Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Frost Emblems: Idol vs Tier Set

As I look around the internet lately I've seen the same question asked multiple times. What should I buy first with my Emblems of Frost? It's not a surprising question, but I have been surprised by consistency of the answer and by the confidence with which it is given. Almost every time I've seen this question answered, the poster says to not buy anything else until you've completed your tier set.

The logic seems to be that, because our Tier set is so well itemized and the idol is a smaller upgrade that we can make due with the Idol of Lunar Fury for a few weeks while we pick up the emblems for our Tier set. This isn't bad logic, but I do disagree with it. In this post I hope to show you why you should considering picking up the idol as your first Frost Emblem purchase.

Time Value of Gear:

Most of my education has focused on Economics and Finance, and this situation seems to be similar to a financial concept called the time value of money. In short, the Time Value of Money shows that the present value of a future payment is relative to when will receive that payment (in financial terms it also depends on other things like interest rates). Assuming that the interest rates are the same and the payments are the same, the payment you receive first has a higher value then the payments you receive after that.

Granted in the real world the payments and interest rate will not be constant. It is quite possible for a future payment to be worth more in terms of present value then a payment made today, but hopefully you see my point. A smaller payment received now may be worth more then a future payment given the right terms and interest rate. I know this doesn't necessarily translate smoothly to gear in a video game, but I think you can see how gear received today can be worth more then gear received at a future date.

So the question is which will help our DPS more? Do we take the idol now and delay when we pick up a few of the tier pieces or do we pick up the tier pieces as soon as we can and wait on the Idol?

A Question of Timing:

I'm going to hold off on looking at it from a DPS point. The numbers will vary depending on the stats you star with, but I will stipulate that a single piece of Tier gear is probably a larger DPS increase then upgrading the idol. However, I do want to look at it from a perspective of timing.

I want to make a few of assumptions. First, lets assume we pick up the maximum number of Frost Emblems each week. Second I will assume that we pick up the two cheapest pieces first and then the 3 more expensive pieces. Third, I assume that you are picking up pieces as soon as you can even if it doesn't provide a set bonus. Fourth, we know that the first gate won't open for 4 weeks, but I will assume that the other gates will open after just 2 weeks.

The shoulder and glove pieces each cost 60 emblems. The head, chest, and legs each cost 95 emblems. The idol costs 30 emblems. To pick up 4 tier items and an idol, you need a total of 340 emblems of frost. To pick up just the Tier set you will need 310 emblems. So, how quickly can you get to 310 and 340 emblems.

You can pick up 6 emblems the first time you run the new ICC five man instances. If you run the random every day you can pick up another 14, and there are 5 emblems available from the weekly quest. From ICC you can pick up 2 emblems per boss on both 10 man and 25 man. During these first 4 weeks that means you can pick up 16 emblems from ICC per week. If you add all that up you see that you can get a total of 35 emblems per week for the first four weeks plus 6 additional one time only emblems. That is a total of emblems 146. When the first gate opens 3 new bosses will be released. With 7 bosses available you can get a total of 47 emblems per week. After 6 weeks it is possible to have a total of 240 emblems. when the second gate opens 2 additional bosses will be available. With this, the weekly max will increase 55 emblems per week. After 7 weeks you would have a total of 295 emblems. Not enough to complete the set. After the eight week a maximum of 350 would be available. With this you could complete the set and pick up the idol.

In short, it doesn't matter if you wait to pick up the idol or if you pick it up first. It will take you a minimum of 8 weeks to pick up four pieces of T10 gear. That is 8 weeks of missing a clear and irreplaceable DPS increase. I'm not saying picking up the idol first is a clear winner. Taking the idol first will delay the first for pieces by a week if you pick them ups ass soon as you have the badges available, but is that a huge DPS loss? I don't know. It's hard to argue if missing a smaller upgrade for 8+ weeks is a bigger deal then missing a 3 larger upgrades for one week each. However, the answer is not as clear cut to me as some people are suggesting.


Adsski said...

I'm tending to agree with you, my strategy will probably be to get the idol first as its the fastest to get, then collect badges for my first tier piece. This will replace my off set piece (badge gear thats non tier) from the previous set (chest in this case). then save for the second piece, that way I only break the 4pT9 when i'm ready to get 2pT10.

Möwe said...

I disagree with you here Graylo, for once. While it may be true that the idol would give us a dps increase for the next 8 weeks, it will also result in a dps loss after that. (I'll take the belt over the idol anytime.)

However, do you actually need that minimal dps increase in the next 8 weeks? There are no hardmodes, only achievements. I think it's more important to gear towards the hardmodes and not the normal ICC, except maybe for the last parts of ICC which are released after the 8 weeks anyway.


Maragon said...

I agree with Graylo. The badges that you spend to pick up the idol are negligible. Most people will not be able to run ICC 10 & 25 + the heroic daily + the weekly raid quest with such regularity that they will be getting their 4 piece set with any real haste.
At most, picking up the idol will delay you're getting the 4 piece bonus by mere days.

The idol is an upgrade that's cheap and easy to acquire and likely something that we'll be wearing for months. I see no reason not to grab it as soon as possible to be used as an upgrade all the while that we're tackling this new content and picking up tier loot.


Ghoselle said...

Somewhat, it also depends what content you have been doing. As a mostly 10-man raiding Moonkin, cloaks have been in limited availability. Since we've not yet gotten ToGC down with 0 wipes, the best bang for the buck is actually the cloak. RAWR was suggesting that upgrading it from the Ulduar 219 trash drop was better than upgrading 2 pieces of T10.245.

Graylo said...


Let me reverse your arguement on you. Do you actually need tier pieces over the next 8 weeks? As you say there are no hard modes, only acheivements.

My point isn't that everyone should pick up the Idol first. My point is that it's probably doesn't matter much which you pick up first.

Gevlon has clearly showed with his blue Ulduar that skill and knowledge are more important to success then gear. Gear definately helps, but not having a belt or idol isn't going to wipe your raid.

Fenouil said...

While I think I agree with your deduction, I think we need to look in a more granular fashion.

Taking your original assumptions, the breakpoints are as follows:

The "idol first" breakpoints
30 - Day 2
90 - Day 15
150 - Day 24
245 - Day 36
340 - Day 50

The "idol last" breakpoints
60 - Day 8
120 - Day 22
215 - Day 36
310 - Day 49
340 - Day 50

This means on days 2-7 & 15-21 you get the bonus of the idol while having the same bonus from tier purchases. On days 8-14 you'd have the bonus of the tier gear over the idol. On days 22-23 you'd have the bonus of a tier piece over the idol in the addition of a 2pc set bonus. However this is only 2 days of time.

After this is when it gets interesting. With they way the weekly raids work, you get huge boosts of badges once a week, meaning that you'd get the 3rd piece of tier gear on the same day (day 36) regardless of whether or not you buy the idol first. This means that on days 24-35 you'd have the idol bonus when using the "idol first" strategy. On days 36-48, you'd have the same items regardless of which buying strategy you use. On day 49 if you use the "idol last" strategy, you can get the 4pc, but only one day ahead of the "idol first" strategy.

So in conclusion, it really depends on how often you can run the daily random, when your raids are and so on, but in general the "idol first" strategy gives a benefit over the "idol last" strategy on a more consistent basis.

Shem said...

It's a fairly easy decision for me.

I still had a 226 cape from Yogg of all places and I'm wearing haste/spirit boots and a hit/haste belt.

I bought the cape first. I'll be getting the belt next and the crafted boots. That way I swap haste/spi and haste/hit for crit/hit and haste/crit.

After the belt I'll start saving for tier. By then I'll have access to enough Trophies. Right now given that I'd only be upgrading to ilvl251 gear I'm not that enthused.

Unknown said...

@ Fenouil

NERD! I love it. That is very refined logic. It helps thanks

Neirin said...

One point I don't think you didn't really dwell on, Graylo, was that there are other pieces of gear for those slots than just tier, whereas there aren't other idols in ICC. Granted, the tier is likely what we will end up using, but in the mean time I'd rather have a better idol and some nicely itemized ICC gear than be waiting for the idol and sharding the ICC gear.

MuShU said...

Excellent! I'm so glad someone put this out there. Too often, basic economics isn't even taught in school any more. Surprised Gevlon didn't cover this idea but I guess he's too busy raiding in cheap gear lately lol.

*money now is worth more than money later*

As well, the people that don't raid very often, like me (my schedule sucks), won't have access to enough badges for months since all I can do is run the daily heroic and weekly raid boss. I like the belt & cape lots but I think the idol will give me a bigger "bang for the buck" if you include time as a value in the equation.

Fenouil said...

To further clarify my point, here is the 50 day breakdown:

Idol first
1: nothing
2-14: idol
15-23: idol+1pc
24-35: idol+2pc
36-49: idol+3pc
50+: idol+4pc

Idol last
1-7: nothing
8-21: 1pc
22-35: 2pc
36-48: 3pc
49: 4pc
50+: idol+4pc

Using idol last you get your 2pc bonus only 2 days ahead and your 4pc bonus only 1 day ahead of the idol first strategy.

Total # days idol first "wins" (by having the idol at the same time as the tier pieces):
38 (2-7, 15-21, 24-48)

Total # of days idol last "wins" (by enabling the purchase of tier pieces earlier):
10 (8-14, 22-23, 49)

Days 1 and 50 are a wash as those are the starting and ending points when both strategies have the same items.

Mîk said...

I agree with Graylo here. In my situation, I have a couple of pieces of 258 tier 9, and because of that I won't simply be looking to upgrade to the tier 10 251, I'm looking for the 264 gear. So, in the mean time I'm going ahead and purchasing offset pieces until I get enough vanquisher's mark of sanctification for tier 10 ilvl 264. Since these will take longer to acquire than my emblems of frost because of my guild's raid composition, it's most beneficial to use my emblems now, instead of sitting on them later as I wait for more mark's of sanctification to drop. So, that is something else to consider for those saving for the tier 10 gear.

Andrew said...

I ultimately can agree with the post, but not for myself. I have been lucky enough to be in a situation where:

a. I have gotten the [currently] full clears of 10 and 25 man.
b. Raid weekly.
c. Daily every day.
d. A win of the token on the second week (just before I got enough for the idol).

Given that I'm in full t9 except for my chest (258, Vestments of Shattered Fellowship), I decided to wait until this Wednesday (assuming my raid invites hold out) to get the Sanctified chest, and then start focusing on the Idol second. Then I'll start saving for the rest of my set pieces.

Beamz said...

I intend to purchase my shoulders + gloves first, then the Idol second. I'm ready to drop the spirit stat off the T9 pieces.

Anonymous said...

I've been debating about this as well on my Moonkin.

"Should I get the idol now because it's a definite DPS increase and will last me the rest of the current expansion or should I hold off until I can buy 4 pieces of my T10?"

I think the idol makes sense for that exact reason. It *is* a DPS increase, granted it's kind of minimal, but it makes more sense than buying T10 that is going to rest in the bank for about 2 months.

With the increased stats and 2 set bonus, do you think it's worth using 2T9 and 2T10?

Woodlayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Woodlayer said...

Bravo, sir. I hope you didn't mind me using some of your initial thoughts on the trinket in the wow forums /hides.

Mobus said...

Hmm, it seems a little exploitative, however I believe we can have our cake and eat it too - thanks to the combination of vendors in the instance AND the 2 hour refund system, what I'm going to do is simply buy the idol and sell it back within 2 hours for each raid night. Sure, after buying each tier piece there might be a night without the idol, but I think this is a nice way to get both.

Talsh said...

Nice post Graylo. In the end, I agree with you: I really don't think it will matter in which order we get stuff. Since I have two pieces of 258 (helm and chest ofc), I'll be leaning toward 2T10 first.

I'm more interested in figuring out what non-set piece I will end up using (gloves or legs most likely, since we'll probably end up using the three that have sp/crit/haste). It looks like we'll be able to build a nice set of gear that has very little (if any) spirit on it.

@MuShU - Gevlon has discussed that money now > money later. It was in a post related to Fusion's guild vault getting plundered when their GM's account got hacked. [Not that I'm a fanboy or anything - I just remember the post.]

Noodleswoop said...

Actually, for me it's not even that easy to consider, to be honest the best upgrade is the belt right away, because for myself and other high end raiding guild moonkins, we have heroic tier 9, which mean the bonuses from getting a tier 10 piece, only comes once I get tokens as well. I think for myself and others in my position, it means grabbing belt, idol, tier piece w/ token, tier piece w/ token, etc...

Dendrius said...

No one so far has mentioned that the idol is only a dps upgrade in long fights, i.e. boss fights (and a very minor one at that). For shorter fights (heroics) and trash pulls, the the inability to have the full amount of crit with no ramp up time, along with the extra gcd spent casting IS in situations where you didn't use it before (aoeing) makes the new idol a dps downgrade in some cases. The dps requirements for ICC normal mode aren't high enough to justify downgrading the dps you'll be doing for most of your raid (trash aoe), especially when those badges are better spent elsewhere.

Regardless of order you'll probably have your idol before you're doing hardmodes anyway.

Unknown said...

Personally I'm saving for the frost emblem belt first as I usually work on a 'biggest upgrade first' methodology.

In this example I will be upgrading from a 213 belt to a BiS belt which will last for ages and not be replaced by any tier/drops etc.
Whilst the idol is a dps increase in a raid situation, the upgrade is far smaller for me than some of my other pieces (still got some t8 :s)
I aim to be in a place to hold the 4pc t9, 245 idol, frost emblem belt and the 232 neck, 232 offhand and 251 weapon from the new heroics before worrying about the new idol.
At this point, only after completing my t9 will I make a decision to replace (or not) the idol before going for t10 pieces.

Aeiedil said...

I have got annoyed on lower mana fights in having to use Moonfire to keep up my crit bonus and like you I did the numbers and realised it would delay 2-piece bonus by 1 week, but make no effect to the 4-piece assuming I didn't miss any emblems on the way. I didn't see this as a particularly big deal, and so decided to take the idol now rather than 2 months or so down the line.

I don't intend to pick up tier until I get the 2-piece in one step most likely, and likewise when it comes to 4-piece.

Either way I really don't think it makes a big difference. The chances are that by the time Arthas is here we'll have our 4 piece tier 10 and an idol anyway, or at worst be a week or so away from that.

Until the heroics come out, does progress in ICC really matter that much? considering the normal mode is so easily puggable :P

Silencerbob said...

I got the idol.

Am I doomed?

The answer is no.

val said...

While I believe your idol vs tier logic is sound in itself, I believe there is much more to the complete picture. For example, my situation:

I am currently using 4t9.245 head/chest/shoulders/gloves combined with the 245 normal version of the anub'arak leather legs. I picked up the Ring of Rapid Ascent this past week in ICC25, which puts me near the bottom of the DKP list. Currently I am using the cord of biting cold and cloak of displacement. The fact that 2t10.251/2t9.245 is incredibly close to 4t9.245 makes the decision very easy. The logic: Due to already picking up the ring,the tier pieces will not be an upgrade for quite a while, essentially equating to "money later". Less valuable than money now, as economics tells us. With the lists of gear currently discovered, the badge belt is likely to remain BiS, unless a cloth or leather crit/haste belt is found from 25man ICC,in which case the heroic version will beat out the badge belt. This piece is immediately usable, a larger upgrade than the t10 idol will be for most moonkins, and has a decent chance of remaining BiS. Another piece of frost gear that should be evaluated is the cloak, which has two options, spirit or mp5, there will surely be a better itemized option in icecrown; even if this is not the case, the belt is still a larger upgrade. The last piece of emblem gear is the gloves, another crit/haste piece, but this breaks my 4t9 bonus. While the topic of this post was idol vs tier pieces, I felt the need to digress, and I think a more accurate answer to the idol vs tier piece question is, for me: the belt; and for everyone else: evaluate the upgrades based on your personal situation.

Jenna said...

Thanks for the simplified breakdown. Obviously, as you say yourself, it kind of all hinges on your current set up. For me, who never managed to escape the dreaded T9 legs, getting one piece of T10 (shoulders) was a massive upgrade, so went for that first, and equipped it. Then, as I still had no decent off-tier piece, a second T10 (gloves) was again a massive upgrade, since even though the straight swap of T9->T10 gloves was a stat downgrade, the 2part set bonus was a nice thing, and I'm now free again to equip the Leggings of Woven Death as soon as I get the Saronite to make them.

In short, for me, getting the first two pieces of T10 as my first two purchases was a no-brainer.

Now, however, I'm in the situation that most folk have been in since the start: keep collecting Tier stuff, or grab the idol? Everything I'd seen had said "tier first", but hearing that the new wing was to open next week (not sure if this has been officially confirmed or not, so don't punt me if it's false) I thought getting another tier piece would become easier, so not like I need to scrimp and save for them like I have been, right? Your numbers pretty much back that up, and as soon as my 2EoF turn into 30, I'll be getting me that Idol.

Monni said...

I got the Plague Scientist's Boots today. There's 2 sockets in them not one. A red and a blue one.

Anonymous said...

I figured this problem out a while back but forgot to post my solution. It's really easy and people in-game have been doing this for quite some time so I imagine if it were an abuse of game mechanics Blizzard would have clamped down on it by now.

The solution is to get the 4t10 first. The reasoning is that you can get the 2t10 relatively easily and use that along with 2t9 while you save up the remaining 190 badges to complete the set. While you save for the initial 2t10 and the completion of the 4t10 you can use the idol while in ICC simply by buying it from the vendor and returning it before the 2 hour refund time limit is up.

From the cost-benefit analysis perspective there's nothing better than this that I can see. While you save up any time you have 30 or more emblems saved you can leverage the idol as if you owned it as long as you don't forget to refund it. Thus you get to use the idol for something like 70-80% of the time on your way to 4t10 and you still get 4t10 as early as possible. And in my position the cloak from emblems is so much better than what I have that even without enchant and gem that I can rent it and benefit.

If you're a multi-spec druid (I bear tank in addition to moonkin) you can leverage your emblem stockpile as you save up for tier to help tanking also. Corroded Skeleton Key and Sentinel's Winter Cloak are some of the best around, in addition to the feral idol.

Just don't forget to refund rented items in time, if you go over the time limit then congratulations you bought it - and that'll set you way back on your road to 4t10.