Gear. It comes in many different flavors and we all want it. But there's a fairly annoying problem with it. Some kinds of gear have a lot of competition, and some have almost none. So today I'm going to look at armor, how it's currently split, and how I'd like to see it redone in Cat.
First off, cloth. Cloth gear has the most competition (3 specs of mages, 3 of warlocks, and 3 of priests). It also only really comes in one flavor, caster. And,let's face it, the crit chickens and trees also like cloth.
The only way to take some pressure off would be to make priests, warlocks, or mages able to wear leather. Personally I would kinda like to see disc priests in leather, but I am easily amused like that.
Leather. Comes in two flavors, melee dps and caster. Melee dps leather gets used by 3 specs of rogues, feral druids, and maybe by a hunter or enhancement shaman dipping down. Caster leather gets used by two specs, trees and boomies.
Mail. Caster mail is for elemental and resto shamans, and apparently also for holy pallies if the shammies don't want it. Physical/melee/ranged mail is for 3 specs of hunter and enhancement shamans.
Plate. Tank plate is for prot warriors, tank dks, and prot pallies. DPS plate is for DKs, ret pallies, fury warriors, and arms warriors. Spellpower plate is for holy pallies, who would often rather have caster mail instead because of itemization.
Now, how to simplify this? Well, there will be a clear delimitation between dps cloth and healing cloth in Cat, which will help. And Blizz is doing several more things to make loot a bit simpler (and keep people from dipping down into a lower armor class), but I have another idea I think is nifty.
First, combine resto shammies, resto druids, elemental shammies, and boomkins into one armor group. Make them all care about the same stats, then either a) make the armor you drop for them change from leather to mail depending on who's wearing it, or b) give the shamans a talent that raises leather to mail values and make sure there's no penalization for them wearing leather. Either way now you've combined two small categories into one larger one.
Second, holy pallies. Why not do the same for them as we're doing for the caster shamans and druids? That would mean no more spellpower plate! Since spellpower plate makes it both difficult and easy to gear (Difficult in that there's not a lot of holy plate to drop, but easy because there's not much competition when it does drop), I am all for it wandering off.
Thus you'd end up with two armor groups for healers. One for priests, and one for everyone else. And with more specs in each group, you can vary the secondary itemization slightly without creating useless pieces of loot. Plus, if you no longer need to have spellpower plate and caster mail drop, you can drop more of the other types. The only armor group with less than 3 specs in it would be the cloth healer group, and there's enough healing priests out there that I doubt it'd be a big problem.
You've still got a bit of a crowd in the cloth dps group (7 specs) and plate dps groups, but with some open spaces on the loot tables from removing caster mail and spellpower plate, you can add in some more cloth dps and plate dps drops.