Jan 032010
 

Introduction

To start out our gearing guide, we’ll look at the things that won’t change much: your glyphs, professions, and enchants. I’ll then take a quick general look at gems and consumables, and finish with a look at the raid buffs that best benefit feral DPS’ers.

Note: For each item, I’m including an approximate dps value for a T9 feral in a well-balanced 25-man raid. Take the numbers with several grains of salt, as everything scales off each other. Really, it’s better to look at the ratios. I’m specifically not giving numbers for buffs for that reason.

EDIT: Doh, hit publish before adding links. Wowhead links up now.

Glyphs

  • Glyph of Savage Roar (~190 dps) – Recommended. An extra 3% damage is hard to beat.
  • Glyph of Rip (~133 dps) – Recommended. It’s not sexy like the Shred glyph, but an extra 4 seconds on Rip is always good.
  • Glyph of Shred (~225 dps) – Recommended. 2 extra seconds on Rip for each Shred, up to 3? Yes please.
  • Glyph of Berserk (~84 dps) – Situational. An extra 5 seconds of Berserk is basically 50 more energy every 3 minutes. On a static fight, the other glyphs are better, but if you’re moving/target switching a lot and can’t get 2-3 shreds in consistently to maximize your Shred Glyph, consider this.
  • Glyph of Mangle (~25 dps) – Not recommended. Even in the worst-case situation (mangle duty, not talented into Imp. Mangle) this is worse than the other options.

Professions

Your professions can give your DPS a good boost. As always, the overall “best” choice is BS/JC (extra sockets and better gems gives much more flexibility for gemming), but don’t feel constrained by that, as the differences are rather small.

  • Jewelcrafting: 3 +34 agi/ArPen gems, which replace 3 +20 gems (~58 dps)
  • Blacksmithing: 2 extra sockets (+40 Agi/ArPen) (~56 dps)
  • Engineering: +340 haste/12s once per minute on gloves, normalizes to +68 haste, which replaces +44AP glove enchant (~56 dps)
  • Alchemy: +80AP Mixology bonus on Flask of Endless Rage (~50 dps)
  • Enchanting: +40AP enchant on rings (~50 dps)
  • Inscription: +80AP shoulder enchant bonus (~50 dps)
  • Leatherworking: +80AP bracer enchant bonus (~50 dps)
  • Tailoring: +400 AP proc with roughly 30% uptime; normalizes to +120AP, which replaces +22 agi cloak enchant (~45 dps)
  • Skinning: +40 crit bonus (~40 dps)
  • Herbalism: Small self-heal (0 dps)
  • Mining: +60 Stamina (0 dps)

Enchants

Head: Arcanum of Torment (~50 dps)
Notes: If your rep isn’t high enough for the top-end enchant, the old BC rep chant or the PVP chant are mediocre replacements. (For the cost, though, you might as well just wait until you rep up, shouldn’t take long. )

Shoulders: Greater Inscription of the Axe (~40 dps)
Alternatives: Master’s Inscription of the Axe (scribes, ~90 dps), Lesser Inscription of the Axe (~30 dps)
Notes: Get the best Sons of Hodir chant you can, or train inscription and skip it entirely. (Remember they’re BtA now so only one toon needs to Hodir repgrind)

Back: Major Agility (~32 dps) or Greater Speed (~30 dps)
Alternatives: Swordguard Embroidery (tailors, ~85 dps), Flexweave Underlay (engineers, ~33 dps)
Notes: Both are pretty close; Major Agility is slightly better, but may be worse if you’re over white crit cap. Swordguard is much better than either if you’re a tailor.

Chest: Powerful Stats (~25 dps)
Alternatives: Super Stats (~20 dps)
Notes: Get the best you can afford.

Wrist: Greater Assault (~30 dps)
Alternatives: Fur Lining – Attack Power (leatherworkers, ~80 dps)
Notes: The expertise enchant is not competitive.

Hands: Crusher (~27 dps) or Major Agility (~26 dps)
Alternatives: Hyperspeed Accelerators (engineers, ~83 dps)
Notes: Crusher for pure DPS pieces, Major agi for shared pieces.

Legs: Icescale Leg Armor or LW equiv (~68 dps)
Alternatives: Nerubian Leg Armor or LW equiv (~49 dps)
Notes: Get the best you can afford.

Feet: Icewalker (~27 dps) or Superior Agility (~22 dps) or Greater Assault (~20 dps)
Alternatives: Nitro Boosts (engineers, ~24 dps)
Notes: Icewalker is superior if you need the +hit; if not, get one of the other two. Nitros are pretty close if you’re an engineer and want an extra Dash.

Rings: Assault (enchanters, ~25dps*2)
Alternatives: none
Notes: No-brainer here. If you can enchant your rings, do it.

Weapon: Berserking (~85 dps) or Massacre (~85 dps)
Alternatives: Mongoose (~75 dps), Greater Savagery (~65 dps), Executioner (~60 dps)
Notes: Mongoose is an excellent choice for a weapon that is shared between cat and bear sets. Some people prefer Massacre’s permanent buff (+110 AP) to Berserking’s proc (+400 AP, generally 25-30% uptime)…they’re very close, so take your pick. I prefer Berserking of the two since it goes very well with a speed pot…that said, I stick with Mongoose. If you’re close to the ArPen hardcap, Executioner’s ArPen proc may be superior, but I wouldn’t generally recommend it. (Oh, and get Greater Savagery if you’re cheap.)

Gems

Gemming is where things get seriously complex, due to the multiple cap problem discussed above. Because of this, I’ll just discuss gemming in general here, and then talk more about proper gemming when I look at each gearset in later sections. I’m not specifically mentioning Dragon’s Eye varieties; substitute those if you’re a Jewelcrafter. (Note: If you’re still gearing up, feel free to substitute the blue or green variety of the gem listed. Bad players blow all their cash on epic gems/top-end chants in ilvl 187/ 200 gear, or worse, don’t gem/chant it at all. Good players realize that in comparison to a 200g epic gem, a 5g green gem has 60% of the stats and a 20g blue gem has 80%.)

Meta: Relentless Earthsiege Diamond (~230 dps)
Alternatives: Chaotic Skyflare Diamond (~220 dps)
Notes: A CSD may seem better if crit > agi for you, but realize that you have to socket 2 blues/purples to activate it, which results in less optimal gemming overall.

Red: Delicate Cardinal Ruby (~28 dps)
Alternatives: Fractured Cardinal Ruby (~28 dps), Bold Cardinal Ruby (~28 dps)
Notes: Red gems are the best overall gems. Delicate (agi) gems are the best default choice, but once you go over white crit cap or come close to capping ArPen, Fractured (ArPen) is superior. If you have capped both agi and ArPen, Bold (str, which doesn’t cap) is the fallback. (Yes, at this gear level, individual gems are within rounding distance of each other.)

Yellow: Deadly Ametrine (~26 dps)
Alternatives: Agility combos (Deft Ametrine, Glinting Ametrine), Strength combos (Inscribed Ametrine, Fierce Ametrine, Etched Ametrine) (all around ~26 dps), Hit/Exp (Accurate Ametrine) (~24 dps)
Notes: Generally, yellow sockets should be matched with yellow gems to get socket bonuses, unless the socket bonus is worthless or the item has a blue slot also which you’re not matching. If agi is better than str for you, grab a 10 agi/10 X gem, with X being whichever substat benefits you best…if str is better, do likewise with a 10 str/10 X. I’ve included the 10 hit/10 exp gem as a possibility; it’s not competiti may come out very well when I model full T10 gear.

Blue: Nightmare Tear (unique, ~28 dps)
Alternatives: Shifting Dreadstone (~14 dps)
Notes: Unlike yellow gems, blue gems are pretty bad, DPS-wise. You should fill one blue socket with a Nightmare Tear, which is good, and shared bear pieces can take an agi/stam gem, but normally you’ll just slot in whichever red is best for you and forego the socket bonus.

Consumables

Nom nom nom.

Food: Blackened Dragonfin (agi, ~65 dps)
Alternatives: Hearty Rhino (ArPen, ~65 dps), Dragonfin Filet (str, ~65 dps), Fish Feast (AP, ~55 dps)
Notes: Pretty simple: eat for whatever your best stat is. Fish Feasts are slightly suboptimal, but they’re much better than nothing.

Flasks/Elixirs: Flask of Endless Rage (~115 dps)
Alternatives: Guru’s Elixir (~60 dps)
Notes: The flask is really your only good option, as the other elixirs don’t even come close. Guru’s Elixirs are dirt cheap though, so feel free to use them for content that doesn’t merit a 40g flask.

Scrolls: Scroll of Agility VIII (~45 dps) or Scroll of Strength VIII (~45 dps)
Notes: People usually overlook scrolls, but if you’re in a group that doesn’t have a DK/Shaman (for Horn of Winter/Strength of Earth totem), these scrolls can give you a bit of a buff.

Potions: Potion of Speed (~600 dps while active, so about ~30 dps for a 5 minute fight)
Notes: Try to stack with any +AP/+Crit procs, if you can. If you have good coordination with your tank, you can pop one right before the pull, get a few seconds of buff out of it, and still be able to pop a full one 2m in. Not super useful, but helpful.

Raid Buffs

While you don’t really have any control over this, here’s a list of the (major) raid buffs/debuffs which will increase your DPS, with a note over who brings what and a rough estimate of how big a buff it is. I’ve included our own buffs for comparison. TLDR version: bribe your RL to bring an enhancement shaman and a ret pally.

  • Improved Icy Talons/Improved Windfury Totem (+20% haste, frost DK or enhancement shaman; any shaman can drop regular WF totem for a 16% buff): +6% DPS, +5% unimproved
  • Abomination’s Might/Trueshot Aura/Unleashed Rage (+10% AP, blood DK/marks hunter/enhancement shaman): +6% DPS
  • Horn of Winter/Strength of Earth Totem (+155 str/agi, any DK/shaman, enhancement shamans can talent for an additional +23): +5% DPS, +6% improved
  • Sunder Armor/Expose Armor/Acid Spit (20% enemy armor reduction, any warrior/rogue/certain hunter pet): +5% DPS
  • Blessing of Might/Battle Shout (+550 AP, any warrior/paladin, ret paladins/DPS warriors can talent for an additional +137): +4% DPS, +5% improved
  • Blood Frenzy/Savage Combat (+4% physical damage taken, arms warrior/combat rogue): +4% DPS
  • Blessing of Kings (+10% base stats, any paladin, +8% version available to all classes via item): +4% DPS, +3% unimproved
  • Leader of the Pack/Rampage (+5% melee crit, feral druid/fury warrior): +4% DPS
  • Arcane Empowerment/Ferocious Inspiration/Sanctified Retribution (+3% damage, arcane mage/BM hunter/ret paladin): +3% DPS
  • Heart of the Crusader/Master Poisoner/Totem of Wrath (+3% crit, ret paladin/mutilate rogue/elemental shaman): +2% DPS
  • Mark of the Wild (+51 all stats, armor/resistances, any druid, +37 version available to all classes via item): +2% DPS
  • Mangle/Trauma (+30% bleed damage, feral druid/arms warrior): +1% DPS (Note: this refers to someone else putting up the debuff, meaning you can drop Mangle from your rotation. No bleed debuff will drop your DPS by about 10% or so.)
  • Imp. Moonkin Form/Swift Retribution (+3% haste, balance druid/ret pally): +1% DPS

Well, that’s it for this wall o’ text. In part 2, I’ll put out a gear list for a T9 geared druid (badges/new heroics) and look at his stat values, to see how the gemming shakes out. Later!

Jan 032010
 

Welcome to the 3.3 Cat Gearing guide! Icecrown is upon us, and it’s time to shred Arthas and his minions, piece by piece. (Since they’re undead, after all. Quick thought: exactly how do my bleed attacks hurt them, anyway? Thankfully, there’s some backup firepower.)

Ferals are in a very interesting place right now, theorywise; our stats have risen to the point where we are bumping into multiple caps, and proper gemming seems to change on a daily basis. (This is due to the fact that gear ilevel is higher than the devs expected pre-Wrath, because of hardmodes.) This is not an exclusively feral problem, by any means, but it does make optimization very difficult. While there have been many things written about gearing options, most haven’t taken enough variables into account. Proper suggestions for a HM raider, vs a new raider, are very different; however, too many people have attempted to synthesize gear decisions into an overly simplistic decision matrix that may or may not be applicable.  

So, for my gear advice, I’ll actually build three “BIS lists,” and provide advice for each:

  • The 5-man/alt “casual player.” This player doesn’t raid frequently or on a high level, but is interested in good performance. Gear focused around non-raiding pieces (ilvl 232/badge 245).
  • The progression raider. This player wants to maximize his DPS to complete the story and finish off LK. Gear focused around normal-mode 25-man raiding (ilvl 264). (If there’s interest, I may work one up for 10m strict raiders.)
  • The hardmode raider. This player will pull out all the stops to boost their dps…or they’re going to be benched for someone else. No gear limits.

Before getting to those sets, though, I’ll start with some discussion on the things that won’t change (much), like enchants, metagems, buffs, etc. I’ll eventually roll all of this into the overall cat guide that I”m putting together. Anyway, on to Part 1! As always, leave me comments and I’ll fix anything that’s wrong. :)