Tuesday, November 1, 2011

[Druid]Pandarian Talents, cat bugs, and legendaries

So hey - I have another child. That seems a lot more pertinent than anything else I could post. He's more than a month old and is one of the easiest babies ever. Welcome to the internet, Joshua. It's a scary place, but at least there are lots of boobs everywhere you could look.

State of the current game: more broken crap

On cat bugs: I haven't seen this reported nearly enough, so I'm doing my part. Reesi of Inconspicuous Bear found a wonderful bug where bleed buff effects other than Mangle do not actually boost shred damage. This is especially important if you have a rogue putting up hemo, as hemo overwrites mangle. Note that trauma does work, but tendon rip (hunter) does not. As of this posting they have not addressed or fixed this. So cats - if you've found your damage dropping suddenly when a rogue switches specs for some reason, now you know why. The 'solution' if you want to call it that is to yell at your rogues or, more likely, put up mangle manually every time it drops. And yes, that messes up all sorts of things like Ovale.

Mists of Pandaria: fare thee well, Antitank

On MoP: I was not particularly impressed. Mostly because I think Blizzard didn't do a very good job selling it to the raiders. Lissanna loves that we don't know who the end boss is, but this also means there's not a lot of excitement about who the next boss is. This is the first patch announcement ever (expansion or patch) that does not focus on the raid as the primary thing to deal with. So if you're a raider there wasn't a lot of info for you as far as things go.

I will miss the bearcat ability. I will especially miss that ferals are no longer both bear and cat in word or deed. This was a feral's identity for their entire lives, and it is no longer the case. It can be incredibly frustrating as a tank to be balanced around cat abilities (and vice versa) and it caused all sorts of pain in pvp. Rationally I understand the change and realistically it will not make a lot of difference, but emotionally it makes me a bit sad. Goodbye, antitank.

I do not like the talent tree removal. I am happy with the new talent tree system to a point, but I like in games when they have a clear differentiation between people who know how to play and people who do not. When all you do to differentiate yourself from the countless other class/spec combo is pick 6 choices that don't mean a lot, it's not really that great. Furthermore, choice with consequence is a Fun Thing in gaming. That's ultimately what a lot of gaming is all about - making choices and then seeing if they work or fail. And they're removing that.

Monks: what druids have always wanted to be, sorta

Drunken tanks that look like bears but have cool animations? Melee DPS with lots of movement and no autoattack? Healers that get into melee and have good defense? Wow, that sounds great!

For druids, here's something that's going to be interesting: I will bet you a shiny nickel that there will be at least one legendary that will be usable for ferals this expansion. Why? Because I believe they will make sure monks get a legendary, healers already recently got one, they've already done the two paired weapon idea and a legendary agility staff makes a lot of sense as far as a Mighty Quest. I could be wrong; they could go for a legendary awesome sword or something. But for monks their iconic weapon is a staff; I think we'll see a legendary for them that also happens to be usable by ferals.

The meat - the new talent tree and how to make it right

But I don't want to dwell too much on this; what I want to talk about is the new talent trees and how they can work for hybrids. Multiple druid authors have talked about how the talent trees presented for druids do not offer particularly interesting choices for most specs, and that is ultimately a weakness of this model and hybrid specs. It's easy to offer choices for rogues when all three trees are DPS, but how do you offer choices that matter for a class that can tank, DPS and heal?

We've seen some similar options for things like Guardian of Ancient Kings. That's a model for one of the three cooldowns on a given tree, but it's going to feel a bit annoying if that's what it's always like except for four modes. Still, it's a starting point. Keep that in mind.

Here are some rules as to what not to do:
  1. Do not force a form. Anything that requires or puts you into a specific form is immediately unusable for a bear (unless it puts you in bear form). It's also unfun for most everyone else; why does a moonkin want to get stuck in cat randomly? These things hearken back to the days where warriors could only do certain essential things in certain stances. It was something they thankfully removed and should not do here. This sadly removes two of the three movement related abilities in the first tier right off the bat. The good news is that those abilities would be totally fine if they simply removed the 'in cat' part and this would make a good tier for druids. This is probably the biggest 'loss' throughout the tree; multiple tiers focus on 'cannot be cast in x' or 'when in y'. Don't do that!
  2. Do not focus too heavily on one spec. Tier two (an instant healing spell and a special healing spell) both do that here. Cenarion Ward should be part of the resto kit, not a talent that anyone can take; why would a cat or moonkin take this most of the time when they could instantly heal themselves 30%?
  3. Have a PvP 'tier' but make something useful for PvE. This is not a choice if there's only one thing remotely valuable for PVE. I'd be actually fine with an entire tier having nothing but PvP value talents - but do that!
  4. Shapeshifter: sorry, but shapeshifting as the 'thing to do' for druids is no longer a mechanic and hasn't been one since BC days when T5 came out. It's been 4 years since this mattered. Please don't force moonkin to go cat. (not that bears or resto care about that either). I actually like the 'emergency awesome druid' as a cooldown, but that needs to be put in some kind of tier where all the fun things are. It really shouldn't be the level 90 tier; that tier should be the OMG awesome tier where every talent is amazing and you want all of them.
So based on that, what works? I'm using the calculator over at wowhead for reference.

Tier 1 has one talent that is okay - Feline Swiftness. The rest would be fine if the cat functionality was removed. This in general is exactly the sort of talent tier that druids should have; everyone wants movement abilities, but short cooldown vs. long cooldown vs. passive boost are all useful in various places.

Tier 2 is entirely too healing-centric. The only one that is generic is Renewal. Nature's Swiftness is not good enough compared to it and Cenarion Ward is far too specific and too healery. Realistically Nature's Swiftness should also massively boost some DPS ability so that it can also be a DPS cooldown or make it a group heal ability instead of the personal heal of Renewal. Cenarion Ward should be replaced with something along this vein.

Tier 3 is actually almost fine. Faerie Swarm needs to not be bear-centric and be great in all forms (resto doesn't care). Mass Entanglement needs to be castable in bear or cat, though it's not that useful for cats. Typhoon is perfectly fine and usable regardless. I would like to see Faerie Swarm have more use in general and specifically for resto use.

Tier 4 is almost perfect except for Wild Charge. Wild Charge really should be in the movement tier. Incarnation and Force of Nature are both fine Guardian of Ancient Kings-style CDs that could each have their own pros and cons. They need a third ability like this. Wild charge is a perfectly great ability but it doesn't belong here.

Tier 5 suffers the 'usable only in form x' issue. It's flavorful but not good game mechanically. The abilities are also kind of useless outside of PVP or tanking as well; these (like tier 2) are far too tied into a specific form. Bear hug should be specific to tanking and be a tanking-talent (if that), Ursol's Vortex is probably a good pvp talent and demo roar is really something that should be baseline bear. This entire tier probably should be reworked.

Tier 6 is...offensive. If you look at other T6 abilities for other classes they get things that are simply amazing. Just...wow. Death knights get a LK ability. Paladins get three great CDs. Priests get two great CDs. Rogues get shadow dance and killing spree. Warlocks get three talents named after the biggest badasses of the burning legion.

Druids get the ability to become emergency crappy druids, to force you to shapechange to get maximal DPS (hah!) or to heal yourself, which they already saw in another tier. Really, disentanglement should be nerfed and replace Cenarion Ward in T2 ( make it 10% health every 30 seconds and it's probably good enough to compare with Renewal). But these other two choices? Bah. Becoming herobear every 6 minutes is neat, but it's not exactly something you're looking forward to doing. Master Shapeshifter is horrible in every way possible; a bad idea and a bad implementation of a bad idea. This whole tier needs considerable work. Probably the best thing to do is make the T4 talents really really great and move them to T6 so that you're looking forward to your amazing CDs that you can get then. Then, change T4 to be a fun tier, have Heart of the Wild stick around as one of the two talents, and add two more 'herobear' level talents there as well. What those might be? Not a clue right now. Possibly Nature's Swiftness as one candidate (in all forms). Maybe some incarnation of Cenarius that turns you into a centaur and allows you to do all casting while moving while also granting bear/cat some boost?

I do think that this talent system can work, but they're going to have to be very thoughtful about how to do it for hybrids. Paladins, Druids, Monks and Shamen are all going to be tough. Warriors, priests and DKs a bit less so.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

[Druid]Feedback for the devs

I'd recommend everyone go over to the battle net thread and post constructive, meaningful feedback for their class/spec of their choice. Lissanna has been doing the resto/moonkin stuff, and it's great. Here's mine, reposted from the forums.

[i]What type of content do you focus on? [PvE/PvP/Both][/i]PvE

[i]If PvE, what type of PvE? [Heroics/Raids/Other][/i]Primarily heroics. Some raids when I have time or when I can fill in with my guild.

[i]If PvP, what type of PvP? [Arenas, BGs, Rated BGs][/i]

[i]What are your biggest quality-of-life issues? For instance, no longer requiring ammo could be considered a quality-of-life improvement for hunters[/i]. For bears, it is a lack of meaningful interaction with other party members or with the mobs. Aside from berserk attacks feel less than interesting and there is very little visual or behavioral change when doing attacks on mobs. Because it requires shifting out of bear there is even less interaction with the rest of the party while tanking.
Rage gain is poor and inconsistent, and ultimately meaningless past the first few seconds.
Too little control over incoming damage. Savage defense works, but there's no control over it - and that's all a bear has other than the long-term cooldowns.
Too little raid utility for a bear. Faerie fire is basically it. Innervate, tranquility and rebirth are all unusable while tanking.
Cats: poor options when attacking from the front. A very long buildup time for maximum dps means that anything that dies quickly doesn't die from cat DPS. Positioning in general appears to be fickle and odd at times. Charge takes long and doesn't actually go to the target if the target is moving. Compared to other classes ferals do not have a lot of burst DPS CDs to use regularly.
[i]What makes playing your class more fun?[/i]The mobility of a cat/bear is awesome. The transformation into multiple forms and activating different abilities in those forms is great. Flight form is awesome. Being able to do things like hibernate is great now.
[i]What makes playing your class less fun?[/i]For the bear side, the fairly boring rotation and relative lack of interaction with mobs other than hitting them. The lack of root/fear breaks. Missing out on all the druid abilities and being locked into just bear stuff. The gearing is also fairly boring and is very ilvl-dependent; it would be nice to care a bit more about things other than stamina or agility.
For cats: fewer burst options , fewer mobility options than other classes. Less raid utility (thoguh the raid utility I have is awesome, there's just not that much of it). No sign of gear in forms aside from a very small set of pieces. Having to deal with multiple mobs is not so fun. Having to have multiple debuffs on a mob to start optimal DPS isn't fun either. Having no real satisfying 'nuke' is kind of sad too.

How do you feel about your “rotation”? (Rotation is the accepted order in which abilities are used to maximum efficiency.)For bears: it's fine, if a bit boring. Multiple target rotation is dull and robotic. Single target is fine, particularly maximizing mangles. Would be nice to have something else to do for actual tanking other than demo roar.
Cats: requires external tools to track well, but it's fairly nice after that. I miss the complexity of WotLK. I miss wanting to do something other than rip or savage roar. The ramp up to get to the rotation is long as well.

[i]What’s on your wish list for your class?[/i]For ferals to be actually designed from the ground up. Ferals feel to me like an organically created class, where they have been built up from a poor foundation. Abilities feel tacked on that don't seem to make sense (savage defense, blood in the water, tiger's fury) and don't work that well together (lacerate/pulverize). Gear choices, especially for tanking, feel flat and lifeless; there really aren't exciting pieces for cats or bears any more other than weapons. Compare to warriors or paladins where everything is at least designed thematically well if not working perfectly in execution and it feels like ferals are duct-taped together. Things work, but they aren't nice. I would also like more druidry in the feral tree. Not being able to use any spells in forms is a drag. Getting things like wild mushroom as the 'big' spell this expansion and not having any use for it as a bear or cat was disappointing, especially compared to Guardian of Ancient Kings.

I would also like to see more interesting animations for cats and bears. Particularly bears. Bear tanking doesn't feel mean and hard. When you shield bash or shockwave it looks impressive; when you pulverize it looks fairly boring. Cats are a bit better but only just.

[i]What spells do you use the least?[/i]As a bear, I don't use challenging roar very often; it tends to not work well enough when I'd need it and that it aggros everything tauntable (including the boss) is problematic. As a cat, I never use pounce or start in stealth.

Monday, June 27, 2011

[Cat] Stat weights and you part 2:it doesn't matter

Following up from an earlier post and Alaron's great recent post on the topic, I thought I'd talk about the futility of changing secondary stats given the current model.

So before - in that time when Alaron talked about the difference between Agility and Arpen - secondary stats varied all over the place. Agility was not as good as it is now (it only offered 1 AP), strength was fairly good, and the real debate for high-end druids was whether to go arpen-crazy or go agility. Arpen was an odd, nonlinear stat that gained value as you got more of it, which meant that having 1000 arpen was a very different value for arpen compared to having, say, 300.

This was all confusing and odd, but it meant one big thing: stat weighings really mattered.

But now? Now primary stats rule all, for everyone. The primary stat is the best stat by a long, long margin for all but the most confusing specs, and ferals aren't a shiny example. In this case, agility is 3 times better than the next secondary stat.

3 times!

So there's never a question about what to gem for: it's agility. There's never a question about sockets, really - unless you're getting 3x the value of agility, it's always worth it to get agility. In practice this means any socket bonuses get ignored unless they give +20 agility or are a red/prismatic socket. So as far as your gear goes - it's all agility, all the time.

That means for the most part DPS classes have almost no flexibility in what they gear for. There aren't many options for DPSers. They almost always have to get 4p of the latest tier, then they get one offpiece, then usually have a choice of one set of boots, belt and bracers or maybe two if they're lucky. They have one weapon that's king, perhaps two. Trinkets are very rarely make it or break it and don't offer reforging ability or gems most of the time anyway. Rings, amulets and cloaks are also one or two per slot at best. Now those things offer some customization, but most of the customization is in reforging and swapping one or two pieces, maybe.

How much does that really matter? The answer is...not a lot.

Let's take a current 372-geared raider like Reesi. Here are their total secondary stats:
haste: 503
hit: 398
crit: 1310
expertise: 780
mastery: 1667
dodge: 717

The total value for all secondary stats here is 5375. (for these purposes it doesn't matter that she reforged to dodge, since it's only the raw values we care about).

Now, let's take the preweighted values from wowhead for this:
Agility: 1
Mastery : .35
Haste: .32
Expertise : .29
hit: .28
crit: .28

Those are older weights from the 4.06 days, but for this experiment they'll suffice.

Let's do a thought experiment here: what if you could convert all secondary stats to the absolute best secondary stats possible. Let's say your gear was perfectly ideal (in this case haste/mastery on everything). We'll even split it 60/40 in favor of the best stat. What value do we get?

5375 * .60 * .35 + 5375 *.40 *.32 = 1816.75

That's the best we could possibly do.

So what's the worst? Well, we went for full hit/crit (and for this, we'll assume no hit capping). In that case, since they're the same value, you get the following:
5375*.6*.28 + 5375*.4*.28 = 1505.

So it's a huge difference, right? The optimal is 20% better than the suboptimal, and...

Oh, wait. That's just the value of the secondary stats. As far as a DPS gain, you can assume that one Hit/Exp correlates to about 1.0 DPS, which means that the difference here between the best possible value and the worst is...

1113 DPS.

So if you got the absolute perfect gear you would be 1k DPS better than someone with the worst possible gear choices. Which, given current DPS levels for most people at that gear level, is less than 5% difference.

This is why Alaron says things don't matter; it's not just that things are so close to each other that it really isn't a big deal one way or another. It's that realistically there's just not that much you can do with your gear. Your gems are spoken for you. Your gear doesn't have a lot of variety. As long as you're not going above hit/exp caps, stats aren't going to be wasted or horrible one way or another. This wasn't the case back in the day; gear choices and going full arpen could make a 20-30% difference in DPS. Now? not so much.

Note that this does not apply in one special case: Unheeded Warning. Thanks to the direct damage scaling increasing so much in the 4.2 patch this trinket is getting a large boost too; it is competitive with the heroic agility trinkets. Once again, ferals are going to likely be using a trinket that is from a prior tier well into the next one. Just don't use it on fights with tons of adds.

What this really means is that how well you do on a given fight is very much dependent on the fight itself, and not your gearing choices. If you do a lot of AoE, you'll find hit/exp/crit to be better than haste/mastery. If you do a lot of start & stop of fights (like Atramedes) mastery will be better. If you have a standup fight haste is going to be better. More berserks? Haste will shine. Lots of target swapping? Hit/exp will do better.

Ultimately this also suggests something else, which is that for progression fights where it really matters reforging should be done. It won't make a huge difference - the math above says that the upper bound of your difference can't be more than 5% no matter what - but when every little bit counts, that's a place to go. Understand what your role is and how to best do it.

Also note that if you care a lot about consistency, hit/expertise are going to win almost always. They are similar to stamina for bears in that while they're not optimal all the time they're never, ever wasted and make life easier. Given how close things are, you won't see much of a hit to your DPS and if you're not an amazing player chances are you'll see significant gains even on fights that don't punish misses.

Friday, June 17, 2011

[Cat] 4.2 stat weighings and you

So, remember a while back when I wrote about what it would take for mastery to be awesome and haste to be less awesome?

So in 4.2 cats have been buffed and changed around. Strength has been reduced to providing 1AP, which (with raid buffs) is about a 1k AP loss. However, Savage Roar has been buffed to give 80% more damage (from 50%), every direct attack does a lot more damage and scales better with weapon DPS (and thus AP), and ferocious bite has been improved to do more damage for less energy.

While it's still up for debate as to the end effect, there are some good indications that haste, not mastery, is going to be the best stat to stack after getting a good weapon. Haste had already started surpassing crit as the second-best stat, though the stats (other than mastery) were close enough to each other that almost any secondary stat was fine.

Now, though, it's looking more and more like haste is the winner. Why is that?

  • Bleeds got stealth-nerfed. While direct damage got improved across the board, bleeds got actually hurt a little by the strength nerf - and didn't get re-improved. End result is that when 4.2 hits your bleeds won't do quite as much damage as before.
  • The T11 2piece bonus is going away in 4.2. Okay, it's not going away - if you have it, it'll still be there. But chances are you won't have it for super long, especially if you weren't raiding heroic raids. That knocks rake damage down too.
  • The T12 2 piece bonus adds even more direct damage. Yay, shreds hit even more! (though there are issues with this bonus, as it probably won't be rolling damage and will overwrite itself).
  • Seriously, everything got buffed like whoa. A 20% boost to melee damage, a 15-20% increase in scaling for shred, mangle and ravage. It's a huge deal, and one of the things that it (sadly) does is make Unheeded Warning pretty awesome well into heroic raid gearing. If you don't have it already, make an attempt to get it before 4.2 arrives - because when 4.2 arrives chances are you won't see many of 'em on the AH.
  • Swipe doesn't get affected by mastery. Because missed swipes don't refund energy and get zero benefit from mastery, any time you're using swipe a lot all that mastery doesn't do jack for you. In fact, hit/expertise are far better for swipe if you can help it, and are the best stats for aoe-friendly fights. The next best stat? Shockingly, it's haste, as it allows for more OoC and more swipes in a given time.
Anyway, long story short is that mastery may be getting close to the point where it is not the best stat ever, and bleeds are not 40% of our overall damage relative to direct damage. Conversely, this is the point where haste overtakes mastery as a better stat per point. In some tests haste is significantly better than all other secondary stats (by 30%), in others it's neck and neck. Ultimately use mew, run simulations, and test based on your gearing. We'll get more clear ideas of what is best based on profiles of 378 and 391-geared ferals soon enough.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

[Bear]Oh, the joys of savage defense continued

I've talked about how Savage Defense likely would work and how good or bad it'd be, how it works on the PTR and how it continued to work there, how SD uptime works, how good and bad it is against specific fights, and then later comments on SD in cata, especially after we found out that the combat logs are probably bugged.

To be clear: I don't like the mechanic. I don't like that it is a static amount of damage in a world where almost all other mitigation mechanics are percentages. I don't like that it has weird interactions with multiple mobs (though at least that is better with 4.1). I don't like the interaction with vengeance.

But today: I really don't like how weak it is, and I really don't like the bugs in it.

I did some study on the mathematical importance of having Pulverize and having good pulverize uptime, and the results really shocked me. You can find the long topic at the wow forums, but the basic info is that I wrote a simulator that would simulate a boss attacking and dodging and then tested a few sets of values of avoidance, hit, crit, expertise to see what would happen - specifically what would happen when you assume pulverize isn't there and you lose the 9% crit.

I expected that it wouldn't be that big a deal in terms of uptime of savage defense. And boy was I wrong! Pulverize, depending on your gear level and avoidance/crit/cap levels, is equivalent to having about 5-6% block% for a paladin or warrior. In other words, you block 5-6% more of the attacks that land with pulverize active 100% of the time.

That's huge! That'd be a big, BIG bonus for a paladin or warrior. It sounds great! And for the first time I have a nice, simple way of testing various uptimes of Savage Defense in a way that is actually simulated and not entirely theoretical.

Then I dug into it some more. That 5-6% block? Well, on a boss that does 70k damage after armor (which would be one of the more harder-hitting bosses in the game currently, like Atramedes, but not as bad as Nefarian) this would be the equivalent of reducing the average attack damage (average after avoidance, blocks and not blocked) from 35.5k to 36.7k. And that's assuming a 20k shield - which as you'll see isn't a fair assumption.

Huh. That's...disappointing. And that's on something that hits every 2.0 seconds for 70k. For things that hit harder, it gets worse. For things that hit more often it gets MUCH worse; many many more missed attacks means that blocked attacks are even less frequent and less useful when they do happen.

Okay...so it's not as great as we thought. It's not as great as Tangedyn's spreadsheet would indicate or my prior calcs indicate or Rawr indicates. That's not the end of the world, and we never thought it was THAT good, right?

Then today there's a post on SD being 'nerfed'. And the usual folks say logs or GTFO, and that's fair, so they're actually produced. And you see things like this:

[00:55:48.039] Beradon gains Savage Defense from Beradon (Remaining: 18267)
[00:55:54.475] Beradon's Savage Defense is refreshed by Beradon (Remaining: 15009)
[00:55:56.929] Atramedes hits Beradon 54922 (A: 21286)

That's right; SD got refreshed by a later SD proc, but because vengeance was lower the SD shield it created was actually smaller. In other words, it'd be better to not have attacked during that time. That means that any streak of avoidance actually hurts mitigation down the road. Bleh.

There are countless other examples in that post about SD not working the right way with multiple mobs, but we don't know whether that's an actual bug or just issues with the combat log. It effectively makes it impossible to determine the actual usefulness of savage defense from log parses, however; either the log is telling us the truth and SD is bad, or the log is lying but we don't know how badly.

Man, do I hate this ability. So very, very much. I guess the good news is this: Savage Defense is going to be less and less relevant as we get better gear and as we face bigger mobs, so after a while it won't be worth worrying about.

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.