Previously, I’ve discussed Specing & Glyphing and Buffs, Abilities & Rotations. Now we come to Gearing.

Part 3: Gearing, Gemming, Reforging & Enchanting

 “Philosophers are only men in armor after all.”
– Charles Dickens

First off, let’s run through all the stats you’re likely to see on gear so that you know what we’re talking about.

  • Primary Stats:
    • Agility (Agi) – Primary DPS stat for; Rogues, Hunters, Feral (Cat) Druids and Enhancement Shaman
    • Intellect (Int) – Primary stat for caster DPS and healers
    • Stamina (Sta) – Primary stat for tanks
    • Strength (Str) – Primary DPS stat for; Death Knights, Paladins & Warriors
  • Secondary Stats:
    • Attack Power (AP) – Increases your base weapon damage. Mainly derived from strength or agility (depending on your class). You will only rarely see this on gear these days
    • Block – Increases your chance to block melee attacks. Blocked attacks deal 30% less damage
    • Crit – Increases your chance to land a critical strike with your spells and abilities
    • Dodge – Increases your chance to dodge melee attacks. Dodged attacks count as fully avoided and do no damage
    • Expertise – Reduces the chance that your own attacks are dodged or parried by your target
    • Haste – Increases your casting speed, reduces your melee swing speed, reduces the GCD (to a minimum of 2 second) and allows certain DoT spells to gain extra ticks. Many DPS specs also have talents that allows Haste to increase the rate at which they gain resources (Energy, Focus, Mana, Rage & Runes)
    • Hit – Increases your chance to successfully hit with your spells and abilities
    • Mastery – Universal stat that “makes you better at what you do”. Every class/spec combination benefits from mastery differently. For Protection Paladins mastery increases your chance to block attacks.
    • Parry – Increases your chance to parry melee attacks. Parried attacks, like dodged attack, count as fully avoided and do no damage. You also gain parry from strength
    • Resilience – Purely a PVP stat, resilience reduces the amount of damage you receive from other players
    • Spell Power – Increases your spell damage/healing. Mainly derived from intellect. You will mostly see this on caster weapons.
    • Spirit (Spi) – Contrary to what some people will tell you, spirit is now considered to be a secondary stat and is aimed directly at healers to increase their combat mana regeneration. DPS mana users have other ways of regaining mana during combat

It’s a numbers game!

To a lot of people, combat ratings are confusing… How do ratings become actual stats? How much of a given stat do I need? How much rating do I need to achieve that? There’s a lot of maths that goes on behind the scenes in WoW but for the average day-to-day player I would recommend downloading an addon like RatingBuster. It takes a lot of the guess work out of ratings by presenting you with a simple translation of what the rating will actually give you. In addition, it will enable you to compare an item side-by-side with one you already have equipped and see what you will gain/loose by equipping it.


Now that you have an overview of all the stats, let’s look at which are relevant to you when selecting a piece of gear.

  • Mastery – Through Divine Bulwark any mastery you gain translates directly in to block chance. Given the relative strength of block (30% reduced damage for blocked attacks)  this makes mastery top of the pile when looking for gear in most cases. Mastery is not subject to diminishing returns.
  • Dodge/Parry – Both these stats count as avoidance in that they give you a chance to avoid taking any damage. Common logic would therefore suggest that you should look for block or dodge over mastery since surely avoiding 100% damage is preferable to taking 30% less. In reality diminishing returns prevents you from stacking one avoidance stat too high. For this reason you will want to keep your dodge and block chance fairly even, this is achieved in a number of ways, but mainly through reforging.
  • Stamina – In the past items with high stamina values were generally intended for tanks, however Cataclysm has changed this slightly and now most same-slot items within a given tier of content have very similar levels of stamina.
  • Threat Stats (Hit, Expertise, Crit & Haste) – These come lowest on your radar. With the introduction of Vengeance, a tank who performs their role correctly should only rarely need to be concerned about gearing for threat. Threat stats are generally the first target when it comes to reforging your gear.


While there are a multitude of gems for you to select from, there are really only a few that you should consider using:

Generally speaking, you’ll want to match gems to their socket as the bonuses in Cataclysm mostly make this worth while, however if you’re re-purposing a piece of dps gear (with a dps-centric socket bonus) you’re probably better off socketing it with a mastery gem, unless you’re already block-capped (unlikely). It’s important to also keep in mind the requirements of your chosen meta gem to ensure that it’s bonus remains active.

Personally, as a Jewelcrafter, I like to ensure that I always use my Chimera’s Eyes in the same slots so that swapping out gear for certain encounters doesn’t leave me without all three. Two have natural homes, the prismatic sockets on your belt buckle & your relic, while you’re free to place the third anywhere (prismatic sockets on bracers/gloves are a good choice if you’re a Blacksmith)


Reforging presents a new way to customise your gear. For Protection Paladins, it mainly provides a conduit to obtaining more Mastery. Your priority for reforging should run something along the lines of:

Mastery >> Dodge/Parry >> Hit/Expertise >> Is it really an upgrade?

Keep in mind that you want your dodge & parry chance fairly even when buffed so that when you’re standing at the npc (and likely not raid buffed) your parry should be a little lower then your dodge (due to BoK & Horn of Winter increasing your strength).


The final icing on your gear cake comes in the form of enchants. As with gems, there’s an extensive selection of options available, however as a tank there’s a somewhat more restricted range that you should consider:

We’re on the home stretch for this series now. Next time, I’ll be finish up by looking at consumables and profession choices for tanking.