Hello Guardians,

Something I’ve been meaning to post for a while (omg 2 posts in 1 day?) is a comparison of profession bonuses for Guardians in Mists of Pandaria. I finally got around to looking at it last night. Thankfully my GM Kalette helped me out with confirming the Alchemy numbers. So here’s what each profession can give you in Mists of Pandaria:

  1. Blacksmithing: 2 extra gem sockets. This totals to 640 secondary stats (Crit, Dodge, etc.), 320 Agility, or 480 Stamina. Value increases with epic gems.
  2. Herbalism: Lifeblood gives 2880 Haste Rating for 20 seconds. Lifeblood has a 2 minute cooldown. This averages around 480 Haste Rating – give or take depending on encounter length.
  3. Skinning: Master of Anatomy grants 480 Critical Strike Rating.
  4. Leatherworking: The Leatherworking only bracer enhancements grant an additional 330 Agility or 750 Stamina over the existing options.
  5. Jewelcrafting: The special Jewelcrafter gems grant 320 Primary or Secondary Stats, or 480 Stamina.
  6. Inscription: The Scriptionist (I made a word!) only shoulder enchant grants 320 Agility.
  7. Enchanting: Ring enchants grant 320 Agility or Stamina.
  8. Alchemy: Since you will be using Armor + Crit or Mastery Elixirs, you will gain 480 Bonus Armor and 240 Mastery or Crit.
  9. Engineering: Synapse Springs grant 2940 of your highest primary stat (Agility/Str/Int) for 10 seconds. This averages to 490 – give or take depending on the encounter. Phase Fingers currently grant 20520 Dodge Rating, but this appears to be a typo.
  10. Mining: Toughness grants 480 Stamina.

Just from looking at the above, you can immediately see that Blacksmithing is by far the biggest contributor at 640 stats, adding even more when epic gems come out. After that Skinning, Engineering, and Alchemy all look to be so close that there’s no real disadvantage to taking one over the other. The rest of the professions kind of lag behind.

So if you’re a total min-maxing kind of a player, you better start levelling Blacksmithing now. After that you can pick whatever suits your needs the best. For the rest of the Guardians out there, it won’t really matter what professions you pick, but I’d stay away from Herbalism.

Hello Guardians,

Just a quick update this week.

The first (and really only) major change is how Vengeance works. There’s been a series of blue posts about it, and I won’t block copy the entire thing. So if you’re interested the original post from GC is here. There’s some follow up posts afterwards but basically it boils down to implementing a new form of Vengeance caluclated thusly:

0.02 * UnmitigatedDamage + OldVengeance * OldVengeanceSecondsRemaining / 20

The important thing to note here is this formula is actually recursive. Each piece of damage (I’m assuming) is treated individually with its own timestamp. As that piece of Vengeance ages, it also decays becoming worth less and less as time goes on. If you dodge an attack (ie. UnmitigatedDamage = 0) then no aging occurs. They’ve also since added other forms of damage that normally bypass armor (such as Bleeds and Magic Damage) to this calculation.

Basically this means 2 things:

  1. Your damage dealt will now depend more on what kind of content you are doing as opposed to what your gear is.
  2. Frenzied Regeneration will now properly scale with content.

The first point seems to be a casualty of making the second possible. Other people like Theck aren’t particularly thrilled with this idea, but I can understand why it was done. In order to split out DPS from survivability for Tanks, some other stat has to be invented to scale existing abilities (Frenzied Regen, Shield Barrier, Word of Glory, Guard). Not only that, but that stat has to be visible and intuitive to the player. Obviously Blizzard decided the costs of doing so far outweighed the benefits. I kind of agree with them.

For those wondering, the resulting formula for Frenzied Regeneration looks like this:

Frenzied Regeneration at 60 rage: max(2*(AP-Agi*2), Sta*2.5)

As a result of the new form of Vengeance, and the new Frenzied Regeneration formula both Agility and Stamina took a gigantic hit in terms of value for our AM abilities. The only benefit Agility gives is now is the 10% from the AP raid buff. Stamina does nothing other than provide a floor value. Of course Agility still provides Crit and Dodge, so nothing changes in terms of modelling Savage Defense. However the drastic DPS increase also suddenly increases the value of Nature’s Vigil. Whether or not Nature’s Vigil has returned to the top of the food chain remains to be seen.

Other than that the only news to report is that I’ve finally started working on Rawr with Hinalover. Stay tuned for more news on that front.

Hello Guardians.

I wanted to take a few minutes and explain to you just exactly how Rage generation is going to work in Mists of Pandaria. If you’ve been following Mr. Crabtm at all you probably have a head start with regards to what I’m going to be talking about. And if you don’t then this is just what you’re looking for!

The Basics

In Mists of Pandaria Rage comes from two different kinds of sources. I like to call these Direct and Indirect Rage Generation. You’ll see why in a minute.

You will gain Rage from performing one of the following actions (Direct Generation):

  • Mangle generates 5 Rage when used (or 7 if you have the talent Soul of the Forest). Mangle has a 6 second cooldown.
  • Auto-Attacks generate 6.2 Rage per attack that deals damage. Your base auto-attack speed is 2.5 seconds.
  • Enrage generates 20 Rage when used, and an additional 10 Rage over the next 10 seconds. Enrage has a 60 second cooldown.
  • Critical Strikes of either Mangle or Auto-Attack will generate 15 Rage.
  • Shifting into Bear Form will set your Rage to 10.

Before going any further you should already be able to tell that the overwhelming bulk of our Rage Generation comes from Critical Strikes. Therefore our goal should be trying to maximize the number of those we get. The easiest way to do this is to simply stack Critical Strike Rating. Not only is that an awesome stat by itself, but while in Bear form we get an extra 50% Critical Strike Rating. This makes Critical Strike the single best Rage Generation statistic to stack early on.

Using one of the following abilities will allow you to use something that generates Rage (Indirect Generation):

  • Incarnation removes the cooldown on any offensive Bear ability for 30 seconds. This includes Mangle, meaning you can press Mangle every global cooldown to generate the maximum amount of Rage. Incarnation has a 3 minute cooldown.
  • Berserk removes the cooldown on Mangle and causes it to strike up to 2 extra targets for 10 seconds. Berserk has a 3 minute cooldown. It should be noted that at the time of this writing the extra targets struck are not causing any Rage to be generated. Whether this is intended or not is unknown.
  • Using Lacerate. Thrash, or FFF has a 25% chance to reset the cooldown on Mangle.
  • Temporary buffs such as Heroism/Bloodlust or Trinket Procs can also indirectly increase Rage Generation by increasing Haste, Critical Strike, Agility, Hit, or Expertise. Although I don’t recall the last time I saw a temporary Hit or Expertise proc/buff.

You can probably tell that the most common of these either reset or completely remove the cooldown on Mangle. While this also increases our DPS, both Incarnation and Berserk should be held in reserve as Rage cooldowns.

So once you have Rage what do you do with it? There are three options:

  • Savage Defense increases your chance to Dodge by 45% for 6 seconds, costs 60 Rage. Savage Defense has 3 charges, and regenerates them at a rate of 1 charge per 9 seconds. This is your primary source of “Active Mitigation” against bosses.
  • Frenzied Regeneration heals you for up to max(2*(AP-Agi*2), Sta*2.5) for a cost of 60 Rage. If you do not have 60 rage all available Rage will be consumed and you will be healed for a relative percentage of the maximum amount. Frenzied Regeneration will be your way of handling damage that cannot be Dodged (Magic, Bleeds, etc.).
  • Maul deals 110% weapon damage. Costs 30 Rage. There is no reason you should ever use this unless you are not actively tanking something.

The key ability to note above is Savage Defense.

RPS – Rage Per Second

Since we now have a very definable method of calculating the amount of Rage we can generate, and very definable targets to meet in terms of Savage Defense and Frenzied Regeneration costs we need a way to express this. We at TiB have settled on using the term RPS. RPS is defined as:

The average amount of Rage generated per second for a given interval.

Using the term RPS allows us to express how much average Rage income you can expect with a certain set of gear. It also allows us to express how much you need to be generating to meet certain targets.

RPS Targets

Below you will find a table describing how much Rage you need to be able to generate to maintain 100% Savage Defense uptime for a given tank interval. These intervals range from 12-42 seconds. You seldom see a swap interval shorter than 7 seconds, which has the same RPS requirements as if it was 12. On the other end of the spectrum 42 seconds is the maximum amount of time you can keep Savage Defense up before you start to lose uptime to the recharge rate of 9 seconds. Anything higher than 42 seconds is simply 6.66666~ RPS (60 Rage / 9 Seconds).

The second column denotes the amount of Rage you could potentially bank in a given interval while not Tanking. Essentially the assumption is that you will bank at minimum 60 Rage, otherwise you’re just doing it wrong.

The third column expresses how much RPS you need to be capable of generating to bank the desired amount of Rage within the time allotted. Since time spent “banking” actually starts right after you hit the last Savage Defense, the total time available is actually Interval + 6. This time is important to note as I will expand upon it in a later post when discussing Guardian Cat and Guardian Bear DPS.

The fourth column describes how much RPS is needed to generate the Rage required to maintain 100% Savage Defense uptime for the duration of the tanking interval. First you determine the number of 6 second “sections” there are in a given interval and subtract 1 since any Rage generated during the last “section” is actually “banked”. Then subtract the amount of Rage “banked” from the amount of Rage needed. Since the amount of Rage needed is a fixed number based on the length of the interval (60, 120, 180, etc.) this is pretty easy to find. Finally, divide the amount of Rage required by the amount of time you have to generate it and you end up with the RPS required to meet that goal.

The last column is simply the amount of time you need in order to “bank” the desired amount of Rage, based on the RPS required to maintain Savage Defense at 100% uptime (column 4). Again this is another interesting number to note, as you will see that the higher your RPS is, the lower the amount of time you need to spend “banking” it.

It should be noted that for the purposes of these calculations it is assumed you do not into Bear form at all – and thus do not trigger the extra 10 Rage from shifting. The new Vengeance model means some simulations are necessary to determine when it is better to shift into Cat form for more DPS when you are not tanking.

In any case, if you wish to download the spreadsheet and play with it yourself, you can find it here.

Interval Max Duration Rage Banked Min RPS to Bank Min RPS While Tanking Avg Time to Bank
12 60 3.333333333 10 6
12 70 3.888888889 8.333333333 8.4
12 80 4.444444444 6.666666667 12
12 90 5 5 18
12 100 5.555555556 3.333333333 30
18 60 2.5 10 6
18 70 2.916666667 9.166666667 7.636363636
18 80 3.333333333 8.333333333 9.6
18 90 3.75 7.5 12
18 100 4.166666667 6.666666667 15
24 60 2 10 6
24 70 2.333333333 9.444444444 7.411764706
24 80 2.666666667 8.888888889 9
24 90 3 8.333333333 10.8
24 100 3.333333333 7.777777778 12.85714286
30 60 1.666666667 10 6
30 70 1.944444444 9.583333333 7.304347826
30 80 2.222222222 9.166666667 8.727272727
30 90 2.5 8.75 10.28571429
30 100 2.777777778 8.333333333 12
36 60 1.428571429 10 6
36 70 1.666666667 9.666666667 7.24137931
36 80 1.904761905 9.333333333 8.571428571
36 90 2.142857143 9 10
36 100 2.380952381 8.666666667 11.53846154
42 60 1.25 10 6
42 70 1.458333333 9.722222222 7.2
42 80 1.666666667 9.444444444 8.470588235
42 90 1.875 9.166666667 9.818181818
42 100 2.083333333 8.888888889 11.25

Hey All,

I’ve been kind of “afk from internets” this week as I had a pretty big software deployment happening at work that I was handling. Thankfully that all went pretty well, and now that I’m not stressing about that I can look at posts and changes from the past couple of weeks.

“GC, just a quick clarification. The new Armor Damage Reduction formula used for 86+ characters: Armor / (Armor + 4,037.5 * Level – 31,7117.5)
Does this continue on to level 93, similarly how the current Cata formula worked to 88 until this expansion? or is there another formula for level 91 and beyond?”

It continues on to level 93. Just to clarify to make sure there are no misunderstandings, adding denotation for which variables are of the target and which are of the attacker: DamageReduction = TargetArmor / (TargetArmor + 4037.5*AttackerLevel – 317117.5)..

This won’t mean anything to you unless you’re a mathy type. Basically just a confirmation of the damage reduction formula that Armor uses. The obvious follow-up question to this is “Will Guardians ever Armor cap?” The short answer is “no”. I have a post planned that will have a longer answer in the next few days.

To provide an update on tanking mechanics, I want to comment on Mastery for Guardians and Brewmasters. This is somewhat of an over-generalization, but tanks typically care about 4 things when gearing in decreasing order of importance:

  1. Survive the maximum burst damage of the encounter (aka Effective Health)
  2. Minimize healing needed (aka Damage Reduction + Self Healing)
  3. Hold aggro on whatever you’re needed to hold aggro on (aka TPS)
  4. Maximize damage dealt (aka DPS)

#4 is generally much less important than #1-3, and overlaps with #3 heavily when considering gear. And #3 is relatively easy these days anyway. So, usually it just comes down to #1 and #2.

Stamina primarily helps with #1. Dodge primarily helps with #2. Most other stats help with resource generation, which typically translate into #2. Mastery for Guardians and Brewmasters is in the somewhat unusual place of helping with both #1 and #2 significantly.

If you compare Mastery to Dodge for a Brewmaster, as a few theorycrafters here have done, you can see that, purely in terms of how much they reduce your damage taken, Dodge wins by a considerable margin. We balanced it that way, because we give value to how much it helps with #1 as well. Obviously, helping with #1 has some value, because you care about Stamina. We see Mastery for Guardians and Brewmasters as sort of a hybrid between Stamina and Avoidance, in terms of how it helps improve your character.

It’s easy to objectively compare the value of two stats in terms of how much they help with #1, or how much they help with #2. But comparing some amount of help with #1 to some amount of help with #2 is much more complex and subjective. It’s an interesting choice that tanks have to make all the time, and one of the most successful choices in gearing that the game provides (Stamina vs. Avoidance being the primary way that choice is expressed). So, that means balancing a stat that provides a mix of both can be complex and subjective as well. After much deliberation, we’re going to try valuing the effective health benefits of Mastery for Brewmasters and Guardians significantly lower than the damage reduction benefits, and adjusting the Mastery conversion rates to reflect that.

Hopefully this provides a bit of background and perspective about the complexities underlying even the simplest of changes: In the next build, you’ll find Mastery for Guardians providing 1.25% Armor per Mastery (up from 0.65%), and for Brewmasters providing 0.5% Stagger per Mastery (up from 0.3%).

I didn’t want to cherry pick lines out of that since it was too important of a post. Essentially Blizzard had placed a much higher value on something we like to call “Effective Health” or “EH”. This is really just a different way of looking at unmitigated damage vs your health pool. Using EH allows you to easily derive values for how long you will live given a certain set of circumstances. This is called “Time to Live” or “TTL”. EH is calculated like this:

YourHP / (Total Percentage Damage Taken)

For Guardians we can expand this a little further to:

YourHP / ((1 – Armor Damage Reduction) * (1 – 0.1))

The “0.1″ above refers to the Weakened Blows debuff you put up by pressing Thrash. The reason EH is important is because each fight as some sort of “uber combo” which is the maximum amount of damage you can receive in any interval. On Madness it is Impale + Melee Swing, Haggara is Focussed Assault, etc. As a tank you must have enough EH to survive this predetermined amount of damage. However you not only have to consider the amount of incoming damage, but how quick/efficient your healers are at reacting to incoming damage. If you have really awesome healers then you will not need anything over barely achieving the “EH threshold”. However if your healers are kind of average you might want a little more. This is usually what the whole “Agi vs Stam” debate comes down to.

Everyone knows I’m always on the side of forcing your healers to play the game better, but I digress.

In any case Blizzard appears to have come around to what we’ve been preaching since the start of Cataclysm: That total damage reduction (TDR) is a far more valuable number over the course of an entire fight than pure EH. As a result our Mastery has been doubled in effectiveness. It now increases our armor (including Bonus armor, but more on that in a later post) by 0.0125% per point of Mastery. This effectively puts Mastery right behind Dodge in terms of TDR – after you reach the necessary RPS to maintain Savage Defense (again, more on that in a later post).

This is a good thing.

“Is it intended that secondary stats now have twice the itemization budget of primary stats in terms of gems”

Yes. With the possible exception of Spirit, there is little decision in choosing red gems in the live game. Secondary stats are often more interesting in general because there are break points, hard caps, and personal preferences. Any Agi user who eschews Agi is doing it wrong.

This makes sense. In Cataclysm we saw the overwhelming predominance of the Red gem, even for Bears. You only ever used other colours to meet socket bonuses and/or activate Metas. I like that they’re trying to better balance out the effectiveness of gemming your Primary vs Secondary stats. The awesome thing for Guardians is that this means Crit gems are your best friend ever. There are other side effects (like Blacksmithing now being way more valuable than a lot of other professions), but hopefully those will be ironed out in future builds.

“Is it intended that Bonus Armor is affected by Guardian Mastery? For example the Mantid Elixir which provides +2250 Armor is multiplied by the Guardian Mastery for a bonus of 2475 armor (before gear and buffs).”

Yes, this is intended. Guardian Mastery should be a final multiplier on all armor.

While we had observed this happening from Day 1 of Beta thanks to Kiril, we didn’t have confirmation that it was intentional or that it was supposed to apply to Elixirs as well. Another tidbit is that it also applies to the Armor Potion. So you’ll want to have a bunch of those, especially for progression fights. This actually makes Mastery way cooler that it ever was in the past.

Item – Druid T14 Guardian 2P Bonus Reduces the cooldown of your Might of Ursoc ability by 60 sec, up from 30 sec.

This is a straight up buff. The 2pc bonus was absolute shit before. It’s still not that great now, but at least it isn’t terribad.

Frenzied Regeneration instantly converts up to 60 Rage into up to (max(((AP * AP) * 186) / 10,000,000 + (47000% of AP / 100,002.5) * STA) * 1) health.

This is just adding the 2.5*Stamina floor GC talked about in a prior Class Analysis post. Nothing to see here.

Rebirth now gives 60% health, up from 20%.

Single best change ever. Glyph of Rebirth is no longer Mandatory. Win.

Ravage is now Feral & Guardian spec, rather than just Feral.

I don’t even. I literally cannot think of a single reason to use Ravage. Ever. The only thing I can think of is a way to prop up Displacer Beast. But Guardians will never ever take Displacer Beast anyway. So I’ve got nothing. The best thing you can do is go on pretending it doesn’t exist.

Item – Druid T14 Guardian 4P Bonus Increases the healing received from your Frenzied Regeneration by 10% (was 20%) and increases the dodge granted by your Savage Defense by 10%.

I like this. Now our 4pc affects both Savage Defense and Frenzied Regeneration. Big buff for Savage Defense. Good change imo.

Dream of Cenarius now works with instant casts. Now increases the damage done by your next 2 Moonfire or Sunfire casts by 100% or by your next 2 melee abilities by 30%, rather than your next damaging spell by 70% or by your next melee ability by 30%.

As a Guardian……..big whoop. We’re still never taking it. It’s interesting for other specs (Tinderhoof in particular has some interesting stuff for Feral) but still worthless for Guardian.

I think I got everything that’s happened in recent weeks. As always please post in the comments if I missed something or you have questions!

I mentioned yesterday on Twitter that I would be taking some looks at Guardian DPS today. I did just that and here are my results.

Please note that all tests were conducted under the following conditions:

  • Using ungemmed, unenchanted 483 PvP gear.
  • Using Soul of the Forest and Heart of the Wild for max DPS.
  • Not using any cooldowns (Berserk, Enrage, etc.) since they are now actually defensive cooldowns.
  • Attacking the boss target dummy in Stormwind while fully armor debuffed.

0 Vengenace Bear

Here’s the 0 Vengeance Bear “control” parse. Please note that his parse was done while dumping all Rage to Maul. A rotation of Mangle > Lacerate > Thrash Upkeep > FFF was used. Considering my previous Guardian 0 Vengeance parses were in the neighbourhood of 25k, this seems much more reasonable for a tank. Damage is also much more evenly distributed across the top 3 abilities (Mangle, Lacerate, Melee).

Guardian Cat

Here’s the Guardian Cat “control” parse. Note that very few (if any) Ferocious Bites were actually used. Due to the terrible combo-point generation in this gear, a huge portion of the potential DPS is sacked in favour of maintaining Rip uptime. Once our Haste and Crit improves, it’s very likely that Guardian Cat DPS will see a sudden jump once we can reliably generate enough combo-points to throw in a Ferocious Bite every Rip cycle.

In any case you can clearly see from the parse that Guardian Cat DPS is currently about 20% higher than 0 Vengeance Bear. This means that once you dip below say 30% Vengeance on a tank swap, you’ll want to jump into Cat form for the highest DPS. Of course this will vary from encounter to encounter. Fights with very quick tank swaps (like Ultraxion) there won’t be any point since you’ll have to taunt right back in 7 seconds or less anyway. Additionally fights with large amounts of raid damage (Spine, Madness) will keep your Vengeance high enough when not actively being melee attacked.

In order to optimize your DPS as a Guardian, having a mod that keeps track of your Vengeance is going to be almost essential. If you can find one that will let you set warnings at certain values, that’s even better. I don’t know if such a thing exists though. If it does please tell me.

Heart of the Wild: Guardian -> Cat

Unsurprisingly nothing has really changed with Heart of the Wild. I ran 5 individual parses, all linked below. In each parse I edited the combat log such that the first entry was activating Heart of the Wild, and the last was it fading. This was done to skew the results in favour of HotW as much as possible.

Max DPS: 31,470
Min DPS: 27,807
Avg DPS: 29,212

As you can see this is well below an average Feral’s DPS. Tinderhoof ran some Feral parses and his average as around 41k (and I even think that is way low compared to other DPS classes). So at best HotW Guardian -> Cat is ~30% below a pure Feral. Based on what I know of the goals for Heart of the Wild, that is far short of the target.

I keep expecting Heart of the Wild to get fixed, but it keeps not happening.