Friday, September 25, 2009

[Druid] good is Glyph of Indomitability?

Reader and blogger Darksend (of I'm not feral I'm a bear and various Tankspot videos) had a question for me:

now one thing that we have discussed in the past is that the rings, trinkets, and necks on that list are using the armor value of armor that gets modified by bear form etc. How good really is that trinket. I want to try switching but I really just cannot bring myself to do it. hell I vendored defenders code the day the armor nerf went live. I still am one of the largest armor whores I know, hell up until a month ago i still used origin of nightmares but with dps in full 25 man hard mode dps gear I just could not put off anymore i needed the extra threat armor be damned. But even still 162 stam for 1800 unmodified armor... I really don't know.

The list he's referring to is the bear itemization weighings at wowhead, which does use the value of armor for both leather and nonleather. For the most part it ends up working well anyway, mostly because items with armor have a lot of it, and items without it don't (and the stats they do have in place of it aren't that valuable). Which, if you looked at the bear gear guide for ToC...doesn't actually use that weighing. It uses Rawr's. But it doesn't really matter, because all that matters is this:

How good is armor?

Armor's a lot tougher to evaluate than stamina is. Stamina never changes, so we know exactly how much we're getting. For each point of stamina on gear, bears get about 15 health after all raid buffs are factored in. But armor? Armor depends on the level of the attacker, how much you have beforehand, how much you're going to have, how hard the attack's really nebulous.

And most people don't work well with nebulous.

Okay, I'm here today to tell you: armor is AWESOME. Armor is the only stat that improves both effective health (how much total damage you can take) and mitigation (how much damage you take per hit). Armor does have its flaws though, and I'll show you some of them. I can do some graphs and show you how its diminishing returns don't matter since the time to live for armor is a linear function, but that doesn't tell you anything.

So instead, I'll point out to you how much damage you can take and how much armor helps in each specific case. I'll be comparing two trinkets: Glyph of Indomitability and Juggernaut's Vitality. (The awesome version, in case you were wondering).

Glyph is essentially Defender's Code's bigger brother. On a side note, I want you to think about how insane Glyph would have been if the armor change hadn't happened early on. That's right - over 8000 armor from it alone. Yeesh. It gives 1792 armor that isn't multiplied by anything other than the metagem.

Juggernaut's Vitality is 216 stamina, which translates to the absurd 3200 health. Yep, all by itself.

3200 health is a lot. So is 1792 armor. Which is better?

Ultimately you have to think about it. Having tools handy is good, but there's no one set that will be optimal for all situations. When you've got a nail, use a hammer. When you've got a screw, use a screwdriver.

Okay, case study one: Algalon-25. Algalon isn't the best fight for a bear relative to almost any other class, since he attacks so often. With higher avoidance DKs can get more reasonable streaks. With block, paladins and warriors can mitigate more damage. But you still may be called to do this fight, so let's see how you can do. We're going to start with the base armor of 32000 - a nice, round number after buffs and whatnot. Algalon can do a 35,000 damage quantum strike, a 10,000 phase punch (not apparently physical), and more importantly can do a 60,000 main hand and a 35,000 offhand hit.

Those main hand and offhand? Can happen in a second. In the same second.

How does armor help with them?

In the 32,000 armor case, here's what it does. I'm assuming full raid buffs on the bear, meaning PotP is up, inspiration is up and grace is up. The total mitigation would be .741 in this case, meaning you only take 25.9% of all damage. (1*armor mod*potp mod*grace mod * inspiration mod)
MH: 15561 damage average
OH: 9077 damage average
Quantum: 9077 damage average

With Glyph:
MH: 15004 damage
OH: 8752
Quantum: 8752

MH: 556
OH: 324

Assuming you get hit by both a MH and OH, you will have stopped 880 extra damage using glyph over juggernaut. However - and here's the important thing - in order for this to make you actually live when you wouldn't have, you would need to take 4 MH+OH in a row to mitigate the same amount of damage that Juggernaut can stop.

Also reasonably, you need to survive MH+OH twice, which is just below 50k health. Any more than that and it's nice but not essential. Any less and you're playing with fire. With the glyph though, that maximum only is 47.5k.

That doesn't take into account another factor: endurance. The theory of effective health assumes infinite mana and assumes healers will always heal you to full, but the problem is's not true. Tank death often happens because a tank hasn't been topped off and is sitting at a low state until the tank gets lucky with avoidance or a healer blows a big heal. In those situations, armor is far more useful than stamina; it means you don't get in those situations as often (because you've taken less damage) and you don't need as much health to survive (because you'll mitigate it).

Which do you think is better for Algalon? I used Defender's code for a while along with elixirs of armor and pots of indestructibility. And it was okay, and worked better for me than the pure stamina situation. In the stamina situation I survived at 2k once, but I also died more often due to the healers simply getting unlucky and not being able to catch up. Armor helped a lot more in that regard. It turned out, sadly, that avoidance trumped both of these considerations, and bears just don't have the avoidance that other tanks do.

How about something a bit more up a bear's alley: Heroic Beasts. Or more importantly, Gormok. Gormok, as the fight continues, hits for absurd amounts of damage. Really absurd. The normal attack can be as high as 100,000 damage, and impales can be as high as 120,000. Then there's the bleed stacks the impales put up and the stomp, which is another 40k hit. How does armor deal with this:

32k armor:
25935 normal, 31122 impale, 10374 stomp
Glyph armor:
25007 normal, 30009 impale, 10003 stomp
Differences: 927 normal, 1113 impale, 371 stomp

Those are kinda huge.

And yet they still might not make up for the worst case scenario - where a normal hit + an impale at the highest amount of damage is just too much to take - and that worst case is an impale + a normal attack within a second. In that case, you need to have 57k health to survive the worst situation and 55k health to survive with a glyph. Even if you're well-geared, those are hard to meet; the best bet there is another cooldown use and prayer.

Again - armor here helps tremendously with healers being able to catch up. Over time you'll take significantly less overall damage and if you're down, are more likely to survive. But that worst case scenario is likely better dealt with via stamina, especially given the amount of bleed damage you'll be taking. My personal strategy was to go with Defender's Code and Heart of Iron, so that I could use both trinkets for another mini-cooldown early on to help out. There was at least one wipe that was caused by me taking just over enough damage to die this way, though, so I'll be going to double stamina trinkets - especially since I just got the awesome version of Juggernaut's vitality.

So in two cases where there is heavy physical damage, stamina still is competitive and/or wins out and the Glyph doesn't. Why do I have it ranked so highly?

Well, part of it is Rawr's ranking system. Rawr ranks based on average damage taken and survivability/time to live, and honestly it's somewhat flawed for these kinds of fights. You don't often care about average time to live; you're not sitting there for multiple seconds while your healers get their thumbs out of their asses and remember that you're tanking. It's more often the case that you care about the worst case scenario in a short period of time and whether you can survive it at all. That's not average damage, that's burst damage. Fortunately, Rawr is coming up with a solution to that.

Rawr likes Glyph (and DM:G) because they average to less damage and gives avoidance which will over time reduce average damage. That might not be that useful to you, depending.

That isn't to say avoidance doesn't have its place; like I said above, avoidance was much better overall for our attempts at Algalon due to his speed of attacking; it meant our healers weren't put into horrible positions and if a healer had to move because of smash, it wouldn't be the end. But it does mean that it also isn't useful everywhere.

So...okay, you say. Armor isn't the best thing ever, and you get that - but is there ever a time where it is awesome and way more awesome than health?

Yep. Heroic Anub'arak. On this, health is a detriment as it heals the boss while doing more damage to you as a percentage. That Juggernaut's Vitality heals Anub'arak by itself for 600 health every second, while dealing you 600 damage a second (before resists, of course). Meanwhile he hits like a truck, and he can hit you with a stun and then normal attacks that hit even harder. The only thing you can do here is use armor. Armor does not improve leeching, it does work when stunned, and does not rely on any RNG components. In this situation, Glyph is absolutely the best trinket you can get; reducing (on average) 800-900 damage a hit is much better than having a 3k buffer that also heals the boss for 600 and does you 600 more damage.

So it's really, really awesome there. But I don't know if it's worth spending 50 emblems on it over a T9 piece.

The really long and short of it is this: get health when you need to make sure you can survive the absolute worst case situation, as health scales far more quickly for a druid than armor does any more. If you know you can survive the worst case situation reasonably, health is much less useful and you should either go for more avoidance (which will help overall damage intake on average) or more armor (which will also help damage intake, but more reliably) depending on what the encounter is like. Finally, stamina does something that armor and avoidance do not: it helps with magical soaking. If the fight has a lot of magic damage (twin valks, Jaraxxus, Mimiron) stamina is going to be better than armor.

Again, ultimately you have to think about it. Having tools handy is good, but there's no one set that will be optimal for all situations. When you've got a nail, use a hammer. When you've got a screw, use a screwdriver.


Michael said...

Question to consider, as I didn't start til wrath and don't know quite how armor works at high gear levels: Is there an armor cap?

Case in point: Tanking 10H Anub, and I had just picked up the passive dodge/on-use armor stack and I didn't want to go double stam for his swarm. I used that trinket plus the 10 Ignis trinket (dodge+5k armor pop) at the same time put me up to around 42.8k armor, but I think the tooltip only read around 73% damage reduction. Obviously passive armor is mainly what we're discussing here, but in cases where armor can be drastically increased, at what point is it no longer useful? Is there a hard cap?

Kalon said...

Ah, Michael, good question. It used to be that bears aimed at getting armor capped by default, and then moved on to other gear. That's no longer the case, but there is definitely a cap.

At level 80, the cap against level 83 mobs is 49905. Note that the tooltip shows your stats against a level 80 mob, so it will be slightly lower than that in reality.

In practice you could in theory get that high with some really odd procs (Living Root of the Wildheart, The Black Heart, potion, dev armor, stoneskin totem might do it) but in reality you should just not worry about it. Armor is going to always be useful against mobs that hit hard.

dtc said...

Hey Kalon, What you think of the new ony rings? Does the 25 man version really beat out Clutch of fortification? I see you would lose both threat and dodge, but it has a nice amount of armor and more resistance is nice for a lot of fights.

Becky said...

Re: paper doll tooltip showing level 80 armor cap...

Awesome mod I found quite some time ago, hasn't been updated in a while but still works just fine far's I can tell. ArmorTooltip, adds a line to the armor tooltip listing your damage reduction versus a +3 mob once you're over level 70.

Darksend said...

Have not read all of it yet, just got home from the gym and am about to hop in the shower but have you actually tested the meta recently?

GC replied to one of my posts about armor when the nerf happened and guess what, he was wrong. He said that the meta would continue to affect rings necks and trinkets, well, it does not affect rings or necks with armor as of 3 months ago.

Darksend said...

OK just double checked the meta to make sure.

The meta does not affect armor on rings, trinkets, or necks with 100% certainty. It also does not affect additional armor on capes.

for example has 166 armor, that gets multiplied by thick hide, SOTF (when in form), and the meta.;maxle=213#0-6+1 all of those have 154 armor except so for shadowed sun the 154 base armor from iLvl will get multipliers but the (490-154=336) additional 336 armor will always be 336.

Furthermore, it does not affect armor on weapons.

Shahar said...

Thank you for writing this post, you gave me quite alot to think about as I was really reluctant to give up my stamina for armor (Heart of Iron and Impending Scarab together are just epeen). Now I will definatly going to check the glyph out in next TotGC on 10 man and see how my healers feel about it (on gurmak and anub).

A bit off topic , but is something I troubled myself about and couldnt find alot of info about- Haste. For bears. I changed a couple of gems around and took the +10 haste +15 stamina gems. I also got at the same day the new crafted leather bracers, and felt a big difference in my tps, suddenly the hunter in my raid didnt have to FD so much when he got a row of crits.. Would like to ask what yours/ other bears opinion about Haste.

Shamad said...

Completely unrelated but I figured I'd share our strategy guide for Anub with you here, it's a bit less "for dummies" than our Valkyrs tactic, but it should help guilds approaching this fight(on 25man) get to a point where they can start working on execution instead of figuring out how everything works.

The fight still requires a pretty good comp at this time, but as people gear up you'll be able to get away with far more healing during p3 and more varied comps of dps.

Shamad said...

Oh and forgot to add, world 17th tribute to skill \o/

bearmount said...

Loved the article, I'm a fellow bear currently working on Twins HM and I have a huge thing for armor. Loved Defender's Code, dearly miss the legendary Badge of Tenacity. Points about Anub are pretty interesting, never factored his health leach into my gearing strat.

To Shahar, haste is an interesting stat I think. 60% of my threat tends to come from Maul so haste hugely increases that. It increases the number of parries you get however, but I've personally come to the conclusion that I'm ok if I wear a couple extra expertise pieces. Hunter/Warlock threat can be scary.

Torosso said...

I am a firm believer of changing trinkets to suit the encounters. Trinkets are the easiest things on your gear you can change and can greatly effect your success in the encounter.

Armor is so win for H-Beasts and Anub or any boss with an ability to I hit you harder now (eg General) or a Stun.

Any encounter with high percentage of magic dmg go with Stam trinkets.

Fast hitters go with either Stam or avoidance (if you can meet minimum thresholds).

Log the encounters if you can and see where the dmg is coming from and adjust your trinket strategy accordingly.

Eôw said...

First thanks for this article, it is very instructive.
For Anub HM and a bear tank with a good stuff, what do you think are the 2 bests trinkets to have ? Glyph + back heart ? Glyph + juggernaut ? Glyph + DM:G ?

Shamad said...

Glyph+Juggernaut are probably the way to go, though our MT was sporting double stam trinkets during the kill, but he's planning on picking up glyph for next week.

Melthu said...

Kal, I have to disagree that armor is better on Anub than stamina. Yes, stamina makes you heal him more, but as the main tank your goal is to survive. Realistically the only way you can die is to a Swarm tick + melee + Freezing Slash all within the same second. The problem with armor is that it only reduces damage from 1 of those sources, the other 2 will do the same amount of damage if you had 0 armor. Avoidance is similarly weak, so the only stats that will save you are stamina and resistance. And while nature resistance is definitely good on this fight, I think you can see why relying on it to save you from a Leech+melee+Slash gib is a losing proposition.

Kalon said...

dtc - the new Ony ring is absolutely phenomenal, especially in ToC. Just crazy good. It certainly beats Clutch against Beasts and Anub'arak.

Becky - thanks, that does look pretty nice.

Darksend - I hadn't tested the meta recently; the last time I had was back at the beginning of WotLK. That's...disappointing. It doesn't really change things here much, but it's still quite annoying.

Shahar - as other commenters have noted, haste is very, very good for overall threat. Especially since bear attacks don't scale that well with AP, having more hits in the same time is actually quite good. I'm starting to think that the best threat stat a bear can have is haste now. Sad but true.

Shamad - thanks for the strat, and grats on the kill! Also, write more!

Eow, I'd probably go glyph + juggernaut. You need a good amount of stam to survive the slash/hit/leech tick, and armor alone isn't going to cut it, but you don't want to stack so much that you're dying.

Melthu - as far as I can tell, freezing slash is at least physical to some degree and can be mitigated by armor. However, looking back at the logs it looks more like it's always a 25% hit no matter what your health is; our DK took significantly less damage per hit than I did every time, and that's the only thing that makes sense (it's not resistable, for instance). So you may be right and armor may only work on the melee hit. At the same time, it works well on the melee hit; stamina doesn't do anything to stop that damage, nor does it help with the leech (and actually makes you take more damage). Furthermore, there's good evidence that the damage you take from leech is computed 'early', and can jump over taking damage - meaning higher health can suck here.

My personal view is that you need a certain threshold of stamina to hit on Anub, but beyond that stamina is something of a detriment. That's what worked for us, in any case.

Shamad said...

There has been some rumours going about DK's using AMZ or Anti-Magic Shield to reduce the slash damage, although we've not been able to recreate it on 10man or 25man. I doubt that account for the discrepancy you are seeing, just thought I'd throw it out there.

Melthu said...

FWIW in an alt run our MT on his alt DK said that AMS reduces damage from Freezing Slash. If you look at the spell description on Wowhead it describes the attack as "Froststrike" damage, which I assume is why it can't be resisted. It can apparently be absorbed though, which makes DKs a pretty solid choice as Anub tanks if they can time AMS correctly.

Kalon said...

Shamad - actually, AMS did account for it entirely. Good call, Melthu.

Shamad said...

Interesting, well we rarely run DK tanks anymore so our testing was quite limited.