Sunday, November 01, 2009

Thoughts on Avoidance

The big news in the tanking community is that Blizzard is re-introducing Sunwell Radiance for Patch 3.3. Chill of the Throne will reduce Dodge by 20% everywhere in Icecrown Citadel. I thought I'd take this opportunity to put down a few general thoughts on Avoidance.

In my view, when Avoidance hits 50%+, healing gets weird. Basically, the next attack is more likely to miss than actually connect. So it becomes very hard to predict how damage will be dealt, which is the essence of good healing. You start healing very generally, aiming at the worst case scenarios. The tank's actual health doesn't really matter anymore.

And for harder content, the damage per hit is very high to actually threaten the tank. So you end up with the scenario where the next attack is probably going to miss, but if it does hit, it will do over 50% of the tank's health.

Healing is much more fun when tank Avoidance is much lower. When you can accurately predict the pattern of damage and adjust your healing to match.

But tanks in WoW have very high Avoidance rates. That 50% magic number, where an attack connecting flips from being likely to being unlikely, occurred in Naxxramas. The very first tier of raid content.

In my opinion, WoW would benefit from a much more radical solution: don't put Avoidance on gear. Tanks would have their base 10-15% avoidance, plus another 10% or so from talents. That would give a tank-specced character about 25% avoidance, which is a pretty good number. Attacks would be likely to connect, but a miss streak here and there makes things interesting.

However, tanks would need more stats dedicated to them. They would only have Stamina, Expertise, and DPS stats. Perhaps something like bonus healing done to them, or a resilience variant, or bonus threat. I'm sure there are many possibilities.

But Avoidance has to be reigned in, and I think the optimal Avoidance value for fun gameplay is about 25%, which--after base and talents--doesn't leave any room for avoidance on gear.

Edit: Honor's Code goes hardcore and proposes eliminating tank gear altogether!


  1. As a tank that will be going into ICC with quite a large amount of avoidance (in that gear set anyway), I have been pondering this quite a bit. Even worse is that given the amount of avoidance typical tanks have, Bliz had to institute mechanics like impale and frozen slash, which to say the least, suck. There is no longer any interesting choices in gear, it's simply stack stam and mitigation until your eyes bleed. Period. The risk of choosing avoidance over a larger effective health pool is too great (and yes, I've read all the blue comments regarding their disdain for EH). I'm sure you've seen the effects of tank gear choices as a healer in ToGC.

    Anyway, my point is that gear choice for a tank is one of the larger parts of the role. They are (opinion here) the most gear dependent role in the majority of raid scenarios, and choosing gear wisely is what can separate a good tank from a bad one. In hindsight though, I suppose that's true for most classes, but the point is made.

    I'm pleased with the game as a whole, but disappointed that over the course of an entire expansion, Bliz has failed once again to change one of the key mechanics in the tanking/healing department. It's even more disappointing because they acknowledged the problem in BC, yet haven't been able to find an appropriate solution aside from the temporary fix that is Icecrown Radiance.

  2. I've always thought that a "sponge tank" would be nicer. When I first went prot from holy, I pretty much just enchanted for def and then gemmed for stam. I ended up with tonnes of dodge anyways just because of how much the stuff was imbued in all the pieces I was wearing.

    This new direction for tanking and healing is such a nice one. The first time that I healed patchwerk, I really thought that healing was crazy chaotic.

    I think in one expansion's time, I'd like to go back and revisit Naxxramas, OS3D and Malygos. (lol @ the scaled drakes) Levelling an alt with some friends, we've picked up some really weird plate gear.

    Also, Big Bear Butt made a post that echoes the same sentiment. It's an interesting read.

  3. I completely agree with the idea of reducing avoidance. I don't think you should balance it out with increasing the healing received by the tank though, because with the avoidance reduced you've vastly increased the chance the tank will take 2 hits in a row which each do about 50-60% of his entire health pool. If this happens he dies, and the extra healing does nothing.

    I've also noticed (not sure if this applies with everything, but just my opinion) that bosses enraging doesn't seem to be that big a deal anymore. The bosses are already hitting for a ton, so going into enrage doesn't make a difference to the healers strategy. I remember in TBC that 90% of tank deaths occured in the enrage phase, and then you'd maybe push through with the OT surviving or with the boss running around while DPS keep shooting him as he kills them all.

    It would be better if the bosses damage was lowered so that for the first 70-90% of the fight it would be a case of measuring healing needed against how much damage is taken, instead of mass overhealing. Then during enrage the real danger of being 2-shotted comes into play, and the only way of avoiding it is damage reduction cooldowns, stuff like guardian angel, and saving the awesome dps till the end. (This might also encourage more mana conservation, as healers would ideally have to burn through tons of it during the enrage phase to keep the tank up.)

    More rogue-like bosses would be good too... faster hits so the damage can be measured better.

  4. Unfortunately, a resilience stat won't work because in Cataclysm all tanks will get uncrittable from talents like Druids do today.

    Without avoidance or Defense on gear, all plate just becomes DPS plate. Maybe that's a good solution as it's essentially where Druids are today using Rogue leather.

  5. As a paladin tank, with a silly amount of avoidance/mitigation that wasn't terribly difficult to get, I definitely agree that avoidance is getting a tad ridiculous.

    However, I'm more opposed to the people out there breaking socket bonuses because they are gemming nothing but stamina. What a great way to make your healers go OOM.

    It's silly, there's a great stat in the game that works better than any of this dodge/block/parry/resilience damage mitigation, and it's Armor.

    Remember leatherworking armor kits? They gave armor bonuses to gear. Imagine that! Fortifying your leg-guards by adding more armor to it. Why aren't these in use anymore? Now it's just stamina stamina stamina. Furthermore, Gems should exist for Armor, and even for Shield Block Value.

    Letting tanks choose to stack more armor and sbv--mitigation stats instead of avoidance ones--would allow healing to be predictable, while still letting the tank reduce the damage they take.

  6. Oh, another thing that I wanted to mention.

    How much sense does it make to put a Warrior or Druid in charge of tanking magic damage? Their focus is physical, as is every tank (except DKs I supose).

    Why not use Mages/Warlocks/Priests/Shamans to Tank magic bosses? Looking back to Dungeons and Dragons rules, magic attacks are against your Will or Fortitude, not your Armor Class. They simply hit the meatheads harder than the magic-folk. The only reason our tanks can tank magic is high stamina (and for some reason Wizard NPCs hit very hard on cloth).

    We've seen quite a bit of Mage/Warlock tanking in TBC, and it was a really interesting mechanic that worked really well! Why not give these classes magic resistance that scales with INT or something?

  7. @Honors, I was referring to the "Reduce all damage by X%" facet of Resilience, not the crit reduction.

  8. Here's an idea from some other MMOs: Why make dodge and parry reduce all the damage of a hit? Why not make them reduce damage by 50% instead of 100%? Or make it more like resists, where you have a chance for 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, or 0% damage. The avoidance stats would still be strong, but a lot of the spikiness would disappear.

    I think a lot of the problem right now is that these two stats are completely binary. That makes the difference between three connected hits and three avoided hits huge (100% actually).

  9. As a feral druid, most of my gear is already DPS gear. Only neck/cloak/rings/trinkets/enchants are focused on tanking. I wholeheartedly agree with you that removing avoidance stats from gear is the direction they need to take for the next expansion. They seem really hot on combining/removing stats (mp5, armor pen, spellpower,e tc) so why not do the same for tanks?

    Within the "dps leather" pieces I look at, 9 out of 10 times the ideal "tanking" piece isn't the same as the ideal "dps" piece simply due to stat allocation. In Ulduar, I noticed there were only a couple pieces of my BiS tanking pieces that I had competition with Rogues. The rest were mediocre for dps and I picked up with no problem. They should definitely do the same thing for plate.

    Gems/enchants/procs could still be places to supplement your avoidance without letting it get out of hand.

  10. It depends on how the avoidance reduction works.

    It it reduces 'off the top' by taking away the avoidance that's already subject to diminishing returns, then actually your suggestion is the opposite of what you should be doing.

    Avoidance would give you more bang for the buck at 40% avoidance vs 60%, so if Icecrown Radiance puts you back at 40%, then it makes a lot of sense to recover as much of the lost avoidance as you can - the EH will be better than any stam stacking at that point.

    If the reduction doesn't affect your diminishing returns, however, then I fully agree with this recommendation. Avoidance should be essentially ditched altogether and you should just get stam stam stam stam stam.