I want to make sure my opinion of this goes on the record.
On my Feral Tank gear list, I list the Mantle of Shadowy Embrace, which drops from Keli’dan the Breaker in Heroic Blood Furnace, as the best Feral Tanking shoulders you can get, strictly from PvE, prior to 25 man raids and your Tier 4 Shoulders from High King Maulgor.
This is true. If you get these shoulders to drop for you, they will serve you… adequately.
The Merciless Gladiator’s Dragonhide Spaulders are now available to purchase for 11,250 Honor and 20 Arathi Basin Marks of Honor earned in the Battlegrounds.
1,000 Honor a day is an easy goal that can be accomplished in an hour or so, assuming you are doing the daily PvP quest that adds a bonus of 418 Honor.
If you choose, there is a repeatable quest that has you turn in 1 of each of the 4 types of Battleground Marks of Honor in exchange for 314 Honor. You can turn in this quest as many times in a day as you have Marks of Honor. You can grind losing BGs and turn in 4 marks in this quest ALL DAY LONG if you have the stomach for it. (Yes, the quest had been removed, but they brought it back in patch 2.4).
Therefore, as you can see, even participating in 4 failed battlegrounds will net you 1 of each type of Mark, and turning them in will get you 314 Honor. And this is on top of the Honor you are getting from playing in the BG itself.
If you are unfamiliar with the way Battleground rewards work, you get Honor for killing your opponents, you get a little bonus Honor for taking part in a losing battle, and you gain a nice big chunk of bonus Honor for winning the battle. You gain 1 Mark of Honor of the appropriate type if you lose, and 3 if you win. If you are in Alterac Valley, you get bonus Honor every time you are close by when a PvE boss gets downed. So beig on the offense can be… rewarding.
Each Battleground is different, but it has been my experience that, for an inexperienced player such as myself, taking part in Alterac Valley is most suited to PvE gear, as the bulk of the success is based on fighting and destroying PvE bosses (Captains, Lieutenants and Generals of the opposing faction). A Feral Tank with solid gear will be very welcome to tank and destroy these bosses. Remember this.
Also, Alterac Valley, even if you lose, will on the average net you more Honor per hour that the other BGs, unless the game turns turtle, pure defense on someone’s part.
Regardless of how you decide you enjoy playing, for about an hour to an hour and a half of PvP a day, you should be able to reach 1,000 Honor. If you make sure you play at least 1 Arathi Basin BG each day, then if you win at least 3 of them and lose the rest, in no more than 14 days you can have both the Honor AND the Arathi Basin Marks of Honor necessary to purchase the Merciless Gladiator’s Dragonhide Spaulders.
Think about that. One hour a day, for two weeks. And you are guaranteed to have the absolute best tanking shoulders you will ever see until the expansion comes out or you are past Karazhan and doing 25 man raids.
Without needing to use DKP. Or hoping for a lucky drop.
And without needing to organize 5 man Heroic instance runs. It’s a goal you can easily achieve solo.
Let’s look at these two pieces for a moment.
The Mantle of Shadowy Embrace has 262 Armor, +39 Agility, +33 Stamina and +34 Attack Power.
The Merciless Gladiator’s Dragonhide Spaulders have 377 Armor, +30 Strength, +21 Agility, +39 Stamina and +14 Intellect. They have +21 Resilience Rating, and two sockets. If you were to acquire a second piece of the set, say the Helm, then on top of the resilience the new piece already has, you’re getting the 2 piece set bonus of +35 Resilience. Welcome to damn near uncrittable already.
Assume you are trying to balance these two shoulders, and put Delicate Living Rubies in the two sockets for more Agility. That let’s you break even on Agility, or close to it, gives you more Stamina, you get twice the Attack Power from the Strength, a boatload more Armor, and the Resilience is all pure win to bring you closer to uncrittable. We’re not talking a little better than the best PvE shoulders prior to 25 mans, we’re talking a LOT better.
But.. the sockets give you flexibility. Instead of adding more Agility to increase your Dodge, you could put two Solid Stars of Elune in there, giving your shoulders +63 Stamina.
Shoulders with +63 Stamina. And 377 Armor. And +21 Resilience. And Hell, let’s throw a respectable +21 Agility on there.
Are you serious? It’s enough to make you weep.
So… you don’t like PvP?
Do you like to tank? Hmmm?
If so, then suck it up, PvP the bare minimum necessary, and get these damn shoulders.
I’m not kidding around anymore, just do it.
Oh… and don’t forget, that Honor is Honor, it doesn’t matter what level you are when you earn it. Marks are the same way. You’re not level 70 yet? It doesn’t matter, you can PvP in BGs at every level past what, 10? You can be earning Honor in little bitty chunks when you’re bored and climbing on up, and have all the Honor you could ever need ready and waiting for you.
So… you don’t like the asshats in BG chat?
Hey, I sympathise… I totally understand.
That, my friends, is the price you will pay to be a badass tank.