Monday, March 17, 2008

Epic Tanking Weapons. Yep, All Three!

So, I was recently surprised to see someone say that the Earthwarden was a druid tank's best option until the legendary LOL that is the Pillar of Ferocity. And while I'm not sure if he felt that the weapon commonly regarded as our best tanking staff (Wildfury Greatstaff) was inferior to the Earthwarden, or if he simply didn't know about it since its a trash drop, I felt compelled to compare the three items formally.

The Suspects:
All translated values assume a standard spec with all tanking talents taken.

Drops From: Cenarion Expedition Exalted Reputation
500 Armor
39 Stamina
27 Defense Rating
24 Expertise Rating
712 Feral AP

--Which Translates To--

0.46% Crit Reduction
2750 Bear Armor
0.91% Avoidance
663 HP
712 AP
3.05% More Accuracy (Dodge/Parry Reduction)

Wildfury Greatstaff
Drops From: Serpentshrine Cavern Trash
500 Armor
75 Stamina
54 Dodge Rating
992 Feral AP

--Which Translates To--

2750 Bear Armor
2.86% Avoidance
1275 HP
992 AP

Pillar of Ferocity
Drops From: Anetheron (Hyjal Summit, Second Boss)
550 Armor
47 Strength
96 Stamina
1059 Feral AP

--Which Translates To--
3025 Bear Armor
1632 HP
1166 AP

Round 1: Earthwarden V. Wildfury Greatstaff

Earthwarden Advantages:
0.46% Crit Reduction
3.05% More Accuracy (Dodge/Parry Reduction)

Wildfury Greatstaff Advantages:
1.95% Avoidance
612 HP
180 AP

The Lowdown: Crit immunity comes first. If you ned that defense on Earthwarden to stay crit immune, by all means stick with it for the timebeing. However, once you find a way to replace that with a few gems or some PvP bracers (for examples), the story changes. Earthwarden's only advantage here is the 3% effective hit provided via Expertise (and some slight avoidance via reduction in parrys, though not enough to make up the 2% gap). Assuming 2500 AP and 30% crit with the Earthwarden, if we plug in the threat stats into the handy, dandy threat calculator, we find that the hit and AP almost exactly cancel each other out (Wildfury comes out 1 TPS ahead). So it appears that Wildfury is a cut-and-dry upgrade from Earthwarden, with more health, more avoidance, and the same average threat.

Hold on, though, don't go vendoring that hammer just yet. There are situations where you just might want to swap it in: Pick-ups. No, not those horrendous groups of slackers you get for 3AM Steamvault runs, I'm talking about picking up mobs on pulls and after threat dumps. Three percent more effective hit makes it much less likely your Maul/Mangle combo will miss. Lets say you have 82% effective hit without EW, and 85% with it. Earthwarden increases the chance both Maul and Mangle will hit from 67.2% to 72.3% (Yes, 5% more likely, funny how that works huh?), and reduces the chance both will MISS from 3.24% to 2.25%, which means more than 1 in 4 of your double-whiffs would no longer happen, causing a very sensitive threat situation. Normally, this isn't a big deal, but on threat-sensitive fights like Hydross and Leotheras, losing a bit of mitigation for some increased threat reliability can be a very good idea. And you can always switch back to the Wildfury once you've picked up your target.

Round 2: Wildfury Greatstaff V. Pillar of Ferocity

Wildfury Greatstaff Advantages:
2.86% Avoidance

Pillar of Ferocity Advantages:
275 Bear Armor
357 HP
174 AP

The Lowdown: First of all, lets remember where the Pillar drops: Early T6 content. At that point, most bear tanks are already going to be butting up against, if not exceeding, the armor cap, making the extra armor on the Pillar more or less useless. Even if we don't take that into consideration, though, 275 armor isn't a whole heck of a lot (Probably about 0.6% less damage taken), and even combined with the 357 extra health the Pillar affords us, I would much rather be hit 3% less often, thankyouverymuch. So even though the Pillar drops from a later instance, its actually the inferior mitigation weapon.

But, as with the Earthwarden V. Wildfury comparison, the Pillar of LOL does have one redeeming quality: Superior threat generation. If we assume the same basic stats as before, Wildfury would boost our threat by about 31 TPS. Not a whole heck of a lot, but if you're really struggling to stay ahead of your DPSers on threat, it might be an option to swap this in. As a bonus, you'll be getting hit more as well, so will have extra rage to work with (Yeah, even lower mitigation can be an advantage sometimes).

Round 3: Earthwarden V. Pillar of Ferocity

Earthwarden Advantages:
0.46% Crit Reduction
0.91% Avoidance
3.05% More Accuracy (Dodge/Parry Reduction)

Pillar of Ferocity:
275 Bear Armor
969 HP
454 AP

The Lowdown: So, since Wildfury wins out against both of its competitors, I guess we should go ahead and compare Earthwarden, obtainable via rep, to the Pillar, obtainable through deep endgame raiding. The good news is, the Pillar comes out ahead in my opinion. The bad news? Not by much. In terms of threat, I'd call it even between the Expertise rating of the Earthwarden and the extra AP on the Pillar, as the pillar's overall threat advantage is counterbalanced by the earthwarden's higher reliability. In terms of mitigation, though, I would actually have to give the advantage to the Earthwarden. The Pillar's armor gives about 0.6% less damage per hit, granted, but assuming you're around 50% dodge, the 0.9% avoidance on the EW actually translates to about 1.8% fewer swings landing (I refer you again to "The Diminishing Returns is a Lie")

Why, then, to I give the Pillar top billing on this matchup? Nearly 1000 more health, thats what. While I'm a firm believer in getting enough health and then focusing on mitigation, that amount of health would take over 5 Solid Stars of Elune to make up, and thats a lot of gems I could switch from, say, +12 stamina to +8 agi to make up the avoidance difference.

Putting It All Together

So, in terms of overall quality as a tanking weapon, it seems that the Wildfury Greatstaff is better than the Pillar of Ferocity, which in turn is an upgrade from the Earthwarden. Not surprising results, really, as most druids already knew that the Pillar is one of the worst itemized pieces of gear Blizzard has ever come up with. Not that the Living Root of the Wildheart is terribly incredible either, mind you. Seriously, though, hold on to that Earthwarden for making those critical pick-ups, since having a bit less mitigation is always preferable to that mob going and beating on a clothie or three because your aim sucked.


Mosshoof said...

You may also want to compare the upcoming 'Staff of the Forest Lord', purchasable for badges of justice.

No armor, but 1110 Feral AP, plus additional AP from the +50 strength (that's +100 in bear?). It also has +78 stamina (comparable to the greatstaff), and while it has no direct avoidance, it does also have +52 agility.

My gut feel is that while it's clearly better as a cat-druid DPS weapon, it's also a decent bear-druid weapon for anyone not involved in 25-man raids.

What's your take?

Kalon said...

The Staff of the Forest Lord gives 3.54% avoidance, 1210 total AP and 2.08% more crit. As well as 520 armor, thanks to the agility (I could be wrong on that, but I think that's right) Compared to Wildfury, you're losing out on 2230 armor while gaining a few HP. The big win is the extra .7% avoidance combined with the huge upgrade in threat.

Does .7% avoidance make up for 200 more AP and 2% more crit? Like Karthis said, I think it does if you're already armor capped or close to it, but if you're not it's basicallly only useful as a farm weapon.

Kalon said...

err..the last sentence should read "does .7% avoidance and a big upgrade in threat make up for a loss of 2200 armor?"

cranberyxl said...

If you're at the armor cap could you also consider the Terestian's Stranglestaff? I know it's primarily a kitty staff, but very good for threat (25 hit). Side note: I see way too many bears using this staff...

t said...

Expertise is my friend....mmmmmmmm

Pummra said...

Very nice write up, Surabear. I'd also like to hear what you think of the 2.4 badge staff.

Messyah said...

SuraBear, what is your take on Resilience vs. Defense?

Messyah said...

Also, does anyone know what the formual is on the amount of damage that will be added to Lacerate based on your AP?

SuraBear said...

Regarding the new staff: I'll see if I can add something about it. My initial impression is that its basically going to be good for those who hit the armor cap without their weapon (T6 raiders), but if you're not capping out, stick with the Wildfury or Earthwarden.

Regarding resilience v. defense: The topic has been done by many people before me, and the simple answer is: Defense if you can get it, Resilience if you can't. My current plan is to replace my bracers with the PvP bracers once the new badge vendor opens up (to replace the defense on my last piece of clefthoof, the chest), but currently I'm almost pure defense via rings, necklace, enchants, and such.

WTB [More time to blog]

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