Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tanking Primer: Combat Table

taking_notes This article will be targeted primarily towards warrior and paladin tanks, because out of the four classes, these two sport shields and thus use the block stat. DKs and druids have their own unique mechanics in dealing with damage reduction, in the form of blood shield and savage defense. To them, knowledge of the combat table is less important but still good to know, if you want to continue reading.

In its simplicity, combat table is a mechanic within the World of Warcraft game engine, used to determine if a mob scores a successful hit or not. Every time you attack, or are being attacked, the game rolls a random number between 0 and 100 and checks it against the combat table. As a tank, it is important that you are aware of what your combat table looks like. Put into a cohesive list, it looks like this:
  • Miss
  • Dodge
  • Parry
  • Block
  • Hit
There are additional entries on the combat table as well, such as Glancing Blow, Critical Hit, and Crushing Blows. However, as a tank you will have specced into talents such as Bastion of Defense (every tanking tree has its own version of this talent and picking it up is the first prerequisite to becoming a tank), which removes critical hits from the table and the chance for Crushing Blows was removed with the TBC expansion. Glancing blows only occur with white attacks (term used for autoattacks) and are not relevant in the context of this article.

If you look at your character sheet’s defensive stats, you will see four of the five stats listed there. The first, miss chance is always 5% and does not normally change, unless you are a night elf and receive the Quickness racial ability. Once you fill the combat table with the values of your character sheet, you should have a good idea what kind of hits you will be suffering. As an example, I will fill in my own current stats and the end result looks like this:
  • 0% – 5% to miss
  • 5.01% – 16.6% to dodge
  • 16.61% – 31.94% to parry
  • 31.95% – 93.29% to block
  • 93.30% – 100% to hit
Notice how as our stats increase, the chance for normal hits (at the bottom) grows smaller and smaller? Since those are the hits that deal the most damage to us, our goal is to minimize, and ultimately remove, their chances of occurring. Eventually block will completely replace the chance for normal hits and since mastery has no diminishing returns, it is by far our very best stat. However, before you get all excited, there is a final snag to the combat table; the numbers you see above, only apply against mobs that are the same level as I am (alas level 85). Heroic dungeon bosses are ranked level 87 and raid bosses are ranked a step higher, level 88. This introduces a 0.2% less chance, for every level the mob is above you, for the mob’s attack to miss, get dodged, parried, and blocked, thus skewing the table by 0.6% on each stat (a total of 2.4%).

Taking this into account, against a raid boss, in truth my combat table looks like this:
  • 0% – 4.4% to miss
  • 4.41% – 15.4% to dodge
  • 15.41% – 30.14% to parry
  • 30.15% – 90.89% to block
  • 90.9% – 100% to hit
It is something of an oversight in my opinion, as to why the character sheet does not take this into account. Blizzard could very easily include this feature, the same way they included a similar element on the hit rating (breaking it down to show different chances of hitting different level mobs). The easiest way for us to implement this last factor is to simply move the finishing line and instead of using 100% as the roof, use 102.4%. That means there is still a 9.1% chance for a raid boss to land normal hits on me. This is not bad by any means, but more work still remains to reach unhittable (a term used when normal hits can no longer occur). For a warrior tank, it is currently not a position that is possible to reach, even with the BiS hard mode gear. Paladins however, receive more block from mastery and have been able to reach the cap for months now. Warriors should not be far behind, once the patch 4.2 is released and we move onto the next tier of content. Some applications also take the additional chance to hit into account, such as Rawr. So if you use one, do not be alarmed if you cannot get the stats between your World of Warcraft client and the program to match up.

When spoken generally, on discussion boards, combat table coverage is often simply described as a figure that is the total chance for a hit to be avoided or block, thus; 5% miss + dodge-% + parry-% + block-%. In my case, that would be 93.3%. This is the most common way total avoidance and mitigation is described and is the value we are most interested in. Of course, understanding of the combat table is also important for other variety of reasons; e.g. gimmick fights like Chimaeron encounter of Blackwing Descent, which favors pure avoidance over block and mastery.


  1. From a healers perspective.. and this is important to us!
    /approve ;)

    Atheqa, resto drood