Thursday, June 23, 2011

Holy Shield & Paladin Block Capping

This is a tanking post and I'll go on a bit excessively about Paladin tanking, so you may skip it if you're not too interested. Go ahead, I won't be offended.

/jam hands in pocket
/kick a rock

And I don't even play a Blood Elf. Zing!
I know I moaned and complained about it. I changed my mind. I take it all back. Holy Shield change is good. Let's move on.

So, block-capping looks like it's becoming more and more important for us, as the change to Holy Shield essentially says - go ahead, if you can block cap, you can treat Holy Shield as a guaranteed 50% (51% with the right meta) reduction in physical damage for 10 seconds, on top of armor reduction.

Think about that for a second, and now think about tanking Halfus while he has the Haste buff from Nether, Think about the physical component of Cho'gall's swings, think about the physical damage from Mangle, or tanking adds on Maloriak and hell, phase 3 Nefarian just before a reset.

In every one of those situations, you will be blocking so much damage your healer will wonder what you did to your gear. After taking massive damage from the adds on Nefarian, I ditched every bit of stamina I was using to survive Ony's breath attack and converted it to Mastery and got to 99.6% towards block-cap and my health suddenly became incredibly stable.

Yes, Holy Shield will go from a steady +10% all the time (long as you were on top of Holy Power expenditures) to a +20% for 10 seconds cool-down, but still, point is, it's a good thing. It makes paladins a little more challenging to play - the good ones will be able to mitigate damage efficiently through super play and bad ones will smack Holy Shield on cool down.

That preamble hopefully makes the point that block-capping is worthwhile. Let's see how we can get there.

I seldom throw stuff out that is in the current tier and one tier behind the current one, so I have all the 346 gear still just in case, and when I went about building my Mastery set, I was surprised and delighted to find a couple of items - a ring, a DPS trinket - that I could use to push my Mastery up without loosing too many other stats, so if you have those old, or off-set pieces lying around, take a look at them for Mastery and Dodge - those are the stats you're going to want (we already have tons of Parry).

First, a macro. Run this in game to see how far you are from block-cap. It will give you a current sum of your Mitigation + Miss + Block chance:

/script DEFAULT_CHAT_FRAME:AddMessage("Need 102.4 combat table coverage. Currently at: "..string.format("%.2f", GetDodgeChance() + GetBlockChance() + GetParryChance() + 5))

Ready? Okay. First step is enchants:

Hands, Feet, and Shield should have maximum Mastery enchants on them. Go for 50 on feet - you get your speed boost from Pursuit Of Justice.

You probably already have that, so let's take your gear and reforge it. Your defensive gear will have 3 combinations of stats possible. This reforging assumes you have less Dodge than Parry - if you are already at equivalent, balance appropriately. If you've got a lot more Dodge than Parry, swap the reforges to Parry from Dodge instead.

Dodge + Parry - Reforge your Parry to Mastery
Parry + Mastery - Reforge Parry to Dodge
Dodge + Mastery - Leave it alone, it's perfect

In addition you might have some items with threat stats woven in there:

Dodge + Hit / Expertise - Reforge the threat stats to Mastery
Parry + Hit / Expertise - Ugh. Same as above
Hit + Expertise - Double ugh. I'd personally reforge the Expertise into Mastery

Hit that macro - how does it look? Not there yet? No worries, here are a couple of other things you can try.

Take a look at your gems and use the following:

Meta: +1% Shield Block Value (Eternal Shadowspirit Diamond)
Red: Parry + Mastery (Fine Ember Topaz)
Blue: Mastery + Stamina (Puissant Dream Emerald)
Yellow: Mastery (Fractured Amberjewel)
Prismatic: Mastery  (Fractured Amberjewel)

You're going to loose a chunk of stamina here, but it should be okay - unless you're in a very heavy magical damage fight, you won't miss it. I personally like to go for a few socket bonuses, but if you don't want to you can just keep slotting as many Fractured Amberjewels as you want.

Hit that macro - getting closer? Okay, trinkets:

Tol Barad is awesome for trinkets. This is the single best, cheapest, easy to get, tanking trinket in the game:

Mirror of Broken Images - I talk about this trinket all the time in my raid guides. Lots of mastery and a 1-minute cool-down on-use magic resistance? Yes, please!
Impatience of Youth - this is a  DPS trinket, but the on-use Strength will give you a bit of Parry and threat and the mastery is amazing. Not ideal but not bad by any measure.

Hit that macro. If you're in a few epics, you should be around 90% - 95% at this point. From here on out, it's just a matter of making your gear choices very carefully - make sure your Dodge and Parry remain about even to minimize loosing too heavily to diminishing returns, and looks for those pure tanking items to replace the ones with threat stats.

The last touch to try to get over that last little bit is to swap from using stamina Flasks to Mastery Elixirs and Mastery Food.

Drink: Elixir of the Master (225 Mastery)
Eat: Lavascale Minestrone (90 Mastery)

That's another big step towards block-cap.

Am I suggesting you do this all the time, 100% of the time? No. It's a situational thing - it'll be great for trash, it'll be great when you're add-tanking, it'll be great on a boss who swings very fast but bosses with a ton of magical damage (dragon breaths), all this Mastery might not be ideal if you don't have enough Stamina on your gear. But that's what double-stacking Stamina trinkets is all about. Also, keep in mind, if you really want to be at block cap, you can always take an Elixir of Resistance along with that Elixir of the Master to smooth out that magical damage.

This is probably a longer topic, but my disdain for threat stats is not something I'm comfortable with. For one, I absolutely loathe missing, I hate that I can't keep building  Holy Power every time I miss, and I hate that sometimes bad RNG will totally screw up the the burst of agro I need on pull to stay ahead of 20k+ DPS. I hate that I'm so reliant on Vengeance to build threat. I'm not saying the threat stats don't have a place, I'm just saying at this stage of gear, you're not going to be able to hit both block-cap and hit-cap and expertise soft-cap all at once.

Not yet. Who knows what Deathwing gear will look like! I know in Firelands gear, once I'm block-capped and Dodge/Parry are even, I'm probably going to start picking up a few threat stats here and there. I'm aware that moving Mastery to Dodge and Parry would be a bit more efficient, but threat is going to get out of hand on pulls if we don't pay some attention to it and hitting things is actually more fun than hitting Crusader Strike with 1.5% hit and missing four times in a row.

For now, I keep three sets:

Progression: a set with high iLevel items for the best stats, at least one stamina trinket and at least one on-use trinket for an extra cool-down. Threat is not a factor in this set in any way, all threat is reforged as per above.
Mitigation: This is my full block-cap set or as close to it as I can get without sacrificing too many other stats
Threat: I use this for dungeons, and very easy raid bosses where I'm starting to threat cap DPS and that is more of an issue than survival

Now keep in mind, I probably only have an extra six or so items that I swap in and out of my main progression set to make the other two sets work - I'm not talking about full sets with different gear and enchants on each item.

You can certainly do that but that is way too much work for me. :-)


  1. Still not sure how I feel about the holy shield change. On one hand, we can use it to get a large defense bonus on crunch times, but on the other, mathematically it blocks less. 20% for 1/3 of the time is equal to if it were a 6.6% all the time buff, however it is 10% all the time. Being able to use it on cooldown could make it significantly less or more effective depending on when it is used. I guess it just means us tanks have yet another thing to keep track of. Every single fight has a different time I use specific defensive CDs, and now we just need to learn another.

  2. I suppose, all things being held equal, that it amounts to less damage blocked. However... we will now be using it when it matters most. The point of mitigation, as I understand it, is to smooth out our damage taken, particularly during heavy/high spike damage. Our new cooldown will help us do that better, I think, than a 10% with 100% uptime. 10% of 100 damage (10) isn't as significant as 20% of 150 (30). I dunno, maybe I'm just wrong, haha.

  3. Previous poster here:

    Did some raiding and heroic 5-mans (whilst drunk, admittedly...) last night. Maybe I was just THAT drunk, but I was getting full vengeance really quickly last night. I am not sure why this is. Maybe I was standing in bad stuff? Maybe I was pulling too much? I don't know, haha. But it felt delicious!