[Cataclysm] On being replaced by a pet

The Public Test Realms are now up with patch 4.0.1, which means that even slackers who aren’t in the Cataclysm beta will get an early chance to see the new class and talent tree designs.

If you find this PTR and patch 4.0 business puzzling, all you need to know is that before each previous expansion there have also been many class changes. Blizzard patches the class changes into the live game before the expansion. And no, we don’t know when although November 2nd is the current hot guess for Cataclysm. (Not saying this is set in stone, although I don’t think Boubouille has been wrong before.)

One of the more interesting changes is that the hunters’ pets have had a revamp. Each different type of pet will now be able to provide a different raid buff. And that raid buff will be exactly the same as a player of appropriate class could provide. This includes Bloodlust/ Heroism (which could be provided in future by a Corehound, available to Beastmaster specced hunters.)

Even a trained corehound could do that!

It’s ironic that one of the standard complaints about raiding (usually from non raiders) is “Even a trained monkey could learn to do that!” in a game where the actual trained monkeys are often more useful and easier to control than the players. A pet doesn’t have to worry about getting out of the fire in WoW, for example – they automatically take much much less AE spell damage.

You can probably even set the new pets to automatically renew their buff when the timer runs out. Which would put them way ahead of … well me for example! I do try to keep shouts (warrior buffs) up but sometimes if I’m busy it may be a few seconds late.  A pet won’t do that. And some of the ‘skill’ goes out of the game.

So there will be advantages to having pets along to do the buffing.

I don’t actually think giving hunters access to all the raid buffs is overpowered. Although it does give them a privileged position in regards to raid invites. Having one in your raid means a very flexible buffing class. If I played a different dps, I don’t really know how I’d feel about that. It’s not as if the class lacked utility before.

I think it’s a mixed blessing for the actual hunter player. Forget being able to choose which pet you bring to a raid, the raid leader will consult a spreadsheet and tell you. And if that means a tenacity pet which does less dps, then enjoy slipping down the damage meters in order to provide more utility. Look forwards to the joy of feeling obliged to go catch and tame a copy of every type of pet in the game if you are a keen raider, just in case. Enjoy having Beastmaster as an offspec, even if you hate it, just in case one of those exotic buffs turns out to be necessary.

Tanks however, are used to being replaced by pets. The pet’s entire purpose is to tank solo content, and if they can also tank instances and even raid bosses, well it’s just a matter of scaling. What I really want to know is why I can’t have a pet that heals or does ranged dps. I’d look after it and make sure it didn’t get eaten! (Or at least, I’d take better care of it than I do most of my mates in game, where I’d be more likely to point and laugh if they got themselves chewed on by mobs due to doing something daft.)

The strange lack of healing pets

In many ways, the most interesting of the new pet abilities is the heal which Spirit Beasts will be able to provide. Blizzard have shied away hard in the past from healing pets. I never really understood why this was. What’s the problem with a pet that can heal, given that they’re OK with letting them tank the occasional raid bosses? It could be tuned to never heal as well as a player, and to require lots of micromanagement if that’s needed as a balance.

Still, it feels odd to see abilities which used to be signature to a class turning up on a pet. It is a pretty good indication though that the days in which a player might expect to  be wanted in a raid just for one buff are over.

Patch 3.3: How to spend your badges of triumph

Now that patch 3.3 is live on the WoW servers, all heroic instances reward badges of triumph. If you use the random LFG tool, you will get two extra badges for each heroic you complete.

And as you will also notice, there are vendors in the game for not only the triumph badges but also all the previous tiers of badge given out in Wrath. Since you can also swap your badges of triumph for any of these other badges on a 1:1 basis, badges of conquest, valour, heroism, and triumph are now equal. But the gear which you can buy with them is not.

Not only that, but different vendors charge different amounts of badges for items that fill similar slots. So how to get the best use of those badges? Is it really worth spending 60 badges on Tier 7 (heroism) shoulders when you could have yourself a set of shiny T9 shoulders for half the price? (That’s a rhetorical question by the way – with tier gear, the tier level reflects the item level of the gear. Or in other words, Tier 9 is better than Tier 7.)

The amount of badges charged for an item now bears little resemblance to how powerful it is. Sometimes you want to go all out for the best in slot items, and others you just want to replace something green with a nice shiny epic that people won’t laugh at. So to help out, I’m listing how much the different vendors charge for different pieces.

Generally speaking, triumph gear is better than conquest gear, which is better than valor gear, which is better than heroism gear.  But this isn’t a universal truth, some specs or classes work better with lower tier trinkets for example. You’ll want to use this in conjunction with one of the gear guides below to figure out what’s the best value to get from your badges.

Note: The tier 9 (triumph badge) shoulders and gloves are a fantastic bargain at only 30 badges each. In fact, all of T9 is particularly good value – the vendors are located at the entrance to the Argent Coliseum.

Head:

  • Emblem of Triumph Vendor (Tier 9): 50 badges
  • Emblem of Triumph Vendor (non-set piece): 75 badges
  • Emblem of Conquest Vendor (Tier 8): 58 badges

Shoulders:

  • Emblem of Triumph Vendor (Tier 9): 30 badges
  • Emblem of Triumph Vendor: 45 badges
  • Emblem of Valor Vendor (Tier 7): 60 badges

Chest:

  • Emblem of Triumph Vendor (Tier 9): 50 badges
  • Emblem of Conquest Vendor (Tier 8): 58 badges
  • Emblem of Heroism Vendor (Tier 7): 80 badges

Legs:

  • Emblem of Triumph Vendor (Tier 9): 50 badges
  • Emblem of Conquest Vendor: 39 badges
  • Emblem of Valor Vendor (Tier 7): 75 badges

Hands:

  • Emblem of Triumph Vendor (Tier 9): 30 badges
  • Emblem of Conquest Vendor: 28 badges
  • Emblem of Heroism (Tier 7): 60 badges

Back/ Cloak:

  • Emblem of Valor Vendor: 25 badges

Wrist:

  • Emblem of Valor Vendor: 60 badges (bind on equip)

Belt:

  • Emblem of Conquest Vendor: 28 badges
  • Emblem of Heroism Vendor: 40 badges

Boots:

  • Emblem of Valor Vendor: 40 badges

Trinket:

  • Emblem of Triumph Vendor: 50 badges
  • Emblem of Heroism Vendor: 40 badges

Neck:

  • Emblem of Conquest Vendor: 19 badges
  • Emblem of Heroism Vendor: 25 badges

Ring:

  • Emblem of Triumph Vendor: 35 badges
  • Emblem of Valor Vendor: 25 badges

Relic/ Totem/ etc:

  • Emblem of Triumph Vendor: 25 badges
  • Emblem of Conquest Vendor: 19 badges
  • Emblem of Valor Vendor: 25 badges
  • Emblem of Heroism Vendor: 15 badges

Weapons etc:

  • Emblem of Triumph: throwing weapon/ wand 25 badges
  • Emblem of Heroism Vendor: various weapons and shields 15-50 badges. No tanking weapons, no 2 handers.

Other:

  • Emblem of Heroism Vendor: heirloom bind on account items for your alts 40-65 badges (can also be bought with argent tournament tokens)
  • Emblem of Heroism Vendor: Epic gem (uncut) 10 badges

Finding the best upgrade for you

There are tools available to help you decide what the best upgrades are for your class and spec. The WoW armoury can also make suggestions to upgrades. You can also use the armoury to see what well geared friends on your server are using.

maxdps.com is handy because it includes green and blue quest items and drops, which is great if you are a new 80 and want to focus on getting your nose inside the door of heroics.

Kaliban’s Loot Lists includes tactics for all the various instance bosses that drop the loot he recommends for each class.

Rawr is a fantastic tool for tweaking the gear of the classes and specs that it supports. It does take a bit more effort to set up than the websites though.

Lots of good class blogs and websites also include gear guides and advice, googling should help to find them.

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