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It’s not your Gearscore, it’s what you do with it

August 9, 2010

The subtitle to this post is “Buff Matters”.

I was proud of my paladin yesterday. He is not really geared to tank Icecrown Citadel (being in mostly badge and Ulduar gear). If I tried to pug him as an ICC tank, his gearscore (which I object to as a matter of principle) would rule him out immediately being sub-5000.

Yet I managed to tank all the way to Sindragosa. I didn’t mean to. I meant to bring my mage in his shiny new fire spec and blow up the icy walls of Northrend with living bombs. But we needed a tank, my death knight is reserved for a Tuesday run and so the paladin was pressed into service.

He survived. He even survived three hard modes which I was quite pleased by and his survival was not the reason for our failure to do Festergut+. For that matter, I was feeling reasonably happy that if we’d had the time I’d have been confident that it would not have been impossible for us to kill Arthas (or at least it would not have been tank death that would have been the key failure point).

There were of course some fairly substantial advantages that he had:

A 30% health and threat buff;
Very competent healers with the 30% healing buff to keep him up
Decent if not brilliant dps with a 30% damage buff to take bosses down before the healers ran out of mana.

Can you see a theme here?

On the other hand he had some fairly substantial disadvantages as well:

A 30% threat boost to dps that can out threat me anyway making it difficult to keep aggro off any trash from the other tank.
No boost to mitigation or avoidance (to run the healers out of mana faster).

As an aside, the buff is least useful to tanks as it only boosts health and not survivability. A damage reduction buff would have been far more in keeping with the style of the other sides to the buff.

Overall, I think there are two key takeaways for me.

The first is that the gear that people instinctively want is not necessary. Yes, I had to work harder yesterday but only some of that was due to the need to survive. My main problems were threat based and this was due to other people outgearing me and not to my own lack of gear.

The second is that the buff is a huge deal. My death knight was much better geared when he walked in with no buff but struggled far more. The sheer extent to which the buff affected me was huge. But then it should be. It counts as something like two tiers of gear in itself.

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