I need to have a talk about this, because it happened again some days ago. A druid claiming to have equal rights to cloth as clothies because this and that. So I thought we'd give "this and that" a work-through to see if there is something valid there or just plain old scrooginess.
First of all, yes I do main a clothie. A healing priest to be precise (disc/holy dual). I agree I might be somewhat biased by this, after all it is some of my loot you're after (I don't care much about the hit-rating loot though). I will try to keep this in consideration for the following arguments and so could you. I also agree simply saying "clothies should have cloth because it's cloth" isn't a wholly worthy argument. More is needed.
1. Ok, so let's look at some arguments pro. Or actually the argument I get to hear. Some of the cloth loot is simply BestInSlot to balance/resto-druids. While I haven't checked into this myself I have simply taken the druids word for it and so for this discussion will assume this is true.
I do think that if something is the besterest you can get your hands on you should have some shot at attaining it. Question is of course, should you have an equal shot as say someone who can't get anything else? So Blizzard have put slightly more/better stats into some cloth-gear. Why? No one knows. Perhaps the druids get punished by having that extra armor in their leather, which they apparently care very little for. This means in cloth, some armor has been turned into say spirit or intellect instead. Maybe most druids think there is too much spirit in the leather gear and want the spirit free cloth loot? There is spirit free leather loot too though so that can't really be it.
I can digg that one would prefer another stat over armor, heck maybe even stamina if you're a caster. So is armor such a worthless stat for caster-druids? Let's keep this to a pve-setting. Neither resto nor balance has any aggro reduce skill which means once they get aggro they have to live it through and wait for someone else to help them. Druids can't use shields either but have been compensated by this by getting extra armor in tree respectively chicken form with the possibility to increase it further with Bark Skin (which actually reduces dmg taken and therefor also works for spells). This would indicate armor is of some matter to druids. Clothies who don't have armor have threat reduce skills of varying quality so it would feel safe to assume Blizzard has planned it to be either armor or threat reduce skill to keep you safe. This is true also for shamans and paladins. Of course this doesn't have to have anything to do with how it works in game. It wouldn't be the first, and surely not the last time, Blizzard thought something would work some way and it definitely didn't in the end.
Is armor too easily frowned upon by druids? Can they play equally well (or better as they would claim) in cloth? This might not be completely impossible. I'd even stretch to say this is a fair argument in the druids advantage. So let's move on to the next argument and issue.
2. "There are way more cloth loot than there is leather with spellpower". I have heard this too and of course, everytime someone says that I have to say "could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that there are three times as many clothies than there are spellpower using leather wearers?".
That's a simple fact. There are three classes sharing approximately the same cloth loot (the only difference being whether you need hit or not) and only one class using spellpower leather. Therefor it should be about 3-1 cloth vs spellpower leather. And again of course, Blizzard most likely plan their loot tables after the assumption that class distribution is somewhat equal, which of course doesn't have to be the truth. Druids are very popular and resto and boomkins more so over ferals (at least on my server). Druids are actually the third-most played class after Paladins and Death Knights. But the differences are still not large enough to claim that there is too much cloth loot in comparison to cloth users. There are still alot of cloth users out there. Over at -http://armorydatamining.appspot.com/general?t=PopBigPicture- you can see for yourself that in November 2009 druids were played by 10,4% of total, while clothies made up 26% of total. Ok not three times as many, but removing the ferals from the pool would make it pretty damn close.
Are the cloth drops really three times as many? Let's look at our most recent instance addition - Trial of the Crusader. Looking at 10-man normal and disregarding anything but cloth- required and leather- required (and only counting one side, in this case horde-drops) one finds 8 cloth items and 3 spellpower leather items. Wow, that really is one third! At 25-man normal the stats look better though (for druids anyway); 11 cloth-items and 5 spellpower leather items. Hmm, half.
Let's add it up; if druids could need on cloth as any other cloth that would be an approximate (just a hip-shot here, I admit) 27% increase in the clothie-population (7% total casterdruids to 26% total clothies assuming one third of the druid population are ferals). Unfortunately my math skills suck so badly any attempts from me to crunch numbers beyond this would make you laugh (actually you probably have already). But in any case we've seen that spellpower leather is more common overall compared to the amount of spellpower leather-user population than cloth is common to the clothie-population. No one in their right mind would say it would be fair to give something to someone that already has more? Would they? This would mean this is an argument against druids being able to roll on cloth.
So to the conclusion.
We've seen two arguments around this issue and they end up in slightly for and slightly against. It appears it differs somewhat between a 10-man and 25-man setting and of course it could differ even more in another raid all together. Also once could take into consideration how many clothies one has in the raid compared to how many caster-druids. In 10-mans this could matter.
The fact that cloth is better itemized for druids than the leather loot in some cases is according to me a pretty strong argument and maybe something Blizzard should look into. Unfortunately I don't think the stat-gains are that huge that it would warrant an extra strain on the clothiedrop-pool as spellpower druids already have their fair share. What are we talking about here anyway, 2 extra spirit? 5 extra haste-rating?
No cloth for the druids in other words!