Posts Tagged ‘Theory


The Effective Health Headache, part II

I’m back! After a long vacation and a subsequent holiday, I am back to blogging full time. Although I got one blog in on the couch while my parents watched some football, I really have not had much time for my blog. Well with the holidays gone, and the next one 24 days away, I have a few weeks of solid posts regarding my favorite flavors of the month. The Christmas Tree is up, I am back to work, and I am back to blogging! I wanted to talk a bit about a spreadsheet I have been developing.

Creating a user friendly interface

After breaking down all of the information that went into Theck’s new formula, it is now time to deal with real world application, sure the calculations and derivations that it took to get to those last three formulas, with all of the variables defined are interesting, however most of us do not see the Matrix as code, we just want something simple and easy to work with to understand if we should swap out a gear set in between fights. This is where I come in. I have begun to create a spreadsheet that the greater community can use to evaluate gear choices, and I wanted to discus it in further detail here so that people know what it is about and have the opportunity to provide feedback before its grand unveiling.

This is my first draft of the UI. It is a basic excel spreadsheet with the formulas already built in. It provides descriptions for all of the fields that you need to fill in and will export the final values to specific fields with in the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet is color coded to allow for a “gear evaluations for dummies” type feel. The pink (because we are paladins) is all of the information that you should get from both your character screen during a raid, as well as WWS, WOL, etc parses. The green cells are values that you must input in order to give you the calculation’s results, and the yellow cells are constants that MAY be changed but are pretty standard for normal gearing, raid buffs, and consumables. It is also important to note that I kept the yellow cells visible so that other tank classes could alter those values based on their talents, racial abilities, etc and still use the tool.

I just want to also provide the disclaimer that I am by no means an excel genius. In fact, I am no where near the expert levels of the program, however I do use spreadsheets on a daily basis at my job and I like them to be formatted, user friendly, and overall specific to the task at hand. So please be gentle when critiquing the simplistic nature of the sheet, as it only provides relative information for quick evaluation in between pulls and nothing more.

How to use the spreadsheet

There are three specific things that this spreadsheet can tell you, and all of them require a bit more interpretation once you have gotten the information that it provides. I would like to go over each of these important pieces of information one by one and tell you what they are and what we can do with our new found information.

Definitions up front:
X – Percent of total damage taken which was from Bleed Damage
Y – Percent of total damage taken which was from Magic Damage
H – Your total raid buffed health value
A – Your total raid buffed armor
Ma – Your total raid buffed reduction in incoming damage from Armor

Effective Health Calculator

The first and foremost thing that this spreadsheet gives you is an absolute value for your effective health which accounts for physical, bleed, and magic damage. This number is relative to the gear you are wearing, the encounter you are tanking, and all of the talents, consumables, and buffs that you have. When you input all of the values that are required by the spreadsheet, H, A, X, Y, and Ma, you will get a number at the bottom. This is your effective health. This value alone does not really give you much information, but what it does give you is a starting point.

What you should do with this information is compare it with different gear choices, armor and stamina values, as well as resistances to establish mathematically which gear set is the best set for a given encounter. Which ever set gives you the highest effective health value is the one that you should be wearing for a given encounter with set X and Y values. As each encounter has different X and Y values, your evaluations have to be done on a boss by boss basis.

Change in Stamina and Change in Armor Calcuators

The second thing that the spreadsheet will calculate for you is a change in stamina. We all know that the general rule for the stamina to armor ratio is that 1 stamina is roughly equal to 11.7 armor. However how do we evaluate this ratio with the new understanding of relative X and Y values during a given fight. The relative benefit we see from armor changes as X and Y increase, and this calculator will tell you what change in armor is required to give you the same effective health benefit as a similar change in Stamina. Specifically, if you know the relative X and Y values for a fight, and you want to compare pieces, you can plug in the change in Stamina and Armor of a given slot into the spreadsheet and it will give you relative values of the counter part which would provide the same amount of effective health.

To provide you with an example, If you wanted to check to see if a bonus armor piece of gear was as good as that piece with 15 more stamina, you would input your relative values of X and Y into the spread sheet and then type 15 into the dS (or change in Stamina) cell on the spreadsheet and the spreadsheet would output the relative amount of armor required to equal 15 stamina with respect to effective health. This is a powerful tool when assembling gear sets for progression content, where surviving burst is your most important job.

The third thing that the spreadsheet does is the exact mirror of the evaluation above. It will calculate a change in armor and give you its relative stamina value for any given fight, provided that you input X and Y values. So, you can see how much stamina a given piece of gear has to have to eclipse the bonus armor that you have on another piece.


As you can see, all of these calculations are relative, and they do not provide absolute answers, but guidelines. You can not type a few values into the spreadsheet and get out a best in slot, time to live gear set. This is a very specific tool for a very specific, however powerful, purpose. It will allow you to compare gear sets for given fights to tell you which one will provide you with the most effective health for surviving burst. It will also provide you with modified Stamina to Armor ratios for any fight, accounting for all magical and bleed damage that you take. And it will give you everything you need to understand if you can survive the burst that just killed you by swapping gear.

However, it is important to understand that if you provide the wrong data for the specific required fields, it will provide you with the wrong answer. You must evaluate where you want to obtain X and Y from the parses, and use the correct situations and values in order to get the proper outcome. If you do this, it will help you immensely in your struggles to get past tank checks, but only if you select the correct values.


Breaking down Theck’s newest headache

I briefly touched on Theck’s new formula  a few posts ago, and Rhidach and Honors have done the same, but I wanted to discuss its benefits in the near future a bit more. Currently there is probably only one encounter that you would use this on, and that is the encounter you are wiping on. The problem with this current situation is that there are plenty of smart tanks that are easily available who have cleared the content and can help you with your gear questions. There are no fewer than 5 to 10 posts a day in the Gear Questions and Advice forum on MainTankadin, and these do not include the daily whispers that most top Tankadins get on a daily basis regarding strategy, gearing, and philosophy.

The formula courtesy of Theck, bringer of numbers and pounding headaches…

I don’t know about the rest of you, but just looking at that formula gives me a headache, so why have we been giving this so much attention over the past few days? The values of X and Y in that formula are very easy to obtain via World of Logs or WWS or what ever parse application you use, and they provide for some very powerful information. What we can do with this formula is calculate our effective health for any given death situation. Some of the variables are defined below by Theck, and these account for our specific gear sets, making this formula universal.

The formula uses the following mitigation factors:
Ma is the mitigation due to armor, defined as M is in section I.
Mt is the mitigation applied to physical damage due to talents
Mg is the mitigation applied to magical damage due to talents
Mr is the mitigation applied to magical damage due to resistances

Here X is the percentage of our damage intake that’s from bleed effects, Y is the amount of damage taken from magical sources, and 1-X-Y is the “leftover” amount due to regular physical damage.

Why do you ask is this an important thing to understand? Well as you very well know, I am a fanatic when it comes to gear discussion and theory, and It is where most of my expertise lies when it comes to theorycraft. And, this formula gives us a direct insight into our gearing choices and whether we should be altering our progression gear set for a specific encounter. For those of you who have the same level of math savvy that I do, the following breakdown clears somethings up for us:

The take-home message of these formulas is that armor loses effectiveness linearly with the percentage of “regular” physical damage intake for a given fight. In other words, for a fight with only 50% non-bleed physical damage, armor is reduced in effectiveness by 50%. If an armor trinket is worth 100 stamina on a purely “regular” physical fight, it will only be worth 60 stamina on a fight with 15% bleed damage and 25% magic damage (60% “regular” physical). – Theck

This gives us some insight into whether or not we should be wearing those juicy bonus armor pieces from Icecrown Citadel when fighting progression encounters with in that instance. We have all come to the consensus that bonus armor is a great weapon, and even more over, the armor trinkets that most tanks refuse to wear will have their day in the sun, however, they will be few and far between. The armor trinkets that we have access to through the badge vendors in this tier, and even the upgraded armor trinket with a stamina stacking proc in the next tier, will have specific times to shine, as our block rating gear has on Anub’arak.

It is important to understand though, that the use of these trinkets will be purely situational and most likely in a gimmick set, and not as part of our progression main tanking set. For that set, we will have the Scarab/Juggernaut trinket and the 228 stamina from the badge vendor in ICC. Once again, I give you Theck:

  • Stam is better in general, because it works everywhere. It’s the VISA of EH.
  • Armor is American Express. More exclusive, but very powerful in the few places it should be used.
  • This wasn’t intended to imply that Armor needs to be reworked. I think that Blizz is better off leaving armor as-is. But we need to be able to make intelligent gearing decisions as tanks, and knowing when to use or not use armor trinkets helps us do that.
  • Is this going to benefit the Greater community, or just the number crunchers?

    The true power of this equation is that it will help both sides of the community. First and foremost, this is a better evaluation of the formula and theory of Effective Health. This does not, in any way, change our view on effective health, or how it is achieved. What this does is show us the tipping points in certain encounters where the magic damage or bleed damage has become great enough that armor is no longer as powerful as stamina at a 11.7:1 ratio.

    For the number crunchers, we can analyze our death logs and evaluate our X and Y values to see if we need to modify our gear set to include more or less armor versus stamina, and we can do so in real time with irrefutable data. For those of you that do not do that, but still want to be prepared for the fights to come, The gear gurus of the community are beginning to work together to compile a list of damage sources which result in “spike” damage. What I mean by this is, we are starting to comb through our parses and get the damage numbers for our spike damage events for each applicable fight, and we will, when confident that we have a large enough sample size, publish the X and Y values for each encounter.

    This will provide a great wealth of information which will empirically define what gear sets you should wear for your progression encounter. If you are dying on Northrend Beasts to Gormok’s impale, then you can come look at those relative X an Y values and see if you need to shed or gain some armor for stamina. What is important to understand though, is that this formula is used to provide insight into those burst damage situations, not overall damage mitigation throughout the fight. Meloree and Brekkie brought this up half way through our discussion and they were spot on with their assessment, it is important to understand the following:

    People hear the term EH and they think “that number = my survivability”. In the way you are modeling EH, that is not strictly the case. Tanks gear for EH-contributing stats for progression, this is true, but the ultimate goal is not to maximize your absolute EH. It is to maximize your chance of survival against the primary “tank-killer” scenario of the current fight.- Brekkie

    Conclusions and a path forward?

    The formula gives us a very logical source of theorycraft from which we can make gearing decisions. It requires a bit of manipulation and data gathering, however when that is complete, we can effectively make on the fly decisions during progression encounters about our gearing choices. Where most great tanks do this already using the trial and error method, coupled with a vast amount of knowledge and gut feeling, we can empirically answer the question with a mathematical formula that should be fairly easy to do in between wipes.

    For now, We can go back to Trial of the Grand Crusader and analyze the parses for values of X and Y. As a community we will more than likely come up with an acceptable sample size and get some great values for effective health with respect to the gear we wear. Going forward, I would like to create a spreadsheet for dummies (read myself when I say dummies), which uses simple excel formulas to mimick Theck’s equation and allow anyone to plug in their values to give you your outputs. If the work is on the back end, you can easily create a format where you can plug in your mitigation factors, values for X and Y, and you will have your effective health. Tweaking those mitigation factors will give you a good idea on whether or not you want to stack more armor, more stamina, or even consider a resistance flask.


    Why is Chill of the Throne Dodge reduction?

    I just got finished responding to some questions on Maintankadin regarding the mechanics of Chill of the Throne and why exactly blizzard chose dodge as their target reduction. While I understand some of the mechanics of our tanking brethern, this explaination will be specifically tailored to Paladin Tanks, as that is what this blog is about. If we take a closer look at the debuf that we will recieve, we must ask ourselves, why would you select one over the other? What follows is a detailed hypothetical situation of the effects of our gearing philosophy if Chill of the Throne was a 20% flat reduction in parry…

    Arathas' Chill of the Throne

    The benefits of Dodge and Parry

    If we want to understand what we will be losing based on a flat 20% reduction in either parry or dodge, we first must understand what these mechanics give us, and their diminishing returns in general. Dodge is plain and simple. You completely avoid an attack. Dodge’s diminishing returns are less stringent when compared to parry, and as such, we as tanks always have more of it. A fully unbuffed paladin with best in slot gear will have more than 20% (Typically 26-28%) dodge standing in Dalaran regardless of gemming and enchanting philosophy.

    Parry on the other hand, has two components to it which factor into its value and reasoning behind the steeper diminishing returns. Parry gives us the same flat avoidance that dodge does, if the attack table deems that we are to parry an attack, the attack completely misses us and we have suffered no damage. In addition to the built in avoidance that parry provides, it also speeds up our swing timer, creating an additional threat component. The hasting that we are granted following a parried attack is one of the reasons that parry is on a much steeper diminishing returns curve. Going back to that fully unbuffed paladin I mentioned above, That same tank can, based on gear selection modify his or her parry percentage to be anywhere between 17% and 23% parry regardless of gemming and enchanting philosophy.

    This disparity between parry and dodge gives us some insight into why the developers would choose dodge over parry. This is completely forsaking the threat component of parry that all tanks use. I will provide you with some raw numbers that a tank will have based on their selection of “Best In Slot” gear to minimize parry while maximizing stamina and armor. There are only four pieces of gear that will need to have substitutes in order to go from all 258 gear Best in Slot to a minimum parry gear set.

    The gear set

    The following gear is what I used to calculate the relative values of dodge, parry and stamina. Also keep in mind that, because we are talking about theoretical situations with in Icecrown Citadel, all gems save one are stamina, all enchants are stamina.

    258 T9 Helm, Shoulders, Gloves, and Legs, 258 Legionnaire’s Gorget, 258 Pride of the Demon Lord, 258 Hauberk of the Towering Monstrosity, 245 Saronite Swordbreakers, 245 Heroic Belt of the Nether Champion, 258 Dawnbreaker Greaves, Band of the twin Val’kyr, Clutch of Fortification, 258 Juggernaut’s Vitality, 245 Juggernaut’s Vitality.

    Here is the Chardev Link for this set…

    As you can see, unbuffed, you have 28.31% dodge, 17.5% parry, and 45.1k HP. The gear that you had to trade out to get to this point is a net loss of 1k stamina from pure best in slot items, and 2% avoidance. Clearly the set linked above would be in response to the environment, as best in slot gear gives you a much better bang for your buck in all areas. By switching out the cloak to the Tribute Chest cloak from 10 man Hard Mode Insanity, the Bracers to the Bracers of the Shiledmaiden, the belt to the Belt of the Bloodied Scars, and the Ring to the Band of the Traitor King, you have lost a good deal of avoidance and stamina, but you have gained your four piece set bonus.

    The trade offs are fairly even when it comes to the grand scheme of things, however the effect on chill of the throne is quite noticeable.

    What if Chill of the Throne effected parry?

    As you can see from the chardev link from above, you would be sitting at 17.5% parry. Your total avoidance in that set is 61.07%. If Chill of the throne was a 20% reduction in parry, your parry percentage would drop down to 0, and you would receive a net GAIN of 2.5% avoidance because you were below the 20% mark. This gives you effectively 44.2% total avoidance. Conversely, if you chose to use all best in slot items, your gear would be giving you a total avoidance of 63.4% total avoidance, before you step into Icecrown Citadel. Post Chill of the throne would place you at 43.4% avoidance. This is a swing of 3.2% lost avoidance, so the relative benefit is quite significant.

    Empirically speaking, while 1% avoidance for 1000 hp does not see like a reasonable trade off with what is looming ahead in Icecrown Citadel, you have to remember that as we start to get into the 264 item level gear, you can pick and chose even more and extend that discrepancy between your parry and dodge. Your parry will still suffer steep diminishing returns, while your dodge percentage will continue to climb. In order to push past that Chill of the Throne reduction in avoidance, it would require more parry than dodge per point of avoidance. Now I must clarify that Chill of the Throne does not change the diminishing return formula, so the previous statement holds true no matter where you stand, however if you chose to eliminate parry from your gear sets, then it would take you more parry to start seeing an avoidance benefit than if it were dodge.


    In the end, these differences are as small as the gearing differences between the Stamina tanks an my own gear sets. When we have discussions based on stamina versus avoidance, it was for that last few percent after you ensured your survival. To me, and I may once again be alone on this, the trade off of 1k hp is more than worth get net gain you would get if you had a parry reduction from the Chill of the Throne mechanic. While I don’t believe that the developers were strictly looking at this as a justification to select dodge, I believe that with their current knowledge of the gear stats coming on the T10 items (which we currently do not know), this gearing philosophy could be achieved and chill of the throne could be partially avoided, thus the underlying motivations behind reducing dodge by 20%.


    Stamina versus Balance, the debate rages on

    Faction Champions Down!

    Once again, after one night of wiping and perfecting our strategies, we go back into the Trial of the Grand Crusade and one shot the next boss. After assigning out all of our crowd controls, interrupts, and dps order, we pulled with double hungering colds, and a bubble divine sac. One by one, the champs dropped like flies and we only had one person die the entire encounter, twice LOL. Once again, the loot gods were not smiling on the tanks, and we did not get a trinket or a belt for our sets. Oh well, next week.

    More on Stamina versus the rest…

    On to the meat and potatoes of what I want to talk about today. In response to some of the comments that have been posted on Rhidach’s post about the Onyxia trinket, I wanted to go into a bit more depth on my philosophy of Stamina vs. anything else. I know that I will more than likely disagree with the vast majority of the paladin community, and the tanking community as a whole, however I feel that my perspective warrants a bit more discussion. The concept of stamina stacking is a very simple one to understand, the more health you have the more damage you can take. But the real question is, why take the damage if you do not have to. I will concede that there are certain situations when having the largest health pool is an advantage, but in my opinion, these situations are few and far between.

    Since most of us are pushing trial of the grand crusade in one form or another, I will make use of the encounter mechanics to show you my point of view. There are two fights in the entire instance where more stamina may save your life (if we are forsaking armor), and those are Icehowl’s Ferocious Butt, and Anub’arak’s Freezing Slash. These are two attacks where there is nothing that you can do to avoid the damage, and you will be taking all of it right on the chin. The only thing that will save you here is Stamina and Armor. To me, this is where the effects of stacking stamina are beneficial, and it is also where the benefit ends. For all other mechanics that we encounter as a result of the Trial of the Grand Crusader, there are better ways to survive as a tank. Since I have been engaged in this debate for a long time now, and have tried my best to articulate my point of view in many different ways, I am going to lean on a respected tankadin to explain the point at which stamina is no longer the best stat (in my opinion):

    I think the “EH until AD ain’t proccin'” rule of thumb is probably a good one for tanks that aren’t sure where they fit in the progression ladder. – Theck

    Now whether his statement was meant to align with my gearing philosophies or not, I do believe that this statement is really the heart and soul of why I chose to balance my gear sets, stats, and abilities.

    Ardent Defender’s Guardian Spirit and your Stamina

    The way that I see it, If you have had the experience with tanking a good amount of Trial of the Grand Crusade, you are well aware of the amount of incoming damage that you are going to take, and you have a plan as a result. When I tank the Hard Modes, I have an effective health set that I wear. This set has dual stamina trinkets, however, it is not comprised of pure stamina gems. I feel that the balance of stats is much more valuable. In my experience with tanking Northrend Beasts, Lord Jaraxxus, and Twins, I have yet to have AD proc during the fight unless it was already called a wipe. The one exception to this is also the reason that we have AD. I have on multiple occasions survived the enrage when icehowl hits someone because of Ardent Defender, quick CDs and long strings of avoidance.

    With that being said, what is the true benefit of having more stamina if you are not dropping down into the 30% range, let alone activating the GS life saver that is built into AD. The answer is not much. The largest argument of stacking stamina in my eyes is to extend the range of ardent defender by increasing the amount of health you have at 35%. Beyond this, if you are not dying, and you are not dipping into that 35% range regularly, there is no benefit. At this point, you are willingly taking more damage than you have to. If you alter your gearing philosophy to allow for the inclusion of avoidance and mitigation statistics once you have reached a health pool that safely keeps you alive, you are purely decreasing the amount of damage you take. Sure you can say that by increasing the range of your ardent defender, you increase your mitigation considerably, however if you are not regularly dipping down into the 30% range, then you are not utilizing the skill and your justifications are flawed.

    The benefits of Armor and Avoidance

    When it comes down to it, if your healers are doing their job, you should rarely have to use your Ardent Defender, and as such, more stamina is really not worth anything to you from a mitigation stand point. At this point, you can start leaning towards avoidance and armor to increase your survival, and your ability to take damage. Really, regardless of the justification that “healers have infinite mana right now” they still have a finite amount of healing based off of global cool downs. There is a point at which a decision has to be made by a healer, heal the tank or heal the guy that got X debuf as a result of the current encounter. If you are taking less damage because you are better at mitigating and avoiding damage, then you are an easier decision. The pure stamina tank will be taking more damage regardless of the amount of stamina he has, and as a result will require more heals. You will still live a long time, and be able to take a lot of hits, but you will be consuming more of your healers global cool downs.

    In the times where blizzard thinks that making encounters challenging means making the raid and the tanks take LOTS of damage and nothing more, you have to see healers global cool downs as a commodity that is not to be squandered. The less healing you take the more the raid can receive, and as a result, the longer your raid will survive. As always, in the end your gemming, enchanting, and gearing philosophies are all opinions and are part of each tanks unique situation, however, I think that as a whole, the tanking community has lost sight of one of their most important duties to their raid and their guild. Each tank has a duty to be the one that takes the damage for the raid, however they also need to understand that less damage is always better.


    Stamina versus Balance

    I want to preface this with the fact that this is my own opinion, and as such you should take it with a grain of salt. If you want numbers, theory, and proof, please go to maintankadin, as Theck, Digren, and Ratanna have done some great work providing information for you.

    I wanted to take some time to discuss gearing, our philosophies on gemming and my thoughts on why stacking stamina is not the only way to go. As I talk to the other protection paladins on my server, as well as the maintankadin community, there has been a growing trend of stacking stamina over all other things. If I take a look at most of the protection pallies on my server, there is a noticeable trend of paladins that are around 40k hp, with low armor, low avoidance and over all diminished statistics. These inadequacies are all in the name of stacking stamina. What follows is purely my opinions on gearing, gemming and enchanting philosophies and how they apply to the holistic view of progression tanking in Trial of the Grand Crusader. I believe that it is important to specify what raid one will be facing in order to understand my point of view.

    The pros of Stacking Stamina

    The main justification that stamina is king, is because it is pure effective health, or the ability to survive as long as possible with out getting a heal. It also increases the range of our recently nerfed ardent defender, meaning that the higher the health pool, the higher the threshold of ardent defender, and in turn the higher the threshold of taking 20% less damage. The combination of having a very large health pool and the ardent defender skill means that you have more chance to survive significant incoming damage from a boss or add. This is obviously paramount for any tank to consider, as it is our main job aside from threat. When stacking stamina, you can create a very very large cushion of life between full health and death, which gives you a better chance of survival.

    When you take into consideration the types of fights that we are facing in the trial of the grand crusader, you have to understand that there are different types of damage that you are taking, and then plan accordingly. Stamina gives you the ability to tank an encounter with out fully understanding the mechanics and how you should use your cool downs, trinkets, pots, etc against them. If you have 55k buffed hp, then you will be more prepared to survive an incoming burst of damage than if you had 48k.

    Where I see stacking becoming a disadvantage

    So you have a choice when it comes to gemming and enchanting and you select the stamina route. You forsake all other attributes and drop a solid majestic zicron in every socket you have save one, you enchant your gear with health to chest, stam to shield, and you get the gladiator’s shoulder enchant. You are a beast, and you are proud to say that you have a significant health pool. The thing that you have forgotten is that you are one cog in a machine, and that machine runs on mana (the healer in me is coming out). By stacking stamina you have neglected avoidance, armor, and threat, and as a result you have become less of a tank. The only reason you should be stacking pure stamina is if YOU are the one who is dying first.

    I am more than willing to concede that if a tank is dying because they can not take the hits, then they have to do something about their health pool and their avoidance. However, it has been my experience over the past few months that there is not a single boss in the Trial of the Grand Crusade that I have faced that can kill me first. What I mean by that is that the reason that my guild wipes is not because the tank died.

    If you are not dying first, and your survival is not the reason that your guild is wiping on an attempt, then you are probably consuming more mana than you should be if you are gearing for pure stamina. From my perspective, blizzard has found a new formula when it comes to creating encounters and making them challenging: Throw out more raid damage. If you take a look at the trends that have been established for boss fights, you will see that AoE damage is king in this expansion, and it is the true test of a healing teams effectiveness. Gormok and Icehowl have stomps, Dreadscale has his burning bile, Jaraxxus has his infernals, the faction champions have their everything, the twins have their floating orbs, and anub has his locus swarm. All of the encounters that you will face in trial of the crusader and grand crusader are a test of your healers ability to keep the raid alive.

    When you compare this to the tests on the tank, it becomes clear that mitigation, avoidance and in general taking less damage as a tank help support this by letting the healers focus on the raid, their own survival, and not staring at your health bar, spamming their heals like you are tanking brutallus.

    The Benefits Avoidance and Mitigation

    The way I see it, increasing your ability to completely avoid an attack, and your ability to mitigate damage before it even nocks your health bar down is something that is much more important as long as you know you can survive. It is that fine line that you must walk, understanding that you need the health pool to survive, but you also want to eliminate as much incoming damage as possible. By embracing the benefits of defense, dodge, parry, and armor, you will find that you take less damage and as a result your encounters go smoother. In other words, the less healing you need, the more the raid can get, and in the current state of blizzards boss encounters, that is an important thing.

    I prefer the hybrid gems to stamina gems based on their increased health pool in combination with the added bonus of avoidance and mitigation. The combination of stamina and defense or agility gives you a potent increase in all around statistics. Your health pool grows with every gem you socket, however you also gain avoidance and mitigation through the defense and agility that you are gemming. Similarly, when it comes to enchants, I prefer defense and agility enchants to stamina. I like to weigh out the itemization points of an enchant and understand where I am going to get the most bang for my buck, so to speak. After approaching my gearing from a holistic point of view, I feel that I have the slight advantage over others. When I compare myself to tanks that have similar gear, I notice a trend in our differences. They have a about 2-3k more health than I do at the cost of 4-5% avoidance and close to 1000 armor. For me that is more than enough of a trade off to be the guy with only 38k hp.

    I will be honest with you, I’m not Theck, in fact I am not even a math guy at all, I am just a scientist, and I like my trial and error, so I do not have any fancy graphs or equations that show that avoidance and armor are as good as 3k more stamina. All I have is my opinion, however in the end, my health pool has yet to be the cause of a wipe, and I have received a significant amount of feed back that I am one of the easiest tanks to heal from every one of my guilds healers. The way that you gear your toon is a choice that each person has to make, and I have made mine and wanted to share it with you.

    The one Caveat to this train of thought

    I am a very verbal supporter of the concept of gear sets. I talk about it a lot in this blog, and I have a guide on Maintankadin about it. There are certain times when my holistic gear itemization goes out the window, and that is when I am assembling my effective health gear set. To the extent that I can, with the gear that I have, my effective health set is itemized for pure effective health, and as such has quite a bit more stamina on it, both from gems and enchants, which boosts my health by nearly 4k and my armor by 2k at the expense of avoidance. The concept of that set negates the necessity for a holistic gem and enchant application. Remember, each set has a purpose, and a place of use. Selecting the correct set for the encounter will ensure that you put your best foot forward.


    Wrathy’s Guide to Gear Sets

    I originally posted this on the Maintankadin forums earlier today. I have been meaning to write a guide on this subject for some time now, and felt that I wanted to share it with both communities. I hope you enjoy it, but this one is actually REALLY long!

    Maintankadin has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to gear, theory and the choices that you need to make to be an effective tank, however In all of my reading on this site, I have yet to come across a guide that puts it all together. Ratanna’s TTL guide has a great list of some of the best gear in the game, as does Jayson’s Best in Slot guide, however neither of them touch on the whole package and how to combine said items. I found that most of my contribution to the maintankadin forums comes in the from of advice for people that say EH is the way to go, or Hit is the essential, or you should only gem stamina. My advice was always the same, “it depends on the encounter you are tanking.”

    I would like to set out to create a guide that outlines that threat is important, effective health is important, avoidance is important, and you should stack each and every one of these, just not in the same set. This is a guide to use your Equipment Manager, ClosetGnome, or Item Rack to its fullest. How you decide to equip your gear is up to you, but you should strive to maintain three to four sets of gear for any given situation that you face. Each “set” of gear will have a specific purpose and a specific time and place of use. None of these will be the one set that you will wear for all encounters, and any tank that wears one set is doing their guild a disservice.

    The sets and the core theory behind each gearing philosophy:

    The two most important things that you must understand when assembling any set of gear is as follows: You must ask yourself what is the end goal of the compilation of a given gear set, and when is it suppose to be used. For me, the understanding of when is a precursor to the what. From my point of view, and my experience of gear swapping, a farmed instance with hints of progression and a pure progression instance have very different demands, and different challenges that you must overcome. There is always a tool that is perfect for the job at hand. You must understand the encounter, its mechanics, and what you are facing, so that you can provide exactly what the rest of your raid needs to succeed whether it be threat, effective health, Time To Live (TTL), or a balance.

    The Threat Set –

    A set that is centered around maximum threat output while maintaining the ability to be a feasible tank. A threat set is used for three things, any trash that can not squash you like a bug, farmed bosses where your dps can let loose on auto pilot, and hard modes with time limits. The focal point of developing a threat set is your ability to produce the maximum amount of threat per second, and in turn damage per second, so that you can kill the boss in a set amount of time. What does this mean specifically in trying to select gear that will help you get this job done?

    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: 263 hit rating and 26 expertise. While you can stack as much strength and crit as you want, if you are missing the boss, you are not producing any threat. Your ability to land a successful hit is paramount to this set, and as such your first goal is to achieve 8% hit or 263 hit rating. Expertise will further your goal of landing hits, and you can stack this as much as you like once you have hit the soft cap of 26 expertise. The less you dodge and parry, the better.

    Once you have taken care of your first three stats, you can stack Strength, block value (up to ~3100) and even if you want crit. You have to look at the pieces that are available to you and select items that will produce the best bang for your buck in each given slot. It is also important to note that you do not have to equip something that has defense on it. I use DPS rings in my threat set, to give me extra hit, expertise, and crit. Finally it is important to remember that this is still a tanking set, so you still want to maintain respectable Armor and a descent health pool.

    The basics of a threat set –
    540 Defense
    263 Hit Rating (no more than this, its wasted Itemization)
    26 Expertise Minimum
    3100 Block Value (no more than this, its wasted Itemization)
    Stack Strength, Expertise, and Crit

    The Gems and Enchants Specific to a Threat Set
    Hit Gems until you are at 263
    Strength/Stam Gems
    Agility/Stam Gems
    Armsman to Gloves
    Icewalker to Boots
    Accuracy to Weapon

    The Effective Health Set –

    A set that is centered around the theory of effective health, and it’s main purpose is to ensure that you can take the most amount of damage possible with out heals or avoidance. Most of the population that come to Maintankadin understands the concept of effective health, however for the purpose of a complete guide, effective health:

    …is basically a measurement of how much raw damage a creature has to deal to kill you. It is a measurement of Armor and it’s relation to Stamina… Effective Health is the measurement of how much breathing room your healers have to keep you alive assuming all other factors fail — assuming you do not avoid or block attacks or have a mana shield active. Effective Health is important for tanking heavy hitting creatures because of Murphy’s Law — if you can have long strings of not Dodging an attack, it will definitely happen. Raid tanking, ultimately, is about stability. – Ciderhelm

    With this being said, effective health is something that is necessary for progression fights, and should always be equipped when you are tanking new content. When learning an encounter, you need to have the breathing room to be able to take the hits and be healed back up, as everyone in your raid will be focusing on a multitude of things that will distract them from helping you survive. The focal point of developing an effective health set is your ability to survive as much damage as possible through mitigation. You will more than likely be avoiding about half of the incoming damage in this set, however it is very important to reiterate that the goal of this gear set is to mitigate the damage you cannot avoid. What does this mean specifically when you are trying to select the gear that will help you achieve this end goal?

    The two key stats to ensuring your survival and allow you to increase your effective health are Stamina and Armor. Stamina is as simple as it sounds, the more health you have correlates directly to how much damage you can take prior to dying. If your health pool is at 40k fully buffed, then you can take 40k worth of damage. However, if your health is at 48k then you can take 8k more damage. In addition to the simple fact that more health means you can take more damage is the fact that as your health pool increases, you are extending the reach of your Ardent Defender talent, which is one of your most powerful effective health talents available.

    Armor on the other hand is a commonly overlooked statistic that is essential to your effective heath set, and it is something that you should strive to enhance any chance you get. Armor reduces the amount of physical damage that you take no matter what happens. You can be stunned, hit from behind, etc and you will still mitigate damage based on your armor. The last stat that will help you mitigate incoming physical damage is shield block value. While this is an important stat because of its ability to immediately decrease the amount of damage taken, it is not a stat that you will want to prioritize over Stamina and Armor, as you have to be block capped, and you cannot mitigate the damage from behind or when stunned.

    Once again I will reiterate that your number one priority in gearing for any set is the become immune to critical strikes, and as such you must maintain the defense minimum of 540. Once that is accomplished, you will want to look to increase your stamina and armor as much as possible. Items with bonus armor are extremely powerful for effective health sets, as they have actually used some of their itemization budget on armor. Remember that any increase in armor is an increase in the ability to mitigate physical damage no matter what.

    The Basics of an Effective Health Set –
    540 defense
    Stack Stamina
    Stack Armor
    Stack Expertise
    Shield Block Value (to a much lesser extent)

    The Gems and Enchants Specific to an Effective Health Set –
    Gem for Stamina
    Armor to gloves and Cloak
    Mongoose to Weapon
    Blood Draining to Weapon

    The Magic Effective Health Twist –

    This set performs the same purpose as the effective health set, however it does not value armor in any way. The purpose of a magic effective health set is to stack as much stamina as possible with little to no regard for avoidance and mitigation. This is because armor does not reduce the amount of magical damage that you take. Usually this set is compiled with most of the pieces of your effective health set, only swapping out those items with bonus armor with pieces that have more stamina.

    The Basics of a Magic Effective Health Set –
    540 Defense
    Stack Stamina

    The Gems and Enchants Specific to a Magic Effective Health Set –
    Gem for Stamina
    Stamina to Gloves

    The Holistic or Overall Set –

    A set that maintains a balance of Avoidance, Threat, and Effective health. This is a set that I use quite often but may be the most controversial due to the fact that it is not far superior in any area, it is a combination of TTL gear and Hit/Expertise gear, to ensure general benefit for any situation. I use a set that is good at everything, but not excellent at any single thing for most encounters that are on farm but are still in your progression instance. There are fights where you need more threat than your effective health set can give you, but you can not equip your threat set due to the amount of incoming damage that you will receive, this is where the holistic set shines.

    The goal of this set is to have a very well rounded balance of threat, survival, and avoidance. In order to do this, you will more than likely lean on your TTL best in slot items and bolster the stats that are missing with rings, trinkets, your neck, and cloak. Once again, with out 540 defense nothing else is possible, so your first priority is ensuring that you have met the defense minimum. After that you want to look for pieces that have a well balanced stat base of stamina, dodge, and parry. As you begin to create this set you want to ensure that you are sticking to the rule of thumb of 1.88 dodge to 1 parry ratio. This will ensure that you are maximizing avoidance. You should also be looking to maintain a healthy level of hit for offensive purposes and expertise for offensive and defensive purposes.

    In the end you want a set that will provide you with more than 60% avoidance, a health pool that is substantial, and enough hit and expertise to ensure that your threat is great.

    The Basics of an Overall Set –
    540 Defense
    Dodge and Parry ratio of 1.88:1
    26 Expertise
    >35k HP
    >200 Hit

    The Gems and Enchants Specific to an Overall Set –
    Gem For Agility / Stamina and Defense / Stamina
    Agility to gloves and Cloak
    Accuracy to Weapon
    Defense to Chest

    The Block set –

    A set that strives to mitigate damage by ensuring that you are unhittable and that your block value is as high as possible. Most of you should already know what unhittable is, however for the sake of completeness: the definition of unhittable is the ability to Block, Dodge, Parry, or Miss any and all incoming attacks. You can achieve this by having a combined 102.4% of the aforementioned stats. The block set is particularly useful for tanking a lot of adds, or soft hitting NPCs. The block value that you have corresponds to the amount of damage that you fully mitigate, so if you have 3000 block value and the 5 adds that you are tanking all hit for 2900, you can successfully tank 5 adds with out tanking any damage (assuming that you are blocking every incoming attack).

    The goals that you want to strive to achieve when assembling a block set are fairly straight forward. Once again, with out 540 defense nothing else is possible, so your first priority is ensuring that you have met the defense minimum to prevent being critically hit. The most important part of a block set is to ensure that you are Unhittable, so you must have the avoidance and block percentages needed to reach 102.4%. After this you want to itemize for block value. Each point of block value corresponds to a point of damage you do not take.

    Once you have identified all of the items that you can wear that have block value on them, you want to fill in the rest of your set with items that are high in strength, as strength also provides block value. You want to ensure that your health is not significantly hindered by using block value gear, however for the purpose of the set, you will not be tanking hard hitting bosses, and as such can have a significantly lower health pool than the other sets we have discussed.

    One last thing to note about the block set and your selection of gear is that there is a very, very large difference between Block Value, which is the focal point of a block set, and Block Rating. Block rating increases your chance to block an attack, but does nothing to the amount blocked.

    The Basics of a Block Set –
    540 Defense
    102.4% Combined Dodge, Block, Parry, Miss
    Stack Block Value
    Stack Strength
    Stack Stamina

    The Gems and Enchants Specific to a Block Set –
    Gem for Strength
    Potency to Weapon
    Titanium Plating to Shield

    The Unhittable set –

    A set that is purely a gimmick set used for the Heroic Anub’arak encounter in 25 man Trial of the Grand Crusade. This set strives to mitigate damage done by the Nerubian Burrowers by ensuring that you are PASSIVELY unhittable and that your block value is as high as possible. The specifics of how the damage is dished out to you is as follows:

    If you have a Nerubian Burrowerer hitting you for 4500 damage and you block 4000 of it, you take 500 damage. Now usually the way that the stacking debuf mechanic would work is that when you have 9 debufs, the mob would be hitting you for 4500*325% or 14,625. After blocking your 4000, you would be taking a 10,125 hit. However since the debuf is applied to you and YOUR damage TAKEN, you are only taking your unblocked damage (4500-4000) plus the modifier or 500*325% or 1,625 damage. The power of block value is immense on this fight. The amount of block value you have is critical in your ability to mitigate the damage. Now seeing as I am still on Twins in ToTGC, I cannot for certain say how much that the adds hit for, however when you are taking multiple adds, it is imperative to understand that the more block value you have, the significantly less damage you will take, and the easier it will be on your healers.

    The goal of this set is to achieve 101.5% combined dodge, block, parry, and miss percentages so that you do not rely on holy shield to block every incoming hit. You can do this by stacking defense, dodge, parry, and block rating. The key to this set is the fact that block rating does not suffer diminishing returns like the other stats. If this is accomplished, your next goal is to have as much block value as possible so that you can mitigate incoming damage prior to the multiplicative buff. This set is very specific in its gearing, and there are a few ways to do it, however for the sake of simplicity I will list out the initial set that I created when pushing Anub’arak:

    My gear set is Comprised of the following pieces of gear – T8 Helm and Shoulders, Necklace of Unerring Mettle, Shadow of the Ghoul, Tier 7 Chest, Bindings of the Hapless Prey, Handguards of the Enclave, Dragonslayer’s Brace, T9 legs, Inexorable Sabatons, Band of the Traitor King, Signet of the Earthshaker, the ony trinket and the Lavanthor’s Talisman. Everything is gemmed with defense, except two gems to satisfy the meta. Everything is enchanted with Defense or Agility (where no defense enchant is available). This set also requires the use of elixirs over a flask. You should use the defense and agility elixirs and agility food to push you over the top.

    The Basics of an Unhittable Set
    101.5% Combined Dodge, Block, Parry, Miss
    Stack Block Value

    The Gems and Enchants Specific to an Unhittable Set –
    Gem for Defense, Defense, Defense (with a Nightmare Tear and a Defense / Avoidance orange gem for the meta)
    Eternal Earthsiege Diamond
    Agility to weapon
    Block Rating to Shield

    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


    Min / Maxing and Socketing


    It may come as a surprise to some of you but I have a rather geared alt. When I first started playing Wrath of the Lich King, I wanted to play a pure dps class, so that farming, questing, earning gold, and raiding were a bit more “fun.” So I took my little level 39 twink hunter and leveled her all they way to 80. As soon as I started gearing her, I was asked to tank as a protection paladin for my guild. So my stint as a dps’er lasted a total of one week at 80. However after naxx got boring, and ulduar got on farm, I was able to gear up my hunter. I leveled as beast mastery, was one of the server’s first hunters to have a spirit beast (for those of you who only care about tanking, its an extremely rare cat that requires the 51 point beast mastery to tame and use), and Loved BM. Well, BM got nerfed, Survival got a huge buff, and off i went into the world of explosive shot.

    Well, when we were in full hard mode gear in Ulduar and ToTC and farming for Emblems of Triumph took away most of my attention, my poor little alt was gathering dust. Last night we ran an alt ToTC 10 man and I brought my hunter. Well I’m in a mix of Naxx Best in Slot, Ulduar Best in Slot, and ToTC welfare epics, and I had to switch again, this time to Marksmanship. Where is this story about a hunter on a prot pally site going?

    Min/Maxing – To ArP or Agi for a hunter

    I want to use my hunter as an analogy for our tanks and our constant struggle to try to maintain the balance of stam, avoidance, and mitigation. As a survival hunter, agility is king, you gem agility the way most tanks gem stam, e.g. all the sockets but the ones to activate your meta. ArP is the number one stat for MM hunters as most of their damage comes from physical attacks (most of SV is explosive shot, or fire damage). So I am sitting on my alt, newly learning the MM rotation, full of agility gems, with no armor penetration in sight.

    I start up a conversation with our token “i pull 9k dps regularly” MM hunter and he starts talking about ArP and how I should totally regem my alt so that I can gain a couple hundred DPS. Don’t get me wrong, I always strive to do more damage, however, dropping 10 epic red gems on an alt to go from 6k dps to 6.5k dps really is NOT my idea of money well spent. For my hunter, I will slowly gem ArP as I pick up gear until i am in the 600s and then go back to Agility.

    What does this have to do with tanks?

    The great agility versus dodge debate is an ideal candidate for this type of philosophy. Now most of the more hard core WoW players regemed the first day 3.2 came out, myself included. That tuesday night, I was standing in front of the gem vendor ready to blow every badge I had on 20 new shiny epic gems so that each of my gear sets, Threat, Avoidance, Effective Health, and Overall were full of epic gems. But what of the rest of us? What of those of us who feel like I do on my hunter? That is where the upgrade gemming philosophy comes in.

    In the end we are talking about Min/Maxing, and not requirements (save 540 minimum defense rating), and as such gemming is really a preference. You can be that tank that really, really, really loves Stamina, needs Stamina, and craves the largest health pool on the server. But thats not me. I love balance. So if you are not engaged in the great agility versus dodge debate, and you have not caught up on Theck’s latests law of tank-ativity, Expertise, what do you do?

    Well in my opinion you gem your upgrades, and you gem them according to your role, to augment your ability to do your job, and you gem them to enhance the piece to its fullest, and that is what I am going to do with my hunter. When it comes to the selection of gems for your tank, you have to take into account the benefit you will get from regemming. The dodge to agility switch is an expensive one if you gem like I do. If you are a stamina freak, then your gemming choices are simple and straight forward. In the end it all comes down to your desire to better your character, and how much you are willing to pay to get to that next level of stats.


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