Thanks to BBB, I now have a few readers. Or at least had a few readers before taking a vacation and not updating in a couple weeks. Sorry guys. On the flip side, I got to see Endor. It's pretty amazing to go to a park and be able to see where they filmed certain parts of a star wars movie, remembering where they did this and that. Mostly it was amazing just going to see these huge trees that have been around longer than Europeans had been in the Americas.
Hadn't quite remembered in RotJ that there were so many mosquitoes on Endor. Hmm.
Anyway, onto meaty bits - Cats and Karazhan! Or more accurately, Cats and what you should look for in Karazhan. What I've found tends to happen to most ferals in terms of gear is something like this:
1) you get priority for bear gear
2) you get to roll against warriors and priests for tier gear
3) you get whatever bits and pieces people don't want for cat gear
What this means in practice is that for the most part, you won't get a lot of gear out of Kara for your cat on the first few tries. Fortunately everyone runs Kara a billion times for badges anyway, and a lot of the leavings are great for cats. There's a lot to offer a cat too in here, but keep in mind that quite a bit of this gear will be replaced very quickly by badge gear, pvp gear and other sources. Here's a list of the gear you should aim to get out of Kara, ordered from highest priority to lowest.
Stuff you'll never replace:
1) Stag-Helm of Malorne. Drops from Prince. This is a great piece of cat gear with a good socket bonus, a decent socket (agi/hit is good here), tons of strength and is in a slot that is very hard to find upgrades for. The next best obtainable items are all pvp gear. The important thing to note here is the set bonus:
"Your melee attacks in Cat form have a chance to generate 20 additional energy"The 2-piece Tier 4 set bonus is so ridiculously powerful it's not funny. It's kinda sad, actually; the most optimal setup for a druid geared in full T6 and a fair amount of sunwell is to still keep 2 pieces of Tier 4 gear for this bonus. Only when you have every single piece of great loot from Sunwell does it make sense to get rid of this. It's that good. And even more importantly, the T5 and T6 helms are not that stellar for catform, so this is likely one of the two pieces of T4 gear you will use. Between the good enchant you can get for it, the ability to use a dps meta instead of a tanking meta and that T5 and T6 simply aren't great for kitty, you'll keep this for a long, long time. Until this drops, run Kara weekly.
Stuff you'll replace maybe, sometime, if you get lucky:
1)Drape of the Dark Reavers. Drops from Shade of Aran. This is a really strong cloak for Cats - agility, stam, and hit rating all are strong and scale well over time. The only time this isn't as good is when you're hit-capped, but it's still excellent to have options. There are better cloaks - but they drop from Kael'Thas in The Eye and Teron Gorefiend. Or some big ass demon.
Stuff that you'll replace if you're a raider:
Garona's Signet Ring. Drops from Curator. This has a lot of possible replacements, but all of them are either from T5, T6, or Sunwell. PvP doesn't cut it here either. The high agility and hit are the big winners here.
Ring of a Thousand Marks. Drops from Prince. Not quite as good as Garona's Signet due to the flat crit rating instead of agility, this is still a good piece and better than anything you'll get pre-T5, save Angelista's Revenge.
Stuff you'll replace when you get your badges together:
Edgewalker Longboots. Drops from Moroes. These are a very good piece that should last a long time. Agility, hit, and stam with only attack power as a meh stat all make it nice, and the two sockets make it somewhat customizable. It will be upgraded via badges, but it is a small upgrade and will be upgraded fairly late in life.
Skulker's Greaves. Drops from Netherspite. These are some of the best pants you can get in the game. The badge pants are better, but they're also expensive and only a slight upgrade here, so it's very possible these will be the last piece you upgrade. One interesting thing to note is that the Tameless breeches are both great for bear and cat form, so you may want to use those if you can't get these. If you can get these though, jump at it - the potential high agility is great.
Terestrian Stranglestaff. Drops from Terestrian Illhoof. This thing is awesome. Oh, sure, other staves do more DPS. Other staves have better stats. But nothing matches the coolness of having a squid on a stick, save perhaps voodoo gnomes. It's not a bad DPS staff either, and will work well until you can replace it via badges.
Gloves of Dextrous Manipulation. Drops from Attumen the Huntsman. Really stellar glove stats here combine with two sockets to give a nice piece. These are only slightly worse than the S4 gloves when socketed with two delicate living rubies, and will only be a small downgrade from the badge gear you can get.
Gauntlets of Malorne. Drops from Curator. You should already be going after this for the bear form gear, but you still should go after this for cat at least for a bit. Getting the 2pT4 bonus is amazing. The gloves themselves are pretty poor for dps, but the bonus is sexy.
Stuff that you'll replace as soon as you do some pvp:
Girdle of Treachery. Chess event. These socketed with a couple of living rubies are pretty strong. Depending on your hit rating, either the Guardian's belt (if you've got enough) or the Belt of Deep Shadow or
Belt of the Silent Path (if you don't) are better upgrades, and either require pvp, badges or money to get. I'd recommend getting the Guardian's Belt and saving the badges, in case you were curious, but the best choice is to spend the cash.
Zierhut's Lost Treads. Random drop. These aren't that bad, but you can get better PvP items, better badge items and hopefully a better drop from Karazhan itself. They're not bad for Bear form either, but quickly are eclipsed by other gear there as well.
Stuff you'll replace when you grind some mats:
Cowl of Defiance. Drops from netherspite. This has no meta gem, but even in spite of that it's not horrible. It's just not that great, and every pvp helm you can get eclipses this. It's comparable to the Cobrascale hood, which isn't that great either.
Chestguard of the Conniver. Drops from Nightbane. These are better than most pre-Kara items, though the VG chest is better. The real thing you'll likely replace this with is the Shadowprowler's chestguard, which is better and not too hard to grind out. Not a bad item to get if you can't get better or are strapped for cash/time.
Stuff you'll use until you get lucky or not lazy:
Bladed Shoulderpads of the MercilessDrops from Chess. These aren't great. The Pvp shoulders are better for cats, but more importantly most of the shoulders mentioned in the pre-Kara gear guide are better. Skip these unless no one wants 'em and you don't have anything better.
Grips of Deftness. Moroes drops these. They're decent, and they help with expertise. They're not as good as the other options in Kara though, and they will be replaced soon. If you want to play with the effects of expertise, these aren't bad. Otherwise skip 'em.
Worgen Claw Necklace. Drops from Attumen the Huntsman. This isn't a bad piece, but the Shattered Sun Pendant of Might is a better DPS piece and can be bought after you've gotten rep. Since you should likely be grinding rep anyway with them, it's a no-brainer.
Mithril Band of the Unscarred. Drops from Netherspite. Not a strong item, but rings are hard to find. Probably skip this unless you're very desperate.
Mithril Chain of Heroism. Drops from Chess. Better than the saberclaw, but still a poor piece. Skip it.
Saberclaw Talisman. Drops from Shade of Aran. Really poor piece. Most quest items are better than this, as is the SSO pendant mentioned above. Skip it unless you're really lazy.
Royal Cloak of Arathi Kings drops from Moroes. Really bad piece -worse than the quest reward in Nagrand for that silly bird quest. Skip it entirely.
Bracers of Maliciousness. Drops from Maiden. Another very meh item with no agility, strength or hit. There are many better bracers from non-kara sources. Skip this.
Rapscallion Boots. Drops from Shade of Aran. Bad name, worse stats - this is the pair to the Bracers of Maliciousness in terms of bad itemization for cats. Skip it.
Romulo's Poison Vial Drops from Romulo, opera event. A very poor choice given how druid attacks work and the lack of dependence on maxing hit. Skip this for almost anything else.
And that's it! Here's a quick cheat-sheet for gear to look for, organized by boss, and color-coded for awesomeness (red) to not great (blue). Note I left off any items I recommend to skip off the list.
Attumen the Huntsman:
- Gloves of Dextrous Manipulation
- Worgen Claw Necklace
- Edgewalker Longboots
- Gloves of the Fallen Defender
- Garona's Signet Ring
- Terestrian Stranglestaff
- Drape of the Dark Reavers
- Cowl of Defiance
- Mithril Band of the Unscarred
- Skulker's Greaves
- Bladed Shoulderpads of the Merciless
- Girdle of Treachery
- Helm of the Fallen Defender
- Ring of a Thousand Marks
- Chestguard of the Conniver