We Make More Insults…

Okay, no, not really.

But while reading our esteemed elder statesman’s gleeful post about the need for Hit Rating, and his choice to dual wield the very nice Fang of Truth, it occured to me that it might be fun to contrast that with what Cassie and I, fledgling Hunters both, are doing at the same time.

Whereas BRK chose to dual-wield the Fang of Truth, which requires level 78 and Honored with the Wyrmrest Accord faction, Cassie and I already have made all four of our next weapon upgrades.

Our good friend Graimerin crafted for us the Savage Cobalt Slicer, a Blacksmith crafted BoE weapon that is usable at level 74. And Cassie and I on our Hunters are BOTH planning on Dual Wielding them.

The mats cost for the Savage Cobalt Slicers is very, very low. It only took a total of 32 Cobalt Bars, 24 Saronite Bars and 8 Crystalized Fire to have all four made.

The Savage Cobalt Slicers lack a touch of the Hit Rating of the Fang of Truth, and of course they totally lack the Stamina, but they have a lot more Attack Power and Crit, and did I mention I get to use them 4 levels earlier than the Fang of Truth?

Think of them as the baby brother to the Fang of Truth, if you’d like. I certainly miss the Stamina, but it’s okay. That Hit Rating is quite lovely as it is.

Now, to enchant HIS Fang of Truths, Big Red chose the new Exceptional Agility enchant, which gives +26 Agility to a one handed weapon. Very nice, yes?

Keeping with the ‘low rent’ theme, Cassie and I chose to gather the mats from the Auction House to put the Outlands old-school Enchant Weapon – Greater Agility +20 Agility enchant on each of ours. Thanks Doozie!

To get the mats for enough enchants to do 4 weapons took us about 220g from the Auction House.

Now, I like the Fang of Truth, and the Savage Cobalt Slicers… but neither of them are what I would consider good enough to put the true, “Omigod are you shitting me” single weapon enchant on them for Hunters… the Enchant Weapon – Accuracy. +25 Hit Rating AND Crit? Oooooh. Aaaaahh.

I’m sure there will be far better weapons for Hunters later on. For now, the Savage Cobalt Slicers provide a very nice set of stats at a level where Cassie and I will get the most out of them, at a materials cost we can afford. Once we grow up, like BRK, and take a look around at what is available, well, that’s time enough to graduate to the big leagues.

But can I help it if I imagine the carnage if I had Savage Cobalt Slicers enchanted with Accuracy? If I was tooling around with 108 Hit rating JUST from my weapons?

Just… okay, screw it. Let’s channel some Keanu.

Just… Woah.

Ghostcrawler drops da Bearbomb!

Ghostcrawler made what, to me, was a surprise announcement yesterday detailing upcoming Feral changes that are going to have a drastic impact on how we approach our itemization. 

Here is his post in it’s entirety; 

We are changing the way bear armor works so that bonus armor on items does not receive the bear armor multiplier. Specifically this means that trinkets, rings, necks and cloaks with bonus armor will not be multiplied by the bear bonus. The normal armor on leather will still be multiplied by this bonus. We are also going to remove bonus armor from Feral staves. You’ll get your bonus armor from the leather you acquire.

1) A ring that grants 100 bonus armor will now grant a bear 100 armor (not ~470 armor).
2) Leather legs with 253 armor will still grant a bear ~1190 armor (not 253 armor).
3) A feral staff will now grant 0 armor.

We are making this change because armor is such a good stat for bears that it makes taking pieces with bonus armor a non-decision and we don’t want acquiring these pieces, which tend to not be common, to be so much of a barrier to a druid who wants to tank a raid.

This change will NOT be in effect when Lich King ships. We are letting you know this now so that you don’t go through heroic efforts to acquire items like the Badge of Tenacity, or Defender’s Code. Defender’s Code, with 850 armor, will still be a good trinket. But it won’t be an insanely good trinket for a bear.

We will adjust the bear armor modifiers so that your net mitigation does NOT go down with these changes. Let me repeat: this is not a nerf to Feral armor. It is a change to the amount of armor you get from gear with bonus armor.

We are adding an effect to a deep Feral talent (something like Primal Tenacity) to further reduce the cost of shapeshifting into cat or bear by 50%. This talent will stack with Natural Shapeshifter for a total cost reduction of 80%. PvP-focused druids can get both talents to shift easily and often despite, no longer having Int on gear at level 80.

We are removing the group requirements from this talent. The new tooltip will say: “Increases your attack power by X and reduces the damage you take in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by Y.” The values of X and Y themselves are not changing.

Again, these changes will NOT be in Nov 13 for Lich King’s launch. We will add them in a patch that will come out sometime before the major Ulduar content patch. We’re letting you know now so that you can choose quest rewards and loot drops accordingly.

As you can see, Ghostcrawler had three main points.

In no particular order;

1) Protector of the Pack will no longer be affected by how many folks are in your party, but retains it’s stats. Win!

2) More shifting for less Mana cost in the deep Feral tree.

Now, this one I think will be a buff, but I’d like to know a little more about what Talent they are going to add the effect to. Right now, there are a lot of Talents in the deep Feral tree that I simply don’t take due to a lack of points at 70. At 80, it eases a lot, but depending on what they tack this onto, and whether or not they modify an existing Talent to more properly fit with the ‘PvP’ utilization of this might make it a PvP only Talent. Only time will really tell.

That we will have the choice to take it if we’re all that worried about Mana, should effectively shut at least some of us up. So win?

3) Bear Armor will come from equipped Leather. Period.

Okay, he has promised that our Bear form armor multiplier will be increased so that our mitigation from armor will stay the same with less actual armor to counteract the removal of Rings, Necklaces, Trinkets, Cloaks and Staves. 

In other posts, Ghostcrawler has said they are also looking at removing the concept of bonus ‘Green’ armor from gear entirely, meaning that PvP gear would not be quite as much of a no-brainer as it is right now for tanking.

So what we might be looking at would be gear that would have a set armor value according to it’s item level, and the variance in gear would be in how the stats play out.

Will there still be ‘best of class’ drops for Bear tanking?


But a change like this should mean that the difference in Bear tanking capability and mitigation should be a lot closer between tanks of various progression levels.

Pre-patch and Wrath, there was a massive difference between the mitigation and survivability of a tank dinging 70 equipped with AH greens and blues and quest rewards, and a tank that had made repeated runs into specific instances looking for that one perfect drop.

How many Feral Druids out there ground out their Cenarion Expedition rep to Exalted for that one, ‘must have’ Earthwarden weapon?

Would the answer be “All of us”?

Yes, we had Braxxis’ Staff of Slumber as an easily obtained alternative, but the fact remains, grind grnid grind to get one item that was considered darn near required pre-SSC.

There were so many items like that. Some you could AH, but others you just had to keep running and running and hope for a drop… and have to put up with there not really being that many alternatives.

Well, this is all about having more alternatives while you hunt that one perfect drop.

YES, there will still be items that are best in class. Yes, we will still have items that we desire over the rest for an equipment slot.

But, we should be able to have a vast assortment of viable alternatives to choose from to help us tank effectively in 5 mans while leveling along the way.

And that I think is pretty awesome.

But this whole thing? The changes and uncertainty?

THIS is why I have not done a single guide since all this went into production. I am waiting for a reasonable moment when WotLK has been out, and we have done at least a little leveling, before I start doing gear analysis and upgrade planning for level 80 raiding.

Because you just never know, and we don’t need it yet.

I’m liking these planned changes… so far. I hope you do too.

A follow up about Feral Kitty Gear from Jacemora

Another nice list of gear from the perspective of “get your butt to 70 and then get your Kitty DPS maxed for Wrath” came from Jacemora recently.

 Since I listed the one gear list from Think Tank the other day, I thought it would be nice to balance it a bit with this more… focused approach.

Plus, hey… I love the picture Jacemora uses for the website banner.

God, I love that mount. Screw the Spectral Tiger.


Planning your gear upgrades

Patch 2.4 is here. Yeah, yeah, I know. No shit, Sherlock, what gave me the first clue? Maybe the 261MB download?

Anyway, one thing everyone agrees on is that we have accessibility to new gear. New badge rewards, new crafted recipes, new instances, the whole dealio.

Everyone I know is at different levels of gear or progression. Some of you are raiding BT and now the Sunwell, and come along here to lolzers at me or help guide us with your insight, others are at about the same level, and others are still enjoying leveling your druids up through the game.

So the challenge I have is to decide how to help folks see where their current gear may rank compared to the new stuff, and assist everyone in finding upgrades.

And I mean everyone. Not just druids, but as many folks as possible.

Well, there is a tool I’m using that seems like a brilliant, godlike tool for fine tuning your needs and finding new gear.

The website is Loot Rank.

What Loot Rank has done, and it’s brilliant, is they have set up a search form that you can personally customize by individual item characteristics, and then search for how items rank up by YOUR importance.

It uses the idea that is the foundation behind item ranking systems such as the Agility Equivalency Point system as shown so well for rogue gear on Shadowpanther.net, or the ranking system Emmerald has used for Feral kitty and bear druid gear comparisons.

And the beauty of it is that it is a blank canvas for you to use. You can configure the rankings to tweak it towards whatever class and spec you prefer, and save that as a template for your own needs, and refer to it frequently as you level.

Now, you can create your own template this way, but for the ‘get it and go’ user, there are already some templates that have been submitted in the forums by users for most classes.

I am going to link the templates here that I am going to personally find the most useful, and I hope they help you as well. But  encourage you to explore the forums, check out the other templates, and examine the math and concepts behind these templates so you can decide on your own whether the importance they give to certain stats matches your own opinion.

Feral Kitty DPS Druid

Feral Bear Tank Druid

Sword Spec Combat Rogue

Shadow Priest

Again… it may not be perfect, but as far as I know, right now it is the best I can find in a ranking system that includes the new gear. I hope you find it useful.

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Don’t forget that not only are Primal Nethers able to be purchased for 10 Badges of Justice each, but Nether Vortexes are able to be purchased for 15 Badges. And they are Bind on Equip, not BOP. So now you can look through all that awesome crafted gear you used to think was forever beyond your reach, like the Belt of Blasting or the Belt of Natural Power, and be able to gather ALL of the mats for it, and ask a higher progressed crafter from another guild to make it for you for a flat fee. No more trying to find a guild that has loose Nether Vortexes to make non-guildies items.

A very big B^3 thank you to Ribeye for pointing that out. 

Upgrading Your Toon; Equipment Point Costs

This post is going to be the first in a short series on how to choose upgrades for your character. Hopefully, it will be helpful to players of all classes. Your class may change, but the basics are consistent.

Let’s talk briefly about upgrading.

The goal of gear upgrading is to increase the effectiveness of your character in your chosen role.

Therefore, the first step is to define what your focus is. You decide this yourself as soon as you start putting points into a Talent Tree. You are making a choice as to what aspect of your character you are going to focus on.

As an example, if I am leveling my Priest character, choosing to put my Talent points into Holy will yield vastly different results than in Shadow. One shows a focus on my part to improve my ability to Heal, the other shows a focus on my ability to inflict ranged DPS. And different gear stats are important, depending on what Talent tree, what focus, I am going to concentrate on.

Because of the way World of Warcraft gear itemization works, your choice of Talent Specialization, your ‘Spec’, will determine what stats you want on your gear. You will want to choose gear that maximizes the stats or abilities that directly affect your Spec, without having points ‘wasted’ on items that do not help you. 

Gear itemization and Item Level are the phrases we use when we are talking about the ‘point value’ of equipment, and how those points are distributed among ability modifiers.

The fact is, each point of Armor value, each point of Agility, Stamina, Intellect, and Spell Damage or Hit Rating comes from a set amount of potential points that can be distributed on a piece of equipment. How many points are available to ‘spend’ are based on;

  • Item Level of the gear
  • Rarity
  • Minimum level needed to equip it

Also, it has been determined that the amount of points spent on pure ability bonuses {Stamina, Agility, Intellect, Strength, and Spirit} are more beneficial when split up amongst more than one stat.

An example of what I mean in regards to split up stat points; the Splintering Greatstaff. It is Item Level 117, equippable at level 69, and is Green rarity. It comes with it’s points distributed in one of five configurations;

  • …of Stamina (+82 Stamina)
  • …of Strength (+55 Strength)
  • …of the Bear (+55 Stamina, +36 Strength)
  • …of the Beast (+28 Strength, +28 Agility, +43 Stamina)
  • …of the Tiger (+36 Agility, +36 Strength)

You can see that, if it has only +Strength, it is +55. But if the points are spread among two stats, such as Agility and Strength, then Strength is lowered by 19, but you get +36 Agility. You get more bang for your buck on items with the points distributed amongst more abilities.

You can also see that Stamina is considered less valuable, points-wise, than Strength or Agility, so you get more of it. My math says that 1 point of Strength or Agility is being treated, roughly, as being equal to 1.5 points of Stamina.  

Note: the Item Level of a piece of gear is not the same as what level you need to reach to be able to equip it. You can find the Item Level listed in most database sites such as Wowhead.

Let’s compare some close examples. Each is Rare (Blue), Item Level 115, equippable at 70, and a Drop instead of a quest reward.

Dreamer’s Dragonstaff 

Greatstaff of the Leviathon

Draenic Wildstaff

You can see that each one is base 63 DPS, and has the same amount of points spent in Attack Power for shifted forms. When comparing them to the Green rarity Splintering Greatstaff above, they are actually 2 Item Levels lower, but because of their increased Rarity, they have more points to spend on higher base DPS and Attack Power in shifted forms.

The differences between each lie in where the rest of the points are spent. The Dreamers Dragonstaff has straight +Strength, +Agility and +Stamina. The Draenic Wildstaff sacrifices Strength to boost Agility and add + Hit Rating. The Greatstaff of the Leviathan eliminates Agility entirely to add Armor (which is multiplied in Dire Bear form, of course).

Initial impressions to me say that, instead of the random splitting of point distribution found in the different varieties of Splintered Greatstaff, these have intelligent design behind them. Each one makes you choose from what you want the most, but none give you everything you might want.

You have to make a personal judgment; Do I want to use it for tanking or DPS? Is the armor buff worth losing the Agility for Dodge? Is an increased Strength more important to my build than Hit Rating?

You have to be able to make an informed decision, based entirely on your Talent Spec and what abilties are most important for you. If you don’t know what Strength, Agility, or Hit Rating do exactly, you aren’t likely to choose exactly what’s right for you.

Let’s build on our previous examples by looking at another Druid staff that is also Item Level 115, equippable at level 70 and a drop. The only difference? It is an Epic Purple instead of a Blue.

Terestian’s Stranglestaff 

As you can see, even though it is the same Item Level as the other staves, the Purple has a higher base DPS, much higher Attack Power increase in shifted forms, and when we compare it to it’s closest match, the Draenic Wildstaff, it has higher bonuses in every stat.

The lesson here? There are two of them.

First, Rarity has a direct impact on the potential amount of points that can be distributed amongst the abilties of an item. Even if they are the same Item Level, a Green has a higher potential than a White, a Blue higher than a Green, and a Purple higher than the rest.

Second, there are only so many points that can be potentially distributed amongst the item stats. If the item has points in a stat you do not need to achieve your character goals, than those points are wasted. You are advised to search for a piece of gear that most closely matches your real in game needs.

Knowing this, you can see where I’m going to go with this series. You need to know exactly what stats do for your Spec, so you can choose wisely. We’ll talk about that more next time.

Also, If you are at the level cap, and you intend to change your Spec when your goals change, then your gear needs to change too. Most Druids are already familiar with the concept. If you’re Feral, and you both cat DPS and tank Bear seriously, then you need one set of gear that optimizes your melee DPS damage output, and one set of gear that maximizes your Survivability and Damage Mitigation.

Likewise, if you like to respec to Balance, Resto, or a hybrid for PvP, and you are serious about it, you should build a set of gear that boosts your new spec.

I’m curious; how many raiding Feral Druids carry with them not only a full set of Bear Tank and Cat DPS gear, but also a set of Resto gear in their bags for fights where they might be expected to offheal/spotheal?