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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

[Druid] Use this spec AT YOUR OWN PERIL, EARTH HUMAN

That's And a...tasmanian devil? Google images never fails me.

One of the odd things that I see from time to time is people armorying me to get the 'default' spec for tanking, using it blindly because they assume that if I'm doing it, it's optimal.

Well, naturally it is. I am the allmighty Kalon, and nothing I say could ever be wrong.

The question you should ask yourself is this: if Kalon's doing the optimal spec, what is he optimizing for? And with that, I bring you the totally wacky 56/15 spec. Or here, if you like the armory.

Okay, the first thing you're probably thinking is: the hell?

Most of the stuff is the same as what I've mentioned in the bear FAQ and even in the antiquated core tanking talent post. But there are some oddities that I'll mention. First, though, let me explain the reasoning.

This is a tanking talent tree only for main tanking, and it assumes that during a fight you will only be tanking. Cat DPS is incidental. Tanking when not being attacked is not the issue and should not be accounted for. This is also not designed to tank multiple adds.

Furthermore, this is for specifically tanking Anub'arak in heroic mode. For Anub'arak, you do not want improved Leader of the Pack; the healing is too random to count on, but gives too much healing to want to keep around. As such, removing it is very good; for our kill, removing it removed about 300,000 healing, which essentially meant removing 2100 HPS on the boss.

It also assumes essentially infinite rage situations; while tanking, you're expected to be taking massive damage. Rage should not normally be an issue.

With these things in mind, here are some of the controversial calls.
  1. No Omen of Clarity. If you have infinite rage, Omen of Clarity is pointless for bear tanking; it gains you nothing. It's unpredictable anyway. It's essential for good cat dps (even with bear talents), but since we don't care about that in this spec, it's gone. It's essentially one point wasted.
  2. No Ferocity. This is such a no-brainer to take; druids have been trained since birth to pick this. 5 less rage on mauls, swipes, and mangles? Of COURSE this is a good talent.
    Except that in infinite rage situations, it's not that important. It does mean that with a streak of avoidance you will get rage-starved; this happened to me a couple times. It also means that it's very, very important to pull with a full 40 rage (or more)But for the most part I didn't miss it when tanking Anub', or Beasts, or Twins. It's not necessary to get to tier 2 either if you're taking Feral Aggression.
  3. No Improved Leader of the Pack. Normally this is something that at least one feral in the raid should have; it's stabilizing and a decent amount of heals, and usually points are there for it. In this case, however, Anub'arak needs to have exactly the right amount of deliberate and predictable healing so that we can limit the healing as much as possible. That means unpredictable heals that we can't rely on to passively heal a group have to go. Honestly, we didn't miss this at all in the fights save perhaps Faction Champs.
  4. Feral Aggression and Infected Wounds are needed. This is because our warrior is going maximum threat/deep wounds, which means no improved Demo Shout. And I need to make sure the slow effect is up on my target, so Infected Wounds is required too. This is a requirement for our fights in general, so no big change here.
  5. Improved Mangle AND Master Shapeshifter? Wow. Yeah, that's right - with the above changes I have enough points to take basically anything that improves threat throughout the fight. King of the Jungle isn't taken because I can't use it; I must not have 25% armor reduction. But I can take the above. Improved Mangle actually deserves some credit here. Because I'm having to do things like demo roar and refresh my lacerate stack early so that neither drop off during freezing slash, the rotation doesn't look like a rotation so much as a priority system. And if you're doing a lot of other things anyway, being able to mangle more actually improves your rotation and your threat quite a bit. I need to work out exactly how much, but I'd ballpark it at more like 4-5% instead of 2.5-3%. It also helps uptime with your Idol of the Corrupter, so that's nice too.

    And on this, as much damage as you can muster is good. For our kill I managed to do 2800 DPS, which isn't bad on a single target using primarily survival gear.
  6. No Maul Glyph. Another one that I miss - but if you've read me before, you know that I think glyphs are the new flask. Still, this has some explanation. I don't actually care about growl that much on Anub'arak, but it was important that my mauls don't hit another target. This is because occasionally a burrower would get close enough to me that I'd hit it with maul if I wasn't lucky - and that might mean that it went to me instead of the add tank. That meant instant wipe. Easy to fix - just swap glyphs back and forth, and you're set.
The end result was a fairly strong MT build. Only a couple times on bad avoidance streaks did I have any rage issues. My DPS sucked when switching to cat on adds, but not so much that it mattered hugely.

Heroics, though...were a totally different experience. It was like playing through molasses. Just painful. Fortunately I outgear content enough that if need be I'll just switch to my DPS spec and tank that way. I won't have PotP or NR or a lot of important tanking talents, but it won't matter. I'll have the essential speedy attacks, and taking more damage will mean more rage.

It's also a really horrible spec to solo in without imp lotp.

Ony was also a bit hit and miss; the transition from p2 to p3 left me with a lot of threat to make up, and not a lot of rage. It wasn't the funnest thing ever.

Still - it was great to have a substantial threat gain from what I had had before. Mauls hit for more, and mangles were going off all the time. It felt a lot more in control, and most importantly I did significantly more damage while keeping all of my necessary survival talents. If you want to go against some of the 'standard' experiences - you might try it.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

[General]Nature Resist for Anub'arak ToGC25

A couple people have asked about what nature resist I use for Anub'arak here and there. It's pretty easy, actually.

Nature Resist Totem (130)
Arcanum of Toxic Warding (25) - from Knights of the Ebon Blade Honored
Enchant Cloak - Superior Nature Resist (20) - farmed from Icecrown mobs. And the drop rate really isn't that bad.
Lesser Flask of Resistance (50) - pretty much any alchemist will have this, though it costs fireleaf, which isn't that common.
Fur Lining - Nature Resist (70) - farmed from the same icecrown mobs as above. This is a leatherworking-only perk.
Runed Ring of Binding (25) - Onyxia 10.
And while I don't have it, Signified Ring of Binding (30) is also awesome, and drops from Ony 25.

That's all it is. With the above enchants and flasks and totem, I get to 320 NR. Which is good for an average resistance of about 38%.

What does that mean for Anub'arak though? On our 2% wipe last week (side note: sob) this was my values for Leeching Swarm:

Actor Totals Hits Absorbed Resisted Misses
Ab Total
1544848 16.2 % 214 7218.9 1544848 73 230926 214 1137968 2 2

So I took 1.5 million damage from leeching swarm, and resisted 1.1 million damage.

Leeching swarm was active in this fight for 217 seconds. This is the formula for how much damage Anub'arak heals from leeching swarm:

healing = (damage done + absorbed damage)*(2.3)*(MS effect)*(player modifier to healing)

The MS effect corresponds to whether MS or wound poison is up - if it is, this all gets reduced by 50%. The 'player modifier to healing' is another example of awesome blizzard mechanics, where the player's talents that multiply healing done also multiply healing done to Anub'arak. So things like Purification or Master Shapeshifter (tree) boost healing done to Anub'arak.

The important thing to note here: resisted damage doesn't ever heal Anub'arak.

For me, that meant I was personally responsible for 1.983 million damage healed to Anub'arak - in 217 seconds, that's 9173 HPS. Yikes.

But how good was the resistance? The damage I didn't take was equal to 1.137 million/217 seconds or 5244 DPS I wasn't taking during this time. The healing done would be equivalent to 1.15 this value (MS effects were up), which meant that resisted damage was equivalent to 6030 HPS not done.

In other words, the resistance was the equivalent of 6k DPS done to the boss.

Note that this isn't all due to the enchanting this way; 130 NR provides about 18% resistance by itself, or about 3k DPS done by itself. That means the gear by itself contributed about 3k DPS, or 2.6k reduced damage.

That's very substantial, and it certainly makes it easier to heal the tank on the hardest part of healing.

Is this adviseable for other players? Probably not. Certainly not other DPS classes, who will already be fairly low on health and want to do maximal DPS prior to phase 3. Maybe healers, who may be able to take the hit on their healing power/regen power.

But almost certainly tanks. Our two tanks by themselves were responsible for about a third of all healing done to Anub'arak - and that was with me using NR gear. If I hadn't, we'd be closer to 40%.

So if you have enough health to survive the scary part of phase 3 - which is freezing slash + a melee hit + a leeching swarm tick - consider dropping it for at least a lesser flask of nature resistance.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

[Druid]Random thought for bears out there

Don't have the time to flesh this out entirely, but just a quick thought:

What if bears didn't use melee DPS gear for their tanking gear - they used leather spellpower gear instead?
What if the DPS role for bears not tanking wasn't cat - it was moonkin?
What if the secondary talent tree for bears wasn't resto, it was balance?

Some quick advantages this would confer:
  • the visual representation of a bear in caster form would look like other druids, not a hodgepodge of horrible rogue and druid gear. Honestly...are you looking forward to this?

The face of the druid in T10

  • Much easier to gear up for the most part. Instead of competing with almost all other melee DPS for armor drops, you'd be competing with resto and moonkins for their drops. How easy is it to get a complete set of moonkin/resto gear without really trying? Dunno about you, but I've found it really simple.
  • Jewelry would be shared with other tanks just as it is now, so nothing easier or harder than it is currently.
  • Brings more druidry back into bears. Instead of being a warrior clone, this allows bears to really open up some of the spellcasting abilities. Improved thorns, insta-cast wraths and starfires, that sort of thing. Would it be interesting to have the bear primary AoE ability not be swipe - but be hurricane? Would being able to do casts in bear form be interesting? Would a rotation of mangle/lacerate/starfire/wrath/moonfire be more interesting, especially if some of that depended on proccing an OoC? Would it be more interesting to spend mana instead of rage?

  • Bear and cat wouldn't go together well, and you couldn't easily have one set work for both. On the flip side, it's better for moonkin/resto hybrid dual speccers.
  • Gearing for the weapon would SUUUUUUCK. How much competition is there for caster staves now? Great, you're fighting every single mage, priest, warlock, moonkin, tree, and possibly some hunters (because hunters always roll on staves druids want, no matter what).
  • Stat allocation and whatnot would be even more arcane. Expertise wouldn't be around - so how would you get it? Hit, crit, haste would all be there - but now you've got int and spirit to somehow convert reasonably. (one easy solution: make int = strength (it has the spellpower coefficient right now anyway), spirit = strength, and either force bears to enchant/gem for expertise and stamina (not horrible) or have some secondary conversion. Also, get rid of savage defense entirely)
And the big one:
  • Many, many ferals like to be able to do bear and cat. That's where they're comfortable. That's the history of ferals. That's the feral tree, right there.
Anyway, just an idle thought while I wait for something to build.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

[Druid] Gear for Cats updated 10/15

I've updated the Cat gearing guide, which now includes pretty much every item from ToC and Onyxia pieces. Go check it out here.

Not a lot to report in terms of changes, honestly. The Onyxia loot isn't that stellar for cats, and you shouldn't be super thrilled to get it.

On a side note, my personal DPS has gone way down compared to others recently. Part of that is the reprioritization of gear that I've done for bear; most of my good pieces have been converted to bear pieces and regemmed appropriately. Part of it is that I'm rusty. But a big part is the hit armor pen took. I'm still doing okay, mind you - but I'd definitely consider not stacking armor pen as the big win unless you have some odd non-ToC pieces around to do so.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

[General, Paladin]Argent Defender is OP!

As a feral tank - and really, as any tank would tell you if they were honest, Argent Defender is ridiculous. It's not just overpowered, it's superpowered. It's a relic from an older age when power just flowed like candy, and really shouldn't exist in this world of more realistic, 5% bonuses and gritty power benefits.

I mean, the guy can fly through space on a surf board. He is the herald of Galactus, who can eat whole worlds and has a weapon that erases you from existence. He uses the power cosmic - and that's like using cheat codes, basically. He's taken on the entire Fantastic Four and whooped them; the only reason they won is that he felt some pity and remorse for his planet.

So totally nerf Argent Defender. He's stupid.

However, if you're talking about the paladin talent Ardent Defender, it's just about right and puts paladins on a similar but not as good level of EH as a druid. The proc is reasonable and is on the same level of power as many other ohshit buttons, with the proviso that it's much better in some cases (ohai, Algalon) and not nearly as good in others.

Sorry for that. Was feeling a bit silly this morning and was annoyed at yet another stupid thread about Argent Defender, and that silly misspelling. Argent means 'silver'. Argent Crusade - Silver Crusade, kinda like that Silver Hand thing. That big burst on the tabard? It's in silver, ya know. Ardent means impassioned or hot, like...zealousness. Ya know, like what paladins are?


Thursday, October 8, 2009

[General] Trinkets, tanking and you part 2 - the answers

As promised (though a bit late) here's the followup to the previous post about trinkets.

First off, this is the list of responses overall:

KT Hodir NRB Anub Mimiron
Juggernaut 5 9 9
Glyph 5 2 1 10
Bheart 5
3 5 8
DM:G 5 3 5 5 2
6 2

It's an interesting spread. No one would ever use the balebrew trinket on KT, no one would use the heart on Hodir, no one would use Juggs + Balebrew on Anub, and no one would use glyph on mimiron. Interesting.

Here's what I either have chosen or would have chosen:

Boss 1: Kel'Thuzad (25-man) tanking the adds (at T7 levels of gear): I'd go with glyph and Black Heart. Huge health is nice on this, but not essential, and while you hit SI at the end this can actually hurt you if KT picks that moment to freeze you in a giant chunk of ice, as it does a percentage of your damage. Armor is awesome here, as it works against multiple mobs well and it deals with being stunned/frozen. I would also want an extra CD just in case, and glyph is great.

Boss 2: Hodir (25-man) tanking the boss at just starting T8 levels of gear. For this, you want a fairly large chunk of stam. I didn't mention, but I assumed you'd be one-tanking it. If that's the case I'd go with Juggernaut and Black Heart. For a bear, two stam trinkets (even at barely T8 levels of gear) is going to put you well over the frozen blow limit for stamina, so you don't need raw stam only. Black Heart gives stam for the frozen blows and gives armor for when he's not.
(bonus: does this change if you're trying for the hard mode?)
Yeah, and as many alluded to chances are you don't need the stamina trinkets and are going for minimum healers, so DM:G gets the nod here - as does some other threat trinket, most likely. Or an avoidance one. Given the choices the best 'threat' trinket is likely the balebrew charm. :)

Boss 3: Heroic Northrend Beasts (25-man) tanking Gormok with one other tank, then tanking the stationary worm, then DPSing on Icehowl (at barely T9-levels of gear). This one was surprising to me, as while almost everyone picked Juggernaut, very few went double stamina. That's what I do, by the way - I go Juggernaut + either Heart of Iron (what I did to start) or Black Heart (what I do now). The extra CD from Heart of Iron was too good to pass up. On my first kill tanking it I went Defender's Code + Heart of Iron to get the extra CD, but it wasn't reliable enough and would lead to my death anyway.

Anyway, my experience here is that more than anything else, raw stam is great.

Boss 4: Heroic Anub'arak (10-man) tanking Anub'arak (at T8-levels of gear) This is another interesting one. Everyone picked glyph, and it was the only unanimous pick of the whole test. But then choices were between Black Heart and DM:G. On 10-man, I went with Defender's Code and DM:G to start, but with the nature resist strat I actually went and equipped more stam, going for defender's code and heart of iron instead. Now that I'm doing it in 25s, I'm using glyph and juggernaut. The reason this works is that I'm getting rid of stamina in other ways. And the cooldown from juggernaut is useful, even though it heals; damage can be very rough.

The way I justify this is that I'm losing about 8k total health in using the other non-stamina trinket, the flask, and the various enchants. So I gain a bit back. So far, it's worked out ok.

I'm not a fan of DM:G on this because the worst case doesn't allow you to block and DM:G doesn't have an on-use. Dodging is good, don't get me wrong, but the thing that kills tanks is unlucky melee+slash+ leeching swarm more than anything. And since you're stunned, the main way to deal with that is by armor and stamina (and resistance).

Boss 5: Mimiron (10-man) tanking phase 1, then tanking adds in phase 3, then tanking all parts in phase 4. Again, most people picked Juggernaut as the first trinket choice. Many picked Black Heart, but that was puzzling; what actually hits physically hard on this fight? The assault bots don't, the boss doesn't; the dangers are almost entirely magical. I was expecting more Balebrew charms. For the record on normal mode I just did this with HoI and DM:G.

(bonus: does this change in hard mode at all?) Yes, it did - I went pure stamina and would do so again, so that I could hopefully survive the plasma blasts. It's tough.

Onto the comments:

Anon - the hydross trinket didn't have an internal CD, but it didn't proc all that often. I had an uptime of about 50%, give or take. Which makes it a bit less valuable than Glyph on the normal case, but it's not predictive and not on demand. It's kinda meh, but if you want to maximize armor no matter what? Probably a decent idea.

Frederic, Edward Nigma's wife is totally awesome as an answer.

dtc (and others) - I didn't put Heart of Iron on there because I wanted y'all to think a bit. Namely, is 170 stamina without an on-use good enough? Otherwise the answer is almost always "Juggernaut + HoI" over and over again, and that's boring.

Liz - RNG is a bastard on beasts, but RNG is really an illusion. The only really dangerous times are on impales, and you know exactly when an impale is going to hit, without question. Time your CDs (and use external ones) for these, and you will be golden.

As to Beasts and dtc's question, we do use only two tanks on beasts and so far it's been fine once we worked out a few kinks. Our rotation looks like this, kinda (from memory, so forgive me if it's wrong)

I start. Note that 'impale x' means 'have CD used for impale x', so if it says barkskin on impale 1, that means that barkskin is up in time to eat impale 1.
impale 1: barkskin
impale 2: trinket CD
impale 4: warrior taunts
impale 6: trinket
impale 8: I taunt, barskin
impale 9: GS
impale 10: SI
impale 11: warrior taunts, LS, I get BoPPed
impale 12 (if it happens): Shield wall
impale 13: PS

then warrior gets bopped.

Nowadays we don't get to impale 12 unless we got very unlucky on snobolds.

It is a shitton of damage, but it allows for faster DPS on all three phases and is fairly easy. With this rotation down we're no longer getting gibbed randomly due to tank death; the only issue is if snobolds decide to go kill nothing but healers. That's basically the only RNG part.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

[Druid, General]Trinkets, tanking and you

I just like turtles.

One of the more common questions I get for bears is about trinkets. Here are some of the examples:
What are the two best trinkets in the game?

Is it worth grinding for x?

Should I spend the money on y?

Should I wear x and y, or y and z? Or is x & z actually good?

The thing is, none of these questions make any sense to me. I read them and am often really confused. Why am I confused?

Because they're incomplete sentences. They don't contain nearly enough information to validate most of the time.

For example, someone could ask me whether it's worth running Naxx 25 over and over to get Defender's Code. And you'd think that'd be an easy one - Glyph of Indomitability is better in every way, so you should just get that, right?

Except you can use them both. And you might want to.

Before I start on this, I should also mention a quick and dirty macro that is awesome:
/use 13
/use 14

What this does is it shows the tooltip of the trinket in your first slot and when activated, uses both trinkets at once regardless of what they are. This is important to the rest of the concepts here; you don't want to normally have a macro that uses one specific trinket; you want a macro that uses a trinket slot. Now, there are plenty of times that you want to have a macro to only use trinket 1 or 2 - but again, don't do something like '/use juggernaut's vitality'. Just /use 13 and /use 14.

Anyway question about what trinkets to use always - always - comes down to situation. Good tanks swap gear out all the time, and by far the easiest pieces to swap are the trinkets. They tend to have only one giant stat, one on-use ability, and otherwise aren't the lynchpin that you base your entire set around.

An aside: this concept was a very big reason why resilience was so strong back in BC days. With resilience you didn't have to wear defense trinkets if you didn't want to; you could have both trinket slots have whatever you wanted whenever you likd. Double avoidance use trinkets to give yourself bearvasion? Sure. Double stam? Awesome. Armor and stam? Great. This alone made resilience a great stat for bears.

Anyway, the first and most important rule about trinkets is this: always keep trinkets. Always get more.

an example of my bags at any time

The only time to throw out a trinket is when you have two that are direct upgrades in all ways.

Another example: recently on our 10-man the Eitrigg's Oath (heroic) dropped. It's not a great trinket. It might not really even be that good of a trinket. But at the same time, I took it simply because at some point, there might be a boss where it's the best choice.

I still have Living Root of the Wildheart, for crying out loud. (haven't tested recently if it works still, but I bet it still does - and I bet it's awesome).

Anyway, this applies to all tanks. All good tanks I've ever known covet trinkets. They keep them around, whip them out here and there, and use them situationally. They may have two that they use in their vanilla set, but they're not wedded to them.

And aside from the weapons, what do tanks look for most when new loot lists come out? Trinkets.

Okay, that's the first rule. The second rule is to understand the encounter. This is really important. Every boss fight you should ask yourself, what do you need the most? This is sort of my checklist; yours will differ depending on your gear and your party.

1. Do I need an extra cooldown - and if so, what will work the best?
2. Do I need more health, mitigation or avoidance?
3. Are there tank swaps?
4. Do I need a fear/stun break?
5. Will I need to DPS at some point?

That's basically it. I'll run through each one.

Do I need an extra cooldown? This one's the most important in my mind. Sadly gone are the days where double avoidance trinkets could push your dodge past 100% and make you go bearvasion, but having two trinkets with on-use dodge abilities (such as Heart of Iron or Defender's Code) is still very good for making another mini-cooldown with the shit hits the fan. Dodge is my favorite version of cooldown normally, but again - depends on the encounter. There are health cooldowns and armor cooldowns too. Follow #2 and use what makes the most sense, or at least try.

Do I need more health, mitigation, avoidance or threat? This seems like a duh question, but it really seems to be avoided by people. On a fight, what is more important? Do you personally need more health? If you know you're going to need more health for whatever reason (big hits, magic soaking), you should use a stam trinket or two. Do you need more mitigation? Passive armor trinkets are great for this. Is avoidance more important on a fight? (don't laugh, there are some fights that this makes a difference) Then go for passive dodge. Note that this means the passive on equip effect; you don't want procs here as much as you want reliable stats. And if you really need threat, this is a place to put on that hit/expertise trinket and go to town.

Are there tank swaps? This seems like an odd question at first, but the reason I bring it up is that it makes some trinkets much more powerful - namely, the proc trinkets like The Black Heart. Normally these trinkets aren't quite as good as on use trinkets because they go off every so often - but you can't control when. Typically they go off as soon as they can and then go on cooldown for a while; the Black Heart goes off for 10 seconds and has a 45 second CD. For a fight where you're just constantly tanking, this means you get the proc about 20% of the time - which is good, but not great.

But on a fight like Thorim, you're only tanking for 26 seconds at a time normally. That means it's up 10/26 seconds, or 40%. Now it's looking much better, no? And it's up almost immediately at the swap, which is usually where there is a lot of risk as healers swap over - and the proc nicely overlaps with the tank swapping time. The same is true on Gormok as well.

Do I need a fear/stun break? This isn't as important as it used to be, but there are still a few fights where fears are annoying and or wanted to be broken. The best example I can think of currently is Faction Champs - the second might be Onyxia if she was at all hard.

Will I need to DPS at some point? There aren't many trinkets that can pull double duty for a bear, but the best is Darkmoon Card: Greatness. If you know that you're going to go cat at some point (and more importantly that your dps actually matters) you should try and use at least one trinket that will aid you here. There aren't many fights that none of the above matter but this does, but it's always something to keep in mind. I use this on Jaraxxus when tanking adds, for instance; I'm not in bear all the time, and I don't need to have maximum mitigation on the adds.

Those are the rules on how to pick trinkets. Now here's the rules on how to prioritize what trinkets to get.

1. Equip effect. This is almost always the most important part of a trinket. What do you get all the time out of it? Stamina is sort of the standard for most tanks now, but there are plenty of dodge trinkets, an agility one, and quite a few armor trinkets. All have their purpose at some point. In general, the most valuable trinkets are the ones with the best on equip effect. This is one of the reasons that I don't like Eitrigg's Oath that much - while its on use is good (essentially it's a black heart on use), the equip effect is avoidance, which is at an all-time low in terms of value.

2. On use effect. There are a ton of trinkets that I love just for the on-use effect. Heart of Iron is still one of my favorite trinkets (over Juggernaut's Vitality) because I tend to value 10% more dodge much more than 3k health when the chips are down. But both are stellar. The best part of on-use effects is that they are user-controllable; you get a small ohshit button out of each one. This is very good for a druid because their ohshit buttons aren't so great, but they're good for any tank, honestly.

3. Chance when hit/chance on hit: There are a lot of proc trinkets out there, and in general I don't like them nearly as much. Black Heart's proc is stellar, but it's not nearly as useful as cooldowns most of the time. Darkmoon Card Greatness's proc is also great, but again - not up when you want it most. In general on procs tend to be stronger than on use (I'd rather have 300 agility on use than 400 dodge, wouldn't you?) and they happen more often, but the lack of control hurts them.

My hovercraft is literally full of eels.

With all of that verbiage, what are some of my favorite trinkets? And what are some that I'm meh about? That's what you dirty bastards actually want, isn't it? Fine, fine. Let's go down my list of trinkets from the loot rank and talk about some of them.

The Black Heart has a decent equip effect - it's not as good as some of the later trinkets - but the on-proc armor is simply crazy. It's about a 5% reduction in incoming damage for most tanks, and the uptime is about 20%. For a tank& spank fight there's no better combination of health and mitigation; this will reduce your overall damage on average more than any other trinket. However, it is a proc effect, which makes it not great for everything. Plus they got rid of the most awesome part - the BoP effect. Sigh.

Glyph of Indomitability is just a good overall trinket. 1792 armor is the equivalent of 3 tiers of leather gear, all in one, and by itself is close to a 2% reduction in incoming physical damage. The on use is very strong too. This is about the ideal trinket for me; the only thing that would be better in my mind would be an on-use that gave resistances or an on-use that gave more armor.

Satrina's Impending Scarab/Juggernaut's Vitality is health, health, and more health. For a bear this is (I believe) 3500 health by itself after raid buffs. There aren't many fights that you won't be happy for this. The on-use is decent but not amazing for bears, given that it doesn't scale with all that health - but do note that it does get multiplied by survival instincts when that goes off. So if you really want to have 120k health for some wacky screenshots, that's how you do it.

Darkmoon Card: Greatness still rocks. It's still one of the better trinkets for both cats and bears. It is still the only trinket that provides avoidance, mitigation and threat. The biggest knock against it is that it isn't stamina, and the second biggest is that it has an on-proc effect based on hitting. It's a very versatile trinket and one of my standards when I don't need something particularly special.

Heart of Iron
is right up there with Glyph in terms of awesomeness. Huge amount of health + a great use effect make it just all around good. Note that it doesn't share a cooldown with Juggernaut's Vitality, so it is likely better more often than not to use Heart of Iron instead and lose 300 health in exchange for 5-6% more dodge on demand if you have both the normal and the heroic versions.

Royal Seal of King Llane/Bitter Balebrew Charm/Bubbling Brightbrew Charm are all raw stam sticks. I don't like these nearly as much as other trinkets, but they do have their roles to play - especially in magic-heavy fights where on-use trinkets aren't as important. Or they're good for walking around with 40k health in caster form. Definitely would've loved these on Sarth3D at the beginning of the year.

Defender's Code is not nearly as hawt as it once was, but when you need maximum armor and are fine on stam, it's hard to go wrong. It also has a nice on-use effect that goes well with other trinkets. Keep it around for a while.

Eitrigg's Oath/Fervor of the Frostborn is still sorta meh. There are places where it could be useful; for example, if you definitely wanted to deal with a big hit at one point no matter what and weren't swapping tanks, this would be better than other options. But the avoidance on equip just isn't that interesting.

Seriously, who would possibly own this?

Okay, it's time for quiz time here. Which two trinkets would you use?

I'll give my answers in the next post I do, but let's see how much y'all have learned. I'll throw out 5 bosses from Naxx, ToC, and Ulduar along with what your role is on the fight and what your average level of gear is. Here are the 5 trinkets that you have to use:
Juggernaut's Vitality
Glyph of Indomitability
The Black Heart
Darkmoon Card: Greatness
Bitter Balebrew Charm

Here's an example:

Sarth3D 25-man (at T7 levels of gear), tanking Sartharion. For this, it was really important to get as much stamina as humanly possible, as the dangerous part of the encounter was entirely large single hits of lots of magic damage. I actually used Essence of Gossamer and Commendation of Kael'thas, but if I were doing it again, I'd use Satrina's Impending Scarab/Juggernaut's Vitality and a Direbrew trinket.

Boss 1: Kel'Thuzad (25-man) tanking the adds (at T7 levels of gear)
Boss 2: Hodir (25-man) tanking the boss at just starting T8 levels of gear. (bonus: does this change if you're trying for the hard mode?)
Boss 3: Heroic Northrend Beasts (25-man) tanking Gormok with one other tank, then tanking the stationary worm, then DPSing on Icehowl (at barely T9-levels of gear).
Boss 4: Heroic Anub'arak (10-man) tanking Anub'arak (at T8-levels of gear)
Boss 5: Mimiron (10-man) tanking phase 1, then tanking adds in phase 3, then tanking all parts in phase 4. (bonus: does this change in hard mode at all?)

I look forward to seeing what your answers are. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

[Druid]It's time to play that game again - NERF THAT DRUID

Okay, not really. But this is getting kinda silly.

I've talked in the past about how druid stamina scales somewhat stupidly, and how they can wear gear that is just wrong (like pvp gear) and not really care. I've shown what that means and how it means before. And I've even talked about how to nerf bears the right way, once and for all.

That's not what this is about though. This is about stupid things. Like how much health you could conceivably get now.

And according to Rawr - it's 72.0k assuming LW/JC and a Tauren, and all raid buffs.

I realize this set is a bit ridiculous - it relies on a fair amount of pvp gear - but it's also kinda silly that it's even possible. Here's the full list of gear. Everything save one piece is gemmed for stamina (the second ring has a red gem for the meta). Everything has a max stam enchant. Otherwise it's just like you'd expect:

Head Relentless Gladiator's Dragonhide Helm
Neck Legionnaire's Gorget
Shoulders Shoulderpads of the Intruder
Chest Polar Vest
Waist Polar Cord
Legs Legwraps of the Broken Beast
Feet Polar Boots
Wrist Armbands of Dark Determination
Hands Relentless Gladiator's Dragonhide Gloves
Finger1 Band of the Twin Val'kyr
Finger2 Band of the Traitor King
Trinket1 Juggernaut's Vitality
Trinket2 Juggernaut's Vitality
Back Cairne's Endurance
MainHand Relentless Gladiator's Greatstaff
Ranged Idol of the Corruptor

Health: 72056.19
Agility: 1462
Armor: 34329
Stamina: 5952
Dodge Rating: 156
Defense Rating: 196
Resilience: 303
Dodge: 43.474%
Miss: 8.859%
Strength: 750
Attack Power: 8137
Crit Rating: 290
Hit Rating: 190
Expertise Rating: 47
Haste Rating: 102
Armor Penetration Rating: 0
Avoided Attacks: 14.589%

That's the worst part - this includes about a 50% avoidance rate. Yeesh.

Okay, you say - what if we take out the polar gear and the pvp gear, and we don't use things like Band of the Traitor King? That sounds almost like it'd be okay...except that the best in slot gear is perilously close to polar gear anyway. Still, let's take a look at what that would be like.

(here's a fun game - guess what the health will be!)

Head Runetotem's Headguard of Triumph
Neck Legionnaire's Gorget
Shoulders Shoulderpads of the Intruder
Chest Vest of Calamitous Fate
Waist Belt of the Pitiless Killer
Legs Legwraps of the Broken Beast
Feet Icewalker Treads
Wrist Armbands of Dark Determination
Hands Runetotem's Handgrips of Triumph
Finger1 Band of the Twin Val'kyr
Finger2 Signified Ring of Binding
Trinket1 Juggernaut's Vitality
Trinket2 Juggernaut's Vitality
Back Cairne's Endurance
MainHand Anguish
Ranged Idol of the Corruptor

Health: 69256.19
Agility: 1866
Armor: 37249
Stamina: 5672
Dodge Rating: 119
Defense Rating: 206
Resilience: 15
Dodge: 47.940%
Miss: 8.926%
Strength: 649
Attack Power: 8165
Crit Rating: 321
Hit Rating: 402
Expertise Rating: 133
Haste Rating: 343
Armor Penetration Rating: 165
Avoided Attacks: 7.194%

Wow, a 3k loss in health. Ouch. For that we gain almost 2k TPS, 8% fewer avoided attacks against us, and another 4% dodge.

Oh yeah - we're still over 69,000 health! And the funny thing about this gear set is that it's very, very approachable by many out there. The T9.258 gear is a bit harder to reach - but there are only 2 pieces of them, and things like the non-tier pieces will likely be achieved by many bears before Icecrown hits. The hardest thing to get here is the cloak, but that's only a gain of about 20 stam. The weapon is actually from the hard mode 10 man. The rings are from 10-man and Ony-25.

Heck, realistically? I could likely obtain this in the not-so near future, or close enough to it that it wouldn't matter.

Here's the thing, though - this doesn't matter by itself. 69k is a huge number - it's nearly 3 times as much health as a sunwell-geared bear had back in the day. But as long as this doesn't confer a significant advantage, I doubt you'll see it nerfed. Also, as long as it's not significantly higher than the next tank, you probably won't see it nerfed.

Still, it's pretty nuts, isn't it?

The worst part? The best I could get a similarly-geared tauren warrior to was 58.9k. That's...not a good sign. The druid would at that point have 17% more health than a warrior without pvp gear; with pvp gear, it pops up to 22% more. That's close to where blizzard starts thinking about nerfing.

[Druid]Bear loot list updated for Ony, PvP

As promised a bit ago, I've updated the loot list for Onyxia and PvP gear and posted it back in the usual place. Go check it out.

It's using the wowhead rank weighings instead of the rawr weighings, so a couple things moved around and the scale has been slightly altered. The most notable changes came at weapon...which is probably something I need to alter. Origin of Nightmares doesn't compare anymore to the higher weapons ,even with all that armor on it. Large amounts of damage are important on a weapon simply because while druids don't scale well with AP, AP is about the only thing that druids get more consistent threat with - and there are simply boatloads of Feral AP on weapon upgrades. Each tier of weapon upgrade gives about 300 more feral AP, and that's simply impossible to ignore as far as damage goes. It's not the best - but bears are starting to feel the pinch. You're simply not going to get that kind of DPS/TPS upgrade from anywhere else.

As to Ony loot, the skinny is this : the helm is passable but not stellar, the neck is similar, and the rings are awesome. The weapon is surprisingly weak, which is another reason to correct the rankings.

In any case, I've changed the rankings slightly as well to increase the value of expertise. This didn't change much. I've also added an updated field to show what, if anything, has changed.