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:
- What is the likely change to survival of the fittest going to be?
- When the actual change to survival of the fittest goes forward, will it be a buff or a nerf overall?
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.
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.
Okay, what about Patchwerk offtanking? Patch hits for 80k damage every second. Yikes! Let's see how the shields fare there:
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?
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...
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.
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. :)