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The Light and How to Swing It: A look at the tanking gear of patch 5.4

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

Is there anything more enjoyable as a patch approaches than ogling all the new gear set to drop in the next raid tier? When the most addicting psychological hook in this game is the steady increase of character power, nothing can be more intoxicating than the promise of new heights and plateaus of character strength and durability. Breathe deeply my friends -- that is the smell of loot, ripe for the picking.

Come patch 5.4, a whole new array of armor, trinkets, weapons, and shields will be preparing to find their way into your bags and the very first time you set foot within the new raid you'll want to be prepared with an idea of where the best loot will be dropping for you. Whether it's from that gaping hole in the Vale, behind the walls of Orgrimmar, or from the smoking corpse of Ordos, there's plenty of excellent new gear to choose from.

In this post I'm going to first talk briefly about what gearing priorities will look in patch 5.4 and how you will need to cope with inevitably reaching the 50% haste breakpoint, then I'll break down all the new tanking gear in 5.4 by slot. And, thanks to our love of various DPS stats, that definition of what can be tanking gear (for good or ill) casts a very wide net.

Reaching the breaking point for haste

With the increased item levels of a new tier, it's going to be possible for more than just hardmode tanks to finally hit the 50% haste breakpoint, and this will affect how you gear once you reach it.

At 50% melee haste, your global cooldown is reduced for just about all your abilities (and the ones that aren't are being fixed in 5.4, so that's a moot concern) to just one second. From that point on any additional haste will not reduce the GCD further, but instead only reduce the cooldowns of your attacks and thus force you to change your abilities priority as more and more haste is accumulated.

Because the primary survivability hook of haste is that it allows you to generate more holy power through more frequent attacks, the 50% breakpoint (and thus the one-second GCD) is generally where stacking haste loses its survivability excuse. Indeed, even in terms of damage dealing, after 50% haste sims show that strength and crit are better stats for increasing DPS.

So what do you do when you reach the haste breakpoint? The smartest bet seems to be stamina from that point on, though in less-deadly content (10N, for example), you can probably stick to mastery if you prefer gearing secondary stats.

Head Neck Shoulders Cloak Chest Wrist Hands Waist Legs Feet Rings Trinkets Weapon Shield What pieces should I go for?

You are going to want to follow the same secondary stat gearing priorities for survivability from the previous patch: hit cap/expertise hard cap > haste > mastery > dodge=parry. Moreover, keep in mind that stamina is such a strong survivability stat that you're often going to find that ilevels alone are a good metric for determining how good a piece is for survivability, if only for the increase in stamina.

And unlike the last tier, this time around our four-piece tier bonus is actually good, and worth pursuing. It should be said, though, if you're going to be getting heroic warforged gear, you may prefer to use offset pieces for the increase stamina budget (especially at that level of content). For more casual raiders, however, the tier pieces are not a bad proposition at all.
The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to combat the Sha in the strange new land of Pandaria. Try out the new control gearing strategy, learn how to make the most of the new active mitigation system on your tankadin, and check out how to deck out your fresh 90 tank to get ready for any raids!

Filed under: Paladin, (Paladin) The Light and How to Swing It

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