I logged on briefly last night to chat it up with the guild and see if any of our newer recruits needed anything, only to talk to one of my friends over whispers about an interesting topic, the four piece set bonus. Now while we had a brief discussion on the merits of the Druid tier 10 four piece set bonus versus the paladin four piece set bonus, the discussion digressed into something that sparked my interest enough to blog about it. Specifically there are some classes where the tier 9 set bonuses are far superior to the T10, and there are some classes where the tier 10 set bonus is just godly. While this shouldn’t really pose that much of a problem for almost all of the guilds in the world, we are sitting on the cusp of the new patch having killed Anub and will only have four to five weeks of kills before we phase out ToTGC and start running ICC hard modes.
Because of the fact that we will have somewhere between 10 and 20 tokens for 258 gear, it is essential that we give them to the right people, and not just the person with the highest dkp. In preparation for the great debate that will ensue over this mini loot council that will take place, I wanted to do some research into the four piece set bonuses and which one is better for each class. Now, it is important to know that the purpose of this is to evaluate the tier 10 251 item level gear with the tier 9 258 item level gear, as everyone will be swapping over by the time we have the normal instance on farm and we are accumulating a good deal of trophies. I for one will be spending my first badges on the trinket, so I am not too concerned with the fallout of not picking up 251 gear. The tanks and their set bonuses are as follows….
Paladin four piece Set bonuses:
T10 – 4 pieces: When you activate Divine Plea, you gain 12% dodge for 10 sec.
Initially, my intuition says that I would love to have 12% dodge for 1/6th of the time, with my current dodge percentage I would be pushing 80% Pure avoidance. However, we all know that Chill of the Throne is coming, and as such, this set bonus is much less attractive than a reduction in our bubble wall. To me, for new content, as long as the fight is longer than five minutes, the T9 set bonus gives you more utility and survival than 12% dodge for 1/6th of the time. Now we will not know this for certain until the patch hits and we can actually see the fights, the amount of magic damage being thrown around, and the amount and frequency of melee hits that we are taking, but I believe that dodge will just not do as much as a flat damage reduction. This leads me to believe that the 258 T9 is superior to the T10 until you have the ability to pick up the 264 gear. Now that does not mean that you couldnt wear all offset gear, and in fact that will more than likely be my road, a max armor / stamina set from all of the bonus armor pieces.
Druid four piece set bonuses:
When you look at these, you can see that there is no contest that the T10 four piece bonus is far superior to its T9 counter part. A 12% decrease in all damage taken every minute coupled with ensuring that you do not decrease your armor value during enrage is huge. This is going to be the most powerful tier 10 tanking bonus. For those of you who do not know anything about druids, and this includes myself, Enrage is on a 1 minute cooldown and has the following instant activated ability: Generates 20 rage, and then generates an additional 10 rage over 10 sec, but reduces base armor by 27% in Bear Form and 16% in Dire Bear Form. So, Druids gain a 12% damage reduction once a minute, couple this with the fact that barkskin also has a 1 minute cooldown and has the following instant activated ability: The druid’s skin becomes as tough as bark. All damage taken is reduced by 20%. While protected, damaging attacks will not cause spellcasting delays. This spell is usable while stunned, frozen, incapacitated, feared or asleep. Useable in all forms. Lasts 12 sec. These abilities can be used in tandem with T10 four piece, and as you can see, just reducing barkskin by 12 seconds is no where near as effective.
Warrior four piece set bonuses:
Warriors are a bit trickier, because of their set bonuses, skills, and scaling of their ability. Shield block is very nice because of the talents that warriors have to give them the chance to critically block. Shield block Increases your chance to block and block value by 100% for 10 sec. This is a very powerful physical mitigation skill, and as it is on a one minute cool down, the T9 four piece brings that down to 1/5th up time you will be mitigating a SIGNIFICANT amount of damage. On the other hand, warriors are the only ones who have a T10 set bonus which scales with the gear. Their bonus will allow them to absorb damage, giving them a mini shield once a minute, which scales with health. This means that the more gear a warrior gets out of Icecrown Citadel, the more their ability will absorb. A typical warrior in full T9 (ilevel 258) is probably sitting at about 56k (don’t quote me), giving them an 11,200 absorb. While this absorb is a one time deal, it works on physical, magical, and bleed damage, making it a very powerful damage mitigator.
Death knight four piece set bonuses:
Deathknights also have a more grey distincition between their four piece bonuses. The T9 bonus is very nice in that it reduces their one of their damage mitigation cool downs by 10 seconds, however you have to take a look at these cool downs to understand what relative benefit you get. Unbreakable armor is on a 1 minute cooldown and has the following instant activated ability: Reinforces your armor with a thick coat of ice, increasing your armor by 25% and increasing your Strength by 10% for 20 sec. This can also be enhanced by a major glyph that gives you 30% increased effectiveness. While this is nice, it is a pure armor increase, meaning that it does nothing for magical damage or bleeds, but is a very powerful physical damage mitigation factor. Vampiric Blood is also on a 1 minute cool down and instantly activated, and it gives you: Temporarily grants the Death Knight 15% of maximum health and increases the amount of health generated through spells and effects by 35% for 10 sec. After the effect expires, the health is lost. This can also be glyphed to increase its duration. Lastly Boneshield is, as we see the pattern forming here, also on a 1 minute cool down and has the following instant ability: The Death Knight is surrounded by 3 whirling bones. While at least 1 bone remains, <he/she> takes 20% less damage from all sources and deals 2% more damage with all attacks, spells and abilities. Each damaging attack that lands consumes 1 bone. Lasts 5 min.
As you can see each of them are specific for a different situation, and most high end dk tanks should have a dual talent spec with two different trees so they can take advantage of these abilities. While 15% health seems to be the nicest, and it can be there for up to 15 seconds, the T10 offers something similar. Blood tap is an instant spell on a one minute cool down that offers the following: Immediately activates a Blood Rune and converts it into a Death Rune for the next 20 sec. Death Runes count as a Blood, Frost or Unholy Rune. To me, DKs will also benefit more from the T258 gear and the 4 piece T9 if they are blood, but I am sure gravity can provide more insight into that than I can.
If you are faced with a similar situation as my guild and have to decide where those last few pieces of gear go, this analysis shows us that Paladins and Death knights will be wearing their T9 deeper into ICC than their Druid and Warrior counterparts. So if you have to distribute loot from Anub’arak’s cache and you have a choice between your members and who should get the trophies, Dks over druids, Paladin tanks first, and warriors, well give it to the non tanks.