So, what are you wearing? Creating alternate gear sets.

Posted by in Feral, Guide, Raiding, Technical

Let’s face it—not all bosses are created equally.

Although we arguably have different tanks best-suited for particular encounters (a paladin AOE tank for Felmyst, a bear mitigation tank for Brutallus or a warbot with a shield to take Illidan’s shears), you can get the most out of your toon by min/maxing different gear sets. “What!!!” you say, ready to sucker punch me and shake your lack-of-inventory in my face, “I already have a resto set, a cat set, a PVP set, a bear set, and a super awful boomkin set! Between all that, my potions, my tokens, and my pets, I don’t have room for anything else!”

While I’d firstly point you to this post, suck it up, get a mod like Outfitter to manage your accessories, and start planning—being prepared for any and all scenarios will make you a better bear. Since I just recently wrote about the importance of hit-rating and expertise rating for tanking, I’m leap-frogging into a discussion on how to incorporate gear pieces and accessories that lend themselves to more TPS (threat-per-second) generation into your standard tank set.

Nocturneus writes:

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.

Firstly, the use of a program such as Rawr or a few Post-It Notes can help you keep track of how any major gear changes affect your overall mitigation stats. I can make recommendations, but it’s up to you to check up on your math. Secondly, since I don’t have any sort of armory link for Nocturneus, I’m making suggestions based on my own experience; not all items are easily attainable.

Fortunately, gearing up as a low-level druid is ridiculously easy, and there are plenty of other great bloggers out there who’ve outlined how to do that. The Heavy Clefthoof set takes care of nearly all your chance-to-be-crit issues, allowing you to socket almost anything you please, and the Earthwarden, a great entry-level tanking weapon, is the only druid weapon to date that has expertise rating on it.

Back to the question—I’m sure Nocturneus knows his numbers, but for the rest of us out there, here are some basics:

2.6% = The chance-to-crit reduction necessary to avoid being critically hit by boss mobs; you can achieve this with 415 DEF or 267.8 Resilence, assuming all points in Survival of the Fittest and base DEF of 350, or you can use a mixture of RES and DEF to reach it.
2.36 = The defense rating necessary to achieve 1 DEF skill.
39.4 = The amount of RES rating necessary to yield 1% RES.
35,880 = The amount of armor necessary to reach 75% mitigation; any more armor beyond this point does not offer substantial protection.

Quick Math:
~176 defense rating = 415 Defense Skill
~103 RES rating = 267.8 Resilence

As Nocturneus mentioned, stacking Resilence is easier, especially at high levels when DEF rating isn’t present on our regular armor pieces anymore. Generally speaking, druids tend to pick up the lion’s share of their DEF rating from accessories like necklaces, rings and trinkets or from enchantments. RES rating, however, is present on just about any piece of PVP gear you pick up—and can be fairly easy to get your paws on. Why use DEF then? Each point of DEF skill gives you 0.04% to be missed, to block, to dodge and to parry—but for the purpose of our furry selves, the Miss and Dodge are the important parts. Basically, you’ll probably have to end up using a little bit of both. Here’s why.

Because you need less RES rating than DEF rating to reach crit immunity, a little RES goes a long way and allows for a little more socket/enchant play. Nocturneus clearly has a classic mitigation tanking set—great for repelling enemy attacks and for all-around-mob-bashing, but (as he says), lacking in the hit/expertise department. More than likely, this means that even though his attacks hit for quite a bit, they’re getting dodged, parried or missed more often than they should, potentially wrecking a normal tank rotation and diminishing the amount of TPS he could be generating. Nocturneus doesn’t need to get rid of his sweet mitigation set—he just needs to build other pieces to switch in for maximum threat generation when he needs it.

First thing’s first—eliminate all DEF or RES gems. I know we often rely on that one Seaspray Emerald to throw us over the cap, but in my opinion, you’re better off modifying your gear with RES or DEF enchants. Why? You can’t enchant for melee +hit, but you can socket for it. Putting 12 DEF on your bracers, 15 RES on your chest or 12 DEF on your cloak can give you the edge you need while still allowing for a reasonable amount of STA and dodge.

Next, evaluate how much more DEF or RES you need to reach crit immunity, and bring in one or two pieces of PVP gear or a RES based cloak. The notion that you need to PVP to PVE may not be a palatable one, but it’ll help round out your armor sets. Think about it like this: even if you despise PVP, you can dick around in arena every week, take home some welfare points, and still find yourself able to pick up a T6 comparable chestpiece in a few weeks. What pieces of PVP gear will you get the most out of?

Nearly every piece of Vengeful Dragonhide armor (S3) has hit rating on it. The pieces with the highest resilience on them, however, are the legguards and chestpiece. As you can easily make the socket bonus on the chestpiece and add another +4 Critical Strike rating to your gear (nevermind enchanting the chestpiece), I consider that the best piece to incorporate into your arsenal. Previously, bracers were also an easy addition, but the new rating requirement (while still an easy grab at 1575) may be prohibitive to some players. Still, the RES rating on the bracers virtually eliminates the need for enchanting with DEF, and with another Glinting Pyrestone in the socket, you pick up the 4 RES socket bonus. I’ve offered up S3 comparisons here because they’re now cheap pick-ups free of rating requirements, but if you have the opportunity to pick up the Brutal Dragonhide Tunic (at 1600, also a fairly easy grab), go for it. Let’s quickly compare the Vengeful Gladiator’s Dragonhide Tunic and the Thunderheart Chestguard.

Ultimately, our biggest losses switching chestpieces are in the STR and AC categories—and we stand to gain an awful lot more: hit rating, armor ignore, and critical strike rating, all stats that will help increase your TPS against an enemy target. I chose Glinting Pyrestones for every socket, but I’ve also seen folks stack straight AGI, hit, or a mixture of both. Remember: the point of adding this piece of gear is to enhance your threat generation. While AGI does nothing for hit or expertise rating, it offers a buffer to your critical strike rating, your armor, and your dodge—nothing to sneeze at. With one piece of gear, you can pick up an extra 25 hit rating, the TPS stats previously mentioned, make up the AGI difference (36-31) in gems, and pick up 25 RES rating, all for the price of 23 STR and 252 AC.

Make sure you’re watching that 35,880 armor cap though, keeping in mind that raid buffs such as MotW will also affect your final tally. PVP gear can offer similar stats to tier gear but is often lower in armor and STR. If you’re someone like Nocturneus who is already above and beyond the armor cap, supplementing your gear set with one or two PVP pieces will not drop you below your cap (in Noc’s case, 40k-252 = 39,748, still way above cap) . If you do, remember that you can set up a potion macro and take Ironshield Potions whenever the cooldown comes up—when wearing my TPS gear on Brutallus, I used that particular strat.

Other useful hit rating items include:

Brooch of Deftness = 21 expertise rating, 22 hit rating; badge reward
Pendant of Titans = 20 hit rating; drops off the Reliquary of Souls
Thunderheart Waistguard = 23 hit rating and 1 red socket (potential for 5-10 hit rating); token drops off Brutallus

Now, expertise. As I mentioned in “I want you to Hit me as hard as you can,” the only expertise we druids gain from set pieces is on the Thunderheart Treads. If we want any more than that, we have to look toward items such as trinkets, necklaces, and cloaks. I pointedly exclude rings from that list, because rings are usually items that carry a significant portion of our armor and DEF rating—generally, substituting one of those puts us at a much bigger loss than substituting say, a trinket. The three most easily attainable items that can net you expertise rating for tanking (there are other leather expertise items that are suitable for DPS) are:

Shattered Sun Pendant of Resolve = 18 expertise rating; SSO rep item
Brooch of Deftness = 21 expertise rating, 22 hit rating; badge reward
Shard of Contempt = 44 expertise rating; drops in heroic MgT

Slightly more difficult to obtain:

Collar of the Pit Lord = 29 expertise rating; drops off Brutallus
Thunderheart Treads = 20 expertise rating; token drop from Felmyst
Crimson Paragon’s Cover = 28 expertise rating; drop off the Eredar Twins

If you mouseover the tooltips for each of the necklaces (a gear slot where expertise seems to be stacked), there are reasonably clear trade-offs for each one: some have defense rating (a bonus to be sure), high STA, or dodge rating—I happen to have all four for different occasions, but I generally default to the Collar of the Pit Lord for the DEF rating, expertise and 68 STA. Additionally, the proc on the Shattered Sun Pendant of Resolve is reportedly more useful (for tanking) if you’re a Scryer; an expertise capped warrior, for example, can apparently become “unparriable” for the buff’s duration.
Recap
To allow for getting the most out of your gear’s sockets while remaining crit immune, utilize PVE and PVP gear that combine DEF rating and RES rating—without gemming for it. The sockets you free up can be used for AGI/HIT gems, and the addition of one or two pieces of arena gear will net you itemized hit rating and a plethora of other TPS boosting equip stats. Finally, keeping a myriad array of accessories such as different necklaces, trinkets, rings, and cloaks can allow you to customize your gear on the fly and better equip yourself for different encounters. Keep track of all your new armor-sets using an equip mod such as Outfitter, and make sure you remain crit immune and at your armor cap with a good ol’ pen and paper or a program such as Rawr.