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.
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.