A final word on Druid tanking shoulders

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.


23 thoughts on “A final word on Druid tanking shoulders

  1. if you can’t beat em, join em.

    so saturday i finally decided that after this blog and having checked out some details on thotbot and rawr i needed these shoulders – even over and above my already epic crafted shoulders from a MH/BT trash drop.

    and lo and behold i’m told its AV weekend ?? double rep….i mean honour ! :p

    so by yesterday morning I was able to purchase my new Merciless Shoulders 🙂 gotta gem them up now – 2 15stam gems is the plan.

    and what’s more i am still doing pvp /yawn /cry as i need the helm to, which will replace my Stylin Purple !

    so thanks for this post on the Blog BBB. i still hate pvp – AV is just such a mess of un-coordinated people doing their own thing it seems that win or lose is somewhat random !

    WSG was ok – only been 1 time but its the wow version of Quake CTF from many many years ago ! AB is fun when there were 5 of us in their together trying to do some sort of co-ordination.

    Not sure on the Eye yet.


  2. indeed BBB.

    roll on WotLK and let all our current epics become the new greens ! :p

    i just remember wow in the old days b4 Blizz went and introduced damn pvp. so for those who remember B-PVP, as in Before PVP i salute you 🙂 All that happened then was a major battle always used to take place at Tarren Mill.

    The ally’s would come and try to stomp Tarren Mill and a few of us horde would try to stop them, given i think my server at the times was something 70-30 in favour of alliance characters.

    i’m going to talk to some people in my guild about how painful it would be for me to try to attempt to get these shoulders – which seriously rate over my very expensive (2 hearts of darkness!) Swiftstrike ones 😦

    but my heart is not into pvp so i expect in the end i’ll just try to forget that i could spend time getting these (easy) pvp epics shoulders.


  3. I’m sorry, Kheldar. I really do understand that soe people just don’t want to do PvP, because they just don’t enjoy it, and don’t see the point in doing something they don’t like just for loot. It’s not fun, so why do it?

    I guess it really depends on where you feel youa re at. If you are a new 70 feral looking for shoulder options, then in one jump you can get these… or you can do some running of Heroic Hellfire instances.

    If you’re not in a big rush, however, or you’re working on other stuff, you could just get the PvP Blue quality shoulders directly from a Rep vendor and look for other upgrades first.

    In the end, just remember we’re only a few months away from the next expansion, when the current ‘best’ gear lists go right out the window. So patience is a virtue if you don’t want to PvP.


  4. damn i do detest pvp but those merciless shoulders look pretty amazing.

    i currently use the Swiftstrike Shoulders as i bought the pattern off the AH cheaply and made myself a set as i’m a LW. before these i think i was using a blue set, Talbuk something or other ?

    i cannot remember all the stats on the Swiftstrike but i’m pretty damn sure they dont match up to the pvp ones 😦

    i just dont dont dont wanna have to do any pvp /cry


  5. As far as feral druids it is simply easier to go with resilience then with defense. Defense is a slightly better stat in that it increases your chance to be missed and dodge slightly. But since the availability of said leather is so rare past the clefthoof set and earthwarden it really doesn’t pay to go with defense anymore. Since our main goal with defense or resilience is to get to uncritable resilience gets us there faster and with the availiability of pvp gear now… it simply makes the most sense.


  6. BBB – Does this mean you are of the mindset of being uncrittable via Resilience as opposed to with Defense Rating? I am currently built on Defense, but I’ve always considered making the move to tanking with Resilience instead.

    What do you think?


  7. Yeah, I was waiting for season 4 to start to I could pick these shoulders up for honor. Picked them and the helm up. between those two pieces, the set bonus, and the glyph of the gladiator, I think any defense rating I have is just increasing avoidance.
    Given the itemization I’ll have available, I’ll be wearing these just about until full tier six is available: being able to pack so much crit immunity into such a small amount of slots is huge in allowing other slots to focus on stats.
    Lushere on Argent Dawn


  8. oh HELL no Kikidas… I am ALL OVER the ‘where is that little prick healing the enemy, his ass is toast’ strategy.

    In fact, my thought process usually goes “Ah, I see you smartass, let’s get a little dot action on your ass, a little SW: Death, pop a fear and let’s see if I can get a Stun proccing… hey, the little bastard is still at half health… okay, where is the little prick keeping him aliv…. oh, THERE you are! Hello, lunch!”


  9. Caelean@Akama said
    “Now I just need to find a guild that needs a tank.”

    If you’ve only ever done one heroic, you’ll also have to learn how to tank 😛


  10. Be prepared to die if you’re Alliance.

    I’ve played BGs on both sides pretty extensively and my experience has been that the Horde are just simply better at communication.

    My theory is that pre-2.3, the map imbalance in AV favored the Alliance to such a degree that many of the better Horde players wouldn’t play the map unless they needed the marks. Instead, they moved on to other maps like Arathi Basin which required much better communication in order to win.

    Many Alliance, by contrast, were simply rewarded by the “rush at all costs” strategy that dominated the old AV. This was not only a winning strategy, but one that required little communication. My feeling is that this stunted the Alliance community’s growth with regards to learning how to communicate. In fact, the “rush at all costs” strategy applied to almost any other map has little chance of winning.

    So Horde were learning to communicate to win and Alliance were learning to “rush at all costs” to win. Now understand that’s a generalization and both sides have people of the other type. It’s just that the % of people willing to communicate for the Horde might be like 40-45% and with Alliance it might be like 10%. In a PuG, that’s the difference between winning and losing many matches.

    I can’t prove any of this other than to say that’s my theory after the thousand or so BGs I have done across both factions.


  11. Bah you druids have it easy for tank shoulders- paladins get screwed- best I can get are spaulders of the righteous before 25 man raids:(


  12. (P.S. I tried out a resto spec last night for arena; it didn’t go well. Please ignore current talent spec and gear. 🙂


  13. So far I’ve been in exactly 1 Heroic (Setthick Halls for my epic flight form), and never been in a Raid.

    Thanks to BBB, emmereld, the AH, and welfare epics, I’m sitting at 25500 armor, 15500 HP, and 30% dodge unbuffed.

    Now I just need to find a guild that needs a tank.

    (Welfare arena points are also REALLY easy to get. Join a team, play 45 minutes – 2 hours a week to get your 10 matches. Disband the team every two weeks if your rating goes down too far, and start a new one. In 4-6 weeks, you’ve got a T5-T6 equivalent item for 120g and 6 or so hours of playtime. It goes even faster if you can get together a 5 man team; I usually play in a 2-man.)


  14. Just a note for feral druids who are PvE specced and PvE geared in BG’s… it sucks. And if you aren’t a PvP oriented person and hate trying to kill someone and dying and dying and dying…

    Go resto/balance. Buy the rep-purchasable PvP gear, then heal your little tushy off.
    1: Honor Kills go through the roof. Sure, you do no/little damage, but next time you’re in a BG, look who has the highest HK’s. The healers. HoT’s = Love
    2: Sometimes the difference between a winning battleground and a losing battleground is a single person healing the flag carrier, the node defender, the node taker, the tower holder, the tank on Drek…
    3: Be prepared to die if you’re Alliance. The Horde are very good at the ‘find the healer and kill it’. But surprisingly, resto druids with barkskin, nature’s perfection, nature’s swiftness and nature’s grasp are… not as easy to kill as you’d think. O.o Horde druids .. you lucky SoB’s. The Alliance hasn’t caught onto the whole ‘kill the healer and the DPS die’ tactic yet. We’re still sitting over there beating on the rogue going, “Why he not dying! lolz”


  15. Picked my shoulders up the other day and they are indeed awesome (and who can resist the constantly sprouting little flowers ).

    (@Raarrr — yes, they have a yellow and red socket, but you can still use any gem you want in them. You just lose the bonus of +3 resilience for not matching the socket colors. That’s well worth giving up if you’re already uncrittable from other gear and want to stack STA or AGI instead.)

    Thanks again, BBB, for putting together such a great tank gearing up guide. It really served me well as I’ve brought up my first druid. I’m still working on my tanking skills, but feel very comfortable gear-wise thanks to you!

    Hope someday we’ll see your kitty gearing up guide too 🙂


  16. I have been using those shoulders for a while now, as my guild is still undermanned for 25 man raids. BBB is right that these shoulders are the best outside of 25 mans.

    I have 2, one setup for Tanking and PVP. Don’t forget to get those shoulder enchants!!

    To Raaarrr, I rarely go for the bonus as the epic gems will have higher stats total. Just in case you don’t know but any color gems can be used.

    Happy Tanking!!


  17. BBB, Thank for for post!!!! I totally agree these are awesome and easy shoulders to obtain. I got them this last weekend, did some PvP over a few days, and got the honor & marks a lot quicker than I expected.

    I kinda hate PvP too, but if you win matches, its fantastic. Its so easy to get gear. Give those heroics a break, you’ll love it: no marking, no responsibility for the team, no LFGing… hahaha and you cant possibly wipe. Take a break from all that complex tanking and goof around in battlegrounds, and you’ll have a great upgrade by the end of it. I did it exactly the way BBB lays out, to maximize earning potential. There were times we outnumbered the opposition 13 to 6 – and even the alliance cant loose matches like that 🙂

    I got a good sense doing all this PvP, why raiders get annoyed with “welfare epics” – because they’re so damn easy to get, and they’re guaranteed. But goddamit, raiding is just so much FUN, so I’m not going to be going over to the PvP side any time soon. And good luck to any hardcore PvPer who shows up to Black Temple kitted out in pvp gear. I dont believe they’re going to be of much use – it just aint the same game.

    So dont feel bad, swallow your misgivings, and go kill some tauren and undead warlocks. I promise you’ll feel GOOD about it! (hmm, well maybe not if you’re horde…)

    btw, the shoulders look AWESOME. They’re purpley and barky and misty, and have little blossoms blooming & fading. I put a couple of 15 stam gems on them.


  18. “If so, then suck it up, PvP the BARE minimum necessary, and get these damn shoulders.” (emphasis is mine)

    LOL – unintended, I bet – but still awesome. Thanks for the tips, you’ve just convinced my bear hubby to PvP for 2 pieces – saving me from having to try and heal a heroic. You’re a god-send.


  19. I totally agree with you about these shoulders. Couple these with a bunch of badge items and it makes you a formidable tank. Hell, I am one of the MT/OT for our guild (5/5MH, 5/9BT) and I still use these as my tanking shoulders. Pop a couple of the now widely available 5 resilience/7 stamina gems in them and you have an amazing 31 resilience/53 stamina on top of the armor and agility! If you don’t need the added resilience then 2 of the 15 stam gems will give you 69 stamina!


  20. Don’t the shoulders have a red and yellow socket? Or am I missing something?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m getting those and the helm… and probably a couple more pieces, but I don’t think you can socket them that way.

    Oh, and play Horde… fewer asshats in chat. 😉 Well, at least on my battle group.


  21. Back when I started doing kara (pulls out cane) there were no arena sets for honor. Now that you can get merciless for honor there is no reason not to put in the effort to get these. Really the entire set can be utilized for tanking in kara and early 25 mans. The only thing the tier 4 outshines merciless on is the 2 piece set bonus but after that it pays just to put in the rest in pvp. The huge stamina boost is great and even with 3/5 tier 4 in my tanking set I swap in pvp pieces for stam fights.


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