Posts Tagged ‘Theory


Tanking Caps and You

Gearing Philosophy and Necessities…

I received a tweet this morning regarding hit and expertise caps and what one should focus on first, and I thought that the 140 character limit of twitter was just not going to cut it for a proper response, so here is a more detailed and informational (hopefully) response to the question:

AndrewAnderson5 Wrote: @AvengingWrathy I got a question in regards to pally tanking. is it better to be hit capped, exp capped or both?

Well the short and simple answer is Neither. It depends on your gearing philosophy and goal of the gear set. Hit capping will help with your threat, and ensuring that your taunts land every time (if glyphed and melee hit capped). Expertise is a threat stat first, and on bosses where parry haste is enabled, a defensive stat as well.

Hit rating

With a hard melee cap of 263 hit rating or 8% hit, you will never miss a hit which you attempt. In addition, if you are glyphed for Righteous Defense, then you will never miss a taunt either, as your taunts are spells and the glyph will give you an extra 8% hit to get to the spell hit cap. With the advent of 3.3, we have new threat stats which sit at the top of the charts, and your question has some merit for the changes we have seen. First and foremost, it is important to understand that if you cap hit, you will remove the chance to miss from the attack table. What this means is that your swing is left with three options, land (hit or crit), dodge, or parry. In order to eliminate dodge from the attack table, you have to get to the soft cap of expertise, or 26 rating. This will leave only parry on the attack table. Parry is quite a bit more expensive to remove from the attack table because of its added threat of parry hasting.

While we have proven that all but two of the bosses in ICC have parry haste turned off, and the two that do are for the most part more threatening with their frost spells, it is still worthy of note to understand that there is a defensive characteristic to the stat. Theck has proven that Expertise is 83% as good as Dodge when it comes to pure avoidance. This only is applicable for bosses which parry haste. However there is always the added bonus of removing dodge and parry from the attack table. Once you have reached 56 expertise, you will land every hit you attempt on a boss.

Now on to the pretty pictures, because that is really what helps me understand things. Hit rating is something that will obviously help us with our threat, however it has no effect on our ability to mitigate damage. Hit is something that you want to start stacking if you are having problems with threat capping your dps . Hit has a great relationship with threat, and is the second best threat stat out there, and  is illustrated by this lovely graph I ninjaed from Theck over in the 3.3 Stat Threat Analysis thread at MainTankadin. If you observe the graph you will find the following:

No surprises here. Hit drops off when you reach the melee and spell hit caps. Everything else is pretty much the same, with slight scaling of damage-increasing stats until you reach the appropriate caps.

The interesting thing to note is that after about 50 hit rating, STR increases enough to equalize the two stats. Note that this is with 0 expertise rating from gear; at the expertise soft cap this number will go up. What this means is that if you’re really optimizing for threat on a limited budget, you’d want to balance hit, expertise, and STR. On the other hand, it’s hard to come up with a rule of thumb for this, since it will depend on your current STR, hit, and expertise values. In practice it will be more common to just gem STR if you want sustained TPS, and hit if you want snap threat. The difference in sustained will be small enough (~2-3 TPS per 10 points of rating or stat) that hit is probably the better choice. – Theck

Expertise Rating

As you can see, This graph is a great example of how hit is one of your best threat stats out there, and even better, a great seg-way into how great expertise is for threat! Expertise has long been established as a threat stat, and all of your melee have been soft capping since day one of Wrath of the Lich King. Why haven’t we really concerned ourselves with it as much though, is because until 3.3 ShoR was not able to be missed, parried, or dodged. And as it is one of our best snap threat generators, it was something we didn’t have to worry about. Now that it can be dodged, parried, and missed, expertise has shot up into the best threat stat out there. As you can see below, expertise is by far the best threat per second stat that we have out there.

…Expertise has risen to top dog status with the change to ShoR. As always, expertise loses effectiveness when you hit the soft and hard caps (82 and 328 rating or 26 and 56 skill after talents, respectively), and damage-increasing stats scale differently above and below those caps (see the different slopes on the STR and BV lines in the three regions).

Past the soft cap, expertise drops back down to be roughly equivalent to AP for threat purposes. That would put it at a “don’t gem” level as far as threat is concerned, though there are also avoidance benefits to consider. – Theck

So as you can see, both of these stats are valuable but the question still remains, which one first?

Hit or Expertise First?

This question has to only be answered after you have asked yourself another question, what am I trying to achieve? What I mean by this is that you have to ask yourself if you want to just increase your threat generation, do you want to ensure that your taunts never miss because you are tanking adds on LK or doing DBS, or is it that you are concerned about the stats from a survival stand point. Because the two stats bring two different benefits to your character, and remove specific things from the attack table, they have a situational purpose, and they are both powerful when employed properly. Hit capping your tank will ensure that you never miss a taunt. This would be something that is essential when taunt swapping is very, very important (such as Deathbring Saurfang), or if you need to pull adds off your main tank (as you would in the OT role of the first phase of the Lich King encounter).

If you are strictly trying to produce more threat because you are threat capping your dps, then it has been proven above by Theck that Expertise is now the number one threat stat for paladins until they reach the soft cap of 26 expertise rating. After that you would want to focus on Hit Rating to the 263 mark. If you take a look at the graph below, you will see that each of these is increasingly important as your strength gets higher.

The amazing news here is that STR has finally been un-seated from the top spot [with respect to TPS increase]. Above 1942 unbuffed character sheet STR, both Expertise (up to the soft-cap at 26) and Hit (up to the a few %, see hit graph) give better TPS per point of rating.
We had already expected this would occur for hit, but the real news is expertise. The ShoR change has drastically changed our reliance on expertise. Soft-capping expertise at 26 becomes highly recommended.- Theck

So, Theck has taught us that Expertise is now the most valuable threat stat up to the 26 rating soft cap. But it is also important to note that the more strength you have the more valuable your hit and expertise are. From a gearing stand point, you should probably try to get to the expertise and hit caps via gear itemization, and gem pure stamina if you want a kick butt threat set.

The third, and for the most part irrelevant (because parry hasting is turned off in most of ICC) option: if you are looking to increase your survival via one of these two stats, then you want to focus on hard capping your Expertise. This is possible in current gear levels, and is quite easy as a matter of fact. However, you will be sacrificing overall mitigation and effective health to reach the plateau of 56 expertise rating. I have two different options of gear sets when it comes to hard capping, however both of them sacrifice a lot of armor and health to get there. If you are looking for plain survival, I would stick to the effective health gearing philosophy of stamina and armor stacking.

Hope this helped!


New Theory on ICC Gemming

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.


Post ICC buff gearing philosophies

EDIT: I want to clarify that this discussion holds merit for every boss in ICC 25 man Hard Mode, save three: Hard Mode Lady Deathwhisper and Sindragosa (because you will be wearing frost resist gear), and Hard Mode Lich King (because he hits Significantly harder than anything else in the instance).

In response to a discussion that has started to brew in my comments, as well as a nice long discussion I had last week with Meloree, I wanted to take some time to discuss the current and future gearing philosophies in ICC as well as what the breaking points are. This is something that is quite difficult to define in pure numerical values with out a lot of math (which I unfortunately do not have the time to do yet), so we will have to settle for hand waving, theory, and overall general statements.

Disclaimer – This is a discussion regarding tanks who are in full swing in ICC25 man Hard Modes, where the normal buffed health pool is sitting in the 60k plus range while buffed armor is in the 44k plus range. These tanks make up less than 0.5% of the population. However as the Buff in ICC grows, so does the population where this philosophy is applicable.

If you do not have these types of statistics, or you have not started to progress deep into ICC hard modes, you probably do not have the gear to start gemming for anything but stamina, as your EH minimums are not high enough.

Prelude to the Hellscream Warsong

With the advent of Strength of Wrynn (5%)Hellscream’s Warsong (5%), we have the opportunity to re-evaluate our gearing philosophies, however prior to this buff there was one general philosophy when it came to tank gearing. With the advent of Chill of the Throne, we saw a very large decrease in our ability to avoid damage. This prompted the theroy crafting community to understand what we could do to combat this. Generally speaking, an end game tank in full 258 gear had about 65% avoidance in ToTGC. This meant that they were deep into the diminsihing returns on dodge and parry, and as such, they were not getting as much out of said stats when gemming for them.

The relative damage reduction which one could gain from boosting their avoidance form 65% to 66% was quite a bit more powerful than if you raised your avoidance from 45% to 46%. Simply put, with Chill of the throne, the relative damage reduction went from good to bad because of the fact that you were still suffering from the diminishing returns of a tank in the high 60s even though you only had an avoidance percentage in the mid 40s. This made every point of avoidance harder to get, and relatively speaking, a weaker stat when we are talking about Time To Live (TTL).

This prompted most end game tanks to lean on the one stat which did not suffer diminishing returns, Stamina. With the focus on stamina, we lost some avoidance in the process, leading to a net increase in overall damage taken, however that damage taken was much more predictable, leading to healing throughput which was manageable and predictable. To combat this increase in damage taken, we were rewarded with a significant number of bonus armor pieces. While Naxx gave us a Cloak, Ulduar gave us legs, and ToT(G)C 1o gave us a weapon / 25 gave us a neck, we were only seeing a few pieces every  patch. This changed in 3.3. We saw a myriad of pieces which would allow us to get near the armor cap!

This is the current state of end game tanks, Stam and armor stacking mana sponges. The reason for this is two fold. It provides for a foolproof and manageable tank health pool for hard hitting bosses, and healing in Wrath of The Lich King has deviated from a mana management game to a healing throughput game. Healers do not run out of mana at this point of WoW, and if they are, they are managing their healing poorly, or the raid is taking too much unnecessary damage.

A glimpse into the future

With the increase in raid wide buffs from 5% to the Strength of Wrynn (10%)Hellscream’s Warsong (10%), end game tanks have the opportunity to re-evaluate their gearing philosophies, as the buff itself is compensating for the stamina stacking that we have been doing to compensate for hard hitting special attacks such as Soul Reaper, Full Runic Power DBS, and 3 inhale Festergut. While most cutting edge tanks have surpassed the EH minimum for two hits, they are quite a large amount of health away from a three hit EH minimum. As a result, we can lean on the 10% buff to keep us above that threshold where we can confidently take two hits back to back with out a heal, and start to move towards other gearing options.

What I mean by that is that we can start matching socket bonuses again, staring using more Agility/Stam gems (to a point) and more Defense/Stam Gems so that we can boost our avoidance, armor, and move more towards a preventative gearing philosophy. To show you what I mean by the two hit effective health threshold, let’s take a look at the best example of spike damage in the game, Soul reaper. The mechanics of soul reaper alone are not that threatening. It hits hard, however it is not to the magnitude (on normal) where it is a one shot to the tank with out a cool down. The problem is when soul reaper and a melee hit line up at the same time.

You have to understand that these numbers are based off of my gearing and cool down usage, so they will be different from your tanks numbers but they will serve their purpose. At the time I had approximately 38,000 armor and 58,000 health, and I always had a cool down up for it, whether it be bubble wall, DS/DG, or Hand of Sacrifice. As you can see, his average melee was about 14,000 damage and his average Soul Reaper hit was 22,500 (while the tick at the end was close to 35.5k). So the worst case scenario, which we should be gearing for, is a melee swing for 14k and a soul reaper tick for 35.5k. This is an overall chain which nets a 49.5k damage taken. This is the absolute minimum stamina which would be required to survive said hid, however you will have a problem with tank death’s if you send your tank in there with 50k hp. The three hit scenario for this (considering that a defile or a valk call could line up with this) is Soul Reaper Tick, Melee x 2. This is the conservative gearing health pool, and equates to a tank with 49.5k + (14 * 0.7)= 59.3k hp. This is the magic number which I have geared to for Lich King. (it is important to understand that this is one scenario, with one boss. Do not assume that 59.3k is the magic number for ICC 25. There are Hard Modes to consider, and different bosses which prove to hit harder).

After this number, the only thing you gain is a larger health pool, as you will need another 14,000 health to overcome the next swing and have an EH threshold for a 4 hit scenario. Also, a 4 hit scenario should be complete unlikely as you should be getting heals more frequently than every 5 seconds, and you can also take into account the heal that you get from JoL, HoTs, imp LoTP, and a Spriest if you have one. This means that Stamina is no longer the best statistic for survival after this, as it is wasted until you can reach that next hit threshold.

I’m Back! Holistic Theory Gemming

As we pass this threshold based off of encounter progression and maximum effective health needed to survive that arbitrary number of hits with out a heal, we can start considering our gemming and enchanting philosophy to further mitigate and completely avoid damage. There are some other breaking points when it comes to gemming theory which are worth mentioning, but the general rule of thumb should be that for a red socket, you should put a 10 agility / 15 stamina gem, and a yellow socket should contain a 10 defense / 15 stamina gem. There are still relative priorities and net gains and losses from gemming every socket per its color, and it is up to you to make that decision as to the breaking point of benefit. What I mean by that is that some tanks will consider a +6 stamina socket bonus worth it, while some will not. More will consider the +9 Stamina bonus worth it, and everyone should consider your helm’s +12 worth it.

In order to understand your relative priority, Digren over at MainTankdin has a great stickied post about it, where Meloree, Theck and Digren put the work in so that you don’t have to. The basic principals are as such, each gem and relative trade off for a net increase in stamina has a value. The more you value stamina and the less you value the other statistics, the lower the relative gain number you are willing to take. Most end game progression tanks are willing to drop that number down as low as possible, as we socket one red gem in our helm and the rest are stamina, as are our enchants. However, as we reach that stamina threshold with the aid of the 10% buff, we can start considering a higher value for avoidance. While avoidance has always been powerful, if we could not guarantee TTL, then we did not want to take that chance of a random string of attacks killing us.

There are a few other numbers which you want to concern yourself with when you start to trade stamina for other statistics. While Defense will never go out of style, and you can stack that to your hearts content, there is a point at which Agility is no longer as attractive to us as Dodge is, and that point is:

Theckhd wrote:Agility gets weaker as you gain armor, finally dropping below 100% at around 42.6k armor (fully-buffed). Note that once we hit the armor cap (49905 armor fully-buffed), the armor contribution of agility is no longer giving us any benefit, so the value of agility drops back to the 83.1% value expected based on our agi->dodge conversion ratio.

This is important to consider because of the fact that if you are going to be doing this, you are a Min/Max’er and you will start to gain more out of the dodge gem than you will out of the agility gem. After I finish some number crunching, I will put up a follow up post detailing the relative gains and losses from regemming a tank which is sitting on a hand full of 277 pieces and has past the EH threshold. For now, I hope this has satisfied your craving for the return to a holistic gearing philosophy.


Bosses Who Parry Haste

I wanted to create an individual blog post about this, so that I can reference it later on. Below are the links to a few MainTankadin thread where we are discussing parry haste, and providing parse information as to whether or not a specific boss parry hastes. This is very important because, as I mentioned yesterday, expertise has moved way ahead on my priority list of stats to gear for inside ICC with the caveat that the boss must still have parry haste activated. There are a few bosses where it has been confirmed that blizzard has turned parry haste off, but for the rest of them, the majority of the tanking community seems to feel that it is still active and kicking.

From Theck’s post on Calculating the Avoidnace value of Expertise, which happened to be the source of inspiration for my blog post from yesterday, he mentions the following:

“Most bosses” is a bit of an exaggeration. Last I checked, it was only a few isolated hard-hitting slow-swinging bosses. So far on the compiled list, only Gormok, Jaraxxus (still no idea why they chose to do this on him), Ignis, Kologarn, and Patchwerk have it disabled. If anything, “most bosses” have parry-haste enabled, not disabled.

We’ll have to do some testing on ICC bosses to see for sure, but it’s unlikely they’d turn it off for the newer breed of weaker-hitting faster-swinging bosses. I could maybe see the Gunship captain and Festergut being ones that might have it turned off, since they can both hit pretty hard under the right conditions. Maybe marrowgar too, if his sabre lash is a special ability rather than a regular melee swing.

Now while the list is fairly incomplete, as it is a work in progress, we already see that some of the bosses in Trial of the (Grand) Crusade have parry haste turned on, and have been empirically proven to be able to parry haste. As we go through Icecrown Citadel and acquire more data from parses, we can start to understand which bosses parry haste in that instance. Once this is known, an Effective health set with expertise will be very valuable at preventing spike damage. For discussions sake, here is the list of bosses in ToTGC which we know about:

The List

Halion – Parry Haste Enabled – Confirmed here

Lord Marrowgar – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed here, here
Lady Deathwhisper – Parry Haste Enabled – Confirmed
here, here
Gunship (Saurfang/Bronzebeard) – –
Deathbringer Saurfang – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed
Festergut – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed
Rotface – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed
Professor Putricide – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed
here, here
Prince Taldaram – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed
Prince Valanar – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed
Blood-Queen Lana’thel – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed
Sindragosa – Parry Haste Enabled – Confirmed
The Lich King – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed

Onyxia’s Lair
Onyxia – Parry Haste Enabled – Confirmed here, here?

Crusader’s Coliseum
Gormok the Impaler – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed Here
Acidmaw – Parry Haste Enabled – Confirmed Here
Dreadscale – Parry Haste Enabled – Confirmed Here, here
Icehowl – Parry Haste Enabled – Confirmed Here, here
Lord Jaraxxus – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed Here, here
Faction Champions – Not looking for these as they’re not a tanking encounter
Fjola Lightbane – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed here
Eydis Darkbane – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed here
Anub’Arak – Parry Haste Disabled – Confirmed here, here

Since I am getting all of my values from the thread linked earlier on in this post, please reference that thread for all links to evidence.


The hidden value of expertise

Theck  has once again graced us with some stunning theorycraft regarding the value of expertise relative to dodge. For those of you who are unaware of this turn of events, or the common theory surrounding expertise and its ability to prevent damage, expertise has the ability to prevent parry hasting by pushing parries off the attack table. Now while most of us have never see a balanced set of gear with 56 expertise, every point over the soft cap of 26 gives us valuable damage prevention with a threat bonus, and it is very possible in this tier to get close to the cap.

Theck’s Conclusions are as follows:

Current conclusions:

  • For Icecrown Citadel, expertise is roughly 91% as effective as dodge rating for reducing incoming damage, assuming a boss swing speed of 1.4 seconds (after JotJ). It varies significantly with boss attack speed though, from 78% @ 1.2 to 154% @ 2.4 speed.
    • For Warriors, this range narrows to 52-102%, with an “average” of 60% at 1.4-speed.
    • For Druids, it’s 49-98%, with an “average” of 60%
    • For Death Knights, the range becomes 36-71%, with an “average” of 46%.
  • For bosses outside of Icecrown, we would use an average swing speed of around 2.0, giving average values of 87% for paladins (53%-104% range), 57% for warriors (30%-69%), 56% for druids (28%-68%), and 29%-45% for Death Knights (28%-52%).All of these can be seen in the plots in the “results” section.
  • Each point of expertise rating (above the soft-cap) also gives a Paladin about 60% the threat that a point of STR would.
  • What this means for us paladins

    Since I love gear sets, and optimizing my gear to be the best that it possibly can be, this means that I need to re-evaluate what I will be wearing when hard modes come out. The relative benefits of expertise seem too good to pass up. Now while I have not and will not gem expertise ever, I have been known to stack it on my gear. Because of the fact that we now benefit more from expertise than any other class, it is essential that we work with our other tanks to get the pieces of gear which will help us prevent parry hasting and incoming damage. According to this pretty graph that Theck has graciously put together for us, you can see that we already have a higher efficiency than any other tank. In addition to that, we scale better as the bosses swing timers get slower.

    As you can see, we benefit in multiple ways from expertise, and it scales better for us. Now that we all understand what it does, I wanted to talk a little bit about where we can get this lovely stat, and how I plan to create my hard mode progression gear set. I want to break down slot by slot our options, so that we understand where we can get the best bang for our buck, I have neglected mentioning any slot which doesnt have an expertise piece in the item levels of 264 to 277. First the off set pieces –

    The Cataclysmic Chestguard is drool worthy, it has three sockets, 207 stamina, tons of defense, and bonus armor to boot! This will be a guaranteed not tier piece of my gear set. The best part about the chest is the fact that it comes from the badge vendor. There is no need to hope for a drop, or not be able to get it because you haven’t been able to kill the boss that is selfishly holding on to this piece. The gloves are nice too, dropping from Blood-Queen Lana’thel in 10 man heroic. The Grinning Skull Greatboots drop off of Valithria Dreamwalker and have a 277 version as well! These will definitely be the boots i chose to wear over the crafted threat ones. As for the Tier gear, the only piece that has expertise on it, and one that I have always considered wearing are the legs. As you can see below, they are not the best for effective health, as the pillars of might have similar stamina at 207, but three sockets and a LOT of bonus armor and avoidance to boot. This is all a trade off of course because of the fact that they have no defense on them.

    What do these pieces get you?

    In the end you are going to have a total of 82+70+53+82 = 287 expertise rating or roughly 287/8.2 = 35 rating from gear. If you add this to the 10 rating from your Seal of Vengance Glyph and the 6 from Combat Expertise, you have 51 expertise. Now while this gear set may not be the best for every fight, being at 51 expertise with four pieces of gear is a great start to decreasing the damage you take and increasing your threat indirectly. There are other options for these slots, and the are very strong in their respective categories, however they are specialized. For instance, for the leg slot, you have the option of the aforementioned tier 10 pants, the bonus armor pillars of might or the legguards of lost hope for threat. To me, the decision on which pants to wear in what set is pretty cut and dry. I will wear the Tier legs for my balanced set (which I tank most non progression fights in), the pillars of might in my effective health set, and the legguards of lost hope in my threat set. You will see that there are similar results when you look at the other gear slots.

    In the end, you will have to decide how you want to gear for fights, however with the new data that Theck has provided us with, expertise is looking more and more attractive by the day for us.


    The power of knowledge

    Raiding Pains

    This past week was an interesting one. First off I had to raid on Sunday on a laptop because I was at my company holiday party and a long ways away from my home desktop. It was amazing how much harder it was for me to see certain things with the blizzard UI. I had to drop my addons down to practically nothing so that my computer could handle the raiding environment. I was getting like 2 fps in ToTGC and that was not going to cut it for Putricide.

    In the end, it was a painful night; we had quite a few new people in the raid, so Anub’arak was left up with 45 attempts because people sucked at kiting the spikes. One of our guildies put up a really funny youtube clip on our forums from Austin Powers where the guy dies to a Steam Roller. It basically summed up that encounter. The spikes are slow, and you get a BoP, how hard is it to just run to the patch and stand there. It wasn’t even that the new people were the sole source of bad play. We had people that have been there every week for the kill playing poorly, and there was just no excuse.

    After ToTGC, we went into ICC to clear out our putricide attempts, and I am sad to report that the end of my night finished with my raid dead, me alive hacking away at the boss, one attempt remaining on the counter, and Putricide at 2%. Next week folks, next week…

    Knowledge is power

    On to the bread and butter of what I wanted to talk about today. This is not a topic of discussion that is exclusive to tanks, but it is one that I feel is more important for tanks to understand. So, once again I digress from theory craft, gear discussions, and thoughts of guild management to discuss something that every great player should be doing, but seldom maintain. I am talking about the power of knowledge, more specifically research, preparation, and understanding of mechanics.

    We can specifically talk about the mechanics of fights, knowing what is coming so that you can be able to react, and be better for those first few nights of progression. Or, we can talk about a more general discussion of knowledge based off of class abilities, gearing strategies, and understanding of mechanics and statistics. However, in both cases this is what separates a good player from a great one. I know people that can pull 10k dps consistently, or can tank and hold great threat, but if you do not understand gearing philosophy, encounter mechanics, and general strategies, then you are not a great player, because knowing these things could make you that much better.

    There are people with in my own guild, casuals, raiders, and officers alike, who do not play at the level that they should because they are not knowledgeable about these things. They think that at the level that we play, you can still log on, hop into a raid and hope for the best. Now while the demand on proper, prior preparation is more essential at the end game progression level for cutting edge guilds, it makes any player who is good, better.

    Ignorance is not bliss; the intelligent suffer

    Knowledge is the key to success. The more you know, the better prepared you are for the unknown, and the quicker you can react to dynamic conditions. I am astounded at some of our dps for not knowing the mechanics of a fight. I have heard responses such as:

    I just have to sit back here and cast my spells, who cares what the boss does.

    Now while I am confident in my assessment that this statement and mentality alone is not the reason that this raiders is one of our lowest performing on a daily basis, but the attitude in general is the main contributor to the lack of performance.  If you do not understand the most recent gearing philosophies, rotations of abilities and management of cool downs, then you are wasting the gear that your guild gives to you.

    Exceptions to the rule

    Now while these thoughts reach those of you who do not need to hear this, and fall on deaf ears to the ones who do, I still feel that it is an important topic to bring up given the push for progression that we are facing over the next few months. Almost everyone who reads this is already well versed in researching abilities, skills, and encounter mechanics. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading a blog or MainTankadin, you would be online, gabbing away in trade chat that you have the highest gear score on your realm, but have 5 points in Divinity and none in judgements of the just.

    We are the exceptions; we are the unique snowflakes that shoulder the responsibility and progression of our guilds.  I wanted to talk about this today because I had a conversation with a few of my guild mates that opened my eyes to the fact that even in very progressed guilds, there are people who don’t know their head from their ass. It started with our one of our very best dps talking about armor trinkets and how OP they are on a fight where there is quite a bit of magic damage.

    It never dawned on me that people do not have the resources that we do at MainTankadin. The information is out there, but not for most. Tankspot is a great place to go for warrior theory crafting and boss strategies, however I feel that theck and our brain trust at MainTankadin goes a bit further when it comes to analysis.  It took me 15 minutes to explain why he was wrong, explain the new equations for effective health, and the role that armor plays in our damage mitigation.

    This lead direction into one of our casuals talking about how much chill of the throne sucks and how he is now the worst tanking class. I almost choked on my drink, because he is a druid. I began to explain to him that he is sorely misinformed and that he is currently playing one of the best tanking classes in the game for progression, and that his effective health is greater than any other class when you take into account cooldowns. This is where it got down right scary (and the true ah-ha! Moment for why I wrote this thread). I started to tell him about the druid T10 four piece set bonus, its uptime percentages, and its ability to mitigate a substantial amount of damage.

    He replied: oh, well what is my T10 four piece set bonus? Well that’s just 12% that’s nothing.

    For those of you who only play a paladin and missed my discussion on 4 piece set bonuses, here is a link to the blog post where I outlined why druids are king of the mountain when it comes to effective health and being able to take the hits like a champ. This guy didn’t even know what his own set bonus was, or why it was so important, or that he had two stacking cool downs that were both on a 1 minute timer, or that he had a 20% uptime of a 32% damage reduction, making him more powerful at taking a hit than any other tanks in the game.

    The moral of the Story

    As most of you know, research and discussion of mechanics, abilities, and rotations is important to your ability to play the game to the best of your abilities. What I learned last night is that, while I am a contributor to the paladin tanking community and the blogosphere, where many people may consider me an expert in gearing philosophy and tanking, my own guild was not receiving the same level of information. How can I love teaching complete strangers and not teach my own guild mates. So I leave you with a final thought:

    While most people in your guild will probably get tired of your theory and discussion if you are as active in gchat as you are on forums and blogs, the occasional educational session will benefit your guilds greatly.


    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.


    • What is this nonsense? HoPo and a total overhaul. It's going to be a long weekend of playing around.. 6 years ago