Thursday, April 30, 2009

[Druid] Bear FAQ for 3.1

This is an update of the 3.0.2 FAQ for bears. So much has changed since then that it made sense to redo things instead of just revising that content.

Over on Maintankadin, one of my favorite posters put up a great FAQ on tanking for paladins in 3.0.2 and Wrath. I've not seen anything like that for bears - so here's my try. Please comment, ask questions or clarifications and I'll do my best to update it.


Q: What's the point & purpose of this FAQ?
A: Short & simple answers for people who want a quick fix. You don't need to have followed the beta changes since day one or the patch notes. This is for those who didn't read everything on EJ, didn't pour over changes and just want to know what the heck is going on.

Q: You're wrong! My research says blah!
A: Maybe. And if so, point it out and I'll correct it. But I warn you - I do a lot of research and I'm good at it.

Q: But what about 5-mans? Or PvP?
A: I don't care. This is for bears who are MTing 10 and 25-man content, especially 25-man. It is probably suboptimal for other choices.

Q: You smell, and I hate you!
A: Enjoy the WoW forums then. I get flamed over there all the time too.

Q: You don't talk about trash mobs, enchants, or detailed gear selection!
A: Nope, this is quick and dirty. I've talked about professions, gear choices, various good stats and other things elsewhere.

Q: You're just repeating stuff on EJ, Rawr, and Toskk's forums!
A: Largely yes. That's kind of the point - I do the reading so you don't have to.

Mechanics & play changes:

Q: What rotation do I use?
A: UPDATED: Depending on what skills you have, you should do the following:
if mangle is off cooldown, mangle
if faerie fire is off cooldown, faerie fire
if you have more than 6k AP and the lacerate stack is > 5 seconds, swipe
else lacerate.
And at all times, maul.

Q: Wait, Faerie fire? Really?
A: UPDATED: Yep. Faerie Fire does damage based on AP, has a high amount of threat. It does higher average threat than lacerate or swipe at any level of AP. Even with it being based on spell hit and spell crit, it does the most threat.

Q: I get the 'more powerful spell is in effect' when I use FFF.
A: UPDATED: This should be fixed now, and you should be able to do it every 6 seconds provided there isn't another bear or cat in your raid.

Q: What about best damage?
For best damage, you should swipe whenever mangle isn't up and keep your lacerate stack up. And still use faerie fire - it still does more damage too!

Q: I had heard that swipe was better than lacerate for threat - is that true?
A: Most of the time. It really depends on your armor penetration, your AP, and what talents you have. This is for short answers, and no matter what your gear level you'll do okay with spamming lacerate.

Q: When do I use Berserk?
A: At the beginning of the fight and then whenever you can, unless you have to save it for a fear break.

Q: I just got crushed.
A: Not by a raid boss. Mobs that are 4+ levels higher than you can crush. But in a raid you'll be fine.

Q: So the magic number for defense was 156 defense rating or 103 resilience rating before. What is it now?
A: 0. As long as you have 3 points survival of the fittest you won't be crittable by raid level mobs unless they do something to you, like unbalancing strike.

Q: So no defense then? Or resilience?
A: Yep!

Q: My macro for drinking pots in forms doesn't work any more - how do I fix it?
A: Druids can use potions and other consumables in forms now, so there's no need for a shift to caster to drink then shift back macro. You can do it if you want a bit of extra health, but it's not required.

Q: Wow, I've got all these cooldowns now - how do I use 'em?
A: With the glyph, you've got three ohshit buttons - Frenzied Regeneration, Survival Instincts and Barkskin. And you've got Berserk to break a fear if you need. Barkskin should be used every minute unless it's a fight with predictable spiky damage (like Sartharion giant breaths or Tympanic Tantrum on XT-002.). Try using Survival Instincts with things like Shadowmoon Insignia for extra health. Try using Frenzied Regen with any healing effects you can do like health pots.

Q: Pots in forms, more ohshit buttons...any other big changes?
A: Swipe hits infinite targets! It doesn't require a target! It hits everything in 360 degrees around you!

Q: Wow...swipe's that changed?
A: Oh yes.

Q: I didn't have anything targeted and couldn't swipe. What the?
A: You need to have an enemy mob targeted in order to swipe, but you don't have to face them in order to hit them - and that mob doesn't even need to be in range in order to swipe.

Q: Okay, so swipe now is like a consecrate. What else is new?
A: Savage Defense!

Q: Savage...defense? That was the name?
A: I know.
Q: What does it do?
A: When it works, on a melee critical hit or bleed crit it procs an absorption shield that absorbs 25% of your AP off of the next physical attack and then goes away, regardless of how much it absorbed.

Q: That sounds great...what do you mean, when it works?
A: It has some latency bugs associated with it.

Q: So...I should gear for AP now?
A: Not really. Savage Defense isn't that big a deal, and tends to be no more than 5% of your overall mitigation.
Q: So it's still just bonus armor I want on everything?
A: Nope! Bonus armor doesn't get multiplied by bear form. In fact, no armor on rings, trinkets, necks or weapons gets multiplied.
Q: Doesn't that make us have low armor?
A: Kinda. Bears have lower armor than they did at the end of Sunwell. But that's okay - between no crushing blows and protector of the pack, bears still don't take a lot of damage from physical attacks. Q: What was that about bleeds critting?
A: With the talent Primal Gore, your lacerates and rips will crit. Which means that your lacerate stack should stay up at all costs.

Q: So I can solo SM in 5 minutes now?
A: Yep, really easily as a matter of fact.

Q: Anything else?
A: Growl has a 30 yard range. And Faerie Fire does damage, but I covered that. And bash now does a spell interrupt.

Q: My powershifting macro is broken!
A: Another not a question, but powershifting is nerfed TO THE GROUND. It doesn't work at all. Don't use it.


Q: Where's all my armor?
A: Gone, baby, gone. No more extra armor on leather items. And no bonus from non-leather as well.

Q: So what, we're supposed to wear rogue leather?
A: Yep.

Q: That sucks!
A: Tell me about it.

Q: What rogue leather is best then? It's got all these weird-ass stats...
A: The only stats that help mitigation/avoidance that are on rogue leather are agility, stamina and expertise. Everything else only helps threat.

Q: But doesn't that mean PvP gear has the best stats for tanking then?
A: Yep! At least it has the best mitigation/avoidance stats. The PvE gear is better for threat.

Q: So great...I have to pvp now, don't I?
A: Nope. Sunwell gear is fine for tanking Naxx, as are the lvl 80 quest blues and non-heroic items you get. Threat isn't really a big concern, nor is survivability right now. If you want to get an edge I'd recommend getting enough honor/arena points to get the PvP belt/boots/bracers, which are better than anything that drops in T7 and which should be pretty cheap.

Q: What about the non-leather items?
A: UPDATED: Armor, stamina and then avoidance/threat stats. Armor isn't as important as it was in Sunwell to be on rings/trinkets/necks/cloaks, but it's still very good for mitigation.

Q: Man, there's all this shitty defense on all that gear. Why don't they make druid-itemized gear?
A: UPDATED: They hate the druid. But it's okay. Defense is not bad at all, and is only a bit less effective than dodge at higher levels of dodge. Strength is nice for threat. Just try and skip the stuff with parry rating or block rating. Armor is good, agility is good, stamina is good. Try and find items with two of the three.

Q: How about gems?
A: UPDATED: Stamina scales better, but agility helps too. Don't go overboard with agility like you used to, but definitely do have some agility in there. Agility is right now the best avoidance stat and the best overall stat (the only one that provides mitigation, avoidance and threat). If you have a doubt, tend towards stamina.

Q: You have mongoose on your tanking staff?
A: Yep! Mongoose and all 'on hit' enchants works on bears now, and Mongoose is much better than +35 agility on the staff for bears. This is especially true when hitting multiple mobs, as mongoose has a chance to proc per hit on a mob. Right now it's the best enchant for weapons.

Q: Okay...what about other enchants?
A: In general, go for stamina and agility, then avoidance and armor.


Q: I can't take all the talents I want!
A: That's not a question, need the Core Bear Talents. Beyond that it's a lot of personal preference, but you must take those. And you won't be able to take everything you want.

Q: Does infected wounds stack with other slows? Should I take it?
A: It doesn't stack with thunderclap or judgments. And it doesn't work on every single boss or mob (especially robots and elementals, in case you're wondering). If you're doing 10-mans, you should take it as you're probably the only one there who can do the slow. If you're doing 25 mans, probably not unless you find yourself the only guy on a mob. It's easy for you to apply, but a prot warrior will be tclapping all the time - and there's a lot of points to spend in that tree.

Q: What about Feral Aggression? Does it still suck?
A: At level 70: Yes, it still sucks.
A: At level 80:It doesn't suck as much as it used to. Demoralizing roar is equivalent now to demoralizing shout at level 80, and with 5 points in FA it's as good as a warrior's talented demo shout. It's a bit easier for a warrior to get the 5 points to put into their shout, but talk with your other tanks and see who should do it.

Q: What about natural shapeshifter/master shapeshifter?
A: UPDATED: Master shapeshifter would be good if it were only 2 points, but it's essentially 5. And natural shapeshifter is worthless. With the advent of dual specs, you should probably have a really good bear build and a really good cat build. In that case, go with master shapeshifter, as it's the best bang for your threat and damage buck. If you need to go with a hybrid build for doing good cat damage while tanking, I'd recommend not taking it and going with a 0/60/11 build like this.

Q: Primal Tenacity?
A: Nope. Only works in cat form now.

Q: Intensity?
A: Not for raiding. Lots of other talents to take in its place.

Q: Predatory Instincts? Shredding Attacks?
A: all cat-only, really.

Q: King of the Jungle?
A: One of the best cat talents, but only meh for bears. Nice for an early threat lead but not all that useful otherwise. And threat really isn't that big of a concern right now. Still, get it if you plan on doing any decent amount of kitty.

Q: Imp Mark of the Wild? But I don't buff my raid ever!
A: Imp MotW now adds 1% more stats per talent point. It's a must have, and you want to get to naturalist anyway.

Q: Primal Gore?
A: It's a great talent, and Rend & Tear is already one of the best threat talents you can take. It adds about 2-3% threat by itself. Take it.

Q: Furor?
A: Honestly, I'd go with 3/5 furor and 2/2 Imp MotW. You can always shift a couple times to get the furor bonus if you need.

Q: Damnit, just tell me the spec you'd use!
A: Fine. At 70: 0/61/0
I know I just said don't use KotJ, but it's that and bash or 4 points in furor, and furor really isn't worth it. The 10 points to get naturalist skips out on too many important talents, and you want to play with your new toys. Helps a bit for cat too.
A: At 80: 0/55/16.

Q: What should I go with for leveling in WotLK?
A: Go with 0/50/11 and then put points into Berserk, Rend & Tear, and finish off as you'd like to. Or go 0/61/0 and just AoE grind.

Other choices:

Q: What Inscriptions?
A: At 70: Frenzied Regeneration and Maul.
A: At 80: Frenzied Regeneration, Survival Instincts. Then Growl or Maul depending on whether you need to make sure a taunt lands or you need more threat on multiple mobs. Carry around stacks of growl/maul - they're cheap to make and can be used any time.

Q: What professions?
A: See this post - the best are Jewelcrafting, then leatherworking/enchanting/inscription/blacksmithing/mining, depending on your needs and wants. But they're all very close to each other.

Q: If I'm taking all these bear talents, how do I dps as a cat?
A: Manglespam! With improved mangle, the 2pT6 bonus and Rend & Tear a bear can just go cat and manglespam. Only shred on an omen of clarity proc (assuming you took it), and otherwise keep up rake, savage roar, rip and ferocious bite when you can. And manglemanglemangle. Even without the 2pT6 bonus this is pretty good damage.

Q:'re a sexy theorycrafter. You're so smart when you explain things. Where can I find the places that you stole this from more information?
A: EJ forums on WotLK Feral druids - the big one.
Combat Ratings at 80, which talks about diminishing returns
Beta forums, which kind of suck right now
MMO Champion, which has the latest updates on specs and talents
WotLK wiki, where I got most of the info for professions, enchants, gems, and talent changes
Rawr, the best damn optimizer on the planet.
Unbearably HoT on Demo shouts and on gear at 80
Of Teeth and Claws on Glyphs
Toskk on DPS as a kitty (and the Druid wiki in general)

Plus a whole ton of places that I can't be bothered to mention.

[Offtopic] Players > skill > gear?

Warning: this won't be all that math-centric. This will be entirely anecdotal and based on my personal experience. There may not be a single spreadsheet even mentioned in the whole thing. It's downright personal, even.

A while back, Kiluia asked for some of the more interesting things I've been asked on this blog. And it wasn't even about math:

Thanks for a great writeup of a great set of comments from a great post!

I loved the spirit of your piece - it was clear you were having a good time, and having fun with the post, and your friends in game.

One thing I would love to see even more than math and hard facts. Whats the role of the player in the game?

Recently, our guild struggled to complete the last 2 bosses in 10-man naxx for the first time. Many many wipes on each, then the kill. Well, last night I was able to lead my own raid. So I hand picked a bunch of people I trusted, and we one-shotted these 2 bosses, to our own amazement & joy. Most of us, myself included, had never seen those bosses. I was well prepared and suprememly confident we'd succeed. Some felt burned from the guild's previous experiences... Then we tried eye of eternity: same experience of prior burn. People were saying "its really hard, we're gonna wipe a lot" Didnt really want to try it. Again, I put out the same attitude. We did 60% on our very first attempt. (previously they managed 95% after many wipes)

So our gear was very similar to the other group's. The only real difference was that I hand picked people I trusted, and I did everything I could to inspire them. And everyone player played really well. In an evening, the guild's perception of naxx & malygos flipped right over.

Those uber-guilds that steamroll content in a couple of days? No one ever discusses their experiences. Clearly, its not about their gear, nor their specs, or whether their classes are broken or not. It HAS to be about the players. They blatantly have no interest in the issues the rest of us noobs spend long lunch-hours discussing.

So tell me more about your experiences of how important the players are. The players who are broken. The players who are OP. The players who learn an encounter as it unfolds for the very first time. The players who cant follow a simple direction no matter how big the deadly boss mods letters are flashing. How do you choose who to bring to a raid based upon the players, assuming you have the luxury to do so? For example, I didnt invite our top guild DPSer, even though he's top every time, better geared than most, and he knows all the content much better from a previous guild. Why? Because he's an arrogant fool who creates a chaotic, fragmented vibe every time he speaks.

Please please please! I'm convinced these issues are the core of success in wow. Tell us more about them from your own experiences. Change names to protect the (not very) innocent! It's the core of the game; we all know it, but we never discuss it.
Kiluia's absolutely right. This isn't something anyone ever brings up regularly on tanking forums or EJ, but it's something you see more on your realm forums and guild comments so I think it's pretty widespread. Ultimately, how successful or bad you'll be is very much dependent on the people playing the game with you. Part of it is how good they are at playing, but another part is who it actually is. And even more than that, a lot of it is how well they're doing at that moment.

I'm sure most of you have been there, but I'll give an example. My wife and I tried to do a 10-man Ulduar the other night. Our raid leader was really nice, knew that I couldn't do it early, scheduled a later-night one so that we could both do it. It'd be the first time since we had our son that we had really raided together for more than an hour. It'd also be our first time seeing Ulduar on 10 man and for most of it, at all.

I was asked to lead it over the raid leader.

And it was not a good time. We wiped on Flame Leviathan as we ended up pulling before we were in position and FL would target people who wouldn't run away. My wife and I had an inkling of what to do, but knowing the path and walking the path are two very different things. There was yelling on vent. There was frustration - isn't this the easiest encounter in an ezmode raid? But we got it together and did it again, and succeeded...and I couldn't even loot the boss.

Then we did Razorscale, and once again - people dying, standing in fires, wipe. This was a fight that I had actually done before, and it was much easier than 25-man - but we still failed due to me being killed when Razorscale officially landed and getting no heals. Bah.

XT went amusingly; we didn't realize that he had trash packs, so when we got him to 75%, his trash comes out with the bots he summons and proceeds to obliterate us. Oops. We killed him after that on a messy kill with only 5 people left alive.

Then Kologarn. Kologarn isn't a hard fight at all, and on 10-man the damage isn't huge. Yet we wiped over and over again. A tank would die, a person with the laser beam would get stuck on the door, the rubble would pwn someone, someone would die in the grip, healers would die or be too slow, etc, etc. Just people weren't getting it together.

We finally ended on Iron Council, and we did better than Kologarn - only a few wipes. Wipes mostly because of interrupts just not working out. A wipe because the person who was supposed to decurse me was stunning another mob and didn't say. A couple wipes from other tank death. Etc, etc.

Afterwards I was stressed and demoralized, but not because of the raid. During the raid the baby would be upset or crying on and off, and while I was playing in another part of the house I could hear him. Even when I couldn't, I knew that my wife was playing with him in her arm, trying to do her best to pay attention to the raid and him simultaneously. Then I was trying to tell people what to do on fights I had never, ever seen before while other people are telling me what I'm doing wrong but not wanting to lead. I'm making mistakes left and right.

The people that came are usually pretty solid raiders. They've been through a lot of raiding in their WoW lives, they know what they're doing. But this night? We were off.

And we were off almost entirely because of me.

Another story, similar outcome. The night before the 3.1 patch came out, my wife had exactly one achievement left before getting her Glory of the Raider achievement: the 6-minute Malygos. This is one that she should already have had, but she died during the success and then released, which meant she didn't get credit for the achievement even though other people in the raid did. It sucked. But it was the last one she needed, and it was one others wanted as well. We had done it fairly easily before, with a melee-heavy group who all wanted it. Before that, another group had stacked the raid with ranged and done it with over a minute to spare. So I figured if I stacked the group with ranged, we'd have no problem. We brought a couple of people doing DPS in offspec too - they're good players, so I figured again, no problem.

That day, we had to put our dog to sleep. I took the day off to take her to the vet. I had to make the decision to put her down.

I watched her in her final moments. Just me.

And we knew that this was our last chance to get that achievement, so we pushed on. The whole family was miserable and heartbroken. In retrospect, we shouldn't have. Not because we owed it to the dog or anything; just that we weren't in a good position to do well at anything. But it was the last shot, and it was something of closure for my wife with WoW and raiding; her last goal before basically retiring.

What should've been an easy kill took us 3 hours. It took multiple swaps of people, many tries, people buffing us outside the instance. I sucked on phase 3. I sucked getting Maly in position. We didn't get sparks, or we didn't do well on DPS, or we just failed on doing dps as dragons or healing. I yelled, I fought, I argued. Again, it didn't work out almost entirely because of me and where I was at. My guildies were patient and understanding, and we got it done largely because they were willing to persevere and cope with my frustration and anger. But it wasn't easy for them.

The thing is, I know this isn't normal for me. We've had runs when for whatever reason I was the leader at the time, and it went great. Where I pushed people faster than they were used to and we got stuff done in record time and more smoothly than ever. Where we tried new raid ideas and they worked and were damn fun. I've had people say that they really didn't like it when I wasn't around, because things just went more smoothly with me there. I know that people were overjoyed when I came back from vacation and did flame tanking on Illidan; it was something I had researched, seen movies on, and I did a great job almost immediately on it and we made significantly more progression just from my returning than we had before. So it's not always me sucking. :)

Smooth runs happen first and foremost because of leadership. Some times those leaders have a great attitude, are positive and upbeat, and it just percolates down to everyone. It makes people better. Then comes everyone else. Some times people are just on that night. Some times they're positive and eager and doing great, loose and focused. And when you're with those people, you know things are going to work. You know that it's going to happen that night - a new achievement, a new boss down, a big win, a clean win.

Those are the nights where you don't need everyone to have the most skill you've ever seen. Those are the nights where even the terribads do great and the better players shine. And that's one of the times when raiding is really a joy.

This is the real secret between good raiding guilds and bad ones: good leadership. Good guilds tend to have better players and a core of players that have been around for a while and share similar goals and values. This is probably as important as good leadership for a raid in general; it means that the feeling of the guild doesn't significantly change, the goals don't change, the value doesn't change, and consistency is important. But leadership is what makes individual raids shine. And it doesn't need to be the raid leader that does this leadership; it can be a calming voice, someone who makes good decisions, who makes jokes and light of bad situations. Who handles things well or thinks well, or has simply done their research and can defuse stupid questions.

The antithesis is that there are those who are just poisonous. They might be bad players, and those can't be brought to some things either. There are the bad players who don't listen to directions, who go out and wipe the raid because they fall off the ledge of Eredar Twins because they just couldn't be bothered to listen to someone. We've kicked people from the raid and from raiding for things like that. They're the ones that think that they can sit and eat food near the entrance while Kaz'Rogal marches up to them (and ignoring the raid leader), causing a wipe and 30 minutes wasted time. But they're not the real problems; they can just be replaced with less bad players. Heck, they're fun to talk about sometimes; we have many joys about laughing about dying to Walking Man (Thaladred from Kael'Thas).

No, the ones that cause problems are the ones that are always pessimistic about chances, the ones willing to point blame at others and directly insult them. The ones that get frustrated enough with those bad players to openly cause drama and divisiveness. The ones that will always argue with raid leaders and make suggestions regardless of whether it's asked for. The ones that will relish pointing out how much other players suck and keep harping on it. The ones who don't listen to directions no matter how many times their name is stated. Who don't have any problem holding up a raid for 30 minutes while they buy something from some guy in Orgrimmar for their own personal use.

The thing is, pretty much everyone at one point or another has done both things. You've been that voice of reason, made that awesome joke, or made that one suggestion that brought everything into place. Or you've been the one that couldn't stand that asshat who kept sucking, who kept mocking someone, who just couldn't follow directions to save your life. The difference is frequency. You know those who are on most of the time and those who aren't.

So how does FnB decide on who to bring? We try and get in as many people as is reasonable for a night. We try and emphasize whether or not someone needs an item or an achievement from a boss and whether or not they could reasonably win it via our loot system. We do a lot of swapping and juggling to keep people on backup in the game. And when we absolutely need to, we bring things primarily based on two aspects: how good the player is at execution of their job, and how much we like raiding with them.

But honestly? It's mostly the former. If we really need to work on something hard, we'll bring our 25 best players. Those aren't always the most positive ones, but they're still the best.

Is that right? I don't know, always. More often than not it works out, but sometimes I think sitting people because they're just not having a good night or are being real dicks would be warranted. And we've done that when we had to; putting the guild leader and the raid leader on ignore is not a good choice if you want to be in the raid, in case you're unclear of What Not To Do. It's a tough balance.

At the same time, I know of my old friends on the EU server who finally got tired of being forced to deal with 10 other asshats and just made a small guild of the people they get along with best. Are they as well-progressed as FnB? No. But they've done things that are incredible; they've 12-manned most Naxx-25 content. Are they the best players I've ever seen? Nope. But they get along so well and have such a good time together that it overcomes a lot.

So yeah, that's the big deal behind successful and unsuccessful raids. And we all know it. We just don't say anything, and we talk about tweaking our performance by 5% or maximizing our time to live, when in reality most of the time this isn't as crucial as whether or not you're a positive force in your raid.

I'm curious whether this'll create another shitstorm. Mostly, I'm curious about what other people's experiences are.

And tomorrow will be at least one post that's more mathy. I promise. :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

[General]Glyphs are the new flask

Yesterday we had a couple posters in the comments section getting into a minor kerfluffle (addendum: must use kerfluffle in real life speech 3 times today) about which glyphs to use. Before Ulduar, I was rocking the glyph of Maul, Frenzied Regeneration and Rip. Yeah, Rip - it meant I could do decent DPS while in tank spec and tank gear. Then a guildie got Survival Instincts, and after that I decided that I was tired of breaking CC or even worrying about it much, so I got Growl.

And this caused much consternation.

Except...I don't see why. In 3.1, glyphs can be used without a lexicon of power - meaning that any time you want to replace a glyph outside of combat, you can. There's no need to decide on 3 glyphs at any given moment; they're totally mutable. They're also really cheap to make. The Growl and Survival Instinct glyphs comes quickly from northrend herbs. Maul glyphs come from STV herbs. Frenzied Regen comes from easy Outland herbs. Rip comes from Feralas/EPL herbs.

Most of the time, one stack of herbs will give anywhere from 5-10 inks, which will make 2-4 glyphs. So for a full stack of 20 glyphs of SI, you're looking at 10 stacks of northrend herbs, or around 200g. And that's the worst of the lot; you should be able to get a ton of Maul glyphs for far cheaper.

So instead of looking at it by which are the best, perhaps the better way to look at it is by cost. In that case, you should keep SI and Growl around for a while, and swap Regen and Maul as your third glyph. That'd be optimal, but chances are that won't work most of the time; most of the time you'd want both SI and FR as your regular ones.

So it's down to growl and maul as your hot-swappable glyphs (at least most of the time).

For me, I was able to buy a stack of growl glyphs for 15g. Why? Because they're typically used to level up. So they're pretty cheap anyway. Furthermore, you're not looking at more than about 5g per glyph if you buy the mats, which means practically that you're going to swap them out what, every fight at most? Which means if you're having a good raiding night you'll spend about 40g in mats if you swap every fight.

And unlike food, they last for as long as you want.

That's pretty cheap to me, honestly, and adds a lot of versatility. Are you going to tank and DPS in the same fight? Go swap out that FR glyph for rip. Have a manglebot for a given fight? Swap that mangle glyph for SR (this one is huge for me, honestly - it's like a 2% DPS boost) Need to make those taunts count on Kologarn or Auriaya? Get growl. Need maul on one target because of CC on the hallway of Thorim? Swap out Maul. Going to do the arena? Swap it back.

This honestly is really applicable to all sorts of specs. I've been getting more familiar with priest healing thanks to my wife, and she's fighting between Flash Heal, Renew, Guardian Spirit, Prayer of Healing, Circle of Healing and Power Word : Shield. But why fight? Why not pick one or two that are going to be regulars (Flash heal and CoH, most like) and then swap out as needed for fights? Guardian spirit's glyph is useless if you're not healing on a single target all that often in a fight, but if there's a lot of raid damage PoH may be a life saver. Etc, etc.

Honestly, this is kind of a revolutionary thought for me. I'd never thought of glyphs as consumables before this.

The disadvantage is that you'll be carrying a few stacks of glyphs, which means more inventory. Such is the life for a druid. And it won't always be worth that much to change; a lot of times which glyph you have won't really matter for a given fight, and you won't have to change a thing.

So glyphs aren't the new talents. They're the new flasks. Get friendly with your local inscriptionist and give yourself some versatility.

Monday, April 27, 2009

[Druid]A requiem for a glyph

It is with great sadness that I announce the demise of a dear friend of mine, who took me through wonderful times. Since 3.0 was released and our guild worked its way through Sunwell, then later in the quick clears of Naxx, and even as recently as our downing of Sarth3D it was always a wonderful companion.

Goodbye, glyph of maul. You made heroics a breeze, you made trash pulls in raids fun, you made farming and doing old instances into speed runs, and you made tanking two mobs at once effortless. You even gave my raid joy by killing our GM after he was MCed while I was tanking Kel'Thuzad, and then killing that loudmouth DPS warrior who always gives us shit in the same night.

Yet sadly, you cannot be toggled. And because of that, you are being replaced by Growl.


Because on some things it's actually useful to not tank everything, and on some things it's actually important not to break CC.

The breaking point (hah) was last night doing Thorim's hallway. After trying various things, we decided to try using sheeps to stop the AoE-stunning mobs while we killed the healers (unlike before, where our healers would run up and be killed by the mobs). I'd tank one of the two mobs...and have to do ridiculous gymnastics and aerobatics to try and avoid mauling the sheep's face off while watching for the first boss's Utgarde-Pinnacle like attack, and it was just too annoying. I ended up turning off maul for my attacks, but that's not ideal by any means either.

So today I bid thee goodbye. A moment of silence for this 40% boost to bear DPS on trash.

I'll probably just carry around a stack of glyphs. They're really cheap, and it might be situationally useful to swap them. For now, though, Maul just isn't worth the pain.

Of course, when something takes something away from us, often something is given in return. With that I would like to welcome back an old friend:

Yes, it's wonderful to see you back, CC. We didn't realize how much we missed tanking without you until you were gone.

Yes, I'll have more on the hardmode loot and the PvP gear and where it ranks. In the meantime, why don't you check out Runycat's great list for cat gear?

Friday, April 24, 2009

[Druid]More wacky SD shenanigans, like uptime

Astrylian was kind enough to look over the recent blog post on SD that I made, and point out some problems with it that I'd like to correct or clarify.

First off, on using 'uptime'. This is potentially really misleading. By uptime I simply meant the amount of physical hits that were blocked by Savage Defense compared to the total amount of physical hits that landed (ie, not avoided). However, this is not the same as the uptime value in WWS. And while they coorespond somewhat, they're not particularly relevant to each other nor should you really care - because the ideal is that you don't have 100% uptime as tracked by WWS.

That sounds weird, but it's true. Why? Because as soon as you get hit you lose your SD uptime, and unless you've got some very weird bosses you'll never refresh it right after that. Thus, in order for SD to function, it must go down for some short amount of time. If for some reason you had 100% uptime, that would likely mean that you never actually got hit. Which is awesome, I suppose, but not particularly useful when trying to figure out how well SD did.

So what should you do? Well, look for the total number of hits and then the total number of absorbs. That will tell you the absorption rate. I highlight this term because it is what I'm going to use from now on to make sure you understand what I mean. The absorption rate is simply how many attacks were absorbed by SD vs how many attacks hit you in total. It is not uptime (how long the proc was around) or block rate.

Next up, how bugs in SD look. Here's an example from my Ignis log:

0:02'41.594 Felhoof Maul hits Ignis the Furnace Master for 4788 Physical. (Critical) #354766
0:02'41.594 Skylopez Holy Light heals Felhoof for 12145. (12145 Overheal) #354770
0:02'41.610 Ignis the Furnace Master's Lacerate is refreshed. #354778
0:02'41.610 Felhoof Lacerate hits Ignis the Furnace Master for 223 Physical. (Critical) #354779

(At this point I should have gained SD and refreshed SD ).

0:02'41.969 Ignis the Furnace Master melee swing hits Felhoof for 21349 Physical. #354791

(nothing was absorbed)

0:02'42.016 Felhoof gains Savage Defense. #354805

(And now I have the proc up - which should be just an annoying latency thing, right? It'll work for the next time)

0:02'42.016 Felhoof gains 2329 health from Felhoof Improved Leader of the Pack. (2329 Overheal) #354806

(this needs to be talked about more)

0:02'42.016 Felhoof's Savage Defense is refreshed. #354809

(This would be presumably from the second crit that I received)

0:02'42.125 Felhoof Savage Defense was removed from Felhoof. #354814

(And this would be it going away without actually being hit.)

0:02'42.375 Felhoof gains 5 Rage from Primal Fury. #354832
0:02'42.375 Felhoof gains 5 Rage from Primal Fury. #354838

(Finally, I get the primal rage from my two crits)

Here's my theory on how it works. My guess is that the server sees that you've done a crit, and there's some threaded process that sees this and runs off and runs all behaviors when you do a crit (like gain rage, do iLotP, etc), which kicks off other processes potentially. Meanwhile, the mob is still hitting you. So then you get hit, and you don't have SD up - so it's a full amount of damage.

And then we get into the bad part. The process that figures out how SD works comes in, sees that you got a crit at time X, and then gives you an SD proc. It then looks to see whether it should remove the SD proc (or something else does), and the way it does it is by looking to see whether you received an attack since the crit that produced the SD occurred (at time X). In the above, it did (even though nothing was absorbed). So it removes the SD proc.


Now, what really bothers me is the next line:

0:02'42.016 Felhoof gains 2329 health from Felhoof Improved Leader of the Pack. (2329 Overheal) #354806

There are no heals that I receive between being hit here. How can this be an overheal - it comes directly after the actual attack I receive? The only answer is that the healing is calculated when the crit occurred too, as well as the amount overhealed - but the actual log message is after the fact. Which either means that the log can't be reasonably trusted...or that iLotP has similar behavioral problems to SD in terms of looking in the past to determine what the behavior should have been. In iLotP's case, it's actually doing the right thing - I should be overhealed here, because I crit before I take damage. But in SD's case, it should not do this kind of behavior. I see why they did it this way - it's the same thing as iLotP and primal fury, so why not do the same process? But because the actual proc determines whether or not something is absorbed, it can't reasonably do this.

The way to fix this isn't that hard, I believe, provided that this is possible: instead of checking whether an attack happened since you got a crit, you need to check and see whether an attack happened and was absorbed since the last time you got a crit. If it wasn't, don't remove the SD proc yet. This requires that whatever is dealing with SD can determine whether or not attacks were absorbed. If that's not possible, this isn't likely to be easily fixed. The other possibility is to have the SD proc object remove itself, which I would think is more easily done. In other words, the object model would look like:
crit-> create SD proc.
on attack: if SD proc exists, damage = SDProc.OnHit(damage)
SDProc.OnHit: newdamage = damage - (AP/4).
return newdamage.

While it wouldn't remove the latency, at least the behavior would be correct.

On comparing SD to armor and BoSanc - Astrylian rightly pointed out that it's a bit misleading to look at how much damage SD would absorb pre-armor, since that's mechanically not how it works, especially if you're comparing it to something like BoSanc. For instance, I was on average absorbing for 1462 damage per SD. On Ignis, that's 6.3% mitigation after the 23k post-armor attack and worth double what BoSanc says it'd do, right? Basically. It's not quite that good, but it's close compared to BoSanc. And BoSanc is good, so SD is doubly as good. And that's very true!

But how good is it compared to armor? Well, with my armor value as it stood I had 32301 armor for the fight, which gives 66.007% mitigation. That means pre-armor that attack would've done 66760 total damage. If I add 100 AP, I'd prevent another 25 damage of that post-armor attack, going from 1462 to 1487 (and that's the best case, assuming 100% absorption rate). But if I add 100 armor, I reduce the incoming damage by 47.

So in this case, armor is almost doubly as effective as AP on a per-point basis. don't get 100 armor worth of itemization for the same cost as 100 AP. Armor is way, way cheaper most of the time. For example, you can get 44 AP on gloves or 240 armor on gloves. You can also get 20 agi to gloves, which should after buffs be worth about 44 Armor - which means that 20 agi is more mitigation (in this case) than 44 AP is just from the armor - it doesn't count the extra avoidance or threat or even SD uptime.

Does this mean you should totally ignore AP? Probably not. It's just not worth that much. It takes a lot of AP to come close to what agility provides, but it does mean that you should favor higher AP over higher haste/armor pen/crit/hit/expertise. Okay, haste and armor pen you can see, sort of - but why crit/hit/expertise? Because those only determine the uptime of the procs, and that is (as demonstrated above) unpredictable at best. It may actually be that more crit ends up causing the above issue more; as you get more crits before an attack, you might overwrite an SD proc and cause it to disappear. Hard to say, but at least AP will always mitigate something. Still, AP doesn't come close to armor, stamina or agility.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

[Druid]If only I could read my own posts...

Last night my wife and I got to do an Ulduar 10-man raid. It was the first time we were able to raid together for any length of time since we had our baby, was probably a bad idea. Distractions + one-handed raiding (and not in the good way) led to a lot of unnecessary wipes and poor performance.

Also: the trash to XT was a really pleasant surprise, especially since you can not pull them until after XT loses his heart the first time. Oops. Patch notes can occasionally save your life. :)

But that's not about the meat of this post. We did Kologarn, and after wiping a bunch we finally managed to get the bastard down.

And...the mark of the unyielding drops.

I wasn't thinking about it much, and it wasn't that much of an upgrade over my Favor of the Dragon Queen, right? Plus I'm not raiding full time right now, so I'd rather not get a bunch of gear that others will be able to use for progression. The other tank (our normal raid leader) expressed interest, and I told him it was okay but not the best for me, and to go ahead and take it.

Except...that basically is the best in slot at this time. Sure, you could go for the Bronze Pendant, but any other tank should get it before you do and it wouldn't be that big an upgrade. It's essentially equivalent to Boundless Ambition in most ways. Which means that if you have Boundless, don't really bother getting this...

But if you don't, you should probably pick this up.

Which is what I actually wrote in the previous gearing article for Ulduar.

And it was a sidegrade to the warrior too. So I just passed up essentially the BiS neck piece because I can't remember what I wrote.

I'll have other opportunities to get it, and it's still not that big a deal one way or another, but man do I feel like a dumbass.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

[Druid] The new tanking staff for Ulduar!

Finally, someone has discovered the new tanking staff for Ulduar! And wow, are you going to love the stats:

224 agi (104 more than Twisted Visage). 42 more stam than Origin of Nightmares! Two sockets, even, so you could have even more agi or stam! No, it doesn't have armor, but those stats are crazy good. So good it doesn't matter, right?

Well, that all wouldn't matter if it dropped from Ulduar. It drops from Arena, instead.

I know that this is supposed to be the top-tier arena weapon and only usable by the best of the best. I know that with the high ilvl of the item, it's meant to be comparable with hard-mode drops. I know that in theory, a hard-mode feral tanking staff could exist that could have similar stat allocation and be that much of an upgrade over Origin of Nightmares.

At the same time, I remain very, very skeptical.

I'll be posting later on how much better the PvP season 6 gear is compared to the tier gear, but right now the long and short of it is that for tanking the PvP gear is almost always strictly better for tanking, even when you factor in threat. It simply has far more stamina and most of the time more agi, and that trumps basically everything else. The set bonuses, unlike T7, aren't worth going for.

But it makes me a bit bummed, once again.

And no, I doubt it'll be necessary to run arena in order to get these things and tank adequately. Even for hard modes; hard modes will cleave tanks in different ways than whether they have 5% more stamina. It's still bothersome to me to know that the best gear I can possibly get must be obtained via PvP.

I really, really hope that there's a tanking staff/mace out there that's yet to be discovered. Really.

And just in case you were thinking that the ilvl 232 item was not nearly as good, think again:
Yeah, it loses 14 agi and 12 stam. And it's still massively better than Twisted Visage for tanking.

Monday, April 20, 2009

[Druid] Limited Savage Defense analysis

This was taken from my recent Razorscale kill. On this I tanked sentinels and then Razorscale when we got him to 50%. It's not the best representation of a tank&spank, but it should do for a general value. Specifically it should be nice because according to WWS, I received all of two Essence of Gossamer procs, and no power word: shields for the entire fight. Thus almost all the damage absorbed should be from SD and SD alone.

Here's the relevant part of the WWS:

Because I was facing adds and not the boss for half of the fight, the overall avoidance value is much higher - especially since it was sentinels who have a high miss rate (21.6%) due to their dual-wielding.

For this specific encounter, I absorbed 24.3% of total attacks. This was a total of 112188 damage on 71 hits, which is 1580 damage per hit and right about where we would predict it. This was 15.5% of the total damage I received as physical damage, and of the 100 hits I took 71 were absorbed.

What's interesting is that the uptime is much, much worse than what Rawr would predict it to be. With multiple adds beating on me and with their having such a high avoidance, the uptime should be close to 90%. 71% is pretty low. This is due, in part, to weird overlap issues, and partially due to the bugs associated with SD.

Also interesting is how good it was at absorbing damage. This is one of the better places where SD shines; on this fight I put on extra armor (trinket + neck) and basically 'blocked' 25-30% of all damage from each sentinel. The sentinels don't hit hard except for whirlwinds, and the other adds hit almost trivially. Thus, SD should shine as a mitigation tool, and it did okay. This was, oddly enough, a higher block rate than either warrior both in blocked damage and blocked procs. It was also about half as much that was blocked (in damage and in procs) as the paladin.

The next trick is to not be doing tanking the next Razorscale kill and see how other tanks do at the same damage.

By comparison and to show how bad it can be, let's look at the XT-002 encounter. I was offtanking pummelers on this fight. And they're...not dual-wielding and there aren't as many of them. The encounter I'll be checking out is here:

This one didn't do nearly as well. A total of 147 hits, of which only 54 were absorbed - which is a 36.7% absorption rate and an overall block rate of 23.1%. The big problem here was the atrocious avoidance rate. This, more than anything else, should scare you some; avoidance for druids is going to go way down with the focus on stamina in Ulduar being so important, which means that SD is going to have worse and worse overall uptime. What's interesting is that SD procced a total of 197 times in this fight, yet only 54 were absorbed. That's a LOT of overlapping hits, possibly - or a lot of bugged absorptions.

Finally, we get to our horrible tries on Ignis. On this I was tanking Ignis the entire time, so we should see how well SD does against a single target which does massive physical damage slowly.

On this, the uptime was much better. 25 total hits, of which 21 were absorbed is very good and what we'd expect from something like Rawr. Except...that's not all SD absorption. Part of it is Sacred Shields (I received 8). That explains why the average absorb value was so much higher (1740).

Also, SD procced a total of 89 times on this attempt, yet only 21 hits were absorbed. That's shockingly bad.

Finally, the total damage that was mitigated from total absorption was only 7.5%, and that was after armor. When factoring in my armor (and I almost certainly had inspiration/fortitude up) I was looking at around 69% base mitigation. And BoSanc. So the overall physical damage I was taking before armor/bosanc was close to 1.45 million damage. Based on that, SD absorbed a total of only 2.5% total damage. This means practically even if I had 100% total uptime, SD's absorption would have been roughly equivalent to Blessing of Sanctuary's mitigation. If that.

So the long and short of it is that SD really shouldn't factor much into your gearing decisions. While crit rate in theory helps, the bugginess and overlap factors kill this as a really heavy contribution. AP does so little against a single hit that it's better to stack armor; AP and armor are almost 1:1 in value, and armor's much cheaper to itemize on. Avoidance does help, at least. Still, SD doesn't really make PvP gear less viable. It doesn't make polar gear less viable. It doesn't significantly change the game for heavy-hitters. For light hitters it does pretty well, but the chances that you'll want to gear for small hitters is fairly slim.

I'll try and do more testing of SD, but keep in mind that I don't raid often - and when I do, chances are I'll be DPSing as much as tanking.

On a side note, DPS as a cat is quite good, especially with dual specs. It's still as fun as before, and it's great to compete with rogues for top DPS. And as Karthis stated, it's really awesome to see 33k Ferocious bite crits on XT's heart.

Monday, April 13, 2009

[Druid] Ulduar loot weight, loot listing for bears (UPDATED 5/13)

UPDATED 5/13: Updated scores. Added all known hardmode gear. Added arena points and rating and honor costs to PvP gear. Only Algalon loot and some weapons remain to be discovered.

UPDATED 4/22: Added hardmode gear. Updated locations. Will update scores in the future.

UPDATED: added locations for tier tokens that are known. Added locations for a lot of loot that was known already.

At this point, all loot save what's on Algalon's table is known and well-documented. Almost all of it is in wowhead in its finished form. Go nuts, guys.

So first I'm going to teach you to fish. Or if you like, I'm going to set you on fire.

For starters, you need to know the gearing strategies for Ulduar tanking. And they're different than Naxx:
  • Heart of the Wild nerfed to 10% stamina means you need stamina more. Don't go nuts on this, but you will need to have a good amount of stamina and you'll probably have to regem some of your gear or use certain choices.
  • Things hit like a semi carrying a truck carrying small missiles. Seriously, most everything hits like Patchwerk's evil big brother on meth. You can reasonably expect to take 20k-25k hits from bosses, and there are plenty of special abilities that do far more than that.
  • With the loss of armor, you need EVEN MORE stamina. Seriously.
  • Also, with the loss of armor, more armor is a bit better. So armor as a stat improves greatly on a lot of these fights.
  • Threat is actually important for druids. Other tanking classes have much better threat now, but druids are still a bit far behind. This means that you can't just ignore hit and expertise on your gear in Ulduar; there will be fights where your threat really matters.
  • DPS stats matter a little bit for SD, but not insanely so. While Savage Defense is decent, it's not a substitute for armor. 100 AP means you prevent 25 damage, which would be (from the above boss) equivalent to .125% mitigation. So don't go nuts here. But do get some. And uptime is more important than raw mitigation most of the time, so go for crit if you're going for any specific DPS stat.
In general, this means that you should look for leather with a high amount of stamina but still some good amount of agility, good hit/expertise, sockets and good socket bonuses. Some AP and crit thrown in for good measure is also good.

Also note that for socketing, the Shifting Twilight Opal is finally here. This helps a lot. In general, my strategy for socketing gear will be the following:
Blue sockets will have straight Solid Sky Sapphires.
Red with have Shifting Twilight Opals.
Yellow will have Vivid Forest Emeralds or Enduring Forest Emeralds if I need the socket.
That's for straight tanking gear. For gear that I can use as a piece for DPS without having to regem/re-enchant, I'll go with straight agility gems. This would be the chest, feet, gloves, and belt for me; it might be different depending on your professions.

Just like before, I'll provide a weighing on wowhead that you can use to re-evaluate the gear. I'll also discuss them here so you can see them a bit.

Also note that the tier 8 bonuses for bears are basically pointless. There's no reason to go for the tier gear for the set bonuses. As you'll see, though, the main reason you'd want them is because the stats are just insanely good for bears.

Finally, I'll be updating this page as we get more information about what gear is out there. This will be the post for Ulduar loot analysis on a macro scale. If you know that more gear has been added, this is where you should find where I rank it.

Here's the comparison from wowhead
. That's for armor only. Note that this does not do a good job with trinket weights based on procs or on on-use mechanics.

And here's the list for weapons.

Onto the analysis. Anything in italics is available in 3.0.8 and earlier. In general I tried to include as many reasonable items from Ulduar as I could. When (easy) or (hard) is listed, it means that that item drops from either an easy mode encounter or a hard-mode encounter if there is an option. If there is no option, it is not listed.

And yeah, for right now I have very little of an idea of where exactly things drop. I'll revise this in the coming days ahead and make it a bit more accurate.


  1. Titanskin Cloak - 45.07. Heroic Freya (hard)
  2. Drape of Icy Intent - 44.10. Heroic Hodir (hard)
  3. Drape of the Faceless General - 41.35. Normal Vezax (hard)
  4. Cloak of the Makers - 40.67 Heroic Auriaya
  5. Cloak of the Shadowed Sun - 40.07. Heroic Naxxramas
  6. Platinum Mesh Cloak - 36.56. Emblems of Valor.
  7. Drape of the Lithe - 36.31. Heroic Iron Council (easy)
  8. Gale-Proof Cloak - 35.59. Normal Sartharion.
  9. Shawl of the Shattered Giant - 33.10. Normal Ulduar (easy)
  10. Winter's Frigid Embrace - 32.63. Normal Hodir (easy)
  11. Durable Nerubhide Cape - 31.25. Leatherworking
  12. Drape of the Deadly Foe- 31.12. Heroic Kel'Thuzad.
  13. Cloak of the Iron Council - 30.74. Normal Iron Council(easy)
  14. Drape of the Drakerider - 27.00. Heroic Razorscale
No real updates to this, as we already knew the better in-slot pieces. Cloak of the Shadowed Sun will remain a situational piece because of the high armor, but either the Titanskin or the Drape of Icy Intent are good replacements. If you have the Shadowed Sun I wouldn't replace it until either one of those dropped.

  1. Embrace of the Gladiator - 88.42. Heroic Thorim (hard).
  2. Furious Gladiator's Dragonhide Robes - 82.25. 1750 arena rating, 2150 arena points.
  3. Conqueror's Nightsong Rainments - 78.69. Heroic Hodir(easy), emblems of Conquest.
  4. Valorous Nightsong Rainments -74.40. Normal Yogg-Saron?(easy)
  5. Tunic of the Limber Stalker -73.23. Normal Freya(easy)
  6. Valorous Dreamwalker Rainments -70.77. Heroic 4 Horsemen.
  7. Deadly Gladiator Dragonhide Robes -70.67. 58 Emblems of Conquest, 12000 honor/700 arena points
  8. Titan-forged Leather Tunic of Triumph -69.83. 40 Wintergrasp Marks of Honor
  9. Winter's Icy Embrace -65.82. Heroic Hodir(easy)
  10. Tunic of Indulgence -65.38. Heroic Grobbulus.
  11. Chestpiece of Suspicion -65.28. Heroic Razuvious.
  12. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Robes -64.50. 49600 honor , 12000 honor/350 arena, 45 emblems of valor.
  13. Polar Vest -63.26. Leatherworking
  14. Heroes' Dreamwalker Rainments -64.31. Normal 4 Horsemen, emblems of heroism.
  15. Tunic of Dislocation -63.63. Normal Gothik.
  16. Chestguard of the Recluse -60.92
  17. Blade-Scarred Tunic -59.26. Normal Sartharion (easy)
UPDATED 5/13: Predictably the hard mode item looks best, and a bit behind it is the pvp gear. Thorim is probably the easiest hard mode in Ulduar (note: I did not say it was easy, merely the easiest) which means that there's a decent chance at getting this chest at some point. Also, this isn't a huge upgrade by any means; valorous to conqueror gives 4 points of an upgrade. This shouldn't be as high a priority.

  1. Runed Ironhide Boots -57.48. Heroic Iron Council(easy)
  2. Furious Gladiator's Boots of Triumph - 57.03. Emalon, 62000 honor and 1500 arena rating
  3. Footpads of Silence -55.63. Leatherworking BoE (from Heroic Ulduar pattern)
  4. Deadly Gladiator Boots of Triumph -51.42. 49600 honor
  5. Footwraps of Vile Deceit -50.75. Heroic Loatheb.
  6. Flamestalker Boots -49.28. Heroic Ignis (easy)
  7. Polar Boots -47.24. Leatherworking BoE
  8. Treads of the Invader - 46.58. Normal Razorscale
I had forgotten quite how bad the foot itemization really was. The leatherworking item really isn't that much stronger than the Vile Deceit, and it's going to be very expensive and rare to get early on. I'm very much hoping that there are better pieces than this. The PvP gear is very close in every way to the Runed Ironhide, and should be much easier to obtain - and even has the highest stamina possible save for the Polar gear.

  1. The Leviathan's Coil -48.65. Heroic Flame Leviathan (easy)
  2. Fate's Clutch - 44.61. Heroic Thorim (hard)
  3. Platinum Band of the Aesir -37.76. Heroic Auriaya
  4. Signet of Winter -37.19. Normal Hodir (easy)
  5. Loop of the Agile -36.08. Normal Iron Council (hard)
  6. Gatekeeper -35.76. Heroic Sapphiron.
  7. Keystone Great-Ring -35.04. Heroic Drak'Tharon
  8. Metallic Loop of the Sufferer -33.05. Heroic Vezax (easy)
  9. Cindershard Ring - 31.25. Heroic Ignis.
  10. Band of Draconic Guile - 31.21. Normal Razorscale
  11. Godbane Signet - 30.49. Heroic Yogg-Saron.
  12. Signet of the Impregnable Fortress - 29.69. Emblems of Valor.
  13. Signet of the Earthshaker - 27.72. Heroic XT-002 (easy)
  14. Sif's Promise - 20.74. Heroic Thorim (easy)
  15. Crazed Construct's Ring - 19.33. Heroic XT-002 (easy)
  16. Power-Enhancing Ring - 17.74. Normal Ulduar (easy)
UPDATED 5/13: Fate's Clutch is a very nice second ring after the coil for anyone. And again - drops off of Hard-mode Thorim. You and him are going to be best of friends. Leviathan's Coil should make you drool quite a bit. It's crazy good for a bear. Platinum Band is also quite nice, but it's hard to beat that 882 armor. If you've already got Gatekeeper and Keystone I wouldn't upgrade until you get Leviathan's Coil or Platinum Band, depending on what your expertise is. Anything below Keystone Great Ring can be reasonably ignored for tanking purposes, though Metallic Loop is a good ring to pull double duty in tanking and DPS.

  1. Furious Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves - 58.25. Emalon, 1600 arena ranking and 1300 arena points
  2. Conqueror's Nightsong Handgrips -57.93. Heroic Mimiron(easy)
  3. Gloves of the Stonereaper -54.67. Heroic Auriaya
  4. Valorous Nightsong Handgrips -54.47. Normal Freya(easy)
  5. Gloves of the Blind Stalker -51.12 - Emblems of Conquest
  6. Deadly Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves -50.72. Arena
  7. Valorous Dreamwalker Gloves -47.73. Heroic Sartharion (easy)
  8. Gloves of Fast Reactions -47.50. Heroic Sapphiron
  9. Gloves of Smouldering Touch - 45.34. Normal Ignis.
  10. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves -45.89. Honor, Arena
  11. Rapid Attack Gloves -43.12. Normal Razuvious.
  12. Dislocating Handguards -42.83. Heroic Faerlina.
  13. Heroes' Dreamwalker Handgrips -42.76. Normal Sartharion (easy)
Even with the emphasis on agility in the weighings, the pvp gear comes out ahead. This is also one of the easier pvp pieces to obtain. Furthermore, gloves are far better optimized in T8 than T7 - this should be one of the earlier targets for you to obtain an upgrade in. For raw stats it's not really comparable. After that - many good choices this time before we hit the older content gear. The T8.25 piece is great for both cat and bear and is well itemized this time around. Most everything else just doesn't cut it, but if you have to I'd try and get the Gloves of the Stonereaper; they'll be close to best for cats if they don't work out perfectly for bears.

  1. Furious Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm - 82.18. 1900 arena rating and 2150 arena points
  2. Garona's Guise - 75.90. Heroic Yogg-Saron
  3. Conqueror's Nightsong Headguard -74.64. Heroic Thorim(easy), emblems of conquest
  4. Hood of the Exodus -72.06. Heroic Gothik.
  5. Guise of the Midguard Serpent -70.79. Normal Thorim (easy)
  6. Valorous Nightsong Headguard -70.38. Normal Mimiron(easy)
  7. Deadly Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm -70.21. Arena.
  8. Valorous Dreamwalker Headguard -65.98 Heroic Kel'Thuzad.
  9. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm -64.07. Honor, Arena.
  10. Titan-Forged Leather helm of Triumph -63.35. Wintergrasp.
  11. Heroes' Dreamwalker Headguard -61.08. Normal Kel'Thuzad.
UPDATED 5/13: As expected, the Furious Gladiator helm hits the top spot here. And it's head and shoulders (ugh) over the competition. It's also the hardest pvp piece to get outside of the shoulders. If you can hit 1900 rating, this should be a top choice to get. It's amazing and annoying how high Hood of the Exodus is here, given that it's never, not once, dropped for our guild. Still, if you have it you don't have to look for much upgrades going forward, and chances are the T8.25 helm will be very good for a while given how much stamina it has. Garona's Guise is probably a sidegrade for the most part; the threat is stellar, but the lack of stamina puts it below the other options.

  1. Furious Gladiator's Dragonhide Legguards - 82.24. Emalon, 1700 arena rating and 2150 arena points
  2. Conqueror's Nightsong Legguards -80.75. Heroic Freya (easy)
  3. Valorous Nightsong Legguards -76.48. Normal Hodir (easy)
  4. Leggings of Wavering Shadow -75.59. Emblems of Conquest
  5. Deadly Gladiator's Dragonhide Legguards -70.69. Emalon (normal), 58 emblems of conquest, 12000 honor and 700 arena points
  6. Proto-Hide Leggings -70.36. Heroic Razorscale
  7. Leggings of the Honored -70.27. Heroic Sartharion (hard)
  8. Valorous Dreamwalker Legguards -69.64. Heroic Thaddius.
  9. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Legguards -64.56. 49600 honor, 45 emblems of valor,
  10. Heroes' Dreamwalker Legguards -63.00. Normal Thaddius.
  11. Leggings of Swift Reflexes - 61.28. Normal Iron Council(easy)
  12. Leggings of Fleeting Moments - 61.18. Heroic Gothik.
UPDATED 5/13: While the Furious legs are still the best, the T8.25 piece is remarkably close. It also shows how bad the T7 legs really were for what they were; even the deadly piece ends up beating the T7.25 legs. Legs should likely be one of the higher priorities for you to upgrade in Ulduar.

  1. Bronze Pendant of the Vanir -41.16. Heroic Freya(hard)
  2. Mark of the Unyielding -40.82. Normal Ulduar (easy)
  3. Titanstone Pendant -38.98. Heroic Trash
  4. Shard of the Crystal Forest -38.20. Emblems of Conquest
  5. Boundless Ambition -36.91. Heroic Kel'Thuzad.
  6. Broach of the Wailing Night -34.69. Emblems of Conquest
  7. Nexus War Champion Beads -34.19. Heroic Malygos quest reward
  8. Heritage -33.90. Heroic Naxxramas
  9. Nymph Heart Charm -33.84. Heroic Freya (easy)
  10. Frigid Strength of Hodir -33.83. Heroic Hodir (hard)
  11. Favor of the Dragon Queen -33.69. Heroic Malygos quest reward
  12. Necklace of Unerring Mettle -29.96. Heroic Kologarn
  13. Fervor of the Protectorate -28.76. Normal Trash
  14. Spiked Battleguard Choker -25.10. Emblems of Conquest
  15. Insurmountable Fervor -24.64. Heroic Iron Council(easy)
Note that I left a lot of pre 3.1 items off of this because there were so many. Anything under 30 points can safely be ignored for tanking. And no, you shouldn't roll on the Bronze Pendant of the Vanir unless all the other tanks have it. Honestly, if you already have Boundless Ambition I wouldn't roll on much of anything here. Note: Don't be an idiot and pass up on Mark of the Unyielding if it drops from normal and you can roll on it. It's very good, no matter how you measure it. (this is what I did earlier this week)

  1. Shoulderpads of the Intruder - 69.24. Heroic Iron Council (hard)
  2. Furious Gladiator's Dragonhide Spaulders - 59.66. 2050 arena rating and 1750 arena points
  3. Conqueror's Nightsong Shoulderpads -54.66. Heroic Yogg-Saron(easy)
  4. Valorous Dreamwalker Shoulderpads -52.58. Heroic Loatheb.
  5. Shoulderpads of the Monolith -52.45. Heroic Kologarn
  6. Deadly Gladiator Dragonhide Spaulders -51.25. 46 emblems of conquest, 9600 honor and 550 arena points
  7. Valorous Nightsong Shoulderpads -51.01. Normal Ulduar (easy)
  8. Heroes' Dreamwalker Shoulderpads -47.70. Normal Loatheb.
  9. Trollwoven Spaulders -46.91. BoE Leatherworking
  10. Hateful Gladiator's Dragonhide Spaulders -46.38. Arena, honor
  11. Treacherous Shoulderpads -445.37. Normal XT-002(easy)
UPDATED 5/13: Wow. Those are some impressive shoulders for killing Steelbreaker. This is by far the biggest upgrade at any slot that I've seen; fully 17 points from T7.25 to this and 15 points over T8.25. The tier gear is horrible by comparison, but those off-spec items are stellar for bear and the best overall upgrade in Ulduar save perhaps for Idol of the Corrupter.

Well, all the tier gear can't be THAT good all the time, right? In this case, it's the odd looking shoulders that aren't that big of a deal. If for some reason you wanted to keep your T7 bonus, shoulders would be a really good option.

  1. Heart of Iron -38.68. Heroic Ignis
  2. Royal Seal of King Liane - 37.01. Normal Yogg-Saron.
  3. Essence of Gossamer - 25.57. Heroic Azjol-Nerub.
  4. Darkmoon Card: Greatness (agi) -24.39. Inscription BoE
  5. The General's Heart -20.30. Heroic Vezax (easy)
  6. Valor Medal of the First War -15.94. Emblems of Valor.
  7. Defender's Code -13.82. Heroic Naxxramas
I didn't include the profession trinkets, though they rank between Heart and Essence. As always, trinkets are very encounter-heavy, but the Heart of Iron is an amazingly high-itemized piece that all tanks will covet. Sadly even though the parry is useless, the Royal Seal will still be one of the best trinkets for ferals. The General's Heart is a nicer version of Valor Medal and Essence. DM:G still remains one of the better avoidance trinkets, and adds armor. Defender's Code is still very strong in certain situations such as hard-hitting mobs - and trust me, there's plenty of those in Ulduar.

  1. Soul-Devouring Cinch - 60.84. Normal Yogg-Saron (hard).
  2. Furious Gladiator's Belt of Triumph - 57.41. Emalon, 1450 rating and 62000 honor
  3. Death-warmed belt -56.31. Leatherworking BoE from Heroic Ulduar.
  4. Waistguard of the Creator -54.79. Heroic Mimiron(easy)
  5. Belt of the Twilight Assassin -52.74. Emblems of Conquest
  6. Deadly Gladiator's Belt of Triumph -51.32. Arena
  7. Relic Hunter's Cord -50.66. Heroic Trash
  8. Titan-forged Belt of Triumph -50.64. Wintergrasp
  9. Hateful Gladiator's Belt of Triumph -46.47. Honor, Arena.
  10. Polar Cord -46.06. Leatherworking BoE.
  11. Nimble Climber's Belt -45.41. Normal Auriaya
  12. Sharp-Barbed Leather belt -43.98. Heroic Utgarde Keep
  13. Trollwoven Girdle -43.06. Leatherworking BoE.
  14. Stalk-skin Belt -41.43 .Heroic Heigan.
  15. Belt of the Tortured - 40.74. Heroic Patchwerk.
UPDATED 5/13: The belt slot for some reason got changed more than any other with the whole re-emphasis on stamina. And man, does this show how bad the itemization was for this slot before. That said, the soul-devouring cinch is one of the best itemized things in the whole game, especially for bears. The Furious PvP gear actually loses out here, though it being easy to obtain means that it might be worth it to go for. Given that the Soul devouring cinch comes from Yogg's hard mode, I'd say it might be a while before it's obtained.

I would still recommend considering something a bit more agi and DPS-friendly in this slot, and gemming accordingly. The craftable Death-Warmed belt does a really good job of everything save perhaps having any hit/expertise, but even without that it's very strong, and is a reasonable thing to spend those runed orbs on.

  1. Fluxing Energy Coils - 40.72. Normal XT-002 (hard)
  2. Furious Gladiator's Armwraps of Triumph - 39.18. Heroic Emalon, 1400 arena rating and 39400 honor
  3. Mechanist's Bindings -37.46. Heroic Leviathan (easy)
  4. Thrusting Bands -35.59. Heroic Noth.
  5. Deadly Gladiator's Armwraps of Triumph -35.48. 31600 honor
  6. Sinner's Bindings -34.98. Heroic Maexxna.
  7. Bindings of the Tunneler - 29.43. Heroic Utgarde Keep.
  8. Wristwraps of the Cutthroat -28.46. Emblems of Valor
UPDATED 5/13: The fluxing Energy coils are a decent thing, but because they're hard to obtain (XT hardmode on 10-man) and they're not that special as far as itemization goes, AND the PvP bracers are easy to obtain and almost as good...sorry, guys, you don't get the recommendation.

Ah, the wrist - the other bastard itemization son of Blizzard. One normal Ulduar, only one piece in general...chances are there's a lot more to find here. I wouldn't bother rolling on the Mechanist bindings. There's going to be something better.


  1. Furious Gladiator's Greatstaff - 145.07. 4250 arena points and 2200 arena rating
  2. Furious Gladiator's Staff - 140.09. 50000 honor and 1400 arena points and 1850 arena rating
  3. Origin of Nightmares -132.84. Heroic Grobbulus.
  4. Twisted Visage -130.06. Heroic XT-002 (easy)
  5. Tortured Earth - 127.39. Normal General Vezax (hard)
  6. Lotrafen, Spear of the Damned -124.98. Heroic Vezax (easy)
  7. The Undeath Carrier -118.72. Heroic Heigan.
  8. Staff of the Plague Beast - 118.10. Normal Heigan.
  9. Hoperender - 115.88. Normal Thorim (easy)
  10. Journey's End - 115.52. Heroic Kel'Thuzad.
  11. Silvery Sylvan Stave/Staff of Feral Furies - 114.33. Argent Tourney Quartermaster.
  12. Staff of the Plaguehound - 113.38. Normal Kel'Thuzad.
  13. Inevitable Defeat - 110.05. Heroic Naxxramas
  14. Black Ice - 107.38. Normal Malygos.
  15. Relentless Edge - 105.05. Normal Ignis.
  16. Staff of Trickery - 104.87. Heroic Violet Hold
  17. Spire of Withering Dreams - 101.95. Normal Ulduar (easy)
  18. Earthshaper - 101.90. Heroic Yogg-Saron (easy)
  19. Ironsoul - 91.31. Flame Leviathan (easy)
UPDATED 5/13: The Furious staves have been nerfed from their original ridiculously high values - but even with that nerf they're better than Origin of Nightmares and still best in slot. If you're wondering where Dark Edge of Depravity or Dreambinder are - they're not in Wowhead yet, so they don't show up here. Dark Edge should be the better overall tanking weapon for ferals, though for pure mitigation/survival nothing is going to beat Origin. Dark Edge should likely be better for threat as well, given that nice amount of hit.

I am also likely going to revise this when those weapons hit wowhead, because the amount of armor that origin provides is simply not being counted well enough here.

If you're curious, it drops from Yogg-Saron's hard mode. Dreambinder drops from any hardmode, though it came originally from Algalon.

And finally...


  1. Idol of the Corrupter. Heroic Vezax (easy).
  2. Idol of Terror. Badges of Justice.
That's it. If you have your old Terror, that's as good as it gets. It's a huge upgrade, mind you, but that's it. And yes, if you only do 10-mans you're out of luck. If you don't get lucky, you're out of luck. It's a very bothersome situation, but there it is.

Thanks again for reading, and I'll be updating this as the week goes on.