Tanking Enchants and Gems
Once you have reached level 85 as a tank you really need to start focusing on your gear progression and the enchants that you place on that gear, and the gems you place in it. With so many options available for enchants and gems though it is hard to know exactly which ones are best for which item or socket.
This guide walks you through the list of stat priorities so that you understand what each stat will do for you and then breaks it down into a very simple list of which enchant is best for which items. The guide then lists the best gems to use and some simple rules for when to match gem socket colours for the bonus and when to ignore them.
When enchanting as a Tank you need to keep your stat priority in mind. The priority for each tanking class is slightly different so you need to make sure that you know the priorities for your specific class. However, as a base line you should worry about gaining stamina first, then whichever avoidance stat you are currently lowest in.
Stamina – Stamina grants 10 health for every point of stamina. In addition, because of Vengeance, we gain up to 10% of our health as Attack Power which helps us generate threat.
Dodge and Parry – Dodge and Parry on gear provide boosts to the percentage chance to either dodge or parry an incoming attack. At level 85 you need 177 points in either to earn 1%. Both are subject to Diminishing returns once you are above a certain point, which is just below 10% at level 85.
Hit – Hit rating is required so that you do not miss with your attacks. To hit a raid boss you require 8% hit at 129 points per percent which works out to 1032 hit at level 85.
Expertise – Expertise helps minimize or eliminate an enemies chance to dodge or parry your attacks. Once you get to 26 Expertise a boss can no longer dodge, and at 55 Expertise they can not parry. Your goal is to get to at least 26 Expertise which is referred to as the soft cap. We do, however, gain 10 expertise rating points from our glyphs so that means we only really need 16 rating, each of which requires 31 points of expertise on your gear. Meaning you need a total of 481.
Mastery – Mastery provides different bonuses to you depending on your tanking class. Also depending on your class it can be one of the best stats or very poor. As a Paladin mastery provides 2.25% chance to block per point. This is not subject to diminishing returns and therefore offers the most bang for you points until you are Block Capped, which will be described later. As a Death Knight each point of mastery grants an additional 6.5% of absorption to your Blood Shield which puts up a damage absorption shield any time you use Death Strike. As a druid each point of mastery raises the damage that your Savage Defence ability absorbs by an additional 4%. Lastly as a Warrior each point of mastery grants you an additional 1.5% chance to block and 1.5% chance to critically block.
Best Tank Enchants
Now that you know which stats stack up and how, lets look at the enchants you can get that are best for each slot, working from your head down to your toes.
Arcanum of the Earthen Ring: 90 Stamina, 35 Dodge Rating
Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quart: 75 Stamina, 25 Dodge Rating
There is a lesser version available as well, however you will want to grind rep with Therazane to get this top end enchant.
Enchant Cloak – Protection: 250 Armor
Enchant Chest – Greater Stamina: 75 Stamina
Enchant Bracer – Dodge: 50 Dodge Rating
Enchant Gloves – Greater Mastery: 65 Mastery Rating
Charscale Leg Armor: 145 Stamina, 55 Agility
Enchant Boots – Earthen Vitality: 30 Stamina, Movement Speed Increase
Enchant Weapon – Windwalk: Chance on hit to increase Dodge Rating by 600 and movement speed by 15% for 10 seconds
Enchant Shield – Blocking: 40 Block Rating
Best Tank Gems
In general you should be using gems to boost your health, especially when the socket bonus is additional stamina. Therefore you should try first meet your meta requirement which is either several blues or a pair of yellows and then stack stamina gems in every socket you can regardless of colour, unless of course the socket bonus is over 20 stamina.
The exception to this is potentially with mastery and trying to reach the block cap for paladins and warriors, where mastery is such a powerful stat. In that case using mixed mastery and stamina gems or straight mastery gems can be appropriate.
Austere Shadowspirit Diamond - +81 Stamina and 2% increased armor from items (Requires 2 Yellow gems)
Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond - +81 Stamina and +5% shield block value (Requires 3 Blue gems)
Solid Ocean Sapphire - +60 Stamina
Fractured Amberjewel - +40 Mastery
Green Gems (Count as Yellow or Blue)
Puissant Dream Emerald - +20 Mastery Rating and +30 Stamina
Regal Dream Emerald - +20 Dodge Rating and +30 Stamina
Purple Gems (Count as Red or Blue)
Defender's Demonseye - +20 Parry Rating and +30 Stamina
Guardian's Demonseye - +20 Expertise Rating and +30 Stamina
Orange Gems (Count as Red or Yellow)
Fine Ember Topaz - +20 Parry Rating and +20 Mastery Rating
The Importance of Enchants and Gems
As you can see from the above list enchants provide a lot of additional stat points to your gear. This is why it is critical that you enchant each and every piece of gear that you get, even if it is an intermediate piece that you know will be replaced soon.
The bonuses are well worth the cost, and no enchant costs a significant amount given how easy it is in the game to earn gold currently.
Looking at the stamina boosts alone from the enchants above it adds up to 415 Stamina, which is 4,150 health before talent and buff bonuses. Now look at sockets for gems. If you assume even a low number of 6 sockets on your gear at any given time once you hit 85, that means a potential of 3,600 additional stamina if you used all solid Ocean Sapphires. When looked at together with talent and buff bonuses this easily adds over 10,000 health.
This is not something you can simply ignore. In many cases the bonus from enchants are going to be bigger than the bonus in stats from your current piece of gear to the next upgrade.
NOTE: While it should be fairly obvious that this is meant for PVE since you don't really tank in PVP, this is a reminder that PVP combat requires vastly different stat prioritzation. Therefore if you are focused on PVP content, you should not follow the information provided here.