wotlk classic pve blood death knight tank best in slot (bis) & pre raid gear
  • Author: Nevermore
  • Date: January 8, 2024
  • Updated: January 10, 2024
  • Expansion: WotLK Classic

In this section of the guide, we will help you choose the best equipment or alternatives that you can utilize for each of the different phases of the expansion. Having the Pre-raid tab contain items that you will want to acquire before you start any serious raiding!

This guide is divided into two sections. The first section is basic lists, providing you full sets for a fresh level 80 pre-raid, a level 80 preparing for their first foray into Icecrown Citadel, and an example of ideal gear to aspire to from Icecrown Citadel. The second section provides more alternatives for each slot, giving an example of gear progression between these three areas of gearing.

Heroic++, otherwise known as Defense Protocol Beta drops gear from 10-man Ulduar and Naxxramas. Heroic+, otherwise known as Defense Protocol Alpha, drops gear from 10-man Naxxramas, as well as regular Heroic gear. Future Phases are likely to add further Heroic difficulties.

Best-in-Slot

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Those will be your best options for your ring slots.

Alternative: Repelling Charge
Alternative / Threat / DPS: Darkmoon Card: Greatness

Inevitable Defeat is the best choice, mainly due to the expertise it grants– (Trash Naxxramas 25M)

Betrayer of Humanity is the second-best choice, as it provides you with a higher threat generation, however, Icy Touch should take care of any threat issues. (Kel’Thuzad Naxxramas 25M)

There are multiple choices for your Sigil, with Sigil of the Unfaltering Knight being one of the stronger choices.

Alternative: Sigil of Awareness — This sigil is a very potent choice as it grants you increased damage for Death Strike. It can aid in generating threat, even if you lose some Defense Rating.

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Those will be the best options for the ring slots.

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Those will be the best options for the trinket slots.

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Progressive Best-in Slot

Before proceeding to the in-depth part of our guide, we will grant you some very important tips that you will have to keep in mind, especially as you progress through your journey and come across many different items.

As a fresh level 80, you have several choices for each separate slot. You will either be able to directly buy BoE items from the Auction House and other players, or, you will go through a progressive item hunt from Normal Dungeons, Heroic Dungeons, and the brand-new Heroic Plus Dungeons.

Your Pre-Raid options will often be defined by the BiS items from the previous raid tiers, and any other new dungeons or raid BoE items that arrive with the new phase.

Your Best-in-Slot items will often vary depending on the rest of your equipment and the situation you find yourself in. Depending on the class itself, the specialization, the phase you find yourself in, and the PvE encounter you currently face, your BiS items can completely change to better adjust to whichever situation you may find yourself in. In some cases, you will find a single BiS set that can be 100% functional in any situation, while in other cases, you will need to adjust your set from one PvE encounter to another.

As a Tank, this is especially true! For example, you may find situations where you will want to stack more Dodge Rating or Parry Rating against Bosses that deal Physical Damage while you may want to stack Magical Resistances against bosses that deal heavy Magical Damage.

The Blood Death Knight Tank Specialization Phase 1 gear has an overall issue with its Hit Rating, needing additional tweaks through enchants and various gems to reach the soft Hit Cap. While playing below the 8% Hit Cap, you run the risk of missing your enemy with important abilities, however, some advocate that it can you can still play the class perfectly fine without reaching the soft Hit Cap itself.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Multiple Locations (All Titan Rune Dungeons) (Former Naxxramas 10)
(Titan Rune Dungeon) The Nexus – Ormorok the Tree-Shaper (Former Naxxramas 10)
Gundrak – Moorabi (Heroic)
The Nexus – Grand Magus Telestra (Heroic)

One of the best initial choices that you can opt for is the Tempered Titansteel Helm thanks to the very high Stamina baseline stat that it offers, being accessible to everyone by either directly contacting a Blacksmith or seeking the item on the Auction House. Alternatively, if you have Engineering, you can craft the Armored Titanium Goggles which is a slightly better version of the Tempered Titansteel Helm by offering you Expertise Rating as an additional stat.

If you don’t have access to Engineering or if you simply don’t wish to buy the Tempered Titansteel Helm, you can start with either one of the Arcane-Shielded Helm or the Ground Tremor Helm as a great initial choice. While the items don’t have a large amount of Stamina available, they both grant a large amount of Defense Rating and another secondary stat. The Hit Rating will help you reach your soft Hit Cap faster while the Dodge Rating will increase your overall avoidance.

Once you reach into the new Titan Rune Dungeons, the best possible choice will be the T7 headpiece, namely the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Faceguard. This is due to the overall high baseline stats combined with access to the T7 item-set bonuses and the secondary stat lineup. The high amount of Expertise Rating will aid you reach your soft Expertise Cap quickly while Parry Rating is the preferred avoidance stat for the Death Knight Class.

If you can’t find the T7 head, the next-best option before any 25-man Phase 1 raid is the Thane’s Tainted Greathelm. This item has an overall great stat spread with a focus on increased avoidance through the Parry Rating and Dodge Rating that it offers.

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
Naxxramas – Kel’Thuzad (25)
Naxxramas – Gothik the Harvester (25)
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Multiple Locations (All Titan Rune Dungeons) (Former Naxxramas 10)

For the Pre-Ulduar phase, the Phase 1 BiS, namely the Valorous Scourgeborne Faceguard, will remain the best possible option! This is due to the great overall baseline stats, the access to the T7 item-set bonus and the great amount of Defense Rating, Parry Rating, and Expertise Rating. While the item doesn’t grant three defensive stats, the high amount of Expertise Rating will be great for reaching your Expertise Soft Cap.

The Helm of Vital Protection is the next-best alternative as it grants precisely the same type of stats! The only difference between the two items is the overall amount of stats and the fact that you won’t gain access to the T7 item-set bonuses by using the Helm of Vital Protection.

The Heroes’ Scourgeborne Faceguard is the only other viable option as it’s the precursor of the Valorous Scourgeborne Faceguard, offering access to the same type of stats and to the T7 item-set bonuses. While you might expect the item to have considerable stat differences when compared to its upgraded version, the overall stats are actually quite similar, displaying only minor differences.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Thorim (25)
Ulduar – General Vezax (25)
Ulduar – Freya (10)
Ulduar – Mimiron (10)

The best possible choice for Phase 2 will be the Conqueror’s Darkruned Faceguard! This is mainly due to the high baseline stats combined with the access to the 4-item set bonus. While the item doesn’t grant the best defensive secondary stats, offering only two out of three defensive stats, the Hit Rating will be crucial, especially since we have issues reaching our soft Hit Cap.

The Helm of the Faceless is the next-best option, considering the stat spread that it offers. It’s a great choice in case you managed to supplement your Hit Rating through other sources. The main issue is that you will lose access to the 4-item T8 set bonus which can be quite strong. This item is best used in the situation where you already have your T8 set-bonus active from your other items. You can also choose to ignore the 4-set item bonus during Ulduar’s progression and simply use the item for its sheer stats.

The Ironbark Faceguard fits into the same category, being a better option for progression itself while u still seek the T8 item. It’s a great item considering its overall defensive stats, especially if you are already close to your Hit Rating soft Cap. While the item has a lower Defense Rating than Valorous Darkruned Faceguard, it will still prove itself to be a valuable item due to its high Parry Rating.

The Valorous Darkruned Faceguard is an overall better choice than the off-piece items if you take into account the amount of Hit Rating, Defense Rating, and access to the T8 item-set bonuses that it offers. The only moment in which the T8 piece is worse than the off-pieces is when your entire gear has no T8 items in it.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom – Jedoga Shadowseeker (Former Naxxramas 10)
Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom – Jedoga Shadowseeker (Heroic)

The best possible choice as a fresh level 80 will be the Chained Military Gorget. However, this item requires quite a substantial amount of Emblems, meaning that it can’t be acquired directly or very quickly. It has nearly the same amount of stats as one of the Phase 1 BiS options, making it a very potent item.

With the release of the new Titan Rune Dungeons, the Amulet of Autopsy is another viable choice that offers high baseline stats and a good amount of secondary stats, granting a decent amount of Defense Rating and a good amount of Dodge Rating.

The Titanium Earthguard Chain is the easiest accessible item that you can directly acquire after reaching level 80 since it’s a BoE item. While it only grants Defense Rating as a secondary stat, the item itself has a gem socket, allowing you to increase its already high Stamina.

The Shadowseeker’s Pendant is another viable option that can be acquired fairly quickly. It grants you a good amount of baseline stats while also granting you Dodge Rating as a form of damage mitigation. In terms of overall stats, it resembles the other items, being quite close to them.

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
Naxxramas – Kel’Thuzad (25)
Naxxramas – Zone Drop (25)

The most common choice for the Pre-Ulduar phase will be the Boundless Ambition! While the item only has two secondary stats, it has the highest baseline stats. In our current setup, the high amount of Expertise Rating that the item offers will be extremely beneficial. However, you will lose some avoidance since you only gain Defense Rating and no other defensive stat.

The next-best alternative, Heritage, can be considered a more viable option since the overall Phase 1 gear suffers from a severe Hit Rating deficit. However, even though the item provides a good amount of Hit Rating, you will need to sacrifice some of your enchants and gems to completely eliminate the Hit Rating issue.

The Chained Military Gorget is nearly identical to Heritage, displaying the exact precise same type of stats with the only difference being the amount of the stats themselves. Considering this, you can safely use it as an alternative when breaching Ulduar’s gates.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Freya (25)
Ulduar – Zone Drop (25)

The best possible choice for Phase 2 will be the Bronze Pendant of the Vanir. This is mainly due to its very high baseline stats, especially since it gained an upgrade. The item also grants you a perfect stat spread for your secondary stats, offering you a balanced amount of Defense Rating, Parry Rating, and Dodge Rating.

Regarding possible alternatives, you have two main choices that you can consider which are almost identical. The Shard of the Crystal Forest and the Titanstone Pendant are both viable alternatives that are nearly identical with the exception of 2 flat Strength points and one different secondary stat. The Shard of the Crystal Forest is a better choice if you are not close to your soft Hit Cap while the Titanstone Pendant is better if you are not close to your soft Expertise Cap.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Multiple Locations (All Titan Rune Dungeons) (Former Naxxramas 10)
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Azjol-Nerub – Krik’thir the Gatewatcher (Former Naxxramas 10)
World Drop (BoE)
Halls of Lightning – General Bjarngrim (Heroic)

The best possible choice for a fresh level 80 will be the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Pauldrons which can now be acquired with the new Titan Rune Dungeons! Since they drop from multiple locations, all you have to do is gather enough gear to get into a Titan Rune Dungeon. The Heroes’ Scourgeborne Pauldrons will grant you the highest possible baseline stats that you can acquire for this slot from dungeons, paired up with a very good secondary stat spread which will increase your overall avoidance by a considerable amount. The item also grants you access to the T7 item-set bonuses, which can grant a fairly strong advantage if you can manage to activate the 4-item set bonus.

As a viable alternative to the T7 item, you can use the Abomination Shoulderblades since they offer the same amount of baseline stats as the T7 item. You will want to use this item in case you struggle with your Hit Rating, as it grants a considerable amount.

Another good option that can be gained directly upon reaching level 80 is Wapach’s Spaulders of Solidarity. The only issue with this item is that it is a World-Drop, meaning that someone has to place it on the Auction House for it to be available. It grants a high amount of baseline stats and a considerable amount of defensive secondary stats, making it a great choice if you don’t wish to use the T7 item.

If you are not interested in BoE items and you can’t yet gain access to the new Titan Rune Dungeons, you can use the Iron Dwarf Smith Pauldrons as they offer great baseline stats, combined with a great amount of Defense Rating and Parry Rating.

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
Naxxramas – Loatheb, Gluth (25)
Naxxramas – Anub’Rekhan (25)
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Multiple Locations (All Titan Rune Dungeons) (Former Naxxramas 10)

For the Pre-Ulduar Phase, the best option will remain the Phase 1 BiS, namely the Valorous Scourgeborne Pauldrons. This item only takes the BiS spot if you already use an off-piece item for your legs slot! This is due to the other available option, the Pauldrons of Unnatural Death, which grants a considerable amount of Expertise Rating that we require. In our current build, the off-piece item we use for the leg slot will supplement your need for Expertise Rating, making the Valorous Scourgeborne Pauldrons much more valuable for overall avoidance and stat gain.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Yogg-Saron (25)
Ulduar – XT-002 Deconstructor (25)
Ulduar – Thorim (10)

The best possible choice for the second phase of the expansion will be the Conqueror’s Darkruned Pauldrons. This is due to the extremely good overall stat spread, granting you the highest possible baseline stats, a perfect combination of Defense Rating, Dodge Rating, and Parry Rating which increases your overall avoidance and damage mitigation while also granting you access to the T8 set-item bonuses.

Depending on your current Hit Rating, you can choose to use the Shoulderplates of the Deconstructor to enhance it, however, you may find that the simple T8 Shoulder Piece is a lot better if you already have other T8 items. The Valorous Darkruned Pauldrons is pretty close in baseline stats to the Shoulderplates of the Deconstructor, however, it will provide a better choice since it further enhances your overall avoidance through Parry Rating while also granting access to the T8 item-set bonuses. Of course, this is a better option only if you already have a good amount of Hit Rating.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
(Titan Rune Dungeon) The Culling of Stratholme – Meathook (Former Naxxramas 10)
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Gundrak – Drakkari Colossus (Former Naxxramas 10)
The Nexus – Commander Stoutbeard/Commander Kolurg (Heroic)

There are multiple choices when it comes to the Cloak Slot as a fresh level 80. You may choose to directly use the Leatherworking cape since its easily accessible as a BoE crafted item or go through a dungeon-crawl through the new Titan Rune Dungeons for more powerful items.

As most cloaks are quite similar in their stat spread, your best option depends on the rest of your current items and the precise stats you lack. For early builds that have no Hit Rating, the best possible choice will be the Cloak of Armed Strife. However, for builds that have plenty Hit Rating but lack Expertise Rating, the Gale-Proof Cloak is a far better choice.

The Durable Nerubhide Cape works in the same way the Gale-Proof Cloak does when it comes to your Expertise Rating, however, it can be considered a weaker more accessible version since its a BoE item that has no Gem Socket or no third secondary stat.

The Cloak of the Enemy is a good starting choice for your fresh level 80 character as it can be easily farmed while also granting you decently good stats. Its a great option for character builds that have close to no Hit Rating and just began their dungeon-crawling journey.

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
Naxxramas – Maexxna (25)
(Titan Rune Dungeon) The Culling of Stratholme – Meathook (Former Naxxramas 10)

The best possible choice for the Pre-Ulduar gearing phase will be the Cloak of the Shadowed Sun. While the item itself doesn’t have a third secondary stat, it benefits from increased Armor and a high amount of Strength that will empower Forceful Deflection.

For builds that severely lack Hit Rating, the actual BiS will be the Platinum Mesh Cloak, as it grants a considerable amount of Hit Rating while also granting high baseline stats and even better Defense Rating.

Another viable option that can be used before breaching the gates of Ulduar is the Gale-Proof Cloak. While this option doesn’t have high baseline stats as the other options, it does have a gem socket which allows you to increase your overall stats. This item is better suited for builds that don’t have enough Expertise Rating but have enough Hit Rating instead.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Mimiron (25) HM
Ulduar – Auriaya (25)
Ulduar – General Vezax (10)

The best possible choice for the second phase of the expansion will be the Titanskin Cloak. This is due to the high baseline stats combined with a substantial amount of Hit Rating and Expertise Rating. The item also grants you a gem socket that can be used for further stat customization.

You have only two viable alternatives for this item, depending on your current Expertise Rating. The Cloak of the Makers and the Saronite Animus Cloak are two very similar items that can be used, with the main difference between the two being the avoidance forms they grant you. While Death Knights favor Parry Rating as their main avoidance form, they will benefit just as much from Dodge Rating, meaning that it doesn’t matter which item you choose as an alternative, as both are very similar.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
80 Emblem of Heroism
Vault of Archavon (Archavon the Stone Watcher)
Titan Rune Dungeons) The Nexus – Commander Stoutbeard/Commander Kolurg (Former Naxxramas 10)
Halls of Stone – Sjonnir the Ironshaper (Heroic)
Drak’Tharon Keep – The Prophet Tharon’ja (Heroic)
The Wyrmrest Accord – Revered

There are multiple viable options for this slot as a fresh level 80, with the T7, Heroes’ Scourgeborne Chestguard, being the best possible choice. This is due to the high overall stats, the perfect combination of defensive secondary stats, and access to the T7 item-set bonuses. However, this item can be hard to acquire as it has a very high cost. The only way to gain this item without paying its price is to join the Vault of Archavon raid and hope that the item drops. The issue with this is that most groups prefer to have group members that are already geared instead of fresh level 80 characters.

The next-best alternative is the Massive Skeletal Ribcage, which is now easily accessible through the new Titan Rune Dungeons. This is due to the massive stats that it offers which are extremely good for a fresh level 80. While it has no gem sockets, the sheer amount of stats compensates for this flaw.

Besides those two items, there are other valuable items that can be acquired from Heroic Dungeons or even from Reputation Vendors. The Sun-Emblazoned Chestplate is a perfect choice for builds that barely have any Hit Rating while also providing a great amount of Defense Rating while the Ziggurat Imprinted Chestguard is a better choice for builds that already have plenty of Hit Rating and require more avoidance.

The Breastplate of the Solemn Council is the easiest Chest Piece that you can acquire, with only a simple reputation grind and a low amount of gold as prerequisites. The item offers a great amount of Baseline stats combined with a great amount of Defense Rating and Expertise Rating. You can use this item until you get into the new Titan Rune Dungeons if the other alternatives don’t drop.

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
Naxxramas – Four Horsemen, Gluth (25)
The Obsidian Sanctum – Sartharion (25)
80 Emblem of Heroism
Vault of Archavon (Archavon the Stone Watcher)
Naxxramas – Gluth, Heigan the Unclean (25)

Depending on the rest of your gear, the best possible choice will remain the Phase 1 BiS, namely the Valorous Scourgeborne Chestguard. This is due to the overall high baseline stats, access to the T7, and a perfect combination of defensive secondary stats. The items that will be the best for increasing your overall avoidance will usually have a combination of Defense Rating, Dodge Rating, and Parry Rating as secondary stats.

The next-best alternative if you don’t want to bother with the T7 item-set bonuses or simply already have it from your other items, will be the Dragonstorm Breastplate as it grants precisely the same type of stats as the Valorous Scourgeborne Chestguard. The only difference is the stat spread in itself and the lack of access to the T7 item-set bonuses.

The Heroes’ Scourgeborne Chestguard is another viable alternative in case you can’t gain access to either one of the previously mentioned items or if you simply seek to activate the 4-item set bonus. Since it’s the predecessor to the Phase 1 BiS, it offers exactly the same types of stats, only in an overall lower amount.

Lastly, the Breastplate of Tormented Rage is a great alternative thanks to the overall extremely high baseline stats and secondary stats. While the item doesn’t grant access to the T7 bonuses or to any further customization through Gem Sockets, the stats themselves are high enough to compensate those flaws.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Algalon the Observer (10)
Ulduar – Hodir (25)
Ulduar – Yogg-Saron (10)

The best possible choice for this slot depends entirely on the rest of your items and whether or not you seek to activate the 4-item set bonus for T8. If you seek the 4-item set bonus for T8, the best possible choice is the Conqueror’s Darkruned Chestguard. This is not only due to the T8 item-set bonuses but also because of the high baseline and secondary stats that it offers. The T8 chest piece has secondary stats that aim to increase your overall avoidance while having two blue gem sockets that are perfect for Stamina gems that can enhance your overall Effective Health Points.

If you don’t seek the 4-item set bonus or if you chose to use the T8 legs, the Breastplate of the Timeless is the perfect alternative for the BiS spot. You can consider this item to be precisely the same as the Off-Piece used in this set, granting you the exact same types of stats. It will provide you with a great amount of baseline stats combined with high amounts of Defense Rating, Parry Rating, and Expertise Rating.

If you choose to use the T8 piece as your BiS, its best alternative is its predecessor, the Valorous Darkruned Chestguard. It offers exactly the same type of stats and access to the T8 item-set bonuses, however, the stats themselves are provided in a lower overall amount.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
(Titan Rune Dungeon) The Culling of Stratholme (Former Naxxramas 10)
Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom – Herald Volazj (Heroic)
The Culling of Stratholme – Salramm the Fleshcrafter (Heroic)

There are two main powerful items that can be used as a fresh level 80 before any 25-man raid for this slot. You can either directly buy the Bracers of Dalaran’s Parapets from the Auction House, provided someone posted the item, or you can go through a dungeon crawl for the Minion Bracers.

The Bracers of Dalaran’s Parapets is better at the beginning of your gearing journey as it provides valuable Hit Rating, however, the Minion Bracers are a better choice once you acquire enough Hit Rating, as they provide better overall avoidance.

The Bracers of the Herald and the Bindings of Dark Will are both ideal beginning items, especially since they can be easily acquired in Heroic Dungeons. They both have the exact same types of stats, with the Bindings of Dark Will being the lesser version, offering lower overall stats. The Bracers of the Herald has quite high baseline stats and secondary stats, however, the issue with this item is that it has only two secondary stats, meaning that you can’t use it for a long time without experiencing optimization issues.

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
Naxxramas – Instructor Razuvious (25)
(Titan Rune Dungeon) The Culling of Stratholme (Former Naxxramas 10)

The best possible choice for this slot will remain the Phase 1 BiS, namely the Bracers of the Unholy Knight. This is due to the high baseline stats that it offers combined with a great stat spread across three defensive secondary stats. This item is best suited for builds that already have enough Expertise Rating and Hit Rating, as its only purpose is to enhance your overall avoidance.

The next-best alternative is represented by the Bracers of Dalaran’s Parapets! This option is better for builds that have a large amount of defensive stats but don’t reach their Soft Hit Cap. In terms of Defense Rating, it’s quite similar to the BiS option, however, it displays a higher Parry Rating, meaning that you won’t lose too much avoidance in favor of Hit Rating.

The Minion Bracers are very similar to the Bracers of the Unholy Knight offering a viable alternative before reaching the BiS as both items have the exact same types of stats. The main two differences are the amount of stats offered, which are slightly lower than the actual BiS, and the lack of Gem Socket. You can think of this item as a precursor to the Bracers of the Unholy Knight that can safely be used while progressing Ulduar.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Flame Leviathan (25)
Ulduar – Flame Leviathan (10)
Naxxramas – Instructor Razuvious (25)

The BiS option for this slot in the second phase is Mimiron’s Inferno Couplings. This is due to its secondary stats which are considerably higher than any other option, granting you a great amount of Hit Rating and Dodge Rating. The only issue with this item is that it has a lower Defense Rating than other possible alternatives.

The next-best alternative is the Flamewatch Armguards, offering the same types of stats as the Mimiron’s Inferno Couplings, with a lower overall secondary stat spread. The item grants a higher Defense Rating than the actual BiS, however, it offers a lower Hit Rating and Dodge Rating. The overall baseline stats are very similar, with only a minor difference between the items.

Lastly, the only other alternative that can provide great stats is the Bracers of the Unholy Knight. This item is better for builds with a considerable amount of Hit Rating. This item is better for builds that require additional avoidance as it provides a good amount of Parry Rating, and a similar amount of Strength when compared to the Ulduar items which empowers Forceful Deflection.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
60 Emblem of Heroism/Vault of Archavon ( Archavon the Stone Watcher)
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Halls of Stone – Tribunal of the Ages (Former Naxxramas 10)
Gundrak – Gal’darah (Heroic)
Kirin Tor Quartermaster – Archmage Alvareaux (Exalted Reputation)
Violet Hold – Ichoron (Heroic)

The best possible choice in terms of stats and bonuses for a fresh level 80 is the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Handguards. The overall stats are extremely strong, however, the gloves come at a hefty price, making it quite a harsh purchase for a new character. You can also acquire them from the Vault of Archavon, provided you find a group that is willing to let you join with a new character.

The next-best option will be the Gauntlets of the Master which will provide the exact same type of stats, both baseline and secondary stats. The item has similar overall stats to the T7 gloves, making it a great alternative that can be easily acquired through the new Titan Rune Dungeons. Ideally, you will want to activate the T7 item set bonuses, however, until you can get enough Emblems of Heroism or a lucky drop from VoA, you will want to maintain this item.

For characters that can’t go through a dungeon crawl in the new Titan Rune Dungeons, you have several starting item choices that can aid you before gaining more powerful upgrades. The Horn-Tipped Gauntlets are a great choice considering their overall stat spread and high amount of Expertise Rating that can help you reach your Expertise Soft Cap early on. This item is better for builds that already have a considerable amount of Hit Rating from their other item slots.

A valid alternative for builds that already have enough Hit Rating and Expertise Rating yet need more avoidance is the Fireproven Gauntlets. The item has solid overall stats, with a focus on Dodge Rating for increased avoidance. Unlike the other items, the Fireproven Gauntlets can be easily acquired with gold, provided you have Exalted Reputation with Kirin Tor.

Lastly, the Gauntlets of the Water Revenant is another alternative that can provide a good start, especially with the Hit Rating it provides. In terms of pure stats, its very similar to the other items. If you struggle with your Hit Rating, you can keep this item until you manage to gain the Gauntlets of the Master!

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
The Obsidian Sanctum – Sartharion (25)
Naxxramas – Grand Widow Faerlina (25)
60 Emblem of Heroism/Vault of Archavon ( Archavon the Stone Watcher)
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Halls of Stone – Tribunal of the Ages (Former Naxxramas 10)

The best possible choice for the Pre-Ulduar phase will remain the Phase 1 BiS, namely the Valorous Scourgeborne Handguards. This is due to the access to the T7 item-set bonuses combined with great overall stats. While this item doesn’t have the greatest defensive secondary stats, the Hit Rating it provides will be crucial, especially since we struggle with Hit Rating.

Provided you already have the T7 4-item set bonus from your other item slots, the Callous-Hearted Gauntlets is a perfect alternative, especially if you altered your build to include a solid amount of Hit Rating. While it has no available gem socket, it already has a high amount of baseline Stamina and quite a high amount of Strength which increases your overall Parry Rating through Forceful Deflection.

The Heroes’ Scourgeborne Handguards is the precursor to the Valorous Scourgeborne Handguards, offering the same types of stats and access to the T7 item-set bonuses. Since they can be a hefty purchase, it is recommended for newer characters that didn’t have the chance to raid during the first phase of the expansion to prioritize an off-piece item instead.

Lastly, the Gauntlets of the Master is a good alternative to the T7 gloves since the stats it grants are similar to the upgraded T7 gloves. They are an ideal pick for builds that struggle with Hit Rating and simply don’t have the resources to acquire the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Handguards.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Freya (25) HM
Ulduar – Mimiron (25)
Ulduar – Freya (10)

The BiS for this slot in the second phase depends entirely on the rest of your gear, as you have two main options. The Handguards of Revitalization are the better option if you don’t seek to use the 4-item set bonus from T8 or if you already managed to activate it from the rest of your gear slots. Its a better choice for builds that already have plenty of Expertise Rating and want to gain more Gem Sockets for further stat optimization. The item has both extremely high baseline stats and extremely high secondary stats that improve your overall avoidance and Effective Health Points.

The Conqueror’s Darkruned Handguards are a far better choice if you seek to activate the T8 4-item set bonus while also granting a large amount of Expertise Rating. While it doesn’t offer as many baseline stats or gem sockets as the Handguards of Revitalization, we will want to use the T8 Gloves since we will opt for the Legs Slot Off-Piece.

The Valorous Darkruned Handguards are the precursor to the Conqueror’s Darkruned Handguards, granting you exactly the same type of benefits, only in an overall lower amount, with the T8 item-set bonus remaining the same. If you already have plenty of Hit Rating and your goal is to activate the T8 4-item set bonus, this item can be maintained until you manage to upgrade it, working as a very effective alternative. If you already activated the T8 4-item set bonus, you can choose to maintain this item until you manage to get the Handguards of Revitalization.

The Gauntlets of the Royal Watch are a good alternative if you have overall issues with your Hit Rating that causes aggro loss. You will lose overall avoidance and Effective Health Points if you choose this option, however, the Hit Rating can be considered Mandatory. Provided you already have enough Defense Rating. This option will make it harder for you to reach the T8 4-item set bonus, as you will have fewer T8 pieces if you also take into consideration the Off-Piece legs.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Azjol-Nerub – Anub’arak (Heroic)
Drak’Tharon Keep – Zone Drop (Heroic) (BoE)
The Oculus – Mage-Lord Urom

As a fresh level 80, you will have many items to choose from with similar properties for this slot. The best possible choice will be the Waistguard of Living Iron, however, it has a steep price that requires quite a bit of dungeon crawling before it can be acquired. It’s stats are great for gaining a large amount of avoidance!

The other options will only have two secondary stats, with the Ancient Aligned Girdle being the best possible choice. The Waistguard of the Risen Knight can grant you the exact same type of stats, only in a lower amount. However, unlike the Ancient Aligned Girdle, the Waistguard of the Risen Knight can be acquired instantly since its a BoE item.

Lastly, the Girdle of Obscuring is a very similar alternative that provides similar stats, with avoidance granted through Parry Rating.

Pre-ulduar

Item
Source
Naxxramas – Maexxna (25)
Azjol-Nerub – Anub’arak (Heroic)

The best possible choice for the Pre-Ulduar gearing phase will remain the Phase 1 BiS, namely the Ablative Chitin Girdle. This is due to the overall high stats it offers, with an amazing stat spread. This item is also mainly used due to the high amount of Hit Rating it grants, aiding you with the soft Hit Cap issue.

The Waistguard of Living Iron is a solid alternative that is better for builds that already have plenty of Hit Rating and are in need of more avoidance. In terms of pure stats, the item comes very close to the Ablative Chitin Girdle., having similar baseline stats. However, this item is not recommended for fresh characters that seek to gain gear quickly, as it has quite a steep price.

Lastly, the Ancient Aligned Girdle can be used as an alright alternative as long as you don’t have access to the other options. It’s a weaker item since it only has two secondary stats, however, its baseline stats are quite high.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Razorscale (10)

The best possible choice for this slot depends entirely on your Hit Rating and overall avoidance. For builds that lack Hit Rating, the Shieldwarder Girdle is the best possible choice. The Indestructible Plate Girdle is the better choice if you already have enough Hit Rating and require more avoidance. The Indestructible Plate Girdle is also an incredibly powerful item since it can simply be acquired from a Blacksmith or the Auction House, provided someone already has the recipe.

You may choose to use Hit Rating gems with the Indestructible Plate Girdle, however, you would lose a large amount of Stamina by doing so. You may also choose to ignore the Shieldwarder Girdle altogether if you use Hit Rating gems, however, you may need to optimize the rest of your build to reach as close as possible to the soft Hit Cap.

Lastly, you can use the Stormtempered Girdle as an alternative to the Shieldwarder Girdle since it offers the exact same type of stats, only in a lower overall amount.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Multiple Locations (All Titan Rune Dungeons) (Former Naxxramas 10)
Violet Hold – Cyanigosa (Heroic)
The Oculus – Ley-Guardian Eregos (Heroic)

The best possible option as a fresh level 80 for this slot will be the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Legguards. The item grants you extraordinary stats for the beginning of your journey, paired up with access to the T7 item-set bonuses. Thanks to the new Titan Rune Dungeons, this item can be easily gained from all Titan Rune Dungeons, provided you can gain access to them.

The next-best option to the T7 legs will be the Bolstered Legplates! While it may not have three secondary stats, the item grants you extremely high overall stats for an item that can be easily acquired in a Heroic Dungeon. This item is extraordinary for builds that don’t have enough Hit Rating, as it provides a large amount of Hit Rating.

The Ley-Guardian’s Legguards offer the same types of stats as the Bolstered Legplates, only in a lower overall amount. The difference in stat values themselves is not too impactful, meaning that you can use either item until you can gain access to the new Titan Rune Dungeons to acquire the T7 legs.

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
The Eye of Eternity – Malygos (25)
Naxxramas – Thaddius, Gluth (25)
The Obsidian Sanctum – Sartharion (25)
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Multiple Locations (All Titan Rune Dungeons) (Former Naxxramas 10)

The best option for the Pre-Ulduar gearing phase will remain the Phase 1 BiS, namely the Legplates of Sovereignty. This is due to the high baseline stats that it offers paired up with great secondary stats. This item contributes with a large amount of Expertise Rating for this current setup, which actively helps you reach your soft Expertise Cap, at the cost of reduced overall avoidance. While you may suffer from reduced overall avoidance, the item itself grants you a very high amount of Defense Rating and Parry Rating, making up for the stat loss.

The next-best alternative will be the Valorous Scourgeborne Legguards! You should use this item if you didn’t manage to activate the T7 4-item set bonus from your other slots or if you have a severe Hit Rating issue. Naturally, the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Legguards grant the same type of bonuses, only in a smaller amount, being its precursor.

Lastly, the Dragon Brood Legguards is a great alternative to the T7 items, granting you exactly the same types of stats, only in a lower amount.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Algalon the Observer (25)
Ulduar – Freya (25)
Ulduar – Flame Leviathan (10) HM
Ulduar – Hodir (10)
Ulduar – Kologarn (25)

The best possible choice depends entirely on the rest of your main item slots! Depending on whether you already activated the T8 4-item set bonus, you may want to use the Legplates of the Endless Void as your actual BiS or the Conqueror’s Darkruned Legguards as the actual BiS if you haven’t already managed to activate the 4-item set bonus.

Without taking the T8 4-item set bonus into consideration, the Legplates of the Endless Void are the better option for overall Damage Mitigation and Effective Health Pool, granting you astonishing stats and 3 gem sockets for further stat customization. The Conqueror’s Darkruned Legguards offers lower baseline stats but it’s a better choice for builds that don’t have enough Expertise Rating. Without taking the T8 set bonus into consideration, the T8 legs offer overall lower survivability.

The Valorous Darkruned Legguards offer the same type of benefits as the Conqueror’s Darkruned Legguards, being its precursor item. The only difference is the stat values themselves, being considerably lower while offering the precise exact same type of stats. As an alternative to the T8 pieces, you can use the Gilded Steel Legplates as it grants the exact same type of stats as the T8 pieces.

Lastly, you can use the Saronite Plated Legguards for fights where you may sustain high physical damage, as the increased Armor Value will help you mitigate some of the damage. While it may not have a third secondary stat, the high amount of Strength the item provides will empower you through the Forceful Deflection, resulting in more Parry Rating.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Gundrak – Slad’ran (Former Naxxramas 10)
Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom – Herald Volazj (Heroic)
The Wyrmrest Accord – Revered

There are multiple choices for your Feet Slot that you can acquire fairly easily as a fresh level 80. The best possible option will be the Plague-Impervious Boots, which can be acquired through the new Titan Rune Dungeons. This is due to the very high baseline stats combined with a very good stat spread on the secondary defensive stats. The item focuses on improving your overall avoidance!

While there are many options to consider, the Tempered Titansteel Treads are the most affordable option! The item itself is great for the beginning of your journey as it has high Stamina, however, it only has only one secondary stat. You may find the Sabatons of Draconic Vigor to be an even better fit due to their Hit Rating, especially since they can be bought as well! If your leveling journey has made you visit Dragonblight, you may even buy this item directly upon reaching level 80, as the Wyrmrest Accord reputation can be easily farmed.

Lastly, the Greaves of Ancient Evil are a better choice than the two previously mentioned items, especially if you managed to gain a considerable amount of Hit Rating from your other item slots. This item is better for improving your overall avoidance, as it grants a decently high amount of Dodge Rating.

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
Naxxramas – Gluth, Thaddius (25)
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Gundrak – Slad’ran (Former Naxxramas 10)

The best possible choice for the Pre-Ulduar gearing phase will remain the Phase 1 BiS, namely the Sabatons of Endurance. This is not necessarily due to its baseline stats, but rather due to the Expertise Rating that it grants. For example, the next-best alternative, the Kyzoc’s Ground Stompers, grants better baseline stats. The item itself is not the best for overall avoidance, however, you can’t always opt for the best avoidance items as you will need both Hit Rating and Expertise Rating as well.

Kyzoc’s Ground Stompers are a far better choice for overall increased avoidance if you manage to get enough Expertise Rating from your other items. However, you have to remember that you will usually gain either Expertise Rating or Hit Rating from your Feet Slot. This means that there aren’t many other great options for gaining Expertise Rating.

The Plague-Impervious Boots offer the same types of stats as the Kyzoc’s Ground Stompers, only in an overall lower amount. You can consider the item itself as Kyzoc’s Ground Stompers lesser version! Since Kyzoc’s Ground Stompers have an extremely high price, you may simply choose to use the Plague-Impervious Boots instead.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Mimiron (10) HM
Ulduar – Ignis the Furnace Master (25)

The best possible option for this slot will be the Greaves of the Iron Army. This is due to the overall high baseline stats, paired up with high defensive secondary stats and mandatory Expertise Rating for your soft Expertise Cap. If you somehow manage to gain Expertise Rating from your other slots, you may instead use the Spiked Deathdealers for increased avoidance.

The Spiked Deathdealers is the next-best option, granting you a high amount of damage mitigation through high defensive secondary stats. The only issue with this item is the lack of Expertise Rating, forcing you to rely on other items for it. On the plus side, this item can be acquired extremely fast since it’s a craftable item. All it takes is a considerable amount of gold.

Lastly, the Charred Saronite Greaves is another viable alternative if you lack Hit Rating. While the item may lack baseline stats, it makes up for it with high secondary stats such as a high amount of Defense Rating.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Halls of Lightning – General Bjarngrim (Former Naxxramas 10)
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Halls of Lightning – Loken (Former The Obsidian Sanctum 10)
Halls of Stone – Maiden of Grief (Heroic)
Drak’Tharon Keep – The Prophet Tharon’Ja (Heroic)
The Oculus – Drakos the Interrogator (Heroic)

You will have many potent choices for your ring slots as a fresh level 80! The best possible combination will be Deflection Band & Signet of the Accord, as they will grant you a perfect stat spread. The rings will enhance your overall avoidance while also helping you with your soft Expertise Cap and soft Hit Rating Cap.

Until you can reach the new Titan Rune Dungeons, you can choose to directly buy the Titanium Earthguard Ring from a Jewelcrafter or the Auction House as it grants very high baseline stats or go through multiple Heroic dungeons to acquire the Keystone Great-Ring. While the Keystone Great-Ring doesn’t grant you any Defense Rating, its high baseline stats and high amount of Dodge Rating can make it a great initial choice.

The Band of Torture works in the same principle, offering you great initial stats until you can manage to find a proper upgrade.

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
Naxxramas – Zone Drop (25)
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Halls of Lightning – General Bjarngrim (Former Naxxramas 10)
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Halls of Lightning – Loken (Former The Obsidian Sanctum 10)
Naxxramas – Sapphiron (25)

The best possible rings combination for the Pre-Ulduar gearing phase will remain the Sand-Worn Band and Signet of the Impregnable Fortress from the first phase of the expansion. This is due to the overall stat spread that they can grant you, having the highest overall stats among all the phase 1 rings. The Sand-Worn Band will improve your overall avoidance while the Signet of the Impregnable Fortress will aid you in reaching your soft Expertise Cap and soft Hit Rating Cap.

The Deflection Band can be used as a valid alternative to the Signet of the Impregnable Fortress, as it grants an increased Hit Rating, however, it replaces the Expertise Rating with Dodge Rating which will result in increased avoidance. In the same fashion, the Signet of the Accord can be used as an alternative for Expertise Rating, trading Hit Rating for increased avoidance through Parry Rating.

Lastly, Gatekeeper can be used due to its baseline stats, however, it only has two secondary stats making it inferior to any other option. Even if it’s an inferior option, the Hit Rating it grants can make it a potent alternative as you will struggle with Hit Rating initially.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Thorim (25) HM
Ulduar – Auriaya (25)
Ulduar – XT-002 Deconstructor (10) HM
Ulduar – Flame Leviathan (25)

The best possible ring combination is Fate’s Clutch & Platinum Band of the Aesir. This is mainly due to the large amount of stats that the pair grants you, however, the truly important part is the large amount of Expertise Rating that the rings confer. Besides the high amount of Defense Rating and Stamina you gain from the rings, the Expertise Rating will prove to be most beneficial.

When it comes to possible alternatives, there are few choices that actually can compare to Fate’s Clutch & Platinum Band of the Aesir. The Leviathan’s Coil and the Seal of Ulduar are the closest alternatives, with the latter option being a functional choice when combined with either one of the first two options. This is due to the Expertise Rating and the gem socket it offers.

The Leviathan’s Coil is the weakest choice when compared to the other rings, however, you can use it as a temporary option in case none of the other rings are available. You can also choose to ignore it altogether in favor of phase 1 rings which provide similar, if not, better stats. While the ring offers high baseline stats, the lack of a third secondary stat reduces the overall value of the item as it only provides a low amount of Dodge Rating besides Defense Rating.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Azjol-Nerub – Hadronox (Heroic)
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Violet Hold – Moragg (Former Naxxramas 10)
Darkmoon Faire – Darkmoon Nobles Deck (Threat Generation)

The best possible trinket combination for a fresh level 80 will be Essence of Gossamer & Figurine – Monarch Crab. This is due to the large Stamina that the pair can grant you, however, the On-Equip effect from the Essence of Gossamer will only be useful during dungeons as it becomes considerably weaker in raids.

The Repelling Charge is a great initial trinket if you struggle with your Defense Rating! While it may not be as potent as the other options due to the lack of Stamina, the Defense Rating and the On-Use effect can be very beneficial. You can use this trinket until you manage to gain a proper Defense Rating from your other item slots.

The Valor Medal of the First War is another valid option that enhances your overall avoidance through Dodge Rating while also granting a powerful On-Use effect that can either be used independently or together with other abilities to form a powerful “Panic Button”.

Similarly to the Repelling Charge, the Seal of the Pantheon grants a static Defense Rating that can be especially useful as you begin your journey, paired up with another On-Use effect. This effect can be macroed just like the majority of the “On-Use” items with any other Defensive Ability in your arsenal. However, this “On-Use” effect is stronger from an “Avoidance” point of view as it grants you a significant flat Armor Value buff.

Lastly, the Darkmoon Card: Greatness is a trinket that is useful for Threat Generation, especially early on! However, since Death Knights have a special passive effect named Forceful Deflection, this trinket will also grant you a 75 Parry Rating whenever the proc is active. This means that the trinket itself is no longer just a Threat Generation tool but also a defensive trinket at the same time!

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
Azjol-Nerub – Hadronox (Heroic)
Naxxramas – Sapphiron (25)
Naxxramas – Zone Drop (25) Multiple Bosses

The best trinket combination for the Pre-Ulduar gearing phase will be Essence of Gossamer/Rune of Repulsion! The Essence of Gossamer remains one of the best trinket choices due to the high Stamina it grants, even if it’s On-Equip effect is rather weak. The Rune of Repulsion is a great tool when combined with other defensive abilities, effectively working as a “Panic Button”

The Defender’s Code is a valid alternative to the Rune of Repulsion as it grants a similar On-Use effect, however, it’s weaker than the Rune of Repulsion, as 850 Armor Value is overall weaker than 95 Parry Rating.

If you have access to Jewelcrafting, the Figurine – Monarch Crab remains a very powerful trinket that can be used to massively boost your Stamina while also providing you with a potent On-Use effect that can also be macroed together with other defensive abilities. You can also use it independently, depending on the encounter itself. However, since this trinket requires you to have a specific profession, we will rank it lower than the rest of the options.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Ignis the Furnace Master (25)
Ulduar – Yogg-Saron (10)
Azjol-Nerub – Hadronox (Heroic)
Ulduar – Ignis the Furnace Master (10)
Naxxramas – Sapphiron (25)
Ulduar – General Vezax (25)

The best possible Trinket combination for the second phase of the expansion will be the Heart of Iron & Royal Seal of King Llane. This is due to the large amount of Stamina that they can provide when paired together. Their on-use effects can also be used in conjunction with your other defensive abilities to create a very potent “Panic Button”! The greatest part about this trinket pair is that you can either activate them independently or at the same time.

While it may seem odd, the Essence of Gossamer remains a community favorite due to the high amount of Stamina it offers. The absorption effect is not particularly significant, but the Stamina buff in itself is amazing.

If you don’t have access to Jewelcrafting, or any of the previously mentioned options, the next-best alternative is the Furnace Stone. This item grants you a high amount of Dodge Rating which will increase your overall avoidance by a decent amount, however, the strongest trait of this item is the On-Use effect. This item is especially powerful in encounters where Bossess deal high amounts of Physical damage, as the 5448 Armor Value can be macroed along with other defensive abilities to create a potent survivability tool.

The General’s Heart is a similar option, however, its On-Equip effect is weak in comparison to the Furnace Stone. A far better option than The General’s Heart will be the Rune of Repulsion, as it grants a much more potent On-Use effect that can be turned into a “Panic Button”.

The Rune of Repulsion can even be considered stronger in some situations than the Furnace Stone since Death Knights benefit a great deal from Parry Rating. However, if the attack that is targeting you can’t be parried and it simply inflicts an effect that deals Physical Damage, the Furnace Stone will remain the better option.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom – Herald Volazj (Former Naxxramas 10)
(Titan Rune Dungeon) Drak’Tharon Keep – Trollgore (Former Naxxramas 10)
Drak’Tharon Keep – The Prophet Tharon’Ja (Heroic)
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Utgarde Keep – Skarvald the Constructor (Former Naxxramas 10)
Utgarde Pinnacle – King Ymiron (Heroic)
Utgarde Keep – Prince Keleseth (Heroic)
The Oculus – Varos Cloudstrider (Heroic)

There are multiple weapons that you can use as a fresh level 80, depending on the build you have chosen. Thanks to the new Titan Rune Dungeons, the best possible choice will be Death’s Bite. This is due to the very high baseline stats and Hit Rating that the item provides. It’s powerful enough to be used even during Ulduar’s progression.

The next-best alternative is Demise, granting you a solid amount of Hit Rating and baseline stats. While it has lower overall stats than Death’s Bite, the Haste Rating it offers will reduce your overall GCD and weapon swing time, even if only by a little amount.

However, until you can get into the new Titan Rune Dungeons, the best possible choice that can be directly bought even before reaching level 80 is the Titansteel Destroyer. This item will grant you a solid amount of Stamina and Hit Rating which will aid you greatly in the beginning of your journey. Alternatively, you can also use the Mojo Masked Crusher for its high baseline stats, however, the lack of Hit Rating will be detrimental if you don’t already have enough Hit Rating from your other items.

For a dual-wield build, the best possible choice will be the Slayer of the Lifeless! You will want to use 2 x Slayer of the Lifeless as the items will massively improve your overall stats, having a generally very good stat spread between defensive stats and utility stats. The Hit Rating will be crucial, especially if you don’t have enough Hit Rating from your other items.

The Red Sword of Courage is the next-best alternative until you can actually enter a Titan Rune Dungeon, offering you great baseline stats, a solid amount of Defense Rating, and the much-needed Hit Rating. Sadly, you can’t use 2 x Red Sword of Courage since it’s a unique-equipped item. Either one of the Infantry Assault Blade or the Cloudstrider’s Waraxe can be used as a great pair to the Red Sword of Courage, since they provide Expertise Rating and a good amount of Defense Rating!

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
Naxxramas – Zone Drop (25)
Naxxramas – Kel’Thuzad (25)
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Ahn’kahet: The Old Kingdom – Herald Volazj (Former Naxxramas 10)
Naxxramas – Maexxna (25)
Naxxramas – Kel’Thuzad (25)
Naxxramas – Four Horsemen (25)
(Titan Rune Dungeons) Utgarde Keep – Skarvald the Constructor (Former Naxxramas 10)

The weapon you will want for the Pre-Ulduar gearing phase depends entirely on the rest of your build, as Hit Rating may or may not be a massive issue. If you still struggle with Hit Rating, the best possible option will be Death’s Bite. For instances where Expertise Rating is not close enough to the soft cap, the Inevitable Defeat remains the best possible choice.

Another viable alternative if you miss Expertise Rating is The Jawbone, providing you with a great amount of Expertise Rating and high baseline stats.

If you are worried about threat generation, the best possible choice will remain the Betrayer of Humanity. While it grants the worst stats by comparison to the other options, its high weapon damage will help you generate a higher threat. The haste rating is a decent addition that also reduces your GCD and weapon swing timer.

For a dual-wield build, the best possible option will be 2 x Last Laugh. The Defense Rating paired up with Hit Rating will allow you to customize your other item slots, giving you more free range over your options. The Broken Promise will be a better option if your build misses Hit Rating while also struggling with Expertise Rating. You can also choose to pair one Broken Promise with one Last Laugh or simply use 2 x Broken Promise.

The Slayer of the Lifeless is another viable alternative for the dual-wield build, especially since it also increases your avoidance through Dodge Rating. However, compared to the other two options, you will find this item easier to replace.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Yogg-Saron (25) HM
Ulduar – Yogg-Saron (10) HM
Ulduar – General Vezax (25) HM
Ulduar – XT-002 Deconstructor (10) HM

The best possible choice for the second phase will be the Dark Edge of Depravity! This is mainly due to the high amount of Hit Rating it grants, paired up with the highest possible weapon damage. While there may be other weapons with higher weapon damage, the Hit Rating itself is crucial for our build. The Haste Rating will not impact your overall performance by a large amount, but it still reduces your global GCD and weapon swing timer, making it a decent addition. The Agility it grants won’t increase your overall Parry Rating since it does not synergize with Forceful Deflection, but it will grant you increased Armor and Dodge Rating!

The Hammer of Crushing Whispers works as the best possible alternative, granting you a similar amount of Hit Rating. The Critical Strike Chance granted by this item won’t be too beneficial, however, the increased Strength will also grant you Parry Rating through the Forceful Deflection passive.

Voldrethar, Dark Blade of Oblivion is another viable alternative, however, it reduces your overall Hit Rating by a considerable amount. The item will grant you high weapon damage and increased overall damage through Armor Penetration. However, the strong point is actually it’s high baseline stats which boost your Stamina and Strength by a considerable amount. Aesir’s Edge works precisely in the same fashion, offering you the exact same types of stats, only in a lower overall amount.

Dual-Wield BiS

Item
Source
Ulduar – XT-002 Deconstructor (25) HM
Ulduar – Hodir (10) HM
Ulduar – Yogg-Saron (10) HM
Ulduar – Thorim (25)

The dual-wield specialization shows some promising options in Ulduar, with the strongest possible option being Sorthalis, Hammer of the Watchers. Due to the overall high stats the item grants, using 2 x Sorthalis, Hammer of the Watchers will allow you to modify other item slots, especially since you will receive a large amount of Expertise Rating.

The best alternative if you wish to also enhance your Defense Rating will be Shiver. This item is also great since it enhances your overall Hit Rating. If you already have plenty of Defense Rating and Hit Rating, a proper alternative to the first two options would be the Caress of Insanity. However, this option is highly contested by DPS players, making it a proper choice only in cases where the first two options are completely unavailable.

Vulmir, the Northern Tempest can be considered the middle ground, offering you plenty of Hit Rating and Expertise Rating, at the cost of Defense Rating. Once again, this item is highly contested by DPS players, making it a temporary choice until you can find the first two options.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
25 Emblem of Valor
Naxxramas – Heigan the Unclean (25)

The best possible choice for a Fresh Level 80 is the Sigil of the Unfaltering Knight. This item should be acquired as fast as possible since it grants a considerable amount of Defense Rating whenever you have Frost Runes available to cast Icy Touch. This item is one of the few items that can modify Defense Rating while already in combat, allowing Death Knights to use mixed gear until they can reach their BiS without any drawbacks. The only issue with this item is that you have to upkeep the effect, as it’s not a permanent status effect.

The only available alternative is the Sigil of Awareness, which can be used to increase the baseline damage of your Death Strike which results in increased threat generation. Realistically, this Sigil is weaker than the Sigil of the Unfaltering Knight, as Icy Touch generates a tremendous amount of threat which renders the Sigil useless.

Pre-Ulduar

Item
Source
25 Emblem of Valor
Naxxramas – Heigan the Unclean (25)

For the Pre-Ulduar gearing phase, the best possible Sigil will remain the Sigil of the Unfaltering Knight. This is due to the strong Defense Rating buff that it grants whenever Icy Touch is used and the simple fact that there is no other better defensive choice.

The Sigil of Awareness maintains its spot as a viable alternative for threat generation, however, the Sigil of the Unfaltering Knight since Icy Touch already generates huge amounts of threat.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Ulduar – Razorscale (25)
25 Emblem of Valor
Naxxramas – Heigan the Unclean (25)

The best possible Sigil for the second phase of the expansion will be the Sigil of Deflection. This is due to the very high amount of Dodge Rating that it grants, increasing your overall avoidance by a considerable amount. However, if your gear doesn’t have enough Defense Rating, this Sigil should be replaced by the Sigil of the Unfaltering Knight!

The Sigil of the Unfaltering Knight is the best alternative if you don’t have enough Defense Rating, as it will grant you a considerable amount whenever you use Icy Touch. The only downfall of this item is that the effect is not permanent, meaning that you will have to upkeep it by continuously using Icy Touch.

In case you have plenty of Defense Rating and can’t gain the Sigil of Deflection yet, the best alternative is the Sigil of Awareness. The only function of this Sigil is to increase your overall threat generation by empowering Death Strike’s base damage. Ideally, you will want to use the other two sigils, since Icy Touch can generate a large amount of threat on its own.

Before proceeding to the in-depth part of our guide, we will grant you some very important tips that you will have to keep in mind, especially as you progress through your journey and come across many different items.

As a fresh level 80, you have several choices for each separate slot. You will either be able to directly buy BoE items from the Auction House and other players, or, you will go through a progressive item hunt from Normal Dungeons, Heroic Dungeons, and the brand-new Heroic ++ Dungeons. Depending on your group, you may be able to directly join a Heroic ++ Dungeon, effectively skipping a harsh gearing process.

With the release of Phase 3 of the expansion, the new Heroic Defense Protocol Beta Dungeons will grant you both T7 and T8 items, per Boss Kill, with a guaranteed former Ulduar 10 (225) Ilvl drop. Heroic++, otherwise known as Defense Protocol Beta drops gear from 10-man Ulduar and Naxxramas. Heroic+, otherwise known as Defense Protocol Alpha, drops gear from 10-man Naxxramas, as well as regular Heroic gear. Future Phases are likely to add further Heroic difficulties.

However, those dungeons no longer provide any blue gear, meaning that if you seek a particular rare (Blue) item, you will have to venture through the Heroic version of the Dungeon.

Your Pre-ToC options will often be defined by the BiS items from the previous raid tiers, and any other new dungeons or raid BoE items that arrive with the new phase.

Your Best-in-Slot items will often vary depending on the rest of your equipment and the situation you find yourself in. Depending on the class itself, the specialization, the phase you find yourself in, and the PvE encounter you currently face, your BiS items can completely change to better adjust to whichever situation you may find yourself in. In some cases, you will find a single BiS set that can be 100% functional in any situation, while in other cases, you will need to adjust your item sets from one PvE encounter to another.

As a Tank, this is especially true! For example, you may find situations where you will want to stack more Dodge Rating or Parry Rating against Bosses that deal Physical Damage while you may want to stack Magical Resistances against bosses that deal heavy Magical Damage.

As a Blood Death Knight Tank, your main damage mitigation stats will be Parry Rating and Dodge Rating besides the standard Defense Rating which applies to all tanking specializations. You also have access to a special passive reserved only for Death Knights, called Forceful Deflection, which converts 25% of all your Strength into Parry Rating.

You will find that in most cases you will need to balance your gear between defense-oriented stats and Hit Rating/Expertise Rating. While some items may seem enticing and completely overpowered, you will have to keep in mind that you won’t be able to properly tank a boss without being as close as possible to the Soft Hit Cap/Soft Expertise Cap.

You can’t keep a boss busy if you can’t manage to hit it!

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Trial of the Champion – Eadric the Pure (Heroic)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former  Naxxramas10)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)

With the introduction of the new Heroic ++ Dungeons, you will find that acquiring powerful gear as a Fresh 80 is a lot faster and a far smoother process. The best possible choice for this slot will be the 225 Ilvl T8 item, the Valorous Darkruned Faceguard. While there are items that provide better secondary stats than the T8 helmet, we will want the T8 Helmet for the T8 item-set bonus which we will be able to activate since T8 items can now be easily acquired.

The next-best alternative for the T8 helmet in terms of items that provide Hit Rating will be the Helm of the Crestfallen Challenger as it provides a huge amount of Hit Rating!

If you already have Hit Rating from your other gear slots and already managed to activate the T8 item-set bonuses, the next-best alternative will be the Ironbark Faceguard. This item is suited only for builds that lack enough Expertise Rating! Another viable alternative in terms of gaining more Expertise Rating will be the T7 helmet, the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Faceguard. You may choose to use it strictly for the Expertise Rating since the T7 item-set bonuses will most likely be ignored in favor of the T8 bonuses.

If you can’t find any of the previously mentioned options, Thane’s Tainted Greathelm is a viable alternative that focuses on providing defense-oriented stats. It’s a solid beginning choice that is on par with the crafted items from Blacksmithing and Engineering. If you can’t find the Thane’s Tainted Greathelm either, then you will want to begin with either one of the Tempered Titansteel Helm or the Armored Titanium Goggles, with the Armored Titanium Goggles only being available for players that have the Engineering profession.

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Ulduar – Thorim (25)
Ulduar – General Vezax (25)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)

The best possible choice for the Pre-ToC gearing process will be the Conqueror’s Darkruned Faceguard! This is mainly due to the high baseline stats combined with the access to the 4-item set bonus. While the item doesn’t grant the best defensive secondary stats, offering only two out of three defensive stats, the Hit Rating will be crucial, especially since we have issues reaching our soft Hit Cap.

The Helm of the Faceless is the next-best option, considering the stat spread that it offers. It’s a great choice in case you managed to supplement your Hit Rating through other sources. The main issue is that you will lose access to the 4-item T8 set bonus which can be quite strong. This item is best used in the situation where you already have your T8 set-bonus active from your other items. You can also choose to ignore the 4-set item bonus during Ulduar’s progression and simply use the item for its sheer stats.

The Ironbark Faceguard fits into the same category, being a better option for progression itself while u still seek the T8 item. It’s a great item considering its overall defensive stats, especially if you are already close to your Hit Rating soft Cap. While the item has a lower Defense Rating than Valorous Darkruned Faceguard, it will still prove itself to be a valuable item due to its high Parry Rating.

The Valorous Darkruned Faceguard is an overall better choice than the off-piece items if you take into account the amount of Hit Rating, Defense Rating, and access to the T8 item-set bonuses that it offers. The only moment in which the T8 piece is worse than the off-pieces is when your entire gear has no T8 items in it.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Argent Crusade Tribute Chest (25) Heroic
Onyxia’s Lair – Onyxia (25)
Onyxia’s Lair – Onyxia (10)

The best possible option for the third phase of the expansion will be Thassarian’s Faceguard of Triumph/Koltira’s Faceguard of Triumph! This is mainly due to the very high overall stats that the item grants, with a focus on providing large amounts of defense-oriented stats and Hit Rating! The item also grants access to the T9 item-set bonuses, with the Head Slot being one of the preferred gear slots for Tier Items.

Naturally, the next-best alternative will be its 245 Ilvl version, the Thassarian’s Faceguard of Triumph/Koltira’s Faceguard of Triumph as it grants precisely the same benefits, with the main difference of granting lower overall stats due to the Item level. However, while the 232 Ilvl version grants access to the same bonuses, the Thassarian’s Faceguard of Conquest/Koltira’s Faceguard of Conquest will be weaker than the 245 Ilvl Onyxia Helmet.

The Frostforged Greathelm is a great alternative to the T9 helmet that can be used in two situations. The first situation is the following: Since it provides the same types of benefits with the main differences being the added resistances that it grants and the lack of access to the T9 item-set bonuses, you will want to use it as an Off-Piece if you already have access to the other T9 items to activate your 4-item set bonus.

The second situation is the one in which you simply haven’t gathered enough Emblems of Triumph or other T9 items and you use it as a placeholder until you can gain enough Emblems of Triumph.

On the same note, if you already have T9 items in your other slots and still require Expertise Rating, you may want to use your Emblems of Triumph on the Wow Alliance CrestFaceplate of the Honorbound/Headplate of the Honorbound to gain a large amount of Expertise Rating. However, keep in mind that this is not the most optimum choice, meaning that you may end up wasting your Emblems of Triumph if you don’t have a surplus of them.

Lastly, the Frostforged Ringhelm is weaker than the T9 helmet but you can use it as a placeholder until you manage to gain either one of the previously mentioned items. The item itself is by no means overall weak, it is simply worse than the rest of the previously mentioned items!

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former  Naxxramas 10)

With the release of the new Heroic ++ Dungeons, we gain two different potent options as a fresh level 80 that were once available from Ulduar 10. Either one of the Fervor of the Protectorate or the Mark of the Unyielding can be used as potent options, with the former being an option for builds that lack Expertise Rating while the latter is better for builds that simply require more damage mitigation.

The Chained Military Gorget remains one of the great beginning options just like in the previous phases of the expansion. This item is better for builds that struggle with Hit Rating and it may prove itself to be extremely valuable until you can gain Hit Rating from your other gear slots.

The Amulet of Autopsy is yet another viable option for the beginning of your gearing journey, however, as it is an item from the first phase of the expansion, you will want to swap it as soon as you come across the Ulduar necklaces.

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Ulduar – Freya (25) HM
Ulduar – Zone Drop (25)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)

The best possible choice for the Pre-Toc gearing phase will be the Bronze Pendant of the Vanir. This is mainly due to its very high baseline stats, especially since it gained an upgrade. The item also grants you a perfect stat spread for your secondary stats, offering you a balanced amount of Defense Rating, Parry Rating, and Dodge Rating.

Regarding possible alternatives, you have two main choices that you can consider which are almost identical. The Shard of the Crystal Forest and the Titanstone Pendant are both viable alternatives that are nearly identical with the exception of 2 flat Strength points and one different secondary stat. The Shard of the Crystal Forest is a better choice if you are not close to your soft Hit Cap while the Titanstone Pendant is better if you are not close to your soft Expertise Cap.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Lord Jaraxxus (10) Heroic
Trial of the Crusader – Lord Jaraxxus (10)
Onyxia’s Lair – Onyxia (25)
Trial of the Crusader – Fjola Lightbane (25) Heroic
Ulduar – Freya (25) HM
Trial of the Crusader – Fjola Lightbane (25)

For this specific gear slot, we section the items into two different categories: items that provide you with Expertise Rating and items that provide you with Avoidance-increasing stats such as Dodge Rating and Parry Rating.

If you still require Expertise Rating, the best possible option will be the Endurance of the Infernal/Fortitude of the Infernal as it grants the highest possible amount of Expertise Rating while also providing a great amount of defense-oriented stats. The next-best alternative will be the 232 Ilvl version of this item, the Endurance of the Infernal/Fortitude of the Infernal. However, there is also another alternative that comes very close in terms of performance while also having a higher Ilvl. The Eskhandar’s Links comes very close to the Endurance of the Infernal/Fortitude of the Infernal since it has a higher baseline and higher defense-oriented stats. However, since it provides a lower amount of Expertise Rating, it will be the worse choice.

If you already have plenty of Expertise Rating, the best possible option will then be The Arbiter’s Muse/Legionnaire’s Gorget. This is due to the very high amount of raw Armor that it grants, paired up with high amounts of Defense Rating and Dodge Rating.

In terms of increasing your overall survivability and boosting your defense-oriented stats, the Bronze Pendant of the Vanir remains a very solid option that performs extremely well. It will prove to be an even stronger option than the 245 Ilvl version of The Arbiter’s Muse/Legionnaire’s Gorget.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Trial of the Champion – Argent Confessor Palatress (Heroic)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)

For this slot, the best possible choice depends on several factors as a fresh level 80. The two main factors which will influence your choice will be following: The rest of your gear slots and whether or not you already have other T8 pieces in order to activate the 4-item set bonus or a deficit in your Hit Rating which needs to be supplemented as some of the options specialize in granting Hit Rating while the others strictly enhance your overall survivability.

If you already have plenty of Hit Rating, the best possible options will be the Valorous Darkruned Pauldrons as it grants the highest possible Hit Rating available for a fresh level 80 while also granting access to the T8 item-set bonuses. It is followed up closely by the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Pauldrons in terms of damage-mitigation stats while also granting access to the T7 item-set bonuses. The T7 item set bonuses are rather weak in comparison to the T8 bonuses, however, you will want to use any T7 items that you can acquire before acquiring the T8 items.

If you don’t have enough Hit Rating, the best possible option will be the Regal Aurous Shoulderplates in terms of Hit Rating and defense-oriented stats. As a final Hit Rating option, it is followed up by the Abomination Shoulderblades which grant a decently high amount of Hit Rating, however, since their Ilvl is 200 they will grant lower overall stats.

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Ulduar – Yogg-Saron (25)
Ulduar – XT-002 Deconstructor (25)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)

The best possible choice for the Pre-ToC gearing phase will be the Conqueror’s Darkruned Pauldrons. This is due to the extremely good overall stat spread, granting you the highest possible baseline stats, a perfect combination of Defense Rating, Dodge Rating, and Parry Rating which increases your overall avoidance and damage mitigation while also granting you access to the T8 set-item bonuses.

Depending on your current Hit Rating, you can choose to use the Shoulderplates of the Deconstructor to enhance it, however, you may find that the simple T8 Shoulder Piece is a lot better if you already have other T8 items. The Valorous Darkruned Pauldrons is pretty close in baseline stats to the Shoulderplates of the Deconstructor, however, it will provide a better choice since it further enhances your overall avoidance through Parry Rating while also granting access to the T8 item-set bonuses. Of course, this is a better option only if you already have a good amount of Hit Rating.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Argent Crusade Tribute Chest (25) Heroic
Ulduar – Yogg-Saron (25)

The best possible choice for the third phase of the expansion will be Thassarian’s Pauldrons of Triumph/Koltira’s Pauldrons of Triumph. This is mainly due to the access to the T9 item-set bonuses paired up with very high overall stats with a focus on Hit Rating and defense-oriented stats. Since we will struggle with Hit Rating, this is by far the best possible choice!

Naturally, the next-best alternatives will be the 245 Ilvl version of this item, Thassarian’s Pauldrons of Triumph/Koltira’s Pauldrons of Triumph since it provides the same benefits with only a slight decrease in stats. The 232 Ilvl version of this item, Thassarian’s Pauldrons of Conquest/Koltira’s Pauldrons of Conquest will prove itself to be stronger than other 245 Ilvl items since it still grants us a considerable amount of Hit Rating and access to the T9 item-set bonuses.

For example, the Shoulderplates of Enduring Order/Shoulderguards of Enduring Order will be weaker than both the 232 Ilvl version of the T9 shoulders while also being weaker than the previous BiS from the second phase. The only viable reason for acquiring this item at the steep price that it has is if you already acquired the other T9 items or if you can’t acquire the T8 helmet, the Conqueror’s Darkruned Pauldrons.

The main reason why the Conqueror’s Darkruned Pauldrons is better than the Shoulderplates of Enduring Order/Shoulderguards of Enduring Order is the access to the T8 item-set bonuses while also having the precise exact same types of stats with only a minor difference in stat values.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former The Obsidian Sanctum 10 Drop)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)

For this slot, you have many new possible options with the arrival of the new Heroic ++ Dungeons that can enhance your character in many different ways. The best possible option will be the Saronite Animus Cloak which grants a great mix of defense-oriented stats combined with a much-needed Hit Rating.

If you can’t find the first option, you can also use two different alternatives that can be acquired from the same Heroic ++ Dungeons, namely the Gale-Proof Cloak and the Cloak of Armed Strife. Both items come from the first phase of the expansion, serving a similar role to our first two mentions, with one of the cloaks granting you a Hit Rating and the other an Expertise Rating depending on your current needs.

Lastly, if you can’t participate yet in a Heroic ++ Dungeon, you will want to acquire the Durable Nerubhide Cape as it is a great starting item that can be acquired fairly easily. It will provide you with great initial stats that should aid you at the beginning of your journey while also being available for purchase either from a Leatherworker or the Auction House.

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Ulduar – Mimiron (25) HM
Ulduar – Auriaya (25)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)

The best possible choice for the Pre-Toc gearing phase will be the Titanskin Cloak. This is due to the high baseline stats combined with a substantial amount of Hit Rating and Expertise Rating. The item also grants you a gem socket that can be used for further stat customization.

You have only two viable alternatives for this item, depending on your current Expertise Rating. The Cloak of the Makers and the Saronite Animus Cloak are two very similar items that can be used, with the main difference between the two being the avoidance forms they grant you. While Death Knights favor Parry Rating as their main avoidance form, they will benefit just as much from Dodge Rating, meaning that it doesn’t matter which item you choose as an alternative, as both are very similar.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Argent Tribute Chest (25) Heroic
Trial of the Crusader – Argent Tribute Chest (10) Heroic
Trial of the Crusader – Lord Jaraxxus (25) HC
Trial of the Crusader – Lord Jaraxxus (25)
Ulduar – Mimiron (25) HM
Ulduar – Auriaya (25)

The best possible option for this slot in the third phase of the expansion will be Magni’s Resolution/Cairne’s Endurance. This is due not only thanks to its very high Ilvl but also because of its extremely high stats, displaying both potent baseline and secondary stats. The item itself is far better suited for builds that already have enough Hit Rating and Expertise Rating, as its focus is solely on providing defensive stats.

The Cloak of the Unmoving Guardian/Cloak of the Unflinching Guardian is the next best alternative, offering precisely the same type of stats as the Magni’s Resolution/Cairne’s Endurance, only in lower overall amounts.

For builds that still require Expertise Rating, the best alternative will be the Pride of the Eredar/Pride of the Demon Lord, as it grants a large amount of Expertise Rating. Naturally, the next-best alternative for increasing your Expertise Rating is its 245 Ilvl version, the Pride of the Eredar/Pride of the Demon Lord.

However, the Titanskin Cloak is an item from the previous phase of the expansion that remains extremely strong and it’s even better than the Pride of the Eredar/Pride of the Demon Lord in situations in which you still need both Expertise Rating and Hit Rating. If you didn’t manage to find the Titanskin Cloak, the Cloak of the Makers remains one strong option for increasing your Hit Rating if you can’t gain more Hit Rating from your other gear slots.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Animated Constellation – 32 Sidereal Essence ( Sidereal Essence Vendor)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
80 Emblem of Heroism
Vault of Archavon (Archavon the Stone Watcher)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)
The Wyrmrest Accord – Revered

Depending on your current Expertise Rating, the best possible options for a fresh 80 will be either the Breastplate of the Timeless for builds that lack Expertise Rating or the Valorous Darkruned Chestguard for builds that have plenty of Expertise Rating and require more “Avoidance”. With both items having great baseline stats, the choice is entirely dependent on the Expertise Rating.

If you can’t gain any of the Ulduar items from the new Heroic ++ Dungeons, you can confidently use either one of the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Chestguard or the Massive Skeletal Ribcage from the first phase of the expansion. With both items granting decently high overall stats, the choice depends entirely on whether you need more Avoidance which can be received from the T7 chest piece, or more Expertise Rating which can be received from the Massive Skeletal Ribcage.

However, if you can’t find a group for the new Heroic ++ Dungeons, you can easily acquire Breastplate of the Solemn Council from The Wyrmrest Accord quartermaster which will grant you a considerable amount of Defense Rating and Expertise Rating.

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Animated Constellation – 32 Sidereal Essence ( Sidereal Essence Vendor)
Ulduar – Hodir (25)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)

The best possible choice for this slot depends entirely on the rest of your items and whether or not you seek to activate the 4-item set bonus for T8. If you seek the 4-item set bonus for T8, the best possible choice is the Conqueror’s Darkruned Chestguard. This is not only due to the T8 item-set bonuses but also because of the high baseline and secondary stats that it offers. The T8 chest piece has secondary stats that aim to increase your overall avoidance while having two blue gem sockets that are perfect for Stamina gems that can enhance your overall Effective Health Points.

If you don’t seek the 4-item set bonus or if you chose to use the T8 legs, the Breastplate of the Timeless is the perfect alternative for the BiS spot. You can consider this item to be precisely the same as the Off-Piece used in this set, granting you the exact same types of stats. It will provide you with a great amount of baseline stats combined with high amounts of Defense Rating, Parry Rating, and Expertise Rating.

If you choose to use the T8 piece as your BiS, its best alternative is its predecessor, the Valorous Darkruned Chestguard. It offers exactly the same type of stats and access to the T8 item-set bonuses, however, the stats themselves are provided in a lower overall amount.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Icehowl (25) Heroic
Trial of the Crusader – Icehowl (25)
Trial of the Crusader – Argent Crusade Tribute Chest (25) Heroic
Trial of the Crusader – Anub’arak (10) Heroic

In our current setup, there are two possible BiS variants for this slot, with the BiS depending on what item you are using in your Leg Slot. If you are using the T9 legs to activate your T9 4-item set bonus, your BiS will be the Chestplate of the Towering Monstrosity/Hauberk of the Towering Monstrosity due to the Expertise Rating that it grants. Naturally, the next-best alternative for it will be its 245 version, the (Chestplate of the Towering Monstrosity/Hauberk of the Towering Monstrosity).

If you use the Expertise Rating legs (Legguards of Feverish Dedication/Legplates of Feverish Dedication), you will want to use Thassarian’s Chestguard of Triumph/Koltira’s Chestguard of Triumph as your actual BiS to activate the T9 4-item set bonus.

Naturally, for the situation in which you are using Legguards of Feverish Dedication/Legplates of Feverish Dedication for your Legs Slot, you will want to use the 245 Ilvl version of the T9 Chest Thassarian’s Chestguard of Triumph/Koltira’s Chestguard of Triumph as your next-best alternatives. The issue with the 232 Ilvl version of the T9 Chest is that it provides lower overall stats than the other available 245 options, with its only benefit being access to the T9 item-set bonuses. You will want to initially use it until you can manage to gain the following 245 items or the 245 Ilvl version of the T9 chest.

The Breastplate of the White Knight/Breastplate of the White Knight or the Chestguard of the Warden/Stoneskin Chestplate will be better alternatives to the 232 Ilvl T9 chest piece, with very similar stats to the 245 Ilvl T9. You may use them directly and simply skip the 232 Ilvl T9 version or keep the 232 Ilvl T9 version until you can manage to find either one of them.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
60 Emblem of Valor (BoE)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)

As there aren’t many powerful options for this slot when it comes to a fresh level 80 character, the best possible choice will be the Flamewatch Armguards. The item is especially good as it provides us with Hit Rating, a stat that we will struggle to optimize. Depending on whether you can find it on the Auction House or not, the Bracers of Dalaran’s Parapets provide a similar set of stats, only for a lower overall amount. The main difference is the Avoidance form granted, with one item offering Dodge Rating while the other offers Parry Rating.

While not as strong as the rest of the items, the Minion Bracers are a good option for increasing your overall Avoidance since they provide both Dodge Rating and Parry Rating. This option is better for builds that already have plenty of Hit Rating, however, realistically speaking you will struggle with Hit Rating initially.

Lastly, you may use the Bracers of Lost Sentiments for increasing both your Expertise Rating and Hit Rating if you require both of them at the same time. Keep in mind that this option will offer overall lower baseline stats than the rest of the options, meaning that you will reduce your overall survivability.

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Ulduar – Flame Leviathan (25)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Naxxramas – Instructor Razuvious (25)

The best option for this slot during the Pre-Toc gearing process is Mimiron’s Inferno Couplings. This is due to its secondary stats which are considerably higher than any other option, granting you a significant amount of Hit Rating and Dodge Rating. The only issue with this item is that it has a lower Defense Rating than other possible alternatives.

The next-best alternative is the Flamewatch Armguards, offering the same types of stats as the Mimiron’s Inferno Couplings, with a lower overall secondary stat spread. The item grants a higher Defense Rating than the actual BiS, however, it offers a lower Hit Rating and Dodge Rating. The overall baseline stats are very similar, with only a minor difference between the items.

Lastly, the only alternative that can provide great stats is the Bracers of the Unholy Knight. This item is better for builds with a considerable amount of Hit Rating. This item is better for builds that require additional avoidance as it provides a good amount of Parry Rating, and a similar amount of Strength when compared to the Ulduar items which empower Forceful Deflection.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Fjola Lightbane (25) Hc
Trial of the Crusader – Fjola Lightbane (25)
Trial of the Crusader -Icehowl (10) HC
Trial of the Crusader – Icehowl (10)
Ulduar – Flame Leviathan (25)

Depending on your current Hit Rating and how performant you are under the 8% Soft Hit Cap, you will have two main options for this slot in the third phase of the expansion. If you already have enough Hit Rating and your performance is great while being under 8% Soft Cap, the best option will be the Bracers of the Shieldmaiden/Armguards of the Shieldmaiden. This item also grants you a considerable amount of Expertise Rating besides its great baseline stats and high defense-oriented secondary stats. Naturally, the best alternative for it will be the 245 Ilvl version of it (Bracers of the Shieldmaiden/Armguards of the Shieldmaiden).

If you struggle to perform under the 8% Soft Hit Cap, the best possible option will be the Dreadscale Armguards/Dreadscale Bracers as it has similar overall stats with a focus on Hit Rating. While it provides overall lower damage mitigation, it will allow you to successfully land your attacks and taunts.

Saronite Swordbreakers/Saronite Swordbreakers can be considered the next-best alternative for the Dreadscale Armguards/Dreadscale Bracers, offering almost identical stats with the added benefit of being a BoE-crafted item. This item is more defense-oriented, offering higher overall defensive stats over Hit Rating, however, it will still provide a considerable amount of Hit Rating, fulfilling its purpose.

Lastly, the 232 Ilvl of Dreadscale Armguards/Dreadscale Bracers is extremely similar to the previous BiS, Mimiron’s Inferno Couplings, in terms of pure stat values. You may use whichever one of them as there is barely any visible difference.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
60 Emblem of Heroism/Vault of Archavon ( Archavon the Stone Watcher)
Trial of the Champion – Argent Confessor Palatress
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)

For this slot, you will have multiple viable options that depend entirely on the rest of your items. We will separate this category into two different parts which will contain Expertise Rating items and Hit Rating items

For Expertise Rating items, you will find that the most powerful option is the T8 gloves, Valorous Darkruned Handguards, which will grant you medium-high stats and access to the T8 item-set bonuses. Another viable option for Expertise Rating will be Mercy’s Hold, which grants almost similar stats to the T8 gloves. The main difference, besides the sheer number of stats, is that one will grant you Dodge Rating while the other will grant you Parry Rating and access to the T8 bonuses.

For items that grant an increase in Hit Rating, the best possible option will be the T7 gloves from the first phase of the expansion, namely the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Handguards. Another viable yet weaker option is the Gauntlets of the Master which grants a higher Dodge Rating but overall lower stats.

The early options for the gloves slot should not worry you too much as you will quickly want to gather Emblems of Triumph and gain the T9 gloves as fast as possible. That is if you don’t plan on raiding Ulduar anytime soon.

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Ulduar – Freya (25) HM
Ulduar – Mimiron (25)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)

The Best option for this slot during the Pre-Toc gearing phase depends entirely on the rest of your gear, as you have two main options. The Handguards of Revitalization are the better option if you don’t seek to use the 4-item set bonus from T8 or if you already managed to activate it from the rest of your gear slots. Its a better choice for builds that already have plenty of Expertise Rating and want to gain more Gem Sockets for further stat optimization. The item has both extremely high baseline stats and extremely high secondary stats that improve your overall avoidance and Effective Health Points.

The Conqueror’s Darkruned Handguards are a far better choice if you seek to activate the T8 4-item set bonus while also granting a large amount of Expertise Rating. While it doesn’t offer as many baseline stats or gem sockets as the Handguards of Revitalization, we will want to use the T8 Gloves since we will opt for the Legs Slot Off-Piece.

The Valorous Darkruned Handguards are the precursor to the Conqueror’s Darkruned Handguards, granting you exactly the same type of benefits, only in an overall lower amount, with the T8 item-set bonus remaining the same. If you already have plenty of Hit Rating and your goal is to activate the T8 4-item set bonus, this item can be maintained until you manage to upgrade it, working as a very effective alternative. If you already activated the T8 4-item set bonus, you can choose to maintain this item until you manage to get the Handguards of Revitalization.

The Gauntlets of the Royal Watch are a good alternative if you have overall issues with your Hit Rating that causes aggro loss. You will lose overall avoidance and Effective Health Points if you choose this option, however, the Hit Rating can be considered Mandatory. Provided you already have enough Defense Rating. This option will make it harder for you to reach the T8 4-item set bonus, as you will have fewer T8 pieces if you also take into consideration the Off-Piece legs.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Argent Crusade Tribute Chest (25) Heroic
Ulduar – Freya (25) HM
Ulduar – Mimiron (25)

The best possible option for this slot in the third phase of the expansion will be the Thassarian’s Handguards of Triumph/Koltira’s Handguards of Triumph. This is due to the item having the highest overall stats alongside its access to the T9 item-set bonuses which is very important. Sadly, ToC doesn’t grant us much room for customization when it comes to this slot, with all available items granting you precisely the same types of stats.

This means that the only viable alternatives will be the 245 Ilvl version of the T9 gloves, Thassarian’s Handguards of Triumph/Koltira’s Handguards of Triumph, and its 232 Ilvl version, the Thassarian’s Handguards of Conquest/Koltira’s Handguards of Conquest. As a reminder, keep in mind that each lower version will grant significantly lower stats, meaning that you will want to upgrade them as soon as possible! While their stats are lower, the item-set bonuses are not impacted by the Ilvl itself.

Since there are no other viable options from ToC, you will want to use the Handguards of Revitalization from Ulduar as it grants precisely the exact types of stats as the T9 item, only in lower amounts and with no access to the T9 item-set bonuses.

The other only viable alternative will be the T8 gloves, the Conqueror’s Darkruned Handguards, which offer access to the T8 item-set bonuses paired up with decently high defense-oriented stats. You will want to use this alternative for builds that lack Expertise Rating. Realistically speaking, there are far better ways to gain Expertise Rating, meaning that you will probably replace the T8 gloves as soon as you gain Expertise Rating from your other gear slots.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Trial of the Champion – The Black Knight

The best possible choice for this slot will be the Indestructible Plate Girdle. This is due to two different factors, the first being that it is a BoE-crafted item that can be easily acquired if you have enough gold. However, this item is better suited for builds that already have plenty of Hit Rating! You can also choose to add Hit Rating Gems to supplement the lack of Hit Rating, but you will deprive yourself of Stamina if you choose to do so.

The next-best alternative for builds that lack Hit Rating will be the Stormtempered Girdle, followed up by the Girdle of the Pallid Knight. Since there are not many other possible alternatives, you will want to use the Ulduar 10 item over the Trial of the Champion one, however, it all really depends on which item you can acquire faster before finding the next upgrade.

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)

The best possible choice for this slot in the Pre-Toc gearing phase depends entirely on your Hit Rating and overall avoidance. For builds that lack Hit Rating, the Shieldwarder Girdle is the best possible choice. The Indestructible Plate Girdle is the better choice if you already have enough Hit Rating and require more avoidance. The Indestructible Plate Girdle is also an incredibly powerful item since it can simply be acquired from a Blacksmith or the Auction House, provided someone already has the recipe.

You may choose to use Hit Rating gems with the Indestructible Plate Girdle, however, you would lose a large amount of Stamina by doing so. You may also choose to ignore the Shieldwarder Girdle altogether if you use Hit Rating gems, however, you may need to optimize the rest of your build to reach as close as possible to the soft Hit Cap.

Lastly, you can use the Stormtempered Girdle as an alternative to the Shieldwarder Girdle since it offers the exact same type of stats, only in a lower overall amount.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Faction Champions (25) HC
Trial of the Crusader – Faction Champions (25)
Trial of the Crusader – Lord Jaraxxus (10) HC
Trial of the Crusader – Lord Jaraxxus (10)

For this slot, the third phase of the expansion only grants items with a particular stat spread, meaning that each item uses precisely the same types of stats. This means that there will be almost no different alternatives that can be used to customize your Waist Slot in order to offer stats other than Defense Rating, Parry Rating, and Dodge Rating.

The best possible option for this slot will be the Girdle of Bloodied Scars/Belt of Bloodied Scars. This is due to the item granting the highest possible amount of stats when compared to the other viable alternatives! Naturally, the next-best alternative will be its 245 Ilvl version (Girdle of Bloodied Scars/Belt of Bloodied Scars), followed up closely by the Girdle of the Nether Champion/Belt of the Nether Champion which provides precisely the same type of bonuses, only in lower amounts.

The Indestructible Plate Girdle will actually be a better option than the 232 Ilvl version of the Girdle of the Nether Champion/Belt of the Nether Champion since it offers you Gem Sockets while also being a BoE-crafted item that can be easily acquired.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Animated Constellation – 25 Sidereal Essence ( Sidereal Essence Vendor)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Trial of the Champion – Grand Champions
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)

The majority of the items available as a Fresh level 80 for this slot will be centered around granting Expertise Rating. The best possible option will be the Gilded Steel Legplates, as it provides the best overall stat spread. The only issue with the item is that it will take a while to gain all the necessary Sidereal Essence in order to acquire it.

The next-best alternative will be the Valorous Darkruned Legguards, as it grants access to the T8 item-set bonuses. The rest of the items have exactly the same types of stats, meaning that it doesn’t necessarily matter which one you use. Archaedas’ Lost Legplates is another valid alternative which fits the same criteria.

The Legguards of Abandoned Fealty is a very similar item that grants almost the same types of stats, with the only difference being that it grants Dodge Rating instead of Parry Rating. Its overall stats are also lower than the rest of the Ulduar items, meaning that you will not want to prioritize it over the others.

However, if you already have Expertise Rating and you need Hit Rating, you may use the T7 legs as they grant a decent amount of Hit Rating. The issue with the Heroes’ Scourgeborne Legguards is that it grants overall lower stats than the other items, meaning that you will only want to use this item as a last resort.

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Ulduar – Algalon the Observer (25)
Ulduar – Freya (25)
Animated Constellation – 25 Sidereal Essence ( Sidereal Essence Vendor)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Ulduar – Kologarn (25)

The best possible choice depends entirely on the rest of your main item slots! Depending on whether you already activated the T8 4-item set bonus, you may want to use the Legplates of the Endless Void as your actual BiS or the Conqueror’s Darkruned Legguards as the actual BiS if you haven’t already managed to activate the 4-item set bonus.

Without taking the T8 4-item set bonus into consideration, the Legplates of the Endless Void are the better option for overall Damage Mitigation and Effective Health Pool, granting you astonishing stats and 3 gem sockets for further stat customization. The Conqueror’s Darkruned Legguards offers lower baseline stats but it’s a better choice for builds that don’t have enough Expertise Rating. Without taking the T8 set bonus into consideration, the T8 legs offer overall lower survivability.

The Valorous Darkruned Legguards offer the same type of benefits as the Conqueror’s Darkruned Legguards, being its precursor item. The only difference is the stat values themselves, being considerably lower while offering the precise exact same type of stats. As an alternative to the T8 pieces, you can use the Gilded Steel Legplates as it grants the exact same type of stats as the T8 pieces.

Lastly, you can use the Saronite Plated Legguards for fights where you may sustain high physical damage, as the increased Armor Value will help you mitigate some of the damage. While it may not have a third secondary stat, the high amount of Strength the item provides will empower you through the Forceful Deflection, resulting in more Parry Rating.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Argent Crusade Tribute Chest (25) Heroic
Ulduar – Algalon the Observer (25)
Trial of the Crusader – Lord Jaraxxus (25) Heroic
Trial of the Crusader – Lord Jaraxxus (25)

For this slot, the BiS depends entirely on your preference, the drop chance itself, and whether or not you are currently using the T9 Chest Piece or an Off-Set item.

If you choose to use the Off-Set chest, (Chestplate of the Towering Monstrosity/Hauberk of the Towering Monstrosity), the BiS choice for your Legs Slot will be the Thassarian’s Legguards of Triumph/Koltira’s Legguards of Triumph. You can think of it as a trade-off since the T9 Legs offer a large amount of defense-oriented stats while also making sure that you will activate the 4-item set bonus.

Since you want to activate the T9 4-item set bonus, the next-best alternatives for this optimization path will be the 245 Ilvl version of the item (Thassarian’s Legguards of Triumph/Koltira’s Legguards of Triumph), and its 232 Ilvl version (Thassarian’s Legguards of Conquest/Koltira’s Legguards of Conquest) as the next-best alternatives since they are basically the same item. The only major difference is the sheer amount of stats granted by the different Ilvl versions of the item.

Another valid option for increasing your overall damage mitigation will be the Legplates of the Endless Void. While the item doesn’t grant you access to the T9 item-set bonuses, it grants very similar stats to the 258 Ilvl version of the T9 legs.

If you choose to use the T9 Chest piece, ,  the actual BiS you will want to use is the Legguards of Feverish Dedication/Legplates of Feverish Dedication. Once again, you can think of it as a trade-off, gaining Expertise Rating and a plethora of useful defense-oriented stats alongside Gem Sockets from this item while gaining the T9 4-item set bonus from your Chest Piece.

If you choose to use the Expertise Rating legs, the next-best alternative for them will be their 245 Ilvl version, the Legguards of Feverish Dedication/Legplates of Feverish Dedication, as it’s basically the same item, only with lower overall stats.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Animated Constellation – 19 Sidereal Essence ( Sidereal Essence Vendor)
Trial of the Champion – Eadric the Pure
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)

For this slot, the best option as a Fresh Level 80 depends entirely on the rest of your gear slots and how far away you are from your Soft Hit Cap and Soft Expertise Cap. If you already have plenty of Hit Rating but require more Expertise Rating, the best possible option will be the Greaves of the Iron Army. Another option for gaining Expertise Rating from this slot is the Boots of Heartfelt Repentance. The issue with this item is that in comparison, it is considerably weaker since it has overall lower stats. This means that you will only use it for a short amount until you can gather enough Sidereal Essence.

If you already have plenty of Hit Rating and Expertise Rating, the best damage mitigation option will be the Spiked Deathdealers. You will probably want to prioritize acquiring the Spiked Deathdealers over any other item as they are a BoE-crafted item that offers a high amount of Dodge Rating, Parry Rating, and Defense Rating besides their high baseline stats.

The Plague-Impervious Boots are a similar option that grants precisely the same types of stats, only in lower overall amounts. They will also be harder to acquire since they drop in the new Heroic ++ Dungeons instead of being a BoE-crafted item. However, they will be a decently strong option if you can’t gain the Spiked Deathdealers due to a shortage of supply or lack of gold.

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Animated Constellation – 19 Sidereal Essence ( Sidereal Essence Vendor)
Ulduar – Ignis the Furnace Master (25)

The best possible option for this slot in the Pre-Toc gearing phase will be the Greaves of the Iron Army. This is due to the overall high baseline stats, paired up with high defensive secondary stats and mandatory Expertise Rating for your soft Expertise Cap. If you somehow gain Expertise Rating from your other slots, you may use the Spiked Deathdealers for increased avoidance.

It’s worth mentioning that you will most likely acquire Expertise Rating from your other gear slots in ToC, meaning that the Expertise Rating boots will be your best option if you use our previous BiS set from Ulduar.

The Spiked Deathdealers is the next-best option, granting you a high amount of damage mitigation through high defensive secondary stats. The only issue with this item is the lack of Expertise Rating, forcing you to rely on other items. On the plus side, this item can be acquired extremely fast since it’s a craftable item. All it takes is a considerable amount of gold.

Lastly, the Charred Saronite Greaves is another viable alternative if you lack Hit Rating. While the item may lack baseline stats, it makes up for it with high secondary stats such as a high amount of Defense Rating.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Lord Jaraxxus (25) HC
Trial of the Crusader – Fjola Lightbane (10) HC
Trial of the Crusader – Lord Jaraxxus (25)
Trial of the Crusader – Fjola Lightbane (10)
Ulduar – Ignis the Furnace Master (25)
Animated Constellation – 19 Sidereal Essence ( Sidereal Essence Vendor)

The choice for this slot is very similar to the Bracers Slot, as it depends on how comfortable you are operating under the 8% Soft Hit Cap. While performing under the 8% Soft Hit Cap is entirely possible and even viable, it will also force you to depend on RNG, especially for successfully landing your Taunts.

If you choose to operate under the 8% Soft Hit Cap, the BiS option for this slot will be the Dawnbreaker Greaves/Dawnbreaker Sabatons as it grants the highest amount of raw baseline stats combined with a very large amount of defense-oriented secondary stats. The next-best alternative for choosing this path will naturally be the 245 Ilvl version of this item, the Dawnbreaker Greaves/Dawnbreaker Sabatons, which grants the exact same type of stats in lower overall amounts.

If you can’t find the Dawnbreaker Greaves/Dawnbreaker Sabatons, you may still use the Spiked Deathdealers from the previous phase as it grants precisely the same types of stats, in lower overall amounts. Another added benefit of the Spiked Deathdealers is that they are a BoE-crafted item that can be easily acquired since the supply for them will always be high.

However, if you choose to ignore Hit Rating items for your other slots as well and only focus on defense-oriented items, you may find major issues in both maintaining aggro and actually hitting your target, meaning that you can optimally play under the 8% Soft Hit Cap, as long as you are as close as possible to it.

The Sabatons of the Lingering Vortex/Greaves of the Lingering Vortex will be your BiS if you choose to optimize your Hit Rating to get as close as possible to the 8% Soft Hit Cap. By doing so, you will renounce a small portion of your overall Avoidance Rating in favor of getting as close as possible to the Soft Hit Cap.

As for the next-best alternative when it comes to the Hit Rating path, the 232 Ilvl Sabatons of the Lingering Vortex/Greaves of the Lingering Vortex will be the only viable option.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Animated Constellation – 15 Sidereal Essence ( Sidereal Essence Vendor)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)
Trial of the Champion – Grand Champions (Heroic)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former The Obsidian Sanctum 10 Drop)
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Naxxramas 10 Drop)

With the release of the new Heroic ++ Dungeons and the new Sidereal Essence Vendor, you will have multiple available options as a fresh level 80 when it comes to your ring slots.

The most potent ring combination will be the Seal of Ulduar & Signet of Winter. This is mainly due to the incredible stat spread that you can gain by using both of the rings, gaining access to a large amount of Armor, Parry Rating, Dodge Rating, and Expertise Rating. From a sheer stats point of view, there isn’t any other option that grants you as many stats as this combination.

If you don’t have enough essence to gain the Seal of Ulduar, you may use the Mark of the Relentless as the next-best alternative, as it offers the same types of stats in lower overall amounts. If you can’t gain access to either of them, although you should be able to gain the Seal of Ulduar through the new vendor, you can use the Signet of the Accord as a valid alternative for increasing your Expertise Rating.

If you already have plenty of Expertise Rating from your other gear slots yet you lack Hit Rating, you will want to use the Deflection Band as a potent alternative for increasing your overall Hit Rating.

Lastly, if you have spare gold, you can choose to buy the Titanium Earthguard Ring as a starting option to help you clear the new Heroic ++ Dungeons for better items!

Pre-ToC/Onyxia’s Lair

Item
Source
Ulduar – Thorim (25) HM
Ulduar – Auriaya (25)
Animated Constellation – 15 Sidereal Essence ( Sidereal Essence Vendor)
Ulduar – Flame Leviathan (25)

The best possible ring combination is Fate’s Clutch & Platinum Band of the Aesir. This is mainly due to the large amount of stats that the pair grants you, however, the truly important part is the large amount of Expertise Rating that the rings confer. Besides the high amount of Defense Rating and Stamina you gain from the rings, the Expertise Rating will prove to be most beneficial.

When it comes to possible alternatives, there are few choices that actually can compare to Fate’s Clutch & Platinum Band of the Aesir. The Leviathan’s Coil and the Seal of Ulduar are the closest alternatives, with the latter option being a functional choice when combined with either one of the first two options. This is due to the Expertise Rating and the gem socket it offers.

The Leviathan’s Coil is the weakest choice when compared to the other rings, however, you can use it as a temporary option in case none of the other rings are available. You can also choose to ignore it altogether in favor of phase 1 rings which provide similar, if not, better stats. While the ring offers high baseline stats, the lack of a third secondary stat reduces the overall value of the item as it only provides a low amount of Dodge Rating besides Defense Rating.

Best-in-Slot

Item
Source
Trial of the Crusader – Anub’arak (25) Heroic
Ulduar – Thorim (25) HM
Trial of the Crusader – Fjola Lightbane (10) Heroic
Trial of the Crusader – Anub’arak (25)
Ulduar – Auriaya (25)
Animated Constellation – 15 Sidereal Essence ( Sidereal Essence Vendor)
Onyxia’s Lair – Onyxia (25)
Onyxia’s Lair – Onyxia (10)
Trial of the Crusader – Fjola Lightbane (10)

The best possible choices for your ring slot in the third phase of the expansion will be a combination of Signet of the Traitor King/Band of the Traitor King and Fate’s Clutch. While the Signet of the Traitor King/Band of the Traitor King is the best possible choice in terms of pure damage mitigation that you can acquire in ToC, Fate’s Clutch will be our second choice due to the Expertise Rating that it grants which is vital in our current setup.

In terms of damage mitigation, you can use Loop of the Twin Val’kyr/Band of the Twin Val’kyr as the next-best alternative to the Signet of the Traitor King/Band of the Traitor King, followed up closely by its 245 Ilvl version as an alternative, the Signet of the Traitor King/Band of the Traitor King.

If you can’t gain access to any of those damage mitigation options, you may use either one of the Clutch of Fortification or the Loop of the Twin Val’kyr/Band of the Twin Val’kyr as a potent alternative, with the former being stronger than the latter due to higher overall stats.

As valid alternatives for the Fate’s Clutch, you will want to use the Platinum Band of the Aesir as the next-best alternative for increasing your Expertise Rating, followed up by the Seal of Ulduar as a decent alternative.

The Loop of the Twin Val’kyr/Band of the Twin Val’kyr is the weakest option presented among the available choices, however, it will still serve you well in the beginning of your gearing journey until you can attain more powerful options. If presented with the choice of using this ring versus using a ring from Ulduar, you should maintain the Ulduar Rings, as they are stronger.

Lastly, a special mention for the Signified Ring of Binding and the Runed Ring of Binding which are special rings used for encounters where you will suffer heavy Magical Damage. Those two rings are used for boosting your overall resistances and can be stacked with other resistance-increasing buffs such as Gift of the Wild, Prayer of Shadow Protection, ETC.

Fresh 80

Item
Source
Trial of the Champion – The Black Knight
Heroic ++ Dungeons (Former Ulduar 10)