Home > Gear, Mechanics, Tanking > A Guide to Reaching the CTC Cap as a Warrior

A Guide to Reaching the CTC Cap as a Warrior

What is CTC?

CTC stands for Combat Table Coverage. Every time an enemy swings at you, the Combat Table is what decides whether you dodge, parry, block, etc. “Coverage” is what percent of the time the swing is not an unmitigated hit: so, your combined chance to block, dodge, parry, or be missed.

Full CTC happens when your chance to take an unblocked hit is 0%. This is called the CTC cap or block cap. It is sometimes also called being unhittable or being uncrushable.

When do I have full CTC/What is the CTC cap?

When your combined Miss+Dodge+Parry+Block = 102.4%.

Why 102.4% and not 100%?

102.4% is what it takes to be unhittable versus a raid boss. Against a level 85, it would be 100%.

Every level of difference between you and the thing that’s hitting you subtracts 0.2% from your Miss, Dodge, Parry, and Block. Raid bosses are considered by the game to be 3 levels higher than you, so your Miss, Dodge, Parry and Block are a combined 2.4% lower than their default displayed values. So we need a displayed CTC of 102.4% (against a level 85) in order to have an effective CTC of 100% (against a level 88).

Why is the CTC cap important?

The primary responsibility of the tank isn’t to take as little damage as possible, but to take damage in a predictable and healable manner. When you are below the CTC cap, melee swings can do 100% damage, 70% damage, 40% damage, or 0% damage to you, and your healers have to be prepared to heal you up from a 100% swing, even if they’d rather be helping someone who, say, lagged in the fire. Reaching the CTC cap means you’ll never take another 100% hit – the most your healers have to be prepared to heal you up from is a 70% swing. This makes it easier for them to deal with other players and mechanics, because they can trust you never to take a spike from a white swing.

That said, reaching the CTC cap is an option, not a requirement. If you decide it’s not for you, that’s fine.

When should I gear towards CTC?

Gearing for damage reduction/conventional tank gearing and gearing for CTC are very similar. For the most part, you’ll gain CTC without needing to focus on it.

I recommend switching to a focus on obtaining full CTC, at the expense of conventional tank gearing, at around 95% passive CTC. This is a holistic recommendation, not a mathematical one, so feel free to experiment with gearing for CTC earlier.

Don’t Shield Block/avoidance procs/the tier 12 4-piece devalue the CTC cap?

Yes and no. It’s true that between Shield Block, the 4-piece bonus, and on-uses, you could keep up full CTC a majority of the time without needing to be passively capped. Taking this approach is a perfectly viable and reasonable gearing strategy, but it is not equivalent to full CTC. The benefit of passive full CTC is absolute certainty that you will never take an unmitigated hit. I am unaware of any combination of trinket on-use effects that will, in concert with 4-piece 12, have 100% uptime – so there will always be the chance of taking a 100% hit when all your effects are on cooldown.

Gearing For CTC

When it comes to CTC, your stat priorities are:

mastery >>>>> dodge = parry >>> strength

Note the absence of armor and stamina. A lot of gearing for CTC involves finding out-of-the-way places to replace stamina with mastery or other CTC stats.

You may also notice that I’ve placed dodge equal to parry, which is different from the normal warrior “slightly prefer parry” gearing strategy. This is because while Hold the Line does provide some damage reduction, it does not provide any CTC. CTC from dodge and parry is highest when dodge % and parry % are equal after raid buffs – and since there are raid buffs which increase parry, but are no longer raid buffs which increase dodge, you’ll want your dodge to be slightly higher before raid buffs to compensate.

Because of the amount of strength on plate, it is likely that you will wind up with high parry even after forging as much as possible away. This is normal; just do what you can.


Specialty consumables are a huge boost to CTC, but they can get expensive.

First, ditch the stamina flask in favor of elixirs. The Elixir of the Master, a Battle Elixir, grants 225 mastery; and it can be used in conjunction with the Elixir of Deep Earth (900 armor) for physical fights, or the Prismatic Elixir (90 spell resist) for magical fights. Unlike flasks, elixirs fade when you die, so you’ll want a lot of them. I generally go through around 30 elixirs a week.

For food, you should eat Lavascale Minestrone, which gives 90 mastery and 90 stamina. Eating Fortune Cookies or Seafood Magnifique Feasts will give you 90 dodge, not 90 mastery, so bring your own food.


Fractured, fractured, fractured. Ignore stamina bonuses entirely. Ignore blue sockets unless they give enough mastery to make up for the loss of half a fractured gem. Ignore red sockets unless they give CTC bonuses.

“But Button!” I hear you cry, because I’m lurking outside your window as you read this. “I need three blue gems to activate my meta gem!” Yes, that’s true – but only if you’re using the Eternal meta gem. The Austere and Fleet Shadowspirit Diamonds require only two yellow gems each. On top of that, the Fleet gem trades in the 81 stamina passive of the traditional tank gems for 54 mastery, and its runspeed effect means that you can drop the Lavawalker on your boots for an additonal 15 mastery.

Personally I recommend going with the Fleet gem if you’re struggling to hit the cap; but remember, a meta gem effect is the single greatest difference you can make in your own damage reduction. As soon as you can afford to switch back to the Austere or Eternal without dropping below cap (or losing the run speed bonus!), I encourage you to do so.


HeadArcanum of the Highlands. This trades in 90 stamina (worthless for CTC) for 60 strength (17 parry rating), and 35 dodge (good) for 35 mastery (better).

ShouldersGreater Inscription of Unbreakable Quartz. Technically the Greater Inscription of Shattered Crystal has slightly higher CTC, but the wasted item budget on agility (which no longer gives us dodge) turns me off of it. I wouldn’t use Shattered Crystal unless it was the tiny push I needed to cap completely.

BackTitanweave. This Wrath defense enchant now gives 16 dodge. This was one of the first things I replaced after I reached the CTC cap: though it’s the best CTC cloak enchantment in the game, Protection is much better for damage reduction, even after the cap.

ChestGreater Dodge. Stamina is worthless for CTC, and Stats gives the equivalent of only 5.6 parry rating, while the Wrath enchant gives 22 dodge rating.

FeetLavawalker, or, if you’re using the Fleet Shadowspirit Diamond, 50 mastery. Don’t give up your run speed bonus by enchanting 50 mastery without the Fleet meta: run speed is a must-have effect.

Weapon – There are no weapon enchantments that give passive CTC; stick with Windwalk.


If it doesn’t have mastery on it, forge the highest stat into mastery, ignoring dodge/parry balance. Having more mastery is more important than having dodge and parry balanced.

If it doesn’t have mastery on it, and the stats it does have on it are not dodge and parry, replace it. Something of a lower item level with better itemization will do a better job.

Unintuitive Gear Decisions in 4.2

These are generalizations based on my own gear set. If you suspect that your dodge or parry diminishing returns would yield a different result for you, I encourage you to stat it out for yourself in my spreadsheet.

NeckFirebound Gorget‘s ridiculous amount of mastery and diminishing returns on the Stoneheart Necklace‘s parry make the Gorget a better choice.

Shoulders – Believe it or not, the 378 Spaulders of Recurring Flame do have more CTC than the 359 BoE shoulders. The Shoulderguards of the Molten Giant and the Pauldrons of Roaring Flame are both better than the Spaulders, and are approximately equal to each other in CTC due to the Pauldrons’ excessive dodge and the Shoulderguards’ excessive mastery.

Ranged – Despite its low item level, the Gurubashi Destroyer remains the highest-CTC ranged weapon until the Heroic Deflecting Star.


Tanking professions have been woefully restrictive this expansion. Only four professions even have damage reduction benefits, and of those, only three have CTC benefits.

You shouldn’t feel obligated to change your profession just to reach the CTC cap; but if you want to, here are your choices:

Alchemy – When using the Elixir of the Master, an alchemist receives 40 additional mastery. (He also receives an additional benefit from his Guardian Elixir, but that does not increase CTC).

Blacksmithing – A blacksmith can add two extra sockets to his gear, for a total of 80 additional mastery. If the blacksmith is able to afford/acquire enough epic mastery gems, this bonus could increase to 100 in 4.3. (It is only a 100 stat bonus if every other slot also has epic gems).

Jewelcrafting – A jewelcrafter can add three special gems to his gear, for a total of 81 additional mastery. If epic gems are hard to acquire in 4.3, this bonus could increase to 111. (It is only a 111 stat bonus if the sockets containing JC gems would otherwise not contain epic gems). There is some controversy on whether the JC gems will be buffed to account for the higher stat baseline of epic gems; if chimera eyes are not buffed and a tank could afford to fill the relevant sockets with epic gems, the JC bonus will be reduced to 51 mastery.

What comes next?

You’ve reached the CTC cap! What are you going to do next?

The first thing you want to do, after you’re done celebrating, is take a good hard look at your stats. How much dodge, parry, or mastery could you afford to lose and still remain block capped?

If you’ve taken any of the more extreme measures I’ve laid out above – using the agility shoulder enchant, or the Wrath cloak enchant, for instance – those are the first things you want to lose. Start gemming to match socket bonuses. Consider switching meta gems (remember, you’re losing 69 mastery, not 54, because of the boot enchant – and 60 more on top of that if you’re going to activate the Eternal). Gear more like a warrior who isn’t stretching for the block cap, while still remaining block capped.

But let’s say, through some miracle or gear way better than mine, that you have successfully returned to a match-all-sockets, all-enchants-up-to-date-and-conventional configuration, and you’re still at least 20 mastery rating above the block cap! What should you change that half a gem into?

Theck has the answer.

tl;dr: After block cap, stack stamina.

  1. December 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Hi Button,

    Thanks for your guide I had a few questions about CTC. When you calculate CTC what do you mean by “Miss” and how can you find this stat on your character? I would also like opinion on critical block in 4.3.

    Thank you

    • December 17, 2011 at 11:10 pm

      Hi Blademist,

      Miss is an avoidance event like Dodge or Parry. Here’s a combat parse example to illustrate:

      [22:55:52.360] Warlord Zon’ozz hits Lindentree 29683 (B: 48431)
      [22:55:54.107] Warlord Zon’ozz hits Lindentree Parry
      [22:55:55.800] Warlord Zon’ozz hits Lindentree Dodge
      [22:55:57.377] Warlord Zon’ozz hits Lindentree Dodge
      [22:55:58.995] Warlord Zon’ozz hits Lindentree 30461 (B: 49700)
      [22:56:00.591] Warlord Zon’ozz hits Lindentree Miss
      [22:56:02.212] Warlord Zon’ozz hits Lindentree 27678 (B: 45159)

      There are a few small differences between Miss and Dodge/Parry, but for calculating your CTC, treat it the same as Dodge or Parry.

      Unless you are a night elf, your chance to be Missed is 5%. If you’re a night elf, your chance to be Missed is 7%, because the racial Quickness is overpowered. Since Cataclysm there is no way to increase your chance to be Missed, so there’s no need to look it up.

      As for my opinion of critical block, I’m not sure I understand your question. Nothing about critical block has changed in 4.3.

      If you’re wondering about the value of mastery rating past the CTC cap, that’s something I’ll go into more depth on in my next post, but the short version is: don’t add mastery rating past the cap. It doesn’t have 0 value, but it’s worth considerably less than dodge or parry rating, and you can’t crit block cap in this patch.

  2. Inotje
    February 7, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    Hey there, nice thread. I was wondering, I am CTC capped not ( Over it even ) and I got all the normal enchants and so, even only got +15 to chest as it’s one that’s need upgrading anyway. But what now? Do I take off some Mastery and go for Stamina now? Or Dodge and Parry?


    • February 8, 2012 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Ino,

      Yes, since patch 4.3 heroic measures are no longer required to reach the block cap. The more desperate sections of this guide were a reflection of how you had to stretch for the cap during 4.2, when it was barely achievable for non-night elfs in normal mode gear. These days it’s very easy to cap block if you have even a little bit of gear luck.

      As I wrote in the article, the tl;dr for what to do after the cap is to start paring down your mastery in favor of stamina. You can find the reasoning for that in the post I linked from Theck’s blog. Don’t worry, he may be a paladin but I’m preeetty sure Light Cooties aren’t contagious.

      The only real alternative to stamina after the cap isn’t avoidance – in fact, it’s expertise. As always, it comes down to what your group is having trouble with. If you’re failing because of healers scrambling to keep the raid up, you’ll probably be better off with stamina (giving them more leeway to attend to things other than tank health.) If you’re failing because enemies are living too long, it might behoove you to put together a ‘threat’ set and do your part in hacking away at their health pools.

      • Inotje
        February 9, 2012 at 9:06 am

        I understand, thank you for replying! <3

        I'll be going for some more stamina and seeing if I can get Expertise capped and hit capped in the mean while too. Thanks for this wonderfull guide.


  3. Inotje
    February 9, 2012 at 9:08 am

    *Edit* I’m at 102.80% Unhitable. As I stated on my Facebook. “Unhittable: 102.80% Avoidance: 39.95% Defense -689 rating ‘Self-buffed'” This is self buffed, now does this matter or should I got for this cap without any buffs at all?

    Sorry for the double post.


    • February 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

      Defense rating? I haven’t heard that term in a while :D

      If you have a regular raid group, I recommend gearing around being block capped with all the raid buffs you can count on included. So not only self-buffed – raid buffed! You’re not going to be raiding without these buffs, so why optimize yourself around not having them?

      Incidentally, if you’re using my spreadsheet for your CTC calculations, the default CTC you should be aiming for is 100% instead of 102.4%. The 2.4% is accounted for in its Enemy Level field.

  4. Inotje
    February 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    I’ve got indeed a Raidgroup and yeah that Defense Rating came with the macro I am using. :P

    But alright, I’ll keep in mind the buffs then. And about the 100% vs 102.4% Isn’t the 2.4% for them Raidbosses then or?

    And this is the macro I am using: ” /run local b,d,p,r,a=GetBlockChance(),GetDodgeChance(),GetParryChance(),GetCombatRating(CR_DEFENSE_SKILL) a=1/(.0625+.956/(r/122.9625)) ChatFrame1:AddMessage(format(“Unhittable: %.2f%% Avoidance: %.2f%% Defense %+.0f rating”,b+d+p+5+a,d+p+5+a,r-689)) ”

    Don’t know if it’s good, but I’ve heard it is so yeah.


    • February 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

      Yes, the macro is balanced around 102.4, so you’re doing it right then. I was just saying that my spreadsheet takes the 2.4 into account automatically when you set the enemy level to 88, but if you’re not using my spreadsheet it’s not something you have to worry about :)

      • Inotje
        February 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm

        Alright then. I’m good at something at least, because Arms isn’t going to well for me. :P Anyway, thanks for your help, means a lot to me. <3

  5. cromb
    April 27, 2012 at 10:31 am

    hey hey, i just came across this guide because someone in a dungeon talked about ctc, which i never heard of in 7 years *coughs*. but, at the moment, i’ve been fiddling ALOT with reforging and regemming and so on, and i just have to say you’re quite right with what you said earlier, Once capped on dodge/parry/block, it’s best to go for expertise and even hitrating OVER stamina. the defensive stats should be more than enough to keep you alive, but the heroic modes in dragonsoul require alot of damage output, and going from an average of 12k DPS to a reforged 20 to 25k DPS helped us kill multiple bosses.
    i hope the info helped a bit for the newcomers, and thank you for the awesome guide that filled my gaps of knowledge a bit ;)


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