With 5.2 around the corner, we can feel pretty certain that the version of Grand Crusader on the PTR is what we’ll be receiving in the patch:
Requires Paladin (Protection)
Requires level 50
When you dodge or parry a melee attack, or hit with Crusader Strike or Hammer of the Righteous, you have a 12% chance of refreshing the cooldown on your next Avenger’s Shield and causing it to generate a charge of Holy Power if used within 6 sec.
We’ve already seen that with the 5.0/5.1 version, which is 20% chance on CS/HotR with no avoidance component, our gearing priorities slanted strongly towards control stats: hit, expertise, haste, and mastery. This ends up being reinforced by a subtle synergy between the control stats – a feedback loop of sorts. Getting more haste makes mastery, hit, and expertise better, getting more mastery makes haste, hit, and expertise better, and so on. Subsequently, avoidance just becomes weaker and weaker, to the point that many of us treated it as an afterthought. Worse yet, in many cases we actively dodged picking up avoidance gear.
We also saw that an earlier PTR version which gave us 0% chance to proc on CS/HotR and 30% chance to proc on avoidance shifted the goalposts somewhat. Triggering the proc purely from avoidance diminished the value of haste, mastery, hit, and expertise, though not equally. Haste took the largest hit, and the Control/Mastery set started showing clear dominance over the Control/Haste gear set. In addition, avoidance started performing pretty well in terms of raw statistics. There was very little difference in the representation of damage spikes between a Mastery/Avoidance build and a Control/Mastery build.
It was a very interesting region of parameter space, because in most cases you could gear just about however you wanted and still be roughly as effective from a survival standpoint. I think that for talented tanks, the extra control afforded by Control/Haste would probably still have been their optimal build, because a talented tank shifts their SotR casts forward or backward based on current health levels – something the sim isn’t sophisticated enough to model. But for your average Joe Tankadin, avoidance gear would’ve been perfectly reasonable.
But it looks like we’ll be receiving this bipartite solution, triggering on both CS/HotR and avoidance at 12% each. For short, we could call this the “12%/12%” version of Grand Crusader, as compared to the earlier “20%/0%” and “0%/30%” versions. And we expect that this version will shift some of the mitigation value back out of avoidance (and back into haste). The only question that remains is exactly how much of an effect it will have.
Luckily, these are the sorts of questions I’m good at.
However, before we fire up the Matlaberator, there’s one more complication we want to deal with. With a new patch comes new gear, and that may have unforeseen effects on the results. Whereas in ilvl 496 gear, we were pretty starved for rating after reaching hit and expertise caps, raising the bar to ilvl 522 gives us plenty of extra rating to play with. It’s entirely possible that all that excess rating will push us into new regions of parameter space. So to make sure we’re going to be getting results we believe in, we need to update the gear sets we’re using.
The table below contains the stats for the gear sets I’m using this time around. Each set has 65k armor, 15k strength, and 24150 rating to distribute amongst the secondary stats. This is roughly equivalent to an average equipped ilvl of 522.
| Set: | C/Ha | C/Ma | C/Av | C/Bal | Ha | Avoid | Av/Mas | Mas/Av | | Str | 15000 | 15000 | 15000 | 15000 | 15000 | 15000 | 15000 | 15000 | | Parry | 1500 | 1500 | 7500 | 4125 | 1500 | 10825 | 7717 | 4000 | | Dodge | 1500 | 1500 | 7500 | 4125 | 1500 | 10825 | 7717 | 4000 | | Mastery | 1500 | 13500 | 1500 | 4125 | 1500 | 1500 | 7716 | 15150 | | Hit | 2550 | 2550 | 2550 | 2550 | 500 | 500 | 500 | 500 | | Exp | 5100 | 5100 | 5100 | 5100 | 500 | 500 | 500 | 500 | | Haste | 12000 | 0 | 0 | 4125 | 18650 | 0 | 0 | 0 |
In previous posts, I maintained a minimum amount of dodge and parry for each gear set to make them more “realistic,” because in practice you often have to make do with a few sub-optimal pieces. I received a bit of feedback that these minimums were too constraining, partly because players were accumulating true “best-in-slot” sets with nearly zero avoidance, and partly because people were interested in seeing exactly what happened in those extreme cases. So this time around, I’ve relaxed those constraints significantly. We enforce a minimum of 1500 dodge, parry, and mastery rating, and only a minimum of 500 hit and expertise rating. While these keep us from reaching the far extremes, we still have 18650 rating to allocate at will, which is quite a bit – more, in fact, than we had total in the 5.1 simulations.
Most of the gear sets are unchanged in concept. We still have the standard Control/Haste, Control/Mastery, and Control/Avoidance sets. I’ve kept Control/Balance, but dropped the Control/Balance variant that was just under hit and expertise cap. We’ve been over those results before, and it was clear that it offered nothing we didn’t already get by comparing the other gear sets. In its place, I’ve inserted a “Haste” set that sacrifices all but the minimum hit and expertise amounts in favor of moar haste! The Avoidance, Avoidance/Mastery, and Mastery/Avoidance sets are more or less allocated the same way as before.
This is still using the standard Monte-Carlo code, updated with the 5.2 mechanics. Just as last time, here’s the copy/paste summary of how the simulation works:
To better understand the data below, here’s a rough overview of how it’s generated: I run a Monte-Carlo sim that simulates 10k minutes of combat (think Simcraft, but paladin-specific and more limited in scope), making all combat rolls and logging all damage events. I take the resulting string of attacks (something like “1, 0, 0.7, 1, 0, 0, …” where 0 is an avoid (no damage), 1 is a full hit, 0.7 is a block, and so on) and do some calculations on it. I calculate the average damage intake normalized to 100% possible throughput (i.e. “1, 1, 1, 1, 1, …”), and report that in the “mean” row, representing mean damage intake (lower is better, represents better TDR). “std” is just the standard deviation of that mean as averaged over 5 attacks. “S%” is SotR uptime.
The rest of the rows are smoothing data for strings of N attacks. For now, let’s just consider the first gear column (C/Ha). I take the damage event sequence and perform a moving average on it (i.e. an N-attack moving average). I then calculate how many of those N-attack averages exceed a certain threshold of maximum throughput. So for example, if we look at a 3-attack moving average, the “70%” row tells me how many of those 3-attack averages exceed 70% of the maximum throughput. Max throughput for 3 attacks is “1, 1, 1″ or 3 normalized damage, so the 70% row tells me how many exceed 2.1 damage. And so on for 80% and 90%. Note that they’re cumulative, so if 5% of attacks exceed 90% max throughput those attacks are also being counted in the 80% and 70% rows (thus, if 17% of attacks exceed 80% max throughput, the percentage between 80% and 90% is 17%-5%=12%). I should add that the repeatability on these simulations is quite good thanks to the long integration time – results usually fluctuate by less than +/- 0.1% (absolute, i.e. 5% +/- 0.1%).
I do this for a bunch of different gear sets, i.e. “C/Ha” for Control/Haste, etc. The first table lists all of the gear configurations so you get a rough idea of what they look like. They’re roughly equivalent to stats in ilvl 496 gear.
There is one change here in terms of data presentation. I’ve found that it was becoming more and more interesting to consider the 60% and 70% thresholds while comparing the different gear sets, so I modified the code to spit out those percentages as well. Keep in mind, however, that these stats are not always the most relevant measure. For example, you’re unlikely to care much about the number of attacks that exceed 60% throughput for a string of 2 attacks, because that will be a fairly significant portion of them (you basically need to avoid one of the two attacks or cover both with some combination of blocks and SotR to be below 60%). On the other hand, if a 5-attack string exceeding 80% throughput is dangerous, a 6- or 7-attack string exceeding 70% or 60% might be dangerous too.
With that out of the way, let’s have at the data:
| Set: | C/Ha | C/Ma | C/Av | C/Bal | Ha | Avoid | Av/Mas | Mas/Av | | S% | 0.5224 | 0.4106 | 0.4191 | 0.4528 | 0.4990 | 0.3664 | 0.3632 | 0.3577 | | mean | 0.6013 | 0.5410 | 0.5333 | 0.5559 | 0.6082 | 0.4946 | 0.5036 | 0.5158 | | std | 0.1478 | 0.1453 | 0.1759 | 0.1611 | 0.1523 | 0.1879 | 0.1771 | 0.1650 | | ---- | ------ | --- 2 | Attack | Moving | Average | ------ | ------ | ------ | | 60% | 46.4365 | 42.2245 | 36.0532 | 42.0223 | 46.8495 | 30.6360 | 32.6615 | 38.9607 | | 70% | 40.7703 | 21.9045 | 32.3510 | 32.0562 | 41.5132 | 27.8290 | 27.5790 | 22.6745 | | 80% | 14.6537 | 21.9045 | 16.8478 | 17.5670 | 17.2325 | 16.7553 | 19.2880 | 22.6745 | | 90% | 9.8918 | 10.2063 | 11.3503 | 10.7805 | 11.6783 | 11.2970 | 10.6098 | 10.0570 | | ---- | ------ | --- 3 | Attack | Moving | Average | ------ | ------ | ------ | | 60% | 53.8772 | 32.5935 | 39.5635 | 45.3188 | 54.4480 | 34.0340 | 35.6205 | 31.5645 | | 70% | 37.0875 | 18.1815 | 24.6943 | 28.7108 | 37.0938 | 18.9820 | 17.2312 | 17.7622 | | 80% | 15.1958 | 7.4453 | 13.2320 | 12.3843 | 16.6545 | 11.3433 | 11.0848 | 8.8108 | | 90% | 1.2962 | 2.7432 | 3.2145 | 2.6515 | 3.1935 | 3.6222 | 3.2912 | 3.0520 | | ---- | ------ | --- 4 | Attack | Moving | Average | ------ | ------ | ------ | | 60% | 53.9435 | 33.9070 | 39.4125 | 42.8023 | 54.8250 | 32.6215 | 33.1535 | 30.3133 | | 70% | 32.4230 | 12.4927 | 21.3595 | 25.8540 | 32.6262 | 17.0912 | 17.2385 | 13.6712 | | 80% | 3.3830 | 5.2843 | 6.2967 | 6.5102 | 6.9973 | 5.6180 | 5.2748 | 6.7035 | | 90% | 0.0000 | 1.2263 | 0.9175 | 0.6537 | 1.4930 | 1.9408 | 2.3090 | 2.7103 | | ---- | ------ | --- 5 | Attack | Moving | Average | ------ | ------ | ------ | | 60% | 55.5823 | 39.0590 | 40.1595 | 42.7240 | 56.8680 | 33.0050 | 30.1425 | 34.5108 | | 70% | 28.7618 | 10.5665 | 19.3762 | 22.4620 | 30.4220 | 15.4128 | 13.3293 | 11.5990 | | 80% | 8.9097 | 1.4918 | 7.0112 | 5.3835 | 10.8432 | 4.9352 | 2.7422 | 3.4403 | | 90% | 0.0000 | 0.0000 | 0.5200 | 0.3295 | 1.0175 | 1.0540 | 0.6695 | 0.7688 | | ---- | ------ | --- 6 | Attack | Moving | Average | ------ | ------ | ------ | | 60% | 54.3558 | 35.7295 | 34.1108 | 41.2287 | 55.5080 | 25.9360 | 28.3017 | 31.3457 | | 70% | 24.3050 | 11.0603 | 13.4900 | 16.6937 | 26.1385 | 10.4652 | 10.5652 | 11.1263 | | 80% | 4.2673 | 0.0000 | 4.3717 | 4.8828 | 6.8168 | 3.4403 | 2.7655 | 1.4698 | | 90% | 0.0000 | 0.0000 | 0.0000 | 0.0000 | 0.2012 | 0.3240 | 0.2855 | 0.2027 | | ---- | ------ | --- 7 | Attack | Moving | Average | ------ | ------ | ------ | | 60% | 53.2705 | 32.1395 | 32.5230 | 38.7373 | 54.7385 | 24.7587 | 25.7575 | 28.3533 | | 70% | 22.7233 | 9.7105 | 12.6490 | 15.3603 | 24.6157 | 9.4672 | 9.3260 | 9.6970 | | 80% | 3.8538 | 0.7848 | 3.0023 | 2.9965 | 5.5295 | 2.0965 | 1.9265 | 1.4485 | | 90% | 0.0000 | 0.0000 | 0.0000 | 0.0000 | 0.0445 | 0.1020 | 0.1087 | 0.1403 |
The first and easiest comparison to make is between the different Control strategies. Control/Haste still claims the title for “fastest to null out 90% spikes,” which is achieves for a 4-attack string. Funny that, haste winning an award for speed. However, it’s worth noting that Control/Haste consistently underperforms compared to Control/Mastery in just about every other aspect. It’s generally worse at reducing 80% spikes, in many cases by factors of 3x or more. And the 60% and 70% data shows us that it falls behind in those categories as well. Haste is still very good at eliminating that top tier of spikes, but it just can’t keep up with the broad-spectrum smoothing that mastery provides.
This is reflected in the stationary stats as well. Control/Haste boasts a massive 52% uptime on Shield of the Righteous, but also a rather high mean damage intake level of 60.1%. By comparison, Control/Mastery drops to about 41% SotR uptime, but also drops mean damage intake to 54.1%.
Control/Avoidance doesn’t do much better than C/Ma in either of the bulk categories – slightly higher SotR uptime, slightly lower mean damage intake, but nothing to write home about. I don’t have Holy Power generation stats on this table, but you probably won’t be surprised to hear that the extra uptime is directly linked to the extra Holy Power income from having more avoidance. For smoothing purposes C/Av doesn’t do too poorly, keeping up fairly well for short strings. However, it starts to fall behind for strings of 5+ attacks. While it’s not “bad,” per se, there’s also no obvious advantage over C/Ma.
Control/Balance is a weird mix – in some cases it outperforms C/Av, in others it falls behind. It’s actually about as good as C/Ha in most of the smoothing categories, giving up some ground in certain categories but gaining it back in others. I’d argue that C/Bal is a better model for the type of gear that we’re likely to be working with as we progress through the Throne of Thunder, as many of us end up using a mixture of “ideal” Control/Haste or Control/Mastery pieces and “less than ideal” dodge/parry tanking items that we end up with because nobody else wants them. So it’s reassuring to know that even with this patchwork gearing strategy, we’re not suffering in the mitigation department.
The “Pure Haste” build is sort of interesting. It manages to rack up about 50% SotR uptime, but also has the highest mean damage intake of any set at 60.8%. While the stats are similar to those of C/Ha, it is uniformly worse in every category. So while this isn’t actually a terrible gearing strategy, it’s also clear that there’s no significant advantage to doing it instead of going with C/Ha. It’s worth noting that at all Vengeance levels, hit and expertise are better DPS stats than haste up until the spell hit cap (spoiler alert: this will remain true in 5.2, even though I won’t get around to updating my Maintankadin thread until this weekend at the earliest). So you shouldn’t be dropping below 7.5% hit and 7.5% expertise to stack more haste if you’re trying to optimize DPS.
Finally, let’s consider the avoidance-heavy builds. In a surprising turn of events, these really aren’t half bad. The pure avoidance gear set is actually rather competitive in the 80% and 90% categories. It’s strictly worse than C/Ma for most purposes, but you could argue that it’s actually stronger for stochastic mitigation than C/Ha. It’s especially worth noting that for longer strings, it significantly reduces the representation of 60% and 70% spikes compared to C/Ha, which is one of the only areas where 60% and 70% spikes are of interest. Again, I’d argue that C/Ma tends to do this job better overall, but it’s clear that a “stack avoidance to the sky” strategy isn’t as far behind as it was in 5.1. It also gets to claim the title of “lowest mean damage intake,” shrinking that value down to 49.5%.
Shifting some of that avoidance to mastery seems to have one major effect: It makes the gear set slightly better at 80%/90% spike mitigation. We also see a minimal loss of SotR uptime and a small increase in mean damage intake. 70% and 60% spikes fluctuate somewhat as well, but not consistently enough to draw a good rule of thumb – the best we can say is that for long strings, 60% and 70% spikes tend to go up, while for short strings there isn’t a reliable trend to the fluctuations. All in all, this means that any mixture of mastery and avoidance is going to be about as effective as any other mixture. Stacking mastery to the sky isn’t going to be that much more effective than stacking avoidance to the sky, at least in the absence of a significant amount of hit and expertise.
While it was nearly impossible to pull a clear winner out of the 0%/30% version of Grand Crusader, the 12%/12% version is a little more clear-cut. Control/Mastery is the standout for raw mitigation power. It just does the best job of squelching spikes across multiple categories.
The curious thing about the results is that while C/Ma is definitely the winner, several other gear sets manage to perform rather well. Control/Haste and Control/Balance are both respectable, and even the gear sets centered around avoidance and mastery have their strong points. C/Av and pure Haste are about the only two that don’t really seem to have a niche.
All of that said, there’s an important caveat to consider here. These stat weights are stochastic, and calculated based on a model where the player blindly uses SotR as available. It does not take into account certain nuances that separate a talented player from a novice. For example, a talented player may delay SotR if they’re at full health even if they have 3 Holy Power. If I’m not in imminent danger, I will often sit on that Holy Power until I reach 5 and have a generator coming up in the next GCD, to ensure that I can cast another SotR immediately if it’s needed.
That sort of nuanced play has a peculiar effect, in that it’s essentially weighting the dice in your favor. You don’t need SotR coverage when you’re sitting at full health and have just avoided an attack, so you’re subtly shifting that coverage to periods of higher risk. That has a small but noticeable effect on mitigation stat weights, giving a slight edge to haste-based control strategies. This is a topic of frequent conversation at Sacred Duty Headquarters, with it normally playing out something like this:
Theck: “But the numbers say that C/Ma is simply stronger based on stochastic metrics”
Meloree: “Yes, but your numbers are shit, because nobody cares about stochastic metrics.”
Theck: “You’re mean.”
I’ve highly paraphrased and villain-ified Mel there, but I have trouble disagreeing with the core message he’s trying to get across. Not that my numbers are shit, but that a stochastic model has its limits. Given the option between high uptime on a moderate-mitigation buff (i.e. C/Ha) and lower uptime on a higher-mitigation buff (i.e. C/Ma), the higher uptime version is often safer. Not because it does better in stochastic “how much damage did I take” metrics – in fact, quite the opposite, it usually loses those comparisons. But because you’re not in as much danger during a high-mitigation phase, such as having SotR up. Making that high-mitigation phase “safer” isn’t as valuable as having more of those phases in the first place. If you wanted, you could include healer mentality in that argument as well. A healer will respond differently to a sequence of “Big Hit, little hit” than to a sequence of “moderate hit, moderate hit.”
So, what does that mean when we apply it to our data? Well, Control/Mastery wins by the numbers, but I think that Control/Haste probably still wins by Meloree fiat. You give up some extra time-averaged mitigation and open yourself up to more spikes if you play poorly. But if you play well and time-shift SotR casts according to current health and other dynamic encounter variables, it’s very likely that Control/Haste will meet or exceed the survivability level afforded by Control/Mastery. Remember, you’re getting about 10% more SotR uptime (absolute, a 25% relative increase), and if you play well you’re applying that extra uptime to the sections of the fight you need it most. And, lest we forget, there is a significant DPS gain to be had by going with Control/Haste, which is a big factor to consider for heroic progression, especially in 10-man content.
It’s almost a shame that the 0%/30% version of Grand Crusader didn’t stick. In that version, there was a significant mitigation cost to going with Control/Haste instead of a more “tanky” gearing strategy, which seems like a reasonable trade-off for the DPS gains. Even though it would have reversed our gearing paradigm, it would have made the gearing paradigm a bit more logical.
Instead, we get the 12%/12% version, which basically maintains the status quo. Control/Haste is no longer the clear leader as it was in 5.1, but it’s probably still the best strategy for a progression-oriented tank. Control/Mastery is an equally viable choice, and probably a better choice for intermediate tanks that aren’t as careful with their SotR timing. Avoidance builds lag slightly less than they did previously, and are still a good choice for beginner tanks that are still getting comfortable with active mitigation.
Advanced tanks will gear for Control/Haste or Control/Mastery, probably depending on encounter specifics and gear availability. Your BiS gear will probably involve a lot of hit/haste and expertise/haste retribution gear.
Intermediate tanks will probably stick with Control/Mastery for better stochastic mitigation. For these tanks, there’s probably no need to chase haste gear.
Beginner tanks will likely stick with traditional tank gear that’s high on avoidance and mastery.