Over the last week or so there’s been some discussion both here and on MMO-Champ about the current state of Guardians in PvE. Some of it is just baseless fear-mongering, but there are actually quite a few very good points to be made. The question I’m trying to figure out is if this is a result of our own inflexibility in how we think about gearing for an encounter (which I will assume a lot of the responsibility for), or an actual problem. My personal belief is that it is more of the former than the latter.
Even so the points made about raid utility are completely valid. Of course the recently announced changes to both Tranquility and Battle Healer were a long time coming, even though they are very welcome. Guardian still suffers from changes made because of Feral DPS over the past two expansions. Should they be reversed? I don’t know. I’ve certainly advocated for some of them to be reversed, and in the end they may very well be.
Only time will tell.
Toto! Can You Take the Hit?
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t initially thrilled at the idea of stacking Stamina again for heroic raiding. I managed to make it through 10/16 Heroic T14 just fine with a full RPS build and simply playing correctly. Out of the bosses we didn’t kill, only Empress and Sha would have made me think twice about my gear choices. This feeling continued on through all of T15 normals although – admittedly – I was probably overgeared for most of them. We killed everything pre-nerf and I never felt I was in significant danger as a result of my health pool.
However from observing people doing 10m heroic on streams – like Mowse and Danishpsycho – and talking to others – like Ahanss and Buraan – it’s become pretty clear that we need to re-orient how we think about gear. At least for heroic raiding. This also applies to 25m heroic raiding, since generally the only difference is that the melee hits from the boss are higher rather than the actual abilities used (except for things like Talon Rake). All of the other tank classes have ways to mitigate the special ability part a “tank combo” – a combination of abilities and/or melee hits which has the potential to instantly kill the tank – and sometimes the melee swing that follows. Since we do not have a way of doing that, we have to go back to the old “Wrath” method of handling such combos: Soak the hit. But what’s the best way of doing that?
- Make sure you have enough Effective Health to survive the full combo if it comes to that.
- Make sure you apply a Tooth and Claw to the boss just prior to the combo. If this means you have to hold a proc that occurs 10 or more seconds before the combo itself, do so.
- Have Savage Defense up for the combo to help prevent even more melee damage.
- Have enough Rage available to Frenzied Regeneration after the combo occurs when you’re at low health. 2t15 makes this even better.
- Use a cooldown – yours or an external – if necessary.
That may seem like a lot at first glance, but 2 -> 5 have pretty much been standard practice the entire expansion thus far. Only #1 is something that we haven’t been very concerned with since Wrath. Up until now the Stamina we get on our gear has mostly (except in a few extreme cases like Impale, at least early on) been sufficient, even for heroic raiding content. But we’re starting to see a shift back to needing more Stamina to survive these “tank combos”.
Toto! You Need more Effective Health!
So we’ve established that as more and more people get into heroic raiding in Throne of Thunder, many are going to run smack into a very different reality from what they have been used to. But what is “Effective Health” anyway? In the simplest terms it’s an expression of how much health you have against unmitigated attacks. EH is calculated using this simple equation:
EH = Health / Total Damage Reduction
The most immediate thing you will notice is that this number will change based on the kind of damage you are receiving. EH-Magic will be different from EH-Physical which will again be different from EH-ArmorPen. The second thing that will become immediately apparent is that Stamina is the only way to increase all 3 types of EH. That’s fine, but the combos from some bosses – specifically Horridon, Ji-Kun, and Durumu – are mitigated by Armor. So what is better? I’ll direct your attention to the graph below:
You can clearly see that for a Guardian in ~522 gear (this graph was generated using my stats) Stamina beats Mastery by nearly a 3:1 margin. This shouldn’t really surprise anyone, especially after Theck’s work with damage smoothness. Even though his information is only directly applicable to Paladins (Guardians’ “smoothness” mechanics are purely Rage driven), the numbers are a strong indicator of the results you see above. So what does that mean?
There is effectively no situation where Mastery is a better option than Stamina.
Or more simply:
Whatever gives you the most Stamina gives you the most EH.
But how do you know whether you have enough? I can help with that too. I’ve added a new page to my spreadsheet which allows you to calculate the amount of Stamina you need to add in order to meet your defined EH target. Of course, that means you need to know what your target actually is. However that’s easy enough to determine simply by looking at the Dungeon Journal and/or your Combat Log. Once you have that just follow these simple steps:
- Enter your stats as they appear on your self-buffed character sheet in-game.
- Select whether or not you want to use Heart of the Wild on the Options sheet.
- Enter your Effective Health target(s).
- The result will be how much additional Stamina you need to meet your defined target.
But Toto, Can You Help the Raid?
This is still a bit of a bone of contention between Guardians and Blizzard. While today’s buff to Tranquility is certainly a welcome change to 25m Guardians, there are still some other Guardian “utility” spells that are just screaming for changes. Most of these were originally nerfed in either Cataclysm or Wrath because of Feral DPS stacking, and simply never had their nerfs reverted for Guardians.
- Innervate: I don’t even know why we still have this to be honest. We rarely have the opportunity to use it and when we do 6k mana is a complete joke. Either buff it or get rid of it.
- Leader of the Pack: This just screams that it desperately needs to be changed. A perfect analogue to this would be Black Ox Statue from a Brewmaster. Just make it a smart heal for a comparable amount. No Guardian is going to miss something that boasts an overheal of > 50% or more.
- Rebirth: Let Guardians cast this in-form. That’s just common sense.
I don’t know if we’ll get all – let alone any – of these changes. However I think they are perfectly reasonable requests. We must be patient. Blizzard doesn’t typically make wholesale changes when there isn’t a reason to do so, and from their perspective – remember they have more data than we do – perhaps the difference isn’t as large as we deem it to be. Remember the goal is to be equitable with everyone, not overpowered.