Oh, patch 4.3. I didn't know what to expect from you after so many bad, ugly, or just plain bizarre PUGs on the public test realm, but you turned out to be pretty cool. I don't have to wear ugly gear anymore, the Dragon Soul raid is live, Vengeance blows up like a grade school volcano science experiment, and Deathwing no longer roasts all my archaeology dig sites with the sadistic glee of an NPC who knows that I will never get the Crawling Claw if I am dead.
On the downside, I have to deal with Echo of Tyrande trash ("Hey, where'd the healer go?"), and Thrall still does not seem to have realized that the rest of the world moved on to epic mounts several years ago.
Greetings, my fellow trees. This week we're going to finish off our series on gearing a restoration druid in patch 4.2. Part one included headpieces, neckpieces, shoulders, cloaks, chestpieces, bracers, gloves, belts, legs and boots. Today we'll address rings, trinkets, weapons, off-hands, and relics. Yes, the tank threat changes from this past week merit commentary as well, but before we do that, run -- don't walk -- to your nearest tier 6 raid in search of Thunderheart.
As a quick note, I'm going to revisit our bear gearing guide over the next few weeks in order to add PVP gear and to split normal/heroic versions as per the request of our commenters; I agree that the present version probably isn't as convenient as intended. I'll drop another note in the column once I've finished with that.
There's lots of new gear for restoration druids to look for in patch 4.2, so -- as with the bears -- it's high time to update our gear lists. Once again, I've split the guide, and the ring, weapon, offhand, relic, and trinket column will run next week, as they require more discussion.
As this guide addresses gear that's been added to the game from the Zandalari heroic level through Firelands, it's probably most helpful to people who are already sitting on a few epics (or at least heroic blues). If you're a fresh level 85 restoration druid or still leveling, you'll probably find our previous series on gearing a resto druid more immediately helpful, but please keep in mind that stat priorities have shifted more toward mastery these days:
Hello, folks. This week, we're going to finish our series on gearing a resto at level 85, and next week, we're going to change course and address bears with a Cataclysm 101 guide and then gear post. For the kitties out there, Dan O'Halloran will be splitting off a cat-oriented Shifting soon, so we'll eventually have three Shifting articles per week -- one for bears/resto, one for cats, and one for moonkin. I'm so rarely DPS these days that it's a bit of a relief to focus on the two specs that get my play time, so I hope I'll be able to bring a bit more depth to bears and resto in the Tuesday Shifting column.
On that note, the low-level Tank Watch project continues. I regret to say the numbers are slightly more depressing than last week if you'd been hoping that the bear population would rebound this expansion. So far, this is the tank representation I've seen in dungeon finder groups between levels 15 and 40:
Before we get into this week's edition of our series on gearing a resto druid at 85, I wanted to drop a note here concerning an upcoming article on the plight of low-level bear tanks. Right now, the annoyance value of tanking on a new bear is pretty high; you don't get Swipe until level 36; the arrangement of talents in the feral tree means your mitigation is behind that of paladins and warriors for a while; and everything in your arsenal with the exception of Demoralizing Roar is a cooldown until you get Lacerate at level 66 (!). I'm curious if this is having an impact on druid tank representation among the new flood of people instancing in low-level content, and I have started keeping track of the tanks I'm getting through the dungeon finder.
So far, this is the class representation I've seen among tanks from levels 15 through 31. Because leveling in this range is fairly quick, the sample size isn't large. I don't know whether it's representative of what I'll see on the way to 85 (and obviously I won't encounter any death knights until level 58 at the earliest), but time will tell:
Of interest is the almost complete lack of Omen of Clarity procs despite Malfurion's Gift (I'm not sure how much I like RNG's impact on our efficiency these days) and the healing done by the death knight's bloodworms. The amount of "free" healing that adds up from tank and DPS specs was (and perhaps remains) a real concern, as Paragon observed after testing tier 11 raid content back in November. We'll see how that plays out as more players approach raid content.
This column originally started out as a guide on the road to 85, similar to Shifting Perspectives: Patch 4.0.3a and the road to 85 for bears and cats. However, the more I worked on it, the more I felt I was just rewriting information already published by several excellent restoration bloggers. I've included links to that information here, but this article is going to be concerned with restoration gear in Cataclysm, where you can get it, and how you can gem/enchant it. Over the next several weeks we'll be bringing you as comprehensive a gear list as possible given certain limitations (i.e., we're only three weeks into Cataclysm), and I hope you'll have a good idea of where you are with respect to gear advancement with it.