Choosing how to spend your Emblems of Frost is also a decision on whether you get the 4-piece set bonus, which is particularly complicated if you’re a strict 10-man tank.
For DKs, we are alone in having a fucking awful 2-piece set bonus. Look at it. Useless for every boss fight in ICC. That bonus is an insult.
The decision on set gear is different for a tank who is unlikely to get into a 25-man ICC to one who is confident they’ll zone into 25-mans. The self-nerfing feature of ICC might allow PUGs to succeed there more in the future. A tank in 25s can expect to upgrade their i251 set gear into its i264 version. A more strict 10-man will not.
A hardcore 10-man will see the hard-modes though which drop i264 gear. Deathwhisper drops a Ghoul Commander’s Cuirass which has normal 10 and heroic 10 versions. In comparison to Cat chest though; Cat has the EH from armour which I prefer.
A tank who is not anticipating 25-man raids can therefore look at the Emblem of Frost chest and gauntlets, and the crafted [item]pillars of might[/item] as their path to i264 gear. However, the 4-piece bonus is really good since you could use it every minute.
So should I get the i264 off-set items if it means I cannot get the sweet 4-piece bonus? I’m not actually sure (yet). I don’t know if my guild will go into hardmodes, or how far, since I joined recently and didn’t see how they fared on Ulduar or ToC hards. Update: I checked and hards are not on the agenda as a goal per se. (I’m in a one-night raid guild with lots of great raiders who can’t raid every night, quite a few former hardcores). That makes it easier for me to plan.
You could get one off-set i264 and keep the set bonus, or get three off-set items but no set bonus. For either path, the crafted [item]49907[/item] are an option if you’re wealthy enough.
For a tank who is going into 25-mans, the answer apparently is you should get the 4-piece bonus. Splug says you’ll want it for Arthas. I trust his opinion and haven’t analysed that much. (You might know him from the tankspot videos or from other tank forums.)
So with no 25-mans nor hardmodes, here’s a wowhead comparison of the Cataclysmic Chestguard versus Scourgelord i251 chest. It shows how odd the itemisation is on both: one with no defence and the other with loads of expertise.
I just noticed the socket gem rule I usually work on doesn’t apply to Cat, because it has three sockets. If the bonus is +9 stam I gem to match socket colour, but for three gem sockets, I don’t think +12 is enough. I’ll put 30 stams in it instead of matching colours.
Man, it’s not easy.
If the decision was simply one piece of gear versus another, it’d be simplified, but I also need to factor in whether I’ll get into 25-mans or 10-man heroic-mode, plus whether I can afford to craft the i264 legs and i264 feet.
I have no idea what to do yet, and I have 60 EoF waiting on my decision.