The Unhittable Warrior (4.2 Edition)

There’s been a lot of talk about the concept of being “unhittable” over the years, and very few people really know what that means. Even fewer realize that the concept of being unhittable is only really achievable now in Cataclysm by two tank classes; Warrior and Paladin. Paladin has a much easier time of doing it, and for this reason, nearly all of the information online about the concept is specific to Paladins, leaving Warriors to wonder how in the world this concept applies to them. I’m going to do my best to fix that lack of information for Warriors.

First, notice that I’m putting a version number on this guide. It is unlikely that the base concepts presented here will change any time before patch 5.0, but *just in case* I’m going to version this guide. Basically, for this guide to be outdated, they would either have to radically alter how Mastery works, change how the hit table works, create a new reason to invest in Hit and Expertise caps (and thus severely reduce the stat allocation we can apply to Mastery) or a combination of those there. A

What does it mean to be unhittable?
When a tank is unhittable, it does not mean that a boss can never hit the tank. What it means is that the boss cannot land a *full* hit on the boss. For the purposes of this idea, you need to realize that if the boss actually hits the tank (is not dodged and doesn’t miss) then the hit is either a full hit, or a mitigated hit. Mitigated hits are mitigated by blocks and parries. While it is technically true that even a full hit is mitigated by the tank’s armor, for the purpose of this discussion we’re not going to be that anal retentive with the definition of “mitigated”.

So, the goal of becoming unhittable is the goal of making sure that when the boss swings at you, that swing will either miss, be dodged, be parried, or be blocked. It will never simply “hit”. Thus, “unhittable”. Yeah I know it’s not the best term in the world, but it’s what everyone uses so get use to it.

To fully understand how this is possible, you need to know…

What happens when a mob swings at my character?
When a mob performs a melee (non-spell) attack against a player, the results of that attack are determined by the game rolling on the Attack Table. The hit table will always look like this.

Critical Hit

Now, for a tank who is specced into not being able to be crit (which all tanks should be of course), our Attack Table looks like this.


Note that there use to be Crushing Blow in there too, but that mechanic was removed from the game.

So, that’s great. Now what? Well, now you fill in your stats… here’s mine as they stand right now without buffs of any sort and using double stamina trinkets.

Miss                       5%                         0.0 – 5.0
Dodge                   10.56%                  5.1 – 15.56
Parry                     14.44%                  15.57 – 30.0
Block                     52.33%                  30.01 – 82.33

So there’s Udiyvli’s Attack Table that’s used any time anything tried to attack her with melee. The range that the mob rolls on to determine the results of the attack is based on the difference in level between you and the mob. For equal level (85 vs 85) the boss roll 0 to 100. For every level above or below you, the boss either gains or loses .2% chance to Miss, Dodge, Parry or Block respectively. Since we, as Warriors, can benefit from all four, then for simplicity’s sake we just multiply .2 by 4 and get .8% change in the mob’s roll.

Mobs that are higher than us gain in the roll range, and mobs lower than us lose. This is why you see very low level mobs miss you so much more often. The 5% miss on the table takes up a proportionally larger range on their Attack Table versus you due to them having a smaller range to roll on.

Boss level mobs are always three levels above you, so you take .8 and multiply by 3 to get the boss’s roll range.

.8 x 3 = 2.4 + 100 = 102.4

So, when facing a raid boss, the above Attack Table looks like this:

Miss                       5%                          0.0 – 5.0
Dodge                   10.56%                   5.1 – 15.56
Parry                     14.44%                   15.57 – 30.0
Block                     52.33%                   30.01 – 82.33
Hit                         20.07%                   82.34 – 102.4

When a raid boss swings at Udi, the game rolls 0 to 102.4 and then compares the result to the “Udiyvli vs Raid Boss” Attack Table. For example, let’s say Chimaeron swings at me, and rolls a 71.12. The game checks the table and see that 71.12 falls between 30.01 and 82.33, so Chimaeron hits Udi, but Udi blocks the attack. A further roll would then be made to determine if she critically blocks (based simply on her chance to critically block on a 100 point scale) and the damage is them reduced by the resulting block or critical block. The remaining damage is then mitigated by Udi’s armor, and the final total his applied against her HP total (which hopefully was above 10K).

Simple, right?

OK, so when am I “unhittable” then?
You are considered to be unhittable when you “push” Hit off of the table. For Udi to do this in the above example, she’ll need 20.7% more Dodge, Parry or Block. Well, as a Warrior, Udi has Shield Block which gives a 25% boost to her block chance. You can’t keep it up all the time, but you can keep it up 10 seconds out of every 30 seconds, so in theory 33% of the time. That’s actually not bad at all as up times go, and Shield Block is what allows Warriors to have two types of “unhittable”. The hard cap, and the soft cap.

Unhittable Hard Cap: Your total Miss, Dodge, Parry, and Block is at least 102.4% without the use of Shield Block.

Unhittable Soft Cap: Your total Miss, Dodge, Parry and Block is at or above 102.4% when Shield Block is up.

In the above example, Udi is actually a little above the soft cap. Let’s demonstrate how Hit gets pushed off the table by recalculating her Attack Table with Shield Block active:

Miss                       5%                         0.0 – 5.0
Dodge                   10.56%                  5.1 – 15.56
Parry                     14.44%                  15.57 – 30.0
Block                     77.33%                 30.01 – 107.33
Hit                          0%

Now remember, a boss is only going to roll on a 0 to 102.4 scale. It will never roll on a larger scale than that, so unless a debuff is reducing your evasion stats, a boss can never reach the “Hit” on the table. Thus, it’s been “pushed off the table” by the block boost from Shield Block. The hard cap would look like this as well, but without the need for Shield Block to be up to achieve it.

Why is it that Paladins can achieve the hard cap easier than Warriors?
Well, it comes down to how points of Mastery convert to Block for the two classes. Paladins convert Mastery into Block at a higher rate than Warriors do, but do not have a Critical Block mechanic. Warriors do come out ahead over all since we can still easily get the soft cap though Shield Block, and Critical Block is actually quite useful. The only down side to using Shield Block in this way is that the first six seconds of Shield Block now also act as a spell damage reduction if you’re specced into it (and you should be) so that encourages us to save Shield Block for special events in some cases, such as every time Nef crosses an HP percentage ending in zero.

A Paladin in good Mastery gear from T11 stacking Mastery trinkets, gems and using a Mastery elixir rather than an HP flask can fairly easily become unhittable at the hard cap. Unfortunately they still sacrifice a fairly large amount of HP to do this, so it’s not at all desirable for high spell damage fights where being unhittable means much less than in a high physical damage fight.

This brings up an interesting point… While it is easier for Paladins to get to the hard cap, it’s possible for us, through Shield Block, to reach the soft cap while still having plenty of HP. So a Paladin doesn’t have access to the soft cap because they lack an ability like Shield Block, but can reach hard cap easier than we can while sacrificing HP. We can’t really reach the hard cap in T11 realistically, but we can reach the soft cap without sacrificing anything. Over all, we’re in better shape on this one.

How do you calculate how much more Mastery you’d need as a Warrior anyway?
Prepare for math…

First, Mastery currently converts as follows:
179.28 Mastery Rating = 1 Mastery Point

The number you see on your gear, gems, etc is Mastery Rating.

For Prot Warriors, our Mastery will give us 1.5% Block Chance (and an equal amount of chance for any given block to be a Critical Block) per Mastery Point.

179.28 Rating = 1.5% Block

There is no diminishing return on Mastery, so this is pretty easy to work out. Let’s look at the previous examples and figure out how much more Mastery Rating Udiyvli would need to become hard capped unhittable.

Miss                       5%                          0.0 – 5.0
Dodge                   10.56%                   5.1 – 15.56
Parry                     14.44%                   15.57 – 30.0
Block                     52.33%                   30.01 – 82.33
Hit                         20.07%                   82.34 – 102.4

She currently needs to come up with 20.07% more Block to push Hit off of the table.

20.07 / 1.5 = 13.38 Mastery Points

13.38 x 179.28 = 2398.7664 Mastery Rating

Rating doesn’t come in decimals so we’ll round up… and we get that Udi needs 2399 Mastery Rating to become hard capped unhittable. Even with a perfect set of T11 Normal gear with the highest Mastery values, double Mastery trinkets, an Elixir of Mastery and fully gemming for straight Mastery, I’d still be about 900 Rating away from the hard cap. It’s not an easy amount of Mastery to reach for a Warrior, as you can see.

Is this even worth worrying about?
Well, honestly, I think the soft cap is easy enough to reach that you should be going for it. As a Warrior, the hard cap is going to be much, much harder to get and perhaps even impossible without being fully geared in T11 Heroic gear or waiting for T12. It might not be realistically possible until T12 Heroic, and even then Blizzard has stated recently that they really don’t want any class to be “unhittable”, so I wouldn’t bank on it being possible for long even if it becomes relatively plausible to achieve. The devs are watching this one closely, and they are going to break it as soon as the hard cap is moderately simple to reach.

For now though, definitely go after the soft cap. If you find that you’re over the soft cap, you may even want to move a little ways back into Expertise to even out threat, but I’d suggest playing around with that carefully. Blizzard *also* stated very clearly in the same post mentioned above that they are not balancing encounters around tanks gearing for any Expertise or Hit. So, if you move any avoidance into either of these, you are basically moving yourself away from what Blizzard has in mind when designing encounters. That’s not a great idea…

Any final thoughts?
Personally, I’m going to keep edging toward the hard cap without putting great effort into it. I’m not going to gem straight Mastery or run with double Mastery trinkets or anything like that. I’m over the soft cap as is, and too far away from the hard cap to be able to achieve it at all even if I ditch tens of thousands of HP from my unbuffed total. Stamina hasn’t been our god stat for a long time, but it’s still important. Mastery with no meat behind it just means you take really even damage from melee but then get your face blown off by spell damage. If you can’t take a Crackle from Nef and Nef’s melee swing at the same time, well, you’re dead… and so is your raid.

The concept of being unhittable is fascinating, and the allure seductive, but as of right now it’s just not tenable. Know what it is and understand the concepts behind it, but don’t make the hard cap your goal yet as a Warrior. Go for the soft cap, and don’t forget to keep that Shield Block up!

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~ by Udiyvli on 06/10/2011.

6 Responses to “The Unhittable Warrior (4.2 Edition)”

  1. Excellent read, thanks for your effort :)

  2. Thank you very, very much for this post! Almost everything I found was on Pallies, so having something warrior specific was very nice!


  3. Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to write this, very clear and useful account of one of the more difficult concepts of block tanking that many are oblivious to.

    Odd, that despite the devs not wanting us to gear for exp/hit, continue to place the stats on the tanking gear .. I guess to test the intelligence of the player to reforge out of it into more useful stats, /shrug.

    • Hit and Expertise still pop up as important stats sometimes. Right now I have a Hit/Exp capped gear set that is used for two this…

      1) 5-mans so I have a minor hope of keeping up with our insanely geared DPS while having very little vengeance myself (doesn’t always work)

      2) The birds in the Alysrazor fight. The person tanking them is responsible for the vast majority of the damage done to them, and they have to be dead before the tornado phase. I’ve found that being Hit/Exp capped is the only way to do this reliably, as least as a Prot Warrior.

      If the gear shows up I wouldn’t turn it down if no one else wants it. It’s good to have it around for special needs.

  4. currently with shield block up, I’m running at 117.10% avoidance, so well over the “soft cap”.

    do you think it would be wise to reforge away from some avoidance? I’m currently at close to 57% block, 17% parry and 14% dodge. I’ve been wanting to continue stacking mastery, since I am close to the hard cap (92.40), so I think with a bit of extra T12 gear and some mastery gems, I’ll be able to achieve it.

    • If you have an option to dump a little of that Parry into Dodge, and can’t reforge it into Mastery (for example, a piece of gear with Parry/Mastery on it) it would be a net gain over all. You’re looking at getting less Parry than Dodge per point invested right now due to Diminishing Returns.

      Total up your Dodge + Parry chance. Then Reforge from Parry into Dodge and total it up again. You’ll likely see a higher total avoidance.

      If you’d like, I can take a closer look at your situation but I’d need an armory link :)

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