Tier 7 Bonuses: A Guide to What’s Hot and What’s Not

Tier 7 Bonuses: A Guide to What’s Hot and What’s Not

tierpiece

Updates:: This is another classic example of me not fact checking my stuff. This post sat in my draft queue since early January. Other things came up and I set it aside for the time being. Patches 3.0.8 and 3.0.9 were released and I forgot that some changes were made. Resto Druids 2 piece, Feral Druid 2 piece notes have been changed. Stop’s opinions have been revised. I split the tanking and DPS feral druids accordingly instead of lumping them together. Added another Enhancement Shaman perspective. Sorry! 🙁

Tier pieces have a history of granting bonuses. Blizzard has an even more illustrious history of giving set bonuses that are really good and some that are really bad. I don’t know everything about every class. Yet, as a member of loot council, I should be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the various set pieces. Like it or not, set bonuses do tend to have an impact on decisions. One of the Resto Shamans in my guild was the first to get the 4 piece (because Archavon was kind and dropped 2 Resto pieces).

To help you understand and decide on your set pieces, I’ve consulted my guild and several other prominent bloggers and players in the community. I don’t know as much as I would like about other classes and it wouldn’t be fair for me to make any assumptions (without asking others about it first).

This post will be broken down into 4 different roles: Tanking, melee DPS, ranged DPS, and healers.

Tanking

Warriors

2 piece: Increases the damage of your Shield Slam by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Shield Wall by 3 seconds. Rating: Moderate

Several of the tanking Warriors I consulted weren’t impressed with the Warrior 4 piece. Prot Warrior blogger Veneretio only had this to say:

"It’s a great bonus if the 4 pieces fall into your lap, but the current non-set itemization is so strong that you’ll be hard pressed to even get the 2 piece. Basically, it’s go for the 7.5 gloves and another set piece (like shoulders or chest).”

Druid

2 piece: Your Rip lasts for an additional 4 seconds, and your Lacerate deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good (for both)

4 piece: Increases the duration of Barkskin by 3 seconds. Tiger’s Fury cooldown reduced by 3 seconds. Rating: Good for tanks

I had to consult Feral Druid Karthis about this one.

His thoughts on the 2 piece:

“While extra damage is always nice, Lacerate doesn’t form a crucial part of a bear tank’s output – Maul and Mangle generally outperform it (although Mangle is close).  Since threat is a non-issue in the existing content, this set bonus is even further trivialized.”

On the 4 piece:

“This unassuming-sounding set bonus is actually fairly significant.  Barkskin reduces damage taken by 20% and usually lasts for 12s.  It is a spell that every tank should be re-casting as soon as it is off cooldown.  Boosting the uptime to 15s only improves an already must-use skill, and further reduces the total incoming damage that must be healed through.”

Paladin

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Hammer of the Righteous by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Divine Shield and Divine Protection by 3 seconds. Rating: Moderate

HoR is good AoE threat. 4 piece is irrelevant to raiding. (Thanks Myze!)

From what I’ve been told, the 2 piece is good. The 4 piece appears to be just average. The situation seems to be similar to the Warrior 4 piece. Divine Protection is probably going to get used more often in the same was Shield Wall would be. Thanks Anna!

Death Knight

2 piece: Increases the critical strike chance of your Plague Strike by 10%. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: Increases the duration of your Icebound Fortitude by 3 seconds. Rating: Good

When Stop speaks, I listen:

2 piece: It’s still not fantastic… at all. Plague Strike is one of our lowest-hitting abilities, and improving its crit chance is not as useful as if they’d increased its crit damage. Basically, the 2-piece bonus is not worth going for.

4 piece: About the tanking gear 4-piece bonus: If you have to have a set bonus, this would be the one to go for. However, I don’t know if I’d pass up other gear just to get it, depending on your playstyle. Icebound Fortitude is basically Barkskin, and with some specs being squishier than others, some use it constantly while some use it like a moderately less effective Shield Wall. If you use IBF every time it’s up, go for this bonus. Otherwise, consider it a nice perk for getting this already-nicely-statted tank gear.

Melee DPS

Warriors

2 piece: Increases the damage of your Slam by 10%. Rating: Good.

4 piece: Your Bleed periodic effects have a chance to make your next ability cost 5 less rage. Rating: Moderate

Not that hot. Most DPS Warriors don’t have as much rage issues from what I’m told. But the Slam bonus is very nice.

Rogues

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Rupture by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Reduces the Energy cost of your Combo moves by 5%. Rating: Ugh

“The two-piece bonus seems pretty useful but I’m unconvinced about the four-piece.” Seri, Snarkcraft

“Just that the two piece is a huge bonus for rogues while the four piece is lackluster considering the amount of energy used to perform the combo moves.” – Cassio

Druids

2 piece: Your Rip lasts for an additional 4 seconds, and your Lacerate deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the duration of Barkskin by 3 seconds. Tiger’s Fury cooldown reduced by 3 seconds. Rating: Not great for DPS kitties

2 piece notes: “This is an important set bonus for a feral cat’s long term sanity.  Kitty DPS is stressful – there are four separate buffs/debuffs that need to be monitored.  By increasing the duration of Rip, a Druid is allowed more wiggle room to keep the other three (Rake, Mangle, Savage Roar) all active, which leads to consistently higher DPS.  “

4 piece notes: “It reduces the Tiger’s Fury cooldown by 3s. While TF is used every 30s, the top theorycrafters say that this new bonus is almost meaningless, clocking in at an extra 0.7% dps. There are much better gear choices that provide a bigger DPS boost than that.” (Karthis’ notes in the comments)

Shamans

2 piece: Your Lightning Shield damage is increased by 10%. Rating: Not so good.

4 piece: Your Flurry effect provides an additional 5% melee haste. Rating: Good

Not the greatest. Most Shamans don’t appear to pick up the Static Shock talent. Water shield is primarily used since they go through mana quickly. The 4 piece is decent as it results in overall faster hits.

On the other hand:

It is actually fairly good, static shock is a must take ability for an enh shammy. When I look at my WWS, lightning shield represents about 6% of my total damage output. Since I am at about 4k DPS right now that means my lightning shield is doing about 240 DPS.

Paladins

2 piece: Increases the damage dealt by your Divine Storm by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Reduces the cooldown of your Judgment of Light, Judgment of Wisdom and Judgment of Justice by 1 second. Rating: Good

An overall net increase in DPS. Your Ret Paladins will love it. From what I’ve been told, Ret Paladins have this in their rotation anyway.

Death Knight

2 piece: Increases the critical strike chance of your Obliterate and Scourge Strike abilities by 5%. Rating: Good.

4 piece: Your Obliterate and Scourge Strike generate an additional 10 Runic Power when used. Rating: Moderate

DPS 2 piece: The only people who won’t benefit from this are dual-wielders. Every two-handed build in common usage uses either Obliterate or Scourge Strike, so for much the same reason as how Heigan’s sigil is great for pretty much every two-hander-using DK, this set piece bonus is fantastic for them. I’m still trying to get a set piece just for this bonus, in fact!

DPS 4 piece: I have no idea what they were thinking with this. I think they would’ve done better to try to rip off another class’s bonus, like, say, warriors? No DK should be having problems generating runic power, two-handed or dual-wield, period. Plus, again, this is useless for dual-wielders – both of the DPS plate set bonuses are geared exclusively towards two-handed weapon users. All that aside – I would never gear for this set bonus specifically.

– Stoppable force.

Ranged DPS

Priests

2 piece: The mana cost of your Mind Blast is reduced by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Shadow Word: Death has an additional 10% chance to critically strike. Rating: Not so good

From my Shadow Priests:

The 2 piece is nice but is purely for mana efficiency on Mind Blast and doesn’t really matter much if you have stacked Spirit and Crit like most Shadow Priests do. The 4 piece isn’t worth it because with itemization there are many pieces that add more DPS than the 10% critical chance to Shadow Word: Death.

Druid

2 piece: Your Insect Swarm deals an additional 10% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Wrath and Starfire spells gain an additional 5% critical strike chance. Rating: Good

Boomkin ones are awesome all the way around. Insect swarm should always be up and 5% extra crit on our two major nukes is flat out gibbering insane. – Llanion, Moooonfire

Shaman

2 piece: Your Lightning Bolt costs 5% less mana. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: The bonus critical strike damage of your Lava Burst is increased by 10%. Rating: Good

I play an Elemental Shaman in my off nights and I absolutely love it. I don’t have a ton of mana problems in the beginning. Fights are short enough that I won’t be taxing my mana pool. The 4 piece set bonus is great for me. Flame Shock guarantees that my next Lava Burst will crit. This means Lava Burst will get an increase of 10% damage no matter what. Normally I’ll do around 8000 damage per Lava Burst. This shoots it up to a little under 9000. Fights like Thaddius or Malygos where your damage gets increased will have Shamans see an extremely noticeable amount (18000 with Sparks)!

Mages

2 piece: You gain 40% more mana when you use a mana gem. In addition, using a mana gem grants you 225 spell power for 15 sec. Rating: Moderate

4 piece: Your offensive spells gain an additional 5% increased critical strike bonus damage. Rating: Good

I consulted one of my Mages on this and he tells me that the 2 piece is nice for the extra mana boost. The 4 piece could potentially equal a 1%-2% overall DPS increase.

Hunters

2 piece: Your pet deals an additional 5% damage. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your ranged attack speed is increased by 20% while Aspect of the Viper is active. Rating: Good

2 piece bonus is nice for any spec, but it’s particularly good for MM or SV looking to close the gap in pet damage. The 4 piece bonus is kind of a nice boost to DPS while in regen mode, but nothing earth shattering, looks like. – Lassirra, The Hunters Mark

Warlocks

2 piece: Your Corruption and Immolate periodic effects have a chance to increase the next critical strike chance of your next Shadow Bolt or Incinerate by 10%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Casting Life Tap grants you an additional 300 spirit for 10 seconds. Rating: Good

“2 piece bonus is really good. 4 piece bonus is- OMG WHY DON’T I ALREADY HAVE THIS?”  – nibuca

Note: Nib immediately dashed off and could not be reached for further comment.

Healers

Priests

2 piece: Your Prayer of Mending will jump an additional time. Rating: Good

4 piece: The cost of your Greater Heal is reduced by 5%. Rating: No, not really

Personally, I’d say go consult your WWS on this. Try to get a feel for how often you use Greater Heal and see if you can justify it. I don’t use Greater Heal as often. When you think about it, 5% off of Greater Heal is about 50 mana or so. I don’t use this spell enough to warrant the free payback. But if you do, then it is something for you to consider. Otherwise, go for 2 sets then defer the rest to the other classes (like Warlocks or Paladins). Obviously if the 7.5’s drop and you have nothing else better in the slots (like heroic gear), go ahead and take a stab at it.

Shaman

2 piece: Your Water Shield is 10% stronger (each tick restores 10% more mana). Rating: Good

4 piece: Increases the healing done by your Chain Heal and Healing Wave by 5%. Rating: Good

Earthshatter set bonuses for Resto Shaman are awesome! Because they buff Water Shield as well as Chain Heal and Healing Wave, they manage to suit most of the various healing styles that Resto Shaman can perform (Anna, Too Many Annas)

Druid

2 piece: The cost of your Rejuvenation Lifebloom is reduced by 5%. Rating: Good

4 piece: Your Nourish heals an additional 5% for each of your heal over time effects present on the target. Rating: Good

2 piece is solid. Rejuvenation Lifebloom gets used frequently. With the 4 piece, Nourish becomes even stronger for Resto Druids. At least, this is what Syd tells me. Can’t go wrong here!

Paladin

2 piece: Your Holy Shock gains an additional 10% chance to critically strike. Rating: Good

4 piece: The cost of your Holy Light is reduced by 5%. Rating: Good

"Neither bonus is play-changing in the way that old set bonuses have been (4pcT5, anyone?) but both 2pc and 4pc bonuses are nice boosts to our mana-intensive spells." – Siha, Banana Shoulders

Hopefully this summary will help you in your loot decisions! For the DKP players, maybe it’ll even save you some points for other items instead!

Image courtesy of riyono

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About Matticus

Matticus is the founder of World of Matticus and Plus Heal. Read more of his columns at WoW Insider. League of Legends player. Caffeine enthusiast.

Comments

  1. Since you emailed me they added a 4pc bonus for feral cats to the gear…. it reduces the Tiger’s Fury cooldown by 3s. While TF is used every 30s, the top theorycrafters say that this new bonus is almost meaningless, clocking in at an extra 0.7% dps. There are much better gear choices that provide a bigger DPS boost than that.

    Karthiss last blog post..The Value of Perfection

  2. Matt, Blizzard has changed the 2-piece bonus on the resto druid gear. The bonus now is “(2) Set: The cost of your Lifebloom is reduced by 5%.”

    Agronas last blog post..Re: Guild RAnking

  3. With regards to the mage bonus, the extra mana regen is pretty worthless these days as I rarely have to conserve mana. It’s nice to get extra regen so you don’t have to evocate (I can’t remember the last time I did that during a boss fight), but the real bonus is the 225 spellpower for 15 seconds – it’s like an extra trinket. I pop a mana gem right when the fight starts and I don’t even need mana for the extra damage boost. And then I use the next charge in two minutes. I’ll even conjure up another during a fight if it’s going for 6+ minutes to use at the 6 minute mark. It’s the damage boost, not the mana boost that makes the two piece bonus great.

    Tiddlys last blog post..Upgrades in Naxx Heroic

  4. Yeah, priest bonus on sets is somewhat meh, but as far as epics go the stats couple with possible gem combos aren’t too shabby. Though sidgrades are out there depending on what you’re looking for, I’d say stick with the tier 7.5 stuff unless you find something overwhelmingly better. I mean, though it may not be used often, it is still a free 5% off one of our spells. Plus I would say each piece except head slot item is in the top 3 at least for best spi/crit gear (head slot has haste).

    Holy Duegs last blog post..The Hodir Accord

  5. On the Paladin Healing 4 piece bonus, it saves me around 1088 mana per boss fight. With how some of the other non set pieces are itemized, I could take it or leave it.

  6. The 2-piece bonus on the Death Knight tanking set (10% to plague strike) is garbage. Plague strike has exactly one purpose for a tank: applying blood plague. The strike itself deals an inconsequential amount of damage and generates barely any threat. Since switching from unholy to frost tanking, I don’t even bother refreshing blood plague most of the time since I generate more threat by using that rune for an obliterate or howling blast.

    If they changed it to increase crit chance of plague strike AND icy touch, then it would be a useful yet not overpowered bonus.

  7. TakkaExodar says:

    4 piece: The cost of your Greater Heal is reduced by 5%. Rating: No, not really

    Should read: Completely awful and useless for Disc.

    I have healed everything there is to heal as Disc and done it without casting a GHeal ever. It is not even mapped to Clique. I am very annoyed with tier gear and Disc healing, because 3/5 of the DPS items are better itemized for Disc than the Holy set.

    Also, not sure I agree with the dislike of DK 4piece bonus. I talk with a few and they all absolutely love it. The extra runic power lets them use DC to their hearts content and helps their Gargoyle kick ass.

  8. The nice thing about the 4-piece bonus for hunters is that it lets you get out of Aspect of the Viper quickly and back into Aspect of the Dragonhawk as soon as possible. Spending 20% less time doing 50% less damage is pretty good 🙂

  9. I’d say the Paladin healing is better than it appears at first glance.

    2 piece: 10% Shock crit means 10% more Holy Shock crit combos. Dropping a crit shock and a 1 sec HL heal bomb in response to a huge damage spike is epic. I can guarantee one every 2 minutes, but I want as many as I can. Not to mention if I’m trying to heal on the move, the shock crit + mobile flash is nice.

    4 piece: mana efficiency is becoming more important again. And assuming the discounted mana cost works like all the other similar effects — where your Illumination return comes at the base cost, not the discounted cost, 5% return is a lot more than 5% return. Add up all of the Holy Light discounts (librium effect, glyph of Seal of Wisdom effect, this set bonus, half price casts on cooldown, am I forgetting any?) and add back in Illumination returns. Seriously, add it all up, and we’re closing in on 100% Illumination on HL like we had in the good old days.

  10. 4 Piece for a Ret pally is very good. Increase not only in DPS but Mana regen

  11. For hunters:

    The 2 piece bonus is actually more important to BM hunters than it is to marks or survival as beast masters will get the most out of it. 5% on half of your damage is better than 5% on a tenth.

  12. At first glance, the Warrior 4 piece set bonus is somewhat lackluster. On Sartharion 3d, however, the extra 3 seconds allows you to use it to block flame breath twice in one use.

    The Pally Tank 4 piece bonus has the exact same utility.

  13. Such a shame t7 avoids me like the plague….

    …but this is good to know!

    Ambrosines last blog post..This, That, and The Other Thing

  14. Matt, the ret paladin 4 piece bonus is not just good, it is excellent. Good is a bit of an understatement. Taking a second off of the cooldown of Judgement not only increases the DPS possible from a ret’s all ready largest attack, but it also eliminates cooldown clashes in his rotation and returns more mana back to the paladin through more frequent activation of Judgements of the Wise.

    Judgement in the center-piece of retribution, anything that increases its damage or frequency is of great value.

  15. This post was about… a month and a half in the draft. I knew I forgot to check something. Fixing the bonuses (and updating Stop’s accordingly).

  16. Overall, changing the effect from Rejuv to Lifebloom on 2pc T7 was a buff, but it was useful either way.

    I’m still figuring out how to leverage Nourish. I’m sure it’s got its moment coming up with the mana regen nerf.

  17. Have to disagree on the Rogue note. Just about every possible permutation of gear theorycrafted shows a significant (~3-4%) DPS gain from the 4 pc bonus. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s actually a fairly big deal in terms of sustained DPS. The exception here is Rogues specced into Honor Among Thieves, but they are, as it were, the exception that proves the rule, because they don’t use combo moves.

  18. Also, I should start a Rogue blog. So much goddamned misinformaton out there, it’s stunning.

  19. Resto Shaman set bonuses make me happy in so many ways!

  20. Close your bold tag!

  21. Oops. Fixed ^^

  22. Regarding the 4 piece DK dps set, I’m sorry but Stop doesn’t really know its uses. It is necessary for some of the highest DPS rotations (1 disease 2h frost, for example), and it enables the use of another glyph in place of icy touch for others (say deep 2h unholy). So while it is in fact worthless for DW, it is by no means bad. Every 2h DK will try and get the best 4 set pieces they can (usually chest or head is left behind) and then plug the hole with another non set piece.

    This knowledge is imported from elitistjerks.com, btw

  23. Agree with Feist re: the 4-pc rogue bonus. Pretty simple to isolate the impact of each bonus using a spreadsheet model and holding all other stats equal. I found the 4-pc bonus to be almost twice as valuable as the 2-pc bonus in terms of dps over a sustained fight. And yes, there is a ton of misinformation out there.

  24. Resto Shaman is my main and the set bonuses are decent, but not as good as T6 was back in the day.

    I have a Shadow Priest alt and I must say neither of the set bonuses are worth squat. Shadow priests do not really have a mana regen issue because of replenishment so giving me more mana when I do not need it is useless and Shadow Word:Death is not a frequent spell in the dps rotation, not like VT, VE, MB, DP, or MF.

    Good Post! Please send that to Blizzard so they know too, lol.

  25. regarding the hunter T7

    2 Piece – +5% pet damage. Good for any spec, outstanding for Beast Master. BM pet does ~40% of the hunter’s overall damage. 5% of 40% results in a larger DPS increase than 5% of the 10-20% provided by a SV or MM pet.

    4 Piece – increased haste while in Viper. Worthless in 25-man T7 dungeons. Mana issues are non-existent if your raid has 2 replenishments, and there are much better items at the same ilvl than 3 of the tier pieces. If T8 content has longer fights with harsher mana requirements, this bonus might become important.

    Amavas last blog post..Reflections on Foolish Love

  26. Hunter T7 bonus mana replen SHOULD be useless in 25 mans regardless of mana demands, if the group is balanced well.

    Last night in a couple different mixes I had un-ending mana pool, couldn’t get it below 90% full using my most mana intensive rotation. 4 Item bonus IS useless there. As a MM hunter and my pet doing very little of my damage, I don’t go out of my way to fit in tiered pieces.

  27. Not to add on the pig pile, but the paladin tanking 4pc set is pretty awesome, I would say. That extra 3 seconds of bubble walling can be a raid saver when riding the hard end of an enrage timer.

    Definitely saved my butt on Maexxna last night when I managed to pop it right before a web wrap at like 7%.

    Rhidachs last blog post..Raid Story Catch Up

  28. I totally agree with the rest of the hunter posters above, Lassira is knowledgeable in general but really missed the boat on this one.
    – 2 piece bonus is awesome for BM hunters and pretty good for marks/surv.
    – 4 piece bonus not only increases your damage in viper by 20%, but also reduces the amount of time you need to be in viper. Which is a huge dps increase for groups where there is not much mana replenishment.

  29. Kargos of Uldum says:

    I know this post is a bit stale now, but I just wanted to add to the hunter pile.

    2 pc: Good for all specs, highest gain for BM hunters.

    4 pc: PoS all around. Hunters would be hard pressed to go past 2 pieces, especially since Shoulders are BiS and legs are BiS due to meeting set bonus (legs have the lowest amount of dps loss compared to any other set piece and corresponding non-set BiS piece.)

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