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The Best Defense is…a good Defense Rating

My hubby had a bad Pick up Group experience over the weekend, and I thought I would relate both it and some related extremely useful theorycraft! Hubby’s been working on repping up and gearing up his recently 70 holy paladin, otherwise known as healadin. It came to pass this weekend that he was in a PuG trying to complete the daily heroic, which happened to be Blood Furnace. After they gathered a full group, they gamely headed off to the summoning stone. They got through the first room and up to the top of the steps, at which point the lock’s daddy told the group his seven year old had to go to bed and kthxbye. As the rest of the group went afk/idle while a replacement was looked for, hubby inspected the tank because he had been telling me as they were going that he was having to spam heal the fellow.

The warrior had 309 defense. No wonder! They struggled on a bit more after getting the lock replaced, and then the warrior had to go…so they started looking for another tank. I’m sure you know how this goes…they were waiting for a while. Hubby was actually a bit relieved, and hoped for a properly geared tank. They finally got a new warrior, and hubby inspected him as soon as he zoned in. This alleged tank had….(insert drum roll here)…29 defense. But he was wearing a lot of PvP epics, so hubby asked (with a sinking heart, to be sure, but ever the optimist) if that was his DPS gear or his tank gear. Warrior basically said “Lol yeah, the easy epics are my tank gear.” He was a guildmate of two of the other PuGs, who basically were like “Oh, he’ll be fine! He has epics!” Hubby wisely dropped the group at that point, letting them know that it wasn’t worth his time or theirs to be running with a tank with basically 0 defense.

We may remember back from the bear tank guide that a druid needs 415 defense to be uncrittable. A warrior or paladin tank needs 490. I realize there is a gearing up period once you hit 70, but I’ll be frank here…if you are a tank, you are making life hard for yourself and especially your healer if you are not uncrittable. Gear up in normal instances before tanking heroics. PvP epics are a Elune-sent gift for DPS classes and healers, but as a tank myself, I can tell you that they are not a substitute for PvE gear for us. Why is defense and being uncrittable so important? Well for one, your healers can actually heal you better. If you need more reasons than that, respec DPS ;-)

Here’s where the theorycraft comes in. Lore from Maintankadin graciously gave me permission to attempt to redux the wonderfully detailed Attack Table post – you can find the full article here.

An even con NPC has a 5% chance of either missing you totally or hitting you with a critical strike (aka, lots of extra damage) and when we are speaking of a raid boss, which is usually level 73+, they have an increased chance of a critical strike and gain an additional type of attack, the crushing blow (aka, lots of extra damage). Tank warriors, paladins and druids can negate all but the slimmest chance of a critical strike through defense. Additionally warrior and paladin tanks have abilities that will allow them to get rid of crushing blows (at least for short periods of time) via talents and sufficiently high numbers in the defensive skills (dodge, parry, block). So how do my numbers make a difference?

In order to calculate what kind of a hit (or miss) you take…and if it was a crit…and if it was crushing…Blizzard made it a simple calculation, probably to keep their number crunching servers from turning into smoking charred heaps with all that combat going on in all the worlds. There is this thing called the Attack Table, and it consists of the numbers 0-100 to the second decimal (aka, 0.00-100). Against a normal level 70 creature, the table is partitioned up into the various kinds of outcomes for each attack. Today we are a prot paladin, and for simplicity’s sake, we have 10% dodge, parry, and block – but we are a newbie with 0% defense. So our attack table looks like this:

Miss: 0-5 (5% chance of missing)
Dodge: 5.01-15 (10% dodge rating)
Parry: 15.01-25 (10% parry rating)
Block: 25.01-35 (10% block rating)
Crit: 35.01-40 (because I am naughty and have no defense)
Normal Hit: 40.01-100

The number crunching machines do a /roll 1-100 and see where it lands on the table to decide what kind of damage I took. If they get a 1.05…the creature misses…a 17.96…I parry….a 38.25…I get critted….a 72…I take normal white damage.

I hope you are starting to see why your defensive abilities are important. As your dodge, parry, and block percentages increase, they take up more of the attack table. And if you have talented properly and have the proper defense, the possibility of being critted is reduced to irrelevance. But it’s even better than that…every point of defense increases your dodge, parry and block minutely, and also gives a minuscule increase to your chance of being missed completely. (Also note, this is why resilience is not a good substitute for defense to a tank, it merely reduces the crit chance but does not affect anything else) In our simplistic example, merely getting to the defense cap means that the the Miss range would now be ~0.01-10.0 and the “Normal Hit” range would now be from 40.01-100, the critical strike option having succumbed to better gear. Your other defensive abilities also improve a bit, but we’ll just keep it to whole numbers for our sample. Now if I up my Dodge, Parry and Block to say…15% each *and* maintain my proper defense number, the “Normal Hit” range is now 55.01-100. As you raise your defensive ability percentages, the corresponding range for the “Normal Hit” outcomes shrinks, because it’s the default, taking up whatever part of the 0-100 is left over after all other abilities apply.

For raid boss NPCs of 73+, the Crushing Blow gets added to the table with a 15% flat rate of occurring. I’ve geared up my paladin now, so I’m at 490 defense and 20% to dodge, parry and block for this example.

Miss: 0.01-10
Dodge: 10.01-30
Parry: 30.01-50
Block: 50.01-70
Crit: 0%, not relevant here
Crush: 70.01-85
Normal Hit: 85.01-100

Notice how our chance of a normal hit has shrunk with the addition of the Crushing Blow. Now here’s the fun part, with sufficiently high avoidance and adroit use of skills (Holy Shield for our Prot Paladin here) you can temporarily increase your positive modifiers enough to drop the Crushing Blow and Normal Hit off the table. The magic number to achieve this zen state is for all your avoidance percentages to add up to 102.4 with all your talents and trinkets popped. But a sad note for all of us tanking druids, since our Dodge is our only avoidance and we don’t have any magical abilities to up it even temporarily (other than trinkets), we will always be crushable.

So I hope this has given you a little insight into why your tanks need these defensive stats, and I also hope I haven’t made your brain go asplodey! And a word to the wise: Run don’t walk for the hills if your tank has only 29 defense!


5 Comments so far
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Thanks for the great info. I think my pally has 390 defense which isn’t bad but it looks like I’ll need to get a bit more. But at least its not 29! haha

Every character can get their defense to 350 (5 points each level) just by getting to 70 and being attacked enough. So unless the tank stopped getting attacked at level 6 he had to have more than 29 defense. Maybe you mean he only had 29 additional defense beyond the normal 350?

That must have been the case. I believe the mod hubby is running shows +whatever (and not total whatever) when the characters’ stats are examined.

It was still traumatizingly low. I wish I’d had a chance to look better – the warrior might not have been as badly off as initially suspected since it was stated he had some PvP epics, but most of my attention was on Kael’Thas and his annoying flurrying axe. But resilience is still not as good as defense if you have the option of taking one or the other.

Warriors and Paladins have many good PvE options for their tanking gear, unlike druids whose Feral Tier gear has no defense and not much in the line of +hit, making one have to work extra hard to whip the rest of your items into shape for either tanking or DPS. But being forced to take some resilience to gain uncrittable later on isn’t as harsh for druids because having only one defensive ability (dodge) we don’t lose out on as much mitigation as a warrior or paladin with their three abilities that get improved with the +def items.

I wish Defense/Defense rating was a little less Byzantine. Anyway, hubby and I were poking around some more, his UI mod displays the players +defense rating, which is definitely not the same as their total defense. So the first warrior wasn’t actually all that badly off, though he was still crittable. Didn’t see how much resilience the second one had, but he might not have been all that awful, though for reasons discussed already, for PvE defense is better than resilience.

Last little bit of info here…if you’ve played the punching bag enough, and at level 70 you should have – you get 350 defense through skill for free – even clothies. Tank types have items with defense rating. To find your actual defense number, check your character sheet and see how much defense rating you have, and then multiply that by 0.42. I have a prot warrior friend with +386 defense rating from items. I multiply that by 0.42 to get 162.12 defense, which I round off, and add to his base 350 defense for a total of 512 defense which puts him comfortably over the “uncrittable” 490. Maybe even a little too much over, he could trade some of that in for other stats.

Just a quick note on bears. resilience is a quick easy way for a bear to be uncritable. bears can’t block or parry and so resilience is a cheaper way to get uncritable for bears. also some PVP gear is amongst the best in the game for bears (see emmeralds gear lists). pvp geared warrior/pallie tanks may be wrong but pvp mixed into a bear set is in fact desirable. if you don’t believe me go listen to feral druid whining in forums that they have to pvp resto in arenas in order to get pvp gear to tank pve…..warning it is a lot of whining though.

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