More blue feedback on the fate of our gearing strategies…
Over the past few days the blue tracker on mmo has picked up a few more posts on the official forum that give us more clarity with respect to the Chill of the Throne. Essentially, the developers are starting to paint a clear picture of the purpose of the Chill of the Throne, and it’s part in how we as a tanking community will handle the damage that will be pumping out of Icecrown Citadel. I wanted to take some time to discuss the significance of some of these posts, and include some of my thoughts regarding the ramifications of these words. As I have already spent a few days talking about this, I want to make sure that I provide some fresh perspective while stressing that the following is also true:
The way that we geared in Trial of the Grand Crusade will not change with the introduction of Chill of the Throne. Any esoteric debates that the theory crafting community has had over the past few months regarding avoidance versus effective health is strictly with regards to min/maxing. The first duty of any tank is to ensure that they can survive the encounter, once you are confident that your mitigation and health are sufficient for any given situation, you can then apply your personal perspectives on item customization. Progression tanks will stack stamina until they are confident that they can survive the encounter.
A glimpse into Icecrown Citadel
Chill of the Throne
1. Can we expect more unavoidable, devastating melee-based attacks in ICC? If so, what point do they serve from a design stand point?
1. Probably. They serve as challenges that your group needs to overcome by making sure enough healers are focused on the big damage spike and cooldowns (the tank’s or external ones) are used appropriately. If you could avoid those attacks they would need to hit for even harder to compensate. If you could avoid those hits, then sometimes you would just let lucky and make it through the encounter unscathed and other times you’d get gibbed. Believe me; you want those to be unavoidable.
2. Are we finally going to get away from the 2 hits back to back will gib the tank situation we are in now?
2. The idea behind the Chill is to lower boss damage per hit but keep damage per time the same overall. The reason I caveat that statement so much is I know that we’re going to see lots of tanks that die in Icecrown and then ask us to nerf the encounters or buff their tanks. The purpose of these changes is not to prevent tank deaths. You will die. Probably a lot. You are going into the Lich King’s home after all.
These statements give us quite a bit of insight into the reason for the specific avoidance pentaly that they are enforcing upon us, as well as the fact that we can glean some insight into our gearing philosophy debates. It is very interesting to see the thought process that blizzard is using for implementing boss damage during encounters in Icecrown Citadel; and the most important part of all of the above statement lies with in the answer to the second question.
By creating the smoke and mirrors that is the faster, and smaller hits, they have sparked a debate over block value as a potent statistic for our gearing philosophies going forward. If you continue on, you can see that this may be a half truth. Block will be a powerful mitigation talent, however we should not gear towards it by downgrading our gear to previous tiers. Since T9 did not offer much in the realm of block value, we are stuck with what we have. My reasoning behind this is derived from the answer to the second question.
The response included the information that the bosses will deal the exact same damage over time. This means that regardless of avoidance or stamina we will be taking a significant amount of damage. This, at least from my perception, is contrary to the picture that most of the blue posts have painted in the past. They have tried to tell us that the bosses are going to hit for less, so don’t worry about losing 20% avoidance. From this very simple sentence, we can see that we will still be taking a significant amount of damage over time, whether or not this will be avoidable melee damage is yet to be seen.
The mechanics of our gearing philosophy
Well, to be fair most theorycrafting tanks on Tankspot and other places who really understand the concept of EH won’t tell you it’s the only thing that matters, just that it is very important. The problem is that some players who perhaps don’t understand the theorycrafting as well try to take the notion to illogical extremes….
…The discussion got distracted a little with the “GC says avoidance is better than stamina” nonsense, but the above was my original intent. (Source)
This is the essence of our gearing philosophy, and something that every tank should engrain in their minds as the most important thing to remember when it comes to selecting your gear set. A lot of tanks will stop by our site and look for the simplest answer to their gearing question. I will admit that when I first started tanking again, I just went into the old google machine and typed in Paladin Tank Rotation. It took me a while, but I found an easy answer that was not completely correct. If an ill informed tank is looking for the quick and dirty way of gearing, he or she will find many posts saying stack stamina, and nothing else.
This philosophy does not embrace the actual balance that all of the stamina stackers are still striving for. When we as a community talk about the great stamina versus avoidance debate, we are, as I love to reiterate, talking about min/maxing. Some tanks will see this philosophy as an absolute truth, and not a tweak to your gear sets. All of the theory crafters are well aware that there are inherent avoidance stats that come with gear, and that these stats make the gear more or less desirable based on the balance of their gear set. A properly geared stamina heavy tank will still sit at 60% avoidance.
Bosses in Icecrown Citadel and effects of Chill of the Throne
1) Bosses won’t swing faster. More of their swings will hit.
2) Tanks that avoid less are generally easier for healers to heal (provided the numbers aren’t just too great).
3) Tank healing was fun in Sunwell, IMO. Sunwell was challenging. That’s what a lot of players are looking for in the final raid tier. If you don’t like the challenge of healing a tank then I’m not sure why you’d want to be a healer. Now as I’ve said, we’re not saying Icecrown is only for the Sunwell crowd. But I am pretty convinced there are going to be a lot of “Icecrown is too hard because my tank died” posts here when it goes live. (Source)
A quick aside: Point three is painting a pretty picture for the tanks of the community. Sunwell was EXTREMELY difficult and stressful to heal, and was not exactly fun by any means. The challenge that it presented was fun, and the end result of a kill was rewarding, but even after a boss was on farm, your blood pressure was through the roof on any given fight.
This is an interesting counter to the first quote that I posted. They originally said that the bosses will hit for less but the damage over time will stay constant. Now they are telling us that the bosses will not swing any faster, however more hits will land. This statement really does not align with their original communications. This tells me that we still don’t fully understand the mechanics of the fights that they will be throwing at us in Icecrown Citadel, and neither do the developers. I take this to mean that they are still tweaking the fights and making decisions on how to sculpt the encounters.
One thing is for sure though, mmo-champion has posted a few of the skills sets that the bosses have at their disposal during the encounters, and avoidance would not have helped too much if we had it. There is a great deal of magic damage flying around this instance, and it seems that most of what we have been delegating about is physical damage. Below is some information from Maintankadin regarding the incoming damage on a main tank, I believe that this is in alignment with my statements above.
A true look at Icecrown Citadel Damage
Thanks to bluedeep for some of this information regarding the PTR and the bosses current abilities:
Average unblocked melee hit: 15k, slow attack speed.
Average Frost Breath: 30k (occurs every 22 seconds)
Melee damage on this encounter can be considered somewhat trivial. The tank stress test occurs at sub-35% HP where Sindragosa begins stacking a debuff called “Mystic Buffet” every 5 seconds. This increases your magic damage taken by 10% with every stack. Clearly in this case Frost EH stacking will provide the largest increase in survivability.
Festergut, Lord Marrowgar:
Festergut average unblocked melee hit: 16.7k; fast attack speed.
Lord Marrowgar average unblocked cleave: 26k; moderate attack speed.
There are no significant sources of unavoidable damage in these two encounters. The tank stress point of Festergut occurs when he receives a buff that increases attack speed and damage dealt by 90% every ~1.5 minutes. The hard mode of Festergut will probably be the focus of an EH vs avoidance debate. Even though Lord Marrowgar’s cleave is avoidable, my guess is that this encounter will err more on the side of EH given that the hits are so large.
In closing, it comes as no surprise that blizzard is coupling a decrease in avoidance with an increase in magical damage debuffs to increase the difficulty of our next tier of raiding.