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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: More Ulduar gear

Matthew Rossi

One of the things that keeps messing with my head as we progress into Ulduar is, loot actually drops here. Gear that I want and, even better, that I actually get. I still look back with horror at our weekly Naxx clears and how, every single week, we could kill everything in sight only to have no weapons drop at all. Now, the danger of talking about Ulduar gear is that it keeps changing. Older items get revamped and newer items get discovered. This is the nature of the beast, so to speak, all you can really do is keep going.

As an addendum to last week's post about DPS warriors, I've now switched to fury full time for DPS. My numbers are better now than they were as arms (most likely due to my greater sympathy for the spec and my upgraded dual wield set, 2 Rune Edges) and I'm happier. I do find it somewhat galling that I need two weapons better than a Betrayer of Humanity just to break even with an arms spec that used Sword Specialization, possibly the worst choice for arms DPS in PvE right now. I'm still not quite where I should be in relation to other melee hybrids (after all, their gear is improving too) but once fury gets its incoming buffs I should be very competitive with DK's and Druids and Retribution Paladins. (Now all we need is for shamans to get a health buff.)

Rather than pile on more or changed weapons which we'll probably have to go back and update, this week I figured we'd talk about our Tier 8 sets from 10 and 25 man. We'll begin with the Valorous (10 man) Siegebreaker Battlegear and the Valorous (25 man) Dreadnaught Battlegear, then compare the Conqueror to the 25 Dreadnaught. I'm not going to compare the Heroes Dreadnaught because it's never even a question of an upgrade at that point.

Just by looking at these two sets of comparisons, we can tell a few things. Even the Valorous Siegebreaker is a pretty clear upgrade over the Valorous Dreadnaught in all ways save expertise (a slight loss) and critical strike rating (a much higher loss.) Even the Conqueror's Siegebreaker, which is an even larger upgrade and even has more expertise than the Dreadnaught (2 points of Expertise) has 154 crit rating less than the Naxxramas set.

Honestly, I'm a little confused by this. The loss of crit is offset by the huge upgrades to practically every other stat of interest to a DPS warrior to some degree, but it still feels off to see yourself losing so much crit rating. For fury, this is somewhat less of a concern since you'll be dual weilding weapons with reasonably high crit rating if at all possible (weapons like Rune Edge, the Hammer of Crushing Whispers (a 10 man hard mode drop) or Earthshaper) but for arms, the low crit on this gear will be harder to offset. It's true that arms likes armor penetration now, but they still try and get their crit rating up so that they can approach 100% crit rating with raid buffs and Improved Overpower.

That being said, I have to say that the set bonuses are ultimately what will decide the issue, and in this case the Tier 8 set bonuses will I believe win out. The 2 piece Dreadnaught bonus is nice for both arms and fury, but not exceptional. 10% more damage on slam is useful for both specs, arms with .5 second cast slam and fury with Bloodsurge procs both make decent use of the set bonus, but I doubt anyone would tell you it makes or breaks a dps rotation. (I now eagerly anticipate the heated arguments over how this makes or breaks DPS rotations.) The four piece is also 'good, not great' in my opinion. I'd rate it as slightly better for arms than fury only because arms uses two bleed effects (Rend, Deep Wounds) while fury usually only uses one (Deep Wounds). With rage issues being what they are, the bonus is slightly better post 3.1 than it was before.

However, the Tier8 set bonuses are to my mind better. Not only does the two piece set bonus work with both heroic strike and slam, it adds a flat 150 haste rating when it procs. I've tested it myself quite a bit, and it does seem to have a decent uptime (I seem to have had the same results as this Wowhead poster) - the buff is about 150 haste rating, it can refresh while it's already on you, and there does not appear to be a hidden cooldown. Slightly under 5% faster attacks when the buff is active is pretty nice and it can be procced by both slam and HS, making it relatively easy to keep up for both Arms and Fury (Easier for fury, however).

The real winner here is the four piece set bonus, though. The reason this set bonus is good is that it gives warriors a means to proc Wrecking Crew or Flurry by giving an extra 10% crit to one of two bread and butter moves, Mortal Strike or Bloodthirst. MS is still a big instant for arms warriors (combined with the current 25% crit bonus to MS from Juggernaut, this set bonus gives MS an additional 35% to crit) The set bonus helps to offset the lost crit on the set from Dreadnaught - it's not the same as a flat 10% to crit, obviously, but it's still a solid boost that helps increase your chance of getting procs up and increasing the damage of abilities you're going to use as a DPS warrior anyway. In the end, between the general stat upgrades and set bonuses, even the 10 man set is an upgrade, crit loss or no crit loss.

How about the tanking set, you say? Is there any element of that set that's got a similar moment of ambiguity?

As you can see, there's really no reason at all not to upgrade from 25 man Dreadnaught to either Siegebreaker set. I'm actually somewhat disappointed that after all that discussion of the large crit loss in upgrading to the DPS Siegebreaker that there's no glaring loss here. You lose some parry and block for gains in practically every single other statistic of importance to a tank. (The ten man Siegebreaker also loses 4 defense compared to the Dreadnaught, but the Conqueror's is 15 defense higher).

The Siegebreaker switches gem sockets around from the Dreadnaught. More blue gems means it can be socketed for more stamina (especially since it already has much better threat stats) but the three yellow sockets are somewhat confusing for me. Red would allow the socketing of strength gems for more threat or expertise gems if needed, but yellow does allow for hit or even crit if you were interested in that. (Or, of course, there's always gems that aren't pure red or yellow to consider and meta gem requirements too.) Still, even with the yellow sockets the pure statistical power of the Siegebreaker wins it.

As for the set bonuses, well, the Tier 7 set bonuses are pretty nice. I really like that two piece for threat. I don't know if the 2 piece Siegebreaker set bonus really stacks up, but the four piece is astonishingly good. 20% magic reduction on a talented Shield Block will be a nice amount of magic damage reduction. I'd gleefylly mix 10 and 25 man armor pieces just to get this bonus as soon as possible.

In short, there's not even that one stat that says "hey, wait, why is this so low" for the tanking version of Siegebreaker. Both the 10 and 25 man versions are very, very well itemized.

This covers sets for warriors in Ulduar. Next week, non set gear.

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