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Lichborne: Ruby Sanctum loot for death knights


Welcome to Lichborne, your weekly source for news, guides, tips and opinions on the death knight class.

With the state of pretty much every class on beta in limbo thanks to the forthcoming talent revamp, we're taking a break from beta stuff to ransack the Ruby Sanctum. Hopefully, we'll see the new trees on beta in the next week or so, so we have more to work with than speculating on exactly what "signature abilities" everyone will get. In the meantime, we have shiny new loot and a new boss to tackle in the here and now.

The Ruby Sanctum is ostensibly the last major raid of the Wrath expansion, and as such, ostensibly your last chance to get a few extra pieces of gear and uber yourself out before Cataclysm comes along and replaces everything with level 81 quest rewards. There are definitely some pretty prime upgrades to be had here, including a few straight-up best in slot drops, so let's get going and check out what you can grab.

As with previous gear guides, try to keep your stat weights in mind, and when it comes to the heroic versions of these drops, unless otherwise noted, it's usually safe to say the same stuff about the heroic version, except even more so. Also, comparisons here are normal to normal, or heroic to heroic. Heroic versions of ICC loot are, for the most part, probably still going edge out normal Ruby Sanctum loot.

A few notes on DPS stat weights

Before we begin, let's take a quick moment to discuss what DPS stats you should be looking for on your gear. While we have discussed gear stat priorities before in both our 101 guides and our Icecrown loot guides, things have changed just enough that it's worth discussing it again, especially in the case of unholy DPS.

Unholy DPS is the one that really needs the most adjusting. Due to the addition of physical damage to Scourge Strike and the rise of the Icy Talons frost sub spec, unholy DPS now does quite a bit of physical damage, which has in turn raised the importance of both armor penetration and haste, eclipsing everything but strength and hit rating to the 8% cap. Essentially, your new stat priority is as follows:

Melee hit > strength > armor penetration > haste > critical strike > expertise

Blood DPS is even more dependent on armor penetration than unholy. In fact, at the highest gear levels, when you're in mostly ICC gear, armor penetration may become straight-up better than strength for DPS. That said, deciding when armor penetration passes strength is a pretty strenuous science, so if you're in doubt, it's probably better to focus on strength. That said, even in that scenario, armor penetration is easily your second goal. Blood DPS's priority is going to look something like this:

Melee hit > expertise to dodge cap > strength=armor penetration > critical strike > haste

In contrast to its tumultuous early life, frost has been sort of cruising along pretty stably for the past few patches, so you can pretty much keep the stat weights you've been using for a while:

Melee hit > expertise to dodge cap > strength > critical strike > armor penetration > haste

On another frost-based note, I've seen some people talk about trying two-handed frost DPS again, but if you do, you will not be as good as a dual wield frost DPSer. That's just the truth. This may change in Cataclysm, assuming they don't scrap the idea of two-handed frost with the new talent revamp, but for now, you're still best off grabbing a pair of slow one-handed weapons.

Always remember (and this is true of almost any DPS class or spec), your exact stat weights will change based on your gear level, but if you need a quick rule of thumb, go with the priorities above.

Halion 10-man loot

The Scion's Treads are a very solid pair of tanking boots. You will be losing a bit of hit rating, dodge and defense over the Scourge Fanged Stompers from Sindragosa, but in return you'll get a bit more stamina (depending on your gemming choices), as well as a good chunk of parry, strength and a bit armor. If you're a 10-man exclusive tank, these are likely going to be worth picking up.

Zarithrian's Offering is incredibly well itemized for DPS death knights, especially blood and unholy death knights, who get a whole lot of use out of armor penetration these days. It's a very strong upgrade over Rotface's Rupturing Ring, especially if you don't need the expertise, and more or less blows the Thrice Fanged Signet out of the water. If you're 10-man exclusive, you're pretty safe pairing this with your Ashen Verdict ring.

Halion 25-man loot

Treads of Impending Resurrection are good tank boots. You lose some expertise against Grinning Skull Greatboots and lose some defense rating and dodge, but you make up for it with some extra parry rating and by trouncing them in stamina and strength. You'll see a pretty substantial boost to your effective health when you upgrade; so as long as you don't need that expertise, it's probably worth it to make the upgrade.

The Sharpened Twilight Scale is easily best in slot for blood and unholy death knights, with the incredibly useful armor penetration combined with a solid attack power proc. Pair this with a Deathbringer's Will for a solid trinket combination that will carry you to Cataclysm with ease. I seriously cannot overemphasize how completely awesome this trinket is. If you get one piece of loot out of Ruby Sanctum, especially as a unholy or blood death knight, make it this one.

Apocalypse's Advance does have somewhat of a disadvantage over Blood-Soaked Saronite Stompers in that it has no armor penetration. That said, it has a nice chunk of hit rating and a lot more strength, making it easily best in slot for frost and unholy death knights who can swap around their armor to shed hit rating elsewhere. It's a little bit more iffy for blood death knights, for whom armor penetration is amazingly strong, but it still may be worth it if you need that hit rating.

The Penumbra Pendant is easily another best in slot for more DPS death knights, thanks to just the right balance of stats that it edges out other comers. The only reason not to upgrade is if you still need the hit rating on the Ahn'kahar Onyx Neckguard (and hopefully you've solved that by picking up Apocalypse's Advance) or the expertise on Lana'thel's Chain of Flagellation.

We have advice for everything from PUG etiquette and buttons you should push more often to Icecrown loot and gear stat weights. Check out more death knight strategies, tips and leveling guides, all in the weekly death knight class column, Lichborne.

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