Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

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Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Meloree » Sun Jan 31, 2010 4:57 pm

I. Introduction

This is a gear guide for 25man hardmode progression raiding. It's my opinion and impressions on the items, for whatever that's worth to people. As such, no item is offlimits, including 10-man items. I'll try to discuss the merits of the available pieces in each slot, and then put together a few sample sets at the end. Any time I discuss ToGC gear, it's liable to be the Alliance version I reference. The stats on the horde versions, and bosses they drop from, are identical. It's very important to realize that this is a discussion of gear focused on progression, and it's critical that you apply your own consideration and experience to build your own gearsets. Not everyone will have access to every piece of gear at any given time. Sometimes a poorly itemized ilvl277 piece will beat a well itemized ilvl264 piece, and sometimes the reverse is true - even for the same piece of gear. You should always be willing to adapt your gear to your circumstances. Your strategies, your healers, your personal skill level, and even your guilds dps play a role in your ability to do your job, and what is optimal for me may not be optimal for you.

This is not a be all and end-all list, it's a discussion of the relative merits of some pieces, and some sample gearsets you might build. Especially those sample gearsets should be taken with a huge grain of salt. You need to do your own work to balance your own stats. Furthermore, if you think that I've smoked just a little bit too much crack in writing this list, please feel free to share your opinion. I'm not always right, and things that I've missed will be edited into the post. It's also worth noting that there are some prominent protection paladins on this board who have chosen a significantly different gearing route than I have. I do hope that some discussion will take place on the issue. I have always been a huge fan of bonus-armor itemization. I wore Boundless Ambition until I got The Arbiter's Muse. I wore Cloak of the Shadowed Sun until I got the ToGC-10 Insanity cloak to drop. I wore at least one armor ring for the entirety of Wrath. I wore Saronite Plated Legguards until I got the Jaraxxus Hardmode pants. Bonus armor trinkets are a much tighter choice, as it's a direct trade of stamina for armor. Sometimes that's optimal, and sometimes it isn't, but bonus armor on gear is extremely powerful, and generally trades away primarily avoidance or threat for armor - almost always a good trade in progression. I have, though, generally considered stamina to be the slightly more powerful stat than armor - something that recent discussions have convinced me is worth re-evaluating. Up until recently I considered the stamina trinkets to be generally superior to the armor trinkets at equivalent ilvls, and I no longer think that's always true. I'll be experimenting with both setups over the next few weeks, and may modify trinket recommendations accordingly. Until then - bonus armor on gear is never a bad idea, bonus armor trinkets vs. stamina trinkets is a decision you need to investigate for yourself.

If your consideration is normal mode progression, then most of this will remain relevant, but your gear choices may be significantly more restrictive. The advice should remain generally applicable. Without further ado, onto the actual information.

II. The Gear

Helmets:
There are 2 legitimate options for helmets, both at the 264 and 277 level.
Broken Ram Skull Helm - Lady Deathwhisper 25
Sanctified Lightsworn Faceguard - 95 Frost Badges + Token

Of the two, the Tier piece is the clear winner at both item levels. However, depending on your token situation, the Broken Ram Skull Helmet is a perfectly valid stopgap piece. The 277 Ram Skull Helmet is a significant upgrade from the ilvl264 Tier helmet, and is valuable for it's hit rating, should that prove necessary. In fact, it may be the best piece to swap for hit when needed. You will lose less survivability here for that hit rating than anywhere else. If you've had a Ram Skull Helmet drop, this should probably be one of the last tier pieces you purchase, otherwise it's probably the first.

Neck:
There is basically one progression option in the neck slot - Bile-Encrusted Medallion - Rotface 25
The next best option comes from ToGC-25 - The Arbiter's Muse - Twin Valkyr 25-man Hardmode

The other options are inferior. The Noose of Malachite may find use in hitcapping sets, but there are options is a number of other gearslots. If you're stuck without having had any of the armor necks drop, pick the highest stamina option you have, and keep your fingers crossed.

Shoulders:
Again there's basically 2 options for your shoulder piece, at the 277 item level.
Boneguard Commander's Pauldrons - Gunship Battle
Sanctified Lightsworn Shoulderguards - 60 Frost Badges + Token

The Boneguard Commander's Pauldrons are clear winners. At ilvl264, things are a little more interesting, as the Spaulders of the Blood Princes are available from 10-man heroic. Personally, I'd consider them the best of the 264 items, because they don't give up very much to pick up that hit. The tier shoulders are just generally behind here. The prime consideration behind wearing the tier shoulders will be to make a 2pc bonus at the 264 level, or a 4pc bonus at the 277 level. Alternatively, if you have poor loot luck, the ilvl277 tier shoulders are superior to any ilvl264 item in the slot. Otherwise, this is your lowest priority tier piece.

Cloak:
It seems like there's quite a few options here, but it really boils down to 3 options.
Royal Crimson Cloak - Blood Princes Hardmode
Magni's Resolution - Anub'arak 25 - 50 attempts remaining
Sentinel's Winter Cloak - 50 Frost Badges

Sentinel's Winter Cloak is the clear winner for progression - even at the 277 tier level. Royal Crimson Cloak is your hit option, Magni's Resolution/Cairne's Endurance is your avoidance option, should that become necessary. It's worth noting that you only need badges to get the Sentinel's Winter Cloak. It's cheap at the price. If you have a strong backup cloak option, it may be a good idea to enchant it with frost resistance for Sindragosa. Alternatively, buy a second Sentinel's Winter Cloak. There really aren't enough good things to say about this item.

Chest:
There are 3 legitmate options to consider in this slot.
Blightborne Warplate - Rotface 25
Sanctified Lightsworn Chestguard - 95 Frost Badges + Token
Cataclysmic Chestguard - 95 Frost Badges

The badge purchased Cataclysmic Chestguard is the clear winner at ilvl264. Depending on how the reitemization of the tier piece turns out, the tier piece should be best in slot at ilvl277 - although without any defence it may cause gear balancing problems. The ilvl277 Blightborne Warplate is the highest pure stamina option, if that turns out to be valuable, but it's not worth your time at ilvl264.

Bracers:
Two options to consider here, one of them is from 10-mans.
Bracers of Dark Reckoning - Marrowgar 25
Gargoyle Spit Bracers - Deathbringer Saurfang 25

The ilvl277 Bracers of Dark Reckoning are fairly comparable to the ilvl251 Gargoyle Spit Bracers. The ilvl264 Gargoyle Spit Bracers (heroic 10-man) are clearly superior for most fights.

Gauntlets:
Three options for this slot that are worth considering.
Taldaram's Plated Fists - Blood Princes 25
Sanctified Lightsworn Handguards - 60 Frost Badges + Token
Gauntlets of the Kraken - 60 Frost Badges

Currently at ilvl264, the badge-purchased Gauntlets of the Kraken are clear winners. It's likely that after the tier reitemization that ilvl277 Tier gloves will become the option of choice. Taldaram's Plated Fists are the high-stamina option at ilvl277, but the ilvl264 version doesn't have a lot of use.

Belt:
Two options - one is badge purchaseable again.
Belt of Broken Bones - Festergut 25
Verdigris Chain Belt - 60 Frost Badges

The Verdigris Chain Belt is clearly the winner at the 264 ilvl. It's generally stronger than the ilvl277 Belt of Broken Bones. The Belt of Broken Bones will be your go-to option for epeening around Dalaran and maximizing wow-heroes gearscore.

Pants:
Three options worth considering - one is crafted.
Legguards of Lost Hope - Marrowgar 25
Sanctified Lightsworn Legguards - 95 Frost Badges + Token
Pillars of Might - Crafted

The Pillars of Might are the clear winners at the ilvl264 level, and are easy to come by, since they're crafted. The tier legs may have value if you're starving for expertise or defence, which will be likely in full ilvl277 gear. The Legguards of Lost Hope are the high-stamina option at ilvl277, but not comparable to the Pillars at ilvl264. Generally speaking, Pillars of Might are going to be your go-to pants option. Sorry, skirt lovers.

Boots:
There's one real option here - Grinning Skull Greatboots. Expertise is going to be hard to come by, they're clear winners on stamina. Boots of Kingly Upheaval are unlikely to fit into any realistic gearset, as we're already going to be somewhat starved for defence. The hit is nice, but the expertise is nicer. Still, if you're really starving for hit on a taunt-swap fight, and have the defence to spare, they're an option. I'll be keeping a pair in my bags, but they won't likely see much use. An option I missed on the first pass is Scourge Fanged Stompers. I think, generally speaking, the 25man boots will be your best bet, but these boots make an excellent stop-gap.

Rings:
There's a lot of options.
Devium's Eternally Cold Ring - Valithra Dreamwalker
Ashen Band of Endless Courage - Reputation
Juggernaut Band - Lady Deathwhisper 25
Loop of the Twin Valkyr - ToGC10
Signified Ring of Binding - Onyxia25
Harbinger's Bone Band - Trash Drop/BoE

Clearly, the single best ring option is Devium's. Band of the Twin Valkyr is liable to be my 2nd ring. The Ashen Band currently has a very low procrate/uptime, as it stands it should be a placeholder at best. The Onyxia ring is a very strong survival option, it has boatloads of armor, and some resistances for Sindragosa. Harbinger's Bone Band gets an honorable mention for being BoE, you might be able to find it on the AH, but it's not a particularily strong option. Juggernaut Band gets an honorable mention for being the high-stamina option for the 2nd slot.

Weapons:
This list is horribly incomplete, largely because we don't really know Lich King loot tables, and we're expecting some weapons there.

The Facelifter - Putricide 10
Bonebreaker Scepter - Marrowgar 10
Silverwing Defender - Anub'arak 25 - 25 attempts remaining
Crusader's Glory - Anub'arak 10

For now, Bonebreaker/Facelifter (heroic versions) are the high-threat options. Crusader's Glory is your best survival option most of the time. It's also probably the first thing you'ld trade out for threat, as opposed to an armor piece, as you'll generate very high returns on the trade with a slower, higher ilvl weapon. It's worth noting that your weapon options right now are basically all from 10-mans. Here's hoping the Lich King has a drop. Last Word may prove to be stronger than I give it credit for, once the mechanics of the proc are more fully investigated, and it's certainly a threat option. But if you can spare the defence, then you'll probably want Bloodvenom Blade for your threat set.

Shields:
Icecrown Glacial Wall - Lana'thel 25
Neverending Winter - Gunship 10
Crystal Plated Vanguard - Northrend Beasts 25

If you have ilvl258 CPV, your only upgrades are from hardmodes. Neverending winter (Heroic) is a fairly minor upgrade, but if it drops for you, don't turn it down. You'll be farming 10s for a while anyway. Icecrown Glacial Wall isn't too impressive at the 264 ilvl, but it's the clear BiS option at 277.

Librams:
You can pick 200 dodge rating, or 200 strength. The ICC libram is worth 219 dodge rating. It's your last frost badge purchase - your very last. Probably after your ret gear if you, like me, like to do stunt parses when content is on farm.

Trinkets:
Sindragosa's Flawless Fang - Sindragosa 25
Corroded Skeleton Key - 60 Frost Badges
Satrina's Impeding Scarab - Faction Champions 25
Unidentifiable Organ - Putricide 10
Glyph of Indomitability - 40 Triumph Badges
Corpse-Tongue Coin - Gunship Battle 25
Purified Onyxia Blood Talisman - Onyxia 25

The trinket slot is the easiest place to make large adjustments to your stats. You would be remiss to not have double-stamina options, as well as double-armor options, as well as double-avoidance options. To some degree, you're at the mercy of drop rates, but the good news is that the Glyph is available for Triumph Badges, the Key is available for Frost badges, and The Onyxia Blood Talisman comes from the quest starter that's a guaranteed drop that most people don't care much about it. It should be fairly easy to get at least one of each option in a hurry. I personally weight trinket static effects much more highly than their on-use effects right now. Generally speaking, on-uses have been a little bit anemic thus far in WotLK. Two exceptions, though, are Satrina's on-use of maximum health, which can be helpful when you know that some level of burst is coming, and Sindragosa's on-use of resistance, which will be helpful against any large magical burst.

III. Gear Sets
In this section, I'll try and throw together a few sample gearsets, and recommend some of the fights they might be useful on. However, the best advice is to use your own judgement and be willing to adapt. If your raid healing setup or strategy is significantly different than mine, all of my advice might be moot.

This section is in progress. There won't really be a lot to say until we've pulled a few hardmodes. Unless I get some excellent loot luck next week, the set I'm likely to default into for "first pull" on Hardmodes is:

[item]Turalyon's Greathelm of Triumph[/item] T9.258 helm
[item]The Arbiter's Muse[/item]
[item]Boneguard Commander's Pauldrons[/item]
[item]Sentinel's Winter Cloak[/item]
[item]Cataclysmic Chestguard[/item]
[item]Bracers of Dark Reckoning[/item] - Praying for Gargoyle Spit Bracers to drop. This piece is comparatively weak.
[item]Gauntlets of the Kraken[/item]
[item]Verdegris Plate Belt[/item]
[item]Pillars of Might[/item]
[item]Dawnbreaker Greaves[/item] or [item]Sabatons of the Lingering Vortex[/item] - It's a tossup.
[item]Band of the Twin Valkyr[/item]
[item]Crusader's Glory[/item]
[item]Crystal Plated Vanguard[/item]
[item]Corroded Skeleton Key[/item]

The last two slots are a ring and a trinket. Those are liable to change fight-by-fight more than any other pieces of gear. The ring is likely to be the rep ring for most fights, primarily for the hit rating. The trinkets are likely to rotate between the Glyph (armor) and Satrina's (Stamina), depending on what boss damage patterns look like. Most of the time, it'll be Satrina's for the first-pull, until I can establish that I safely exceed the 0-second burst threshold for a given fight. Given that, armor trinkets look very strong.

Assuming I wear double-stamina trinkets, my unbuffed stats for early hardmode progression will be on the order of 49.2k HP, 33k armor, 27% dodge, and 22% parry, and 9% miss. I will be wearing the tier 9 avoidance libram, for what it's worth.

IV. Conclusion
That's it. Discussion starts now. Either that, or ignore me entirely.

V. Revision History
2010-1-31 - 1.1 - Fixed Item tags in section 2. Ignoring Gearsets for now.
2010-1-31 - Version 1
Last edited by Meloree on Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Obor » Sun Jan 31, 2010 6:09 pm

Thanks for posting your thoughts Meloree. I'd been following a fairly similar path but wonder what your thoughts would be if the armor on the 264 version of the tier chest turns out to be the same as on the Cat (which I think is fairly likely). In this case the real gain of the Cat will be limited to 18 stamina (assuming a 30 stam gem in the extra socket) and the 82 expertise rating while you still lose a fair chunk of avoidance.
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Meloree » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:07 pm

After the reitemization, the Tier chest will have 0 defence rating. In conjunction with Pillars of Might, this is liable to cause gearing problems. Generally speaking, expertise is a precious commodity in ICC gear, as well. I consider Cataclysmic Chestguard to be the clear winner at the 264 ilvl.
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Kihra » Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:15 pm

Skirt > Progression. ;)
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby bads » Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:03 am

I believe you can remain uncrittable with the tier chest and pillars, the question is where else can you reasonably pick up some additional expertise below the ilvl277 aside from the Jaraxxus cloak.

Personally I think using the 277 tier chest/pants is quite a viable option, and perhaps even optimal. The problem I am running into is deciding what gloves I want to stick with in my heroic progression set (if only you could get 277 kraken :x)

Ultimately I think I'm going to cave and go for the tier gloves (or hopefully get some version from vault to upgrade). Furthermore, taking the tier gloves gives me an excuse never to put the rep ring back on my finger and trade it in for the healing version :lol:
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Meloree » Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:40 am

bads wrote:I believe you can remain uncrittable with the tier chest and pillars, the question is where else can you reasonably pick up some additional expertise below the ilvl277 aside from the Jaraxxus cloak.

Personally I think using the 277 tier chest/pants is quite a viable option, and perhaps even optimal. The problem I am running into is deciding what gloves I want to stick with in my heroic progression set (if only you could get 277 kraken :x)


I concur, the tier piece is definitely going to be very attractive at the 277 ilvl. It's ilvl264 where it lags behind. I expect tier gloves will also be clear winners at the 277 ilvl, despite falling behind The Kraken at ilvl264.

It is certainly possible to remain uncrittable with the tier chest and pillars on. It's just something to be wary of, lest the dearth of defence give you gearing problems. I know my progression set would be crittable with the tier chest. I'm not sure what I'd choose to trade out for it.
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Kihra » Mon Feb 01, 2010 12:44 pm

Meloree wrote:
bads wrote:I believe you can remain uncrittable with the tier chest and pillars, the question is where else can you reasonably pick up some additional expertise below the ilvl277 aside from the Jaraxxus cloak.

Personally I think using the 277 tier chest/pants is quite a viable option, and perhaps even optimal. The problem I am running into is deciding what gloves I want to stick with in my heroic progression set (if only you could get 277 kraken :x)


I concur, the tier piece is definitely going to be very attractive at the 277 ilvl. It's ilvl264 where it lags behind. I expect tier gloves will also be clear winners at the 277 ilvl, despite falling behind The Kraken at ilvl264.

It is certainly possible to remain uncrittable with the tier chest and pillars on. It's just something to be wary of, lest the dearth of defence give you gearing problems. I know my progression set would be crittable with the tier chest. I'm not sure what I'd choose to trade out for it.


If you're a skirt lover like myself, you can wear the tier legs at the 264 level and then wear the tier chest without any issue. :)
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Meloree » Mon Feb 01, 2010 1:01 pm

Kihra wrote:If you're a skirt lover like myself, you can wear the tier legs at the 264 level and then wear the tier chest without any issue. :)


That remains an option. I don't personally think it's optimal. "Skirt vs. Pants" isn't really a discussion that I want to get into in a thread discussing the various different progression gearing options. Unless there's some fundamental mechanic about skirts that I'm failing to grasp. I certainly undervalued armor trinkets, perhaps there's some property of skirts that I have not correctly accounted for.
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Marvel » Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:15 pm

I've been hoping you would post up a gear list - the discussions about the gear are what makes it great. Sadly I think there will be a lot of juggling of gear once the Armor changes are made to the tier pieces.
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Kihra » Mon Feb 01, 2010 3:49 pm

Meloree wrote:
Kihra wrote:If you're a skirt lover like myself, you can wear the tier legs at the 264 level and then wear the tier chest without any issue. :)


That remains an option. I don't personally think it's optimal. "Skirt vs. Pants" isn't really a discussion that I want to get into in a thread discussing the various different progression gearing options. Unless there's some fundamental mechanic about skirts that I'm failing to grasp. I certainly undervalued armor trinkets, perhaps there's some property of skirts that I have not correctly accounted for.


Skirt joking aside, I think tier chest, legs, gloves and helm are fantastic together at the 277 ilevel. You get the 4pc T10 bonus, still have the bonus armor on the chest and gloves, soft cap expertise from the legs, and then drop out the shoulders for the gunship ones, since they're just flat out better than the tier shoulders.

At the 264 ilvl I agree with you that Cat and Pillars and 2pc are the maximal EH option.
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby steadypal » Mon Feb 01, 2010 7:19 pm

the ONLY problem we have with legs as our offset piece is we will struggle badly to get our expertise up, we would have to rely on the putricde sword, and the boots off the dragon, cant think of any other items from ICC off the top of my mind..


i know we lose armor, but would it just be easier to use, cat chest, + offset legs, meaning we are expertise softcapped from that one piece alone? i know your gear set is based off the 277 tier items though... HMM


as for being def capped,, only problem i see would be if we use the crafted feet as well, cause it'd be pretty hard to use tier chest, crafted legs/boots and be above the min... but any sort of boots with def on them, and we should have no troubles at all...


nice list..
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby bads » Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:01 am

Kihra wrote:Skirt joking aside, I think tier chest, legs, gloves and helm are fantastic together at the 277 ilevel. You get the 4pc T10 bonus, still have the bonus armor on the chest and gloves, soft cap expertise from the legs, and then drop out the shoulders for the gunship ones, since they're just flat out better than the tier shoulders.

At the 264 ilvl I agree with you that Cat and Pillars and 2pc are the maximal EH option.


It seems there is relative agreement in this thread regarding what is optimal/preferable at the 264 and 277 gear levels. The problem for me is I cannot justify spending the gold and more importantly the badges on 2 pieces of gear (cat/pillars) that I'm going to be replacing. Particularly since a) replacing one with a 277 tier piece essentially necessitates replacing the other and b) I am skeptical that heroic saurfang will be at all difficult. I am planning to purchase the chest with my second 277 token (or first if I get the 277 deathwhisper helm). I can totally rationalize buying kraken since I will be picking up the tier gloves last, but I am starting to think that making the slight compromise and picking up 264 tier chest/pants is the smarter option.
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Meloree » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:48 am

bads wrote:It seems there is relative agreement in this thread regarding what is optimal/preferable at the 264 and 277 gear levels. The problem for me is I cannot justify spending the gold and more importantly the badges on 2 pieces of gear (cat/pillars) that I'm going to be replacing. Particularly since a) replacing one with a 277 tier piece essentially necessitates replacing the other and b) I am skeptical that heroic saurfang will be at all difficult. I am planning to purchase the chest with my second 277 token (or first if I get the 277 deathwhisper helm). I can totally rationalize buying kraken since I will be picking up the tier gloves last, but I am starting to think that making the slight compromise and picking up 264 tier chest/pants is the smarter option.


It might be cheaper, but it's also potentially worse. Kihra just really wants to wear a skirt, the Pillars of Might are going to be your go-to progression piece until Cataclysm.
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Kihra » Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:23 pm

Meloree wrote:
bads wrote:It seems there is relative agreement in this thread regarding what is optimal/preferable at the 264 and 277 gear levels. The problem for me is I cannot justify spending the gold and more importantly the badges on 2 pieces of gear (cat/pillars) that I'm going to be replacing. Particularly since a) replacing one with a 277 tier piece essentially necessitates replacing the other and b) I am skeptical that heroic saurfang will be at all difficult. I am planning to purchase the chest with my second 277 token (or first if I get the 277 deathwhisper helm). I can totally rationalize buying kraken since I will be picking up the tier gloves last, but I am starting to think that making the slight compromise and picking up 264 tier chest/pants is the smarter option.


It might be cheaper, but it's also potentially worse. Kihra just really wants to wear a skirt, the Pillars of Might are going to be your go-to progression piece until Cataclysm.


It's true that I mostly just want to wear the skirt for the looks, but I am curious what you would wear when you're completely maxed out. Will you basically just be sticking with Cat and Pillars even at the 277 level? It seems to me like sticking with Pillars also means sticking with Cat, and therefore not having the 4pc bonus.

If you dump Cat for the tier chest, you end up expertise starved and defense starved. A natural way to compensate for both issues is to switch to the tier legs as well. Sure you lose the bonus armor from the Pillars, but you pick up a bit more bonus armor from the tier chest over Cat, and you pick up a fair bit more avoidance from the tier chest and legs vs. Cat/Pillars. The 277 tier will also out-stamina the Cat and Pillars. Then on top of that you get the T10 4pc too!

I think the avoidance and stamina gains are sufficient to justify the armor loss at the 277 level, but I totally agree with your 264 progression set. I just don't like the idea of spending my badges on the Cat chest (or a ridiculous amount of gold on the Pillars) if I plan to dump them at the 277 level.
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Re: Mel's 25-man Progression Gear Guide

Postby Njall » Tue Feb 02, 2010 3:29 pm

Meloree wrote:
It might be cheaper, but it's also potentially worse. Kihra just really wants to wear a skirt, the Pillars of Might are going to be your go-to progression piece until Cataclysm.


Ah, the long lost days of tanking in a plate thong...

Very informative thread - hopefully it will be of use to me someday. :?
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