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:
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.
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.