Last month, I linked to one of the more attractive-looking (stat-wise) craftable mail items that will appear in the game with the release of Patch 3.3 and Icecrown Citadel. The item, Draconic Bonesplinter Leggings, was notable as one of the few early pieces that didn’t have Armor Penetration. The post was under the headline:

A Patch 3.3 mail (physical DPS) item that doesn’t have Armor Penetration

Ah, but now it does. Hunters rejoice!

This will be the third tier of raiding gear in which mail gear is primarily itemized with Hunters in mind. Not only do almost all the raid drops — whether normal or heroic — feature Armor Penetration, but in this patch, every physical DPS mail item available from badges, and one out of two craftable physical DPS mail items, has Armor Penetration on it.

That means we can’t even save our badges to buy alternatives, other than set gear.

So what’s the deal? We know Enhancement Shamans have been raising this issue for a while. Have those complaints gone unheard by the development team? Nope. From the Shaman Class Q&A from early June of this year:

One recurring concern among all shamans, whether they are Elemental, Enhancement, or Restoration, is in regard to itemization… An example brought up regularly is concerning Armor Penetration being prevalent in Ulduar despite it not being the most desirable stat for shamans who choose to play as Enhancement. In addition, many shamans express concerns that the options for upgrades are more limited for them than other classes.

If that’s the case, and they really are receptive to itemization concerns, then why do we see an endless parade of gear itemized with Hunters in mind, without stats like Haste that benefit Enhancement Shamans? Supposing most of the raid drops in the upcoming Icecrown Citadel raid do feature Armor Penetration (and it certainly looks that way), wouldn’t it be a smart move to provide some Emblem-purchasable alternatives that have different stats?

It’s just not normal for raiders to pass on upgrades because the gear is so poorly itemized that lower iLevel pieces, with stats like Haste and Crit instead of ArP, provide a better benefit than the shiny new drops.

Armor Penetration provides a nice benefit to PHYSICAL DPS when it's stacked, but often comes at the expense of stats like Crit and Haste. (Image courtesy Parry! Dodge! Spin!)

It’s been a couple of months since Blizzard announced they’d be simplifying stats for Cataclysm, the upcoming expansion, and Armor Penetration will be among those “odd” stats that will be removed from the game with those changes. So why, if it’s a stat the dev team admits is confusing and will eventually be tossed, is it emphasized so heavily through three consecutive tiers of raid and Emblem gear?

This kind of thing leaves me scratching my head.

  1. Tuffghost (Gorefiend) says:

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only enhancement shaman dissappointed with most of the non-set mail drops – What’s also going to hurt us is the gating of ICC, kind of like having to wait to fight Anub’Arak in ToC to get new weapons. The few pieces of gear that are itemized well for us don’t drop until the third or fourth wing of ICC, and we won’t be seeing that until (most likely) well over a month after the dungeon is released.

  2. stormstrike says:

    Hey Tuffghost — great point about the initial ICC wings.

    What bugs me most is that the developers seem well aware of the itemization problems they’ve created for us by slapping ArP on almost every item, yet they’re still doing it.

    It’s bad enough when almost every raid drop has ArP, but it adds insult to injury when we can’t even get around that with Emblem and craftable items, because those are loaded with ArP too.

    It’s like they’re saying, “We heard your complaints, and we really don’t care. Hunter itemization is paramount.”

    I even saw one of our 2.6-speed weapons from ICC loaded with ArP — what were they thinking? Are our primary melee weapons now itemized with Hunters in mind?

    It’s like this is all some sick running joke in Blizzard dev meetings or something.

    I really hope some of the stat allocations we saw on places like MMO-Champion are just placeholders, because I pored through the item lists and was hard pressed to find anything with Haste on it.

    We’ll see when the patch drops…

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