Every week, WoW Insider brings you Lichborne for blood, frost, and unholy death knights. In the post-Cataclysm era, death knights are no longer the new kids on the block. Let's show the other classes how a hero class gets things done.
The second tier of Patch 5.4's Siege of Orgrimmar, Gates of Retribution, brings us to the Horde capital itself. There are four bosses to kill and much death knight loot to plunder. The disclaimers from last week's loot guide still apply. While best-in-slot guides are all well and good, keep in mind that what is "best" for you will change based on your skill level, talent choices, and your current gear, and that new gear at a higher item level, even if not optimal, may still be an upgrade over what you had before. With that in mind, let's dig in.
- Evil Eye of Galakras, with its reduction of multiple major DPS cooldowns, is definitely one of the better trinkets of this tier. Both DPS specs get Anti-Magic Shell, Icebound Fortitude, Outbreak and Army of the Dead cooldown reduction. Unholy also gets Summon Gargoyle and Unholy Frenzy, while frost gets Pillar of Frost and Empower Rune Weapon. Note that this trinket is only great if you use that extra cooldown reduction time, at least for the major DPS abilities. If you waste it, you're better off with other trinkets, at least until you learn to use your DPS cooldowns.
- Thranok's Shattering Helm has haste and mastery, making it a fair to middling choice for DPS. Again, Some blood tanks might take it for threat, but be careful you don't lose too much survivability. Riposte exists for a reason.
- Krugruk's Rigid Shoulderplates have mastery and hit, making them a solid choice for both frost dual wield DPS and blood tanks, even if not completely optimal, especially if you're past 7.50% hit.
- Galakrond Control Band has parry and dodge, meaning it gives you both avoidance and extra threat. There are mastery rings this tier, but they all have hit or expertise as their secondary stat, meaning this ring should stay competitive depending on your survivability needs.
- Arcsmasher Bracers have dodge and hit rating, which may be useful if you need to balance your avoidance stats with more dodge or hit the hit soft cap.
- Wall-Borer Bracers have critical strike rating and expertise, making them a very solid choice for any two-handed DPS death knight who isn't at the expertise soft-cap yet. If you're over it, of course, these become something to avoid.
- Tar-Coated Gauntlets are a critical strike and haste item. This means they're kind of sort of passable for two-handed DPS, especially with 2 gem slots, but they're not great, and you'll eventually want to leave them behind for tier.
- Demolisher's Reinforced Belt has haste and mastery, meaning it's not incredible for any one spec. That said, if you're already hit and expertise capped, this belt has the advantage of having neither stat, so that can make it better than it first seems.
- Juggernaut's Ignition Keys has hit and mastery, making it a good choice for both blood tanks and dual wield DPS, assuming they aren't up to the hit soft cap yet.
- Earthbreaker's Steaming Chestplate is another dodge and parry item. It's got good avoidance and decent threat, sure, but remember you want your tier bonuses eventually, and mastery is still better anyway.
- Juggernaut's Focusing Crystal has dodge, which is technically our least powerful defense secondary stat (balancing avoidance aside), but it also has the intriguing life steal proc, which hearkens back to the days when Blood Presence did the same thing. That said, the heal is probably too weak, at least for boss fights, to make it a top choice this tier, though it may work out for AoE fights and/or trash clearing.
- Wolf-Rider Spurs have critical strike and haste, meaning they won't make it on any best gear lists for death knights this tier. They're a stop gap til you get better.
- Breastplate of Shamanic Mirrors has mastery and hit rating, as well as 3 gem slots. This makes it a decent DPS chest for those who have yet to hit the hit soft cap. Blood tanks may also want to take a crack at it if they need to hit the hit soft cap but also want some survivability.
- Ashen Wall Girdle has hit and mastery, which means it's a good choice for dual wield DPS or blood tanks who need the hit soft cap. In fact, given that most plate DPS belts this tier have haste, even two-handed death knights might want to take a look at this one.
- Bloodclaw Band has hit and mastery, completing the hit and mastery trifecta for shamans. The same advice applies. Dual wield DPS and blood tanks will want to consider this ring.
- Ring of the Iron Tomb has dodge/hit. That's one of the less desirable stat combinations for a blood tank, but it does have a yellow gem slot, which helps make up for some of that. Still, you can get mastery rings with gem slots too from this tier, so that doesn't bode well for this ring.
- Gar'tok, Strength of the Faithful has mastery and expertise, making it a very solid choice for tank death knights. It's not as good for two-handed DPS, but why wait for Garrosh's weapon? A weapon upgrade is one of the best ways to improve your DPS, so don't be afraid to grab this.
- Gauntlets of Cyclopean Dread have hit and mastery, making them great for dual wield DPS, but slightly less so for two-handed DPS. All three will likely want to take the gauntlets for the tier bonuses though.
- Handguards of Cyclopean Dread have mastery and hit. Since tier bonuses are so good for tank death knight this patch, you will likely want to fit these into your tank gearing set.
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.