A lot of people have been taking a hard look at how their going to utilize their badges for upgrades. Some have decided to go straight for the tier gear, others love those offspec pieces, still other are considering buying primordial saronite for crafted gear.
I, personally, am of the philosophy that you build your gear set plans around the fights you are going to be fighting, not the fights you have on farm. Avoidance, and things like 4 piece T10 will be magical for Gunship Battle and Deathbringer, but until I decide to go for the meta achievements, those fights are on farm, and I don't mind making my healers and DPSers work a little harder if it means having an inside track on the future fights.
I've toyed around on the PTR, and have seen what lies ahead. Festergut is going to be akin to Anub'arak phase 3 or Sapphiron, heavy physical damage with a constant magic DoT with periods of burst damage. Rotface is somewhat akin to Grobbulus, only the nature damage going out to the kiting tank is much more severe, and the potential for heavy nature damage with middling physical damage on the Rotface tank. Professor Putricide has more nature damage going everywhere, including to the tank.
In the Crimson Halls, the Blood Prince Council is throwing around heavy shadow and fire damage. Blood-Queen Lana'thael stacks bleeds on the tank, has a raid wide shadow damage aura that increases as the fight goes on.
The Frostwing halls has a lot of AoE fire damage from adds on Valithria Dreamwalker, and Sindragosa is Sapphiron 2.0, with even more frost damage.
There are no Gormak/Patchwerk/Ignis style fights where the tank gets punched in the face with little magic damage. The relative value of avoidance in terms of damage reduction is going to plummet, which means that we need to adapt to that.
So, let's look at what our options are to prepare ourselves for these encounters with our Emblems of Frost.
I've already made my first emblem purchase, taking the Corroded Skeleton Key to replace my brewfest trinket. I've had terrible luck on tanking trinkets. I've never seen the Royal Seal of King Llane drop, never seen the General's Heart, never seen Satrina's Impeding Scarab, and only saw the Furnace Stone drop once and lost it. You know what's dropped at least six times? Fervor of the Frostborn, which is terrible. I can live with the Heart of Iron and the Skeleton Key, however.
Beyond that, my philosophy is to take the most effective upgrades first, and when dealing with items of equal superiority, I take the cheaper one first. There are high stam, high armor pieces available at the chest, gloves, belt, and cloak slots. The other options are the 251 tier pieces. One of the things that needs to be taken into account is, as Wrathy pointed out, that some of the EH pieces have little defense on them. We've all seen the vid of Ciderhelm getting one shot crit by XT-002, so we all know what's at stake with the defense cap.
I currently 831 defense rating from my gear. That's not terrible, as defense does yield more avoidance, but due to diminishing returns, those itemization points could be better spent elsewhere. What this means is that I've got 168 defense rating between me and the cap.
My next step will be to replace my Pride of the Eredar with the Sentinel's Winter Cloak for 50 badges. I lose 2 defense rating in the change, but gain 571 armor and 10 stamina. The additional yellow socket allows me some flexibility, possibly grabbing more defense if needed to make up for losses elsewhere, or otherwise becoming another 30 stam.
After that, some options branch open. I'm currently planning on taking the Gauntlets of the Kraken to replace my T9.45 gloves. This transition will actually be a net gain of 10 defense rating, along with 763 armor and 18 stamina, with an extra gem slot.
Next on the agenda will be swapping in the Verdigris Chain Belt in the place of the Girdle of the Nether Champion. In the process, I will gain another 14 defense rating, 752 armor, 18 stamina, and an extra socket.
Then I plan on buying the Cataclysmic Chestguard to replace my T9.45 chest, netting me 37 more defense rating, 1,344 armor, 27 stamina, and another socket.
During the transition this far, I'll have gained 59 defense rating, 3,430 armor, 73 stamina, and 4 gem sockets. This comes at the cost of about 6% avoidance.
This is where the road becomes somewhat hazy. These purchases will require 265 badges. Assuming that new wings get released at a two week clip after the holidays, and that Legacy can clear all bosses each week, we're projecting about six weeks into the future. Now, I have two roads left to explore with my badges, crafted gear, and tier gear. Seeing as I already have 264 off set pieces for my head and shoulder slots, the 251 tier doesn't really interest me. I won't be investing in T10 until I win a mark of sanctification to jump to the 264 tier.
The crafted gear, however, is ilevel 264, and extremely well itemized. However, it costs 8 Primordial Saronite per piece. At 23 badges for a single PS, these become extremely expensive, either through gold on the AH, or through badges. Hopefully once I've reached this point, the AH price will have come down to something more reasonable.
Taking the Boots of Kingly Upheaval over the Dawnbreaker Greaves will be costly in several ways. In exchange for gaining, 18 stamina, 115 armor, 1.1% avoidance, and an extra socket, I'll be sacrificing 53 defense rating. Just changing my boots alone wipes out nearly the entirety of the defense gains from all the previous badge purchases.
However, the pants are the real prize for me. Equipping the Pillars of Might in the place of my T9.45 pants gains me 27 stamina, 1,336 armor, 2.25% avoidance, an extra gem socket, and the right not to look like the Belle of the Ball. But it comes at a 90 defense rating hit.
So getting the crafted gear will offset about half of the avoidance loss of the badge gear, while converting my excess defense rating to armor, stamina, and sockets. This ends up leaving me with a lean 747 defense.
Finally, the T10 comes into play. I have two slots currently occupied by dropped 264 gear. Taking up the T10 helm will net me 1% more avoidance and 4 more stamina, at the cost of 23 defense rating. The T10 shoulders will net me the 2pc bonus, and a little more base stam, at the cost of a gem slot. I'm not too sure about this upgrade, I'm leaning more towards keeping my current shoulders.
If I take all of these upgrades, I'll gain 4,881 armor, 122 stamina, and six gem sockets. This will come at the expense of about 2% avoidance, which the armor gain will more than offset. After assembling that set, I'll probably grab the rest of the T10 to build an avoidance heavy set for some of the achievements, and possibly gunship/deathbringer heroic.
My general plans are subject to change, if I get lucky with a drop, or a hotfix comes down on some of these items, but I think that the overall design of this gear set will carry me through the later bosses of easy mode in style, and give me a good footing to work with when hard mode begins to demand more specialized gear sets.
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