GC versus the Community, The avoidance debate explodes

Icecrown Citadel and the debate regarding gearing

I feel like a major crisis has happened and the first thing I do in the morning is turn on the news and wait to hear what we as a community are going to do about it. As I gingerly opened up the blue tracker page on MMO-Champion, I was pleasantly surprised with some of the responses that Ghostcrawler had for the community, and I was also happy to see that there is still someone on the picket lines, fighting for avoidance. However, his justifications and rationalization for the Chill of the Throne as well as his expectations for main tank gearing are partially skewed by the fact that he knows exactly what the bosses are going to do in Icecrown. From his responses to the raging threads on the official forums, I can only guess that Icecrown is not going to be the pushover that ToTC was, and the blues are feverishly downplaying what “softer and faster” hits will do to a tank.


Ghostcrawler gave me subtle a goodbye present

From the blue tracker, I got a glimpse at the debate that most tanks are having with the developers right now. From our own little slice of heaven, Maintankadin, we have really only seen very reasonable and civilized punditry regarding the Chill of the Throne. It seems as though the greater community has not shown as much restraint when posting on the official forums. I find it interesting that there are some people that are such purists when it comes to stacking stamina. Even the paladin communities most vocal supporters of the stamina stacking camp understand that this is the philosophy you hold after reaching a significant amount of avoidance and survivability through your gear. The people that are sharpening their pitch forks on the official forums seem to believe that stamina is the ONLY thing that matters.

I found a few interesting comments that I would like to share with you regarding the Chill of the Throne and our gearing philosophies.

…However, you cannot directly translate effective health into best tank. Avoidance matters. If it didn’t, we would have no reason to nerf it in Icecrown. Good tanks don’t depend too much on avoidance, but great tanks understand its value.

Furthermore, your estimations of effective health become less and less accurate the more variables you try to factor in. Most saliently, you can’t easily account for cooldowns. You can’t compare a short duration that reduces damage by 80% to a long duration that reduces damage by 10%. Mathematically they might generate the same effective health number, but in reality they work pretty differently and each has their own benefits in certain situations, which vary depending on boss mechanics. (I’d generally take the first one though.)

We purposely made the cooldowns difficult to compare from class to class. You shouldn’t then be surprised when we take your effective health calculations based on direct comparisons of said cooldowns with a grain of salt.

It’s fine to compare health, armor, avoidance or cooldowns. I would not recommend putting too much faith in one ubernumber that you generate by combining all of them. – Ghostcrawler

I find this statement interesting. It gives us a bit of insight into Ghostcrawlers train of thought, or at least his attempt at diplomacy on the forums. What this shows me is that he is taking a “theory” that we use and assuming we place a practical number on it. I understand that there are some people that think they can create some sort of formula to estimate effective health; however, I see effective health as more of a theory and a gearing philosophy, and not as much of a number or an absolute value. His discussion on cool downs and their role in effective health really showed me that he is looking at our gearing philosophies and theories from a different set of rose colored glasses.

Now maybe I am the one that sees things differently from the tanking community, but I always say effective health as a theory and a set of guidelines when selecting gear, not a number that I would try to get higher and higher when swapping out gear. I appreciate his little tip of the hat to the avoidance tanks out there, but I think we all will agree that all of our discussions about effective health, stamina, and avoidance, represent our philosophies in min / maxing, and not a black and white stance on avoidance versus stamina.

The cries of the ill informed…

Q u o t e:
What he said was in fact 100% true. EH is all that matters AT THE MOMENT. – the ill informed

That’s just not true. If you turned your back on a mob, your armor and health would not change. The boss would hit you a lot more. You would be a worse tank. If you could somehow remove all of your dodge and parry, you would take more damage.

I think what is happening here is that some of you are adhering too tightly to the guideline that since bosses can potentially two-shot you that avoidance is unreliable and health * armor is king. I understand that logic. But don’t take it to the illogical conclusion that avoidance is irrelevant. If your 50-60% avoidance went to 0% you would notice quickly. – Ghostcrawler

As I said before, the most heated debates that took place over at Maintankadin never got to this level of absolute certainty. We never had any delusions that stamina and armor was all that mattered, we only had differing opinions on what to do with that last little bit of customization. It is shocking to me that there are people out there that will forsake everything but stamina, and are so vehement about the fact that avoidance is nothing. I believe that Ghostcrawler summed it up when he suggested the person preaching that effective health is all that matters to turn his back to the boss. For any of you learning the 25 man hard mode Anub’arak encounter, you know what that can do to you.

Q u o t e:
Great tanks understand that maximising EH is all that matters at the moment. You’ve designed encounters with major boss cooldowns that are undodgeable (Impale, Frozen Slash, etc.). Avoidance literally means nothing for these key moments. Saying that great tanks value avoidance is not only hyperbole, it’s untrue. – the ill informed

If that were true, then the Icecrown aura would be a Mortal Strike debuff instead of an avoidance nerf. – Ghostcrawler

I particularly like this discussion, because it shows two things. Firstly, it re-emphasizes that the purists of the tanking community are wrong. Ultimately, there are two boss fights in the game right now that employ these tactics, 1/3 of northrend beasts, and Anub’arak. While I will not try to convince you that effective health is not important, and that stamina can be the difference between living and dying during any difficult tanking situation, what is being outlined here as a justification that effective health is all that matters is a very small part of the fight. I find it sad to think that people are really under the impression that great tanks do not care about avoidance at all. I would have hoped that these people would take a look at the lengthy discussion on our forums regarding Progression MT gearing. Secondly, I am happy to see that based on Ghostcrawler’s response, they did think about more than just Sunwell Radiance when it came to the Chill of the Throne. I would have been much happier to see a combination of a Mortal strike debuf and a restriction on healers’ mana pools, but alas, the simplest answer is to lower our avoidance.

Our path forward, and our method of preparation for ICC

When all is said and done, and the dust has settled on each respective forum, we will all be headed in the same direction. We are preparing for Icecrown Citadel. And, regardless of what Chill of the Throne does, and how much stamina, armor, and avoidance we have, we will still have the same gear in our bags, and the same selection of said gear for our progression set. The only real difference in what we can do when the time comes to tank that first boss in ICC is how we customize that gear. To me, the gems and enchants are the icing on the cake, the min/maxing, the little things that will make the fight easier or harder. We are all going to be prepared (contrary to what Illidan thought), and we are just looking for that slight edge when it comes to speed of progression, and ease of learning an encounter. This has, and always will be a larger health pool. If you look at the trend of our health, regardless of gemming and enchanting, it has skyrocketed with each new patch. Icecrown will again give us a significant boost in our health pools, and we will in turn slay some dragons, and take home some shiny new epics to help make the transition to hard modes a bit less intense.

So, in closing, put away the pitch forks, enjoy the farmed content while you still can, and get ready for that last push towards the finish line…


7 Responses to “GC versus the Community, The avoidance debate explodes”

  1. October 30, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Thank you for putting all this in one place. I agree with you whole-heartedly and think that it doesn’t matter honestly what we think we just have to deal and move on. I frankly think its a good thing if encounters are balanced out better without huge spiky damage honestly, but thats just me. Less luck and more skill.

  2. October 30, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Great post. It covered it pretty well, I hadn’t realized how moderate our debate over at MT was until I saw some of the WoW Forum comments.

    Regarding your Tweet… I was pretty stoked to be mentioned in the same breath as some of those names, too.

  3. October 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    That is pretty awesome you both. Makes me think I need to finally start posting on Maintankadin (not that I’m anywhere near the caliber of thinker that you two are, but I’d still like to start participating in those discussions…).

    ANYWAY, to get back to your (great) post: I think you’re building a tiny strawman in your argument. Aside from random mouthbreathers on the general forum, I don’t think anyone was only looking at EH over anything else. Avoidance always mattered, just not as much as EH.

    Like I’ve said before, just because you have 70% avoidance doesn’t mean that the game isn’t going to decide you’re going to take 3 hits in a row, and you needed to be “healthy” enough to survive that eventuality.

    I might be intrinsically untrusting of any influence the RNG might have on my survival.

    • 4 Wrathy
      October 30, 2009 at 1:08 pm

      Your probably right, I rarely ever go over to the official forums, and never go to the PTR Forums, so I have probably taken the 13 year old pre pubescent cream of the crop out of GC’s replies and made it out to sound like he entire tanking community is up in arms. But, hey, it makes for some good reading 🙂

    • October 30, 2009 at 1:19 pm

      I think Wrathy is mostly bemoaning the random mouthbreathers on the general forum, not building a strawman. He did sort of make a point of talking up the debate on MT where we did a lot of back and forth on the EH vs. Avoidance thing, and it was stated explicitly that the debate only made sense (or at least was only useful) given a backdrop of gear and mechanics. In other words, it’s largely a debate over the fine tuning, and we all know it.

      That said, to be fair, Ghostcrawler is one of the great strawman artists of modern times, it’s almost bewildering to watch him work.

      Also, I think we all distrust RNG. What separates good tanks from great tanks, in my mind, is a ruthless drive to eliminate corner cases.

  4. November 3, 2009 at 4:50 am

    I don’t think that the Chill of the Throne is going to be as big of a factor in tank survivability as people fear. However, this is operating under the assumption that the encounters will be properly toned down in terms of outgoing melee damage in comparison to those in Ulduar and ToC. It shifts the weight scale on certain stats, but each tanking class has methods to compensate. But ultimately, it will be the mechanics of the fights themselves that will prove to be the deciding factor, more so than any shift in the accepted parameters for tank gearing, and until we see them live, we won’t know what’s the most efficient method to handle them.

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