Before I start making any frenzied posts detailing why I worry about feral tanks in WotLK, letâ€™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 invaluableâ€”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 youâ€™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 isnâ€™t just for damage classesâ€”the more you connect with the target(s) youâ€™re tanking, the more TPS (threat-per-second) youâ€™re generating. I might even add that itâ€™s even more important for bears than our cat counterparts. I can sit around in front of Brutallus wearing every piece of my super donâ€™t-die-gear, but I guarantee that Iâ€™ll miss maybe 2 out of every 3 mangles or have my Lacerates dodged or parriedâ€”you get the idea. If the specials with the highest threat multipliers arenâ€™t landing, DPS will be perilously riding your ass.
Letâ€™s clearly outline what weâ€™re talking about here:
According to WoWWiki, â€œhitâ€ can be defined as â€œthe 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.â€
For druids (single-wielding, mind you), you need approximately 142 hit rating to increase your chance to hit a level 73 mob by 9%â€”this is your â€œhit capâ€. When I reference a â€œcapâ€, itâ€™s the generally accepted limit at which adding any more of a certain stat doesnâ€™t actually help you. Exceeding 9% to hit wonâ€™t help counter dodges or parries (thatâ€™s expertise) or even misses; in my opinion, youâ€™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 youâ€™re going to have a Draenei in your party (passively increasing your chance to hit by 1%). While there never seem to be â€œabsolutesâ€ 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 donâ€™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 mobâ€™s base dodge = 6.5%
1% Expertise = 15.77 Expertise Rating
6.5 * 15.77 = 102.505
So realistically, youâ€™d want approximately 103 Expertise Rating to completely negate a boss mobâ€™s ability to dodge your attacks. If youâ€™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. Itâ€™s hard to bitch about getting hit capped when a dual wielder like a rogue needs twice as much as we do, but Blizzard doesnâ€™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, thatâ€™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 Iâ€™m wearing my â€œTPSâ€ 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 bossâ€™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 thatâ€™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 youâ€™re not able to cause that damage, you might have a problem. Add Windfury to that equation, and now youâ€™re looking at a chance to proc an additional attack that will, more than likely, connect as well. Iâ€™m a little jealous, and Iâ€™m looking forward to receiving the bonus from Windfury Totems (so long as I donâ€™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. Itâ€™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, youâ€™re threat capping your raidâ€™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, youâ€™re probably wearing two pieces of T4 at least, and if youâ€™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 isnâ€™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 doesnâ€™t â€œstickâ€ or â€œhitâ€, youâ€™re essentially blowing your whole cycle. A simplified DPS rotation (assuming high crit and ignoring powershifting for the moment) might go as follows:
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, youâ€™re a step behind in your rotation. If you miss it twice, youâ€™re two steps behind and now youâ€™re just wasting energy.
In Cat Form, Iâ€™m hit capped but not expertise capped. Some of this is based on the item slots Iâ€™ve chosen to use for my two piece T4 and T6 bonuses, but itâ€™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 mobâ€™s chance to dodge my attacks by 2.79%â€”not too stellar, but nearly 3% is much better than 0. If youâ€™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
Shapeshifterâ€™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 (Aâ€™lar): 18 expertise rating
Total: 3.36% dodge reduction
Total with the best items combined: 7.41% dodge reduction, effectively negating a boss mobâ€™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 youâ€™re min/maxing for DPS and TPS, remember that youâ€™re gimping yourself if youâ€™re ignoring your hit and expertise ratings.
For a discussion about spell hit and spell damage for moonkin, visit Gray Matter.