Thursday, March 17, 2011

[Bear] Agility vs. stam? No, that's not right

This got inspired by a comment I made on the wow forums.

Most bears these days don't gear exclusively for stamina like they used to - and that's the right choice. Stamina has always been a big win back in the day when the following was true:

  • All that mattered was that a tank could take big, crushing hits one after the other but then get healed up almost immediately after a certain point
  • Tanks were getting routinely smashed by nonpredictable damage (such as crushing blows)
  • Bears got 25% more health from stamina (or more) compared to other tanks, making it a major gain for them
  • Healer mana wasn't an issue
In Cataclysm virtually none of that is true. Sure, a tank needs to be able to survive the Giant Damage of Doom here and there, but after that stamina doesn't do much. It can increase your vengeance damage (and thus savage defense shields are better) but not nearly as much or as reliably as simply having more AP and more crit. Healers aren't going to heal you to full most of the time and certainly aren't going to be able to do it in one GCD or two at most. And bears (sniff) don't have a stupid OP amount of extra health compared to other tanks.

So it's clear that the strategy should be go for stamina until you have enough, then go for agility. Right? Good, so we can move on and...



This may shock you, but there are more choices to make than just agility vs stamina.

In particular, the advantages of armor and resistance continue to be massively understated for bears (and tanks in general).

Now I've talked about some of the secret advantages armor had over stamina, but that was just talking about effective health. Armor's primary advantage is shared with agility or any other avoidance - a reduced attack does less damage and thus requires less healing. This is a Big Deal in an age where mana matters for healers and tanks are left at partial deficits for longer periods of time. But now, I have some easy math to showcase this.

Thanks to Tangedyn's spreadsheet over at Inconspicuous Bear, I have an example of this. Namely, me. While I'm not remotely geared to the gills or anything of the sort, the changes should not be significant between me and a very well-geared bear - especially as far as armor is concerned. I'll play with it later with a more geared tank at some point in the future. And if you look at that spreadsheet, 1 point of bonus armor is worth .18 points of agility.

So clearly agility wins out, right? Well, that's where it gets tricky. Things like Bedrock Talisman have a veritable ton of armor - 1285 to be precise. That's equivalent to 231 agility on its own - but it also has a large chunk of avoidance that could be useful at various points and would cause a big reduction in damage too. Many of the other agility trinkets like Essence of the Cyclone have a ton of agility but nothing particularly useful for anything else.

But the big thing that wins here is that armor is predictable. While avoidance is nice - good even - being able to consistently mitigate damage from every single physical hit is very nice. Being able to plan on that incoming damage on a regular basis is great.

So how does this compare to the two best agility trinkets out there - Tia's Grace and Fluid Death?We'll assume reforging to dodge.

Tia's grace: 340 agility effectively + 171 mastery + 114 dodge.
Fluid Death: 380 agility effectively + 193 hit + 128 dodge

According to the spreadsheet, mastery is worth .2782 agi, dodge .9110 agi, hit .0838. So we get a total value of:
Tia's Grace: 491.42
Fluid Death: 512

Okay, but what's the value of the proc on Bedrock? In a perfect world you'd get 963 dodge for 1/3rd of the time (which is unlikely), meaning you get 321 dodge.
Bedrock Talisman: 1285 armor *.1808 + 321 dodge *.9110 = 524

Huh. So that means that in a perfect setting where you get procs all the time, Bedrock Talisman is actually better for time to live and dtps than Fluid Death or Tia's Grace. (at least for me).

How about someone more geared? Well, while it's not perfect let's go ahead and use Sejta from Paragon. (it's not perfect because while they're more geared they go for mastery and stamina over agility and dodge primarily)For them, bonus armor is only worth .1632 and dodge .8322 agi. Mastery is worth more (.323) as well, so for them the values of Bedrock are a bit lower - Bedrock, even in the best case, is still not as good as Fluid Death for Sejta. (And I'm sure that breaks his heart).

Still, the value of armor's predictability combined with the value of the mitigation is quite nice and something to consider. Especially if the pattern of damage would give you that high avoidance in spikes. Heck, even something trivial like Heart of Thunder can be good if the cooldown is more useful than avoidance would be (for instance, on something where you take predictable chunks of large magical damage.


tangedyn said...

Do take note that the value of dodge on my spreadsheet atm is pretty much inflated because I have heroic Nefarian's attack parameters in there.

Dodge becomes better when the boss hits harder and faster. If you adjust the boss damage parameters downward you should get more realistic figures if you aren't currently working on H Nef.

Xarnen said...

I'm glad I picked up Bedrock Talisman for a rainy day. Largely I was considering it for when my group starts working on Heroic Magmaw since he's a big slow heavy swinging type boss. Any practical thoughts to this discussion?

Kalon said...

tangedyn, thanks for that - and especially thanks for the spreadsheet! I did notice the damage was a bit high but I figured that largely would be fine - and as far as armor vs. agility goes, it should be fairly close. Agility improves as damage decreases because of SD, so it should be better there. But not by a whole lot, I'd think. I'll play with it some and see.

Xarnen, while armor is good for some parts of Magmaw do note that the mangle hit that he does ignores armor past the first hit. The first hit is by far the worst (100k hits on non-bear tanks!) but after that it's all 100% armor avoidance. That being said you can't block mangles or dodge them either, so it's kind of a moot point.

Mugio said...

Perhaps I am wrong, but isn't the agility gained from Tia's Grace and Fluid Death increased through Mark of the Wild? I was going to log on to verify but servers are down and I think we can safely assume we'll always have MotW.

If it indeed is, the totals for your gear become:

Tia's Grace: 508
Fluid Death: 532

This would make Fluid Death the clear choice over Bedrock even using the ideal scenario for Bedrock. I take some issue assuming the ideal scenario for Bedrock as well since in the majority of normal raid boss fights our health won't drop below that 35% trigger if things are going smoothly.

Kalon said...

I don't think that's how it works, Mugio, but I could be wrong. Regardless, the primary reason to use Bedrock still applies - when you want normalized damage with fewer spikes, not overall reduction in damage.

nica@stormscale said...

Fascinating numbers, and I really like the way you break down the proc trinkets as far as providing them with EP.

I have been trying to put an EP value to the "On Use" of last night, and your post + spreadsheet were amazingly helpful in figuring that out. Even overvalued, I didn't realize just how far ahead Dodge is over our other "green" stats.

Oh, and a request: you see a lot of pretty detailed lists of trinkets for cat -- I would love to see you discuss top bear trinkets per encounter, something similar to one of your posts back in Wrath.

Anyway, thank you!