Tuesday, November 25, 2008

[Druid] Emblem of Heroism badge gear for cat & bear

Mitch brought up an interesting point in the comments of one of the guides - why no emblem gear? At the time I did the lists I wanted to do it to get gear as quickly as possible for people, and I figured most folks wouldn't be grinding heroics to get gear they'd be replacing in Naxx-25...but would they?

The answer is definitely yes. Especially since you can get T7.10 items from badges. It was an omission from the earlier guide and I apologize. I've updated the guides to have this information and their ranking as well, but felt like y'all deserved another post that specifically highlights these things.

I'll also be listing the Emblem of Valor rewards and how they compare against other Naxx and pre-Naxx gear levels, but that's a post for another day.

Emblems of Heroism rewards:

Heroes' Dreamwalker Rainments
- Bear score: 82.35 (ranks a slight #2 on list). Cat score 37.33. (ranks #1, #2 is 35.77 on list)
- this is only behind the PvP arena gear for bears, so it's definitely valuable to get. And it is about 16 points higher than the next available PvE piece from WotLK. That makes it a very good upgrade and probably the best choice to get first. For cats, it is the best DPS chest before Naxx, though it's not that big of an upgrade over some heroic rewards. I'd probably skip it for a while.

Heroes' Dreamwalker Handgrips - Bear score 52.16. (ranks #3 on list) Cat score 25.24. (ranks #3 on list)
- the hands are very disappointing; the best bear hands still come from a CoT Strat quest, and the cat hands are better in heroics. Upgrade this if you really want the set bonus for some reason, but otherwise wait.

Jorach's Crocolisk Skin Belt - Bear score: 49.23. (rank #4 on list). Cat score 28.18 (rank #1 on list; #2 is 24.71.)
-The crocolisk skin belt gets a bit more highly ranked by Rawr due to the ability to put even more stamina on the belt along with expertise, but my ranking favors agility a bit more. I would recommend buying the trollwoven belt instead if possible. For cats, it's a very big upgrade and likely worth spending the badges if you have them.

Chained Military Gorget - Bear score: 32.95. (#2 on the list) Cat score 9.66 (rank #8 on list)
-this is a very good avoidance neck but still not as good as Titanium Earthguard Chain is. Still, TEC is going to be expensive. I would probably avoid spending the badges on this though, as Amulet of Wills even post armor changes will be very close to this value, and should be easier to get.

Pendant of the Outcast Hero -Bear score: 26.91. (#4 on the list) Cat score 18.13 (rank #1 on list; #2 is 15.40)
- Clearly a cat neck, and (thanks to poster Mitch) the best cat neck pre-naxx that you can get. At only 25 badges this is pretty cheap too. For cats this is the biggest value upgrade, possibly second only to the trinket depending on what you have.

Valor Medal of the First War - Bear score: 14.53. Cat score 0.
-Post armor change, this is going to be a very solid trinket choice for a lot of ferals, especially on fights where avoidance is desired. I would honestly prefer Darkmoon Card:Greatness and Essence of Gossamer as my two trinkets, but this certainly is good for various fights. A bit more expensive though.

Mirror of Truth - Bear score: 0. Cat Score: 11.04
- A really stellar cat trinket, especially given how well cats scale with AP and crit.

Idol of the Ravenous Beast
- Bear score: 0. Cat score: ?
- I mentioned this in the original post. It should be a strong but not best DPS idol, especially if you are not using 2pT6 and are doing a primarily shred-based cycle. This will likely end up being the top DPS idol until more armored bosses are faced.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This is going to get so many of the wrong redirects.

Okay, GC also announced that Feral Attack Power is going away, and instead of FAP we're going to calculate the AP gain based on the DPS of the weapon:

We are no longer going to have weapons in the game which improve feral attack power. Instead, your attack power will scale based on the dps of the item. Practically speaking this means almost no change for any gear you currently use -- you should not see your dps change. What it does mean is that we can create the occasional dps staff that could be used by druids or hunters (or very undergeared warriors), and that Ferals may occasionaly use two-handed dps maces. We are going to convert all existing Feral staves over to this new system (but again, you should not notice any change to your dps). We are also adjusting the UI so that when druids look at these weapons, you will see what the improvement will be to your damage in forms. This does not mean we are no longer going to create bear and cat weapons, just that those weapons will be slightly less niche than they are now.

This is a huge nerf, and I have the ...

Wait a second, this isn't a nerf at all. This is actually pretty awesome. But the more important question is - what does this mean to you? What gear might change? What should you go ninjaloot?

For starters, this beauty becomes one of the best feral weapons in the game:
Inevitable Defeat. Stam, agility, strength, and a ton of expertise - combined with a great DPS value. It doesn't have as much stamina as Origin of Nightmares and not as much agi as The Undeath Carrier, but the expertise is stellar for tanking and it would make an excellent threat weapon for bears. Another nice benefit is that something like Titansteel Destroyer becomes a good weapon too, though probably not as good due to the lack of agility. Still, if you're rich and need a starting weapon, that's not the worst thing you could do. Want something a bit lower end? Well, the Mojo-Masked crusher is a pretty nice drop and should have high DPS. A bit easier to get, the Argent Skeleton Crusher should be decent too, though again the lack of agi makes this subpar.

Based on comments from Jelement and Mitch, here are the values of what the DPS should be for the feral staves. The conversion is simple: the DPS of a staff will be FAP/14 + 55.

Journey's End: 223.1 DPS
Staff of the Plaguehound: 203.9 DPS
Origin of Nightmares: 203.9 DPS
The Undeath Carrier: 203.9 DPS
Staff of the Plague Beast: 186.8 DPS
Staff of Trickery: 186.8 DPS
Enraged Feral Staff: 169.4 DPS
Lightning Giant Staff: 169.4 DPS
Stave of Shrouded Mysteries: 169.4 DPS
Hewn Sparring Quarterstaff: 156.3 DPS
Witch Doctor's Wildstaff: 148.9 DPS
Staff of the Sorrowful Chieftain : 145.5 DPS
Bloodwood Greatstaff: 132.9 DPS
Jailer's Baton: 145.5 DPS
Stanchion of Primal Instinct: 140.5 DPS
Staff of the Forest Lord: 134.3 DPS
Pillar of Ferocity: 130.6 DPS
Wildfury Greatstaff: 125.9 DPS
Earthwarden: 105.9 DPS

Mostly what makes me excited about this is that they can start designing weapons that are built for actual tanking. Why? Because both death knights and druids can use 2h maces, and both want to have tanking stats on those items. It'll be possible to get craftable weapons that don't suck as well, which will be nice, but the shared pool and what could be allowed there is really what thrills me.

[Druid] Now that's an armor nerf

The bear armor change has been announced. Here's the relevant text:

This is an update to my previous post on Feral armor changes.

As previously announced, we are changing the way bear armor works so that bonus armor on items does not receive the bear armor multiplier. Specifically this means that weapons, trinkets, rings, necks and cloaks with bonus armor will not be multiplied by the bear bonus. Only cloth and leather will benefit from the Bear and Dire Bear multiplier.
We are compensating Ferals for this armor loss by improving the Survival of the Fittest talent. In addition to its current effects (stats and crit prevention), it will now also increase armor contribution from cloth and leather items by 22/33/66%. That should be very close to your current armor bonus. This makes Survival of the Fittest rather over-budget by talent standards, but we figured it was one talent we can be pretty certain most tank-oriented druids will have (and to be honest nearly all Ferals).

These changes will be in place in the next patch. This patch will ship sometime before the 3.1 major content patch featuring the Ulduar raid.

With respect to the esteemed bloggers Karthis and BBB, the recent announced change to armor and how it works is a huge nerf.

It is bad.

It is not good.

I did the math before this and showed that, but this time other folks jumped in and did the math for me. On the main forums, we have this nice bit of math:
pre nerf
armor from leather: 3326
other armor: 3980
total armor: 7306
bear armor: 37772
mitigation %: 69.42

after this nerf takes effect we will see the following, with no gear being changed out.

armor from leather: 3326
bear armor: 28544
other armor: 3266
total armor: 31810
mitigation %: 58.46

That can't be right, can it? Yes, yes it can:
Surprise, surprise Blizzard botched it

Tier Set (10 man) : 2294 + 952 (item level 200 bracers, belt, waiste) = 3246
Tier Set (25 man) : 2350 + 978 (item level 213 bracers, belt, waiste) = 3326

Stuff getting lost :
Cloak of the Shadowed Sun http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40252 490
Defender's Code http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40257 850
Offering of Sacrifice http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37638 550
Amulet of Autopsy http://www.wowhead.com/?item=39246 350
Keystone Great-Ring http://www.wowhead.com/?item=37784 490
Gatekeeper http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40370 448
Origin of Nightmares http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40280 714

Total: 3892

Old multiplier : 5.17 = 37.3K

New Multiplier 8.58 tier + 1.1 other = 28.5K + 4.3K = 32.8K

Enjoy the nerf and broken scaling mechanics. The correct number for it not to be a nerf was .91 if anyone cares.

I mentioned what the 'right' number was going to have to be in order to make this not a nerf, and how hard it would be to balance early tanking if that number was used. However, if it was NOT used, bears suddenly have a huge gulf of mitigation relative to other tanks. And that's what we're seeing now.

Essentially what we're seeing is that druids lost the ability to wear two armor trinkets at all. Or if you like, they took out the usefulness of Defender's Code. Here's the thing though - druids were balanced around trinkets like that. This change was supposedly specifically made so that druids wouldn't have to go to extreme efforts to get something like it or Offering of Sacrifice, but with this change it is essentially like not having armor trinkets at all.

Which leads to druids at the higher end of the scale having significantly less mitigation than every other tanking class. Yes, DKs will actually have more mitigation.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, the way to fix this was to do exactly what they did in some form and give some other scaling mechanism back. When they removed bonus armor from leather before, we got Protector of the Pack. With this...there's nothing. I argued before that some kind of nerf was necessary so that druids didn't hit the armor cap too early, and I still believe it - but they also needed to change something in druid mechanics to compensate.

We didn't get that change.

So...basically we're looking at being the tank with about the same mitigation as a warrior from armor, less avoidance, less ohshit buttons, and no block mechanic to increase mitigation.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

[Death Knight] Why dual wielding sucks for tanking

Wait, what? A death knight post? Seriously?

This blog actually started with my wanting to expand arguments I had made several places - most notably at EJ. Seems appropriate that a post I make there spawns my first post on DK tanking here.

Caveat: I don't know anything about DKs, really, other than they're the tank that looks like they belong in a rave when using their abilities. However, one thing I do know a lot about is parry mechanics. Here's the post I made over at EJ:

How we figure out whether a DK is better off using a 2h or 2 1-h comes down to a few things. These would be nice to have, data wise, but don't end up mattering hugely.

What is the typical expertise value of a DK?
What is their typical avoidance %?
What is their typical HP?

They don't matter because either the DK is dealing with content that is trivial (in which case min-maxxing tanking weapons is not important) or the DK is dealing with content that is not (in which case their avoidance, expertise and HP are on the cusp of what is needed to deal with a boss).

After that, we need to take typical tanking weapons into consideration. I would say that a 1.6 speed 1h would be typical (I realize there is a great, slow 1h in naxx, but that is not the standard), and a 3.0 speed 2h weapon would be typical.

The special hit rate between 2h and 1h will remain unmodified. That leaves only white attacks and weapon speed to consider.

With 2 1.6 weapons attacking, you will have 3.75 as many attacks in 3.0 seconds as you would a 2h weapon. This means you have 3.75 times as likely a chance of being parried. Clearly, as you get slower tanking weapons this value goes down. The question is whether the value of using two tanking weapons is worth getting parried almost 4 times as often.

Comparison time. Let's take [Titansteel Destroyer] vs two [Red Sword of Courage].
124 str
105 stam
54 hit
50 str
116 stam
76 defense
52 hit

The gain of 76 defense rating (15.4 defense, or 1.83% total avoidance) is great, but the loss of 74 strength is pretty poor. Still, that's only 18.5 parry rating, or a bit less than .4% parry. So the total avoidance gain is around 1.5%. So to deal with being parried 3.75 times more often in terms of white attacks, you are gaining 1.5% avoidance and about 12 stamina.

To me, this doesn't sound remotely good enough. And note that using the comparison above, it's actually worse; you get parried 4.25 times more often from white attacks.

Finally, note that the overall parries is not 3.75 times as many times due to the special attacks also having parry chances. In a 200 second fight, you would have 133 special attacks (assuming one every gcd, which I admit is fudging things), 67 attacks with a 2h, and 250 attacks with 2 1h. Or 183 more attacks total. That is 1.9 times more than with a 2h alone. So basically you're trading at best 2% avoidance for a doubling of the chance to be parried.

Really, not worth it to me.

Now, what I didn't say at EJ: the effects of a boss parrying you are hard to model, but fairly easy to understand.
When a parry occurs, the target that parried the attack has a chance of having the current swing hasted, as follows:
* If the next attack would normally occur within 20% of your weapon speed after the parry, there is no effect.
* If the next attack would normally occur between 20% and 60% of your weapon speed later, it happens 20% of your weapon speed later instead.
* If the next attack would normally occur more than 60% of your weapon speed later, the time until your next attack is reduced by 40% of your weapon speed.

The overall effect of a parried attack is to speed up a boss's swing timer by roughly 30%. In the worst case it is 40%, but that doesn't happen all the time. ) This means that for using 2 1-handed weapons, you are giving the boss 30% more haste. You have effectively bloodlusted the boss after each parry. 30% more normal swings may not be a lot for someone like Rage Winterchill, but for Patchwerk? And remember, this is not 30% more swings over a nice, long extended time; this is 30% overall more damage that comes in tasty, bursty chunks of death that tends to take your healers off-guard.

Note that I'm not saying doubling the parries makes the boss have bloodlust the entire fight; it depends a lot on how much expertise you have, and I've written about this and parry-gibbing prior to this.

Now, if you're expertise-capped for parry that's something else entirely. Then you'll be trading basically some damage for some avoidance, and that's a great thing to trade. But getting to that 64 expertise value (or 500 expertise rating) is going to be pretty tough, and I bet that you could have just gemmed/enchanted for avoidance and skipped the expertise part anyway.

ETA: one thing I did not factor into consideration is the ability to use two enchants. Having dual goose would help somewhat with the mitigation factor, but even then we're talking about at best 3% total avoidance vs. 30% boss haste. That still doesn't sound like a good deal to me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

[Offtopic] Wrath leatherworking 375-440

This was originally written for my guildies and is a rough guide to 425.

So Leatherworking in Northrend...ugh. I've not found a good guide to powerleveling yet, so I decided to try a hand at one.

ETA: The important thing that I got wrong from wowhead is that heavy borean leather is not actually trainable until 390. What I did to level was the following:
375-380: 6x Borean armor kit (turns green at 380)
380-385: 5x Iceborne Gloves
385-390: 5x Nerubian Legguards (only did this to have some variety)

From 390-405 I made heavy borean and fur linings.

From 405-410 make Arctic Wristguards, which are 12 normal leather each and go green at 410.
From 410-415 make Jormungar Leg Armor, which are 5 heavy borean and a jormungar scale each. And hopefully they'll sell decently. Also around this time get some arctic fur and make your fur linings, since that should ding you. If you have legs that are worth a damn you can get a couple of jormungar scales or nerubian chitin and make your cheap leg reinforcements too.

From 415-422 make pack of endless pockets, a 32-slot inscription bag. This takes 8 heavy borean. This is the only one that's trainable directly; the other nice bags (mining, leatherworking, and the quivers) require rep. If you have the rep, I'd recommend doing the leatherworking bag instead, as it requires kal'uak revered which you might have that early.

From 422 on it gets really sketchy.

From 422-430 (you can stop at 425 and do the next one if you want better chances, but it may be more expensive) do eviscerator's bindings or stormhide wristguards, depending on whether eternal air or water is cheaper/easier for you. They take 8 heavy borean + an eternal air or water. At 425 I'd also recommend pimping out yourself and looking for work so that you can get skillups on frosthide leg armor and icescale leg armor with their mats. These take two arctic furs and either two nerubian chitin or two icy dragonscales. If you're lucky or persistent, that can take you from 425-440 by itself. If you're unlucky or impatient, you'll need to make things like the eviscerator treads and eviscerator waistguard to 435. These should sell well at least, since there will be lots of people who want a starter pvp set. They take 10 heavy borean + an eternal air/water each.

At 435-440, about your only reasonable option is to make more leg armor patches. You can make more eviscerator gear, but it goes green at 435 and gray at 440, so you're looking at making a LOT of those.

And then you're done doing it for practical reasons. 440 is the max leatherworking you need for any recipe. Leg armor goes green at 440 and gray at 445, so past 445 the only things you can make are items that require frozen orbs.

Anyway, that's what I'm looking at doing. If you can get to 440 using just their mats, you're basically looking at the following mat requirements to get to 425:

838 borean leather (of which, 80 will be used to make actual items)
8 jormungar scales
3 eternal waters/eternal airs
+ an arctic fur for your wrists and scales/chitin for your legs, if you so choose.

If you're going from 425-435 using your own mats, you will also need:
130 heavy borean leather (or 780 borean leather) + 13 eternal airs/water as desired.

If you're going from 435-440 using your own mats, you will also need:
14 arctic furs + 14 nerubian chitin or icy dragonscale as desired.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

[Paladin] what would you like to see?

My wife recently noted that despite this blog being about, well, ya know, tanking, there are more posts about cats than there are non-druid tanks.

And "ThinkCat" doesn't really have a good ring to it.

Looking into this, I found out that one of the most popular articles I've wrote happens to be the post on a paladin getting uncrittable. So I'm neglecting a fair amount of people who read this and want info on plate tank wearers. Sorry, guys.

In the future I'll be writing more about Death Knight tanking, I'm sure. Death Knights look to me like the odd bastard child of a paladin and a druid; they have the ability to do good dps and good tanking with one build while sacrificing very little (and in every single talent tree, no less), they can do good AoE tanking, and they have to do weird juggling with their gear including wanting armor aplenty. Plus they're damn cool. I'm not making a death knight my main right now; I don't have the time to get a DK to raiding-level in time for Wrath. But I'll be making one and hopefully using it as a nice alt in the near future.

For now, though, I'm at a loss. I was thinking about doing a gear guide similar to the bear and cat posts I made for Pre-naxx...but this has already been done. At Maintankadin, Zamach has put out a great list of pre and post-naxx gear. One thing it doesn't do is compare BC with WotLK gear, but fortunately honorshammer has done that as well, in an easy to use spreadsheet. There's no need to do a FAQ for paladins, as that's what mine was modeled after. While paladin mechanics were tweaked early on, and they're still getting nerfed thanks to ret fallout, in general they've been very stable and solid - so no 'OMG the sky is falling' posts similar to druids. And unlike druids, their gear is basically the same as a warrior in terms of what they want so their gear is pretty solid too. Their rotation hasn't changed since early beta, and the 969 rotation is still the best. There are plenty of arguments on how poor paladin mitigation is relative to warriors and druids - and that may see some value - but right now they're very close to warriors and have significant enough advantages that I don't believe it'll be an issue. The biggest issue right now is the amount of damage a paladin does relative to a warrior, but that's still a bit silly; it doesn't matter how much threat you do so long as you're doing enough, and right now it's definitely enough. There's even cool addons that show things like AD avoidances and values of your gear as a paladin.

In short, the paladin basic stuff is well covered. Whereas the druid stuff...hasn't been.

So I ask you guys - what paladin or warrior or DK information would you like to see? Or heck, what druid information would you like to see?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

[Druid] Cat item list and rep list for Pre-naxx

Naturally a couple days after I compile the big-ass list for bears, they announce the change to how gearing works for bears. Expect them to make huge changes to cats - possibly requiring cats to all use spellpower or something - shortly after you read this. The phrase "barring some last-minute surprises" is especially amusing.

At least cats shouldn't be so surprising, right? RIGHT? Sure.

While I'd like to do a list of gear with and without hit/expertise rating and how they're valued, the truth is that at level 80, pre-naxx you're likely not going to be at either cap, and the differences between the gear pieces are fairly minor. I've put the overall gear ranking in to allow you to judge how much better something is than something else, but keep in mind that the gear values for you, specifically, are going to vary as you get closer to the hit/expertise cap. For dealing with this most optimally I recommend using Rawr when it gets done with a cat model for Wrath.

The hit cap is 296 at level 80. The Expertise cap is 214 rating without primal precision, 148 with it.

The same rules for gear for bears apply to cats too:
  1. If it costs arena points, list only the best of the arena points
  2. If it costs honor, list only the best of the honor
  3. List the best heroic drop
  4. List the best non-heroic drop
  5. List the best craftable
  6. List the best quest reward
  7. List the best BoE
  8. List the best and often second-best item from BC
I've listed pre-Wrath items in Italics.

The basic rankings for values are centered around agility, and take heavily from Toskk's research on the druid wiki and Nightcrowler's values on EJ:

Hit: 1.1 effective Agility points before cap, 0 after
Expertise: 1.1 effective agility points before cap, 0 after
Strength: 1.05 EAP
Agility: 1.00 EAP (duh)
Crit: .9 EAP
AP. .45 EAP
Haste: .65 EAP
ArPen: .2 EAP

Onto the rankings!

Shoulder Enchants:
  1. Greater Inscription of the Axe - Exalted with Sons of Hodir
  2. Greater Inscription of the Blade - Exalted with Scryer
  3. Lesser Inscription of the Axe - Honored with Sons of Hodir
  4. Greater Inscription of Vengeance - Exalted with Aldor
-if I can impress on you one thing, it's to start as early as you can grinding rep with Sons of Hodir. They start at hated and it's a similar questline and grind to Netherwing dailies.

Head Enchants
  1. Arcanum of Torment - Revered with Knights of the Ebon Blade
  2. Arcanum of Ferocity - Revered with Cenarion Expedition
-This isn't nearly as important to grind rep with, as CE gives hit rating and is perfectly acceptable if you're below the cap.

  1. Staff of Trickery -146.92. Heroic Violet Hold
  2. Lightning Giant Staff - 129.59. Heroic Halls of Lightning.
  3. Stave of Shrouded Mysteries - 112.86. Revered with Kirin Tor
  4. Hewn Sparring Quarterstaff - 111.64. Normal Halls of Lightning
  5. Staff of the Sorrowful Chieftain - 95.67. Quest in Zul'drak.
  6. Stanchion of Primal Instinct - 93.70. Sunwell Plateau
  7. Staff of the Forest Lord - 85.31. 150 Badges
- No surprises or odd rankings here. If you were lucky enough to get the Stanchion or the Brutal Gladiator staff, you won't find a meaningful upgrade for it until Halls of Lightning.

  1. Idol of Worship - Naxx-25 badges
  2. Idol of the Ravenous Beast - 15 Emblems of heroism.
  3. Deadly Gladiator's Idol of Resolve - Arena points, arena ranking
  4. Savage Gladiator's Idol of Resolve - honor
  5. Idol of the Wastes - Quest in Dragonblight
  6. Idol of Terror - 15 Badges
- yeah, I know. No ranking values and even gear that you can only get from Naxx. There just really isn't that much to get here. Idol of the Wastes is likely fairly good though I've not tested the proc rate. Same goes for the Idol of Resolves. The real big winner is the Idol of Worship, which thanks to the smaller frequency of shreds, the buffing of armor on bosses and the improvement of rip time should be the winner.

  1. Surge Needle Ring - 24.13. Raid BoE
  2. Hemmoraging Circle - 19.02. Heroic Gundrak
  3. Band of the Kirin Tor - 18.57. 8000 gold, Dalaran
  4. Ring of Scarlet Shadows - 16.69. Jewelcrafting BoE.
  5. Mobius Band - 15.94. Heroic CoT Strat
  6. Titanium Impact Band - 14.10. Jewelcrafting BoE.
  7. Signet of Edward the Odd - 13.50. Raid BoE
  8. Deadly Gladiator's Band of Victory - 13.46. Arena points, arena rating.
  9. Bjarngrim Family Signet - 13.04. Normal Halls of Lightning
  10. Signet of Bridenbrad - 12.91. Quest in Icecrown
  11. Hard Khorium Band - 10.64. Jewelcrafting BoE (from Sunwell)
-you'll definitely be upgrading your rings soon; armor penetration really isn't all that strong, and there are a lot of great rings out there. The Surge Needle ring is not only the best you can get pre-Naxx, it's the best you can get post-Naxx; I'd be shocked to see it on the AH. But maybe you'll be lucky. Otherwise, start saving that 8k gold...

  1. Pendant of the Outcast Hero - 18.13. 25 emblems of heroism.
  2. Necklace of Arcane Spheres - 15.40 . Heroic Violet Hold
  3. Titanium Impact Choker - 14.13. Jewelcrafting BoE.
  4. Necklace of the Chrono-Lord - 13.78. Normal CoT Stratholme
  5. The Severed Noose of Westwind - 13.64. Quest in Icecrown
  6. Hateful Gladiator's Pendant of Victory - 12.03. Arena rating, Honor
  7. Choker of Endless Nightmares - 11.65. Black Temple
  8. Draconic Choker of Ferocity - 10.93. World BoE.
-the Violet Hold neck is pretty sweet, but it takes a lot of luck to get the right boss. The emblem of heroism neck is the biggest upgrade from non-badge gear to badge gear you can get for a cat, so it should be a high priority to spend if you're so inclined.


  1. Mirror of Truth - 40 emblems of heroism.
  2. Darkmoon Card: Greatness. From Darkmoon Nobles deck
  3. Meteorite Whetstone. Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle.
  4. Sphere of Red Dragon's Blood. Heroic Nexus.
  5. Oracle Talisman of Ablution - Exalted with the Oracles.
  6. Incisor Fragment - Heroic Drak'tharon Keep
  7. Vestige of Haldor - normal Utgarde Pinnacle.
  8. Fezzik's Pocketwatch - Quest in Icecrown.
  9. Chuchu's Tiny Box of Horrors - Quest in Icecrown
- This is, honestly, the hardest one for me to evaluate; without ideas on what the proc rates, internal cooldowns and values are, it's hard for me to stack-rank these. That being said, I think the Darkmoon Card: Greatness is going to turn out to be exceptionally strong for a class that likes strength and agility so much, and keep in mind you can get a +90 strength version of the trinket as well, and the uptime of it seems to be about 33% - meaning you'd have about +190 of a stat over time. That's pretty incredible. Mirror of Truth is a great crit/AP trinket similar to BC trinkets, and should scale well. Meteorite Whetstone appears to be another DST-like ability. Sphere of Red dragon's blood is just amazing for the hit rating, but otherwise meh. Vestige of Haldor could be really, really fun if it procs on per hit instead of per swing. More testing is required. :)

  1. Cloak of the Gushing Wound - 14.51. Heroic Violet Hold
  2. Embrace of Sorrow - 14.22. Normal Halls of Stone
  3. Ice Striker's Cloak - 13.58. Leatherworking BoE
  4. Hateful Gladiator's Cloak of Victory - 11.94. Arena rating, honor
  5. Cloak of Unforgivable Sin - 11.58. Sunwell Plateau
  6. Bloodbane Cloak - 10.75. Quest in Icecrown.
  7. Shadowmoon Destroyer's Drape - 10.54. Black Temple
-I totally forgot about the back slot! Oops. Heh. The Ice Striker's cloak is good enough to get most people by before heading to Naxx.

  1. Heroes' Dreamwalker Rainments - 37.33. 80 emblems of heroism
  2. Custodian's Chestpiece - 35.77 - Heroic Azjol-Nerub
  3. Carapace of Sun and Shadow - 29.87. BoP Leatherworking in Sunwell
  4. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Robes. 27.49 Arena points, arena ranking
  5. Bladed Chaos Tunic - 26.71. Sunwell Plateau
  6. Darkheart Chestguard - 26.66. Exalted with Knights of the Ebon Blade
  7. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Robes - 24.04. Honor
  8. Exotic Leather Tunic -22.48. Quest in Utgarde Pinnacle
- Because of the gem slots, the Carapace of Sun and Shadow gets very good. Same with the PvP gear. Midnight Chestguard and Nether Shadow Tunic are both quite strong too. I would recommend against buying the badge chest until you've gotten everything else; the expense is very high.

  1. Boots of the Neverending Path - 26.06. Exalted with Argent Crusade
  2. Boots of the Whirling Mist - 22.19. Heroic Halls of Stone
  3. Hateful Gladiator's Boots of Triumph - 20.10. Arena ranking, honor.
  4. Slag Footguards - 19.68. Heroic Halls of Lightning
  5. The Darkspeaker's Treads -18.10. Quest in Icecrown
  6. Thunderheart Treads - 17.38. Sunwell Plateau
  7. Jormscale Footpads - 17.37. Leatherworking BoE.
  8. Nyn'jah's Tabi Boots - 16.85. 60 badges
- While they're #1, I'd not recommend grinding rep for the Boots of the Neverending Path; the big reason they're #1 is because of that huge hit rating.

  1. Gloves of Fast Reactions - 28.71. Raid BoE.
  2. Gilt-Edged Leather Gauntlets - 26.28. Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle
  3. Heroes' Dreamwalker Handgrips- 25.24. 60 emblems of heroism.
  4. Handwraps of Preserved History - 22.92. Quest in CoT Stratholme
  5. Gloves of Immortal Dusk - 19.37. Leatherworking BoE (from Sunwell)
  6. Shadowed Gauntlets of Paroxysm - 19.14. Sunwell Plateau
  7. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves - 18.92. Arena points, arena ranking.
  8. Sidestepping Handguards - 17.12. Normal Oculus
  9. Eviscerator's Gauntlets - 16.38. Leatherworking BoE
- The high hit on the Gilt-Edged Gauntlets are what puts them over the top (and make them arguably better than the Naxx-10 gear). The Handwraps of Preserved History are already the best pre-Naxx piece for bears; they'll do really well for cats too. The badge hands are not that strong either. Save the badges for bigger upgrades.

  1. Weakness Spectralizers - 31.88. Engineering BoE, Engineering rating
  2. Mask of the Watcher - 30.26. Heroic Oculus
  3. Duplicitous Guise - 28.20. Sunwell Plateau
  4. Cursed Vision of Sargeras - 27.01. Black Temple
  5. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm - 26.10. Arena points, Arena rating
  6. Headguard of Retaliation - 24.39. Quest in Utgarde Pinnacle
  7. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm - 22.66. Honor
  8. Eviscerator's Facemask - 22.16. Leatherworking BoE
- while the best is the engineering helm (and it's better than Naxx-10) I can't recommend engineering; the item is just too easily replacable and the overall benefits aren't there compared to the other professions. I really, truly want to find where Mask of the Watcher drops.

  1. Gored Hide Legguards - 33.17. Heroic Gun'Drak.
  2. Mind-Expanding Leggings - 31.14. Revered with Kirin Tor
  3. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Legguards - 27.49. Arena points, arena rating.
  4. Azure Strappy Pants - 27.36. Revered with Frenzyheart Tribe
  5. Leggings of the Immortal Night - 26.98. Sunwell Plateau
  6. Leggings of Visceral Strikes - 25.58. Leatherworking BoE
  7. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Legguards - 24.04. Honor
  8. Trousers of the Scryer's Retainer - 23.06. 100 badges
-The Gored Hide Legguards are going to be this expansion's version of Midnight Legguards. I put in a second rep reward because I want every druid out there to be wearing strappy pants. STRAPPY PANTS. There really aren't any good quest rewards compared to this stuff.

  1. Spaulders of Egotism - 27.88. Raid BoE.
  2. Trollwoven Spaulders - 22.50. Leatherworking BoE
  3. Spaulders of the Careless Thief - 21.85. Heroic Nexus
  4. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Shoulders - 20.10. Arena rating, arena points
  5. Demontooth Shoulderpads - 19.75. Sunwell Plateau
  6. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Spaulders - 17.62. Honor
  7. Charred Leather Shoulderguards - 17.07. Quest in Halls of Lightning.
  8. Thunderheart Pauldrons - 16.96. Black Temple
-As usual, the shoulders are the most ostentatious and the least actually useful piece of gear you can get. The difference between T6 and wrath is very small. This time there's a treat though - the best pre-Naxx shoulders you can get are crafted and BoE, and shouldn't be too insane to make.


  1. Jorach's Crocolisk Skin Belt - 28.18. 40 Emblems of heroism
  2. Sharp-Barbed Leather Belt - 24.71. Heroic Utgarde Keep.
  3. Trollwoven Girdle - 24.41. Leatherworking BoE.
  4. Hateful Gladiator's Belt of Triumph - 20.10. Arena rating, honor.
  5. Ley-Whelphide Belt - 19.09. Normal Oculus
  6. Belt of One-Hundred Deaths - 18.25. Serpentshrine Cavern
  7. Thunderheart Waistguard - 18.08. Sunwell Plateau
  8. Belt of Deep Shadow - 17.04. Leatherworking BoE
  9. Belt of Njorndar - 15.96. Quest in Icecrown.
- The Trollwoven Girdle is almost the best in slot here, but is beaten out by the gem power in the Sharp-Barbed piece. The only other surprise is how good the BC gear is. If you're still wanting to keep a 2pT6 bonus this is not a bad candidate, though the boots and (surprisingly) the shoulders might be better. The emblem of heroism belt is a clear #1 as well, though I'd get the neck before getting this.

  1. Dragonfriend Bracers - 18.71. Exalted with Wyrmrest Accord.
  2. Drake-Champion's Bracers - 16.58. BoE from Heroic Oculus
  3. Wristwraps of the Cutthroat - 16.50. Raid BoE
  4. Advanced Tooled-Leather Bands - 16.32. Heroic Halls of Lightning
  5. Hateful Gladiator's Armwraps of Triumph - 14.92. Arena rating, honor.
  6. King's Square Bracers - 14.23. BoE drop from Stratholme
  7. Eviscerator's Bindings - 12.39. Leatherworking BoE
  8. Insidious Bands - 12.39. Black Temple
  9. Shackles of Dark Whispers - 12.20. Quest in Drak'Tharon Keep.
  10. Thunderheart Wristguards - 11.10. Sunwell Plateau
-I wouldn't grind to get exalted for the dragonfriend bracers either, though that's a lot of nice crit and are really good if you're hit-capped already. I was pretty surprised at how poor the T6 bracers are here. The Drake-Champion's Bracers are a great BoE surprise; see if you can find 'em on the AH or get lucky running Oculus.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

[Druid]Why the armor change was necessary

One last thing on this subject, I promise.

From GC's post:
We are making this change because armor is such a good stat for bears that it makes taking pieces with bonus armor a non-decision and we don’t want acquiring these pieces, which tend to not be common, to be so much of a barrier to a druid who wants to tank a raid.
This is the essential reason, and I agree with it completely - but what exactly are we talking about here? It ultimately came down to one thing: trinkets with armor.

With the rings, amulets, cloaks and weapons enough alternate or slight downgrades existed that it really didn't matter whether you had a best-in-slot item; there was always something you could get that could fill the void, even if it wasn't perfect. For instance, while you hunted for the Keystone Great-Ring and Nerubian Shield Ring, you could be happy with the crafted Ring of Earthen Might and the quest Iceforged Battle Ring. While you waited for Kel'Thuzad to drop Boundless Ambition or Heigan to drop Amulet of Autopsy, you could get crafted a Titanium Earthguard Chain or buy a Torta's Oversized Choker on the AH. Same goes for weapons and for cloaks. And yeah, you'd gain some stats, but the armor gain wasn't so amazing that it mattered; usually we were talking somewhere between 50 and 75 armor, which is about the same value we got from upgrading from a blue to an epic anyway.

But with trinkets it was ridiculous. Trinkets aren't itemized like other pieces and follow a certain pattern in general:
{Stat bonus}
{Equip: bonus}
{Use: bonus}

Where there is zero to one of each of those. That means in general you won't find a trinket with (for example) stamina and dodge on it. The flip side is that the itemization tended to spend a LOT on that one stat if it was on there. This is why trinkets like Essence of Gossamer had so much stamina; because it spent its item budget on only one stat, it gained 111 stamina for that stat.

What happens if that one stat is armor? We get things like Defender's Code.

This isn't a problem by itself. It became a problem because of multiple factors in WotLK coming together:
  • Druid leather not having bonus armor. Without bonus armor, hitting the armor cap became basically impossible. That meant that two armor trinkets became ideal and it magnified the loss of having only one armor trinket.
  • No alternatives. There are a total of 6 trinkets with armor in the entire game. Of those, 3 are from pre-Burning Crusade.
  • No stat is worth more to a bear than armor is on a per-itemization point level. So that 111 stamina? Not worth nearly as much as 550 armor before the buff.
With all of these things, it meant that before Naxx-25, a bear could only have Badge of Tenacity and Offering of Sacrifice, a total of 858 armor pre-buff. Together those made up 4177 armor after the buff. Bears would have to be balanced around having these things. Furthermore, if the bear got Defender's Code they would get an additional 2802 post-buff armor compared to those two items.

But what if they didn't get lucky? What if they didn't get any badge of tenacity or offering of sacrifice, much less defender's code? That would mean compared to the lucky bear that they would be down 6979 armor. At those levels, that's about 20% of the armor total.

That is equivalent to a warrior or a paladin without a shield entirely.

A bear had to be balanced around the worst case scenario, where they got lucky and all the gear dropped for them. But that would necessarily gimp them if they didn't get lucky, as they'd take way too much damage without those trinkets. If you balanced the druid around not having any armor trinkets, the ones with those armor trinkets would essentially have an 'extra' shield and get way too close to the armor cap (this is, by the way, why druids got nerfed to 370 bonus armor). Neither one of these things could really work.

Now clearly, there were other solutions they could have done. Removing armor from all trinkets and never allowing it is one possibility for a solution - but this screws up death knights as well, and it completely restricts them from designing gear with it on there at all. Stopping trinkets from getting the bonus armor from bear form is another option, but it's a bit clumsy. Neither of these things solves the central issue, which was that armor on gear was so far advanced that all gear with armor on it had to be carefully considered and balanced against the druid's broken mechanics; it would just make the items with really silly armor broken and make it even harder to wean yourself from high-armor items with poor stats to good overall items with less armor.

So they decided to remove the bonus from all of it instead.

After thinking about it more I think the QQ from the druid community may be large enough to force them to simply remove all armor from trinkets so that people can plan on gearing up accordingly instead of having this nebulous 'we're changing, but we're not going to tell you what' thing going on. That would be the easiest solution for them, would require very little change in the game and would probably make people mostly happy. But it's a very short term fix, as the overall issue with armor being too good wouldn't be solved.

Anyway, that's why I believe some kind of change was necessary. If you like, it's change I can believe in.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

[Druid] No bonus armor for you!

Okay, got the "Whoa" out of my system.

One reason that I thought it was so surprising is that Blizzard had mentioned before how they want to keep druid's flavor by making them like certain items over another, and that included getting high-armor items in every slot they could possibly do. Apparently folks were convincing enough about the gear choices that they changed their mind.

And to be absolutely, 100% clear on this: I am all for this change. This is a great change for bear tanks. No other tanking class - heck, no other class - had that much importance on a single stat. By removing bonus armor from leather they've opened up a larger variety of gear that could be good for ferals. By removing the bonus bears get from non-leather it similarly opens up a larger variety of gear. It allows for the possibility of removing Feral Attack Power and allowing all staves, maces and polearms to be used as weapons. At least for me, one of the most frustrating aspects of BC was that there simply were no options. The tier drops were best in slot because they had more armor. The non-tier drops that didn't have bonus armor were not interesting. That is simply a poor design, especially when no one else cares about bonus armor. This opens the door for a host of new mechanics.

It gives the potential for more gearing options. And that's a good thing.

Of course, if they simply up the bonus that ferals get from leather armor to compensate, it will make druid theorycrafting very, very boring. Basically at that point it comes down to what has the most raw stamina, agility, dodge, defense, and expertise (in basically that order). That's it. That makes evaluating gear fairly easy, but it also makes things fairly dull. I really hope they don't go that route exclusively and add some kind of conversion values. Heck, simply adding parry into the mix would go a long way towards making up for this.

I realize this is vague, but that's deliberate; at this point we do not know what will change or how it will change.

Here are some things you shouldn't do when faced with this news:

1. Freak out. Seriously, the mitigation is going to be the same as it was before. We'll just be getting a different way to get there.

2. Get rid of shit. We still don't know how the mechanics are going to change to address this, at least not all the way. Don't throw anything out.

3. No, seriously, don't get rid of a damn thing. In addition to all that, we don't know when these changes will be made live. There's a good chance that around the time you're hitting 80 and are wanting to run heroics the patch will come out - or it won't. It might be well into Naxx before these changes hit, in which case you'll be using gear that has bonus armor on it now and wanting to.

4. Randomly collect loot that's bad for you now in the hopes it gets better. Don't get parry gear because you think bears will be able to parry. Don't get block value. Please don't load up on crit rating because I said that they'll do some AP/crit -> mitigation conversion. Please don't pick up spellpower gear because they might have a spellpower->stamina conversion.

So what do we absolutely know?

1. Feral Staves have no armor on them. Just to be really clear on this, they're removing armor from all feral weapons. It's not going to give you only the 500 or so - it's all going to be gone. I am presuming that staves with armor will get their itemization re-jiggered, but even so what the values are now are likely close to what they'll be in that 3.0.whatever patch as armor isn't that valuable. Some things that this does:
2. Item level of leather is going to be important. This doesn't mean that it's the be-all, end all, but depending on how big the bonus is, you could be looking at anywhere from 50 to 100 extra armor when going up from one level of gear to the next. For example, a 213 ilvl chest has 578 armor. A 200 level chest has 564. Right now that's only 72 extra armor in bear; nothing to write home about. Even with a 600% modifier (instead of 370) we'd be looking at 106 extra armor, or 34 more armor at that slot. The total when you go across an ilvl for all 8 slots (assuming epic in both) is just 81 armor pre-buff, or (as it stands now) 418.77 armor total. That's not a lot. Going from a blue to an epic in all slots is 108 armor pre-buff, or 558 armor post-buff.

However, we're losing a potential 15,000 armor after removing the trinkets, rings, amulets, cloak and feral staff buffs at Naxx-level gear. (currently Naxx-25 gear only provides 17200 armor total from leather). To make up for that by itself, we'd need a 1000% armor boost from leather. In that case, going to another epic level gives 803 armor. Going up from blues to epics gives 1071 armor. That's not insubstantial, and should factor in to whether you upgrade a piece or not.

3. Most jewelry you had before will be good, or even best in slot. Because most of the armor items in the jewelry slots had stats that druids wanted anyway (dodge, defense, expertise) and most items with armor did not have block rating or value, the items that have extra armor are probably going to be the best anyway. What this does mean is that you can take the best of the lot and go with that. For example, before the Titanium Earthguard Ring was simply not that good due to the lack of armor, even though it had a ton of avoidance on it and a ridiculous amount of stamina. Even with that, the Keystone Great Ring is #2. And something like Medallion of the Disgraced is okay, but it's only slightly better than Necklace of the Deep - and Titanium Earthguard Chain is still #1.

4. At least for Pre-Naxx, Jewelcrafting got a LOT better. With Figurine - Monarch Crab and Figurine - Ruby Hare being equivalent to Essence of Gossamer, a jewelcrafting bear can pack a LOT of stamina. Defender's Code is still quite strong, but it's not nearly as required as before, and one could go either with the stam trinkets or Darkmoon Card: Greatness or some other on-use trinkets instead. Trinkets are really going to be the place where you customize your bear to each fight instead of requiring two armor trinkets.

5. Badge of Tenacity really is going to suck. If you take one thing away from this, it's that the good ol' reliable BoT sucks. Don't grind for it if you don't have it; 300 armor is just not that special. Keep it around, because it will be useful while this hasn't been patched, but after the patch chances are you'll not use it again.

6. Expect Living Root of the Wildheart to get nerfed. I doubt seriously that they'll allow a trinket that gives a 4070 armor boost that's up 40% of the time to exist with these changes. If they don't, hey, go get it.

What is up in the air?

1. How good will PvP gear be? With these changes, boosts to stats and armor levels become more important. PvP gear has a lot of stats and the deadly/hateful gear has the same armor levels, but will that stay? If we do get some kind of AP/crit conversion to mitigation or avoidance, PvP gear will go from good to meh. If we don't, PvP gear will stay king.

2. What about parry? Clearly parry could easily fit the bill for something to make up for all that lost armor. It's not worth stacking now, but grabbing things with more defense is not the worst thing that can happen.

3. How the hell will we scale? With the last 'big' stat removed from scaling consideration for druids, bears are left looking at stamina, agility, dodge, defense and expertise as the only mitigation/avoidance stats they care about. That's not a lot of stats to look at, and there simply aren't that many non-leather pieces with stamina and agility on them. By itself this speaks ill to future advancement, but Blizzard is aware of this potential problem.

Really, this change is the best news I've had for weeks about druids. I can't wait to see how they do it.

[Druid] WHOA.

Short and sweet: armor from non-leather items (ALL non-leather items) will no longer be part of the druid armor bonus:

We are changing the way bear armor works so that bonus armor on items does not receive the bear armor multiplier. Specifically this means that trinkets, rings, necks and cloaks with bonus armor will not be multiplied by the bear bonus. The normal armor on leather will still be multiplied by this bonus. We are also going to remove bonus armor from Feral staves. You’ll get your bonus armor from the leather you acquire.


We will adjust the bear armor modifiers so that your net mitigation does NOT go down with these changes. Let me repeat: this is not a nerf to Feral armor. It is a change to the amount of armor you get from gear with bonus armor.

I'll revise the bear item for pre-naxx later this week. The early info would mean that Essence of Gossamer is Really Good, a couple of epic items get better, and naturally things like Badge of Tenacity get worse.

Also ironically, the Living Root of the Wildheart stays awesome.

[Offtopic] All you USites - Vote!

Just a reminder - no matter what state you're in or who you're voting for, get out there and vote today! Even if the Presidential race is decided where you are there are a lot of state and local races to be done. This is the most important election in my lifetime - so make it out there. :)

My wife and I voted last week via absentee ballot. I really, really recommend the absentee ballot system.

Monday, November 3, 2008

[Offtopic] Game down

Last night Fire and Blood downed Kil'jaeden - and we got extra lucky and got Thoridal. I was the tank on the fight and managed 1150 DPS on it after taking out fire blooms from the equation. Towards the end I actually stopped DPS entirely and just started running back and forth; I didn't need to hit the guy any more as no one would have come close to me, and it was better to do that than to worry about damage at that point. A previous fight had me closer to 1400 DPS without blooms, which is more of what I can do if I go all out in case y'all are wondering.

It was...anticlimactic. Instead of an accomplishment, it felt like it was something we really should have gotten down earlier. It wasn't as hard a fight for me as Brutallus was, pre-nerf (Post-nerf he's a joke of course), and it didn't seem as hard from everyone else's perspective either. We spent a total of 3 nights on KJ, and one of the nights was essentially a wash as we had frequent DCs from our orb users. And nothing pushed everyone as hard as Brutallus did in terms of individual performance. KJ used to be difficult because it required survival + a hard DPS check. It now only requires survival and some decent DPS; it's basically a coordination fight combined with the standard 'don't stand in shit' fight.

Still, nice to have it done, and nice to have kept raiding for the remainder of the time we had in BC.

I've got 8/8 T6 now, which is kind of amusing. Per the pre-Naxx guide I'm very happy I grabbed the bracers and boots. Nothing else has really dropped; we've not seen a single Harness of Carnal Instinct drop, the Stanchion hasn't dropped, etc. But that's okay; I'm basically set at this point for Wrath, and anything else I get is gravy.

The next goal is to grind the hell out of honor and get as much money as I can in the next 10 days so that I can immediately pick out PvP gear when 80 hits and I can regem things as needed.

Oh, and to pimp out my guild - we are looking for exceptional players at all positions at this point. Drop me a line if you're interested.