## Various defenses for the priest

As priests we don’t usually pay a LOT of attention to melee combat. And yet, we ought to. Not least, we all know stamina is good. But how do you choose between AGI, Defense, Dodge, and Armor? If the numbers are equal, which is better – and how much? Warning, dense post ahead. But first, a quick warning and a summary of results.

WARNING: The following numbers are ‘best guesses’ from a lot of smart people trying to figure it out. Blizzard will neither confirm nor deny – take with appropriate levels of salt.

WARNING: To keep an already long post from being longer, all numbers are done assuming PRIEST, LEVEL 70, with ARMOR MITIGATION <15%. If any of these are different for you, the numbers are off. General ballpark, maybe, but off.

SUMMARY (don’t argue with this until/unless you’ve read the main body, please):

Step 1 to reduce your damage – make sure your defense skill is 5* your level. Wpn skill – defense skill = modifiers for extra% crit AND extra % hit. Assuming you have maxed your skill…

To reduce damage by 1% (average over many fights) you need:

- 19.67 – call it 20 – defense rating is 0.333% miss, 0.333% dodge, and 0.333% reduction to crits.
- 15 Agility is .75% dodge (avoidance) and 30 armor which is .26% mitigation (nominal .25% damage reduction).
- 25 Dodge Rating is 1% dodge (avoidance).
- 19.7 – call it 20 – resilience rating is .5% reduction of crit hits (increases normal hits by .5%), and 1% mitigation of critical hits (effective equivalent to .5% normal damage). Does not affect normal hits.
- ~120 armor at our armor level will give 1.1% mitigation which gives 1% comparable damage reduction.

Again, if you don’t agree with the preceding, please read the body before you start as some of it’s explained within. After that, well, by all means…

I think we should start by reviewing melee combat. Now being straight up front, the way we THINK combat work has been neither confirmed nor denied by Blizzard. What we think, however, seems to match both what happens in the game and the few hints we’ve gotten, so unless and until we know differently we’ll assume we’re right. Caveat emptor. So assume liberal applications of “I think” in here — it’ll save the typing.

Melee is a single-roll combat resolution table. That is, there is one die roll from 1-100, and everything is given a set of numbers that stack. The stack includes Miss, Dodge, Parry, Glancing Blow, Block, Critical, Crushing Blow, and regular hit. That also happens to be the order of precedence. Which means that if the totals for everything is more than 100, then hit’s reduced to its minimum (0), then crushing blow is reduced, then.. well, you get the picture.

Again, we’re only looking at this in defense. Which means for us that Parry and Block are zero – and so is glancing blow (which can only be from players – and pets – against mobs). Just for reference, crushing blows can only be made by mobs against players (and pets). So the changed table is: Miss; Dodge; Critical; Crushing Blow, and Regular Hit.

Now with this in mind, we have two basic ways to reduce damage. We can increase Miss and/or Dodge, or we can mitigate the damage. Oh, I almost forgot – we can reduce AND mitigate Crit as well. Now let’s list the types of damage reducers and what type they are. Then we’ll go into each in detail, and with what we find out we’ll finally start the comparison.

The counters that we can build are: Defense; Agility; Dodge; and Resilience. The mitigators are armor and resilience. Let’s take each in turn.

Defense is nominally the best. Each point of defense rating gives pluses to Miss and Dodge. It also adds to Block and Parry but as priests we don’t get that. Oh – and extra defense can also decrease critical hit chance – but won’t do a think about crushing blows. Let’s go to work on all of this. For level 70, every 2.36 defense RATING gives 1 defense SKILL. 1 defense SKILL gives 0.04% more to Miss and Dodge — and a 0.04% reduction to the critical chance. Crits… we need a short digression.

A mob has a weapon skill of 5*level. If your defense skill is equal to the attacker (player or mob)’s weapon skill, the mob has a base 5% chance to crit. Each difference in skill level is a 1% chance (+/-) change in the chance. For what it’s worth the same goes for Miss and Dodge — given equal weapon skill / defense skill, there’s a base 5% chance.

What this means is the first thing every player has to work on is increasing their defense skill to equal 5* their level — 350. since priests work very hard to avoid that, well… Anyway, assuming equal level, 125 defense skill will reduce the critical hit chance to just about zero (0.01, estimated). To essentially eliminate critical hits from bosses, an additional 15 points (5 per level against level 73s) is needed. To sum, if you have a defense skill of 140 ON TOP OF a trained defense skill of 350 — or 490 defense skill — you will see almost zero critical hits. er… 140 defense skill is 330.4 defense rating. Keep that in mind. But…

Remember defense skill also affected Miss and Dodge. Every 25 skill is an additional 1% chance of being missed and 1% chance of dodging.

Before any defense is done, the table looks like: 0-5 Miss; 6-10 Dodge; 11-15 Crit; (crushing blow ignored for now); 16 to 100 Regular hit. With the additional 140 it is now: 0-10 Miss; 11-20 Dodge; tiny fraction Crit; 21-100 hit.

To sum Defense: 2.36 Defense Rating gives 1 Defense skill. 25 Def Skill adjusts Miss, Dodge, and Crit by 1% in the defender’s favor. (one last comment that applies throughout — 2.36 is less than 1 skill, which for the game == 0 skill. Round skill DOWN to the nearest integer — 24.99 skill is still just 24 skill, though it’ll be 0.96% adjust to miss, dodge and crit.)

Whew, that was long. Fortunately everything else is shorter. er… relatively.

Agility is second. It’s not a rating (yay), but a stat (we know). Every point in agility gives +2 armor (we’ll discuss that when we get there). For priests, every 20 points in agility is +1% to dodge. Note it’s different for other classes, but I’m not worried about them right now. If for some absurd reason we try to swing a melee weapon, 25 Agility will increase our Crit by 1%. And wands don’t count as ranged weapons — and we don’t have anything else that might count – so we don’t get any increase to ranged weapon attack factors. That’s it for Agility. Whew.

Dodge was actually fairly well described above. Every percent chance dodge is increased is an equal decrease in Hit. A caveat – many players and some mobs have talents and skills that react to dodge. “If the opponent dodges this is active for the next xx seconds.” They usually HURT. It’s a tradeoff, of course, and for the most part the chance of a miss is much better than the chance the other guy will hurt you when he didn’t hit you in the first place. Just… be aware the chance exists.

Finally, Resilience. Resilience will get mentioned twice – once in hit reduction, and once in damage mitigation. This time it’s hit reduction. Basically it works the same as defense, except you need 39.4 Resilience rating (at level 70) to reduce Crit chance by 1%. Yes, it works in combination with Defense – just like Defense, Agility and Dodge stack for Dodge.

That’s it for avoidance. Now for mitigation.

Now, how mitigation works is AFTER the hit roll. IF the attack hit, the damage is calculated – and it’s then reduced by the mitigation value. So if a mob successfully hits and normally does 2000 damage, your 10% armor will reduce that to 1800. (To be honest that’s not quite accurate. Accurate is a bit more confusing but this works for a close approximation. As an example, the actual damage you’d take in this situation would be 1819 points.)

The number one mitigator is armor. I’ve discussed armor a few times before, but let’s run the basics again. The more armor you have, the less mitigation the next point gives. There’s a cap of armor at 75% mitigation – more armor does absolutely nothing. As priests we’re going to be shocked to see 20. And at our more normal 10% or so, the climb is close enough to linear to get away with saying that at level 70, 115 armor is APPROXIMATELY 1% more damage mitigation. (if we reach 20% we’re around 140 armor per percent gain. I’m not going to do the detail math — we are not wearers of plate.)

Resilience is also a mitigator, but solely for criticals. Each percent of resilience defense will do two percent of mitigation against crits. Which means that ~25% resilience ensure that even if there IS a successful crit it “only” does normal damage.

OK, we’ve looked at the pieces, let’s start putting it together.

First comparison – which is better, a percent of avoidance or a percent of mitigation? Ignoring crits for a minute… Assume every hit does d damage, and assume 100 attacks. At base we will get 90 attacks for 90*d damage. We get 1% to apply to either mitigation or avoidance.

1% avoidance changes 90 hits to 89 hits. The 89 hits do full damage, but the total damage is 89*d damage.

1% mitigation applies to every hit, reducing the damage to .99d. .99d*90 hits is 89.1*d damage.

Since 89*d < 89.1*d, 1% of avoidance is better than 1% mitigation IN THE LONG RUN. Not a lot, mind, but a little.

Now let’s stick in the crits. The key thing to remember is that a 1% reduction in crits is 1% of potential damage stopped. Yes, I know – melee crits are double damage. But on the Attack Table, when you reduce the range of numbers for crits, hits are replaced by the same amount. So you are going from double to regular damage with that reduction.

How much do you need for 1% avoidance (level 70)?

- 19.67 – call it 20 – defense rating is 0.333% miss, 0.333% dodge, and 0.333% reduction to crits.
- 20 Agility is 1% dodge. That much will also contributes to mitigation at about 0.36% for armor of <15% mitigation.
- 25 Dodge Rating is 1% dodge.
- 39.4 Resilience will reduce crit hits by 1%

How much do you need for 1% mitigation?

- ~115 armor at our armor level will give 1% mitigation.
- 57 agility will give 114 armor.
- 19.7 Resilience will mitigate 1% of crit damage.

And in general 9 points (percent) of damage avoidance will reduce damage by as much as 10 points (percent) of damage mitigation.

Example time. You’ve a cloak, and have decided to up your defense. You’re debating between Major Armor, Greater Agility, and Dodge. Those add, respectively, 120 armor, 12 Agility, and 12 Dodge Rating. 120 armor will reduce damage taken by approximately 1%, all through mitigation. 12 Agility will reduce damage by approximately 0.8% – 0.6% dodge, 0.2% mitigation. 12 Dodge will reduce damage by approximately 0.5%. Strictly by defense, then, the answer is obvious. NOTE AGAIN — the more armor you have, the less mitigation any additional armor will add. If you’re somehow topped 20% armor, you need a lot more than 120-140 armor to get a 1% additional damage mitigated.