Like most of you, I'm still running a lot of dungeons and getting acquainted with the array of drops available on both normal and heroic mode, and I'm not anywhere near as familiar with the Northrend 5-man drops as I am with Outland's after tanking them all eleventy-billion times. For the moment, my ability to compare all of the reputation gear available from Wrath factions with potential dungeon drops is fairly small and mostly confined to feral equipment, so I apologize. What I can say is that I've noticed a fairly clear trend favoring Balance if you're planning on getting a lot of your gear at 80 from faction reputations (although if you go that route there's a sizable pitfall in the form of a serious lack of +hit on most pieces). Feral is a little more hit-or-miss. Restoration seems to have the hardest time getting its best pre-raid or heroic pieces from rep grinds, and I'm not going to lie; get used to most of your best pieces being cloth.
With what are essentially four different specs to cover for all the new factions available in Wrath, this got a bit long. So this week we'll discuss the rep grinds that become accessible a little earlier in the trek to 80 -- namely, the Tuskarr, the Alliance Vanguard/Horde Expedition, Wyrmrest Accord, Kirin Tor, and Oracles/Frenzyheart. Next week we'll cover the Knights of the Ebon Blade, the Argent Crusade, and Sons of Hodir, as you're not likely to see these guys as early as you'll see the others. Indeed, before a quest line that phases the lady into existence, you won't see the Knights of the Ebon Blade quartermaster at all.
EDIT: Now that the faction guides are finished, here's a set of quick links in case you're looking for information on one faction in particular:
- The Argent Crusade Guide
For the most part I'm trying to link and describe leather pieces, but I'm also including weapons, plus cloth for Balance and Restoration if it's the only option available from a quartermaster:
These guys are relatively easy to get reputation with early, and quite possibly the most accessible of all rep grinds currently in the expansion. Appropriately enough, the gear they offer is going to find most use while leveling.
- Whale-Skin Breastplate -- Honored, Level 76: It's a solid piece for leveling at 76, but itemized more with Rogues in mind. Most cat damage is still yellow and thus unaffected by +haste. Good, but not breathtaking stamina. Usable as a bear piece although I'm very unenthusiastic about using any +haste gear in your tank set unless you're expertise-capped -- which, at 76, you're almost guaranteed not to be unless by some miracle you're already packing 443 rating.
- Whale-Skin Vest -- Honored, Level 76: This is the Balance version of the same vest, and the +haste on this is much, much better for moonkin than it is for cats. No +crit, but a meaty chunk of spellpower. The lack of Spirit or mp5 makes it less useful for Restoration, so for that we'd have to turn to a cloth piece --
- Pigment-Stained Robes -- Honored, Level 76: Pretty decent Restoration chest with a good chunk of Spirit to boot, although you can probably skip it if you've got the badge piece from 70 or any other decent endgame-70 chest.
The reputation rewards for both the Alliance and Horde factions in Wrath are identical, so you're not missing out on anything whether you level a Night Elf or Tauren through Northrend. With that said, don't prioritize this faction beyond what you need to do for the head enchant if you PvP a lot (or want the extra stamina for tanking); there really isn't much here beyond that and an offhand that's easily replaced.
- Arcanum of the Savage Gladiator -- Exalted, Level 80: The Wrath equivalent to the Shattered Sun Offensive's Arcanum of the Gladiator. Now that bear tanks no longer need to worry about being defense-capped assuming 3/3 Survival of the Fittest, the enchant isn't quite as useful for PvE play, but you may want this on your PvP head regardless of spec depending on your current resilience and stamina.
- Darkspear Orb or Orb of the Eastern Kingdoms -- Revered, Level 78: An offhand with an unusually heavy stat allocation toward stamina, coupled with +haste and +spellpower. There are certainly better offensively-oriented offhands out there, but if your health pool isn't all that fantastic going into '80's dungeons or heroics, you may want to pick this up for a bit. Otherwise, you can get the Tome of Salramm at level 78 from CoT: Stratholme and that's a much better piece for Balance.
Next: Wrymrest Accord and the Kirin Tor.