Itemization Value of 4T16

Last week, Fouton from Icy Veins asked me whether I had tried to determine an “ilvl value” for the tier 16 4-piece set bonus. Stated another way, the problem he was trying to solve was twofold:

  1. Is it worth using lower-ilvl tier pieces instead of non-set pieces just for the 4-set bonus?
  2. If so, how much lower? Is it worth using LFR tier instead of heroic warforged non-set?

Unfortunately, I didn’t have an answer for him. I knew the 4-piece was powerful, of course. There was no question that using tier pieces over warforged loot from the same difficulty level was a survivability gain. But I had never really looked into whether it would make sense to use much lower-ilvl tier instead of warforged gear.

I was unconsciously assuming that if you had access to warforged loot from e.g. heroic, then you also had access to off-set gear from that same difficulty mode, so the most you would care about is a 6-ilvl difference. But especially for guilds progressing through normal, or guilds at the mercy of the personal loot system of LFR/Flex modes, that’s not necessarily a good assumption. Surely there are cases where a player has an LFR tier chest or helm and warforged normal-mode off-set from a different boss, and wants to know what to wear?

So I threw together a few quick profiles in Simulationcraft to test this.


As a control group, we’ll just use the T16 normal-mode protection paladin profile. This uses four pieces of normal-mode T16 (head, shoulders, chest, and gloves) with non-warforged Legplates of Unthinking Strife as the one off-set piece. Note that none of the gear in this profile has valor upgrades applied. The stat breakdown is given below:

T16N Stats
Stat Amount
Strength 19540
Stamina 47990
Expertise Rating 5107
Hit Rating 2607
Crit Rating 1112
Haste Rating 15677
Mastery Rating 7602
Armor 60112
Dodge Rating 180
Parry Rating 1526

The rest of the setup is pretty much what you’d expect. Talents are Eternal Flame, Unbreakable Spirit, Divine Purpose, and Light’s Hammer, glyphs are Focused Shield, Alabaster Shield, and Divine Protection. 

I then worked up four different variant gear sets to compare. The first is a set where we downgrade two of our tier pieces to LFR level. We choose the chest and the shoulders for this, since the tier helm and gloves both have haste on them.  Since both chest and shoulders are expertise/mastery pieces with expertise reforged into haste, we lose a chunk of those secondary stats as well as some strength, stamina, and armor.

Since we don’t really want to deal with the hassle of reforging each gear set to cap expertise, we cheat a little bit by adding a shirt to the gear set that will put us over the cap. While this adds a little ambiguity to our results, it should be a larger boon to the non-set arrangements than the tier sets.

After doing all of that, our second gear set looks like this:

T16N-LFR Stats
Stat Amount Diff
Strength 18786 -754
Stamina 46506 -1484
Expertise Rating 6345 N/A
Hit Rating 2607 0
Crit Rating 1112 0
Haste Rating 15503 -174
Mastery Rating 7065 -537
Armor 59329 -783
Dodge Rating 180 0
Parry Rating 1526 0

For the next set, we replace the chest and shoulders with normal-mode off-set pieces. In each case we’ve gone for maximizing haste, so we’ve chosen Chestplate of Congealed Corrosion and Darkfallen Shoulderplates. In both cases we’ve used the warforged (ilvl 559) version and applied two valor upgrades for a net ilvl of 567. Since we’re using a hacked shirt with 2500 expertise on it, we’ve chosen not to reforge the shoulders and have used a crit->mastery reforge on the chest. This gives us the maximum bang for our buck since none of that extra itemization has to go into expertise.

The stats for that gear set look like this (note that “Diff” is still in reference to T16N):

T16N-WF Stats
Stat Amount Diff
Strength 20045 505
Stamina 48630 640
Expertise Rating 5896 N/A
Hit Rating 2607 0
Crit Rating 1827 715
Haste Rating 18053 2376
Mastery Rating 6821 -781
Armor 60551 439
Dodge Rating 180 0
Parry Rating 1526 0

The next set takes the previous one to the extreme and uses the heroic warforged versions of both chest and shoulders.

T16N-HWF Stats
Stat Amount Diff
Strength 20576 1036
Stamina 49676 1686
Expertise Rating 5896 N/A
Hit Rating 2607 0
Crit Rating 1928 816
Haste Rating 18420 2743
Mastery Rating 7044 -558
Armor 60958 846
Dodge Rating 180 0
Parry Rating 1526 0

In our final two gear sets, we go to the other extreme: what if we force the player to use four or all five LFR tier pieces, including the severely sub-optimal dodge/mastery legs? We’ll be kind and reforge the dodge on those legs to haste, and continue to compensate for expertise and hit caps by using a fake shirt.

T16N-4LFR Stats
Stat Amount Diff
Strength 18032 -1508
Stamina 45021 -2969
Expertise Rating 6182 N/A
Hit Rating 3992 N/A
Crit Rating 1112 0
Haste Rating 14971 -706
Mastery Rating 7065 -537
Armor 58686 -1426
Dodge Rating 180 0
Parry Rating 1353 -173
T16N-5LFR Stats
Stat Amount Diff
Strength 17680 -1860
Stamina 44406 -3584
Expertise Rating 6182 N/A
Hit Rating 3500 N/A
Crit Rating 1112
Haste Rating 13789 -1888
Mastery Rating 7262 -340
Armor 58294 -1818
Dodge Rating 821 641
Parry Rating 1353 -173

We take all six of these gear sets and run them through a 50k-iteration simulation against the T16N25 TMI boss. Anything not explicitly mentioned is identical to the defaults in the T16N profile.


Here’s what we get out the other side:


And summarizing the important bits in table format:

T16N 230.5 73.25% 380k 149834 149540
T16N-LFR 967.0 72.82% 377k 153704 153381
T16N-WF 4125.1 64.32% 386k 160163 159818
T16N-HWF 1705.0 64.90% 390k 157680 157362
T16N-4LFR 1627.3 71.93% 371k 156588 156240
T16N-5LFR 3457.7 70.25% 363k 157307 156937

It should be immediately apparent from the table that the T16N gear set performs the best for survivability. It has the lowest TMI by a large margin and the highest SotR uptime.

Using normal warforged off-set pieces (T16N-WF) may be a gain of 2376 haste, but you actually lose about 9% SotR uptime, which means losing the 4-piece is costing you over 10% SotR uptime all by itself. And of course, smoothness (as measured by TMI) suffers greatly; the TMI is about 20 times higher, which means the spikes are roughly 27% larger on average.

Upgrading those off-set pieces to heroic warforged (T16N-HWF) pieces cuts your losses somewhat, but still gives significantly worse results than the control set. It’s not a large increase in haste or SotR uptime over the normal warforged configuration, but the extra stamina drops the TMI to around 1700, still about 18% larger spikes than T16N.

The T16N-LFR gear set, on the other hand, outperforms both of the off-set configurations. The TMI is only about 4 times worse than T16N, corresponding to a 13% increase in spike size, but the SotR uptime isn’t that much lower. So there’s no question that using 2 pieces of LFR tier (chest and shoulders) to get the 4-piece bonus gives superior survivability to using two well-itemized heroic warforged items in those slots to get extra haste.

If you instead force the use of four or five LFR tier pieces, the situation gets worse. That’s a significant loss of haste and stamina, so the TMI is predictably much higher. 4LFR is roughly equivalent to the T16N-HWF set in TMI, making up for the significant stamina reduction with the higher SotR uptime of the 4-piece bonus. It’s solidly ahead of the T16-WF gear set in both categories.

5LFR is still better than the WF set that uses normal-mode warforged off-set, both in terms of TMI and SotR uptime. 5LFR gives higher SotR uptime than the HWF set, but it trails in TMI thanks to the extra stamina and secondary stats (~5k haste) of the heroic warforged gear. That said, I don’t think this situation will be very common – players that have access to heroic warforged off-set should rarely need to resort to LFR pieces to complete their tier set.

There are two other things I want to point out about this data. Note that the higher-ilvl sets also convey slightly higher DPS, which is something to consider. The difference isn’t large (less than 3%), but on a serious DPS check that might be worthwhile.

Also note that all of these results assume you’re using Eternal Flame and Divine Purpose. If you’re talenting Sacred Shield, then you can still game this effect with free Word of Glory casts to fish for more Divine Purpose procs, but the benefit will be reduced somewhat. And of course, if you’re not using Divine Purpose then the 4-piece bonus won’t help your SotR uptime at all, though it will still make you more survivable by virtue of removing the opportunity cost of having to heal yourself with Word of Glory.


I’m hesitant to assign an equivalent ilvl value to the 4-piece bonus for a few reasons. The first of which is something most people don’t think about: not all ilvls are created equal. The head, chest, and leg slots give you more stats per ilvl than the shoulder and glove slots do, so the exact ilvl value will depend on the particular slots in which you’re making the sacrifice. In addition, it will depend a bit on which off-set gear you have; we’ve only looked at two specific choices (shoulders/chest), so we’d get a different answer if we considered the head, glove, or leg slots.

However, it’s clear that under the right conditions the tier bonus is stronger than trading up 52 ilvls in two slots (the difference between T16N-LFR and T16N-HWF). We also know that it’s roughly equivalent to trading up 52 ilvls in shoulder/chest and gaining 25 ilvls in head/gloves (though in this case, with equivalent tier rather than off-set).

Beyond that we’d have to guess a little, or run more sims where we compare the tier sets to other sets that use only off-set pieces of much higher quality. That introduces the benefit of the 2-piece bonus as well, though that’s probably a relatively small effect. It’s clear that four heroic warforged off-set pieces would beat out four or more LFR tier pieces based on the data we already have. It seems unlikely that a set with four heroic warforged off-set would be able to compete with the T16N set though.

The take-home message here is that the 4-piece can be really, really strong if used properly, and it’s worth resisting the temptation of even significantly-higher-ilvl gear to keep it. In all but the most extreme cases, such as trading multiple LFR tier pieces for multiple heroic warforged off-set pieces, keeping the 4-piece is going to be the better call.

Again, that comes with some caveats: it assumes you’re talenting Eternal Flame and Divine Purpose. If you swap from Divine Purpose to Holy Avenger for an encounter, then the benefit is reduced (though not eliminated – it still makes EF easier to maintain); if you don’t use either DP or EF, then the benefit is smaller still, and depends on how often and effectively you use WoG as an emergency heal.

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18 Responses to Itemization Value of 4T16

  1. Brokenone says:

    I have a (possibly stupid) question about the Eternal Flame usage in these sims. Looking at the profile you linked, the eternal flame line is:


    If I’m reading this correctly, it will cast eternal flame if

    1) You have the talent
    2) Duration is less than 2 seconds remaining
    3) Bastion of Glory stacks greater than 2
    4) Holy Power >=3 OR Divine Purpose is up

    Is that correct? I’d like to see what the numbers look like if part 2 is removed. If you skip that condition when you cast EF, you should get a lot more DP procs and higher SotR uptime (and DPS). The caveat is obviously that your EF’s will be weaker (but there will be a lot more of them). I’m curious what the tradeoff looks like between the increased SotR uptime/DPS and the reduced EF strength.

    • Theck says:

      Yeah, there’s nothing in the conditionals that specifically talks about the 4-piece. The duration conditional basically ends up assuring that you re-cast it at 5 stacks of BoG because with Divine Purpose and a lot of haste it’s easy to have a new 5-stack well before EF expires.

      It stands to reason that dropping the duration requirement should give you higher SotR uptime, but essentially voids those last two stacks of Bastion. I’m not sure that will be a net gain, but it’s worth testing.

    • Theck says:


      In the first, I just remove condition #2. In the second, I remove conditions #2 and #4 (so it’s just BoG>2). The third raises that BoG threshold to BoG>4 (i.e. recast EF every time you get 5 stacks).

      In the first two cases, I get a TMI of over 500, so reasonably worse than the basic “only refresh EF near expiration” version. Note that SotR uptime does go up to over 76% though, a modest gain of about 3% uptime.

      In the third case, I get a TMI of around 200 and a SotR increase of ~0.6%. It’s slightly better than the “only refresh” version, but they’re so close that it’s probably a negligible difference.

      Short version: those extra 2 stacks of BoG on each EF seem to outweigh the extra 3% SotR uptime. Recasting EF every time you get 5 BoG seems to be fine (though in reality, I tend to sit on it until refresh or even later so that I can use it to respond to a spike and make it a little more effective).

      • Brokenone says:

        Interesting. One more followup. I was expecting more than the ~3k DPS increase that is in that result. Is the EF glyph in for those Sims?

        • Theck says:

          No, the Glyph of WoG is not part of the standard T16N profile, though it probably should be since it generally outperforms Alabaster Shield. At this point we’re far enough into the tier that I probably won’t bother to change it.

          I suspect the DPS gain would be a bit larger if that were included.

  2. Brokenone says:

    “Edit”: If they are so close as to be a negligible difference for TMI/surviving then it stands to reason to pick the highest DPS version. Obviously, there are many situations where holding onto the HP for an emergency EF can be more beneficial, but just for general practice when no burst is forthcoming (or CD’s are rolling on you etc.)

  3. Ginga says:

    nice to see. I’ve been using the LFR helm to make my 4p swapping out the 559 dodge/parry helm from Ordos. Dropping the 31 ilvls of stam/armor etc has had me wondering about the relative gain for a while.

  4. Çapncrunch says:

    Possibly a stupid question, but the first thing that came to mind when you first described the question was to do the same thing that shadowcraft does for evaluating set bonuses (while I’ve played with my tankadin on the side for a while my main had always been my rogue up until throne of thunder).

    First I guess a little background info: For the past 2 expansions (maybe a little longer) the pride and joy of the rogue theorycrafting community has been shadowcraft (to the point that rogues will often scoff at the notion of even considering to use askmrrobot). Essentially shadowcraft is a dps model (rather than a simulation) that calculates statweights and has reforge and gem optimizers.

    Anyways, the shadowcraft engine can calculate a stat weight for virtually anything, including set bonuses. And I don’t see a reason why the same couldn’t essentially be done with SimC. We can already manually turn the setbonuses on and off in SimC, so just do the same as you do to generate weights for the setbonus: Use the same gearset and generate a TMI both with and without the 4p turned on, the difference is then the “raw” TMI value of the 4p, then normalize it to the TMI value of stam. Which gives us a weight for the 4p that can be directly compared to an amount of stats. Then using something like AMR compare some general stat-weight differences between different ilevels and we could find the approximate ilevel value of the 4p.

    Or, for more specific cases we would compare the weight values of specific tier pieces plus the weight of the 4p to specific non-tier pieces. IE let’s say that you have the LFR tier helm (and 3 other tier pieces, exact composition isn’t important) and happen to get the haste/mastery helm off of Ordos and want to know if it’s worth sacrificing the 4p for, you’d figure out how much of an upgrade the Ordos is over the helm and then compare that to the value of the 4p and see exactly whether it’s an upgrade or not. Or if there was another off-piece you had that would also be a stat-upgrade over another piece of tier then you’d figure that in as well (with obviously only counting the value of the 4p once).

    Of course this might be a little more work for individual cases than a generalized ilevel equivalence would be, but I mean you went through the trouble of making this tanking metric so it makes more sense to me to use it to calculate the comparison than to go back to making qualitative judgements.

    Also, not to add too much to your to-do list for the SimC tanking model, but perhaps the addition of options to evaluate setbonuses in addition to the stats? At the least it would help for comparing when it’s worthwhile to drop a previous tier’s bonus when the next tier comes out.

    • Theck says:

      You could do that, but keep in mind that stat weights vary considerably from situation to situation. If I generated a stat weight for the 4-piece here, it would be irrelevant unless you had exactly the same gear that the T16N model has (or at least very similar gear).

      So I think it would be more misleading than helpful. Most players would just use that value blindly without realizing that it’s probably wrong for them. The smart ones would have to re-run the same stat weight calculation on their own to figure out how valuable the 4-piece was for their gear, and then use SimC to generate stat weights for their character (with AND without the set bonus), which is slow, and then do a bunch of math.

      Or in 1/10 the time they could run two simulations, one with their current gear (i.e. w/4pc) and one with their potential off-set pieces. And it would be much more accurate than any hand-calculation would be thanks to nonlinearity in stat weights.

      • Çapncrunch says:

        True, but can’t the same be true of what you did in the blog? The conclusions you came to regarding the value of the 4p vs off-set pieces is also largely irrelevant unless you have the same/similar gear and off-set pieces that you simulated as well. It’d still be far more accurate for people to sim their own gear and offset pieces than to follow the conclusions you came to with sims you ran.

        I guess my point was more geared towards the last bit, the possibility of having the tanking model calculate a weight for the set bonuses based on a person’s current gear regardless of what gear they have so that they can use it to judge how valuable it is/would be compared to other upgrades in their current gear.

        • Theck says:

          Not really. I’m calculating a macro difference rather than a micro difference. The conclusion I came to is certainly specific to those two gear sets, but it generalizes better.

          For example, how much do you think the results will change for the T16N-LFR set if we swap some of the off-set pieces around to different items? A change of ~1000 mastery, haste, or even dodge/parry isn’t going to make that set significantly better or worse. The TMI will change a little bit, of course, but it’s still reasonable to expect it to be in the same ballpark.

          Thus, what I did was come to a qualitative conclusion: “The tier bonus is really good and not worth giving up for a significant ilvl increase in one or two slots.” That’s pretty general and applies really well to pretty much everyone – there’s almost no case where it’s wrong.

          On the other hand, the conclusion “The set bonus is worth X, haste is worth Y, mastery is worth Z” is only going to be true for one particular setup. If X >> Y,Z then you might be able to infer the above conclusion from that, but maybe not – you might be trading thousands of other stats for that set bonus, so each player would have to do the math themselves, and in my experience very few will.

          So I feel more comfortable giving generic advice like “It’s really strong under these specific conditions, if you think you’re on the borderline here’s how you should sim it yourself.”

          I can certainly talk with the devs about adding the option to include set bonuses in the stat weight calculations. I don’t think it would be difficult at all from a code/UI perspective, but it would probably be troublesome from a display perspective (even normalizing to stamina, the set bonus is likely equivalent to thousands and thousands of stamina, so the bar chart will look very strange; but we could just leave it off the bar chart and give the numerical value).

          From a theoretical standpoint I still don’t like it though, because stat weights are necessarily differential results, so they’re only valid at a single point on a multivariable function f(x,y,z,…) describing whatever it is your scaling over. Toggling the set bonus on or off in a gear set is just likely to be misleading, because to get that set bonus you’ll also have to trade a bunch of other stats as well, which means the value of the set bonus will almost certainly be different than what you calculate (one exception: if your baseline is a set of gear that does include the set bonus and you toggle it off).

  5. Thels says:

    T16N-HWF 1705.0 64.90% 390k 157680 157362
    T16N-4LFR 1627.3 71.93% 371k 156588 156240

    Doesn’t that mean that theoretically, using 4 tier pieces from LFR is better for survivability than using heroic warforged pieces in those slots? Though the difference is very small. It seems to me that, unless you really need that extra tiny bit of DPS, Tier always Trumphs.

    That’s of course in a theoretical case, and the LFR Tier vs HCWF nontier is really, close. But really, what’s the chance on someone having HCWF pieces in all 4 slots, having LFR tier pieces in all 4 slots, but not having any tier pieces above LFR?

    Based on this info, my general advise would be “If you can equip 4 piece, equip 4 piece, regardless of the ilvl drop.” The situations where that is not true are extremely rare, and the difference would be extremely minimal.

    As for AMR, it would be nice if you could “force” tier pieces. Being able to choose between:
    – I don’t care about set bonuses.
    – I need the 2 set, but don’t care about 4 set.
    – I need the 4 set.

    Then you don’t need to actually give the set bonus any specific value, but AMR will know, ok, regardless of the stats, I need to include at least 2 tier pieces.

    • Theck says:

      Yes, I think I made all of those points in the article….
      “4LFR is roughly equivalent to the T16N-HWF set in TMI, making up for the significant stamina reduction with the higher SotR uptime of the 4-piece bonus. It’s solidly ahead of the T16-WF gear set in both categories.”

      “That said, I don’t think this situation will be very common – players that have access to heroic warforged off-set should rarely need to resort to LFR pieces to complete their tier set.”

      “The take-home message here is that the 4-piece can be really, really strong if used properly, and it’s worth resisting the temptation of even significantly-higher-ilvl gear to keep it. In all but the most extreme cases, such as trading multiple LFR tier pieces for multiple heroic warforged off-set pieces, keeping the 4-piece is going to be the better call.”

  6. blizzhoof says:

    You mention that the value goes down if you’re using HA instead of DP, but I feel like we greatly overestimate the value of DP vs HA on this blog. There is not a boss in 25-man H SoO, where having an uncontrollable, but higher uptime on SoR would be preferrable to a controllable 25 second shield wall. Fights where the argument I feel could be made are Spoils and single-tanking Thok. However, Spoils is mostly low damage with bursts due to Wind Wielders buffing one another (and the time it takes the dps to dispel) or tanking a massive add on the Mogu side and single tanking Thok is mostly just trying to parse which would make higher ilvl/better itemized pieces better anyhow.

    I know that DP vs HA is hard to quantify so I get why you just treat it all as single tank fights, but I don’t think that everybody that comes to this website thinks so critically about tanking. I believe that many just look to see what you say is better and blindly follow on every fight. I’d like to see a blog of yours detailing your thoughts on DP vs HA, tanking trinkets, etc. on a per fight basis in SoO to remind people that one size doesn’t fit all in real raiding.

    • blizzhoof says:

      The whole “not a boss in 25-man H SoO…” thing is my opinion in practice. I’m not saying that I’m definitely right, but that’s my current stance as a control freak tank.

      • Theck says:

        I don’t necessarily agree. I’ve used DP for the majority of heroic SoO on 25-man. Many of the tank swaps happen fast enough that you end up getting one period with HA active and two or more with it down. Which blunts a lot of the value of soaking up the HA downtime with off-tanking time.

        Face time with the boss is obviously a consideration, but at these haste levels and with the 4-piece bonus, DP just gives a significant amount of SotR uptime. Having ~70% SotR uptime all the time, even though it can be a bit unpredictable, can still be better than 100% for one tanking period and less than 50% for the next two or three, unless I can cover them all seamlessly with cooldowns.

        • Theck says:

          I should add that on last Sunday’s Final Boss episode, Slootbag expressed pretty much the same opinion. Earlier in the expansion when DP wasn’t as strong (due to lower haste, no set bonus) I think the comparison was much closer, even leaning towards HA. I think the pendulum has swung solidly in DP’s direction towards the end of the expansion, though.

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