Monday, February 1, 2010

Stamina, Armor, and Trinkets

There's been an absolutely epic thread on Maintankadin arguing armor, stamina, and the 'new EH' formula that Theck of Blackrock came up with. Apparently, the thread caught the notice of some of the ElistJerks theorycrafters who came in to offer their contribution, but along with their arguments brought a whole lot of vitriol and drama. When MainTankadin posters didn't accept their arguments, and had the audacity to point out holes and the lack of supporting data, they got even more aggressive.

While I would very much like to believe I have the intelligence to keep up and understand those discussions, maybe even contribute. However, I have neither the time nor the desire to delve into theorycrafting at the level of Theck and the other posters in that thread.

One thing I've always admired about Theck is that he is not afraid to admit mistakes or oversights in his theorycraft and correct them. Since he has not changed his views, he must not have seen enough evidence/data from those who disagree with him to convince him.

I think some of the attacks on the Maintankadin posters are more motivated by 'politics' for lack of a better word. What I mean by that is that I think some people are a little jealous this ‘new EH’ theorycraft, that models bleeds and magic damage as well as regular melee hits, was coming from the Paladin community. Surely this group of ‘EZ mode tanks’ couldn’t understand tanking nearly as well as they could.

We are arguing about an abstraction of an abstraction. It reminds me of the time me and my friends were arguing over what’s at the top of Elminster’s Tower, and then one of us saying “but what do you think it is in reality?” And all of us just sort of stopped and looked at each other for a minute and started laughing.

Now what I strive to do on Honor's Code is put information 'on the bottom shelf'. I do my best to point back to my sources, so you can read deeper into the discussion if you wish, but I aim to give people a bottom line ‘real game world’ application to their tanking experience.

Context and Assumptions

I am indebted to Maintankadin poster Lieris for pointing this out to me.

Especially as 10 man Raiders, we have to carefully evaluate what theorycraft applies to our situation. Most all the theorycraft you see on the net has the unstated assumption that the context is Hard Mode Progression 25 man raiding. It's a very different environment from even Hard Mode 10 man raiding in a 10 man strict guild. The biggest difference as it relates to the EH, stamina, and armor debate is the healer ratio in a 10 man versus 25 man.

I haven't raided 25 mans in Wrath so if I'm out in left field on this one, please leave me a comment. One of the really cool things about the blog is getting to learn stuff.

10 man raiders generally run with 2-3 healers for 2 tanks. This is between a 1:1 to 1:1.5 ratio. The 25 man mans run 5-7 healers for 2 to 3 tanks. This is between a 1:2.5 to 1:3 ratio. In both cases guilds try to run the lower number (2 in 10s and 5 in 25) to open up a spot for additional DPS.

In a 25 man, you'll have at least 1 healer dedicated to each tank, and dedicated healers for your raid. In 10 mans, you are generally going to have 1 healer covering both tanks and 1 for your raid. Because your Tank healer in a 10 man is charged with covering both Tanks in a 10 man, the Tanks will experience longer delays between heals.

If you really want to this example stretched to the extreme, look at the Blood Princes fight. A 10 man group will have 2 healers covering 3 tanks, plus the raid. Hug your healers after that fight!

Additionally, in a 25 man, except for very rare cases, you can safely assume you have at least one of every class of healer in the raid. That means your Tanks will likely have every kind of HoT ticking on them, plus Earthshield, Beacon, etc. 10 man raiders are all but guaranteed to be lacking at least one healing class in their setups.

The heavy amount of movement required in ICC also plays a role here. For 10 man raiders, when your healer has to move, it is going to mean a reduction in heals, whereas 25 man raiders have someone else who can pick up the slack. I realize most all healers have abilities to heal on the run, but I believe every single healer has better throughput if they can stand still.

What all of this reasoning boils down to is that 10 man raiders are more likely to experience multiple attacks from a Boss without receiving heals than 25 man raiders.

Everything the Tank can do to mitigate damage will reduce strain on healers. That will free them up to help on the raid or be able to survive when they have to move is really valuable.

The Great Trinket Debate

Where this gets down to brass tacks is usually in regards to the Trinkets: Corroded Skeleton Key (CSK), Glyph of Indomitability (GoI), and the Unidentifiable Organ (UO). The decision is colliery to deciding how to spend your Emblems of Frost. Corroded Skeleton Key is a stamina trinket with an absorb on use. Glyph of Indomitability is an armor trinket with a Dodge on use, and Unidentifiable Organ is an armor trinket that also gives you a stacking stamina boost that falls off on many fights in ICC.

CSK is purchased with 60 Emblems of Frost. GoI is 50 Emblems of Triumph and Unidentifiable Organ is a drop from Professor Putricide10.

Let's look at the two Armor trinkets first. Glyph has 1792 armor while Unidentifiable Organ has about 100 more with 1890. (I'm using the Normal version of Unidentifiable Organ since the Heroic version is not available on the Live servers yet.) Choosing between just those two will come down to a) if Unidentifiable Organ drops for you and b)which proc you like better. Neither proc is particularly impressive for me.

The Skeleton Key has 228 stamina with a small absorb on use.

Going back to the "New EH" theorycraft we find "Glyph of Indomitability ...gives 1792 armor, which is equivalent to 153 stamina. However, for a fight with [20% magical damage], we get only ...80% of that, or 123 stamina."

So working the numbers you get 49% more stamina from the Key on a pure physical fight and 85% more stamina from the Key on a fight with at least 20% magic damage.

But Trinkets are, by their very nature, situational items. Are there going to be times when the Glyph is superior to the Key? I would submit there are, and that Blood Queen Lanathel is a prime example. While the stamina to soak her hits is important, in this fight, your damage, assuming you are the Main Tank, is transferred to your co-Tank. So the Armor essentially gets counted twice while the stamina only works once.

Our healers don't think that Tank healing the bottleneck on BQL for our raid group but your mileage my vary.

Let’s Be Honest

Finally, let's just be honest with ourselves about a couple of things.

§ In all but the rarest of circumstances, choosing the 'wrong' trinket is not going to make the difference between a wipe and a kill. Even in those circumstances where it might, e.g. you were wearing the Glyph and you died and the log shows overkill was less than the 2000 odd hit points the Key gives you, there were likely other factors in the way your entire team handled the encounter that led to the wipe.

§ Somewhere around Brewfest, some vocal Tanks decided that Stamina Trinkets were bad, or the mark of a 'noob' tank. This is likely had something to do with the fact that Tanking trinkets for new tanks were hard to come by at that time, so a lot of new tanks were running around with double stamina trinkets. Somehow that got extended to stamina trinkets are bad. Groupthink took over and suddenly Skeleton Key is bad and only bad tanks wear it.

§ Some Tanks having already spent precious Emblems on the Key, want it to come out better in all circumstances to justify their purchase choice. Cognitive Dissonance kicks in and people convince themselves that Stamina, and by the extension, their precious Key, is better than it is.

Personally, I'm thinking I'm going to start wearing the Glyph and the Key at the same time for mega EH overload. We've had terrible luck with drops, and haven't downed Putricide. My other options are the Monach Crab (stam/dodge on use), Furnace Stone (dodge/armor on use), and Purified Onyxia Blood Tailsman (def/parry).

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