Home > Gear > Button’s Cataclysm Pre-Raid Best in Slot Lists

Button’s Cataclysm Pre-Raid Best in Slot Lists

I’ve never really understood having a single “best in slot” list for tanking (or healing) gear. It makes sense for DPS, since in most cases what you need won’t change by the fight. Sure, you’ll have your occasional caster bosses or fights where you attack from the front, where melee could use more or less expertise; but generally these are fights where the raid is struggling with execution, not with DPS.

Tanks, on the other hand, have a lot to gear around. There are fights where sustained threat matters and fights where sustained threat is a joke; fights where armor and avoidance matter and fights with 100% magical damage (or nearly); fights where the most important thing is to take as few hits as possible, fights where the most important thing is to take as little damage as possible, and fights where the most important thing is to take as small of hits as possible; and of course, fights which call for X, Y or Z type of magic resistance, while gear of that resistance type is useless on most other encounters. To say that a certain gear set is best-in-slot can only really be done with reference to what it’s best at.

Set Overview

I’ll be giving my best in slot picks for 4 purposes: effective health, unhittable, mana efficiency, and threat. The effective health set prioritizes stamina and armor; since there’s no bonus armor on any of the pre-raid gear aside from trinkets, it’s mostly “how much stamina can you get?” The unhittable set prioritizes mastery and avoidance, with the goal of having as few attacks be hits as as possible. The mana efficiency set also prioritizes mastery and avoidance, but with a focus on reducing overall damage taken instead of average damage per autoattack. Finally, the threat set prioritizes expertise and hit.

For each gear set, I’m assuming that the piece in question is being gemmed with rare gems that optimize that trait – a 60 stamina gem for EH, a 40 mastery gem for unhittable, parry or dodge gems for mana efficiency, or expertise or hit gems for threat. In cases where more of the desired trait would be gained by matching gem bonuses, I did so.

I did not take into account diminishing returns.


I’m not touching trinkets. I’ll probably write a second article devoted just to them, because they don’t lend themselves to a straight-on stat comparison.

This guide is oriented towards shield tanks (warriors and paladins), with some overlap with Death Knights. Druids should probably ignore this guide completely, as agility is now so good for you that you are likely to draw your accessories from agi gear as well.

Death Knights

Obviously I’m assuming a shield tank here; Death Knights, your avoidance and mastery interact in weird ways. If I were you, I would ignore both the mana efficiency and the unhittable picks – not because you shouldn’t work for mana efficiency, but because the numbers are just not reflective of your situation.

As there is an extremely limited number of 2-handers with tanking stats, I don’t see a reason to give my picks for them. The more stamina a 2-hander has, the better it is for EH; the more mastery it has, the better it is for overall damage reduction and mana efficiency; and the higher top-end damage it has, the better it is for threat. I recommend that DKs take a look at pwnwear’s list of Cata tanking items for DK-specific guidance.


There’s an interesting fact about the way the warrior mastery scales with itself that makes any given piece of gear’s mastery’s effect on mana efficiency difficult to determine for prot warriors. Unlike anything else to do with the defensive attack table (and I swear I will get that overview of the system out eventually!), critical block is determined on a two-roll system; that is, if you have 10% chance to block and 10% chance to critically block, you will in practice block normally on 9% of incoming hits, and block critically on only 1% of them (or 10% or 10%). The two-roll system means that as your chance to block and critically block increases, in practice, the percentage of times you critically block increases exponentially.

Since this makes it impossible to judge which pieces would be more mana efficient than others for a prot warrior without knowing how much block he already has from other talents and gear, I’ve made my mana efficiency picks based on linearly-scaling paladin numbers – which is equivalent, by the way, to those of a warrior with a 33% block/critical block chance.

So if you’re ready…

Have a link.

Originally I was converting that spreadsheet to table form to embed it in the Uncrittable site itself; however, WordPress has no GUI table interface, and I was getting sick and tired of running everything through Tableizer, yet still having to muck around in the HTML to make header rows and rowspan/colspans. So you get the spreadsheet version.

Items marked in blue are what I am personally aiming for in each slot. Your mileage may vary.

For a complete list of all (tanking) blue and purple items obtainable without raiding, see the “All Gear” tab.

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