Archive for September, 2009

30
Sep
09

I need more block value!

In preparation for Anub’arak, I have started to assemble my block value set. So far its coming together quite nicely, and with my Libram of the Sacred Shield up, I am sitting at  3200 block value but still struggling to get passively unhittable. How did I get there and what am I still looking to get to augment my set? I basically looked through my bags and equipped every piece of gear that had block value and block rating on it. The problem with that is that some of the gear that I used to get to that level was from Naxx. Now we all know how defense starved the naxx gear was, but you can make up for that with gems and enchants. When I first designed my unhittable set for naxx tanking, I could not hit the defense minimum with out using the repelling charge. Now we are drowned in Defense, and we have the ability to interchange gear freely with out juggling that stat.

Assembling my set and special considerations

Even when I started looking through my bags, and equipping all of the gear that had block value  and block rating on it, there were a few considerations that I waned to keep at the front of my mind. Health is still something that you are going to need to consider, as this is still Trial of the Grand Crusader. Also, when I completed my set I was astonished to see that I went from a comfortable ~570 defense to much less! I was completely starved for avoidance. Fortunately, this is where gear sets really have advantages. I quickly assessed what pieces were from my core tanking sets, and noted that there wasn’t much, my weapon, Helm, Cloak, and Belt from my threat set, and my shield from my overall and EH set. In the end I had four or five pieces that were strictly dedicated to this set. Why does this matter?

Regemming and re-enchanting! I need to start cutting up a ton of defense gems and inserting them in said slots. Let me reiterate that statement, you want to gem EVERY slot you can purely defense. In the end the set is lacking where we are usually powerful, stamina, but the whole point of the gimmick set is that you block almost ALL incoming damage. The conecept of this fight, for those of you who do not know is that you have a tank with the ability to block on the burrowers. The “gimmick” set comes into play because of a mechanic that is currently a bit different. These adds have a stacking debuf that increases the damage that they do called Expose Weakness. As you can see, each stack of expose weakness increases the amount of physical damage you take by 25%. At 9 stacks this is a whopping 225% damage increase. The way that block works in this fight is different to most fights, and for this reason, a tank with a shield is king when it comes to tanking the adds.

If you have a Nerubian Burrowerer hitting you for 4500 damage and you block 4000 of it, you take 500 damage. Now usually the way that the stacking debuf mechanic would work is that when you have 9 debufs, the mob would be hitting you for 4500*325% or 14,625. After blocking your 4000, you would be taking a 10,125 hit. However since the debuf is applied to you and YOUR damage TAKEN, you are only taking your unblocked damage (4500-4000) plus the modifier or 500*325% or 1,625 damage. The power of block value is immense on this fight. The amount of block value you have is critical in your ability to mitigate the damage. Now seeing as I am still on Twins in ToTGC, I cannot for certain say how much that the adds hit for, however when you are taking multiple adds, it is imperative to understand that the more block value you have, the significantly less damage you will take, and the easier it will be on your healers.

Some Gear that I am drooling over for this encounter…

Obviously every shield you have will have some semblance of block rating on it. You have to find the one that has the most, and for me that was the Boreal Guard. This baby has block on the shield PLUS block rating in green, making it a powerful piece in your block value set. If you don’t have that shield, and believe me I understand if you don’t (I have had HORRID luck on tank drops for the past month), there are other choices, just look at your shields and see which one has the most BV/BR on it. On too the goodies, below are a list of some of the items that I use for my BV set. Unfortunately some of these come from long outdated instances, and if you are really looking to min/max your set, you are going to have to go back to naxx and Ulduar.

Bindings of the Hapless Prey Necklace of Unerring Mettle
Unbreakable Chestguard Shadow of the Ghoul
Dragonslayer”s Brace Handguards of the Enclave

This is by no means the only list of gear that you can use, however it is some of the best when it comes to stacking block value and block rating. If you are like my guild and have NEVER seen the Unbreakable Chestguard drop, or any of these items, there are alternatives for your set, but these will net you the most block value / rating for your set. Remember that you can and NEED to also augment your set with defense enchants if you need a bit more total avoidance.

In the end, this is a gimmick set for one boss of one instance, and its not really worth it to go farm ALL of this gear if you didn’t save it from before, however if you have it in your bank or in your bags, it would be wise of you to work on creating a block set in your equipment manager for the day when you are staring down Anub’arak in Trial of the Grand Crusader. Good luck everyone!

Clarifications and explainations…

First off, I have not completed my own set, as I am still a few weeks away from needing it, and the links in the comments are to a chardev and thread on MainTankadin, and not my own ideas. My gear set is Comprised of the following pieces of gear – T8 Helm and Shoulders, Necklace of Unerring Mettle, Shadow of the Ghoul, Unbreakable Chestguard (when i get it… Crosses fingers), Bindings of the Hapless Prey, Handguards of the Enclave, Dragonslayer’s Brace, Wyrmguard Legplates, Inexorable Sabatons, Clutch of fortification, Signet of the Earthshaker, the ony trinket and the repelling charge. Everything is gemmed with defense, except two gems to satisfy the meta. Everything is enchanted with Defense or Agility (where no defense enchant is available). When it is all said and done, I buff up to 26.3% dodge, 20.5% parry, 43% block, 10.7% miss = 100.5% which is almost there. As I said, I am personally still working on it, but very close.

29
Sep
09

Stamina versus Balance, the debate rages on

Faction Champions Down!

Once again, after one night of wiping and perfecting our strategies, we go back into the Trial of the Grand Crusade and one shot the next boss. After assigning out all of our crowd controls, interrupts, and dps order, we pulled with double hungering colds, and a bubble divine sac. One by one, the champs dropped like flies and we only had one person die the entire encounter, twice LOL. Once again, the loot gods were not smiling on the tanks, and we did not get a trinket or a belt for our sets. Oh well, next week.

More on Stamina versus the rest…

On to the meat and potatoes of what I want to talk about today. In response to some of the comments that have been posted on Rhidach’s post about the Onyxia trinket, I wanted to go into a bit more depth on my philosophy of Stamina vs. anything else. I know that I will more than likely disagree with the vast majority of the paladin community, and the tanking community as a whole, however I feel that my perspective warrants a bit more discussion. The concept of stamina stacking is a very simple one to understand, the more health you have the more damage you can take. But the real question is, why take the damage if you do not have to. I will concede that there are certain situations when having the largest health pool is an advantage, but in my opinion, these situations are few and far between.

Since most of us are pushing trial of the grand crusade in one form or another, I will make use of the encounter mechanics to show you my point of view. There are two fights in the entire instance where more stamina may save your life (if we are forsaking armor), and those are Icehowl’s Ferocious Butt, and Anub’arak’s Freezing Slash. These are two attacks where there is nothing that you can do to avoid the damage, and you will be taking all of it right on the chin. The only thing that will save you here is Stamina and Armor. To me, this is where the effects of stacking stamina are beneficial, and it is also where the benefit ends. For all other mechanics that we encounter as a result of the Trial of the Grand Crusader, there are better ways to survive as a tank. Since I have been engaged in this debate for a long time now, and have tried my best to articulate my point of view in many different ways, I am going to lean on a respected tankadin to explain the point at which stamina is no longer the best stat (in my opinion):

I think the “EH until AD ain’t proccin'” rule of thumb is probably a good one for tanks that aren’t sure where they fit in the progression ladder. – Theck

Now whether his statement was meant to align with my gearing philosophies or not, I do believe that this statement is really the heart and soul of why I chose to balance my gear sets, stats, and abilities.

Ardent Defender’s Guardian Spirit and your Stamina

The way that I see it, If you have had the experience with tanking a good amount of Trial of the Grand Crusade, you are well aware of the amount of incoming damage that you are going to take, and you have a plan as a result. When I tank the Hard Modes, I have an effective health set that I wear. This set has dual stamina trinkets, however, it is not comprised of pure stamina gems. I feel that the balance of stats is much more valuable. In my experience with tanking Northrend Beasts, Lord Jaraxxus, and Twins, I have yet to have AD proc during the fight unless it was already called a wipe. The one exception to this is also the reason that we have AD. I have on multiple occasions survived the enrage when icehowl hits someone because of Ardent Defender, quick CDs and long strings of avoidance.

With that being said, what is the true benefit of having more stamina if you are not dropping down into the 30% range, let alone activating the GS life saver that is built into AD. The answer is not much. The largest argument of stacking stamina in my eyes is to extend the range of ardent defender by increasing the amount of health you have at 35%. Beyond this, if you are not dying, and you are not dipping into that 35% range regularly, there is no benefit. At this point, you are willingly taking more damage than you have to. If you alter your gearing philosophy to allow for the inclusion of avoidance and mitigation statistics once you have reached a health pool that safely keeps you alive, you are purely decreasing the amount of damage you take. Sure you can say that by increasing the range of your ardent defender, you increase your mitigation considerably, however if you are not regularly dipping down into the 30% range, then you are not utilizing the skill and your justifications are flawed.

The benefits of Armor and Avoidance

When it comes down to it, if your healers are doing their job, you should rarely have to use your Ardent Defender, and as such, more stamina is really not worth anything to you from a mitigation stand point. At this point, you can start leaning towards avoidance and armor to increase your survival, and your ability to take damage. Really, regardless of the justification that “healers have infinite mana right now” they still have a finite amount of healing based off of global cool downs. There is a point at which a decision has to be made by a healer, heal the tank or heal the guy that got X debuf as a result of the current encounter. If you are taking less damage because you are better at mitigating and avoiding damage, then you are an easier decision. The pure stamina tank will be taking more damage regardless of the amount of stamina he has, and as a result will require more heals. You will still live a long time, and be able to take a lot of hits, but you will be consuming more of your healers global cool downs.

In the times where blizzard thinks that making encounters challenging means making the raid and the tanks take LOTS of damage and nothing more, you have to see healers global cool downs as a commodity that is not to be squandered. The less healing you take the more the raid can receive, and as a result, the longer your raid will survive. As always, in the end your gemming, enchanting, and gearing philosophies are all opinions and are part of each tanks unique situation, however, I think that as a whole, the tanking community has lost sight of one of their most important duties to their raid and their guild. Each tank has a duty to be the one that takes the damage for the raid, however they also need to understand that less damage is always better.

25
Sep
09

Farming the Previous Instance Tier

Clearing an instance for one piece of gear

I wanted to take some time today to discuss something that is quite frustrating to me, and possibly the greater tanking community from a dedication stand point. At the same time I am sure that the dps community is just as frustrated with blizzards poor stat allocation on certain pieces of gear in each new instance. To clarify, I am talking about best in slot items that come from previous instance tiers. I spent most of my night last night in Ulduar 10 for two trinkets which may or may not drop, the Mjolnir Runestone and the Royal Seal of King Llane. Now while these trinkets are very powerful, the question that I have been asking is as such:

Is it worth 10 peoples time to farm an instance for a slight chance at the hard mode boss dropping a trinket that will increase the raids dps or a tanks survival by a fraction of a percent?

To the individual, these trinkets are very large upgrades. To any melee or marksman hunter, the runestone is a massive upgrade, and will help them reach the armor pen cap quite a bit easier, however, how much dps does the raid gain? The same holds true for the Royal Seal. Although it is a great effective health trinket with a powerful on use, is the opportunity cost of trying to get that trinket worth wasting 9 other people’s time (8 if someone wants the runestone), to full clear an instance that has nothing to offer the rest of the raid. The runestone has a bit more of an argument, as there is not an upgrade in ToTC or ToTGC that compares when it comes to reaching the armor pen cap. The Royal Seal can be replaced easily by the Brewfest trinket (neglecting the on use disparity between the two).

Aside: With Thorim Bugged, I spent all night in Ulduar 10 and we did not get a chance to kill either boss we went in there to kill…ouch

Unfortunately, this debate can be extended beyond trinkets, and beyond ten mans. What about Val”anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings? You could argue that sending not 10 but 25 people back to an instance to clear it at a chance to get a few shards a week, until you have 30, is similar. I personally think that when looking at these instances, you have to understand what the cost and benefit of the item are. With the trinkets, its a few hundred personal dps for one person, or a great stamina trinket that truly only offers an on use over its alternative. With the mace, its a raid wide massive decrease in damage taken. This is a no brainer, and for most guilds, I would assume as long as you have the ability to do three light, you should be striving to complete your next mace.

The great glaives debate

This was an issue that cropped up in a more grander sense in burning crusade. The addition of a set of glaives to a rogue or warrior were a powerful advantage when you were banging your heads up against the Brutallus enrage timer. So, as a result, you took your full raid into black temple, and cleared it every week for that very, very low chance that you were going to get a glaive. This type of raid philosophy leads to burn out at a much quicker pace. I appreciated when Ulduar came out that there was no need to go back to Naxx. Similarly, as a tank, there is really nothing in Ulduar that can not be replaced by something in ToTC (maybe the Heart of Iron, but even then you can use normal and heroic Juggernaut trinkets). We have the luxury of not having to farm something to min/max our gear.

However, there are many upgrades for healers and dps that come from Naxx or Ulduar, as they were progressing to the next level of instances. This means that if they want to min/max, they will be running instances that are boring, monotonous, and the number one cause of burn out. Why go back to ulduar when you went there for four months straight? I believe that the mace is an exception to the rule, but only to a point. If you do not have Val’anyr yet, is it worth it to keep farming? If you have one mace, do you want a second? etc, etc. To me, If you have more than half the shards, you should complete your mace, but after that, you should acknowledge that its not going to happen and move on. The burn out that you will cause as a result of trying to get that next mace is not worth it.

In the end, the current tier of instances does not take that long to clear, and if you are a hard core guild used to raiding 5-6 days a week, you may go back and full clear it one night just to fill the time. However, in my guilds case, we only have two days of mandatory progression raiding a week, some times three if we are close to a kill. In those two days we clear ToTC and all killable bosses in the heroic version on the first night, while wiping all of the second. If you add Ulduar in there, you have increased your raiding by 33%. 10 mans are optional (although with the caliber of guild members that we have, we run 4 normals and 2 heroics a week). After all is said and done, you have four nights of raiding, for the 100% attendance folks, in which you work to gear out your raid as best as possible to help with progression. After all of this is done, who really wants to go back and do it again just to get one person one chance at one upgrade?

24
Sep
09

Stamina versus Balance

I want to preface this with the fact that this is my own opinion, and as such you should take it with a grain of salt. If you want numbers, theory, and proof, please go to maintankadin, as Theck, Digren, and Ratanna have done some great work providing information for you.

I wanted to take some time to discuss gearing, our philosophies on gemming and my thoughts on why stacking stamina is not the only way to go. As I talk to the other protection paladins on my server, as well as the maintankadin community, there has been a growing trend of stacking stamina over all other things. If I take a look at most of the protection pallies on my server, there is a noticeable trend of paladins that are around 40k hp, with low armor, low avoidance and over all diminished statistics. These inadequacies are all in the name of stacking stamina. What follows is purely my opinions on gearing, gemming and enchanting philosophies and how they apply to the holistic view of progression tanking in Trial of the Grand Crusader. I believe that it is important to specify what raid one will be facing in order to understand my point of view.

The pros of Stacking Stamina

The main justification that stamina is king, is because it is pure effective health, or the ability to survive as long as possible with out getting a heal. It also increases the range of our recently nerfed ardent defender, meaning that the higher the health pool, the higher the threshold of ardent defender, and in turn the higher the threshold of taking 20% less damage. The combination of having a very large health pool and the ardent defender skill means that you have more chance to survive significant incoming damage from a boss or add. This is obviously paramount for any tank to consider, as it is our main job aside from threat. When stacking stamina, you can create a very very large cushion of life between full health and death, which gives you a better chance of survival.

When you take into consideration the types of fights that we are facing in the trial of the grand crusader, you have to understand that there are different types of damage that you are taking, and then plan accordingly. Stamina gives you the ability to tank an encounter with out fully understanding the mechanics and how you should use your cool downs, trinkets, pots, etc against them. If you have 55k buffed hp, then you will be more prepared to survive an incoming burst of damage than if you had 48k.

Where I see stacking becoming a disadvantage

So you have a choice when it comes to gemming and enchanting and you select the stamina route. You forsake all other attributes and drop a solid majestic zicron in every socket you have save one, you enchant your gear with health to chest, stam to shield, and you get the gladiator’s shoulder enchant. You are a beast, and you are proud to say that you have a significant health pool. The thing that you have forgotten is that you are one cog in a machine, and that machine runs on mana (the healer in me is coming out). By stacking stamina you have neglected avoidance, armor, and threat, and as a result you have become less of a tank. The only reason you should be stacking pure stamina is if YOU are the one who is dying first.

I am more than willing to concede that if a tank is dying because they can not take the hits, then they have to do something about their health pool and their avoidance. However, it has been my experience over the past few months that there is not a single boss in the Trial of the Grand Crusade that I have faced that can kill me first. What I mean by that is that the reason that my guild wipes is not because the tank died.

If you are not dying first, and your survival is not the reason that your guild is wiping on an attempt, then you are probably consuming more mana than you should be if you are gearing for pure stamina. From my perspective, blizzard has found a new formula when it comes to creating encounters and making them challenging: Throw out more raid damage. If you take a look at the trends that have been established for boss fights, you will see that AoE damage is king in this expansion, and it is the true test of a healing teams effectiveness. Gormok and Icehowl have stomps, Dreadscale has his burning bile, Jaraxxus has his infernals, the faction champions have their everything, the twins have their floating orbs, and anub has his locus swarm. All of the encounters that you will face in trial of the crusader and grand crusader are a test of your healers ability to keep the raid alive.

When you compare this to the tests on the tank, it becomes clear that mitigation, avoidance and in general taking less damage as a tank help support this by letting the healers focus on the raid, their own survival, and not staring at your health bar, spamming their heals like you are tanking brutallus.

The Benefits Avoidance and Mitigation

The way I see it, increasing your ability to completely avoid an attack, and your ability to mitigate damage before it even nocks your health bar down is something that is much more important as long as you know you can survive. It is that fine line that you must walk, understanding that you need the health pool to survive, but you also want to eliminate as much incoming damage as possible. By embracing the benefits of defense, dodge, parry, and armor, you will find that you take less damage and as a result your encounters go smoother. In other words, the less healing you need, the more the raid can get, and in the current state of blizzards boss encounters, that is an important thing.

I prefer the hybrid gems to stamina gems based on their increased health pool in combination with the added bonus of avoidance and mitigation. The combination of stamina and defense or agility gives you a potent increase in all around statistics. Your health pool grows with every gem you socket, however you also gain avoidance and mitigation through the defense and agility that you are gemming. Similarly, when it comes to enchants, I prefer defense and agility enchants to stamina. I like to weigh out the itemization points of an enchant and understand where I am going to get the most bang for my buck, so to speak. After approaching my gearing from a holistic point of view, I feel that I have the slight advantage over others. When I compare myself to tanks that have similar gear, I notice a trend in our differences. They have a about 2-3k more health than I do at the cost of 4-5% avoidance and close to 1000 armor. For me that is more than enough of a trade off to be the guy with only 38k hp.

I will be honest with you, I’m not Theck, in fact I am not even a math guy at all, I am just a scientist, and I like my trial and error, so I do not have any fancy graphs or equations that show that avoidance and armor are as good as 3k more stamina. All I have is my opinion, however in the end, my health pool has yet to be the cause of a wipe, and I have received a significant amount of feed back that I am one of the easiest tanks to heal from every one of my guilds healers. The way that you gear your toon is a choice that each person has to make, and I have made mine and wanted to share it with you.

The one Caveat to this train of thought

I am a very verbal supporter of the concept of gear sets. I talk about it a lot in this blog, and I have a guide on Maintankadin about it. There are certain times when my holistic gear itemization goes out the window, and that is when I am assembling my effective health gear set. To the extent that I can, with the gear that I have, my effective health set is itemized for pure effective health, and as such has quite a bit more stamina on it, both from gems and enchants, which boosts my health by nearly 4k and my armor by 2k at the expense of avoidance. The concept of that set negates the necessity for a holistic gem and enchant application. Remember, each set has a purpose, and a place of use. Selecting the correct set for the encounter will ensure that you put your best foot forward.

23
Sep
09

Paladin Threat Nerfs and Recent Encounters

After the long weekend with no posts, you would think that I would have a vast plethora of information and exciting news to talk about but, alas there is not really anything of serious note. Instead, I figured I would go over some of the things that have happened in the past four days, namely Trial of the Grand Crusade, Onyxia, and Paladin Class “Tweaks.”

Faction Champions Hard Mode

Last week, on the heels of two shotting both Northrend Beasts and Lord Jaraxxus in hard mode, we spend a glorious 48 attempts wiping to a cleave comp of the faction champions hard mode. We had the priest, resto shaman, and resto druid as healers, mage, shadow priest and hunter for ranged, and the rogue, dk, warrior, ret pally for melee. Needless to say the combo was not nice to our clothies. After 48 attempts we are closer to our goal, however still have a bit to learn. The first major difference that we noticed is that the healers are quite a bit more potent and cannot be tossed aside to blow up a dps. The combination of three healers on your focus target is enough to completely equalize a bloodlusted group of dpsers. Our kill order as a result was the Priest first and then the shaman. Once we got two healers out of the way we agreed that the largest threat was now the melee.

The rogue was our top priority, as the shadowstep, wound poision, and massive damage were killing our clothies very quickly. The CC rotations on all of the remaining champions is essential to success. We had a combination of warlocks, druids, mages, shamans, and rogues, using every crowd control trick they had to ensure that the NPCs were locked down as much as possible. We noticed that having a multitude of death knights helped immensely on the melee with a chains of ice death grip rotation. In the end, our guild is making notable progress on our attempts, originally we were wiping before anything was killed. After quite a few attempts the priest died, and as we have progressed, gotten used to the style of the encounter, and the need for rotating crowd control to avoid diminishing returns, we started killing more and more of the NPCs.

As of now, our best attempt has 5 NPCs down, and our crowd control and focus dps tactics seem to be slowly working, and I feel like its time for them to die so we can push on to the Twins. On a similar note, our guild has had some of the worst luck with drops in ToTC. We have yet to see the cloak, neck, or trinket, and we have only seen one belt. Times are tough for the tanks of Crypt Friends.

Onyxia – Whats old is new again.

After downloading the patch yesterday, I logged on and found out that we were heading right to onyxia. Much to my surprise, there were a handfull of people in our raid that had never done the fight. As some of you know, I was a warrior tank in vanilla wow, and enjoyed tanking ony every week, so last night when I was tanking ony, it was very reminiscent of the old days, minus the fear break. Really from what I saw, ony is a loot pinata, and the only changes that they made to her were that the large adds spawn and join the battle during phase 2, requiring two tanks for the encounter.

onyxia-tcg

Threat and survival nerfs

I was a bit concerned about the nerfs to both our threat and our survival going into our hard mode attempts last night, especially since I have less than adequate hit in my effective health set (63 hit to be exact). However after a few boss fights in my effective health set, I am confident that although I no longer have an insurmountable lead in threat over our dps, I am not in jeopardy of threat capping our dps. As for the survival / effective health nerf to Ardent Defender, It seemed like I was getting hit a bit harder in those low health situations, however my healers did a good job and not really letting me get that low until it was a wipe. Overall, I dont necessarily think that the nerfs were needed, however, with them going live, they were not substantial enough that we will be running to grab our pitchforks and torches.

18
Sep
09

Stacking Raids for Success, and the politics of raiding

Tribute to Mad Skill!

I wanted to talk a bit about guild management again today, as it was an issue that plagued our otherwise great night last night. This is really in direct correlation with the great news that we got down A Tribute to Mad Skill last night with 47 attempts remaining. We ran into a few problems with positioning on Anub’arak. Our ranged and healers were all standing on the other side of a permafrost when Anub burrowed and as a result were spiking the add tank, leading to his untimely death and a quick and painful wipe.

Screen shot 2009-09-18 at 8.36.30 AM

The fact that we got this achievement along with the methods that we employed to get it were the main source of controversy and hurt feelings last night. A few weeks ago when we got our A tribute to skill achievement and saw that there were T9 trophies in the tribute chest, the officers of my guild started to discuss how we would handle this 10 man now that there were obvious benefits to the 25 man raid. After a lengthy discussion we had come to the conclusion that stacking a raid with some of our best players to get to the tribute chest in as few wipes as possible was the best for the gearing and progress of our 25 man raid.

Our reasoning behind this was simple, or at least we thought it was. If you balance your two 10 man groups for the week with half of your best players and half of your average players, you will have two teams that clear the instance in about 10 to 15 wipes, ensuring that both of your teams get a tribute chest with 2 trophies in it. This gives you a net gain of four trophies on the week. If you stack a raid with your very best tank, healers, and dps, leaving the other raid with average to above average players, you will have a four trophy tribute chest and a two trophy tribute chest, giving you a total of 6 trophies, a 2 tier piece gain. Sounds simple enough right?

The downfall of our assumptions

I want to start out by clarifying that when I say our best raiders versus our average raiders, we are talking about the difference between people that pull 7k dps and 6k dps, our two most capable healers, to two healers that are almost as capable but have not been around as much, or a pally tank (myself) and a warrior tank, both with 50k raid buffed hp, descent avoidance, and the skill to lead the encounters.

So we split our groups up, and when we dropped the people that we generally consider the cream of the crop into the stacked raid, we noticed that we were very ranged centric. This is not to say that our melee are not the cream of the crop, it was just the selection that we had online at the time. This lead us to make a few choices for the last few spots. We needed a dps/healer hybrid that could do both depending on the fight and we needed to fill one last spot. Our choice boiled down to do we take our best DK, who has 95% raid attendance and does sensational dps, or do we take both of our best warlocks who also have 95+ percent attendance but will benefit more from the buffs that the raid was providing.

In the end we sat one of our best raiders, and left him with the other group. Our main group was comprised of a Pally and Druid tank, Pally and Priest healer, with a boomkin offspecing as necessary, Ret paladin, two locks, a mage, and an elemental shaman. Our second group was Warrior and a DK tank, a Resto druid and Priest, healing, an enhancement shaman offspec healing as necessary, a dk and arms warrior, two mages, and a lock. We felt that we put together two strong groups that would succeed.

We were wrong

The group I was in was on the twins when the officers started getting whispers. We had one shot every boss, and in an exceedingly quick and efficient fashion. The second group was wiping on Gormok! Apparently the healers were not really executing the fight well and they were dying to snowbolds, fires, and what not. Eventually we told the raid to call it and we would get some different healers in there the next day, as our best holy priest and second best paladin healer were not online that night.

Screen shot 2009-09-18 at 9.26.12 AM

Thats when the real complaints started rolling in. We three shot anub, got our shiny epics, including a brand new tanking weapon for yours truly (Effective health weapon baby!) and we were in good spirits, however the other raid was no where near as happy as we were. After we started talking to the raiders in the other group we started to understand what they were upset with. They felt that we stacked the main group (rightfully so, as we had), and that they were all given the short end of the stick.

Feelings of exclusion and playing the blame game

After we realized that we had a bigger issue on our hands that originally thought, we got everyone from both groups into one channel in vent and we started to talk it over. The officers started out by telling everyone our reasoning behind the imbalance in the two groups and we took accountability for the issues that were caused by this balance. Then we started to ask for feedback on why things went so wrong. As the people that were the most heated started talking about the problems, what was happening and why they were frustrated, a new picture was painted of what the root cause of all of their problems was. The healers were not doing their job. A resto druid was carrying the brunt of the tank healing, they had a resto shaman healing as well, and a priest that has played his class for a very long time was holy at the request of the officers (another thing we took accountability for).

They realized that the priest should have been disc, but not until after the officers brought the true issues to light. The problem with the raid was they they were so focused on getting the short end of the stick that they didnt try to play the game when it got tough, they just started making excuses. In the end we will not be running a stacked 10 man again (at the overall detriment to the gearing of our raid) so that everyone is happy. The tears of the few have fueled the change of the many.

17
Sep
09

Wrathy’s Guide to Gear Sets

I originally posted this on the Maintankadin forums earlier today. I have been meaning to write a guide on this subject for some time now, and felt that I wanted to share it with both communities. I hope you enjoy it, but this one is actually REALLY long!

Maintankadin has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to gear, theory and the choices that you need to make to be an effective tank, however In all of my reading on this site, I have yet to come across a guide that puts it all together. Ratanna’s TTL guide has a great list of some of the best gear in the game, as does Jayson’s Best in Slot guide, however neither of them touch on the whole package and how to combine said items. I found that most of my contribution to the maintankadin forums comes in the from of advice for people that say EH is the way to go, or Hit is the essential, or you should only gem stamina. My advice was always the same, “it depends on the encounter you are tanking.”

I would like to set out to create a guide that outlines that threat is important, effective health is important, avoidance is important, and you should stack each and every one of these, just not in the same set. This is a guide to use your Equipment Manager, ClosetGnome, or Item Rack to its fullest. How you decide to equip your gear is up to you, but you should strive to maintain three to four sets of gear for any given situation that you face. Each “set” of gear will have a specific purpose and a specific time and place of use. None of these will be the one set that you will wear for all encounters, and any tank that wears one set is doing their guild a disservice.

The sets and the core theory behind each gearing philosophy:

The two most important things that you must understand when assembling any set of gear is as follows: You must ask yourself what is the end goal of the compilation of a given gear 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, a farmed instance with hints of progression and a pure progression instance have very different demands, and different challenges that you must overcome. There is always a tool that is perfect for the job at hand. You must understand the encounter, its mechanics, and what you are facing, so that you can provide exactly what the rest of your raid needs to succeed whether it be threat, effective health, Time To Live (TTL), or a balance.

The Threat Set –

A set that is centered around maximum threat output while maintaining the ability to be a feasible tank. 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. The focal point of developing a threat set is your ability to produce the maximum amount of threat per second, and in turn damage per second, so that you can kill the boss in a set amount of time. What does this mean specifically in trying to select gear that will help you get this job done?

There are certain goals that must be achieved in order for your threat set to be effective. I will say this as part of each and every set, but you must maintain your defense minimum of 540, there is no way around this. Once this has been achieved, you can start to look at your other priorities: 263 hit rating and 26 expertise. While you can stack as much strength and crit as you want, if you are missing the boss, you are not producing any threat. Your ability to land a successful hit is paramount to this set, and as such your first goal is to achieve 8% hit or 263 hit rating. Expertise will further your goal of landing hits, and you can stack this as much as you like once you have hit the soft cap of 26 expertise. The less you dodge and parry, the better.

Once you have taken care of your first three stats, you can stack Strength, block value (up to ~3100) and even if you want crit. You have to look at the pieces that are available to you and select items that will produce the best bang for your buck in each given slot. It is also important to note that you do not have to equip something that has defense on it. I use DPS rings in my threat set, to give me extra hit, expertise, and crit. Finally it is important to remember that this is still a tanking set, so you still want to maintain respectable Armor and a descent health pool.

The basics of a threat set –
540 Defense
263 Hit Rating (no more than this, its wasted Itemization)
26 Expertise Minimum
3100 Block Value (no more than this, its wasted Itemization)
Stack Strength, Expertise, and Crit

The Gems and Enchants Specific to a Threat Set
Hit Gems until you are at 263
Strength/Stam Gems
Agility/Stam Gems
Armsman to Gloves
Icewalker to Boots
Accuracy to Weapon

The Effective Health Set –

A set that is centered around the theory of effective health, and it’s main purpose is to ensure that you can take the most amount of damage possible with out heals or avoidance. Most of the population that come to Maintankadin understands the concept of effective health, however for the purpose of a complete guide, effective health:

…is basically a measurement of how much raw damage a creature has to deal to kill you. It is a measurement of Armor and it’s relation to Stamina… Effective Health is the measurement of how much breathing room your healers have to keep you alive assuming all other factors fail — assuming you do not avoid or block attacks or have a mana shield active. Effective Health is important for tanking heavy hitting creatures because of Murphy’s Law — if you can have long strings of not Dodging an attack, it will definitely happen. Raid tanking, ultimately, is about stability. – Ciderhelm

With this being said, effective health is something that is necessary for progression fights, and should always be equipped when you are tanking new content. When learning an encounter, you need to have the breathing room to be able to take the hits and be healed back up, as everyone in your raid will be focusing on a multitude of things that will distract them from helping you survive. The focal point of developing an effective health set is your ability to survive as much damage as possible through mitigation. You will more than likely be avoiding about half of the incoming damage in this set, however it is very important to reiterate that the goal of this gear set is to mitigate the damage you cannot avoid. What does this mean specifically when you are trying to select the gear that will help you achieve this end goal?

The two key stats to ensuring your survival and allow you to increase your effective health are Stamina and Armor. Stamina is as simple as it sounds, the more health you have correlates directly to how much damage you can take prior to dying. If your health pool is at 40k fully buffed, then you can take 40k worth of damage. However, if your health is at 48k then you can take 8k more damage. In addition to the simple fact that more health means you can take more damage is the fact that as your health pool increases, you are extending the reach of your Ardent Defender talent, which is one of your most powerful effective health talents available.

Armor on the other hand is a commonly overlooked statistic that is essential to your effective heath set, and it is something that you should strive to enhance any chance you get. Armor reduces the amount of physical damage that you take no matter what happens. You can be stunned, hit from behind, etc and you will still mitigate damage based on your armor. The last stat that will help you mitigate incoming physical damage is shield block value. While this is an important stat because of its ability to immediately decrease the amount of damage taken, it is not a stat that you will want to prioritize over Stamina and Armor, as you have to be block capped, and you cannot mitigate the damage from behind or when stunned.

Once again I will reiterate that your number one priority in gearing for any set is the become immune to critical strikes, and as such you must maintain the defense minimum of 540. Once that is accomplished, you will want to look to increase your stamina and armor as much as possible. Items with bonus armor are extremely powerful for effective health sets, as they have actually used some of their itemization budget on armor. Remember that any increase in armor is an increase in the ability to mitigate physical damage no matter what.

The Basics of an Effective Health Set –
540 defense
Stack Stamina
Stack Armor
Stack Expertise
Shield Block Value (to a much lesser extent)

The Gems and Enchants Specific to an Effective Health Set –
Gem for Stamina
Armor to gloves and Cloak
Mongoose to Weapon
Blood Draining to Weapon

The Magic Effective Health Twist –

This set performs the same purpose as the effective health set, however it does not value armor in any way. The purpose of a magic effective health set is to stack as much stamina as possible with little to no regard for avoidance and mitigation. This is because armor does not reduce the amount of magical damage that you take. Usually this set is compiled with most of the pieces of your effective health set, only swapping out those items with bonus armor with pieces that have more stamina.

The Basics of a Magic Effective Health Set –
540 Defense
Stack Stamina

The Gems and Enchants Specific to a Magic Effective Health Set –
Gem for Stamina
Stamina to Gloves

The Holistic or Overall Set –

A set that maintains a balance of Avoidance, Threat, and Effective health. This is a set that I use quite often but may be the most controversial due to the fact that it is not far superior in any area, it is a combination of TTL gear and Hit/Expertise gear, to ensure general benefit for any situation. I use a set that is good at everything, but not excellent at any single thing for most encounters that are on farm but are still in your progression instance. There are fights where you need more threat than your effective health set can give you, but you can not equip your threat set due to the amount of incoming damage that you will receive, this is where the holistic set shines.

The goal of this set is to have a very well rounded balance of threat, survival, and avoidance. In order to do this, you will more than likely lean on your TTL best in slot items and bolster the stats that are missing with rings, trinkets, your neck, and cloak. Once again, with out 540 defense nothing else is possible, so your first priority is ensuring that you have met the defense minimum. After that you want to look for pieces that have a well balanced stat base of stamina, dodge, and parry. As you begin to create this set you want to ensure that you are sticking to the rule of thumb of 1.88 dodge to 1 parry ratio. This will ensure that you are maximizing avoidance. You should also be looking to maintain a healthy level of hit for offensive purposes and expertise for offensive and defensive purposes.

In the end you want a set that will provide you with more than 60% avoidance, a health pool that is substantial, and enough hit and expertise to ensure that your threat is great.

The Basics of an Overall Set –
540 Defense
Dodge and Parry ratio of 1.88:1
26 Expertise
>35k HP
>200 Hit

The Gems and Enchants Specific to an Overall Set –
Gem For Agility / Stamina and Defense / Stamina
Agility to gloves and Cloak
Accuracy to Weapon
Defense to Chest

The Block set –

A set that strives to mitigate damage by ensuring that you are unhittable and that your block value is as high as possible. Most of you should already know what unhittable is, however for the sake of completeness: the definition of unhittable is the ability to Block, Dodge, Parry, or Miss any and all incoming attacks. You can achieve this by having a combined 102.4% of the aforementioned stats. The block set is particularly useful for tanking a lot of adds, or soft hitting NPCs. The block value that you have corresponds to the amount of damage that you fully mitigate, so if you have 3000 block value and the 5 adds that you are tanking all hit for 2900, you can successfully tank 5 adds with out tanking any damage (assuming that you are blocking every incoming attack).

The goals that you want to strive to achieve when assembling a block set are fairly straight forward. Once again, with out 540 defense nothing else is possible, so your first priority is ensuring that you have met the defense minimum to prevent being critically hit. The most important part of a block set is to ensure that you are Unhittable, so you must have the avoidance and block percentages needed to reach 102.4%. After this you want to itemize for block value. Each point of block value corresponds to a point of damage you do not take.

Once you have identified all of the items that you can wear that have block value on them, you want to fill in the rest of your set with items that are high in strength, as strength also provides block value. You want to ensure that your health is not significantly hindered by using block value gear, however for the purpose of the set, you will not be tanking hard hitting bosses, and as such can have a significantly lower health pool than the other sets we have discussed.

One last thing to note about the block set and your selection of gear is that there is a very, very large difference between Block Value, which is the focal point of a block set, and Block Rating. Block rating increases your chance to block an attack, but does nothing to the amount blocked.

The Basics of a Block Set –
540 Defense
102.4% Combined Dodge, Block, Parry, Miss
Stack Block Value
Stack Strength
Stack Stamina

The Gems and Enchants Specific to a Block Set –
Gem for Strength
Potency to Weapon
Titanium Plating to Shield

The Unhittable set –

A set that is purely a gimmick set used for the Heroic Anub’arak encounter in 25 man Trial of the Grand Crusade. This set strives to mitigate damage done by the Nerubian Burrowers by ensuring that you are PASSIVELY unhittable and that your block value is as high as possible. The specifics of how the damage is dished out to you is as follows:

If you have a Nerubian Burrowerer hitting you for 4500 damage and you block 4000 of it, you take 500 damage. Now usually the way that the stacking debuf mechanic would work is that when you have 9 debufs, the mob would be hitting you for 4500*325% or 14,625. After blocking your 4000, you would be taking a 10,125 hit. However since the debuf is applied to you and YOUR damage TAKEN, you are only taking your unblocked damage (4500-4000) plus the modifier or 500*325% or 1,625 damage. The power of block value is immense on this fight. The amount of block value you have is critical in your ability to mitigate the damage. Now seeing as I am still on Twins in ToTGC, I cannot for certain say how much that the adds hit for, however when you are taking multiple adds, it is imperative to understand that the more block value you have, the significantly less damage you will take, and the easier it will be on your healers.

The goal of this set is to achieve 101.5% combined dodge, block, parry, and miss percentages so that you do not rely on holy shield to block every incoming hit. You can do this by stacking defense, dodge, parry, and block rating. The key to this set is the fact that block rating does not suffer diminishing returns like the other stats. If this is accomplished, your next goal is to have as much block value as possible so that you can mitigate incoming damage prior to the multiplicative buff. This set is very specific in its gearing, and there are a few ways to do it, however for the sake of simplicity I will list out the initial set that I created when pushing Anub’arak:

My gear set is Comprised of the following pieces of gear – T8 Helm and Shoulders, Necklace of Unerring Mettle, Shadow of the Ghoul, Tier 7 Chest, Bindings of the Hapless Prey, Handguards of the Enclave, Dragonslayer’s Brace, T9 legs, Inexorable Sabatons, Band of the Traitor King, Signet of the Earthshaker, the ony trinket and the Lavanthor’s Talisman. Everything is gemmed with defense, except two gems to satisfy the meta. Everything is enchanted with Defense or Agility (where no defense enchant is available). This set also requires the use of elixirs over a flask. You should use the defense and agility elixirs and agility food to push you over the top.

The Basics of an Unhittable Set
101.5% Combined Dodge, Block, Parry, Miss
Stack Block Value

The Gems and Enchants Specific to an Unhittable Set –
Gem for Defense, Defense, Defense (with a Nightmare Tear and a Defense / Avoidance orange gem for the meta)
Eternal Earthsiege Diamond
Agility to weapon
Block Rating to Shield

The Chill of the Throne Set

This set is being introduced to deal with gearing and gemming philosophies and gear choices while under the influence of Chill of the Throne. Chill of the Throne automatically negates 20% of your chance to dodge when you enter any of the Icecrown Citadel Raid instances. The concepts of this gear set are mostly geared around Effective health, and Theck’s new formula for Effective health. This differs in regards to the normal “effective health” set above in the fact that we are forsaking avoidance and buffering for a combination of magical and physical damage. Based on a detailed discussion on Chill of the Throne, the vast majority of the paladin tanking community agrees that maximizing your ability to take the hits (aka stamina stacking) is the best course of action.

This set can be altered based on the encounter to provide the best amount of “Effective Health” as long as you understand the types of damage that you are going to face (e.g. Physical, Magic, Bleed). There are certain goals that you want to achieve in order for your ICC set to be effective with Chill of the Throne Active. Above all, Stamina is king. While the understanding that if you were in favor of avoidance before, you can still favor it and do well is true. The best relative increase in your time to live is from pure stamina, as it does not suffer from harsh diminishing returns.

There are certain goals that must be achieved in order for your threat set to be effective. I will say this as part of each and every set, but you must maintain your defense minimum of 540, there is no way around this. Once this has been achieved, you can start to look at your other priorities: Stamina, Stamina, and then some armor. The set will contain dual stamina trinkets, and all of your sockets save one will be gemmed for stamina. You will also want to place stamina enchants on most of your gear, as long as you stay above the defense minimum.

DISCLAIMER – It is important to know that there will be times when the other sets listed above will be better for tanking encounters in Icecrown Citadel. Each set has its time and place for use. This is a general utility set to maximize time to live while under the influence of Chill of the Throne, not the only set you should wear in ICC.

The Basics of a Chill of the Throne set –
540 Defense
Stamina Stack
Bonus Armor when possible
Ensure Double Stamina trinkets
Ensure 26 Expertise

The Gems and Enchants Specific to a Chill of the Throne set –
Gem for Stamina
Austere Earthsiege Diamond
Armor to (gloves and) Cloak
Mongoose to Weapon
Stamina / Resilience Shoulder Enchant
Super Health to Chest
Stamina to Bracers and Boots
Agility or Stamina to Gloves




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