Monday, December 1, 2008

[Druid] The Polar gear

The T7 guide for gear will be out either later today or tomorrow, and should be a fully integrated guide with the other one so you won't have to swap back and forth. why it's taking a bit longer. :)

This is an addendum to that guide and the other ones I've written. And that addendum is: the polar gear ( Polar Boots, Polar Cord and Polar Vest) are not as good as the guides say.

And yes, they have a TON of stamina.

If you go by Rawr right now, these are either best in slot or damn close to it - especially for pre-naxx gear levels. And Rawr encourages you to put as much stamina in there as you humanly can. With those three items alone, you can have 595 stamina (assuming 24 stam gems). And that sounds awesome, right? Except it has no avoidance, no AP, no crit, no expertise, nothing. Same with my rating system - polar gear comes either on top or close to it.

But that's not quite right.

Now, at level 213 the Polar gear is definitely good starting material. There really aren't that many good chests that you can get pre-Naxx, and you can very easily make it a good basic chest - with 169 stam and 48 agility, for instance, it's pretty sweet. But it really isn't the best overall thing you could get (which is what my rating system would say) or close to the best (what Rawr says). Let's compare the Polar Vest to something similar (and not horribly hard to get): the T7.10 chest. The Naxx (and emblem) chest loses a socket and 80 stamina, straight out of the gate. Sure, it has potentially 56 more agility, but 56 more agility to 80 stam?

Yeah, that's actually a pretty good trade.

Why? Because you really don't need a trillion stam to tank in Naxx. There are two fights where stacking as much stam as humanly possible makes sense: Malygos's breath (where you can take 30k damage before reductions) and Sartharion + 3 adds (where you can take 35k-39k depending on whether or not you're debuffed in a certain way).

And that's it. And if you're raidbuffed, you can get that easily, in your sleep, if you have proper gear. Heck, that's just the agility; you'd also be giving up 132 AP, 54 crit and 35 expertise.

What about the Polar Boots? Well, compared to the Slag Footguards, you're losing 30 agility for 70 stam. That sounds like a bad tradeoff, save that stam doesn't matter so much and you'll be gaining some threat. For the belt it's worse - only a 51 stamina vs 30 agility difference and you'll lose about 130 AP and 30 expertise (assuming you're going after the Sharp-Barbed Leather belt, the best belt pre-or post-naxx save PvP gear).

Like I said - all of these things are viable. They're just not 'best', and don't let that huge stamina and people in LFG fool you - having a 40k health pool when you have 25% avoidance is a recipe for a really unsatisfying PUG.


Grumpy Misanthrope said...

What about the fact that Ghostcrawler has nearly come out and said that druids are supposed to be a big pile of hit points due to the lack of other tanking stats available?

Kalon said...

Hey Grumpy -

I'm not sure how to respond to that. What about it? That might be the blizzard view of what bear tanking is supposed to be, but it doesn't end up working out so well when trying to do instances or raids. Without a single piece of Naxx 10 or 25 gear, only a few heroics and still wearing a few T6s that hadn't been regemmed yet I'm hitting 37k HP. If i had gotten the polar vest and boots I would be way over 41k HP. That's kind of insane and unnecessary.

Yes, we can have a ton of HP - but at what point does that actually help you?

Flyv said...

I've been wondering about this too. The problem with having 50k hit points is your poor healers have to keep healing you back up to full.

The way I interpret what's going on isn't that stamina/health is so great, but rather that agility and dodge are just not that good. Between the nerf to agility conversion and the diminishing returns it seems like our days of being dodger bear are over. Add to that the coming armor nerf/change and I'm a grumpy bear.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great analysis. I agree - stamina is rather a boring stat, not worth too much if you have too much of it. I'd much rather mess with more complex stats like expertise, hit rating, defense, & agility, if only because there's harder more subtle choices involved, and it requires some math.

Maybe I'm stating the blind obvious, but its clear (isnt it?) that those pieces were designed for specific fights. It would be very weird if they were best in slot for all purposes (wouldnt it?).

Thx for all your work on gear lists - they've been super helpful since I hit 80. Naxx - what a blast, in a creepy/disgusting sort of way. Looking forward to your upcoming lists.

Kalon, couple of qs:
1) do you think we need Frost Res for that boss in naxx?
2) should we still pick up armor items on pieces that are getting armor multiplier nerfed - eg the 490ish armor cloak from naxx - they're still best in slot till the armor changes go live, right?

aside point: just discovered elitist jerks - what an awesome community. Far far better than tankspot, which is all I used for way too long. (It should really be called

Thx for recommending EJ anyway. I'm instantly a huge fan. Full of great people who enjoy the game, dont whine, dont boast, and are civil and intelligent to one another. After the tankspot/official forums vibe, it was like taking a long weekend in a spa. I thought it would be full of... well, jerks.

neroli said...


Yea, I'm interested about armor items too. For example armor trinkets are insanely good at the moment and are the best inslot, but will they remain best items to get after the nerf just not so overpowered?

Anonymous said...

I actually had the polar boots made and am wearing them in all my tank sets right now (hp, mitigation, balanced).

Reason for that is after running enough heroics to have gotten the T7 chest I was still running around in my lvl 70 pvp boots.

There are just not many good boot options out there, and nothing useful has dropped for my bear so far. All my gear is craftable, rep
rewards, quest rewards or emblems gear.

Has always been like that for me, RNG has some hardcoded special treatment for me it seems. Only drops I ever wear are for my offspecs.

Back to topic though...
I would never get/wear the other polar pieces over what's available and even less stack polar pieces. But honestly the Polar Boots are not that bad of an option depending on your drop luck.

Haunau said...

Well, the Jorm scale boots are pretty solid, and the mat requirements aren't bad at all (20 Jorm scales, 6 Heavy Borean Leather). They only need a 420 LW to make, so any aspiring LW should be able to craft a pair.

Anyway, this is why when I'm trying to evaluate tank gear on a point scale, STA isn't even part of the scale. It's a second number along side the combined damage reduction. Avoidance and Mitigation are both measuring the same thing in the end, albeit via different means, so it makes sense to combine them, but trying to work STA in there just doesn't work. It's a different dimension on the value graph.

To combine them, you have to come up with things like TTL which essentially says things like "assume you never get healed..." Well, what good is that?

To really accurately measure STA's relative worth to reduction, you'd have to develop a sliding scale that accounts for how much you're getting for the slot, compared to how much some baseline value is for the iLvl, and then convert the baseline set value to how much you actually need to reasonably tank the fight.

But that's a lot of work since the answer pretty much always seems to be "you have enough" nowadays for anyone willing to put near that much effort into it.

My main guild healer grumped at me pre-BC because I had what he felt was a low HP total, but high armor and avoidance. But as long as I wasn't getting 2-shotted... big deal. He's very excited now by the 33k or whatever I'm putting up running around in instances, but I don't have the heart to tell him that it's fluffy since as I get real enchants on my head and shoulders, say, I'll be overwriting those armor kits.

Flyv said...

Tanks have two important stats: avoidance and effective health. Avoidance dictates how often we don't take damage at all, for bears that's dodge and miss (and expertise, sort of). Effective health dictates how many hits we can take, that's armor and hit points.

My warrior friends are all about optimizing both avoidance and EH and treating them separately. I've never seen bears do that, though. Maybe we should?

In Burning Crusade T6 raiding it felt like there was a number which was "enough" health, beyond which more stamina wasn't terribly useful. About 17k unbuffed, I think. I wonder if there is such a number in Wrath and if so, what is it? The biggest hits I've taken so far are from Patchwerk in Naxx-25: 20-25k per hateful strike. It'd be nice to have enough armor/health to survive two of those.

Micah said...

Thanks for the write up Kalon, as usual, great stuff. However, this only leads me to ask how am I supposed to rank gear? I had been using Rawr and Pawn (with scales devised by Flyv/Toskk), and it seems both are over valuing stamina, according to your theory. I have also tried lootrank and toskks site, and each and every tool gives very conflicting results. For the time being I am just using your rankings, but I'd prefer something more dynamic, so I can more effectually select gems, enchants, elixirs, etc. Is it possible to quantify this with real numbers? Preferably a pre and post armor nerf scale for Pawn?

Kalon said...

Anonymous1 - while it's 'obvious' that those pieces were meant for a FR fight, they simply have so much stamina that they become absurd for bears. Because bears don't care as much about the threat stats in terms of tanking, they really do become fairly decent pieces. Just don't go overboard.

And there is no fight currently in the game that requires or even recommends any FR gear. Sapphiron is often mentioned, but really that's just a matter of not standing in shit.

On armor trinkets vs. not: I think that Darkmoon Card: greatness with 90 agi is better than any armor trinket. Essence of Gossamer post-nerf is better than offering of sacrifice and on par with Defender's Code. I'm heavily leaning towards going with DC:Greatness and Valor Medal of the First War, but really it should depend on the fight. For something like Patchwerk offtanking, armor will still be king. For Malygos you'll want as much stam as possible. For faster hitting bosses or a lot of adds you'll want more dodge. Trinkets shouldn't be a static thing for tanks. They are a slot where you can get more threat, more avoidance, more health or more mitigation depending on the needs. So the long and short answer is that it depends, and you should get them all.

Anonymous2 - I agree, the Polar Boots are pretty decent. Mostly because the other boots are just so meh. If you can, get the deadly gladiator or hateful glad boots when they come out. If you can't or don't want to, I'd go with the Polar booties.

Flyv and Haunau - thanks. I don't know for certain what the optimal HP will be, and that's something that your raid will mostly dictate. For me, I'm aiming for 40k buffed and being able to get to 43k buffed depending on gear. The rest is avoidance. I'm already at 37k buffed, and that's without any naxx gear. That seems fine for everything so far. I'd like a bit more for patchwerk, but it's really not necessary; you don't take two hatefuls that quickly.

Kalon said...

Micah - thanks. :)

I don't use Pawn, so I can't speak to how to configure it. For Rawr, what I'd recommend doing is setting up parameters similar to what I mentioned before. Set (for example) armor to be greater than 34000, health to be some value that you want, and then maximize avoidance. Play with it and see how it works.

I'll see about writing up a 'how to use Rawr' to determine this list.

The real thing to note, one way or another, is that no static list will be able to determine what's best for you. You can look for the 'good' pieces - and there are definitely slots where one piece is simply better than another - but at the same time it's not going to make up for knowing what you actually need.

Techwolf said...

This is a good example as to why gear list generators can't replace experience for equipment selection.

Micah said...

Tech, I agree 100%, however, I'd like to support my choices with SOME math :)

Johan Järvinen said...

Kalon, don't worry about getting any more health for patchwerk, I had around 36k fully buffed stacking more dodge/expertise when I first tanked strikes on him in 25. I've cleared everything in the game infact(barring Sapp/KT on 25, was in rotation that day since we have 4+ excellent tanks) and I'm sat at just shy of 39k HP, 33k armor and 38% dodge raidbuffed, and almost expertise capped(49 atm). Not breaking a sweat offtanking anything in the game and could probably maintank anything too, just that our gm tends to take that job.

So anyway, stack avoidance and mitigation, your hp's are fine.

ps. Would you bother putting together a true best-in-slot with 2-3 options for the very best gear available atm? Want to know what to spend my dkp-stockpiles on, starting to accumulate quite a bit now.

keitaro-keiichi said...

If I already have the polar set anyway and don't plan on any raids for a while, I've been wondering, what are some good gems to socket to make up for some of the lost stats?

Kalon said...

keitaro-keiichi - thanks for coming by. :)

Not sure exactly how to answer this. If you're just running heroics, I'd probably lean towards agility, defense, and expertise. Probably about that order. If you really want to do more damage as a bear, either go with expertise or strength.

Jacemora said...

Just my 2 cents on the positives of the polar gear for those curious about getting it or already owning it...

+I was able to get the Polar set (Chest, Boots, Belt) before stepping 1 foot into a heroic instance... and it helped.

+Having a large HP pool can be really nice on healers because in combination with our Oh Crap buttons it can give healers quite a bit of leeway in a situation gone wrong or other raid members taking a lot of damage.

+Large HP pool makes Frenzy Regen and Survival Instincts better.

+The Frost resist can make some elite world tanking easier, some instance tanking easier, and will be needed for some endgame bosses from my understanding so having it crafted won't go to waste even after you get T7.

+Lets you use badges for some other slots initially and makes needing to fill chest/belt/boot slots less of a priority.

I tanked 10 man Naxx this week along with numerous Heroics and not once has a healer gone OOM due to my lack of avoidance.

Not once has my large HP been an issue with survivability or success rate.

People freak out when they see you have 41K HP which is fun.

All in all I have been really happy with my polar gear gemmed with all +25 STA gems and I don't plan on replacing it any time soon unless we hit something where my avoidance is causing issues. So far through the 1st, 2nd, and 4th wings in Naxx we have not had any issues with me tanking in this set. We have only done the first boss in the DK wing but I doubt the following 2 bosses or the final 2 of the instance are going to cause any issues either.

I believe I have around 31% dodge and 34K armor right now with these 3 pieces in my tanking lineup along with 41K HP roughly 10 man raid buffed.

With glyph of maul and proper rotation I have not had issues with losing agro on single or multiple targets.

doug said...

Jacemora pretty much stated my thoughts. After reading Kalon's post I had dismissed pursuing polar gear except for the boots.

I'm a min-maxer when it comes to gear. I haven't had an opportunity to run Naxx yet and I'm just getting started into heroics so my upgrades have been coming in slowly and via mainly crafted gear (eg trollwoven). I get itchy when I see areas I would like to improve so I took a second look at the polar gear using RAWR for my what-ifs. What I found was that the mitigation trade-off for the sta boost was definitely one I should make. By swapping in both the polar chest and waist I've gained about 4k hps, 1k armor and lost roughly 1% dodge. I'm now sitting at a little under 30% dodge with 31k hps and 31k armor unbuffed. I feel this was a good trade-off until I can start to get the drops that I really want to put in these slots. Until then I'm more than happy to use the polar gear. I'm not looking at the polar gear as best in slot, but as best available to me now. It is my new heavy clefthoof set for wotlk. To boost my dodge I plan to use agi focused buff foods, scrolls and elixirs as well as popping the badge of tenacity whenever the CD is up. I don't see it as an emergency button any more now that we have SI+FR. I also have mongoose on my staff.

For those RAWR users, RAWR doesn't just give you a final number to judge every piece by. It also breaks down the number into mitigation/survival/threat/dps depending on your spec (bear/cat) setting. Don't just accept the total score use the subtotals to compare gear as well. Some gear leans heavily toward survival, some to mitigation and some is balanced between the two. It is up to you to decide based on your priorities and balance your gear accordingly. RAWR does make that possible if you don't just focus on the final ranking number.


Kalon said...

Jacemora and Doug - thanks for coming by. I agree with both of you and I think that I probably overstated the negatives of the polar set. The polar set is a shockingly good starter set for bears and makes them very easily and cheaply ready for heroics and beyond.

It is my new heavy clefthoof set for wotlk.

This is EXACTLY what I should have said, and I couldn't have put it any better. That's a great analogy. The clefthoof set was also really good - until you got the gear you wanted from the T4 instances. That being all said - it is the clefthoof set, and there are better pieces, even if Rawr initially tells you otherwise.

And it's a very good point about Rawr. Rawr does have the capability to optimize and score based on survivability and overall damage taken. It just doesn't do that by default, which makes certain things look...fishy. It's a great tool and one I use daily. Just don't use it right out of the box and expect the perfect answers. :)

Really, appreciate both of you commenting. :)

Dark said...

Hey guys. Atm i am a feral druid wit the best trinks rings weap and neck a feral can get i have 2/5 val unbuffed and 3/5 hero, socketed fully with stamina and agility, heres the sad thing.. I have a polar set fully socketed with stam and while i was doing the math and shifting pieces, with my t7 set, i sit at 33k HP, and 36% dodge throwing on the polar set i only shift to 34.8% with a 4k HP increase to my bear form.. thats definately worth it in my opinion.
Some people will say yea the dodge decrease isn't that much but was about the threat reduction.. What about it? there really isn't a threat reduction if u are strugggling to hold threat with 3 AP pieces gone only then ur a terrible bear. I main tank 25 man naxx and rarely get pulled off of, event on AOE pulls, its just a matter of knowing what gives u maximum threat against a target and exploiting it. where i can see the desire to reduce stam and fet more agi or hit or expertise, it doen't make sense.. get your dodge to 33/34 easily done with trinkets and rings neck back, then slap on that stam. get a good weap and that'll give u all the threat gen u need i mean most staffs give 2K AP wth? that insane!!! I truely wish i would have gotten my t7.5 chest as boomkin cause polar pwns it for maintanking. Offtanking forget polar ect, my case is being a main tank. case the goal of offtanking is to do maximum damage while being able to pop up with decent HP and dodge to save a raid should a MT go down.
these are just thoughts and ideas. All i have played is feral druid through prebc bc and wotlk, and despite the buffs and nerfs we are the best tanks imo.