Transitions in Gear Enhancement
What does the Strength of Wrynn (10%) / Hellscream’s Warsong (10%) do for you with respect to gearing philosophy? For me, and a few select other tanks in the world, it will do nothing. There are a few fights which we are still facing where pure effective health, pure stamina stacking, and piling on as much armor as possible will still be the paramount goal of our gearing, gemming, and enchanting philosophy. However, for everyone else, there is an opportunity to be had here with respect to a more balanced gear set.
The crossing point where you can start to evaluate your gemming and enchanting philosophies, and return to a holistic and balanced way of placing gems in your gear, has to be an individual decision however the decision just got easier with the arrival the 10% buff. Any tank who is not currently working on cleaning up the last few hard modes in ICC can more than likely trade pure stamina for a more comprehensive balance of gems. I have at present run into tank death issues on only one fight, Sindragosa 25 man Hard Mode and Lich King 10 man Hard Mode. All of the other fights which I have killed do not present a large enough threat to my survival to warrant gemming pure Stamina. However for me, and the handful of tanks who are knocking on Lich King Hard Modes door, we can not change our stam stacking ways. This is due to the sheer size of melee hits, special attacks and overall damage which we will take on these encounters.
Gimme a number, whats the breaking point
For those of you who are working on normal mode or the early hard modes in ICC, it seems that the two most threatening attacks come from a Festergut Three inhale melee hit and Lich King’s Soul Reaper. Both of these are along the same lines when it comes to TTL as Festergut hits harder but Soul Reaper/Melee combos are very deadly with out proper cool downs. Last week, unknown to my guild, I tested something on our Lich King kill to prove a point to the greater community. In my previous blog about the EH minimum for three hits during the normal mode lich king encounter, I was using data which was slightly skewed because of the fact that I was diligent about using cool downs during soul reaper. Don’t tell Kitty (our Holy Paladin) but I didn’t blow cds last week at all, just to get a nice data set, since I knew that I out-geared the fight.
Now unfortunately, our WWS parser’s computer was taking a crap so he turned off his add on to parse the fight, however if you would like to take my word for it, I did not die, we one shot the boss, and everything is right with the world. I had 58.1k hp and 39k armor. These are stats which are above the EH minimum for the Lich King Normal encounter in 25 man ICC. I got close, quite a few times, and by close I am talking 5% or lower. While this is a lot of hand waving, and I am definitely not one who condones that on the MainTankadin site, this will have to do for now, until I can provide you with a WWS parse at a later time.
Stamina is King, why should I switch?
The benefit of being above the effective health minimum is that from the perspective of TTL, you are no better off by adding 300 hp as you are by adding threat or avoidance. Until you can overcome that next hit, you will be killed by a lot or by a little, but you will still be dead. This means that we want to gear towards the EH threshold which we set based on our healing and progression, and then we can enhance our gear as we see fit. Lets take a look at the benefits and tradeoffs of gemming holistically. This first link is my current gear set for hard mode encounters. I have almost exclusively gemmed and Enchanted for Stamina. There are a few exceptions which are either relics of ToTGC (my shield) or movement towards the new philosophy (my chest). Click on the picture to take you to the Chardev link…
As you can see, I have 45k unbuffed health, with a significant amount of armor and reasonable amounts of avoidance. Now what I will do is change my gems around to a holistic approach for maximum survival (aka defense and agility gems as opposed to threat gems) and see what we get from those modifications. The important thing to remember is that while we have been in an era where stamina trumps all other stats (save armor in most situations), the ability to transition away from max stamina is possible. For most tanks, it may even be a wise choice to do so, because you will avoid more, or be able to produce more threat.
The trade off that we see here is 1290 health for almost a full 1% avoidance. While that does not seem like much, we are first and foremost talking about min/maxing our characters. Secondly that is 1% avoidance that you didn’t have before which you are getting for stamina that will not save your life from a pure TTL stand point. You are also gaining 60 armor and 0.57% crit. These are small numbers, but when we consider that we were all willing to trade off our gemming philosophies for 6 stamina here, and 9 there, it is the same value increases, only we are going from stam stacking where it was readily visible on our health bars to a slightly more intangible benefit.
Lastly, we can see what happens if we gem for something other than survival and avoidance. What happens if you are not concerned about your survival, as we rarely see tank deaths, but your dps is getting very geared and you are starting to have threat issues. Or from a different perspective, you just want to increase your threat output so you can brag about it. Lets swap all the red sockets with strength/stamina gems and the yellow sockets with hit and crit / stamina gems.
And now, we have gained attack power and block value, as well as a substantial amount of hit to increase our threat output while not sacrificing too much survival. In the end it is up to you to decide what you want to do with your gear, how you want to enhance it, and to what end. It is important to understand why you are modifying your gear. Is it to ensure that you are taking less overall damage and give your healers a bit more breathing room, is it because of the fact that your dps is very geared and you are having trouble out threating them, or do you still die to encounters as a result of your lack of health. Once you have answered these questions you can start to think about how you want to alter your gear to achieve these goals.
Modifying gemming is only the beginning. We can start to swap out our Gladiator’s shoulder enchants, our Chest, gloves, boots, shield and weapon enchants as well. These were sacrifices which we made in the name of stamina stacking which we can now change. While I did not provide these changes in the discussion above, as I wanted to focus on gemming, they are worth while and powerful modifications which will further trade health for avoidance or threat. If enough interest is shown for a complete overhaul, I will mock up two gear sets based off of gemming and enchanting changes.