When should you, the face shredding Cat Druid, put behind 5-mans and bring your feral prowess to 10-man raiding? The short answer is when you can clock 1600 DPS more or less (you are using Recount, yes?). Grab items with Hit and Expertise, but know that you'll get more of that once you start raiding. If you really want to know the math behind those stats, Big Bear Butt Blogger's analysis is quite...thorough.
That leads to the question of how do you get DPS that high. Other than having a 0/55/16 build and learning how to maximize your DPS through keeping a number of cat abilities up as much as possible, it's going to come through better gear. And that's what this week's Shifting Perspectives is all about. If you are looking for the math behind each stat, I highly recommend Karthis' article at Resto4Life on what to look for in Cat gear.
For the purposes of this column, I'll be providing a number of options for each slot so you can mix and match to get what you want. Regular Shifting Perspectives columnist Allison Robert has been working working with a "best in slot" format broken down by playstyle for the Moonkin, Resto and Bear Tank gearing for Naxx guides. I'll be doing the same.
This installment covers Head, Neck, Shoulder, Back, Chest, Wrists, Weapon slots. The other slots will be covered next week.
I'm using the following tools for my recommendations:
Rawr - The gold standard of loot lists due to it's scaling of recommendations based on your current gear (i.e. if you're hit capped, it will reduce the value of upgrades that have +hit stats)
MaxDPS.com - A quick and easy list that allows a lot of customization without a lot of number crunching
Emmerald's Wrath Cat gear list - Long considered the go-to list for feral gearing. Emmerald is still tweaking values for Cats in Wrath, but it's update for patch 3.0.8
Lootrank - using Karthis' Cat Druid Weight Scale
There is also Toskk's DPS Gear Method, but I passed on it for this article as it is better used on a character by character basis.
First, a word on gems so i don't have to copy and paste this into each section. This applies to all items:
No matter what the slot color, put in either a Delicate Scarlet Ruby for Agility or Bold Scarlet Ruby for Strength. And if you're a Jewelrycrafter, you have your pick of the Bold Dragon's Eye or Bright Dragon's Eye.If you pick up a helm with a metagem slot, consider the slotting the Relentless Earthsiege Diamond or Swift Skyflare Diamond.
Best Overall: Mask of the Watcher, Ley-guardian Eregos' cache in Heroic Oculus. Good luck getting a PuG to finish Heroic Oculus, but it may be worth the pain for this head piece. The only head item to beat it, pre-Wrath raiding is the Engineering-only Weakness Spectralizers, but you don't get the Expertise books of the Mask.
Best Drop: Mask of the Watcher. See above.
Best Quest Reward: Headguard of Retaliation. A step up from the Eviscerator's Facemask which you can pick up in the Auction House for 20-30g at level 78. The quest for the Headguard takes you into Utgarde Pinnacle to take down King Ymiron. While you're in there, you have a 23% chance to pick up the Drake Rider's Tunic from Skadi, a fine feral chest piece.
Best Faction Reward: None.
Runner Up: Helm of Cheated Fate. A 20% drop from the Drakkari Elemental boss in Heroic Gundrak. Good if you can't seem to get through Heroic Oculus without your blood pressure spiking. Also consider the Hood of the Furitive Assassin from the final boss in the Halls of Lightning. We don't value haste (yet), but the Hood is easy to get in Normal mode.
Enchant: Arcanum of Torment from getting Revered with the Knights of the Ebon Blade who you will probably be working your faction with anyway for the best non-raid feral dps chest piece currently in the game, the Darkheart Chestguard. Until your faction gets to where it needs to be, you might also consider one of two older Burning Cursade head enchants you might already have: the Arcanum of the Outcast from Revered Lower City faction or Arcanum of Ferocity from Revered Cenarian Expedition faction (with +hit!)
Finally, if you've been collecting those Stone Keeper's Shards off boss mobs when your side has control of Wintergrasp, a good stepping stone head enchant is the Acanum of Triumph.
Best Overall: Pendant of the Outcast Hero. It will cost you 25 Emblems of Heroism (token drops from Heroic bosses), but the reward is well worth it. Be sure to run your server's Daily Heroic for extra badges or pick a Heroic dungeon that has another drop you can use like Heroic Oculus or Heroic Halls of Lightning.
Best Drop: Necklace of Arcane Spheres. On the bright side, it drops in Heroic Violet Hold, an instance that is very easy to get a group for. On the down side, the boss that drops this neck piece may not show up in your run. If you get tired of hoping for this in H VH runs, you can head to normal CoT: Stratholme for the Necklace of the Chrono-Lord.
Best Quest Reward: The Severed Noose of Westwind. The final reward from a four-chain quest in Icecrown that will require a full group for the last part.
Best Faction Reward: None.
Runner Up: Titanium Impact Choker. This crafted item can be found on the Auction House for about 1600g depending on your server. If you have the cash, it's a quick leg up to get to Naxx faster.
Best Overall: Trollwoven Spaulders, a Leatherworking BoE you can find on the Auction House for 600g - 1,000g depending on your server. Prices are dropping steadily as more Tailors are producing these. Well worth the money as you can pick these up the moment you hit 80 and they will last you until you start running Naxx-10 and are in contention for your Tier 7 Heroes' Dreamwalker Shoulderpads. (Yes, the Spaulders of Egotism are superior and a BoE drop from Naxx-25, but I have yet to see any appear in the AH on my server.)
Best Drop: It's a toss up between Spaulders of the Careless Thief from Grand Magus Telestra in Heroix Nexus or Sprinting Shoulderpads from Elder Nadox of Heroic Ahn'kahet:The Old Kingdom depending on if you need more hit or expertise respectively.
Best Quest Reward: None. The best quest reward is the Charred Leather Shoulderguards, but they are trumped by the Eviscerator's Shoulderpads you can pick up in the AH for 30g at level 78.
Best Faction Reward: The Sons of Hodir offer the Spaulders of Frozen Knives at Honored, but it isn't much better than the aforementioned Eviscerator's Shoulderpads. Plus, as of now, Cats don't have a great need for Haste, though that may change in 3.1 with Blizzard's vague promise of increasing cat damage.
Runner Up: None.
Enchant: You can start with your Aldor/Scryer Exalted Shoulder enchants (or even the Honored Aldor/Scryer ones if that's as far as you got with them) while you get to working on that Sons of Hodir faction. At Honored you can get the Lesser Inscription of the Axe and at Exalted you get the best shoulder enchant currently in the game for melee DPS'ers, Greater Inscription of the Axe.