Tuesday, December 1, 2009

[Druid] Icecrown analysis for cats

Well, as promised...uh...about two weeks ago, I'm here to discuss the Icecrown gearing for cats. Sorry for the delay in posting and commenting; the holidays and work have taken up a lot of time.

If you want a quick glimpse into my rating system and what I've seen (as well as the new weights), the list is here. The primary changes on this list are that armor pen is increased slightly, haste is increased and crit is decreased. Again, do not use this list without some intelligent decisions; hit and expertise aren't that great when you have hit the caps, don't go overboard on arpen if you're at the cap...basically, be mindful of those caps I talked about earlier.

Speaking of, here's the first conclusion from what I linked: the armor pen cap of 1400 is going to be what most people should seek out, as a hard cap. With simply taking everything in slot that was agi gear and which had armor pen, and not optimizing in any other way (no hit/expertise), and not doing anything with gems - you can get using the above listing a total of 1270 armor pen rating.

That's before food buffs and before any gems. Adding gems to that would result in somewhere around 300 more armor pen, depending. And this isn't with a full set of known gear, nor is it with a full set of heroic gear. I will confess that it has some sweet gear in there - Deathbringer's Will, the full heroic Lasherweave set - but a bunch of that gear is also from ToC.

Point being is that it should be pretty obtainable, and certainly something to strive for.

The problem here is that with the new Needle-Encrusted scorpion that drops from the heroic 5-man, you're kind of encouraged to drop armor pen hard capping. From all the tests I've seen hard capping is the way to go...but that means you'll want to use the scorpion or runestone until you get enough arpen gear to switch.

So when should you switch to hard capping? I would argue that it's probably reasonable to do so when you obtain that awesome trinket. If you don't get Deathbringer's Will, it's going to be hard to cap for a while. If you don't have Death's Choice either, then you're trading down quite a bit. I haven't run the numbers and don't have a perfect value for you here, but for me personally I'm planning on switching when I can reasonably get to 1100 armor pen. I will try and figure out exactly what the cutoff is, and post it to you.

In any case, it's going to be a while before that needs to be decided anyway. So plan on grabbing armor pen where you can, try and get older pieces with it just in case, and in the meantime go for the softcap.

The second point is the hit/expertise issue. As I mentioned previously, the expertise and hit on leather gear looks...pretty sad. Or at least looked; one piece of tier gear got changed to have expertise on it.


There's no hit on any piece of tier gear. In fact, the total number of items in 3.3 that are druid-friendly and have any hit of all is...only 18, at least so far as we know. And of those, three are one-hand weapons. Sigh. So there are 15 items total - and most are rings. Only 4 known ilvl 264 (that's normal mode 25 man), and only a couple decent rings. So hit is going to be in short supply. That being said, this sack of wonder is going to be a boon for a lot of cats and bears, I think. The issue is that this conflicts with the high arpen on the tier pieces. Sigh.

So just looking at the non-tier slots, you can get a decent 10-man cloak, a 25-man ring, a rep ring, an okay neck...and that's about all of any significant ilvl. Which would add up to 206 rating.

So chances are that optimally, you'll want to get at least one nontier piece to have reasonable amounts of hit/crit. Another solution is actually to go with the much-maligned Grim Toll; the hit will give a better return than higher crit will, and the slightly lower arpen will allow you to get more out of the arpen on the gear you want.

Expertise is, as mentioned, a bit easier to get. The tier legs have expertise now, there's a good set of crafted boots or a bought chest via emblems- basically, things you might already want to get. Since the cap is so low for expertise anyway assuming you're taking primal precision, it shouldn't be hard to hit that cap with one or two pieces at most. I personally would likely go for that 10-man cloak and that wonderful sack.

The tier bonuses are worth talking about too, and for the first time this expansion I'm going to utter the phrase "Get the tier pieces ASAP". The 2-piece bonus is decent but not phenomenal; a savings on your finisher is good, but on average this will save you about 30 energy every minute at best. That's an extra shred every 80 seconds or so, which is good but nothing that you'll freak out about.

The 4-piece bonus is worth freaking out about. Rake critting will add an additional 60% damage at icecrown levels of gear (because you'll be critting 60% of the time, most like). Since Rake accounts for roughly 10% of your overall damage if you're doing a good rotation, this is essentially a 6% upgrade in DPS by itself. That the tier pieces are magnificently itemized for cats is also a bonus - but really, you should be going after the tier pieces ASAP.

In case you missed it, you need to get the beginning level tier piece before you can get the 25-man piece. Which one you should get personally is going to be heavily dependent on the rest of your other gear, but the legs rank the highest, followed closely by the chest and head. The 251 chest is a slight downgrade from the offtier piece in ToC, the gloves are a slight downgrade from the Sunreaver assassin gloves from heroic ToGC 10, the head is better than anything in ToGC, the legs are a slight downgrade from the offtier piece, and the shoulders are a slight downgrade from the heroic 258-level tier piece. Based on that alone, I'd say get the head first, then the shoulders, then the gloves and then the legs - but you should do what makes most sense to you.

The other thing to spend your emblems on is this amazingly awesome belt. That's not hard to be that awesome given that it's the only belt so far found in 3.3, but it's very good for cats and one of the very few belts in the game that has armor pen on it. I wouldn't get this before getting your 4-piece, but it's certainly something to save up for.

The new idol is also out, and it's...I'm not thrilled. In theory this is going to be 10% better than the last idol at full strength. The problem is uptime. Any fights where your rake will regularly drop off (the proc only lasts 15 seconds) and this becomes a compounding problem on the cats' already problematic long buildup time. On stationary fights this is good, but any time you're dealing with multiple mobs (so not raking much), any time there are phase changes, any time there's a lot of movement...this is not as good as other options. For the first few weeks at least, the fights consist of a tank&spank with a phase change, a ton of adds, a ton MORE adds, and then finally Saurfang - who may be a tank& spank kinda. That doesn't scream "OMG spend badges to get 20 more agi sometimes" t0 me. So wait on it.

Finally, on weapons - only one really awesome one has been found, and that's Distant Land. It has 3356 Feral AP, in case you didn't find that out yet. Lightborne Spire is the quest reward for the long Quel-Delar questline for ferals, and it's certainly good - but it's better for bears than cats. I actually think I'll hold on to my Twin's Pact for a bit; the arpen is going to be valuable. I also believe that there are going to be a lot more options here soon. Heck, not a single polearm has been found. My gut feeling is that these haven't even been made yet, and they're waiting or working on them as we speak.


Asp said...

I'm happy they put expertise on one of the tier pieces, but damn is it annoying it's on the legs. As a cat, I'm running 2pc (head and shoulders) with offtier pieces at the moment, so if I pick up the T10 head first, I'll have 0 expertise before primal precision. If I pick up the legs first, I'll have a ton of expertise and less than 200 hit (because Jaraxxus never drops his stupid ring in 10 man) from dropping my 258 legs.

And I'm worried that with nontier loot hopefully being undiscovered yet, I'll spend precious badges on the wrong piece. If Blizz had just gone and put that expertise on the chest...

Dennis said...

Certainly the most interesting decision will be when to go from softcap+ arp proc trinket to hardcap and whatever else trinkets you have. I'm afraid this will be a VERY complicated thing to figure out for most people since it depends alot on what trinkets you have available to sub in for the arp proc one.

And with the expansion/pre expansion icc nerf patch up next after ICC, what will happen with all that arp turning into mastery?

also looking forward to your next bear-related post :)

Masochistic Bear said...

I'm contemplating using http://db.mmo-champion.com/i/49919/cryptmaker/ as my weapon, depending on what polearms appear when 3.3 hits live. It's got the elusive hit as well as ArP. Is this a terrible idea?

Bob said...

As for the idols, I see the new one as an obvious upgrade for tanking, but a situational upgrade for dps. Any fight where I would ever lose the stack, I think the 200agi at ~100% uptime is better than 220agi at <100% uptime. I'll probably hang on to both and swap them depending on the fight. I'm really excited about the new idol for tanking though. 153-220 is a much bigger upgrade than 200-220 and there shouldn't be as much of an uptime issue while you are tanking.

Fêtentré - Sargeras EU said...

Hello Kalo, i'm note so sure about the +6% for the 4 pieces. in fact our rake will crit but i suspect that it will only be a +50% damage from the crit and not the +100% we are used to.

Taking +50% it would be a +3% overall damage and not +6%. Not so bad but not so abused than a +6%^^

par said...

Brilliant as usual, though I think a fair amount of the BiS/ArPen stacking and hardcap this/softcap that stuff you're talking about only really applies to people clearing TOGC25 before 3.3 drops next week.

Anyway, made a Heroic Anub'arak Kiting Flowchart to help out myself and my guild. Check it out.


Anonymous said...

"My gut feeling is that these haven't even been made yet, and they're waiting or working on them as we speak."

They are there but you need to remember that many encounters were not tested very much and so we have barely seen the full loot tables of many of the bosses (and none from Arthas).

Jason said...

Excellent post. This is the first time that I've seen your blog, and I very much appreciate the insight in to cat DPS gear and numbers.

Aerivore said...

Hi Fellhoof!

The boys told me about your blog. =O

coldbear said...

Could you do column on how you approach your gearing decisions and what you would recommend for ferals in significantly less cutting-edge gear than yourself?

I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts about just simply going for soft/hardcapping various stats versus just letting Rawr do that thinking for you?

My issue is this:

Average player X is in significantly-less-than-BiS gear, far below the hit cap, decent skill, suboptimal raid comp but gets to a new instance like ICC10 and something drops with huge amounts of Str or Crit or even Hit and is two tierlevels above the same-slot piece he had from Ulduar10/25.

He remembers looking at an ArPen list with a bunch of numbers and that last he checked he was at right above the threshold to gem for ArPen. He doesn't roll/spend DKP on the item and it goes to someone's offspec because it doesn't have ArPen on it. Your misinformation just cost him and therefore his raid an upgrade.

Sure, the numbers in this example may be way off, but the point still stands - giving people hard and fast ArPen/Agi/Crit % numbers to follow just means that they'll tunnel vision on those numbers and keep an old item that has that stat on it, over an item that's not "ideally" itemized to your preference.

Bob said...


Your example is a bit ridiculous. If someone had a uld10 piece, literally anything that dropped in ICC10 would be an upgrade and using Felhoof's numbers it would tell you the same thing. Now if your hypothetical feral wants to save dkp for only BIS items, that's his/her choice and I don't think you can really blame that on Felhoof.

It is true that stat weights change based on your current gear (thus that little disclaimer about use common sense in regard to hard and soft caps) but the weights he has there will be pretty close regardless of what gear you have. If you want something a bit more dynamic, Rawr and Toskk's Gear Calculator work quite well.

Joshua Muñoz said...

I know there are other blogs out there for this, but, perhaps we could talk tank strategy sometime? I just hit 80 (quested all the way) and am having a hard time tanking stuff now because I don't have a good rotation for multi mob pulls. Single mob is no problem, just growl if you lose it, but with 2+ mobs I kept seeing my high DPS'ers pulling and Growl has a 6 second CD...


javier said...

@ Joshua

Swipe and Glyphed Mail are your friends here.
The first hit on your primary target shouldn't be mauled because it usually arrives before any other mobs. Once the other mobs arrive use a maul then swipe a couple of times and you should be good to go. Remember if you are grouping with players who have been 80 for a while they will out gear you and therefor put out lots of damage which makes multi mob threat harder to maintain.
Let them know that you have just turned 80 and to go easy on the agro!

Anonymous said...

Playing around with Rawr I seem to be able to achieve much higher dps numbers going for soft cap Ar Pen (with needle trinket) and gemming a combo of agi, hit and even some str (once I hit 75% crit) than I do going for the Ar Pen hard cap (and perhaps sacrificing some other stats). My gut still tells me hard cap will end up being better.

Kalon said...

Josh - I'll see about doing a quickie list of 'how to tank' some time, though some of that information is in the bear FAQ.

Anon - you may be right, but I suspect that Rawr doesn't know about all the gear you can get, and it doesn't do incremental values well. I'll play around with it more now that the armory has been updated, but I'd be shocked if hard cap armor pen wasn't the way to go. This is especially true on fights that you can't rely on being still during your trinket procs; if it's not a tank&spank or if swipe is at all used, hard cap armor pen is going to win handily.

Hades said...

I was doing some calculations of my own, and the hard cap model with armor pen seemed like a viable option to go. I got my deathbringer's will the first week (luckily). But using the hard cap model, wouldnt the 600 armor pen proc be a total waste?

I'm also up to 75.56% crit when I get the agility proc on the trinket, which is half a point above the crit soft cap. Would you consider worth it to bother gemming agility or armor pen having this problem? Im just very confused as I don't know if I should go for the hard cap and ignore the waste on the proc, or stay at both soft caps and gem for either str or haste.

Awesome read btw, been reading your blog for quite some time <3

Kalon said...

Hades - you're absolutely right that if you're hard capped the 600 arpen proc is completely useless. That's okay though, as the other two procs are completely awesome and the equip bonus is very good.

The agi bonus is going to not be as ideal as it could be given that it pushes white crits and FBs past 100%, but that's really not that big a deal for the most part - and it still grants 600 AP.

My plan is to get either Death's Choice or Deathbringer's Will and go for arpen after that. Before that, I'll stick with hitting the soft cap and runestone.

Slingsandarrows said...

just a suggestion for ferals on where to spend the first emblems. i thought about it for a long while before finally deciding, and here's what i came up with:

first, buy the t10 chest. why? chest is the only piece that uses more or less the same enchant and gems for both bear and cat. so if you're a dual-feral dual spec, you get 2 pieces for the price of one (and the price - 95 tokens - is pretty high).

second, you can upgrade it later to t10.5 then t10.75 (or however you wanna do the decimals), so your investment will never be obsoleted (well, until t11 comes out).

don't worry about tier gear not having hit on it. why? cuz if your bank's anything at all like mine, it's overflowing with ilevel 245 232 and 226 gear with so much hit that was never used (cuz i was always at the hit cap). you should have plenty of pieces around to fill out the missing hit. Also, the reputation ring is there for everyone, which has an increasing amount of hit on it as it levels up.

third, the tough choice is between the awesome belt and the awesome cloak. for me, it'll prolly be the belt (for the same reason i chose the chest first; it can do double duty as bear and kitty gear).

if you're 100% kitty, you might go for the cloak first... that's a crazy sweet cloak.

Kalon said...

slingsandarrows - until you get your 4p, you shouldn't be spending any emblems on anything other than that. There's no way a cloak is going to be worth 600 DPS, but it's very realistic to expect the 4p to be worth that much.

You also don't need to worry about hit - but for another reason, which is that it's not necessary to get hit capped. But it's nice, and it's increasingly more valuable as you get closer and closer to the arpen/crit caps.