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10% Physical Reduction

As you know, a lot of buffs and debuffs were changed dramatically in 4.0.1. Categories of buffs were merged, buffs were strengthened and weakened to match each other, all that good nonsense.

Among the buff types that were completely changed were the AP debuff, which previously removed all or nearly all bonus attack power from a boss, and the -3% damage taken buff, which belonged to a couple healers and (at the time) a prot warrior’s Vigilance. The interesting thing to me was that they were changed into identical effects: 10% physical damage reduction. They were implemented in different ways – one as a debuff (-10% physical damage done by the mob) and one as a buff (-10% physical damage received by the player) – but given the amount of buff consolidation that was going on at the time I wondered if they would still stack.

Nobody else seemed to wonder. I guess I’m either really slow or a lateral thinker. Or a really slow lateral thinker.

Anyway, I went ahead and dragged Blanket, one of our holy priests, into H FoS to test it on Bronjahm. Bronjahm is a good boss for testing this kind of thing because he has a physical special that hits for 5500 damage plus an additional amount based on your mana pool; so for a player without any mana, that’s a reliable, round number. I stripped to my tabard and went into berserker stance (which on further reflection really wasn’t necessary, but give me a break, it was 2 AM), and recorded the following:

Magic’s Bane hit for 5500 (unmodified)
Magic’s Bane hit for 4950 (Inspiration)
Magic’s Bane hit for 4950 (Demoralizing Shout)
Magic’s Bane hit for 4455 (both buffs)

Yep – they definitely stack. Multiplicatively, if you’re interested (total damage reduced is 19%, not 20%.)


This strikes me as odd. Since Death Knights were nerfed in Ulduar, their most valid complaint was that they couldn’t provide an AP reduction debuff, while all of the other tank classes could. I remember a blue post acknowledging it as a balance problem in 3.3 (unfortunately this was on the old forums, so I can’t provide a link), and from the very earliest Cataclysm beta builds the Blood tree has contained an option to talent into this debuff.

Tanking debuffs – their strength and their uptime, though not their method of application – are completely identical across all tank classes. (Yes, even Vindication – the tooltip is wrong, it’s applied to all HotR targets.) The only other mechanic of tanking that homogenized is the threat modifier. Clearly, Blizzard considers this a matter of utmost importance to the balance of the game.

Yet an identical buff, that stacks with this all-important AP debuff, is available to just 2 out of 5 healing specs. That just seems really bizarre to me, especially since the devs have been bending over backwards to avoid complete tank homogenization in other areas (mastery, short cooldowns, etc). The difference between having and not having a 10% physical damage reduction buff is an acceptable difference between healers, but unacceptable between tanks? So is it too powerful to be without or not?


  1. January 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Interesting stuff. I wonder if the various tanking debuffs stack at all.
    Like FFF and Sunder. 3 stacks of both might not but what if you have one of each?

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