Vidyala asks “How much is too much?” While she’s speaking more existentially, I wonder the same with regards to tanking. How much survivability is too much? At want point do we achieve effective immortality–alphabetically the next step after EH–and no longer fear death?
In my earlier post about armory data mining, there were many folks honestly disagreeing with me on the merits of my recommendations based on the level of content they are tanking. Some stick to heroics and thus seldom, if ever, experience tank death. Some are raiding ICC 10 or 25 and thanks to the buff are pushing past 60k hitpoints.
Those two experiences are like two sections of the same tanking möbius strip. Vastly different content, but the same indelible question: at what point do I hit diminishing returns on my survivability stats?
Actually, let’s scale back that question–is there such a think as too much survivability? Many might say yes, some of them having commented on the data mining post to that effect. I would say there is not. If you think there is such a thing, let me pose this question to you: what odds are you willing to accept for your survival? If you can gear to only die once every 100 encounters, but do 5% more threat than someone who gears to die only once every 1000 encounters, is that a worthy trade-off?
I personally would say no. In my mind I have one primary directive, to survive. Holding threat is secondary. I would always be that latter tank, gearing to prevent as many possible tank deaths as possible even if it means a little less threat. If you lose threat you can always taunt it back, or salv a dps, or what have you. It’s seldom the end of the encounter. If a tank dies, things can rapidly snowball into a wipe. I would posit that 9 times out of 10, a tank death will lead to a wipe more than a tank losing aggro.
So I ask, why would you increase the possibility of the former to prevent the latter?
An example: I saw a discussion of my data mining post elsewhere and someone brought up my commandment not to socket Nightmare Tears. The commenter said they saw a single Nightmare Tear as superior over socketing a single Shifting Dreadstone because, gosh, it’s a lot of stats for one gem. Sure, you lose five stamina, but you gain strength, intellect, and spirit. … And yet, the only bit of that that remotely reduces damage is the 5 block value you get (6.5 after talents).
So the survivability trade-off between a Shifting and a NT is this: Shifting gives you 55 hitpoints, and the Tear will let you ignore 6.5 hitpoints worth of damage when you block (if you block). How does a Tear remotely appeal?
My position is and will always be that survivability comes first. If we’re following the proper rotation and staying caught up on gear and your dps are not knuckle-dragging idiots, threat should never be an issue. We should never have to gem or enchant for threat, it should come organically from our gear. If we need to increase our threat, we put on a cape that has hit, or a pair of boots that has expertise. We don’t regem to gain a few more points of strength.
Coming back to the original question, I would say there is no such thing as too much survivability. Indeed, there’s no such thing as an immortal tank. Even a god can bleed. To that end, I will always gear, gem, and enchant to keep myself as optimally alive as possible. Once I have too much hp, I will focus on mitigation and avoidance. Never threat. That’s not my job.