Archive for December, 2009

28
Dec
09

Pick up that Piece of Gear!

Icecrown gear swapping and you…

There has been a lot of discussion as of late on the concepts of gearing in Icecrown. Every tank in the game is hoping to get that edge on the encounter which will make it that much easier to defeat and help progress their guild through the instance. That is why I wanted to take some time to write a little bit about my opinions on gearing, icecrown, and what has changed in the past three weeks. The short and dirty version is that Icecrown is currently easy content, where bosses do not truly hit hard enough to provide examples of burst damage which we can subsequently gear towards. So, in the mean time, we can discuss what we should do with the gear that is now available to us, and why you, as a main tank, should be picking up as much of it as possible.

My equipment Manager

My bags are overflowing

Gear sets are a very important concept for newer tanks to understand. Even if you have been tanking for all of WoLTK, or even longer, if you are still using one gear set for a whole raid night, you are doing your guild a disservice. Knowing what a particular trash pack or boss does, and tailoring your gear that you wear into that encounter makes you a very powerful, and high end tank. This is important to remember as we plow through the first four bosses of this instance. I know that each guild had different experiences in ICC during the past few weeks, but speaking form personal experience, I have already swapped over to threat gear because my health never dropped below 40% in any given encounter (with the caveat that we were not wiping). This shows me that I out gear these progression bosses. This will be a different story when the hard modes open up, but until then this is what we have to work with.

Because of this gear disparity, it is important to understand that a tank has many “roles” during a raid. And, each of these roles usually required different gear sets to perform at your very best. Now while I have extensively gone over the different gear sets and the philosophies behind them, I have not truly justified why they are necessary. We will more than likely encounter bosses in the rest of the instance, as well as the hard modes to come, which will employ a multitude of methods to try to kill you. Having the proper gear available to counter this is crucial to successful progression. What this means is that if there are pieces that drop from ICC with hit and expertise on them, they may not be valueable to you now in your current gear set, but that will not always be the case. The same is true for bonus armor, or avoidance pieces.

Tanks are Loot whores by nature

This is something that most of my fellow tanks in Crypt Friends have yet to embrace. They take a look at a piece of gear, and say well that has dodge and parry on it, and I don’t really need more avoidance, I need the expertise that is on my current gear. The problem is that, there will come a time where you WILL NEED that avoidance, and that time is the week after you kill Arathas and decide that you want to try  hard modes. If you are not properly prepared with your gear before the day when your guild wants to try, you will be holding your guild back as you wait for those pieces to drop.

It is interesting to note that there are three distinctive sets of gear that drop out of Icecrown Citadel, can be crafted by reputation patterns, or can be bought with Emblems of Frost. Each of these sets tailors your statistics to bolster different strengths. There is a near complete set of gear which has hit and expertise, one that has bonus armor, and one that has a ton of avoidance on them. Now while balancing each of these will give you a nice balanced set, stacking each of these will give you a huge advantage when it comes to an encounter that employs a counter to one of these gearing philosophies.

Icecrown Citadel is the perfect example of a loot table that has gone above and beyond when it comes to providing different gear for different gearsets. Blizzard has done an excellent job with itemization of said gear and making most of it available to the masses. It is important that you consider what your role is with in your raid, when that next piece of gear drops, so that you know if it is something you should pick up immediately, or if it is something you can pass to your fellow tanks. Never let something get disenchanted or go to an offspec role if you don’t have it first, as each piece that drops in ICC has a purpose.

23
Dec
09

Happy Holidays!

I know I have been absent for a few more days than usual now but the holidays have kept me busy, not to mention trying to get all our raiding in before people left on vacation. I wanted to stop by and wish everyone a very happy and safe holidays and let you know that I will be writing up a few posts on my long plane flight later today. More to come!

18
Dec
09

Icecrown Citadel Gear Set

Updates to my Gear Sets

I recently amended my thread on MainTankadin about gear sets to include a general set for use when tanking progression encounters under the influence of Chill of the Throne. This set is compiled with the intention of main tanking progression content in ICC. The philosophy and reasoning behind the higher value of stamina is due to the fact that the relative benefit of avoidance ratings are less as you avoid less attacks from the Chill of the Throne. As a result, stamina is the most powerful stat due to its lack of diminishing returns and ability to directly increase your survival.

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

17
Dec
09

Icecrown Trash Explained

I finally got to uploading Screenies!

I wanted to let everyone know that I finally uploaded the screen shots that I took in the last ICC and have a mini explaination for each of the trash packs so that you can better understand what to do when faced with problems. I will continue to improve upon the post and add difficult trash packs as they appear throughout the instance. Good luck!

Link to the Icecrown Trash Thread

P.S. I found this in my screen shot folder, and I just felt like saying what up! Brutallus on 5/13/2008. I’m the wings on the right hand side…

17
Dec
09

SoComm Versus Vengeance/Corruption

More numbers and graphs!

Just in time for the holidays, Theck has created more pretty colored graphs! This time we have some definitive information regarding Seal of Command, aka SoComm. The reason that there is so much buzz going around about this SoComm is because of the fact that Blizzard very stealthily put in a change to our biggest snap threat mechanic in the arsenal, Shield of Righteousness. ShoR now is considered melee damage, and can be dodge or parried, where as before that was not the case. While most of you sharpen the pitch forks to complain that we just had a threat loss, hold that thought. Because ShoR has been changed to become a melee attack, it now procs SoComm as well! What this means is that you have a seal of absolute crazy mad dps when tanking packs of three or more mobs, and should be using SoComm as your seal of choice.

SoCom, an Old Friend with Big Numbers!

What you see above is Thecks latest headache, a graph that illustrates the different dps disparities between Seal of Vengeance / Corruption, and Seal of Command. As you can see by the legend, he has four different graphs that show a mob with three stacks of Vengeance / blood corruption, with and with out the Libram of Valiance and a mob with five stacks of Vengeance / blood corruption, with and with out the Libram of Valiance. According to Theck, here are the particulars:

The vertical axis is the difference between SoV DPS and SoCom DPS, so a positive number means that SoV does more damage, and a negative number means SoCom does more damage.

The plot is pretty clear, but it’s also misleading. If you can maintain a 5-stack on every mob, then in the many-mob limit SoV is bound to win since SoC is limited to 3 procs. In that sense, the plot seems to reflect things accurately. As you drop to 3 stacks of HV, SoCom gains enough ground that it’s a better choice for 2-4 mobs.

What makes the graph misleading is that it ignores ramp time. It takes a few seconds to build a 5-stack on a mob, but it takes over 10 times as long to build and maintain a 5-stack on 10 mobs. For ballpark figures, if it takes 5 seconds to build your single-mob stack, it takes nearly a minute to build a 5-stack on 10 mobs with tab targeting. So if the mob pack dies before that minute is up, SoV’s value drops thanks to ramp-up effects. It also ignores fall-off, which is a distinct worry for large packs of 6 or more.

What this means is that unless you are the master of tab targeting constantly on mobs with very large health pools, SoComm will be your best bet for pulling large trash packs, and dealing with more than 2 mobs in any situation because of ramp up time. To sum up the rule of thumb, Theck gives us the lay mans term TLDR…

Rule of thumb for choosing seals:

  • SoV for 1-2 Mobs and bosses
  • SoV for AoE tanking things that live for 40+ seconds and that you can reasonably maintain a 5-stack on (so ~6 or fewer mobs at most)
  • SoCom for 3+ mobs that die in 30 seconds or less, and basically anything else

Alternatively, if you’re lazy and don’t feel like tab-targetting, you can simplify this to:

  • SoV for 1-2 mobs/bosses
  • SoCom for 3+

“I’m ok, my TPS is awesome” or “I dont know what to drop”

Oh contrare mo fraire! (sorry for the Van Wilder reference and spelling debacle) Firstly, you TPS may be just fine on trash, and you may be able to wrangle in those adds, but your snap threat is not as good as if you use SoComm, and your DPS and TPS are definitely less than what they could be if you respeced. In ICC this past tuesday, I was second on the dps meters on trash with a whopping 8.7k dps for a sustained fight of pulling the entire first room. Don’t ask me why the rest of our dps were sucking, they turned around and all broke 15k on the next round of trash, but I definitely woke them up when they realized that they were not going to pull off me.

SoComm is a great utility to use and it is not that hard to pick up. While I am a die hard tank at heart, and I have two protection specs as my dual spec options, each accompanied with different glyphs, you dont have to do the same thing. You can take the point out of Conviction (aka 1% crit) and place it into SoComm. For those of you who live a bit more on the edge and want to dual spec prot, I would suggest the following spec with glyphs to boot. This is what I use on our Hard Mode Anub’arak kills, and I usually pull 6k dps. While the Glyphs are specifically tailored for me to interrupt the mobs, you can remove the Glyph of Holy Wrath and replace it with HotR, giving you a nice dps boost.

All in all, I would suggest that any tank that ever ventures outside of Trial of the Crusader, and has a trash pack or two to deal with, pick up Seal of Command and use it. It works best on any trash pack, as well as tanking Lady Deathwhisper and your Ship’s portal on the Gunship Battle.

15
Dec
09

Badges for Crafted gear?

Deviating from the plan

I wanted to talk about trash packs, their abilities, and the best way to counter them, so that people have some solid information on the first few rooms of the instance, and what you as a tank should know and do about them. However, I forgot to take a few screen shots while dpsing the crap out of the trash on my hunter this past weekend. As a result, I still dont know the names of any of the trash packs, and I do not have enough visual aids to give my “Presentation” to you guys, so that post will have to wait another day. Instead, I would like to talk about primordial saronite, its uses and benefits to both us as tanks and our guilds as a whole. My reasoning behind this digression is a current debate that my guild is having in our forums. The problem is that currency is scarce during these first few weeks of the patch, and everyone wants a cookie from the cookie jar.

Primordial saronites are used for crafting some very nice gear as well as purchasing the patterns for said gear. They are also used to start up the Shadowmourne quest chain which will ultimately get one of your guildies a juicy legendary. As the proud owner of a legendary (Hand of Ragnaros) back when it was still the Best in Slot item, I have to tell you that it was part of some of the most fun I have ever had in this game. The numbers were huge, and I loved every  minute of it. Alas I continue to digress. Back to the topic at hand, the currency known as primordial saronite. While the item is used for cloth, leather, mail, and plate crafted items, I want to focus on the tank loot, as that is what we care about, and ultimately what will probably be put on the back burner for other things.

The boots and the legs

We have the option of crafting two different pieces of gear which aid us in completing two very different gear sets. The boots, also known as the Boots of Kingly Upheaval are a great upgrade for your threat set. Thats right, these are only really good for your threat set. While you may have to wait a bit for your progression set boots, they will come and they are much better for overall survival. The Grinning Skull Greatboots are in all ways superior for your main tanking set to the craftable boots. If you compare the boots, you gain 80 defense, and trade 72 parry for 53 Expertise. Both of the craftable items this patch have zero defense on them, and while we can easily reach the 540 minimum with out having all of our gear itemized with defense, you have to remember that defense gives you pure avoidance, plain and simple. And we have already seen that there are quite a few fights in this instance where avoidance is rewarded.

In the end, what you can see here is that you are trading hit for expertise. After my last post, and Thecks great work showing its importance, I believe that the zone drop boots are far superior to the craftable ones. This means that we do not have to worry about spending our precious badges on primordial saronite this early on in the instance. It goes with out saying, that once you have this place on farm and you are getting tons of badges a week, the Boots of Kingly Upheaval are very nice threat boots and should be crafted at some point.

On to the Choices in legs. We actually have three choices when it comes to the legs, and they each serve a different purpose. I first want to discuss the two legs that you do not have to craft, the T10 legs and the Legguards of lost hope. They both have identical values of armor, strength, and sockets. The Tier gear has more stamina, more defense, and dodge and expertise while the Legguards of lost hope have hit and more dodge. With the current gemming philosophies, the socket bonus is lost on the T10 legs, however, if you are gearing for threat, you already out gear the encounter and can pick up the socket bonus of the Legguards of Lost Hope. This is a clear case of threat versus avoidance pants.

Now if we move on to the crafted pants, we can see that the bonus armor that they provide is amazing, and will be a step in the right direction when creating a pure physical damage mitigation set. However these too do not have any defense itemization, and as a result will more than likely be a piece for a physical mitigation fight, and not your main tanking or progression pants. If you look closer at these, the 1190 bonus armor will be great, they still have three sockets and 207 stamina as well as a descent amount of avoidance. These scream physical mitigation for heavy melee.

Why the rant?

I wanted to get some things on paper regarding this so that we can make some educated decisions for the first month or so of the instance. As Emblems of Frost are scarce and we need them for everything from our belt, cloak, and trinket, to all of our tier gear, it is important to know the relative priority of things such as crafted items and primordial saronite. My conclusion is that it is not worth it for us to spend our badges on primordials as we have better options for our progression sets. As we get deeper and deeper into the instance, and we get more and more badges per week, these things can be of value to us, but not before we gear up to clear the instance first.

As promised, I hope to have a post tomorrow on the Trash in the ICC instance, proper pulls and abilities, as well as a few tricks of the trade so that you can make your runs go smoother.

12
Dec
09

New thoughts on threat

Who Doesn’t Want More Threat?

I was reading MainTankadin a few days ago and I came across Theck’s newest calculations on the best weapons for threat in 3.3. While I will have to say that we are a long way from having the instance on farm and as a result, letting me crack some heads for 10k sustained tps, it got me to thinking about the gear and when I want to pick it up. As most of you know, I am an avid gear swapper. I probably swap gear as much as anyone else in the game, and I consider it a testament to the knowledge of the encounters that I possess as well as a greater understanding of my role and when and what I should be doing. I love it when I see other tanks swapping out their gear. When we get a new recruit and they all of a sudden have a different gear set on, it makes me smile.

Back to the topic at hand. I wanted to discuss the options we have for threat weapons and I noticed that because of the boss where our best in slot tps weapon drops is already available, it would be important to get that information out there sooner than later. I started a discussion on my guild forums regarding the Bloodvenom Blade, asking our rouges if any of them would want it for their main spec. The responses I got brought out the loot whore in me. The overwhelming response from our guilds rogues is that they would rather stick with mutilate, and not go for combat till it proves to provide more sustained dps. This means that I don’t feel as bad if I take one the next time it drops (as one already has and went to a rogue for offspec). Why all this discussion about a rogue sword and who cares, well I will elaborate. Here is the Bloodvenom Blade:

It has a little bit of everything. It is slow, with nice top end damage, and comes along with all the stats you want for a threat weapon, hit, attack power, and agility.  While it has armor pen, and that is not ideal for us, it is still by far our best option when it comes to threat weapons. Now before you go and post a comment that asks “Where is the defense?” Well you don’t need the defense on this weapon. You will have plenty of defense from your gear alone to keep you over the minimum, and besides that you only use a threat weapon when you have gimmick fights like Hodir Hard mode, or if you have something on farm. I personally will be using one of these bad boys for most of ICC normal once I pick it up, as the fights seem pretty straight forward and I wont need my Progression MT set for a lot of them. Before the second question pops into your head, that one where you wonder well why not any of the other dps weapons? Here is your answer. Theck did his usual great analysis for all of the different weapons that are available to us and posted this graph in the MATLAB TPS thread:

I also posted this in my guild forum thread when someone asked what is 1V, 3C, 3R? While I would think that most of us can interpret the meanings of this legend, there are some people that come here that are not seasoned paladins. For clarity’s sake, 1V refers to placing one point into Conviction, 3C refers to placing three points into Crusade, and 3R refers to placing three points into reckoning. What this graph shows us is that the Bloodvenom Blade is best in slot when it comes to threat producing weapons. The good news for us is that it is not a weapon that is currently used by rogues in their main raiding spec, and it drops off of Deathbringer Saurfang. Since we already have access to the normal version of this weapon, which happens to be second best over all, we have the ability to pick this up.

I would suggest that anyone who builds multiple sets, especially a threat set, should think about getting this if no one else in your guild wants it. I have used a DPS weapon as my threat weapon for quite some time now, and I have always been happy with the results.

Expertise and 3.3

I also wanted to use this post to talk about some new perceptions when it comes to expertise. While we have always stressed that expertise is a good stat when it comes to threat and “avoidance,” there have been some discoveries about Shield of Righteousness in the past few days. With the changes to Shield of Rightousness, expertise has moved into position as the most important threat stat until you are soft capped. For those of you who have not been following the discussion on MainTankadin, there was a stealth change to SoR that made it act like a physical attack which could be dodged or parried, meaning that our biggest snap threat skill is effected by expertise. The graph below shows that expertise has the highest threat per point until you hat 26 expertise (also known as the soft cap).

It is important to know that while it drops off after you hit the soft cap, and it is no longer considered the best threat stat, once again strength becomes the most important threat stat past the soft expertise cap. Although expertise is no longer the best threat stat once you hit 26, it is sit a very powerful stat when it comes to damage intake prevention, so for your main tank set, more expertise is always ok, until you hit the hard cap of 56 (which is very hard if not impossible to do while maintaining tanking stats).




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