Friday, July 25, 2008

[Druid] What gear to get for WotLK

While I've seen a lot of articles and comments on what actually is out there for feral druids, what changes are being made (or not) to talents and skills, what I haven't seen is a good write-up of what this actually means to you in terms of gearing up. Especially for the level grind. Not that you want to optimize entirely for Wrath grinding, but...having gear that you will not replace any time soon will be very helpful starting out, both for money and for ease of use. I'll try and make a note of gear that you should specifically get now while you might be able to easily obtain it as well, but for the most part this will be a generic 'look for these sorts of things' not 'get this, then this'. If there's enough interest in the latter I'll aim to do that too.

Personally, I'm pretty bothered by what I've seen so far in WotLK. The two big issues ferals had were their subpar itemization for bears and their lack of scaling for cats relative to other melee DPS classes. For bears, the answer seems to be 'use rogue leather and like it' - which means bears will be using the same gear they're getting in TBC for a long, long time, and only replacing things when they get a tier token. This is exactly the problem that exists right now in T6; the only thing fixed is the lack of reliance on pvp to solve uncrittability. For cats, nothing they've been given scales with the gear that they'll be competing for; rogues need hit and scale well with haste thanks to their dual wielding, but cats are treated like they have a big 2-h weapon. So all the gear that is coming out for rogues...isn't that great for cats. The flip side to that was that cats had an advantage in high crit rates relative to rogues thanks to their agility boost, but that's being rebalanced so that the crit rating is the same for agility for all dps classes...meaning again, the same gear a rogue gets gives them more of a dps boost than a feral druid could ever get. Make no mistake - I don't want a feral druid to be competitive with a rogue's DPS. That's clearly ridiculous. What I would like is for them to be competitive with other hybrids, such as ret paladins and enhancement shamans. From what I've seen, that's not going to be the case, especially not without something like a Dire Cat-=level improvement. Anyway, enough QQ. On to the analysis.


The big change is not in actual mechanics or what is different in terms of stat weighing; it looks like agility will still be a very solid stat for dodge purposes, stam will be good, and armor will be good. With the change to Survival of the Fittest, bears will not need to have any extra defense or resilience, making defense fairly poor as an avoidance stat and making resilience pointless. (Resilience is also unusable in instances and when not pvp flagged in the real world, so it's even more useless). This means a lot of the itemization woes go out the window, but at the same time a lot of gear becomes less than optimal.

The big difference is that in WotLK, it is looking like there is going to be almost no leather gear with additional armor. Thus, the Tier-6/T6.5 gear is going to be superior.While it will not have the stamina and raw agility that some of the WotLK gear will have, it will have nearly twice as much armor. As an example, check out Constellation Leggings vs Thunderheart Leggings. Potentially a difference of 20 agility and 20 stam (or if you prefer, 30 agility and 5 stam) with a whopping 300 armor. The tier pieces have highest armor in the game. This isn't all that revealing, as if you're a feral you'd want to be getting these anyway. It does mean that if you're wearing something like Tameless Breeches and want to use that instead of the T6, you should seriously spend the DKP on the T6. Because of this, items with extra armor outside of the tier are going to be very valuable as well. Footwraps of Wild Encroachment are a good choice, belt of natural power is a good choice, etc. Again, nothing new; these were all good items before for a bear.

Of course, because of the requirement for uncrittability being removed thanks to talents, pvp gear is pretty irrelevant. Especially given its fairly low armor relative to other gear. So if you don't have a non-pvp item in a slot available to you, now's the time to grab one. One example is the Band of the Swift Paw vs Vindicator's Dragonhide Bracers. The latter is a lot worse in WotLK despite it being superior in TBC.

This also means some rings/trinkets/amulets need to be evaluated. The first one is Badge of Tenacity Already one of the best bear trinkets, this will become even more valuable in Wrath if they don't end up making two good armor trinkets early. I'd go so far as to say buying these and not equipping them may be a good choice, as they would likely sell for quite a bit later. Rings such as Ring of the Stalwart Protector with its lack of defense, high armor, stam and dodge are perfect and are unlikely to be replaced particularly soon. Amulets are likely to not be a particular issue given that Amulet of Wills exists in the Beta, and eclipses pretty much everything else for a bear. The only thing better might be Collar of the Pit Lord, though this is inferior with its defense and lack of armor.

For enchants, you can throw all those +defense and +resilience enchants out the window. Go for agility when you can, stam when you can't go for agility, and dodge/defense when you can't go for either. The glyph of the defender now beats out everything else.

So armor, armor, armor. Got it? Hoard anything with armor.


Cats are a very different beast. (C wat I did thar?) Unlike bears, cats are having a lot of their core stats changing and mechanics modified in WotLK, and as such a lot of the gear you have will simply not be optimal. The biggest change is the agility nerf. Agility translated to crit at a rate of 25->1%, which was stellar. That it also added AP was another great bonus. This is being changed to a 40->1% rate, which is in line with almost all other DPS classes. It also means gear that was optimized superbly for TBC is now much worse. Furthermore, strength is being stated as one of the stats to go for by comparison. This is a bit alarming, as there are no pieces of leather gear in WotLK with strength on them. Hopefully they'll fix this, but for now it means itemization for cats is pretty poor. On the flip side, +crit is going to be a much more valuable stat than it was previously. Haste is still not so great, hit is still a bit poor but will likely be better than now thanks to the lower crit rating we'll have (and thus the more likely chance there'll be of not having more combo points in a cycle), expertise is still decent, and armor pen will still be okay, good if you can stack more. AP will also be decent, but not as good as the rare strength.

Put that all together and the best gear you can look for is...PvP gear. I wish I were making that up. PvP gear comes loaded with crit, strength, some hit, armor pen, and has good other stats to match all of this. The resilience is wasted, as is the extra armor, but it is still going to be a lot better than a lot of the gear you've got on right now - especially if you loaded up agility. As an example, the Nether Shadow Tunic with it's potential 66 agi, 52 hit rating and good stam is probably not as good as Vengeful Gladiator's Dragonhide Tunic, since that has armor pen, strength and crit instead of agility and hit. The Midnight Chestguard, which was once much worse than Nether Shadow, becomes a lot better as well. str/crit gems may be the way to go too.
In terms of weapons, the brutal Gladiator is better than Stanchion now (not that it really matters). If you can't get either of those, the Staff of the Forest Lord is still great, though it's barely ahead of the VG staff. In general if you try and get the VG set, you'll have a good head start on itemization for cats, even if you have better options in other places now. That's how different things are. Unlike bears though, chances are that cats will be replacing their purples with blues fairly early on. Just make sure to not ignore the +crit items this time.


Brad said...

What do you think about the bloat in the feral tree? My worry is that since they seem to want to make us choose Cat or Bear that we're not going to be able to do both as well as we did in TBC.

Kalon said...

Hey, Brad. Thanks for coming by :)

I think a lot of it's a bit overstated. While there is bloat, there are no useless talents that have to be taken to get to the next tier. I've seen nothing that indicates Ferocious Bite is going to be viable in any cycle, so I think Feral Aggression is still mediocre and only really needed if you don't have a warrior with imp DS.

Depending on how imp mangle shows up, I'm thinking of going something like this build. This is more focused on cat form, but the bear talents you lose are fairly minor; Primal Tenacity has always been meh, savage fury is not the best dps talent for a cat unless farming, and naturalist can't beat master shapeshifter. The big loss to me is intensity, which is nice for off-spec healing and good for offtanking at times, but it's not required. Again, it kinda depends on whether imp mangle is actually lowering the cooldown to 4.5 seconds like it says in this calc, or if it's lowering the cooldown by 7% like it says in the beta notes. If the former, it's a must-have talent and I'd need to sacrifice something (likely shapeshifter). If the latter, it can be skipped as it doesn't help the cycle at all.

Even so, we're talking about the difference between doing 4% less damage as bear or 2% less crit as cat, so I think it's a bit overstated. There's room for improvement, but all of the essential talents can be taken easily.

Brad said...

You keep IW hunh? I've heard lots of levelers love it, but have you tried it on a boss in an instance yet? Does it work there?

Kalon said...

Yeah, IW does work on bosses - same as Imp TC and the Judgment boost that pallies got. It may go away depending on our raid makeup and whether I can reasonably expect there to be someone else maintaining it, but chances are I'll need it at some point. And on the things I'm tanking right now warriors are not putting up TC, so this is more towards what I'm tanking now, not what I might be in the future.

Keep in mind the tooltip is busted so it only works to 20% reduced speed, but it's still very good.

In any case, I try and go for as much of a self-sufficient build as I can, and IW is part of it.

George said...

I'm curious, now with WOTLK having been out for a while, what you think of the Badge of Tenacity?

For a Cat or Bear at lvl 80 - is it still useful or are there others that are much better?

Just found it available and curious if I should get it.