Emblems of Heroism… Which to get first?

December 16, 2008

With the Paladin reaching level 80 on Sunday I had the opportunity to really sit down and think about what order I was going to be purchasing my badge gear.   Let me first say that I know there are a few lists going around the web.  I now have two tanks at 80.  One of which was geared to the nines with Sunwell level gear, the other starting out in more lackluster gear.  This list is geared towards the latter. 

I offer you my own personal beliefs on what order you should be picking up your “Badge Gear”.

First off, what can a plate tank get from badges?

Off Set Pieces:

Warrior Tier 7

Paladin Tier 7

The Order:

The order here really depends on how lucky you have gotten inside instances.  There are quite a number of really nice blue drops that are actually fairly comparable.  There are also some very good, if not plain better Epic drops inside the heroic instances.

1: Heroes’ Dreadnaught Breastplate/Heroes’ Redemption Breastplate –
Taking for granted that you will be upgrading from the Breastplate of the Solemn Council, this is the biggest pound of pound upgrade you can get.  Granted, the upgrade is much much less for a Paladin than a warrior, it is still where you should be heading.  While there is a single Epic tanking chest piece in 10 man Naxxramas, it is itemized for Death Knight tanks over a Paladin or a Warrior.

Paladin Note:  Unfortunately, early on in the gear cycle you may not be able to stay defense capped with the loss of the 38 Defense ungemmed or 14 Defense loss when filling the socket bonus with Defense gems.  If this is the case, I would suggest pushing this down the list a slot and pick up #2 or #3 first.

2: Heroes’ Dreadnaught Handguards/Heroes’ Redemption Handguards –
Both sets of Tier 7 gloves are near identical.  The only real difference in them is their sockets and bonuses.  While there are 2 sets of epic tanking gloves via Reputation and Heroic boss drops, they simply do not stack up to the Tier versions.  If you happen to pick up the Horn-Tipped Gauntlets, you can choose to push these down the list.  However, you are getting such a large upgrade over these, that it is suggested you pick the tier up ASAP.  You can get lucky enough to pick these up out of the Obsidian Sanctum, but that may take longer than you are willing to wait.  However, they are definately the second best piece here.

Paladin Note:  Even if you have picked up the heroic drop, the expertise on that set of gloves is extremely less useful to us as a Paladin.  Both Hammer of the Righteous and Shield of the Righteous are both rolled as a ranged attack and can not be dodged or parried.  The +hit on the Tier 7 gloves is very important to us as it gives spell and melee/ranged hit.

3: Chained Military Gorget –
There are quite a decent selection of blue instance drops that are almost comparable to the badge neck piece.  The neck piece may be the cheapest of the items, but if you happen to have picked up the Shadowseeker’s Pendant from Ahn’kahet, it may not be the biggest upgrade for you.  The upgrade is still significant.  Do not overlook the +hit on this item.  Threat may be somewhat an after thought on a great number of early raid encounters, DPS is not.

4: Waistguard of Living Iron –
To be honest, there really is not a real reason to use badges on this early.  Ancient Aligned Girdle from Heroic Azjol-Nerub is arguably as good or a better piece.  The advantage you get with the Living Iron is the socket and the slightly spread out diminishing returns on the avoidance numbers.  The biggest plus to this piece is its socket.  While it is yellow, it gives a great deal of flexibility in socketting.  If you are in need of a little more defense to be capped, then gem it yellow.  If not, go ahead and drop a stamina gem in there for more Effective Health.  If you picked up the AAG, there is no real reason to upgrade unless you need said flexibility.

5: Valor Medal of the First War –
Moroes part deux.  What else can be said about the Valor Medal?  Ninety percent of tanks are going to be forced into using Seal of the Pantheon or one of the TBC defense trinkets in order to be defense capped.  Those same tanks are going to be either using their second trinket slot for Stamina.  Simply put, there really is not much of a permanent place for this in your equipment list until you get some upgrades out of Naxxramas.  We are at a point in progression that no matter how you shake it, Effective Health is greater than Avoidance.  Pick this up last.  You WILL want it, but there is no real reason to pick it up before any other piece.

6: Crygil’s Discarded Plate Panel –
Why?  Simply put why?  While this is flat out the best of the “easy” to get pre-raid shields, it just is not that much better than the The Royal Crest of Lordaeron or the Titansteel Shield Wall to warrant purchasing this.  If you can not get the Lordaeron to drop for you and can not afford the TSW, then this is always an option.  This will be your biggest upgrade over a blue you have after your chest piece, but there are simply two nearly as good pieces readily available.

Titansteel Note:  There are much better uses for your Titansteel purchases/cooldowns than the TSW.  The Tempered Titansteel Treads are by and by the best choice for your limited gold/transmutes.  The TSW is great, but the sheer amount of Defense Rating on the epic BS boots will be better put to use in a slot where you can not as easily obtain an epic upgrade.  If its the choice between using Badges for the Crygil and using Titansteel for a single piece, use badges and pick up the TTT with you Titansteel.


All in all, the gear is only a small selection of the Pre-Raid epic gear that can be had.  Venturing into heroics can gain you bracers, weapon, a ring and pants as well.  These pieces are often times as good or better than some of the 10 man gear from Naxxramas or Obsidian Sanctum.  The paladin choices are now pretty much spot on with the warrior choices.  We are a far cry from the days of old.


In early The Burning Crusade, we had a badge gear system designed to do one thing.  Fill in itemization gaps.  Early badge gear was mostly Resist gear, novelty trinkets and Libram/Relics.  These were all meant to fill in gaps and give certain classes (ie Paladins) a heads up on gear requirements to begin what was a much steaper raid curve than we have today.  With 2.3 and Zul’Aman, Blizzard furthered this paradigm.  We received yet more badge equipment that was designed specifically to help certain classes succeed as well as gearing for different situations.  The huge amount of shield block value on the plate tanking gear was a sign of this.

In 2.4 and the opening of the Sunwell, we saw a slight paradigm shift.  Where once we had gear meant to fill in gaps of itemization, we had gear focused on getting some undergeared guilds the opportunity to push further into content.  Wrath and 3.03 has come and we are seeing a continuation of this paradigm.  It is all about giving as easy access to the starter raid content as possible.

Is this a good thing?  Yes and no.

Making it easier to access raid content is a great strategy.  Giving us same ilevel and actual Tier gear via badges, is not.  I would really prefer seeing another paradigm shift come 3.1 and Ulduar.  Where we see itemization filler gear of a middle ilvl between tiers.  Help people get into the content, but allow them to see actual upgrades inside the content.  Oh and please, remove the Tier for badges and give us back the 3 drop per boss system.  People want a sense of feeling special and accomplished.  The current badge system eliminates a good deal of that.


  1. Is this a good thing? Yes and no.

    From my side it is a clear YES and only YES. Think about all the players that really love the game and can not effort more playtime than 6-10 Hours a week.
    This way you can steadily upgrate your gear, even without a raid space.

    Even Tier sets is fine, so everybody will have access even if they only go random raids and have no luck optaining the tokens.
    With Badges it is an easy count. If you have colected enogh get you piece of armor.

    • I think its a good thing to a point. The tier gear just really gets me. Blizzard has already devalued a number of the set pieces, just because the lack of a real 4 set bonus. To further devalue them by making them readily available through badges kind of is…

      I will agree it is a good thing. I just wish they would have given us a more “fill in the gap” mentality with the badge gear. These “filler” items were very good in TBC and allowed players that did not have a raid spot each week to upgrade themselves to a point where they were ready if one popped up for them. I just feel current itemization in badge gear is more about getting people into Naxx/Sarth, than it is to fill the gaps in itemization from those raids.

      The casual mentality is not one I have ever filled in WoW, but I do believe that it is best to cater to those people who do. Six to 10 hours a week is still a significant amount of time. The thing they did with the 10man and 25 man versions is meant to encourage those people with that amount of time to participate in them. If you want to raid, you can raid. The end of TBC culture is still rampant in early WotLK. Like we were pugging Kara 2 months ago, we now have pug Naxx’s of both flavors going full go on most servers.

      Tank gear is pretty decent across the board. However, it would have been a bit better for us as well as our dps, if we saw more items tuned towards getting and keeping us defense capped. Or god forbid, helping our DPS get to the hit cap without being forced to use blues with high hit over much better epics.

      In the end, I really do hope they move back closer to the early TBC model of badge gear with the release of Ulduar. My only question there, is that will be see Emblems of Valor from 10 man Ulduar and a higher Emblem from the 25 mans, or will be continue to see the same levels.

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