A Paladin tanking blog for the reshaped World of Warcraft.


Dungeon Rewards in Cataclysm, Part One

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!


Tying Up Loose Ends

So, if my paladin’s been on the shelf for the better part of a year, how will I be spending my time between now and Cataclysm? In the few weeks that I’ve been back, I’ve already replaced a fair amount of my gear with 251/264 Justice Points items. I’ve also picked up a few lucky drops in raids as well. I’m still sporting a couple pieces of Ulduar25/ToC25 gear here and there, but it’s only a couple of slots at this point, so I’m not all that concerned about it. I might hit up the Elemental Invasion bosses to try to score some 251 bracers to replace my [Mimiron’s Inferno Couplings], but as I said, I’m not too concerned about it.

Raid-wise, I’ve been hitting up the bosses I’ve missed since I left — we’ve been working on H ICC 10, with only Putricide and Sindragosa left standing (I don’t think we’re realistically planning on devoting serious time into H LK attempts this close to Cataclysm). We also knocked out Ruby Sanctum just so a couple of us stragglers could see the content, despite laggy conditions. We made a run at H ToC, which was a cakewalk at our gear level, but wiped to Anub at 5% because we were, for all intents and purposes, 8-manning it (with no Bloodlust to boot). Maybe we’ll go back in and finish him off sometime, or maybe not.

Now that I’ve decided to make my Paladin my permanent main-main from here on out, I’ve also been putting in some time to catch him up to my Mage achievements-wise. I’m trudging through all of the Crusaders’ Coliseum daily achievements, as well as some of the other more random achievements that I need to do again. Although I was making a solid run at Insane in the Membrane on my Mage, there’s no way I’m starting that over on my Paladin — even with the removal of Shen’dralar rep. I just don’t care enough about that title anymore to do that all again. The only other big thing that I want to “re-acquire” on my Paladin is the Time-Lost Proto Drake mount, which I have on my Rogue and love dearly. I really hope to get the TLPD on my Paladin before Cataclysm hits, and then am planning to obtain the Cataclysm equivalent (the Phosphorescent Stone Drake) as quickly as possible. I don’t know what it is, but something about those ultra-rare drakes that require days or weeks of camping just for that one moment of truth, and then being able to ride the drake as a trophy just really excites me.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’m planning to race-change to a Tauren once the option becomes available. I really can’t stand Blood Elves, and only chose one out of necessity. And everyone knows how good tank gear looks on Tauren. :)

In terms of actual productive preparations for Cataclysm, here’s what’s in my current plans:

  1. Being at the Justice Points cap of 4000. This is 4000 less Justice Points I’ll have to grind out at level 85, and will equal roughly two free pieces of level 346 (heroic-level) blue gear.
  2. Having as many daily quests as possible to turn in as soon as the level cap is raised. I’m not making a run at Realm First anything (I have to work the next morning, anyway), but I still want to speed along my leveling process as much as possible, since I’m making it my goal to be the guild’s most reliable and best-geared/prepared tank in early Cataclysm. I want to be level 85, full blues with a few purples (crafted epics and reputation rewards), with the best stats I can manage a week before our first scheduled raid night. I want to return to my role as the shining example of what a tank can be, as I have been before. And leveling quickly so I can begin devoting time to raising my reputations and getting materials together for crafted gear is an excellent first step down that path. Having a full stable of quests (daily or otherwise) ready to turn in once Cataclysm launches will, I hear, get me a good 20-25% of the way towards level 81 in a matter of minutes. I’ll take that. Collecting many daily quests in a single area (such as the Coliseum dailies) will make the turn-in process as fast as possible.
  3. Watching dungeon and encounter videos. I want to know at least the basics for each dungeon, heroic, and (eventually) raid encounter in Cataclysm. When I step into a heroic at level 85, when nobody’s familiar with the places, I want to be able to properly call sheep targets, explain boss fights, and pull trash correctly. Watching the myriad of videos that are now available on the internet is an easy way to prepare myself with that knowledge.
  4. Being current on theorycraft. This not only includes knowing how to spec and glyph smart, but also includes which gem and enchant choices to shoot for so as to best maximize my survivability for what will undoubtedly be some very rough first attempts on bosses like Cho’gall and Al’Akir. If we have problems getting a fight down, I don’t want the problem to be me. That much, at least, is within my power.
  5. Stockpiling as much gold as I can manage. I’m not at all one of those people that’s usually drowning in gold (I typically have 1000-2000 to my name at any given time), but I’m trying to make a concerted effort to retain as much gold as I can for when the expansion hits. Gems and enchants will be expensive, it should go without saying, so if you want to outfit yourself with the best, you’d better be prepared to pay for it. Remember when Abyss Crystals were actually quite expensive and you had to sell your left leg for an enchant like 63 Spellpower or Berserking? Get ready for those days to return. Luckily, the Coliseum dailies that I’m working on for other reasons has been helping to pad my bank account a little bit, at least by my standards.

What about you, dear readers? Do you have any plans to prepare for Cataclsym? Or are you just planning to “wing it”? (Avenging Wrath? Ha, ha, get it? Ha? No? Sigh.)

Welcome to Guarded By the Light

Welcome, welcome! This is Guarded By the Light, and I’m Resonate. (Yes, it’s another Paladin blog named after a Paladin skill or talent. We’re all a bit uncreative as a community, aren’t we?)

You might remember me from a blog I maintained a little while back called Divine Guardian. Around the time Patch 3.3 came out, my Paladin fell into brief disuse as the lure of faction transfers brought me to my old Alliance Mage — the character with which I have by far the most history, and so had grown quite anxious to reunite with. A few months after that, I had become fed up with the prospect of raiding ICC for the next 9 months — I just really dislike the aesthetic of ICC — so I took a break from WoW to focus on other stuff until Cataclysm got nearer. I focused on hanging out with real-life friends, and playing games with them.

A month or two ago, I took a look at Final Fantasy XIV, since I’d been following it since its announcement. While promising, it lacks much of the polish and…well…content that I had expected for a game that had been in development for five years, especially from a company that’s been in the MMO industry for nearly a decade. The skill system and combat are very fun, but too laggy. The game world is enticing, but completely barren, with no NPCs or quests in sight — just some glorified dailies and grinding endlessly on mobs. While I can tolerate a grind (just look at my half-completed Insane in the Membrane on my Mage), I can’t tolerate grinding as the primary focus of a game. Maybe I’ll revisit it someday, but that day will not be soon.

So, with my MMO appetite once again whetted, my old friend WoW called me back in — and, more specifically, my good old reliable Paladin called my name. Nostalgia goggles for my Mage aside, I’ve never had a character in WoW that I’ve loved playing nearly as much as my Paladin, and I’ve been through a ton with her/him: leveling up in The Burning Crusade, her first venture into heroics and Karazhan, dabbling into higher tiers of Outland raids, besting the Scourge in Naxxramas, and tanking a few hard-modes in Ulduar and the Crusaders’ Coliseum. And her transformation from a twiggy Blood Elf female into a more properly-proportioned (if balance-challenged) Blood Elf male.

I’ve played with a few different guilds in my time, transferring to more organized and disciplined guilds on a few unfortunate occasions when our “home” guild’s progression stuttered to a halt and attendance faltered. Even in those guilds, I performed among the best — often being able to teach a few things to even veteran high-level raid tanks — and I had no doubts that I could push myself to that higher standard and raid in a hard-mode guild if I wanted to. But throughout it all, none of those guilds ever really felt like “home.” I’ve always felt myself pulled back to my old friends in our main guild who, despite their slightly slower progression curve, always feel “right” to raid with. There’s no jealousy here, little drama, no elitism, and lots of good cheer. I’ve learned that while high-level progression can be rewarding, it’s a hollow substitute for a real guild with friends that you enjoy playing with. And so, I’m back home again, where I think I belong.

While Divine Guardian focused almost exclusively on theorycraft discussions, guides for new players, and reviews of raid content, I’d like to balance this new blog a little bit more. While all of the aforementioned topics will receive plenty of attention (and more!), I’m also going to cover my personal adventures and what I’m up to in game as well. I thought it appropriate to start fresh with a new blog and a new focus.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to in the past year. A lot’s happened since my last blog entry, and a lot of things are different. As we move forward into Cataclysm, things are only going to become more so. I look forward to making the journey with all of you.