Monday, December 29, 2008

[General] Who I am...ON THE INTARWEBS

One of the funniest things to happen to me since I started writing this blog was seeing people quote me on totally different forums...and then use my point here to argue with me there. The best example was over at Elitist Jerks.

I still chuckle about that one.

The next step, of course, is that someone is going to use a previous blog point to argue with me and be right.

I try to be consistent with my names through various forums or make sure that people know it's me here and there, but just in case there's any confusion, here's who I am.

I'm Kalon. That's my real name. I'd like to say that it has some awesome historical context, but honestly the story is that my mom was a hippie in the 70s and thought it sounded cool.

On a lot of forums out there, I go as kalbear. That includes EJ, the ASOIAF forums, and even Television Without Pity. You can even find some of my old guides for D2 Assassins if you look hard enough.

On the official wow forums, I try and stick with Felhoof. Sometimes I'll go with Failhoof (my DK, name thanks to my raid leader), and on the test realms I go with Feltest.

So, if you see one of those people quoting something from here, or you see one of them arguing a point - it's me. :)

[Druid, Warrior] itemization, scaling, and back to mathiness

After the bloat of subjective opinion and joy of the holidays, let's return to the mathy work that you've come to know and love from this site. Or know, at least.

On the official tanking forums I recently did a comparison between what a warrior and a druid can expect from their itemization scaling come T8. This assumes all sorts of handwaving crap that kind of sucks, and I'm not proud of it; this is basically useful for a talking point, but not all that useful for, you know, actually proving a point. But that's okay; I'm mostly speculating.

The basic idea is this: given the itemization we've seen from Naxx-10 and Naxx-25, what can we expect in terms of gains from Ulduar-level content? The methodology was as follows:
if it has a tier piece, compare the two directly. So T710 helms compared directly to T725 helms.
If it doesn't, average all the pieces in that slot and use that when it made sense.
If that doesn't make sense (like something having a TON of parry on it) convert that stat to another for easy comparison.
Both druids and warriors compared the same cloak, rings, and amulets.
I assumed a druid would be using DM:Greatness and Essence of Gossamer, and assumed there'd be a new version of both in T8. Same went for a warrior, save that they'd be using the strength version of the DM:G.
I converted hit to expertise when I could.

No gun was used in the comparison, as I figured there'd be no new thing for warriors.

The spreadsheet is over at google docs, if you want to check it out.

The results are:
Stam: 199.75
Agility: 70.25
Strength: 48
Defense: 61
Dodge: 30
Expertise: 20

Total itemization points: 429, or 326.4 for normalization of stam.

Stam: 201
Strength: 133.66
BV: 50.66
Def: 119.1
Dodge: 61.16
Expertise: 48.5
Parry: 26.166
Block Rating: 44.33

Total itemization points: 684.6, or 617.6 for normalization of stam.

The warrior gets nearly double the itemization points from gear a druid gets. This is even deceptively high, as we were counting strength in for the druid as well as counting defense fully. Take those things into consideration and the value is more than double for the warrior.

This is one objective reason for the feeling that druids have a ton of 'wasted' stats. If bears are to scale at the same rate as warriors, they need to get double the value out of these stats. Currently, they really do not. What's interesting to me is that stamina for warriors and druids is basically the same, but druids scale much better with stamina. That HP gulf that druids have currently is only going to increase as gear improves. At the same time, druids are losing out heavily on the avoidance side of the equation, at least in terms of itemization, and given that the diminishing returns from miss are very small, that high defense that warriors get is going to increase the avoidance advantage they have.

Does this mean that druids are going to suck in T8? No, clearly not. This doesn't take into account any of the scaling factors that druids or warriors have, or how they improve with these stats or how good they even are. This doesn't factor time to live, survivability, mitigation rates, overall damage reduction vs types of's very limited.

At the same time though, it does illustrate exactly how many stats are essentially wasted for a druid when they go for that rogue gear, and how much better warriors have it in that regard.

I do think that without any changes, this is going to be a problem for blizzard and for bears. Having only a few stats to scale with means those stats must scale insanely well. When that happens, it creates a very unbalancing state where weird things happen. We're already at that state now in some ways; stamina is kind of insane and it's to the point where a bear can wear polar gear and be a good tank (or even an optimal one). Giving more stamina may only exacerbate that issue. More stats that give smaller increases is a naturally more stable situation; it means that you cannot find that one broken item (right now: defender's code) and make yourself ridiculous. Diminishing returns fixes that to a degree, but that only goes so far. What I don't know is whether this is going to make bears ridiculously bad or good. But I do think that it's going to be an issue come Ulduar without a change.

That being said, GC has already said they are looking into more offensive->defensive conversions in the future. That would go a long way towards fixing issues like this.

Friday, December 26, 2008

[General] Merry Holidays!

Thank you all for a great year of blogging and a really good time. I hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday season, whatever you might celebrate.

And you get some phat loots. :)

I'd also like to introduce Shamad to the blogosphere. He's been a great, eloquent and informative poster frequently in this blog and is a tank for a very well-progressed raid. So far his writing's been a really good glimpse into what goes on in a raiding environment as well as his usual excellence about feral druids. Check him out over at Lazy Bear Musings. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

[Druid] Druids are OP - the comments

Wow, I stirred up a hornet's nest in that last post.

In the future I'm going to have to make sure that any posts without math are clearly indicated as opinion/fluff pieces and not meant to be taken as gospel. Yikes. Instead of answering all the comments in the comment section, I figured it'd be better to answer 'em here and follow up here. I'll continue to answer here as necessary.

One note here: while I do recognize that most of you didn't like my last article and want other things, I do really appreciate that you told me. I'm very happy that you took the time to write, and regardless of whether you agree or disagree I hope that you'll continue to take that time.

Basically, it broke down into three kinds of people: those who were optimistic and wanted to hear about how good druids have it right now in raids, and those who are pessimistic and are having problems for whatever reasons, and the realists who figured out why things are the way they are. I'll answer all generically before moving on.

For those of you who are optimistic: good to hear. A lot of people are having a lot more fun with their druid tanking than they ever did before. A lot of that is because of the new tools that druids were given to make them on par with other tanks. A lot is that the content really is doable with druids, though quite a bit is harder for a druid than other tanks. Compare this to what it was like in TBC for heroics, and you have to admit bears have it much better. Quite a few of the fights out there in raids specifically favor druids - especially the ones that are hardest on tanks. And it's never been easier to gear up a druid for tanking and even do well at that tanking.

For those of you who are pessimistic: also good to hear. The fact is that druids need work in heroics. Instancing is what the majority of people do out there, even if it's not the majority of what I write about. Heroics are where you meet future guildies, practice new skills, and in general push people some. And honestly, similarly-geared druids are a bitch to deal with in heroics compared to other tanks. Because of the way armor works, they end up taking significantly more damage than other tanks. They don't have the avoidance that other tanks do, which makes them harder to heal. They don't have the snap aggro to pick up mobs early and let DPS start going immediately. They don't have an easy time of keeping aggro or picking up loose adds due to the need to spam swipe. It's a real, quantitative problem. There are very good reasons why healers hate healing druids in heroics, and it's not because they geared improperly or became stam whores; it's because druids aren't well-designed for heroics. They're not balanced.

At the same time, they're really, really good in raids.

I think that a lot of the issue that people had with this was that clearly, I had two pieces of gear that are just ridiculous right now, and without them bears suffer. That's true; it's definitely clear that Defender's Code is crazy good, and Origin of Nightmares is amazing for threat and stam. And yes, I do overgear Naxx-10; it's definitely not progression for us. That being said, I don't overgear the content significantly in terms of amount of upgrades from Naxx-25. I have gotten very lucky with my drops, I'll admit. Others won't have. But I can say that with a couple of those lucky drops, I'm doing significantly better than other guild tanks who have gotten more drops and are general wearing a lot more high-ilvl gear. On similar fights I'm taking less damage and avoiding more attacks. I'm doing more damage. I have more HP. Perhaps when we both get to the end in terms of gear we can compare apples to apples and see.

And of course, there's the issue of the difficulty (or lack thereof). Naxx is easy, and there's no two ways about it. It's much easier than Kara. It's much easier than most heroics are. Saying how awesome druids are after running a couple of Naxx-25s and judging the content of Naxx-10 is kind of like saying how awesome it is that I can solo normal Ramparts at 80. Sure, I can do it - but what does that really say about anything? It's not even a statistically useful fact.

On the realism side, it's clear that I'm overgearing content, that the content is easy, that I have very good individual pieces of gear, that I had good players around me and that it's not so bad, overall, and that there's a lot more to go before seeing the endpoint. All of that is very true.

Onto the actual specific comments. My favorite was Kiluia, who said it best.
Guys, I wouldnt take issue with this post. Kalon is just messing around. Its basically a post that says "I have awesome gear & I'm overgeared for all the content, aren't I awesome everyone!!!" - and its just a bit of fun.
Yep, very true. This wasn't some random forum post saying how amazing we were and to call for the nerfing of druids because we're ridiculous. I don't do that sort of thing (or if I do, I'll use more math). This was me having a nice post after a good couple of nights of raiding. I do actually think that more nerfs of a kind are going to be incoming for druids. I doubt very seriously that the stamina scaling is going to be allowed to continue for long the way it does, for instance; too many other tanks are already getting pissed about druids so clearly dominating the tanking e-peen of stamina. But anyway, this wasn't the most serious post ever. I had a good time raiding, I was proud that a bunch of people who had never set foot in Naxx of any sort did so well, and it was a fun night.

Don - who said:
Yeah, I can main tank Naxx10 and heroics without any issue, but I think the real value is being able to do reasonable dps being a strong off-tank.
This is something that I think I'll need to explore more in other articles. The things that druids do best (tank really huge-ass mobs and take tons of damage) they can do without all the best tanking talents. Heck, right now I have KotJ; it's certainly not a core tanking talent. Sarth doesn't require R&T, for instance, or feral aggression. I don't think that it's possible to get all the best kitty talents, but being able to get most of them and do very good damage is possible. Good to hear that's working out for you. I think I'd like to get back to that situation more; cat DPS is really fun and challenging now.

Shamad's post, as usual, was really on the mark. Other tanks will catch up, and druids are no where near as good as other tanks for heroics and content with small adds. Last night I tried Sarth+1 on 10man, and was doing the add tanking. (if you're wondering why, it was because the other tank wasn't as experienced or geared, and was having problems with the adds). And gods, what a nightmare it was. That wasn't the reason we wiped, but the amount of damage I took was insane. That's something that a druid can't reasonably do and all the other tanks can. I've been on heroics as DPS and seen how effortless it is for other tanks to get quick aggro, take no damage and move from pull to pull; most heroics require some drinking from my healers. There's a lot of room for improvement there.

Anon1's comment was really good and well written. Here's an exerpt:
But - do everyone a favour and quit making definitive statements about EVERY druid in the game based on YOUR gear.
That's fair. This is round one of the 'Kalon makes a statement about his experiences and fun and it must apply to all druids everywhere'. I will say that it's clear that Defender's Code needed to be nerfed now, in case it wasn't before. And I probably should've titled it "_I_ am OP", but I think that might've gotten even more flames. :) Here's what I'd like to see, Anon - I'd like to see druids get nerfed at the raid level. I'd also like to see them get significantly buffed at the heroic level. And I'd like both of those things to be based on stats on gear instead of via talents.

Anon2's comment was the polar opposite:
With your health & dodge & armor and those 2 pieces (!) well, as you know, those 2 items are a big reason for the armor changes... so enjoy their OPness for a short while.
Yep! They're totally ridiculous. With the patch that'll come down to earth some. Not a ton, mind you - more dodge and stamina will help deal with it a bit. But some. It won't stop the silly stam scaling though.

Anon3's comment confused me:

It's all good and well hearing about the huge thing druids can do, but you cannot really comment until your DPS are the the same level of gear as you.

As it stand your a huge amount better than you DPS, and anything you see is skewed.
I'm not quite sure what this means. If the DPS were the same level as me going into Naxx-10 we probably would've finished the whole thing in 3 hours. And we have DPSers in the guild that are that level. The DPS being as green as they were meant that fights took longer, which meant I took more damage. I guess that I was saying that because I was well-geared and a druid it meant the healers didn't go OOM on me and we could deal with longer fights.

Blink, it's all about the staff. Seriously, that thing easily upped my DPS by 200.

Phil Jackson wrote:
So while I love my druid and the stats I can get right now, I'm in no way saying that we are that much better than the other tanks until I can see tanks with equal gear in the same fights.
It's tough to do that, but yes, I agree. Part of my judging this was that my group - which had a lot more new players - went faster and did better than the other 10-man group led by a better-geared warrior tank, and part of that was apparently that it was harder for them. Again, totally anecdotal. It very well may be that all tanks are OP right now; I suspect it is. This is the sort of thing that's totally subjective because the content is so easy.

Kiggster chimed in on that point too:
I agree with several of the other comments here: don't base the entire state of the class on your gearing alone.
That's a tough one, and one that blizzard has problems with too. How do you balance tanks so that they're good everywhere but not insane in one place and weak in another? I think that blizzard got things very wrong this time (and I've said as much previously). I do agree that my doing well doesn't mean that all druids, everywhere, should be fixed. 3.0.8 is going to help a lot of these issues one way or another. Hopefully future fixes will be incoming.

Anon4 agreed with all of that too:
Currently, Druids are underpowered unless they have 2-3 specific drops. Stop spreading things that are not true. You are geared for Naxx 25.
I'm not sure I agree they're underpowered without those drops. Starting raiding druids have it pretty easy; uncrittability, high dodge rating and decent armor right out of the box and without a lot of special gear or drops. Especially now that PvP gear is out. As gear improves though - they get pretty far behind without a good couple of trinkets and a good staff. As many others have indicated, it's a big spectrum of where bears are. With the gear they're a bit overpowered in raids. Without that gear and with other pieces and comparing to similarly geared tanks who got about as lucky on their drops, they're behind. And they're far behind in heroics at any point.

Anon5 was very interesting, given that he apparently has 3 close-to epicced geared tank classes.
My warrior is where mitigation is just sick. After having only crafted BS epics and the LW epic cape, and some instance blues, I tanked Naxx-10 and *solo* tanked Arachnid and Construct quarters, using a MS warrior to hateful strike tank (of which I still took many of the hatefuls).
That's pretty impressive. If I'd done that I'd probably have posted "warriors are OP". :) I do think that it's not exactly the right comparison there. Having three pre-raid or pre-heroic tanking classes who have good crafted gear, I think that the druid loses handily. There's not a lot of good crafted gear for the druid, and they get far more benefit out of slots that aren't craftable. I do know that my healers very much prefer me to tank harder raid content right now. That may change as we all gear up. I also know that they prefer me least for heroics. Still, your main point is solid; without an actual challenging tanking fight, it's very hard to gauge anything meaningful. Sarth + adds is probably the best, and druids work well in one aspect (tanking big-ass dragons) and horribly in others (tanking any adds).

Anon6 got feisty:
Congrats on being OP for a very nerfed Karazhan equivalent. I am sure it was YOUR OP'ness that allowed you to take DPS in greens to a weak instance and dominate the content and get achievements.
Well, yeah. It certainly didn't hurt. I don't think we would have been able to do Faerlina like we did if I was geared similarly to the DPS, for instance. I do know that the other groups that ran it didn't do this. That isn't to say they couldn't, but it was pretty neat that I could.

Bullroar got even feistier:
Oh and by the way, you really should check if other tanks are OP in this content before putting an article out like this. I am really disappointed in your lack of foresight.
I'm a bit baffled by this, honestly. Bullroar, do you think that I have some huge amount of pull in the warcraft community? Heck, does anyone think that? I had thought that it was clear that by relating two specific experiences I personally had that I wasn't speaking for generics for anyone, but I guess I'll make it clearer: this was my experience. It didn't seem reasonable. It still doesn't seem reasonable to have such high stamina, armor and dodge as a tank relative to what I see other tanks at right now, but perhaps that's fine.

I do think that after 3.0.8, it would be a good idea to do a 'state of the tanks' post. That will have math in it, more theorycrafting, and be actually quantitative and generic.

And then the floodgates were released, as anon after anon chimed in (this would be anon7):
So now you're stuck in cat. You can't tank anything in bear.

The upcoming 3.0.8 changes are awesome for all of us not at the very end of the gear spectrum.
This was a very good point, and one that I agree with 100%. 3.0.8 is going to be good for a vast majority of feral tanks out there. It's a nerf for the potential raiding tanks of the future, but there aren't that many anyway - and those that do exist probably aren't going to be affected by this hugely. I've said that in the past too. I don't like the change mostly because it's yet another talent to make bears okay at tanking, which invariably doesn't scale well and doesn't motivate for gear - but I don't mind the nerf at my level, and I'm very glad that others are getting buffed.

Anon8 went back on the feistiness with a really good quip:
You know, if you start a thread saying one tank class beats the others, then you're gonna inspire a lot of backlash. Just look at one poster who's already suggesting DKs are the uber tank. No stats, no proofs, just ppls subjective feelings, healers subjective feelings about tanks they like to heal and blah and more blah and more blah. Welcome to the gutter of the official forums.

Ghostcrawler - will you lock this thread now?

As we all know, there's nothing that stirrs up conflit amoung players faster than suggesting one class is more powerful than another. You should know better.

Oh and if you want to boast about how awesome you are... can you do it in front of the mirror in the privacy of your own room instead of on your (genereally awesome) blog?
Heh. Nice on the official forum bits. From what I've read DKs are pretty awesome for Sarth+3 adds, as they can reliably deal with the Shadron/Vesperon breath evils for a while thanks to their special cooldowns. I don't think that makes them particularly the best tank ever; Sarth + 3 adds is kind of like Brut in that shorter cooldowns with smaller effects (like Barkskin) are better than long cooldowns with big effects (like shield wall) since the time you'll need the cooldowns happens every minute. That doesn't make DKs the best tanks for everything, it just makes them better for this one specific instance. Of course it doesn't help that that's the only hard content that exists right now.

I will say that I'll try and write more about what people want to see articles on; clearly my audience wants math, theory, and objective hard-hitting news journalism instead of fluff and reports on how much fun I'm having. That's fine, by the way. I don't promise I won't write about the good times and bad times I'm personally experiencing, but I will try and make sure that they're otherwise marked as "Do not take this as a generalization about ferals, druids, other tanks or global warming."

And the last comment (at least for now) from Fathul:
You guys are missing the point. Kalon isn't saying that bears need to be nerfed because content is too easy. Everyone knows that content is easy right now.

What makes bears OP right now (which we certainly are) is our power level relative to the other tanking classes. The armor, health, and dodge values that Kalon posted are simply unobtainable by the other 3 tanking classes.
I think that's true, and I think that come Ulduar we'll see this a bit more - especially for harder-hitting bosses. It's going to be interesting to see how Ulduar shakes out, because they're going to have to be exceedingly creative to make pulls that are unique and actually challenging to tanks without reusing the same mechanics over and over. It's especially going to be interesting to see how they balance having one class with the highest mitigation against hard-hitting mobs and more stamina than anyone vs. having huge weaknesses against multiple targets while making every tanking class 'viable'. If you make something challenging for one tanking class it's probably going to be trivial for another right now. That's something that Blizzard has specifically stated they don't want. I personally really like that; I think the idea is great that tanks have a niche and that things are doable (but hard) with one tank and easy with another. That's not the direction Blizzard has stated they want to go, but with the mechanics of tanking as they stand I'm not sure that they can go any other way.

I'll put it this way. Druids having more health and more mitigation by a significant amount vs. hard hitting bosses is not going to be unnoticed and will be a non-trivial advantage on progression content in the future. I don't know if it'll be required for a druid to be in a raid, but I do think that there will be a number of fights that without a druid become significantly harder, at least as they are now. That's just my idle conjecture. If there aren't fights like this, my fear is that the content is just going to be simple again.

Monday, December 22, 2008

[Druid] Bears are OP.

Other bloggers like Flyv and Currant have recently spoke about what their experiences in general with tanking are right now in various environments. That's pretty topical for me, since I've had a couple good ones recently.

This weekend was the first time I was able to do a Naxx-10 run. Prior to this I had been able to get in on a couple fights here and there, but hadn't done most of the fights at all. I was with 7 other people who hadn't done a full run either, and a few had been 80 for about 1 day.

I got to lead it.

I fortunately had a couple of very experienced players with me (hi Mortos) who knew the fights from both the 40-man and the new versions, so there was not a lot of learning mechanics. That helped tremendously. The inexperienced players were the DPS and the other tank, which also helped; the healers were all very good, had good gear and had done many of the fights in 25-man. That makes up for a lot. And the inexperienced or undergeared folks all were very good players too. That is nice. :)

It also helped that druids right now are seriously broken. Really, truly, seriously broken. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Despite having folks that were still in quest greens we went for the Faerlina achievement and did it fairly easily. We almost got the Maexxna achievement - we were about 2 minutes shy - and if we hadn't done loot council we would have had it easily. We one-shotted Spider wing, Plague wing, and everything up to Thaddius. Military wing gave us issues because of inexperience, but at the end of the night we only had Sapph and KT up. And we did those the next night in about an hour, 2-shotting Sapph and 3-shotting KT. For a bunch of people who hadn't ever seen the fights, were low-geared and getting upgrades on every boss downed, it was a seriously good showing.

But again - a part of it that made it easy was that bears are broken. We had a priest for Faerlina, but we decided that with my gearing it would be easier and more fun to try the Faerlina achievement. If you're not familar with this, it is that Faerlina has adds that must be mind-controlled to dispell or delay her enrage. If you don't, she does massive damage to the tank. The massive damage in question was, on me at least, about 12k hits (up from 5k hits). And honestly, it wasn't an issue. I got to 40% once, popped survival instincts and trinkets, and watched my health steadily climb up as dodge-dodge-dodge filled the screen. Easiest achievement ever.

I was offtank on Patchwerk and took barely more damage than the main tank. Hatefuls either missed me completely or only did about 6k a hit. I had to watch threat and stop mauling because I'd overtake the main tank. And they were doing great threat; it was just that between hateful threat and mine, my threat was insane.

I was regularly 4th or 5th on DPS. This wasn't a sign of bad DPS; I was doing 2k-2.2k depending on the fight. Anything with adds was good, clearly, but without adds it was still pretty high.

On KT, we decided to go for the achievement of getting 18 aboms down. That involves pulling at least 3 extra packs of aboms (so 9 in total, coming in waves of 3 each). These were really hard on our DK tank; they did about 4k average hits and peaked to 7.5 hits, all in 1.5 second intervals and adding a 10% healing loss debuff per hit. On me? 2.5k average, peak 5k, didn't hit me as much. I could tank three without the healers having any real issues. In the same fight, KT's adds come out and are supposed to be tanked by an offtank. Instead, we just had me tank them along with KT. And again, no serious issues; the only reason I died was that I failed to see a shadow fissure at one point because of giant insect butt. The next time it was easily done despite the other tank dying early to an unlucky streak of frostbolt and frost blast.

I don't know whether or not well-geared tanks of other specs can do this sort of thing regularly. What I do know is that it's kind of silly to have 43k health with 38k armor and 50% dodge, and on many fights other tanks simply can't compete with that.

A second example of OPness. We were doing my favorite instance - heroic AN - hoping for that stupid Essence of Gossamer to drop, again. (try 14: still nope). On the last boss, my wife died on the third set of adds and improved death dropped just as Anubarak surfaced. I had me and 1 DPS alive. With no heals, I managed to survive 2 pounds, carrion swarm and normal hits from 25 to 0. I had to blow cooldowns aplenty, but I lived and we didn't wipe. Being able to tank a boss a quarter of their health with only one dps alive and no healer? That's ridiculous.

Like I said, I don't know what the experiences of other tanks are like in these situations. My anecdotal evidence suggest they are taking more damage and avoiding less often than druids are. I do realize that I have some really amazing pieces like Origin and Defender's Code, and that these will be reduced in effectiveness in the future. At the same time, losing 4k armor is not going to kill me, especially with added stamina and avoidance.

I expect that druids get nerfed here soon, at least for raids. I think they'll also get buffed a bit for heroics, getting some kind of static mitigation based on the base AP of their gear that will give them a second mitigation source independent of armor. But right now, they're clearly ridiculous.

The last bit is that we'll be working on Sarth + 2 adds tonight, and in anticipation I built my stam set (the other two pieces of polar gear). In my stam gear - which is missing a LOT of pieces (the aforementioned Essence of Gossamer being a good example) - I have 37k health unbuffed in any way. That's pretty insane. I gain 300 stamina from Blessing of Kings alone. Buffed, I should be up to 48k. How can any other tank even come close to this? It doesn't seem all that fair. Add to this that I still do the most DPS as a tank, put out very good threat...yeah.

We're OP. We're imba.

If, by the way, you're wondering how I can complain about the state of druid tanking (and agree with Currant) while saying how awesome we are - note that I'm not complaining about the mechanics of druid tanking. Druids have everything they need to tank right now. In fact, we've got more than we need. It still feels like bears are this 3rd-party addon class that borrows odd things from everyone (rogue leather, plate tanking jewelry, hunter weapons), but those combine into what is honestly the best tanking class for the content on hand. I do think that druids should be toned down, and the armor nerf that's upcoming is not going to be nearly enough. But I also think that more needs to be done to make druid gear desirable to druids and make tanking fun. Swipe spam is just boring as all hell, as Karthis pointed out. It works fine, but it's not fun. Gearing up is, for the most part, not that fun. The old system was also not fun - relying on rare drops to make you go from suck to awesome is bad. This is bad too. The old system was bad but somewhat fun, in that getting those drops was Really Awesome. The new system? Not so much.

So I would like to see a big bear revamp, similar to what they did to prot pallies. Make more stats on rogue leather and jewelry desirable to druids so they can ignore non-rogue gear aside from weapons. Let them dual wield weapons just for the stat sticks so they can use fist weapons more often (and thus use even more rogue items). Give them more sources of mitigation than armor so that they scale more linearly and can do well in both heroics (where block value is better than armor) and raids (where armor is better than BV). Give them more tools to tank with and fix the ones they have.

Give bears some god damn new graphics!

But don't improve us any more. Don't give us more armor. Don't give us more dodge. For gods sake, don't give these things via talents.

Anyway, don't worry about being nerfed. Bears aren't just fine right now, they're insane, and they're insane on the hardest content that exists. Enjoy being imba for a while. It's not going to last. :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

[Druid]Handwraps of Preserved History: most ironic name ever

As expected and requested by a lot of people, the Handwraps of Preserved History got hit pretty hard by the nerfstick. So much for their preserved status.

+68 agi
+103 stam
+100 AP
+40 expertise

+47 agi
+71 stam
+76 AP
+38 expertise

Ouch. If you're curious where this puts this on the older list, they're below the Savage Gladiator set by about 2 points. This is probably good; people shouldn't have to wear quest blues because those are better than their tier pieces. And there are a lot of good options out there. Still, big nerf inc.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

[Druid] Swipe is 50% more fun (UPDATED: less fun now)

Figured I'd go for the hat trick on a busy news day. According to ghostcrawler, swipe has been given a 50% threat increase from prior values:

We think we might try increasing threat by 50% because that is something easy to hotfix. That should buy you enough globals to do other things, and provide enough wiggle room if you get a target out of the area for one Swipe. We'll consider additional changes after we've had a chance to see how that plays out.
Avatar of Ghostcrawler
Re: Ghostcrawler, swipe is not fun.
The change for Swipe to generate an additional 50% threat is now live. Please let us know how it goes.
Yes, that's right - I kept the awesome avatar in there for no reason.

And it's not live on the PTR either - it's live, as in right now on the server.

Yes, it should mean that dealing with AoE tanking is better, and you can occasionally miss a swipe without the mob running off. I'm...well, I'm a bit skeptical; I think at best that you'll have enough threat to where most classes can go AoE hog wild but you'll still have to do it basically every GCD.

However - it also means that the best rotation for single target is also 'swipe'. With Naxx-level gear, bears were already at the point where the best threat rotation was to lacerate to 5 stacks, swipe, lacerate as little as possible to keep a stack up - and throw in faerie fire every time you could. Now? That's not true. It's simply mangle when up, swipe otherwise. That's it.

UPDATE: This is not really correct, as better math has shown. Swiping as much as you can is the best threat you can do, but it is about 5% better threat to make sure that you keep up a lacerate stack. I'll keep up the rest of this article for posterity's sake, but use the better math in the post linked above.

Here's the math for me in case you're interested. Feel free to play along at home with your own numbers to check things out.

Swipe damage: (AP * .063 + 108) * Naturalist bonus * feral instinct bonus * armor penalty * (1 + crit chance) * 4pT6 bonus
lacerate damage: (AP*.01+88)*Naturalist bonus * armor penalty * (1 + crit chance) * 2pt7 bonus
lacerate DOT damage: (AP*.01+64)*stack size * naturalist * mangle * 2pt7 bonus

Swipe DPS: swipe damage /1.5
lacerate DPS: lacerate damage / 1.5
lacerate DOT DPS: lacerate dot damage / 3.0

swipe TPS: swipe DPS * 29/14 * 1.5
lacerate TPS: 29/14*(lacerage damage+1031)/ (2* 1.5)
lacerate DOT TPS: lacerate DOT DPS * 29/14 / 2

Based on a 70% armor reduction from bosses, here are the results:

For AP 4735, crit 30%, no T6 and 2pT7 I get the following:
swipe TPS: 1095.2
lacerate TPS: 786.1
lacerate DOT TPS: 282.5
total lacerate TPS: 1076.045

The important thing to note here is that the swipe TPS - lacerate TPS is greater than the lacerate DOT (with 5 stacks) TPS, meaning that it's always better to let the stack fall off and swipe again. And that's for my own paltry numbers; as you get better gear, this will only increase in value. Add to this that swipe does a lot more DPS than lacerate, and it may be time to retire lacerate completely.

I honestly don't expect this to be the case for long; I think that they'll change it fairly soon once they see lacerate taken out entirely. And keep in mind that while my gear isn't optimal, it is Naxx-25 geared with a good staff, decent other pieces and fairly high level stuff; if you've got a worse staff (or really, worse than about 4500 AP and 30% crit) you're going to want to use some lacerate.

ETA: so there are some good points to be made here.

For starters, you should always have a bleed on your target to maximize maul damage via Rend & Tear. This doesn't mean it has to be your bleed - a warrior can put up deep wounds, for instance. It just needs to be some bleed. If you have that, you shouldn't lacerate. If you don't, you should. It's that simple. No matter how good swipe vs. lacerate is, at WotLK levels there will never be a point where losing 20% maul damage/threat beats never having a bleed.

So...make sure your warriors are doing that and go to town. :)

This also means that in 5-mans and most 10-mans you'll have to keep lacerating. Just do it as little as possible. :)

ETA2: it turns out that the lacerate bleed is actually pretty good DPS, and losing one swipe every 6 seconds to a lacerate is worth it if you can keep the 5-stack going for raw damage. And it's not paltry either - it's on the order of 10% more damage, even at high levels of gear. So strangely, you're left with this oddity: for max TPS, swipe. For max DPS, keep a lacerate stack up and swipe whenever you can.

[Offtopic] Recruiting

On a totally unrelated note to ThinkTank, Fire and Blood is recruiting! We're specifically looking for ranged DPS classes and rogues right now, but will consider any quality application. We have currently beaten all T7.10 and T7.25 content and are working on Sartharion with drakes up. If you're interested, drop me a line or apply at the website above.

Some quick notes about us:

  • Quel'Dorei is a CST server
  • The raiding community here is young, as is the server itself
  • Fire & Blood raids 3 times a week currently, 7PM central time
  • We use a suicide-kings DKP style updated after every boss; ties are determined by attendance and loot council
  • We're not the hardest-core players out there.
  • We are a very mature bunch though; most of us are at least in college and many of us have families, careers, and lives outside of WoW.
  • We believe that you don't raid to get gear; you get gear to raid.
Drop by, say hi, and feel free to ask questions. :)

[Druid] MOAR STUF (aka, Polearms)

Thanks to Runycat, I found out that Polearms are now trainable by druids. Makes sense, right? Hunters get to use feral staves (and they're converting strength to AP on them to make them more desirable), so druids now can use those hunter polearms. And we can all covet each other's neighbors, or something.

Trainers are in Stormwind and Undercity, in case you've forgotten.

So let's go to the comparisons! For bears, there's still no replacing Origin of Nightmares, Staff of the Plague Beast or even Enraged Feral Staff - they're just too good with the armor, even post 3.0.8. That one's pretty easy. They also have more stamina than any other druid weapons out there. It's not a contest.

For cats, though...

Black Ice (which drops from Malygos Normal) becomes the second best DPS weapon in the game. The huge hit rating is great and rare on any druid weapon, it has a ton of agility and a decent amount of attack power. It also looks like a druid weapon already; it's all crazy looking and funky and stuff. I really recommend this if no one else wants it; the hit rating will make it alone very valuable, and it has the highest agility of any weapon out there.

The Wraith Spear drops from normal Naxx from Maexxna, and it'll be worse than a lot of the other options for DPS. All of the feral staves, Inevitable Defeat...but it's not a bad one, and it should make for a nice alternate weapon if you can't get anything better.

Cryptfiend's Bite drops from Heroic Heigan, but it's not ideal. It has crit and haste instead of hit and haste, and only has 51 agility. Nice AP on it, but I'm not convinced that it's enough.

For those of you on a budget, the Saliva-Corroded Pike (yum!) drops from one of the random bosses in heroic VH, and will be close to the quality of a Feral Enraged staff for dps. And for an even bigger budget item, you can get the Whale-Stick Harpoon from Kalu'ak, which should be a very good early DPS option since you can get the rep so soon.

So - if you happen to be on any Malygos normal runs and that Black Ice drops - and no one else wants it - make sure to ask nicely. :)

And you don't even have to level your polearm skills either.

Monday, December 8, 2008

[Druid] The collected ideas on how to fix bears

Since this is threatening to take over various comments on various posts I've made, this will be the topic to discuss all the different feral alternatives to the way things are for bears. You might take a look at the posts on the tank forums, though there's a lot of signal to noise there.

In summary, a lot of bears aren't happy getting all of their ability to tank solely from talents. Between SotF, the new changes to SotF, the large amount of dodge, static threat, and stamina that bears innately get and the total lack of scaling stats for bears, we have a class that is essentially set for tanking regardless of gear level. There are no juggling of stats, they say; there's only agility. There's no balancing dodge vs. mitigation; there's simply getting the best ilvl leather you can get for your mitigation and then getting a couple more points of dodge from trinkets and rings, or maybe getting a couple thousand more armor if you stack it. Threat isn't important. Damage is still high. There's no impetus to gear up. There's no incentive to get better gear or even progress; druids are already awesome.

And make no mistake - druids are really, truly awesome right now. Remember Kara in 2.0, when druids did tons of damage, tons of threat, and were easily geared for Kara right out of the box? Same deal here.

And remember how lame it was when T6 came and there was nothing?

So it's not a matter of ability; from all indications druids are king of the hill for a large chunk of the fights in T7 right now, and that's not going to change meaningfully with 3.0.4. It's a matter of satisfaction.

What's unsatisfying? Gearing up. The rogue gear isn't that interesting for bears right now, and it would be good if a change was made to make it so. The multiplier on leather armor makes it kind of silly not to upgrade to the highest levels possible no matter what, but equally makes that brainless. It's not satisfying to not worry about things like being uncrittable, and it's not satisfying to have no 'large' upgrades in your future because everything is baked into your class. It's also unsatisfying to not have to balance threat. It's really unsatisfying to have all gear somewhat okay for you. It's not fun to have only one mitigation talent and one avoidance talent. Any solution should try to address the gear issue, the single source of mitigation issue, the single stat upgrade issue, the threat issue, and the fun issue.

Here are the more popular ideas on how to fix this.

  1. Do nothing. Seriously, a lot of people advocate for this. Regardless of whether or not you think druid itemization and abilities are fun right now, the fact is that druids are just fine for tanking most things. They're still great on mitigation and damage incoming, especially on harder-hitting physical bosses. They do adequately against magic-using bosses thanks to barkskin, PotP and huge HP pools. There's nothing mechanically that says they suck right now, and there's no indicator that they're going to suck in Ulduar. That being doesn't make the rogue gear or the tanking jewelry any more desirable, it doesn't make druids scale any better, it doesn't make gear exciting, it doesn't make tanking fun, and it doesn't answer any AoE issues.
  2. Give bears parry. There are lots of sub-suggestions for this, such as having a strength->parry conversion, an AP->parry conversion, no conversion at all, and all with varying nerfs to dodge, armor, or other values. The big advantage is that tanking jewelry gets split between two groups: the blockers and the non-blockers. And the non-blockers would want the same gear, basically. This is even nicer, since with the changes to FAP you can have druids wanting the same amulets, trinkets, rings, cloaks and weapons. It makes defense better than dodge and makes it another stat that would be nice. It gives higher avoidance, which bears seem to be somewhat lacking (though this will be reduced in issue with the 3.0.4 changes allowing all different kinds of jewelry). Itemization would look better. What it doesn't do is make rogue gear any more useful, nor does it make druids scale all that well with anything other than agi except at high values of dodge. It doesn't have any offensive->defensive conversion. It doesn't give mitigation at all, though at least it makes less of a mana sponge. It only helps scaling marginally.
  3. AP->armor. The advantage of this is that it's obvious and clear what the conversion is. 1 AP is one armor, period. FAP becomes a great deal for any bear no matter what. Strength becomes both an offensive and defensive stat. Rogue gear becomes far more valuable, and pvp gear becomes less valuable. The armor multiplier can be reduced so that it's not quite so insane and not quite so important to have the highest-ilvl leather you can. AP is also on every single piece of leather, so it's not like you won't get it. It even makes rogue jewelry fairly interesting. Both rogue leather and tanking jewelry become more valuable. The disadvantage is that AP gets multiplied a LOT by raid buffs, so you'd have to balance around that (I'd argue that this doesn't matter, as dodge/stam/armor already get boosted in raids). And it's not all that elegant, and may not be enough; bears only get around 4k armor. And it butts up against the armor cap issues yet again.
  4. Crit/haste/ArPen/hit->avoidance. Similar advantages to AP->armor, except it only improves avoidance. The advantage is that it makes some rogue leather more valuable and some less valuable, differentiating what is 'bear' loot and what is 'rogue' loot. It gives another offensive->defensive conversion that is on the gear.It makes rogue jewelry better. The disadvantage is that only a few pieces have any one of those things; look at the feral tier gear to get an example of the stat differentiation; some has haste, some has expertise, some ArPen, all has some crit rating. It makes rogue gear only slightly more valuable. It's also unclear whether more avoidance is what bears need.
  5. iLotP's cooldown removed. The advantage is that it's an ability that bears already have. They know how it works. It's a simple change. It makes crit better, which makes most rogue gear better. It makes hit and expertise better. 2% health every other attack (roughly) is pretty decent. This is downright overpowered when fighting multiple mobs, making it a nice fix for dealing with AoE. The disadvantage is that it's entirely reactive and based on luck, which means healers can't rely on it like they could an actual HoT, which basically means that it's useless in terms of making a druid more healable.
  6. Give bears some kind of damage shield. There are lots of ways that I've seen this presented, but they all result in almost exactly the same thing - a way to give a bear block without actually giving bears block. Have iLotP prevent damage on the bear instead of a heal, have maul's damage do the same, have some amount of AP automatically reduce all damage by a fraction, make defense provide straight-up reduction of damage, etc. The advantage is that it is a separate, scaling form of mitigation that will allow for high armor without absurd armor as the only way to stop mitigation. The disadvantage is that they all feel a bit clunky mechanically; it would be hard to put them into a tooltip for a talent, for example.
  7. Give bears block. Simply, give 'em block. Make block rating work for bears. Have block value calculated exactly the same way as warriors/paladins do. They would do it less, obviously - they do not have a lot of block rating gear compared to warriors/paladins, and have less strength - but they could keep higher armor in exchange for worse blocks. The disadvantage is that it really homogenizes the tanking classes, doesn't make rogue gear any better, and really feels like a thoughtless solution to a thoughtful problem.
If I were to rank these, I'd go like this:
(big gap)
(big gap)

But that's just me. I'm curious what y'all think, and what I've missed. Thanks!

PS: I've gotten a lot of reader mail and a lot of comments I've not answered recently, and I apologize for that. I'll be trying to catch up in the next few days. I really do appreciate the feedback, criticism, and kind words from everyone though, and if I don't respond to you immediately it's not because I don't want to; it's just that I haven't gotten the time yet. I will soon, or I'll shamelessly steal your idea for the next blog post. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

[Druid] Naxx 25, health and you

Last night was our guild's first 'official' 25-man raid. We did fairly well, downing spider, plague and half of construct wing before having to call it a night.

And as Flyv pointed out recently, it's pretty easy. The only difficult trash mobs were the gargoyles that, at 30% start casting stoneskin which will heal. Everything else was AoE killed without any concern. We didn't have any deaths in the entire raid until the start of the military quarter - 6 bosses in. We wiped exactly twice - once on Razuvious due to some confusion on the mechanics, and once on Gluth. We even did the Safety dance flawlessly.

We've got 3 raid nights ahead of us and I fully expect that we'll be able to clear all of Naxx in that time - and likely get a good couple of looks at Malygos. We've already downed Sartharion in 25 and may do that again, as it's an easy 4 emblems, a 22 slot bag and a couple of nice T7 gloves.

On a personal note, I got basically the best upgrades I could hope for on the run: Valorous Shoulders and Origin of Nightmares. With those two pieces I am over 40k health raid buffed along with 33k armor. Now, keep in mind that I'm a Tauren Leatherworker, so I get a lot of health from those two sources - but also keep in mind that I am still using T6 helm and chest, BC trinkets, BC cloak and only 3 pieces of Naxx gear at all (10 or 25 man). Everything else is dungeon blues or epics. I fully expect quite a few upgrades coming up, especially to armor.

The Patchwerk fight was pretty interesting too. Thanks to the higher avoidance and high health pool, I took 3 times as many hateful strikes (161 vs 49) as the next warrior tank. Each hateful hit for 3k less damage, and they were avoided 4% more often. This is factoring block into the equation as well; block simply does not compare with armor when you're talking a 50k base damage hit. Even with my fairly poor gear (this was before the upgrades) I was still doing better than the T7-10 geared tank. Threat isn't an issue on this fight except that I had to tone down my attack rotation as I was close to surpassing the MT (this is because hatefuls give extra threat, not because our MT sucks at threat generation or I'm OMG awesome at it). At least on Patchwerk there's nothing mechanically bad about being a druid tank. Whether it's fun or interesting or whether we have the right tools for easymode raiding - well, that's another post in the making.

It's also unclear whether something like Patchwerk is a fair benchmark for gauging tank strength and consideration. True, it's one of the only fights where a tank's gear really does matter, but it also heavily favors a druid tank due to the high damage hits and high soaking requirements. It's likely that Gluth is a better fight to compare, as tanks have to go back and forth and he hits for medium damage, allowing you to judge exactly how two tanks are doing in the same situation.

All in all, it feels very much like Sunwell Plateau did post 3.0.2. Gluth requires some actual coordination, so I expect it to take a few attempts to get it down - but it's not all that hard. Razuvious requires our priests to do something they're not used to, so I expect that to take a couple tries. 4 horsemen is probably going to be the next challenge after that, but I don't think it's going to be a killer either. And none of these things is going to require the fairly good coordination and performance that Brutallus (pre-nerf) or Illidan did. It's exciting to be downing new bosses and all, but it's somewhat of a letdown on how easy it is.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

[Druid] The bear T7 list - pre and post 3.0.4, part 2.

The link to the first part of this guide - leather, leather, leather.

Welcome back to the second part of the bear gear guide for T7.

Unlike the leather gear, the non-leather gear has weights that are very different between classes. I tried to keep the agility/stamina/armor/dodge ratios the same from leather, but it didn't always work well that way (specifically for trinkets and weapons). In general, it's consistent with the other system. Note that the numbers in parenthesis are the values as if the armor change in 3.0.4 has not happened, so that you can choose good gear now and good gear for later. And unlike leather ,this significantly changes the ordering of gear, though oddly not at the top spots.

This is the list that I suspect will get the most feedback on, as a lot of it is more subjective and not perfect, mathematically.

Tomorrow I'll post a priority list of gear and what you should do to get it based on this. That's the sort of thing I do for myself when trying to gear up via dkp; hopefully it'll help you as well.

Weapon (weight used post-3.0.4; weight used pre-3.0.4)
  1. Origin of Nightmares - 72.25 (120.65). Heroic Grobbulus.
  2. Staff of the Plague Beast - 64.52 (107.20). Normal Heigan.
  3. The Undeath Carrier - 62.16 (63.42). Heroic Heigan.
  4. Enraged Feral Staff - 58.41 (105.56). Heroic Utgarde Keep
  5. Staff of the Plaguehound - 56.82 (58.45). Normal Kel'Thuzad.
  6. Staff of Trickery - 55.04 (56.15). Heroic Violet Hold
  7. Inevitable Defeat - 54.51 (0).Heroic Naxxramas trash
  8. Journey's End - 50.58 (53.36). Heroic Kel'Thuzad.
  9. Witch Doctor's Wildstaff - 48.76 (48.89). Normal Gundrak.
  10. Lightning Giant Staff - 41.04 (42.47). Heroic Halls of Lightning.
  11. Stave of Shrouded Mysteries - 40.24 (62.85). Revered with Kirin Tor.
  12. Wildfury Greatstaff - 34.01 (67.81). Serpentshrine Cavern
  13. Pillar of Ferocity - 27.29 (65.09). Mount Hyjal
  14. Bloodwood Greatstaff (63.76)- 14.97 BoE
- Note: this assumes that ghostcrawler misspoke the first time when saying that armor would be removed from staves and that armor would exist on them, we just wouldn't get a bonus from them. This also includes the FAP changes. The staves with armor still win out, but the undeath carrier comes a lot closer to Staff of the Plague Beast.


  1. Idol of Terror - Badges
  2. Idol of the Plainstalker - Quest in Borean Tundra
  3. Idol of Perspicacious Attacks - Grizzly Hills vendor
  4. Idol of the Wastes - Quest in dragonblight
- There exists no epic tanking idol in Wrath. None. It sucks hard. Idol of Terror and Plainstalker at least provides some mitigation. Everything else is pure threat.

Really poor choice, Bliz.

Ring (weight used post 3.0.4; weight used pre-3.0.4)
  1. Keystone Great-Ring - 32.78 (65.31). Heroic Drak'tharon keep
  2. Gatekeeper - 32.26 (60.20). Heroic Sapphiron.
  3. Titanium Earthguard Ring - 29.81 (27.81). Jewelcrafting BoE.
  4. Signet of the Impenetrable Fortress - 28.77 (26.83). 25 emblems of valor.
  5. Deflection Band - 28.16 (26.16). Normal Anub'Rekhan.
  6. Hemmoraging Circle - 27.91 (26.04). Heroic Gundrak
  7. Strong-Handed Ring - 27.43 (25.59). Heroic Anub'Rekhan, Patchwerk, Noth, Faerlina, Razuvious
  8. Sand-Worn Band - 27.25 (25.42). Heroic Patchwerk, Anub'Rekhan, Razuvious, Faerlina, Noth
  9. Signet of Edward the Odd - 26.43 (24.65). World drop BoE
  10. Titanium Impact Band - 25.82 (24.09). Jewelcrafting BoE
  11. Band of Torture - 24.41 (50.05). Heroic Oculus
  12. Greatring of Collision - 24.32 (22.69). Normal Sartharion + 2 adds.
  13. Nerubian Shield Ring - 23.50 (52.97). Heroic Ahn'katet.
  14. Mobius Band - 22.91 (21.37). Heroic CoT Stratholme
  15. Ring of Earthen Might - 22.59 (44.60). Jewelcrafting BoE
  16. Signet of the Accord - 22.37 (20.87). Normal Sartharion.
  17. Surge Needle Ring - 21.47 (20.03). Normal Malygos
  18. Ring of the Stalwart Protector - 20.78 (45.73). badges
  19. Band of the Kirin Tor - 20.75 (19.36). 8000g in Dalaran
  20. Sealing Ring of Grobbulus - 20.09 (18.74). Normal Grobbulus.
  21. Ring of Invincibility - 19.97 (18.63). 25 emblems of valor.
  22. Iceforged battle-ring - 18.23 (48.99). quest in storm peaks
  23. Violet Signet of the Great Protector - 16.67 (40.76). Karazhan
-Keystone Great Ring remains the best druid tanking ring, and Gatekeeper remains #2. Titanium Earthguard ring is a very good avoidance ring, and Signet of the Impregnable fortress should be a very good threat ring. And the nice thing is that they're all fairly close. Still - expect to either run Drak'Tharon keep a lot or buy a ring or two.

Amulet (weight used post-3.0.4; weight used pre-3.0.4)
  1. Boundless Ambition - 34.39(54.66) - Heroic Kel'Thuzad.
  2. Heritage - 31.80 (29.66 ) - Heroic Faerlina, Patchwerk, Noth, Razuvious, Anub'Rekhan
  3. Favor of the Dragon Queen - 31.09 ( 29.01) . Heroic Malygos (from quest turnin)
  4. Amulet of Autopsy - 30.69 (52.15) - Normal Heigan, Gluth.
  5. Nexus War Champion Beads - 29.28 (27.31 ) Heroic Malygos (from quest turnin)
  6. Titanium Earthguard Chain - 29.19 (50.75). Jewelcrafting BoE
  7. Chained Military Gorget - 28.23 (26.33 ). 25 emblems of heroism.
  8. Pendant of the Dragonsworn - 28.21 (26.32). Normal Malygos (from quest turnin)
  9. Titanium Impact Choker - 25.82 (24.09). Jewelcrafting BoE
  10. Pendant of the Outcast Hero - 24.55 (22.90). 40 emblems of heroism.
  11. Drakescale Collar - 24.28 (22.65). Normal Malygos (from quest turnin)
  12. Icy Blast Amulet - 24.21 (22.58). Heroic Sapphrion.
  13. Shadowseeker's Pendant - 24.04(22.42). Heroic Ahn'kahet.
  14. Fool's Trial - 23.14 (21.59). Heroic Noth, Patchwerk, Razuvious, Faerlina, Anub'Rekhan
  15. Amulet of Wills - 21.34 (42.49). Normal Halls of Stone
  16. Gem of Imprisoned Vassals - 21.24(19.81). Normal Kel'Thuzad.
  17. Necklace of the Deep - 20.84 (19.44). Jewelcrafting BoE.
  18. Necklace of the Chrono-Lord - 20.72 (19.33). Normal CoT Strat.
  19. Medallion of the Disgraced - 20.19 (18.83). Normal Naxx trash drop
  20. Collar of Dissolution - 19.67 ( 18.35). Normal Anub'Rekhan.
  21. Torta's Oversized Choker - 18.80 (37.30) . BoE drop
- My, how the mighty have not fallen. Boundless ambition is definitely the best regardless of anything like an armor nerf due to the high stamina, avoidance and some armor thrown in. Note how close Amulet of Autopsy is to Heritage or Favor of the Dragon Queen. If you can't get any of these, I'd recommend saving for the Chained Military Gorget. Don't bother with the Titanium Earthguard Chain any more. It'll be too expensive for too minimal of a gain.

Trinket (weight used post-3.0.4; weight used pre-3.0.4)
  1. Darkmoon Card: Greatness - 27.12 (24.94). Darkmoon Nobles Deck
  2. Defender's Code - 18.63 (85.64). Heroic Heigan, Grobbulus, Maexxna, Gothik.
  3. Valor Medal of the First War - 20.71 (19.04). 40 emblems of heroism
  4. Essence of Gossamer - 21.19 (19.57). Heroic Azjol-Nerub.
  5. Offering of Sacrifice - 12.05 (55.42).Heroic Gundrak
  6. Repelling Charge - 14.96 (13.75). Normal Thaddius
  7. Badge of Tenacity - 6.75 (31.03). BC BoE drop
- There just aren't that many good tanking trinkets for druids, at least not ones that are non-jewelcrafting. JC gets Monarch Crab, which would rank between the code and Gossamer. The Indestructable Alchemist Stone is the second-best trinket in the game when 3.0.4 comes out at 26.71. The values are the weights, but the ranking ignores this as weights cannot reasonably factor in the values you get from on-use. If you have any doubt why the armor nerf in 3.0.4 was done, look at the pre and post scores for defenders code. Darkmoon Card: Greatness is by far the best tanking trinket for druids, giving about 190 agility on average. Defender's Code is still strong for both the pure mitigation and the on-use. As always, you should have a collection of trinkets. For normal use I would go with Greatness and Gossamer, but have those, Valor Medal, Defender's Code and Offering of Sacrifice if you can.

(weight used post-3.0.4; weight used pre 3.0.4)
  1. Cloak of the Shadowed Sun - 40.79 (67.35 ). Heroic Grobbulus, Gothik, Heigan and Maexxna
  2. Gale-Proof Cloak - 35.39. (42.17) Normal Sartharion
  3. Platinum Mesh Cloak - 35.31. (42.33) 25 emblems of valor.
  4. Durable Nerubhide Cape - 30.25. (37.33) BoE Leatherworking.
  5. Cloak of the Gushing Wound - 29.63. (36.45) Heroic Violet Hold
  6. Drape of the Deadly Foe - 29.39. (36.94) Heroic Kel'Thuzad.
  7. Cloak of Mastery - 28.74. (35.91) Normal Sartharion.
  8. Cloak of Armed Strife - 27.98 (55.07). Normal Maexxna.
  9. Aged Winter Cloak - 26.86. (34.38). Heroic Gothik, Heigan, Grobbulus and Maexxna.
  10. Cloak of Holy Extermination - 26.86. (33.55) Honored with Argent Crusade
  11. Ice Striker's Cloak - 25.97 (33.31). BoE leatherworking
  12. Shroud of Reverberation - 25.92. (32.96) Heroic Halls of Lightning
  13. Hammerhead Sharkskin Cloak - 24.52 (32.18). 25 emblems of valor.
  14. Flowing Cloak of Command - 24.15. (52.53) Heroic CoT Strat
  15. Slikk's Cloak of Placation - 23.64. (42.70) 35 badges
  16. Cloak of Darkening - 23.34 (30.83) Normal Razuvious
  17. Shadow of the Ghoul - 21.78 (29.60) Heroic Naxx trash drop
  18. Cloak of Tormented Skies - 21.76 (40.40). Leatherworking BoE
- This is a bit tougher to gauge, as no rating system out there rates both armor and additional armor separately. Still, this is what I'd be going for. The best cloak pre-3.0.4 is the best cloak post 3.0.4. The extra armor makes up for the lack of avoidance, and given the slightly greater stamina it goes ahead. Interestingly enough with this change, DPS cloaks show up here. Agility is simply that much better than dodge.

[Druid] The bear T7 list - pre and post 3.0.4, part 1.

The link to the second part of the gear list - jewelry, idols and weapons.

Here's the first installment of the gear list for bears. It's very large, so I decided to break it up into leather and non-leather items. This is all about the leather. I'll provide a link back when I do the non leather later today.

As you might have noticed from recent posts, I've been favoring agility over stamina stacking. Why? Because while stamina does help time to live and does give your healers a buffer for healing you, after a certain point it simply isn't useful. If you never dip below 30% health, that 30% health is basically wasted itemization. Sure, it looks great when you do LFG and it's nice to impress the n00bs with that 55k survival instincts/defender's code proc. But it doesn't really help with, ya know, tanking.

Agility, however, is always good no matter what. While dodge is subject to diminishing returns, each point of agility provides the same survivability no matter what. This is the same principle as armor; while armor doesn't give the same value for each point in terms of percentage reduction, each point gives a linear reduction of damage from the next. If you think of it that way, you can see why stacking agility makes sense. Agility also provides the most avoidance per point (raid buffed or not), crit, and a bit of armor. It is the only stat that gives mitigation, avoidance, and threat for a druid.

So here's the deal: you should have a good amount of health. That good amount is entirely based on your raid setup. I can't tell you how much you need. But here are some benchmarks to consider:
Patchwerk-25 hits the offtank for about 22k if you're a heroic-geared druid. 20k if you're naxx-geared.
Malygos-25 has a breath attack that can do 30k, plus a quick melee attack that does another 4k.
Sartharion-25 + 3 adds can (depending on the debuffs) hit for 35-39k.

Personally, I'm aiming for 42k raid buffed. That's enough to eat two hateful strikes with only HoTs rolling - and in practice that will not happen due to the other tank having more health at that point. It's enough to take on all other bosses. But again, this is entirely depending on what your situation is. And I won't cry all that much if I end up with only 40k.

Because of this change in philosophy, I've changed the rankings to favor agility heavily over stamina. This does alter the pre-naxx list, which is why I've kept these separate. I still think the pre-naxx gear list is correct because gearing up for naxx, you do want stamina aplenty. However, once you start collecting pieces that goes a bit lower in priority.

Threat and damage is still not a consideration in this list. I can understand why it might be - and if there's enough interest, I'll go back and revisit what I think the best threat stats are for a bear and how to optimize for it - but for normal tanking, at least right now, threat is simply not important.

The rating system I use is based on wowhead, and this is the weight:
Agility 110
Dodge 75
Stam 70
Defense 65
Armor 50
Expertise 22

That's for the leather pieces only. The nonleather pieces will have their own separate ranking system.

A big, special note here: this will be applicable and weighted for 3.0.4 changes. When there is a significant difference, I will list the values pre and post-nerf. Note that this only really affects jewelry and to a lesser extent a couple of leather pieces (the 226 ilvl pieces vs the 187 blues, if you're wondering) In general, there are very few pieces with no armor that also have good druid stats. In any case, the pre-3.0.4 change will be blisted in parenthesis.

A quick look into this reveals that if you're going to keep T6 gear for some reason (threat, perhaps?), the best pieces to keep are the bracers and belt. The worst are the legs and head.

Onto the rankings.

  1. Valorous Dreamwalker Rainments - 127.02 Heroic Gluth, Heroic 4 Horsemen, Archavon the Stone Reaper
  2. Deadly Gladiator's Dragonhide Robes -126.81. Arena rating, arena points.
  3. Chestpiece of Suspicion - 122.32. Heroic Instructor Razuvius, Heroic Gluth.
  4. Tunic of Dislocation - 119.92. Normal Gothik the Harvester, normal Gluth.
  5. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Robes - 119.80. Arena rating, arena points
  6. Heroes' Dreamwalker Rainments - 119.72. 80 emblems of heroism, normal Gluth, normal 4 horsemen
  7. Tunic of Indulgence - 119.64. Normal Grobbulus, Normal Gluth
  8. Chestguard of the Recluse - 119.35. Heroic Malygos
  9. Polar Vest - 117.37. *Leatherworking BoE.
  10. Blade-Scarred Tunic - 113.47. Normal Sartharion.
  11. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Robes - 111.97. honor
  12. Harness of Carnal Instinct - 109.59. Sunwell Plateau
  13. Darkheart Chestguard - 108.60. Exalted with Knights of the Ebon Blade
  14. Crystal-Infused Tunic - 104.80. Heroic Nexus
  15. Exotic Leather Tunic - 101.55. quest in Utgarde Pinnacle
  16. Eviscerator's Chestguard - 98.90. Leatherworking BoE.
  17. Thunderheart Chestguard -94.31. Black Temple
-The Valorous gear wins! Just barely. The Polar Vest is included because, honestly, it's not that bad and would be a good starting piece if you didn't have T6 or a quest reward. I'd still take the Exotic Leather over it for starting due to the expertise and AP, but I can see a reasonable disagreement - especially if you used it for stamina here. Still, it will quickly become outpaced by anything in Naxx. Also note how close things are to each other here - upgrades aren't big until you get to the top few.


  1. Footwraps of Vile Deceit - 89.31. Heroic Loatheb, Heroic Gluth.
  2. Deadly Gladiator's Boots of Triumph - 89.23. Arena rating, arena points.
  3. Hateful Gladiator's Boots of Triumph - 83.83. Arena rating, honor points
  4. Polar Boots* - 82.78. Leatherworking BoE.
  5. Boots of the Worshipper - 76.76. Normal Faerlina, normal Gluth.
  6. Slag Footguards - 76.38. Heroic Halls of Lightning
  7. Boots of Captain Ellis - 76.33. 40 emblems of valor.
  8. Dawnwalkers - 74.97. Heroic Anub'Rekhan, Heroic Gluth.
  9. Boots of the Whirling Mist - 74.29. Heroic Halls of Stone.
  10. Boots of the Neverending Path - 72.55. Exalted with Argent Crusade.
  11. Gorloc Muddy Footwraps - 72.47. Heroic Gundrak
  12. Jormscale Footpads - 70.25. Leatherworking BoE
  13. Thunderheart Treads - 67.82. Sunwell Plateau
  14. Rhino Hide Kneeboots - 64.59. Quest in Gundrak
  15. Shadowmaster's Boots - 63.09. Black Temple
- The boot slot has so little, it's not funny. The Polar boots are actually pretty good largely because of how little there is and the ratio between agility and stamina compared to the next best thing; if you must get one polar piece, this is the best one to get. The difference between the three heroic drops is very small, so don't kill yourself to get one if you've already gotten another.


  1. Deadly Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves - 84.64. Arena rating, arena points.
  2. Handwraps of Preserved History - 81.68. Quest in CoT Strat
  3. Valorous Dreamwalker Handgrips - 80.61. Heroic Archavon, Heroic Sartharion
  4. Gloves of Fast Reactions - 80.61. Heroic Sapphrion
  5. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves - 79.36. Arena Rating, arena points
  6. Rapid Attack Gloves - 77.82. Normal Razuvious, normal Gluth.
  7. Dislocating Handguards - 77.13. Heroic Faerlina.
  8. Frosted Adroit Handgrips - 75.33. Heroic Malygos.
  9. Heroes' Dreamwalker Handgrips - 75.33. 60 emblems of heroism.
  10. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves - 73.80. honor
  11. Gloves of the Forest Drifter - 66.35. Sunwell Plateau
  12. Eviscerator's Gauntlets - 65.38. Leatherworking BoE.
  13. Seafoam Gauntlets - 65.15. Leatherworking BoE
  14. Gloves of Immortal Dusk - 63.09. Leatherworking BoE (requires sunmotes)
  15. Discarded Slaughterhouse Gloves - 57.83. Quest in icecrown
  16. Thunderheart Gauntlets - 58.65. Mount Hyjal
-Even with a higher weight on base armor, even with the agility changes, the Handwraps of Preserved History remain the best PvE bear tanking gloves. The gap is pretty small between this and the Valorous, so I'd recommend the Valorous to get the 4-piece bonus.


  1. Hood of the Exodus - 116.40. Heroic Gothik or Gluth.
  2. Deadly Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm - 114.44. Arena rating, arena points
  3. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm - 107.68. Arena rating, arena points
  4. Valorous Dreamwalker Headguard - 107.07. Heroic Kel'Thuzad.
  5. Weakness Spectralizers - 105.36. Engineering BoE (requires engineering rating)
  6. Helm of the Vast Legions - 103.49. Normal Sapphiron.
  7. Heroes Dreamwalker Headguard - 101.71. Normal Kel'Thuzad.
  8. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm - 100.36. honor
  9. Mask of the Watcher - 92.25. Heroic Oculus
  10. Shroud of Darkness - 90.92. Heroic Violet Hold
  11. Mask of the Fury Hunter - 86.43. Sunwell Plateau
  12. Thunderheart Cover - 79.90. Mount Hyjal
  13. Cover of Silence* - 95.79. Heroic Thadius or Gluth.
  14. Headguard of Retaliation* - 87.35. quest in Utgarde Pinnacle
  15. Eviscerator's Facemask *- 86.28. leatherworking BoE
- Hood of the Exodus is a superb bear piece, and better than the T7. This should likely be the thing you go for over KT's head if at all possible. Note that the pieces with *s do not have metagems, and this ranking does not quite do the metagem system correctly. You should always, always have the Austere Earthsiege Diamond. Always.


  1. Valorous Dreamwalker Legguards - 117.94. Heroic Archavon, 75 emblems of valor, Heroic Thaddius.
  2. Deadly Gladiator's Dragonhide Legguards - 117.63. Arena points, arena honor, heroic Archavon.
  3. Leggings of the Honored - 116.25. Heroic Sartharion + 2 adds.
  4. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Legs - 110.87. Arena rating, arena points
  5. Heroes' Dreamwalker Legguards - 110.62. Normal Thaddius
  6. Leggings of Fleeting Moments - 110.46. Heroic Gothik.
  7. Gored Hide Legguards - 105.13. Heroic Gundrak.
  8. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Legs - 103.29. honor
  9. Leggings of Discord - 103.20. Normal Maexxna.
  10. Mind-expanding Leggings - 102.66. Revered with Kirin Tor
  11. Infectious Skitterer Leggings - 101.68. Heroic Maexxna.
  12. Ravenous Leggings of the Furbolg - 101.15. heroic utgarde pinnacle
  13. Chain Gang Legguards - 97.17. BoE from Violet Hold
  14. Leggings of the Immortal Beast - 93.78. Sunwell Plateau
  15. Eviscerator's Legguards - 90.48. Leatherworking BoE.
  16. Constellation Leggings - 90.28. Normal Halls of Stone.
  17. Tameless Breeches - 80.38. Badges.
  18. Tattooed Deerskin Leggings - 80.00. Quest in Violet Hold
  19. Thunderheart Leggings - 78.98. Black Temple
- Leggings of the Honored may deserve to be #1 here - they have a ton of stamina and a lot of armor due to their being level 226. They just don't have the agility that the Valorous or Deadly legs do, and if you're going for your 4-piece it's not worth it to remove this and have to get your T7 head. Per commenter Tygrathel, the Gored Hide leggings are really strong going into Naxx, and are better than a few options from there (thanks Tygrathel!) though I'd still recommend something with more stam when starting out.


  1. Valorous Dreamwalker Shoulderpads - 93.83. Heroic Loatheb, 60 emblems of valor.
  2. Deadly Gladiator's Dragonhide Spaulders - 93.83. Arena rating, arena points
  3. Trollwoven shoulders - 89.84. Leatherworking BoE
  4. Heroes' Dreamwalker Shoulderpads - 88.29. Normal Loatheb.
  5. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Spaulders - 88.29. arena rating, arena points
  6. Concealment Shoulderpads - 87.23. Heroic Sartharion.
  7. Spaulders of the Careless Thief - 83.83. Heroic Nexus
  8. Spaulders of Egotism - 82.78. Heroic Razuvious.
  9. Savage Gladiator's Dragonhide Spaulders - 82.47. honor
  10. Spaulders of Resumed Battle - 79.75. Normal Noth.
  11. Sprinting Shoulderpads - 79.32. Heroic Ahn'kahet
  12. Demontooth Shoulderpads - 74.13. Sunwell Plateau
  13. Eviscerator's Shoulderpads - 73.80. Leatherworking BoE.
  14. Thunderheart Pauldrons - 70.15. Black Temple
- The trollwoven shoulders remain very strong and should be a high priority pre-Naxx. Note how small an upgrade the T7 are over the Trollwoven; these should be a low priority to get until other gear has been achieved, and should be one of the later emblem purchases.


  1. Deadly Gladiator's Belt of Triumph - 79.92. Arena rating, honor
  2. Hateful Gladiator's Belt of Triumph - 74.77. arena rating, honor
  3. Trollwoven Girdle - 73.94. Leatherworking BoE
  4. Polar Cord* - 73.47. Leatherworking BoE.
  5. Sharp-Barbed Leather belt - 73.36. heroic utgarde keep
  6. Stalk-skin Belt - 71.13. Heroic Heigan.
  7. Belt of the Tortured - 69.72. Heroic Patchwerk.
  8. Jorach's Crocolisk Skin Belt - 69.17. Emblems of Heroism
  9. Blistered Belt of Decay - 69.13. Normal Grobbulus.
  10. Ley-whelphide belt - 65.94. normal and Oculus
  11. Glitterscale Wrap - 62.78. Revered with Oracles
  12. Eviscerator's Waistguard - 61.17. Leatherworking BoE.
  13. Thunderheart Waistguard - 56.30. Sunwell Plateau
  14. Don Alejandro's Money Belt - 55.48. Mount Hyjal
  15. Waistguard of the Great Beast - 52.40. 60 Badges.
  16. Belt of Natural Power - 52.30. Leatherworking BoE
- The belt availability for bears is horrible. Just atrocious. At least that makes it easy. If you get lucky and get the belt from UK, go with that. Otherwise, make a trollwoven girdle and be done. The deadly belt is a big upgrade and is likely worth grinding honor for, whenever it comes out.

  1. Thrusting Bands - 60.30. Heroic Noth.
  2. Deadly Gladiator's Armwraps of Triumph - 59.77. Arena rating, honor
  3. Sinner's Bindings - 57.25. Heroic Maexxna.
  4. Hateful Gladiator's Armwraps of Triumph - 55.71. arena rating, honor
  5. Wristwraps of the Cutthroat - 52.76. BoE, 60 emblems of valor.
  6. Bindings of the Tunneler - 52.55. Heroic Utgarde Keep
  7. Dragonfriend Bracers - 52.04. Exalted with Wyrmrest Accord
  8. Cuffs of Dark Shadows - 50.92. Heroic Heigan.
  9. Drake-champion's Bracers - 50.05. Heroic Oculus
  10. Thunderheart Wristguards - 46.23. Sunwell Plateau
  11. Eviscerator's Bindings - 47.07. Leatherworking BoE
  12. Njorndar Furywraps - 46.45. Quest in Icecrown
  13. Vindicator's Dragonhide Bindings - 45.94. BC PvP honor
  14. Band of the Swift Paw - 38.78. badges
- The thrusting bands, thanks to their balance of stam, agi, and expertise come out very strong here, just barely edging out the PvP bracers. The badge wristwraps are an okay alternative, but I would spend this after you've gotten basically everything else you might want, as heroics and pvp and vendor items are close to it, and 60 emblems is quite a bit.