Monday, March 9, 2009

Dual Spec 2/2: Capitalizing on Mitigation

It's a tough path, trying to extract every last ounce of mitigation from the Warrior talents. However, the coming Glyph of Shield Wall gives some hope to the Improved Disciplines talent. Then there's the lack of need for Puncture, and the increasing power of Disarm. Top it off with the power of Improved Demoralizing Shout, and the talenting plan changes drastically.
Tentative Protection Spec (5 / 1o / 56)
Glyphed With:
Glyph of Shield Wall - Crucial for Shield Wall chaining
Glyph of Blocking - Dual threat and mitigation buffer
Glyph of Revenge - Nice compensation for loss of Imp HS and Puncture
Shield Wall: For a talentless & unglyphed Warrior, Shield Wall has a 5 minute Cooldown and reduces incoming damage by 60% for 12s. With talents, the cooldown can be brought down to 4 minutes - not at all an exciting change. I have a very hard time visualizing an encounter that has exactly two big burst-damage events that are tighter than 5 minutes, but more spaced than 4 minutes. If used in rotation with many external cooldowns (Guardian Spirit, Divine Guardian, etc.), I can imagine some arguable benefit for the cooldown shift, but the benefit seems highly specialized.

With the advent of Glyph of Shield Wall, a talentless & glyphed Warrior will have a Shield Wall with a 2 minute cooldown, but reduces incoming damage by only 40% for 12s. With talents, the cooldown now drops to only 1 minute. Thus, a Warrior can conceivably spend 20% of his time under the protection of Shield Wall. When Shield Wall is talented, the uptime of Shield Wall quadruples because of the glyph, and the damage reduction is reduced only by a third. I can easily imagine bosses with relatively frequent bursts of damage that, if mitigated by just 40%, will then become easily healable. With those same external cooldowns, as well as the occasional Last Stand and Shield Block + Trinkets, the tank can sit under some form of enhanced protection for a very long time. When it comes to Progression, stringing these mitigators may be crucial - it's comforting to know that Warriors will be able to do their part to keep the chain running.

Consequences: With SW on a 60-second cooldown, it will need to be in rotation far more often than I currently have it. It will likely not be a tanksaver anymore, and will need to be activated more premptively; LS will need to go up with it to ensure an actual healing buffer. It will certainly be a learning curve to incorporate this mitigator, but the payoffs will be substantial for progression tanking.

Disarm: Blizzard took an interesting approach to tanking with the release of WotLK: Every boss is tauntable, and every armed boss can be disarmed. These mechanics may not hold for T8 raid bosses and beyond, so this is a design I'll employ only so long as armed raid bosses can be disarmed. Improved Disarm reduces the cooldown on Disarm by a third, and increases the damage dealt to a disarmed target by 10%. That's a raidwide damage increase of 2.5% on any armed boss, if Imp Disarm is kept on cooldown constantly. In addition, disarmed PvE mobs dealt roughly 60% less physical damage in TBC. If we get half of that mitigation now, an armed boss who focuses on physical attacks will hit for only ~70% of his damage when disarmed. In turn, Disarm becomes another cooldown against armed bosses. This talent is absolutely useless against unarmed bosses (dragons, spiders, huge cosntructs, etc.), but it may well be the last needed mitigator in rotation against an armed raid boss.

Consequences: I'm still in the naive BC mindset of not being able to disarm most armed raid bosses. This is another ability that I'll need to learn to string into my rotation in order to keep mitigation up. This ability will likely trump even the newly glyphed Shield Wall in a mitigation rotation, if only because it amplifies raidwide damage in addition to keeping incoming damage to a minimum.

Improved Demoralizing Shout: This one Used to be a pretty standard element in my builds. The introduction AttT makes me less inclined to think of the Fury Tree as a source of mitigation, but the talent is still there. It'd be nice to depend on a DPS Warrior to pick this up, but I can't depend on that with the current raid setup in my guild. Thus, I'll pick it up myself.

Consequences: Easy money, here. I keep DS up on any target that scares me at all (i.e., bosses not on easy farm). This is simply a straight, if small, benefit to mitigation over the entirety of any phyical-damage fight.

The Losses - Charge, Puncture. and Gag Order: I always considered the one point in Charge to be a bit of a throwaway talent. I certainly enjoy opening a bossfight with enough rage for a Shield Slam, but the now-free Bloodrage makes this easy without the extra talents: just Bloodrage, then charge. The talent is thus mediocre at best. Puncture, meanwhile, is a bit of a disappointment. Devastate used to be the crux of a threat rotation, and now I find that I have to avtually watch to keep the Sunder debuff up and running. Puncture, then, seems to only really help in the solo field: saving rage on that nice, spammable ability to allow for more Heroic Strike spamming - not a talent I'll actually miss against a raid boss.

Gag Order is a bit of a hit to threat. Bosses cannot be silenced, of course, but the loss of 10% of my Shield Slam damage is a direct cut into my threat generation. If I find that IDS only needs 2/5, two of those saved points are going right into Gag Order. Then again, Shield Slam's threat has a large constant coefficient, independent of the damage dealt. I may find my threat to be dropping somewhat more than I strictly would like with the loss of Gag Order, but I'm trying to convince myself that my skill in maintaining a strong threat rotation will keep my TPS high enough for my raid, while maximizing my mitigation to save my healers from breaking their hands on their keyboards.

Conclusions: There are no flex points in my new mitigation build, so I won't be getting a lot of the glamour talents I could think about before. I also sacrifice a fair deal of threat generation: I'll be losing Imp Heroic Strike, Impale, and Deep Wounds, in addition to the talents above. But, then, that's why I have Dual Specs for tanking now: I can run full mitigation or full threat at the drop of a hat, depending on the upcoming encounter. Also, since talents here do not affect my crit immunity, I can safely put on mitigation gear while in threat-oriented talents (or vice versa) to perform a nice hybrid tank job. Versatility in tanking, what a new concept!

The Future: If there's a lot more of this AoE Stun mechanic, I may very well move points from IDS to Iron Will - 20% less stun time is 20% less time in which I'm a sitting duck. If I'm never stunned, then this talent's a waste, but if Maexxna's mechanic becomes a family favorite, it may well be worth considering.

No comments: