Signet of the Elder Council, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Agi
Sorry bears, I’m leaving you out today, because I know you already adore agility.
This is the Signet of the Elder Council.
It is the second best tanking ring available pre-raid for warriors and death knights of the mastery-stacking variety, after the Elementium Moebius band – and only because the Moebius band has a gem slot.
It is the best tanking ring available pre-raid for paladins.
And it’s an agility piece.
But there are ilvl 346 strength rings with avoidance/mastery!
Even though one of its secondary stats is near-worthless, Signet of the Elder Council outperforms them.
The easiest to obtain example of an ilvl 346 avoidance/mastery tanking ring is Felsen’s Ring of Resolve, from Therazane Revered. Comparing the two shows that, as usual from an item of higher ilvl, the Signet has more stamina (34) and more mastery (15) than the Ring; but even after reforging the haste on the Signet to dodge, Felsen’s Ring of Resolve still edges ahead with 62 dodge more than the Signet. So how is the Signet better than the Ring?
It’s all in the conversion from primary stats to avoidance.
4 points of strength give 1 point of parry rating. This isn’t an equivalence: it doesn’t just give you a chance to parry equal to 1 point of parry rating, it actually increases your parry rating stat. To find the amount of parry a strength piece gives you, divide your strength by 4 and throw out anything after the decimal point. 1 str = .25 parry, rounded down.
Agility gives dodge, but it doesn’t convert into dodge rating, so we think about it less. That’s a shame, because agility converts into significantly more dodge than strength converts into parry.
By comparing Whitetooth’s agility/1% dodge and dodge rating/1% dodge numbers, you find that the rule of thumb for comparing agility to dodge rating is that for warriors and death knights, 1 Agility is equivalent to around 0.4 dodge rating; and for paladins, 1 Agility is equivalent to around 0.6 dodge rating.
By the way, agility no longer gives armor, so it’s a straight avoidance-to-avoidance comparison.
Because parry and dodge now share similar diminishing returns curves, and because you can reforge them into each other if your ratio gets off-balance, we can make one-to-one comparisons between dodge rating and parry rating, which makes the agility to strength comparison even easier.
Back to Felsen’s and the Signet. Before taking their agility and strength into account, the Signet leads in stamina and mastery, while Felsen’s leads in avoidance. When you convert the rings’ agility and strength into avoidance, though, the Signet gains dodge equivalent to 76 dodge rating (warriors & death knights) or 114 dodge rating (paladins), while the Ring only gains 42 parry rating. The final comparison is
Signet of the Accord
34 stamina, 15 mastery, paladins: 10 avoidance rating
Felsen’s Ring of Resolve
warriors/death knights: 28 avoidance rating
Agility. It makes a difference.
So I should start rolling against rogues/hunters/shaman/druids?
Honestly, you probably shouldn’t roll on agility gear against someone unless you’re running with a group that knows and trusts you. It’s not at all worth the hassle.
For agi items that you could purchase, or that no one else needs, definitely take a second look before you pass them up. If they don’t have mastery, they’re not worth your time; but if they do, they could be unexpected upgrades.
Where to Seek Out Agility
The piece of agility gear that a tank will most benefit from is the weapon, as a Death Knight. Since there are no two-handers with dodge or parry, agility/mastery polearms and axes are your best bet for tanking weapons, edging out strength/mastery two-handers because of their superior primary stat to avoidance conversion. Strength/mastery weapons aren’t bad, they’re just not as good as agility/mastery weapons of the same item level.
Other than that, you should pay attention to possible benefits from agility pieces in your neck, cloak, weapon, relic, ring, and trinket slots.
Where Not to Wear Agility
Never take a leather or mail piece over a plate piece. Even if you have a choice between agi/hit/mastery mail bracers of ilvl 359, vs str/haste/crit plate bracers of ilvl 300. Losing your +5% to stamina Plate Specialization bonus, even if the ilvl jump is so large that you gain some armor, is just not worth it.
Never gem agility (unless you’re a druid). In Wrath, paladins who weren’t reaching for unhittable would gem agility over dodge if they wanted to meet a red socket bonus, because agility gave armor. Agility no longer provides armor, so there’s no longer any reason to choose it over parry if you need a red gem. Similarly, you should only enchant agility if your alternative is to enchant either strength, or a non-tank stat.
Never use a dagger, even if it’s agi/hit/mastery and your only other choice is str/haste/crit. Threat is a lot less important than it used to be, but it’s still there, and daggers have an extremely low AP coefficient – devaluing your attack power by 30% for abilities based on normalized weapon damage, including Devastate and Crusader Strike.
Don’t I lose threat from replacing strength with agility?
Your AP from strength is a miniscule portion of your total AP in this tier. I wouldn’t worry about it. Plus, you get a bit of crit from agility.
Vengeance should take care of your threat; and if it doesn’t, it’s not for lack of attack power. As a tank, the only threat stats you should care about are hit and expertise.
Rules of Thumb
Mastery/Dodge/Parry > Agility > Strength > Hit/ Expertise > Haste/Crit
1 Agility = about 0.4 dodge rating (warriors, death knights)
1 Agility = about 0.6 dodge rating (paladins)
1 Strength = 0.25 parry rating