There’s quite a bit of discussion going around this tier, on private forums and public forums and blogs and all that sort of thing, about Stamina. Paladins don’t really know where to go after getting blockcapped and some are going there, Warriors don’t really know where to go after getting blockcapped and some are going there, and it’s even an interesting stat for the other two tanks too. We all need Stam to live. Gemming Stam is an idea that does come up from time to time, even on the serious business-est of private forums.
This isn’t a new thing
Some serious, top-end tanks have been heavily stamina-biased, and successful with it, all the way back to December. Paragon’s druid is the example most people use, but there’s lots of others. Even though people have been saying Stamina shouldn’t be stacked for pretty much all of Cataclysm, there are some tanks of all classes (yes, all four, even Paladins) that have been doing it and still stick by full-Stamina builds in heroic raids.
When the first guilds started cleaving their way through heroic tier 11, they found that tank damage was pretty high. Magmaw hit quite hard, but with his slow swing timer it wasn’t really a problem. Chimaeron was similar, but Chim didn’t really have much burst. Maloriak had heavy spellburst, but if you were doing Heroic-25 you could load your tank up with plenty of CDs and externals and absorbs to get away with not having a lot of Stam. Once guilds got through the early bosses, they found ones beyond that where the tank damage gets absolutely frightening, where tanks getting straight up bursted became a real possibility. Heroic Cho, Nef, Sinestra, and Al’akir with a certain strat all have tremendous tank burst, often with high raid damage at the same time. When you have very solid, reliable (sometimes infinite) tank healing, survival on those fights can become less about reducing damage and more about making it through bad bursts of damage. Welcome back to Wrath.
Don’t try this at home
Going heavy Stam is not in itself a bad idea. It has a legitimate use and that use continues to be valid in heroic t12. It’s important, however, to understand the point where enough Stamina is enough. For some tanks in some situations that point is “never”, but those situations are pretty rare. Maybe you’re a druid who wants to go full Stam. Maybe you’re a paladin or warrior who wants to blockcap first, then go Stam. Maybe you don’t want Stam at all, or maybe you’d rather have Stam than blockcap. All of these have specific situations where they’re valid and situations where they aren’t ideal. Doing your homework to figure out what works for what kind of content you tank is important.
My raid is different from yours
Different fights are different. Some of them call for more Stamina than others. The bigger difference, however, is your raid setting. If you’re like me and raid the more popular format (10-mans), your needs are going to be different from someone who tanks 25s. Heroic versions of both raid sizes call for more Stamina than normal modes, but the most important difference between the raid sizes is your healing throughput. I don’t have 6 healers watching my raid, with 2-3 healers assigned to watching me at all times. Bosses typically hit about as hard on Heroic-10 as they do on Normal-25, but 10-man raiders have to find a way to make it work with half (or less) as much healing. That solid, super-reliable tank healing just doesn’t exist on 10, and as a result we have to gear a little differently.
That said, Heroic-25 tanking brings with it slightly different challenges than tanking Heroic-10s. When encounters are balanced around the idea that you’re going to have 2-3 healers on you at all times, damage gets pretty fierce. Getting bursted from full-to-dead in just a few seconds, even outside of high-damage phases where you’d cooldown appropriately, becomes a much more common possibility. Adding Stamina becomes quite useful, to the point where some serious tanks of all stripes go full Stam, shouldering the burden of taking more total damage on their healers in favor of being able to survive the baddest spikes around.
I can’t do that. Fortunately Heroic-10s don’t quite hit that hard, even though they do hit plenty hard when you consider that I only have 1 healer on me, and it’s rare that I have more than that. Heroic Baleroc Decimation? I have one healer. Heroic Rhyo? One healer. Sinestra p3, even after Red wears off? One healer. Heroic Chogall? Not only do I only have one healer, that healer also has to heal the raid at the same time. Reducing the damage I take and eliminating spikes becomes a lot more important. I can still get bursted from full-to-dead, if the RNG goes catastrophically wrong or I make a mistake, but it’s not quite as likely. At the same time, if I mana-sponge and take an unreasonably large amount of total damage, I’m going to die that way too. My healer’s going to fall behind or he’s going to just flat out oom, even if that large amount of total damage is perfectly smooth.
For Heroic-25, Method advocates having one tank go full Stamina (theirs is a paladin, Paragon’s is a druid) and one tank go full damage reduction (theirs is a warrior, Paragon’s is a paladin). That works pretty well most of the time for the content those kind of guilds face, and when it didn’t work for Paragon on a boss in tier 11, the fact that they have a sizeable bench of raid-ready alts made up the difference. Most guilds don’t have a bench even a tenth as deep as Paragon, if they even have a bench at all. Getting swapped out is no fun anyway, and you can avoid the need for a bench tank by gauging how much Stamina you want for the encounters you fight, and then being able to switch to that amount when you need to. Trinkets are good for this, if you don’t want to carry swap-gear or you raid 10-mans and the slower gearing means you don’t have swap-gear available.
Being able to shift the amount of Stamina you have based on the fight is quite useful. It takes a little bit of experience tanking though to be able to recognize where you want more Stam and where you don’t. Even if you don’t want more Stam, now that we’re in the second tier of the expansion there’s another wealth of items out there to tank with, so gear-swapping for specific fights in this tier is a fair bit more common. Last tier we only had 346/359/372 items to choose from, this tier we’ve got 353/359/372/378/379/384/391, and in Paragon’s case that cool 346 trinket. More items to choose from naturally means you can optimize differently for specific fights, whereas last tier the one set of gear you put together was largely it. I don’t use a lot of Stamina very often when I tank these days, but I still do make a lot of adjustments to my gear in between bosses. These adjustments generally help deal with the challenges of Heroic Firelands, and helps my raid move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards progression.