Thursday, October 29, 2009

[General, Druid] Icewell radiance, bears, and you

Ice sure is purty. I figure we're just staring at the pretty ice caves and forgetting to tank.

Or: people are really, really dumb.

This is a post designed entirely to defuse all the bad forum posters elsewhere. It's going to show every single way they're wrong and why they're wrong, and then I'll just put the link in my sig so that I never ever have to respond to them again.

If you don't like that attitude, that's understandable. I'm in a bitter mood right now after reading so much ignorance from other tanks, particularly druid tanks.

Here's the summary, in case you just want to skip ahead: Chill of the Throne is the least harmful to druids. It is a relative decrease to damage taken compared to other tanks. It also will likely make effective health more valuable, which only favors druids even more. In short, druids will be in a better position relative to other tanks than they were before this, and are in all likelihood the best overall tank in generic terms for any given encounter.

What is Icewell Radiance?

Icewell Radiance is the name a forum poster called "Chill of the Throne" - which is the real name. What's that? That's this:
For Icecrown Citadel, we are implementing a spell that will affect every enemy creature in the raid. The spell, called Chill of the Throne, will allow creatures to ignore 20% of the dodge chance of their melee targets. So if a raid's main tank had 30% dodge normally, in Icecrown Citadel they will effectively have 10%.

Why are we doing this?

The high levels of tank avoidance players have obtained is making the incoming damage a tank DOES take more "spiky" than is healthy for raiding. Ideally, tanks would be receiving a relatively constant stream of damage over time. This allows healers to better plan their healing strategy, broaden their spell options, and simply give more time to react. Tanks could use their cooldowns more reactively. Instead, the current situation is that if we make a hard hitting melee boss and a tank doesn't avoid two successive swings then the tank could very well be dead in that 1-2 second window. The use of reactive defensive abilities instead becomes a methodically planned affair, healers have to spam their largest heals just in case the huge damage spike happens.

We've been trying to do a fair amount to mitigate the effect of high tank avoidance on the encounter side of things during this expansion with faster melee swings, additional melee strikes, dual wielding, narrowing the normal variance of melee swing damage, and various other tricks. There's a limit to what we can do, however. So to give us a bit of breathing room we’ve implemented Chill of the Throne. Going forward past Icecrown Citadel, we have plans to keep tank avoidance from growing so high again.

We'll have this on the PTR soon so players can see the effects inside Icecrown Raid.
So what does this mean? It's an effect on each mob, which means the -20% happens after all diminishing returns have been calculated. It affects everyone equally; every player loses 20% dodge, just like if you were facing someone with expertise that only worked against dodge.

if you're wondering, my chronic pain is forumgoers

Druid win #1: relative damage taken

Let's take a paladin and a druid for comparison's sake. These numbers are basically made up, but that won't matter (as you'll see) because they illustrate a trend. And they're fairly close to accurate anyway.

The paladin has a total of 60% avoidance. They have 10% damage reduction in general, and 62% reduction from armor.
The druid has only 51% avoidance. They have 12% damage reduction total, and 66% reduction from armor.

In terms of total damage taken over time, the paladin in this example is winning. What's their total damage taken over time? It's damage in*armor reduction*talent reduction*avoidance.
So damage = 1*(1-.62)*(1-.10)*(1-.60) = .1368. In other words, for every point of avoidable damage that comes in, they take .1368 damage out.
The druid has 1*(1-.66)*(1-.12)*(1-.51) = .1466. For every point of damage in that's avoidable, they take on average .1466 out.

That's what's the case now - a paladin has an advantage in overall damage over time. Probably more than that, honestly. But again - doesn't matter. In that case, the paladin takes 93.3% of the damage a druid does in this example.

Let's now reduce the avoidance by 20% and see what happens to the numbers:
Paladin: 1*(1-.62)*(1-.10)*(1-.40) = .2054.
Druid: 1*(1-.66)*(1-.12)*(1-.31) = .2064

They're almost identical. Not quite, but significantly closer. The paladin now takes 99.4% of the damage that a druid does.

So relatively, a druid is taking less damage than they were before compared to other tanks. This is going to hold true for all other tanks unless you were a very rare kind of druid that stacked avoidance. In some cases it'll be more pronounced than others (particularly against DKs who had high avoidance values, druids will be even more ahead) but the general trend is true: if you have less avoidance than the other tanks and everyone gets reduced the same flat amount, the tank with less avoidance will be more improved.

but if you make this building only half as tall, you might live if you fell out
Druid win #2: less damage per swing

The main reason that they've done this big change is so that they can do less damage per swing while maintaining the same incoming damage per second to the tanks. So let's go through this math too.

Let's say that they wanted to have each tank take X damage per second after mitigation and debuffs and whatnot. In order to do this with avoidance being 60%, this means the incoming hits had to be X/(1-.6) , or 2.5X. If you were supposed to be taking 10k damage a second from avoidable attacks, the attacks needed to be 25000 damage/second big - which meant that you had to basically have 50k health to survive two hits in a row. That's pretty close to what things do in ToC now and what the thresholds are.

But now? The same X damage with 40% avoidance means the damage per second only needs to be 1.67x. Now, you can take 3 hits in a row with that 50k health, but it's more likely you'll be hit.

So everything's the same, right? Well...not exactly. The thing is that if things hit for 25k each, no tank can take 3 hits in a row. That's 75k. That's nuts. But reduce how much damage each hit is, and suddenly druids start having advantages due to their higher health potential. As I showed earlier, druids already have huge health leads over other tanks. 10k health. But 10k health doesn't matter when everyone dies in 3 hits.

10k matters a lot more when that means a druid can die in 4 while other tanks die in 3. Again, using those numbers from above - the best geared warrior has 59k health abouts. The best geared druid has 69k. That would directly mean a druid would be able to take one more hit that wasn't avoided without a single heal.

That's a big deal.

Especially when they have less of a reason to even care about avoidance and want to go for armor and stamina above all else. Which brings me to #3.

Druid win #3: not caring as much about avoidance
The idea behind diminishing returns on avoidance is the same as the one behind armor - while the absolute value per point of avoidance goes down as you get more of it, the relative value stays the same.

So for example: if I avoid 50% of attacks, getting another 1% avoidance reduces my relative damage by 2% - instead of taking 50 attacks every 100, I take 49, and (50-49)/50 = 2%.

But let's take 20% dodge off there. Now, that same 1% avoidance - which remember, costs the same as it did before - now makes me go from 30 to 31%. Which means that instead of taking 70 hits, I take 69. That's only a 1.4% improvement in incoming damage taken - or about a loss of 40% effectiveness.

So this makes avoidance about 30-40% less valuable than it was before. Think about that in terms of the gearing too.
60% of the time, it works every time

Druid win #4: druids still rock with stamina

Note that all the above applies to every tank. They're all not liking avoidance as much as they did before. They're all thinking they can get more hits without dying. They're all thinking that avoidance isn't the way to go. They're all going for even more stamina than they were before - if possible.

But druids win here, again. Druids get 16 points of health per every 1 point of stamina. No other tank gets close to this - only blood tanks vaguely get close to druid levels of health, and only paladins get close to this level of scaling (and they're about 14 per stamina point). Druids have continually gained more health per tier than any other tank. This trend isn't going to cease. So in the world where avoidance is blind, the stamina/armor tank is king.

So to speak.

Druid win #5: magic damage too!

So avoidance is worse, druids are better relative to other tanks, and they want more stamina. Traditionally one way to balance high avoidance values was via magical or unavoidable damage. But guess what - stamina aids that too.

And if that weren't enough, druids can fairly easily keep high levels of health while using resistance gear, as has been shown with some success a couple times in the past. So that means that even if they decide to throw stupid amounts of magic damage around, the best tank to deal with magic damage most of the time is...a druid.

So this is all awesome, right? What could go wrong?

Well, druids do lose some effectiveness of savage defense; it won't be up nearly as often with less avoidance. However, other tanks lose a similar amount of damage reduction this way (save DKs) so that's kinda a wash.

If there are fights like Anub'arak that favor shield tanks due to incredible amounts of quick attacks, they'll still favor block tanks. Similarly, fights that favored avoidance before will favor avoidance now, though not to the degree they did.

And as has been shown repeatedly in WotLK, one of the biggest things is cooldown use - and druids still have less oomph with their cooldowns than other tanks.

Note that I don't think that this will mean druids will be able to be so awesome that they'll allow taking fewer healers or taking fewer tanks because of their awesomeness. Maybe. If there's a fight like I described where a druid can take one more hit before dying than other tanks, this may be feasible; healers who can cast efficient, big heals are going to love druids. But it certainly means that if there are EH benchmarks that tanks must hit before moving on, druids are almost certainly going to be the first ones there.

Honestly? I suspect that we'll see a nerf to druids early on in Icecrown. Maybe even sooner.

But until that nerf happens? Druids rock, baby, and this nerf is secretly a druid plot to rule Icecrown.


Anonymous said...

Great post, Fellhoof! :)


Darksend said...

/shakes fist


that's got to count for something

lissanna said...

SO... sky isn't falling.


Grumpy Misanthrope said...

The sky might not be falling for you end game, bis tanks, but I'll bet it kills druids in lower tiers. Because perceptions do matter, and Druids are already perceived as worse tanks than Paladins and Death Knights. And this is going to change what's happening for people just now getting into Ulduar. Or TOC.

Anonymous said...

Why do you feel that druids are weaker than other tanks at lower tiers? Every tank gets better with better gear, and every tank gets worse with worse gear. This isn't unique to druids.


lissanna said...

@Grumpy - I'm pretty sure the Icewell radiance is only going to happen in Icecrown Citadel, where you should start out geared enough to handle it.

If you never went to Sunwell, you never had to experience the Sunwell version.

They aren't adding that into the lower content tiers... Otherwise, they would just directly nerf dodge rating.

Anonymous said...

What about Death Knights?

Yeechang Lee said...

Yes, the amount of knee-jerk whining about druid tanks is amazing. Here's what I posted at in a futile attempt to combat the stupidity:

"I don't disagree that Blizzard erred (Again!) by letting avoidance stats get out of hand (Again!) in Northrend. I don't see how this affects bears more than other tanks, though.

"I happen to have a druid tank and a paladin tank. Their gear is almost identical in terms of average iLevel. Unbuffed, the paladin has 25% dodge and 19% parry chances on his paperdoll, totaling 44%, plus 15% block chance and 1050 block value. The druid has 42% dodge and 42% crit; with 5900 attack power that means Savage Defense will block for 1475. With "Icewell Radiance," the paladin will have 5% dodge and 19% parry, totaling 24%. The druid will have 22%. The block/crit/Savage Defense figures won't change.

"The only advantage I see my paladin having over my druid is that the former will be able to stack both dodge and parry to make up for the 20% loss, while the latter can only stack dodge; I haven't run the numbers but I wouldn't be surprised, though, if the more-severe diminishing returns on parry more or less neutralizes that option quickly, anyway.

"On the other hand, since there is no Northrend tanking leather gear, almost all of the druid's dodge comes from agility (which scales from buffs like Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild) as opposed to "Equip: Improves dodge rating by xx" (which doesn't scale). Thus, I wouldn't be surprised if--all else being equal--bears have the most avoidance in Icecrown Citadel."

Zardoz said...

Hi Kalon. I've got a general question for you - not related so much to this post.

I'm Zardoz and I run an armoury datamining site.

Here's the question you may be able to help me with. There was a post at on druids which made the point that datamining sites don't provide a count of the various druid forms - boomkin, cat, bear etc.

That's a fair point and it has set me thinking about how to do it.

The two forms granted by talents seem simple enough, but there is nothing in the data, that I can see, about kittys and bears. I'm looking for a proxy that that would suggest the player is favouring one or the other of those forms.

I'd imagine with dual specs that a player who liked both forms would have one spec for each. It seems to me to be possible to count the specs related to each form, if they can be identified, and so get an idea of overall numbers from the total druid population.

Glyphs were my original thought. Are there two sets of glyphs (or even two singles) where bear tanks would have one set and cats t'other? A comment at my blog suggested talents as a proxy - a talent or two that are a must for bears and another one or two that are a must for cats?

They need to be "orthogonal" - ie something that a bear would have and a cat not, then vice versa.

Unfortunately I'm no druid expert so I'm looking for suggestions from people who know the class especially from a tanking perspective.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, ty.

btw, I would try to resist the temptation to get bitter when reading the forums. I dont read them any more, and I'm enjoying the game so much more. Life even took a turn in a positive direction, simply because I no longer read them. Filling oneself with that much negativity on a daily basis is really bad for teh psyche. Its like quitting smoking: you dont know how much damage it was doing to you until you quit, and notice how much better you feel. Wow is a fantastic game, but somehow, blizzard have failed miserably with the forums.

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

@ Communism -
I don't necessarily feel that Druids are weaker than other tanks. I'm a druid tank and feel that I tend to perform slightly better than our other tank (a DK) on most bosses. However, it's virtually impossible for me to get a tanking job outside of my own guild on my server. Because the perception on every server I have a character on seems to be that druids are inferior tanks. And because I have a bear spec and my gear is gemmed and enchanted for bear, my DPS isn't what people expect from kitty (I hate kitty DPS anyway).

So, I fully expect that this trend will intensify after they drop 3.3. It doesn't matter that you aren't losing the avoidance in Ulduar, that druids who might be a touch undergeared when they hit Icecrown (as most everyone else wil be) are going to get owned because they don't have good cool downs, and if Kalon is right, will be taking a 20% health nerf, so they won't have enough health to make up for their relative lack of mitigation compared to plate, everyone is going to say "Druid, heal or DPS. Bears suck."

I seem to be the only person here who remembers the game before TBC...It's ingrained in everything I do, because I didn't get to do anything on my druid for the first 18 months of the game except heal. There wasn't a choice if you wanted a group. And because Blizzard sucks at balance in a huge way, every move they make now pushes bear to the side, because how people view the class is more important than the reality. And the view is moving closer and closer to what we faced in vanilla every day.

Xarnen said...

That's really a shame that the servers you are playing on are looking down so much on bears. Oddly enough on my server (US-Cairne) which is a pretty casual PVE server, I do not get that sense at all. In fact, I'd say bears are given a lot of respect and I've been seeing more and more around lately (could be alts fwiw). Yes maybe my view is skewed as I am easily tanking 25 man reg TOC, not having survival issues in 10 heroic and am one of the better geared bears on my server. But even when I'm playing my warlock and see a bear tank, no one ever complains or doubts based on the class.

Kalon I had a feeling you were going to be pretty quick with another well thought out post, and pretty much this was the same inkling I had when I first read about the avoidance debuff. I was speaking to a healer friend of mine and this comment "healers who can cast efficient, big heals are going to love druids", is true now and will ring even more true in ICC. It's odd some of my guildies were a little shocked at my buffed dodge and thought I should be over 50%, but I've been doing just fine at around 43% using double stam trinkets.
My nerf fears right now will be that the they're going to eliminate the 10% on heart of the wild, and that would not be good for other bear tanks who are still progressing through other content.

Anonymous said...

That's odd that you feel that way, Grumpy. I'm not sure where it comes from, because my bear feels pretty darn insane and anyone I tank for agrees that the fat bear tankyness is awesome. =)

This change really does affect bears less than the other tanks, because we already have huge EH pools that we rely on to begin with. Let the pansy plate wearers worry about dodging around like rogues, us bears can take it.

Michael said...

Natural Reaction is probably the best bear identifier, whereas Predatory Instincts is the best cat identifier. I don't know any cat/bear that takes the opposing talent, even for 'bearcat' specs.

Kalon said...

Thanks, Communism - and keep up the good work on the forums!

Darksend - yes, you were right too. It is very much going to be more about the healers and affect them, rather than the tanks. Though like I said - any healers with big, efficient heals are going to love these changes and specifically love bears.

lissanna - that's exactly right. The sky is, if anything, likely to be clearing up some.

Grumpy - I hear that. I still, very rarely, get notes of that. Not super often, but sometimes. I think that bears are rare enough and that the bears that are out there are misinformed enough (at least some of them) that they have given bear tanking a bad name. On my new server and my old, though, I was pretty respected and a lot of people loved bear tanking.

The only way to fix it is to keep showing people that bears are awesome choices to tank the hardest content in the game, and world firsts of hard tanking tasks have been done by bears because of their awesomeness.

Anon2 - DKs are...interesting. My gut feeling is that they're going to be hurt the most. They were already the tank with the highest overall avoidance, so this hurts them on a relative basis more than other tanks. They don't have block, so attacks being smaller doesn't help them as much. Their threat is specifically helped by dodging thanks to rune strike, which means that this is a nerf to threat too. There's not a lot of win, here, save that dual wielding is really awesome with high-grade weapons.

Yeechang - "On the other hand, since there is no Northrend tanking leather gear, almost all of the druid's dodge comes from agility (which scales from buffs like Blessing of Kings and Mark of the Wild) as opposed to "Equip: Improves dodge rating by xx" (which doesn't scale). Thus, I wouldn't be surprised if--all else being equal--bears have the most avoidance in Icecrown Citadel."

This is incorrect. It's not dodge rating that's being nerfed, it's dodge. Agility was already the best way to get avoidance for bears. This changes nothing; making up 9-10% avoidance over other tanks would require about 1000 more agility, give or take. That's not going to happen.

Zardoz - that's a good idea. Orthogonal talents and glyphs should work. I'd recommend slightly against using glyphs or at least de-prioritizing them, as they're so easily changed. Here's a list:
Bear: Natural Reaction, Protector of the Pack, Thick Hide. Glyph of Maul, Glyph of Frenzied Regen, Glyph of Survival Instincts
Cat: Predatory Instincts, Primal Tenacity. Glyph of Savage Roar, Glyph of Shred, Glyph of Rip.

Anything else I've seen on a cat or a bear. And this doesnt' get into the hybrid specs you occasionally see, but those are going to be uncommon enough that it won't likely matter.

Anon3 - that's probably a good bit of advice. That whole "someone on the internet is WRONG" thing does affect me more than it should.

Xarnen - I think they're done with nerfing tanks for this expansion. I could be wrong, but my gut feeling is that if a nerf is coming, it won't be until after Icecrown releases. But I also expect to see a lot of nerfs then - either to the content or to people. Numbers right now are seriously weird.

Anonymous said...

You have made alot of things make sense, but what do you think are the best proffesions a bear can have?

Anonymous said...


Unfortunately, there isn't much that Blizzard can do about misinformation and lack of understanding. For example, you say that fresh druid tanks are going to get owned, but if there's any tank that can get away with being undergeared (which is usually done with having enough health not to die), it's druids. You say druids have a lack of mitigation but in reality it's quite the opposite.

A lot of disagreements between tanks and a lot of player perceptions would benefit from players educating themselves about every aspect of every class, and that's a lot to ask for. =/

@post above

Druids are exceptionally flexible in their roles and their ability to gear themselves for different stats within their multiple roles.

Jewelcrafting and Blacksmithing are far and away the most flexible professions, so they match druids quite nicely.


Anonymous said...

Kalon, you are saying this debuff is a buff for druid tanks. With no other changes I agree.

I have not seen any gear from the next tier, but Blizzard could nerf druid health by lowering the stamina on leather gear. To make sure that rogues and cat druids does not get too happy about this they could itemerize the gear badly - like putting a lot of haste or hit on the gear.

Alaron said...

Kalon, great post as always.

This may be a bit premature until we see the fights, but this tends to make Eitrigg's/FOTF a more desirable trinket, right?

Kansi said...

Great post :)

Anonymous said...

Great post, but I have concern that other classes can re-gear or re-gem for parry or block to compensate for the 20% dodge taken away by Chill of the Throne, while bears will not be able to do anything about it. What do you think about that?

Thessaly said...

Because it's a flat removal of dodge percentage, it's independent of ratings. So the relative value of parry and dodge don't change for the plate classes. Diminishing returns still occurs in the same way, independent of the final value in IC, so if regemming for parry wasn't worth it before, it won't be worth it with CotT.

Anonymous said...

Interesting view, but I'll go with what GC has posted about Chill of the Throne. Stamina is arguably less important, avoidance is still valuable, cooldowns matter and are not easily compared, and effective health does NOT = best tank. I love that you write a lot on bears Kalon, and I'm sure you're a great bear tank. But, you seem rather set on the idea that bears are the best tanks. They aren't. They're not dominating leading progression guilds, general opinion of them is certainly not "#1 tank" and the developers don't think so either. So, can you make this your last "nerf bears because they're so awesome" post for awhile?

Mestal said...

Of course he's going to be partial to bears. That's the class he loves to play. I'm pretty damn partial to druid tanking, myself. It doesn't mean that he's biased, it just means he loves druids. In fact, I think that if I had to find the most unbiased, informed posters on the official forums, it'd be a serious tossup between Fellhoof, Communism and Katjia.

As far as bears not being at the forefront of top guilds, there are a lot of reasons bears aren't dominating (there was a post in the Shifting Perspectives blog about it recently, as a matter of fact) and it has nothing to do with them not being amazing tanks. Hell, warriors are touted a lot as being the "worst tank" for progression, but the majority of bleeding-edge guilds use warrior MTs. That argument is pretty well moot.

The main reason that a nerf being expected was mentioned was probably because we have the highest possible EH values and our avoidance was nerfed the least. Our "damage taken" value is now on par with other tanks and we have more effective health. This puts our "time to live" quite a bit higher. This means that, without cooldowns, druids are pretty far ahead. The cooldowns may need to be rebalanced (hopefully buffed for the other tanks) in order to keep things in line.

@Fellhoof: I sure wish I had seen this post 2 days ago, because I posted some similar math (and a whole lot more) on my guild's forums last night due to one of the smartass DKs posting a "LOLDRUID" thread in there about this very issue. *sigh* It would've saved me about 3 hours (and possibly let me use them for sleep) if I'd been slightly more aware. :-)

lily said...

I have to disagree. Bear tanks are not going to win much and any advantage from stamina will be negated at least by the Warriors and Paladins, as soon as they swap out their +dodge for block and parry. With faster swings coming in Icecrown, I suspect block will become a much more favored tanking stat. Savage Defense just doesn't scale nearly as well as block value.

Xarnen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xarnen said...

I think you kinda missed the point of the article. Where block tanks will still do well for a fast stream of heavy incoming hits is really no different than it is now. Bear health and armor is generally higher to compensate. Also consider where block is really good, it can also be useless. This is where druids will have a major advantage as Kalon clearly describes. Where other tanks have better cooldowns, druids have proven again and again to easily adapt gear much more easily without gimping crit immunity or effective health via stam/armor. In run of the mill fights, the avoidance loss hurts druids the least as most bears progressing endgame are playing the effective health game(and doing quite well).

Reev said...

Kalon, great post.

One comment. Normally, I'd agree that avoidance is not the way to go with this change, but if it takes 4 boss swings without heals to die, the relative value of avoidance increases greatly.

For example, if you have 50% avoidance and it takes 2 swings to kill you, there's a 25% chance of that happening. If you up your avoidance 5% to 55%, the chances of taking those 2 swings in a row is 20.25%. (correct me if my probability math sucks, btw). Raising your avoidance by 5% reduces the chance of the worst case scenario from 25% to 20.25%, or a 19% reduction.

If we reduce avoidance 20%, however, and make it so it takes 4 swings to kill a tank, at 30% avoidance, there's a 24.01% chance to take all 4 hits. Upping your avoidance 5% to 35% means you have a 17.85% chance to be hit. Reducing your chance to be hit in this scenario reduces the chances of the worst case scenario from 24.01% to 17.85%, or a 25.7% reduction.

So as we need more hits to die, we also gain more survivability out of avoidance. It doesn't necessarily trump Stamina, but it can. Stamina is important in "plateaus." It's important in the sense that if it allows you to take another hit, it's amazing. If getting more stam doesn't let you take another hit, then avoidance will probably help you survive more in a scenario where you can take 3 or 4 hits before dying.

Rewts said...

EH proves its usefulness largely when learning encounters e.g. simply more hits to take before death is easier for healers to judge damage

It doesn't include any avoidance simply because RNG is not reliable; it's a chance. It's not a matter of taking less damage over time than a block tank, it's that when shit hits the fan, the massive EH tank is barely enough alive to avoid the wipe.

This is why the dodge nerf affects bears the least: highest health + highest armor allows a druid to take more punishment.

Again, most tanks do switch focus to a more balanced stam/avoidance set once they are geared at the current content, the strength of bears comes in getting to that point.

Kalon said...

Quickly - I've answered some comments here:

Tulveli said...

You said that paladins have 10% damage reduction, but that's wrong.
Imp RF = 6% (3rd tier talent)
Blessing of Sanc = 3% (can be given to anyone else too)
Shield of the Templar = 3% (10th tier talent)
Glyph of Divine Plea = 3% (100% uptime as long as you hit once every 15 seconds)

That gives 15%. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'd be interested in seeing the numbers with 15% DR, instead of 10%.

Cybac said...

Thanks for this, changed my initial thoughts and made me realise I should be looking after my druids as a RL ready for Icecrown. Have posted an update on my site with links to this to try and get it out there as much as possible.


Kalon said...

Tulveli - everyone has 3% reduction in damage if there's a paladin in the raid, but you're right - chances are it'd be 12%, not 10%. And that's fine. The avoidance numbers are off too, and they ignore things like block and savage defense.

None of those things matter; all that matters is that it's less of a relative hit compared to other tanks. Paladins might be 'ahead' or whatever, but in reality it doesn't change the argument.

Cybac - thanks :)

Evin said...

With the idea of bosses hitting faster and lighter, does an "anti-tank" set become the master plan now?

-Jaxus of Archimonde

Kalon said...

Evin - oh gods, no. They're hitting faster and lighter than they would have been had this not been in effect, but that doesn't mean they hit weakly. They're going to hit as hard as anything we've seen and likely harder than that. There's no indication that damage is down; things hit hard in Icecrown so far, and that's just on normal.

Evin said...

I was doing some numbers in my head. I think maintaining roughly 9-10k AP in bear form w/ all STR gems would be easily possible (making savage defense absorb roughly 2500 damage) at the cost of roughly 10k health (giving up every single gem slot I currently have, being 20, for STR).

With that in mind, I guess my point is that I have a roughly 10k hp lead on other tanks. Druids could simply level themselves out but have a roughly 40% "block" rate with a 2500 "block value." This would become extremely viable pending any stamina nerf in ICC or the next xpac.

This is just an idea though, I am on a low pop server and have noone to theory craft with except people who feral tank as an offspec (as we're the only guild who has even done heroic anub).

Anonymous said...


Great article! The only thing is that for 95% of all guilds there are no all level 258 tanks.

Take my guild for example, before 3.3 the only thing we hadn't done was Hc Anub.
Our best geared Pally tank has 55k buffed HP
Our best geared bear has 61k HP.
Neither are likely to get optimally geared before they enter ICC tonight.

With only a 6k differential, all of the sudden your "one extra big hit" advantage ceases to exist.

Furthermore, with the bosses hitting for less and less often i.e. less flurries, etc (implied by the blue post) I don't see how Block can be seen as anything other than a huge advantage. Especially when glyphed and with a 4 piece T9.25. Means you're block critting for 27% of the time which means slower attacks favour shield blockers. Last time I looked Savage defence didn't have the ability to absorb double the normal amount.

Btw, really unhappy about any talk of a further nerf on bears. To me the bear has a niche which needs to be maintained - they're big fat sponges. Big HP and big armour. These have been really nerfed over the past year or so and I would hate to see more nerfs on these stats without extra "facilities" such as those the warriors, dks and pallies have. Even then I wouldn't be happy. Why make everyone the same?

As you might have guessed I'm a bear or at least a former bear. Got sick of the nerfs and swapped to a warrior and having sooo much more fun with it.

Kalon said...

Anon - I do agree that if you're not optimally geared you're not going to see some of these differences.

The point being of this article isn't that though - it was that even if you don't have a big lead over the other tanks, this is still benefiting you as a druid over other tanks more. You're still taking less relative damage, you're still having more health (and that health is more valuable), and you're still able to better utilize EH.

And the bosses hitting for less thing is really misinterpreted. Bosses still hit for a LOT. They just don't hit for as much as they would have had there been no icewell radiance. Block, while nice, still isn't a huge mitigating factor (even with crit blocks). It's not like bosses hit for 5k or something. They're smashing harder than hard mode beasts do.

As an example: Lady Deathwhisper has a special attack that should be interrupted that does 50-60k damage that isn't resistable to the tank that's tanking her. Most tanks can't take this guaranteed; a bear can. That's pretty useful.

Anyway - I do agree that all tanks shouldn't be the same, and bears' advantages aren't so insane that they should be nerfed. This post was mostly to combat the huge amount of QQ on the various forums indicating how 'bad' bears had it. When in reality, bears have it better than they did prior to the patch.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see more theorycrafting on Evin's point - swapping out a big pool of stamina for a large amount of attack power, for the savage defense mechanic.

Although it's not what the original post is about, and although my initial hunch says that it probably won't work too well, I'm interested in seeing someone try it out.

Other than that, thanks for a well-thought out post, increasing my druid tank confidence!

Kalon said...

Anon - I'll see what I can do, but the short answer is that it's going to not be all that effective. With the chill of the throne effect, savage defense is worse, not better, than it was before because you'll avoid fewer attacks - which means the overall uptime of your shields are going to be smaller. So it's going to be not as useful simply because of that.

Furthermore, the bosses in icecrown 25 hit pretty hard still. They just don't hit as hard as they would have without Chill - but that's still plenty hard. I was taking 20-22k hits on Marrowgar.

But let's quickly do some napkin math. Instead of 10 stamina gems - which are worth 300 stamina before multipliers and about 480 stamina afterwards, so about 4800 health - you could have 10 AP gems. We'll use AP instead of strength because it's easier. Now, you have 400 AP. So that 400 AP gives you 100 damage extra on your SD shields.

Now the uptime of your shield has dropped from about 90% to about 80%. So that 100 damage absorbed only is worth about 80 damage absorbed per hit.

So you've given up 4800 health for absorbing on average 80 damage per physical attack on attacks that do 20,000 damage per hit.

Not worth it in my mind.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with your appraisal of the block mechanics.

Right now I block 1600 damage 16% of the time and 3600 damage 27% of the time. In total this means for almost half of all combat - based on the 22k hits that Deathwhisper is doing - I've got 7% to 14% damage reduction. And my block gear really isn't that good.

However, that aside I would say this - I do agree that Bears don't have it all that bad in ICC. But I don't agree that they are overall better off than the other tanking classes in ICC, with the exception of DKs who seem to have gotten shafted.

There are still fights which favour the other tanking classes. The 2nd ICC boss with all the adds. This does favour pallies, dks and warriors who can taunt more quickly/effectively than bears. Our resident bear - who is bloody good btw - acknowledges that other tank classes would handle the adds much better than bears.

I DO think that bears have been mishandled. Back in TBC when we were grinding Kara I remembered that Bears were armour-capped vs bosses and had 10k HP over their nearest tanking rivals. I also recall they couldn't dodge worth a dam but I might be wrong in that. But thats the way it should've stayed. It's only because the boss encounter mechanics at the time had such little imagination/variation that I think Blizz felt they had to nerf the bears HP/Armour to prevent ppl thinking that all they had to do was to find a big fat bear and life would be easy.

It seems to me that bears were enhanced and nerfed in all the wrong ways since then i.e. HP and Armour down and dodge up initially followed by a couple of nerfs to dodge at the beginning of Wotlk.

In comparision now, boss encounters are so complex that comparing now with back then it's like comparing Calculus with Arithmetic.
To me there's still a place for a big fat sponge standing there in front of the boss taking a kicking whilst the agile warriors/dks and pallies dance around collecting the adds/interrupting the mini-bosses/looking poncy/whatever and there really needs to be that demarquation between the tanking classes. To me the bears aren't fat or hard enough yet.

Machiavelli said...

In response to above, the reason that avoidance levels were buffed and a block was given while hp and armor were nerfed was b/c of druid complaints. These changes were made in naxx where bears were taking more damage than any other tank class by far. This is actually still the case as the poster pointed out. It is only b/c of the 20% flat decrease that bears are competitive in damage taken (and still behind). I disagreed with people when these changes were originally implemented, saying that it is fun to be a gimmick tank and that we would have the advantage in progression in the long-run. But people complained, Blizz listened and agreed and now we are still taking more damage than other tanks, but we are no longer as good of a gimmick tank. A guild would be crazy to choose a bear over a pally in progression encounters if it weren't for the dodge reduction.

Kalon said...

Anon - first off, since when is Deathwhisper doing 22k melee hits? I think you meant Marrowgar. I hope.

And okay, you're blocking 44% of the time and when you block you're absorbing, on average, 2800 damage 44% of the time. A bear will on average absorb 2000 damage roughly 60% of the time using the same standard. It's very close to being the same, and while a warrior does do more, it's not so much that it makes a significant difference.

Note that this analysis came out significantly before any real analysis of the actual boss mechanics did, so it's certainly true that for specific bosses druids aren't as good. For example: it's better to have a non-druid tanking Saurfang/Muradin on Gunship, since his stacks increase when he lands hits and thus favors avoidance. It's better for a non-druid in general to tank Deathbringer Saurfang, since he gains blood power based on how many hits he does, and avoidance helps quite a bit there. But at the same time, a druid tank can just sit there and eat the gunship stuff like no other tank can. A druid can eat a Deathwhisper bolt with not even that much of a worry if you get missed. A druid can happily take the saber lashes solo for a bit on Marrowgar. All because of that high health, high armor, and no real caring about avoidance.

As to favoring druids on Deathwhisper because the other classes can 'taunt faster' - what? Paladins and warriors do have two taunts (vs. the DK's 1 and the druid's 1) but the taunt cooldown is 8 seconds for everyone. And honestly, taunt is the worst way ever to pick those adds up. They're all spawning fairly close by; it's easy enough to simply swipe all three as they come out of the alcove and put immediate threat on them. The only difficulty is the two caster/one melee group, but just have your bear on the two melee/one caster side.

You also recall totally incorrectly on how well druids used to be able to dodge; the reason that they nerfed dodge rates via Sunwell Radiance in the first place was because you could have armor-capped bears with 75-80% avoidance, and that made the encounters too simple for bears or too hard for everyone.

Honestly, bears have never been more fat or more durable than they are right now. In their entire history. The only exception - and this is arguable - was against bosses that couldn't parry-haste and couldn't crush. And even then, bears have it better now. No, they can't be armor capped - but they have an additional 12% damage reduction to everything. No, they don't have 70% dodge - but they have cooldowns usable in bear form. And because bears don't have to have any requirement on defense, their overall stamina went up significantly; you don't have to wear a def trinket or do def enchants.

Anonymous said...

Biggest crap of bullshit i have ever seen, first troll i have seen with a own website.

Anonymous said...

Druids are the best and also my favorite tanks in the game, not going to lie. Not a huge fan of prot prot paladins/warriors or even DKs..

Anonymous said...

Hi again Kal, it's me anonymous again.

Having now been in ICC one month and seen one of our guild bears in action there and comparing his abilities to my warriors I ahve come to the following conclusion:

Bears are less viable in ICC than other tanking classes. However, they are no more viable either.

It seems as though Blizz has got this one right.
Every tanking class seems to have it's uses in ICC.
Having a well-geared bear on Marrowgar is an absolute bonus.
Yet so it having a warrior on Deathwhisper and Saurfang.
And having a Pallie on Deathwhisper adds, etc.

As to the stats: I've only got 2 or 3 lvl264 and 251 items but my raid buffed dodge is sitting at 8% after ICC debuff, Parry is 28% and Block at 17%.

One thing though: when I was referring to the extra taunts of the warrior I was talking about using the Vigilance ability - reduces the taunt cd to 1 second everytime the target with Vigilance is hit as well as providing a 3% DR. So as long as you put your Vig on a target that is getting hit regularly, say another tank :), then your Taunt is almost always off cd thus you can taunt repeatedly and quickly.

Overall, if you were saying that the bear's viability would be unharmed by the ICC debuff then it seems you were right. Good call!!

Anonymous said...

Soz, I meant "no less viable"

Anonymous said...

oh god, I should learn to check what I write...

Clarifying the last statement: If you were saying that bears would be NO less viable then you were right. But you weren't were you? You were saying they would be more viable...which they're not.

Kalon said...

Anon - I was saying that relative to the other tanks, Icewell radiance hurts bears the least. And because of the innate abilities that bears have, chances are they'd make out well in fights that stress tanks.

And so far? We've got one fight that stresses a tank (Festergut) and ferals are awesome on it. Not only do they take less damage per hit than the other tanking classes, not only do they have better CDs for this (45% health boost with huge armor at the 90% mark is win), but they can also go right to cat after they get taunted off and start pwning face better than any other tank can.

It's a pretty big win.

But mostly, this was to defuse the countless thousands that saw that bears lost dodge and said 'omg, we only have dodge! I CANT TANK'. Which was and is utter bullshit.

As to Vigilance - it's not that useful on the multiple adds for Deathwhisper, since you need to pick up the adds pretty fast. But again, it's not a big deal. Vig is great - witness warriors loving it on Anub - but being able to multiply taunt in ICC isn't so far a big deal that I've seen.

Warriors are great there mostly because of the mobility; there are a lot of fights that need moving around a lot, and warriors pwn on that.

And to clarify - I don't think that the other tanks are going to suck or you're going to have such a problem with tanking if you have (for example) a warrior and a DK. Certainly not for now. Wait until hard modes; we haven't done anything that stresses tanks out yet to the degree that tank differences will matter.

Anonymous said...

Haven't been to Festergut yet. The guild only started on that last week after the almost stealth release of the 2nd wing.

As to Vig, got to disagree. It's importance can't be understated. As well as the increased threat you gain, the 1 sec cd on taunt is hugely important on Deathwhisper, especially when a deformed fanatic occurs. You can't get into melee so you have to use taunt, this quickly succumbs to the dps and so you can't afford to wait 8 secs to re-taunt. This is more true for 25man than for 10man.

As to hard modes, unless the itemisation between tanking classes is way out of whack I wouldn't expect the balance to shift between the tanking classes on hard modes, assuming equally geared toons ofc.

As an aside, I do note that alot of the lvl 251/264 tanking items from ICC do have lower or same strength/Agil stats as lvl 245 and 258 items. Even to the point that I had to spend a good while thinking about whether a lvl251 ring was actually an upgrade over my current lvl 245 ring. Yes it had greater stam (but not by much) but the strength was down ~25 pts and the def/dodge ratings weren't appreciably larger. Relatively speaking, when you compare the item stat progression before ICC release and then after we do seem to be going backwards.

Anonymous said...

completly tunnelvisioned druid propaganda.

Paladins takes 9% less dmg unbuffed, we never go without sanctuary, thats another 3%. our divine plea talent gives another 3% reduction.

Argent defender is 10,5% extra EH.

We block alot 45%+.

Scott said...

I totally agree with your assessment that Druid tanks are just peachy with the 20% dodge reduction.
I'm Main Spec Feral tank with 61.2k hp raid buffed and can literally survive anything with well placed and timed glyphed Survival Instinct, Glyphed Frenzy Regen for 20% bonus to heals, and Barkskin and dodge and health trinket. String those out and I've salvaged literally the worst situations imaginable.
My only problem, all these new bosses like Festergut have such huge Dps requirements and I do FAR more than the other main tanks (8k-9.5k) that I am mostly needed to Dps. I understand it's not that I'm a poor choice to tank, I am fairly certain my guild leader would rather have me tank Festergut for instance because of my health. However, It's just not possible because other tanks have plain inferior Dps sets to me.
Not much I can do, on the bright side though, I will always get a raid invite because I can always fill a Dps roll well.
Sometimes it plain blows hard when I know if I could tank something easy but its plain not possible because they need my Dps.

Anonymous said...

As a Druid tank my biggest concern is gear from ICC, which SEEMS to favor agi over sta, and Cataclysm. Hopefully Druids will get something to balance out the Def changes that other tanks are getting.

Pythagorella said...

There's one thing that continues to bother me about the main post: Savage Defense. Avoidance has no effect on Savage Defense; it is solely based on whether you crit or not, unless I missed something. Here's the Blizzard text for clarification:

Each time you deal a critical strike while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form, you gain Savage Defense, reducing the damage taken from the next physical attack that strikes you by 25% of your attack power.

Read: Avoidance has NO EFFECT on this. It's reducing your dodge directly, not your agility (and thusly, your crit).

Kalon said...

There's one thing that continues to bother me about the main post: Savage Defense. Avoidance has no effect on Savage Defense; it is solely based on whether you crit or not, unless I missed something. Here's the Blizzard text for clarification:

Each time you deal a critical strike while in Bear Form or Dire Bear Form, you gain Savage Defense, reducing the damage taken from the next physical attack that strikes you by 25% of your attack power.

Read: Avoidance has NO EFFECT on this. It's reducing your dodge directly, not your agility (and thusly, your crit).

Pythagorella, avoidance has a huge effect on savage defense. The thing you're missing is that every attack that is avoided cannot remove a savage defense shield.

Which means the chances that you have a SD shield up for when you get hit is higher.

Conversely, if you take away avoidance the chances that you will not have a savage defense shield up on any hit are fewer.

This is easy to think about when you think about how it works: you need to get a crit on an attack or dot to have a SD shield. Meanwhile the boss is attacking you and removing them. If you had 50% total avoidance before, the rough time of any given shield is 2*the time of a normal attack of a boss.

But if you drop that to 30% avoidance, the rough time of any given shield is 1.4*the time of a normal attack of a boss. Now the question is this: can you get a crit in that time? If the answer is not reliably, the savage defense uptime is going to be reduced and you will not have as many unblocked attacks.

In the grand scheme of things you're sort of right, in that you aren't changing the amount of absorbed damage you're going to take (any more than a paladin is changing the amount of blocked damage) - those attacks were going to be blocked anyway. But it means savage defense is less overall effective simply because it's not as reliably up on each attack.

Aniv said...

I think what he means is that the debuff doesn't affect your chance of proccing savage defense. I have to agree, since the debuff only reduces your dodge and not your agility, your crit should be considerably realy high

Anonymous said...

Interesting post, but next time get your facts straight about paladins, before posting about paladins.

Also, making up numbers is bad idea to make a point.

I don't say this to troll you. It's just paladins do NOT have 1,4 health per stam point, do NOT have 10% DR (argent defender non-proc part FTW)

Anonymous said...

Nice post... im between my dk tank and druid tank for better icc progression, but now i probably start taking druid more to icc.

Good example of how druid tanks rock in icc is Sejta who is MT of world leading guild Paragon and he tanked lich king world first too.