Wednesday, September 16, 2009

[Druid]Continuing the conversation about arpen

Last week I talked a bit about armor pen mechanics and why it's good (or not), and was helped immensely by Jacemora, Vallen and Alaron. The conversation continued quite a bit, and specifically Alaron put up another great piece on it, using high-geared ferals and calculating their graphs with respect to armor pen and how it improves them - and changed his conclusions to boot.

And like him, I'd like to reiterate something - something that Runy stated recently too: please use brain.

Everyone's gear, playstyle and needs are going to be different. Yes, armor pen is projected by a number of theorycrafters and simulations to be the best stat to stack when you get 'enough', where 'enough' is a wide-ranging number. And yes, I've given a rule of thumb for when you should make the switch. But whether that's best or not for you really depends There are so many variables that you can't reasonably answer it all, but here are some common ones:

  • 10 vs 25? If you're not getting a ton of raid buffs regularly or do smaller raids, chances are armor pen isn't going to be as solid due to not having as much base AP.
  • Bear or cat? Armor pen is a good threat stat for bears, but it doesn't hold a candle to agility for overall usefulness. If you're going bear a lot and have a lot of shared gear, don't use arpen in it!
  • Hit/expertise? Armor pen tends to do better as you're closer to the hit/exp cap, mostly because it benefits from less spiky behavior - and misses contribute to local spikes.
  • Crit rate? If you've got a low crit rate, the chances of getting bad cycles are going to be much higher (where you're missing uptime on rips, etc). If you're not at at least 50% crit rate I'd recommend not bothering with arpen no matter what you can get it to.
  • Types of fights? Fights where you can do more burst damage tend to favor agility; if you need to pile in a lot of damage quickly, agility often wins out by sheer luck. Fights with more sustained DPS are wins for arpen. ToC has both at various times; it very much depends on your role.
But the most important one is this: What are you comfortable with? If you like having more CPs and not worrying about things as much, agility is better. If you want smoother cycles, make sure hit/exp are capped. If you want more consistent damage but less spiky good damage, go with arpen. None of these are bad answers, and all will work well. No matter what theory says none of these are so different from each other that you should be mocked for your choice, and the sole arbiter of whether or not you're doing better with it is you.

Honestly, I think Jacemora's going to be disappointed because he simply likes how agility feels better compared to armor pen. It has nothing to do with whether or not arpen theorycrafts better than agility and everything to do with that personal feeling.

That personal feeling is not something you can theorycraft. It's up to you to figure it out.

In any case, both agility and armor pen are very, very good. What I would really recommend is that if you are on the fence, pick one or the other. Don't waffle and hybridize. High crit rates make some really interesting cycles possible; high arpen make some amazing damage possible. A mix of the two makes nothing special.


Grumpy Misanthrope said...

Not apropos of this post, I have a question - are we back to the point where bear and cat require seperate sets of gear or should I still plan on sharing most of my gear between the two? Right now, I'm sharing a fair amount and anything shared gets agi gems of some sort. It's over 50% of my gear, but I haven't been raiding much since Ulduar came out so I really haven't been watching gear posts.

Anonymous said...

I lost Hellion Glaive to a ret paladin in my guild last night....made me throw up a bit in my mouth

Anonymous said...

But isn't that the point? The devs don't want a clear signpost to 'stack crap loads of this to rulz-land'.

Part of me is irritated by ambiguity as I want to ensure I have a clear understanding of how to max out my dps, but another part rejoices that stats can be a little more 'interpretive'.

I've just started to stack arp, but not before I started hovering in the 58% crit raid buffed zone. I'm not sure if thats the best thing to do, but it seems to 'feel ok' to me (but then arp hasn't been nerf batted yet... at least I don't think!). I am sure I am seeing some level of benefit, but it isn't neon sign posted yet. Early days and now hard to get a stable group together to grab Grim Toll or to try for Thorim Hard Mode.

Anyhoo. Thanks for your blogs :)

Alaron said...

Kalon, thanks again for the kind words. Your variable summation is exactly the type of thing I was looking for before I detoured into the mathematical weeds. ;)

One theoretical quibble- I'd argue that burst damage fights are better for arpen, overall. Sure, you can roll a lucky string of crits with agi, but you can also roll an unlucky string. :) For burst damage, you'll have more time under the effect of CD's, which boosts your base stats, which favors ArPen.

You can still share cat gear just fine...the only problem is that you're missing out on a bear tank's greatest advantage (stam stacking), which leaves you vulnerable to burst. It's fine for heroics/Naxx/whatever, though.

Jacemora said...

Actually, what I am doing now is adding ArP through gems as I get ToC upgrades which improves my Crit.

Where the old balancing act was agility/strength (Toskk) I would argue that since the ArP buff and Rip crits that has changed to agility/ArP balancing.

I really wish I would just get the ArP trinket already off of Thorim so I can softcap and be done with it... lol... maybe tomorrow night.

Anonymous said...

So much written about ArPen lately on the various blogs, Ive read it all and Im not sure Im any the wiser! Actually, thats not true, Ive learned a hell of a lot but I still arent sure what to gem for. Comments seem to range from "go with what feels best" to "go ArPen at 800" to "go Agi" and lately "go ArPen if your gear is 226 or better"...guess I can at least conclude its not straightforward any more :)

My gear is decent I think without being marvelous (Dabeasty, Lightbringer EU). I have been gemming, eating food etc for ArPen for a while now (to get 667 ArPen) and it seems to do ok for me. I've tried very hard to get Grim Toll from Naxx with no success. I think I will probably stick with ArPen for now (dont fancy paying to regem) and see what happens when the "nerf" patch comes in.

Kalon said...

Grumpy, I think you can still reasonably have some shared pieces (belt, boots, chest, gloves) that are gemmed for agility. It might not be optimal, but chances are it'll be good. This is especially true if you have one of the arpen trinkets and can go arpen everywhere else; that should put you very close to the cap and giving you a lot of agi.

Anon, that's sad - but it's great for them too.

Anon2 - I think part of the point is that I didn't stack arpen exclusively, it just happened - so if you're low on arpen now, just get some upgrades. I really didn't notice a big change in my damage until about 500 armor pen. Then it became quite large. Now I'm opening with 14k shreds on a banner of victory proc. It's kinda nuts.

Alaron, I think consistent burst is better for armor pen, but you'll end up getting better results if during the 'burst' period more of your results are crits. Going from 50 to 60% crit rates in a 30 second period gives you a lot more opportunity for FBs in that time, and that's what really matters. Sure, getting a big FB is nice, but if you can get two FBs instead that's much better - and that happens much more often with a higher crit rate.

Jace, that's a very astute observation, and it's very likely true - and more accurately, it (unlike the old times) means that there is an actual balancing point. Before it was pretty well shown that agi wins always - now, not so much with agi/arpen.

Anon, that's the whole point - it's not straightforward, and you really need to use your brain and common sense to get where you want to go. You won't be horrible with going one way or another - but you might be better or happier another way.