Monday, January 19, 2009

On Comparing Gear

Good Day Honors,

I am curious now that you are 80 and getting back into the swing of things with raiding how you handle comparing gear upgrades? I am a frequent reader of most blogs, Maintankadin, and tankspot and it seems like every place you look it has items listed in different positions on a best to worst list and everyone seems to think their math backs up their claims. Well I suck at math, and other than knowing I need to stay above 540 defense and work towards 102.4% after DR I am pretty much clueless and thus I depend on a lot of other peoples logic and math to assist me with looking at gear upgrades. The problem is with WoLK almost all the Tankadin experts disagree on what item is better. So in times of trouble I return to the person who has taught me the most about the tankadin class, you, for some assistance with finding my way again. Thanks for any insight you can give me.

GunningForGear of Terokkar

Making gear lists and the math behind them is one of the more fun meta-games I play with WoW. I have a good friend who now plays a Tankadin, and previously played a Warrior. We've talked for hours over the math behind the gear lists, and more often than not I learn something from each of those conversations. GunningForGear is exactly right in that there are several gear lists floating around the various sources and many of them contradict each other.

What anyone using a Gear List must keep in mind is the Golden Assumption. I first read about the Golden Assumption in a post by Ponthas(formerly Aleyona) of Srs Bsns.

So what is the Golden Assumption?

    THE GOLDEN ASSUMPTION
All theory crafting is inherently flawed because you cannot create a linear guide that will work for every situation. The individuals who read these guides are living breathing human beings with a brain of their own. They have the knowledge and capacity to understand that said guide will not always work. They have the ability to adapt and overcome these predicaments on their own and do not need to be spoon fed every possible variable involved.


Even if they disagree, Gear Lists can still be helpful. One of the main benefits of any gear list is learning what is available and how it is obtained.

Let's go real world and see if I can explain. You are wearing the crafted Tempered Titansteel Treads. You know your guild is going to clear Naxx25 this week. You look through a couple of Gear Lists. You could possibly see Inexorable Sabatons drop, and you could also see Sabatons of Endurance drop. You also discover that you could obtain Kyzoc's Ground Stompers from the Emblems of Valor you will loot from the Bosses in the run.

That is solid information and very helpful to you even if Gear List Alpha has Inexorable ranked higher than Kyzoc's, and Gear List Bravo has Kyzoc's better than Inexorable. You now know what the possible options are. But now you have to evaluate for your own circumstance.

What you really want to know is if I have Item A, and Item B drops should I bid DKP on it?

What you want to be able to do is to go to a gear list and look at Item A and see if the person who created the list thinks it is better than Item B. The problem is that Expert 1 thinks it is, but Expert 2 thinks it isn't. Remember the Golden Assumption!

What you have to do is what my Dad would call a 'Sharp Pencil Exercise'.

So let's go back to our Real World example. (And yes, I appreciate the irony of using 'Real World' example for a fictional game).

First you need to compare your Titansteel boots to the Inexorable Sabatons. You would give up stamina and defense in exchange for Block Rating, Block Value and a Socket.

The first question you have to answer is can I afford to give up 11 Defense Rating in my gear. That's about 2 Defense Skill. So if your Defense isn't above 542, then you will drop into Crittable range if you equip the Inexorable Sabatons. That's a deal breaker right there.

But if you can survive the less Defense, you have to decide if the loss of a good chunk of raw stamina is worth the gain in Block Rating and Block Value.

To my mind, you are looking at a situational upgrade with the Inexorable Sabatons. There are times when Block Value (and Rating if you are not Block Capped) are worth the loss of Stamina, but there are times when they are not. It will depend on the attack speed of the boss and how hard the boss hits. I'd love love love the Inexorable Sabatons for main tanking on Patchwerk, but I think I'd rather have the Titansteel when tanking Grobulous.

Now you have to know your loot system and what it's going to cost you to bid on the Inexorable Sabatons. After my analysis, I would put a low priority on winning the Inexorable Sabatons.

Then you look at the other drop from Naxx25, the Sabatons of Endurance. You compare them to your Titansteel boots and it's a different story. You trade a small amount of stamina for Dodge and Defense. To me, the Sabatons of Endurance look like a clear upgrade to the Titansteel Treads and I would put a high priority on obtaining them. If I was questioned as to why I didn't want the Inexorable, I would reply that what I really wanted was Endurance from Thaddius.

But what if Sabatons of Endurance don't drop for you.

The other item to keep in mind here is the Emblem of Valor Boots. The EoV Boots (Kyzoc's Ground Stompers) are very, very similar to the Sabatons of Endurance, and provide a very similar upgrade to the Tempered Titansteel Boots.

Since they are so close that this is how I would set up my DKP strategy. I would buy the EoV Boots if the Sabatons of Endurance had not dropped before I had enough EoVs to buy Kyzoc's. I would not spend much on the Inexorable Sabatons if I could avoid it. That will depend on your loot system. I certainly wouldn't let them be sharded as they do have a purpose, albeit situational.

What we try to do when we create an algorithm to rank gear is to put values and weights on various stats that the author thinks are important in tanking gear. It's a good starting point, but ultimately, you have to evaluate it each piece in comparison to your own gear and what else is obtainable.

Another great 'Real World' exercise is debating between the JC Ring (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=42643) and the EoV Ring (http://www.wowhead.com/?item=40718).

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