Let me begin by saying I’m not trying to be mean spirited here. I understand that not everyone min/maxes, not everyone plans their gear, reads forums, blogs, etc., and that not everyone is willing to make changes to gear, talents, and gems every time they upgrade a piece of gear. I get that.
Here’s the thing though, I want to gem for Armor Pen, and I want to go with four pieces of T10. Unfortunately, despite the fact that all I need from ICC (25) are a ring, tier tokens, and stuff from the Lich King himself, making the move to Armor Pen is still a dps loss (at the very least it’s not enough of a gain to warrant the trade offs).
Still though going Marks and gemming ArP is the hip trend and all the “cool” kids are doing it. It’s swimming in the deep end of the pool. Every time I see a hunter in full T10 (even if it’s all item level 251) and gemming ArP, I wonder if I’m doing the right thing by waiting.
Let’s take a look at one such hunter who has taken that very plunge and is swimming with all the big kids while I wade in the shallow end.
Let’s start with the gear. All of the gems are +20 ArP except for the meta, Nightmare Tear, and one Deadly Ametrine (+10 agi / +10 crit). Everything is properly enchanted except for the legs which appear to be missing an enchant (not recommended). Also the neck piece is from heroic TotC (10) and not regular TotC (10).
Okay now lets take a look at the spreadsheet dps for Marksman.
Well the first thing that stands out is that this hunter way below the hit cap. I tend to over emphasize the hit cap. I’m more comfortable being nine points over the cap than I am one point under it. Let’s review his talents.
- Put three points in Focused Aim.
- Removed a point from True Shot Aura.
- Removed a point from Hunter’s Mark.
- Removed 2 points from Improved Steady Shot.
I decided to be a little selfish here so I based this on our 25-man raid comp and the fact that we have three MM hunters, two of whom have TSA (I don’t want him eating into my dps by too much 😛 ). Let’s add the leg enchant and crunch the numbers again.
Just to recap, we adjusted the talents to get more hit and added a leg enchant and voila! At this point all of the gems are still ArP. Let’s see what happens when we change to agility gems.
Okay, +50 isn’t a lot, but it’s not zero either, and keep in mind that this hunter isn’t a one-trick pony and sometimes runs as Survival (I know this because he logged out as Survival). Okay, let’s see how this all impacts his Survival spec.
Here are the spreadsheet number for his current setup.
This is based on the following spec.
I chose to remove two points in Hunting Party and dump them into Focused Aim. Remember that gear and talents need to accommodate two specs, not one. Now that the spec is revised, I’ll stick the enchants on the legs and crunch the numbers again.
Alright, that’s a good start, but since this is Survival and those Armor Pen. gems don’t do a whole lot of good, let’s see what happens when I add some agility gems. Again, since this has to work with the MM spec I’m going to gem the same for both.
So by gemming for agility, enchanting all of the gear, and reaching the hit cap, the MM dps went up by 342.23 and SV dps went up by 382.15. Now most of the MM increase came from reaching the hit cap and adjusting talents. The ArP gems really weren’t the killer here. I could get into a discussion about the merits T9/T10, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.
Armor Pen can be very powerful, but it’s not something you should just rush into. You need to evaluate if the timing is right based on your gear. When folks say you need a passive ArP number of 700, or once you can reach 900 ArP with gems you can switch, those are not hard and fast rules. They’re merely thresholds where it might be a dps increase for you.
You also have to balance ArP with all of the stats. Hit rating should never be ignored. You also need to understand that Armor Pen. is a real commitment, and that you’re locking yourself into a spec and play style. It just doesn’t work for SV.
Swimming in the deep end of the pool is great, but if you’re not a good swimmer you might find yourself drowning in your decisions. Armor Pen can be tricky, but luckily there are some great tools out there to help you out.