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My chase for haste

wtb Rogue, DPS DK, Enhance Shaman, or Hunter.

I tend to be a lagging applicator (to coin a bad phrase) of whatever the hot new tankadin gear goal is. Whether it’s armor cap or CTC cap or whatever, I get there eventually, but it’s not much longer before the nerfs start rolling in or said goal otherwise reaches obsolescence. Now, this isn’t for lack of trying — believe me! — but mostly because I’m not on the same gear curve as those tanks who are currently strutting around with 30+% haste (and more!) when fully buffed.

But I’m getting there. I’m up to decimal points shy of 26% when our rogue is in the raid. Happily we also recently recruited a hunter, so between the two of them, I think I can safely assume that in any given raid I’ll have that wonderful 10% melee haste buff.

There are some changes I could make to pick up a few more haste percent, I’m still using Pandaren’s Step instead of Greater Haste, and I’m still using stamina flasks instead of a haste elixir.

As Theck wrote in his amazing stamina post this week, haste isn’t some survivability magic bullet, it’s a trade off of survivability for dps. And at this juncture I’m not 100% convinced that I’m ready to trade more guaranteed and passive survivability for some extra dps. I feel like I can still make good use of that extra health and even the passive run speed bonus of the boot enchant — I was always a fan of the old Pursuit of Justice talent.

Sure, that extra dps is helpful for my format of raiding (10mans), but Throne of Thunder is awfully dangerous. I need to find the proper balance and not just hastily charge ahead.

I have some great upgrades coming down the pike, thanks to Shado-Pan Assault, that should free up a lot of itemization for more haste. I’ll likely be grabbing the Thunderbreaker Legplates next week which will allow me to drop some expertise gemming that I’ve been saddled with. Though, if Horridon drops the Bloodlord’s Bloodsoaked Legplates, more’s the better.

Then in another two weeks or so, I’ll be at revered for Shado-Pan Assault and can grab the Gianttooth Chestplate, which I hope will be the end of my hit and expertise gemming needs once and for all.

But I digress with all this loot squawking. To get back to the point: I really do love having haste as an option, and I will surely be distraught when the hammer finally falls and Blizzard rips this glorious rug right out from underneath us. There’s just something that is so awesome about having my abilities come up and go out more quickly. It just feels so dynamic to be a haste-laden protection paladin.

It’s hard to describe, but the word “fun” always springs to mind. Something like driving a sleek, fast car with the top down. Contrawise, Treckie (paladin tank from Method) described his usual stamina-focused setup as “slowmo” mode. In this case, perhaps, one can describe haste-less stamina as like driving a box van. Sure it gets the job done, and you probably won’t get as many speeding tickets, but where’s the fun in that?

Back in Wrath I managed to achieve armor cap about a month before patch 4.0.1 came out. In Cataclysm it took me until late-Firelands to get enough gear to comfortably pull off CTC capping. Hopefully this time around, with this gearing “flavor of the xpac”, I’ll be able to enjoy my speedier self before the curtains come down.

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April 12, 2013
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CTC calculation spreadsheet for gear

I’m not sure exactly where this came from. I mean, I made it–but I’m not entirely sure why I made it.

It started when I was going to make myself a Google Docs spreadsheet where I could quickly calculate for myself the various combat table coverage (CTC) percent that an item was worth to me. I shared the spreadsheet with Antigen, since he was always asking me about two different tank items and which would be better, and then it hit me I could go and make the spreadsheet public for the benefit of my readers.

Showing it to Meloree, he pointed out that the sheet was severely incomplete without calculating diminishing returns and, slapping my forehead, I went to work on that. And yet, boy did I not know what I was getting myself into. Hours later–after gallons of blood, sweat, and tears–I finally had everything worked out. Now I’m proud to now offer this spreadsheet to you all.

[ Download CTC Stat Calculator.xls (v1.1) ]

Basically, the way it works is you go to your armory page and fill in the Dodge, Parry, and Agility fields. Dodge and parry came from the tool tips’ non-diminished numbers. I have mine plugged in to prevent half the sheet being !#DIV/0 errors.

Once those are set, plug in the various mitigation/avoidance stats from the piece you’re evaluating. The sheet will calculate your current level of diminishing returns affliction and then use that to figure out how much CTC the item is worth to you.

If you want you can also put negative values in the boxes to represent the stats your losing from the piece you’d be replacing. And then in the next section give your block percent and figure out your total CTC including base dodge and parry and miss chance.

So, for example, if you wanted to compare the Necklace of Strife versus the Ironstar Amulet, plugging both in you’d see that the former is worth 2.32% CTC, while the latter is worth 1.18% CTC.

The sheet is still a work in progress. I need to add raid buffs functionality so you can see the value of Kings, Horn of Winter, etc. on your totals. But it’s a good starting point and a great way to evaluate gear based on their total CTC worth to you. Hopefully it’ll be a big help for you.

Lastly: I’m not a math whiz, so if I missed something somewhere, please let me know. Also, the sheet uses the Paladin-specific conversion of agility to dodge, and Paladin-specific DR constants, so it really can’t be used by Warriors. If there’s a demand though, I’ll make a separate page for Warriors.

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Seal of Truth has not been nerfed

The Seal of Truth tooltip changed in a recent beta build. It appeared to be heavily nerfed – about 25% less damage – which sparked some worry in our community. Not like we are a volatile, passionate bunch or anything.

Good news, everyone:

The most recent Seal of Truth change was just a tooltip correction. The numbers did not go down.

We did nerf Censure and raise Exorcism in a previous build, but that should not be new information.

Source: Ghostcrawler, yesterday in this hilarious thread.

We can all breathe a sigh of relief.

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November 11, 2010
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Don’t gem Shifting Dreadstones anymore

Something not mentioned specifically in patch notes–but very important in case anyone missed the very hidden memo on this–agility doesn’t give armor anymore. One major by product is that (along with agility enchants no longer providing EH) Shifting Dreadstones are now an inferior gemming choice.

What made them so great before 4.0.1 was that agility was a triple-dip stat for us: dodge, armor, and crit/threat all in one tidy little package. While agility gems only provided 83% as much avoidance as the actual-dodge alternative, that 17% gap was easily made up (and then some) with the armor and threat. Now, obviously, the threat alone doesn’t make it as worth it.

As such, I definitely recommend you swap out that Shifting Dreadstones for Defender’s Dreadstones if you’re looking for more avoidance (and survivability), since parry is our only avoidance choice for purple gems.

Contrawise, if you’re looking for extra threat–and, it can be argued, survivability on Sindragosa–you can gem Guardian’s Dreadstones for expertise.

Personally I’m going to gem Guardian’s Dreadstones because that 60 parry rating I’ll be gaining will primarily go into the starving, gaping maw we call diminishing returns. At 85 it’s another story, but for now I’m opting for the expertise.

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October 19, 2010
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10% ICC buff is live

So Hellscream’s Warsong/Strength of The Chynn is now up to 10%. Putting aside any misgivings about the nerf to the instance, etc etc, the bigger question is what this means to us tanks?

With the free health this buff gives (potentially in the neighborhood of a free 5,000 hp), the issue arises of how much health is too much health? And, if we reach this hp plateau, should be start to gem or gear differently?

Wrathy thinks the time is now and proposes gemming beyond straight stamina again. Obviously, because he’s in the 25man hardmodes he’s dealing with a different animal, but nonetheless the lessons trickle down to us normal 10/25 raiders as well.

Does a tank really need to have 60k hp in 10man normal mode? At that point wouldn’t it make more sense to scale back and boost avoidance, to free up some mana for your healers?

Perhaps. I need to do some more thinking about this, and particularly see how the buff to the buff affects tonight’s raid.

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March 30, 2010
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Trading avoidance for EH

Just wanted to point out this awesome post over at Maintankadin for any aspiring tanks or, hell, any folks trying to determine when to sacrifice avoidance for more effective health.

Go to this post and scroll down a little to the descriptions of the tank levels, find yourself and your recommended number. Then, scroll down a little bit more to where it says “How to stack stamina” and gem or enchant down the line as your tank level would recommend.

Awesome guide based on some rock-solid math from Theck and Meloree. I was pleasantly surprised to find I’m doing all but the last three, and strongly considering the third from the bottom: replacing the Argent Crusade head enchant with the Engineering one.

If you’re debating the value of one gem/enchant over another through the lens of EH, this is a great tool to help you along the right path.

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March 25, 2010
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Avoidance and HP in Cataclysm

Obviously this is just grasping at tea leaves for now, but Ghostcrawler commented a bit on a thread about Mastery and divulged some design philosophy about how they plan to approach tanking stats in the next expansion pack.

Some choice quotes and thoughts:

I’m not sure a strategy of trying to force tanks to gem / enchant other stats is ever going to feel good. That said, tanks used to worry more about being the mana sponge. The way to alleviate being the mana sponge is to take less damage and a great way to take less damage is to dodge more.

Personally, I wish tanking would go back to this. I like it better when there are more dimensions to tanking than just sitting there and getting punched in the face.

The relative value of dodge vs. parry is something we’ll have to play with. My gut reaction is that parry needs to be cheaper since avoiding 100% of one hit is more valuable than avoiding 50% of two hits, but I’m not sure how much cheaper. Avoiding spikiness (which dodge will contribute to) also has value, and if the second hit after a parry is dodged instead (such that you lose the parry “charge”) that plays into the cost as well.

I suppose this answers the question of if you would lose that second-swing 50% reduction after parrying by dodging or being missed. By cutting parry’s avoidance in half they would definitely have to compensate by lowering the ipoint “price” of parry rating. The new parry intrigues me greatly and I want to see them do the change right.

The passive talent tree bonuses for tanks will probably be something like 1) reduces damage taken, 2) increases damage done, 3) reduces damage taken in a way unique to your tree.

The 8-Ball says “3) increases damage absorbed by a successful block.”

If tanking gear had thousands and thousands of Stam, tanks would still socket Stamina because it’s reliable. If your health is low, then even if your avoidance is 99% that means sometimes you’re just going to die and no healer can save you.

Yes, exactly! It boggles my mind why some tanks think there is virtue in gemming for threat or avoidance. We don’t stam stack for the epeen, we do it because stamina offers the best return on investment when it comes to gems. Take for example, this thread on the tanking forums.

The original poster has completely missed the point: avoidance is all well and good for heroics where the hits are generally small. But WoW at 80 isn’t doesn’t endless heroics farming, people are gearing for much more than that. In the raid environment your first responsibility is always to survive the worse case scenarios, to maximize your time to live (TTL). That’s ethos behind effective health.

Gemming for hit and parry and dodge maybe activate all those pretty socket bonuses, but in the end (thanks to the realities of WotLK raiding mechanics) you’re gimping your survivability.

Now, if healers can generally heal you through damage but then eventually gas out, then avoidance becomes more attractive because it lets healers heal you longer. Does that mean you gem it? Not sure, but at least a trinket with all avoidance might be pretty exciting.

I hope this is the case with Cataclysm. I want boss fights to be less about short-term perfection and more about a steady performance over the course of an entire fight. I want to see tanks rewarded for properly balancing TTL to damage reduction. I want to see healers forced to be strategic about healing, and not just being forced into dumping constant, strong heals into the tank, mana bar be damned. Bosses in Cataclysm have the opportunity to be so much more complex. I hope they take it.

We also think we figured out a budgeting scheme to let tank gear have the same basic Stamina as dps gear. It’s not a huge balance concern either way, but it does look weird when dps plate has more.

That’s a relief. I was expecting a wave of bad tanks taking dps pieces to “maximize their EH.”

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March 11, 2010
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Cataclysm stat changes announced

Interesting stuff!

Stamina - Because of the way we will be assigning Strength, Agility, and Intellect, non-plate wearers will end up with more Stamina than before. Health pools will be much closer between plate-wearers and other classes.

Armor - The way Armor mitigates damage is not changing, but the Armor stat has been rebalanced to mirror changes to the armor curve in Cataclysm. As a result, bonus Armor will go down slightly overall. We are also changing the mitigation difference among armor types so that plate doesn’t offer so much more protection than mail, leather, and cloth.

These two together are interesting: it seems like the effort is being put into tank’s time to live deriving less from health and armor mitigation (aka effective health) and more from other stats. I’m not sure how I feel about, or at least understand, declarations like stamina and armor will be similar across tanks and non-tanks alike. I suppose reforging and enchants/gems will expand that gap, but it’s sort of weird.

Block Rating - Block is being redesigned to scale better. Blocked attacks will simply hit for 30% less damage. Block rating will improve your chance to block, though overall block chances will be lower than they are today.

Shield Block Value - This stat will no longer be present on items, since the amount blocked is always proportional to the amount of damage done. Talents and other effects might still modify the damage-reduction percentage from 30%, however.

Makes sense, they were talking about bringing Block down so you couldn’t go through a heroic with like no damage while a Druid or DK would be dealing with a lot more pain.

Parry - Parry no longer provides 100% avoidance and no longer speeds up attacks. Instead, when you parry an attack, it and the next attack will each hit for 50% damage (assuming they hit at all). In other words, Dodge is a chance to avoid 100% of the damage from one attack, Parry is a chance to avoid 50% of the damage from two attacks, and Block is a chance to avoid 30% of the damage from one attack.

This is the most interesting change, I think, and definitely the most unexpected. A smart idea to change Parry so it isn’t just a carbon copy of Dodge. I like this implementation, although I’m assuming that damage reduction is just applied to the next physical melee attack.

Defense - Defense is being removed from the game entirely. Tanking classes should expect to become uncrittable versus creatures just by shifting into Defensive Stance, Frost Presence, Bear Form, or by using Righteous Fury.

Operative phrase here being “versus creatures.” So a Ret or Holy Paladin can’t slap on RF and be crit immune in pvp. Great idea, and quells many concerns when this was first floated as a change to RF a few weeks ago.

Finally, they sum up our 4.0 gear adjustments as:

If you are a tank (druids excepted), expect to see:

No more Defense on gear. Existing Defense becomes Dodge, Parry, or Block Rating.
No more Block Value on gear. Existing Block Value becomes Block Rating.
You’ll have as much Stamina as you’re used to, though you may notice your tanking plate has a bit less Stamina than a comparable piece of DPS plate, since we tend to take the gem budget out of your most attractive stat.
Bonus Armor on gear will go down slightly.

Sounds to me like Cataclysm will change tanking to be less EH-centric and more diversifying out toolset so avoidance (as we now know it) along with the new Parry and Block mechanics are worthwhile in a raid situation. Awesome.

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The farm night cocktail

With Frost Lotus prices through the roof you probably don’t want (or can’t afford) to burn flasks on anything less than progression. For those less than important boss encounter though, you should have some degree of extra consumable survivability up. For those easy going nights I recommend the one-two punch of the farm night cocktail: Elixir of Protection coupled with the delicate, earthy tones of a Guru’s Elixir.

With a Stoneblood Flask you get a flat 1300 health for 1 hour, deaths or no deaths.

Elixir of Protection gives 800 armor (which is awesome especially at higher armor levels), and Guru’s Elixir gives 20 stamina along with other stats that works out to 220 hp (or 242 with Kings/Sanc).

Instead of the Elixir of Protection, if you’re more comfortable with straight health, you can use the Elixir of Mighty Fortitude for 350 hp, for 592 hp total. The hp5 is negligible. Overall though, the armor though is definitely better for most fights, especially once your armor pile starts getting massive.

On farm nights I probably go through a fair share of elixirs (less with no wipes, a’course) and they provide just what I need: a cheap alternative to flasking that provides comfortable survivability in exchange for not having to bum flasks off of Ildara every raid night.

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February 24, 2010
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3 impenetrable facts about Armor

A a quick, light-hearted Friday post I wanted to share some factoids about armor that aren’t widely known or understood. Hopefully you’ll join me in falling in love with this stat as much as I have this week.

Armor has a cap

This isn’t widely known, because previously reaching the armor cap was just about impossible. Now however, with sky-high iLevels and offset pieces loaded up with +armor, it might be attainable (with the help of pots and procs).

The physical reduction provided by armor is 75%. There is a diminishing returns curve to reach that number once you stack enough armor–for example, at 30k armor I have around 65% damage reduction, and to get to the magical 75% number (versus a level 83 raid boss) I’d need 45k armor. That’s 30k to go up 65%, and an additional 15k to gain another 10%. Diminishing returns indeed.

The armor you have is worth more as your total armor increases

But! that doesn’t mean armor is worthless once you get to the 30k level. Far from it. As you add more armor onto the pile, the pile you already have is worth more than it was before in terms of how much damage it reduces. This is a confusing idea so I’ll demonstrate it with a quick example:

Say a raid boss hits for 60000 against a naked character. If you adopt 30k armor for 65% damage reduction, suddenly that raid boss is hitting you for 21000. Add more armor and get up to the 70% DR (damage reduction) mark, and that raid boss is now hitting you for 18000. Increasing your DR percentage by 5% reduced the damage you were taking by 15% per swing.

Let’s go further–so we know going from 65% to 70% DR reduces overall physical damage taken by 15%, how about going from 50% to 55% DR? Same raid boss that hits for 60k on a naked character, with 50% DR, hits for 30k. With 55% DR he hits for 27k, a 10% reduction in physical damage taken per swing.

As you can see, not only does adding armor reduce physical damage taken, but the more armor you add, the amount of damage you reduce each swing by gets even higher. The value of armor shoots up the more armor you have.

ICC is the perfect storm of armor

Raid damage previous to ICC was fast, varied, and often avoided. With the Chill of the Throne dodge nerf, Blizz changed gears and made raid damage slower, more predictable, and more consistent. This switch (along with the addition of +armor plate) has given armor the second life to armor as a stat.

In the early days of ICC the common expectation was that post-Saurfang most damage would be magical and stamina would continue to be king. Time has not borne this conclusion out, instead rewarding damage mitigation (once you reach the not-getting-two-shot threshold) above all else. Coupled with boss mechanics involving damage transfers and you’re seeing a perfect storm of encounters favoring armor.

Just looking at logs from this raid week, the amount of my damage taken that was physical per boss (excluding Deathwhisper for obvious reasons and Rotface cause I was kiting) was:

  • Marrowgar: 100%
  • Saurfang: 91% (would be 100% if we were faster about switching on Rune of Blood)
  • Festergut: 70% overall, but during the 3-stack burst portions 95.8% of damage taken was physical.
  • Blood Council: ~95%
  • Putricide: 88%, and more importantly during P3, 91% of the damage I was taking was from melee attacks. Each swing was doing about 20k damage each, which is a huge opportunity for damage reduction.

In ICC-25 normal, aside from Sindragosa perhaps, there just isn’t some magical damage boogey man that necessitates stamina stacking to the degree we have been doing so. This doesn’t mean you should be gemming agility for the pittance armor you would gain (continue to gem stamina), but you should definitely enchant your cloak with Mighty Armor and prioritize getting the +armor Emblem of Frost pieces.

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February 12, 2010