Bizarre Stat Priorities in 5.0.4
There are just under 3 weeks left until Mists of Pandaria, and thus, just under 3 weeks during which your Humble Narrator must still concern herself with proper tanking form. I can’t work up the give-a-damn to completely rework my spreadsheet for less than a month of play – especially since most of the theorycrafting resources I rely upon, most notably Elitist Jerks’ rating conversions, have not updated their level 85 stat values, focusing instead on the upcoming level 90 formulae. I don’t begrudge them their focus on MoP – if I were upgrading, I’d focus on it too.
I’ll probably get the expansion eventually, once the sting of rage’s death has died down a little. Despite its increased power – I’m not so divorced from reality as to claim that the warrior changes weren’t a significant buff! – all I can see when I watch my rage bar stand, unmoved, in the face of a boss hit, is a mockery of the class I once loved.
To the point, and more importantly, on from the melodrama! Combat statistics received some major overhauls this patch, most notably with the introduction of the two-roll system for block; and of course, our own stat priorities widened to include hit and expertise.
Damage Reduction vs Rage Generation
Damage reduction and rage generation are complementary as well as competing: avoidance generates up to 5 rps via Revenge refreshes, mastery generates rage through critical blocks, and rage generates damage reduction through Shield Block and Shield Barrier; so even gearing heavily towards one will not completely gimp the other.
I haven’t done all of the calculations to determine how hit and expertise stack up against avoidance and mastery, but I did do enough to say with certainty that even at the hit and expertise caps, it is not possible to ensure 100% Shield Block uptime – which means that no amount of rage stats will bring us to full combat table coverage. As a result, I’m inclined to lean towards passive damage reduction (avoidance & mastery) at the expense of hit and expertise, counting on my DR to keep me from spiking too often, and on my Shield Barrier to keep me alive after full-hit spikes until the healers can bring my health back up.
Avoidance vs Mastery
The new two-roll blocking system puts avoidance and mastery at odds with each other: every additional percent of avoidance reduces your effective mastery-to-block conversion – effectively causing mastery to have diminishing returns as avoidance increases. In Pandas, this mechanic will cause the warrior gearing strategy to change mid-expansion: warriors gearing for damage reduction will begin by stacking mastery, but the more avoidance they acquire on their gear the better avoidance will be, until they reach a level at which it surpasses the value of mastery. Since we’re in end-of-expansion gear, I estimate that we are already past that tipping point, and am therefore gemming and reforging pure avoidance, at the expense of mastery and threat stats.
Dodge, Parry, Strength, and Avoidance Diminishing Returns
5.0.4 made some dramatic changes in the diminishing returns curves of our avoidance statistics. Most notably, it converted Strength’s parry contribution from parry rating, which suffers from diminishing returns, to direct parry chance, which does not. Partially because of this, at level 85, strength gives more parry chance per point than parry rating does. (Another major factor behind this conversion is that secondary statistics will have their itemization costs halved relative to primary stats in MoP content, in order to encourage players to choose between their primary and secondary stats instead of simply stacking the primary). Even before diminishing returns, strength is now our best avoidance stat at level 85; after diminishing returns, it’s a god stat.
As for dodge versus parry – I’ve read rumors that parry rating is now on a shallower diminishing returns curve than dodge rating, but I’m unsure if the people making these claims are taking into account that strength no longer contributes parry rating.