Monday, December 29, 2008

[Druid, Warrior] itemization, scaling, and back to mathiness

After the bloat of subjective opinion and joy of the holidays, let's return to the mathy work that you've come to know and love from this site. Or know, at least.

On the official tanking forums I recently did a comparison between what a warrior and a druid can expect from their itemization scaling come T8. This assumes all sorts of handwaving crap that kind of sucks, and I'm not proud of it; this is basically useful for a talking point, but not all that useful for, you know, actually proving a point. But that's okay; I'm mostly speculating.

The basic idea is this: given the itemization we've seen from Naxx-10 and Naxx-25, what can we expect in terms of gains from Ulduar-level content? The methodology was as follows:
if it has a tier piece, compare the two directly. So T710 helms compared directly to T725 helms.
If it doesn't, average all the pieces in that slot and use that when it made sense.
If that doesn't make sense (like something having a TON of parry on it) convert that stat to another for easy comparison.
Both druids and warriors compared the same cloak, rings, and amulets.
I assumed a druid would be using DM:Greatness and Essence of Gossamer, and assumed there'd be a new version of both in T8. Same went for a warrior, save that they'd be using the strength version of the DM:G.
I converted hit to expertise when I could.

No gun was used in the comparison, as I figured there'd be no new thing for warriors.

The spreadsheet is over at google docs, if you want to check it out.

The results are:
Stam: 199.75
Agility: 70.25
Strength: 48
Defense: 61
Dodge: 30
Expertise: 20

Total itemization points: 429, or 326.4 for normalization of stam.

Stam: 201
Strength: 133.66
BV: 50.66
Def: 119.1
Dodge: 61.16
Expertise: 48.5
Parry: 26.166
Block Rating: 44.33

Total itemization points: 684.6, or 617.6 for normalization of stam.

The warrior gets nearly double the itemization points from gear a druid gets. This is even deceptively high, as we were counting strength in for the druid as well as counting defense fully. Take those things into consideration and the value is more than double for the warrior.

This is one objective reason for the feeling that druids have a ton of 'wasted' stats. If bears are to scale at the same rate as warriors, they need to get double the value out of these stats. Currently, they really do not. What's interesting to me is that stamina for warriors and druids is basically the same, but druids scale much better with stamina. That HP gulf that druids have currently is only going to increase as gear improves. At the same time, druids are losing out heavily on the avoidance side of the equation, at least in terms of itemization, and given that the diminishing returns from miss are very small, that high defense that warriors get is going to increase the avoidance advantage they have.

Does this mean that druids are going to suck in T8? No, clearly not. This doesn't take into account any of the scaling factors that druids or warriors have, or how they improve with these stats or how good they even are. This doesn't factor time to live, survivability, mitigation rates, overall damage reduction vs types of's very limited.

At the same time though, it does illustrate exactly how many stats are essentially wasted for a druid when they go for that rogue gear, and how much better warriors have it in that regard.

I do think that without any changes, this is going to be a problem for blizzard and for bears. Having only a few stats to scale with means those stats must scale insanely well. When that happens, it creates a very unbalancing state where weird things happen. We're already at that state now in some ways; stamina is kind of insane and it's to the point where a bear can wear polar gear and be a good tank (or even an optimal one). Giving more stamina may only exacerbate that issue. More stats that give smaller increases is a naturally more stable situation; it means that you cannot find that one broken item (right now: defender's code) and make yourself ridiculous. Diminishing returns fixes that to a degree, but that only goes so far. What I don't know is whether this is going to make bears ridiculously bad or good. But I do think that it's going to be an issue come Ulduar without a change.

That being said, GC has already said they are looking into more offensive->defensive conversions in the future. That would go a long way towards fixing issues like this.


Phil Jackson said...

I knew we got less use out of the same stats but it's surprising to see how big the difference is. Are death knights in a similar, though less urgent, itemization issue? Either way at least it feels blizzard is activly looking at the non-standard tanks. They seemed to have fixed up palidans and they always make sure warriors are set. So I'm banking on them to push Druids in the right direction and not just have it just do for that tier.

Well as always I enjoy your thoughts on this.

Anonymous said...

Dont quite understand what you did here with the math. What I do know is that warriors are not a hybrid class the way druids are, so it makes sense their gear is "better itemized". It would seem strange to me if Blizzard created a ton of leather perfectly itemized for a particular version of the feral talent spec. Wouldn't all the kitties complain their gear was packed with useless stats? I dont think the concept, vision and design of a druid these days allows a feral tanking spec to have identical itemization philosophies as a prot warrior spec. Hey, if you wanna be a prot warrior, then there's a simple solution, yah?

Does perfect itemization for druid tanks even matter, or is it just a concept created by people who've already beaten the game so may times they've got nothing better to do? Most players do just fine with the gear they're given. I wonder if you guys at the top end get bored because you clear content so quickly. So you find ways to stimulate conversation on what needs to change, when the objective truth is that nothing *needs* to change, as you yourselves prove every week.

When the next raid comes out, you'll clear with no problems either. Maybe I'm missing some deeper point. But most people dont play at your level... and you're clearing the content just fine.... so whats the problem?

Kalon said...

Phil - thanks for coming by. :)

I haven't done any kind of reasonable crunching on DKs, but I do know that, barring very odd items, they can use every stat on their gear without question, and there aren't many stats that are particularly suboptimal. Defense for instance pulls almost full duty for them, as it gives them uncrittability and parry. About the worst stat for them would be something like agility, which is only on a very small amount of pieces they'd be interested in at all (namely the polearms).

And to be clear, it's not urgent that they fix this for druids - but more on that in a sec.

Anon: what I did was extrapolate what kind of stats T8-level gear would have based on the changes from T7-10 level gear to T7-25 level gear for both the warrior and the druid, focusing only on the stats that have specific relevance to tanking (and not threat alone). So hit, crit, armor pen, and AP were all thrown out of the equation.

Warriors are absolutely a hybrid class. There is tanking plate and DPS plate, and both are itemized so that a warrior that is so specced would want it. They aren't a hybrid healing class, no, but they're certainly more of a hybrid than a mage, hunter, rogue or lock.

I'm not really wanting blizzard to go back to the days of TBC, where there was gear specifically itemized for bears vs. gear specifically itemized for rogues (and cats, though not all that well). What I'd like is for the feral gear to be itemized for cats and bears - and for rogue gear to be itemized for them as well. There are two basic approaches to this. One is to make a class care about all the stats on those items. This was what was done with prot paladins and warrior-tanking plate ; instead of looking for spelldamage plate, they started looking for strength plate because they had a conversion of strength to spellpower (via AP, but same thing). And to a large extent this is what was done with feral cats and rogues. Haste was improved as a valuable stat for cats - though they still like strength too much. This is naturally balancing, in that as long as you tweak it right ahead of time it's hard to make it so that one stat trumps any others to a huge degree. You've already balanced it for one class, so no other class is going to have such a big advantage. And no one stat makes or breaks an item, so it's not like you can just stack that to kingdom come and be awesome.

The other way you can do it is to basically only focus on a couple of key stats on that gear and make sure you scale so well with those stats that you don't need anything else. That's where a bear is now. They don't care about half the itemization points on rogue leather or their tier pieces (as this comparison showed). They care about the agility, stamina and to a lesser extent expertise. This can work fine, but it's much harder to balance. In TBC this was the case with bonus armor. That trumped any other stat to such a great degree that you didn't even want to look at something without it. After armor-cap, it was agility - and the scaling that druids had with agility led to their doing sunwell radiance.

Perfect itemization doesn't matter in the sense that any itemization 'matters'. You could easily make druids just have all of their abilities granted to them via talents and be fine tanks for all content without any gearing specialness at all. They'd be viable, even great in some encounters. But it wouldn't be all that fun to gear.

This is not in any way meant to indicate that druids are going to fall behind. It's just another pointer to me as to how less fun gearing a druid is now. Clearing content and gearing up without a problem isn't the issue; the issue is that it's just not that fun to do so.

dont think the concept, vision and design of a druid these days allows a feral tanking spec to have identical itemization philosophies as a prot warrior spec. Hey, if you wanna be a prot warrior, then there's a simple solution, yah?

I hate this argument so very much. Yes, if you have problems with one class you can reroll. It doesn't take a ridiculous time to level if you devote yourself to it. At the same time though - why reroll? Why not fix the problems with the class? This was the argument put to paladins in TBC, and druids since vanilla. Why not reroll? Because people like myself like playing druids for all sorts of reasons. Finally, I've never advocated that feral druids get itemization exactly like a warrior's. I've advocated almost exactly the opposite. What I would like is for the itemization that is available to them be actually appealing to them.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kalon, thanks for your detailed explanation, thats very helpful, I appreciate it a lot. Well, it makes more sense to me now. From what I understand of prot warriors, knowing the gear is a big part of playing the class. I dont think that's as much a part of the druid class. That kind of fun is less; what we get is more versatility over our 3 talent trees as a whole. When I say hybrids, I mean that our melee dps & tanking specs are one tree, give or take a few points. This is not true for warriors. I think that design implies that our gear itemizations will differ in philosophy. Otherwise are you asking for unique gear for four specs? The prot warrior/pally gear sharing works well because they're both tanking specs. But druid/rogue gearing sharing is harder because we dps & tank, while rogues only dps.

I dont mean people stop playing ferals, because I love mine too. I mean that the tank classes are equivalent tanks in the game, and if you find one is more fun than another for reasons like gearing, then that's a personal preference. A class isnt broken because a player doesnt find it fun or appealing - according to many many blizzard responses at least.

I love my gear. I find it appealing, because it looks nice. I look forward to getting an upgrade. And my guild clears content with me tanking. If we couldn't then I'd be very upset & I'd expect Blizzard to fix it.

I think my original argument still holds: your guild finds the content easy, and you're bored. Honestly, if I was in a guild like yours and we cleared all the content with ease so quickly... and I had some of the top pieces in the game, and plenty more where that came from... I'd be bored too. I'd probably share you views entirely. That's why its such a personal argument.

Kalon said...

Otherwise are you asking for unique gear for four specs? The prot warrior/pally gear sharing works well because they're both tanking specs. But druid/rogue gearing sharing is harder because we dps & tank, while rogues only dps.

I guess I'm not explaining myself well. I don't want unique gear for four specs. I'd really rather have two sets of gear:
1 is spellpower leather.
1 is non-spellpower leather.

The non-spellpower leather would be itemized exactly as it is now - it would have agility, stam, AP, crit, haste, expertise, hit and armor pen.

The trick is that bears would actually gain defensive stats from the AP, crit, haste, armor pen and hit to some degree. Maybe not even all of them. Just more than they do now. And yes, it is harder to do this because rogues are purely dps, whereas ferals can dps or tank depending on small tweaks. But as shown by paladins and by DKs, it can be done.

And I think I disagree about how important gear was for druids before. The balancing of uncrittability, the getting as much armor as you could, getting enough stam for an encounter while having good dodge, maxing out dodge, doing PvP or grinding badges...a lot of the gearing was pretty important, and it was a difference if you knew how to get uncrittable most optimally compared to someone else. Definitely not the case any more, I will grant you. And I think that's a lot of my dissatisfaction; gear really doesn't matter any more, not nearly as much as it used to, and it's just not that compelling to upgrade anything or take that piece from a rogue who would get a bigger gain out of it.