Druid tank reforging choices

Do we reforge to Mastery (recommended for the final stages of the Wrath expansion) or do we reforge to another statistic? Recently there has been talk that tanks should be reforging any stat into dodge rating, including reforging critical strike rating. This sounds like a good idea once combat ratings decay after level 80, but what is the real difference?

My understanding of the best reforging for Wrath of the Lich king at level 80 is as follows:

  1. Reforge to mastery rating, to increase the absorb of savage defense
  2. Haste is the first choice to reforge
  3. Expertise and hit are the next choices if you are over-capped, or are willing to go under the cap
  4. Critical strike rating should not be reforged in most cases, since it increases the chance of savage defense activating

The key idea at level 80 is to increase the amount of damage absorbed by ensuring a high uptime on savage defense. Critical strike rating (hit and expertise ratings have a smaller impact here) directly contributes to savage defense uptime, and mastery rating directly affects the amount of damage absorbed. This is made even more important by the fact that gear had scaled so high that avoidance for druid tanks was being seriously affected by diminishing returns and therefore is less useful to stack than mastery.

This changes somewhat at level 85, where diminishing returns on dodge no longer come into play, and avoidance is much more highly valued. The recent reduction in the amount of damage absorbed by Savage Defense will also come into play.

I’ve loaded up a pre-raid gear set into the latest build of Rawr 4.0 and run the optimizer. I made sure to turn on appropriate buffs, set the boss to be a heroic boss and to enable meta gem requirements. Missing any of those settings will give very different results.

The first image is the default from the optimizer, which reforges all stats to dodge when it can. The second image is reforging everything to mastery rating instead.

The main difference that is not shown here is that the dodge reforged set absorbs a total of 28.1% of the incoming damage, and the mastery set absorbs 29.97% of the incoming damage.
Another significant factor is that diminishing returns on avoidance accounts for a 2% difference in the gear sets.
The final state is that there is very little difference between reforging for dodge or mastery against a raid boss. The trick with this is that the mastery calculations assume that you have a large stack of Vengeance up. If you are in heroics it is more likely that Vengeance will be dropping off, in which case having the avoidance will be better.

Here’s the details of the dodge gear set, enchants, gems and reforging:

Item Gems Enchant Reforge
Mask of Vines Austere Shadowspirit diamondSolid Ocean Sapphire Arcanum of the Earthen Ring 64 haste-> dodge
Mouth of the Earth 44 haste-> dodge
Embrace of the Night Solid Ocean Sapphire Greater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz 52 hit-> dodge
Wrap of the Great Turtle Mighty Armor 50 mastery ->dodge
Assassin’s Chestplate Greater Stamina 73 hit-> dodge
Double Dealing Bracers Major Stamina 44 crit-> dodge
Gloves of Haze Solid Ocean Sapphire Glove reinforcements 60 crit-> dodge
Sash of Musing Solid Ocean Sapphire x2 Socket 73 hit-> dodge
Leggings of the Burrowing Mole Puissant Dream Emerald, Solid Ocean Sapphire Charscale Leg armor 80 mastery-> dodge
Boots of the Predator Puissant Dream Emerald Major Agility 52 hit-> dodge
Elementium Destroyer’s Ring Solid Ocean Sapphire 45 mastery-> dodge
Elementium Destroyer’s Ring Solid Ocean Sapphire 45 mastery-> dodge
Leaden Despair not reforged
Key to the Endless Chamber not reforged
Elementium Poleaxe Major Agility 80 mastery-> dodge

The mastery set is the same gear, but reforging for mastery rating instead. The gemming and enchanting is unchanged. If anyone wants the saved rawr files I can email them to you if you leave a comment.

For anyone interested in the relative statistic values for this gear set, they are in the image below. Please be aware that these have been dynamically calculated based on the equipped items, so if you change the gear in Rawr, then the stat weightings will change too.


It looks like the best bet is to reforge dodge since it grants consistent returns all the time. Mastery relies on Vengeance being up, which is not as likely when in heroics.

Gearing for mastery is surprisingly close to the numbers for dodge, and if you are sharing gear in your cat and bear sets, it won’t hurt you very much to reforge mastery so you get benefit in both sets.

A quick note on Rawr. I think this is a great program, especially for feral druids. However, there are quite a few options and settings that are required to get the best use out of it. By setting some of these incorrectly you can get some strange recommendations (like recommending agility gems for tanking in ICC25…). I think I’ll do a follow-up post on some of the new features and existing settings that are best for druids!

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13 Responses to Druid tank reforging choices

  1. Alaron says:

    Please do. Far too many people don’t ever touch the “Survival Soft Cap” stat.

  2. Garnaph says:

    I debated this at length with a friend, and we came to one clear conclusion : While it may be true that the amount of dmg avoided by reforging dodge and mastery may be roughly the same over the course of a prolonged fight, reforging mastery will be less spikey. i.e. mastery will shave some dmg off each incoming physical hit, while dodge will let you take a few full hits, then miss one completely.

    If the idea is to avoid incoming dmg to save healer mana, I’ve found that healers tend to use their expensive spam heals when you take an unexpected big hit (my dedicated healer is a Shaman, and Healing Surge is crazy expensive). In contrast, having consistent steady incoming (predictible) dmg tends to allow for healers to settle into a sort of healing “rotation” which allows them to keep you up without having to tax their mana reserves. In my case, my healer has time to shock and use unleash elements to get bigger Healing Waves and Greater Healing waves, without fear that I will not dodge 2 hits in a row and die while HW/GHW is casting.

    So personally I’m reforging mastery, and if mastery already exists on the item, I’m taking dodge.

    Just my 2 cents 🙂

  3. Antony says:

    Hi Garnaph,
    Taking the healer’s reactions into it is a great idea. I don’t have any dedicated healing toons, so your insight is helpful.
    I don’t think you’ll go wrong with that choice of reforging 🙂 I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see mastery coming out as more valuable than dodge in simulations once the 4.1 or 4.2 patches are released. When diminishing returns on dodge start to affect druids more then mastery will be even more valuable.
    Something that I didn’t mention in the article was that many of the pieces of gear in the set already have mastery on them. It is important enough that every druid tank needs to make sure they have a fair chunk of it on their gear to avoid the spiky damage that you describe.

  4. Ampzilla says:

    Fantastic post, I was on the fence about dodge vs. mastery.

    Something I’d like to get an opinion on (from other Bears) is their take on expertise and what they are shooting for? I know parry cap isn’t nearly as important what with no bosses (so far?) parry hasting; however, even with reforging practically all gear to expertise I’m just barely at the dodge cap. Is anyone just sucking up the dodges (and threat loss) and going for survivability?

    I’ve also done the Tol’Borad boss (was really easy), and plan on doing BWD Tuesday, heroics are already kind of easy when you are maxed out in at least iLvl 346 gear, so are you thinking dodge for first tier raiding as well?

  5. Hoofit says:

    I referred to this from the gearing post for pre-raiding and raiding things to look out for.
    There’s a lot to unlearn with the introduction of new stats and mechanics.
    I don’t have anything to contribute except that I appreciate the research, opinions and followup posts.
    Thank you for posting it!

  6. Garnaph says:

    My dedicated healer is my wife, who screams in my ear when I suddenly take lots of damage, so ignoring healer issues is kinda not an option for me 😛

  7. kalon says:

    Just wanted to stop by and say really nice work on the website and on the mathy parts. Nice to see another bear blog pop up. 🙂 Keep up the great job!

  8. Gestalt says:

    I don’t quite understand the relationship between a full vengeance stack and the absorbs of savage defense. Can you please explain?

    As well I am still unclear, should we be reforging hit, expertise and crit to dodge/mastery? Even at really low hit/expt/crit levels?

    Does the value of dodge in relation to mastery change depending on the speed of incoming melee attacks? ie. Would more mastery be better on slower hitting bosses, and dodge be better on faster hitting bosses?

    In the past I would juggle a few pieces of gear around depending on what boss I was up against.

  9. Ampzilla says:

    “I don’t quite understand the relationship between a full vengeance stack and the absorbs of savage defense. Can you please explain?”

    A full vengeance stack means you have 10% of your health as extra Attack power which means bigger absorbs from Savage defense (increased by mastery). The less vengeance you have (and the less stamina you have) the smaller amount of attack power you get, the smaller the absorbs from savage defense.

    “As well I am still unclear, should we be reforging hit, expertise and crit to dodge/mastery? Even at really low hit/expt/crit levels?”

    I recently posted about this in the Feral-Bear Cataclysm Release thread, but basically I think the hit is really important if you are interrupt and just in general for threat (not usefully for taunt because taunt can’t miss), I’ve stacked up quite a bit of expertise and I am still .5% away from dodge cap, so I don’t think it’s feasible to stack it, just have a comfortable amount. Other than that I would reforge haste -> dodge rating (see next answer below). I would probably keep any amount of hit (at or below hit cap) as well as expertise, possibly consider reforging crit, this though I’m not sure about.

    “Does the value of dodge in relation to mastery change depending on the speed of incoming melee attacks? ie. Would more mastery be better on slower hitting bosses, and dodge be better on faster hitting bosses?”

    Of course. Think about a bunch of things hitting you at once (aka AoE tanking adds on Halfus [first boss of Bastion]). Mastery isn’t very useful because your shields from your crits are being eaten by just one hit from one of those mobs. Sure you are critting more because you are hitting more targets, but you are limited by GCDs. On one hard (and slow hitting) boss you can make a case for mastery because you should have decent shield uptime for any physical hit the boss does.

    Also I don’t claim to be any expert or have time to do the theory-crafting/math to back up these claims; just making assumptions based on understood mechanics. If it’s wrong..hopefully someone will point it out.

  10. Gestalt says:

    Anyone know if there is a list of raid encounters with boss attack breakdowns? I know there was one for BC that had boss’s attack speed and spell damage, so you could adjust gear accordingly. It would be pointless going dodge heavy if most bosses hit slowly….and breathe fire (aka. dragons).

  11. Goodmongo says:

    After reading these comments it almost seems that we do just two things. 1) Reforge haste to dodge if secondary stat on item is not dodge. 2) Reforge haste to mastery if secondary stat is dodge. That means we don’t reforge out of hit, expertise, crit, dodge or mastery. Hit and expertise as long as they are below their respective caps.

    The other comments say we reforge out of haste, hit, crit, expertise (in that order) and into either mastery or dodge. Because I share some gear between feral bear and cat those items would be reforged into mastery if possible.

    The next open question is if you shared an item for cat and bear specs and it had haste and mastery on it would you refore the haste into dodge or into crit?

  12. Pingback: Best in slot gear for druid tanks, patch 4.06 | Eao's excursions

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