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There are numbers, and then there are numbers

As you probably know if you keep up with things involving Prot warriors, there’s a bit of a snitstorm going on regarding potential changes to Warbringer and Shield Slam brought on by the fact that Prot warriors have occasionally been committing unauthorized pwnings of their betters–y’know, mages, hunters, etc.–in arenas.  Now one of the things that we in the Prot community have been maintaining is that Prot warriors generally have the lowest damage output of the four tank classes when we’re tanking, and that this change will lower that damage even further.  Ghostcrawler, while acknowledging that this change will slightly lower Prot warrior PvE damage output, doesn’t seem to think it’s a serious problem:

We understand that warrior damage is on the low end but regarding the raid progression, it’s a hard case to say that your wipe on Festergut (as an example) was caused by the difference between tank damage when the dps from focused classes like rogue, warlock, etc. can probably improve to beat the enrage timer.

And in response to Prot warriors worried that the lack of Prot DPS output will cost us raid spots on balls-to-the-wall DPS races like Festergut, he says:

[...] I honestly think it’s hard to argue that your choice of tank often costs you a kill because of the dps of the tank. Often those numbers are rounding errors compared to the damage capable by the dps specs in the raid. However, I don’t think you even need to invoke that argument. I think it just feels crappy when your dps is lower than other tanks.

(Quotes catalogued by my brother in beef Tarsus over at Tanking for Dummies.)

Now, I don’t know any Prot warrior who thinks we should be cranking out 6000+ DPS like the rogues and the hunters.  That’s crazy talk.  It’ll never happen and it shouldn’t happen.  But there’s an open question here–just how low is Prot warrior damage compared to the other tanking classes?  Is it just a “rounding error,” or something more?

Enter Warwench over at Tankspot, and a Google spreadsheet comprising tank-spec DPS log parses of the top 120 attempts logged at World of Logs so far on each of the Icecrown 25-man bosses currently available.  (The thread over at Tankspot is here.  Thanks to Veneretio over at Tanking Tips for originally Tweeting this yesterday.)  This is an attempt to quantify what tank-spec characters are putting out in the pain department on cutting-edge content.  It’s not complete, because WoL apparently can’t break out tank-spec death nuggets from DPS-spec, so Warwench couldn’t include DKs in the data–a significant omission.  But it’s a start.

The results, I think, are surprising.  Not that paladins are the top DPS-output tanks, we knew that already.  But druids are doing very well for themselves.  Bares, clearly, are storng for fite.  And warriors aren’t just at the bottom…we’re in the basement.  In fact, on some fights, we’re not even in the basement–we’re doing a Jimmy Hoffa in the foundation.

On Lord Marrowgar, for example, we seem to be running about 15% below the average damage output of paladins, bears, and warriors combined.  Lady Deathwhisper?  20% down.  Festergut, the biggest straight-up pure DPS race since Patchwerk?  18% down.  Rotface?  A bit closer at about 11% under average.  Saurfang, a fight where we can just stand in one spot and tee off with occasional back-and-forth taunts?  A very consistent 17% to 18% under average.  Only on Professor Putricide, for some reason–maybe the mechanics?–do Prot warriors seem to be able to score consistently above average.  Warwench also added in a set of about 40 data points for the “gold standard” of DPS yardsticks, Patchwerk.  On those Patchwerk fights, warriors were about 10% under the combined average for paladins, druids, and warriors.

What these numbers seem to indicate is that warriors consistently rank 500 to 1000 DPS behind paladins or druids in every fight in ICC-25 save one.  Looking at Festergut, the average difference seems to be about 1000 DPS.  In a five-minute fight like Festergut, that 1000 DPS difference comes out to three hundred thousand damage. That’s about 1% of Festergut’s health.  How many raids have wiped on Festergut at 1% so far?  A few, I guess, maybe not many.

Numbers can be twisted a lot of different ways–lies, damned lies, and statistics, and all that.  Personally I think Warwench has done the whole tanking community a service by putting these out there so we can see what the top tanks can do in terms of DPS, and how at least three of the four tank classes compare to each other.  But the question still stands–are Prot warriors so far down on DPS that raids might not take them in place of a paladin or druid or DK?

Well…maybe.  I don’t know.  There’s a lot of other factors involved.  The Anvil, for example, has two warrior tanks, and as far as I know, neither of us are going anywhere no matter how many 1% wipes we ever do on Festergut.  Other raids, where loyalty is less important than pushing the envelope, may factor this into their decisions on who goes and who sits.  1000 to 2000 DPS can, as GC says, probably be made up by the DPS classes fine-tuning things (especially since there’s usually about 15 of them compared to two or three tanks).  So no, I don’t think this is the end of the world for warrior tanks.  But it is, as Ghostcrawler says, normal to “feel crappy” when your damage is that far down compared to your brothers in the trenches.

All I know is this…the damage output difference between warriors and the other tank classes, as documented here, is damn sure not just a “rounding error.”  And with the proposed Prot warrior Shield Slam scaling changes, along with some others (Rune Strike changes to DKs a while back as an example), Blizzard seems to be backsliding from the Wrath of the Lich King principle of “threat through damage” and returning to the older paradigm of lower tank damage, but using “bonus threat” to make up for it.  Well, at least for some tanks.

6 responses

  1. Mohuju

    As a DPS raider, I think that GC’s words may be twisted here. For tanks, I know that 1000 dps difference can seem like tons, because it is roughly 30% of your dps in the first place. The data from tankspot also shows that there is about a 500-1000 DPS difference between pally and warrior tanks.

    Consider for a moment, though, that the top 20 dps (single class) recorded for any fight can vary by about 15% between #1 and #20. As a hunter, i watch these numbers: top hunter number on rotface at the moment is 11,581 DPS. #20 is 10,334 DPS – a difference of about 11%. Now these scores are really the cream of the crop, and it is unreasonable to expect all hunters to put up top numbers. However! there is also nothing super special about these hunters. Gear is almost the same between the top 20 hunters and the top 200-1000 hunters. My point is that hunters should be aiming for the 10k dps, and if they are missing it, then they have to ask why. If they are doing 7k dps, then the problem exists between the keyboard and the chair.

    What GC is getting at, in my opinion, is that the DPSers need to focus on getting that extra 3k out, instead of the tanks worrying about the 500-1k.

    January 14, 2010 at 13:00

    • Point well taken, and honestly, he’s right. It is a lot easier for fifteen DPS to push 2000 more DPS out among them than it is for two tanks to each come up by 1k. But if your DPS is pushing as hard as they can (or as hard as they think they can, anyway), there might be the temptation to swap in a higher-DPS tank as a quick fix, or take a higher-DPS tank in place of a warrior if you’re forming a new raid or recruiting for open slots.

      I don’t think a slight damage nerf is the end of the world for warrior tanks, far from it. We’re still viable, but I would hope that Blizzard does see that we have legitimate gripes regarding our DPS–and would be willing to at least explain why they are willing to let a tiny minority of gear-stacking Prot arena warriors be used as the yardstick to reduce PvE warrior DPS when we’re already at the bottom of the heap. If it’s as simple as “you’re there to tank, not to do damage,” then we’re sliding back to the The Burning Crusade mindset, and the Wrath of the Lich King theory of “threat by damage” is not valid for warriors, even though it still seems to be for paladins and druids and maybe DKs.

      It’s not the end of the world, and I’m not nearly as angry about it as I was a couple of days ago–in fact, I’m not angry at all. I’d just like to understand Blizzard’s rationale behind warrior DPS being 10-20% behind other classes even before any nerfs to Shield Slam. It’d probably be an explanation that’d make me go, “oh, OK, that makes sense.”

      January 14, 2010 at 14:28

  2. Boslar

    It’s a crying shame they’re backsliding like this. I hated the lack of dps in BC and vanilla on my warrior. It made grinding, questing and solo-play a chore rather than a distraction from high-pressure tanking.

    In all it made my warrior less fun to play. I absolutely love my warrior in wrath though. He may not ever do the damage of some of my alts, but it feels like he can smack some face when I’m out doing dailies, quite unlike BC where he felt gimped.

    I think the design team entirely forget how shitty it feels to have “bonus threat”. Instead of feeling you’re contributing to the raid/group you feel like you’re just doing a magic dance for threat with no observable effect. Also I would like to not slow my raid down or shift an additional burden, however small, onto the dps. It feels crappy to be carried more than the other tanks.

    I hope they find some way to avoid gimping the damage further.
    It’s my naive hope that they finally realize that having PvE and PvP work on the same skill-set is simply too challenging to balance and therefore split the skills and talents to work in one way for PvP and another for PvE. That would finally end this trend of collateral damage to PvE from PvP balancing and vice versa.

    January 14, 2010 at 13:08

  3. I would love to see some numbers for tanking DKs. The data set is significantly weaker without that. My impression is that you are looking in the 4k range for them–shifting our relative DPS down either further.

    I know I would be thrilled to death with 500 more DPS, or even 200 more, when RDF throws me into HoR as a tank. Recount puts me at about 1800 there.

    January 14, 2010 at 13:35

  4. RJK

    Ya know, when the difference is 1000-1500 DPS difference, that is damager per Second, if a fight lasts 10 minutes…that is a difference of like 900,000 damage…that IS significant!! Great Post as always. :)

    January 14, 2010 at 13:51

  5. Pingback: Wrath of the raid nerd, redux « The Mediocre Priest

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