The itemization team at Blizzard has been especially stingy when it comes to holy paladin drops in Dragon Soul. While there were hundreds of items added in patch 4.3, very few of them are ideal for holy paladins. We're used to this sort of treatment though, as we're the only special snowflake spec that requires its own set of gear. No other class wants to wear intellect plate, and there's nothing more frustrating for a raid group than seeing the same plate healing gloves drop every single week. A few character slots have a limited number of items available, but there's an upgrade for every single piece of gear you have today.
Between blacksmiths, the valor points vendor, and Dragon Soul bosses, there are still plenty of gear for us to lust after. There are also new epic gems available from the Dragon Soul bosses that we can adorn our gear with, making us more powerful than ever. Our overall gearing strategy hasn't changed much since the last patch, although mastery rating is a bit better due to the new design of Holy Radiance. I am favoring spirit as the best secondary stat, with haste close behind. Critical strike rating and mastery rating are a toss-up; you can pick your favorite.
The limited collection
For a couple slots on your holy paladin, you'll only have one upgrade option. Our shoulders are a perfect example of this, as the tier piece Mantle of Radiant Glory is literally the only choice. Luckily, this item has two red slots with an intellect bonus and is itemized for haste and spirit, so we don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. Note that all tier pieces are boss drops now, so you won't be able to buy any from valor points.
We're in a similar boat with our cloak slot, as the Woundlicker Cover is the only healing cloak available. Again, it's itemized well, so I'm not complaining. The Woundlicker Cover is available for just 1,250 valor points, and so I'd suggest this for your first valor points purchase. You won't find a better item in the raid, and since all of our tier pieces come from Dragon Soul, it's not like you're delaying your set bonuses.
For our off-hand, there's only one caster shield right now, the Timepiece of the Bronze Flight. While it looks pretty awesome and is itemized perfectly, there are other options. The Ledger of Revolting Rituals is similarly itemized but tosses in a bonus socket, which lets us boost our intellect even further. The catch is that it's an off-hand item, so the other casters will be after this too. I am going to be passing the off-hand option to any priests or druids that want it first, but I plan to eventually upgrade to the Ledger at some point. There's also a decent Dragonfire Orb off-hand if you can't get either of the other two to drop for you.
Cherry-picking tier gear
We have two helm options, so we can choose between the Glowing Wings of Hope and the Headguard of Radiant Glory tier helm. Neither has a significant leg up on the other in terms of stats, which has me favoring the tier piece, since it helps move us toward our two-piece bonus. I know that some paladins favor crit over mastery and vice versa, but I simply don't put much stock into either argument. We're already guaranteed to use our tier shoulders, and so I expect every holy paladin will achieve the two-piece bonus via helm and shoulders, at the least.
While there are again two chest pieces available for us, we'll all be using our tier chest, the Breastplate of Radiant Glory. Perfect itemization and tons of sockets have this chest rocking its competition. Between the tier helm, shoulders, and chest that we'll be wearing, it becomes easy to transition into a fourth piece to pick up the huge Holy Radiance boost via the four-piece bonus.
We're faced with tough choices for our last two tier slots. There are perfectly itemized options for both our gloves and pants, but neither one is our tier piece. I am probably going to be using the Greaves of Radiant Glory, our tier pants, whenever our four-piece bonus is necessary. My normal pants will be the crafted Pyrium Legplates of Purified Evil, which are just awesome. My full-time gloves will be the Gauntlets of the Golden Thorn, due to their higher item level. If we were to swap in our tier gloves for the four-piece bonus instead of swapping in our pants, we'd be dropping several ilevels by taking off these ilevel 403 gloves.
Follow your nose ... to the haste
Most of our gear already sports spirit on it, so we're choosing between haste, crit, and mastery. When it comes to the remaining item slots, I am always looking for the haste option. An example would be the Petrified Fungal Heart and the Threadlinked Chain. While there are two necklaces available, I'm going to be leaning heavily toward the Heart and its haste, and so I won't spend my valor points on a necklace that's not my favorite.
I will be waiting for the Dragonfracture Belt rather than buying the Blinding Girdle of Truth, but I'll gladly spend my valor points (or an alt's valor points, since these are BoE) on the Silver Sabatons of Fury over the Pillarfoot Greaves. Our crafted option for bracers actually beats both the valor point and boss bracers, and by a large margin. Get yourself some Soul Redeemer Bracers crafted immediately, as two red sockets are too precious to pass up.
My favorite ring is clearly the Signet of Suturing, haste is always on the top of my list. At that point, it's a tie between the Band of Reconstruction and the Ring of the Riven. I'll probably settle on the Band of Reconstruction, since spirit items should go to healers first while non-spirit items go to the DPS casters. We don't have to make that distinction for our relics though, since they're both from the valor points vendor. You can pick either the Lightning Spirit in a Bottle or the Mindbender Lens, nobody will mind. I will probably end up flipping a coin here.
There's a lot of interesting trinket options available this tier, with a variety of stats and procs. It all comes down to what you're focusing on. If you're close to reaching a major Holy Radiance haste breakpoint, then you will love the Bottled Wishes trinket with all of its haste, available for just valor points. I don't like the other valor point trinket, the Reflection of the Light, as I feel that it's inferior to nearly every other option. If you are really serious about regeneration, then the Heart of the Unliving is the better regeneration trinket in every way. The Will of Unbinding might look hot, but since it only procs from damaging spells, we probably won't be able to keep the intellect bonus active. I'll personally be gunning for the Windward Heart and the Seal of the Seven Signs, as I'm a sucker for intellect and useful procs on my trinkets.
Not a legendary, but close enough
When we start raiding Dragon Soul, we're likely to see the Vagaries of Time mace along the way. It's not a bad mace, but it's also not our final goal. We're shooting for the Maw of the Dragonlord, which drops from the final boss of the raid. While it's missing its secondary stats in favor of a proc, what a glorious proc it is. A healing weapon that has a built-in Light of Dawn proc? I'll take it!
The Light and How to Swing It: Holy helps holy paladins become the powerful healers we're destined to be. Find out just how masterful mastery healing can be, gear up with the latest gear, and learn how to PvP as a holy paladin.