Monday, October 15, 2007

Heroic-Sized Ursine... still comes with fries.

So wow. After all my bitching and whining about terrible idols...very little has changed. On the other hand, everything has changed. Things are looking better for Bear Tank itemization.

First of all, with the publication of 2.3 to the PTR, we have a plethora of new gear available for Badges of Justice. One of them...wait for an idol. A tanking appropriate idol. I very nearly fainted from excitement when I saw it.

So here's a quick look at some of the gear a Bear Tank may be interested in with some comments and maybe a few comparisons.

Let's start with the big news, the Idol.

The Idol of Terror now stands as my newest best target for badges. While the 85% proc rate being reported seems a bit over the top the linked page shows several mitigating factors. Still, 4.4% dodge and about 3.25% crit - even with unreliable uptime - is a monstrous buff both to mitigation and threat. I'm guessing all the popular Bears will be wearing this the day the patch launches. After all, it's only 20 badges!

While this is less an actual fix to general itemization, it sure does take some of the sting out of it. This is a good idol that still uses the design conceit of 1-2 narrowly focused abilities being buffed.

Next up, for a mere 35 badges, is Slikk's Cloak of Placation. Now the name is bizarre and several jokes have already been made about placating the Bears, but the stats on this are...nice. Very nice, making this an outstanding alternative to the Illhoof cape.

The new cape offers somewhat lower armor and Defense, but adds 7 STA and 25 Dodge rating. While Agility would have been preferrable, this cloak can still stand up as a very fine tanking cloak, especially for those unable to readily access and defeat Illhoof.

According to some, if you don't need the Defense Rating it's even better than Illhoof's.

Next up is the second 35 badge item, the Band of the Swift Paw. Sporting more armor, Strength, Agility, and Stamina than either of the other PvE alternatives (Umberhowl's Collar or Forestheart Bracers), this is a clear upgrade that I'd recommend to any Bear tank. It has 6 less Int than the Forestheart (Oh Noes!) but sports a Yellow socket for added customizability.

Now come the pricey items.

Earlier, I discussed some boot options you could go for should you find you don't need the Def from the HCH boots. Two options were from Kara, and another was a Heroic drop. I don't know about you, but my luck with Heroic drops is pretty spotty. I got my Forestwalker Kilt my first trip to the Mana Tombs, but I haven't been able to score the Heroic Ramparts belt for anything.

Coming up are the Footwraps of Wild Encroachment. These are so far and away better than the Barkchip Boots that it is more appropriate to compare them to the Treads of the Den Mother.

Now, no one can realistically argue that the badge boots are better, but they're FAR easier to obtain and can be socketed to grant more health than the LW alternative, or may be socketed for Defense should a Bear find themselves short. Very nice. If I can make up the Defense elsewhere, I'll be upgrading to these.

Right now, I'm wearing the lovely quested Manimal's Cinch. In Heroic Ramparts, there is the Tree-Mender's Belt. With 2.3, we're getting the Waistguard of the Great Beast.

Setting aside that it's socketable and a clear upgrade in every way from the green item and in many ways to the epic drop, this thing has +Hit on it. Many many times I have lamented the lack of +Hit on my tanking gear. A few unlucky misses at the beginning of a pull coupled wtih dps that won't wait or feels that it's somehow your fault you can't hold aggro when they're the only ones hitting something and you immediately start wondering if you can swap in some Cat gear instead of mitigation gear.

Never fear, 60 Badges of Justice will get you what you need! It isn't a lot, but it's something and I'm taking it.

Finally, there is one rather questionable item. The Vestments of Hibernation. Obviously a dps piece, it may tempt people with its high armor to think that it is a viable tanking piece. I'd advise against that line of thinking. If you're well geared enough to not need the stamina a real tanking chest would provide, then you likely don't need the armor or other stats from this item either. Still, I can see there may be setups where it becomes viable to use this, and lets face it...sometimes you just want out of your last few blues.

On the plus side, this can make a very nice chest piece for Cat to Bear work. That isn't common but it does happen and it's nice to be geared for the eventuality should you find that's something you encounter with any frequency.

Sadly, this is one slot where I almost have to advise you to hit the Arenas to find an upgrade from HCH if you haven't managed to get the T4 alternative or, like me, don't stand a good chance of doing so in the forseeable future.

But lets suppose I manage to upgrade my belt and bracers as noted above. Gemming the way I do (all Solid Stars) this nets me +46 Stamina. Switching to the Vestments, I actually gain 1 Stam over what I have now. Hmmm...

While I don't like dumping Stamina gained, I sport a large health pool as it is, and the added mitigation and threat from this tempting. Maybe it's a tanking chest after all...

I can make up the lost Def with enchantments for my head and shoulder slots.

If, however, I decide to swap out my boots instead while using the Defense enchants, I gain significanly in mitigation and lose a mere 2 Stamina. I'll have to sit down and do some math on which option is better.

One thing I've learned is that sometimes, making a sacrifice of Stamina is required for a nice upgrade in other areas. That said, give yourself a benchmark to operate from, a minimum you won't fall below while gearing and go from there. For me, that's 14k Health in Dire Bear while only self-buffed.

However, it looks like one way or another unless I grab a piece of PvP gear, I'll be stuck with at least one piece of HCH for some time to come. Now to farm up 285 badges...and that doesn't even count the dps gear I want.

Hmmm...this blog isn't running the way I wanted it to. I'll tell a story next time...or something.

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