Friday, February 27, 2009

[Druid] Stamina nerf on PTR

This isn't going to be a long post, but before it overwhelms other comment sections I wanted to make sure that there was a place to talk about the change to Heart of the Wild:

Heart of the Wild: Stamina bonus changed to 2/4/6/8/10%.
The important thing to note is that it's from 4/8/12/16/20% on live. So it's about a straight 10% nerf.

What does this mean? Does it change gemming strategies or gearing strategies? Eh, not really. Not for most things. Druids still have a very substantial stamina edge over other tanks if they want it.

For normal tanking, we'll still be looking at around 40-42k in BiS gear even after this, depending on what you're gearing for. That's still very high. I'll do more analysis of this later. My suspicion is that DKs will have more armor, better cooldowns, much more avoidance and a bit more stamina than a druid using similar strategies, which should be more alarming. But I don't want to say that definitively until I've actually talked with some DKs and seen how they gear.

For Sarth3D - that really hurts the notion of a druid safely tanking without external cooldowns, at least unless they have jewelcrafting and leatherworking. Well, almost. If you can get to 47k and 345 FR, you should be able to survive with one barkskin and one survival instincts. But the nightmare seed + fire resist pot is out unless you're a JC and a LW.

For antitank: in order to keep the same level of health, you'll need to have something like essence of gossamer equipped. Really, that's about it. You lose about 2-3% DPS from that, and that sucks, but it's not so horrible that you'll be seriously disadvantaged. You'll still be able to tank well and DPS decently in the same gear.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

[Druid, 3.1] It's not even my birthday (3.1)

First off, I want to say congratulations and a fond farewell to Phae at Resto4Life. Her blog has been a pinnacle of the druid community for a long time - both as a healer and as someone who has been critical in making others aware of more blogs in the world. Her posts were always well-written, entertaining, and hugely useful. I'll miss ya but I'm very happy that you're leaving on such good news. :)

Sorry I've not been blogging as much recently. Part of it is my work schedule is limiting the time I have to write. Part is that...there really hasn't been much inspiration. I've gotten a couple emails that I'd like to write about - like my terribad UI and preliminary weightings and rankings of gear with SD - but it'll be in the future. I'll also try and respond to the comments a bit more.

As you've heard by now the patch notes and PTR are now available for 3.1 and Ulduar. Karthis has started to do some good analysis of what this is going to mean for folks, and I'm going to try and not step on his toes too much. Instead, I want to point out some basic things that are...well, more relevant to some of the things I brought up, like the antitank strategy. '

First off, the change to Savage Roar. This is going to be a buff - 30% more physical damage beats 40% more AP given how druids scale with AP. A corrolary is that strength is no longer going to be the best stat to stack - it's going to be agility. exactly the gearing strategy used in the antitank set. Hmm. Oh, blizzard, you shouldn't have! That makes the antitank strategy go from being slightly lower DPS than normal to being actually close to ideal.

And I didn't even have to change one gem. Aww, thanks, blizzard!

Second, the addition of Primal Gore. The crits from bleeds are currently only 150% of damage, not 200% like melee crits, but even so it's a big buff to cat damage. And if they can crit...that makes agility even more useful for overall damage, both for cat form and for bear form. exactly what the antitank set emphasizes. Aww, thanks Blizzard - that's so sweet. That's like another crit every 3 seconds for SD, making it even better (if, hopefully, it actually procs SD; not sure if it will yet since SD doesn't actually work right now).

Third, the change to improved Mark of the Wild - 2% more stats for 2 talent points. Some people liked furor, but I've gone with iMotW for a while now since Furor really isn't that much of a requirement. And now I get 2% more stats for my trouble without respeccing? Oh, blizzard, you're too nice!

And then there's a glyph for Savage Roar that just says 'get 6% more DPS, period'? Oh, Blizzard. I don't even have to theorycraft that to show how awesome it is. Really sweet of you.

Really, all they need to do is make the DPS gear even better for tanking than it is already, and I'll start thinking that Blizzard is trying to woo me. Though if they were, they could've had that stupid Peddlefeet drop.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

[Druid] Armor as sacred cow?

I've been reading and posting on the main tanking forums more, especially now that there's news of a new mechanic in 3.1. There's quite a few good posters and good players there, and it's nice to be able to talk with other tanks in a sort of free flow of information that isn't quite so moderated as EJ.

At the same time, there are a ton of druids that are irrationally afraid of what's in store. And one of the things I keep seeing is this basic idea:

"Don't nerf our armor, you've already nerfed our armor twice already!"
"Predictable mitigation is ALWAYS better than RNG mitigation or avoidance!"

I don't want to talk about the incorrectness of the latter; the math has been demonstrated, and it's clear from simple examples that this is going to depend on a lot of things. What struck me as odd is how the identity of the druid tank really seemed to be wedded to having high armor. It didn't matter that things like crushing blows were removed or that bears were given protector of the pack. It doesn't matter that right now, druids are the least spiky they've ever been in the history of WoW (better magic mitigation, usable barkskin in forms, no crushes, PotP, and use of consumables in forms all attribute to this).

All that seemed to matter is that they have huge armor.

I guess I can see that; armor was a huge deal in TBC after all, though avoidance became a lot more important when we could stack 80% of it. But I never really thought of it as my identity. Though to be fair I don't tend to think of myself as a druid or a bear anyway; that's just the toon I play on WoW. But when I think about druids and druid tanking, the thing that I think of first is something I've mentioned before.


To me, playing a feral meant being able to tank in some places and DPS in others. It meant being able to pull using ranged aoe spells and build extra aggro via healing myself. It wasn't in the bosses that I could tank or fights I was more advantaged on, and it certainly wasn't about my gear or the specific values on that gear. Honestly, it's tough for me to imagine any druid identifying with much in the way of gear since itemization was so ass for such a long time; should you identify with the Pillar of Lol? How about that awesome Badge of Tenacity?

No, to me it was about experimentation. About thinking about approaching things differently, figuring out ways to work around disadvantages (like pvp gear or intervenes on shears), to take certain problems (not using potions in bear) and making them advantages (getting 40% more health with a pot drinking macro). For me, that's basically morphed into figuring out what gear and spec I can use to be a great tank and a good DPS at the same time, or how I can tank Sarth without using anyone else's cooldowns.

Nothing intrinsic to feral playing has really changed thematically. Only the specific problems to be solved have. That's a good thing too; I like solving new problems. I like having to figure out new ways to do gear and specs and encounters. That's where I get a lot of pleasure from WoW.

I think that if they made ferals ridiculously rigid - akin to prot/other specs in the other tanking classes - that would make me seriously consider another class. If they made it so that the stats that bears use for tanking and DPSing were hugely different (which is close to what TBC was like) and the spec was hugely different - so much that you could not do decent DPS as a cat while bear-specced - would make me want to switch.

I'm curious though - what do you all think about this? Is being the high-armor, big physical hit tank what being a feral means to you? If you lost all your extra armor and had exactly the same armor that you do in cat but nothing else changed, would that bother you? If you were forced to spec into cat or bear so that you really couldn't do much in the way of damage when bear-specced, would you care?

What's your concept of a feral druid? And what would make you not want to play a feral any more? What's your sacred cow?

Monday, February 9, 2009

[General] Revision of resistance info

Shamgarr at the EJ forums was able to test out resistances against level 83 mobs - and the results were a bit disheartening. Basically, instead of the 83*5 coefficient that he had thought, it looks like level 83 bosses (at least Sapphiron and KT) have a value of 500.

This means it takes 500 resistance to have an average resist of 50%. And more importantly this means you need 334 FR to resist at least 30% of all damage every time.

For gearing for the Sarth3D fight, this makes things harder, but not impossible. Now a leatherworker will need to wear a couple of green pieces or crafted pieces or old badge loot. A non-leatherworker is going to have a harder time; they'll need to wear a bunch of pieces. But it should still be doable.

Basically, because I happened to be wearing more FR gear than I needed to I lucked out the other day. I had a 4% chance of potentially taking a lethal breath. Now, thanks to the variance in both the resistance and how much damage Sarth can do, this ends up being a fairly low probability; he has to do max damage on a breath and I have to only resist 20%. But it could have happened. If you're curious, you have a 10.8% chance to take a 20% resisted breath with the aforementioned 277 FR - and that's skating a bit close to thin ice.

I apologize if anyone used this strategy and wiped because of my mistake. Hopefully luck favored you and you were fine. :)

I've updated the previous posts to reflect this new info.

Keep in mind that there's no absolute way to make sure that even this is correct. If this strategy doesn't work for you you can always use cooldowns or the Ciderhelm method, or a DK.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

[Druid] Savage Defense guesses (with math!)

an example of a savage defense: the 1985 Chicago Bears

So...Savage Defense. Blizzard has got to work on better names. Protector of the Pack, when bears don't have packs? King of the Jungle working on bear form? Hmm.

In the wonderful tradition of 'guessing what blizzard will do without knowing what it's going to be', I'll walk through some of the bad, napkin math that I love so much. We're trying to figure out two things here:
  1. What is the likely change to survival of the fittest going to be?
  2. When the actual change to survival of the fittest goes forward, will it be a buff or a nerf overall?
The awesome part is that we already have the information we need to figure this stuff out. We know what the actual effect is going to be (a shield based on AP/4) and how often it happens (100% on a crit). So we need to figure out how much damage we'll be taking from a boss, typically, how much damage we currently prevent, how much damage a Savage Defense system would prevent, and based on all of this figure out what our armor would have to be reduced to in order to prevent the same kind of damage + shield that our prior armor dealt with by itself.

Simple, right?

Oh, yeah, we also need some data points with armor, crit, AP and avoidance.

Not a problem :)

First off, we'll take 3 different sets of gear. The first is my current antitank set, which uses a lot of damage-related gear. The second is my generic tanking set that emphasizes avoidance. The third is the OMG max stam set that I don't actually like and can't personally use, since it requires JC.

We'll then make some assumptions about the boss. This boss does 50k damage physically every 1.5 seconds. This isn't quite patchwerk level; we'll get to him in a minute. This is more inline with something like Sartharion.

Shield is the 25% of AP, straight up. Uptime is what we would expect the uptime to be for a fight given an attack every GCD and a maul, based on the crit rate.

Reduction is the armor reduction against an 83 mob. Damage is what damage you take from one hit after armor and protector of the pack are factored in.

Shielded is what damage you would shield on average after 15 seconds, assuming your current crit rate. This assumes a 90% hit rate.

15sec damage is the amount of damage that you would expect to take every 15 seconds, assuming the listed avoidance value is correct. Why 15 seconds? Easy to figure out how many mauls and GCD attacks you'll put in with that.

Damage + shield is simply the 15sec damage + the shield. It represents what would happen if you took the same damage as before, but had a shield in it. In other words, what extra damage you would need to take to make a shield awesome.

new reduction is the % damage reduced from armor using the damage + shield. Or, how much damage you would need to reduce to keep the same amount of mitigation you had previously.

Finally, new armor is what the armor would have to be with a shield to keep basically the same incoming damage. And the ratio is how much of a nerf the armor would be.

Antitank normal stam
armor 35421 38505 36915
AP 7800 6846 6233
crit 0.4 0.35 0.3
avoidance 0.526 0.558 0.46
shield 1950 1711.5 1558.25
uptime 6.4 5.6 4.8
boss speed 1.5 1.5 1.5
boss damage 50000 50000 50000
reduction 68.04402951 69.83133841 68.93557423
damage 14060.62702 13274.2111 13668.34734
shielded 11232 8625.96 6731.64
15secdmg 66647.37206 58672.01306 73809.07563
damage+shield 77879.37206 67297.97306 80540.71563
new reduction 0.626585289 0.653959415 0.661023924
new armor 27913.32529 31437.39584 32439.25976
ratio 0.78804453 0.816449704 0.878755513

Predictably, the antitank set shines here; with the high crit rate and very high AP, the amount of damage that will be prevented over time is quite high. The armor can be reduced more than 20% and you'd still be taking about the same damage. The typical set takes a harder hit, which is no surprise, though it's still close to 20% - and the actual armor reduction is about the same, 7k. The stam set suffers the greatest, with no surprise. The poor AP and crit values make it much weaker for shields, and its lower armor means that it would need to have a small nerf only to stay the same.

Another example of a savage defense. OH YEAH!

Okay, what about Patchwerk offtanking? Patch hits for 80k damage every second. Yikes! Let's see how the shields fare there:

Antitank normal stam
armor 35421 38505 36915
AP 7800 6846 6233
crit 0.4 0.35 0.3
avoidance 0.526 0.558 0.46
shield 1950 1711.5 1558.25
uptime 6.4 5.6 4.8
boss speed 1 1 1
boss damage 80000 80000 80000
reduction 68.04402951 69.83133841 68.93557423
damage 22497.00323 21238.73776 21869.35574
shielded 11232 8625.96 6731.64
15secdmg 159953.6929 140812.8313 177141.7815
damage+shield 171185.6929 149438.7913 183873.4215
new reduction 0.658000709 0.679832563 0.677550818
new armor 32005.45176 35322.18896 34954.52459
ratio 0.903572789 0.917340318 0.946892174
armor loss 3415.548239 3182.811037 1960.475413

Big, big difference. The AT set still is best, but now the nerf must be very small. And on the stam set the nerf is basically wearing armor jewelry vs not. (this, by the way, should illustrate how big a difference the defender's code trinket can make). Lose anything more than 3k armor, and it'll be a nerf against the effectiveness we've had on Patchwerk.

Now, let's look at some nice, round numbers for Survival of the Fittest and make some guesses. Currently it provides 22/44/66% more armor on leather. Blizzard loves round numbers, so let's assume them.

A base ilvl 213 armor set provides 3480 armor from leather and cloth. This multiplies to 29866 armor with the current SotF bonus.

With a 16/33/50% boost, that changes to 26987, or a loss of 2878 armor. Hmm. That's still pretty decent, and with that value we'd still get a very slight buff for Patchwerk.

With a 11/22/33% boost, we'll have 23928 armor, or a loss of 5937 armor. Ouch. Well, if we're going against Patch we'll be hurting a bit more, but we're still pretty good if we went for a balanced tanking set. If we're stamina snobs we'll be hurting a bit more.

With a 10/20/30% change, we'll have only 23389 armor - or a 6476 loss. Really ouch.

Which is more likely? I suspect that it'll be the 11/22/33% change to start with. This would result in about a 20% loss to most people's armor and hurt bears deal with the max physical damage mobs a bit - but that's probably for the best. Patchwerk is exactly the sort of fight that blizzard likes to use as a gating fight, and if one class has a huge advantage over another (as druids really do here) it's not good for designing fights. Reducing armor quite a bit allows for inspiration to help bears for a while instead of butting them up against the armor cap.

So what about another example - multiple mob tanking? There's a lot of wrong information on how this will be a nerf to AoE mitigation, and really...they just don't understand how weak armor is when dealing with multiple small mobs. This is a bit different in the assumptions. In a 15-second period, when dealing with 4 or more mobs you can assume you're going to have a shield up every swipe and every other maul pretty much regardless of crit rate - so 13 shields in 15 seconds. You'll also be attacked a lot more than once every second. Let's take a 5-mob pull. These guys hit for 10k each - a decent value for elite mobs in raids and slightly more than most mobs in heroics. They each swing every 1.5 seconds, so their effective swing time is .3 seconds. And of course, they're lower level, so the armor reduction value is better ( we'll assume level 81). What kind of armor loss are we looking at there?

Antitank normal stam
armor 35421 38505 36915
AP 7800 6846 6233
crit 0.4 0.35 0.3
avoidance 0.526 0.558 0.46
shield 1950 1711.5 1558.25
uptime 13 13 13
boss speed 0.3 0.3 0.3
boss damage 10000 10000 10000
reduction 69.28855069 71.0358823 70.16060059
damage 2702.607539 2548.842358 2625.867148
shielded 25350 22249.5 20257.25
15secdmg 64051.79867 56329.41611 70898.413
damage+shield 89401.79867 78578.91611 91155.663
new reduction 0.571337751 0.595953743 0.61634822
new armor 20925.57184 23156.93709 25222.52612
ratio 0.590767393 0.601400782 0.683259545
armor loss 14495.42816 15348.06291 11692.47388

That's right - in order to do the same thing with a shield that you do currently on lower level mobs, if you're in the antitank gear, you'd need to be hit with a 14.5k armor nerfstick. That's how good those shields are against multiple targets. Now, 4 or 5 mobs is the sweet spot. What about 10? That makes the effective swing rate .15. That can't be that good, can it? I mean, shields have to give out some time, and you'll be taking a lot of unblocked hits...

Antitank normal stam
armor 35421 38505 36915
AP 7800 6846 6233
crit 0.4 0.35 0.3
avoidance 0.526 0.558 0.46
shield 1950 1711.5 1558.25
uptime 13 13 13
boss speed 0.15 0.15 0.15
boss damage 10000 10000 10000
reduction 69.28855069 71.0358823 70.16060059
damage 2702.607539 2548.842358 2625.867148
shielded 25350 22249.5 20257.25
15secdmg 128103.5973 112658.8322 141796.826
damage+shield 153453.5973 134908.3322 162054.076
new reduction 0.632111629 0.653156283 0.658977113
new armor 26975.98879 29565.34351 30337.96575
ratio 0.761581796 0.767831282 0.821833015
armor loss 8445.011211 8939.656489 6577.034253

Nope. Armor just isn't that good compared to a static reduction against multiple mobs. In case you were ever told that you were harder to heal in a heroic compared to a warrior or paladin, here's why: block is really, really strong against multiple targets that hit softly.

Fred Savage wants you to hit him softly.

So unless the armor nerf to SotF is huge, the benefit for mitigation against a lot of targets is going to be really good and an overall buff.

As I've said before, I was all for this change and seeing it makes me pretty excited. Especially for the antitank set; the antitank set basically transformed from a max damage offtank set that was a bit squishy to a really great set against multiple targets and quite decent against bigger mobs. I love that AP and crit will actually matter, and that the ilvl of gear may matter a bit less. I also love the notion that druids can value different sets for different purposes. And if it works against magical damage too? Oh, that's 6 kinds of awesome.

The only thing I'd really like is for this ability to be under user control. My wife doesn't like the randomness of the mitigation, and she's got a point; there's no way to predict whether you'll have a good string of crits or not. If instead savage defense gave you a shield charge when you got a crit, which you could use to put up an absorption shield at a later time at your command (off the GCD, of course), this would give the same overall functionality but allow druids to be less squishy when they wanted to be. It would also give some interactivity back to the bear, which would be stellar. It could be macroed to always be used if you didn't care, or you could use it when it really mattered for that extra oomph. But that would be significantly harder to code. :)

[Druid, Warrior] Upcoming changes in 3.1

Some of you have seen the news on the changes to priests, shamans and warlocks. That's cool and all.

But they're not tanks.

They released the info on druids and warriors today over in Euroland. Let's take a look:

As many of you know the next major content patch will include some very exciting things, such as Ulduar, a new epic raid dungeon, a wealth of new items, and much more. We thought players would especially enjoy reading just a few of the class changes we're currently planning. Please keep in mind, that this list is not at all comprehensive, and more importantly subject to change.

  • Savage Defense – this is a new passive ability. When a druid in Dire Bear form deals a melee critical strike, the druid gains a damage shield equal to 25% of their attack power. The next hit completely removes the shield regardless of how much damage was done.

  • Survival of the Fittest has had its bonus armor reduced to compensate for the above increase in damage mitigation.

  • Faerie Fire (and similar debuffs) now reduces armor by 5%. See Sunder Armor in the warrior update below for additional details.

  • Thorns and Nature’s Grasp can be cast in Tree of Life form.

  • Survival Instincts now works in Moonkin form.

  • Replenish – to avoid confusion, this talent has been renamed “Revitalize.” It now also works with Wild Growth.

  • We are also looking at increasing the sustained (not burst) damage of feral druids in cat form.

There's no math here; there's no way to tell what kind of mitigation numbers we'll be looking at for savage defense. If it's based on buffed attack power, however, it's going to be close to 1.5k static absorbing, and doing that once every 3 attacks on average. That's pretty nice. What I'm really curious about is how it's going to work with swipe and multiple mobs. With multiple mobs you can assume you're going to have one up per swipe, but will you get multiples if you get multiple crits? Will it stack? That's what's going to make it or break it as a defensive tool against adds. Still, this is a great conceptual ability: a defensive ability that scales with two different offensive stats that are common everywhere.

Wonder what the drop in armor is going to be, though.

Feral cats are getting buffed, which is kind of amusing to me since I've not topped the meters in a long while...yet I am doing so now in that anti-tank set. I suspect that melee across the board is going to be getting buffs; it's not quite reasonable that ranged gets to do predominantly so much more damage.

Onto warriors!

As many of you know the next major content patch will include some very exciting things, such as Ulduar, a new epic raid dungeon, a wealth of new items, and much more. We thought players would especially enjoy reading just a few of the class changes we're currently planning. Please keep in mind, that this list is not at all comprehensive, and more importantly subject to change.

  • Changing stances now has a much reduced cost: you lose a maximum of 20 rage (10 with Tactical Mastery). For example, if you have 100 rage and change stances, you will have 80 rage remaining. If you have 10 rage and change stances, all of your rage is lost. In addition, we may change the penalties associated with some stances.

  • You now gain rage when damage done to you is absorbed, such as through a Power Word: Shield.

  • Blood Frenzy now causes 2/4% physical damage done.

  • Sunder Armor (and similar debuffs) now reduces armor by 4% per application, and is now a single rank. Creature armor has been globally reduced so that debuffed targets should take about the same damage from physical attacks that they did before this change. The net effect should be that this debuff is slightly less mandatory in PvE and is not disproportionately more powerful against cloth targets in PvP.

  • We are also adding increased damage to Arms, possibly through Overpower or Slam.

  • We are also looking at granting rage when the warrior blocks, dodges or parries.

The rage generation and ease of rage makes a lot of sense; reading in the tanking forums and talking with warriors that appears to be their #1 concern, and they don't like being so dependent on BoSanc to operate reasonably. I would hope that they'll be getting more of a buff for their threat too. I also hope that the shield allowing rage generation via absorbing is also given to bears; it's damned annoying otherwise.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

[Druid] (UPDATED) Gearing and strategies for Heroic Sarth3D

artist rendition of Sartharion. Notice dangerous breath and big, beefy arm.

UPDATED: changed FR value to be 334, which is what current testing shows to be needed. Added a bit more help on how to get to 334 with pieces of gear.

Yesterday I went over the new mechanics of how resistance works. Now let's go over some of the particulars of why we care: Sartharion with all the drakes up.

Sartharion with 3 drakes (Sarth3D from now on) is the hardest raiding challenge in the game, currently. Oddly enough the 10-man version is harder than the 25 due to the DPS budget being very high, the inability to heavily stack the raid and the necessity for a tank to survive more huge breaths without a ton of cooldowns. But I get ahead of myself. This is dealing with the 25-man version. I've not tried the 10-man version and can't speak with experience to it. Hopefully soon. :)

The basic particulars of the fight can be found at wowwiki. A guide to basically how we did it as well as a really excellent movie can be found at Fusion Strats. I'll do an overview of the 3-drake version.

The environment is the same for all of the difficulties of this fight:
  • There are lava waves that come from one side of the island to the other in 30 second intervals. They have holes in them in predictable places depending on which side they come from so that players can move to them and dodge. They cause a knockback and a good amount of damage in the 3D version - enough to kill you.
  • There are meteors that randomly target a player. If they hit you, they will spawn a fire elemental add that should be tanked. These also do significant damage at the worst part of the fight and can easily result in someone's death. If a fire elemental gets hit by a lava wave, they will enrage and do 3x the damage and have 3x the health.
  • Then there are the void zones. These look identical to KT's void zones and with 3D's buffs up, will one-shot most players as well.
Now on to the actual fight:

First, Sartharion is activated. With 3 drakes alive the raid gains significant debuffs that stay on them until those drakes die: 100% shadow damage (Tenebron), 100% fire damage (Shadron), 25% less health (Vesperon), He is tanked away from the landing points of the drakes while the DPS classes stay fairly calm and await Tenebron at his landing point. DPS shouldn't bother really working hard on doing damage to Sartharion at this point; it doesn't help and can only bother a tank who is very survival-geared and is likely struggling with threat.

30 seconds into the fight, Tenebron lands. This is where the test begins. Tenebron is tanked and dpsed immediately. The goal is to kill Tenebron in 45 seconds. After a short time, Tenebron spawns a portal which spawn adds. These spawn every 45 seconds or so, and if two spawns of adds occur it is almost certainly a wipe. So there's the first step: your tanking and DPS must be good enough to down Tenebron in 45 seconds or so. If you can't do this, you're going to have some problems.

45 seconds after Tenebron lands, Shadron lands. This is where things get tricky. Shadron himself provides a 50% fire damage buff to Sartharion, meaning his breath is doing 200% * 150% = 300% damage. This is on the order of 32-42k damage, and that's with your tank having a 25% less stamina debuff on them. Even with defensive abilities and some resistance the tank on Sartharion will taking some damage here. Ideally when Shadron lands, Tenebron is dead. Immediately after Shadron lands, he needs to be tanked and hopefully DPSed hard. There is no hard set rule on how long he can be up, but it should be no more than perhaps 120 seconds. In addition to that, the flame adds that pop up are now doing more damage thanks to Shadron and the whelps are doing a fair amount of damage. Shadron also spawns an acolyte who makes Sartharion completely immune to damage and increases shadow damage. Fun times.

45 seconds after Shadron lands, Vesperon lands. This is the hardest part of the fight. There is almost no possible way that Shadron will be dead at this time unless you have ridiculously awesome DPS. Vesperon also needs to be tanked, though no DPS should be on him; all DPS should be on Shadron (or the adds if they get too crazy). Shortly after he lands, Vesperon will also launch a portal. His acolyte increases fire damage by another 75% and causes Twilight Torment, which does 3k shadow damage whenever anyone does any damage.

At this point in the fight you will have Shadron up, vesperon up, and both acolytes up. This means lava waves are instantly fatal and must be dodged by everyone. The fire elemental adds are doing 3-4k damage per hit, and there are probably many. Meteors do 12k damage. Shadron and Vesperon's breath do 10k each. There may still be whelps up, and they do significant damage. Every dps is taking 2-3k damage per attack.

And Sartharion's breath does a whopping 57k-74k damage.

The goal is to survive this hell long enough to kill Shadron. If you can do this and have enough people to survive, you have it won. Typically on your first couple of wins, your Sartharion tank will take about 3 giant breaths before Shadron dies, 4 if you're unlucky or slow.

If you down Shadron and have most of your people up, the next step is to kill the acolytes, then kill adds, then kill Vesperon. Kill another acolyte if it spawned. Then kill Sartharion. By comparison, this part is really easy; the hardest part is stabilizing after Shadron is dead. Chances are there will be a few people dead and you'll have to struggle to survive against the twilight torment buff, but if you can it's smooth sailing.

For tanks, there are basically three jobs: tanking the drakes, tanking the adds, and tanking Sartharion himself. In practice the non-Sarth tank will be tanking adds and drakes. Anyone can tank drakes, but because of the double duty druids make the worst tanks for anything other than Sarth; they simply have too hard of a time dealing with the amount of adds that spawn, and without a block mechanic take a lot more damage. Paladins and Warriors are best for these roles.

And thanks to how druid mechanics work, they're one of the best at tanking Sartharion. DKs and druids are both pretty advantageous. Before the resistance stuff, most guilds went with either a well-geared DK who could use their multiple, quick-reset cooldowns to mitigate most of Sartharion's breaths or a druid who could use their cooldowns + external cooldowns such as guardian spirit or hand of sacrifice and huge HP to survive. A decently geared druid could get well over 52k HP for this fight before the 25% debuff, which made surviving the Shadron-buffed breaths easy and the Vesperon-buffed breaths doable with big cooldowns or help from others. It was harder for a warrior or paladin to do this as they would likely need buffs to survive the breaths before Vesperon landed, meaning the coordination was even more demanding.

How it usually worked is that they'd use survival instincts + barkskin for the first breath and then pain suppression/hand of sacrifice/guardian spirit for the next ones until Shadron was dead. This requires that you have those classes available and you have a clear communication with those players so that they know who is up next. If your buffers die, you may wipe. If they're slow you may wipe. If they get tail swiped or get confused, you may wipe. That's why most people believe (correctly) that the best tank for this job is a death knight, since they don't have to worry about anyone else. The disadvantage is that they won't have as much armor as a druid and won't have as much health, making them squishier for earlier phases and harder to heal when Sarth gets really buffed up later.

And as we showed yesterday, there is a better way.

an example of where not to tank Sartharion

Instead of having to rely on using every ohshit button known to man, what if we do this a bit smarter? The melee attacks Sarth does are strong, but not so bad on a druid; they start at about 8k and move up to 12-14k at the end of the fight, but that doesn't matter. If we instead concentrate on dealing with the worst case - the breaths - via resistance gear, and we know something about how they work, we can figure out what we need to survive the worst possible case.

Well, if we can guarantee that we have 30% resisted breaths at all times, the worst damage we can possibly take (after protector of the pack and BoSanc/Grace) is 44112 damage. To get that, we need 334Fire Resistance. If we want to use barkskin to save ourselves from that attack, we need 47k health before the -25% debuff. If we want to use survival instincts, we need 45k. If we want to use a mighty fire protection potion and a nightmare seed, we need 50.5k.

So the magic numbers if you don't want to have to worry about other people saving your furry butt is 334 Fire Resistance and 50.5k health before Vesperon's debuff. Or 37900 afterwards. More fire resistance is pretty good too, by the way, but it's good like avoidance is. There's no guarantee that you will take less damage, just better chances that you will.

The problem with this plan is that unlike BC, there's not really any good resistance gear that's craftable or purchaseable. What is the general gearing strategy you should use?

You should be shooting for maximum stamina, good armor, and as much fire resistance as makes sense. You must get 334 FR and 50.5k health. Threat is not important on this fight at all in this role, and in fact it makes a lot more sense for another tank to taunt off you after the worst breaths are done, as they'll have more avoidance and likely do more threat. Similarly, dodge isn't important at all either. The physical attacks hurt, but they're not going to kill you. So your gems should be stamina gems unless the socket dictates otherwise (and even then it should be a part-stam gem). Your enchants should be stam related or fire-resist related.

And here's how you get 334 Fire resist without sacrificing too much.

Well, for starters, a fire resist aura is 130 FR right off the bat. That's pretty easy.
There's no stamina boost for cloaks, so the superior fire resist cloak enchant (+20 FR) doesn't really trade anything other than avoidance. And for this, dodge doesn't matter.
Another easy one is the Arcanum of the Flame's Soul - requiring honored with Kirin Tor. That trades basically 7 stamina for 25 fire resist, which is a great tradeoff.
You can use a Lesser Flask of Resistance (50 FR) or a Flask of Chromatic Wonder (35 FR, 18 stam). Assuming we use a lesser flask of resistance, that gives us 225 of the 334 we need.

If we're a leatherworker, the easiest thing is to go with Fire Resist Fur Lining. This gives 60 FR and brings us to 285 FR. Yeah, we lose the 90 stamina, but it's still the best tradeoff on a per-slot basis.

If we're not a leatherworker, it gets trickier. The BC items like Inferno Hardened Gloves
are a good tradeoff for the stamina. Because of the sockets, Blastguard Pants are slightly better than the badge legs. However, the real win comes from random dungeon greens you might find on the AH. The Geist Gloves of Fire Protection give 65 stam and 40 FR - better than the Inferno-Hardened. There are similar rings and amulets that have good bonuses like this. You have to get lucky, but trading a ring and an amulet for two FR pieces will be enough and shouldn't set you back too far in stam.

After 285, your best bet is the AH. Look for greens of Fire Protection as mentioned above. If you have the old Inferno Hardened Gloves or legs, those are a good choice. All you need is 50 more FR, so gloves + a couple of patches should do the trick.

And then the rest needs to be awesome gear of awesome. Well, kind of.

Head Valorous Dreamwalker Headguard
Neck (random green of fire prot)
Shoulders Valorous Dreamwalker Shoulderpads
Chest Polar Vest
Waist Polar Cord
Legs Valorous Dreamwalker Legguards
Feet Polar Boots
Wrist Bindings of the Tunneler
Hands Valorous Dreamwalker Handgrips
Finger1 Gatekeeper
Finger2 (random green of fire prot)
Trinket1 Essence of Gossamer
Trinket2 Commendation of Kael'thas
Back Cloak of the Shadowed Sun
MainHand Origin of Nightmares
Ranged Idol of Terror

As you can see, a lot of this isn't even best in slot. There's the Polar gear, a valor badge ring, a heroic trinket, and a crafted neck. The shoulders and legs are purchaseable. The head isn't best in slot; Hood of the Exodus would be better. And the bracers aren't all that hot either. The total values from this set of gear is 345 FR and 50.9k health. I'm a tauren, so you'll have 50.7k as a nelf. Still, that's enough to survive. This wasn't my gear, even; I chose to go with more FR (I had 310) and less stamina (50.5k). But that was enough.

If you're not a leatherworker...well, hopefully you have other profession buffs to deal with it. If you replace the fur lining with a 46stam/30 FR ring and 46 stam/30FR neck, you actually get slightly more health. (fewer other good stats like avoidance and threat, but a smidgen more health). This assumes a 50 stamina boost via a profession. If you don't have that, you'll need to get better gear in various slots. And if you're a Nelf, you might need more too. Again, all of this is doable, but you may have to juggle depending.

As to the strategy, we followed fairly close to what Fusion did. We used 4 tanks instead of 3 and 7 healers. I was the Sarth tank, and we MDed to me and tanked him on the last small island before you get to the main one. This had the disadvantage of having his head close to the healers so they could be easily breathed on, but had the advantage that I didn't have to move that much to avoid lava waves and the healers didn't have to move as much either (and could avoid the tail swipe. We had a holy priest and a paladin on me for heals, and afterwards they mentioned how healing was not particularly difficult; they had healed the add/drake/raid damage before, and that is where the action really is. I would call out which side the wave was heading, as I could easily see it and wasn't doing much. Honestly, there's very little that the MT gets to do. Threat isn't an issue, and for a large chunk of the fight that matters you can't actually damage Sartharion. We used our bloodlust at the start of Shadron's landing, and then again when Sartharion reached 10%.

The important part as MT is to call out the waves, sit tight, don't attack more than you need to (Sarth can be parry hasted), and watch Sartharion's cast bar. You have 2 seconds to get a cooldown on you to survive his breath, minus lag. I personally used barkskin for the first, survival instinct for the second, and Mighty Fire Protection Potion and Nightmare seed for the third. After that, hopefully barkskin will be up.

After Shadron's death, another tank taunted off of me so that I could res a DPS. From then on I was going into portals, killing flames as they spawned, and relaxing.

Hope that helps out all you prospective tanks. Good luck finishing up the current content. :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

[General, Druid] (UPDATED)The new resistance math (and tanking Sarth3D)

UPDATED: this math appears to be correct for level 80 damage but not level 83. The coefficient against level 83 mobs appears to be not 83*5 = 415, but 500. That makes it harder to reach the 30% barrier, but not insanely so.

First off, congrats to Fire and Blood, who downed Sarth3D for the first time last night! Really nice job by everyone, and a very smooth first kill.

I think in the future I'll cover the strategy we used and the general fight - that sort of thing is kinda fun - but for now I'd like to go over something that's really changed: how resistance works in WotLK. All thanks go to Shamgarr at the EJ forums for his excellent research and testing on this; while I helped with data, he did all the heavy lifting.

In the era of BC land, resistance had a hard cap and only resisted chunks in 25/50/75/100% intervals. There were breakpoints where it was more likely to resist 75% than 50 (and 50 than 25) but if you had maxed out your resistance, you could guarantee a 75% resist, every time. The formula for this was pretty simple:

Damage reduction percentage = 75 % * effective resistance rating / ( caster level * 5 )

If you want 75%, this means that effective resistance rating had to be equal to the caster level (mob level) *5. For the flames of azzinoth, that meant 73*5, or 365.

And if that formula worked in WotLK, that would mean a level 83 mob like Sartharion would need 415. 415 FR doesn't sound like that much compared to 365, does it? 50 more points isn't so bad, and could be easily covered by the Fire Resist fur lining from leatherworking. And 75% FR would certainly make taking 70k fire breaths easier.

Except all of that is totally wrong. WotLK introduced diminishing returns and a much more granular scaling for resistance. Yay, more diminishing return math! This time it's a bit easier to digest. :)

Unlike BC , partial resists come in 10% packets. This means that smaller amounts of resistance are more likely, over time, to be meaningful - so having that 130 Frost Resist Aura on Sapphiron actually helps quite a bit.

The range of resists that you can get are also much smaller. There's no 0/25/50 resist spot any more. Instead, the average resistance is calculated fairly simply:

average resistance (damage prevented) = resistance level / ((special value) + resistance level)

Because this formula uses the resistance level as a divisor, it's naturally diminishing. Which means that at 415 resistance against a level 83 mob, your average damage taken is this:
ADT = 415/(83*5+415) = 50%. (ETA: this is incorrect; against a level 83 mob the 83*5 number is actually 500. So you need 500 resistance to get 50%, and higher values to get to the no less than 30% and 40% resists.

Now, how do we figure out what values we can take? That's the important part, as average damage doesn't tell us what the worst case scenario is. This appears to either use a two-roll system or something very similar to a two-roll system (probably a one-roll, but using this methodology) based on the average damage taken.

For the first roll, use the average damage taken number.
50% of the time, you'll use that number.
25% of the time, you'll use that number - 10%.
25% of the time, you'll use that number + 10%.

Then whatever that number is, figure out a percentage chance based on where it falls between the two 10% barriers, and roll again using the distance from the 10% barriers as the chance.

If you're on a boundary point (like we are with 500) this math is easy:
50% of the time, you'll get to 50%. There's 100% rounding to 50%, so it's always 50%
25% of the time, you'll get to 40%. There's 100% rounding to 40%, so it's always 40%
25% of the time, you'll get to 60%. There's 100% rounding to 60%, so it's always 60%.

If you're not, though, it's a bit trickier. Let's take what my Fire Resistance was against Sartharion last night - 310.

Average Resistance = 310/(500 + 310) = 38.27%

50% of the time, we'll go to 38.27%.
25% of the time, we'll go to 28.27%.
25% of the time, we'll go to 48.27%.

In the 38.27% case, we have a 17.3% chance to get to 30% (rounding down, (10-8.27)/10) and a 82.7% chance to get to 40% (round up, (10-1.73)/10).

In the 28.27% case, we have a 17.3% chance to get to 20% (rounding down, (10-8.27)/10) and a 82.7% chance to get to 30% (round up, (10-1.73)/10).

In the 48.27% case, we have a 17.3% chance to get to 40% (rounding down, (10-8.27)/10) and a 82.7% chance to get to 50% (round up, (10-1.73)/10).

So the total chances for all values are:
20%: 17.3%*25% = 4.32%
30%: 17.3%*50% + 82.7%*25% = 29.3%
40%: 17.3%*25% + 82.7%*50% = 45.7%
50%:82.7%*25% = 20.67%

This also reduces to the following formula: the chance to get a given resist x against a level 83 mob is

Probability (x) = .5 - 2.5* abs(x - (resistance/(500 + resistance)))

and ignore negative probabilities.

That's the basic math, but as a tank that's not what you care about. You care about what the most damage you will take given a specific resistance - and more importantly, what resistance you need to eliminate certain values. And this appears to be pretty easy too:

Resistance Minimum Possible Resist
215 20%
334 30%
500 40%
750 50%

So at 334 resistance, the worst that can happen is that you'll take a 30% hit. The best is that you'll take a 50% hit.

So what does this mean for resistance fights? Well, as you can see you need a huge amount of resistance to get 50% removed from the table and an average resistance of 60% - 750. You need 1167 resistance to get 70% average resistance. And 1500 resistance for an average resistance of 75%, which will still get you hit with 60% resists some of the time.

Practically, this is unobtainable given current itemization patterns. In order to get the same level of resistance that you needed (in theory) for Mother Shahraz and assuming similar gear to the Polar set, you would need at least 15 pieces of armor to get that high. Yikes. On the flip side - hey, it's not likely we'll be facing any resistance fights like Mother any time soon...

For Sarth3D main tanking this has some nice benefits. The maximum breath damage that you can take is 73825 damage, with all the bonuses up and 0 resistance. Assuming protector of the pack and blessing of sanctuary/grace, at 30% resistance you need 44112 effective HP to survive a worst-case breath.

With barkskin, you need 35289 health (or 47053 without the 25% buff).
With Survival Instincts you need 45243 health without the 25% buff).
With nightmare seed and a mighty fire protect potion, you need 50549 health.

And the awesome thing is, this is totally doable with current gear. It's easier with being a leatherworker, but it's not impossible for others to reach 334 FR. And if you can do that, it means you can survive the breaths by using your own cooldowns for a while and not rely on any external cooldown, making the fight as easy for druids as it is for DKs.

I'll go into the gearing choices for Sarth3D in a later post. :)