As far as gear that you're earning now is concerned, if you're raiding in T6 or Sunwell content, don't expect to slap on the first greens you see off the boat. While there are blue quest items as good as Karazhan gear in Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord, you won't be throwing your Apolyon out for a long time... the first real blue replacements for that gear aren't until level 78. Comparing the Breastplate of Agony's Aversion to Agin's Crushing Carapace, which requires level 77 to wear, and you can see how the Sunwell drop dominates (and will even more so with the new gems coming into the game. Just look at the various +defense options available to you to extend that Sunwell drop's life. You could most likely walk into Naxx in that gear and, save for worrying about critical hits, do perfectly well.
So if you're raiding at high levels right now, don't sweat the gear reset: while you most likely will replace a piece or two on the march (especially if your leveling spec is fury and you raid as prot) you won't start seriously re-inventing your gear selection until you're near the end of the leveling curve. However, if you're not raiding past Karazhan right now, you'll start seeing upgrades early on in the instances.
Let's start looking at the gear.
Before we get started, please remember to take a look at our overview of faction gear and various crafted pieces that you may well turn to as you level. Last week, we discussed helmets, legs and shoulders. This week we try and cover everything else. We may need a part five for rings, trinkets, and other pieces.
What will you be wearing on your legs? For tanking there are quite a few options. At level 73 you can do a lore-filled questline that will not only net you the Leggings of Forceful Purification, but will also net you the Bulwark of the Tormented God if you're looking for a shield. Those will most likely last you until you start questing in the Storm Peaks, where you'll find yourself doing another lore-heavy questline and picking up the Iron Colossus Legplates. While you're doing these, if you run Violet Hold you might get a shot at the Void Sentry Legplates which have a socket (and thus can benefit from those nice new gems we talked about before) but otherwise seem slightly inferior in raw stats to the Iron Colossus legs.
Heroics will provide Ley-Guardian's Legguards (socketed) and Legplates of the Infinite Drakonid. One of the things you'll notice is that stats can fluctuate wildly between two pieces of similar iLevel: the Drakonid legs have more strength for block value and AP and more avoidance with the dodge on them while the Ley-Guardian legs are the superior choice if you're low on defense rating and have a socket as well as a big dose of hit rating on them. Tanking warriors would do well to get both and use them for specific fights.
What about DPS options, you ask? Well, both Horde and Alliance will have access to quests that will end with epic confrontations between lore figures, and in the process gain pretty sweet pants for their trouble. Please don't tank in these pants. You know who you are, man, I told you those weren't tanking pants. As a bonus the quest throws in a nice trinket. If you want more AP and stam on your DPS pants, there's always the Legguards of Dissolved Hope (don't get these, pick up the tanking pants) and at level 76, you can get Muradin's Lost Greaves in Drak'Tharon Keep. These are interesting in that you could use them for tanking or DPS with that massive amount of expertise on them, but with defense being as necessary as it is to reduce incoming critical hits I'd aim these for DPS over tanking. At level 78 you can go upstairs in Utgarde Keep, to the Pinnacle, and kill King Ymiron for his pants. Nice AP and crit and a socket. Finally at the heroic level we have the Legplates of Steel Implants and the hit-tastic Legplates of the Oculus Guardian. The Steel Implant legs are customizable with two sockets but the Oculus Guardians have a really nice array of stats, it's a tough call.
What about your hands, you might ask? Well, it really doesn't matter if you were going to ask that or not, because here we are. For tanking, you can get solid starting tank gloves from a group quest in the Grizzly Hills, or another solid set from an instance quest in the Nexus. If you really like instance quests, you can also get the Expelling Gauntlets from running Azjol-Nerub.
Speaking of quests, there's yet another lore explosion questline that you are going to want to do. When you do, you might as well pick up this solid set of offtanking gloves. That quest will spur you on to go kill Loken in the Halls of Lightning, and if you run it on heroic you can pick up Refined Ore Gloves supposedly off of the trash there. There's also the Gauntlets of the Water Revenant to keep in mind. I like block value for damage shield threat, but they're both solid gloves.
If you prefer mayhem to defense, there are still several options. The Charged Earthlink Grips are available from the same Grizzly Hills quest, and while you're there the Gauntlets of Disembowelment are BoE drops off of mobs in the zone. At about level 75 you can run Violet Hold for the Plate Claws of the Dragon, which are carrying some welcome hit rating for your fury warrior of choice. If those don't drop, you can wait a few levels then do Old Stratholme for the Gauntlets of the Culling. All you have to do is walk Prince Arthas to his playdate with Mal'Ganis. The Fists of Loken drop off of Loken in the Halls of Lightning, and you're probably going to want to go kill him a few times anyway. Finally, if you like your haste, the Gauntlets of Capture are loaded with stats and a nice dose of haste.
What to wear around your waist while gearing up for raiding has often been a problem. For tanking drops, there are only three real candidates, and two are on the heroic level. Regular Oculus can yield you the Girdle of Obscuring, a solidly constructed belt for the up and coming tank. Once you get that you'll probably be running heroic Pinnacle for Skadi's Iron Belt (Holy Shield Block Value, Batman) or looking for the Waistguard of the Risen Knight.
For DPS warriors, especially ones that don't already have the Red Belt of Battle, there's the Girdle of Forceful Annihilation available from quests. The Alliance quest is trivial but has an excellent cut scene to watch, the Horde quest requires at least two people (one a healer) to accomplish, and they'd probably have to be insanely well geared or vastly outlevel it. The Dungeon Girdle (I don't know where it drops, but I'm going to guess in a dungeon... watch it turn out to be in a stump beneath Dalaran now) is the Girdle of Forceful Annihilation with twice the crit rating, and outclasses the Clasp of the Fallen Demi-God at the same iLevel. The Clasp, however, is a quest reward.
Running Old Strat on normal mode gives you the chance to get the Spiked Metal Cilice, nice to see I can wear a self-torture device and get some nice stats and hit rating out of it. If that doesn't drop, you can pick up the General's Steel Girdle from heroic Halls of Lightning. I don't know what it is about the underwear of those I kill that I look at it and say "that would make a good belt" but here you are, two pairs of villainous undergarments repurposed to hold my pants up. Finally, the Strategist's Belt. At this point I'm just relieved it's not the Strategist's Cup. It's got a red socket and some haste.
I haven't forgotten about your dainty little tootsies, I promise.
If you're going to tank, the Boots of the Unbowed Protector are available from a Nexus questline. After those, the next boots up (leaving aside crafted and rep items which we've covered) are the Slaughterhouse Sabatons off of Meathook in Old Strat. They are identical to the tanking boots available from the Knights of the Ebon Blade which to my mind means that they should switch the Ebon Blade boots to parry or some other stat a DK tank would want, as it doesn't make sense for a group of Death Knights to be passing out warrior tank boots. Maybe I'm just crazy. At iLevel 200 we have the Terrace Defence Boots and Greaves of Ancient Evil. I don't really get what's so evil about those boots. Maybe they make you kick kittens as you walk around.
For DPS boots, Herald Volazj in AN (specifically, Ahn'kahet) drops Volazj's Sabatons. They have strength, hit and haste for your aspiriing fury warrior. Questing in Dragonblight before you head into Azjol can reward you with the Implacable Zombie Crushers if you're a sucker for Armor Pen. And if you're in the area anyway, why not go kill one of the great lore figures from The Frozen Throne? They will give you shoes if you do. You know you like shoes. And heck, if you like doing long quest chains, we have a pair of Enticing Sabatons for you. People and things all over Northrend have errands for you and shoes they're looking to get rid of.
You think I'm kidding, but I am not. The lesson is clear: somewhere in Northrend there is a lost colony of shoe making elves and they've been enslaved by the Lich King, forced to churn out quest rewards. There's no other explanation.
While we're at it, here's a BoE pair of DPS shoes with good stats and hit rating, and three pairs of iLevel 200 heroic drop boots. Frankly, if you manage to avoid having a couple of pairs of DPS boots by level 80, it's because you were actively avoiding any and all shoe-based rewards and drops.
To keep your wrists warm, I hope these are all fur lined.
If you're going to be tanking, outside of crafting and rep these are your options. Run the Oculus and kill Eregos, and you will be rewarded with the solid Bracers of Reverence. Then go into normal Utgarde Pinnacle and kill Svala Sorrowgrave and hope she drops her bloodied shackles. Finally, you go to heroic Old Strat and kill Salramm the Fleshcrafter (that same horrible person who drops his self-torture underwear for you to use as a belt) and somewhere else on his corpse you'll eventually find the Bindings of Dark Will. Try not to think too much about where.
For DPS wrists, Horde players can kill High General Abbendis, the hottest member of the Scarlet Onslaught (okay, she's a horrible racist, a fanatic, and has issues with recognizing when she's being lied to by demons, I didn't say she was perfect) and pick up the Purity-Anointed Warbands with their delicious hit rating. Or they can pick up the Vambraces of the Vengeance-Bringer, also from a Horde only quest as far as I can tell. I hope they've since implemented quests for the Alliance for these items.
Questing on Icecrown you can pick up the Battlescar Spirebands. Trash mobs in Gundrak drop the Steel Bear Trap Bracers, which are also BoE if you're willing to scrape the AH. Finally, at the heroic level we find the Cast Iron Shackles with good stats and hit rating, and the Golden Limb Bands.
Okay, we've now covered a wide array of plate options. What about capes, rings, necks, trinkets and weapons? Next week we wrap this all up with just two weeks to go until Wrath.