Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Reader Mail. . . Wait, What?!

So, a couple of days ago, I was surprised to find a druid tanking question. . . in my e-mail inbox. And with yesterday's post basically talking about how plate tanks deflate my E-*rhymeswithbean*, on top of the fact that I got nailed with a hefty speeding ticket on my way to work right now (60 in a 35, got pulled over like 5 feet short of the 55 zone sign) what better way to reinflate myself a bit than to brag. . . er, I mean answer my first reader mail. So, on to the question:


I have a question about which weapon to use for tanking. I have recently respecced back to my roots as a tank and am beginning to get all of the gear in order to get my happy behind into Kara with my guild for some raid experience to prep me for WOTLK. I was doing PVP for a little while and earned myself the
Gladiator's Maul for solo grinding/questing and I'm curious to get an expert's opinion on whether this is a solid choice for tanking as opposed to something like the Braxxis Staff of Slumber.

I have both, but im conflicted with the choice of which is better. Im sorta partial to using the Gladiator's Maul because of the enormous amount of stats it provides, including Resilience. I know im losing the bonus to armor but that seems to be it. Am i right to assume that 550 armor is worth giving up in exchange for a crapton more AP, Str, and Resil? I can find nothing in the way of blog articles concerning the relationship between specific gear with Resilience compared to +Defense. I know given the high armor and stamina from PVP epic rewards is a nice plus but a better option for tanking than some of the quest/easily obtainable gear from Amanna's Bear gear w/o tanking article? I appreciate any help you can provide in this manner.

Well, first off, lets look at the items in question:

Gladiator's Maul:
+32 Strength
+48 Stamina
Equip: Improves hit rating by 20 (1.27% @ L70).
Equip: Improves critical strike rating by 35 (1.59% @ L70).
Equip: Improves your resilience rating by 28 (0.71% @ L70).
Equip: Increases attack power by 894 in Cat, Bear, Dire Bear, and Moonkin forms only.

Braxxis Staff of Slumber:
550 Armor
+39 Stamina
Equip: Increases attack power by 292 in Cat, Bear, Dire Bear, and Moonkin forms only.

But remember, we get a 5.5x multiplier on our armor (assuming thick hide), and each point of stamina gives us roughly 10 x 1.25 (Dire Bear) x 1.2 (Heart of the Wild) x 1.03 (Survival of the Fittest) x 1.1 (Kings) = 17 hit points. So to use Braxxis over the Gladiator Maul, we lose lots of threat and 153 hit points, and gain 3025 armor.

And here is where I STOP crunching numbers, because this can be solved, by and large, qualitatively, by asking yourself 2 questions:

1: Are you crit immune without using the Gladiator's Maul?
2: Are you holding aggro off of the DPS, without them having to throttle themselves too much?

If the answer to either of these questions is "No", then use the Maul to tank with. Crit immunity needs to be your priority; if it is not maintained at all times during raid tanking, you pose a very real risk of dying due to burst damage from an unexpected crit/crush or double crit combo. And while the mitigation on the Maul is severely lacking, if your DPSers have to drop their damage output, or worse fail to do so and pull aggro, the extra mitigation on Braxxis wont reduce the damage you take overall, because the boss is going to take longer to die.

If, however, you are crit immune regardless of weapon choice, and your threat is enough to keep the aggro-magnets at bay, use the Staff of Slumber to up your mitigation. Losing 153 HP to gain over 3k armor is an upgrade to survival, no matter how you slice it.

The answer to the second question is likely to change on a fight-by-fight basis, so I'd advise bringing both if you meet crit immunity. For example, on direct DPS fights like Attumen, or most trash, you may need the extra threat of Gladiator to stay ahead. Meanwhile, if you get to Opera and are, say, tanking/kiting the tin man, you're going to want that extra mitigation, and you have plenty of time to build a sizable threat lead before any DPSer so much as touches your mob. And on Netherspite, aggro doesn't even matter! And on some fights, you might want to take advantage of the ability to switch weapons in combat, and use both. Curator is a great example of this: Most of the time, use your mitigation stick, but during evocates, bust out the PvP weapon to lay into him while he's shut down!

My biggest piece of advice, though, is to work on your Cenarion Expedition rep ASAP and pick yourself up a nice, juicy Earthwarden. The mitigation of Braxxis (after factoring in dodge/miss from defense, and less parrys due to expertise), with a large chunk of the extra threat generation and crit reduction of the Maul (a bit less AP overall, and less crits, but more likely to hit overall due to expertise).

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