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Armor Specialization

2010/07/23

The latest Cataclysm beta build includes Armor Specializations for all classes. This means that when you wear a full suit of the highest armor class you can wear you get a 5% bonus to your primary stat. For Paladins this means wearing only plate. Ret will get a 5% Strength bonus, Holy 5% Intellect. Yummy, free Intellect.

This means it is very unlikely to be a good idea to equip one non-plate piece. Maybe if you have a number of better mail, leather, or cloth pieces, it is still an improvement, but it needs to offset a large amount of Intellect or Strength now.

Besides the free stats, the main advantage of this is that it become clearer what gear belongs to what class. I think this is a good thing. You can focus your itemization on your own armor class now. Trying to accomplish this was a goal of the developers, and luckily they use a healthy chunk of stats to persuade you.

Holy plate

The problem with itemization for Paladins is spellpower plate, which is the only gear itemized for only one spec. We share some of our, but are the only tree where no one else can wear out actual armor pieces. There has been debate about whether it is ok to snatch up mail pieces now, and while I try to be careful not to hoard gear that is a bigger improvement for others, the fact is they are often simply better, usually by giving more haste.

Armor specialization means this will likely end, which should be a benefit to everyone. The thing is, the developers now need to provide especially Holy Paladins with good enough gear to have choices to gear up. Having only one piece of gear to choose from per slot is boring, but having a bunch of suboptimal pieces will cause us to have to choose between two bads: badly itemized gear, or 5% less intellect.

The developers know this though. Even though Holy Paladins have the comforting feeling nobody else is able to touch their gear, more specs will have less competition now. I hope this means Holy will get to choose from the stats they need on their own gear now, and have nice off-set pieces besides tier 11.

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