Thursday, April 28, 2011

[Cat] In case you weren't pumped up for Fireland raiding

One thing I missed from blizzard's various previews of Firelands in the last couple days is this gem from Kotaku:

This time around they have, however, resulting in some sexy Ragnaros-styled armor, a new non-legendary version of his mace, Sulfuros, and a druid staff that drops off one of raid's other bosses that transforms the wielder into a molten cat.

The new dungeon even boasts three new mounts; one for competing all of the raid achievements, one random drop, and a special mount that drops every time Ragnaros fails. Just don't expect him to be a pushover this time around. Judging by Stockton's laughter at my suggestion, 25 frost mages isn't going to cut it.


I might want that. Just a little bit.

ETA: one interesting part seen in the blizzard videocast at 10:10 is that he mentions that the staff will allow you to change into Staghelm's feral FORMS. He mentions the cat, but we know Staghelm has at least two forms - cat and scorpion. I suspect but do not know that as a bear you'll get to turn into a molten scorpion.

Friday, April 22, 2011

[Bear] The flood of bear gear in 4.1

You've probably seen a bunch of posts on the great set of gear you can get from ZA/ZG when 4.1 hits - how there's finally some bracers that aren't blue, or another shot to get a weapon when malevolence hates you. Or heck, how to get twice as much VP per week from heroics as you could before.

All of that is true.

But that's not the real source of awesome. The real source of awesome comes from this little gem:

Conquest Points are now purchasable from the Valor Quartermasters at 250 Conquest Points per 250 Valor Points.

What does this mean? It means that you can now get any pvp item that doesn't require any rating no matter who you are, provided that you have the VP for it. Which turns out to be a fairly substantial list of gear. So hey, no more pvping for pve gear! You can now pve for pvp gear instead. Which...I guess you'd probably use for pve.

Here's the comparison with gear obtainable outside of pvp. Some interesting highlights:

  • The PvP helm, with mastery, is a great bear helm and better than anything non-heroic. This is a hard spot for a lot of people to get anything, and that it beats anything you can get until really rare drops makes it pretty nice. At 2200 conquest points - the same, essentially as legs and chest - this is a good deal, especially considering that the best alternatives come from drops from heroic Nef and Cho'gall (and Al'akir, kinda) Note that if you have Tsanga's Helm the difference is probably not worth getting it.
  • Similarly the PvP shoulders are a pretty nice deal and better than anything but heroic gear. If you get the head and the shoulders you also get 70 agility, which is a nice little bonus. It doesn't make it better than getting heroic pieces, but it should salve having two pieces of PvP gear. This isn't quite as great a deal as the helm given that you can get good shoulders off of Omnotron, but it's still pretty good - especially if you're not doing a lot of heroic raiding. The difference here is actually higher than the helm for the comparable nonheroic piece, so still reasonable to consider. They're also a huge upgrade from the troll drop.
  • The pvp chest is interesting; it's a very big jump between it and the normal tier chest (which is pretty badly itemized for bears) - bigger than the jump between the normal pieces and the pvp pieces in the head and shoulder slots combined. At the same time, you already likely have the tier chestpiece. Still, consider it; it's a nice piece of gear that is priced to move.
  • The PvP gloves are about as 'better' as the 359 best gloves as the helm is - so it's a decent upgrade. The big advantage is the energy/rage cost reduction of skull bash, which is great if you're the interrupter. Thus, these are a pretty good buy at some point even if you're just replacing Liar's Handwraps.
  • The pvp bracers are actually worse than the normal drop, but they're also very easy to get. And they are significantly better (about 5%) than the troll drop.
  • Fasc gets his own boots, but they're significantly worse than the BoE valor boots and much much MUCH worse than the PvP boots. Somehow, I think Fasc would have wanted it that way - to be beaten by pvp gear.
  • The pvp weapon is about as good for a bear as the troll weapon due to the lower ilvl on it and the wasted resilience. Of course, the real win here is the BoE Mobius' Halberd, which drops from the rare worldspawn and is just slightly worse than Malevolence
  • Finally, the relic slot is actually best in slot now for bears in pvp land. The haste on the other relic is essentially worthless, and the slight gain in agility and stamina make up for the lost stat otherwise.
Most everything else is a slight upgrade in the slot - the boots, belt, gloves are all slight upgrades and the legs are basically a wash. But that should give you plenty of things to consider spending your valor points on for a while, especially if you're working on some hard hitting content like Nef and want some easy upgrades for tanking.

As to cats? It's not quite as simple. Every troll piece beats the corresponding PvP piece as far as a cat is concerned. And honestly, most of the time it's not even close. All that wasted secondary stat really hurts. Even on the wrists, though it's close. So unless you're very unlucky or sitting on a lot of valor points, getting this stuff isn't as good as just going to troll town.

Friday, April 1, 2011

[Bear] The best case for Savage Defense

TL;DR version:
If you take anything from this article, take this bit: to maximize SD uptime make sure that mauls happen on your special attacks' cooldown, so the rotation for multitarget mobs looks like this:

Obviously you can do demo roar or lacerate or whatever on that mangle bit, but maul is the key thing here. That also means to maximize your SD procs now, you should be doing something like this:
Though in practice this doesn't work as you need to have the swipe & thrash right away to get the best threat.

Anyway, onto the article.

Savage defense is getting a nice buff in the 4.1 patch, in case you hadn't heard. It will go from having one charge that is used up regardless of attack strength (more on that in a second) to an absorption shield that will absorb the same amount of damage maximum that it could before, but will not go away with partial hits.

So yay! It's now a fully fledged PW:S that only works on physical attacks! That's awesome, and it fixes bears and makes it just as good as shield block or DK heals or...

Okay, that's not true. Sadly.

As Ahti put it very well on the tanking forums recently:

The problem is that the upper bound on this is set extremely low compared to
blocking (and compared to Blood Shield, I guess, although I'd prefer to stick
with the blocking comparison for simplicity's sake). And many encounters already
have add situations that push past that upper bound.You don't need that many
adds hitting you (and they don't need to be hitting that hard) before you reach
the point where the probability is that every single Savage Defense proc is
consumed before you can possibly generate another one. Past that point, you'll
continue to take more damage, but Savage Defense won't get any better - whereas
for a warrior or paladin, block will scale upwards indefinitely.

Yep. But what is that upwards bound? Let's go with the best case scenario here.

Let's assume that you get an SD proc whenever you can. That means you get one every 2.4 seconds (minus haste) for each autoattack, and you get one every 1.5 seconds for every special attack, and you get one every 3 seconds for every maul. This averages out to a SD proc every 1.03 seconds. Note that this is insanely optimistic - it assumes a crit on each of those attacks AND a SD proc on each crit ,which is only 50% of the time. But again - this is the maximum upper bound you can possibly get.

For ease of computation we'll go with a 20k shield. That means every 1.03 seconds we can absorb 20,000 damage intake before taking any more physical damage. Again, sounds pretty awesome - and then it refreshes magically after that 1.03 seconds later. (note that it doesn't; SD doesn't happen every 1.03 seconds but happens on attack boundaries, so you can get times where you don't have much happening and then times when you have many procs - but 1.03 seconds is the average and will be easy to work with.

Now, let's go comparing to a blocker, who always blocks 30% of all damage. They're block capped, so they will always reduce damage by 30% no matter what.

Where do these things become equivalent? That's pretty easy to figure. It's simply when 20k/1.03 seconds = 30% of incoming DPS. And that turns out to be 64.7k DPS.

This means that whenever you're taking more than 64.7k DPS, no matter what, Savage defense will be worse than block. Of course that changes as you add more SD shielding.

The real trick is that the above is completely insane with respect to the number of expected procs, especially in a single target scenario. For a multitarget you can expect multiple crits per swipe/thrash, so you'll often see a shield every 1.5 seconds. But you'll also be without a swipe/thrash every 4.5 seconds - and you're not guaranteed to get a shield even when you swipe.

Realistically how many shields do bears get? It's tough to say. Another problem is that shields can get overwritten without being used at all, especially on attack boundaries where the normal attack lines up with the special attack. And since Maul always lines up with a special attack, any time you get a crit with the special attack and a shield with it (like with swipe) chances are that you're not going to get two shields worth anything.

Actually, that's a good point: to maximize SD uptime on multimob packs you should always - ALWAYS - time it so that a maul happens when both swipe and thrash are on CD. So it should look a lot like this:
swipe/thrash and maul/swipe/mangle and maul as the rotation for trash.

But realistically you get one every time you swipe or thrash and then one kinda randomly after that. The random part is the most frustrating part; some times shields will be completely wasted as they get refreshed every .6 seconds or so, like this:

[19:23:22.825] Maeltne Mangle Halfus Wyrmbreaker *30730*
[19:23:22.878] Maeltne casts Maul on Halfus Wyrmbreaker
[19:23:23.148] Maeltne's Savage Defense is refreshed by Maeltne
[19:23:23.228] Maeltne Maul Halfus Wyrmbreaker *18089*
[19:23:23.666] Maeltne's Savage Defense is refreshed by Maeltne
(this one is fine, as both the mangle and the maul procced SD)

[19:23:50.678] Maeltne crits Halfus Wyrmbreaker *12134*
[19:23:51.194] Maeltne casts Thrash
[19:23:51.448] Maeltne Thrash Storm Rider *8881*
[19:23:51.448] Maeltne Thrash Nether Scion 4456
[19:23:51.448] Maeltne Thrash Halfus Wyrmbreaker *9167*
[19:23:51.285] Maeltne's Savage Defense is refreshed by Maeltne
[19:23:51.590] Maeltne's Savage Defense is refreshed by Maeltne
[19:23:51.590] Maeltne's Savage Defense is refreshed by Maeltne
(this one's more frustrating, as that second SD proc just goes to waste)
All those refreshes are basically wasted here.

Ugh, this is making me mad about SD all over again. This is also why it's much more important to look at SD uptime and not number of SD procs when doing SD analysis. Or if you like, just look at the amount of damage SD absorbed.
Anyway - the important thing to note is that while having partial SD absorbs is nice, it doesn't fix a lot of the issues with SD. SD still doesn't scale infinitely like block does, so at some points it simply will be worse than block for mitigation of damage (like on heroic Nefarian currently). At other points it will be better. Sometimes it (like WotLK-era block) will be WAY better than avoidance or partial blocks, as it will reduce far more than 30%; a great example of this is when you can assume you'll get a SD shield every 1.5 seconds and you won't get physically attacked for more than your shield strength, you'll be effectively invulnerable during this time. When 4.1 hits, try out going to Kara and seeing how silly it is. My gut feeling is that you'll be able to do most trash that doesn't have heavy magical components without losing almost any health.
This, among other things, makes old-world content far easier. 15k shields every 1.5 seconds when you're taking 15k damage every 1.5 seconds sounds a lot like most heroics from before and some raid content. This wasn't nearly as good when one hit removed the shield and then the rest piled on (though with latency and the spell reflect bug, that wasn't always the case and often many attacks got absorbed), but now it should be significantly better.
But for current heroics and raids, it doesn't help a lot. The cases where you are going to get a shield and the shield would have been not used up AND would not be refreshed before being used up are small in raids. Most multimob scenarios in raids have mobs hitting for 10-12k each, and while it adds a bit more value here it doesn't add so much as you could reasonably expect to have a shield up fairly quickly. On mobs that hit for more than the shield strength anyway (Mal adds, as an example) this change does literally nothing for you.