Questions about Defense and Survival of the Fittest

In continuing this trend where I answer emails, here is another one on another topic of long discussion, Defense and Survival of the Fittest.

Long time lurker, first time e-mailer.  I loved when you were on the BRK podcast and you were my inspiration to actually roll a Druid.  I am trying to be the best druid I can be, so I am reading everything I can get my hands on.  Main spec is tank, off is resto.  I read something the other day and I had a question.  I decided to throw it your way and see what happens.

From the post:
Druid tanks do not need Defense gear.

The Survival of the Fittest talent reduces the chance to be crit by 2/4/6%, which means a Druid tank can achieve uncritable by only taking 3/3 SotF.

However, Defense is not totally worthless. Once you reach ~50% Dodge, due to diminishing returns, stacking Defense actually becomes better then stacking more Dodge.

Begin to stack Defense only after you have reached ~50% Dodge.

Note: Like with Crushing Blows, you must be Defense capped at 400 to be crit immune.


I understand that Crushing Blows are different from Crits.  And maybe this is a stupid question, but is Crit Immune and Uncritable the same thing?  I though that with 3/3 SotF talent you were Crit immune period.  You could walk out there with your bare bear backside (pun intended) and be crit immune.  You do need the defense to be crushing blow immune, and I am ok with that.

Love the blog.  I am in the process of Tattooing the Beginning Wrath tanking guide on my arms.  🙂

Urak level 65 Driud on Cenarion Circle

Great email, Uruk. Thanks for the kind words!
The first part of that is the unstated expectation that your base Defense skill, which levels up as you take some smacks in the face, is at 400. If it is at 400, and you have 3/3 in Survival of the Fittest, then yes, even stark naked, you are uncrittable.
Uncrittable, Crit Immune, these are all terms developed by idiots like me that have to make the terminology for these things up as we go along. They all do basically mean the same thing; The boss enemy, that is exactly 3 or less levels higher than me, cannot score a critical strike upon me.
The math aspect to this is that Defense skill reduces your chance to be Dodged, Blocked, or Parried, as WELL as reducing the chance that you will be hit with a critical attack.
I flat out refuse to go over the combat table in detail again, I did it years ago in a Shifting Perspectives article for WoW Insider/, but in effect what kind of attack event that can occur has a place in a combat table. If you get high enough in some categories, such as Parry, it can push other attack possibilities right off the table. If you want to melt your brain like I have, you can find out more on your own at the website.
What’s important to the discussion is that the Defense skill you need to push critical strikes off the table changes depending on the level of your attacker, in comparison to yours.
Bosses in level 80 raid instances are set at an effective level, for the sake of Defense and what you need to hit them, at level 83. Survival of the Fittest provides exactly enough protection from critical strikes to remove the possiblity that a level 83 raid boss could critically strike a level 80 Bear Druid, when properly specced. Yes, even if naked.
What Survival of the Fittest does NOT do is provide any of the other bonuses to Dodge, Parry or Block that Defense skill does.
Now, the reason Defense skill is not considered a primary stat for Bear tanks is the same reason they gave us SotF; Bears cannot Parry or Block attacks. Therefore, we were previously (in Burning Crusade) stacking tons of Defense Rating on our gear to become uncrittable just like every other tank class, but we weren’t getting any benefit from the Parry and Block portions of the itemization.
Yes, there was a lot of whining about this fact. Including from me.
I personally did not resent it all that much… because the perception at the time was that Bear tanks weren’t supposed to be viable in the first place. I was too busy working at pioneering Bear tanking and proving them wrong than in whining about my Defense Rating.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. 🙂
There’s a few things to keep in mind about the SotF. First, the crit rate of enemies 1, 2 or 3 levels above you rises at a normal rate. Starting at 4 levels or more above you, the chance that they can successfully crit you rises dramatically. It just takes off like a rocket. If you are level 76 tanking a level 80 opponent with SotF, expect to still be crit at times. Also expect yourself to miss a lot. SotF, as I said, was aimed at erasing the critical strikes from enemies three or less levels higher than you, the situation that max level Bear tanks would encounter in raids. It doesn’t make you crit immune from everyone as you level.
Second, Critical Strikes as mentioned are not the same as Crushing Blows.As far as I was aware, Crushing Blows were removed from the game entirely. They just don’t happen anymore. Maybe I’m wrong on that, I’m at work and can’t access research sites or log in to check records, but that is my understanding. I don’t believe it’s a question of level or gear or Talents, I believe that Crushing Blows themselves were simply removed. Maybe that’s only from level 71 – 80 content, though.
Finally, as far as the Defense stacking versus Dodge stacking. As I said, Bear tanks cannot Parry or Block.
This next bit requires understanding itemization a little bit. Gear that is item level 200 and blue (rare) quality has a certain number of possible stat points that can be spread amongst armor value and the other stats and abilities. An item that is level 200 and purple (epic) quality has a larger budget of points.
Either way, when comparing two items of item level 200 (epic) side by side, for the same equipment slot, they are each supposed to have an equivalent number of potential points that could be allocated to stats.
Therefore, when analyzing gear upgrades, if an item is very good, and comparable to another, but the difference between them is that one has Defense Rating, and the other has Dodge Rating, then the Dodge Rating one is considered more valuable to a Bear tank because none of the itemization points were wasted on stat benefits Bears don’t get. Bears get all the potential benefit from Dodge Rating, and only get the Dodge benefit portion of Defense Ratings’ Dodge, Parry, Block and reduced chance of Crit.
This is where you see the phrase “that item has wasted stats” for some gear, because if the item didn’t have points allocated to that stat, then maybe something useful on the gear would be higher instead.
Oh, and I’m not going to go into the point allocation of gear itemization any deeper. I could, like how points get allocated if there is only one stat on a piece of gear rather than two stats, or three. But I won’t because my head still hurts from having combat tables brought to mind. Hint; if all stats on the gear are useful, then having more than one stat on the gear provides more total benefit, because you get more stat per point allocated if it gets broken up among multiples. No, I don’t know why.You might see an item with 55 Agility, and another that has 35 Agility and 35 Stamina. Oh, and no, 1 Agility does not equal 1 Stamina as far as point allocation goes, Stamina is actually cheaper when allocated than other stats, so you might see a 35 Agility/35 Strength side by side with a 35 Agility/50 Stamina… sigh. Shut up, Bear, you don’t want to start that discussion. Right, shutting up now.
The end result is that I think I broke down all of this Dodge versus Defense stuff in greater detail in my sticky on the website sidebar about Level 80 Hit Rating, Expertise and Dodge. I may be wrong, though. If you’ve got more questions (or just want to chat), just respond in the comments.
Thanks for the email, Uruk!
I hope I answered your questions in some way!

18 thoughts on “Questions about Defense and Survival of the Fittest

  1. Random but related question to your comment about the direbrew dodge trinket.

    I happened to get both of the direbrew +170 stamina trinkets, and the nice dodge trinket.
    As a bear, would I be better served having both stam trinkets equiped(as I do now) or trading one for that dodge trinket?

    I also wonder what the value is of that crit trinket of his, for things like the bear shield, but I highly suspect its not worth it. for the curious.


  2. Addendum to Druidoff: 3.2 nerfed Dodge rating and Agility dodge. That is really why it’s unlikely you’ll realistically see Defense become more useful than Dodge Rating. IMPORTANT POINT: Agility is WAY better than Defense. Yes you get dodge from Agility. You also get Armor (and crit but that is only marginally useful). Every little point of armor you get makes you plenty more survivable. Don’t be fooled because at 22k armor you reduce attacks by 62% and at 30k you reduce them by 67%. That’s a big difference. You might think “5% sucks.” Fine, but it’s not 5% of incoming damage because you’re already down to 38%. It’s 33% instead of 38% or put another way it’s 35/38 or an additional 8% mitigated damage. That’s nothing to sneeze at when bosses hit for 18-24k (When you have 32k armor).


  3. @Erdluf – Sorry mate – but all bosses are hit capped against lvl 80 chars. That being said however, there is always a base 5% chance to miss, regardless of skill cap – from the boss side. You can look at it here – it’s a little outdated model, as crushing blows have been removed, but theier percentage has been folded into crit for mobs <= 3 lvls above you.
    .-= Adgamorix´s last blog ..Leveling a Paladin – the Prot way =-.


  4. I don’t see it mentioned above. I believe the reason Defense can be greater than Dodge at some level, is that Defense also contributes to Miss. Since your total avoidance includes Miss+Dodge, and Dodge eventually runs into diminishing returns, that Miss term can eventually push Defense Rating > Dodge Rating.


  5. Crushing blows were originally – and still are – implemented to keep you from tackling content way above your level. Pre Wrath you had to get 104% avoidance to avoid crushing blows. This is why Reckoning was bad for Protadins, and getting Parry-Gibbed was a real issue. Note: This talks about a lot more than Druids.

    Essentailly if your Block + Parry + Dodge > 104%, any attack against you would be blocked, parried, or dodged. Shield Block (for warriors) had only 2 charges every 6 sec, with a 5 sec (talented) CD. If the boss swang faster than that, the tank was in trouble. Many entry Paladins relied on Redoubt’s 35% block chance to push them over the 104% mark. This means they HAD to absorb at least one shot, to get Redbout to proc. Not a good method.

    Take Tidewalker – hit like a truck, but a fairly slow attack speed. A warrior keeping up Shield Block would be “Crush” immue due to 104%+ avoidance, and “Crit” immune from being Defense ‘capped (400 or 380, I forget). Anyway, if TW parried someone (this is when Expertiese was starting to show up on gear) it would reset his swing timer to say 1/2 speed – meaning instead of getting whacked every 3 seconds, you’d get hit at the 1.5 second mark. This was affectionately referred to as “parry gibbing” your tank.

    When Wrath came out, they removed CBs from the combat table (at 3 levels, still available to hit you at 4+ levels) because Druids and DKs didn’t have an effective way of pushing them off the table (the attack table John was talking about). So, they either had to come up with some method, or just remove them. This is the reason Druids had such ridiculously high HP and Armor in BC (they still have a lot), as it was expected that they would be able to absorb any crushing blows.

    Personally, I’m fine with the removal. This also means that it’s much more difficult to “parry gib” your tank, and you can now attack from the front with less fear.
    .-= Adgamorix´s last blog ..Leveling a Paladin – the Prot way =-.


  6. Yeah, Steve’s correct: Crushing Blows still exist, but they require a 4 or 5 level gap before they can happen. So they can happen, but they’re only something to be concerned about if you’re levelling and tanking higher level instances.


  7. Just a note – crushing blows still exist in the game, but you cannot be crushed by an enemy 3 or fewer levels above you. That is to say, only an enemy 4 or more levels above you can deliver a crushing blow.


  8. To put into plain language what Druidoff is saying, and what I did NOT make clear in my post, Dodge Rating is superior to Defense Rating on a point to point basis, but Defense is still very useful, and items that have Defense Rating still boost your Dodge, and you WILL find that it’s easier to find items with Defense Rating than Dodge Rating for some slots like Rings, Necklaces and Trinkets.

    Although good lord, that Dodge trinket from Coren Direbrew is tasty. Num num num.


  9. In case anyone was wondering Defense Rating passes Dodge Rating at around 55% dodge (that’s 55% after DR) in terms of avoidance per iLevel value.

    To get 55% dodge after DR you would need 72% Dodge before DR and that would take roughly 2300 Agi (which I can’t really see most bears ever getting up to).

    So while defense isn’t going to be better than dodge for almost all druids defense provides at least 65% of the avoidance that dodge does for a bear even at the lowest of gear levels.

    A bear tank might want to consider things such as
    or at a lower level over (The STR one would give more stam and avoidance)


  10. Not that important, but SotF reduces crits by 6%… theoretically, this would mean you’re even uncrittable against level 85 mobs.

    Level 83 mobs (raid- designated by skull) have 5.6% chance to crit, level 82 mobs (heroic bosses) have 5.4% chance to crit, so some of that 6% is wasted in PvE.

    And yes, crushing blows are 4 levels up.


  11. You answered the question perfectly. Somehow I was thinking that skill came from gear and not from ‘getting smacked in the face’ during leveling.

    My main is a BM hunter so all this defense and dodge stuff is new to me.

    Thanks, John. You are the awesome. 🙂


  12. Don’t forget bear tanks shooting for resilience in BC too, like those stupid PVP bracers almost every feral I saw on my server had… 😡


  13. Thank you Minos, I see what you mean. I meant increases your chance to dodge, block and parry, lol.

    Now that you mention it, I do remember that Crushing Blow still happens 4 levels higher. Vaguely. Lol.


  14. The math aspect to this is that Defense skill reduces your chance to be Dodged, Blocked, or Parried, as WELL as reducing the chance that you will be hit with a critical attack.

    I think you were thinking Defense but typed Expertise. To clarify: Defense increases your chance to Dodge, Block, or Parry. It also reduces the mob’s chance to hit you (that’s when you see Miss instead of Dodge). Expertise decreases your attacks’ chance to be Dodged or Parried.

    Also, Crushing Blows weren’t removed, they were bumped up a level. You’ll now get crushing blows from an enemy 4 levels higher than you. At the level cap, nothing is 4 levels higher than you, but if your lowbie levelling takes on a mob 4 levels higher, he could get a Crushing Blow.


Comments are closed.