Best gems for tanking, socket bonus considered

What gems do you use for tanking? This should be fairly well-known, but it might be an interesting discussion if we have any avoidance advocates out there who don’t like stamina.

Gem recommendations

If it’s a blue socket, 30 stamina, obviously.

If it’s red: then¬†dodge/stam.

In what might have been an important theory development, Theck worked out agility’s benefits for Paladins. Thankfully¬†Reader Kiku here has done the maths using Theck’s formula’s, and worked out how it applies to DKs:

  • Each point of Agility is 59% as effective as a point of dodge rating for avoidance.
  • Each point of Agility is 79.4% as effective at reducing average incoming damage as a point of dodge rating (you get armour from agility).
  • Therefore, don’t use agility gems unless you’re desperate for the the threat from crit (which you shouldn’t be).

If it’s yellow, defence/stamina. Recall IBF scales with Defence at +0.15% per skill.

Miss cap: it’s possible for a Nelf Frost tank to go over the miss cap of 16%, so be watchful. A hunter [spell]3043[/spell] or druid’s unglyphed [spell]48468[/spell] can also push you there; if this happens then defence loses its value as a stat.

Socket bonus decision

But at what point, +6 or +9 stamina, do you go with a hybrid gem instead of putting +30 stam in there anyhow?

If I was regemming, now I’m a Blood tank, I would go with an agi or def hybrid at +9 bonus, and 30 stam at +6 or below. Stamina is the only socket bonus worth considering (ie. strength is useless).

(My gear at the moment has used the +6 cutoff and dodge/stam, so I’m not all that happy with it but can’t justify the expense to change them all, yet.)

In Icecrown, remember you still get value from avoidance. At its lowered levels, avoidance reduces the chance of spike damage.

Meta gem

Don’t lose your meta gem activation, of course. Safest solution: put your red gem in a socket with like +12 or +9 though, not a +6. TRM mentioned [item]Nightmare Tear[/item], which is a great gem to satisfy meta requirements and a great gem in its own right.


Update Feb 9 2010: If a boss can parrygib, then expertise has avoidance equivalence. Doesn’t look like ICC bosses have it turned on.

Theck finalised his analysis on avoidance value of expertise, and found each expertise rating is worth on average 46% of dodge for Death Knights in ICC, if the boss can parrygib. It varies with the swing-speed of the boss, and is more valuable for Blood tanks than others since more of our damage can be parried.

This is less efficient than the other tanks, because we have a good number of unparryable attacks. Paladins gets loads of value.

With that basis: I would not go for expertise/stam (instead of dodge/stam) except as a threat stat.

Stamina: shoulders and runeforge

I just changed my shoulder enchant to +stamina too. The exalted Hodir was about 0.5% avoidance after-DR, the PvP is 330 HP. Vene suggests it too.

For runeforge, I only use the Gargoyle or Nerubian for 2% stamina also. (The alternative give you 1% more avoidance.)

So far, Icecrown encounters are not showing mechanics that favour avoidance, so stacking stamina is still a sensible philosophy. Saurfang requires fast taunts, not avoidance.

We don’t know if hard-mode will change other encounters towards avoidance, but I doubt it very much. My gut feel is that it’s more likely a fight or two will favour block-value like Anub’arak.

Personal view: EH or avoidance

Often, EH versus avoidance comes to a personal perspective. Frost tanks gain more from avoidance, particularly a Night Elf. That said, some tanks just like the idea of avoidance.

If you don’t have a view, go with stamina. :)

If you do have a contrary view, be pleased to hear your comments.

Threat gems?

The above advice presumes you do not have threat problems, and that you are focusing on survival, and you are over 540 defence. See the comments below for some discussion on threat, if that’s your real issue.

Gemming for expertise, if you’re below 6.5%, is a good boost to threat, but so is eating expertise food or even using a DPS-oriented trinket or ring. I have 18 stam enchants on my gloves; if I wanted threat the Armsman is a very strong alternative since +2% more threat is not that easy to get, as you’ll see.

In order to put some metrics behind this, I did a few quick calculations.

If you gem expertise/stamina in red slots, for my gear (i232 average) in a Blood tank spec, 200ms latency, in Icecrown aura, with me below both the expertise and hit cap:

  • each gem of 10 expertise is worth +0.35% threat. So I could swap all four of my dodge/stam gems and gain ~1.4% threat; note this value drops away once I’m over 6.5%.
  • Strength/stamina has similar threat gain of 0.26% per epic gem (10 str), but doesn’t have a cap. (Note 10 strength provides meaninglessly small amount of parry.)
  • I could swap the def/stam for hit/stam for a strong gain of 0.45% per epic gem.

These results are because the EP value of expertise and hit are so high for me as a Blood tank, with RS glyph.

If you want to work this kind of thing out for yourself, you’d need to use Kahorie’s sim with your gear values, but in absence of that you could use the above as an indicative figures. There is a degree of interaction between your gear levels, talents, latency and stats.

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40 comments to Best gems for tanking, socket bonus considered

  • Kiku

    It’s not too hard to plug the DK values into Theck’s calculation. We can all see how much our dodge goes up by putting in agi instead.

    Take Theck’s formulas (copy and pasted from site).
    * Base Configuration: A0=42.7019%, M0=65.2634%
    * +Dodge/Stam gem: A1=42.8277%, M1=65.2634%
    * +Agil/Stam gem: A2=42.8065%, M2=65.2794%

    The actual values (A0 and M0) we use don’t matter, since it’s just the difference you gain. The values would matter to determine how much DR is taking place, to figure out the actual amount gained (which we can simply get from simulators).

    Using Milowen’s data:
    10 dodge gives 0.13572% avoidance
    10 agility gives 0.08137% avoidance

    So the DK value for A1 should be 42.8376
    So the DK value for A2 should be 42.7833

    ** I am assuming that the mitigation increase due to armor is the same for a DK as it is a Paladin, which makes sense since the total mitigation Theck lists is close to what I see in RAWR for my DK (within a few percent) **

    Then continue down the same calculation to compare (again copy paste)
    (1-Ax)/(1-A0) * (1-Mx)/(1-M0)

    dodge/stam = 99.7632%, or a 0.2368% reduction in damage intake.
    agi/stam = 99.8119%, or a 0.1881% reduction in damage intake.

    So from a pure damage reduction standpoint agi is 79.4% as effective as dodge (vs 104% for paladins). So a paladin would always favor agi over dodge (4% better), but a dk would have to make the call if the 20.6% hit is worth the threat trade off.

    Edit: To keep things in perspective, you’re talking about maybe changing 3 gems? We’ll be aggressive and say 4. That’s 0.75224% reduction from 4 agi/stam gems vs 0.84733% reduction from dodge/stam. That’s less than a tenth of one percent.

    Edit2: The 40 more agi would give you +0.64% crit, and less than 2ap.

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