Friday, 16 October 2009


Gravity over at pwnwear mused some time ago about why so many tanks are into theory. I've been thinking about that on and off and there are two reasons which occur to me.

Firstly, if you are a tank then a big part of your job is to not take damage (that's not all of your job, but it's a big part of it). How can you get better at this? You can make sure that you keep up one or two debuffs on the boss, and one or two buffs on yourself, but that is so basic as to be assumed (ie you are a bad tank if you don't do this, but not necssarily a good tank if you do). You can use one or two reactive abilities such as interrupts, or cooldowns to coincide with periods of increased boss damage, but that has only situational effect. Otherwise, you just can't get better at this part of your job by improving your rotations, experience or skill.

You ensure that you take less damage by gearing appropriately, and the fact you need to gear properly means that good tanks take a healthy interest in the effect that gear has on their ability to do their job.

The second reason is that, refreshingly, there is no right answer. When I spec fury there is a "right" spec to use, and there are "right" answers for what gear I should equip (strength vs armour pen vs crit, for example has a right answer). For tanks there are no right answers - it is unarguable for example that a tank who stacks avoidance will take less damage than a tank who stacks stamina. But is this the right thing to do? Everyone has their own opinion, and the considerations change depending on class, role, and encounter.

Theorycrafting for dps specs is very broadly a case of - insert your gear into the spreadsheet, read the optimum rotation on EJ, rinse repeat. The work has been done by clever people already and you just need to research the best approach. Any theorycrafting you do is simply an inferior version of the work done by someone else. Theorycrafting for tanks is an organic community, and everyone's work can make a difference without ever being the final word on the subject.


  1. I think you might have worked it out! The 'no clear answer' is definitely a good hypothesis for why we are into theory.

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  3. I would argue that using theorycrafting tools for DPS is extremely similar to using theorycrafting tools for tanks. What you are getting at is that there are the calculations (the actual numbers of the result of X+Y+Z), and then the logical application of these numbers (what does that result actually do, given the conditions I expect to experience).

    The issue is that not enough, for DPS or for tanks, use the spreadsheet in a flexible enough manner. They may plug their gear in, but they don't do enough critical analysis of what that does for them. Take, for example, the ArP hard cap versus ArP soft-cap debate. One advocates stacking ArP up to the hard cap of 100% for a high sustained damage output, and one advocates stacking ArP up to roughly 50%, and then using an ArP-proccing trinket to go the rest of the way, which leads to a high burst of damage. Both ways can beat out the other, given certain conditions. For example, take a situation where you are on the boss for 30-second intervals, and then wait on the boss to reappear (an extension of the Wyrms from NRB, sort of). The ArP trinket will provide high burst for the duration of the wyrms, and will probably do well in this situation.

    While this is a total off-the-cuff example, this type of critical analysis of the resulting numbers and the application of such figures in a logical way is something that I do not see used near as much as I'd like, at least in a DPS capacity. However, it is exactly the sort of thing I see happen within the tanking communities, and is something I think that DPS can learn from tanks.