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 –
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
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 –
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 –
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 –
Dodge and Parry ratio of 1.88:1
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 –
102.4% Combined Dodge, Block, Parry, Miss
Stack Block Value
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 –
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