Monday, April 19, 2010

Animals don't share: Gearing for dual Feral specs

Gearing for two Feral specs is not as easy as it may first sound. Through most of BC (by which I mean Tier 7) I collected separate gear sets even though I didn't have separate specs to support both until after 3.0 dropped. It made sense, right?

When Wrath dropped, I had one common piece of gear between the two sets. As I progressed through Wrath and started running dungeons and early heroics, I got my sets whittled down to the point where I only had about 3 or 4 unique pieces between them (from the obvious contenders: cloak, amulet, trinkets and rings). This was, of course, at the point in time where I was running around in mostly greens and blues with no gem slots. And I wasn't too concerned about enchanting them, either, because I knew they were all going to get replaced at a fairly quick pace.

Fast forward to now. I'm back to having 3 common pieces of gear between the two sets: Darkmoon Card: Greatness, Idol of the Crying Moon, and the Shaft of Glacial Ice. This last is because I just picked it up this past week and it's a pretty big upgrade to both weapons I used to carry around. I have it gemmed and enchanted for Bear, though.

Now the reason for the huge differences in sets is that even though Bears and Cats pull from the same pool of gear, their stat priorities are very different. I need much more Stam on my Bear than I do on my Cat. Same with Armor. My Cat cares more about AP, ArPen and Crit than my Bear. Agi is important to both, but in different ratios.

My Cat gems for the Hit cap, then the Expertise cap, then straight Agi. My bear gems Stam and Agi (using almost entirely Shifting Dreadstones), then the two caps if I feel I have the room to spare. And, of course, meta gems are very different for the two specs.

Enchants vary on almost every piece of gear if I'm going for the optimal setup. Bear weapons need Mongoose, Cats get Berserking or Massacre. There's different shoulder, different leg, and different head enchants. Same with just about every piece of two.

As I was doing some calculations this past weekend, I realized one important fact that I'd overlooked for the past two years: the enchants used on my gloves and my chest are the same regardless of set. Gloves and Chest are also pieces that are included in tier sets. So, if done right, those pieces can always be shared.

The premise is this: since Agi is important for both Bears and Cats, fill the gem slots on chest and gloves with Delicate Cardinal Rubies. For every gem slot filled this way, replace one of the Shifting Dreadstones on my Bear set with a Solid Majestic Zircon to keep the Stam/Agi balance constant. Use other pieces of gear on the Cat set to hit the Hit and Expertise caps when necessary.

After this lightbulb went off in my head, I took stock of my current gemming. To make this work for me (once I get my tier gloves) I'll need to cut 10 new gems. Gonna be expensive. I'm already saving up the honor to buy them all. (Thank you WG weeklies!)

But now I know, and in the future I'll be able to plan around this. (Depending on what Cata brings, of course.)

The more you know, right?


  1. I had always wondered how much overlap there would be, since the tier gear is the same. I'm contemplating going "full feral" in cata, but by then all the rules will change!

    Do you have extra triumph badges? Stone keeper shards? Pooling that stuff may get you gems faster than you thought. Also, you may be able to use your alchemist friends cooldowns. I keep getting random blue-quality gems from getting Oculus (ick) and then get the eternals from Frozo. Blue Gem + eternal = PHAT PURPLEZ. 24 hour cooldown, but whatever.

    I love the shaft of glacial ice. Better than marrowstrike, orca hunter's harpoon, or a sparklepony!

  2. Between San and Dal, I have about 60K honor saved up, which will get 6 of my 10 needed gems. By the end of this week I should be in position to buy 9 of them. I do have alchemist guildies that I could bum transmutes off of, as well. And Dal (being a miner/jewelcrafter) still has a stock of at least 40 of every rare-quality Wrath gem. Plus an ample supply of Eternals.

    (I farmed like crazy pre-3.3 when we learned that Titanium would be prospectable for Epic gems...)

  3. On a related note, there's lots of pieces of gear out there I would gladly use on both sets. The differences in gemming and enchanting requirements would pretty much dictate that I have two of them, though. I typically don't raid enough for that to happen in most cases.

  4. Im mainly a kitty first and bear second. All my frosties have gone on my DPS spec first and foremost and my kitty gear then gets passed down to my bear. Its a strategy that has worked fine so far and although i have no frost gear for bear im happy tanking at least the first 4 - 6 bosses in ICC.

    Agi is better than Arp for kitties in 10 man raids according to RAWR so you can possibly share a little more gear across the specs if you gem for that. Also Mongoose isnt that much worse that the other 2 enchants (10 dps at most i believe) so if you have to share a wep it wont be a major loss.

  5. You can run some heroics for badges to get gems also.

  6. Yeah, Rawr is still telling me to gem for Agi on my cat set. Every time I get a new piece, I end up doing the "rawr shuffle" of my gear, where I swap around roughly equivalent pieces at rawr's instructions to maximize the appropriate stats without going beyond the respective caps. It always boggles my mind when Rawr instructs me to grab that Ulduar-level hat out of the bank.

  7. I pretty much did the same thing in the opposite direction. Before I got my bear tiered out I picked up a lot of the "Rogue" leather drops because they were still reasonable upgrades to what I had (and our raiding rogue was spending a lot of time on his paladin OTing those runs). As I've replaced them, they've gone to my kitty gear, making him a pretty formidable force. I've managed top 5 (of 25) on Toravon and Koralon the last two weeks I've been in there.

    I used Arp more as an example than something I'm actively gearing for. Though I'm very near my soft-cap and so it's not a bad option for me at this point.

  8. On top of the 500+ I'm already sitting on?

    I actually kinda want to hoard those for heirloom gear. I have at least two different toons I'm hoping to gear out come Cata.

  9. I used to use Rawr's suggestions religiously. If Rawr said it was better, I went with it, even when it felt wrong just looking at the stats.

    Now I still use it for suggestions or general ideas. Especially on Bear gear when I'm trying to keep a good balance between survivability and mitigation. A piece may be ranked way ahead of something else, but it's important to know why. If it's because it generates a lot more threat but you lose both survivability and mitigation from it, it's not really an upgrade (most of the time). Likewise, I'll sometimes take a piece of gear with a lot of either survivability or mitigation at total cost of the other, even if Rawr ranks it lower because of that, so I can keep those two at the balance that works for me and my healers.

    For cat gear I'm far more likely to just take it (if no one else is going to, since it's technically my off-spec) and then go take a few rounds on a test dummy getting some real numbers.