As promised, this week I shall cover some recommended items for the up and coming druid tank. It is possible to get a nice beginner tanking set without ever setting foot in a raiding instance or a heroic. I’ve found that while cat gear is plentiful in raid and normal instances, Bear gear is a lot harder to come by, so some of these pieces you will come to know and love (or hate)…thus says the raider druid still wearing her Heavy Clefthoof Vest for oh…six months now?
So, there are five main ways you’ll get your items pre-raid: Questing, Factioning, Crafting, 5 Man instances, and the Auction House. A lot of the good core pieces come from quests, and they start early, so be ready to jump in pretty much as soon as you hit the Outlands – though to be fair, most of the good quest rewards are in Shadowmoon Valley. I personally used most of the items listed, and since I’m still around, they did their job 😉
The Jerkin of Untamed spirit is gotten early on in Hellfire and should last you until you get Heavy Clefthoof. For completing some quests for the Cenarion encampment in Hellfire, you will pick up the Idol of the Wild. For your pants, gloves, belt, and bracer, head over to Shadowmoon and do the quest lines to get yourself some pretty Ash Tempered Legguards, Verdant Gloves, a Manimal’s Cinch (80’s flashback!), and Umberhowl’s Collar. For a decent trinket to boost your defense, traverse the Twisting Nether to Netherstorm and work the Consortium quest hub to get Dabiri’s Enigma.
Work work work your Cenarion Expedition faction! At Revered, you will get Strength of the Untamed for your neck and when you hit exalted, you will get a lovely tanking weapon, Earthwarden. Since it will probably take you a while to hit Exalted, check your Auction House and listen in trade, you should be able to pick up a Braxxis’ Staff of Slumber fairly inexpensively – it goes for under 50 gold on my server these days.
If you are a leatherworker, you can make yourself some nice items around 70, and if you are not – they are BoE so you can get them from guildmates or the Auction House. Keep an eye out for Stylin’ Purple Hat and the Heavy Clefthoof set: boots, Leggings, and vest. If you are a Jewelcrafter, you can make yourself a nice trinket – a Dawnstone Crab. Side note: Jewelcraft is an expensive profession, but useful for a druid – when you are gemming three sets of armor as a feral, it adds up fast if you want to fill the sockets with blue quality stones!
So now you have probably been running instances, and while there are lots of nice things in here, I will mention these four in particular…Black Morass can reward you with Sun-Gilded Shouldercaps, it’s sister CoT instance Old Hillsbrad might set you up with a Iron Band of the Unbreakable. In Zangermarsh, a lucky run through the Slave Pens might bestow upon you a Bogtrok Scale Cloak. And last in my little list, if you have much better luck than I, you can run Shadow Labs for a Adamantine Figurine. I cannot tell you how many times I ran that instance, and never saw it drop once!
Ok, had enough yet? One more item of note. If you are very patient or overflowing with cash, you can either head to the plateau areas in Blade’s Edge Mountains to farm your very own Depleted Badge, which you combine with Apexis Shards to create a Badge of Tenacity, which is one of if not the best tanking druid trinket in the game. Since the items are BoE, you can also farm your server’s Auction House, but the going rate is usually in excess of 1000 gold.
Just remember, as a bear, AC, stamina, and agility are your friend. Items high in these things will serve you well in any spots I didn’t specifially cover. Happy tanking!