A theory on gearing – the threat set

As I was driving to work this morning, I was trying to think of a topic that would work well as a follow up post to my gear choices post. At first I did not think that back to back gear theory posts would be the best idea, however after receiving my first comment, /cheer, I realized that there were some holes in my post and I should jump on this as an opportunity to take an in depth look on how I set up my threat set.
The two most important things that you must understand when assembling a threat set is what is the end goal of the compilation of gear that you will eventually tag as your threat set, and when is it suppose to be used. For me, the understanding of when is a precursor to the what. From my point of view, and my experience of gear swapping through a farmed instance with hints of progression (in my case Ulduar with hard modes), a threat set is used for three things, any trash that can not squash you like a bug, farmed bosses where your dps can let loose on auto pilot, and hard modes with time limits.

Lets take a look at gear from each of these perspectives and understand what is the limiting factor when it comes to threat:

Trash – The essence of a trash pull in current raiding conditions is usually instant balls out dps (AoE or single target). When I raid Ulduar on my hunter, I usually notice that by the end of my opening rotation, even with a misdirect, I am still past 100% on the threat meters when playing with mediocre tanks. This is even more pronounced when you pull an AoE pack. Depending on your progression, AoE packs can be almost any pull in your instance, or set packs that you know are not dangerous. Either way, initial snap aggro is essential to saving that warlock with an itchy trigger finger (I know every guild has a few).
Farmed bosses – When you are tanking farmed bosses, it means that everyone knows their job, the bosses abilities and what to expect. Specifically you know if and when you need to blow cooldowns, and the healers know when spike damage is coming. From this perspective, dps will be goings balls to the wall, and you will have to compensate with an overall increase in threat generation.

DPS Races – Some DPS races are the Razorscale achievement, Hodir Hard Mode, Yogg speed kill, etc. These bosses add either the crunch on your dps to push the envelope of threat, or the added buffs that come from the encounter to increase dps significantly (such as Hodir). In these instances, the difference between your first kill and a wipe is usually how much threat you can pump out (as long as your dps is doing their job right). On my guilds first Hodir hard mode kill, our number 1 dps was at 15k dps, that is a lot of threat, or a lot of salvations. I prefer the former of the two.

Hit Rating and Threat –

With this being said, the most important part of the “encounter” that is trash is the initial pull and snap aggro. When building a threat set, or more specifically a trash set, your number one concern is that you make sure your initial moves hit the targets. Therefore, Hit rating is by far the most important stat you can have. If your first avenger shield or hammer of the righteous misses, you will be set up for failure, running towards that warlock, slamming your taunts hoping they are not resisted.
So our goal is to be hit capped, but what is hit cap? Well, 8% hit or 263 hit rating will ensure that your attacks are not missed. It is important to understand that 8% hit only pushes the misses off of the attack table, and not the dodges or parries. In order to increase your ability to land an attack and avoid a dodge or parry you have to increase your expertise. This is fairly easy for a paladin to do because you have two options that will instantly push your expertise to 16: Glyph of Seal of Vengeance (10 Expertise) and Combat Expertise (6 Expertise, 8th tier of the Protection Tree). You only have to get 10 more Expertise to hit the soft cap of 26.
Now that we have established that if your Avengers Shield and Hammer of the Righteous deal damage to your targets, and you are tabbing through to establish aggro on all of them, what is the progression of what you need to have great threat:

Strength, Stamina and Block Value –

As stated before strength is a very powerful stat to have on your gear. It increases you attack power and block value. Both of these increase your ability to produce threat, and to a lesser degree, decrease incoming damage. The more attack power you have the harder you will hit, the more damage you will do, and in turn the more threat you will produce.
Stamina increases your spell power via Touched by the Light. This is an added bonus because, lets face it, the more health you have, the easier it is to stay alive. It also increases your damage done by judgements, which as of 3.2, no longer can be dodged blocked or parried. This is a very powerful threat mechanic because it has a larger range and is a guaranteed hit if you are geared correctly.
Block value to a lesser degree is also translated into threat, vial Shield of Righteousness. This is a small amount of threat gain, as blizzard has reduced the amount of damage contributed by SBV from 130% to 100%. This is still our number one snap aggro ability that is not a taunt.

Selecting Gear – Individual choices and the holistic outcome

The way that I personally set out to create a threat set was to select the pieces that most notably had the attributes that have been discussing above and then filled in the rest with supporting pieces. What that means is that I equipped as much tanking plate gear with hit, and strength to achieve the hit cap of 263 rating. Once this was achieved, I ensured that I met all of the other criteria necessary of a tank while maximizing then amount of strength, attack power, and expertise.
Understanding specifically that gemming and enchanting can be a huge help in achieving this philosophy will make your life so much easier when it comes to reaching your goals of creating a threat set. You always want to gem your threat pieces to augment their strengths, not just ensure that you have your token stamina, defense or agility/dodge gems in them.
You should have a second helm with the eternal earthsiege diamond in it for the increased defense and block value, Accuracy to a weapon is a great increase as well as armsman to gloves and icewalker to boots. As long as you have a descent health pool and you have over 540 defense, you should concentrate on getting as close to 263 hit rating as possible and boost your strength, AP, and SBV as much as possible. Remember, trash doesn’t hit for 20k, your healers should be able to keep you alive. Swapping trinkets and rings is also a must. I actually use dps rings in my threat set because I am over the defense minimum with out them.

Obtaining the gear –

Finally, I wanted to discuss how to obtain this gear. About two months ago I wrote a very long and extensive post about tanking on my guild forums, some of which made it to this blog. This post was designed to jump start some of our guilds tanks into picking up items that they habitually pass on. It is your duty as a MT to pick up gear even if it isn’t for your “main set” as you should be building many different sets for different situations. If your guild is progression centric, and allows for MT gearing, you do not have an issue, pick up everything that you can (while taking into consideration your fellow tanks). If you have to deal with competing with your healers and dps for tier tokens, then you may want to focus on those first, however, it is always beneficial to pick up that side grade if it looks like it is beneficial for another set. I passed on a few pieces that never dropped again and I regretted it every day.

1 Response to “A theory on gearing – the threat set”

  1. August 12, 2009 at 5:15 am

    I ❤ this blog. I'll be checking this place often now to see how you progress with it now I've found it through Rhi. I like to think I'm a decent protection paladin, but you have way more experience than I do and I'm always up for learning more from other players. 🙂

    One thing I would like to add to what you have written above is this post from Maintankadin which I guess is more aimed at newer players, but I think it fits in well alongside your gearing post: http://maintankadin.failsafedesign.com/viewtopic.php?t=17075.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


  • What is this nonsense? HoPo and a total overhaul. It's going to be a long weekend of playing around.. 6 years ago


%d bloggers like this: