I want you to Hit me as hard as you can.

Posted in Guide, Raiding, Rant, Technical, Uncategorized on Jul 22, 2008

Before I start making any frenzied posts detailing why I worry about feral tanks in WotLK, let’s take a step back and address the now.

Just about any melee DPS class fully invested in damage will explain that +hit and expertise is invaluable—or at least important. Four thousand spell damage or eight million attack power can be rendered useless in a raiding environment unless you can actually connect with the mob you’re targeting. The same situation can apply to a PVP scenario as well: pesky cyclone or root resists can cost you an arena match. A simple armory search can pull up gear-listings for many high-end Restoration druids, and if you take a good look, many of them stack those lovely +10 spell-hit gems, along with Spell Penetration on their cloaks.

But +hit and expertise rating isn’t just for damage classes—the more you connect with the target(s) you’re tanking, the more TPS (threat-per-second) you’re generating. I might even add that it’s even more important for bears than our cat counterparts. I can sit around in front of Brutallus wearing every piece of my super don’t-die-gear, but I guarantee that I’ll miss maybe 2 out of every 3 mangles or have my Lacerates dodged or parried—you get the idea. If the specials with the highest threat multipliers aren’t landing, DPS will be perilously riding your ass.

Let’s clearly outline what we’re talking about here:

According to WoWWiki, “hit” can be defined as “the physical damage that occurs as a result of an attack made with a melee or ranged weapon. The chance to hit increases by 1% per 15.77 hit rating points at level 70.”

For druids (single-wielding, mind you), you need approximately 142 hit rating to increase your chance to hit a level 73 mob by 9%—this is your “hit cap”. When I reference a “cap”, it’s the generally accepted limit at which adding any more of a certain stat doesn’t actually help you. Exceeding 9% to hit won’t help counter dodges or parries (that’s expertise) or even misses; in my opinion, you’re actually better sitting just below the hit cap and chewing on some Spicy Talbuk Steak to bring you up to par rather than over-gearing or over-socketing (when you could be stacking more AGI or AP, etc.). Additionally, you can plan to take off a piece of gear with lots of hit on it and exchange it for a piece with more AGI if you know you’re going to have a Draenei in your party (passively increasing your chance to hit by 1%). While there never seem to be “absolutes” with Blizzard, a 9% chance to hit virtually guarantees zero misses against a target of level 73 or below.

Do you need 9% to hit for trash mobs? No. It rather goes without saying that you need less chance to hit when the level of the mob decreases and the gap between your weapon skill and its defense skill closes. Therefore, if you want to be a super dr00d (or rogue, or whatever), you can actually itemize two different DPS gear-sets: one hit-capped set (9%) for the boss, and one set (~5% for level 70s) that stacks more AGI for trash mobs.

What about expertise?

Expertise is a combat rating that decreases the chance your attack will be parried or dodged. Because druids don’t have any special racial talents (human sword/mace specialization, for example) or class talents (i.e. rogues) that increases expertise (this is changing in the expansion, however), we can calculate the amount of expertise needed to negate dodge as follows:

Boss mob’s base dodge = 6.5%
1% Expertise = 15.77 Expertise Rating
6.5 * 15.77 = 102.505

So realistically, you’d want approximately 103 Expertise Rating to completely negate a boss mob’s ability to dodge your attacks. If you’re melee DPS, you should theoretically be standing behind a target anyway, which theoretically eliminates parries.

Capping hit and expertise sounds like it makes a lot of sense, right? Connecting with your target generates more damage and more threat. The problem is getting there. It’s hard to bitch about getting hit capped when a dual wielder like a rogue needs twice as much as we do, but Blizzard doesn’t itemize hit and expertise for druids. Not specifically, anyway. If you look at the entire Thunderheart Harness, Sunwell items included, we net 50 hit rating (3.17% to hit) and 20 expertise rating. For the record, that’s pretty miserable, especially since 23 of that hit rating is on the belt, which is arguably inferior for tanking to the Belt of Natural Power, a T5 crafted item. Thus, if I’m wearing my “TPS” set for tanking (which is, by the way, beneath the armor cap), I have approximately 4.5% chance to hit and 4.62% dodge/parry reduction.

Lycentia, in his tanking gear picked up from similar raid instances, has approximately 6.34% to hit and can reduce the boss’s chance to dodge or parry an attack by 15.75%. We have to remember that Lycentia is a human wielding a sword and is also receiving the human sword specialization bonus, but that’s considerably more chances to connect with the boss and thus generate more threat per second. Even though druid threat is largely generated by high damage, if you’re not able to cause that damage, you might have a problem. Add Windfury to that equation, and now you’re looking at a chance to proc an additional attack that will, more than likely, connect as well. I’m a little jealous, and I’m looking forward to receiving the bonus from Windfury Totems (so long as I don’t have to give up Gift of Air).

My point is that druid tanking itemization is currently flawed, and that it should be a little bit easier to maximize your chance to hit and chance to reduce parry and dodge without sacrificing our bread and butter stats of AGI and STA. It’s that important. The more damage you, as a tank, put out, the more damage your raid can produce without worrying about pulling aggro. By not pulling your own weight, you’re threat capping your raid’s DPS and severely limiting the speed at which you can destroy a boss. If you can afford to wear a Shard of Contempt and a necklace such as the Brooch of Deftness, Pendant of Titans, Shattered Sun Pendant of Resolve, or Collar of the Pit Lord, I recommend it. To remain above your DEF cap, you can supplement your armor with the S3 chestpiece and socket with the AGI/HIT gems. This will likely drop you below the 35,880 armor cap, but if you set up a clever potion macro, you can join the ranks of warbots and slam down Ironshields with the best of them.

But those are (mostly) set pieces. As a cat, you’re probably wearing two pieces of T4 at least, and if you’re lucky, two pieces of T6 as well. Since most of the DPS gear we pick up is rogueish in nature, climbing to 142 hit rating isn’t too difficult at all. This is important because a successful cat DPS rotation relies on heavy crit for combo points and bleed debuffs; if one doesn’t “stick” or “hit”, you’re essentially blowing your whole cycle. A simplified DPS rotation (assuming high crit and ignoring powershifting for the moment) might go as follows:

  1. Mangle
  2. Shred
  3. Shred
  4. Shred
  5. Rip

Because Mangle amplifies Shred damage and bleed effects, you will not want to Shred or Rip unless your Mangle debuff is up on your target. If you miss your Mangle or your Mangle is dodged, you’re a step behind in your rotation. If you miss it twice, you’re two steps behind and now you’re just wasting energy.

In Cat Form, I’m hit capped but not expertise capped. Some of this is based on the item slots I’ve chosen to use for my two piece T4 and T6 bonuses, but it’s also not quite as easy to get without sacrificing a lot of high-end stats. Often, I only run with the Shard of Contempt, which reduces a mob’s chance to dodge my attacks by 2.79%—not too stellar, but nearly 3% is much better than 0. If you’re not quite as worried about set bonuses or exchanging a high level item without expertise for a lower level item with, here are some easy expertise grabs:

Shard of Contempt
(Heroic MgT): 44 expertise rating
Shapeshifter’s Signet (Lower City Reputation): 20 expertise rating
Grips of Deftness (Karazhan Trash): 15 expertise rating
Total: 5.00% dodge reduction

Slightly more difficult to obtain:

Shoulderpads of the Stranger (Hydross): 10 expertise rating
Belt of One Hundred Deaths (Lady Vashj): 25 expertise rating
Gloves of the Searing Grip (A’lar): 18 expertise rating
Total: 3.36% dodge reduction

Total with the best items combined: 7.41% dodge reduction, effectively negating a boss mob’s chance to dodge (6.5%) your attacks. You could even take a piece or two off.

Playing any hybrid class requires a veritable balancing act of trying to make the best of subpar itemization, but while you’re min/maxing for DPS and TPS, remember that you’re gimping yourself if you’re ignoring your hit and expertise ratings.

For a discussion about spell hit and spell damage for moonkin, visit Gray Matter.


  • At 2008.07.22 07:22, CampMaster said:

    Hello Runycat,

    i liked this blogentry and i have observed this problem with flawed cat and bear itimization as well. Even at the beginnig of T6 content avoidance is quite through the roof for bears and prot-tanks. Sometimes they have such heavy dodge, parry streaks that some healers are really suprised when teh streak ends and some really heavy damge comes in. In this situations TPS Stats on tanking equip is a necessity. The Plate Tanks are much better itimized in this regard. It would be really interesting if could give some advice on good Tanking/TPS gear besides the “misuse” of some pure offensive items like Shard and Vashj-Belt because Rouges will curse you into oblivion if you want to take “their” loot.^^


    you have written:

    Boss mob’s base dodge = 6.5%
    4 Expertise Rating = 15.77 Expertise
    6.5 * 15.77 = 102.505

    but i think it should be somethin like this:

    Boss mob’s base dodge = 6.5%
    1% Expertise = 15.77 Expertise Rating
    6.5 * 15.77 = 102.505

    • At 2008.07.22 07:48, Runycat said:

      Yeah, typo on my part.

      There is indeed some Expertise/Hit gear for tanking, but it involves a little screwing around and paying careful attention to whether or not you’re A) crittable B) over or under the armor cap C) sacrificing excessive STA and AGI. The high level items are also what I would consider “reasonably difficult to obtain”; or rather, items you probably wouldn’t see unless you’re in a progression guild. Example:

      Crimson Paragon’s Cover drops off of the Eredar Twins and would be a fabulous bear cloak if you’re not carrying DEF or RES on your cloak already and can dip a little lower in AC.

      If you add that cloak to just your Shard of Contempt and, say, the Collar of the Pit Lord (if we’re looking at my gear), then you can get yourself to 6.40% dodge reduction, which is pretty damn close to negating it entirely. Add your Thunderheart Treads, and you’re looking at 7.67% dodge/parry reduction.

      Not too shabby, but difficult for most folks to get.

    • [...] I Want You to Hit Me as Hard as You Can by Runycat of Unbearably HoT An extremely thorough and entertaining analysis of the value of hit-capping your Bear and Cat Form. The Fight Club-themed images alone make it worth a look, even to those who aren’t Feral! [...]

      • At 2008.07.23 09:44, Nocturneus said:

        I am one of the few Bear tanks I know that actually went the route of Defense over Resilience. I like the fact that Defense gives you avoidance as well as makes you uncrittable (provided you hit the magic number.) Being able to get enough Defense at end-game Raid level was rather difficult, which is why most take the easier route of Resilience.

        I am currently uncrittable, have just under 40k Armor, 42% dodge and 20k health. The problem I have is trying to squeeze Hit Rating in there somewhere. Any suggestions? Most of my gems are Agility and Stam, Agility or Stam, along with a few epic Defense gems in there from Heroics.

        • At 2008.07.23 12:15, Runycat said:

          Without looking at your armory profile, it’s admittedly a little difficult for me to be picky about what I’d move around. That being said, you’ll have to forgive me if I make some assumptions and/or recommend gear that may or may not be available to you. So, a few things:

          I cannot stress enough the importance of being an itemization whore and assembling multiple gear sets. I, too, am of the DEF camp, but once I climbed into T6 content, it became more and more difficult to remain uncrittable without using RES. But it’s doable. In my max mitigation gear, I have relatively similar stats to yours but have terrible hit and expertise ratings. Still, in a scenario where DPS isn’t going instantaneously balls out (I’m thinking of Brutallus) and I know I’m going to have to soak up a lot of damage, that set is useful. My second set is maxed for dodge and my third set is a crazy amalgamation of both, mostly min/maxing for hit/expertise.

          My first recommendation: do not socket for DEF or RES unless absolutely necessary. Put RES on your chestpiece, Steelweave on your cloak or DEF on your bracers, but try to leave your sockets free. If you’ve done all that and you’re still crittable, you’ll have to suck it up and pick up some PVP gear—and you’ll be grateful for it later. While I like what you get from DEF more, and while I believe stacking RES generally hurts your AC, the simple fact of the matter is that it takes a whole lot less RES to reach your uncrittable cap than it does DEF. Even supplementing one piece can make up for all the DEF gems you’re using, and if you’re still desperate, you can even switch the Cloak of Blade Turning from MgT into and out of your cloak slot for kicks (although I still recommend Slikk’s or the Crimon Paragon’s Cover).

          The easiest slots to pick up RES are generally your chestpiece and your bracers. For my TPS set, I actually only use the S3 chestpiece. Let’s compare that to the Thunderheart Chest:

          Vengeful Gladiator’s Dragonhide Tunic
          529 AC
          30 STR
          31 AGI
          22 INT
          Red Socket
          Red Socket
          Yellow Socket
          12 Hit Rating
          84 Armor Ignore
          26 RES
          19 Critical Strike Rating

          Thunderheart Tunic
          781 AC
          53 STR
          36 AGI
          51 STA
          18 INT
          Blue Socket
          Yellow Socket
          Red Socket

          So ultimately, our biggest losses in switching chestpieces are in the STR and AC categories, and we stand to gain an awful lot more (hit rating, armor ignore, critical strike rating—all stats that will increase your TPS against an enemy target—and RES to boot) by using it. I chose to socket 5 HIT/5 AGI in every socket (earning me an easy +4 critical strike), but I’ve also seen folks use two of the Glinting Pyrestones and one Rigid Lionseye instead. With one piece of gear, you can pick up an extra 25 hit rating. You could ignore the socket bonus (as I often do) and socket 3 straight 10 hit gems, but I think you stand to gain more by adding AGI as well. Additionally, if you’re that far over the armor cap, losing a couple hundred armor won’t hurt you. At all. Along that same line of thought, I forgot the Belt of Natural Power (in my TPS set) for the Thunderheart Waistguard, generally more suitable for cat but itemized with hit on it. Stick another 5 HIT/5 AGI gem in there, and you’re golden.

          Bracers are slightly more difficult to come by this season, but a 1575 rating certainly isn’t a nightmare to achieve, and the benefits are great. The RES on the bracers usually eliminates the need for enchanting with DEF and you can throw on a slightly more useful chant, such as 12 STA. With another 5 HIT/5 AGI in the red socket, you can even pick up another 4 RES as an added bonus.

          Now, expertise. Trinkets are finicky. In my threat set I do wear the Shard of Contempt for the 44 Expertise Rating and Disdain proc (230 AP boost), but that also means I’m giving up something like the pocket watch or commendation. Depending on your necklace and whether or not you’ve got the Thunderheart Treads and the Crimson Paragon’s Cloak, you might be able to avoid using (what’s generally considered) a DPS trinket to negate a boss’s ability to dodge your attacks. The easiest expertise neckpiece to pick up is the badge-reward Brooch of Deftness or SSO Pendant of Resolve (but that one doesn’t have DEF on it), but I currently wear the Collar of the Pit Lord off Brutallus, and that’s been exceptionally helpful.

          Ultimately, this will all change in the future—especially since some of the new gems up and coming will have expertise and hit—giving us a pretty easy two-for if we can figure out what other stats to sacrifice.

          My mitigation set is much like yours—AGI and STA gems all the way, and you certainly shouldn’t get rid of it! But I definitely recommend picking up the S3 chestpiece (now cheaper and rating free!), PVP bracers (also useful for DPS), eliminating DEF gems (because you can’t enchant for hit, but you can socket for it), and building multiple sets. RES might not seem as palatable, but it’s a necessary stat to incorporate if you want to be able to squeeze a little more out of your gear. Watch your armor cap, but know that you’ll end up with more than you expect raid buffed, and you can always take Ironshield Potions (been there, done that).

          I hope that helps in some fashion, and if you want me to actually look at what you’re wearing and offer what may be more useful information, let me know. Thanks for reading, yo.

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