Hi folks! I noticed that about half the people who dropped by yesterday to listen to the Munken interview seemed to click on the single out of date guide I had linked on the right hand guides section. Murphy, his law, and the horse they rode in on can go fly a kite. That said, here’s the updated answer to the question “Should I go for an armor penetration build?” edit: rules of thumb posted separately.
Firstly, patch 3.2.2 changed armor pen by reducing its effectiveness. The stated reason was that since it increased its effectiveness exponentially rather than linearly, stacking to as close to the cap as possible as much of the time as possible had become almost a requirement for physical DPS classes.
Let’s start with the basics:
- Armor penetration now has a cap of about 1400, as 1% armor reduction at level 80 requires 13.996 (rounded) armor pen.
- Armor penetration is calculated after debuffs that reduce boss armor.
- Survival hunters gain much less from armor penetration than other specs and classes because explosive shot ignores armor.
Where does this leave us? Well, basically at all levels of gear, we have to choose between survival, marks with agility, and marks with armor penetration. The armor penetration nerf reduces DPS for all marks hunters a little. Marks, as a spec, gets a large share of its DPS from auto shot and steady shot, both of which benefit from armor pen. Survival is much less exposed to these losses because the SV hunter’s main attack, explosive shot, ignores armor.
This marks nerf was probably made up for with the new fix to the two piece t9 set bonus actually working the way it should, however, again, serpent sting ignores armor as it is not a physical attack. Survival got a huge bonus in a recent patch (3.2): lock and load now procs like crazy: it has a 20% chance to proc off a black arrow tick, unless it’s on cooldown.
Now at lower levels of gear, survival has always been more DPS. Before these changes, once you were in mostly Ulduar 25 gear, you would see an increase by going marks and not trying to cap your armor pen. Once you had enough hard mode or T9 gear, it made sense to go from gemming agility to trying to get soft capped on armor pen and wear a grim toll or mjolnir runestone.
All the above changes move these points forward. If you’re wearing Ulduar 25 level gear with a few pieces of ToC 25 stuff, survival is still more DPS than marks with agility gemming. If you’re in best in slot ToGC hard mode gear, then you will get more DPS with a marks spec and armor penetration itemization. If you’re anywhere between these places, go to www.femaledwarf.com and check to see whether you are better off with or without armor pen.
I was going to go and put together some example cases and link them here, but it looks like some of my co-workers are using packing tape to cover every square inch of a vacationing co-worker’s desk who is expected back on Monday. I’m going to prioritize. Have a good weekend!