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The Light and How to Swing It: Pre-raid gearing for tankadins

Matt Walsh

Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. Protection specialist Matt Walsh spends most of his time receiving concussions for the benefit of 9 other people, obsessing over his hair, and maintaining the tankadin-focused blog Righteous Defense.

It was a fairly painless five levels that brought you to the top of the food chain in Pandaria, and, as the expression goes, now you can play the game. If you're officially leaping on the gear treadmill and getting ready for raiding, you have a lot of work ahead of you. Thankfully there is a lot to do, and easily available sources of gearing, so the task isn't particularly onerous. Before you know it, you'll be geared and ready to tank anything the sha toss at you.

Briefly, what kind of gear do you want?

I don't want to delve too deeply into this, because it's a whole 'nother column's worth of exposition, but when it comes to gearing I strongly recommend grabbing pieces that will emphasize a control style of tanking. That is, anything that boosts our active mitigation by making our holy power generator abilities hit, hit more often, and our active mitigation more powerful.

Specifically we're talking about first gearing to cap hit and hard cap expertise (yes, hard cap). Then go for haste and mastery in equal amounts. Reforge out of any avoidance you have to achieve these goals. As such, you'll want to go for gear which has hit, expertise, haste, and mastery -- and if you're lucky, avoid anything with dodge or parry (or worse, dodge and parry).

For the gritty details behind the "control" strategy, I strongly recommend this blog post by Theck. Now, that said, let's get down to brass tacks!

Burn that JP, and other pre-heroics gearing

So, if you're anything like me, you arrived at level 90 with two major advantages under your belt. One was that I had 4000 justice points banked, leftover from Cataclysm, which would be worth two pieces of JP gear. The other was that I dinged 90 while honored with the Klaxxi (after leveling through the Dread Wastes) and from that questing I picked up two iLevel 450 pieces of armor, the Bladesworn Warboots and the Bladesworn Girdle.

While I had a limited selection, last week, of what I could spend my justice point gear on, after the hotfix that made JP purchases not required honored reputation, the menu is wide open for any fresh 90s with some JP in their wallets.

Specifically, here's what you have to choose from:

Make sure to run the Arena of Annihilation scenario to grab Maki's Mashing Mace!

Lastly, with Brewfest going on for awhile longer, it's a great idea to hit up Coren Direbrew until you can get one or both of the stamina trinkets. You don't want to run with both at the same time, most likely, but they'll help you vault over the minimum iLevel requirement for heroics if you find yourself still short.

Gearing up through heroics

Once you've hit the magic number of 440 average item level, it's time to begin the interminable heroics grind. Unlike Cataclysm (and this is for good or ill, depending on your perspective), all of the Mists heroics are various degrees of cakewalks. Going in with mostly greens and toe poking just over the minimum iLevel line is totally doable, if you're on top of your game. As such, you can immediately look forward to replacing everything with readily available 463 iLevel blue gear. This completely obviates the idea of spending a single gold piece on any of the rare quality blacksmithing or jewelcrafting pieces.

By slot, here is a list of all the primo heroics gear you can look forward to fighting other plate users for:

HeadShouldersChestWaistWristsHandsLegsFeetCloakNeckFingersTrinketsWeaponShieldScoring some excellent (and early) VP gear

Thanks to the recent hotfix, you only need honored with each of the four factions to make available one portion of their valor points gear. Right off the bat you should be honored with the Klaxxi, and only need a week or so of dailies to hit honored with the Golden Lotus as well.

From the Klaxxi you can buy either the Bloodseeker's Solitaire or the Paragon's Pale Pendant, both for 1250 VP. From the Golden Lotus, you can buy Alani's Inflexible Ring, also 1250 VP.

Keep in mind a week and a day of dailies and heroics should be all you need to reach 1250 valor points. Very easy to grab one of those three pieces, provided you have the rep, before your first raid!

The Light and How to Swing It shows paladin tanks how to take on the dark times brought by Cataclysm. Try out our four tips for upping your combat table coverage, find out how to increase threat without sacrificing survivability, and learn how to manage the latest version of Holy Shield.

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