So, say you’re like me, and you want to take a balanced approach to your progression from level 80 to 85. You’d like to level as Prot, solo quest a bit, run some dungeons here and there, perhaps do a little bit of crafting, and otherwise experience all there is to experience as you go along. In your travels, you’re likely to come across a large handful of gear upgrades from quests rather naturally, but do you know all the dungeon loot tables? What about those dungeon quests that you always seem to only learn about after you’ve already completed the dungeon? I’ve constructed a list of many of the standout tank pieces that you can expect to obtain from either dungeon quests or dungeon drops in roughly the first half or so of your journey to level 85, so you can identify the “key” pieces that you may want to be certain not to miss during your adventures.
Keep in mind that while all of these items can be obtained by level 82, I can’t guarantee that they’ll be easy to obtain, especially the Vortex Pinnacle loot. You may need to level a bit more for some of these if your group is having trouble surviving the dungeons.
[Raz’s Breastplate] – Chest, ilvl 279, Blackrock Caverns
This nice-quality chestpiece comes from “Ascendant Lord Incendius,” a quest to kill the final boss of the new Blackrock Caverns instance, a level 80-82 dungeon. Wowhead doesn’t yet seem to indicate where this quest begins, but that information should be added as we get closer to release and their database becomes more complete. By doing one run through this dungeon, you are guaranteed a nice 279-level chestpiece, which should do you quite well until you pick up something better a few levels later.
[Shield of the Iron Maiden] – Shield, ilvl 279, Blackrock Caverns
This shield is a drop from Rom’ogg Bonecrusher, the first boss of Blackrock Caverns. While likely not a huge upgrade for anyone coming from Wrath (especially with the 270 PvP shield being only 70 honor points), it’s a solid piece regardless. Mastery rating is always nice to have, too.
[Beauty’s Plate] – Chest, ilvl 279, Blackrock Caverns
While the previously-mentioned Raz’s Breastplate is guaranteed for you upon a successful Blackrock Caverns clear, an alternative exists in Beauty’s Plate, a drop from Beauty (duh) in the same dungeon. This one has heaps of Parry and Mastery on it, which makes this a very solid survivability piece.
[Stalagmite Dragon] – Relic, ilvl 316, Stonecore
This relic is a drop from the boss Slabhide in Stonecore, the dungeon within Deepholm. Seeing as relics are relatively few and far between, tanking relics especially, this may be one that you don’t want to miss.
[Phosphorescent Ring] – Finger, ilvl 316, Stonecore
This ring also comes from Stonecore, this time from the boss Corborus. With a load of Stamina, Parry, and Expertise on it, this looks to have a good balance between survivability and threat stats.
[Magnetite Mirror] – Trinket, ilvl 316, Stonecore
This thing sports a whopping 215 Expertise rating, and will quite likely be a very solid threat trinket. The Strength Use effect won’t do too much for us as Strength isn’t as good as it used to be, but it’ll still up our threat by a not-insignificant amount. You may have to fight with your melee DPS over this one, though.
[Leaden Despair] – Trinket, ilvl 316, Stonecore
This is another one of those really nice survivability trinkets in the vein of the Commendation of Kael’thas or The Black Heart, with loads of Stamina and an automatic survivability proc that gives you a boost of armor when you need it. Definitely will be one worth picking up.
[Elementium Fang] – Sword, ilvl 316, Stonecore
I love the model for this thing. Great stats (avoidance and Mastery) in addition to a nice 2.60 speed make this a definite candidate for a solid tanking weapon. Between this and the above items, I can see myself running Stonecore several times to try to pick up all of the great drops that seem to come from there.
[Darksky Treads] – Feet, ilvl 316, Vortex Pinnacle (BoE)
On the down side, these are Bind on Equip, so you may have angry group members that want an equal shot at these so they can sell them. On the up side, these are Bind on Equip. Even if you can’t get them as a drop, you can plan on buying these on the Auction House if you so choose.
[Headcover of Fog] – Head, ilvl 316, Vortex Pinnacle
This helm is a drop from Grand Vizier Ertan, a boss in Vortex Pinnacle. It’s got quite a load of Hit on it, but seeing how a lot of our other pieces from this gear level don’t seem to have much Hit on them, it may be very nice to have. Lots of Parry and Stamina round out this piece.
[Band of the Dead End] – Finger, ilvl 316, Vortex Pinnacle
This ring comes from a quest to kill one of the bosses of Vortex Pinnacle, Grand Vizier Ertan. Luckily, the quest is issued right inside the instance entrance (think Utgarde Keep), so it’s all but impossible to miss this one.
[Greaves of Orsis] – Legs, ilvl 316, Vortex Pinnacle
These legplates come from a quest to kill the final boss of Vortex Pinnacle, Asaad. Just as with the above ring, you obtain this quest inside the instance entrance, so you should have no problem finding this one.
Check back later for a follow-up article!