Friday, August 14, 2009


(sung to the tune of SPAM by monty python)

In the last few days I've been asked from several sources why my gemming strategy (and my gearing strategy) is so focused on stamina. I had thought I had explained it reasonably before in the Ulduar gearing guide, and I'll reprint it here:

For starters, you need to know the gearing strategies for Ulduar tanking. And they're different than Naxx:
  • Heart of the Wild nerfed to 10% stamina means you need stamina more. Don't go nuts on this, but you will need to have a good amount of stamina and you'll probably have to regem some of your gear or use certain choices.
  • Things hit like a semi carrying a truck carrying small missiles. Seriously, most everything hits like Patchwerk's evil big brother on meth. You can reasonably expect to take 20k-25k hits from bosses, and there are plenty of special abilities that do far more than that.
  • With the loss of armor, you need EVEN MORE stamina. Seriously.
  • Also, with the loss of armor, more armor is a bit better. So armor as a stat improves greatly on a lot of these fights.
  • Threat is actually important for druids. Other tanking classes have much better threat now, but druids are still a bit far behind. This means that you can't just ignore hit and expertise on your gear in Ulduar; there will be fights where your threat really matters.
  • DPS stats matter a little bit for SD, but not insanely so. While Savage Defense is decent, it's not a substitute for armor. 100 AP means you prevent 25 damage, which would be (from the above boss) equivalent to .125% mitigation. So don't go nuts here. But do get some. And uptime is more important than raw mitigation most of the time, so go for crit if you're going for any specific DPS stat.
Now some of that isn't quite as true as it once was; things aren't hitting quite so hard in normal mode Ulduar as they were when it came out (oh hi, Ignis 1.0), but most of that is fairly true. Furthermore, those things are still the case for many of the hard modes and many of the encounters so far in Coliseum (all Ulduar items mentioned are hard modes only):

  • Thorim still drastically favors stamina over agility and avoidance as he steadily increases his damage; even 2k can make a difference here.
  • Mimiron favors a reasonable amount of stamina to be able to use survival instincts to mitigate his P1 barrages and to simply be able to soak all that magic damage flying around.
  • Freya is the same; high health is quite nice for all parts of this encounter.
  • Iron Council desperately favors high stamina to soak engorged Fusion Punches.
  • Yogg tanking likes having a good amount of stamina to deal with those big Immortal Guardian hits
  • Vezax actually likes having some avoidance to save the healers mana. To a point.
  • Acidmaw and Dreadscale both like having good amounts of HP for all that magic damage soaking, and having big HP for Icehowl can make the difference between a wipe and a miraculous save if someone screws up the ram.
  • Jaraxxus is all about magic damage, which means avoidance is pointless
That doesn't still mean that avoidance is bad, and it doesn't mean agility (which provides avoidance, crit and armor) is that bad. It's still a good stat.

It's just not the stellar stat it was.

The reason is that stamina is similar to hit and expertise for DPS: once you have enough stamina, it really doesn't do much. The trick is figuring out what 'enough' is, and that's hard. Is enough when you can't be hit twice in a row without heals and die? Is that number 3? Is enough when you can take a certain amount of DPS in and live? Each encounter is different to where it's hard to evaluate, especially since this largely depends on how your healers are working to save you as well. In Naxx, for example, I recommended going strongly away from stamina since you had more than enough of it - at least until Sarth3D.

But how much stamina is enough in Ulduar hard modes? How much is enough in Coliseum? And right now, I feel like there's never a time where you can say 'yes, I'm way overstaminaed for this encounter'.

The other reason is a simple gearing philosophy that I've had since BC: Gear to your strengths, not your weaknesses. Right now, bears can have simply much higher health and higher effective health (health * mitigation) than basically any other tank, save perhaps paladins under certain circumstances. They can't have as high of avoidance. They can't have as high of threat. There's no way to beat other tanks at these things. They can't deal as well with smaller hits that come more often. They don't have the cooldowns.

But damned if they don't have huge tracts

So if you can do that, shouldn't you? There are plenty of fights (some of the ones mentioned above) where huge health has a great effect on your success rate as a tank, and can drastically change how well or poorly you do. And right now, druids get 16 health back from every point of stamina; no other tank gets even close to that.

So that's the reasoning - play to your strengths. That might make you the EH-armor-soak tank, and let other tanks have a better shot at other encounters; I personally think that's a stronger overall raid position. If you feel differently, that's great too; you know your raid best, and what works best.


Kenash said...

What is the target stamina/health your shooting for? I've been trying to maintain about 50,000 health then going all agility after that point.

Marius said...

Or... just give up and let other classes tank.

Seriously, with raid stacking and whatnot there is no point in having a feral druid tank.

Kenash said...

"Ignorance is bliss"

Xarnen said...

Red gem agi/stam
Blue gem stam
Yellow gem hit/stam if the socket bonus gives stam/agi otherwise pure stam
Agi on boots, gloves, and cloak
Mongoose on staff
Faction enchants on head/shoulders
Keep hit over 150 and expertise 26+ and you'll do fine as long as you're tanking the content you are appropriately geared towards.
The 2-3 hits without a heal rule serves quite well to gauge how much stamina to stack.
I'd really disagree wholeheartedly. I've found in the new Trial raid, a bear is THE most valuable offtank you can have.
Beasts - P1 Start off cat and blow berserk until the other tank needs a taunt off. Easy 5k dps in tank gear.
P2 - tank Dreadscale and be able to quickly feral charge over to the other tank to debuff him in a pinch.
P3 - pure cat with option to switch and tank if needed
Lord Jarraxus -
Start off cat and berserk until the mistress comes out.
Easily mobily kite the infernals until they RNG a target, then charge and growl to get em back. Plenty of windows to sneak in cat dps and innervate, tranquility, and/or battle rez. When tanks don't have to "tank", bears win every single time.
Maybe stacking is nice for uber large 25 man hardcore raiding guilds where they bench half their core team to stack 7 hunters or whatever to do some achievement is fine. For the rest of the average guilds out there, having a good bear around is more valuable to a raid team because of flexibility in a fight.

Anonymous said...

After redoing epic gems in my (mostly) stam setup, I have 53.5k fully buffed, and that's not even in full ulduar hard mode gear. My view is thats already over-stammed; I just kept it because I was trying to wrangle my way into a primo tanking spot with a new guild, and I thought it would help to have a tendancy to die less often. But the botton line (methinks) is that if you're entire raid is super skilled, you can get away with a lot less, since tank stamina would rarely make much difference. IF... your raid is super skilled that is. The answer to these questions are so specific to who you play with, and if your raid is not super skilled, you wont be doing any of the more challenging content anyway until (maybe) you're overgeared from the next tier.

Redhawk said...

I am the offtank for my guild and I'm running a hybrid feral spec. There are pieces that are shared between both my cat and bear set. Would you try as much as possible to stack stamina on bear exclusive pieces, stack agility on cat exclusive pieces, and stack stam/agility on the shared pieces?

Kalon said...

Kenash - I don't have a set stamina goal exactly. I have a couple of shared pieces for cat/bear, so those aren't stamina. Then it really depends on the fight. Magic heavy fights I tend to go double stam trinkets. Algalon I go with the new one from ToC and DM:G. Hardmode Thorim I put on all my stamina gear and get to 57k.

So I don't have a specific goal in mind; more stamina has so far continued to be useful. When it isn't, I'll stop. That might or might not be different depending on your raid and what you're doing.

Marius - having a tank with the highest mitigation against normal attacks and the highest health seems to be a win. Your mileage may vary, but I fully expect bears to take some very strong steps in the hard mode content in Coliseum.

Xarnen, that's mostly right for me. I don't worry about hit or expertise especially. I don't also go for socket bonuses all that often. And I also think that not only are bears good offtanks in Coliseum, they're excellent main tanks. If you screw up on Icehowl and someone dies, for instance, it's very survivable as a bear.

Anon, that's exactly right. It's very dependent on your raid. If you feel you've hit the cap for your stamina, then go for it. Personally my strategy is to gem newer gear with stamina and older gear with agility as I go along.

Redhawk, I'd never recommend going purple for cat gear. Agility is still a great stat for bears; utilize it. Don't gimp your cat set to get slightly better bear stuff. For shared pieces (for those playing along, the shared pieces should only be chest, boots, gloves, and bracers/belt depending on profession) you should go agility and agility only. If there's a great socket bonus, go for agi/hit. If you need a blue, go for a nightmare tear (+10 all stats, prismatic) - that will happily meet your meta nicely as a cat.

dtc said...

Kalon, I have 2 questions for you. I have so far gotten three pieces from 25 Colosseum and I find myself hit capped. I also am a orb away from picking up the Knightbane Carapace which will put me way over hit capped. So from the way I have things figures the Knightbane Carapace is rated higher than the T9.25 chest, but if its hit is useless (because I'm capped), is it still the better piece? I do have something else to spend orbs on as you will see in my second question.

So I realized my expertise has dropped to about 20. To me that seems too low but it is a difficult thing to gem for as I would have to use expertise/stam over agi/stam... not really worth it.
So I have 53k hp in raid, what is the floor level for expertise? Should I wait to get the craftable chest and spend the orbs on the bracers that have expertise?

Thanks man, your like the Dr. Phil of bears.

Kalon said...

dtc, you're talking bears, right? If that's the case, even with the hit rating the Knightbane Carapace is going to be better for the sole reason that it has another socket. It won't be quite as amazing, but my rating system doesn't have hit as particularly high anyway.

The floor level for expertise is 0. Seriously. There's no hard requirement for expertise for bears, and I wouldn't recommend one. It's entirely a threat talent these days. If your threat is poor or you feel it is, I'd recommend getting more. Otherwise I'd likely not worry about it too much.

That being said, the bracers are awesome. They don't have expertise on them to my knowledge, but they're stellar.

Anonymous said...

I apologize if this is a little off-topic.

First, LOVE your blog, You've been a great resource to me as i mastered my druid tank. This is my 3rd tank class and I think my favorite though it is hard to give up my warrior.

Anyway, i am looking at your armory vs mine and something stands out i can't explain.

My toon = Bearmaiden/Muradin

Your melee stats show 29% crit chance while mine show 13%. i compared our stats and while you have approx 100 AGI more than I do I have a teensy bit crit rating on my gear than you. I would expect our numbers to be much closer with you a bit higher but certainly not 16%+ difference.

This stat of course changes drastically in bear form but it caught my eye.

is this just a bug with armory or have I missed something important about my druid

Kalon said...

Bearmaiden, I think that's entirely an armory bug. (This is why if you're evaluating other players, you should never take the computed stats for granted). Our crit in cat form is within 1% of each other, so I don't think it's really a big issue.

I would ask though - why 2 points in predatory instincts?

Anonymous said...

Bearmaiden here.

Lol - yes now you know why i was visiting your profile in the first place :-)

I just tweaked my talents. I can't even really recall why i had it other than I was trying to do some PVP/arena for awhile there and I guess i had those points left over to spend.

Anyway once armory updates all that will be changed.

i also had some bad glyphs in place too that I just swapped out (mangle and berzerk)