrum boots to drop.
- The Ring of the Battle Anthem is your valor point option, and is easily competitive with normal raid drops, with plenty of dodge and mastery. The downside is that it has no heroic counterpart.
- The Bile-O-Tron Nut drops off of Chimaeron, and offers expertise and dodge rating, making it slightly inferior for pure defensive stats, but still viable enough. At the heroic level, you'll be wearing it anyway, since it's one of two ilevel 372 options.
- The Permafrost Signet is yet another Throne of the Four Winds drop that comes in the same three flavors as the previous drops. Pick whatever matches your gearing needs the best.
- Symbiotic Worm has both loads of stamina and a mastery proc that triggers at 35% health, allowing you to pull out a few Death Strikes to pull yourself back out of the hole. It's a pretty perfect tanking trinket. It drops from Magmaw.
- Vial of Stolen Memories also brings the stamina, along with a nice chunk of dodge rating on use. You can always use more tanking cooldowns to fit into your rotation, so you may want to grab this. It drops from Valiona.
- The Bedrock Talisman is your valor points option. It has extra armor and a dodge proc at 35% health. The armor isn't multiplied by Blood Presence, so it's not as good as it could be, but it'll do until you get one of the stamina options if you have the extra VP to spend.
- If you do your Tol Barad dailies, you can pick up the Mirror of Broken Images from the vendors there, which provides some mastery rating and a magic resistance on-use ability. Again, it'll at least hold you over until the stamina trinkets start dropping.
- Darkmoon Card: Earthquake has some dodge rating and a maximum health increase on use. It'll cost a pretty penny, though, so I'd probably stick to grabbing a couple of the above options.
You really only have one option for your relic. Spend the valor points to grab the Relic of Khaz'goroth. It's pretty cheap as far as valor point gear goes, so you have no excuse.
For a weapon, you can grab any of the 2H weapons from last week's guide. Weapons are, however, a great way to make up the hit and expertise rating you've been passing over on your other gear, so keep that in mind when selecting your weapon.
Learn the ropes of endgame play with WoW Insider's DK 101 guide. Make yourself invaluable to your raid group with Mind Freeze and other interrupts, gear up with pre-heroic DPS gear or pre-heroic tank gear, and plot your path to tier 11/valor point DPS gear.