Sunday, March 9, 2008

Set Bonuses and the Feral Druid

So, for those of us who have been feral druids since long before the Burning Crusade, the expansion brought us a great number of new concepts. Before Survival of the Fittest, crit immunity was something only the ignorant ferals strove for. Raid viability was when your healing set was good enough to overcome the fact that your spec sucked (for healing). And, while it didn't set in for a while, those of us who are fortunate enough to at least be killing Prince Malchezaar on a regular basis got one more system shock: Feral Set Bonuses. Well, ok, so some folks may have had 3-piece Genesis Raiment, which yielded a couple bear tanking bonuses, but that was far from mainstream gearing.

Adding to this "Set Bonus System Shock" is the fact that Tier 4 has some EXTREMELY good set bonuses on it, bonuses which quite frankly dwarf T5 and T6. This, unfortunately, means it is very hard for us to upgrade beyond our first feral set into the higher tiers (mind you, for some of us, there are other conditions keeping us from Tier 6 gear as well, like that pesky "gotta kill the T6 bosses" requirement). And so, today I want to take a look at our raid set bonuses, from the ungodly two-piece T4 bonus for cats, to the utterly craptacular two-piece T5 bonus.

Malorne Harness (T4)

Two-Piece Bonus:
Your melee attacks in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form have a chance to generate 10 additional rage.
Your melee attacks in Cat Form have a chance to generate 20 additional energy.

Does this set bonus look familiar? It should, because its essentially a second Omen of Clarity for feral druids. At a procrate of 4% per hit, combined with an average of about 5 attacks every 4 seconds in catform, the set bonus alone will give the average cat druid 1-2 more shreds per minute, which could easily yield an extra 20-30 DPS! Bears dont necessarily get as much benefit from this, getting only about 2 procs per minute, but that should still be enough for one more maul (Remember, maul costs more than the 10 rage the tooltip tells you it does due to loss of autoattack rage generation). This is such a strong cat bonus that many people keep two pieces of tier four all the way up to four-piece tier six (And with T6 being expanded to an 8 item set, cats may NEVER get rid of it).

Four-Piece Bonus:
Increases your armor by 1400 in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form.
Increases your strength by 30 in Cat Form.

For catform, this is a fairly decent buff, giving us about 80 attack power with raid buffs. But lets face it, strength as a set bonus is kind of. . . boring. For bears, though, that 1400 armor is damn nice. Sure, the set bonus isn't affected by the bear modifier, but even so, 1400 armor is approximately the same as 255 armor on an item, about 5/6 of the armor on the coveted Badge of Tenacity! Much like the two piece bonus for cats, many bears hold on to their four piece malorne bonus until they start picking up T6 pieces. However, while this is a signifigant chunk of armor, the overall stat upgrades on T5 can easily overtake the benefit of this bonus, especially when you factor in T5 bonuses (or, better yet, lets not bother factoring in T5 bonuses, for reasons discussed below.)

Nordrassil Harness (T5)

Two-Piece Bonus:
When you shift out of Bear Form, Dire Bear Form, or Cat Form, your next Regrowth spell takes 2 fewer sec. to cast.

Umm. . . oooooookay? From the stellar PvE bonuses on our first Raid set, we go to this. Frankly, this is a PvP and soloing bonus, and nothing more. Sure, you could whip out that raid-saving spot heal, but odds are you're going to be too focused on doing your job (DPS) to notice someone moments away from death in time to heal them before the actual healers do. And even if you do get the heal off first, you're going to heal what, maybe 1800 if you specced Nurturing Instinct? Odds are, if you really need to pop out to help the healers out, you're going to need to throw more than one spell, and ultimately, all this bonus does is cuts HALF A SECOND off of the effective casting time for Regrowth, since the global cooldown delays you for 1.5 of the 2 seconds you thought you just saved. Oh, and dont even THINK of capitalizing on this bonus while getting beaten on by a raid boss, since you'll get stuck out of bearform for about 1.5 seconds too long. Seriously, Blizzard, give the raiding gear raiding bonuses next time.

Four-Piece Bonus:
Your Shred ability deals an additional 75 damage, and your Lacerate ability does an additional 15 per application.

Ok, this bonus is at least a bit better than the first one. 75 bonus damage on shred can add up pretty quickly. But 1.5 extra shreds per minute would tend to beat it out, both in terms of raw damage, and because of the extra combo point generation of the latter. And while I haven't specifically done out the math, I suspect the superiority of the 2-piece T4 bonus wins out, even after considering the increased stats on T5 (if only because a lot of people stop at 3-piece Nordrassil). Oh, and lacerate DoT damage boost? Whoopdy-freaking-doo. Wake me up when my lacerate is as good as Nalorakk's bleeds so I can care about its damage.

Thunderheart Harness (T6)

Two-Piece Bonus:
Reduces the energy cost of your Mangle ability in Cat Form by 5 and increases the threat generated by your Mangle ability in Bear Form by 15%.

Ok, well, its not a crappy one like Nordrassil had. Actually, for bear form, this one is rather nice, giving us a nice big chunk of extra threat on our heavy hitting Bear Mangle, improving both snap aggro and long-term aggro generation. The catform mangle bonus leaves a lot to be desired, though, since the only reason we have for using that ability is re-applying the debuff every 12 seconds. Kinda leaves something to be desired, especially if you have multiple feral druids, and thus have to use mangle even LESS often.

Four-Piece Bonus:
Increases the damage dealt by your Rip, Swipe, and Ferocious Bite abilities by 15%.

Another reasonably solid bonus. 15% more damage on finishing moves in catform can really add up. And more swipe damage means more swipe threat, boosting both multi- and single-target threat generation in bear (remember, by this gear level, Swipe will do better single-target threat then lacerate). I'd hit that!

So, in short, T4's bonuses are made of epic win. T5's bonuses are the dregs from the bottom of Blizzard's Tea (though the swipe damage boost is a rather tasty looking dreg), and T6's bonuses are fairly solid without being too obscenely good. This just reaffirms my decision to pass on my T5 tokens to let those who need them more have them first. And remember, sometimes the best way to make yourself better is to make the warrior, priest, or other druid next to you better.


Spacewarrior said...

Gosh, yeah, I remember the Genesis Raiment. I think back then it was about slightly better than the epic pvp armor set, though I never really got any of the pieces because the requirements to get them were so complicated, and they really wouldn't have helped my healing anyway. But back then, Tier sets were confusing enough. Am I getting healing, damage/healing, mp5, what? And this was everyone's problem, not just druids. So the best bet really was to wear a mix of tier gear and maybe a few non-set pieces in between. Of course, I'm not sure that's such a hot idea these days, but all of us seem to have more options for gear, and I gotta say, resto druids have it pretty nice these days.

Anonymous said...

I assume you meant Maul not Mangle when discussing the T4 bonus for Bears.

SuraBear said...

Indeed I did. Too many "M"s. I should start saying "Mouse 4" and "F key", only then NOBODY would know what I was talking about.

Logan said...

If it makes you feel any better, the warlock tiered gear follows a similar pattern. The t4 two-piece set bonus is a chance to proc a sizable spell damage increase (a proc that happens quite often), while the t5 two-piece set bonus causes your pet to get healed for 15% of the damage that you do. The two primary raiding specs for warlocks utilize either a phase-shifted imp (that never takes damage in the first place) or a sacrificed succubus (it's dead, ergo it can't be healed). Lame!

Anonymous said...

I am convinced that T5 is for PvP/Arena. Popping out of cat form for an instant Regrowth rocks, but popping out of bear form while tanking leads to certain death.

SuraBear said...

Logan: We actually have a very good raiding Demo 'lock in our guild, for whom I'm sure that bonus would be a great help (He was also our tank for our guild first downing of Leo this weekend, another good use of that set bonus for that matter). But yeah, for a set bonus to be on a class' only set, but only apply to a small subset of that class, is pretty lame.

Kalon said...

Math wise, the T5 definitely loses out to 2pT4. Not even close, really. Depending on your gear 4pT6 will lose out to 2pT4, and they're at least comparable. The set pieces in T5 are great for the stats, but man does it suck for the bonus.

I'd probably go for full T4, then replace all but the head and chest in T5 since those are the hardest to get in T5 anyway (and other classes have far better bonuses for their T5).

Anonymous said...

This is what I go with as a tank set...

1.) Vengeful Gladiator's Helm
2.) T4 Shoulders
3.) Vengeful Gladiator's Handwraps
4.) T4 Chest
5.) Slikk's Cloak of Placation (35 Badges)
6.) Band of the Swift Paw (35 Badges)
7.) Footwraps of Wild Encroachment (60 Badges)
**The Boots of Natural Grace are almost exactly the same boots of you are a LW and can buy/find the recipe, which is BoE, but the crafted item is BoP.**
8.) The almighty "Earthwarden" - Still the best Feral Tank weapon IMHO. (Unless of course, you are doing Black Temple)
9.) Necklace of the Juggernaut (25 Badges)
10.) Ring of Unyielding Force (25 Badges)
11.) Violet Signet of the Great Protector (Exalted with Violet Eye)
12.) Adamantine Figurine Trinket.
13.) Badge of Tanacity Trinket.
14.) Believe it or not, I still use the Idol of the Wild. I'll get a better one eventually I guess.

SuraBear said...

"8.) The almighty "Earthwarden" - Still the best Feral Tank weapon IMHO. (Unless of course, you are doing Black Temple)"

You'd take the Pillar of LOL over the Wildfury Greatstaff? I'd gladly take nearly 3% dodge over 21 stamina and 50 armor, especially considering the fact that by the time you get it to drop, you'll probably be armor capped (or swapping in rogue leather pieces to stay below).

Maybe if I have some time to write today, I'll do a comparison piece for our three tanking epic weapons.

Anonymous said...

14.) Believe it or not, I still use the Idol of the Wild. I'll get a better one eventually I guess.

You bought 180 badges worth of gear without spending 15 on the Idol of Terror?

Am I the only one that finds this an... odd case of prioritization? Just want to make sure I'm not missing something.

Sabtree said...

(First off: -adore- the in(Set) picture. I laughed a lot in the office when I first saw this.)

I'm thinking that maybe having two pieces of tank T5 might work decently with the older version of druid tanking gear that had +heal on it... if not for the fact that that lacks armor/defense from the mobs that would eat you no matter how much healing you had.


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