Last week, a few people alerted me to a thread on the official WoW forums in which some players were arguing about the usefulness of AskMrRobot, and in particular its default stat weights. As loyal readers, you probably already know that I developed those default stat weights. My response in that forum thread was long and contained quite a bit of discussion about the thought processes that went into those stat weights, and it occurred to me that it would make for a good “quickie” blog post.
Much of this will look familiar to regular readers. We’ve discussed smoothness at great length. We’ve talked about raw TDR stat weights. And we’ve talked about the difficulties of valuating Stamina, and how it’s often better at saving healer mana than TDR stats like dodge and parry are. The only “new” part is the glimpse at how all of that influences the choice of default stat weights.
I wouldn’t normally post on a Sunday, but this is likely to be a busy week at Sacred Duty, so I wanted to get this up quickly. Stay tuned for some reasonably large and important blog posts later in the week!
More seriously: I don’t usually wade into the official forums, because the signal-to-noise ratio is pretty awful around here, and this thread is no exception. That said, there’s some particularly pervasive and inaccurate noise being repeated here, so let’s stamp that out.
1. You will never need more stam than what comes on gear. You are not doing heroics this week. It is silly to have such a high default weight for stam. It is silly to gem solid cuts.
I completely disagree, for several reasons. The first is that you don’t have the proper perspective to make that statement. Looking at your armory, you’ve cleared a few heroic bosses in 5.0/5.1 content, and cleared all of the normal modes numerous times. That means you are going into Throne of Thunder with above-average gear for the first few normal modes. In other words, you may have more than enough stamina on your gear because you overgear the fights.
However, the average raider hasn’t cleared all of the 5.1 content. They are going into ToT significantly undergeared for even the first few bosses. And when you are undergeared, your absolute, 100% guaranteed, there-really-is-no-argument-to-be-had-here-so-don’t-even-try stat is STAMINA. Get the health you need to survive long enough to receive heals. Period. This is exactly the reason that hard-mode progression tanks stack Stamina early on – to meet the EH checks they run into when running content they significantly undergear.
I’ll note that if you had pulled the last few bosses of ToT in week one, you may have gotten a very different impression. The first 5 or 6 do not significantly challenge EH, but the last few do. Even in ~507ish ilvl gear, Lei Shen hits like a truck. From a random Lei Shen 10N log:
[19:20:35.738] Lei Shen hits Yogurto 163283 [19:20:37.252] Lei Shen hits Yogurto 169082
170k every 1.5 seconds is a lot to deal with on a boss with a lot of movement. This whole myth of “get enough health to survive 3 attacks and you’re fine” doesn’t cut it, because that’s not how most tank deaths work. If you die in 2-3 hits, its because you failed a cooldown for something predictable. What you’re more likely to do is die to a string of 5-6 hits, or 3-4 plus incidental damage or a special, during a period where your healing is interrupted. And nothing guards against that better than stamina.
2. The best way to reduce stress on healers is by lowering incoming damage. Stamina does not lower incoming damage at all. You take more damage if you forgo tanking stats for stam. The term manasponge came about for a reason. It is not a term of endearment.
This is another falsehood that gets tossed about by inexperienced tanks. The term “mana-sponge” stopped being relevant somewhere around Burning Crusade. Yes, a tank stacking Stamina does take more damage than a tank stacking, say, mastery. Does that make them a worse tank? I’d say that the answer is unequivocally “No.”
If your goal is taking the absolute least damage possible, you should be stacking avoidance. Pound for pound, avoidance gives more “total damage reduction” (TDR) than any other stat. You know what our absolute worst TDR stats are? Hit, expertise, and haste.
Yet looking at your armory, you seem to have reforged much of your dodge and parry into hit, expertise, and haste. So we are confronted with a conundrum: either
1) you think that TDR is something tanks should seek, in which case you are reforging and gemming completely wrong and shouldn’t be giving advice.
2) you don’t think that TDR is worth seeking, and instead gem for “smoothness” stats, but you’re telling people on the forums they should be seeking TDR stats anyway. In which case you also shouldn’t be giving advice.
The only constant in those two statements is that you really, really shouldn’t be giving advice.
The fact is that TDR hasn’t been relevant since BC or Wrath, depending on who you ask. Potentially very briefly at the beginning of Cataclysm, when healers were undergeared, but that quickly ended once they started acquiring even a little bit of normal-mode raid loot. Healers simply do not run out of mana healing tanks nowadays, even in 25-man. They run out of mana for all sorts of other reasons – excessive raid damage being the primary culprit – but if you take any half-decent healer and tell them their only job is to heal any half-decent tank, mana will never be an issue.
What kills tanks is not their healer running out of mana, but running out of time. Spike damage is what kills tanks, and it’s what has been killing tanks since time immemorial. Taking a few too many large hits in a row while your healer is distracted, stunned, moving, or what have you. That is how tanks die.
If you look at most logs, it’s not hard to see the truth in either of these assertions. Most healers overheal by 30% or more when they heal tanks. That’s not because they have mana to waste, but because it’s hard to avoid doing so with all of the self-healing and cross-healing going on. And more importantly, because they have to maintain some level of overhealing to combat spikes, because during a spike that extra throughput becomes immensely valuable, so much so that it’s worth overhealing by 30%-40% most of the time. Because it means that extra 30%-40% throughput is there during a spike, when it matters.
And if we’ve accepted that spike damage is what’s relevant (well, maybe you haven’t, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assert that it is), then the question of stat priorities gets turned on its head. All of the sudden, “reliable’ stats start to win out. Having hit, expertise, and haste ensures higher SotR uptime and thus fewer/smaller spikes. And what’s the most reliable stat of them all? STAMINA. it is there, always, all the time, preventing spikes. Because having 10% more health makes every spike 10% smaller, and easier to heal.
It’s even worth noting that from a healer’s perspective, stamina is a mana-saving stat. This talk of “mana sponges” suggests a fairly critical oversight in your thinking. Healers are not robots or calculators, they’re people. They heal based on a few factors, and one important one is reacting to changes of your health bar. A larger health pool does a few things for them: it makes each attack a smaller proportion of that bar, which makes those hits feel less dangerous to the healer (because they are). it also gives them more time to react, because they’re thinking in terms of percentages of your health bar, not hit points.
More importantly, it lets them plan more effectively. If they know that the next hit is going to be a relatively smaller portion of your health bar, they cay comfortably start casting their slow heal, or allow that slow heal to finish if they’re mid-cast. Doing that actually saves them mana in the long run, because they need to cast fewer of their quick, mana-inefficient “panic” heals. This isn’t even conjecture, by the way – it’s pretty well-established healer theory.
Aside: There are actually a lot of parallels between healer theory and network queuing theory. It’s one topic I rather enjoy discussing with a colleague of mine who is both a computer engineering professor and a priest healer. Crazy fun stuff if you’re into that sort of thing.
3. Aggro is something you should never need to worry about. Vengeance does that job for you. If you lose threat to a non tank then its not a gear issue.
On this, at least, we agree.
4. While tank DPS mattering vs not mattering is an argument for another thread, “DPS” stats are most certainly important for a prot paladin. Hit, expertise, haste and mastery help with point 2 in reducing incoming damage more than even dodge or parry. Stamina does not ever help reduce incoming damage. (Keep your bloody DK comments to yourselves)
False. Flat-out false. Hit, expertise, haste, and mastery are ALL inferior to avoidance in terms of reducing damage taken. I have tested this extensively, as have others. If you’re suggesting all of that work is in error, I encourage you to present your thoroughly-detailed, carefully-tested mathematical models to the community for peer review. After all, I have, it’s only fair that you do the same.
Stop telling people they need “enough” stam to not get two shot. They already have it.
Stop telling people they already have “enough,” because frankly, they don’t.
Seriously, consider this “average” tank you keep referring to. First of all, let’s clear up some misconceptions.
1) The average tank is relatively undergeared for normal raid content. Hence, they are already in a position where stamina is probably (if not definitely) their best stat. Running LFR doesn’t count, you could run LFR in greens gemmed with spirit and still perform decently well if you had half a clue.
2) Unfortunately, the average tank doesn’t have a clue. They don’t follow a tight rotation. They stumble through it, push back holy power generators, and have large amounts of “real-life” latency because they aren’t hitting a spell immediately upon the GCD ending. They don’t time their SotR according to the boss’ swing timer. They don’t pool holy power so that they can double-up on SotR during a dangerous spike. In many cases, they macro SotR to Crusader Strike. I’ve even seen tanks go a full 20+ seconds hitting NOTHING BUT CRUSADER STRIKE (and, of course, their SotR which was macro’d to Crusader Strike).
The average tank plays considerably below their theoretical potential based on gear.
In short, the average tank is actually pretty terrible.
Now consider that this is the tank AskMrRobot is trying to help. You cannot rely on them running a proper rotation, so trying to tell them to stack haste and mastery is a waste – they’re not timing SotR to cover boss swings, and in some cases, they’re not getting maximum uptime on SotR. Giving them more haste often just creates more empty space rather than more ability usage, because they’re used to a 1.5-second GCD from playing other characters and just stick with that inner metronome.
In other words, buffing active mitigation stats for a tank that uses Active Mitigation poorly is not efficient.
What is efficient? Passive mitigation. Avoidance. STAMINA. And to a lesser extent Mastery, thanks to the block component. These are all stats that are always on, helping the weak tank survive through content they are undergeared (and often under-skilled) for. When you try and optimize for a player that is guaranteed to screw up a lot, you give them the stats they cannot screw up.
This was a long post, but if nothing else, here’s what you should take away from it. You may find that the baseline stats on AMR do not suit you very well. In most cases, that means one of two things:
1) You’re not running 25-man content, which generally stresses EH more than 10-man content. I’m not making a 10 vs 25 difficulty argument here, this is simple facts based on tuning. 10-man bosses don’t melee as hard as 25-man bosses because of healer throughput considerations, and smaller hits generally make EH less important.
2) You’re already at a skill or gear level that is above-average. This may come as a shock to you, because everyone tends to think they’re the “average” tank. I even think so sometimes, until I look at logs or progression rates. As such, the “average” settings may not work as well for you. However, you should also be intelligent and experienced enough to realize this fact, and adjust the stat weights to suit your needs.
I actually heavily de-emphasized stamina in the current set of stat weights compared to what I gave AMR in 5.0/5.1 based on feedback from 10-man raiders. While I still think that stamina is a GREAT stat in all formats (seriously, I think that even in 10N, more stamina is rarely a bad thing, it’s just often not as useful as more haste thanks to the DPS contribution – but STAM is still the better survivability stat), I recognize that a lot of 10-man players really don’t care for stam stacking that much. So this time around, the stat weights were chosen such that it favored hybrid haste/stam or exp/stam gems in nearly every non-blue slot.
Lowering the stam weight from 1.5 to 1.3 should shift it into an all-out haste (or mastery) mode that would be appropriate for 10N tanks which are overgearing content or feel comfortable with their current stam level. I don’t develop AMR, so I can’t modify it to have a stam “cap,” but doing so wouldn’t be a bad option either. Another possibility is to offer a 10/25 toggle or a different set of weights for 10 vs. 25, but again, that’s up to the people who make the tool. I just do the math.
Also note: I’m not affiliated with AMR, even if I find their tool incredibly useful in my own work. I complain about it a lot too, because I think there are areas it could be better. But I generally make suggestions to them about how to improve it rather than taking a giant dump on the tool on forums, because the latter isn’t very productive. As Wrathblood said, it’s like hating on a slide rule.