The death of avoidance, the loss of a soap box

Chill of the throne

Quote from: Daelo (Source)
For Icecrown Citadel, we are implementing a spell that will affect every enemy creature in the raid. The spell, called Chill of the Throne, will allow creatures to ignore 20% of the dodge chance of their melee targets. So if a raid’s main tank had 30% dodge normally, in Icecrown Citadel they will effectively have 10%.
Why are we doing this?

The high levels of tank avoidance players have obtained is making the incoming damage a tank DOES take more “spiky” than is healthy for raiding. Ideally, tanks would be receiving a relatively constant stream of damage over time. This allows healers to better plan their healing strategy, broaden their spell options, and simply give more time to react. Tanks could use their cooldowns more reactively. Instead, the current situation is that if we make a hard hitting melee boss and a tank doesn’t avoid two successive swings then the tank could very well be dead in that 1-2 second window. The use of reactive defensive abilities instead becomes a methodically planned affair, healers have to spam their largest heals just in case the huge damage spike happens.

We’ve been trying to do a fair amount to mitigate the effect of high tank avoidance on the encounter side of things during this expansion with faster melee swings, additional melee strikes, dual wielding, narrowing the normal variance of melee swing damage, and various other tricks. There’s a limit to what we can do, however. So to give us a bit of breathing room we’ve implemented Chill of the Throne. Going forward past Icecrown Citadel, we have plans to keep tank avoidance from growing so high again.

We’ll have this on the PTR soon so players can see the effects inside Icecrown Raid.


Let me start out by saying that it has been a long and fun debate with most of the tanking community over gemming philosophies and the balancing of stats versus the stacking of stamina, but after a long and arduous journey, I am stepping down off my soap box and crossing the picket lines. Blizzard has beaten me into the ground and my philosophies on gearing have changed to adapt to the times. Every piece of gear that I will get from now on will follow what most of the tanking community already does, stamina, stamina, and wait for it….

More stamina

With the advent of the Chill of the Throne, and the base reduction of dodge by 20%, my theories on avoidance are really going out the window. Currently I sit with about 65% raw avoidance and 53k hp raid buffed with food and flask. If you look at other paladin tanks in our community who gear for pure stamina, forsake the shoulder, chest, and shield enchants, and also dual stam trinket, they buff up to aroun d 60% avoidance for an extra 4-5k hp. With the reduction of avoidance by 1/3 of my total avoidance, it is no longer valuable for me to continue to strive to get that number up. Instead I should gear for pure stamina, and hang up my avoidance hat, so that I can take more back to back hits. Currently my philosophy is that if I can avoid taking back to back hits, then a smaller health pool does not matter. Now, I can say that I will be taking back to back hits quite a bit more often. As a result, I have to prepare myself for that, and give my healers breathing room to get me back up to full. The introduction of Chill of the Throne will place all of the value of survival in the theory of Effective Health.

Now I want to clarify that while I have been a very outspoken and passionate advocate for balancing your set and trying to gear for avoidance, this does not mean that I ever had pipe dreams of walking up to a hard mode ToTGC boss with 45k hp raid buffed and a ton of avoidance. The theory and the discussion was all in the name of min/maxing. When you look at the pure stamina tanks, they only have a few thousand more health than me at the cost of a few percent avoidance. The first, and most important role of a tank, is to ensure that you can survive the encounter with out giving multiple healers heart attacks. Once you understand that you have a cushion of health between the bosses attacks and death, what you do from there is your own opinion. I chose avoidance and armor, others chose stam, but we both made sure that we lived first.

Where to go from here?

I will not be regemming and re-enchanting the gear that I already have, for Trial of the Grand Crusade, it works, my healers are used to my damage, and I have never gotten a complaint that I was “Hard to heal.” However, from here on out, every item I pick up from Trial of the Grand Crusade will get stamina gems and stamina enchants. That means that my 258 gear set will be all stamina going into Icecrown. And in all honesty, I only have 5 or 6 pieces of gear left to be BiS in 258 gear, namely the trophies for the T9.258.

If I got my one wish…

I had hopped that blizzard would counteract the growing phenomenon of stam stacking by creating more fights like General, or even creating a raid wide aura for mana regen. This would be something that would truly reward the tank that gears for avoidance and mitigation, this would validate my hard fought battle with the paladin community. Alas, we are recreating the mistakes of the past and this time I fear they will be even worse than sunwell. The bosses are probably going to hit hard and fast, and our avoidance will be down to nothing. With the fact that healers have an infinite mana pool and the damage that is going to be put out will be considerable, the only option tanks have is to stack a lot of stamina.

My vision of Chill of the Throne would have been something along the lines of mana regen reduction for healers. I am not sure how you would employ such a technique, but you could work out some sort of equation that would work for healers only, because as much as our stamina and health pools are getting out of control, so are the healers mana pools and regen capacity. This seems more along the lines of what blizzard has done throughout the entire expansion. Their solution to creating difficult fights is more damage, more places, more often. The concepts to employ this may have changed, may have been resurrected from Council in Black Temple, and some of them are just plain old do not stand in the fire.

If we could reward smart play, the tanks ability to mitigate and avoid damage, as opposed to soak it, and mana management on the part of the elite healers, we would once again be in a nice balanced place where the talented players would see results when it came to progression, and the people who were along for the ride would be dead on the floor as they were in BT and Sunwell. I remember the days of split second decisions, heal the dps in the fire or heal the tank, one or the other, and make it an efficent heal because your potion is on cooldown and your mana pool is at 15%. I found that there was a different caliber of healer in a successful raid back in Sunwell.

Such is the way of the world. Change is good, and change happens for a reason. The truly successful are those who can adapt quickly to a changing environment and tanks are the best of the best when it comes to that. I will see you all in the “50k unbuffed health” pool…


20 Responses to “The death of avoidance, the loss of a soap box”

  1. October 29, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    Believe it or not, Wrathy, as one of the people who has typically been on the other side of the debate from you, I too lament “Icecrown Radiance”, and the last nail in the coffin of balanced gearing. I, too, was hoping for a solution that would start to reward a more balanced approach. I’ve always felt rather uncomfortable as a “stam stacker”. I’ve continued to search for a good reason to value avoidance more – probably one reason I enjoyed our discussions on the subject so much.

    It’s still on PTR, perhaps we’ll see a change. There’s something just slightly more elegant about caring about socket bonuses, and not using TBC and PVP enchants, and about looking at a socket and seeing an opportunity for customization, rather than 30 stamina waiting to happen. There’s something to be said for looking at your trinkets as a place to balance out your gearsets, as opposed to “Oooh, more stamina”.

    I’m a little bit disappointed in the state of tanking in general right now, and onwards into 3.3. Threat isn’t a consideration to balance, avoidance isnt’ a consideration to balance. Moar stam ftw!1!. Balancing that triangle and getting it right was my biggest joy in Sunwell, I spent hours balancing and rebalancing gearsets for every fight. One new upgrade could cause a cascade of retuning 8 different gearsets. (Kalecgos, Brutallus, Felmyst MT, Felmyst OT, Twins, M’uru Door, M’uru Void Spawns, KJ adds). I still try and care that much, but I really don’t. I have 3 sets in regular use right now, and the lovingly polished progression set that won’t really see the light of day until Icecrown. But one is a gimmick set (Anub), another is a gimmick set (lol 5k dps as tank), and the third is my ToGC10/25 set, basically a threat-heavy EH suit. None of them need much maitenance at this point, the hardest thing will be deciding on if the gimmick suit gets 245 tier pieces with strength gems, or if it’s really just as effective with 258 tier with stamina gems.

  2. October 29, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    To me it’s as if Blizzard has taken the art out of tanking. I cringe any time I see another pally tank gearing just stamina, completely ignoring the gem bonuses (especially as a JC). I want to yell at them that they’re falling for a quack theory. Tanks who are geared less than I am are placed as MT for a raid simply because they have more stamina, never mind that I’m suddenly crippled because I can out TPS them in two seconds flat (Sometimes I just say to hell with it and do it anyway) Suddenly the idea has come that it’s stamina that makes you a good tank, and nothing else. /sigh. . .

    • October 30, 2009 at 9:25 am

      Well, sir, that’s because the game mechanics have dictated that stamina is the tank stat for progression encounters. Wrathy’s been fighting a battle for balance, and for gaining the 2-3% avoidance in trade for the 3-4khp that most of the rest of us have. He has valid points that haven’t swayed me, just as I have valid points that haven’t swayed him. I have a lot of respect for his viewpoint, our discussions have aided in making me a better tank. However, I think even Wrathy will argue that there is merit in the stam-stacking tank. There are very good reasons for doing it. It is not a quack theory, and it should not make you cringe.

      In regards to threat: It is not the MT’s job to out-threat other tanks. It is the MT’s job to set a high enough threat ceiling for the DPS, and then to stack as much survival as he possibly can. If the designated MT for the raid isn’t pulling enough threat for the DPS, then he’s failing. If you’re ripping aggro off the MT, as an off-tank, then you’re failing, and risking wipes depending on healer reaction time.

      • November 1, 2009 at 3:41 pm

        In instances and raids where I constantly rip aggro from the MT– The only thing I’m doing is using auto attack with a seal up. In cases where it’s a druid or a warrior, I salvation myself and drop righteous fury. The instances where it’s a paladin, who was chosen as MT simply because he has more stamina (meanwhile his gear is vastly inferior to mine) then I will not slow down, because if I can out threat the guy, most likely so are the dps. I always warn my healer in advance if this is going to happen.

        I have no problem with people stacking stamina if their gear is up to par for it, I take issue with the sudden influx of tanks who do so with gear that isn’t helping them reach their caps.

      • November 1, 2009 at 4:39 pm

        @Andrew – Because I couldn’t nest replies any further.

        I think, given the situation you describe, that the causal relationship is, at best, minimally related to stamina stacking. Autoattack+SoV is at best 3k tps, and that’s being pretty generous. Any tank, no matter what class, that’s losing threat due to your autoattack+seals is failing badly, but it has nothing to do with their gearing.

        I’m personally at below 100 hit, and below softcap expertise, and I don’t have threat problems.

        The point remains, stamina stacking (more accurately, effective health stacking) has generally been the best answer to progression encounters in WotLK thus far. Paladins, when played properly, do not have threat problems in full EH gear.

    • 6 raia
      October 30, 2009 at 9:41 am

      As a Prot Warrior, and especially since the introduction of obtainable hit caps and expertise soft-caps to avoid parry gibs, I have NEVER believed in Stam stacking. I switched mid BC from playing a high-dps hunter who was one of the first on my server to realize that reaching the hit cap was the best thing I could do to keep my dps high, and that theory has carried over to threat generation while tanking. Every step of the way through Wrath I have maintained hit-cap and expertise soft cap so that, without a doubt, I would be the leader in threat from the very first second of a boss pull.

      Now, I’m one to adapt to the times as much as the next guy, but I cringe knowing that as I replace my hybrid hit/expertise and stam gems to pure stam just to survive in ICC the likely hood of my first Shield Slam could result in a big scary “Miss/Dodge/Parry” is a big reality now.

      Blizzard needs to take alot of angles into consideration when they make moves like this. Its not just about avoidance and spike damage. Its about play style… not just that of the tank, but also the DPS who they have allowed to forget the old “wait for 2 sunders before dpsing.” These days to beat enrage timers, DPS starts .1 seconds after a tank does, and it never lets up. A tank suffering misses is not a good thing. It will cause more dps to pull, which will result more taunts, and dps these days doesn’t even look at Omen, they won’t even care the tank doesn’t have sufficient tps, they’ll plow on, causing another taunt-necessary situation within a few seconds, hitting the taunt DR… etc. You see where I’m going.

      The solution to this is not to apply a debuff that causes tanks to regem, the solution would be to adjust itemization numbers for avoidance and boss damage across all tiers, not just the next thing thats coming up. Fix the problem, don’t tape it up.

      • 7 Wrathy
        October 30, 2009 at 10:02 am

        While I agree with you on your opinion regarding the bandaid fix that became Chill of the Throne, and I personally would have liked to see a re-evaluation of the diminishing returns equation for avoidance levels or a debuf that effected healers mana regen, I have to question the need to be hit capped for progression.

        Don’t get me wrong, I have a threat set, and I am hit capped with 34 expertise, however in progression fights, when survival matters the most, hit goes out the window. My progression set has a whopping 25 hit on it, and that is all from my accuracy enchant. Now unbuffed, I have 46 expertise, 43k health and 53% avoidance, but I still never have issues with threat.

        What I can concede is that hit for a warrior is more than likely different than hit for a paladin. Our warrior tank usually sits at about 150 hit, and I deal with whispers on a daily basis regarding his threat production. Most of the time, I explain the circumstances of his gearing philosophy in conjunction with the bosses that we are fighting, however there are times when threat really matters.

        I wear my threat set for everything in the game save, hard modes on northrend beasts, Twins, and Anub’arak. So I will agree with you that hit cap is important, however for progression, it is the responsibility of the dps to watch their threat. ToT and MD should be on you from the beginning to prevent that oh crap moment when you see dodge, miss, parry, however hit should only be a consideration in your progression set if you are threat capping your dps.

  3. 8 raia
    October 30, 2009 at 11:40 am

    It is quiet different for a warrior. Our damage is purely physical and as such, we depend upon hit and expertise alot more than a paladin. The change to MD (effectively making it ToT for hunters) will help alot. But as I am experiencing right now on Anub in ToGC25, even a hunter’s MD can easily be out-threated (not a word) by healer spam as the south-spawning Borrowers make their long journey from there to me in the north or, as I have seen quite a few times, but the hunter’s own Wild Quiver procs. (Seems weird, I know, but it happens.)

    I’m not advocating gemming/chanting threat stats for progression, but I suspect that even after reaching ICC farm status, choosing to do so vs. stam or avoidance will be no choice at all (in favor of the later) at a time when the DPS’s damage will have increased to levels where they will indeed be capped by the Main-Tank’s threat.

    I suppose, in the end, like so many other nay-sayers, I don’t want to change my philosophy due to, what I see, as a horrible error and lack of adherence to a plan Blizzard made then ignored for itemization.

  4. 9 Umerisa and Jamyl
    March 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    As a healer i am fed off stam stacking tanks lets see if the tanks have 14 gems slot he use 30 stam in all of them base 10 sta equals 100 health so 30×14 gives about 360 sta equal 3600 health but no avoidance migration what so ever but a tank that goes for hybrid gems like agi/sth/expertise with 15 sta he ends about around 212 sta which ends up with a 2120 health added to the pool and at the same time he get some advoidance, migration and threat added the 1k lose of health is easy gainable threw flash of stone blood.

    As a raid healer i am freaking tired of tanks going down the sta stacking road, they gives the healer hell believe you me 50k 30sta road health tank goes down in a couple of seconds but a 45k with 15 sta road health tank easier to healer to keep up.

    STAND MORE UP FOR THE HEALER, are we suppose to get all the dirty work these days.
    and tanks out there try to play a healer for a while and see threw the healers eyes.

    Umerisa and Jamyl

  5. 10 elayn
    March 22, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Umerisa and Jamyl –

    I completely agreed with you prior to the debuff, chill of the throne. The problem with avoidance at this stage in the game is that you are already in diminishing returns just from the avoidance on your gear. Therefore, when you throw a straight dodge gem into a red socket, you only really benefit from about 1/4 of that gem. Include this debuff, and your avoidance is so low that the gem slot was completely wasted. Gemming stam is the only real choice for any high level tank.

    Look at the gear available to tanks. They should be stacking armor to help the healers (and there is a ton of armor gear available to them). The Chill of the Throne does not effect the mitigation gained from armor. If you’re having a hard time healing your tanks, tell them to craft/buy some of the armor gear available to them.

    • 11 Umerisa and Jamyl
      March 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm

      Gemming stam is the only real choice for any high level tank, mmm second thoughts on that, mmm so you want to reduce your threat gen for high level dps, just for more health. Which again risk wipes cause of lack of threat gen and high end dps risk outhreat the tank.
      Just an input though.

      • 12 Wrathy
        March 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm

        I am going to have to agree with Elayn on this one. I have been working on a post regarding gemming in end game progression, specifically with the advent of the 5% buff, when can we start evaluating our gemming philosophy, however it seems like maybe I should finish it today. As Elayn pointed out Stamina is the only stat that does not suffer from diminishing returns and benefits from raid buffs. There is a great debate which happened a few months ago between some of the EJ warrior theory crafters and the main theory crafters of MainTankadin.

        This debate opened up the vast amount of information regarding the benefits of armor from a mathematical stand point. With that being said, any “End Game Progression” tank should be gemming pure stamina and trying to maximize the amount of armor they have. The caveat to this statement is that you have to define end game progression tank. In my eyes this is a tank who has a significant number of Hard modes in 25 man down already. Any tank who is still working on the Lich King in normal does not fit into the cutting edge gearing philosophy, because they will have more gear than the tanks that killed him weeks or months ago.

        I was the the most vocal advocate of balanced gearing and focusing on not only stamina and armor, but avoidance as well, however with the introduction of chill of the throne, the math was irrefutably in favor of stamina over avoidance because of the harsh diminishing returns that most tanks are already pushing due to gear levels.

        More to come on my post today or tomorrow…

      • 13 elayn
        March 22, 2010 at 4:37 pm

        No tank will gem threat unless the piece is specifically for threat. If more threat is required, the tank should be switching out pieces of gear to generate more threat. However, on progression bosses, those pieces will generally not be equipped.

  6. 14 Umerisa and Jamyl
    March 22, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I guess have to agree, but the mentality on the highend tanks goes over to the general community once again the health race contenius and then we get 232 item level tanks geming pure stamina which is in the long run will *give the healers heart beat*

    Even in highend gear tank if i where in a such position i would rather have gemed strength and sta than go for the nice 30 sta which ends in 300 health base increase.

  7. 15 Umerisa and Jamyl
    March 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    This Chart calcualted with and i used TOP TIER 10 as base.

    Tier 10 Base sta Pure STA Hybrid Sta
    Head (12 sta) 243 179 179
    Meta 30 32
    Red 30 15
    Shoulder (6 sta) 192 148 148
    Red 30 15

    Chest (9 Sta) 251 191 191
    Red 30 15
    Blue 30 15
    Hands 192 148 148
    30 15

    Legs (9 sta) 251 191 191
    Yellow 30 15
    Blue 30 15
    Socket bonus
    Stamina 1129 1097 994 1036
    Health 11290 10970 9940 10360
    Less health

    As you see with aiming for socket bonuses you still lose about 610 health based used with hybrids gems.

    My geming thoughts around
    Yellow Def Sta Def to bolster all around avoidance stats.
    Red Strength Sta. Sth to cug more damage threw shield block wich alsow gives a bit threat gen.
    Blue Agi Sta- Agi to increase the armor and crit and a big dodge.

  8. 16 Umerisa and Jamyl
    March 22, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    My apologizes for the mess of the last post but it looked fine when i copy pasted it to the writing field.

    The total stamina with socket bonus applyed will be
    1036 stamina
    10360 health
    610 less health

  9. 17 Umerisa and Jamyl
    March 22, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Applogies the first of the 3 post i added to this (topic)
    As Elyan pointet out pure sta for end geared tanks.
    I did take the time to do a fast caululation of each tier 10 level total stamina gained with the hybrid gem focus.

    Yellow Def Sta Def to bolster all around avoidance stats.
    Red Strength Sta. Sth to cug more damage threw shield block wich alsow gives a bit threat gen.
    Blue Agi Sta- Agi to increase the armor and crit and a big dodge.

    Take look on each of this sets stamina gained with the sockets bonuses applyed.
    The loss is 610 health each time which is easy catch with flask of stone blood.

    Lower tier 10 (socket bonus applyed)
    1036 stamina
    10360 health
    610 less health

    Middle tier 10 (socket bonus applyed)
    1116 stamina
    11160 health
    610 less health

    Higher tier 10 (socket bonus applyed)
    1308 stamina
    13080 health
    610 less

    So from that my point never underestimate socket bonuses.
    as you see is about 610 less health each time.

  10. March 22, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    You don’t catch up the health by using flask of stoneblood. You’re using it anyway. It’s also significantly more than 610 health, due to stamina modifiers. The question one generally asks during gemming is: how do I make myself more survivable against the content I’m facing. Stamina stacking generally improves survivability more than hybrid gemming when you are undergeared for the content you’re facing.

    Also, frankly, we’re talking about a 2% avoidance gain. If you can tell the difference in the heat of combat, you are almost certainly not healing in what is generally considered the optimal manner.

  11. 19 Umerisa and Jamyl
    March 23, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Do you mean stamina modiferes in terms of talents who increases stamina in the manners of
    pally’s get 10% more stamina and warrior like 6% more stamina.
    If that is not what you means enlighten me on the subjet

    • March 23, 2010 at 8:22 am

      Yes. Plus, in a raid, Blessing of Kings/Blessing of Sanctuary (10% stamina multiplier), and in ICC 5% (soon to be 10%) health modifier. 61 stamina is closer to 900 health.

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