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The Light and How to Swing It: Retribution paladin gear in patch 4.1

Alex Ziebart

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. This week, Justicar Alex Ziebart tackles Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub's loot for retribution paladins. Questions? Comments? Feel free to email the author.

Patch 4.1 will be hitting live servers ... well, eventually. We don't really know. It's been on the PTR since later February, and it never feels any closer, does it? Regardless, patch 4.1 is bringing the revamped Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman heroics which have both been (more or less) fully itemized in recent weeks. That's what we'll be looking at today.

Do note that this is content that is still on the PTR, so itemization changes could still happen before the patch hits live realms, though it is unlikely. We can all be reasonably sure this list will work just fine come patch day. Do note, however, that what bosses these drops come from isn't concrete quite yet -- but that's fine. They're not raid zones; you don't need to save up your DKP. Plus, knowing that they exist within these two dungeons narrows it down pretty well already.

The list is also going to be fairly short. It's only two dungeons, after all.

You won't be able to make a full set of Zul'Aman/Zul'Gurub gear, because there are gaps in select slots. For example, there's a lovely pair of DPS bracers that all non-raiders will desperately want due to how difficult it is to find a quality pair of bracers in pre-raid content, but there is no plate DPS belt. This is because it's already a belt like that which is very easy to acquire. Exalted with the Guardians of Hyjal will get you the ilevel 359 Belt of the Ferocious Wolf. Based on ilevel alone, it would be superior to any drop in these instances anyway.

There are also some pieces that simply don't math out very well with current mechanics. Haste became a rather undesirable stat in patch 4.0.6. Combine that with how relatively easy it is for us to reach our hit and expertise caps, and pieces like the Plunderer's Gauntlets are just not that desirable, even with reforging.

This shouldn't be a surprise, though. The developers have stated clearly that they don't want itemization to be perfect, especially not in the early tiers of the game. You shouldn't be able to have absolutely perfect stats in every slot. We shouldn't expect every item out of these two instances to be ideal. As long as there are a few pieces that are ideal, such as the Skullpiercer Pauldrons, we're set. Crit, mastery, and a red gem slot? Yes, please!

I also feel that it's worth noting that the two weapons, Reforged Trollbane and Jeklik's Smasher, have only one minor difference between them. They're completely equal except that Trollbane has hit and Jeklik's Smasher has crit. In a world with reforging, I fully expect Jeklik's Smasher to be primarily used by Alliance players and Trollbane to (ironically) largely be used by Horde players, for the same reasons Reclaimed Ashkandi and Shalug'doom are playing out that way, even though the stat gap between them is much larger: racials. If you're not a human (with the swords and maces racial) or an orc (with the axe racial), you'll just use whichever one you get first.

* Marked items are undeniably tank items. However, they have at least one stat useful to DPS, so I included them in the list just in case you're still using a blue in that slot -- reforging half of the dodge or parry into mastery, crit or haste will almost certainly turn that item into something better than your blue. You should, of course, defer to tanks -- tank gear is tank gear. But if you're wearing a blue and the item would otherwise be disenchanted, yes, take it and make use of it until you get the DPS drops.
The Light and How to Swing It teaches you the ins and outs of retribution paladins, from Ret 101 and how to gem, enchant and reforge your retadin, to essential ret pally addons.

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