My pally hit 80 last night somewhere in sholazar basin in fact it was an oracle daily that did the trick. Of course I immediately aborted questing and ran back to the nearest bank to don my titansteel gear that I had crafted not too long ago. Between the boots, the helm, the shield and the two icebane epics (girdle, chest) I had hoped I would have enough slots / raw defense rating available to hit the elusive 540 defense cap.
After socketing in all the defense gems I could find, slapping on the right enchants and sidegrading some of my rings, basically doing everything elfingly possible on a low budget I was severely dissapointed to see that despite focussing 100% on defense/defense rating I only hit about 520 defense.
I figure I will reach the no-crit defense value of 540 with a little work (better gems, better enchants and some trinket/ring/neck adjustments) but in the meantime it seems that working with defense as a stat is very restrictive to what else you can possibly do in terms of gemming enchanting.
So there I am at 520 defense and I can't help but thinking that defense rating is somewhat hard to come by through pure questing/crafting. Sure, the items that do have defense rating on them usually have quite a bit, but it also takes a massive amount of defense rating to become uncrittable.
I suppose it's the mechanic that bothers me. You NEED to be uncrittable; not being uncrittable is hardly an option if you're being slapped around by some raid-boss unless you can soak up a lot of damage and have a healer or two that never heard of the words 'out of mana'.
Compare this to say a warlock where you stack spellpower till there's no tomorrow. There's no real set minimum there... you can go into an instance with a warlock that has 0 spellpower and it's not going to wipe the raid if the rest of the group can compensate for it.
You can't really compensate for a tank who is being crit regularly unless your healer is better than the content you're doing (as if it wasn't hard enough to find a healer in the first place).
That being said, my warlock in his paltry crafted gear does sufficient damage (by most scales) and still has plenty of room to gem/enchant outside of the box.
It's somewhat dissapointing, I had hoped to be able to stack some strength in there for some block value and general oompf but instead I will have to consider defense a top priority to the detriment of literally everything else.
Be that as it may, my paladin is officially done and will soon find his place in my scheme of solo-ing/duo-ing instances giving the old war veteran warlock a nice run for his money despite his obviously less than perfect un-critability.
Looking on the bright side my character sheet now says 'very good' in the frost resistance column with the frost resistance aura up and a quick test with one of the few frost mages left on my server resulted in the frost mage immediately re-speccing to arcane out of sheer frostration (pun intended).
The conclusion would be this: If you don't have a good chance at defense gear via raids/5mans (not everyone can play hours at a time) you're going to have moderate difficulty in hitting that elusive defense value of 540 and you will actually have to work for it a little (i.e. do more than just rely on Blacksmithing to bail you out like I did).
All fixable if you instance a lot, but in the meantime I will divert my attention to my next levelling victim: The druid (and yes I'll be posting something a little less personal and a bit more useful in the near future :P)