Posted by: ihlos | March 10, 2009

Silverback Talent Review

gorilla If you are up on your ptr knowledge, you already know about the new pet talents. For tenacity, the ptr contains three new talents as discussed previously on this site. What I want to do now is take a closer look at the silverback talent to determine its worth.

Warning, this is a long, stream of consciousness style dump of my musings over this talent. You have been warned πŸ˜‰

First of all, for leveling, I see this as a great talent. The extra life ticking away means fewer delays due to pet, and then potentially hunter, death. Also, with incoming damage during leveling being much lower than raiding, the HPS of this talent covers more ground. While certainly not vital, this talent is very useful.

Secondly, lets look at pvp. As I have stated a few times already, Im no pvp whiz. It seems that while beneficial, this talent wouldnt pack quite as much punch as in pve. Yeah, thats all Im going to say, since I dont want to put my foot in my mouth.

Ok, so now lets look at it from a tanking perspective, my favorite perspective. It obviously has some worth. Given a hypothetical 30K health pet, with SB and BotR, this talent yields 180 HPS. Mend Pet is 525 HPS by comparison. In general, with survivability being more an issue than threat, this talent seems like a no brainer.

The issue comes up when you look at the new talent tree for tenacity. The idea behind giving us more talents was so that the extra talent points from Beast Mastery would give more dps boost. They were mostly thinking about ferocity pets and pve raiding, but it is still a good idea. The result is that now we have more useful tanking talents in the tenacity tree than we have points for. Significantly less. So how does this play out? Well, lets build a spec for tanking. Since the new talents are focused on survivability, and since a pure threat build is easy, let’s build a survival focus build.

Heres a link to the wowhead ptr calculator shown to the right

new-tanking-spec-113Ok, lets go step by step.
-We need BotR, so we plug 3 into Great Stamina and then 2 into BotR.
-Next up is Charge, which i feel is needed utility. You may like Intervene better, if so stash a point in Natural Armor for now and pick up Intervene later.
-Now we can pick up Thunderstomp, we aren’t going to miss this one for anything.
-Next comes Guard Dog, its good threat, and Taunt is vital for pet death recovery, and for grabbing strays.
-This opens up Grace of the Mantis, which is critical, no pun intended.

This brings us to a place where our options start to open up. Potential talents include Natural Armor, Pet Barding, Last Stand, Silverback, Taunt, and Wild Hunt. (Roar of Sacrifice gets nerfed and has situational use only). If you know you are tackling magic damage, Great Resistance is a good pick, but I would recommend speccing in and out of it per the content you face.

The problem is we cannot take all of these talents. We have 9 points and 17 potential places to put those points. Taunt is a must, and for now we will assume that Wild Hunt is a must, although it is possible that Wild Hunt may not pan out, but that isnt likely. That uses up 4 of our 9 remaining points, and we have to use one point to unlock these higher talents. With the remaining 5 talents, we could choose to unlock Last Stand using 4, or we could abandon last stand and take a mix of Silverback, Natural Armor, Pet Barding, and Great Resistances.

Right now, I’m thinking that no one configuration can be termed ‘best’. We will be most benefitted by speccing for each dungeon or even encounter, as possible. In magic heavy dungeons, Great Resistance’s 15% damage reduction cannot be overlooked, and Avoidance’s 75% aoe reduction could make the difference on a boss with heavy aoe. However, in a melee heavy instance, Natural Armor and Pet Barding would be beneficial. Silverback would be useful against both types of damage, and Last Stand may be necessary against a boss with spikey damage or an unavoidable enrage.

So constant respeccing will be very valuable. Its good that they are free, but we are limited to respeccing at the trainer. We will have access to our stables once every half hour, so you could switch out your pet for a particular boss fight, or once for each wing of naxx. With the right classes you could also port out and get summoned back for a quick switch.

But this is a Silverback talent review πŸ™‚ and I am getting off track, slightly. The thing is, we know that Natural Armor and Pet Barding are entirely melee mitigation, and Avoidance and Great Resistance are entirely magical resistance. But Silverback is healing, and can be thought of as ‘general’ mitigation. The question then becomes… how does it compare to the other two groups?

gorillanatural-armorpet-barding Lets say you wanted to focus entirely on Melee mitigation. First you put a point into Natural Armor, spend your four points on Taunt and Wild Hunt, and now you have 3 points to spend on Silverback and Pet Barding.

new-tanking-spec-17 This means we have to skip one rank in one of these talents. It’s a comparison of one point of Silverback vs one point of Pet Barding. 1.5% Healing every 5 seconds vs 5% armor and 1% dodge. The way I see it, Sb (Silverback) scales with gear, and PB (Pet Barding) scales with content, ie incoming damage. (There is some scaling with armor, but only 35%) Silverback applies to all damage, the armor and dodge only to pyhsical. Both are passive for all intents and purposes. Sb is constant steady healing, armor is constant mitigation, but dodge is a random chance. (You dont dodge 1% of each attack, you dodge 1 attack in 100)

You can try to calculate whether the dodge and armor will mitigate more or less than 90 DPS, to compare it to the 90 HPS of Sb. My first thought was that in order for 1% dodge to mitigate 90 DPS, you would need to be taking 9K incoming DPS. I don’t even want to try and tackle armor, as I always get into trouble there πŸ˜›

If you are looking to mitigate magic damage, avoidance and great resistance are clear winners over silverback, but they are expensive at 3 points each. This also means you can’t get all three in both with only 5 points left in our hypothetical build.

As far as a general build goes, I am still pondering this. I think it would really depend on what you had access to, content-wise. I think I’ll browse the boss fights of heroics and raids and see what kind of abilities you see most commonly.

All these ideas are very raw, they are based on ptr talents after all. I’d love to hear more of what you guys are thinking of these new talents and what kind of builds you are considering.



  1. “It’s a comparison of one point of Silverback vs one point of Pet Barding. 1.5% Healing every 5 seconds vs 5% armor and 1% dodge.”

    It’s 3.5s cooldown on growl since if you’re BM, you will not skip taking Longevity.

    Personally I think it sucks that they made RoS so shitty, and yet a must have talent for Wild Hunt. They should have put Wild Hunt below Last Stand instead. It would be more logical. With RoS in the cunning tree, I find it strange that they use it as a board to get to Wild Hunt in Tenacity. Unless they want Tenacity to keep being a PvP pet tree.

  2. Oh, btw, with a 30K HP pet, you will have 130,3HPS per talent point in Sb. SB, BotR and Longevity calced into the mix.

    I’ve maxed my pet at a bit over 32K HP, and that’s before the new Wild Hunt talent. So I’m guessing that I can get it above 35K (=152HPS).

    Sb and SB is going to be so confusing… two talents with the “same” abbreviation that both gives a “passive” HPS. =P

  3. I still think some of this is too idealized for the actual talent.

    Nordh, I’m getting roughly the same number as you as for HPS were growl used every 3.5 seconds.

    Formula for Sbk (maybe we should do it this way) is:
    =30000 (hp) * 0.01 (hp/growl) / 3.5 (idealized seconds per growl) * 1.5 (BotR+ SB are additive not multiplicative)
    =128.6 Hp per second

    Now here is where I start to see the setbacks of Sbk:
    -If a healer just topped the pet off before a growl the heal is wasted
    -dmg incoming is always going to be need mitigation, no if, ands, or buts about it.
    -global cooldown for a pet changes the seconds per growl term above. See below:

    For a focus capped pet at time:
    0 – growl used
    1.25 – skill used
    2.5 – skill used
    3.75 – growl used

    Obviously other thing could happen that would further set back (possibly improve) the seconds per growl.

    Assuming this number into the formula above
    =30000 * 0.01 / 3.75 (idealized seconds per growl) * 1.5

    Its not a significant decrease but to get the real benefit we should do some real testing to see exactly what frequency growl is used so we can have accurate numbers.

  4. Here is my sheets calcs for pet boarding regarding armor mitigation:

    For my current gear pet armor ~18,300

    1 pt of 5% armor is ~900 armor

    Which leads to ~19200

    As far as dmg mitigation vs a lvl 83:

    18.3 k armor = 52.4%

    19.2 k armor = 53.6%

    So a ~1.2% increase of physical dmg mitigation

    This all doesn’t include the extra 1% of avoidance that the talent gives as well.

  5. Ah yes, i forgot to calculate in the talent which no pet tanker in their right mind would skip. Even with zwicky’s revised numbers, the total HPS of Sb is a nice addition to mend pet’s hps if you ask me.

    concerning the talent being wasted if you are topped off… this doesn’t seem to bother me, although i can’t put my finger on why. I guess its because if you are topped off, you are *probably* not in dire straits at the moment. Ah, now i know what it is. Lets say you take a bunch of damage and your pets health is at 15% of max, and then the boss stops doing damage. As long as the boss, or any add, is targetable, you can still benefit from this healing. (A fight like Heigan wouldnt qualify)

    For instance, lets say you are in Utgarde Pinnacle, and you are on the first boss, Svala. When she sacrifices, even if she sacrifices you, your pet can still get a few growls off on her adds, gaining say 6-9% health back. During this time mitigation does you no good.

    Now whether or not these even out is another matter. Im starting to think that Sb is better than PB, but I am still unsure how it stacks up against Avoidance and GR. I have really started to warm up to the magic talents in a way i havent before.

    Another thing to note is that you could turn off a damage focus dump to get an increase in HPS, however slight.

    @Nordh – I agree, i would not take RoS for tanking if it werent for Wild Hunt, I think they should take this condition off Wild Hunt. I can see why they did it though, they want to restrict the options of players without Beast Mastery (the talent)

    I would hope Sb and SB would work out ok. As in BotR, the lowercase letters signify less important words. In the same way, the ‘b’ in ‘Sb’ signifies it is not its own word πŸ™‚

  6. So a ~1.2% increase of physical dmg mitigation

    Ah Zwicky you had to go making Pet Barding look better didn’t you! Can’t you see this decision is hard enough πŸ˜‰

    Hmm, so i’ll have to mull over this some more.

    The other thing that avoidance/mitigation has over healing is that it reduces incoming damage, smoothing it out and avoiding a deadly spike in damage.

  7. I’ve always liked PB. πŸ™‚

    I have alot of mulling over as well, the more i think about some of these the more i think that quite a few of these will be very situational. I hear that on the PTR that when you shift from BM to another spec it resets your pet talents. If this is the case come launch we could tailor the pet to each encounter. Sometimes using one talent sometimes another.

  8. err i was talking about the shift during duel speccing.

  9. Right, if dual speccing resets pet talents that would be extremely awesome! We would still have to figure out how these talents compare, but we would have more flexibility to choose the best set for a given fight.

    The talent section here may need to have a specific encounter build section. All the more reason for some forums. Ill look into those again πŸ˜‰

    Ive always liked PB too, i just dont know which talents are best anymore, I think if we could get a model fight and figure out stats, incoming melee damage, incoming spell damage, etc…we could start to make some comparisons.

  10. Zwicky,
    “(BotR+ SB are additive not multiplicative)”
    Oh, I thought they were. I always thought you got 54% more healing from them together instead of 50%.

    “… 3.75 – growl used”
    In my tank spec I don’t have GftT, which means I don’t use a focus dump. That means that the only case of Growl being pushed back is if Thunderstomp cooldown came in the way of the growl cooldown. (Hitting TS just before Growl is ready).

    “I can see why they did it though, they want to restrict the options of players without Beast Mastery (the talent)”
    A non Beast Mastery wouldn’t go for Silverback over Wild Hunt anyhow. And it’s likely that a non Beast Mastery hunter with a tenacity pet is a Surv PvP:er, and thus wants RoS. So there’s really no limiting except for people that want to tank as their main role. If they wanted to limit it, it should have been linked to Taunt. Or Shieldwall, but that’s also a quite nice talent for PvP.

    Zwicky, what happens if you are surv / BM for dual spec. You go from Surv to BM for 1 fight and bring out your Rhino. After the fight you dual spec back to Surv. But alas, you can no longer use a pet because your stable is on cooldown and your Rhino has been dismissed.
    I really hope this is an issue they are going to fix. Otherwise we will be the only class that have a 30 min cooldown on dual specs.

  11. Nordhbane, what is the tanking spec that you use? Your comment about lacking GftT piqued my interest.

  12. Nordh, thats what i remember about the healing when i did my tests back in 3.0 before WotlK came out. I may be wrong but there is a real easy way to test it. πŸ™‚

    I was also thinking along the same lines as you about specs. currently my tanking spec is 48/0/23 because i believe tha HvW is that good when gearing tons of stam. But in the new patch my new spec was going to be something like 55/0/15. I just can’t justify HvW againt the new wild hunt talent plus a few more talent points.

    I think that if you spec into something and have the wrong pet you can always spec back in the BM tree until your cooldown is up. I really dont know the answer to your question, just what i’ve found from EJ and TKA.

    Thinking about focus:
    48 focus per 4 sec (2 points in BD)
    thunder = 20 focus per 7 seconds
    growl = 15 focus per 3.5 seconds
    total focus used in 7 seconds = 50
    total focus generated in 7 seconds = 84

    we could throw a bite in there if we wanted or we could remove a point from BD to put elsewhere and still generate 62 focus in 7 seconds.


  13. “you can always spec back in the BM tree” Exactly my point. We’re the only class with a 30 minute cooldown on dual spec if so.

    I’m using only 1 point in BD.

    My tank spec looks something like this:

    I could actually remove invigoration seeing that it’s only thunderstomp it affects for me.

  14. Interesting. Thanks for that focus math, Zwicky. I’ve never done those calculations.

    Nordhbane, I agree with you about invigoration. Doesn’t seem like there’s anything you could do with those points to improve pet survivability, though. I guess you could put them in Mortal Strikes or maybe Hawk Eye for soloing?

    Also, what about Cobra Strikes? I’ve never used it. Does it proc a timed buff, and if so, do you have time to get 2 Thunderstomps off before it goes away?

  15. I could remove the points in BD and invigoration, and then get 2 points in GftT. I have enough crit to have the pet topped up on focus then even with focus dump. More threat that way.

    Making Thunderstomp crit is really useful for threat. So Cobra Strikes is quite nice. Do I need 2 points? Not so sure. As I’ve said before, I’m more of a feel-good kind of guy. Not much of a number cruncher =)

    Note that the spec I posted I just made pretty much out of the blue now. It’s usually something like that when I go tank, but I’m not tank specced at the moment =P

  16. I guess I’m thinking about it more from a soloing perspective than a MT-ing 80 group content perspective. Though I suppose extra threat is helpful and adding a focus dump might be just as much DPS as extra points in Mortal Strikes.

    I’m actually wondering if skipping the focus dump might be better, though. I feel like I’ve had more solid pet threat when not using it, even with full BD and GftT. I haven’t checked my combat logs in detail, but it seems like maybe the pet sometimes casts a Smack even if the cooldown on Growl or TS is up. Ideally, we’d like our pet to prioritize these, but I’m not sure it works out that way.

  17. The focusdump is always _supposed_ to be underprioritized to any other abilities.

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