I made a post awhile back (during Wrath) talking about how I was beginning to develop a complete lack of sympathy for undergeared tanks. Cata hasn’t exactly changed that. No, I certainly don’t expect every tank to go out and buy BiS BoE pieces until they can get something better. However, I also so no reason to walk into a dungeon in complete crap when there is cheap, easy-to-obtain Cata tank gear that is literally 2-3 times better. The least you can do is to get to some sort of minimum survivability.
Seriously, which tank would you rather heal?
Tank 2: Level 80 Protection Warrior
Again, these tanks are the same level. The major differences come in with the details. Tank 1 has no professions. Tank 2 has 2 high-level professions with suitable bonuses. Tank 1 uses no potions, elixirs, or food. Tank 2 uses cheap wrath elixirs and fortune cookies. Tank 1 uses whatever random crap gear drops, regardless of what its purpose is. Tank 2 uses tank-specific gear. Tank 1 uses no gems, enchants, or armor kits. Tank 2 uses the most appropriate cheap option for enchants and gems. In case you haven’t guessed by now, Tank 1 is one of the fail tanks I’ve had to heal (sad to say, those stats are with some upgrades since I healed him) and Tank 2 is my warrior (who, btw, still has not set foot into Cata content: no dungeons, no quests).
As I said before, this isn’t about min-maxing or getting BiS on every piece at every level. It’s about getting to and maintaining an acceptable standard of quality for your gear. Don’t underestimate the power of enchants. Even though I’m using less-than-ideal enchants, I’ve picked up 403 stamina and a sprinkling of other useful stats. You’ll also see that despite the fact that Tank 1 is in almost entirely DPS gear, Tank 2 has better threat to go with his better survivability. And no, I didn’t spend a fortune at the AH. Most of the gear I made with my own Blacksmithing. The only AH item he’s wearing is the weapon, which I paid 23 gold for. By the time I vendor it it will have cost me a little less than 8 gold. So, um… yeah. Bargain shopping can get you plenty geared. Heck, even having *half* of the blacksmithing crafted tank greens at 80 will put you head and shoulders above whatever crap you get from leveling through wrath content. So, do your healer a favor and get some decent gear before queuing up. There’s a reason that Blizzard put in a complete set of tank gear at 80, but staggered the healing and dps gear over several levels.