Edit 7/5/2009 – This guide was written before patch 3.1, and so doesn’t include gear introduced since then. In particular, there are some very good items to be had from grinding the Argent Tournament dailies. I’ve added a couple of items, but I’ve not covered them all.
As Tinuviel mentioned in her new year’s resolutions, she’ll be extending this blog a little to cover some of the other classes she plays (while maintaining a strong focus on her Hunter). I’ll be joining in the fun with a few posts on the noble art of Druiding.
My first post covers a favorite topic of mine – gearing up for raiding with the minimum of grinding. Back when I was level 70, most of my guildmates hit the BGs to gear up for Kara, or went on endless Slave Pens runs to farm their Badges of Justice. I PvPed enough to get my welfare healer mace, but got the rest of my gear by :
- Selecting the right quest rewards,
- Making my own,
- Buying a few choice items from the AH,
- Not relying on random BoP drops in instances (quests rewards from instances are ok), and
- No items that require badge farming.
The same approach is even easier in Wrath now that all the Leatherworking recipes are available from the vendor and the trainer (and because the money flows like wine in Northrend). I hit my first level 80 Heroic (Culling of Stratholme), having not run any of Northrend instances while leveling (except for one run through normal Culling of Stratholme, which was embarrassingly easy). I’ve not had any major Heroic drops yet, and don’t have enough badges to buy anything, but my gear is proving well up to Heroic healing. My one excursion into Naxxramas so far indicates the gear is good enough for that if your group is taking three healers (as beginner groups tend to do).
I’ve gleaned the information contained here from a number of resources, but I’ve not seen everything in one place elsewhere. So here is my guide to gearing up for Heroic and raiding in Northrend for people who don’t like PvP or farming for random boss drops …
[Edit - While I was writing this, Phaelia posted an article on Druid gear. WoWInsider have also got in on the action. This guide is slightly different because I'm focusing on gear you can get without grinding badges or running instances, so I'll post this anyway.]
If you’re a Leatherworker, you’ll find gearing up really easy. Your first Leatherworking mission should be the Overcast set (Belt, Boots, Bracers, Chestguard, Handwraps, Headguard, Leggings, Spaulders). These will help you skill up to level 440, when you can make your purples – Earthgiving Legguards and Boots. (If you’re not a Leatherworker, you can pick these up easily in the AH or on trade, or ask a guildmate to knit them for you. The purples are quite expensive).
So, here are my suggestions per item slot. This isn’t definitive, and it does reflect the following preferences:
- Lots of spirit – which I tend to favor over MP5,
- No cloth – I just looked for leather items. Maybe I’ll follow up with the equivalent cloth sometime in the future. (I’m slowly being dragged to the grudging conclusion that its ok for Druids to wear cloth).
- One-handed maces – I favor a one-hander and an off-hander, as they tend to give better combined stats than a staff.
- Mostly Blues or Purples – with the occasional green if its close to the Blue items.
- I’m a Leatherworker – crafted items are pretty cheap for me, and I like gear I can make for myself.
- No BoP random drops – BoE drops are ok because they find their way onto the AH.
- No badge items – this is the gear you’ll use to farm your badges with.
For this first post I’ll cover just the armor. I’ll follow up with bling and item enhancements soon …
Overcast Headguard – BoE Leatherworking. You lose some itemization to Resilience, but its solid gear. Cheap to make or buy (the Overcast set is one of the skill-up options for people aiming for their level 440 LW purple pieces). I’ll list the other Overcast items no further further comment. (BTW These pieces are pretty ugly – the helm makes you look like a robot sheep, and the spaulders look like you have dog poop on your shoulders).
Helm of the Majestic Stag – Kirin Tor Honored. More Intellect, less Stamina than the Overcast. MP5 instead of Spirit.
Good shoulderpads are a little thin on the ground (they have been since the 80s really :-P ). By far the best non-boss-drop piece is the Overcast Spaulders. After that we’re looking at a Blue BoE drop, and then greens.
Gnarled Shovelhorn Spaulders – BoE Northrend Drop. Not bad Spellpower. Ok Intellect and Stamina. No Spirit or MP5.
Static Dispersing Shoulderpads – Quest/Sholazar. Good Spirit, but low Spellpower and no Stamina.
Gale-wind Guard – Quest/Storm Peaks. Very good Spellpower for a green, but no Spirit or MP5, or Stamina.
Ymirjar Physician’s Robe – BoE drop from Utgarde Pinnacle. A very significant upgrade on the Overcast piece. I got one on the AH for only 80g, but they normally sell on my server for 300-500g at the moment. The price will probably drop as more people put UP on farm mode.
Tunic of the Unduly Victorious – Quest/Icecrown. Close to the Overcast piece – maybe slightly better.
Belt of the Never-Forgotten – Quest/Icecrown. A Blue reward from a quest chain. Very close to the Overcast Belt for stats.
Binding of the Ancient Keeper – Quest/Sholazar. Decent Spellpower, MP5 and Intellect. No Stamina
Earthgiving Legguards – BoE Leatherworking epic. If you plan to knit your own, you’ll need a total of 11 Eternal Lifes and 11 Eternal Waters to make these and the boots together. The best farming place for these is Sholazar Basin, where you can also pick up lots of Borean Leather for free by hanging round Nessingwary’s Camp. (Eternal’s are made from 10 Crystallized – you farm for the Crystallized). You also need a Frozen Orb for these items. They drop from Heroic end-bosses, or you can buy them from the AH.
Giant Friend Kilt – Sons of Hodir Revered. Really a Balance item (Crit, but no Spirit/MP5), but pretty good stats all the same. You’ll want to grind rep with the SoH for the shoulder enchants, so these might be worth getting along the way. (Note – as of patch 3.0.8, you will be able to hand in Relics of Ulduar for faster rep grinding).
Leggings of Heightened Renewal – Quest/Storm Peaks. Not quite as good as the other three, but you might be doing the quest anyway.
Storming Vortex Bracers – BoE drop from halls of Lightning. No Spirit or MP5, but not a bad choice. Very common on the AH (and therefore cheap to buy).
Wristguards of Verdant Recovery – World BoE drop. from More Int than the Storming Vortex ones, slightly less Spellpower.
Wound-Binder’s Wristguards – Ebon Blade Revered. Has the top Spirit, Intellect and Spellpower of all these options.
Soaring Wristwraps – Quest/Occulus. These are a quest reward from the instance, so the loot is guaranteed. (I’m only avoiding random drops).
Awakened Handguards - BoE drop (Halls of Lightning). Let someone else farm it for you and buy it off the AH. No Spirit or MP5 on these, but Haste is preferable to Crit for Restos. You’ll have Spirit to spare from the other items in the list, so not to worry.
Gloves of the Flayed – Quest/Icecrown. Green item. No Stamina or Spirit, but you get a gem slot.
Bugsquashers – Another Leatherworking staple. Not much to choose between these and the OverCast. You gain some Spirit, but lose some Spellpower.
Earthgiving Boots – BoE Leatherworking epic. A significant upgrade on the other two. (See comments by Earthgiving Legguards).
Tundra Wolf Boots – BoE drop from Utgarde Pinnacle. No Spirit or MP5.
Mammoth Hide Galoshes – Quest/Storm Peaks. No Stamina.
Wispcloak – BoE Tailoring epic. Has MP5 instead of Spirit. Lots of Spellpower. Needs some expensive mats to make (including a Frozen Orb you’ll have to buy off the AH), Worth grinding mats for if you are a Tailor or have a Tailor friend to make it for you. If you’re buying off the AH, I’d suggest you save a bit of cash and get the Reanimator’s Cloak instead.
Reanimator’s Cloak – BoE drop from Drak’Tharon Keep. Same item level as the Wispcloak (200). Has less Spellpower, bit gives you a gem socket. I bought this as I was leveling to 80 to have it sitting ready to equip when I dinged. This gives a lot more bang per buck than the Wispcloak IMHO.
Bloodbane Shroud – Quest/Icecrown. This Blue (and the next item are a significant step down from the previous two items – level 174). Has the same Spellpower as the Reanimator’s cloak, but 10MP5 instead of 38 Spirit.
Bone Witch’s Drape – Quest/Icecrown. A whole 10 Spellpower less than Reanimator or Bllodbane, much lower Intellect as well. Spirit is good.