Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Darksend's Weekly Tip: Are socket bonuses worth matching?

In a follow-up to the first tip, today's tip will focus on how to determine if a socket bonus is worth matching. (At the end I will include a small note for Jewelcrafters as most of this applies differently or not at all for those with access to prismatic gems).

There are some general rules to follow when gemming an item:

  1. Guild progression.

  2. How many sockets are on the item?

  3. What color is the socket?

  4. Is your meta active?

  5. What are you using the item for - EH, avoidance, or threat?

  6. What is the bonus?
Now, some of you may be asking yourself: How can the actual bonus be last on the priority list? Don't worry, all in due time. Lets go down the list in order.

Rule 1: Guild Progression

Guild progression is first for a single reason,
Effective health (or EH). Short version, EH is the total amount of damage you can take without a heal before you die through a combination of stam, armor, and things like the mother bear talent and defensive stance. Avoidance has no effect on EH. The best way to help your guild progress as a tank in new content is by gearing for EH.

What does this mean? When gemming for guild progression you will have 24 stam gems in every slot and (unless there are 12 stam socket bonuses) you will never match a socket that is not blue. (On a personal note Xav and I were discussing how we both felt that avoidance has never been weaker than it will be in 3.1, based on the Ulduar encounters that we have tested on PTR so far.)

Rules 2 and 3: Number and Color

The next two rules are almost interchangeable, except when you consider that the bonus for matching a single socket will be something like 4 agi 8 ap or 6 stam, while the socket bonuses for matching 2 sockets are 1.5x more, 6 agi 12 ap or 9 stam.

My thought process on these two looks something like this:

It is that simple sometimes. Even if the bonus is bad, through a combination of 16 agi gems, 8 agi 12 stam gems, and 24 stam gems, you will almost never lose out by matching any socket that does not require a yellow gem (more on this in the summary).

This leaves 4 possible items, as only one item in LK has 3 sockets. Those 4 items are items which contain:

  1. 1 yellow socket
  2. 2 yellow sockets
  3. 1 red socket 1 yellow socket
  4. 1 blue socket 1 yellow socket

Rule 4: Meta

The next rule is one that does not come up very often but is something that must be addressed immeditaly: Is your meta active?

  • The only meta that one might possibly use as a tank that has a yellow as a requirement is the RED. While I would strongly recommend against using it, if you are and you only have one yellow socket in all your gear, it is a given you will match the bonus no matter what it is.
  • If you need either a red or blue gem to activate your meta and your gear only has enough sockets to just meet the meta requirements regardless of socket color, chances are your gear is at the point you still need to stack 24 stam gems and this is a null argument.
  • If you do not have enough blue or red slots to met the meta and you wish to match the bonus that leaves you with an 8 hit/12 stam if you need a blue for your meta, and either an 8 agi/8 hit or an 8 hit/8 expertise if you need a red for your meta.

Rules 5 and 6: Item Purpose and Bonus

Finally, you need to look at what set you are going to put that item into. This is also the first place the socket bonus will actually matter.

  • 1 yellow socket: As we already mentioned, items with only a single socket generally have weaker bonuses. As such, when using the item for pure EH, you will never match this bonus. For threat, you will always match this using either a 16 hit or an 8 hit/8 expertise. Now for avoidance, finally the bonus maters. If the bonus is an agi bonus then match it with an 8 agi/8 hit. Otherwise, use a straight 16 agi gem.

  • 2 yellow sockets: Only one item in the game so far has two yellow sockets, but there will almost definitely be more. Again, no bonus can make up for the amount of EH lost by using 2 yellows gems. For threat, this is an amazing combination and you will match any bonus with any 2 16 hit or 8 hit/8 expertise gems. For avoidance, while a single slot trades 4 agi for 8 hit, here you trade 10 agi for 16 hit. Especially if you have already matched a lot of single yellow slots, it is probably best to avoid this bonus even if it is 6 agi in your avoidance set (and that was definatly not on purpose).

  • 1 yellow 1 red: 3/3, yellow gems for EH just do not work. For threat this is another dream combo, and will match the bonus no matter what it is, only now you can also use a 16 expertise gem. For avoidance, you are trading 2 agi for 8 hit, so an agi bonus would absolutly be worth it.

  • 1 yellow 1 blue: Finally, a yellow socket you will want to match for EH, using an 8 hit/12 stam along with a 24 stam to match a stam bonus, but avoid other bonuses. This is a decent combo for threat if the bonus is hit or expertise, using an 8 (insert more needed stat)/12 stam gem and a 16 hit (or 8 hit/8 expertise if the last insert was expertise). Avoid this for avoidance (/sigh I know I know) even if it is an agi bonus.

As you can see, only in 4 possible configurations of sockets did the bonus even matter, and in even more cases you will pick up extremely sub-par bonuses simply because the color was good. Take the free bonus and move on. Lets be real you would never gem a yellow in a 6 stam blue socket or a 4 agi red would you? So why gem a yellow for an 8 ap blue or 4 crit red socket? Even though I have personally already stated my disgust at that bonus on our t8 shoulders, I am still going to get it simply because it is there, it is red, and it is free. Also, activating your meta is not something that comes up very much, but having a dead meta happens more than you would think (last time I did it I did not notice for 3 weeks because it was my DPS meta) and you do not want to be that guy who gets called out on vent "hey dark, where is your second blue gem for your RED?" And yes for those who may be new to the game, the BC version of the RED took 2 of every color to activate.

Sorry, this is actually a lot longer than I thought it would be so for Jewelcrafters, consider yourself lucky. You not only never have to worry about your meta, but you have extreme versatility. You can pick up those 9 stam and 6 agi yellow bonuses. Number 6 holds much much more importance to you than it does non JCers, but you cannot ignore the others. A double yellow is not the place to put 2 prismatics to pick up a bonus, and if you can avoid it never put 2 prismatics in the same item. You still want to gem 41 stams for progression, and you can use 27 hits or expertise gems in blue slots for your threat pieces.

Like I said this is getting way to long so again I apologize for there being nothing in 2 weeks as I will be without internet till the 6th and I simply did not have enough time to finish my next topic (since I wanted to get the threat write-up done before PTR closed). I may put it up later in the week after I get back we will have to see.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

3.1 PTR Threat value tests and help with the layout

So, I finally finished a project I have been working on since beta, figuring out the threat values of each ability. I am sure other people beat me to it by now, but I have never seen it actually posted and I swore to myself I would finish it the next time the PTR was up. The only thing I was not able to get was cat data, largely because I did not have time before my trip. So here it is.

edit: Did not really work the way I hoped, so the link to my full write up at Tankspot is posted above. Wow, that was easier than it looked, thoughts on the new layout anyone? Also, if anyone knows how to change the color of links on the main page verses the actual single article pages, could you please let me know (compare: main vs single). See you guys on the 7th.

Bear multiplier_____ 207.35
Cat form multiplier_____ .71
Rage gains from Primal Fury and Natural Reaction_____ 1 rage = 5 threat (not modified by stance)
Rage gained from furor_____ 0 threat
Rage gained from enrage_____ 20730 threat for the full 20 rage = 100 threat normalized * stance for all 20 rage
Survival Instincts_____ 4147 threat = 20 threat normalized * stance (assumed to split among all mobs in combat)
Bash_____ 158 normalized * stance (tested with 0/1/2 out of 2 Brutal impact)
Feral Charge_____ 8294 then 16588 = normalized to 40 then 80 * stance (when feral charging something that is both interrupt and snare immune it gives 0 threat)
Improved Leader of the Pack heals_____ 0 threat
Berserk_____ 12441 = 60 threat normalized * stance (assumed to split among all mobs in combat)
Clearcasting proc_____ 2073 threat normalized to 10 * stance (assumed to split among all mobs in combat)
Mangle_____ Damage done * stance
Maul_____ (422 + damage done) * stance
Infected Wounds_____ 0 threat (tested at 0/1/2/3 out of 3)
Barkskin_____ 9123 = 44 normalized * stance (assumed to split among all mobs in combat)
Nature's Grasp_____ 16173 = 78 normalized * stance (assumed to split among all mobs in combat)
Thorns_____ Damage done * stance
Demo Roar_____ 12772 threat normalized to 61.59 * stance (constant at 0/1/2/3/4/5 out of 5 Feral Aggression) (confirmed to split among all mobs it hits)
Faerie Fire Feral_____ (36 + 638 + damage done) * stance
Frenzied Regen healing_____ 1 point of healing = .5 threat * stance modifier (assumed to split among all mobs in combat)
Lacerate (Initial_____ (.5*damage + 515) * stance
Lacerate (Bleed_____ .5*damage done * stance
Swipe_____ (1.5 * damage) * stance (tested at 0/1/2/3 out of 3 Feral Instinct then retested again at 0/1/2/3 out of 3 Feral Instinct with Idol of Perspicacious Attacks - Item - World of Warcraft equipped just to be thorough and as expected nothing changed but the damage)
Savage Defense_____ 0 threat

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New tanking glyph, expected cat nerf

Well, we finally have a third bear glyph (hopefully they will finally make growl 8% just like the other 3 tanks):

  • Glyph of Survival Instincts - Your Survival Instincts ability grants an additional 10% of your maximum health.

Now, cat DPS on ptr was getting a little out of hand so this is not surprising:

  • Glyph of Savage Roar - Your Savage Roar ability grants an additional 3% bonus damage done. (Down from 6%)
  • Primal Gore doesn't affect Rake anymore.
My only question now is, WHY THE HELL is it still a 3 minute cooldown, honestly blizzard, SI needs to be lowered already

Finally, I am going to be out of town for 2 weeks starting Sunday (for personal/family reasons), I have the socket writeup already completed ready to publish on Tuesday automatically, but there will not be a tip the following week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Darksend's Weekly Tip: Faerie Fire: Better than Swipe?

Reposted here and here some additional thoughts, please leave comments there for discussion as I will be disabling comments here.

Now, this was not what I originally had planned for this week (I promise I will post the socket guide next week), but I was asked a question on tankspot that got me thinking. Using FF on live in your rotation is not viable due to the "more powerful spell active" bug that has been in the game since LK beta and is still not fixed. Even with 5 minute FF on PTR, this bug still is around, so visit this post on the wow forums and bump it please.

With the buff to FFF's ap conversion on the PTR, will replacing a swipe with FF in your single target rotation result in higher TPS?

FFF's crit rate is based off spell crit
10% spell crit (I have 8.75 tooltip, plus raid buffs this is probably a low asumption)
40% melee crit (37% tooltip unbuffed)
FFF hits for 730 (without mark this is what mine was hitting for with 4865 AP, please let me know if that is an unreasonable assumption)

FFF crits at x1.5
Swipe crits at x2
FFF crits do not proc SD
Innate threat of FFF is 674


Threat in this example is 1 point of damage gives 100 points of threat (blizzard uses 2 invisible decimals for threat that do not show up in game but do on the mod I use)
Casting FF in caster form gives 3600 threat
Casting FFF in bear gives two separate threat values, the 1st one is 132289, which is the innate threat. It then applies damage and with a 731 FFF, the number jumps to 291327.
Now, (291327-132289)/207.35 (the stance modifier) = 767 - damage done = 36 which as we already discovered is the base threat of FF in caster form.
Finally, take the 132289 threat from before divided by the stance modifier gives 637.99855 or 638, added to 36, gives us 674

SS's of three different values of FFF damage if you want to check the numbers yourself:

Now, to find the average value of FFF threat we need to take 730+674 which gives us 1404 threat. A crit is (730*1.5)+674 which gives us 1769 threat.
This gives us (1404*.9)+(1769*.1)=1440.5

In order for swipe to be more threat than FFF we set x to be the damage of swipe. x*1.5 and 2x*1.5 are the values of swipe threat for a non crit and a crit respectively.
This gives us (1.5x*.6)+(3x*.4)=.9x+1.2x=2.1x




Now, one thing I was not aware of while doing this testing is that on live, the max rank of FF is actually 152 threat in caster (rank 1 on live does 36 threat in caster), as opposed to the only rank on PTR being 36. This worried me because, even thought 10% ap is much more than 116, it might not be as good as I thought it was when embarking on this process. Until I ran the numbers on live and discoved the base bear form threat of FF was only 480. When blizzard removed the ranks on PTR they added that extra 116 threat directly into bear form instead of keeping it on the base ability. This means that one live, the innate threat of FFF in bear is 480+152 for 632 at max rank. That is a net result of a 42 base threat increase in bear on PTR even with the reduction of the caster form threat.

Live FFF vs PTR FFF: threat increase of 42+ 10% of your ap.
Swipe must do at least 686 non crit to be worth using over a completely unbuffed FFF. While testing swipe at the same time as FF it was hitting for 394 unbuffed with 3/3 Feral Instinct.
Raid buffs that give AP in bear (might/battle shout, HoW/SoE, UR/TSA/AM will add a minimum of 215 damage to FF), underestimating the crit of FF, and possibly overestimating the crit of swipe will all 3 only increase the number at which swipe must hit for to surpass FF.
Realistic but non mathamatically proven guess, swipe will need to be about 800 damage non crit to be more threat than FF when accounting for crit percentages.

Blizzard, you finally gave us an ability to use instead of mangle, swipe, swipe on single targets, PLEASE fix the bug preventing us from using it as it is going to be an integral part of our rotation next patch.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Breakdown: t7 vs t8

Now, first I would like to explain why this post is a few days delayed. Two reasons, 1) I did not want to bump down the weekly tip for a few days, 2) I have been waiting for wowhead to add the sets to their PTR site.

At first, I was upset, then I took another look at them. Blizzard has decided to move away from equip bonuses and give us massive amounts of stats. This in turn makes them amazing for bears. The most glaring example (thanks to Felhoof of Thinktank for this, I had made most of your conclusions on my own before reading your article but this is one thing i had not seen before) is the 10t8 and 25t8, seen here . The lone exception to this is haste, which is the one thing about t8 that really upsets me (I wish they could have put those stats in expertise or crit).

Here is the comparison tool for the 4 different sets, done from the focus of 25t7. Note that the jump from 10t7 to 25t7 is 13 ilvls, the same jump as 25t7 to 25t8. Now compare the jumps in stats in this comparison. Double the agi and 10 more stam for the same amount of ilvl gain. The hit is nice, and only one piece having expertise is also nice instead of 0 and 2 like t7, but the pieces that they put them on are my next topic: slot by slot comparisons.

Head - Socket bonus is the same color trading 12 stam for 8 agi, leaving the net increase of 8 stam and 24 agi. Helm is a straight upgrade going from 25t7 to either 10 or 25t8, as trading that much crit for that little ap is defiantly worth it.

Since most people use Hood of the Exodus however, here is that comparison. Exodus's dps socket bonus really hurts its case, and that much crit is hard to ignore, but see the conclusions for my thoughts on expertise, you will see a trend in the next few pieces.

Chest - Do most people match this socket bonus? I don't know about most people but I used an 8 agi 8 hit gem to gain the socket bonus. The change of color from yellow to blue for a tank is very nice. Using a 24 stam, you gain 15 stam for 2 agi and 8 hit on sockets. That puts the next exchange at 10 agi and 32 stam, while gaining 41 hit in exchange for 40 expertise. Again, see my conclusion on losing expertise.

Legs - Again for purposes of socket bonuses lets use an 8 agi 8 hit in both yellows and an 8 agi 12 stam in the red and blue. This results in no change in stats from sockets. This is probably the piece that torments me the most. 3 pieces, 14 expertise rating lost so far.

Here is the comparison on using t7 chest and t8 legs vs t8 chest and t7 legs. Personally I think I am going to go t8 chest t7 legs. When adding in sockets to that comparision, it becomes 8 hit vs 3 stam and 6 agi. Making the net gains 11 less agi no stam change and 41 hit rating gained with my choice.

Shoulders - The first item that truely truely upsets me. Same color but a 6 stam for a 4 crit bonus is bad, Blizzard if you are reading this please reconsider making this 4agi instead of 4crit. Making the net change 17 stam for 17 crit when adding sockets into the comparison. Upgrading from 25t7 to 10t8 is not worth it but the expertise gain is to much to ignore so going from 25t7 to 25t8 is worth it, and makes t8 legs that much more appealing.

Gloves - 50 crit for 43 armor pen in respect to SD is horrible itemization. Accounting for the change in sockets, using an 8 agi 12 stam and an 8 agi 8 hit, the net change is 22 agi and 12 stam. This is the first place I am looking to use a non set item ATM. 50 crit on t7 is just to much to give up.


Expertise is going to be a problem, we lose 3 major expertise pieces while possibly not even using the one piece of the new set that has expertise, probably going to change necks from the KT 25 neck to the new badge neck, changing rings to the 2 new ones gives a slight expertise refund (unless you were using the badge ring in which case its a 21 expertise upgrade).

I use Belt of the Tortured most times to tank on live, but for those still using the UK one (which is actually what I have been using on PTR because of the extra socket) we gain even more hit for a neutral expertise change.

Until we start seeing more of the off-set items it is hard to predict how stats will be balanced and which will be more valuable hit or expertise.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Darksend's Weekly Tip: Are you gemmed and enchanted properly?

The goal of this blog is to give advice, insights, and help to the community. The "this is new and looks interesting" posts, such as those of the past few days, will contribute a great deal towards that end. My main focus and purpose behind this blog however has always been this segment, which I will be posting once a week, usually on Tuesday. "Darksend's Weekly Tips" will contain guides on various topics ranging from gear to macros to tricks for tanking specific encounters. They will be the most informative, structured, and thought out topics to be posted on the site. The 1st two weeks are going to cover how to properly gem and enchant your gear. So, are you gemmed and enchanted properly?

Although maybe that question is to broad, perhaps the question you should be asking yourself is, "Is this item gemmed and enchanted properly for the gear set I am trying to fit this piece into?"

Effective Health




Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector

Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector

Arcanum of Torment


30 Stamina

20 Dodge/15 Defense

40 AP/15 Crit


225 Armor

22 Agility

22 Agility


18 Stamina (only with kings and imp MOTW)

10 to All Stats

10 to All Stats


40 Stamina

6 to all stats

15 Expertise


110 AP (kinda)


Accuracy (before hit cap) / Mongoose


22 Stam

16 Agility



Frosthide Leg Armor

Frosthide Leg Armor

Icescale Leg Armor


18 Stamina

20 Agility

20 Hit / 15 Expertise

Red Socket

8 Agi 12 Stam

16 Agi

16 Expertise / 8 Expertise 8 Hit

Yellow Socket

8 Hit 12 Stam

8 Agi 8 Hit

16 Hit / 8 Expertise 8 Hit

Blue Socket

24 Stam

8 Agi 12 Stam

8 Expertise 12 Stam / 8 Hit 12 Stam

This includes no profession specific enchants, but it also excludes some enchants that could be arguably better. For threat on helm, the old world 34 AP 16 Hit from CE rep could be better until the hit cap. For pure avoidance to chest, 10 stats gives 12 agi with imp mark, SOTF, and kings. 22 Defense gives .07% more avoidance than 12 agi. For gloves, Armsman, despite giving parry, may actually be more threat than either of the enchants listed, especially if without either you are already hit and expertise capped. Finally, Tuskarr's Vitality gives much more utility than Fortitude, but for reasons of pure EH it does not make the list.

Next week in part 2 I will be posting a write up on how to decide if socket bonuses are worth matching.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New tank ring and drop woes

Now, I know this was discovered a while back, but since it just dropped again today it reminded me i had not posted it yet:

/Drool. Hopefully i can convince my main tank to pass that to me, and let him get the expertise one with slightly more defense and dodge. Ideally you will want both in the end as they are both better than gatekeeper (still have yet to see a single one drop on a main run and my alt has seen 6) and Keystone. Hang on to the badge ring for your threat set, but swap in the above expertise ring instead of deflection band/gatekeeper depending on your hit (at least for me hit is a lot harder to come by).

Now, last night i was quite upset when I saw a ring with parry and dodge on it, I was upset until i saw it was only ilvl 219 so it is a 10 man drop, so its not worth getting too upset over. Although it is just parry and dodge, no defense on it. While I know some warriors can get away with it, maybe with the new gear they can use rings without defense but it is going to be interesting to see how much use that ring actually gets. We can only hope they change the parry to expertise.

Overall I am quiet happy with the itemization on rings, capes, necks, and trinkets, but the actual leather gear is not that good. I don't think we realized how over budget recluse was until I saw this. Again though, most if not all of the leather drops have been 226 so until we see some of the higher ilvl dps/tanking leather I probably won't be impressed enough to post images of it.

Now a challenge for those of you who played feral druids when BC launched:

Since Gatekeeper is my new Squid-stick, in the comments post how many runs it took you to get Zierhut's Lost Treads and Terestrian's Stranglestaff. For me it was 11 runs for the boots and 23 for the staff.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ulduar tank trinkets and swipe buff

PTR showed us 2 new tanking trinkets, both of which have identical stats to Defender's Code. Unfortunately, one is only on the EU ptr as it is a boss the US has not tested yet. The one from US realms is quite impressive:

With luck, both the trinkets will be itemized to be useable by druids (not that the saph 25 trinket is better than the badge one even for dk warrior and pally avoidance, but the fact it is parry is a big slap in the face). If this is the case, JCer's save a prismatic gem from monarch crab. Most likely it will be something with block but if it is an updated version of the badge trinket, or even another stam trinket, both monarch crab and essense of gossomer are useless.

The question remains, will you use this + greatness or this + monarch/essence(for non JCer's) and what are the stats of the EU tanking trinket?

Well, here is the tanking trinket from EU, let me warn you, it is BAD. Our second trinket will almost defiantly still be greatness or monarch crab:

Don't say i did not warn you.

Swipe changes: source

Swipe: The Bear Form and Dire Bear Form version of this ability no longer has a targeting requirement and hits targets behind the druid and to the sides.

Agi/Stam opal:
Added a recipe for Shifting Twilight Opal to the daily jewelcrafting vendor.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A challenge from a friend, the reason for the URL, and new patch notes

While debating how to start my blog, I came across this post by a friend of mine.

If there’s one quality that a great tank has it’s the ability to reflect upon their experiences be they achievements, mistakes, insecurities, inconsistencies or any of a million different things.
For me this rings very true. I have always felt that the first and most important step to becoming a better tank is to know where they are weakest. A consistent inconstancy is a good thing because it is identifiable and you can focus on improving. For me, it is targeting, especially since Wrath of the AOE, trying to target that one mob without first accidentally clicking on the 4 raiders its running past on its way to the person who pulled agro way in the back. On that same note any time there is no targeting circle, usually because of something on the ground like a rug, it drives me crazy and disorients me.

I have been a tank since BWL as a warrior, a druid just as long (pvping to rank 13 on my horde account), and a feral tank since 2.0 (the day darksend was created). Even at the top of my game progressing through BT and sunwell in a server 1st guild, things would happen that could shatter me and make me lose all confidence in my tanking abilities.

So in extension of vene's challenge, take the time to reflect on something, anything, that you accomplished as a tank and ask yourself, how can I get better? Then promise me to never lose confidence in your abilities and skill, it is the biggest pitfall a tank can ever make.

Next, the inspiration behind the url (though it as been changed to Protector of the Pack, the true name of the talent will live on forever)

*New Talent* Mother Bear[PH][NYI] (Tier 8 ): Increases the bonus attack power for Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by an additional 20/40/60%, and for each friendly player in your party, damage you take is reduced while in Bear Form and Dire Bear Form by 1/2/3%.
Druid T8 Feral 2P Bonus (Class: Druid) -- The periodic damage dealt by your Rake, Rip, and Lacerate abilites has a chance to cause you to enter a Clearcasting state.
Item - Druid T8 Feral 4P Bonus (Class: Druid) -- Increases the duration of Savage Roar and Survival Instinct by 8 sec.
Faerie Fire (Feral) now deals [15% of AP + 1] damage. (Up from [5% of AP + 1])
Those look like they are going to be must have for DPS, allowing for a consistent FB every rotation. The 4pc for tanking is really strong but the 2pc is lackluster.