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Hidden armor formula change brings the pain

It wasn’t enough of an insult that they gutted the precious armor from many of our pieces, but now it’s been confirmed in this terrifying thread on the tanking forums that the new armor formula for Cataclysm mobs and bosses has been retroactively applied to 81-83 mobs in WotLK content.

The old formula for damage reduction from armor was:

Reduction = Armor / (Armor + MobLevel * 467.5 - 22167.5)

And the new formula for Cataclysm is:

Reduction = Armor / (Armor + MobLevel * 2167.5 - 158167.5)

The rub is that the latter is now being applied to 81, 82, and raid boss creatures. Coupling this with the loss of armor itemization and other damage reduction talents, and you have some very vulnerable tanks in raid settings. I’m sure many of you have already seen some much higher numbers last week in Icecrown that you weren’t seeing two weeks ago before 4.0.1 dropped.

I’m very curious to see if there’s going to be a blue response to this or if we’re just supposed to deal with it until December. My understanding is a similar thing happened with 2.0 and 3.0, but I wasn’t raiding at the end of Vanilla or TBC, so I really can’t speak to that. Anyone have any idea?

In any case, I’m equally dreading and cannot wait for raid Tuesday to see how ICC25 goes again.

Update: GC posted in the thread and proceeded to completely miss the point

Agility no longer provides armor. Is that what you’re seeing here? I didn’t see that mentioned in the discussion, but I might have missed it.

Ah, nope.

Hopefully after receiving further responses he went to do some testing of his own. Maybe there’ll be a hotfix. Well, I doubt it, but a man can dream.

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October 18, 2010
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Great success

On Tuesday night, I donned my armor set, chugged my flasks, and got ready to see if I could finally reach for the firmament and touch the face of the raid boss armor cap. I am happy to report I managed to do it, getting exactly 6 over the cap (a very efficient record breaking) and without depending on procs to boot.

The only caveat is I did this under the effect of an Indestructible Potion. While that obviously was what pushed me over the finish line, I don’t consider it “cheating” because you can just about keep the effect up for the duration of a 4 minute fight with pre-potting.

Though again, most fights are at least 5 minutes. Hrm.

In any case, I also picked up the heroic Bile-Encrusted Medallion later that night. Which means I can actually shed 84 armor from that set. That’s new.

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September 23, 2010
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Highs, lows, and creamy middles

Well, despite my initial fears that the RNG gods had smitten me for my hubris, I was rewarded with another drop of the heroic Icecrown Glacial Wall. It’s exciting to have the BiS shield in the game, though for some reason it doesn’t carry the same level of excitement that the first one did for me.

Perhaps this is because I’ve seen upgrades to this shield at level 82 on beta. Ah well, dust in the wind, my friends!

On the plus side, the new shield gives me a huge chunk of armor to add to my pile, which makes hitting the raid boss cap all but inevitable. And speaking of, during Saurfang last night somehow I failed to beat my previous record…

I had a Mongoose proc when screenshotting last week, so I think that number was abnormally high. Maybe I’m fine, but I have this lingering doubt that I had the 251 version of the Unidentifiable Organ equipped still after having scored the heroic one on Sunday night (I apologize for not bombarding you with six links for this item, heh). In any case, I’ll need to double check that when I get home.

Tonight I’ll finally re-enchant my Ardent Guard for Major Agility, make sure my armor set is correctly set up, and then prepare for glory.

As for the raid as a whole last night, it was another pretty great night. We knocked out Halion, then everything in ICC as heroic for the first wing, plus Blood Wing, and Dreamwalker. Sindragosa we had to do on normal to get our third Shadowmourner-in-waiting his frost infusion, so he can start accumulating shards as early as next week. The second Shadowmourner, Morvain, is already at 42 shards after five weeks.

We have Heroic Put on deck for this evening. I’m hoping for some major progress to be made, so cross those fingers!

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September 15, 2010
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Reach just short of my grasp

I made some changes to my armor set and managed to pull a much, much better number: 49,421. Only 484 away from the raid boss cap.

Not too shabby! I should note that I didn’t replace Mongoose, and I had a Lightning Speed proc when this screenshot was taken. Though that’s only worth 240 armor, before buffs.

Apparently capping won’t be as hard as I thought.

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September 9, 2010
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Revised Emblem of Frost pick order

I originally wrote a list two months ago when ICC first opened up that, I can now say, was pretty much worthless. At the time we didn’t understand the potency of armor to the degree we do now, nor the overall poorness of our various set bonuses (I mean the hints we there, but now it’s confirmed). Below I have revised my list and (per the suggestion of Honors and Ricardo) split it into a 10man and 25man list.

Saying the list is split, though, is a bit misleading. Because the offset +armor gear is so amazing (it’s BiS for 10man raiders, and generally BiS for non-heroic 25man raiders), both groups will want to prioritize snatching up those four pieces first. So, the list is less “split” and more diverges at one point.

Sidenote re: the Corroded Skeleton Key – I feel for this trap too, the “zomg so much stam!” feelings overtook me and I splurged 60 badges on this trinket. Generally it’s a good trinket, but there are better things you can buy with the 60 badges. If you already have Juggernauts Vitality/Satrina’s Impending Scarab, you should skip this trinket.

This is the order I wish I went in (and yes, this applies to both 10man and 25man raiders, these pieces are that good):

The near-BiS “freebies”

1. Cataclysmic Chestguard (95) — getting this will by itself cover the expertise softcap for you, and give you the peace of mind needed to maybe stop using that lesser iLevel +expertise item because you’re worried about threat
2. Gauntlets of the Kraken (60)
3. Verdigris Chain Belt (60)
4. Sentinel’s Winter Cloak (50)

Alright, so at this point we have our Chest, Hands, Waist, and Back slots covered. We still need Head, Shoulders, Legs, etc.

From here the list splits

Because the shoulders that drop in ICC-10 have hit rating, go for:

5.10. Lightsworn Shoulderguards (60)
6.10. Lightsworn Faceguard (95)

And because ICC-25 has some decent offset shoulders, go for:

5.25. Lightsworn Faceguard (95)
6.25 Lightsworn Shoulderguards (60) — this is assuming you have no yet picked up the Boneguard Commander’s Pauldrons by now

Then, the two lists merge again

7. Corroded Skeleton Key (60) — I’d made this 8th on the list, but gathering Primordial Saronites is going to take a while and you’ll be better served in the short term grabbing this. The choice is up to you though, if you skip this trinket and jump ahead to #8 I will not begrudge your decision.
8. Start buying Primordial Saronite (23 per, 181 EoFs total) to get the Pillars of Might made
9. Libram of the Eternal Tower — I guess.

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February 15, 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
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The cooldown you can chug

Apparently it’s Armor Week here on Righteous Defense because I have another mitigation tip for you all.

Part and parcel to the increased value of armor in ICC, I’d like to encourage the use of an awesome consumable which can be used efficiently to buff your damage reduction for the first four minutes of a boss fight, or be reserved for certain tough spots. I’m referring to, of course, Indestructible Potions.

Because the effect of the potion lasts for two minutes, you can squeeze maximum uptime out of these by chugging one immediately before combat begins (which doesn’t set off the Potion Sickness “debuff”) and then drink another once the first effect wears off. Properly timed, this will give you 3500 armor over the course of a fight (provided the fight is 4 minutes long or less).

Though, you might want to space out when you drink the second potion, as most fights last a little longer than four minutes and can get more intense towards the end of the fight (I’m thinking specifically of Saurfang’s frenzy).

Moreover, you could chug the first potion pre-combat and then save the second for a specific heavy damage point in the fight so you know you’ll have that extra armor when you need it. Thankfully, with a 2 minute duration you have some leeway with the armor bonus.

I keep a stack of Indestructible Potions on me at all times and chain them for fights like Blood Queen (to minimize damage transfer) and save the second chug for about three minutes into the Saurfang encounter (since the fight usually lasts around 5 minutes for us, and I want that extra armor on me during the entire frenzy period).

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February 9, 2010
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Notes on HP and armor

Just a few random thoughts …

New stamina scaling math

With the nerf to Sacred Duty, to calculate how much hp we get per point of stamina multiply by 10 to get the base stam -> hp number, then by 1.10 for our modifier (as opposed to the old 1.14 modifier). With that, we get 11 hitpoints from every point of stamina.

Armor is the new hotness

Coupled with the nerf to stamina, armor deserves another look as a tanking stat. While back in the days before 3.3 stacking armor was something for druids primarily, the inclusion of +armor items to the Emblem of Frost vendor has created an armor renaissance. Coupling that with the pattern of ICC boss fights rewarding physical damage mitigation (I’ll give examples in a second), you’re going to get a lot more mileage out of armor right now than you would stacking stamina.

Here are a few times where armor stacking is recommended:

  • When tanking Saurfang, any damage you take is transferred to the people with Mark of the Fallen Champion. Any damage you can mitigate down or avoid completely makes the lives of the healers easier. The less damage you transfer, the longer the Marked folks will live.
  • On Festergut the majority of the damage you will be taking will be physical (with the magical portion, the breaths, generally negated by inoculations). Festergut hits hard and fast and rewards not just being able to survive his hits, but minimizing the damage as well.
  • If maintanking the Blood Queen, any damage you take is passed to the OT as shadow damage via the Blood Mirror. Therefore, the MT wants to have enough mitigation to minimize how much damage they pass through the Blood Mirror, while the OT (contrawise) wants to have lots of stamina to soak all the incoming shadow damage that they’ll be getting passed to them.

ICC is the first raid in a long time that rewards tanks for giving certain stats priority situationally. For Putricide you are rewarded for having enough avoidance to increase time between stacks of the P3 debuff, for Blood Queen each tank is basically assigned the mitigation role or the stamina role, and so on. We are encouraged not just to survive damage, but to prevent it. A welcome change of pace.

Right now, in my gear, I have around 29k armor and 65.83% physical damage reduction. Once I pick up the other three +armor offset pieces, I’m going to be rocking some pretty serious mitigation. I can’t wait.

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February 8, 2010
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Nice: Armor values of t10 going up

Unexpected tank buff coming–armor value on all t10 gloves/chest pieces is being increased across the board. I wonder if this will blur the lines among what was, before, obviously “armor pieces” (the expertise of the Cataclysmic Chestguard notwithstanding) and “threat pieces”.

We recognize that many plate tanks are making their gear choices based on the amount of armor they’re provided, as this is currently the most preferred stat. In order to make the tier-10 plate tanking sets more desirable, we will be adjusting the stats on the gloves and chest pieces in order to inflate the amount of armor they provide in the next minor patch. This will apply to all item levels of the tier-10 death knight, warrior, and paladin tanking gloves and chest pieces.

Similar items crafted or purchased with Emblems of Frost will continue to be very good and will compare favorably to all but the Heroic difficulty boss loot, so you shouldn’t despair if you recently acquired any of those.

I’ll have to see the pieces first before I can pass judgement on this. Interesting change, nonetheless.

Update: To accommodate the armor increase, other stats we be reduced to free up the ipoints:

Different items will lose different defensive stats (parry, dodge, defense, etc.) to compensate for the bonus armor being added.

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January 25, 2010
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Back to the grindstone

My first full work day in about two weeks (thanks to Prague and Thanksgiving) and I feel completely out of my element. I’m not prepared to return so abruptly to cube life. And blog life, for that matter. I know last week I was “back” and then I only did, what, three posts? Sure it’s a holiday, but I should have done a bit better than that.

My first second max-level character


On a happier note, last night I finally hit 80 on my death knight (who I rolled back in… wow… July). I’ve been a bit slow, obviously.

The impetus for this last minute alt burst is a good chunk of the regular raiders in my guild are obviously sick of doing the same five bosses every week (Icecrown *really* needs to drop this week) and were looking to shake things up a bit. Doing Coliseum with ten different characters who can’t easily consider the raid as “on farm” will definitely add some spice. It’ll be fun to gear up and progress a brand new toon.

When I picked up the DK again earlier last week I paid the $25 to change him from a Belf to Undead, mostly to evade the “lol belf dk” stigma when running pugs and the like. However, I’m starting to regret the decision, missing the grace and elegance of the… er, well, mostly the hair. Them Blood Elves have some pretty sweet ‘dos.

I’m loathe to throw away a total of $50 for nothing, though, so my penny-pinching ways will probably get the best of me and prevent future finagling. … We’ll see.

Oh, and can we talk for a second about how much easier 70-80 is now with Cold Weather Flying available at 68? I basically burned through every level, banging out huge swaths of quests at a time, with no time wasted running through packs of dazing mobs. It was sublime.

Calm before the storm

Right now in-game is pretty quiet. Like I mentioned, everyone’s crazy bored of the Coliseum, and raid nights are seeing a few more new faces than usual because some of the raid core doesn’t bother to log on. People are rolling and leveling alts, while others are just taking a break from the game altogether. Especially a certain holy paladin in my guild, who has done this for the second time now.

I’m not sure what’s more excruciating, the last few weeks of Naxx while waiting for Uld, or this stretch before Icecrown. Naxx at the end sucked because we were starting to regress, with people not showing up out of boredom and reaching their personal gearing goals, so we actually got to the point where we were consistently wiping in there. That was depressing. Now, thanks to dkp in part, I think, we haven’t had as many attendance inconsistencies. Still, it’s the same. five. bosses. every damn week. I cans only takes so much and I can’ts takes no more.

I’m itching to knock down the doors of Icecrown and get to work dethroning Arthas. Come on Blizz, let’s get this show on the road!

Armor’s epilogue

Wrathy brings up a fascinating point regarding the new theorycrafting done with armor. With this new mathematical understanding of the stat, it’d be possible to make a spreadsheet where you’d plug in various numbers (including a predetermined percent of how much damage in a fight is magical) and you could weigh armor, stamina, and avoidance (among other things) to empirically work out what kind of gear you want to run with in that fight.

The thought of becoming Excel jockeys like some Rogues I know scares me a little, but it adds a little flair to our craft other than stamina, stamina, stamina. I’ll be following this effort in earnest as it develops.

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November 30, 2009