Spike damage on DK tank

My healers think I’m a bit squishy sometimes, and so this thread about that topic has a personal significance. Sconnell chimed in with a thoughtful contribution, the beginning of which I’ve quoted below.

As to whether DK tanks have “spike damage issues”, I’m not sure if there’s a consensus here that it’s a big problem. Countless threads on other forums does not mean there’s a legitimate problem, you can find countless threads on all sorts of things.

When people talk about “spike damage”, they’re usually talking about one of two different but connected things:
- a damage spike: a large amount of damage in a short time, such as from a string of unavoided hits, or
- spiky damage: incoming damage that is irregular and a mix of periods of low incoming damage and high incoming damage.

A damage spike is threatening because it is a sudden substantial reduction in a tank’s health, which can put the tank at risk of dying.
Spiky damage is generally undesirable for healers because they cannot easily regulate their mana usage to match incoming damage. Healers have to walk a fine line between overhauling and risking going oom, or being more reactive and careful with mana and risking tank death.

A further point is that healers will generally equate incoming damage with drops in a tank’s health pool. To most healers, a DK tank at 95% health who avoids an attack and stays at 95% damage is in the same position as one at 95% health who had a blood shield up which absorbs an attack. In general , for healers spiky damage is when the tank’s health jumps up and down unpredictable, and a damage spike is when a tank’s health drops substantially in a short period of time.

So, how do death strike, avoidance and mastery play into all of this?

Both avoidance and mastery have a role to play in decreasing the likelihood of damage spikes, but for both there is a big RNG element. Avoidance decreases the likelihood of a string of unavoided attacks in a row. Mastery shields decrease the amount of a hit which goes through to affect health. However, strings of unavoided attacks can and will happen even with high levels of avoidance, and mastery shields are applied regularly but semi-randomly. Mastery gives you no protection against damage spikes during the period after one blood shield is absorbed and the next one is applied. Avoidance is passive and provides constant potential protection, but no guaranteed actual protection.

Both avoidance and mastery contribute to the spikiness of damage:
On the whole, incoming damage is more predictable at either very high (near 100%) or very low (near 0%) levels of avoidance. At 50% avoidance, the probability that the next three attacks will be avoided is equal to the probability that they will connect. Avoidance also affects the value of death strikes and blood shields.
Turning to mastery, the occurrence of death strikes is regular but still affected by RNG(RE procs etc.) A death strike represents a spike in health, and also a decrease in damage over the next few seconds.

Generally speaking, focusing on mastery at the expense of avoidance means higher incoming damage, balanced out by bigger death strikes and bigger blood shields(both because death strikes are higher and because you have more mastery.)

Read the rest of this post over here.

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